What I Wore {post 25}

I'm sorry, but I cannot believe it's almost November.  Agh agh agh ... time needs to slow down a little.  We were in Target recently and, if you've been there (of course you have), you've seen the Christmas stuff is already out.  Even my kids did not approve.  "It's not even Halloween yet!"  Word.

Coral Printed Top & White Pants

I've had this coral top from Banana Republic for years.  I love it and hope I have a few more years of use out of it.  I wore this on a rather warm Fall day and paired it with a pair of white pants from Gap and a persimmon bubble necklace from j.crew factory.

Magenta Top & Black and White Colorblock Skirt

This skirt has proven to be a great investment and, luckily, totally on trend right now.  I bought it last Spring for less than $15 at TJ Maxx and now it's all over the place, including for $90 at Banana Republic.  On this day, I wore it with a magenta scoop neck shirt and my wide striped belt from Anthropologie.  

Taupe Pencil Skirt, Cherry Print Blouse, Black Cardigan

Oh.  It becomes painfully obvious when I am due for a haircut -- the picture below is a clear sign that it's time to get to the salon.  Anyway, the outfit worked despite the hair. I am a big fan of the belted cardigan.  I wore my taupe pencil skirt (Limited) with a cherry printed delicate blouse from about 8 years ago at Forever 21.  I wore it under a fitted black cardigan from Forever 21 and a red belt from Ann Taylor. 

Sorry for the iPhone photos.  I've been a little lazy with the camera lately.  I hope everyone is having a great end of October.  
See you swoon,

My baby takes the morning [run] train

And now that song is in your head, isn't it? Come to think of it, that will be an excellent addition to my running playlist.

I am a big fan of morning runs.  I am a naturally early riser.  I always have been, and once I had my two kids (who were even earlier risers), that pretty much guaranteed that my natural wake-up time is now around 5-5:30 am.  I am at my most energetic in the early morning hours, and frankly, I love to get my runs in then because they really set up my day.  The only issue: once the Summer is over, it is dark -- really dark -- in the morning.  Rather than sit and wait for the sun to rise around 7 am, I opt to run in the dark.  Obviously safety is a huge issue.  I often see fellow morning runners when I am out there, and some of them are safe but others are not.  The mother hen in me wants to scream at those runners who are just out in their normal running clothes and no reflective or light-up gear that they're being incredibly stupid, but I don't.  Even though they are being incredibly stupid.  So here are my tried and true tips for morning running at o'dark thirty.  But first, here is a shot of what I look like before I head out. Sweet. I'm gonna rock down to Electric Avenue.

1.  Headlamp

The first thing you need is a headlamp.  Yes, it will make you visible to cars (mine has a steady bright light in front and a red blinking light in the back), but it will also light your way.  Dark streets can be super dangerous: twigs, rocks, holes, those big green ball things that fall from the trees ... a headlamp will light your path so you don't step on or into those things.  I don't even notice my headlamp: I wear my visor and rest it on the brim.  I wear a Black Diamond Sprinter headlamp.  I bought it from REI, but you can find them in lots of places.  

2.  Reflective Vest

This is probably even more important than a headlamp: get a reflective vest.  My friend Amy gave me mine for Christmas.  It is a shockingly bright neon green with shockingly bright reflective strips and a blinking red light on the front and the back.  It is safe to say that cars *cannot* miss me.  There are a bunch of styles of these vests - this one is more strap than vest, but I have a vest too.  It is well worth the investment.  It's also wise to wear a neon or bright running shirt so when the sun starts to rise, you are even more visible.   This is my singlet, which is the Amphipod Running Xinglet Vest.  It is adjustable and does not get in the way.  I think it was around $25. 

3.  Check In

If you're running solo, make sure someone knows where you are, how far you are going and when you expect to be back. This is smart running behavior for any kind of run, really.  I always text my coworker who is another early riser and who lives locally with my mileage, my route (e.g., "I'm running to the office and round loop and back") and then text him when I am back home.  

4.  Assume the Worst about Drivers

I am on high alert when I run on streets in the morning.  I always assume that the drivers on the road are half asleep, are distracted and don't really expect to see me.  I don't allow myself to zone out until I am on a trail or path closed off to traffic.  I make sure to run on the correct side of the road (or the side with the biggest shoulder) and to keep my eyes on the cars approaching me.

If a car looks like it is getting too close, I find there are two ways to deal with it, in what I call the "Amy way" or the "Bill way."  Amy and Bill are my friends (who are married. to each other) and my training partners in running, triathlon and now Ironman.  I am their friend/training partner/third wheel/sister wife/annoying 5 am texter who implores them to "wakey wakey who is ready to race today!!!!".  Anyway ... they each taught me ways, very different ways, to handle cars who are getting a little too close.

The Amy way is to make eye contact with the car and extend your arm out to your side, which is to signal to the car that it needs to give you a wider berth.  This is a gentle, yet pretty effective, way to essentially say "Give me some room."

The Bill way is to make eye contact with the car, yell out something really loud like "HEY!!! SOME ROOM HERE!!!" and throw your arms up in the air in disgust.  This is a not-so-gentle, yet very effective, way to say, well, "HEY GIVE ME SOME ROOM HERE!!".  I use both methods, though sometimes a combination of the two works the best.  

5.  Run a Familiar Route

I don't think dark morning runs are the time to explore new routes:  stick to tried and true.  I have a bunch of different mileage options for my morning runs: from 3 to 7 miles and I don't vary from them, primarily because I know those routes like the back of my hand and I know when to anticipate cars, traffic and what the road conditions are.  

6.  Dawn is Scarier than Dark

I spend most of my run hoping for the sun to rise, and then as soon as it does, I realize "GAH.  Drivers are morons at dawn."  While not really true, I think it is far more dangerous to run at dawn than dark.  In the dark, my vest and headlamp make me super easy to spot -- I am lit up like a Christmas tree and all my reflective gear make me impossible to miss.  At dawn, not so much.  I am on very high alert at dawn - simply because drivers don't expect to see me and can't see me as well as in the dark.  This is also where the "familiar route" advice comes into play:  I know the dangerous spots of my run and know when to proceed with caution.  There is this one intersection on my morning runs that I cannot avoid, because it is the only way I get home.  Drivers often don't pay attention at this intersection and do rolling stops through it.  I've had a bunch of scary moments at this intersection (this is the spot where the "Bill way" above gets a ton of play) ... so I proceed with extreme caution.  

So there you go.  Some tips for safe morning running.  One of the hardest parts is to get yourself out the door, especially when it's dark and cold out.  But once you take the first step, it's all good.  Let me know if you are a fan of the morning run too.  :)  And if you are and you're not wearing reflective gear, tell me that too so that I can come find you and beat you down.  

See you swoon,


A few weeks ago at Big's soccer practice, I looked up and saw this magnificent sunset.  I snapped the picture with my iPhone.  It was even more gorgeous in person.  

I thought about leaving you with a quote about sunsets.  But they all seemed a little too ... melodramatic and heavy to me.  So I leave you instead with this gem from Jack Handy from Saturday Night Live.  

"Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset?  And he's carrying a beautiful rose in his beak, and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet.  And also, you're drunk."

This is apropos for my weekend: I have dinner plans with Amy and a shopping trip with Jamie, both involving cocktails.  I hope you have a great weekend filled with beautiful flamingos, beautiful sunsets and beautiful drinks.  

See you swoon,

What I Wore {post 24}

Happy Wednesday!  Today is picture day at my kids' school -- and it's picture day on the blog too.

Anthropologie Striped Dress, White Cardigan, Pink Grosgrain Belt

I bought this dress at Anthropologie this Summer.  I wore it a few weeks ago on a warm, early Fall day.  I added a light white cardigan and my super old pink grosgrain polka-dot ribbon belt.

Polka Dot Blouse, Black Pants, Gold Chain

I got this polka dot blouse last Winter and have worn it a bunch.  I usually wear it tucked in, but I thought the flowy look would be a fun change.  I wore it with my black pants and a long gold thick chain from Banana Republic.

Grey Dress & Teal Belt

This dress is a wardrobe workhorse.  I bought it in February 2011 at the Limited. I was with Jamie and we both loved it ... but it needed a little work. So I had it tailored a little, and now I adore the fit.  I wear it alone, with belts, with jackets, with cardigans ... everything.  This day I was giving a presentation, so I kept it simple and added a thin teal belt.

Voila!  And try to ignore the apparent Barbie carnage in the corner behind me ...

See you swoon,

Little's Room: Posters and Butterflies and Lanterns, oh my!

Ahhh.  Crossing things off my project list feels so good!  After a really long hiatus from house projects, I have been making great progress:  first with finishing up my picture wall over the TV in the den and then with finishing up things around Big's room.  Next up on the list: Little's room.

Little's room looked pretty good when I started.  But I wanted to make it better.  It had art on the walls, but I pretty much just threw things up when we first moved in to make her space feel homier for her.  I knew I wanted to eventually "finish" the space.  And here it is after a little more work!

So, over the last year, I've been buying artwork and decor, and I've been planning where I would put everything.  Here's the lot:

I let Little pick out some of the art, while I picked out other pieces.  It should come as no surprise that she wanted a princess poster -- one that had "blue Jasmine with the bikini" (sigh).  I want her to love her space and I want it to feel like hers, so I agreed but insisted that we frame it.  OCD in the house!  I hung it next to her bed.  Next up was the space over her bed.  I found some pink paper lanterns in the party supply section at Target and hung them over her bed in a cluster.  I put her Little Lamb print over her bed and the cute birdie print (also from Target) over her nightstand.  

Next: a mirror.  I wanted a really girly ornate frame for her mirror, and I found this on Craigslist for $15.  The gold is temporary:  I am going to paint it (and a bunch of other spots in her room) lavender for her.  But I wanted to put it in its place so I could decorate around it. The sweet fabric butterflies around the mirror are from Pottery Barn Kids.  I got them after Christmas for $5.  I've been holding on to them since then.  

While I was at it, I hooked up her floor lamp to the lightswitch. It required a bunch of extension cords and cord covers, but now when she turns on her lightswitch, there is a lot more light.  I put her growth chart near the far wall too.  I love it in this space.  I hung it from a hook that I bought a really long time ago from Anthropologie.  

Here's the spot over her little chest right near the door:  I bought a LOVE print by Made by Girl (love her stuff. love) and framed it with an IKEA Ribba frame.  Done.  This print is so appropriate for my little Little - she is so loving and any time she writes her name or my name or any family member's name, she follows it with "love."  It melts my heart.   

And finally, here is her bookshelf area.  I bought the wall shelf from Home Goods last Summer (as in 2012) and it didn't work in the spot where I planned to use it. So I hung onto it.  I bought the brackets from Home Depot and popped it into place.  I'm not done decorating the shelf.  The frames are from Target and I have cute Strawberry Shortcake prints to put in them.  I'll do that soon.   

Here is a rare action shot of me putting up the shelf, taken by one of my rogue photographers.  

That's it for now!  I still have some work to do in here.  I need to paint the backs of her bookshelf (lavender) and paint the mirror lavender too.  And I need to put something in the corner by the window.  But I can check this one off my list for now.  Next up: a little finishing touches in my own bedroom and a slew of painting projects.   

See you swoon,

Go go gadget ... Dork!

So, recently I was on a long run of about 15 miles in preparation for the Philly Marathon (which feels like it is just around the corner).  I thought to myself, "ugh! I need to remember to buy a heart rate monitor" because I have been told that heart rate is one of the best ways to measure progress.  In any event, as I thought this to myself, I looked down and realized I was totally geeked out in gadgets.  From my head to my toes, I was a complete running dork.  See?  And because I am an organizational dork as well, I numbered the photo with the areas of gadetry.  Note: this is an actual picture of me after my run.  I didn't just go grab all my gear and throw it on.  I really did run 15 miles looking like this (and I had my iPod on too).  Hot.  

Let's break this sucker down by number.  

1 = Sweaty Bands headband

I *love* Sweaty Bands headbands.  I cannot begin to tell you how much I love them.  I first found them about 7 years ago when I got back into running after my son was born.  The headbands are terrific: velvet on the one side, ribbon on the other and nice elastic to keep it on.  It keeps the hair out of my face, looks super cute and is machine washable.  I was shocked and awed when I picked up my packet at the Philadelphia Rock and Roll Half Marathon expo only to find an entire huge booth of Sweaty Bands.  I may or may not have run over and petted those gorgeous headbands.  I took a picture and sent to my other runner friends.  Behold -- headband heaven. 

The one I am wearing in the photo is hard to see, but it's red and white polka dots. 

2 = SOAS tri tank

I had recently received my SOAS triathlon tank from SOAS, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to see how it performed on a 2.5 hour run.  I've already blogged about my preliminary use of the tank, but I was thrilled with how it worked on my long run.  No chafing, very comfortable and super functional (it has a few nicely sized pockets in the back).  Plus, it's flattering.  And ... it matches with my polka dot headband.  

3 = Garmin Forerunner 910xt watch

I love love love my Garmin Forerunner 910xt triathlon watch.  It is the one piece of running/tri gear that I truly would not give up.  I wasn't even in the market for a new watch.  But my old Garmin (the Forerunner 210) suddenly died on me, and when I went to the store to replace it, I realized it made more sense to spring for the triathlon watch.  The watch goes in the water and is designed for triathlons: there is an easy way to change your timing for each leg of the event, while still tracking total time and distance.  I mostly use the watch for running these days, and it tracks my total time, instant pace and total mileage.  

4 = Fuel Belt

This one is a relic:  I bought my Ironman Fuel Belt back in 2002 and it's still going strong.  It was made before the days of iPhones, so the little pouch in front barely fits my phone.  But I hate the redesign of the belt - I have tried the newer models and much prefer mine.  Despite looking like a dork, I love my fuel belt and find it necessary for long runs and races.  I recently tried a hand-held water bottle, and I will do a review of that soon.  Suffice it to say, though, I am back to my belt.  If it ain't broke and all. 

5 = CEP Compression Calf Sleeves

I've seen runners and triathletes wear compression socks and sleeves at many races.  I was curious, so I bought a pair of CEP Compression Calf Sleeves at the Rock and Roll expo - I grabbed the hot pink but they make a ton of other colors.   I am way too picky, and my feet are too finicky, to wear compression socks, but I thought the sleeves would be a good thing to try.  The theory is they increase blood flow and circulation in the legs, which makes you run and recover faster when you wear them during or after a run.  I'll do a review of the sleeves soon, too, but these work better on recovery runs than long runs for me.  

6 = Yankz! Speed Laces

I bought these Yankz! speed laces this triathlon season.  Speed laces are a godsend in a tri: you don't have the time, energy or dexterity to tie your shoes well after the bike and rushing through transition. Speed laces are made of stretchy material, so you just pop your foot in the shoe, give a little tug and get running.  I recently bought a new pair of sneakers (since taking this picture) and did not bother with the speed laces, since all I am doing these days is running.  

So there you go: a tri dork by the numbers.  Stay tuned for my review of some of the things in this post!  Happy mid-October.  Can you believe it? 

See you swoon,

What I Wore {post 23}

Hooray for Fall!  Despite a mini heat wave over the past few days, it's beginning to look and feel a lot like Autumn around here.  Time for sweaters, scarves, boots and tights!

* Pink Pants & Floral Scarf *

This was a sort of thrown together outfit that I liked in the end.  I had a magenta scarf at first, but Little vetoed it and said the outfit didn't look right.  I grabbed my floral scarf, which Little whole-heartedly approved.  I think she was right.  This was a perfect outfit for an early Fall day. Let's see ... the pants are circa 2005 from the Limited, the shirt is from Banana Republic from years ago and the scarf is Old Navy from a couple of years ago.  

* Black Skirt & Black and White Top *

I am soooo glad I bought this shirt! I saw it on a fashion blog and fell in love with it - and then I found out it was less than $20 from H&M and I couldn't get myself to the mall fast enough.  I love the fit and love the look!  I wore it with my black skirt from I can't remember when from Banana Republic and my bow-detail nude heels. I tried it with a wide belt, but I preferred it without. 

* Bootcut Jeans & Turquoise Button-Down *

Ahhh casual Fridays!  I got this button-down turquoise chambray shirt from Banana Republic basically for free (rewards + gift card). I loved the stripey seersucker detail along the button placket.  I wore it with my faded jeans and brown leather boots and belt.  

Here's hoping even cooler weather is on its way!  As sad as I am to say goodbye to Summer, I am all about embracing the season we are in.  

See you swoon,

Bigs Room -- Finishing It Up!

Good morning!  

Now that triathlon season is over, and I have a lot more time, I am focusing on long neglected house projects.  Up today is Big's room!  Recall that back in the Spring, I made a big push in Big's room and added some art, a new dresser, a mirror and made his space look a bit more finished.   Here is how the room looked after that effort:

I still had some things to add.  First up: posters.  I had two posters waiting to go up in his room and was just looking for frames for them.  I finally bought the frames and popped the posters in and hung them. The Angry Birds space poster was a gift from my good friend, and I thought it looked great on the wall.  The space poster was something he picked out.   The Angry Birds frame is from IKEA (it was $10) and the space poster frame is from Target.  

Next, I hung the panoramic print of the Phillies stadium over his bed.  I had this in another spot before and just moved it when I added the shelf over his bookcases.

Finally, the big project.  The project that took us years (plural) to complete: Big's space mobile.  Big really wanted to have a solar system in his room, so I came up with the idea to make one out of different sized styrofoam balls from Michaels.  Big would research the planets and decide which one to do next. He would pick out the appropriate sized ball and then meticulously paint it to look like the actual planet.  I helped only with Jupiter's big red spot: he painted everything else himself.  We had a few meltdowns a la the piano player, Don Music, on Sesame Street Oh I'll Never Get It ... NEVER!!!!! ...

but in the end, he kicked this project's butt and did an amazing job.  

Hanging this thing was a challenge.  I bought some heavy cardboard craft rings at Michaels and planned to make a circular solar system, but they were way too heavy.  Initially I wanted to hang the mobile over the bed, but I changed my mind because the mama bear in me worried the planets might fall down on him while he is sleeping.  So we did a linear solar system, in order from the sun to Pluto, which I think looks great.   I used ribbon and just some thumbtacks right up in the ceiling.  I *hope* they hold ... so far so good.  I also appreciate Big's decision to include Pluto, even though it is no longer a planet (which seriously bothers me).  His rationale:  in 2006, Pluto was declared no longer a planet, and he was born in 2006.  He felt he should include it, as it was at some point a planet when he was born.  Yeah.   Here is a close-up of the planets.  We used a wooden dowel to attach the moon to Earth and Saturn's rings to the planet.  I reinforced all the dowels, and the hanging hooks, with hot glue.

Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth & Moon

Mars, Jupiter, Saturn

Uranus, Neptune, Pluto
So what's left?  Not much!  I am working on replacing his current nightstand with the IKEA Rast chest that used to live in my bedroom.  I am planning a two-tone treatment on it: white drawers and a dark stained top and sides.  He can certainly use the storage.  I also need to organize his closet a bit.  I bought some bins at Target but that's all I've done. I also want to paint the backs of his bookshelves or add some kind of fabric or pattern to them.  And finally, I'd like to do something with this corner, but I don't know what: maybe a small chair for a reading spot? Maybe a trunk for toys and sporting gear?  I have to think on it.  

But for now, his room is good to go.  Now if he will only keep it neat and tidy -- you will be shocked to know that it doesn't always look like it does in these pictures.  LOL.  

See you swoon,