mom who works

the joys and challenges of being a working mom trying to find "balance"

The office nail February 28, 2010

Filed under: general — Deborah @ 12:09 pm
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Marilyn with beautiful short red nails

Corner Office Chic recently had a great post on how Chipped Nails are Sooo Anti-Chic!, which caused me to think about manicures and maintenance.

I love the short red nail. I think it looks very French and very chic (there I go with French references again!). It also seems somewhat retro to me, very ’40s and ’50s glam, which I also love.

I agree that while a short red nail is not conservatively professional, I think if the red is not in any way “sparkly,” and if it is a good, clear, classic red (i.e. not overly dark), and if you wear it with neutral colored clothes (i.e. blacks, greys, reds, navies, some browns), and if you keep them impeccably (i.e. not a single chip or crack), then I think you can wear it to the office. But that’s a lot of “ifs,” which in the life of most busy working moms, is just too many “ifs” to deal with.

That’s why I tend to stick with either a light colored neutral polish, or during especially busy times, no polish.

Now “no polish” does not, and should not, mean not manicured or cared-for nails. You still need to keep your cuticles in check, your nails trimmed and filed and scrupulously clean. You just get the added time savings of not having to put on and most importantly during busy work weeks, maintain, polish.

There are also some shortcuts you take to help your nails look manicured even without polish.

1. Whitening Pencil. Revlon used to make one but I don’t think they do any more. Thank goodness for Sephora. The trick with these is you wash your hands/wet your nails, then run the pencil underneath the nail and it whitens the whites. It only lasts about a day so you’ll want to reapply each morning.

2. Cuticle remover. My favorite, Nutra Nail Green Tea Cuticle Remover, appears to no longer be available, but there are any number of quick-acting cuticle removers on the market. Don’t use them more than once/week, and I prefer to work on cuticles after a shower when they’re nice and soft.

3. Quick Polish. These polish “sticks” are compact, portable (great for that office emergency kit) and best of all, don’t need a base or top coat. They go on quickly, dry quickly, and rather than chip they just sort of melt away from your nails after a few days. I really like Nicole by Opi’s Nic’s Sticks Hydrate It!, which is really just a clear quick polish that shines your nails nicely and doesn’t chip. You can reapply it right over the old once or twice, but after that you’ll need to remove with polish remover.

Just remember, look beautiful out there!


The housecleaner dilemma February 27, 2010

Filed under: general — Deborah @ 9:37 am
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Corporette graciously provided a link in her weekly roundup to a post by Get Rich Slowly on “How I made my peace with hiring a housekeeper.”

It was refreshing to see someone else who has had some of the same reticence that I have had with having a house cleaner. I never talk about it (hello world!), and I would imagine that most of our friends don’t even know that we have someone who cleans our house once a week.

When our daughter was born, I was working full time, going to law school part time, and hubby was valiantly caring for an infant on his own for 13-hour days (school days). There was no way on earth that if we could help it, we would spend the precious few hours we had together on Saturdays cleaning the house.

This was a bigger hurdle at first for hubby than for me. I was just desperate for the help – he was concerned about his privacy and security. We were lucky enough to get referred to an amazing woman whose husband was a police officer and also ran a landscaping business on the side, and was willing to take us on as regular clients in her already full schedule.

That was 8 years ago, and even though we’ve hit a budget crunch just like everyone else in this economy, I would fight tooth and nail to keep her on for as long as I could.

I too have felt some guilt over not being willing or able to keep my own house clean. As a modern woman in America, there is an expectation that we can do all, be all, and deliver the goods. I’ve come to realize that trying to do that is a good way to end up in an early grave. I’ve since embraced the value of my time and the time I can spend with my family, and am grateful for being able to afford this little luxury.


The world stops for navy February 21, 2010

Filed under: general — Deborah @ 8:45 pm

I’m a woman of a certain age. A woman who should know how to wear navy. But I don’t.

Navy must be in the air. I just stopped to see my personal shopper at Macy’s* and pick up a few new items to round out my closet full of suits. The new job (in-house) is a bit less formal, but actually more stylish, than the last job (law firm). My current wardrobe of suits, suits and suits, needed a little tweak, hence the call to Nang at Macy’s.

So she finds the most amazing pair of navy trousers.  I am a black and grey kind of person when it comes to neutrals. My whole wardrobe is tuned to work with black and grey, and even a little brown. But these trousers were navy. Once I tried them on I really didn’t take them off for the rest of the appointment. Beautiful, dark, inky navy, with a gorgeous, slimming cut and beautiful material. I think they may have even been on sale.

Nang of course worked her magic, and started swapping different tops in and out and convincing me that navy works with anything, and that I can, and should wear black shoes with the navy trousers. So I bought them, of course. Then I got them home, and panicked.

And then, bless her, I read LPC’s post on Privilege the very next day What Shoes Can I Wear with Navy Blue? Which is really timely, and helpful, but still the navy stresses me out. You see, all the nice pics in LPC’s post are with navy dresses, or navy suits – basically, navy on the top and navy on the bottom. I get that you can wear basically any color shoe with navy. But I’m dealing with just a pair of navy trousers. So, what color TOP goes with what SHOES that goes with the navy trousers? Are you feeling me? Is it just me that has navy paralysis?

It’s just a color, but I am a hapless, clueless, neophyte and cannot sing with the Village People just yet.

* The personal shopping service at Macy’s is great – no charge to you – they just get a commission on what you buy, and if you work for some time with the same shopper they really get to know your style, size and wardrobe. I’ve been working with Nang Broenen at the Mayfair (Milwaukee) Macy’s for the last 6 years and she has changed my life. Seriously.


A tale of two companies … February 12, 2010

Filed under: general — Deborah @ 10:44 pm
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I recently posted about how my new employer uses Lotus Notes and my frustration with the To Do function of Notes. Okay, I’m being kind to myself, I was pretty adamant about how much Lotus Notes sucks. And to my surprise and amazement (thank you Google!), I received a comment from Ed Brill, the person at IBM in charge of Lotus Notes. How cool is that?

Ed and I corresponded back and forth about the issues I was having with the To Do function, and how it couldn’t do what I wanted it to do. He engaged in conversation, he listened, he didn’t get defensive, he truly wanted to help and figure out why I was frustrated with his product. Needless to say, I was very, very impressed with Ed and a culture at IBM that would cultivate someone at that level to engage with a lowly little user like me and my little blog.

Now, let’s contrast that truly engaged customer service experience with the service we’ve experienced from Microsoft on our Xbox 360. Hubby (really the whole family) got a new Xbox 360 console for Christmas. After about 2 weeks we started having problems with the controllers not connecting with the console, and after about another week of trying to troubleshoot on our own, we finally called Microsoft’s customer support line. They said to send the console in for repair, so we did.

After 3 weeks, we finally got word our console was coming back. Hubby and daughter were very excited to finally play some games with our NEW console. Imagine our disbelief when what we received was NOT our 2 WEEK OLD XBOX 360 CONSOLE, but instead a beat up REFURBISHED one.

Am I the only one who believes it is NOT acceptable to replace a BRAND NEW product with a beat up used product? Yet I have been assured by about 10 different people on Microsoft’s customer support line that never in the history of the company have they done the right thing, which is either to replace the BRAND NEW console with another BRAND NEW console, or give me my money back so I can go buy another BRAND NEW console. I’m on the 4th level of escalation so far (Dante’s Inferno anyone?) and I will not give up (you hear me Steve Ballmer?). So far, all I can say is Microsoft sucks, Microsoft sucks, Microsoft sucks. It’s down now to a matter of principle. Microsoft, this is not the way to treat customers, no matter how big you are. Just remember, David did bring down Goliath.


It really is magic February 2, 2010

Filed under: beauty — Deborah @ 9:56 pm
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Laura Mercier Brightening Powder

Image from

I am addicted to Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder. There, I’ve said it. Now it’s not a “secret” anymore. Well, it probably still is because I think there are only about 2 people who read this blog (including me), so Laura’s secret is still probably pretty safe.

Seriously, though, this stuff is amazing, and not even something I would “typically” use.

I’m a bit of a makeup minimalist. I find what works and stick with it. I have worn the same exact daily lipcolor (Clinique’s Long Last in Vintage Wine) for about 15 years . My only eye makeup is a good tube of brown/black lengthening mascara (current favorite is L’Oreal’s Panoramic Curl). However, I have experimented a bit with foundations because that is where I was having some issues a few years ago – that is until I discovered Laura Mercier.

I was desperate. My makeup was making me look older than my years, settling into creases, streaking, making me look pale and ashy. True to form, I did some research, and Laura Mercier’s foundations were consistently coming up top-in-class. There is only one store in town that sells Laura Mercier – Blush Beauty in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. I made an appointment, and was expertly helped by the staff at Blush to choose the right formulation (although I’ve tried at least 3 “Laura” formulations and all are great), the right color, and the best application. That was 3 years ago and I never looked back.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of drugstore cosmetics. I believe that 90% of the time the drugstore version is just as good, if not better, than the expensive designer/department store version. But Laura Mercier foundation – well, let’s just stop the train right there, get off, open up that wallet, and be prepared for some of the best quality, best looking, best feeling makeup you will ever wear.

So, back to the Secret Brightening Powder. When I first went in to get my Laura fix, I left with a straightforward primer-foundation-concealer-powder combination. After a while I felt that I could use more help with my undereye makeup, and made an appointment at Blush when the Laura Mercier rep was going to be there. She evaluated my setup, and recommended just 2 additional products that would take me truly to Mercier’s “Flawless Face,” one of which was the Secret Brightening Powder (I won’t tell you the other one – that’s a SECRET!). This incredibly fine powder goes on with a small brush, and only goes over the areas where you applied concealer (typically under eyes and maybe the side of the nose). It’s incredibly subtle, but it sets the undereye concealer and gives you a little brightening “boost” where you need it most.

For us moms, who frequently have to conquer the world on less than 6 hours of sleep a night, the Secret Brightening Powder is an important tool in our arsenal. Go forth. Use it. Use it well.