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10 books to add to your style inspiration library

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(I originally shared this list as a guest post on Librarian for Life and Style a few years ago.)

What is your personal style? I am constantly exploring what that question means to me — how to find inspiration, be different, be myself, stay frugal, be age- and shape-appropriate, decide if I care about age- or shape-appropriateness. Beyond the question of What do I wear today? is the joy in an aimless exploration of my own style potential. Here are some of my favorite books for that kind of daydreaming. 1. The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style: How to Wear Iconic Looks and Make Them Your Own Though The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style is seven years old, I feel the styles are iconic enough to remain inspirational for many more years. When I first bought this, I labeled myself California Casual and Bohemian, but now I’m feeling a little Arty Slick and Posh Eclectic. Though it’s not important to find a mold and cram yourself into it, this guide is nice for identifying what style categor…

What I learned about self care from my husband

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This essay I wrote for Parents.com in December has been shared 1,800 times!

My Husband Running Makes Me Rage & Here is What I Do About It I spent plenty of time feeling bitter about how easy it is for my husband to take time away from our kids to relax, and then I decided to borrow his secrets for self-care.

Ultimate plan for decluttering my house

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Rent medium-sized Dumpster.Send husband and children to a hotel for a weekend. A three-day weekend.Fly my mom and closest girl friends to San Antonio (like, only the people I would trust to bail me out of jail.) Empty 90 percent of contents of closets, bags, and cabinets into Dumpster.Take mom and friends to spa.

Flashback: Mamie taught me to love exercise, but now it's Lizzie's turn to be my coach

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I wrote this essay (originally published by Mom Babble) in 2015. I was just reading it today and reliving some of that enthusiasm for activity! And remember when I was running, pushing Mamie in that stroller every day? Well I figure I have one more year at home with Lizzie, and I'm ready to recapture some moments on the road and at the gym with her. <3 p="">

I'm Healthier Because of My Daughter(s)
Mamie laughs at the leaves falling on her stroller, complains when I tease them out of her mouth. This is our third walk around the neighborhood today, shooting for a goal of three miles. This toddler is my shield, a salve to soothe the awkwardness I would feel if I were out here alone. I am no stranger to attempts at personal wellness. I have notebooks full of food logs, exercise logs, and blood sugar logs, stretching back a decade. I never imagined a baby’s motivating influence would trump every trick I had tried before. From the second she sparked into existence, my…

No room for shape wear in my life

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It was our first post-baby date night nearly five years ago. With time to spare before our dinner reservation, we were kicked back in the hip understuffed chairs of our favorite coffee shop -- a luxury I hadn't experienced since the little one started sucking all the chill out of my days. Except that I wasn't... relaxed. I was taking shallow breaths and squirming to find any position that didn't make me wince. I excused myself to the restroom and came back a few sweaty minutes later with the flesh colored sausage-casing shapewear in my purse. In those few minutes I made the calculation: I could look lumpy or I could look miserable.  Happy lumpiness won! And my husband said he couldn't tell the difference. Let's be frank. I am a big, fat girl, and no article of shapewear is going to disguise that. I don't actually need a disguise -- my body is not an arch villain trying to infiltrate a world of tight, smooth midsections. The early-2000s brought a surge in the popular…

Summer smells like pool water

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Early 1980s, summer smells like pool water and cheese crackers from the vending machine at the city pool. And 7-Up in a can because at least one summer, it seemed like we had endless cases of 7-Up in the porch fridge. (I assume you are familiar with the porch fridge.)

I don't know who took me to the pool (Mom? Grammaw?); I don't know if I wore a seatbelt in the backseat; I don't know if anyone ever put sunscreen on me.

But I know what the combination of pool water, cheese crackers, and 7-Up smells like -- a sense memory 35 years old.



Early 1990s, summer smells like pool water, cigarette smoke, and NO-AD tanning lotion in Stacey's backyard. After the sun set, it smelled like plumeria lotion on hot tanned skin and B.C. Moore's parking lot. I never got close enough to a boy to smell Drakkar Noir.

Stacey's mom is gone since last year, and no one smokes cigarettes anymore. I feel so deeply hurt for my oldest friend to have lost her mother and so disoriented to be in…

On the topic of stuff I don't want to do: Cook dinner

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Saturday night I tried really hard to get out of cooking dinner. No, I'm not perpetually steam-drenched, hunched over the stove every night, just looking for one night off. I have just about every night off because Nick cooks most of the time, and when it's my turn, I tap into my arsenal of delivery services.

This is not how my mama raised me.

Saturday night, I did, very begrudgingly, grate carrots and sauté bokchoy and glaze chicken. Nick said, "You don't seem to like cooking." But... but... but, I wanted to defend myself, I know how to cook; I used to cook; I used to like cooking.

Things change.

For example, kids. Feeding kids for the last 4.5 years has consumed me, no apology for the pun. My obsession with managing their growth and nutrition is totally separate from cooking. It's a mental tally of macronutrients and micronutrients; it's creating the perfect veggie snack plate with every cucumber slice salted; it's composing and blending superfood sm…