{Style & Beauty} The Perfect Black Tie Wedding or Formal Event Look

24 Aug

Since I’m loving weddings this week, I thought I would share the perfect look for your next black-tie or formal affair.

This outfit took me through three events this summer, including a ballroom black-tie wedding, an outdoor wine country wedding, and a fancy dinner on the town, and will no doubt take you straight through fall and right into winter, too:

  1. Chanel Half Moon Wallet on Chain in Grey Metallic (pictured above in Black).  Finally, the perfect evening handbag:  with six credit card slots, enough room for your smartphone, lipstick and keys, and a crossbody or clutch option, you’ll never need another evening purse again . . . except this one in every color.  Find it at Neiman Marcus and Chanel boutiques.
  2. David Meister Drop Shoulder Gown.  This drop shoulder jersey dress has more interest than a strapless gown, figure flattering side ruching, and a bold enough brooch embellishment that you can forego a necklace.  Available at Bloomingdales.
  3. Dior Ondine Crystal Flower Temple Sunglasses in Black.  The perfect way to bring the bling.
  4. Stuart Weitzman Jazziest Platforms.  Black satin beauties guaranteed to lengthen your gams and bring your style to new heights.

And of course, don’t forget to complete your look with a smoldering eye and peachy pout:

  1. Les Quatres Ombres de Chanel in Smokey Eyes.  If the intensity overwhelms you, try a softer version with the Murano quad.
  2. Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Liner in Black Ink.  You could always try MAC’s Fluidline in Blacktrack or Smashbox’s Cream Eye Liner in Black – the most important thing is using the right brush.
  3. MAC Lipglass in Clear.  Sure, it’s sticky, but it stays put.
  4. Chanel Joues Contraste in In Love.  Of course.
  5. Dior Diorshow Mascara in Black.  Get waterproof if you’re a crier, but stick to the original formula and brush instead of the newer Diorshow Black Out.
  6. Dior Rouge Lipstick in Mazette No. 028.  This perfectly bright cherry coral can be lightly applied as a sheer wash or layered for an intense pop of color.
  7. MAC Lashes in No. 36.  A not too obvious fringe to bat around the ballroom.
  8. Chanel Le Crayon Levres Precision in Rouge.  Line, fill and blend with one tool.

For a less spendy look, try these alternatives:

  1. MAC Cine-Matics Smoky Black Makeup Lesson.  Makeup made easy with all you need for your smoky eye look in a compact travel case with mirror:  three eyeshadows, Technakohl eyeliner in Graphblack, Zoom Lash mascara in Zoom Black and two brushes.
  2. Nars Blush in Orgasm.  This contemporary classic needs no introduction.
  3. Boots No7 Lip Glace in Cherry Kiss (or try Tangerine Twist).  Target comes through with this imported essential you’ll use every day.
  4. Nars Creme Lipstick in Blonde Venus (or try Belle de Jour).  Good for brunettes, too.

And for a complete – almost – all in one solution (with a most befitting name), try NARS Limited Edition Everlasting Love Artist Palette:

Happy Glam-ming!

The Outlaw Mom (TM) Seal of Approval:  I have owned, tried and tested each and every one of these fabulous products and trust me, ladies, they will not let you down!

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CRAVE IT. COVET. LOVE IT. This Week: Love Weddings

24 Aug

This week I’m loving weddings:

Wedding season is wrapping up and we’ve been to three beautiful weddings – including a first-time marriage for our 65-year old uncle and his blushing bride – and witnessed two engagements – including my own lovely bachelor brother Uncle B’s proposal to Aunty C.

My own wedding was a mere four years ago, but already, Gump’s (where we registered) is sending me its wedding magazine.  Perhaps they were thinking that I’m done with my starter marriage and on to the next?

First or fourth, official or un-official, weddings rock.

Like our wedding bands pictured above?  Visit Philip Press Master Platinumsmiths on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood for the ultimate in custom made engagement rings, wedding bands and one of a kind handmade pieces for your jewelry collection.  Don’t think you need to be engaged to wear one of these amazing designs:  a right-hand ring is just what every girl needs.

My Little Parrot: Censoring Children’s Playlists

23 Aug

I love that Jane loves music.

She has her favorite songs, like “I’m Yours,” by Jason Mraz, which she can sing by heart from start to finish, and classics from my parents’ time like “A Summer Song,” by Chad and Jeremy.

We don’t censor what she listens to.

Today she looked up at me and repeated over and over, “I really f@$ed it up this time!”

I was proud of her for her great musical taste and for being able to so clearly pick out the lyrics to Mumford and Sons’ “Little Lion Man” without me singing them to her.  Is it time for us to start playing the clean version?

I don’t recall my mother ever censoring my music choices.

I suppose I was much older than Jane is now before I started hearing swear words in my favorite songs.  When we were young we mostly listened to Anne Murray, The Carpenters and Olivia Newton-John (I’m talking the early 70s, pre-Grease albums).  Those were all lyrically dreamy and feel-good songs where the songbirds would never dream of cursing in the main chorus.

In the early 80s, I began the slow transition to contemporary easy-listening and finally found my way to the good stuff when I was around 8 years old.  Even then, the subject matter of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” or Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” completely eluded me.  Even if I heard extensive profanity in the heavy metal and rap I eventually listened to, it didn’t really matter to me then.  I just loved the music.

It’s probably the same for Jane, whose extensive vocabulary doesn’t (yet) include profanity.

So perhaps the only real reason to censor what she listens to is the fear of reproach from other parents, and possibly reprimand from her preschool teacher, if she suddenly belts out something inappropriate.

I’m not sure that’s reason enough.

What do you think?  Do you censor your child’s playlists?

{MINDFUL MONDAY} Guest Post: Taking Time To Make “Me” Time

22 Aug

Sit back and relax with your Monday morning cuppa while the two Sarahs of Salt & Nectar let us in on their secrets of how to carve out precious “me” time during the busy hustle and bustle of motherhood.  Enjoy!

When chatting with The Outlaw Mom about her transition from working full time to life as a stay-at-home mom, we thought it would be fun to offer “sage” advice on how to carve out “me” time when one lives, works, eats, sleeps, and plays in the boundary-less world of one’s home where the days have no beginning and no end. Although our words of wisdom are probably anything but wise and profound, we’re pretty certain they reflect the reality that we all struggle with when trying to maintain a sense of our former selves while also being our new selves and mothers. With that in mind, my partner in crime at Salt & Nectar and I sat down and got to talking about how we actually make it to yoga, go out with girlfriends, or make it to date night.

The Other Sarah (TOS): Hello, darling! After much ado, we’re finally able to sit down and have our chat about making time for ourselves.  I guess it’s hard to make time for oneself, right?

Sarah Stewart Holland (SSH): Amen. Although I have no room to complain today, my amazing aunt volunteered to clean my house and watch my kids today! Reason #49028 why I love living near family. That’s something I’ve learned. Making time for yourself is not a solo endeavor. The key is reaching out for help.

TOS: So true, but so difficult when one is a single parent or temporary single parent as was the case for me. I think I’m still recovering from the lack of “me” time when my husband was away working each week for 14 months. But thankfully it’s a new day and he’s bending over backwards to make sure I have the ability to do things for myself, which I really appreciate.

SSH: I really can’t even imagine. Even if Nicholas were away, I would still have my parents.  I know a million different people have said it a million different ways but I am a better mom when I have my own time.

TOS: It was tough, especially because we were new to LA and I didn’t have an established network either. But things are so much improved. And I completely agree that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.

SSH: We are so lucky to live with technology that can make that possible – even if you can’t “get away.” I was just talking with an older friend whose children are grown. She was saying how isolating it was to be a stay-at-home mom when she was doing it. Now, even if I can’t get out of the house, I can take some me time during naptime to plug into my online mommy community and vent/laugh/relate. Dear Internet, I love you.

TOS: I know, what would we do without the Internet!?!…

…So, we initially came up with the idea of interviewing each other about how we make time in our wacky WAHM schedules, when you said that you and Nicholas had a fight about making time for yourself. What was that fight about?

SSH: I had lined up my stepdad Ron to watch Amos while Nicholas took Griffin to swim class and I went to yoga. Nicholas was upset because he needed help getting Griffin ready and I was on my way out the door. I had just started going back to yoga and it was so important to me to keep going and not miss one. The word selfish was used, but I just had to stand my ground. This summer I’ve spent a lot more time in just solo mommy mode and I needed a break.

TOS: Were you surprised by that reaction since Nicholas is usually so much of an equal parent/partner?

SSH: Definitely. But hey, having two kids is stressful and he gets way less “me” time then I do. In fact, we’re currently working on getting him some alone time, too. Just because he gets out of the house doesn’t mean he doesn’t need a break to explore his interests, too.

TOS: Very true.

SSH: How do you and your husband strike that balance?

TOS: Striking a balance is always a work in progress. Now that my husband works primarily from home, we initially hit some road bumps until we figured out a system that works for both of us. When he got his new job and didn’t have to travel anymore, we nevertheless maintained the status quo where he would work during the day and enjoy time off at night, and I would be “off” during the day watching the Little Dude and then working into the wee hours of the night. Then one day, I woke up and said the arrangement was no longer fair or healthy. He agreed. So, as long as he doesn’t have inflexible client meetings and the like, he usually works in the morning and takes the Little Dude after naptime, and I then work once our son goes down for a nap. Then, we both have free evenings to enjoy (on most nights anyway)…

…We’ve also reached out to family more. While we don’t have family that lives in Los Angeles, my husband’s mom lives about an hour away. So, we’ll arrange to have her come down for a day or two at a time and babysit. During her visits, we work, do independent things, or even go out on afternoon movie dates (although the latter has only happened once).

SSH: I wish Nicholas worked from home. That would be so amazing.

TOS: It’s a double-edged sword. It’s actually a lot harder to maintain boundaries and remain efficient.

SSH: I can imagine. Something else I struggle with when it comes to the whole “me” time debate is feeling pulled in both directions. Sometimes the most convenient time to take time for myself is the same moment Nicholas and the boys are doing something fun or just hanging out. And I want to spend time with them too.

TOS: I totally commiserate about wanting to hang with the fam and wanting to have me time. Often my husband takes the Little Dude somewhere fun to give me a break but then I feel like I miss out on the family bonding. Like I said, striking a balance is always a work in progress.

SSH: Definitely. But I think me time can be whatever replenishes you.

TOS: Even though you occasionally joke about living in a small town, do you think your return to Paducah has made it possible to have more “me” time than living in DC? You do have the greatest thing on earth called Mommy’s Day Out.

SSH: In the infamous words of Mr. Big—abso-f@#ing-lutely!  Mommy’s Day Out is cheap, cheap, cheap daycare from 9am-2p, on Tuesday/Thursday which has allowed me to teach part time and write and run errands and do all manner of other things. Plus, like I mentioned before, I have a long list of family members willing to help out.  Days like today—when I went to yoga, met with an inspiring local writer, and spent the rest of my afternoon writing in the local coffee shop simply would NOT be possible if I had stayed in DC.

TOS: How has baby number 2 changed making time for you?

SSH: Well, it’s tough starting back at zero as far as breastfeeding and how long I can be away. I hate pumping with the burning passion of a thousand suns. But I do it for that all-important me time. Plus, I have less down time generally because there is only that small nap window with Griffin and there’s no guarantee that Amos will go down at the same time, although I’ve been very lucky and they usually sleep at the same time.

TOS: Well, we’ve established that family is the key to carving out time for oneself easier. Do you have any other last minute tricks for other busy moms out there?

SSH: I would say just do what you can. Some days me time is just a hot shower. Other days it’s an entire afternoon out. Be flexible and kind to yourself. The last thing you want is for “me time” to become another chore or stressor….

…What about you?

TOS: I second what you said. And I also have found that making a standing commitment with friends is helpful — it’s a weekly motivator, my husband has agreed to the timing so there are no surprises, it seems to always be the perfect little recharge at the end of the week, and it’s obligatory me time.

SSH: I totally agree. I have a standing coffee date with one of my favorite people in the world. Never ceases to lift my spirits….

…So, sadly, my me time for today is coming to an end.

TOS: I think that’s a wrap. Thanks for spending your “me” time with, well, me.

The Outlaw Mom thanks the Sarahs of Salt and Nectar for taking the time out of their busy schedules to guest blog today.  Sarah and Sarah first met as staff members of their law school’s only feminist legal publication, otherwise known as the “Gender Journal.” After stints working in Big Law and on Capitol Hill, the Sarahs said goodbye to DC and hello to CA & KY to swap lifestyles and start families. Now, their imperfect but sweet lives as moms makes for good blog fodder at Salt & Nectar.

{The Friday Yum} The Outlaw Mom(TM)’s No Bake Oreo Truffle Cake

19 Aug

For J’s birthday, I wanted to create something Oreo-ish since we were having dinner at a restaurant famed – at least in our circle – for its Oreo dessert.  I also wanted to incorporate cream cheese since J had mentioned my Gingerbread Sweeheart Mini Cakes would have been tastier with a cream cheese frosting.  With no extra time on hand and two little munchkins wrapped around my ankles, the easiest thing to do:  mix the two ingredients to make a No Bake Oreo Truffle Cake!

Ingredients

  • 1 – 3 row package of Oreo cookies
  • 1 – 8 ounce package of room temperature cream cheese
  • baking pan (or other mould) lined with cling wrap
  • chocolate chips
  • candy melts (optional)

Step 1

Throw your Oreos into the food processor and grind into a smooth, fine cookie sand.  Tip:  You can put the cookies into a ziploc bag first and pound away at them with your fist to shorten the food processing time and to work out any stress or frustration you might be harboring.

Step 2

Pour the cookie sand into a large bowl and mix the cream cheese in with a spoon until everything is well-blended.  Press the mixture into your lined baking pan (or any mould of your choosing) to form the cake.  Make sure to leave some extra cling wrap hanging over the sides.  Roll balls out of any remaining mixture to make stand-alone truffles.  Refrigerate.

Step 3

While the Oreo mixture is setting, melt your candy melts in the microwave or double boiler.

Step 4

Remove your Oreo cake from the pan by lifting it out with the cling wrap.  Line the side facing up with a layer of candy melts to form a sturdy base.  I chose white to mimic the colors of an Oreo.

Step 5

Melt your chocolate chips, then coat your cake and truffles.  Tip:  To jazz things up a bit, use chocolate or candy melts to decorate the individual truffles.  I also used heart-shaped edible gold accents.

Happy Baking!
Todays Creative Blog

{Toddler Thursday} Fun With Pasta! Pasta Necklaces

18 Aug

Fun With Pasta! is our latest installment of the Fun With Food! series.

What do you get when you mix pasta + paint + a toddler?  Painted pasta necklaces and a whole lotta messy fun along the way!

Here’s what you’ll need to make your pasta jewelry (think bracelets, headbands and crowns, too):

Materials

  • paint
  • paintbrushes
  • tube pasta (try penne)
  • ribbon, string or yarn
  • work surface saver (e.g., newspaper, cardboard, paper grocery bags)

Step 1

Paint your pasta.  I tried using a flattened cardboard box from the recycling bin as our paint palette, but Jane decided it would be her canvas instead.  She wasn’t ready to paint the penne right away.

Then she decided making handprints would be more fun than painting the pasta.

Eventually, she came around the idea of painting the penne.

Step 2

String each painted and dried piece of pasta together.  We used curly ribbon we had lying around the house, but you can use any type of ribbon, string or yarn handy.  Just tie several knots on top of each other to form a ball larger than the opening of the pasta; thread the pasta; and knot the two ends of the necklaces together.

Step 3

Don your fabulous creations!

LEARN! Colors, fine motor skills, manual dexterity, concentration

If you liked this post, check out other posts in the Fun With Food! series, like Fun With Beans and Fun With Gumdrops.

CRAVE IT. COVET. LOVE IT. This Week: Covet Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse OR

17 Aug

This week I’m coveting Nuxe’s Huile Prodigieuse OR:

This luxurious multi-usage dry oil is just what your sun-parched skin needs to become silky and smooth after too much beach and pool time this summer.  Your whole body benefits from basking in this oil’s sheer sun-kissed shimmer.  It comes in a non-tinted version, but why on earth would you skip the golden glow?

I spied it at the Space NK shop inside Harvey Nichol’s, but you can get yours online for $44 on Amazon, $55 at Bliss or $56 on Beautyhabit.

{Review} Big Basin: Our Family’s Big Adventure

16 Aug

Every family has that one story.

You know, like our dad friend who traveled with his four sick kids on a transatlantic flight and had to sit in a layered mess of spit-up, vomit and diarrhea for the entire flight while he tended to his brood single-handedly.

After today, if there was any doubt whether we’re really and truly a family, there isn’t any now.

The day started out nicely.

Low 70s, sunny skies, a cool breeze:  the perfect day for light hike and a picnic under the redwoods at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I drove, instead of Hubby, since the road through the mountains is so windy and I’m very prone to car sickness.  The drive was easy enough, though a bit long for my young ones.

When we finally arrived, Jane and Sam took to the forest, running around and exploring every nook and cranny:

It was difficult, but Jane managed harrowing escape from some trolls living under a bridge:

We looked for insects and I pointed out the various trees and plant growth along the path:

Upon spotting a rock covered in green moss, I asked: “What do you think that is?”

I think it smells like allergies,” Jane replied matter of factly.

After our picnic, we planned to stop for ice cream at the General Store.

Good thing we didn’t.

On our drive home, just as we had made it down the 45 minutes of winding road into the flatland of Saratoga proper, Jane yelled,

“Look at Sam!”

Hubby and I whirled around to see Jane pointing at her little brother who had fallen victim to the sway of the windy roads (and my speeding).  We stopped the car and then heard gurgling noises from Jane’s side.

Who knew that a 2.5 year old’s stomach had a two gallon capacity?

My only consolation:  Jane’s sympathetic reaction to Sam’s plight must mean that somehow – somewhere way down deep – she likes, and maybe even loves, her pest of a brother.

Luckily, it was only a short 15-minute straight shot home and I dunked them into the tub as soon as we arrived home.  Looking at their poor, pale little faces, I thought I would jump in, too, and play with them to make up for putting them through the day’s ordeal.

I stepped into the tub and felt the soap underfoot.

It must have fallen down from the soap dish and gotten a little soggy from the bath.  It squished between my toes, so I bent down to pick it up.

It wasn’t soap.  And there was a whole bathtub full of it.  Apparently, I was right – the misery of the car ride that Jane and Sam shared did indeed bring them closer together.  Minutes earlier while I was putting their soiled clothes into the washing machine, I had heard them curiously giggling together (instead of the usual clobbering and crying from Jane trying to drown her brother in the bath).  I now realize that the children were conspiring to seek revenge for my car-sickness-inducing driving through a cleverly crafted Simultaneous Number Two plot.

After everyone was cleaned up, I gave Jane a recap of the day, including the last two messy events, and asked her what kind of day she had.  “Was it a good day?”

She smiled quietly and said,”We had a big adventure.”

Details for your big adventure:

Happy Trails!

{MINDFUL MONDAY} Adventures Of A Working Mom Staying At Home: Weeks Three to Five

15 Aug

Looking back, Weeks One and Two were seriously hectic.  Luckily, we were on vacation for Weeks Three and Four.

Even though it technically wasn’t a “vacation” vacation – more a visit home to the in-laws’ – it was wonderful to get away from our routine and put some distance between working life and my new life at home with the kids.

In fact, our holiday turned out to be just what I needed to clear my head and get a grasp of what it is to be with family and focus on being together.

Last week, Week Five, ended up being my first real taste of what it is to be a stay-at-home-mom.

And you know what?  I loved it.  Jet lagged babies and all.

No interesting thoughts or details or stories to share with you, unfortunately, because seven days of warm, peaceful, contentment doesn’t make for much in the way of a blog post.

Construction Paper Dress and Windsock

11 Aug

As y’all know, I love making crafts or projects using the bazillion brown paper grocery bags we have stockpiled in our kitchen drawer from over the years (like this One Minute Paper Bag Monster) or other recyclables lying around our house that would otherwise turn to waste (like this Repurposed Easter Grass Garden, these Rock Candy Maracas or our paper roll projects like these telescopes, binoculars and finger puppets).

This time around we made a paper dress using the top of a brown paper grocery bag and strips of construction paper:

When the fun of the dress wore off, we hung it in our backyard as a colorful, fluttery windsock:

Materials

  • brown paper grocery bag
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • tape

Step 1

Cut off the top third of the grocery bag, which will form the top or “bust” portion of the dress.

Step 2

Snip lengthwise strips of the construction paper in whatever colors suit your fancy.  Tape the strips hanging vertically from the bust.

Step 3

Cut an additional strip as a border for the top of dress and tape it down horizontally.

Do the same for the remaining three sides of the bag.

Step 5

Embellish with cutout shapes or glue on gems and glitter.  Now twirl!

LEARN!  Colors, scissor cutting, pretend play.

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