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Post-Pregnancy To-Do List

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The weather has been gray and rainy and I’m so ready for summer love with our little one. I have been daydreaming about the incredible things I will do after pregnancy. In no particular order, my post-pregnancy to-do list is as follows:

 

  • eat sushi
  • lay on my belly
  • get silly on one glass of rose
  • get all the tattoos (or maybe just one to start)
  • go running
  • take a hot tub or sauna or steam
  • go dancing
  • lift heavy objects for fun, exercise or necessity
  • make, and then drink, homemade margaritas
  • travel*
  • *to a tropical climate
  • drink coffee just for the buzz

Let the countdown begin…

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photo: AJ Garcia

A Fashion Cure for the Baby Bump Blues

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With an ever-growing bump eliminating some favorite outfits from my pregnancy wardrobe, I have had a hard time feeling fashionably relevant lately.  Moreover, the general pregnancy “blah’s” enhanced by the doldrums of winter have been making it difficult to even put in an effort to dress up on some days. That being said, I know all too well that how I look has a direct effect on how I feel. However seductive (and, honestly, practical) it would be for me to spend every remaining day of my pregnancy in stretchy fabrics that transition effortlessly from daytime to sleep time, I feel a lack of motivation to seize the day each time I dress down or, more accurately, fail to dress.

For example, I have been living inside my deliciously warm LL Bean down coat because, why not? It is winter, after all. The coat is a fail proof barrier against the elements and it is the only coat I have left that actually buttons around the baby belly. But, how do I feel when a friend invites me out to a party or an event after work and I am faced with having to show up in pair of glorified pajamas swaddled by a wearable sleeping bag? I feel like skipping the outing and heading straight home to bed, is how I feel. Not so healthy for a person that, while appreciating a lot of alone time, always has an overwhelming sense of rejuvenation when out-and-about. Self isolation imposed by body self consciousness is not going to fly right now, especially when a new baby will certainly necessitate a lot of home alone time come spring.

So, when Rachel invited me to last weekend’s Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show (so thankful that she has her finger on the pulse as I have somehow lost the beat…) my mission was clear: attend show, hunt for treasures, find something that makes me feel like my “old self.” A.k.a a fashion cure for the baby bump blues.

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It only took about 20 minutes of walking around the vast room of exquisitely curated wares for us both to question, “Have we died? Is this heaven?” Needless to say our hearts were a flutter with the seriously gorgeous pieces on sale by vintage boutiques (notably Another Man’s Treasure and La Poubelle Vintage among many others).

While silk dresses, high waisted trousers and fitted camisoles called my name aplenty, the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show was not the place to shop for maternity wares. But stylish coats, big in size, easy to transition to post-pregnancy and a welcomed alternative to my aforementioned LL Bean puffer, offered the wardrobe edge I was looking for. I tried on a few coats that were totally “me,” but that were only almost able to fit around my bump. I realized, instead of donning a piece of clothing that would only make me yearn for a flatter tummy, I wanted to celebrate my current shape. It wasn’t until trying on a 1960’s stunner from Thriftwares of Brooklyn that I learned this was possible. The subtle bell shape of the double-breasted leopard coat (pictured above) offered room enough for my belly and, magically, when Rachel tried it on, proved to maintain a chic shape even on a much smaller frame. Thus, my how-Stella-got-her-groove-back coat was discovered.

Alas, today it is raining in NYC so I left my new favorite piece at home. But it is sure to bring me many joyful, winter days of pregnancy and beyond.

If you’re interested in checking it out, the next Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show will be the weekend of April 7th and 8th.

Advance tickets can be purchased here.

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Oh, Boy!

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As I write this I think, perhaps, next time around, when we are asked whether or not we want to know baby’s gender, we’ll decline. Of course, it is incredible to be given a better picture of what your precious child will “be,” but in this, my first pregnancy, I was unprepared for just how confusing such news…or lack of news…would be.

At 19 weeks, just before taking holiday vacation up to Maine to be with my family, we went to our regular monthly check up with the OB/Midwife group practice. After hearing a healthy heart beat (thank goodness…) and receiving a positive bill of health for the month, the midwife asked us if we’d like to know baby’s gender. As we had already discussed and had decided that, yes, we did want to know as soon as we were able to know, we agreed. The midwife told us, after a moment of inspection, that we were 80% sure to be having a girl. At the news, I began laughing and nearly crying with joy. A girl! Of course, they say every mother secretly harbors the wish to have a girl, but I was surprised at just how elated I was at the news. Perhaps it was the news of a girl that made me so happy, or maybe was simply receiving, for the first time, a clear picture of how our future was forming, day by day, within my ever-growing tummy. Moreover, the news seemed to affirm everyone’s hunches that I was carrying a girl. Momentarily it felt that we–friends, family, even Joe and me–were clairvoyant and that the world isn’t such a mystery after all.

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The holidays finally came and when sharing the news with my family we were met with gleeful yips and giggles. “A Girl! Yay!” I too, felt giddy each time we shared the news. Giddy to be bringing another strong lady into the world, giddy that this girl would have an exceptional, patient, kind and brave father to listen to her and to love her. I always told Joe that I believed it took a very special man to be a good father to a girl and that I thought he was this kind of special man. He agreed that having a baby girl join us would be the perfect fit.

During vacation I started having some light symptoms of a typical, mild pregnancy side effect–i’ll spare the details–and decided to get it checked out at the local clinic just to make sure all was well. There at the clinic, where all turned out to be well, we received another sonogram prognosis of baby girl. It seemed a sure thing at this point and visions of brown curls, sun dresses and prom corsages began dancing through our heads as we started to call baby by the name we had chosen for her.

I was scheduled for my 20 week anatomy scan upon returning home to Brooklyn. Joe was back to school and couldn’t join me at the morning appointment which seemed inconsequential as we had just had two sonograms in very close succession where all looked fine with baby and we had an almost guarantee of the sex. As I laid back in the dimly lit room and let the technician begin scanning my tummy I was the most relaxed i’d been before any of the many appointments thus far in the pregnancy. I felt like I knew everything I needed to know, so I could let go and let this routine scan run its course. The technician asked if I’d like to know the sex of the baby and I told her that we’d already been informed that we were most likely having a girl. Five minutes and many scans later she asked, “Who told you that you were having a girl?” “Well, one midwife and one doctor,” I sputtered off almost too quickly and a bit indignantly, “Why, do you think otherwise?”

This spawned a series of technicians joining the first gal and having a look at the precious contents of my belly, no doubt to prove to themselves in someway that they were smarter than the doctors and midwives. “You’re definitely having a boy,” they all informed me in turn as though it was the most obvious thing they’d encountered that day. I wanted them to stop poking and prodding me and turning my world upside down. I wanted Joe to be there to help explain to them that they were wrong and that we were having a girl, or explain to me that they were right and we were actually having a boy. Nothing made sense in that moment and some small, guilty tears began to gather in the corners of my eyes…

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But, after all this–and a few days to adjust–I am coming around to the idea of having a boy. For all the ways that having a girl would make sense to me in an instinctive way, there are just as many ways that having a boy will make sense. For starters, without ever being considered “manly” I’ve often been considered “boy-like.” I love the outdoors, I can hardly sit still in body, let alone in mind and I have a penchant for mischief. In fact, save a few, blessed girls that I have cut my teeth alongside (all sporting their own scabby knees, home-pierced appendages and calloused, bare feet–you know who you are) I grew up amongst a band of boys whom I’ve equally loved, fought with and learned from. I’ve always adored the attention from boys and giving it in return. I’ve felt comforted by their more physical, straightforward ways of communicating. I’ve been challenged and invigorated by their stamina and their strength. Does this mean I think girls or women are any less interesting or less capable? Not in the least. But, it does mean that something in me has always identified with boys, and with those girls that also identified with the boys. Perhaps, for these reasons, having a boy of my own makes the most sense.

I began this post a week ago, and we have since had the second part of our anatomy scan. To the best of our knowledge, we are, in fact, having a boy. I can now see him clearly in my mind’s eye and look forward to our future adventures, and to how much he is going to love his mother. What will happen if baby actually does come out as a girl–which sometimes, though rarely, can happen–you may wonder. I guess knowing or not knowing matters little in love.

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Travel Tones

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Even though we are in the boring renovation phase of spackeling + scraping, I am gathering ideas for how to paint the perfect dream space to share with our future house guests.

We have been tossing around the question of which colors to use in the upstairs bedroom, hallway and kitchenette without much luck. But, while taking a walk last week with Joe, I came across the most beautiful flowering tree, with luscious blooms in a deep, full, purply-crimson. The best possible color to paint a little kitchen nook where guests will sit to sip tea and gaze out the window, I immediately thought. And this got me thinking about how to encapsulate all of my favorite elements of nature and design—my favorite travel tones—and joyfully let them loose inside our home.

After we returned from our Scandinavian springtime, all I could think about was bathing our home in minimalist, warm whites, contrasted by modernist black and vintage woods. It was only the colors themselves, but the clean, calm feeling that the colors created. Our previously bright turquoise and blood-red sheets were swapped out for simple, charcoal-gridded, white bedding…that matched our new laundry basket. I wanted to pull everything off the walls—photographs, wall hangings and candle-adorned shelves—to make way for vast, blank walls and single, bold statements. But, as Joe so wisely noted, this would all change as soon as we returned from our next travel…perhaps Mexico or Thailand or South Africa…when wild colors would again reign.

Without having to commit to one style choice for your entire home, single rooms can embody a certain spirit from abroad. So how to you convey your favorite travel memories simply in hues? I started poring over my archived photos from trips past, and used the Benjamin Moore Color Gallery to match my favorites. Summers in Maine, the minimalist interiors and ancient exteriors of Norway, and the regal, West Coast greens are all translated below into paint colors.

I hope these stirring colors draw something out in those future travelers to 509 3rd street and inspire vivid memories of their stay with us.

Rose-Parade

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From Napa, With Love

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California continues to be a seductive, siren of a place luring me closer and closer with each visit. It is a place where my east-coast-drive melts into a west-coast-commitment-to-self. A place where the passing connections I make with the Golden State’s natives turn into intimate memories. A place where the heart-wrenching beauty of the everyday becomes routine, but never loses its power.

Even months after my latest trip to California I remain blissfully under its spell, allowing myself to be lost in frequent, passionate day dreams of a perhaps, not-so-distant future amidst its cacti and redwoods. During my stay in wine country at the end of May, I was excited to spend time with Oona Achard, a prolific leather artist, whom I met during the designer trunk show I was working. Indulging my most beloved pastime of meeting the movers and makers of the places I visit, we chatted about her art over the course of the weekend. In between tidbits of her Swiss background, talk of the micro-climates of Northern California and advice on where to eat and drink in Napa and Sonoma Valleys (Goose and Gander in St. Helena, Aroma Roasters in Santa Rosa), she explained that, after attempting to commission the teachings of an age-old artisan who was just too tired to continue his work, had purchased his antique machinery, site unseen. She had then hired him to tutor her in the privacy of her home where his tools enjoyed a brand new chapter in their long-lived story.

The fruits of her labor are the leather creations, the bucket bag pictured here among others, all stamped with the custom brand she created. The timeless, fashionable beauty of the pieces characterizes a bit of the California way in my mind, the stunning result of so many diverse, yet complimentary elements: rustic and refined, natural and manmade, fluid and structured. Just like Oona, with her Italian and Louisiana roots, living in an Americana small town within a Mediterranean climate.

Oona described her struggle to keep herself focused on her work and to maintain her creative practice even as life continues to throw obstacles her way. It is a struggle that I am intimately acquainted with, and we bonded that weekend on how to keep motivated toward our respective crafts. For me, meeting Oona reignited my passion to tell the stories of talented creators whose stories might otherwise go untold. Our meeting will remain another lovely memory I have of California and one I keep close to my heart until my next visit.

For more of Oona’s work: www.atelierachardleather.etsy.com

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On The Road

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Life has become, for me currently, a dizzying dance between packing and unpacking. It is hard to believe (even for myself, who has lived to tell the tale) that since the beginning of 2016 I have been on the road to Arizona, Puerto Rico, Texas, (there was a Hamptons weekend in there) California–the entire seaboard, mind you–got surprise married, planned a reception & did my taxes. For a girl who sometimes feels the pangs of anxiety in preparation for something as routine as a dinner party, I relish the fact that I am able to maintain some sense of self in a time that, for routines sake, is in complete upheaval.

Our 8-day long journey through Scandinavia did wonders for the spirit and to recenter myself. From what we saw, the Nordic soul knows little if it doesn’t know how to bathe in the clear, bright light of minimalism and walk the delicate balance between work, life and self. I won’t dishonor that experience by lumping it in with this brief reflection on the past months, but rest assured that there will be much more on that to come.

I had words for each of these past trips and for the months of January through April, but I can’t remember them now. They are a wild forest of overgrown brush, too complicated and tangled to sort through and organize in any coherent manner. So, I will leave you with a montage of photos in hopes that it conveys a bit of the wonder and the awe I feel at having the unique experience to call an airport my second home and America my backyard.

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