Category Archives: shopping

Etsy Mondays: Amy Alexander Designs

We all know how much I love the collage-y statement jewelry trend. Well, at least, we should — remember my wedding bracelet from Etsy seller Tatty Chic?


Which, by the way, I had given one of my bridesmaids to hold in her purse that night, and just finally got back from her TWO MONTHS ago. And I see her ALL THE TIME.

Well, I wanted to talk about Amy Alexander Designs for my first Etsy Monday, because her pieces are so amazing. If I were getting married now, instead of two years ago, I would totally be buying up everything in her shop.

Antique Bronze Flower Pocket Watch Necklace Jewelry by Amy Alexander Designs

Shop owner Rebecca Harris uses both new and vintage components in her creations, like this pocket watch necklace made from a filigreed clock pendant, white enamel and metal flowers, a pink glass rhinestone, and a brass chain.

Gold Bracelet, Wedding Bracelet, Bridal Jewelry, Beaded Cuff, Wedding Accessories by Amy Alexander Designs

I think if this were my listing, I’d call it “The Amazeballs Bracelet.” Handcrafted by a golden-toned double-layer butterfly with glass rhinestone detail, a metal emerald green rose, green resin flowers, a white-and-gold Swarovski rhinestone flower, gold-plated leaf and flower embellishments, and a white enamel flower with a rhinestone center.

Wedding Brooch Bridal Pin Bridal Broach Wedding Broach Gold Jewelry by Amy Alexander Designs

Her pieces would work equally well for a vintage or modern wedding. I was always looking for one-of-a-kind items like this to give my bridal style a unique edge. This brooch is handcrafted from a pastel green resin rose, vintage opal, wildflower with gold-toned trim, and gold-plated leaves.

Some more of her amazing creations (click on any image to be taken to its listing):

White Flower Bridal Hair Comb , Wedding Hair Piece , Crystal Rhinestone Wedding by Amy Alexander Designs Cuff Bracelet , Sage Green Beaded Bracelet , Wedding Cuff , Peacock Bracelet by Amy Alexander Designs Bridal Ring, Ivory Wedding Ring, Flower Jewelry by Amy Alexander Designs White Rose Wedding Earrings , Gold Plated Dangle Earrings , Turquoise and Topaz Bridal Accessories by Amy Alexander Designs

And by the way, Rebecca didn’t pay me in any way to rave about her jewelry — I just stumbled across her shop and had to give her a shoutout because her items are so unusual and sweet.

Check out Rebecca’s shop, Amy Alexander Designs, if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind piece for your bridal look, or just for your jewelry collection in general.


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A New Baby

I have an announcement to make!

Um, no. Not that kind of announcement.

THIS kind of announcement:

FrannyandFranky Etsy shop!


I’ve opened my own shop!

Because I don’t have enough to do in my spare time. You know, taking care of an 8-month-old boy, working full time, writing a book, and trying to spend time with my husband just leaves SO MUCH empty time for me to run a graphic design shop.

But I’m having the best time.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. Back at my last job, when I was going through the darkest, “I hate this place” times, I talked to a friend of a friend about taking action and creating my own destiny. She asked me what, if time and money and everything else was not a factor, I would want to do. I toyed around with graphic design and started taking some online tutorials, but then ultimately decided on interior design.

You know, because looking at pretty blog pictures and rearranging my living room meant I should run my own interior design business.

So I went to night school, part time, while working at a horrible job. And after a year, I got a different job (my current job, which I’m totally not leaving anytime soon) and I took a semester off and I realized, hey, I don’t want to be an interior designer, I just don’t want to do what I was doing at my last job anymore.

The good thing about that year in school, though, despite the additional student loan debt that it racked up, was that it got me through the worst times at my previous job.

The other good thing is it showed me that I have more talents. More passions. And that if I want to do something, I should do it.

I’ve always wanted to write a book. I’ve always wanted to get into graphic design. And you’d think having a baby would totally tank all those dreams. But instead, it’s somehow motivated me. Maybe I want to be a good example for my son. Maybe I need an identity aside from “mother.” Maybe he’s just inspiring me to create. Whatever it is, it’s a blast.

SO. What am I doing in this little shop of mine?

State heart maps

State map heart prints…

City map heart prints

City map heart prints…

State typography, slogan, and motto art prints

State typography art prints…

Wedding guest book alternative heart map from Franny & Franky Designs on Etsy

Custom wedding date and wedding guest book alternative art prints…

Typography art print from Franny & Franky Designs on Etsy

Typography prints.

Plus, I’m doing custom orders for specific cities, color combinations, and special holiday orders.

A few special deals:

  • If you like Franny & Franky Designs on Facebook and click on “My Etsy Shop” below the cover photo, you can purchase any of our prints from that portal and receive a 10% discount.
  • We also have several “print package” deals on our custom orders page — 2 prints for $25, 3 prints for $40, or 4 prints for $50.

So… what have you been up to?


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Holiday Gift Guide: Picks for the Brand-New or Soon-to-Be Mama In Your Life

Now, I’m no mom yet, but when my husband asked me to make a wish list of Christmas gifts for him to go off of, you could certainly tell what was foremost on my mind. Being due in February, my main concerns are upcoming comfort and style, along with personal items like jewelry and beauty products — with a mom-ly twist.

Based off my own wish list, then — and with the caveat that a lot of my reasoning is based on “I’ve heard” and “I think” — here is a gift guide for the brand-new or soon-to-be mama.

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1. Your Name Here Silk Necklace ($400 14K gold, $80 gold fill or sterling silver, COATT). I still think this is the most ingenious and stylish piece of “my kid’s name” jewelry — way better than any birthstone or silhouette concept. I’m too superstitious to ask for this before I even have the baby, but I would love to own it at some point — in fact, a certain somebody has a birthday coming up in August (*hint*hint*wink*wink*).

2. Vintage Kaleidoscope Locket ($65, Etsy). I love lockets. I don’t even put anything in them, but I love the idea of a piece of jewelry you put sentimental stuff in, and a locket necklace is especially sweet, with a visual memento close to your heart. This is a really stylin’ locket that would make any new mama look totally hip, even when she pops it open to show you a picture of the dreaded drooling babe. Bonus: a shiny toy to distract babe when upset/fussy/etc.

3. Kate Spade New York “Idiom” Ultra Thin Bangle ($32, Nordstrom). This is a really sweet way to get the new or to-be mama in your life a one-of-a-kind piece engraved with her child’s name or a simple phrase to remind her of all she means to you. It’s especially sweet that whatever you choose to engrave it hidden against her wrist, known only to you and her — and whomever she chooses to show.

4. Timex Weekender Strap watch ($53, Timex). I never wear watches, but I’ve been on a watches kick lately. I’ve been pinning awesome watches left and right — perhaps because the mama-to-be in me knows that there will soon enough be plenty of appointments and more reason to keep time than “I need to meet a friend at Starbucks in 15”? My hands won’t always be so free as to reach for my iPhone when needing to check a clock.

5. Enamel Locket ($90, Alder & Co.). Another amazing locket piece that is so simple and so chic.

2 beauty and fashion

6. Bobbi Brown Beach Body Oil ($30, Bloomingdale’s). All I want to do is pamper myself, and after giving birth to another human being, I’ll totally deserve it. All I hear about is the postpartum period where all of a sudden you smell like blood and pee (yours and another person’s) and milk and spit up and your body odor changes and you barely have time to shower. Wouldn’t this be wonderful to slather all over after a quickie shower to make her feel totally special and pretty?

7. NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer ($42, I am one of those chicks who can’t leave the house without makeup. It’s not that I’m vain (OK, I guess it is that I am), but I have had bad acne since I was 13, and so I’m a little sensitive about my breakouts and red marks. While my routine isn’t exactly in-depth — just some mineral foundation and powder, blush, mascara, and lipstick — I have the feeling there will be even less time for it soon. A beauty balm like this would be amazing and cut things into fractions.

8. Motherlove Sitz Bath ($14.25, I love the idea of a postpartum kit for new mamas, a little basket of items they can use to make themselves feel so much better. Made from organic ingredients like sea salt, witch hazel herb, and yarrow, this is formulated to soothe the perineum, slow bleeding, reduce swelling, and ease hemorrhoids. Plus, it has a zero rating on EWG’s skin deep database. Isn’t that so much nicer than Epsom salts?

9. Clinique “All About Eyes Serum” De-Puffing Eye Massage ($28, Nordstrom). OK, so you might not want to give this as a gift if it’s not specifically asked for (it’s sort of like saying, “You look like shit, here, take care of that… please.”) but it is such a thoughtful addition to the new mama’s beauty repertoire. Because as much as I have no plans to leave the house for some time after birth and think I really won’t care all that much about my appearance, we’ll have enough visitors that I wouldn’t kick a product like this out of my cosmetic bag.

10. Drawstring Jersey Pants ($34.95, GAP). Yeah, I want to live in pajamas for at least six weeks after giving birth… but lounge pants are at least classy enough that you’re not welcoming close friends and family in your ratty jammies. Plus, I’m awfully sick of the same two pajama bottoms that have fit me for the past six months.

11. New Mama Bottom Spray ($14.95, Earth Mama Angel Baby). I live by the Earth Mama Bottom Balm for certain prenatal… um… *conditions*, so it stands to reason that this blend of water, witch hazel, cucumber, kosher vegetable glycerin, and lavender and peppermint oil will be just the thing a new mama needs to soothe herself without feeling like she smells like a pharmacy.

12. Maddox Zip Clutch ($75, Fossil). This isn’t really baby-related, true, but I really need a new wallet and I love the pop of color and mod design of this one. OK, maybe I can make it baby related — I need a bigger wallet to show off all those pictures of Bean when he comes. (Do people even carry pictures in their wallet anymore? Oh, well — I’m going with it).

13. Medela Sleep Bra (from $14, I’m planning on breastfeeding, and if the experience of others is any indication, I’m going to be quite large and sore in just a short handful of weeks. These sleep bras come highly rated and would be the perfect little piece of soft sleepwear for that soon-to-be mommy.

3 misc

14. Handpainted Still Life Monogram ($48, Anthropologie). I’m always on the lookout for fun design pieces for the home, and I love how versatile these are. You could buy just the new baby’s initial, or spell out their name, or spell words like “Love” or “Home” — anything that might strike the new mama’s heart.

15. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Standard AutoFocus Lens ($104.99, Known as the “nifty fifty,” this is a great, cheap little lens for taking indoor shots — like, oh, of a newborn baby? Since I just bought a Canon T2i a few months ago, I would love something like this to add to my camera bag — especially since we opted not to purchase a newborn photo session.

16. Felix Weekender Duffle ($137, Deux Luxe). How amazing would the mama-to-be in your life feel waltzing into the hospital with a bag like this to hold all her daily essentials? Birth is gonna be a big ol’ deal, and I would love to add a little sparkle to my stay.

17. The Graphic Canon, Vol. 3: From Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest ($21.47, Along with a plethora of movies and television shows, I myself would love something to read — but who will have time with a new baby? Something like this that’s more visual and easy to digest might be just the thing that the literary mama in your life needs to distract her from the trials of early childhood.

18. Nursing Shawl (42, Seraphine). Most nursing coverups, to me, scream “I’m nursing under here.” And while it’s really not that big of a deal, I love something a little more sophisticated and soft like this bamboo/viscose blend. It can be used six ways — as a nursing shawl, a poncho, a scarf, a cape, a wrap, or a swaddling blanket — which makes it a huge bang for your buck.


19. One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book ($11.53, I love journals, especially as gifts, and something like this is just perfect for the new mama with no time to jot down all of her thoughts. I adore the idea of taking down just one line a day and then being able to look back five whole years at how things have changed.

20. San Ysidro Hobo diaper bag ($299, Danzo). Diaper bags are either really crappy looking, or super expensive. I’ve found maybe one affordable one that I would be able to stand carrying around (I’m a snob, I know). This one totally would break my bank, but it’s so incredibly gorgeous. All of Danzo’s bags are amazing, but I love the lines and color of this one in particular. And since I don’t plan on carrying a purse in addition to a diaper bag, I need all my style in one.

21. World Map art print ($56, Famille Summerbelle). As different decor items catch my eye lately, I find myself thinking about how they tie in with a new little human. This beautiful print is great for adults and children, looking so modern but imparting plenty of education. It would look great in a living room and playroom alike.

22. Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool Washable Plaid Blanket ($118, Amazon). The baby’s already got plenty of blankets — swaddling blankets, receiving blankets, handmade blankets, hand-me-down blankets. What about mama? As I cozy up on the couch with Bean or cat nap while he naps (hopefully), a cozy Pendleton blanket is just the thing I’ll need to make me feel safe and warm — even if only for 5 minutes at a time.


23. Luxury Plus Slippers ($32, Restoration Hardware). I love slippers, and I have none. We have two pets and I never get around to cleaning more frequently than once a week, so I always get dust and dirt on the bottom of my feet when walking around, which makes me feel gross (our house isn’t that dirty, but come on, we don’t have a maid or anything). I caught word that these are the most wonderful slippers around, and am now totally lusting after a pair to take me throw those postpartum days.

24. Kimono Style Robe ($65, Plum Pretty Sugar). Who doesn’t appreciate a pretty robe to lift the spirits? Again, since I’ll likely be living in pajamas and loungewear for an indeterminate amount of time come February, a beautiful robe from Plum Pretty Sugar totally fits the bill for helping me feel comfy but put together enough for company.

25. Tieks ($165, Tieks). The next best thing to slippers, these super-comfy flats are great for all occasions, from lounging around the house to grabbing the mail to taking a walk around the park with the new little one. They’re even great for those late third trimester days when nothing but flip flops fit (seriously, I had to buy a new pair of pumps for my baby shower just because none of my shoes fit, so I’m hoping this new size my feet have arrived at is a permanent deal, because even though the pumps were a $30 Target deal, I’d hate to have spent that money just for a few swollen weeks here at the end).

26. Lace-Waist Hiphugger Panty ($10.50, Victoria’s Secret). OK, here’s the deal: None of my underwear truly fits. I can make most of it work, but it’s just basically covering the barest of essentials. These are so pretty, don’t slip, and in cotton, are basic enough to comfily hug even the sorest of lady bits. Once the new mama in your life can transition from granny panties, a bagful of these would be much appreciated.

27. Netflix subscription (from $4.99/month, OK, this wasn’t on my wish list because I already have Netflix, but you can bet your sweet bippy that I’ve saved pretty much every TV show known to man, from Cheers to Felicity to LOST, for viewing pleasure during those initial weeks of nonstop nursing and sleeplessness.

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Preg-Zilla Roundup: 13 Things That Have Helped Me Keep My Sanity Over 30 Weeks of Pregnancy

I’m in the home stretch, with less than 10 weeks to go until we welcome Bean into our family. I’m sure that 30 weeks pregnant is nothing compared to what 31, 32, 33, etc. have in store for me, but there have nonetheless been many friends who have helped me through the aches, pains, trials, and tribulations of pregnancy. So I thought I’d put together a little list for you of the 13 things that have most helped me keep my sanity throughout the past seven-and-a-half months.



1. Bed Bath & Beyond Bodymate Body Pillow ($9.99)I’ve heard a lot about the Snoogle and other bedtime contraptions, but for me, a basic $10 body pillow from Bed Bath & Beyond, in conjunction with other pillows from throughout our house, have done the best for helping me sleep as comfortably as possible. Let’s face it, trying to sleep while pregnant is never going to be amazing, but this pillow between my knees helps ease the tension on my back and hip, folded up behind me while lying down gives great back support, and folded up behind me while sitting up helps me stay as comfortable as possible while watching TV, reading, or surfing the Internet. It’s cheap and flexible enough to do what I want it to do. Win.

2. Earth Mama Angel Baby Mama Bottom Balm ($14.95). I have an unwelcome partner along for this third trimester, and his name is Lloyd. Lloyd the Hemorrhoid. He likes to come out and party when I’m trying to sleep, when I’m walking, when I’m sitting for long periods of time at work, and when I have difficulty in the, um, powder room. I tried Tucks and Preparation H for one long week before finally buying this balm, and let me tell you, it is amazing. Lloyd immediately piped down, and has grown smaller over just a day or two. It’s filled with good organic stuff like olive oil, St. Johns wort, yarrow, witch hazel, calendula, and lavender, and a little goes a long, long way. I’ll be holding onto this for postpartum, as well.

3. Clinique Exfoliating Scrub ($19.50). I’ve had serious cystic acne since I was 13 years old, and the only thing that ever kept it at bay was serious prescription topical medication. Like, the kind that you’re not supposed to use while you’re pregnant because it can soak into your bloodstream and cause serious baby birth defects. I had awful, awful skin for the first trimester until I discovered this stuff. It’s got salicylic acid in it, which some pregnant ladies want to shy away from, but it’s in such minimal amounts that it’s not even listed as a percentage on the label. I use a little bit of this with tons of water morning and night, and it’s gentle enough that my sensitive skin can handle it. It’s kept the breakouts and oil at bay, and let me have a bit of that pregnancy glow.

4. Motherhood Maternity Seamless Clip Down Nursing Bra ($22.98). I lived in a black sports bra for the first 18 weeks, and when I was wearing something light, would resort to my nude underwire bra I’d worn pre-pregnancy. Once it got ridiculously small, I ran into Motherhood Maternity insisting on a bra that would fit me with no cup, because I had no idea how much bigger I’d get throughout pregnancy and after birth. This totally fit the bill, is about as comfortable as any piece of clothing can be at this point, and will transition well into a nursing bra. I’ll be picking up way more of these soon. Plus, it’s super cheap compared to other options out there!

5. Old Navy New Classic Flip-Flops ($3.94). My feet have gotten huge so far. I don’t even know what size I am. All I know is I can’t fit into my favorite flats, my great cheap Target boots, or any heels. These cheap and comfortable flip-flops have been a total lifesaver and have helped keep the swelling to a minimum. I thank my stars every single day for working in an office where jeans and flip-flops are acceptable everyday attire, because I have no clue what I would do otherwise.

6. The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy ($9.99 Kindle edition). The first book I bought once we got our positive pregnancy test was a pretty famous one that had a movie based on it, starring Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, and Elizabeth Banks. I won’t mention the book by name, because like other mamas-to-be, I found it to be cloying, annoying, and full of alarmist BS. I once heard it nicknamed, “What to Expect in the Highly Unlikely Event that Something Awful Goes Wrong,” and I think that’s apropos. So then I bought this book, and just loved it. It’s full of useful advice and its milestone chapters for each week of pregnancy are informative and interesting. There’s even a good bit about postpartum stuff, labor and delivery, pregnancy conditions, and more. This was an indispensable reference for me.

7. Luna Protein Bars for Women (prices vary but I get mine for $.99 each at the local supermarket). I lived off regular Luna bars for the first 29 weeks as a tasty snack that wasn’t terrible for me. Once I got my gestational diabetes diagnosis, I moved onto these. They still have carbs — about one serving — but up the protein factor so I’m more full for longer, which is nice now that I have my snacktimes severely limited to 3 times per day. My favorite is the chocolate peanut butter flavor, but the cookie dough and mint chocolate chip varieties are also yummy (I haven’t had the other two).

8. Atkins Advantage Ready-to-Drink Shakes ($19.99/pack of 8). No, I’m not going on a no-carb diet. I needed something chocolatey that would help curb my sweet cravings without disrupting my blood sugars, and these protein shakes are mighty tasty. They have 2g of net carbs (6g carbs, 4g fiber) and have been great as an additional between-meal snack or something to drink before indulging myself (like right before Thanksgiving dinner or before a piece of pie) to absorb any excessive carbs I might have. I wish these weren’t so pricey, but they’re worth it as a splurge.

9. Old Navy Maternity Scoop Rib-Knit Tank ($10.00). My major gripe with so-called maternity shirts is the length — particularly the ones from Target. They’re just too short to wear past the second trimester, in my opinion. These tank tops are amazing, though — plenty long enough, very comfortable, and great to wear under a more gauzy shirt, with a cardigan, or alone. Total fashion lifesaver.

10. Old Navy Maternity Smooth-Panel Skinny Jeans ($34.50). I’ve heard a lot of hate for Old Navy’s maternity jeans, but they’re the only ones that look great on me for the right price. I’m just not willing to spend $100+ on a pair of jeans, no matter how amazing they make my new Oompa-Loompa figure look. These are actually the first skinny jeans I have bought in my life, and they do a lot for my figure. The panel is starting to get a little snug, but I can tuck it under my belly and with a long enough shirt, totally get away with it.

11. Tums ($5.49). I shouldn’t have to explain this one, but I’ve had massive heartburn and acid reflux for my entire pregnancy, which sucks for somebody craving Mexican food 24/7. I didn’t think these worked for me until I realized that if I chewed a couple after my meal but before the heartburn kicked it, they totally kept it at bay. I buy the generic kind because I’m cheap. I also kinda like how they taste, because I’m weird.

12. The Birth Partner by Peggy Simkin ($11.55). I just got my used copy of this book, and it’s pretty awesome. While written for doulas, dads, and other birth partners, it’s totally applicable and informative for the mom, as well. It’s a little doula-centric, but it covers all sorts of birthing positions, prelabor signs, stuff to pack for the hospital (or have on hand for a home birth), pain medications, complications, and more. Another really indispensable resource.

13. Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Peaceful Mama Tea ($5.97). I love tea, but have been scared to have my favorites because I’m not sure what’s safe for the baby and what’s not. I found this in a sampler at a local maternity boutique, and it’s perfect now that things are chilling up a little bit here. It’s got lemon balm, oat straw, chamomile, red raspberry leaf, and orange peel so it’s mighty tasty and formulated for the pregnant lady. They make a variety of teas, including a heartburn tea and a third trimester tea for labor preparation, so I’m hoping to check them all out.

So there you have it! What were some of your favorite pregnant lifesavers?

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A 9-Month Fashion Victim: Why Is It So Hard to Find Attractive Maternity Clothes?

Here’s the part where I back away a bit from my headline statement. Today’s maternity clothes are way, WAY better than the mu-mus and triangle tops of yesteryear.

Image by Lambert/Getty Images, via The Guardian

I have a few tops and a couple of dresses that are awfully flattering. Some of them came from Old Navy. The rest are from Motherhood Maternity (and are falling apart, but cute).

There are so many tips on there on stretching your budget by forgoing maternity clothes, wearing just your baggiest of tops, holding your jeans open with rubber bands, and the like — and please. I was in maternity clothes at 10 weeks. Wearing regular clothes is like the ninth circle of hell. Actually, wearing clothes AT ALL is like the ninth circle of hell. But if I have to do it, I want to wear something that doesn’t cut off my circulation and actually makes me look pretty and pregnant instead of “I’m hiding my fat” — or, worse, “I’m hiding a pregnancy.”

But this weekend, I stopped by Target for some conditioner and razors (I was going to a party, that’s the only reason I shaved my leg) and decided to try on some maternity dresses. Their Liz Lange line always looks so cute, and I figured that since so many of my maternity tops are now so short that they’re showing off the panels of my maternity jeans, it would make me feel better to have some attractive dresses I could just throw on and breathe in.

The problem is, Target’s maternity clothes suck.

They’re adorable and trendy on the hanger, but once you put them on, you’re reminded that maternity clothes, for the most part, are based on somebody else’s idea of what a pregnant woman wants (distraction from her disgusting body) versus what she actually wants (emphasis on and confidence of her beautiful, human-growing body).

For one, there seem to be three types of maternity necklines — the cowl neck, the crossover top, and the way-too-effing-deep-my-DDs-are-now-hanging-out neckline. For the most part, I get it. Lots of this stuff can be useful after popping out the baby, so a cowl neck makes for easier nursing while a crossover top is often part of a “nursing top” setup. But sometimes, it’s just like, “We’re going to put a bunch of extra fabric and detail up here so that nobody notices that OH MY GOD WOMAN YOUR BELLY IS HUMONGOUS WHO DO YOU HAVE IN THERE, DOM DELUISE??”

Totally cute, right? No. Most of what I tried on had these weird darts visible, like above on either side of the belly, or the pucker on the boobs. That’s not just how the dress is lying — that’s actual DETAIL. One dress I couldn’t find online had darts coming right up onto your rack and ending mid-boob — AS IN, BASICALLY NIPPLES. And the belted dresses were belted so high that half the belt found refuge under my ginormous bosom. Not hot. Also, Target’s craftsmanship is seriously lacking because anything with a zipper on the back ends in a pucker at the bottom, like I have a tail or a really huge hemorrhoid hanging out. So even if the dress was tolerable, I just couldn’t, because of the tail.

What’s with the top on this thing? No, really. Stop. This dress was so horrific. First I had to pour myself into it like frosting into a pastry bag (mmm, frosting), and then it clung to every single lump of fat and finally finished things off with an awkward and nonfunctional crossover top on steroids with a high, unflattering neckline and some cap sleeves that show off my side boob.

Again with the side-boob bearing sleeves, the disappearing belt, and the crossover shit. Side rant: Why can’t you put your clothes on an actual model? It’s so so hard to tell what this stuff looks like on a normal pregnant person (even though the models aren’t really pregnant, but whatever) when it’s just lying there in space with no context to the shape inside.

This top wasn’t at my Target, and if it was, I wouldn’t have tried it on. I just had to say: what the fuck? Is this like, “I’m pregnant, yes, but I want to distract you with pattern so that you don’t ask me if I’m having twins or comment that I look like I’m about to pop at 6 months”?

OK, and then there’s Asos. I have to be fair and say that a lot of their stuff looks cute. It’s way overpriced, and I’ve heard the sizing is weird and the clothes don’t actually look that great on, but there’s some decent stuff. But just browsing through their online gallery was, at times, baffling.

First, sorry, but she’s not pregnant. Right? I mean, whatever. But I’m guessing the statement here is, “I’m supposed to be like a tiger in the bedroom because of all the hormones, but instead I’m like a tiger in your face wanting to rip your head off because your spawn is inside of me and God I hate you right now.”

I don’t even… what? Stop.

From the “babies having babies” collection.

“I jest you not — I’m totally pregnant! And my body is still awesome enough to wear a skintight dress. Swear.”

Again, it’s like — look over here! No, here! No, down there! I’m not even a little pregnant, so stop touching my belly — DISTRACT WITH PATTERN.

And then there’s the fact that my favorite Old Navy maternity jeans have a NUDE full panel. Which is great for wearing lighter tops, I guess, because it blends into your skin. But when your shirts ride up — because, newsflash, Target’s maternity tops are not long enough to last you even halfway into your second trimester — it looks like I’m flashing belly.

All negativity aside, my favorite place to shop for maternity clothes is Old Navy. In stark contrast, the Motherhood Maternity stuff I bought a few months back has already started falling apart in the wash, and cost twice as much as the ON stuff I have. Plus, ON’s clothes are basic and simple, which is really all I want these days. Gap Maternity is another good bet.

But the worst part about the maternity fashion game is that there is basically never anything in the stores, and when you buy online, you have to return online — i.e., pay shipping. So at a time in your life when you’re most uncertain about how things fit and most prone to hating how you look in goddamn everything, you can’t even try on the clothes before you purchase them.

Solid. Thanks, fashion.

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Oh, Boy, More Nursery Decor

Well, it’s a boy! So we are moving forward full throttle with the baseball-themed nursery decor, and I’m trying to get as much of it done as early as possible to make time for those uncomfortable days near the end of the pregnancy. We ordered our glider (the Kamilla by Best Chairs) from Buy Buy Baby this weekend, in navy cotton upholstery with white piping. It, and the matching ottoman, should be arriving at the store within 4-6 weeks, making it the first piece of furniture to go into the nursery. And we are in the process of hiring painters to do the remainder of the rooms in our house (office, reading room/family room, main bathroom, and nursery). While we can’t find the color code anywhere on the Benjamin Moore website, we’re going with Covington Gray in the nursery, a nice pale true gray (which I know they still make, because I picked up a sample pot of it at the paint store just yesterday).

And of course, there is window-shopping galore. First, we’ll be ordering the Oak Park Elementary Dresser from Land of Nod — pricey, yes, but we’ve had a gift offer so we won’t be forking over the cash for it.

Via Land of Nod

Then, we have plenty more baseball decor to weave throughout the room.

This Little Slugger pillow:

Via Etsy seller MonMel Designs

This cute personalized wall decal:

Via Etsy seller JaneyMacWalls

And these adorable basic art prints:

Via Etsy seller Wallerbee

Then there’s this awesome and colorful baseball mobile, which I think I’m going to be DIY’ing (in navy and white with baseballs, to match the Yankees/nursery color theme).

Via Etsy seller LilSproutCreations

Mister Mister loved this birth announcement print.

Via Etsy seller lovelylittleparty

And while we selected the personalized decal above, I also loved these picks for customizing the nursery in a baseball theme.

Via Etsy seller Onlyforkids

Via Etsy seller tweetheartwallart

What would you do with a baseball-themed boy’s nursery?

Weekend Finds: The Gems That Didn’t Make the Cut

I got up early on Saturday to hit some estate sales, which I haven’t done for quite some time. The weather has been so hot and muggy, and some of the early sales were really disappointing — even depressing. I always get excited about a rummage sale, until I got to the church and realized I’d gone to this church’s rummage sale last year — and it was awful. This year wasn’t much better, but while out and about there, and later in the day while hitting a local antique mall with my friend Liz, a few items did catch my eye. Luckily, I had enough luck elsewhere that I ended up blowing my wad on some great pieces of artwork and a fantastic plant, so there wasn’t much left to go around. Still, I always like to snap the stuff that made my head turn.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you actually had a Jean, Melissa, Pam, Janet, Doc, and Liz in your family and you stumbled upon this find? What luck!

I love old photographs, but am long out of the phase where I buy them up as quickly as I can. Maybe someday if I ever get back to collage-land. For now, I liked this collection, particularly that natty gentleman in a bowtie on the left.

When Liz and I drove past this sale, this is what made me stop. What a glorious creature! To me, at first, his left ear looked like a unicorn horn. A UNITIGER?! Alas, it was just a matter of perspective. Also, a matter of $60. Yikes.

This Senorita caught my eye at the antique mall, as did her price — $8! I immediately texted a picture to my husband and called him, but he nixed it. I’d already bought an odd portrait painting earlier that day, and frankly, I did realize our house wasn’t meant for quite so much kitsch. So it was with heavy heart I had to let her go. 

This oddly specific guide for Aries 1979-Pisces 1980 actually caught my eye for a photo opp, but when the seller noticed me snapping a photo, he panicked and let me know it wasn’t for sale — he had set it aside for himself!

This wasn’t a thrifty find… I just couldn’t resist posting this amazingly adorable photo of Mister Mister and our pup giving him a big hug, during a Saturday afternoon nap sesh.

What thrifty finds have you had to let go recently?

All photos taken with my iPhone 4S.


Friday Five: The Longest Short Week Ever

I usually love three-day weekends, not only for the three-day-weekend-ness of them, but for the short week that follows. But this week — yeesh! It seemed like the longest week ever. I was already thinking it was Friday on Wednesday. Now, I’m so glad to be facing the weekend, although tomorrow we have a mess of chores to do. But tomorrow night there’s a fun party, and then our friends are coming to visit the new house on Sunday. What are your weekend plans?

This Friday Five is in celebration of Friday *finallyyy* being here.

1. This article on the essentials of effortless style.

You know those homes where everything just seems natural? Even the mess is natural. Everything has a place and looks great and like it was curated with just the best eyes ever. I rarely feel like our home achieves that — maybe it’s because we’re still building it into a home, selecting accessories and paint colors, and being super selective because we know we want to be able to live with it. But I loved this article from Apartment Therapy about creating an environment of casual comfort. I especially like this passage:

“You don’t need to be a world traveler with five hundred dhurries or live in one house for a thousand years to break it in and make it great, but you do need to spend some time thinking about your personal style. As you realize and develop your own style, items will start jumping out at you, and sometimes they may be from places as exciting as a big box store.”

Tips include mixing rustic and refined, layering textiles, mixing in personal artwork, and displaying inspiration. Read the article for a more in-depth discussion.

(Image originally from Adir & Marcello’s Worldly Retreat via Apartment Therapy)

2. This simple necklace from Leif.

I don’t own a lot of jewelry, but what I do own, I wear over and over again. I’m picky about rings — my wedding ring is the only one I’ll wear — and fussy about bracelets — they get in my way at work while typing. My ears aren’t pierced, either (three tries and I gave up). So necklaces are where I focus my efforts. I love pieces like these that can be worn over and over with a million different colors and outfits, and always feel fresh. I’d probably buy a new chain, though, because gold plate irritates my skin.

3. This living room by Calgary interior designer Nyla Free.

Listen, I pin a LOT of stuff throughout the week. Sometimes it’s so I can remember which rugs I obsessively unearthed on my lunch break so I can present them to my husband later. Sometimes it’s because I like a painting on a wall, or the way a blanket is layered over a sofa, or the floors of a room. Usually, I don’t even say anything about them — I just credit and go. Every once in a while, though, I see something like this shot above, by interior designer Nyla Free, and I just go, “Whoa.” It’s those moments where everything is perfect — the windows and the view outside of them, that giant tree inside, the floor lamp, the carpet, the way the awesome couch is angled in the room, and the white brightness of everything weighed down with all that plum and black in the middle. I would make whoever lived here my best friend. Or maybe just Nyla herself.

(Image courtesy of Nyla Free Designs, photgraphed by Martin Tessler Photography, via desiretoinspire)

4. These Jonathan Adler coasters.

At our last place, I needed a little table where I could set my laptop when I wasn’t using it, because I was sick of leaving it on the couch. I found this little vintage typewriter table at a consignment store for a steal, and it sat in a corner for a couple of years holding not much more than the laptop (sometimes) and a huge box of baseball cards my husband bought at an antique mall and refuses to get rid of even though they’re not worth a thing. Then, we moved, and seriously our first day there, I set my fountain soda on the wooden top of the typewriter table and left it there for a bit too long. Cue drink ring.

So I’ve been looking for some awesome coasters, and I think these might fit the bill. I like a little quirk, and since we don’t have much, the high-fired, glossy porcelain coasters would really do the trick. I especially like the vintage men’s swimming trunks on Acapulco. “Mad Men,” anybody?

5. This weird office.

Dude. There’s a painting of a dog, and antlers, and an antique poster of ducks, and some really strange artifacts that look like skeletons under a couple of cloches. Not to mention the animal skin rug, the saddle, the horn, and the riding boots. And right in the middle of it all, there’s this laptop. Whoever lives here, I’m simultaneously drawn to and terrified of them.

(Image from skona hem, via greige)

Sabado Gigante: Salvage, Shakespeare, and Sushi

Saturdays are my favorite day. While Sunday is often a favorite due to its slowed-down nature and family-friendly features, I find that between grocery days and weekly cleaning and laundry — not to mention mentally preparing for Monday — Saturday is really the clear winner in both relaxation and fun-finding. Plus, more stuff’s open. Case closed.

This Saturday was a doozy — some firsts, some repeats, and the first time in months that I’ve spent with MOH Ginger. Miss Smarty-Pants just finished up finals and doesn’t have another class until the end of June, so it was time for her to come down, see the new digs, and accompany me on some shopping jaunts.

But first, Mister Mister and I both got up at the butt crack of day to walk not only Rosie, but Zoe, my dad’s dog, who’s staying with us for the weekend. Mister Mister kindly offered to pick us up some breakfast at our favorite, St. Pete Bagel Company. I couldn’t resist requesting a maple bacon doughnut from their new line of doughnut offers — and while it may not look like much here, oh my, was it glorious.

After some cuddling and what could be called a nap, I had to take a trip to the dentist to have two cavities filled (ugh, but at least I’m done for a while). And then, MOH Ginger and I skipped down to Sarasota to visit the amazing Sarasota Architectural Salvage. With a front yard, a side yard, and plentiful indoor storage, this place wowed the socks off of me. I had pretty high expectations, and it surpassed them. I was so busy ooh’ing and aah’ing over everything that I only managed to shoot a few outside photos before being overtaken with bliss inside.

Bird baths, wrought iron gates, yard art, fountains, ceiling tiles, metal light letters, hooks, hardware, salvaged furniture pieces, salvaged ship parts, antique art, doors, windows, floor planks from old high schools — I mean, this place totally had it all. We scored some random items (I and one of the excellent staff guys had to talk MOH Ginger into buying an art guitar made of old car parts — fantastic) after two solid hours in the shop. Then we headed to Shakespeare’s Pub, where Ginger had experienced an apparently orgasmic brie-and-caramelized-onion sandwich a few years back. And while they couldn’t manage to get her order right — twice — the food was pretty solid, and we were sated.

Then, it was a stop to one hardware store for some grout removal tools (update to come) and another for some painting supplies (update to come), before going home, washing my feet (seriously, did I tramp through mud for three weeks? I looked like a homeless coal miner’s kid), ordering sushi, and drifting off to sleep at 11. Which is the only part about Saturday that truly pisses me off: I simply cannot stay awake long enough to truly maximize its basically responsibility-free gloriousness.

But first, some photographic evidence of the day’s loot.

These great tiles were $4 each and, to me, were vaguely ’80s, maybe indie-record-cover-ish. Mister Mister didn’t get it, but I can totally see lining three of these up against a wall, perched atop a dresser. Styling.

I just… love birds. We need a nice landing strip by our entry, so I’m imagining screwing this up on the wall next to the front door and sitting our keys and whatnot in it. Secret #1: It didn’t have a price, and while the staff guy thought it was supposed to be $19, he gave it to me for $6. Secret #2: I would have paid $19.

I love this little guy. I have no idea why. He looks so peaceful, and possibly napping. Also, our floor is apparently really dirty, so, sorry. Also, we really need to touch up our trim. Damn sloppy remodelers.

And yeah, just a cast iron hook. They had so many amazing ones. I opted for simplicity, for hanging keys and probably the dog’s leash by the back door.

As for the paint supplies, they involve a new furniture project based off a $45 Craigslist find picked up on Friday night.

Before you cry “wood painting foul,” hear this: It’s veneer — wood veneer, but still — and not in the most awesome shape, and nowhere near thick enough to adequately sand down to properly refinish. Also, it’s going in the office, where it will accompany two existing wood pieces. Just… too much wood for a room with just three pieces of furniture.

What are we doing with this? Hint:

Man… what a Saturday.

Now, to mentally prepare for a four-day worktrip to Vegas next week.

Off the Wall: Hanging Out with Art

“We’ve got to get some stuff up on these walls,” Mister Mister mused the other day. Indeed — but now that the house is ours, all ours, I’m a little terrified of the blank canvas that’s presenting itself to us. I don’t want to just start sticking stuff up willy-nilly, especially because “repainting the newly painted interior,” by necessity, is falling near the bottom of my “to-do” list. And somehow, my old standard practice of printing stuff off the Internet and sticking it in a thrift store frame, while still sound, is losing its luster in the adult world of homeownership.

So I’ve become a little more than obsessed with saving random art happenings for purchase. It might be worth instituting a “piece per month” kind of rule until we have things where we want them. Working with what we already have, also, of course.

For one, I’ve become pretty fond of geographically significant pieces. It’s no longer fun for me to just stick pretty things up for admiration. Lately, I feel like they need to mean something. Like photographer Kim Baker’s shots of Oklahoma. Good gosh, I used to want to get out of that state so badly I could feel my skin crawl. Now, when I drive through a sparse stretch at night with Bon Iver or some such playing, I start to miss the ice storms and the prairies.

Redbud – “at Red Rock Canyon State Park, in an area formed from an Ice Age stream that once flowed through the canyon”

By Kim Baker

Or Tim Bailey’s Route 66 shot

“Daylight Donuts” by Tim Bailey

Seeing how I did have a stint in Chitown — not to mention claiming it as my “heart hometown” during all those teenaged years of hating Tulsa — we couldn’t do without some Windy City art.

“Chicago” by Todd Stewart

City of Chicago Vintage Style Map Poster by Vassi Slavova

 And, of course, we couldn’t go without repping Mister Mister’s old stomping grounds.

NYC Boroughs Vintage Style Map Poster by Vassi Slavova

I’m a fan of the initial art, too, which is probably best intended to teach the alphabet to children, but which suits my fancy to personalize everything in our wake.

Letterpress “J is for jellyfish“/”C is for coral” by Nik Bresnick

 Naturally, Rosie totally needs her own piece.

“Fetch” by Roll & Tumble Press

And I don’t know… I just really like this dapper guy.

 “Mr. Fox” by Melissa Nucera

Music plays a huge part in our lives, so we need some adornments along those lines.

The Beatles art print concert poster by Patrick Concepcion

Pearl Jam at Compact Disc World, 1991″ by Swissted

The Smiths “Take Me Out Tonight” by Lover’s Rock Shop

“Sound III” by Chloe & Coda

And then there’s just a random assortment that suits my fancy.

“Night House” by Amy of Cake With Giants

“La Lune” by Double Merrick with Keep Calm Press

“PFA 007 San Antonio, TX” aerial photography by Brent Yaggi and Sarah Hicks

“The Forest Scene Five” by Tina Crespo

So, what do you think our first art purchase for the house should be? I’m leaning toward something from Kim Baker, but that’s just how selfish I am.

Run across anything else we might like? What art tickles your fancy?