Operation Pick-Me-Up: outerwear

One of the challenges of pregnancy for me has been finding clothes that are work-appropriate, comfortable, stylish, and that are not so loose and baggy that they disguise the bump too well and make me look just a bit porky. I don’t think that I can honestly say that I’ve achieved a work wardrobe that achieves all of these things; while I have been fond of my range of long-sleeved lycra-mix tops from Ripe Maternity, I have been frustrated and despairing over the limited range of work pants. Two identical pairs of el crappo black pants from Target and a billowing pair of grey stripey ones from Ripe have tided me over but I have never felt that they flattered me or looked smart. In fact I have frequently felt like a clown.

Thank heavens for those tops! But all good things must come to an end and those five tops have been on weekly rotation for a number of months now, and while they are still going strong quality-wise, I am hopelessly bored by them and am looking forward to spring being sprung and getting in to something brighter and lighter.

I started my search at Ripe again and although the spring catalogue looks promising, there was little in store to tempt me. I was looking for tops that would do some or all of a number of things: take me through the rapid expansion of the third trimester; be appropriate for the post-birth period; and hopefully be breastfeeding-friendly. What frustrated me about the Ripe nursing selection was that they were mostly lycra-mix, clingy and fitted, which is fine when you have a nice firm bump out in front but less so once that bump has deflated.

I realised that post-birth it will be high summer and I will be unfit, well above fighting weight, probably quite soft and wobbly around the middle, requiring ready access to my boobs, and above all needing to avoid wasting time feeling self-conscious about the aforementioned factors so that I can focus on the Bunny. I needed a selection of loose, flowing tops with front access.

(I did pick up this singlet in navy/white and grey/white stripes from Ripe though for an all-in-one singlet nursing top:)

I ventured into Sussan on a rare lunchtime out of the office knowing that the clothes there tend to be generously-sized (bump city) and lean towards the style I was looking for.

Bonanza! I walked out with:

This scalloped lace singlet doesn’t give boob access and probably won’t accommodate a full-term bump, but it’s quite cute and post-birth the heavier front will provide some helpful texture.

This top is a bit more peasanty that I’d usually go for but I’m a sucker for navy and its boobage access is excellent.

This T-shirt isn’t feeding-friendly but it’s loose, comfy, non-crush and it also comes in an emerald that might be coming home soon.

I also bought another peasant-style top in a white and emerald Ikat print with tiny little pompoms on the hem, like the white one below. Although I’m a fan of loose tops I didn’t think that the more tribal print was typically ‘me’, although Buzz thought it was exactly like what I’d normally choose which makes me think that my style is interpreted somewhat differently from what I think it is. Hey ho.

I was pleased with how easily I found a number of tops and even if they’re not what I’d usually go for, they tick all the most important boxes for the next few months. There were in fact even more things that I think deserve another look, and I’ll go back for the second run soon. I feel quite relieved that with the sun shining more and my belly about to enter a rapid growth phase, I have some new things to make me feel like I match the weather.

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We’re all going on a summer holiday.

We had the most relaxing, restful, sigh-making week away last week, sans everything (including the dogs) except ourselves. It was a first wedding anniversary-babymoon-last hurrah kind of holiday. We stayed in friends’ parents’ cottage on their clifftop farm with views across the peninsula, and really did nothing at all except what we felt like. We managed a short outing every day – we are avowed ubanites after all – but most days retired to bed and a sea view by about 3pm for a solid three hour rest time, in which reading, drawing, napping, snacking and chatting were all that was accomplished. It was brilliant.

We did short trips to the Merricks General Wine Store, a drive across the peninsula to Dromana to check out Buzz’s old stomping grounds and then a leisurely coastal drive to Portsea, lunch in Mornington (loved the pizza at D.O.C. and the navy and gold Tod’s bag I picked up at Bella on Barkly), tapas at The Green Olive, and also a highly enjoyable visit to Endota Spa at Moonah Links where Buzz resisted snoozing in his massage and I had a lovely facial and neck/shoulder/hand/foot massage. I’m not sure you can get much less taxing.

The week did make me realise however just how tired I am even when I have nothing to do.

Despite going to bed when I felt tired, sleeping until I woke naturally every day, having three hours of lying down a day, and doing nothing more exerting than a stroll through some shops (and no real housework!), I really noticed my lack of energy. The week away coincided with hitting the third trimester so I assume that this is now when all my body’s efforts are diverted into turning The Bunny into a little porker ready to come out. I also had a week of constant and almost crippling back pain as a result of my now-habitual backwards lean and waddle to offset the bowling ball attached to my front, so I have settled on the idea that I do not have to push through at work until 38 weeks, and will let my physical state guide me. Provisionally I am leaving at 35 weeks, which is just 8 weeks away, and I really think that’s as far as I can go (especially after this Monday’s train commute where despite being rested and having a seat, I came perilously close to a very public purge if I hadn’t had been able to get off the train pronto).

Another reason for the expanding bump – Whittaker’s Dark Rum’n’Raisin chocolate!

In other, exciting, grown-uply news, this week has seen Schloss Buzz acquire a new back security door and split system heating/cooling in the living/kitchen/hall area, our bedroom and the nursery. We do feel quite the proud (and now poor) homeowners.

And now off for more pre-Bunny preparatory work – chasing missing online deliveries, raging at recalled whitegoods and their manufacturers, touching base with suppliers, and trying not to let pregnancy-brain erode too much of my life.

PS: Instagram, I love it. I am at aplaceforeverything.

Guess.

One of the most frustrating things about being a vegan who does not reject materialism, consumerism, and Satan and all his wordly goods is that I have effectively barred myself from just about every good quality shoe and bag ever made. Even where there are better quality non-animal materials available I just can’t imagine Chanel deciding to do a 2.55 in PVC (although if you’re reading, Karl, there is a market out there – mostly me – and I commit to buying at least one a year).

I give myself a fair bit of latitude when it comes to shoes, wallets and bags – if I see something I like in a non-disgusting material I don’t tend to quibble too much, because it’s not like I have many options. And it’s not enough to just buy something functional – I have an EnviroSax and some trainers for that – I want to have something nice. I want something stylish. I want something I’m happy to be seen with. And I don’t want it to look like an el cheapo piece of tacky rubbish.

Over the last few years I’ve bought a few Guess handbags when they’ve fitted the bill. Many I’ve seen are absurd and gaudy and covered in blingy over-decoration, but there’s also a strong line in more restrained and grown-up bags too. They’re also made fairly well for what they are, using sturdy materials and so far I haven’t had any construction disasters.

All of this is meant to introduce the idea that in a small addendum to Operation Pick-Me-Up I bought a new handbag.

Funnily enough, it breaks many of my ‘rules’ around handbags: it’s deeper than it is wide, which usually leads to rummaging in the depths for everything that’s sunk to the bottom; it’s narrower at the top than the bottom, which reduces internal capacity and makes sticking one’s arm in to undertake said rummaging quite uncomfortable; and it’s black, a colour I have very much rejected in handbags for the last ten years or so. I just thought it was too boring.

But I really really like it, and it has the cutest lining. I think that against the odds, we’ll make it.

The ‘Nixa’ range also has a couple of other variations that I really like, a box satchel with fantastic folded-in edges, and a framed small/evening bag that I would love to take home except that I think that my opportunities to actually use an evening bag over the next few years will be limited.

I quite like the green colourway as well, and love the structured edges.

The lining is adorable!

I was also tempted by this patent hobo but sanity prevailed.

Buzz asked if I bought a black bag to go with my new black sunglasses. He’s quite perceptive. But I’m not ruling out that little framed bag either.

Update: Operation Pick-Me-Up

Update on the weekend’s purchases made under Operation Pick-Me-Up:

1. The Grown face wash is lovely and looks very nice indeed on the vanity. I’ve been using it to rinse my face in the morning, which is about as much effort as I can muster. Only the tiniest bit is required – the frothing action is commendable given the lack of Sodium Laureth Sulphate (or is it Lauryl?). Verdict: Win.

2. The A’kin facial scrub is a bit weird – it smells as funny as ‘jojo and corn’ would suggest and the actual exfoliant bits are few and far between. I’ve been using it as a face wash/makeup remover in the shower, which is most convenient. However it isn’t making me feel spesh as I’m too busy concentrating on its odd smell. I’ll use it up then replace it with something from Sukin I think. Verdict: Fail.

3. The L’Oreal EverSleek conditioner and serum are the business. I haven’t had a single morning of my usual ’80s rockstar perm gone wrong’ hair since I’ve been using it. The ‘do is still quite frightful first thing, but nowhere near as laughable. Verdict: Win.

4. I don’t think I mentioned buying this, but I finally remembered to get a barrel brush for blow-drying my hair. I gave it a go on Sunday and I think it’s my technique rather than the brush that’s at fault. – I’m really a GHD girl. Verdict: More Practice Required; Still Under Review.

5. The Chanel sunnies are winners-plus, even though I’ve been scrounging for opportunities to put them on in this weather. I am really pleased with their sun-shading abilities, face-comfort, and general feeling of swishness. Verdict: Mega Win.

So did the shopping make me feel like I had the energy to spend a bit more time on myself? I think so. I still haven’t mani-pedi-ed, cleaned my jewellery or gone for a walk, but I have made an appointment at the hairdresser, remembered to shave my legs before seeing my musculo-skeletal therapist, have returned to using eyeliner, and all-around Saturday was a hugely productive day* and that in and of itself makes me feel pretty darn good.

Shopping FTW.

 

* ALL of our moving boxes are now unpacked; our bookshelves are securely in situ and have books on them; the nursery has made great progress with a pretty display Expedit and only one thing being stored in there; everything that belongs in the study is now in the study; I folded and put away two weeks of washing; and as mentioned we are now returned to a state of modesty in our bathroom with the installation of a blind)

Attention to detail: Saturday shopping

I’ve been feeling like things have been a little less than our usual standards of glamour, polish and presentation around Schloss Buzz lately. Not that those standards really extend much past basic maintenance and hygiene, but the dark depths of winter (not to mention the growing belly) have encouraged forest-like growths of hair on the lower extremities and a complete lack of attention to the hooves, and the boring repetition of the same maternity clothes day after day, work and play, has made me feel less than special.

Combined with a natural focus on spending all the spondulicks on The Bunny and none on The Mama, I really felt like a little attention to me wouldn’t go astray. Nothing fancy, mind, just a few little pick-me-ups to encourage some time being spent on neglected areas.

So Priceline it was.

Completely out of face wash, and ready to take a break from Proactiv, I bought this Grown Geranium Leaf, Bergamot and Rosebud facial cleanser. I love Grown as a more cost-effective alternative to Aesop (who I know feel a bit put out by Grown’s similarity to them, but they both tick my ‘no animal ingredients or testing’ policy, they both smell nice, and they both look nice, so for every day items cost becomes a deciding factor).

I also got a facial exfoliator to slough off any build up. I haven’t used A’kin/A’lchemy products for a while but hope this jojo (jojoba?) and corn one works better than the use of corn might suggest.

I also got a bottle of rosehip oil from Sukin. I know that the Trilogy one is a bit cult-ish but I’ll always choose to support a company that puts the word ‘vegan’ on their products.

It’s probably no secret (at least I hope not) that L’Oreal are terrible animal testers and that their products are verboten from my beauty regime. However, a couple of years ago they released a range that they labelled as vegan, and after I turned it over in my mind a few times, I decided to give it a go (my thoughts at the time are here). I stopped using the products anyway because I didn’t think they were much chop compared to my usual Nature’s Organics, but in the interests of breaking out of a winter rut, I gave an anti-frizz conditioner and serum a go.

L’Oreal EverPure Smooth Serum.

I also got in early for summer preparation with these:

I love the bows (toned down by the monochrome), and was almost tempted by a pair with graduated lenses and green bows but they were a bit much in the end. These sleekies provide a great counterpoint to my other pair of most-used sunnies, my white, navy and red Gucci aviators, which have just had their second re-lensing with a harscore 80s-style mirrored lens after I managed to scratch them again (sadly, the other sunnies mentioned in that post, the Tom Ford ‘Rickies’, have proven to be agonising to wear despite adjustments. I just keep them for special events now when I’m willing to suffer for style).

So that was my Saturday morning. I’m yet to try my new products because we also had to hightail it to Bunnings to buy and instal a new bathroom blind after our neighbour informed us that our bathroom window is see-through at night despite the rippled glass and that she’s known for ages but has been too embarrassed to tell us (as though that has made our embarrassment any less!). Buzz has been most manfully putting the blind up and is now ensuring that our newly built bookshelves are securely attached to the wall, and we have a lovely night of pizza and TV planned. Life is good.

Pottering on Etsy.

One of the ways to while away the winter months whilst with child … apart from indulging in alliteration … is to shop for one’s unborn child.

I’ve found Etsy to be one of the most satisfying sites for beautiful yet usually impractical baby stuff.  Seeing as we don’t know whether the Bunny will be of the innie or outie variety, I am browsing universally. Here are some current favourites.

Nursery stuff:

We’re not going overboard but we are tending towards yellow as a unifying colour in the nursery (inspired by these) as it’s bright and cheery, and can be added to in pinks and blues as the occasion requires.

I am eyeing off some new cushions for a reading chair in the corner.

This one is very Sass-like but I am not enabling her at all. Hands off!

And I’m also considering this set as I appear to have over-neutralled my living room.

Girl stuff:

Too much candy pink makes me want to join the Riot Grrrls, but I do love a bit of prettiness.

I think that this was originally Napoleon’s comment on China, but seeing as I’d expect little less of my girls it’s apt.

Boy stuff:

Much as a lot of girly things seem saturated in sugar’n’spice and sickliness, a lot of boyish stuff seems to be all about tanks, soldiers, and breaking things. Dinosaurs, cars and sailboats are up there too. I don’t really love any of it so am struggling to find more masculine babywear that wouldn’t have him all bloked up from birth.

And of course the stupidly tacky but fun:

For a little Mo Bro.

So I guess we’ll see what the stork brings. I’m having fun pottering around in the nursery in the meantime, and will happily fill in the next 16 weeks or so filling it with sturdy, educational and beautiful things I want my child to be surrounded by.