the memorial day sales that are actually worth your time

Because your inbox is probably as insane as mine this morning, I thought we could all use a cheat sheet. And so, your Great Big List of all of the Memorial Day sales worth mentioning is right here, but I’m starting it off with my faves – aka, the ones I’ll actually be shopping and which you might not have heard about yet. Read on

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hug a mom

mom and me

|  Me and my adorable mom. How lucky am I to have those genes?  |

A dear friend of mine, who also happens to be a new mom, is having A Week. By which I mean, a week that would make me – any normal human, really – just curl up into a ball and give in to your darkest thoughts.

Luckily, this friend of mine is not a normal human – she’s a superhero. I’ve known this for some time, but the simple fact that she has not completely lost her mind this week, or resorted to sticking a bendy straw directly into a bottle of tequila seals the deal. I’ve been doing my level best to pitch in and be a friend, but let me say this: I spent a handful of days this week walking in her shoes, cuddling her adorable newborn munchkin for a handful of caffeinated, showered, daylight hours, and all I know is that I adore the heck out of that baby, but if somebody doesn’t put me on a plane to Bora-Bora, and I mean immediately, I’m not sure I’ll last the week.

Watching my friend bring it in such a profoundly impressive way has left me thinking about my own superhero of a mom, who did all of it with one more kid to juggle and one less co-parent to lean on. Who worked three jobs to pay our rent, who didn’t own a new car until I was in high school, and who went without more often than I’ll probably ever know. Oh, and put herself through college and law school while she was at it. I think she knows by now that I’m in awe of all that – I talk her up all the time, to everyone – but I’m pretty sure she also knows that because I am a contentedly kidless person, I have no fucking clue how hard it actually was for her. I can’t begin to know.

I texted my mom earlier this week and commented that babies were harder than they look. “I remember,” she said. Sometimes I think about having kids just so that she could be a grandmother. She’s earned it.

All this rambling to say: hug a mom this weekend. It doesn’t have to be yours – I know things are complicated. Mine happens to be utterly amazing, but it’s not always so. There are issues and heartbreaks and regrets and distances we can’t always cross. Life is messy. But I promise you, this weekend you’ll see a mom out there in the world who needs an encouraging smile and a reminder that she’s doing it right, because she’s clinging to her grip on sanity with two very tired, very sticky fingers. When you spot her, hold the door open. Pay for her coffee, bite your tongue when her toddler pitches a fit, or leave her a note telling her she’s a superhero. Just take a moment and acknowledge that, my God, she is doing the hardest job I know. And she’s doing it for free. No vacation days, no time-outs, just for the sake of that little bundle of milk and poop she’s stewarding through the world, one spit-up-covered day at a time.

{PS: While you’re at it, you might keep your eyes open for a non-mom who could use a hug too. This Mother’s Day business is tough for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons, and a little bit of kindness goes a long, long way.}

 

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how to pick the perfect gift: a Q&A with half hitch goods

half hitch goods

|  Carrie of Half Hitch Goods, showing off her amazing Rolling Shoppe! |

Friends, I have been so excited to share this Q&A! Carrie Caillouette is the mastermind behind Half Hitch Goods: quite simply the most beautiful, creative, perfectly-curated gifting shop I have ever encountered. (And trust me, I don’t give out that title lightly.) Every single item is carefully considered, lovingly made, and somehow utterly and completely perfect. It’s an absolute treasure trove of gift ideas – for yourself, your spouse, your mom or your crazy Aunt Edna. I promise you, no matter how hard they are to buy for, and no matter what your budget, Carrie’s got the perfect gift…and it’s something you’d absolutely never have come up with on your own.

With Mother’s Day coming up, I asked her to share a few of her tips and tricks for tracking down the perfect gift for absolutely everyone…especially yourself!

{PS: Carrie is also one of my very favorite Instagrammers, and she’s taking over SMC’s Instagram feed all day today! Head over for a peek into her gorgeous world (and a few more fab gift ideas) – you’re not going to want to miss it.} Read on

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postcard

|  via Instagram  |
Whenever I wear jewelry from a friend, it feels like a big ol’ hug from them. And this pearly tasseled number from my friends at Grayling Jewelry has been giving me LOTS of hugs – I can’t seem to stop wearing it.
Nab the Cleo right here – and for the rest of the look:

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tricks of the trade: how to get oil out of suede

how to get oil stains out of suede

|  via Instagram  |

Who doesn’t love a good life hack? An honest-to-goodness, palm-to-forehead-thwacking solution to an everyday problem – I mean, that’s what bought Martha Stewart her first chicken coop, right? When it comes to a really successful life hack, I can’t get enough. And I know you’re with me, because the most popular story on this entire site (by a long shot, in fact) isn’t my trip to Paris or my foolproof packing lists, but “how to stretch the waistband of your jeans”.

So, here’s a genius little gem you should file away: how to get oil out of suede. Remember those jolie laide Birkenstock shearling clogs I picked up a while back? I know, I know…they’re UGGs with arch support. Don’t judge me too harshly.

Anyway. I’ve been wearing them more than is at all reasonable, including – regrettably – while cooking. The other night, I was putting the finishing touches on a lovely piece of olive oil-rubbed salmon when a piece leapt off the grill and onto my shoes. Which, as it turns out, was much more catastrophic than I could have anticipated. The oil seeped into the suede in a matter of nanoseconds, and left a dime-sized calling card right there on my Birkenstock-clad toe. Since it’s one thing to wear sensible shoes, but entirely another to wear oil-stained shoes smelling vaguely of fish, I knew drastic action was needed.

After trying every trick I knew without success (as a rule, Dawn dish soap is the mother’s milk of removing oil stains), I was nearing full-blown panic when I saw someone online recommending cornstarch. And as I considered it, it kind of made sense – cornstarch certainly inhales moisture in a hurry, but doesn’t get gloppy or pasty as other starches can. So, I tried it. And praise the shoe gods, it worked like a charm.

Since I’m desperately hoping I’m not the only person who does things like this (see e.g., “deep frying while wearing silk”…), I thought the least I could do was share this brilliant little hack with you.

The procedure is thus:

  • Heap a tablespoon or so of cornstarch on the soiled area* – be generous about it.
  • Use the back of the spoon to gently press the cornstarch into the stain, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • Dump off the cornstarch and lightly brush off the residue (I used the spoon again) to see how things are looking.
  • Repeat if necessary. (My first try loosened about 80% of the stain – the second try got me to 100%.)
  • Use a suede brush, or really any soft-bristled brush (I used the dry brush I’m supposed to be using to exfoliate my skin) to brush off the excess cornstarch and restore the nap of the suede.

* Note: you want to do this as soon as possible after tragedy strikes. If you do end up letting the oil stain dry, re-moisten the area before starting this procedure.

My hand to Chanel, that oil stain just vanished. I am one picky pants when it comes to stain removal, and I can’t even tell where it happened. (Also, this one is pretty reliable about tracking down food smells, and she’s not at all interested in these shoes. Very good sign.)

While I can’t say for sure, I’m pretty confident that the same process would work to remove a water stain from suede…but again, you want to get to it while it’s still wet.

Here’s hoping you’ll never have to use this little tidbit, but if you do, will you promise to report back?

 

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spring splurge: shopbop friends & family!

shopbop-friends-and-family

Well friends, I had a little #lifehack story planned for you today, but then this hit my inbox…and really, could I let a Shopbop friends & family go by? Of course not. So, life hack later…spring wardrobe now!

I’ve been on a shopping binge the likes of which my closet hasn’t seen in ages – I’m in one of those life phases when my closet just seems entirely, completely wrong all of a sudden. I’m ready for a serious wardrobe reboot, and I’m starting with more than a few of these:

Now, tell me what you’re buying, won’t you? My shopping itch still isn’t quite done being scratched.

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traditions

easter

|  Easter dresses on parade (and my darling Nana)  |

Growing up, holidays were a big deal in my house. We celebrated everything. Easter meant a frilly new dress, a fancy hotel brunch, and one of those too-beautiful-to-eat sugar eggs with a miniature Easter scene inside created entirely of frosting. Mother’s Day meant the same brunch, but no new dress (and no candy, alas…). July 4th was entirely overshadowed by July 24th (better known as “Pioneer Day”, for all of my non-Utah-bred friends), when every family member for miles around piled into my grandparents’ ample backyard to partake in a bottomless bounty of summer barbecue staples. Burgers, dogs, watermelon, corn on the cob…I remember shucking corn for hours with my grandfather, him laughing at me whenever I found a worm in the husks and screamed bloody murder. On my birthday, my mom took the entire day off of work to entertain me.

And those were just the minor holidays. So, you can see where my expectations might be a bit skewed.

Every one of those days revolved around family, but most especially around my grandmother. She was the epicenter of all of it – the family, food, the location, the comically overgrown collection of seasonal decorations. And I took it to heart in a big way. Now that she’s gone, I find myself fiercely protective of the rituals and celebrations she created. I staunchly refuse to make any stuffing at Thanksgiving that isn’t her recipe, and still feel a pang of emptiness on Halloween because I’m not curled up on her couch, watching The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and helping her hand out candy (the little kids get the full-size bars, and the teenagers get the snack-size). The spot in my chest where I keep my memories of her gets heavier as a holiday nears – the weight sometimes becoming unbearable, even now. I become intractable and unreasonable, entrenched in nostalgia and how it “should” be.

As you might imagine, this creates a bit of a sticky wicket when it comes to building new traditions with my husband. One of the great challenges of our union has been finding ways to incorporate my Big Book of Holiday Expectations into our life together. His latently Jewish family never cared much for holidays, and the ones they did celebrate are utterly foreign to me. (Given my pro-holiday proclivities, I have been trying to convince him to let me host a Seder every year since we wed, without success.) After stumbling through our first few holiday seasons together with a distinct lack of grace and an abundance of emotional bruises, we’ve learned, finally, that traditions don’t have to be rooted in childhood. He’s come around to some of the traditions I love, and we’ve built a few new traditions together, which have become as precious to me as any I grew up with. It turns out, there are options that lie somewhere between my way and the highway, and if I manage to park my high horse for a moment and look around, they can be their own kind of wonderful.

A few years before she died, my grandmother sent me a VHS tape of Easter Parade. Truly, if you haven’t seen it, email me and I’ll send you a copy – I’m that convinced you’ll love it. When she first gave it to me, I dismissed it. “Oh sure,” I thought, “I’ll get to that someday.” But she asked and asked, and finally I broke down and watched the darn thing. And fell in love, just as she knew I would. Every year after that, she’d ask me on Easter if I’d watched it. And, because I am just the teensiest bit tradition-prone, within a couple of years it was as ingrained as if I’d been watching it my entire life.

Truth be told, I’m not particularly religious. My interest in Easter has always been purely pagan: give me hot cross buns and Cadbury Creme Eggs over ashes and Lent any day. While the more canonical aspects of Easter aren’t my cup of tea, the rest of it is right up my alley. Easter means family and brunch, a basket of candy and a new dress. What’s a better holiday than that? Sadly, most of those Easter traditions have drifted away as I’ve grown up. Family has scattered, Easter brunch is overpriced and overcrowded, and…well, I married a Jew, so Easter baskets are only slightly less confusing to him than Christmas stockings. Also, Easter is really a kids’ holiday at heart, and I’m what you might call “selectively allergic” to the little sugar-eating munchkins.

But there’s comfort in tradition. It’s a way to relive the parts of the past we remember fondly, viewed through that reassuringly rosy lens of nostalgia that filters out the family squabbles, the mistakes and the regrets that haunt us late at night. It’s a way to hold on to the people we love, a way to remember them and keep them close, even when they’re heartbreakingly far away.

So, although I won’t be donning a pale blue dress with a white pinafore (more’s the pity), and I have a feeling brunch isn’t in the cards, I can guarantee that I’ll spend this Sunday watching Easter Parade (and probably eating a fair amount of Easter candy). I’d give anything to sit on my grandmother’s sofa and watch it with her. But when I press “play” this Sunday morning, she’ll be just a little bit closer to me, and that spot on my chest will ache just a little bit less.

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