Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tied Neatly With a Bow // Sayonara 2013

What will this year be for you?

Whew. I don't know about y'all but I'm pooped. Like for reals. And not it in the 'wow the holidays were a whirlwind' kind of pooped but a "I could for real sleep for a full day and be totally okay" kind of tired.
These last few weeks have taken a toll on me both physically and emotionally and I am spent. These last few weeks have seen the end of my mother's chemotherapy and my father's hospitalization. Both of which have taken a lot out of my brother and I. I've never been so happy to have a year end and push my hopes toward the start of something new and fresh.
This last year has seen many changes. Both on the blog, personally, professionally and stylistically.
I made the leap into re-branding this site and have found that I am definitely on the right track. From Carpools to Cocktails is truly where I am in this season of life and I love being 'that mom' and letting other moms know it's perfectly acceptable to have a liquid lunch and giggle with your girlfriends.
As I stated in the beginning of the year, I was resolved to hone my personal style and try a few new things as well as pare down the wardrobe and hone that ever elusive wardrobe that screams "effortless style". What I've learned is that all it requires to achieve that ideal are pieces that work well together and can be mixed and matched over and over to create new ensembles. A kick ass red lipstick, statement necklaces and decent shoes.
I attended two blogging conferences and made countless connections. Some more valuable and long term than others. I've grown as a mother and a writer. I've put my heart and my life out for public consumption and at times I've gotten my feelings hurt but at other times I've gotten the greatest feedback and support in knowing I'm not alone in my struggles and my crazy. I stepped out of my comfort zone and pushed myself to approach those I looked up to and found that they were willing and courteous. Kind and more thoughtful than I had hoped. I met other bloggers from around the country and found we were more alike than not. I discovered "my tribe" and have been blessed by their knowledge, willingness to support + share and their ridiculous sense of humor.
At home I've worked on balancing the joys of motherhood and being a SAHM while pursuing my own dreams and taking care of my family. I've worked at getting us to a place of better health and eating and while we have a long way to go, I've seen such amazing changes I have no doubt next year will be even better health wise. This year we sent Sweet Pea off to camp for 4 days and she came back a changed young lady and I am floored by her growth. She is changing right before our eyes and it is (mostly) a joy to experience. Baby Ninja turned 1 and became more and more independent with each passing month. In a few short weeks he will be two and everyday he melts my heart even more.
D and I made us a priority this year as well. We spent much of 2012 in survival mode as we were recovering from the birth of a Ninja and now....well let's just say we've found our footing on this slippery slope. For the moment at least. We had several date nights and date days and managed to squeeze in a few mid-week movie nights at home as well. I am so grateful for this man and am beyond blessed to be called his wife.
This year my brother has been back home more times than ever and while it wasn't always for the most positive occasions our bond has grown and been strengthened in so many ways. I love watching him with his niece and nephew and it makes my heart happy when he is here. Ours has been a growing relationship and I love this place we are currently in.
Some of my friendships have changed and others have stayed the same. But in all things there was growth. With all relationships there is an ebb and flow and the ones with my ladies are no different. We are all in various season's in our lives and I've loved watching them grow and blossom, even if it was from afar. Old wounds were healed and friendships were restored and allowed to flourish under the warmth of truth and understanding and that is what I will cherish about 2013.
Sure I could complain about all the things that went / I did wrong but in the grand scheme of things it wasn't a bad year. The last two weeks have been trying but I've gained strength from my trials, courage and trust in not just myself but my family and friends and I've learned when I need to step back and let others help. For me that is saying a lot so I will take that with me as we head into this new adventure.
Yes, I am done with 2013. I'm not sad that it's over but I am happy to see the dawn of a new day tomorrow.
New Year

I'll be back the first week in January as I'm going to spend the rest of this time off with my family.

I want to take a minute and say thank you to all of YOU! You've helped make this little space what it is today and I am fully appreciative of all your comments, suggestions and shares!!

Happy New Year to you all!!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sassy Slumber Party

Last week I shared a look I'm leaning towards for my own New Years Eve festivities and I thought it would be fun to share some options for alternative nights in. So, who's up for a slumber party? If my girls were all in town this is definitely something I'd love to do and might actually put into action as part of my 35th birthday celebration next year.
What a fun way to ring in the new year, a gaggle of girlfriends, buckets filled with champagne or your favorite adult beverage and plenty of music to rock out to until the ball drops at midnight! 

Sassy Slumber Party

 I could see myself wearing all of these pajamas and actually made my picks based on myself and a few  of my girlfriends personalities. 
1) Soft, cozy and casual but cheetah print on the leggings add some sass to an otherwise typical sleep set.
2) The classic sleep shirt gets sophisticated in pink satin. This is for the girl that doesn't necessarily want to be fully covered but also doesn't want to be flitting about in the cami set. 
3) My personal favorites and a Christmas gift from the Mister. I love the feel of the silky satin and the polka dot print is both classic and on trend. 
4) Because sometimes you just need a one piece when you sleep or when partying with friends. I love the stripes and simple black + gray color scheme.
5) These are all kinds of fun + sassy and we all have that one friend that would show up to a pajama party in something like this, or less. I love it for the colors and the pattern it just screams fun.
6) The epitome of pajama party wear. The black and gold is uber festive and kind of begs to be worn while ringing in the new year!

There are options for every style profile from fully covered up to all the way sassy with the Philip Lim for Target camisole set. This collection brings to mind so many sleepover scenes from all my favorite chick flicks that I'm thinking I  really must make this kind of event a reality in my life. Sooner, rather than later.

Would you wear any of these options for an NYE sleepover? Which is your favorite?

Shop the Set:

Monday, December 23, 2013

What To Wear For NYE When You're Not Going OUT

With Christmas just a few days away and the 'holiday gift guides' beginning to wane all eyes are on the next major event: New Year's Eve. In particular what to wear to ring in the New Year. In the old days I would've had plans firmed up and several outfit options (never know what the weather is going to be like in Cali) along with a sitter for Sweet Pea as we party hopped the night away. With the birth of Baby Ninja last year those days came to a screeching halt. Many of our close friends had also recently had babies or have young children and trying to secure a sitter for an exorbitant amount AND pay for whatever party we might possibly attend seemed a bit much. Not to mention, we have BABIES there is no being hungover.

Because of this we all tend to gather at someone's house to eat, drink and be merry .
I know most style bloggers will do a What to Wear New Year's Eve style guide but I thought I'd do something totally different. I'm going to offer up ideas on what to wear if you're hanging out at home with family, slumber partying it up with girlfriends or if you're like us and somewhere in between. Not quite a shindig but not quite sitting on the couch in pajama pants.
And really, it's all because of these awesome pants Bedazzles After Dark wore for Thanksgiving. I saw them and immediately fell in love and my first thought was that "I NEED those for NYE." I will be comfortable at our friends but imminently more fancy if my pants have sequins. I mean. SEQUINS y'all. How have I gone this long without owning a pair???
So, without further adieu I give you: The Mommy Chic version of  What to Wear On New Year's when you're NOT going out.
Sequin SweatPants

I thought I'd show two ways to wear them, super casual and a little more glammed up. Sure you could also rock flats but I say go big or go home right? Y'all know I'm graphic tee obsessed and since I won't be partying it up with my mafia it's only fair I represent them with my shirt. Stella & Dot jewels always make things more fabulous and these are no exception. Low key enough to wear around the house and glam enough for New Year's festiveness. I'm sold. Combined with studded chucks it just ups the edge factor and keeps the look from being too casual + glam. I'm kind of in love.
Of course if I really want to go big with these pants I'd rock it with a classic black sweater with sequin epaulets. Who says you can't get a double dose of sequins now and again? And with the detailing on the shoulders I won't look like a human disco ball whilst roaming our friends kitchen for snacks. Adding a pop of color with the shoes is a must but if it's absolutely freezing I'll totally rock my ankle booties. Of course my beloved Phoenix has to make an appearance and keeping the rest of the jewels simple + sparkly will still have me feeling like I went out on the town but not too over the top to be with children.

Up next : What to Wear to your Ladies NYE Pajama Jam!

How are you spending YOUR New Year's Eve?

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Finish Strong // Year End Aspirations

Once upon a time that phrase was relegated to athletics and perhaps school work. I remember my parents, teachers and coaches telling us to 'finish strong' as we wound down the school year. Whether is was just before Christmas break or summer when everyone has cabin fever and is just over it or during my track season when discussing a race. For me, it always meant, don't slack off at the end just because you're ahead or because you're tired or because you can.
Funny how that is also true with my writing. It's December, Christmas is in exactly a week and I am pooped.  I have a million and one things I NEED/ SHOULD be doing.  My toddler has decided it would be fun to wake up and chat no less than twice a night (in the wee morning hours) and I haven't been as diligent about getting to bed on time so I'm a TON of fun in the morning. I have deadlines for work and getting things done around the house and all I want to do is zone out, surf the internet and nap.
But for some reason, I keep hearing a voice say "Finish strong Amber. You got this."

You got this.

I want to give up, go into hibernation and then hate myself for doing so but there is something in me that is pushing me to do/be better. To finish the year strong, the same way I began. I've hit several goals I set for myself early on this year and some I haven't even begun to chip away at. But I know that in order to get there, indeed I do need to finish strong. 
There is something to be said about setting the bar high and hitting your expectations for yourself. For years I set it lower than it should be and just did the bare minimum. Just enough to get by and keep me slightly motivated but not enough to really reach for my biggest dreams. I was scared for some reason.
Somewhere along the way I became complacent. Odd for someone who spent 6 years of her life as a high jumper and setting the bar higher and higher each season was something I thrived on. Something I excelled at even. 
I'm trying to get back into incorporating that mindset into my everyday life. My goal for the next two weeks is to indeed finish up strong and positive. I've already got mad ideas flowing through my head for 2014 and I just KNOW it's going to be amazing in so many ways. 
I am truly looking forward to the break from everyday schedules and carpooling and while I'm giving myself a little leeway to slack off a bit, I know that under the surface there will be ideas a brewing and things that need to be said and addressed so yeah, there will be posts here and there but really I just want to remain focused on my dream. Be as excited about my trajectory in the waning weeks of the year as I was in the beginning. That's always been hard for me as a creative because I get SO excited about the next idea/thing/object that I become easily distracted. Wrangling the Tiny Tornado doesn't help because he wears.me.OUT. But he also spurs me on to do more. It is in spending time with my children and my lover that I get my best ideas , albeit they come at the most inopportune times (cooking dinner, bath + story time) but they are there. So long as I commit to addressing them and not pushing it aside because I'm "busy" I know I'll be just fine. 
So bring it on end of 2013, I'm so ready for you and excited about what is yet to come.
Let's all finish the year strong and not be too hard on ourselves if things don't go as planned. Just remain focused on your goals and you'll be alright. 
At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

How do you plan to finish strong? Are you like me and tend to slack off towards the end? How do you stay focused? 

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Mommy Chic Monday // Boyfriends + Red Lips + Leather Accents

There is something about wearing red lipstick that makes me feel more sassy than usual and definitely more pulled together. Paired with ripped jeans, leather accents and classic sunnies and I can feel my inner badass begin to rise to the surface.

I've been obsessed with these boyfriend jeans since I got them but can't really wear them for everyday "play" as I don't want the perfectly torn holes to get ruined so I always love a day when I can wear them while out and about. When SweetPea and I had our culinary adventure with Chef Wolfgang this past October I decided it was the perfect occasion to rock them.

Paired with a statement sweatshirt with the coolest leather shoulders and my studded ankle booties I felt like some kind of hip + stylish mama strollin through the mall with my girl. I have to admit it felt a little odd to be wearing such a bold lip in the middle of the day but once I got over the initial trepidation (they're all going to laugh at me!) I loved it.

I said it before that a bold lip can make an outfit and it's totally true. Red lipstick is a game changer. At least for me.

Top: Trouve // Jeans: AG denim // Boots: Sole Society (similar)

I can't think of a better way to make this ensemble pop other than with this bold lip. Ok, maybe a statment necklace would do the trick too. But, I can honestly say that my foray into the world of bold lipstick while slow and steady, has proven to be quite the confidence booster I've needed to really own my look.

It also takes the 'mom-i-form' to the next level. We all know that a pair of dark sunglasses can do wonders when you're tired and a red lip is the beauty equivalent. Even if you wear no other makeup, slash on a bright cherry red and suddenly you've brought your A game to the afternoon carpool. Whoomp there it is.

Are you a fan of the red lip trend? Have you found it to change your overall look?

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Style Me Friday // Chambray Edition

I love, love, love my chambray shirts. Yes, plural. Like Eboni I have 3 and there are all very different and give off a different vibe depending on how I style them.
It took me forever to find just the right ones and I still feel like I could use one or two more. I mean, a girl needs options right?

They're just so versatile and literally go with EVERYTHING in my closet. Well except my Juicy sweats. But I'm sure I could find a way to make those even work with one of them. Chambray is definitely a "mommy chic" staple and I truly believe every woman should own at least one. You'd be surprised how far it will take you. In fact every member of my family has a chambray of some kind and now that I think about it, would probably make for an awesome photo at some point but that is neither here nor there.

So since Eboni's Style Me Friday challenge was for the love of chambray I was all in. I loved her inspiration photos and ironically I've pinned a few of them myself so I knew this challenge would work for me. One of the beauties of chambray is how easily it can be layered to complete a look as well as stand on it's own. I've worn it with everything from fancy skirts and lace shorts to jeans and cut-offs. Chambray is truly a wardrobe wonder.

Top: Target /  Jeans: Old Navy / Sunnies: Old Navy (similar) / Jewelry: Stella & Dot / shoes: Sam & Libby

My first thought was 'Oh my how will I style this look?' and then my second thought was 'duh. be real. No need for contrived ensembles just go take a photo.' So, this is how I rock chambray on a chill weekday hanging with my kids. And I really wanted to show off my cute Sam & Libby for Target shoes. My whole outfit was under $100. So I win. Taa-daa!

*side note - I just got a fabulous matte red lipstick by Wet N' Wild yesterday and I am currently obsessed. Yes, I said Wet N' Wild. It was a $1.99 at CVS (currently 2/$3) and lasted ALL day. Even after eating pizza. #winning.

How do you wear your chambray? Do you own more than one like me?

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hump Day Antics // Working the Pole Like A Boss

I've written before about my desire to stay fit and that I do so by trying all kinds of different workouts. I get bored easily as does my body and I know it's important to switch things up. So when my friend Lynette invited me to take a pole dancing class at a local studio I readily agreed. I mean, she did get worked at the barre with me so it seemed only right I join her in this adventure.
I'm so glad I did.
It was wicked cold (for California) this past weekend and feeling lazy, I wanted nothing more than to stay in my cozy pants in my warm house and bake cupcakes but I knew if I continued to be cooped up with my crazy kids someone was bound to wind up in tears. And it was most likely going to be me.
So I braved the 32 degree weather and headed out to meet Lynette at Black Velvet for our introductory class.

ready to rock this pole

I have to say, I've taken a class once before but it was several years ago and at a bachelorette party and we were three sheets to the wind so I'm not sure how good I actually was. Also there were only one or two poles so we had to take turns which led to more drinking and shenanigans so yeah....
This time, we all had our own pole and were able to do the moves right away and continue to practice as our instructor walked around the room critiquing our moves.

look at me go!

It was wicked fun. And I do mean wicked. Even though we hadn't had a single cocktail there was definitely some fun/nervous energy in the room. We giggled our way through introductions and launched right into some sensual(ish) stretching which was a great way to break the ice and warm up our bodies.
Of course Lynette and I couldn't help but crack jokes because we were the only two "moms" in the room and I'm sure they expected us to be super reserved and all kinds of awkward. Jokes on them as it turned out we're kind of naturals. So if this whole writing thing doesn't work out at least I have something to fall back on. Lynette is a former dancer and with my cheer and track background we knocked it out of the park.  Toes pointed, backs arched, we put our previous 'training' to good use.

the spins were my favorite

We learned the basic moves of walking, spinning and getting up from those cute little turns and while there was some awkward moments (wait, I do what with my leg?) we still nailed it. We even made a few friends who said they "need" us in their lives. They thought we were hilarious and were quite shocked that two moms could get down, let loose and kind of show them up! Mama's know how to have fun too! I mean. We have children for pete's sake! How do you think they got here?

trying to get up sexy like

practicing the 'walk'
The hour flew by and I found myself wishing we'd had time to do more. It was that much fun. However, walking out back out to the car I knew I was going to be sore for days to come. And I was. I still am in fact. Who knew it was such a thorough workout?

showing the youngsters how it's done!

look at those pointed toes!

If you're in the area I highly recommend trying them out. The instructors were fun and supportive and the atmosphere is incredibly relaxed so you don't feel like a fool when your spin goes awry (and it will). They offer party packages and private classes and I've already got my wheels turning on how/when I can put together a ladies night to get back there. Next time, we pre-game with cocktails.


Thanks Black Velvet for such an enjoyable evening and Lynette for pumping me up to go!! Can't wait to try it again!

Have you ever tried a pole dancing class? Would you? Why or Why not?

*Disclosure: I was in no way compensated for this post. The studio offers a free trial class to all who are interested. All thoughts and opinions and photos are my own.


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