mom who works

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

What makes an outfit look dated? June 28, 2011

Filed under: fashion & style — Deborah @ 12:56 pm
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Great discussion today on on What Makes an Outfit Look Dated? In addition to what you would think of in terms of overly trendy styles (think exposed zippers, shoe booties and shoulder pads – ’80s anyone?), the discussion is ranging from wearing bright tops with black bottoms (hmm… but not the inverse?) and clothes that are too big/too small.


What did we do before Amazon? July 8, 2010

I am a “Prime” member on Amazon, which means for some annual fee (I think it’s $79 or something like that) I never have to pay for 2-day shipping for any item that has the little “Prime” logo on it (which is a lot of items).**

What that means is no more worries about minimum purchases, or “qualifying” purchases before you get free shipping. YOU JUST GET FREE SHIPPING. ALL THE TIME. And it’s TWO DAY SHIPPING to boot.

Okay, technically, it’s not free, because you spent $79 – so it’s sort of like you’re pre-paying your shipping up front – but at a huge discount. Because I tell you, this will change how you shop and you will buy a lot more online than you ever would before.

I now buy EVERYTHING on Amazon. Everything and anything. I buy cereal, body lotion, espresso from Italy. You name it, if Amazon has it and I need it, I buy it and have it shipped free to my house. Usually at a great discount (love the “Subscribe and Save” which gives you a 15% discount on things you buy regularly, like cereal, which shows up at my house every 2 months). No shipping, no taxes, no in-store hassles. Five minutes online versus leaving work 30 minutes early to run to Target before I have to get home. Just voila, it shows up at your door.

It’s a little bit like the early days. Way, way back in the late 1990s, when the web was new, Amazon was new, and it all seemed way too cool to be true. That quickly wore off as sites charged ridiculous shipping fees, and you would wait … and wait … and wait for your item to arrive. With Amazon Prime, bing bang boom … it’s on my door within a few days. Amazing.

I often think about my crazy schedule and life, and juggling trying to do amazing work at my job and also be a competent wife and mother. At least Amazon helps out a bit with the “wife and mother” part. The job, that one’s on me.

** By the way, I am not sponsored or supported in any way by Amazon. This is just my unsolicited opinion from personal use of this service.


Why do I not want to garden? April 17, 2010

Filed under: general,uncategorized — Deborah @ 9:12 am
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Image from Your LifeEvents

I used to be an avid gardener. “Used to be” before kid and dog and all the other responsibilities that come along with it. Once my daughter was born, gardening dropped down to about number 72 on my list of things to do, and my yard languished. Now it shows.

The thing is, I love and can appreciate beautiful gardens. Heck, I even love just CLEAN gardens at this time of year. Me, I still have dead peony stalks draped over askew peony cages as the new buds are trying to peek through all that mess. In fact, I should be out there now rather than writing this.

I’m learning that I have to try to let go of doing everything well. Sure, I look on in envy at a friend who is a stay-at-home mom (granted, with an 11-year old) whose house and yard are beautiful and immaculate. Every day she’s working on some project or another, maintaining and beautifying her house.

Look too far under the surface in my house and you’ll see the dust, the gathering of years of subtle neglect. At the same time, however, I try to remind myself I lead a very busy, full life, with a demanding job, and realize that I CHOOSE to prioritize my free time for my family, not my house.

Is that so bad? My peonies seem to think so.


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.


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.


What to Wear at Your First Big Job January 27, 2010

Filed under: fashion & style,work — Deborah @ 1:14 pm
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navy suit

Image from Corporette

Last week I enjoyed this guest post on Corporette by LPC of Privilege on What to Wear at Your First Big Job. The advice given was valuable not just from the “first job” perspective, but also the “new job” and the “I want a promotion” perspectives as well.

Especially important to note is the fact that men in the workplace really do pay attention to what you wear and what you look like, whether you like it or not. This idea, How Men Perceive Women in the Workplace, was explored a bit further recently on MSNBC.

Check it out.