Wednesday, August 25, 2021

clothing review: that postpartum life.

Oh man. Postpartum clothing shopping....not exactly super fun. 

I feel in such a weird clothing funk right now. I almost feel like I went into a coma and came out four years later with a new body and not understanding current styles. I really only purchased a handful of non-maternity items over the past four years, and so now I feel like I'm kind of starting over, with a different body than before. Just to kind of let you in on where my head space is currently at. I may have left the mall crying yesterday. So if you've been're definitely not alone. 
Smocked ruffle gauze top

Okay, first up is this beautiful top from J.Crew. I've had my eye on it forever, and finally ordered it during a sale. I'm wearing a size large here. Initially when I put it on, I liked it. Then I looked at it from all angles and decided I didn't like it. Because the fabric is thinner, it kind of puffs up from the chest down, so from the side it looks a bit sack like. And then now looking at it again, I like it! Isn't this a fun process? 

But seriously...I think I like it. It's cute both for work under a blazer or white coat, and then for a more casual night out. I think this lighter blue isn't the one for me though, and I think I'm going to order it again in the light mint. Or white, because I'm predictable. 
Are popovers back in? I've been seeing them all over the place, and I, for one, am here for it. I love this style shirt! This one isn't the one for me though. I'm wearing a 12 tall here - I do like the length on me, and am thankful it comes in the tall option. I just don't love the fabric - it felt very stiff and as you can see, see-through. I wish it was just a bit more opaque so you can't see my nursing bra! As I do like this style of shirt, I'm hoping they'll come out with a different fabric or color this fall.
Smocked-Waist Button-Front Midi Skirt

I had seen this Madewell skirt in instagram ads a few times, but it wasn't until I saw Merrick's instagram post with a very similar skirt (or maybe the same one?) that I had to order it. I don't have any midi skirts but I have wanted a cute item for my closet to wear for date nights! This is just such a comfortable, light, and flowy skirt. It fits true to size, I'm wearing a large here - the waistline is very stretchy, so you could consider sizing down. Now I would really like a white bodysuit to wear with it to help streamline the area around my waist. Any suggestions? All the ones I'm seeing out there are like $80!

Classic Straight Jeans
The last item I had ordered online from Madewell are these classic straight jeans. From the front, these are so flattering - almost tummy controlling, looser than skinny jeans but not too baggy that your shape gets lost. But these were SO tight on my belly - I could hardly squat down! I ordered what I think is my normal size 31, but these were just so tight and frankly, not flattering from the side. I did really love the color and overall style though, so during the next sale I plan on ordering them a size up to see if that makes them feel and look better. 

Of course, I had to take advantage of a day when Penny went to hang out with family for part of the day, so Theo and I went to the mall to return the items above...and try a few things on. It's been years since I've actually been in a mall and tried things on there! The only item I ended up taking home is this Hayden top in a black/white pattern that isn't even online yet. They only had mediums left in store, but it actually made the fit more flattering. I find the majority of Madewell tops to not fit me well, as they are shorter and boxier on me than I prefer for myself. This has just a little more length than other shirts I've tried, and sizing down to medium means I don't totally get lost in the shirt. Plus the fabric is soooo soft! They previously had this style in a white, which I'm so sad is no longer available in my size. Again a great top for hanging out with the babies, but can be dressed up with black (or mustard!) pants for work. 
Floral Jacquard Puff-Sleeve Tee
This floral puff sleeve not for me. I tried it on because the non-boxy, longer length drew me in, and because I saw Shea McGee looking super cute in puffy sleeved shirts and I basically want to be her...but this is not for me. Maybe styled correctly, with my hair done and in the right light...but I know that that is rarely the situation, so I didn't want to buy a shirt that I would actually never wear. If it does seem like your style though, I am wearing a large here, and the fabric is nice and thick. Cute, but not for me. 
Grandover Bobble Pullover Sweater
While it is currently 86 (!) degrees out, I did just move to one of the snowiest cities in the country, so I'm starting to think about what I'm supposed to wear during the many months of winter coming my way. I was drawn to the colors and texture of this sweater, but kind of feel like a frumpy grandpa in it. I can see why the cool kids would love this, but as a 33 year old mom of two who is currently working through some postpartum body issues, this was not the one for me. 
Y'all know I love a good plaid blazer, but I've wanted an updated, more casual version. I saw this oversized blazer on a TikTok some weeks ago, and wanted to try it. This was such a comfortable blazer, and really I could tell the difference between a $30 H&M blazer and a $170 blazer, but this wasn't the one for me either. My H&M blazer is a very similar color, so I feel I don't want to repeat it. I also found it too boxy on me, so I'll keep an eye out for something that works better for me. I've been eyeing this Vince Camuto version - I could definitely see myself wearing it to work this fall!

So here is where we are at. I'm still trying to figure myself out. I'm trying to work with my newer, different body. I'm trying to understand what the current styles are, while also knowing that I already know what I like, and trying to blend those together. I'm trying to figure out my current stay at home mom life, while knowing that I'm stepping into an attending ObGyn life in 2 months, where I will spend the majority of my time in an outpatient clinic. Thank you for following along with me while I figure it out!

p.s. below are my working conditions when trying to take pictures. he thinks he's sooo funny. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

fran's fbmp find: drexel pine dresser (and a little bedroom sneak peak)

I am so excited to talk about our new home! This spring, we sold our first home. We had loved making that home our own. It was the perfect house for us, but we were slowly outgrowing we were moving two states away, so we got lucky in a sellers market, and sold it in days. Finding a house, on the other hand, was tough. We lost several houses, but then got the luckiest when a younger couple was selling their beautiful home, and chose us to buy their house, even though we had competition with an all cash, no cap offer. I believe it's because they had young children and the house was made to raise kids in. We are just so thrilled to have gotten a house in this market. 

This house is twice the size of our last one. It has one more bedroom, it's own dining room, an office, and a formal living room...all things we did not have in our first home. We brought all of our furniture with us, but the majority of it doesn't really fit into the space - it's either the wrong shape or too small for the space. But furniture is expensive, so we are buying it in stages. We started with our bedroom!

I had saved up for the last month so we could furnish part of our bedroom when we moved in. We wanted our room to be calm and bright, and my husband requested to have shades of green in it. We painted one of the walls a really pretty green (Behr Eucalyptus Wreath), and the rest a bright white. When it came to furnishing it, I've always wanted a king sized bed. After months of debating which one to get, we went with the West Elm MidCentury Frame - it's so so pretty in real life and looks great with the green wall and hardwood floors! We went with a Saatva mattress, which is described as "hotel like", and as a belly sleeper, I've really really liked it. I had had my eye on this Crate and Barrel duvet, and I love the texture that it adds to the bed without it being an overwhelming pattern. 

As a side story, prior to medical school, I was really into thrifting. That's how I spent my evenings and weekends when I was working full time - finding goodies at Goodwill and garage sales. Now that I have my life back, and 3 months off before starting my first attending job, as well as a house to furnish, I've really rediscovered that thrifting bug. But with having two small children and a husband who works out of the house, spending hours at the thrift stores isn't really a possibility right now, so I've become a hardcore Facebook Marketplace fiend! In the 6 weeks we have lived here, I've already found several amazing pieces for our house. A few needed a little love, some needed nothing, and I can't wait to see how they tell their story in our house. The overall "look" for our house is transitional - filling our bright and airy spaces with a mix of old school charm with modern touches. That's the great thing about finding furniture and decor that's pre-loved - it doesn't need to fall into one design style, it just needs to fit the space. 

So, we had the bed, the bedding, and the rug, but needed a few other items for our bedroom. Top of the list were a dresser, and bedside tables, and then also a big mirror, lamps, and art. I spent several weeks looking at different dressers on FBMP when I ran across a beautiful 9 drawer pine dresser that was selling for $120. I reached out to the seller immediately, and went to see it that afternoon. It turns out it had been a part of an estate sale but no one bought it, so the price was decreased and put on FBMP...where it promptly became mine! 

As far as I can tell, the dresser is from sometime between the mid 20th century. It's made of pine, with dovetail construction on the drawers. The hardware is brass, but we will get to that in a second! When we got the dresser to our house, I noticed the smell immediately. It smelled like someone's very nice grandmother. The dressers had a paper lining, which was easily removed. I then wiped out each drawer with a 50/50 vinegar/water mixture, which apparently neutralizes perfumes. I then put some baking powder on paper plates, and put them in each drawer, and then put the drawers back in the dresser. We didn't put any clothes in the dresser for a week, and by the end of the week, all the former scents were gone! 

Now that it smelled new, it was time to update the hardware. Because of the very unique drawer pulls, it wasn't really an option to replace them because the stain behind the pulls was different than the rest of the drawer. So I removed all the pulls, soaked them for a few minutes in Dove power wash, and then used this magic powder to remove all the tarnish. It was amazing how a few minutes of scrubbing could complete remove the tarnish! 

Now she's sitting in our bedroom, and is mostly used as a baby changing table. I'm debating what to do above the dresser though. Across from it, above our bed, we already have a large piece of art (see below). Our big mirror is going on the third wall of the room, and the fourth wall currently just has two windows (...that still need curtains). I initially thought another mirror, but we don't really need it since we have the big one on the wall. Then I was thinking maybe a gallery wall? Several pieces of art? I don't know, I feel torn. 

I also bought two bedside tables on FBMP that need to be sanded and painted - they aren't a real wood so painting makes the most sense. I'm thinking maybe black paint and then gold hardware? We also need lamps for the bedside tables, I'd like two additional pillows in a green to go with the wall color, and this blanket for the edge of the bed. Once Theo's pack n play is moved out, we also would like to add a chair and small table in the corner. 

So while I'm excited about where we currently are, there's so much left to do!
paint: Behr Eucalyptus Wreath


Monday, August 2, 2021

my current skincare routine for mid-30s skin

I have shared my skincare routines over the years (2016 at age 28, 2018 at age 30) and I think the latest change to my skincare regimine is reflected of where I'm at in my mid 30s as a mother to two young children - quick and easy, gets results, and prevents future problems. I have dry skin that needs moisture. The acne I was dealing with for years is now kept at bay, but instead now we are dealing with fine lines. The addition of several key lotions and potions have made a huge difference in my skin though, and I'm so happy about where we are at. 

As a disclaimer, I did get 3 sessions of microneedling done back in 2016-2018 that helped with some acne scarring, and I get botox about twice a year, although with my pregnancies, I haven't really had much botox in the last 3 years. I also get a small amount of filler in my tear troughs every two years as I have had basically hollowed eye sockets since childhood. I think while those things helped target specific concerns that skin care can't fix, but the daily skin care routines make such difference in how your overall skin looks and feels. I'm at such a good place with how I feel about my skin that I don't wear anything on my skin other than some concealer and setting powder - I no longer wear any foundation or even a CC cream unless it's a special occasion. So here's my current routine, and why having a "less is more" approach is working for me now!

AM //
I don't used a cleanser in the morning, I just wash my face with water and then pat dry. Then I use

Vitamin C serum: Probably the biggest game changer for me has been adding vitamin C serums to my routine. I've tried several, I used BeautyPie's vitamin C ampules for several years until finally splurging on the SkinCeuticals version last month (it's the most hyped and recommended Vitamin C serum I've seen). It's been proven to help reduce free radical damage, and improve fine lines and overall brightness. I've definitely noticed a huge difference in the brightness of my skin with consistent Vitamin C use over the last three years. One big thing to note is that the stability of Vitamin C isn't great, so not all Vitamin C serums are created equal but I think all provide a benefit. As with most skin care, this is something you have to use daily and for a while until you see a difference, but with consistent use, you will get amazing results. As the SkinCeuticals serum is pricy (the priciest skin care item I've ever purchased), here's a post about dupes to the skinceuticals serum - I've always had great success with Paula's Choice so their Vitamin C serum would be my recommendation. If you aren't using a Vitamin C serum yet, I highly recommend adding one. 

Moisturizer: Like I said, I have dry skin, and have been very loyal to Belif's moisture bomb for years now. It's a medium thick cream, so it's great for daily morning use - provides enough moisture but doesn't turn you into an oil slick (I save that for night time!). Love love love. 

Sunscreen: Some years ago, I read that the best anti-aging cream you can buy is sunscreen and that somehow blew my mind but also makes sense. I've been consistently using daily facial sunscreen since my mid 20s and I like to think it's what keeps me looking so youthful ;) (...that, and the fact that I worked 60-80s hours a week and never saw the sun....). Something I didn't learn until recently though is that you're supposed to put your sunscreen on last in your routine! I'm currently using up my first bottle of SuperGoop's Glow Screen, which I quite enjoy as it leaves you all dewy and young looking. Next up I'm going to try EltaMD's sunscreen though, because it's again one that comes highly recommended my the dermatologists I follow. In the past I've also really liked Paula's Choice sunscreen, if you're looking for another price point. 

PM //

Cleanser: I can't find any make-up remover/cleanser as much as I love the Glossier cleanser. With just three pumps of the cleanser, I can take off all my make up without needing two different cleansers or separate make up remover. I've tried a bunch of others in the past, and always come back to this as it's so easy and works so well. If you're lazy, and don't wear a ton of face make up, this is a great option for you to remove your make up and cleanse your skin.  

Retinol: The other "must have" item that is always recommended to use is a type of retinol. From my basic non-dermatologist understanding, retinols are typically purchased over the counter and tretinoin is a prescription. I was prescribed a tretionoin cream by my dermatologist about six years ago, but as I moved several times, and couldn't make it to an actual dermatologist's office (plus most had a 6 month wait list), I started using Dear Brightly. You have an online consultation with a derm (including sending pictures of your skin), and they send you prescription retinol. I love this version of retinol because it is formulated with hyaluronic acid, so I haven't experienced as much of the dryness I did with Retin-A Micro. As I've been a long term retinol user now, I use a stronger strength (0.1%). Not ready to get a prescription tretinoin cream? There are tons of over the counter retinol products in almost every price range, but if you are looking for the biggest change, I'd recommend an Rx, from either your local dermatologist (the generic creams are really not that expensive, as long as your get the generic versions!) or if you can't make it to in person dermatology appointment soon, try an online version like Dear Brightly. Start off slow with a lower concentration, make sure your skin is all the way dry when applying, and make sure you use a moisturizer. 

Moisturizer: At night I like to go a bit heavier on the moisturizing. I'm still loving Vanicream for the days I use my tretinoin cream, and on days I don't use it, I like to use the traditional Nivea cream. I love how thick it goes on, and how soft my skin is in the morning! 

Ointment: This CeraVe ointment has been a recent find (I think I saw it on a TikTok in a video about "slugging") and went out to buy it the next day. I've tried lots of different face oils to help trap in moisture, but this takes it to the next level. I smear it all over my face and I look a little ridiculous because of how greasy I look, but my skin is so so soft  the next day. If you have oily skin, this is not the cream for you, but if you have drier skin like I, don't walk. 

In addition, I also apply this hair strengthening serum in hopes that my postpartum hair loss won't be as bad, and then put my hair in a low pony with a silk hair tie - I have had such bad breakage around the level I wear a messy bun that I'm really trying to break that habit, and have found that this really helps. I also use Lash Boost every other day to keep my eyelashes long and full. 

So that's my quick and dirty skincare routine. It's not 12 steps, but that's why it works for me and the current state of my skin! I'd like to add back a mask or two when I take a bath, so if you have any current loves, I'd love to hear about them!