Project 365 Photo Challenge

I came over to Italy with every intention of documenting our time living in Europe. So far we’ve extensively traveled and have settled into life here, but I haven’t taken any time to document anything. Well, I have obnoxiously photo spammed my Facebook friends with travel shots. The funny thing is that in picking and choosing the “good” photos, I inadvertently led everyone to believe¬†that life as an expat is easy, sophisticated, and perfect. I’m laughing out loud as I type that. You should see my house right now…perfect. Yeah. That’s it. (No, I won’t post a picture of that right now.)

Earlier in the week, I read an article on’s blog about Jill Marzion and her Project 365¬†photo challenge. (Read more about it via the links.) Anyway, I thought it might be fun to participate in the challenge, making my focus something related to the life of an expat in Italy. Some days may feature a jealousy-inducing shot of a day trip to Venice, but I expect most days will offer a glimpse into something that’s mundane here but new and different for the average American. I’ll predominantly post over on my Instagram page. I thought I would kick off my Project 365 with a dedicated blog entry.

So for today, I introduce you to the abomination that is plugging in a dual current electrical device. For the uninitiated, what you’re seeing is a 220v wall plug/light switch combo, a dual-current Chi flat iron in Bubbly Blue (it’s very snazzy), and two converters to make it all work. The whole of Europe operates on 220v, yet nearly every country has a different plug configuration. It’s So. Much. Fun. (Sarcasm)

project 365

The ’90s are back; or, OMG! I’m vintage

People and things have a pesky way of reminding me that I just turned 40. I don’t really look 40. I don’t really feel 40. I have a 5-year-old and an 18-month-old, both of which make me feel 20 or 85 depending upon the day. And then I visited this morning. As the kids say these days (or maybe it was last decade?): oh em gee. At least F21 had the class to make me feel vintage and not just old. Tupac, Tupac Everywhere. Snoop Dog. Oh, and Notorious B.I.G. And Rugrats–RUGRATS. I didn’t even watch Rugrats and I got all nostalgic. My 18-month post-partum body is going to keep me out of crop tops for now (and probably for always). Docs may or may not cycle back into my wardrobe. Floral babydolls and chokers…no way. One of these may make its way into my sweats drawer…ahem, my loungewear drawer.

I’m stuck at home sick with a sick baby. Amuse me. What clothing would you secretly (or openly) wear from your youth?

90s are backAll items from Shop them here.

Checking back in

What’s the point of having a blog if you never add content? There really isn’t one, so I have vowed to get a little more content up. I’m honestly not sure how those other bloggers with kids and jobs and lives get copy up regularly. Anyway…I wanted to just add a quick post to get back in the swing.

We spent Christmas up around Ramstein Germany. We stopped off in Garmisch the first night, then stayed in Grainau on our way back. Our hotel in Grainau was a quaint little mom-and-pop place. The minute we checked in, I realized it was not the best choice for a family with boisterous kids but there was a snowstorm. We weren’t going to be driving around looking for a new place. I had to eat dinner in the room since little Harper was too excited for the formal dining room. It was dark outside and I was a little ticked that I was eating a fine dinner while chasing a toddler. Well, the next morning I woke up and opened the curtains. What you see below was my view. Clearly I had the better view during dinner. It’s too bad I couldn’t see it.

Hope you had an amazing holiday season! Catch you in 2015.

GermanyGrainau Germany Dec 2014 013

An Ode to National Breastfeeding Month

So, if you know anything about me at all, you know that I’m a very solid SEO marketing writer. I rock a business suit like nobody’s business. And if you really know me, you also know that I’m a total fruit loop. (You’ll see that in a second.) Now here’s something that you may not know: I’ve become a total and complete nursing proponent in the past year. When Zoey was born, I dried up the same week I brought her home. With Harper, I had a ton of support and a totally different experience. At 13 months old, Harper is an exclusively breastfed baby. I do not and will never judge moms who feed babies formula. That’s the only reason Zoey exists today. This time, however, nursing has been such a good experience. I bought a nursing poncho from Busy Spinning Thread early on, and I have taken that thing all over the world…literally. Florida, the Adriatic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Ljubljana Slovenia. The cover, the baby and me…we’re tight. Because I am a fruit loop, I decided to pen a completely silly poem about my experience nursing. I don’t pretend to be a great mom, but I do know that I’m very proud of myself this time around. If you need any breastfeeding support, let me know. I may not know the answer, but I’ll find it for you.

Without further ado…the silly poem:

I have nursed in a car
I have nursed in a bar

I have nursed in a plane
I have nursed on an Italian train

It’s the perfect nourishment, always within baby’s reach
I’ve proudly nursed on a sandy Mediterranean beach.

I do nurse without apology
I once nursed in the clinic of urology

And, certainly I don’t mean to boast,
but I’ve often nursed on an Army post.

I’ve nursed in Venice, Slovenia, Tuscany and Rome
I nurse on the go and when at home.

I do not judge those who can’t or don’t
If you expect me to blame, I won’t.

The support I’ve received is something I’ll forever savor
In the future, I vow to return the favor.

national breasfeeding month

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2014 (AKA: the most wonderful time of the year)

So I’m conflicted. I live in arguably the most beautiful country in Europe but I’m pretty jealous of everyone who can shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Since times immemorial, I have religiously made a pilgrimage to my nearest Nordstrom store (sometimes a state or two away–not kidding one bit) to catch the start of pre-sale or sale. This year, international travel to physically step into a store just isn’t in the cards. Thankfully the pre-sale started online yesterday for Nordstrom card holders. As you may or may not know, we use a credit card and pay it off each month (debt is a no-no in our house) so as per my usual, I restrained myself more than I would’ve liked. Still, there is a level ton of cool stuff I could totally glut myself on. Because everyone likes a voyeuristic view of what others have bought or what they’d like to buy (right?), here are my top Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2014 picks.

What I bought (plus I had Nordstrom Notes on top of the sale!):
nordstrom anniversary sale 2014Longchamp Le Pilage Expandable Bag, sale price $127
The Bilbery purple that I bought appears to be sold out now. Navy and Slate are really pretty.

Barefoot Dreams Bamboo Chic Drape-Front Cardigan, sale price $60
Although it is sold as a robe, this cardigan is good to go as clothing. The reviews are phenomenal. I plan to wear it with leggings this winter since it’s long enough to cover my tush.

What I probably will order:
nike and zellaNike Free TR Connect 2 Training Shoe, sale price $73
So I’m a sucker for animal print, plus in-your-face sneakers are so in right now. The 10.5 is sold out already, so I may have to try the 10 and 11.

Zella Live In Leggings, sale price $34
Another item with glowing reviews. Zella is known for being opaque, comfortable, and durable. I need to see what the hype is all about.

Splurge-worthy styles:
collage one

Rag & Bone Newbury Bootie, sale price $360
I mean, really. I love Rag & Bone. I love booties (wow, that sounds funny). This are gorgeous. If I had my great pre-kids job, these would go in my cart without a second thought.

Rag & Bone Zip Detail Skinny Jeans, sale price $160
I won’t need skinny jeans until 2026 but these are pretty divine. The dark wash and the zippers are a fresh take on last season’s moto skinnies.

Kate Spade Lottie Pumps, sale price $220
Animal print again. Notice a pattern with me? Just wait until the leather picks start.

collage twoHalogen Zip-Detail Leather Mini Skirt, sale price $150
This is actually a great price for a leather mini. I’m thinking pulverized, slobbery animal crackers would look lovely on it…not.

Halogen Leather and Knit Mixed Media Top, sale price $98
Great price, great top. If this sticks around long enough to go on clearance, I may snatch it up later. It requires professional leather cleaning, which won’t happen around my house.

3.1 Philip Lim Pashli, sale price $599
I’ve wanted a Pashli for about a year. The medium is probably a better size for me, but the large looks so roomy and perfect for carrying the girls’ stuff around.

Have you shopped the pre-sale yet? What did you get? Stop by my Case of Consumption Facebook page and let’s chat.

Buy now, save later: The Stella and Dot promo Dot Dollars is back

stella and dot promo code

It’s a new month, which means it’s time for a new set of Stella and Dot promotions. While the monthly promos are always good, this month the deal is exceptional. Dot Dollars are back when you shop through my Stella and Dot stylist site or through a trunk show! Throughout the month, you’ll receive a $25 credit for use in July for every $50 you spend in June. This credit is delivered to your inbox around July 8th via a Stella and Dot promo code. It’s a great way to update your summer jewelry collection or to do some gift shopping.

If you’re interested in hosting or attending a trunk show, the June Trunk Show Exclusives are fantastic, too. I’m not living in the U.S. right now, but a book or social media show (think Facebook or Instagram) is easy. Just contact me for details.

stella and dot june trunk show exclusivesLastly, there are two new products launching this month. I’ve been a huge fan of the Elodie necklace in gold and I’m even more excited about its arrival in silver, blue and chartreuse. The super popular Cleopatra pyramid studs in gold are also launching in silver. If you are interested in either, let me know. I hope to have samples to show off soon.

new stella and dot

Our day in Venice

If you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, you probably well know the scene where Dorothy walks out of her sepia-tone Kansas farmhouse and witnesses the technicolor vibrancy of Oz. It’s completely unlike anything she’s ever seen and she’s overwhelmed with awe. This was Venice for me last weekend. Truth be told, I’ve never had much interest in Italy, let alone Venice. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m missing the romance gene, so gondola rides with my sweetheart…I gag even writing it. Stepping out of the Venezia San Lucia train station, though, was akin to Dorothy stepping into Oz. The color, the architecture, the buzz of watercraft and people, the surreal blue sky…words just can’t describe it.

This is in front of the train station with Venice's Grand Canal as a backdrop.

This is in front of the train station with Venice’s Grand Canal as a backdrop.

Focused so much on getting a map, Eddie was literally head-down, walking with determination and purpose to the ticket and information kiosk. The saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees” was applicable here. “Eddie. EDDIE. You’re missing it. Look.” He nor the girls felt the same way I did, but once we got that damn map, he was ready to see what was in front of him.

Because Venice is an easy day trip from Vicenza–our home base for the next three years–we didn’t bother planning the day. Our goal was to make it to the Piazza San Marco simply because that was as good a goal as any. For future trips, we’ll read up on the history and plan a bit just to know what we’re seeing. In hindsight, it was very relaxing to just see the city organically, to navigate the tiny alleyways and just genuinely feel surprised by what we encountered around each corner. Sometimes, it was a major tourist destination (the Rialto bridge in the second photo below), other times it was just a really cool square or bridge. Still other times, it was a great little pastry place or cafe.

venice 189 venice 211In terms of the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square), it was grander than anything I had imagined. It was hard to choose one focal point. It’s busy and full of kamikaze pigeons (seriously, they’ll flap you in the face totally without provocation), but it’s simply amazing. To think that these buildings have been standing since the late 1400s and 1500s (the youngest being 400 years old), is simply…at the risk of overusing the phrase…awe-inspiring.

With just an hour until our return train trip, we chose to take a ferry back to the station. This was a great way to see Venice from the water. Truly the highlight of my time on the water was watching the gondoliers blow air kisses at Harper. They were completely and utterly stoic–focused, even–until they passed our ferry. At that point, the whole gondola could’ve sunk. Screw the paid passengers, there’s an adorable baby on that ferry. Italians love kids and they seem to really, really adore Harper.

St. Mark's Basilica

St. Mark’s Basilica

venice 226I won’t lie: getting there was much harder than I’d imagined. There are three Venezia (Venice) train stops (if you ever plan to go, it’s Venezia S. Lucia that you want). Also, on the way back to Vicenza, your train will be the Venezia to Verona line (nowhere will it say Vicenza). Venice can also be expensive. Take plenty of Euros or be prepared to find an ATM. We didn’t find many and none of the Italians we encountered could understand “ATM.” Luckily there were some no-fee types just over the Rialto bridge. There’s too much to adequately see in a day, but luckily, we have all the time we need.


Nursing mom style: the DKNY Cozy Sweater

nursing mom styleIf you follow my writing on, you’ve probably recognized that nursing tops annoy me. Although they may be very convenient for extricating a boob, they also rarely come with a cut and style that fits a normal, non-pregnant body. Losing baby weight is hard but no one carries a full-term bump around for months and months after baby is born. Long story short: I’ve been continually on the hunt for nursing-friendly non-nursing clothing to complete my fabulous (or so I say) nursing mom style. One of my absolute favorites is the DKNY Cozy Sweater.

Before you click through and see the $175 price tag, let me do some explaining. Yes, I do think one would be worth full price, but I rarely pay full price for such expensive items. I hunted and finally found them for $49 at a DKNY outlet in Round Rock, TX. For $49, you can easily afford one or two. I’m not sure whether the outlets ship, but it would be worth checking (their number is (512) 869-8044).

The beauty of the Cozy is its versatility. It’s basically a lightweight open-front cardigan with long wings that can be wrapped, draped, tied, woven…you name it. There are so many options, DKNY has its own Cozy app for Android and Apple products, plus YouTube videos. And, for those of us trying to create a chic nursing mom style out of it, you can go rogue and drape it off-label (kidding) to create a nursing cover.

I wore my Cozy during our recent trip to Venice, Italy. You can see in the first photo that I chose to wrap it around to the side to create a more body conscious look for most of the day. When Harper fell asleep at lunch, I chose to untie it (I was still wearing it) and use it as a blanket and a bit of a cover to keep the noise and light out of her face. Finally, on the train when Baby H became hungry and cranky, I untied it once again and draped it to cover all the nursing that was about to ensue. Boom…nursing mom style.

Another plus: I made a pretty convincing Italian while wearing it. I’m not sure if I looked chicly Italian or just really confident (we’ll go with chicly Italian, yeah), but twice I was stopped by tourists looking for advice on the area. It was pretty humorous when I said “I’m American and only speak English.”

Final word: if you’re nursing–and even if you aren’t–the DKNY Cozy is a must-have in my book. For the deets on the rest of my outfit (I was wearing my favorite Sam Edelman sandals), see the information and links below.

venice 213

Sweater: DKNY Long Sleeve Cozy, Tank: SkinnyTees, Jeans: Madewell Skinny Skinny Zip Jeans, Shoes: Sam Edelman Ginger (I seriously recommend these. I wear them non-stop and replace every single time they wear out.)

venice 221DKNY Cozy

On constant rotation: the Stella and Dot Sahara Necklace

stella and dot sahara necklace

I’ll be honest: comfort has trumped fashion more often than not since we began living out of suitcases. No, I’m not running around in flip-flops (ha, isn’t it a Freudian slip that I just typed “flip-slops” first?!) and yoga pants, but I’m not bedecking myself in heels and statement necklaces either. My Splendid harem pants, Sam Edelman Gigi sandals, a J. Crew zip-back tee, and my J. Crew Toothpick jeans are my go-tos practically every day.

Last Friday, I just felt a little blah wearing the jeans and tee, so I slapped on my Stella and Dot Sahara pendant necklace on my way out the door. I caught my reflection in the hotel closet mirror and was pretty stoked by how the addition of the simple necklace pulled everything together. Much like a mathematical formula, I’ve been adding the necklace the rest of the time with most of my other ensembles to add a little zest. Yes, Harper does grab at it a bit, but the length makes it possible to swing backwards when I’m out playing with the girls on the playground. And, really, she hasn’t done any damage to it, which attests to its quality.

I plan to snap a photo soon of it on, but for now, take a look at it on the Stella and Dot model. Truthfully, I was iffy when I bought it; now I’m totally sold. For $49, it’s an affordable, fairly classic addition for a jewelry wardrobe.

Do you have the Stella and Dot Sahara? What have you been wearing it with?

stella and dot sahara pendant

Our First Weekend in Italy

garden 2 We’re here! We touched down in Venice, Italy on Thursday. The baby’s car seat didn’t work in the plane’s seat, so I had to hold Harper the entire trip. I did try to sleep but was too afraid she would fall out of my arms, so I stayed up about 36 hours. I know I was talking and moving Thursday, but nothing was intelligible or coordinated. Given my inability to sleep on planes in the past, this was kind of expected.

Friday or Saturday night (I forget which night I did sleep–Harper didn’t sleep one of those nights), I had my first good REM sleep, which yielded a pretty funny dream. In the dream, I was driving and felt a weird sensation in my mouth. A tooth fell out. I remember saying (in the dream), “O.k. Well, I knew this was going to happen. I’ll be okay.” The next morning, I looked up the meaning of tooth loss dreams. Basically, they tend to occur when we’re under stress from a major upheaval in our lives. Uh, yeah. The fact that I was mentally prepared for that loss tells me that my Type-A, high-strung self did a good job of preparing for this adventure.

So…on with the good stuff, right? What’s it like? Well, I haven’t seen much. We went out to Camisano on Saturday night for dinner with new friends and to Rettorgole for a BBQ last night with another set of new friends. During both short trips, we did get to see a bit of the area. I wouldn’t be able to find my way around by myself but can at least mentally put together where all these towns are located that we see on the Off-Post Housing site. The rest of our time has been spent in-processing and combing the housing site. (Seriously, you haven’t had fun until you’ve taken two small kids to an ACS briefing by yourself at 9 a.m.)

With a few more days under our belt, maybe we’ll be able to get out into Vicenza…maybe have a real Italian meal or some gelato or something. I have had some great wines. The red that is pictured below was amazing. I also had a Moscato wine from Italy’s version of Wal-Mart. I’m not a sweet wine fan, yet I could have sucked this stuff through a straw all day long. For less than 10 Euros per bottle, I may just do that.

I think I’m going to like it here. Not having a handle on the Italian language needs to remedied a.s.a.p., but once I can converse, it should be easier. They don’t have Diet Coke (Coke Light is my only option), but they do have chocolate chips. Once I whip up that first batch of chocolate chip cookies in my kitchen, I think it will all feel just right.


The amazing Italian vista from our hotel window (looks like a prison, huh?!)

The amazing Italian vista from our hotel window (looks like a prison, huh?!)

Seriously, one of the best red wines I've had.

Seriously, one of the best red wines I’ve had.