Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Stitch Fix: A Review

My sister turned me on to this wonderful service called Stitch Fix.  You might have heard of it, but if not here's the quick snap shot.  You fill out a style profile, then a professional stylist sends you outfits and accessories tailored to you.  They send you five items each 'fix' and you can keep as many as you want.  You pay $20 to have the fix sent to you, but the styling fee is deducted if you buy anything.

My first fix came just days after my birthday in October, a late birthday present to myself.  It was full of great things, and I kept two of them.  A skirt and a dress.  The dress in these photos is from my stitch fix.  My sister's dress if from her fix as well.  The family that fixes together, stays together?

Anyways, I wanted to share all the items in my box, so you could really get a feel for it.

This is what the box looks like when it arrives- a little happiness at the doorstep.  Then you open it and it's wonderful inside too!  Wrapped up all nice. They give you a listing of everything in the box, and a note from your Stylist about why she picked items.    Hi Lori!

My favorite part of this is that they show you  how to accessorize and wear the items in your box.  I keep these, and hang them by my mirror in the bedroom for easy reference. When I opened my box I loved everything when I saw it, but putting things on made it a bit different...

First the pants.  I didn't keep them, because they were a bit odd looking around the middle.

Then there was this Geo-print dress. My husband loved it, but it was a bit to low-cut for me. Everything they have been sending has been breastfeeding friendly, but this one was just a bit to much for me.

This dress was also AMAZING!  I almost kept it, but when I looked at myself full-on, it made me look a bit short.  I know that seems weird, but just where the waistline was...

These earrings were just sort of eh for me.  They looked to costumey for my tastes...

This was the dress I'm keeping, and I'm SO EXCITED about it.   It fits my curves, is nursing friendly, shows off what I want, hides when I need it to.  Also easy to dress up and down.  PERFECT!

The prices were in the $70's for the dresses, and $130 for the jeans.  But with my fix money taken out I think the dress I kept was a steal for $50.

Do you want to try it?  Easy clothing straight to your door, brand-name and selected for you.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Compare and Contrast: EG vs Ocho

Okay, I realize that everyone out there who just read this title just yelled at me.  Your chastising me for comparing my daughters, but I'm not, I promise. I'm comparing myself.  In some ways, I guess I'm comparing being a working mom to being a stay at home mom, which I realize is the most controversial subject among moms anywhere.  Probably just as controversial as CIO vs non-CIO (Cry-it-out).

But anyways, It's my blog and my life, and I've honestly reached some conclusions.  However, I have to preface this by stating that right now I have PostPartum Depression and Anxiety.  It's actually the reason I'm not back at work.  It's actually still fairly crippling- leaving me running away from circumstances that in the past I would have jumped right towards- but that's for another conversation.  I'm just saying that it's possible that much of my experience is influenced by that...

When EG was three months old I went back to work.  She went to stay with the lovely ladies at the Infant Center at Growing Garden.  And it went well, it really did.  She loved school, blossomed, etc.  When we were at home together there were several things I did...

 Here I am dropping off EG for school, it was part of Dresscember...

1. I never worked on chores while I was with EG.  I just didn't feel like I could. We got so little time with her everyday, it was about 2 hours total before she was getting in the bath and getting ready for bed, and that was on a good day.  So, I did all the chores after she fell asleep.  The dishes, the laundry, etc.

2. I never watched TV with EG around.  Again, only two hours of time together, so I made the most of it.  Additionally she isn't supposed to watch TV at all until at least 2 years old, so a win-win.

3. I never left EG when I could have been breastfeeding her.  We took almost all of our date nights after she went to bed.  It wasn't until she was at least a year old that I would take a few hours on the weekend, or leave early on a weeknight.  Since she was taking a bottle so much of the time, I wanted to make sure she got the breast when she could.

4. I didn't buy many nursing clothes.  I only wore them on the weekend really- in fact the picture above is a full turtle-neck dress.  But it didn't matter because I pumped in a place where I could get basically totally undressed, so I didn't worry about it.

Now we get to Ocho.  By this point in time I had already been back at work for a few months, so the circumstances of Ocho turning 5 months are completely different.

Here I am with Ocho at 'school'- aka our weekly Mommy and Me class.

1. I do TONS of chores around her.  I am constantly putting things away.  Since I'm not earning my full salary we've cut EG from daycare one day a week, and we've dropped aftercare entirely.  So we are home a lot of the time. And as my SIL says, when you use your home, it gets messy.  It's hard to keep everything clean and tidy when there are two kiddos running around at least 4 hours a day.

2. I watch TV around her.  Not with her, and I try not to let her watch, but I'll sit down for my lunch when she is taking a nap and if she wakes up early and I haven't finished my lunch, I'll just finish my lunch and my show together.  I'll put her in the bouncer, or the command center (Baby Einstein) or just let her hang on her tummy or back under her baby gym.  Don't judge, I'm hungry and I need a little me time.

3. I leave her with bottles on random errands.  In fact Working Dad has even taken a bottle of milk down to the beach for a morning walk.  I'm not saying it works (she hates the bottle, so yeah...) but it's just a totally different approach.  Since I nurse her almost exclusively (both kids only got breast milk, it was just bottle vs breast) I don't feel like I need her to have time at the breast.  It's fine if we want to go for dinner- let's do it!

4. I have TONS of new clothes.  With EG the thrill was getting back into my old clothes, wearing what I used to wear.  Now I need new things.  I'm constantly accessible, not to mention that I'm in casual clothes most of the time.  It's hard to wear business slacks when you are painting, or cleaning, etc.

I don't mean to say that all working moms do the things that I did, nor do all stay-at-home moms watch TV. But it's been interesting to have a bit of both sides of the coin.  And to see how it's effected my kiddos so far.  I can't help but wonder if Ocho's hesitancy regarding strangers has to do with the fact that she is almost always with me...

And, for those of you who wonder, I was there when both of my girls rolled over the first time.  In fact, even Matt got to see Ocho, since she was kind enough to do it on a Saturday.  I haven't felt much of a difference 'watching them grow' with milestones.

Have you had it both ways?  Were things different for you?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Theodore

When I was a little girl, around 2-3 years old, my mom gave me a CareBear.  She didn't just give me a CareBear, she also gave one to my two best friends at the time- Ilana and Janine.  I sure wish that in all the photos I've been sorting I could find one of the three of us with our bears... maybe...

I present to you, Theodore:

Quite possibly my best and oldest friend.  That's right, he still sleeps on my bed at night.  He became named Theodore when we were in London on my sisters Bat Mitzvah trip.  I remember thinking that calling him Teddy (which was his name until that point) just wasn't a name enough.  He needed to be something more sophisticated, something better.  So, Theodore.

He's amazing. He survived a dog attack (thank you Becky Wilson!), being kidnapped from my bed at camp and soccer overnights.  He's still here through boyfriends, roommates, kids and everything in between. He's never been judgmental, or cruel.  He's always there for a hug.

My husband says I only have two settings- barnacle or golden retriever.  Theodore doesn't mind.  He doesn't have any hair on top of his head because I chewed it all off between the ages of 3-5.  He's just about bald, but unlike Working Dad, he doesn't mind his receding hairline.

When my mom died and I thought I couldn't ever sleep again, he brought me comfort.  When there seems to be no one else to turn to, no one who will hold me long enough for all the sobs to leave my body- there is Theodore.

For good or bad, through thick and thin there he has always been for me. The gift of love that my mom passed along.

So this year, since EG is between 2-3 years old and happens to also have two best friends, I thought I would try to pass along the magic of Theodore to her and her friends...

I give you three girls with three purple bears:

These girls have come to mean a lot not only to EG, but also to me and Working Dad.  They were her first friends in daycare, now people with whom our daughter shares playtime, laughs and fun.  I hope that they might be in our lives for a long time.  But mostly, I hope that her teddy bear might become as important to her as mine is to me.

Of course, there is no way to convince EG to love her teddy bear as I have mine- and I'll share with you that of the three, Theodore doesn't happen to be the 'best' loved of the three.  But he is mine, and by giving one to EG, I hope she gains the kinship of teddy bear.  A love that knows no bounds, has no boundaries, and transcends earthly space and time.  I hope that when bad things come her way, as I know they will, she can hug him and hold him, and remember that she is loved and oh so special.

Do you want a special bear to give to a special child in your life?  Happy Holidays- enter below for a chance to win and celebrate the New Year with a new friend.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Gelt Fiend Delivered!

I can't tell you HOW EXCITED I was to get the Chanukah Sweater that I mentioned earlier.

How's this sweater for Holiday spirit!  It's exactly what I was looking for, warm, comfy, cozy... It's soft and stretchy and deliciously appropriate for the holidays.  When you look at it initially, it almost passes you by that it's a holiday sweater, and especially that it's a Chanukah one.

EG's is also awesome, totally perfect for her.  If they had had this one in my size (which they used to, but it was almost out of stock) I would have bought it as well.  But, unfortunately you can't buy them all.  She loves the little pockets, and how nice and warm it is.  It's definitely getting a lot of use this season, and will fit her for at least another year or two.

I love how they took the motifs of the season (snowflakes and trees) and made them coordinate with Chanukah.  There are so many 'holiday' songs that speak to winter that aren't really Christmas, but somehow get lumped in there too.  This way, it makes trees just trees, and snow totally for everyone.

Here's the last one I bought, my favorite.  High-waisted, and just plain fun!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Chanukah with the other side...

It's been almost five years of marriage and at least two years of dedicated dating, but this year was the first time that I had Chanukah with Working Dad's side of the family.

Now, it's not all their fault.  I own a cat.  A delightful, adorable little creature that I bought when I moved into my first apartment.  Unfortunately, my wonderful Sister-in-Law is allergic, so there goes any chance of hosting them at my house.  that's not to say she hasn't come to visit, because she has.  She just can't go inside.  And, as she'll remind me- technically I lit my chanukkiah at their house once- a long time ago, before I was Aunt Elizabeth.

This was the first time that the whole family gathered around and we had a get together that was almost specifically for Chanukah.  The reality is that it was for the boat parade in Newport beach, but since it was Chanukah, and not Christmas, we decided that it would be appropriate to celebrate together...

As you may know, Ocho is named so because she was the eighth grandchild born to my husband's parents.  Here's Ocho and the Niner, each with the special man in their lives... Daddy.  With so many kiddos running around we had to have lots of activities. I brought coloring cards (pottery barn a few years ago), and of course, we had dreidel to play.

My oldest niece H was ready to test out her dreidel skills.  She worked hard to win win win.  For Great Grandpa it was his first time playing, and I'm so blessed that he didn't really hesitate to get involved and try his hand at the game.  Imagine all of them trying to learn the letters to an alphabet they have no connection to- all in an attempt to win the most chocolate.

The evening was fun, if full of ironies...

But in so many ways it's events like this that make us the glorious family that we are.  That all our kids can enjoy each other and their holidays and appreciate the uniqueness that makes each family different.  But it's also hard.  EG didn't know who Santa Claus was. Normally, this might be a problem you would worry about, but in my case the rest of the family doesn't believe in Santa either, so it's not as difficult as it could be.

We lit the Chanukkiah (I was to busy lighting to grab a photo, but one will arrive when I get one from my Father-in-law), and sang some songs. 

How does your interfaith family share the holidays? Do you celebrate with each side together?  Do you go to theirs, do they come to yours?  I loved celebrating Chanukah with Working Dad's side this way.  For so many years we've gone to Christmas, but this year felt like the first time we are really sharing the holidays equally.  Even though the boat parade only featured Christmas.  Even though there were poinsettas decorating the tables, it felt like the whole family was gathering around us, warming to our traditions and allowing us to be part of the celebration.

And at the same time, it allows EG to have positive happy memories with Christmas. Of time with family, of connectedness and togetherness.  Of love and laughter, joy and peace.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hand-me-down Clothes

I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters, both of which I am enamoured with.  My sister has been blessed with two adorable boys.  Both of whom are handsome and wonderful.  Unfortunately, my mother had no sons.  Therefore all of the hand-me-downs from our childhood are currently residing in my house.  And I totally love them.

I've put EG in the clothes as the years' have gone by, and I've also started to put Ocho in them as she fits into them.  It's been harder with Ocho, she's got a completely different style of body than EG did when she was a baby.  Ocho is already sleeping in nine month PJ's, but she's juts five months old. 

This pink dress is the one that my sister had formal photos taken in.  There's one of the photos on display in the house.  When I took these photos I had that photo of her in mind.  I realize its not the same, but seeing my daughters wear clothing that was ours really warms my heart.  I know my mom loved seeing my girls in the dresses she kept.  She kept them for so long, that it was so important to her.

Both of my girls have been in this blue dress.  I had Ocho wear it to a Chanukah party, and we took some great formal photos of EG in it when she turned six months.  The way Ocho is wearing it would make my mom proud- she was a huge fan of ruffle bottoms and showing off our tushies when we were little.  The tights that Ocho is wearing have ruffles, I promise...

This last one is one of my favorites.  It's a two piece knit outfit with little pink apples along the bust.  When I put it on Ocho I just realized that it has a small tear at the elbow... I'm going to have to get it fixed somehow.

I remember when Mom brought these outfits to me, I was really worried about having my girls wear them, especially the one that my sister wore in photos.  It's hard to keep things clean and tidy, and ensure that then they wear them they don't destroy them.  I had no idea whether my sister would have a second son, but I remember telling her that I wouldn't put my girls in the dress, just in case.  She told me to have them wear them, that it would be fine.  And, it has been.  They really don't make clothing like they used to.  Such detail, and such quality.

I try to buy one or two pieces for each of my girls that they can 'claim' as theirs.  Something that's nicer, likely to last a bit longer than most of the items we have from Carters. Who knows if they will have girls of their own, but if they do, I'll have some hand-me-downs for them.

Do you have any?  Anything you've worn that your children have also?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Oh Chanukah oh Chanukkiah

No, I didn't spell the name of the holiday wrong- I'm just obsessed with the fact that we don't light Menorah's we light Chanukkiah's.  To clarify- a Menorah has 7 candles total, 6 on each side and one in the middle.  It was what was used in the Temple to light up the space, and created the concept of the Eternal Flame we see in synagogues today.  The story of Chanukah is that the Temple was defiled and desecrated by Antiochus.  So, a bunch of Jews named the Maccabees decided to make a stand and take the temple back.  My mom always commented that this was the first fight for religious freedom.  My husband says the Maccabees were terrorists...but moving on...

Once they won the fight with Antiochus and reclaimed the temple mount, they discovered that all of the holy oil had been desecrated.  It takes 8 days to make new oil.  Somewhere, someone found a single flask of pure oil, and they used that to light the Menorah for the first time.  However, a great miracle happened there and the oil remained lighting the Menorah for eight days, until we could make and purify new oil.

So, when we talk about Chanukah, we are commemorating that there were eight days of light with a special candleabra made for the occasion.  I have no idea when we started to just call it a Menorah, I wish I knew.  My understanding is that in Israel a Menorah just means a lamp, and the Chanukkiah (the actual word) was created by Eliazer Ben YEhuda.

So, enough of the history lesson- on to the Chanukkiah

Around our house there is a Chanukkiah everywhere you look practically.  And that's not including the ones we are actually using candles on. 

It's tradition to have your Chaukkiah by the front door, or by a window so that those who are passing by can share in it's light.   We used to do this (see evidence of previous years below), but since we've moved EG's playspace to this area, it didn't seem like a great place for a Chanukkiah.

So we've put up a sticky window Chanukkiah instead.  We have two of them, one on the front window and one on the back

Next we have the two ultimate child friendly Chanukkiahs.  One was a gift from Auntie Lezlie to EG last year, though she's only really old enough for it this year.  The other is a great find from Target.  They have similar ones at Pottery Barn.  Those two stores are my favorite place for Chanukah items.  They really go all out and include the holiday in their offerings...

Anyways, the wood one has numbers, and you turn the numbers around to reveal the flames.

This one has small felt soft candles that you stick into each of the different holes at the top.  Unfortunately it has each candle numbered, which EG can't do right now.  So, I let her choose the candle to add to the Chanukkiah, then when she goes to bed I fish out the right one.  Yup, that's right folks, I undo her hard work and do it again myself.

 The last Chanukkiah that we have is probably my personal favorite.  That's because it was made with extreme care and love by my Sister-in-Law for EG last year.  And it's absolutely wonderful. I couldn't ask for a better SIL, and this is just one of the many ways she proves that!  It's made like a felt board, and is really fun for EG. It's hanging in her playspace, so she has easy access to it.

You may be wondering about why we are lighting the candles what will probably seem to be backwards.  Here's a little infographic on that...  From Chai & Home, a blog I really like.  It's also incredibly accurate, which is a nice touch as well.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Decor for the holidays

You know that we are techincally an Interfaith Family (despite Working Dad's insistence that are aren't).  Since he grew up non-Jewish, we have a lot of family heritage that harkens back to Christmas, and that's something that we try to incorporate into our lives.

For us, that means that we celebrate Christmas with his family every year.  This year we have at least 3 different celebrations, and I'm excited to enjoy them.

However, inside our home we've always just celebrated Chanukah.  It comes with a catch, however.  Since Working Dad is out of his parents home, he was gifted all of his original ornanments- the cute 'babies first Christmas' and other meaningful ornaments from his childhood.  These memories don't just disappear because we don't celebrate Christmas.  And we've since been gifted some lovely Jewish star ornaments as well.

So, we improvise...

I give you our holiday mantel.  It has the family menorah (given to me when I was 13) plus a wooden menorah for EG. A bunch of cute blue and gold/silver ornaments and candles. It can look really pretty when they all have their candles burning.

You can also see off to the side, our celebration of memories.  A wreath that smells nice, brings some of the evergreen home, and also allows us to hang those ornaments that we otherwise wouldn't have a place for.

 Ever since I've known Working Dad he's always had a wreath in his home for the holidays.  Typically you would put one on the front door, but that wouldn't really work with all the delicate ornaments we have decorating ours.

You can see that it's really become a place for everything- and that I've Jew-ified it up quite a bit. We have ornaments that mean a lot to both Working Dad and to me.

What do you do with your Interfaith traditions?  How do you incorporate your family history, while staying true to the religion of you family?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Challah Challenge: Babkhallah

When I was visiting my sister in San Jose she had her latest issue of Bon Apetit on display on her coffee table.  I couldn't help but pick it up, and I'm certainly glad I did, because it brought me... Babkhallah

Now, I made this recipe twice.  Or I should say I attempted to make this recipe twice.  And both times the dough would not rise.  It says to leave it to rise for 1.5-2.5 hours, but it never got much bigger than the ball I started with.

I thought it was my yeast, I thought it was the heat, hence trying it twice.

In the end, still delicious, but I'd do a few things differently.


  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 ¼-oz. envelope active dry yeast
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled, plus more
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more

Filling and Assembly

  • 6 ounces bittersweet Semi-Sweet (at least!) chocolate, finely chopped
  • cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • All-purpose flour (for surface)
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

Make the dough like you would a normal Challah dough.  Proof the yeast with the milk, add the eggs and the butter together with the vanilla, then mix all wet ingredients.

Then mix the salt and the flour together with the sugar.  Mix Dry into wet, and form into a dough ball.  Knead for 5-10 minutes.  Here it says 'knead until not shiny' but I couldn't get that to work.

Here's the mess I was left with after putting together the dough...

And my eager helper, making it all possible :-)

Then you take the chocolate and chop it up really fine. Add it to the sugar, and cinnamon.  When the dough rises (remember, I couldn't get mine to rise at all!) then you roll it out into three long sections.  Spread on some butter, pour on the chocolate/cinnamon and press it down into the dough.  Roll the dough up, pressing the seams together.

Then braid the challah the way you normally would.  I had to stretch out the three sections a lot to get them to braid.  And the ends didn't really come together the way I would have liked.  Spread with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in the oven at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

It's supposed to be done with it's golden on top, and sounds hollow. I'm not sure about when it was supposed to be done, but I think it turned out gorgeous.

In the end it turned out a bit bitter in the chocolate for me.  It also fell apart into three different pieces, not really staying together when you slice it.

Would you try Babkhalla?

I will try it again, maybe with better chocolate.  Any other thoughts?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chanukah Wear

Thank you so much to my cousin Lezlie for introducing me to...
What a great website full of amazing Chanukah gear.  Totally awesome, a little bit kitch. You might finally have a sweater to wear to the Christmas sweater party. I may have just spent way to much money on this website, when I should have been wrapping gifts, sleeping, or finishing the half assembled IKEA furniture in my living room.

One of the hard parts about this time of year is all the adorable clothing, both for adults and for kiddos in the colors and themes of Christmas.  Yes, you can buy something with snowmen on it, and yes, I do that.  However, that doesn't make it Chanukah apparel. At Target they typically have a blue or silver dress to buy, but again, that doesn't make it Chanukah- that just makes it not Christmas.  Same thing with most of the major stores (in fact, Ocho was gifted an AMAZING blue and white polka dot dress- which will be her Chanukah dress- by Baby Gap).  But still, it's not like they have Dreidels on them...

Today in my class with Ocho some of the kiddos were SO adorable in the Christmas outfits. 

I know, sort of a terrible picture... little M moved while I was surreptitiously snapping a photo of her cuteness...

Check this place out- I can't wait to get my parcels. 

PS- special thanks to Working Dad- I used that gift card you gave me.... :-)

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