Da Bomb(er Jacket).

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A girl could make the case for at least 3 winter coats this season:
1- A super-warm, water-resistant puffer coat for frigid and/or snowy days.
2- A more dressy wool coat (perhaps 3/4 length, with a faux fur collar situation) for looking polished when life calls for such conditions.
3- An on-trend fashion coat that is just warm enough, and is part of the outfit- not covering the outfit- so can keep it on while you are out and about without feeling over-heated or weighed down by some bulky jacket that leaves you sweaty and annoyed.

For category 3- l recommend a bomber jacket. The relaxed style naturally lends itself to easy layering- putting a heavy sweater underneath is no problem at all. But, thanks to the elastic band at the waist, people don't assume that you are a giant marshmallow of a person from head to do- the band nips you in at the perfect spot just above the hips. 

My favorite bomber jacket right now is this one- the faux fur and nubby sherpa play into the cozy texture trend that every style insider is obsessing over at the moment. You turn into the most fashionable human teddy bear the instant you put this on- so soft and- this is not a word I often use, as my friends can attest- yummy. Yup. Yummy.

It also combines black and light beige, which means black boots and brown boots (navy too!) are all fair footwear game, if you subscribe to those kinds of rules.

Oh- and if you are traveling somewhere warm for the holidays and need that in-between coat- this is the one. Over a tank top or a thick sweater, it works. Perfectly. And on the planes, trains, and automobiles that holiday hustles are made of, you really could not ask for a better pillow/blanket stand-in.

Here are 3 other options that fit the bill, should you be so inclined:

1- Leopard faux fur gives this a glam factor, but still feels sporty. 
2- Metallic makes this work with basically ANYTHING you pair it with- such a statement.
3- Luminous purple velvet is so so soft, I am obsessed with this one- worth a look.

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What To Do With Your Holiday Cards (And, My Thoughts on Holiday Cards In General).

Sweater / Jeans / Garland (similar options)

Sweater / Jeans / Garland (similar options)

(Firstly, what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't tell you that the sweater I am wearing above is probably the best sweater I have bought in years. Can't. Stop. Wearing. It. With Rag & Bone leather leggings at night, and my beloved Madewell jeans every day.)

The whole THING of holiday cards is kind of baffling if you really think about it.

We stress out for months collecting and updating addresses. In many (most?) cases, these addresses belong to people we have not seen, spoken to, or maybe even thought about, in years.  Then, we have to figure out how to upload said addresses from the sloppy spreadsheet on our desktop to that of our online card retailer of choice in such a way that it is compatible with their specific envelope addressing service. Spoiler alert- that spreadsheet is NEVER compatible on the first try, so we re-format. And re-format again.

Even before the above annoyances, we have to find (or, in my case, have someone take) a photo that accurately-ish captures our family at this moment in time. I add the "-ish" because let's be honest here- what we really mean is a photo that captures our family exactly as we want other people to think we are at this moment in time.

Oh- and the clincher? WE SHARE PHOTOS OF OUR KIDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA ALL THE TIME. You have all seen my kids ad nauseam, and I yours. So- what is the point?!

Well, there isn't one. Unless you make it so. So, we did.

3 years ago, we decided to hang up every card we receive on a garland, front and center in the most high traffic area of our house, the pass-through between the family room and kitchen.  In our case, it is a purple glitter vine-like garland, and we use mini clothes pins as clips. Every afternoon, starting around December 10, the vine gets more and more full, until, come January 1st, every leaf has a card hanging from it. 

This is probably the thing our girls love most about decorating for the holidays- seeing the faces of friends, family, and, in many cases, people they don't even know, smiling at them every time they walk by. They ask questions about everyone- which is how we teach them which cousin is which and how they are related to so-and-so. They play games picking their favorite designs. They try and identify which ones are new additions that they haven't yet seen. Best of all, they tell me stories about the friends they see-  I learn so much the friends they make at school in the span of seconds this way. 

When the holidays are over, I take the cards down and punch holes in the upper right hand corner of each one. Next, I thread them onto a binder ring, and put an index card on top noting the year the cards were received. The ring of cards gets hung up on a hook along the wall inside our "random stuff goes here" closet. This way, minimal storage space is used, we always know where to find them, and I don't have to go to sleep at night with the guilt that comes along with looking down into a garbage can and seeing dozens of sweet, innocent smiles smeared with spaghetti sauce and shame.

So, okay, I get the holiday card thing. Yeah, the whole tradition doesn't technically make a ton of sense these days, but it is for that very reason that it makes total sense.

Plus, if it weren't for holiday cards, what excuse would I have had to force my family to take this photo?

Photo cred to Jen Goldberg Photography- she totally got my vision and captured us, but better. And, by better I mean she retouched my legs a teeny-tiny bit. Not because she thought I needed it- she isn't judge-y like that- but because she could tell I wanted it ;)). Oh, and I used PaperCulture for our cards this year. I am a rebel and do the address labels myself on my printer at home as a means to freedom from holiday card website monogamy. 

Photo cred to Jen Goldberg Photography- she totally got my vision and captured us, but better. And, by better I mean she retouched my legs a teeny-tiny bit. Not because she thought I needed it- she isn't judge-y like that- but because she could tell I wanted it ;)). Oh, and I used PaperCulture for our cards this year. I am a rebel and do the address labels myself on my printer at home as a means to freedom from holiday card website monogamy. 

Gift Guide: Under $50 Picks For Grown Up Girls Of EVERY Age

All under $50- well, except this one and this beauty but I just felt like both had to be included because they are the perfect gifts to get that friend/mom/aunt/sister/hard-to-buy-for-human you are still stumped on. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't be excited to unwrap any item on this list- and that is not just because I picked them...Or maybe it is.

Get these designer tube socks ($45 a pair) with the airport code of top destinations monogrammed along the top for your travel buddy. 

Your beauty-obsessed bestie is gonna freak over these lipsticks which create the most beautiful custom hues- sure, they look cray cray in the tube but that is half the fun of it. She needs this limited edition sponge set that literally has every tool a girl would ever need- from eraser sponges to cleansing sponges to applicators for every product and part of your face (value is $71 but the price tag for holiday is less than 1/2 of that). And there is no better way to spend $12 than on the most insta-worthy balm known to (wo)man. 

Fragrance is typically tricky to gift- but the glitter factor in these give it a fun factor- plus, rollerballs are travel-friendly. And there is hydrating coconut oil involved. 

Last but not least- these slides are the perfect combo of unexpected and useful- and...50% OFF!

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Gift Guide: Best Picks for Girls (Specifically, Between Age 2 and 7)

I know what I don't know. As such, you won't find me doling out gift ideas for boys of any age (because I don't have one of my own, totally clueless) or any girl older than my eldest (7), but younger than my 12 year old niece- who I love shopping for, so I have a good handle on what girls that age like.*

But for now, I am sharing what I DO know: gift ideas for girls between 2-7. If anyone on your gifting list falls into that demographic, prepare to screenshot and shop accordingly- because I got this on lock- as the kids say.

(Note: You won't find any of the "buzzy gifts that parents will be fighting for in the toy aisles" here- mostly because I assume you probably know what those are, but also because they tend to be one-hit wonders that kids get bored of quickly...I mean, is your kid still playing with a Furbie on the reg? Didn't think so.)

  1. Throwback Knee High Tube Socks: $8 for a set of 2, these are the ultimate stocking stuffer.
  2. The First Coding Robot For Girls: Ever since seeing this on Shark Tank, I have been totally enamored with not only the founder, but also the concept. (Plus, it is 15% off right now- be sure to check out the site!) I just ordered one for Alexa- and I know she is going to FREAK. 
  3. Pom Pom Stuffed Animal: I only buy stuffed animals that I enjoy looking at- hence, this made the list. So so soft, and does overtime as an impromptu travel pillow thanks to the plush belly that fits perfectly between my 2 year old's head and the side of her carseat.
  4. Care Bears: Dying over the current collaboration with Land of Nod (check it out HERE), and also coveting this super soft Gund Sunshine Bear is everything my '80s wish lists were made of.
  5. Vanity Set: My girls LOVE to play pretend, and I won't mind seeing these beautiful (and well-priced) primping essentials all over the house (since do these things every actually stay contained in a play area? Nope.)
  6. Unicorn Light: The price is right- $16- it is functional (perfect soft light for sleep time) and what girls can say anything but "{DELIGHTED SQUEAL SOUND}" when presented with a Unicorn?
  7. DIY Fashion Cookie Kit: This becomes a perfect playdate activity, and trust me, those cookie cutters will come in handy for those moments when you feel like upping the apple slice style quotient at snack time.
  8. Sewing Machine with Pom Pom Maker: This comes with fabric to do 5 easy-to-sew crafts, but the clincher for me is the pom pom maker attachment since even if she tires of sewing, there is ALWAYS something fun to make with pom poms (for kids and adults alike, to be honest.) Keychains, rugs, emoji characters, even in my case, a wreath! Yup. More to come on that...
  9. STATE Bag Toy Carrier: SO SMART- a stylish way to put the responsibility in your kids' hands- train them to select an edited assortment of toys (only as much as will fit in the case) when heading out for a trip or tagging along to an adult dinner. They will happily carry this bag themselves, and can learn to make sure everything that leaves the house tucked inside makes it back home too. (Or at least, that is my master plan when this gift enters their lives in a couple weeks...)
  10. BONUS GIFT- NOT PICTURED: Peloton owners & SoulCycle/Flywheel mom friends- YOU. ARE. WELCOME. 

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*And, since the older I get the more I revert to dressing like a disgruntled teen, I am fairly adept at figuring out gifts for the 13 and up set- so you may catch a few of those along the way. Just a heads up...

How To Start Conversation At Every Cocktail Party: A Statement Shirt

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Cocktail party conversations stress me out. Especially this time of year when it feels like you are seeing the same people often, and how many times can we talk about the same subjects?!

So- in the words of the inimitable Bonnie Raitt (OMG I am quote Bonnie Raitt on my blog? You know you married a Texas when...), "Let's give them something to talk about..."

A statement shirt. Yup, it can be polarizing (case in point- my beloved Katharine Kidd neoprene sweatshirt with oversized ruffles on the sleeves, pictured above, still gets commented on by certain friends whenever the topic of either sea creatures or Cruella DeVille comes up, which oddly enough, does happen.) But, it is the ultimate fashion icebreaker- and when you feel good in what you have on (which, for the record, I feel AMAZING every time I wear the shirt above), every night is significantly more enjoyable, no? Not to mention easier- since the shirt is the THING, all you need to do is reach for your go-to pair of jeans (I am wearing this under $100 fave), a simple shoe and you are DONE. Effortlessly.

The above Katharine Kidd Arizona Sweatshirt was procured at my favorite local boutique, WEST (you can call them or email if you are interested in said top for yourself). Upon realizing just how much fun it is to take a bold fashion risk smack in the middle of holiday cocktail party season when the conversations start to lull, I went on a virtual binge shop to find other tops with the same qualities- conversation starters that pair with your favorite jeans to transform you from pajamas to party-ready in seconds.

If you want to give them (and yourself- since you know, you gotta participate in the conversations too) something to talk about- here are a few places to start:

1: Shimmering royal blue lace with structured sleeves to flatter every figure.
2: Over-the-top romantic details wrapped in a cool girl velvet package.
3: A built-in-bra peeks out and makes this structured wrap style top extra sexy but not sleazy.
4: Voluminous ruffles? Yes, please. 
5: Crisp white, yes- but this top is ANYTHING but basic. Especially from the back.
6: Sequins? Check. One Shoulder? Check. The most wearable disco-ball inspired top ever? CHECK.

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