Jenna & Mark, a designer and a pastry chef, are owners of Whimsy & Spice, a Brooklyn-based bakery. Sweet Fine Day is a visual journal of two entrepreneurs juggling parenting, business, and family life in New York City.
Could you tell from the collective griping from out East that we suffered through a particularly nasty heatwave last week? I hardly spent any time outdoors while the girls were at camp except to get a mammogram done on Friday. When you’re my age, you have to get stuff like that done. It isn’t bad, usually, except for any time spent momentarily freaking out that they’ll find something, and then of course you over-analyze ever nuanced facial expression on the technician. Why did she linger on that image for so long? It just so happened that the air conditioner broke down the day of my appointment, which was as fun as going to the doctor in 99 degree heat sounds (think about it).
When I left the imaging center I was pretty desperate to get some AC relief so I walked into a thrift store a few doors down. It’s where I saw this dress hanging on the racks. The pattern caught my eye first and I pulled it out and saw that it was a strapless sundress. $10. Sold. I made straps from a sash that came with the dress because strapless just doesn’t stay up on me, and I have to sort of shimmy into the thing because it just only fits. It can hang in my closet with the rest of the dresses that I don’t wear often because I feel “fussy” in them, but…$10!
Do you ever feel like once you buy one thing, it just opens the floodgates to your wallet and you just want to spend more? Having to kill time before picking up the girls from camp didn’t help either because there are so many sales right now as stores clear their inventory for Fall. I picked up that beaded striped short sleeve sweater from J Crew for about $40, as well as a pair of white jeans at Anthropologie on final sale for less than $50 (can’t find it on their website). Never thought I could wear white jeans before but I think I just never found the right pair. They’re the perfect length for wearing with ankle boots actually, and I’m going to wear these all through the winter (no one stops wearing white after Labor Day anymore, do they?).
Zara is also having a great month long sale and I stocked up on some Fall stuff for the girls, including this jacket and these shoes. We had to return the shoes because their sizing is so wonky and they were entirely too big. I was even able to fit my size 7 feet in them, what? They also looked a little ridiculous on a 9 year old girl (talk about fussy clothes) and as much as I loved them, I realized that I was shopping for myself and not for them. Oh. This was made all the more clear when we went into a store the other week and they pointed out pretty much everything I would never pick my out myself. To be fair, Mia did love the shoes as well, but they were just too much.
In other dress news, my cousin bought me this dress that I’ve been wearing a lot lately. It’s casual and unfussy and perfect to just throw on. And then I read some of the reviews after I wore it one day and saw that a few moms had basically said the same thing, which immediately made me go, “whuuuut, I’m wearing a mom dress noooooo.” Oh, whatever.
Forgot to share what Mark got for my birthday back in April – earrings by Stone and Honey. I had the pleasure of meeting Teresa last summer in Portland and this is my first piece from her. I love them.
Remember these Madewell sandals I posted about a few months ago? I was hoping they would be my everyday summer staple and they have become that shoe, even with that little 1.5″ wedge heel (I don’t notice the heel at all – they feel like flats, but who wouldn’t want to be 1.5″ taller?). I’ve worn them nearly every day since the weather got warm enough for sandals and they were comfortable right away out of the box – no need to break them in. At the suggestion of a reader, I did reinforce the soles which pretty much negated the money I saved by buying them on sale, but I’m glad I did because it adds more traction and it’ll extend the life of the shoe. Did any of you pick up a pair when I posted about them? How do you like them?
I don’t usually buy matching clothes for the girls, but I couldn’t pass up buying each of them this swim coverup from Old Navy. The material is like a slub knit and honestly, it could be a bit thicker, but I wanted to get a coverup that wasn’t terrycloth which I’m not really a fan of (it’s like wearing a towel! Which I know is the point in a coverup, but still). The styling is a lot cuter than some of the shapeless coverups I’ve bought for them in the past and judging by their response when I pulled them out this past weekend when we went swimming, they approved of them too.
And lastly, can we talk about shorts? As in, do you wear them? I have a running joke with my friend Sara because she disapproves of shorts and I wear them so I taunt her about wearing shorts every chance I get. You know, clothes are funny. Your perception of what is appropriate and flattering can become fluid with what is on trend and in stores (uh, skinny jeans). I didn’t wear shorts for a long time, not since I was probably a kid – and by shorts I mean shorts with an inseam of 4 or 5 inches – but I did wear longer shorts that came down above the knee for years which I now think are hideous on me. They aren’t a flattering length. But shorts, like dresses and skirts, kept getting shorter and shorter in the stores over the years and suddenly, they were ok! Alright, maybe not to some people shorts hating people, but I hate wearing jeans in hot weather and I don’t always want to wear dresses or skirts, so shorts it is! I bought this pair using the Anthropologie birthday discount gift card they mail out on your birthday and it helped me make the splurge (I do think $68 is way pricey for a pair of shorts without that discount). Again, like a lot of items lately, I think I would have passed on them if I was just judging solely on the photo on their website, but they ended up being a good purchase; I’ve already worn them many times this month. I also buy shorts like these 3″ inch J Crew ones to wear under short dresses in the summer, kind of like the girls who will refuse to leave the house in dresses if they aren’t wearing shorts like these under them. When did they become so modest?
Have you ever used a ceramic knife? I think my friend Nichole was the first to tell me about the ceramic knife when I spotted it at her house. Mark and I later saw a Kyocera knife for sale at one of the stores at Chelsea Market and we decided to give it a try. They’re lightweight and super sharp, but the claim that it actually prevents cut fruit from getting brown (which supposedly happens when metal interacts with acidic juices) was the thing that sold me. I pack the girls apple slices nearly every day for lunch, and in the past those containers of cut fruit would sometimes come back untouched at the end of the day because the apples looked “too brown”. Now, I will say that it doesn’t prevent all browning as it claims, but it does a good enough job that I definitely do see a difference and the apples get eaten every day. Besides, that white blade! It really is a fun knife to use.
I think you all know by now that the girls wear Salt Water sandals almost exclusively as their summer sandals, but have I told you why? (Miss C got these gold pair this year). Aside from the reasonable price (yes, there was a time when I got sucked into all the adorable, yet pricey kid sandals when the girls were toddlers), they are durable and have even lasted us 2 summers depending on how much their feet would grow during the winter. Those more expensive, adorable brands? They would be trashed by the end of summer sandal wearing season, absolutely trashed. One of the reasons why the Salt Waters survive is because you can get them wet and they won’t get ruined in water. If you live in NYC, you know what a big deal this is. With sprinklers open at every playground in the city, and with a playground every 7-10 blocks (at least in our neighborhood), it’s hard to avoid the sprinkler in the summer, especially when all your kid wants to do is get wet. Before I started buying Salt Waters, I’d have this conversation with the girls almost daily:
Me: “Wait! You’re wearing your sandals and we don’t have your crocs or flip flops. You can’t go in the water with those sandals”.
Girls (as they run towards the water): “But…SPRINKLER!!”
Me: “Did ya even hear what I said?? You can’t get those shoes wet. They’ll get ruined.”
Girls: “Can we go barefoot then?”
Me: “Do you see where we live? This is the city! With rats and glass and god knows what else.”
Girls (as they run into the water anyway): “But…SPRINKLER!!!”
But now when we enter a playground with the water on, it’s like…sure, get wet, whatever. By the way, there are 2 types of Salt Water sandals – the ones that have stitching on the foot bed and the ones that don’t. The smooth, slightly higher foot beds without stitching seem more durable and hold up best in water.
And finally, this dress. Yeah, it totally looks bleh and boring on the website and I would have never even looked at it twice past these photos because I don’t particularly like the way it hangs on the model, but the dress is actually pretty nice in person. I bought it as a late birthday present to myself (and I’m all about dresses with pockets these days).
I’m not sure what possessed me to buy hot pink pants, but I did. Maybe it’s because they ended up being $20, marked down on sale and forever discounted with one of the Gap’s never ending sale codes, but it hasn’t just sat in my closet either; I’ve worn them quite a few times since they’ve arrived in the mail. See? Despite assumptions that I only wear black or gray, I do wear color (sometimes). Another color that I seem to always gravitate towards is bright green which is odd because from 5th to 8th grade my Catholic School uniform was bright green and yellow and I vowed never to wear green again. It was the ugliest color combination I could think of, especially in polyester, and I had to wear it every single day. But that was 30 years ago and green has since worked its way into my closet (but never worn with yellow. I still think it’s a hideous color combo).
Can I give you a tip on some kid shoes? These sparkly mary janes are the best. These are our second pair from this brand called Cienta and they come in lots of colors and a few different styles. I bought some non sparkly mary janes for C last year and they could have lasted another season, but it seems like her feet grew like crazy in the last 8 months. Mia got a pair of these slip on Converse for Spring this year. Chuck Taylors didn’t work on her when she was younger as they always seemed to slip off her feet at the heel so I almost wrote them off, sadly, but I’m so glad I decided to give them another try, especially in these no-laces style. I think every kid should own a pair of Chucks at some point.
Has anyone done any good shopping lately? I swear, I’m not finding much I like at stores and I’ve gone out a few times looking around…AND I’ve been in a shopping mood with some money to spend, I tell ya! I didn’t even find anything to buy when I went shopping on my birthday. Oh well. I guess I’ll just do something boring and responsible like pre-pay some of my mortgage [insert eyeroll here. Just kidding. Maybe].
And something a little bit different with this month’s obsessions…music!
I’m that person who can listen to the same song over and over and these 2 songs have been in my rotation non stop for the last month. They both happen to be Brooklyn-based bands/musicians and these albums were released last year. Hey, I can sometimes get out of that 80s/90s music rut if I try.
I had a sudden urge to go shopping over the weekend which is something that doesn’t really happen often. It’s not that I don’t like to shop – I actually do, but who has the time anymore? I certainly don’t shop socially as much – you know with a friend, bopping around from store to store and stopping for lunch or coffee. Those were the days. Now, shopping is less leisurely and more utilitarian; less browsing and more focused on specific things we need. I covered a lot of ground though in about 2 hours when we all went into Manhattan on Saturday, and I bought something for everyone while Mark took the girls to the bookstore and the playground (btw, is the Gap forever on permanent sale now? They are ALWAYS having a sale, as is J Crew).
Speaking of the Gap, I bought these jeans. I think I am over the whole expensive-designer-$175 a pair-jeans thing. Remember when denim was reasonably priced? And then somewhere in the last 15 or so years all these brands started coming out and charging $150+ per jeans and that was the new normal. For years I wore a lot of AGs, Sevens, Citizens and J Brands, but I have to say, I don’t see a real big difference in fit or quality than the jeans that I have bought from the Gap, Urban Outfitters or Zara. Maybe those less expensive brands just got better in the last few years. I never thought Gap jeans fit me because it felt like I was in between sizes, but I realized that they stretch with wear and if I size down, they actually fit me really well (actually, most jeans stretch out and AGs are the worst culprit in my opinion). I’ve worn those Gap jeans everyday since I’ve bought them on Saturday and they were less than $50 on sale. I may never spend more on jeans again.
While I haven’t been shopping at all this year before the weekend, I have poked around on the web at some of the Spring clothes that are coming out, but I haven’t found anything that appealing. Everything is sort of meh. But sometimes clothes are hard to judge from photos and I never would have picked out this shirt, pictured above, for the girls at Zara from their website, but it’s really cute in person. As is this dress. I usually have a threshold of not spending more than $30ish for any piece of clothing for the girls (the constant sales make this possible!) except shoes and coats, but I splurged on that striped dress. The girls are at a size now where they can actually share dresses and tops because Claudine is so tall (almost off the charts!) and Mia is so skinny. They can both wear this dress and I know I’ll get at least 3 years from it (oh, we can justify most any purchase, can’t we?)
And as far as summer sandals (of which I have a particular weakness) I bought these Madewell sandals for everyday wear to replace ones I finally wore out last year. They’re having a sale right now and I must have snagged one of the last ones in my size because now they are backordered. I’ve been consistently impressed by the quality of Madewell shoes so it seemed too good to pass up on sale with free shipping, plus the sale price puts it at the threshold for no sales tax. Now if only this weather would listen to what month it was and start cooperating. Can’t even imagine sandal weather yet with this cold. Happy first day of Spring?