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The Grammys Baby – Ciara Gets it All Kinds of Right

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Singing loud and proud  - the breathtakingly beautiful Ciara had something to say about the beauty of dressing a bump for the red carpet:

“Let it be. The bigger the bump, the better.”
—pregnant Ciara on not having to stress about what she eats

And her stunning confidence was not limited to  awards night– look at this glowing beauty at the annual MusiCares party earlier in the week. Talk about a picture-pefect Philanthropic Mom to be!

Ciara, A Glowing Philanthropic Mom (to be)

I say we pass it along – because Ciara’s brand of  self-care and comfort is as good as it gets!

 

Mommy Wars Day 18,250+

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Diego Rivera, Motherhood – 1928

If you read much these days you know we are deep in year FOREVER (plus or minus a few decades) of the Mommy Wars. As the war continues on, new innocents join the battle fields (the whole pregnancy glow is a great recruitment technique, IMO) and bold new voices emerge to draw and defend the latest line between good and bad, savvy and simple, evolved and remedial. And, if you spend much time with me, you  likely know that I have a theory. It goes something like this:

The Mommy Wars begin as early as that first glance at a positive pregnancy test. That first glimpse into the reality of one’s own maternity causes an immediate whiplash that forces the mom-to-be to quickly examine her workplace. And when one’s mind wanders to the big, bad question of “what now” — the answer and the trap lies firmly in the lap of the workplace.

The once passionate, loyal and coveted employee is suddenly forced make rapid-fire decisions about who she will be, and as such- which side of the Mommy Wars she will play for.  All this because here in the proserpus United States of America we neiter have an active legistlative mandate nor private sector support for keeping our best and brightest women in the workplace.

And so women chose. But only because here in the United States we have chosen to ignore the truth about women and work. Women have babies. Women need to noursih and care for these babies. Here in the United States, our national culture in which we urge (read as pressure) one thing and legistale another, there is no winning.We have chosen to be the only industrialized nation not to mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns.

Here is an infographic from Huffington Post sure to turn your stomach.

So when Jessica Grose writes and publishes in New York Magazine she is ulitmatey attacked  (we are at war people!) for her views of how women are turning to other cultures for cues as to how to take-on the daily challenges of motherhood, even childbirth and pregnancy,  I have to blow my ref’s whistle (wars have referees and whistles, no?). Not because the techniques are shocking and extreme. That is another issue for another day. I demand we stop and pay attention. These cultures are ones in which women are mothers, that is what they do. These are not cultures where the juggle, balance and ultimate failure to do two incredibly difficult things well at once is the accepted standard. These mothers are proudly working in the home, supported by their villages and revered in their community as mothers. And if they are working outside of the home, it is with the proper support of their community and an understanding of the value of both roles. These are places where there is space made for being a mother. These are cultures where this is the job at hand – and it is honored as such. There is so much positive to take away,  appreciate and consider. But let’s be honest with each other — we are not set up to succeed here at home. And until we are — trying on another culture’s techniques while living in DC or Brooklyn  is much like playing dress-up in a closet full of beautiful Saris. It sure looks good…

Giving J Crew Great Grades

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

This morning I woke up to something that made me smile. J Crew is launching their maternity denim collection. I am a fan of the brand and their continued growth and transformation (maybe less a fan of the amount of money my teen girls spend there!!!). And at the heart of that  is the obvious effort and care that their team has put into not only reaching but also understanding their market. And, as my last fifteen years in this industry have proven, this is a tricky market. Get it right — you get to be the hero, darling and BFF – get it wrong it’s over and fast.  Based on this image – and all that it captures, I would say, J Crew is well on their way to  making friends in BumpLand!

So for my Morning Report Card:

IMAGE:   A

COPY:      A

Giving great grades to J Crew for capturing the mood perfectly in their email blast this AM! If the fit and wear of this new maternity denim assortment is as good as this pitch-perfect image you will make my honor-roll! Well done!

Fifteen Finds – The Year That Was 2013

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

The year that was 2013 – it was a wild, winding and wonderful adventure. Thank you to all of my remarkable family and friends – without you this particular ship cannot sail. So in taking inventory and feeling grateful, I had to stop and think about what really did float my boat (yes, I kept the metaphor alive folks). And thus I got to my 15 finds…

This list runs the range – people, places, philanthropy and – of course delicacies…

Judge me not, this is my lens, ya’ll -

If you prefer another view, take a pass!

 

1.         Greenhook Gin – Why yes, I know I am being forced to choose sides here – I will take the Brooklyn side (sorry Green Cat people)…maybe it was the passion with which August served it to me at Union Square Cafe, maybe it was just my mood the first time I sipped this amazingly herbaceous elixir – bottom line – I am in!

Greenhook Gin

2.         Chinatown Coffee, Washington DC – You had me at a shot of seltzer with my cortado – you love me, you really love me!

3.         Le Marquis de Riscal – Again, I know that timing is everything – and my arrival at this remarkable Starwood property in the luscious Rijoa region of Spain was about as needed and as well timed as they come. Did I mention the wine? The Caudlie spa? The super –swank accommodations (than you Badr)? The neighboring town La Guardia where you can Tapas out while watching the whole of the small, remote town do the same after their Sunday morning in church – yes that was good!

4.         NoViolet Bulawayo, author of We Need New Names – Lyrical, powerful and compact – the way I like my books. She tells a stunning narrative of the immigrant story – colorful and complex in Zimbabwe perhaps more muted and dark in Detroit. Still, I was rapt! What an impressive debut novel – impossible to put down – to be savored not guzzled. Looking forward to what comes next from this talented literary find.

5.         Bedford Cheese Shop – My Cheesemonger has my heart – I cannot stray. A remarkable and well-edited shop, Bedford is ideal for both novice and seasoned cheesy people alike. I am a fan for life of Charlotte’s descriptions (think down dirty, clever and no holds barred), her great eye for hiring (really there is a contagious a passion and a vibe in the shop like no other) and the sum of every exchange we share!

6.         RMHC – As the year progressed I spent more and more time visiting Ronald McDonald Houses around the US  (with another favorite and one of the few people who can really move me off my mark, Rachel Mennell) and affiliated hospital NICUs. I attended their bi-annual conference in July and yes- took a big gulp of the Kool-Aide. What a remarkable, caring approach for whole family care. Now, to help them grow…off we go…

7.     The Dry Bar – Yes we took it up a notch this year – you joined me in Bethesda in addition to our usual meeting spot in the Flatiron. I credit you for making my life as easy and as beautiful as I ever could imagine, at least in the hair department!

The Dry Bar

 

8.         The Moth – It is true – I am diehard on this one. And this year I spent more live time with the Moth only adding to my addiction and conviction. Don’t tell me you listen to their podcast but never donate – we will have a problem.

9.         Red Hen –Oh this is my kind of place. It is from the Gramercy Tavern (front room) school of “welcome home” dining out. We have been cozy and never disappointed. I adore the simple brilliance of the kitchen, the clever wine list and the mood, baby, the mood…

Red Hen – Washington, DC

10. Crème Ancienne Ultimate Nourishing Honey Mask - I am not sure full body coverage is really an option – if it were, I would take it! This is the good stuff, at once rich and emollient, luxurious and decadent. It is about as great a weapon against winter’s dry, mean cold as I have tried. And have I mentioned the amazing scent of this miracle mask?  Thank you Fresh for another wonderful addition to my favorite line.

11. 100 Proof Treatment Oil by The Dry Bar – Related to my love of The Dry Bar – this is the one product that gets me through the week and from blow to blow – I consider it to be  a most critical product, especially when I am on the road.

100 Proof Treatment Oil

 

12.  New Yorker Magazine Digital Copy – Bring on the short stories for travel – just the perfect stockpile of fiction for my time OTR or cozy at home!

13. Scandal – Yes I am a cliché – but as a fixer how can I NOT bow to the high priestess of fixers?

14.  Bon Appetit – Not only did you reinvent both the print and digital copies – you amused me and ticked my fancy with your spine mosaic. I still smile thinking about my finally seeing the picture!

15. True Blue Friends and Family – There are not enough words to say how incredibly grateful I am – and while you are not new “finds” your devotion and care helped me find my way!

Good Friends – Julia and Jennifer, laughing off the rain, as it should be! Photo Credit to Amy!

 

 

Painting the Picture with TMI

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

I was just having a very passionate paint moment….really, I was. Corine Ingrassia was begging (in her adorable way) for help with the palate for her biggest project to date, her new home. I jumped up as fast as I could and said “pick me, pick me” – and really, I was not kidding. And really, I was armed with all my Benjamin Moore loyalty and tools — ready to roll (paint roll that is).

That got me thinking — how many other brands had me at hello? Who has made my super-short list of brands that get my signature swoon and preferential passion? I drafted the list.  And then I started wondering, what exactly does this say about me? Let’s see:

Fresh

Benjamin Moore

The Moth

Bedford Cheese Shop

Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask

The Dry Bar

Starwood Hotels (all about the W, Union Square but I am a loyal girl)

Ok so super smart people — what ever does this TMI say about me?

 

Thankful

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

  • I am thankful for those who have cared for me when I have needed it. And for those who allowed me to care for them when the tables were turned.
  • I am thankful for new friends who bring fresh energy and light to the day.  And for old friendships, either tireless or renewed, which remind me of the scope of the spectacular journey I have been on.
  • I am thankful for an abundance of intelligent, passionate and driven people in my life – you spark me, encourage me and challenge me in all the best ways.
  • I am thankful for those who turn me on to so many new ideas, finds and inside lines  - and always, I am grateful for the ability to return the favor.
  • I am thankful for health – the return of mine and for the optimism that those I love will regain theirs.
  • I am thankful for my family for cheering me on from here and the great “what’s next”.
  • I am thankful for my soul’s mate and for a house full of beautiful souls to go with him.
  • I am thankful for amazing genes that make so much of my dreaming morph into my reality.
  • I am thankful for love – the ability to give and receive it.
  • I am thankful for age – the intersection of experience and recognition is a remarkable one!
  • I am thankful for the little moments of perfection I keep finding along the way.
  • I am thankful that there is today and maybe even tomorrow to see what’s next…

Thanking all of you for being a part of my world – and so,  sending love to you and yours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

JSB

So many precious things to be thankful for this year

Renior in Retrospect

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

I left Philadelphia in 1985. I was bright-eyed, ambitious and hungry for life’s experiences. I left behind friends and a way of life that would never be mine again. Though the way life works is funny, and sometimes these things circle back. The very sweet silver lining of loosing a beloved friend to a terrible disease this summer was reconnecting with a childhood friend in a new way. This weekend, Julie came to DC to bring her daughter to look at colleges. Funny circle that was created – my leaving point was our reconnection point. The power of that was not lost on me as I made plans for a day doing some of what I have always loved, followed by an evening reconnecting.

Bob and I made plans to visit my all-time favorite art-space in DC – The Phillips Collection. There, we would enjoy the Van Gogh exhibit –  interestingly enough called Repetitions (an exploration of Van Gogh’s repeated study of the same subject matter). It is a worthwhile show and a very engaging way to connect with some some of my favorite Van Gogh subjects (the towns of St. Remy and Arles as well as the families that filled his world).

 

Luncheon of the Boating Party (Renior)

As we wandered thought galleries on 21st Street, I made my way to another old and very dear friend. I have been visiting Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party  at the Phillips Collection since I arrived in DC in 1985. I have powerful memories of standing in front of this majestic, lush painting with my mother, my friends, various dates and certainly alone. I would dive deep into the narrative of the painting – paying close attention to the characters. I saw myself in the painting – that was clear. I was (or longed to be) the flirty, alluring woman in the top right. She had a twinkle in her eye was surrounded by two rapt men. She did not lack for company or attention. She did not lack for anything it seemed. Though yesterday when I stood in front of that painting, I allowed myself to look not though my old lens but with fresh eyes. And as I did, tears began to flow from my eyes as I realized with complete clarity that I was not that girl. I may have been, and that may have once worked for me – but that “moment” seemed far away.  I looked harder, wondering if I was even still at the party. And I was….my eyes connected with the woman sitting confidently alone, sipping her wine and taking in the scene with a quiet strength. This is the actress, Ellen Andree.  I did not realize that I was crying until the lovely, young docent walked over and asked if I was ok. I explained what I had been considering and she said clearly, kindly and with total conviction – “that is who you want to be – that other woman had a messy, complicated life — the actress was the best of the guests”.  I will take it…

This weekend was about revisiting. And while backwards is not my preferred trajectory – I am glad I did.

Furlough Baby

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

It is a chily, damp day in DC. There is a Nor’easter blowing into town. And there are THOUSANDS of people out of work.  People are watching their wallets and ISO entertainment. I wonder, what is something to do on a grey afternoon that is free and fun? Hmmmm – thinking… Are you there yet? Are you doing the math?

YES — we are on the verge of a FURLOUGH BABY BOOM…

The great irony here, pregnancy requires health care, babies require health care, breastfeeding support and services require healthcare — feels like we may be backing ourselves into a bit of a corner…

See you in July baby!!!!

DC BUMP ADVENTURE

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

What must you know about pregnancy in DC? This week, I took the adorable Meghan Mills out to discover what should be on every pregnant woman’s short list here in the Nation’s Capital. I donned my Fairy Godmother tiara and grabbed my wand – and off we went! Here are my top three picks:

THE BREASTFEEDING CENTER FOR GREATER WASHINGTON

At 20 weeks, Meghan is ready to upgrade to a maternity and nursing wardrobe.

Hidden in a medical building at 21st & K — The Breastfeeding Center is both the most hidden gem and also the most essential resource in all of DC. Part community, part classroom, part retailer and part lifesaver — this is the one spot for care and comfort from the moment your pre-pregnany bras start to feel snug. I introduced Meghan to manger Gina who skillfully fit her for bras and helped her to hand-pick classes (Back to Work and Breastfeeding  - a must for the first time expectant mom) easing her discomfort on multiple levels. While there we met an array of dads (picking up or returning rental pumps), Moms with adorable babies on their hip (a quick stop for Medela supplies), due-any-day women (seeking out in-home lactation support for post-delivery) and more. It was is an amazing micro-universe and the top of my DC BUMP ESSENTIALS LIST

FUSE PILATES

Birth day buddies!  Both Meghan and Rachel are due in late February – can you guess who is having what?

A cozy and sun-lit space that is full of great, nurturing  energy, Fuse  is a nesters haven! Owner Roxanna has given birth to a warm and welcoming world for expectant mothers This spot  has the  cool urban vibe of a resotred townhouse with the pure, exacting goodness of reofrmer based pilates. The one class to be for any DC Mom to be is Fuse’s Push Prep. This is a course designed for all levels of moms-to-be. What I adore is how doula and instructor, Randi prepares her students for a combination of strengh and relaxation that the body requires to deliver a baby while at the same time – keeping a real connection and encouraging new friendships along the way.

TED’S BULLETIN

When Megan shared her  pregnancy cravings  with me, the choice to super-sate her cinamon and brown sugar  Pop-tarts urges was immediately clear. We made a b-line for Ted’s Bulitten on 14th street. We were greeted by Ashlie who introduced us to owner Mike (a new dad himself) who had some fun with us – tempting Meghan with a new universe of flavors to choose from (classic strawberry, blueberry cheesecake, salted caramel and the over-the top  peanutbutter and bacon). We did not stop there — we were offred the chance to design our own milkshake (I went with strawberry S’more) and sip our way into an indulgent afternoon. Ted’s menu also features a wide selection for those in the salty craving world as well (grilled cheese and tomato soup anyone?!?) – and will quickly become your crave-out go-to!

Ted’s Bulletin custom milkshakes to toast our guest of honor.

RESOURCE GUIDE

The Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington

Fuse Pilates

Ted’s Bulletin

 

 

 

So Close – but then Cartoon Daddy Shows Up…AKA You Drew it you BLEW IT

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Ron Barrett – you drew it, you blew it…
So, Amy Sohn authors an honest, level, non-inflamitory piece  in the New York Times today. The focus is on how women of the maternal variety find what they need to feel complete, energized and engaged when the norm is a bit more  of  the torn and road-worn variety. In Modern Mothers’ Turn to Scratch an Itch,  Amy Sohn explores different models of connecting with work, friendship and self  during the summer months. In short — finding one’s way back to “feeling it” — oh yes, this is familiar.  But, it is not only the familiar and relatable plot of Jess Wade who is profiled with candor and care. I read the Styles cover piece and smile, recognizing for the first time in a very long time, a parenting-focused article that tells a relatable, non-comment baiting story.
That is until I see the illustration above. It seems (and yes we know author and illustrator are not a team – in fact, there is little chance the illustration/comic was seen by the author prior to publishing) Mr. Barnet was brought in to bait after-all. His obvious intention –  to show us the unpolished, scruffy, messy, super- tuned out Dad handles the other-side of this story…Well I guess I spoke too soon.