Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pregnancy Series: Maternity Exercise Clothing

Last week in my Pregnancy Series, we talked about the benefits of exercising while pregnant. Today I want to talk about how you can look chic while still being comfortable while you are exercising. While there is nothing wrong with throwing on your hubby's oversized tee over a pair of leggings, having a few sets of stylish maternity exercise clothing is probably going to make you feel a lot more motivated to exercise, while also making you look a lot better, too!

What To Look For

Regardless of whether you are planning to keep on running, or are going to chill out at a yoga class, you want to look for items of clothing that are breathable to keep you cool, stretchy yet supportive, and hopefully something that can take you from the end of the first trimester right through to delivery and the post-partum months. If your body thermostat is anything like mine was while I was pregnant, than layering is the key. Easy layers make it easy to adjust your temperature as you heat up and cool down. I mostly wore regular, non-maternity zip-up hoodies since it was summer by the time I was really big in both pregnancies, but if you need a maternity one, check out Old Navy. Also think about what activities you are going to do. If you were a runner before you were pregnant you might still like running while you are pregnant, and your workout clothes are going to be totally different to someone like me who mainly did yoga and pilates. For the more active, you probably need "full on" active wear; for the yogalates crowd, try and find active wear pieces that are less "sporty" and can also double up as comfy and stylish loungewear.

The Yogalates Crowd

Lets start here, since this is what I was most comfortable with when I was pregnant. For the first few months, you can probably carry on wearing your regular non-maternity yoga wear, since it is by nature stretchy and fluid. After a point, though, you will spend your entire class yanking up your yoga pants as they try and migrate under your bump! At that point, you can look for outfits like these:

Yogalates for pregnancy


I love these pants from Fit For Mums, and wore them during my last pregnancy, and quite a while afterwards. I love the pants; the waist can be worn folded down during the first two trimesters (and during the last if you like pants under the bump) or rolled up for more support during the third trimester.  The fabric was also nice enough that you could wear these as lounge wear as well, not just sports wear.  The singlets were also great - the touch of spandex means they stretch with you as your belly grows, and then spring back into shape once the belly is gone. Add in a pair of slip-on shoes, easy to get off and on for the class, and you are all set to go.

Hardcore Fitness Fanatics

I call you guys hardcore, since I don't think I can think of anything worse than going for a run now, let alone when I was pregnant! However, for those of you who were fitness fanatics before you were pregnant, there is a lot of research showing that it is beneficial to keep up with your exercise regime once you are pregnant, with medical guidance.

Maternity Fitness


This Reebok top is breathable and moisture wicking, so it will keep and you cool and dry when you are working up a sweat. Compression pants are great when you are not pregnant, so  I think they would be even better when you are are, and these ones from Old Navy are a great price. Plus, like the yoga pants, the belly can be rolled up or down, depending on how much support you want. Don't forget some good supportive shoes, and check you fit - your foot size can increase by up to a size when you are pregnant. Make sure you are well hydrated at all times by toting along a refillable water bottle, and keep an eye on your heart rate with a quality heart rate monitor.

Wet and Wild

Exercising in water was one of my favourite and most regular fitness activity when I was pregnant. The water kept me cool, and the body's natural buoyancy in water made me feel less ungainly. I loved swimming, deep water aqua aerobics, and even just plain water walking.

Maternity Swimwear


I preferred a tankini when I was pregnant since it could take me right through from the early stages of pregnancy to the post-partum period, although you can also find maternity one pieces as well. Again, make sure you take along water - when exercising in water, you often don't seem as thirsty, but you still need it. Lastly, don't forget some cheap and cheerful flip-flops!

As you can see, there are now stylish and chic AND practical options for all sports and all stages of pregnancy available now. So no excuses - get out there, keep fit, and stay chic!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Back to School Checklist (printable) plus Giveaway

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Can you believe it is back to school time already? It feels like we were just starting the summer holidays, and now it is the final countdown to the regular routine of school days (did anyone else start singing The Final Countdown by Europe, or am I showing my age?).  This year marks the first time I have both kids in full-time school. Gone are the annoying half-days (happy face!) but also gone are the weekdays spent with my little ones (sad face!). It also means that I now need to be super-organised - I don't think flying by the seat of my pants is going to cut it any more...

This is my back-to-school checklist, available for you to download and print.

Back to School Checklist

Otherwise, you can access it here.  And now, to my giveaway!  So that Irini can tell her bag apart from everyone else's (since they have a "school" school bag) I made her, Stephen and their cousin a cute little bag tag.
tags on the school and library bag

front of tag

back of tag

I will make a set of two custom bag-tags for two winners. I can make tags for boys or girls, and the giveaway is open internationally. All you need to do is leave a comment with a back-to-school tip or hint. Giveaway ends at midnight on the 31st January. Goodluck!!







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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

 pleated poppy

I would love to say that I didn't post last week because I was joining Wikipedia and Google in their protest against SOPA and PIPA, but I honestly just forgot to take pictures. There is something about school holidays that brings out the lazy in me!!  This week, as we gear up for back-to-school, its back into some of our routines, so I managed a photo almost every day.

 

Wednesday 18 Jan - Today was spent at swimming lessons in the morning, and then running errands in the afternoon, including getting Irini's new school uniforms. I can't believe she is starting school in just a couple of weeks!  It's really starting to get warm, so I'm going to have to rethink my jeans obsession soon. I love this top; it was a custom made top from Etsy seller ErinAlexandraKlym and comes with the cool necklace.

Custom navy jersey top: ErinAlexandraKlym
Skinny jeans: Ann Taylor
Leather sandals: Lands End Canvas


Thursday 19 Jan : Swimming lessons again in the morning, and then a shocker of a day afterwards. We had planned to take the kids to Adventure World, a water park about a 40 minute drive away, since they have just opened a section, Kahuna Falls, aimed at little kids. After driving all the way there, and paying our entry fee, we walk in a see a sign that the Kahuna Falls section is closed due to "unforeseen circumstances". Unfortunately, Irini cannot go on one. single. other. water ride (you need to be 110cm tall). And there was no way we were paying $150 to go and swim in the swimming pool!  So we decide to try a local council run waterpark, but when we get there we discover it is just 3 swimming pools (20cm, 30cm and 60cm deep) and and a fountain. We then decide to cut our losses and try going to the movies. The kids really wanted to see the Muppets, but of course, for the one night the entire week, the last session is at 4.30 (it is now 5.00). We decide to see Hugo, and for the first time all day, something goes right, and the movie is amazing. Its our first 3D movie, and we definitely picked an amazing choice for our first time!

Printed shell: Coldwater Creek
Straight leg jeans: Gap
Leather sandals: Lands End Canvas
Bracelets: Pandora and homemade



 Friday 20 Jan: Today was spent at swimming again, followed by another visit to Irini's school to pick up her booklist. On Friday's I like to spend as a "French Friday," a concept from the French Chic yahoogroup, so Irini and I spent some mummy and daughter time at a local cafe inbetween the school visit and her speech therapy appointment. I also like my outfit to be a touch French inspired as well, so chic and simple was my aim today.

Navy silk ruffle blouse - Talbots
Bootleg jeans - Gap
Black loafers - Louenhide
Enamel bangles - Coach



Saturday 21 Jan: A nice and easy day, with another visit to the movies, this time to see Alvin and the Chipmunks. The kids enjoyed it, but as an online friend succinctly said, "there is 1.5 hours of my life I will never get back".

Green tank: Basque by Myer
Navy vest: J Jill
Skinny jeans: Ann Taylor
Leather flip flops: J Crew
Bangles: Mai Tai Collection and Myer


 Sunday 22 Jan: The weather is really starting to heat up, with temps above 38 C today and for the rest of the week. Did I tell you that I hate hot weather? I plan to spend as much time at home in the air conditioning, venturing out only when necessary.

Black tank: Basque
Striped vest: Sirocco
Skinny jeans: Ann Taylor
Bracelets: Pandora and homemade


 Monday 23 Jan: Today was another day over 40C and I planned to stay home, but ended up having to go out and get some back to school things organised, as well as a quick meeting.

Navy and white jersey dress: Basque by Myer
White beaded necklace: Talbots
Tan and white leather flip flops: Lands End

See you all next week!!


Also linking to: Monday Mingle @ Glamamom

and









Momma Go Round



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Monday, January 23, 2012

50 Classics For Your Closet Part 3: Baubles


So far we've covered footwear  and accessories, so it's now time to tackle my favourite part of the list, Baubles!  I'm going to confess, straight out, that my personal bauble collection is a lot larger than the five items listed, but I think what the original creators of this list were going for were the true classics and workhorses of a wardrobe, rather than the fun "extras" that can be used to keep a classic wardrobe fun and up-to-date.  It also goes without saying that for these five items, if you choose to invest in them, is buy the best you can afford. This does not mean you need to buy "real" gems - I would rather have a high quality faux piece than a poor quality "real" piece.

Baubles

  1. Diamond studs
  2. Pearl studs
  3. Pearl necklace
  4. Signet ring
  5. Watch

Diamond studs always make a "must-have" list and it is easy to see why. There is nothing simpler to wear, and more flattering, than a pair of diamond studs. The sparkle brings lightness and brightness to your face, and they really do go with everything. I tend to wear my diamond studs on a daily basis. It's just easy and thought-free to leave them in (almost) permanently. Like I said before, go for the best you can afford. If you can't afford quality real diamonds (see here for how diamonds are graded) that are of a decent size (anything below 1/4 carat looks juvenile, IMO), then go for a good quality substitute. You can now buy created diamonds set in real gold that look as good as the real thing, or look for a very good quality cubic zirconia. I really believe that a good fake looks a lot better than poor quality real diamonds, since the poor quality ones just won't have that sparkle and shine.

If I am not wearing my diamond studs, then I am more than likely wearing my pearl studs. Again, I find them wearable with almost anything, and a simple pearl stud can be the perfect finishing touch with overwhelming your other accessories. My advice for diamonds pretty much holds true here as well. Buy the best you can afford! While good cultured pearls such as South Sea and Tahitian are considered the best, don't rule out freshwater pearls. You can often find wonderful freshwater pearls much cheaper than cultured pearls. If you can't find good real pearls, then look for high quality faux ones. Faux pearls should have a great lustre just like real pearls. If they look plasticky, then pass them over.  For size, I like small to medium pearls for studs (6 - 12 mm).


While smaller pearls are my go to for studs, my advice for a pearl necklace is the opposite. Go big or go home, I say!! Short strands of tiny pearls look like they belong on a 16 year old, not a woman, so go for a string of marble sized pearls for a short necklace, or ropes of pearls if you prefer long necklaces.. And here is where faux pearls really come in to their own. While I would love a string of real ones, at $20-$30 000, I won't be buying a real strand anytime soon! I haven't found a good faux short necklace yet, but it is on my wish list. I did just pick up a beautiful 36 inch rope of freshwater pearls at 50% off in a recent sale, and I am in love with them!


A signet ring is a classic piece of men's jewellery that has been appropriated by women, but I am not convinced that it is a must-have. It could just be that a signet ring is just not my style, I'm not sure. I would love your thoughts on this one - maybe I need to reconsider...


Apparently most "young" people no longer wear a watch, since they use their mobiles to tell the time, but I would truly be lost without my watch. If I forget to put it back on after my shower, I spend the rest of the day looking at my naked wrist! There are lots of great watches around, at almost all price points, and to suit almost any trend. Since we are talking classics, though, I will stick with a classic recommendation. I like a classic men's style watch, either with a men's size face, or a scaled-down lady's face. Otherwise, I like the classic tank style watches. For real versatility, a two-tone gold/stainless steel watch is a great choice since it will go with all of your jewellery.

So there you have the baubles that make up part of the 50 Classics. Apart from the signet ring, I think that this list of 5 pieces is a good starting place for building up your fine jewellery collection. I would probably add a stack of gold bangles, a pair of hoop earrings and a classic cocktail ring to this list to round out a classic jewellery wardrobe. 

Linking to:

Momma Go Round
Monday Mingle @ Glamamom










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Friday, January 20, 2012

Pregnancy Series: Exercise and Pregnancy

For our next instalment in my weekly pregnancy series, I have a wonderful guest post from Maria Barker on exercising and pregnancy. Stay tuned next Friday for some great things to wear while exercising while pregnant!



Exercise and Pregnancy
Some of us have never considered the word exercise in our lives, or at the worst the only exercise that we’ve ever considered is the inevitable cleaning of the house!  When we fall pregnant we all know that our lives our about to change, but should we also consider changing our lifestyles?  There is no doubt that exercise during pregnancy can be a real benefit to you and your experience, so why not consider trying it?  Even a small change in your exercise regime can lead to great results for you later on!
Stamina, Me?
You’re probably thinking, why would I want to do exercise?  Well there is no doubt that if you consider how it can help your body you will probably be running down to the shops by the end of this article!  Doing exercise during pregnancy can help in various different ways.  You’ve probably read some horror stories about women in labour, but it is proven that doing some slight exercise throughout your pregnancy can benefit you when you reach this stage.  Making your more flexible and doing some stretches can aid any problems with pushing during labour, and doing slight exercise will also give you more stamina.  More stamina is a bonus for anyone in labour, we all know how tough it can be, so that little bit of extra effort you can put in at the birth could be really important.  And for the sake of 30 minutes of exercise every other day, why not?
What exercises can I do?
With prevention of things like gestational diabetes also helped by exercise, there are many reasons why you might begin to consider that jog.  What exercise could you begin to consider that would actually help though?  How about something like Yoga and Pilates?  These kinds of exercises can give you the extra stamina that you need, and also give you the opportunity to make your body more flexible.  With the bonus of flexibility, you can be sure that the back pain you are experiencing will be cut down.  For many back pain is a really frustrating part of pregnancy, and if doing some slight exercises throughout the pregnancy can help, why you would you not even consider it?  If you don’t want to consider Yoga or Pilates, then why not just a gentle walk, run or jog to the local park or shop.  Anything that you can think of which will add to your exercise can be a real benefit, so don’t count anything out!
OK, so where can I do it?
So why not consider trying something out?  We all worry about lots of things from our first pregnancy symptoms so a little advice can be a real benefit.  I’m not advising that you go to the gym and try and become a body builder, but some gentle exercise can really help you out!  If you visit your local health centres, gyms or swimming pools, then there is no doubt that they will offer some classes for pregnant women.  Even if you don’t want to do this, a jog to the park is free, and any little bit of exercise that you want to consider can really help.  Remember, it’s only going to benefit you, it wont be a hindrance at all, and if it can cut a few minutes of your labour, then you know as well as I do, that is a massive bonus!
 

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Six Ways to Instantly Look More Polished

Its easy to get into a style rut when you are mostly at home and looking after the kids, but one of my aims this year is to look more polished on a daily basis. Here are six quick and easy ways to instantly look more polished!

1. Throw on a blazer


This is one of my favourite tricks from autumn through to spring.  Throwing on a fitted blazer or jacket over a pair of dark jeans and a tank or tee will instantly make the outfit look more put together and polished. Check your wardrobe to see if you still have one left over from your working days. Otherwise, invest in a jacket with simple, clean lines, and few details that will date (eg gold buttons). Black is a classic, but I wish I had a navy one instead, and a dark charcoal blazer is a mainstay of my wardrobe. It doesn't even have to be woven fabric. My charcoal blazer is a knit fabric, and is as comfortable as wearing a sweater.

2. Wear a dress


This is my summer version of the above. Even in a casual fabric like jersey, wearing a dress just seems, I don't know, dressier! In summer, I find there is nothing cooler and more comfortable than throwing on a tailored jersey dress. The tailored style, versus, let's say, a t-shirt style, automatically looks more polished just by its design, and yet, it is just as practical as anything else you could choose to wear.


3. Add a hair accessory


A simple ponytail or an artfully messy chignon can be instantly upgraded with a chic hair accessory. A cute trick is to pin in a jeweled brooch by sliding bobby pins under the brooch closure. For something less dressy, a simple but stylish ponytail holder will upgrade your do to a hair-style instead of a busy mom-style. Note, I am not talking about a scrunchy here! I have the ponytail holder, above, from France Luxe, and I love it because it is very simple and classic. However, you can get a thousand different types to suit all types of fashion styles, from boho to glam.

4. Keep your manicure fresh


There is nothing brings down a look more than chipped nail polish.  As a busy mum, a nude or pale pink shade will last the longest as will show the chips a lot less than a bright red lacquer. Make sure you refresh you polish at least weekly, or skip the polish all together and buff your nails instead for a simple and stylish look with minimal maintenance. If you really like the look of brights on your nails, but not the almost daily touch ups, then invest in a Shellac manicure, which will last up to two weeks if done properly at a good salon. My nails above are in CND Shellac in Wildfire, and I had it done just over a week ago. I usually get one more week before the nail growth shows and I need to do it again.  If this was regular polish, it would already have been chipped the day I had it done!

5. Add a stack of bangles
I love this look - a stack of gold or silver bangles on your arm automatically add a glam and polished touch to even the plainest outfit. A simple white tank and skinny jeans look amazing when paired with gleaming bangles stacked high. And the best thing? Bangles like these never go out of style! I have ordered 2 sets of these from Nordstrom; I love that they are just a little bit different to plain gold bangles, but are classic enough that they won't look dated in 6 months.

6. Focus on your base and add a swipe of lipstick


Even if the rest of your makeup is minimal, make sure you focus on achieving a polished base. Use a brightening primer to even out your skin, and top with a tinted moisturiser or light foundation, and then a brightening concealer over any undereye circles. Lipstick looks more polished than gloss, and look for a nice creamy one in a colour that brightens your face.  If you have another minute, add a swipe of blush, and a slick of mascara for an even more finished look. 


Also linking to:

Monday Mingle



Momma Go Round















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Friday, January 13, 2012

Pregnancy Series: What To Expect When You Are Expecting

I was just watching TV and saw an ad for the new movie, What To Expect When You Are Expecting, and made me think about how much I loved all of those books when I was pregnant and a new mum. That TV ad made me think about doing a whole pregnancy series (even though I am NOT pregnant!) so over the next month or so, expect some book reviews, some health and beauty tips, and of course, some ideas on how to be a Chic Mummy!


For today, though, I thought I would start by reviewing that all time classic, the original What To Expect When You Are Expecting.  This book is now into its 4th edition, and has more than 14 million copies in print. A lot of people call it the pregnancy bible, and it certainly was for me. This thick book was my constant companion through my pregnancy with Stephen. As a first time mum, and having suffered a miscarriage just months before falling pregnant again, pregnancy, especially those early days, were fraught with worry and anxiety and fear. As a book lover and researcher by nature, it was so reassuring to be able to follow my pregnancy along with the book and know what symptoms I should be concerned about, and which ones were perfectly normal.

This book is not a warm and fuzzy, airy fairy guide to pregnancy. It is fact-filled, down-to-earth, and tells you the honest truth about pregnancy. Pregnancy is not all about the "glow"; let's be honest, there is a lot of not so pleasant stuff and What To Expect does not shy away from any of it. While some of my friends found this book overly clinical and overloaded with information, for someone like me, I found it struck just the right balance. I also liked that certain sections were clearly labelled as "not for everyone" such as the complicated pregnancies, and miscarriage section. This way, the information was there for people (like me) who needed it, and for those lucky enough to not need it, they didn't need to read it and freak out.

What I loved most about this book was that it really had something for everyone without being condescending. It outlines the various birth options, encourages you to consider what kind of birth you would like, and then plan accordingly. It does not recommend one over the other, or make you feel guilty for considering a hospital birth or guilty for considering a home birth. It simply presents the facts and allows you to decide without feeling pressure one way or the other, unlike a lot of other pregnancy books I have read. The book treated medical interventions (such as amniocentesis, etc) in exactly the same way; it give reasons why to consider them balanced by the risks, with no judgement either way. In this day and age when pregnancy and birth has become extremely polarised between the "natural" and the "medical", it was nice to find a book that took the middle road.

So overall, I highly recommend What To Expect When You Are Expecting to any pregnant mum-to-be! In the meantime, I will be waiting for the movie to come out.



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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

 pleated poppy

Another week, and another What I Wore Wednesday! I am loving this linky - putting my pics out there every week is really great reminder to focus a little bit on my style everyday. This week, I did indeed manage to get a pic everyday, and even two pics for one of the days!


Wednesday 4 January - A pretty boring day, running a few errands and doing housework at home. This outfit was perfect because it is easy to move around in while cleaning the house (and is machine washable and doesn't need ironing), but still looked good enough when I needed to duck out of the house.

Jersey dress - Basque by Myer
White sandals - Talbots
Ivory and navy bangles - Myer


Thursday 5 January - I spent today running between our new warehouse, Ikea and office furniture stores looking for ideas for the fitout. Like always, I wanted something comfortable, but still stylish. So flats and yet another jersey dress - are you getting bored yet?!

Jersey dress - Basque by Myer
Raffia flats - Tory Burch
Wooden black necklace - Witchery
Horn cuff - Mai Tai Collection

 Friday 6 January - Today I had a couple of  meetings with the telecommunications guys for the warehouse, so hence the heels! I loved this top so much, I bought it in two different patterns, and to be perfectly honest, if it came in more colours and patterns, I probably would have bought it in even more!

Tie neck blouse - Coldwater Creek
Skinny jeans - Ann Taylor
Black heels - Urban Soul
Bracelets - Pandora

 
Saturday 7 January - Looking at this pic, I think this outfit makes me look a lot heavier than I am, but gosh, I love this colour, and I love the colour of the cardigan with my new favourite top.

Cardigan - Coldwater Creek
Tie-neck top - Coldwater Creek
Skinny jeans - Ann Taylor
Black leather flip flops - J Crew
Bracelets - Pandora

Saturday 7 January - I told you I managed to even get two pics on one day. On Saturday evening, it was Nick's cousin's 40th birthday. I love this outfit, but I was freezing all night - it was so cold, and the party was next to a swimming pool, which made it even colder, I think.

Navy silk ruffle top - Talbots
Skinny jeans - Ann Taylor
Black heels - Urban Soul
Cocktail ring - House of Harlow
Gold cuff - Peter Lang
Turquoise bib necklace - Ann Taylor

Sunday 8 January - I had planned to spend the day bumming around the house, but we ended up going into the city to buy some sheets and blankets in the Myer sale. This is not usually what I would wear out and about, but we were in a hurry, so I grabbed a stack of bangles to funk up the outfit a bit.


Khaki green tank - Eddie Bauer
Cuffed jeans - Ann Taylor
Bronze flip flops - FitFlops
Bracelets - my mum!, Ann Taylor, Coldwater Creek

Monday 9 January - Another day spent looking at furniture for the warehouse, and planning out the kitchen at Ikea. I felt a bit French-inspired in this outfit, and I think it was my favourite of the whole week.

Striped knit wrap top - Ann Taylor
White denim crops - Lands End
Red denim ballet flats - Lands End
Red coral bracelet - my mum
Charm bracelet - Pandora


Tuesday 10 January - Today we spent going to Ikea to pick up all the kitchen cabinets - I love Ikea, but having to self-pickup ALL the items is pretty annoying, even if it does keep the cost down. Thank goodness I had hubby there to do all the heavy lifting!

Silk and jersey tunic - Banana Republic
Cuffed jeans - Ann Taylor
Black leather flip flops - J Crew
Pearl necklace - Pure Elements



Also linking to: Monday Mingle @ Momtrends

and


Momma Go Round



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