Monday, April 24, 2017

When Your Kid Can't Decide on a Birthday Theme (a.k.a Our Paris/Disney Descendants Party)

paris party birthday cake

paris party decor

We recently celebrated my daughter's seventh birthday (party photos coming soon!). But it was around that time that I realized that I had never posted photos of her sixth birthday. (D'oh.) But, really, the reason is simple (and stupid): The pictures were just not good. So every time I went to work on the post, I became annoyed. Unlike birthday parties past, we didn't hire a professional photographer--something I regretted immediately upon looking at the pictures--so I just kept putting the post off and putting it off. And then suddenly she was seven, and I hadn't documented my daughter's birthday simply because every photo wasn't Pinterest Perfect.

So, here I am. With my crappy iPhone pictures. And we're all just going to deal with it, okay? ;)

paris party decor
paris party

paris party ideas
paris party

If you're confused what kind of party this is by looking at the photos, you'd be forgiven for that. My daughter went back and forth between two party ideas, and in the end, announced she wanted both. So we did a mash-up of the two: Behold our "Paris and Disney Descendants Party." I'd venture to say we may be the first and only ones to do this combo.

I went with the red, white, and blue version of Paris (versus the pink macarons-and-poodles thing that you see a lot), which seemed to fit in better with the Disney stuff. I ordered instant downloads of Paris and Descendants-themed art off Etsy, then printed them out for wall decor. (I'm still planning to re-use the Paris prints in a gallery wall for her room, but considering it took me a year to do this blog post, I'll probably be doing the gallery-wall blog post--and, okay, the actual gallery wall--around the time she leaves for college.). I scattered a few cheapie Eiffel towers all around, wrapped water bottles and juice boxes in Decendants printables from Etsy, added a few red, white, and blue balloons, and propped up Paris- and Descendants-themed books that we already owned as additional decor.

I covered the tables in French flag tablecloths and scattered Eiffel Tower confetti on top. The birthday girl's outfit was a replica of a Disney Descendants "Evie" costume (sewed by my mom!), and her American Girl doll was dressed in a matching version. A giant Eiffel Tower scene on the wall doubled as a photo backdrop
paris party

disney descendants favors

And my mom made the cake! We topped it with a mini metal Eiffel tower and some super cheap plastic Descendants rings. Done and done.

For entertainment, the girls colored French-themed pictures when they first got there (I just ripped out pages from some French coloring books), and then settled in for a magician show. (The magic show certainly wasn't Disney-ish. Or French, but oh well. C'est la vie.)

The favors were my favorite part! I made little baggies with a macaron pen, a macaron lip balm, an Eiffel Tower crayon, Paris tattoos, a Descendants ring, and an Eiffel Tower sugar cookie (again, made by mom!). Tied each bag up with red, white, and blue ribbon, and voila!

(Did I mention that I was super busy around this time and ended up having to pull this all together in a week? Thank god for Amazon Prime, patron saint of slacker moms everywhere.)

All in all, despite the lazy planning, my daughter and all of her guests had a great time. And, really, what could be more magnifique than that?

So merci for allowing me to go back in time to share my seven year old's sixth birthday party. See you in a few years when I reveal pics of the bash we just threw for her seventh! (Kidding. I hope.) 

Friday, April 21, 2017

15 Cool Things You Need to Click On Today

rainbow flowers
I'm obsessed with this photo by @thebelleabroad. It looks like a rainbow unicorn secret garden, but it's actually the entrance to a resturant in London! Instagram #goals.

I've been totally MIA lately and I really apologize! Been crazy busy with writing, work events, planning parties, and who knows what else. I'll have a lot of fresh content for you soon, but wanted to pop in now to share a few fun links. And it's quite a mix today! We've got cool clothes (most on sale!), must-have beauty products....annnnd the heart-wrenching story of parents emotionally abusing their kids on YouTube. (Eek.) So, yes, let's just say, today is a bit of a grab bag.

In real life, this weekend, we're laying pretty low. We have a few birthday parties and school-related events, and I've got to catch up on some work. Hoping for some good weather--but the forecast doesn't look super promising. (Spring, where are you??) Well, whatever you're up to this weekend, I hope you make it a great one. In the meantime, here's a few great reads, clicks, and deals. Enjoy!

• One of my favorite things to wear in the spring is a breezy top and jeans. Soo...I just bought a couple of spring-y tops online at Ann Taylor, and was surprised how flattering and cute they're in person. Now they are having a 40% off sale (use code WARMUP), so I'd recommend checking them out, stat! I already own this lace-sleeved top, this blue tank, this blue ruffle shell (one my my faves--I want it in the other color now!), and this white knotted top (FYI, this one runs big. I'd recommend sizing down). And now I have my eye on this muted lavender-gray top, this pleated-shoulder blouse, and this patterned, long-sleeve top.

• Such a good deal: These adorable eyelet dresses are under $100 even before the sale. But now you can get an extra 25% off with code HOPTOIT.

• Current beauty obsession: This SPF primer from Coola. It feels weightless, really helps makeup last longer, and has SPF 30!

• I love Birks in the summer, and this studded version is like their badass, even-cooler sister. Need! 

• This white-lace dress is pricey, yes, but it's nothing short of stunning.

• How sweet and summery is this strawberry cosmetic bag?

• I've been testing this It Cosmetics concealer for the past few months, and it's definitely awesome. It's super thick, so your dark circles stand no chance. I love it!

• Have you ever tried Eggs Goldenrod? I haven't, but they sound incredible. Want to make asap!

• Easter for grownups: chocolate bunny shots.

• Dreamy braids!

• I love this story by friend Alison Brod: How I Used a FitBit to Bond With My Son. (Totally want to steal this idea and use it with my iPad-obsessed daughter!)

• Made me laugh: Ulta Releases Line of Shitty Hair Ties To Give Cheap-Ass Friends

• An 8-year-old boy and his little sister really want McDonalds, so he takes his parents' car and drives there. Best part: says he learns how to drive by watching YouTube.

• Larry David's daughter has a new online series and it's totally "Curb Your Enthusiasm" for the millennial set. And it's funny!

• Have you guys heard of the YouTube family that is basically emotionally abusing their kids (but calling them "pranks") on camera for clicks and likes? This video is hard to watch, but I'm so glad this guy exposed them. It's important to know what's out there--and I'm hoping that YouTube pulls their channel and these people are investigated. I'm actually thinking of doing a longer post to further discuss this. (Are you guys interested?) But oh my gosh: Poor, poor Cody. :(

Monday, April 3, 2017

These 3 New Body Washes Are Awesome (And Affordable!)

bath and body works cocoshea

Wanted to pop in quickly to share three new body washes that I'm totally loving right now. All are currently in my shower and I just rotate between them. Best part: All are pretty affordable, available at drugstores or the mall. Score! 

Bath & Body Works CocoShea Increadibly Creamy Body Wash - It has the consistancy of a deep conditioner, so it's super moisturizing. And it smells yummy--like coconut (duh), but still subtle, not at all overwhelming or fake.

Le Petit Marseillais Vanilla Milk Extra Gentle Shower Creme - I love this new line, because it looks like something you'd find in a cool French pharmacy. And that's because it is something you'd find there! Le Petit Marseillais has been available in France for years and just hit the states this year. There are lots of scents, but I really like this vanilla one--warm, nostalgic, and just really, really pretty.

Kneipp Relaxing Lavender Shower Foam - The texture is awesome and so different. Imagine squirting an ultra-moisturizing shave cream into your hands and then slathering it all over your body, and you've pretty much nailed what this feels like. I especially love this one for evening showers. The lavender scent is super calming.

What body washes are you guys into right now? Tell me your faves, below!

Monday, March 20, 2017

When Your Kid Makes A YouTube Beauty Video

My daughter is what you could call a YouTube Superfan. She started by watching videos of kids (and adults!) opening toys or "surprise eggs." Soon she had moved on to tweens giving tours of their rooms, performing beauty tutorials, pranking each other, or playing Roblux (yes, she likes to watch videos of kids playing video games). 

She has been asking to do her own videos--and start her own YouTube channel--forever, and this weekend, we finally relented. There's just one video up right now, but it's pretty funny, if I do say so myself.

For the video, I gave her three fancy beauty products (she hadn't seen any of them before), and then she opened them on camera, tried them on, and gave her honest opinions. And, boy, does she have opinions! 

I know I'm biased, but she was really kind of a natural on camera! She definitely needs to learn to be a little "tighter" with her delivery (it gets rambling at times)--or I need to learn to properly edit--but it's really cute. And funny!

Please give it a view, and--if you want to make her day, give it a "like" or a comment. And if you want to make her year, you can subscribe to her "Sadie Sass" channel, so you'll get a notification when she uploads a new video.

Just think: You--and I--can say we knew her when. :)

So, what did you think? Do I have a YouTube star in the making?

Friday, March 10, 2017

18 Cool Things You Need to Click On Today

This week, man. It started with my son taking a nosedive at the park and getting this shiner. (He's fine!) And ever since--unrelated to my son's smoky eye--I've just been a big time stressball. Not only do I have a major deadline for a huge, complicated story rapidly approaching, I've also been planning my daughter's seventh birthday party, which takes place tomorrow (eek!). 

So, I'm stopping here briefly to drop some links and say hi (hi!), then I'll head back to stalking sources for my story and furiously prepping favors for the par-tay.

Whatever you're up to this weekend, I hope you'll make it a good one! Here's some fun stuff to check out in the meantime.

• This Banana Republic dress is so pretty. I love the '20s vibe of the silhouette and it looks so flattering, right? And right now you can get 50% off (score!) with code BRFAMILY.

• This striped Anthro dress is just so cheery and fun.

• And this rainbow dress (for the kiddos!) is absolutely adorable. (Get 30% off with code JOY30.)

• Are you watching Big Little Lies on HBO? Please say you're watching it. It is SO. FREAKING GOOD. The acting is incredible (it's a career performance for Reese Witherspoon, for sure), the homes are insanely gorgeous (major real-estate porn), and the story itself is funny and captivating. And if you haven't read the book, I highly recommend that as well. (It's a quick, really fun read, so tear through that first if you haven't started watching the series yet.)

• Tory Burch one-pieces are my absolute favorite bathing suits. (They're not cheap, but they are really great quality, super flattering, and so cute!) This green one is next on my list.

• There was a fun beauty chat with Laura Dern in the New York Times recently. She raved about this Chanel lip crayon in Rose Violine, so now I'm dying to try it! (I'm not necessarily a die hard Laura Dern fan, but I love any lipcolor that's "your lips but better," any good lip crayon, and of course, anything Chanel.)

• Loved these hacks for getting the Anthropologie home look for less. (This patterned door knob DIY is particularly amazing.)

• If you need a good cry, here you go. A dying woman tells you why you should marry her husband after she's gone.

Random NYC real-estate news: So, there's this little cottage on top of a building in the Village that you can see from the street that I've always been obsessed with. Well, it's now available for rent! Only problem: Someone is going to need to give me the $19,000 every single month for rent. (Ugh.)

• Love this column from Dear Polly called "Am I Pretty?" Especially loved this section: "Our culture demands that women make an effort to look good, and then it demeans us for doing so. We’re either slobs or we’re high-maintenance girly girls. We are letting it all go as we age or we’re sad cougars chasing our youth." Sad but oh so true.

• In the moment, many of us have struggled with whether we should give money to panhandlers. (Will it just encourage them? Will they buy beer instead of food?) I know I have. That's why I loved this simple advice from the Pope (!) about what to do in these situations.

• Amber Rose's beauty routine was fun to read. She dyes her hair every four days!

• Why you shouldn't get your daughter's ears pierced at the mall. (FYI, I kind of love this, but my daughter never would have gone for it. We got hers pierced at Claire's in, yes, the mall.)

• This video of a baby moving in mom's belly is craaaazy.

And in case you missed it, I...

• Confessed about my own post-partum hair thinning.

• Revealed the four best drugstore mascaras.

• Shared pictures from our (kid-free!) vacation in St. Lucia.

• Cried my way through my daughter turning seven years old.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Baby is 7 Years Old Today

Posing on her birthday morning. (And how about that '90s-esque outfit complete with choker?!)

Seven years ago.
My daughter turns seven years old today. Seven. Wow. It seems...old, right? As my friend Andrea, who is also the mother of a seven year old, said: "Seven seems like a real person."

And a real person, she definitely is. My seven year old loves clothes (as anyone who follows me on Instagram knows). She loves playing Roblox on her iPad. She loves watching cooking shows, particularly when they involve kids. (This is where she learned about the "raspberry coulis" she insisted on adding to my homemade boxed birthday cake last month.) For her birthday this year, my seven year old is getting slightly more mature gifts like a purse, a pair of earrings, and an emoji pillow, whereas in years past, the presents were all toys. My seven year old even has newly pierced ears! 

It's official: My little girl is growing up. She can read. She can successfully sleep over at a friend's house. She can even talk back to me! (Yep. It's not all roses. She often tells me I'm the "worst mom in the world"--usually in response to some barbaric offense I've committed like not letting her have a second Kit Kat for dessert or asking her to put her shoes on.)

But my seven year old is also still my baby. She still calls me mommy or mama. She wants to snuggle with me if we're watching TV. She wants me to walk her to school--and into her classroom--every morning. She tells me she wants to look like me when she grows up. She wants me to lay down with her every night while she falls asleep. And even though I always have a million things to do after tucking her in, I lay down with her. Partly because she usually falls asleep within minutes, and partly because I know these days won't last forever. There will come a time--sooner rather than later, I fear--when she won't want me to be there while she falls asleep. It will be "get out of my room, mom!" while she texts boys under the covers. 

Oh god. 

But until that day comes (will it be 16? 14? earlier??), I'll enjoy the in-between goodness that is her seventh year when she's certainly not a baby girl, but not really a big one either.

Sadie, I love everything about you so much. You're the best "real person" I know. Happy birthday.

(a.k.a. Mommy. a.k.a. The Meanest Mom In The World)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My Hair Is Thinning--Yes, Really!

In partnership with Aveda

My hair has always been my thing. As far back as I can remember, it has always been thick and full. And during pregnancy, it was even fuller! But as any mom can tell you, the lush, estrogen-fueled hair you enjoy during those nine months doesn't last forever. The cruel reality is that, at some point after giving birth, it falls out. Mine sure did. After having my daughter, my hair did eventually back to its normal level of thickness. But then I had kid #2. And things...changed. Around three and a half years ago--right around the time I stopped breastfeeding my son--my hair was suddenly noticeably different, and much, much thinner.

My part has grown way wider, there's an obvious thinning patch behind my left temple, my ponytail is much, much skinnier than it used to be, and every time I wash my hair, scary clumps collect in the drain. (I've actually had hairstylists ask, "Oh my gosh--are you okay?" as they stand there holding a fistful of my hair in their hand.) Don't believe me? This is my hair in 2011 (R.I.P., sniff sniff), and the photos above are my hair now. 

Now, do I still have thick hair? Yes. Obviously. I'm not bald, I know that. I started with very thick hair, so I still have relatively thick hair. But it is much, much less thick. It's nowhere near what it used to be, and I want to stop the thinning in its tracks. Like, yesterday.

So, I recently visited my dermatologist and primary care doctor to see if it was anything to worry about, medically. And's not. It's just an unfortunate, normal, natural side effect of having kids and getting older. (Yay?) 

But that doesn't mean I'm going to take it! So, recently, for the first time in my life, I started researching shampoos, conditioners, and treatments that would add bulk to my hair and maybe even help encourage new growth.

As a longtime beauty editor and writer, I've seen it all and knew there were a lot of crappy products out there. I didn't want something gimmick-y. I also didn't want anything super chemical-y or medicinal. I wanted something with natural ingredients that still had top-notch technology and research behind it. And it actually had to be pleasant to use.

So I was thrilled when Aveda approached me to partner with them and try out their Invati system. I had been hearing good things about it and was intrigued. I've been a fan of Aveda since high school, and from my beauty-editor life, I know they have amazing ingredients and really know their stuff. (Plus, does anything smell better than Aveda hair products? That would be NOPE.) I looked into the Invati line a little more and knew I wanted to give it a try.

So, I'm trying it! Here's the deal: There’s three products in the system: the Exfoliating Shampoo, which contains salicylic acid to remove pore-clogging sebum and product residue; the Thickening Conditioner, with arginine to help prevent breakage, guar and rapeseed to help thicken, and Densiplex, an Ayurvedic blend of herbs (think tumeric, gingseng) that energizes the scalp when massaged in; and the Scalp Revitalizer, which is a leave-in scalp-stimulating product with that same Ayuveric blend, plus vitamin E. (Note: There are two options for the conditioner: the Thickening Conditioner, and the one I’m using, the Thickening Intensive Conditioner, which is super rich and feels more like a masque than a traditional conditioner, which I love.)
All photos by Raquel Bianca Photography
I just started trying them and can already report that the instant effects are the real deal: My hair was noticeably thicker the very first time I used the products. I’m now excited to see the effects over time!

In fact, I’ll be coming back soon with a full report after using it for a few weeks. And in the meantime, if you’d like to test it along with me, here's your chance: I've partnered with Aveda to give away five full sets of all three products, valued at $123. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below and good luck!

Thank you to Aveda for sponsoring this post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway