Friday, December 2, 2016

14 Cool Things You Need to Click On Today

Standing in front of the White House (that's it way back there behind the barricades).

So, how was your Thanksgiving? Ours was good! We visited family in Maryland. Then, while we were there, we drove into D.C. to hit some museums and show my kids the White House. I really wanted them to see it before January. (I'm imagining gold-plated columns going up around that time.) It was a great day, but...weird. There's a palatably odd vibe hanging over that city right now. It feels very calm-before-the-storm. It's weird.

And then suddenly, we're in December. I mean, what? How? That means the holidays are just weeks away. I've got you covered for that though. I've already run one gift guide, and I've got many more coming over the next two weeks or so. Stay tuned. And get your credit card ready! ;)

Hope you have a great weekend! Here's a few fun links to check out in the meantime...

•  I just bought this sweater in two different colors. I love that it's long (so it's good with jeans or leggings) and that it's under $100.

• And I bought these shearling boots right before Black Friday and I am obsessed with them now. They are sooo comfy, and though they have a similar vibe to Uggs, they look way more polished and sophisticated. I got the Tobacco shade, but I really want another color now, too! 

• These AG Stilt jeans have been my favorite jeans for the past few months. They're really stretchy, so they're incredibly comfortable--they feel almost like leggings--and also very flattering. I just bought two more pairs! Make sure to get the ones that are 98% cotton, 2% poly.

This faux-fur vest is so. freaking. amazing. It kind of gives me a Kate-Hudson-in-Almost-Famous vibe, which is a VERY GOOD VIBE. Love.

Right now, you can get an extra 40% off sale items at Anthropologie . (I have my eye on this top, this turtleneck, and these booties.)

 This is my new favorite mascara. It makes your lashes super long, but also very defined--not clumpy at all. I actually lost my tube somehow and I'm crying. It's so good and I desperately need a new one now!

• I need a new workout top and this gold one is awesome. The fit is super flattering and I just love the cutout back.

• This piece really made me think. It's a plea for parents to have "Santa" give only small gifts to children--and have the big gifts come from mom and dad. The reason why will make you tear up.

• The real reason why you need to turn off your phone when you're on a plane. (Scary!)

• This tweet made me laugh.

• If you're a Hamilton fan, you'll love this #Ham4Ham performance of songs from the Hamilton Mixtape (which was just released today!). Andra Day's performance of "Burn" is particularly incredible--and, dare I say, even better than the original. (That one starts around 9:15.)

And in case you missed it, I...

• Picked the hottest holiday toys for kids.

• Highlighted the best cyber monday sales.

• ...And the best stuff from J.Crew's amazing sale. (FYI, the sale is now 30% off--still awesome!--with code SHOPGIFTS.)

• Shared a few holiday pics of my kids. (Cute, right??)


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gift Guide: The 14 Hottest Holiday Toys

Some of the coolest events I attend each year aren't beauty events (although those are pretty cool). Really, it's the holiday toy previews that tend to be the most fun. There are some fun toys out there, you guys. 

So, to kick off my 2016 holiday gift guides (they'll be lots of them over the next two weeks!), I wanted to share a few of the best toys I spotted this year. Scoop them up now (that is, if you're not already too late!). Your little ones will thank you (or, well, Santa) later. 

{top row}

Barbie Hello Dreamhouse: It seriously puts any regular ol' dollhouse or dreamhouse to shame. It's wifi-enabled, it plays different songs and sounds in each room, it responds to voice commands, and there's a working elevator. Can I move in?

Furreal Friends Torch My Blazin Dragon: He makes noise, he moves, he responds to touch, and he breaths some (surprisingly realistic-looking) fiery mist. He also comes with a cute marshmallow on a stick that changes color when you "roast" it over the fire. He's totally adorable and not at all "girly," so little boys will love him, too.

Shopkins Happy Places Happy Home Playset: Okay, so you already know about Shopkins, right? (They're those little plastic grocery-shaped figures that kids obsessively collect and trade.) Well, meet the new iteration. They're all shaped like pieces of furniture and various things found in a home. You collect them to try to fill the house. If you're going to buy Happy Places, this Happy Home itself is a good place to start. You can also get individual sets. Your kids will go nuts for them.

Hatchimals: Hands down, this is THE toy of the season. You know how your parents always tell the tale of how they stood in line for hours outside of Toys R Us waiting for your Cabbage Patch Kid back in the '80s? Well, meet 2016's Cabbage Patch Kid. It's a stuffed animal stuck in an egg that breaks out of its shell when you interact with it. Once it's out, it dances, talks, plays games, etc. It's cute, it's fun, and it's impossible to get. Seriously. If you don't have one yet, you may be out of luck. Amazon has them severely marked up. As does Ebay. And then, of course,  there's always the option of standing in line outside of Toys R Us...

{middle row}

Star Wars Smart R2-D2: It's like having your own robot...who happens to be the world's most loveable droid. He responds to your voice (and follows your commands), plays music, dances, recalls popular Star Wars characters, and more. So fun for any little Star Wars fan.

Real Cooking Ultimate Baking Starter Set: This line is cool, because it includes real, usable kitchen tools, plus easy-to-use mixes. (Think Easy Bake oven mixes, but you cook them in the real oven and they taste way better.) This starter set is a good way to begin. It includes two no-slip mixing bowls, three measuring scoops, a silicone cupcake pan, a whisk, a bowl scraper, pastry bags and a decorating tip, two cake mixes, three frosting packets, tons of different sprinkles, and this super cool egg-cracking gadget that allows kids to break eggs themselves, mess-free. You can also order additional sets separately like these cute cake pops and cones. My daughter baked these mini donuts and they were easy and surprisingly tasty! (Also available at Amazon, if you prefer.)

Our Generation Sweet Stop Ice Cream Truck: The truck plays music and has working lights, but what's really impressive is just how much stuff it comes with. Tons and tons of different ice creams, popsicles, frozen treats, etc, etc. It's all incredibly detailed and really cute. FYI: The truck is meant for Target's Our Generation line of dolls, but it fits American Girl dolls perfectly. Just saying...

Build-A-Bear Workshop Stuffing Station: I find this thing beyond adorable. It's a mini version of the "stuffing stations" found in Build-A-Bear stores, so it allows kids to stuff their own bears at home! It comes with supplies to stuff (and dress) two bears, but you can order more. It even comes with the little plastic hearts to stick inside. What kid wouldn't love this??

{bottom row}

Lil Lockitz Memory Studio: This was one of my favorite toys that I saw this year. It's just so simple and fun. Using colored paper, glittery stones, charms, and more, your kid can make fun, one-of-a-kind necklaces, bracelets, and keychains in seconds. It's a fun, crafty, perfect rainy-day activity and the finished products are really cute. This Memory Studio is kind of the deluxe version. You can also get smaller packs like this one for just $5 to $10.

Fisher Price Think & Learn Code-A-Piller: Designed to give kids (think preschoolers up to 8 years old or so) an early introduction to coding, here they'll learn to reconfigure the settings using problem solving and sequencing skills. Perfect for your budding little Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs.

Trolls Poppy's Fashion Frenzy: It's simple, but any little kid who loved the Trolls movie will love this. It's a set of four figures with lots and lots of hair to brush and style. What more do you need?

Yummy Nummies Smore Maker: City kids can pretend they're camping with this easy, no-bake way to fake-make s'mores. There's no heat and no cooking (the included, light-up campfire is just for fun), but the s'mores are edible! 

Skylanders Imaginators: This is a new world to me, because this is not something my daughter is into and my son is still too young, but apparently Skylanders are hot right now and this is the thing to have. For the first time ever, kids can make their own Skylanders totally from scratch, choosing their powers, their name, their catchphrases, even their look (and it gets crazy detailed here. Apparently there are 20 different options for just ears alone). 

Disney Singing Elena of Avalor Doll: She sings, she comes with a cute little guitar, you can dress her up, and she's under $16. Your little girl will go nuts.

So, what do you think? Which toy is your fave? Or is there a great toy I missed? (And, while I have you, here's last year's hottest toy gift guide if you'd like to check it out.)


Monday, November 28, 2016

The 7 Best Cyber Monday Sales

Clockwise from top left: moto jacket (50% off); camo jacket (50% off); shoes (30% off); bag (30% off)

I did some damage this year on Black Friday. I got a few presents for other people (yay!), and okay, a few for me as well. But I didn't go too, too crazy, because I knew that Cyber Monday was just around on the corner. And now, here it is.

For today's Cyber Monday roundup, I chose seven online sales that I'm really excited about. All are major percentages off (because 10% off? Um, nice try, stores), and all include everything on the site. (I hate having to hunt and peck through everything to find the deals, because inevitably, the stuff I want is never on sale!)

So, here are my very favorite things from seven very amazing sales. All are on my own personal wish list, all are majorly good deals, and all will be back to full price starting tomorrow. So, what are you waiting for? Run!

P.S.: While we're at it, here are my picks from the awesome 40%-off J.Crew sale, which is still going on through today!

SKIN STORE: 25% off with code CYBERWKND. (So awesome because beauty products never go on sale! Perfect time to stock up.)

BANANA REPUBLIC: 50% off (no code needed)

ANN TAYLOR: 50% off with code CYBER50

GAP: 50% off with code CYBMON

KATE SPADE: 30% off with code WIRED

TORY BURCH: 30% off with code THANKS

GYMBOREE: 50-80% off the entire site. Plus get an extra $25 off a $100 purchase with code BONUSDAY.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Best Stuff From J.Crew's Massive Sale

You guys, this is not a drill. J.Crew is having their biggest sale ever and it is good. It's 40 percent off (!) nearly everything on the site through November 27th. Just use code HOLIDAY. You're welcome.

I've pulled a few of my favorites here. There really is so much good stuff right now...

{top row, from left}

Mockneck Sweater - Looks so cozy!

Belted Puffer Coat - I bought this coat last year and it got me through winter beautifully. It has a really slim, dare I say flattering cut (usually puffers make you look so huge!), but still keeps you super warm. And it has gold buttons!

Lady Jacket - I'd wear this Chanel knockoff with jeans, a tee, and heels. Love the metallic thread running through the tweed.

Margot Top - The pinstripes cut the sweetness of the ruffles. Super versatile and work with jeans, more tailored pants, or a skirt. 

Straightaway Jeans - I really need new jeans and I really love the prominent gold buttons on this pair. And with the sale, they're an even $100!

{middle row, from left}

Chateau Parka - I just bought this a few weeks ago and I'm loving it so far. It's way warmer than I expected and I like that it's a classic look that will never go out of style. I got a tan color, but this emerald is just so gorgeous. It also comes in gray, red, black, etc.

Tweed-and-Lace Top - Would be so good with jeans and a blazer, right?

Tippi Sweater with Stars - The world's best sweater (that I can never stop raving about), now with cute embroidered gold stars!

Fair Isle Sweater - Nice twist on the classic. I'd probably live in this all winter.

{bottom row, from left}

Lace-Up Leopard Flats - I love the lace-up shoe trend and I've been dying for leopard flats, so...

Faux-Fur Pom Pom - So cute dangling from a purse. And it's under $10 with the sale price!

Mini Rider Bag - Kind of like those mini Chloe bags that everyone loves, but infinitely less expensive.

Beaded Tassel Earrings - I'm usually more of a studs girl, but these are tempting me. Such a statement piece!

Which of my picks are your favorites? Tell me below!


Monday, November 21, 2016

Our Holiday Photo Mini Session

A few weeks back, I took the kids to a local park for a mini photo session with photographer Morgan Bayard. (She has photographed for us before at this party and this party!) This was actually my first time doing a mini session, which is essentially a "quickie" shoot where you get a block of just 20 minutes. It costs less than a full shoot, and honestly, it's better for little kids anyway, because very few of them want to be posing for an hour. (Case in point: this disaster of a holiday shoot.)

Although, truthfully, my kids couldn't even properly hold it together for the 20 minutes here. Even under the promise of ice cream, I spent the entire time standing behind Morgan and threatening to take away the ice cream, future treats, iPads, etc. They were acting so silly the entire time that I was genuinely worried that we wouldn't get any good shots. Luckily, we managed to snap a few cute ones. :)

I'll be using one of these for our holiday cards this year. I'm going to be ordering from Minted again, because we've always had such a great experience with them. I'll be revealing our card here soon! But if you're planning to order cards, now is a good time, just FYI, because Minted is having a 15 percent off sale throught tomorrow night. Use code HOLIDAY15.

(Oh! And I've linked to their clothes below, if you're interested. I'm obsessed with the Mini Boden outfit my daughter is wearing. I want to recreate it in my size!)

Any guesses as to which shot I'm using for our cards? ;)


Friday, November 11, 2016

11 Cool Things You Need to Click On Today

New haircut!

Geez. What a week, right? I'm officially spent. You too? Well, in this post, I'm going to go into complete denial for a moment and focus on the fun, easy-breezy links below. Consider them an escape from your cable-news haze--and my gift to you. #hugs

• In breaking (shallow) news: I got a haircut! That's a pic of it above. Jon Reyman at Spoke & Weal salon in Soho did the cut. (And Courtney covered my gray!) It's over three inches shorter now (eek!), which honestly, I kind of freaked out about immediately afterwards. But it feels so much healthier and way cooler. I'm loving it.

• I recently bought this long cardigan with faux-leather patches on the sleeves. It's great--and it's now on sale for only $65. Scoop it up, people!!

• I also recently bought a new winter coat. I went with this one from J.Crew and I love it. It looks really nice with both jeans and dresses, it comes in so many good colors,  and it's (surprisingly!) really, really, warm. Best part: It's also on sale right now. Run and scoop it up!

• Speaking of J.Crew, I've sung the praises of their Tippi sweater many times. (Flattering, goes with everything, can work casually or more dressed up, comes in a million colors, etc etc) I buy a few new ones every year. This year, I'll scoop up a solid color or two, but I also have my eye on this one with its cool Fair Isle pattern. And the Tippi sweaters are on sale right now, too!

• How amazing is this shiny silver skirt? And it's under $100!

• Can someone buy me this gorgeous emerald-green bag? Kthanxbye.

• This cute sweatshirt is the story of my life.

• Have you heard of Function of Beauty? I went to an event for them yesterday. It's this cool company that lets you personalize your shampoo and conditioner, choosing everything from the benefits it offers (frizz-control, color protection, extra conditioning, etc) to the color and scent of the product. It's such an interesting concept. You can check it out here, or if you live in New York City, you can visit their pop-up shop at 219 Mulberry Street in Nolita, which is going on through November 16.

• This dad turned his kid's art into reality. So cool!

And in case you missed it, I...

• Struggled with how to tell my daughter about the election results.

• Appeared (briefly!) in a political video.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What Do We Tell Our Kids?

talking to kids about the election
All smiles after casting our vote

It's 2:30 a.m. right now and I am gutted. I feel like I'm living in a surreal world. Or a nightmare. Definitely not real life. I'm sitting here, stunned. The TV is on, as it has been for hours, but I have it on mute now. I can't listen to another second of the funeral march that is MSNBC. I'm exhausted, but I can't go to sleep. Yes, I am in disbelief that half of this country voted for a racist, misogynistic, sociopathic con man. But it's more than that. I'm afraid of tomorrow morning for another reason.

Because early tomorrow morning, my daughter is going to come into our room, crawl into the bed and excitedly say: "Mommy! Mommy! Did Hillary win??" And I'm going to have to disappoint her--and I don't yet know how to do that.

My daughter is only six, but she was incredibly captivated by this election. She loved the idea of a female president. She was shocked when she learned that there was a time that women couldn't vote. ("That's not fair!" she said.) She came with me to vote during the primary and she came with me to vote this morning. She asked to push the button to make the vote official. She was excited to do it. We took a smiling selfie outside of our polling place.

She also felt intuitively that Donald Trump was not a good person. "He's mean!" she said. "He's a bully!" (She also added: "I don't like his signature hairstyle. It's too swoopy!" And yes, those were all her words!)

How do I tell her that the bully won? Bullying isn't supposed to be rewarded--and certainly not in this way. How do I explain that, sometimes, bullies win? 

Tomorrow morning, in bedrooms all around the country, children will climb into beds and want to know the outcome. If you are thinking this is the point in this essay where I offer sage advice and wisdom, you will be disappointed.

Because I don't know what the hell I am going to say.

The bully with no experience who didn't do his homework won. I'm an adult and I can't wrap my head around that. So, how can I expect a six year old to do so?

If you have any advice, please share it. I'm at a loss. And I'm so, so dreading the morning. Because tomorrow morning, I'm going to have to break my daughter's heart.

**UPDATE**: So she woke up at 6:30--and it was worse than I had imagined. I was alone, because my husband was already at work. (He works in finance, and because of Trump's election, there is now a global financial crisis, so it was all hands on deck in his office. Fun!) Here is a basic transcript of what went down.

Her: Mommy! Who won?
Me: [takes deep breath] Donald Trump.
Her. Stop it. You're joking. Who won?
Me: Donald Trump.
Her: I can't tell if you're joking. Really?
Me: I'm not joking. He really won.
Her: [Runs into bathroom and starts bawling]
Me: [knocks on the door and entersI know you are upset. I'm sad, too. But talk to me. Why exactly are you so sad?
Her: Because Hillary Clinton won't be the first girl president!
Me: Hillary may not be the first girl president, but now maybe YOU can be the first girl president!
Her: But now girls are not going to want to try to be president because they won't be positive about it, and they will think it isn't possible.
Me: [heart breaks]
Her: And I am sad because Donald Trump is the president! [bawling] He lies and you said the vice president is worse and now Donald Trump is going to go to jail for lying and then the vice president is going to be president.
Me: That's not going to happen. [thinks to self: "That may happen. Holy crap."]
Her: Why do boys always win? It's not fair. Even if the girls try really hard?
Me: [thinks to self: "WTF DO I SAY TO THIS BECAUSE SHE IS RIGHT?" Decides to lie.] They don't always win. In four years, we might have a girl president. The important thing to know is that mommy loves you, daddy loves you, and it's going to be okay. Your life is not going to change. 
Her: This is going to be the worst four years.

You got that right, kid.