Weekend Reading | 12.8.18.

happy weekend! We are off to Bedford this afternoon for my good friend Deirdre’s holiday party. She moved there from Charleston this fall and it’s been nice getting to see her + her family so much (and also having a little escape from the city). It’s just an hour away but feels so far away!!! This was a busy week but a definite highlight was seeing the second Harry Potter play with Merritt, who is in town from Dallas. I have been feeling a little exhausted (mostly just overwhelmed because of events and too many plans) so I stayed in last night which felt good. This time of year is always tricky to navigate with the abundance of parties, plans with friends, and family obligations… I need to be better at remembering to take time just for me! (Along those lines, here are some good holiday self-care tips!) Anyway, enjoy this week’s links. The list got a little long but there were so many good things to share!

I always get asked to do a gift guide for the kids but it’s not really my wheelhouse. I loved this one – it’s full of beautifully made things… no junky plastic!

Pretty ($45!!!) booties in my most favorite color.

Just when you think you couldn’t adore Jennifer Aniston more

How to be less self-critical.

Serious question, do I need these weird but awesome adult pajamas!? They’re in my cart!

OMG for my fellow Jasmine Guillory fans, this is excellent news!

Earrings that look v v expensive… but are only $18!

I love Meghan’s challenge to do more good deeds!

Do these stretches before bed!

Another ranking of all of Netflix’s holiday movies. This one made me actually LOL!

One of my favorite sweaters from last year is now on sale!

Lessons learned from a first adult relationship.

The best (non-toxic) products for chapped lips.

I ordered this striped turtleneck this week. Such a good basic.

The power of positive thinking!

Helllllo sequin bucket bag of my dreams!

How to meditate… everywhere.

I share this obsession with plaster walls.

I love the pops of chartreuse in this checked coat!

This Christmas survival guide definitely resonates with me right now.

Neeeed this snuggly coat in my life!

How to miss someone (when they aren’t really gone).

The best career advice books.

The perfect skimpy party top (I’d wear with a metallic or sequin skirt for NYE!)

How to work out in the morning.

Swingy rainbow stripes. Yes please!

Love these affordable decor suggestions for a first apartment.

How to get Mrs. Maisel’s (marvelous!) style.

All the Golden Globe nominees!

Definitely need these emerald green resin hoops.

This is a smart list of things to pack in your carry-on, some of which, I hadn’t thought of!

Loooove how Jenn styled her sequin skirt!

The coziest cropped turtleneck. (Pair it with high waisted flare denim or a midi skirt.)

Cold weather skincare tips.

Another good cozy sweater that I probably need.

Adding this list of documentaries to my watch list!

I loved Victoria’s thoughtful list of gifts.

Crushing on this geometric bag.

The best Christmas movies of all time, ranked. Do you agree?

How cool are these oversize iridescent hoop earrings!?

How to make your iPhone work for you! (Doing all of these things once I have a free minute!!)

Your Dating Questions, Answered!

She’s baaaack! Clara is back with her third and final post of this little series. I’m really hoping maybe she’ll come back in the New Year for another round of posts (or maybe join us on the podcast!) but in the meantime I love love loved reading her answers to your questions. So much good info in this post and be sure to check out post 1 (setting social media boundaries) and post 2 (meeting people IRL).

Hi friends! I can’t tell you how much I LOVED diving into your questions. It’s fascinating being on the receiving end and I really commend your vulnerability. I find regardless of who I talk to or work with, the same questions always come up, so know that you’re not alone. I couldn’t get to all of them but I tried to select the ones which covered the most ground. I also plan to cover all this content via my newsletter and Instagram in the coming weeks and months, so be sure to follow along over there if you’re interested.

Let’s dive in:

What should you ask about on a first date?

When clients pose questions like this, they’re generally looking for me to give them a script of exact questions to ask. What neighborhood do you live in? Where did you grow up? What do you do for work?

But instead, I ask them the following in return: “What makes you feel you need to be told what to ask or what to say on a first date? What makes you think you could say the wrong thing?” And then they usually want to rip my head off! And I get it, I totally get it. Meeting someone new that you’re potentially attracted to can be hard and scary. Feeling nervous is totally normal. But the problem with all these scripts and what-to-text-back tips is that they both make us feel as if we’re doing something wrong by simply saying or doing what we feel, and they take us out of ourselves and the actual moment. If you’re unsure of what to say on a first date, work with that! Saying something like “Aaah I have to admit these first dates always throw me a bit! It’s kind of weird to just start talking to a stranger.” When you open up, you give the person you’re with permission to do the same (in any context). Let it flow from there and remind yourself that you are ok, that you are whole, and you are deeply deserving of love.  And starting with “Hi! How was your day?” is perfectly fine, too.

Why do guys who ghost/say they’re not interested still watch my Instagram stories. I asked a guy about this and he said it doesn’t mean anything but I just don’t get it. If I’m not interested I don’t follow?

It’s important to take a step back from dating on this one and remind ourselves of something the internet has done – it’s allowed people to be a whole lot less kind to one another. I know Grace can attest to this. People comment and message horrific things they’d likely never say in person. They say things that are truly cruel and mean because they can remain more anonymous. Now, this guy isn’t being outwardly cruel to you, but I would put this behavior under the weird things the internet has allowed people to do (all of us included).

I don’t know this guy and I can’t speak for him saying it “didn’t mean anything,” but I can speak for myself. Recently, after a period of distancing myself from an old friend, I was honest about my behavior. I explained why I didn’t feel as connected to her. I apologized for my being avoidant and said I wasn’t sure how to do move forward but that I still thought fondly of our friendship and was open to trying again. That was several weeks ago. I’ve yet to hear back but in the meantime I’ve proceeded to watch all of her Instagram stories. I’m admittedly curious. She hasn’t written back and I’m not sure why, so I’ve taken to…following her every move? That’s not exactly kind, and it’s her right to not respond, and yet I’m still doing it.

My guess for this guy is that he’s not interested but likely bored and thus still curious. I think we’ve all done that thing where even if we’ve let someone go, we still wonder, “What are they up to?” The internet has allowed us to not just wonder. It’s especially unfair for the person on the receiving end, so if you find it to be upsetting or triggering, it is absolutely your right to block that person or to ask them to stop. It’s important for you to do what’s going to make you feel best.

Any tips for an almost divorced 30 y/o, starting over?

Yes! First off yay you for asking for help. I don’t know you but I sure am proud of you. It takes grit, courage, humility and a hell of a lot of kindness for yourself to start over, so kudos to you.

In my late 20s I ended a nearly seven year relationship, which in many ways felt like a marriage. We’d lived together for over three of those years, I was on his health insurance, he celebrated the holidays with my family, we were looking at property together – he was truly my best friend. It’s hard to sum up exactly how I healed myself, moved on, and started over, but here are three key things I did:

  1. I never pressured myself to “get out there.” I only dated when I wanted to. Yes, I was worried about my ‘timeline’ of marriage and babies, but I did my best to lessen that pressure and focus on the things in my life I could control. I went back to working for a big company to give myself more of a routine and some great health insurance. With that health insurance I went back to therapy and started sex therapy. I moved into a new apartment and decorated it exactly as I wanted to, aptly named the “princess pad.” I binge watched Friday Night Lights and started a yoga practice. I allowed myself to let it be hard, sad, scary, to question my decision, to wonder what if. I did my best to accept the feeling I was experiencing versus fault myself for having the in the first place or try to force them away.
  2. I read a lot of self help, but the book I found to be most helpful at this particular was Elizabeth Lesser’s Broken Open: How Difficult Times Help Us Grow. Get yourself a copy and dive in.
  3. We set some strict social media boundaries, which I outlined in my first post.
  4. Lastly, I did my best to tune out other people’s thoughts and opinions. One of the key things that experience taught me was that there are only ever two people that know what the relationship was like: the two people in it. Some people told me I was brave for leaving, others questioned my decision. When I started dating again, some people applauded my efforts while others wondered how I could move on so quickly. Those people weren’t trying to be unkind or cause me angst, but their input wasn’t helpful. I did my best to brush it off and not seek it out in the first place.

How do you know the right time to start dating? Is it good to push yourself even though you don’t feel like it?

This is a GREAT question and one I feel very passionately about. I go into great detail on how to tell on one of the free downloads on my site. Grab the one called “My Most Important Question About Dating.”

To wait til the 3rd date (or longer?) Or not – does it make a difference?

I assume this question pertains to when you have sex with someone. There is only ever one answer to this question, and that is, whenever you want to – whenever you feel comfortable. That applies to kissing or any other form of intimacy, too. There was another question about when you DTR (define the relationship) when the other person wants to move faster and again, the answer is, whenever YOU my dear, are ready. All the bullshit out there that says if you sleep with him this early he’ll leave you or if you don’t sleep with him soon enough he’ll also leave you is just that, bullshit. There is no one right way. There are no true rules to dating. If this is the right person, you’re not going to do one singular thing to make the whole thing fall apart.

I just ended an 8 year relationship and I don’t have girlfriends. Help!

Again, kudos for reaching out for help! I think the more obvious ones are doings things like joining a yoga studio or book club, and joining the Stripe’s private FB group and pursuing a meet up (one of my favorite podcasts, Forever35) also does this via their FB group. But the thing I wanted to say that’s a little less obvious is this: often times, even despite our best efforts, when we get deep into a relationship some of our friendships can fall to the wayside. People we were once close to we may lose touch with. If there are some people like that in your life that you’d like to reconnect with but feel like you weren’t the best friend as of late if you feel brave enough, I recommend opening up about that. A simple Facebook message or text like “Hey X – I know it’s been a while and I haven’t been the most preset friend as of late but it’d be really great to get together again. I saw you recently did XYZ – that looked so awesome! I’d love to treat you to coffee if you’re up to it.” Or however you want to phrase it. You could apply a similar tactic to someone who’s an acquaintance but who you’d like to get to know better. Something along the lines of “Hey X – so great seeing you at yoga! It’s been super helpful to me recently, being in the midst of a difficult breakup. If you ever want to grab a bite after class, let me know!”

I hope all of this was helpful! I work with women all over the world, so if you’re interested in dating and relationships support, I’d love to hear from you! Shoot me a message on Instagram or email at clara.artschwager@gmail.com. Dating can be hard, but not as hard as you think.

Revisiting an Old Favorite.

Coat // Scarf // Shirt // Jeans // Purse // Heels // Sunglasses

This leopard coat is my everything. I could not love it more and I wear it all the time (evidence here, haha!). J. McLaughlin gifted it to me two years ago. They brought it back last year but did not stock it this year which is a bit of a bummer. I kept stalking the site with high hopes but no such luck. They do have a very cute faux shearling coat on sale but I digress. What makes it cute/special/flattering is that it doesn’t have a collar. I find that a collar on a faux fur coat tends to be bulky and look a little costume-y. I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent combing all of my favorite retailers for a dupe – I had just about given up when I found this one at Ann Taylor. It’s perfect. So if you are looking for a similar coat, get this one – it’s spot on!!!

It’s no secret that I love leopard and red together so I paired it with my cozy Aether scarf and then kept the rest of my outfit reaaallllly simple!

Outfit Details: Old J. McLaughlin Coat, similar options herehere, here, and here // Aether Scarf // x Karla Tee // Levi’s Jeans // Vintage Chanel Purse // Ferragamo Heels // Polaroid Sunglasses // BaubleBar Earrings

Yesterday was not my favorite. I was so rushed between meetings that I accidentally walked SMACK into a street poll. I hit my head so hard. Besides being super embarrassing, it really hurt and for about a half hour my vision was weird. Then when I got back to Brooklyn, a creepy old man followed me home from the subway, yelling at me the whole way. I stopped into a coffee shop and luckily he was gone when I got out. It was scary though.

I hope you guys have a great weekend! Tomorrow I’m heading up to Bedford for my really good friend Deirdre’s holiday party. Other than that, yoga on Sunday and maybe some more bad holiday movies. Whyyyyy is it so much fun to watch (and snark!) on them???

(As an aside, Deirdre just released her new holiday collection and the pieces are so good! (And I love that SHE is the star of the lookbook – she has the best style!!!) I’m definitely going to need these glittery green earrings… they are so me!!!)

Last but not least – I know I’m a broken record about these gold hoop earrings but they are the BEST. Big but not heavy at all. I have been wearing them almost every day… they’re def a new favorite.

Photography by Carter Fish.

December 2018 Reading List.

Happy December, friends! We are back with another reading list. OKAY first of all I just have to say that I am so sad because I really did not enjoy Nine Perfect Strangers. This was such a letdown as I had pre-ordered it, eagerly waited for it in the mail, the whole thing. Liane Moriarty is one of my absolute favorite authors (still is, she gets a pass) but man, this one was a big miss. Luckily, the other books I read more than made up for it. Lilac Girls made me ugly cry. Multiple times. I was on my way to Boston and sobbing on the train because it was so sad. But it was so good. And The Proposal and 99% Mine were just so fun to read. Delicious little rom-com books! Read on for the whole scoop but overall, it was still a very good month of books.

New here? If you’re looking for a book, don’t forget that you can always check out my Book Club Page. Every month I update it, so it includes every.single.book I’ve read in the past few years. The best part is that you can filter + search by genre (memoir, light read, historical fiction, thriller, etc!) to find exactly what you’re looking for. I always add whatever it is that I’m currently reading in real time to my Amazon Shop.

Last order of business before the reviews! Please comment and tell me what you are reading… your suggestions are my THE BEST… I always shop off of your suggestions – you always have such good recommendations for me, which I really appreciate!

the proposal by jasmine guilloryThe Proposal
, by Jasmine Guillory, is a really cute rom-com of a novel (Guillory also wrote The Wedding Date, read that review here). We read this for the podcast and honestly I wasn’t so sure of it because of the title. But then I read it and I loved it! It’s not about a good proposal, for the record… the “not everybody wants one” speaks volumes. Nik is at a Dodgers game when the guy who she’s casually seeing proposes – on the Jumbotron, for all to see. When she says no, the dude totally flips out. Carlos (Drew’s best friend from The Wedding Date) and his sister Angie see her struggling and decide to rescue her. Carlos and Nik become friends and eventually start dating, both agreeing to keep things casual. Slowly things begin to get more serious and a little bit of drama ensues. I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but in true rom-com fashion one of them realizes it’s true love before the other one does. I loved this book but not just because of the romance (and the fact that it gets a little steamy!). I thought it was a testament to the importance of having great female friendships and maintaining our own independence… while also letting someone in (especially when you’ve been hurt before). It did get a little cheesy at times (which was very satisfying actually!) BUT I found the characters to be really real and relatable.

  • Overall Score: A-

Nine Perfect Strangers, by Liane Moriarty. UGH. I really, really wanted to love this one. Like really wanted to love it; Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite writers. I pre-ordered it and dove in the day it arrived in the mail. But it fell a little (okay a lot) short for me, especially as I had such high expectations from her. At first I thought maybe I was just in a reading rut. But it took me til I was about 60% through to feel invested in the book and even then I felt bored/irritated by it. There were too many main characters, none particularly likeable, and it just went on for too long. Frances is an aging writer who checks into Tranquillum House for a ten day reset of sorts (along with 8 other guests). Things slowly unravel and it gets a little bit crazy. The charismatic founder (Masha) seems to have all the answers after having a near-death experience. But does she? Anyone who has ever done a fitness/wellness retreat will get a good laugh here but for Liane Moriarty I just expected better. I feel badly being so hard on her but this was a big disappointment. Maybe I am being too harsh with the C+ rating, but this one was a letdown! I will say that the ending was cute, but that’s about it.

  • Overall Score: C+

Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly. So many of you guys had suggested this one (thank you!!!) but it took me a while to get to it as I knew it was going to be really sad, and wasn’t “in the mood” for a sad book. I was so let down after Nine Perfect Strangers that I reached for this, knowing that no matter what, it would definitely at least be really good book. Okay this book wasn’t good – it was amazing. It broke my heart so many times over and over again. I was on the train to Boston crying like a crazy person as I read it. Parts were really, really hard to read. It takes place during WWII with the Holocaust and tells the (intersecting) stories of three women: Caroline Ferriday (a real person), a socialite based in New York who advocated for a group of survivors called The Rabbits (they were the subject of terrifying experimental operations), Kasia Kuzmerick (a Polish teenager sent to Ravensbrück, the Nazi concentration camp for women), and Herta Oberheuser (also a real person – a young doctor working at Ravensbrück). It was deeply upsetting but so beautifully written. I can’t recommend it enough.

  • Overall Score: A

99% Mine, by Sally Thorne. I could not love Sally Thorne more. Her novels are always just such a treat to read. They won’t make you smarter but they will definitely make you happier. If you loved The Hating Game as much as I did (review of that in this post!) you will love this. Sally Thorne just does a romantic comedy (heavy on sexual tension) SO WELL. I had a harder time getting into this one at first as I didn’t really identify with the main character, Darcy. She’s very brazen and a bit of a badass, which I am not. Darcy is in love with her twin brother’s best friend, Tom. Darcy and Jamie (the twin) are renovating her grandmother’s house before they put it on the market and Tom steps in to do the build. Tom is single for the first time in years and Darcy is determined to make him (you guessed it) 99% hers. It’s the perfect light, feel good read… I couldn’t put it down! As an aside, this one isn’t out to January 29th. I definitely recommend pre-ordering it so you will get a treat in the mail, BUT we are also doing a reader pass along over in the private Facebook group, so definitely join the group and go add your email to that if you are interested in participating.

  • Overall Score: A-

photo by Carter Fish.

Holiday Self-Care.

by malene birger zonia sweater, re/done originals relaxed crop frayed slim boyfriend jeans, gucci jordaan loafers | grace atwood, the stripe
sweater // jeans // loafers

This post was published last December, but I thought it would be relevant to update it again for this year as the holidays can be such a stressful time of year.

This is the time of year can be a little crazy. Those who know me well know that for the last two weeks of November and first week or two of December, I turn into a monster that we refer to as “holiday Grace.” With cyber week and all of the gift guides I get suuuuuuper focused on work and glued to my desk/phone working. It’s a part of the job (anyone who works in retail lives the same sort of life this time of year) and something I’m used to by now!

I’ve run into a bunch of my blogger girlfriends over the past few weeks and everyone’s in the same boat. It’s reassuring to see this (makes me feel less crazy!) Like I said though, this isn’t just a blogger thing. The holidays are just plain hard! I remember when I had a desk job and I would be sprinting out during lunch breaks and after work to attempt to buy gifts. My apartment was always a wreck and it always felt like every evening was some can’t miss dinner/event/etc. That hasn’t changed with working for myself but I do remind myself every day that I am lucky in that I set my own schedule and if I need to do something in the middle of the day, I can do it. That’s not the case when you have a boss!

The downside of being self-employed is the uncertainty.  When you work for yourself, you have to work really, really hard during your busy times (the holidays, in my case) because you don’t really know what the next month will be like. So you wind up just a bit spread thin. I feel like there isn’t enough of me to go around, that I’m letting friends + family down, and that I am always.at.my.desk. Having girlfriends over to laugh, commiserate a little bit, and drink some wine really helped… but in the meantime I wanted to share the little things I have been doing for myself that have made a big difference. Self care is so so important, especially during stressful times like the holidays. So here it is… my holiday self-care plan!

Outfit Details: by Malene Birger Sweater // Re/Done Jeans // Gucci Jordaan Loafers // Chanel Bag // Celine Sunglasses // Borrowed Omega Watch

by malene birger zonia sweater, re/done originals relaxed crop frayed slim boyfriend jeans, gucci jordaan loafers | grace atwood, the stripeby malene birger zonia sweater, re/done originals relaxed crop frayed slim boyfriend jeans, gucci jordaan loafers | grace atwood, the stripe

one // Get up 30-60 minutes earlier, and start the day off on the right note. I make my coffee, do a ten minute meditation (I’ve gotten obsessed with Headspace – Andy is the greatest) and then I will foam roll and do my stretches. Yes, my stretches, I have a bad back and all of this sitting at my desk is not helping!

two // Spend one minute dry brushing prior to showering. Dry brushing is SO good for you – it’s great for your skin, your circulation, and it helps flush away toxins.

three // When possible (sometimes I have too much going on) I go for an hour long walk and put on a podcast. Here are a few of my favorite uplifting podcasts…this is something I really look forward to – I always feel better afterward.

four // Take a bath most nights. A bath is such a nice way to end the day, and it’s a basically free way that you can pamper yourself. I LOVE baths and the small act of ending every night with a bath has been so helpful!

five // Pamper myself with citrusy-y essential oils and energizing body products. This ginger body cream always puts a pep in my step, as does this energy-inducing shower gel. It’s such a small detail but fragrance really has an amazing impact on your mood.

six // Cut out the negativity. I refuse to gossip and add to any negativity. It can be tempting and fun, but why? It is bad for your energy so just DON’T DO IT. I first realized this a while back with an old job – everyone would get together and vent. I always ended up just feeling bad afterward so I stopped doing it. Gossip and complaining may feel good at the time but it’s never helpful. I promise you that. Just be better than that. Change the subject, leave, or just tell the other person you don’t want to gossip. On the other side of it, if something makes you feel bad, cut it out (where you can). A lot of people on my social media feeds like to insult bloggers and what we do for a living. I unfollowed. I left a few group text messages. If something doesn’t leave you feeling good, if you are able to, eliminate it. It may be hard to do, but I promise you – it makes such a difference in your happiness.

seven // Talk to a friend about it. When I’m really stressed I tend to hole up, away from the world, and just hunker down on work. I won’t tell anyone about it or see my friends for days because I just get so focused. This isn’t the healthiest of habits. Having a friend or neighbor over for a glass of wine at the end of a long day is nice… we’ve also been doing Sunday movie/TV nights which is a fun way to wind down the weekend. Even taking 30 minutes to sit and chill and catch up with a friend will help you feel better (and also help you to be a lot more productive.)

eight // This is such a silly one but play with the cat every day! I always feel guilty for not playing with him enough, and it’s so relaxing (and fun to see how excited he gets, chasing his little toys. Spending ten minutes playing with him every day brightens up my day and makes him a happier, more active cat.

by malene birger zonia sweater, re/done originals relaxed crop frayed slim boyfriend jeans, gucci jordaan loafers | grace atwood, the stripe by malene birger zonia sweater, re/done originals relaxed crop frayed slim boyfriend jeans, gucci jordaan loafers | grace atwood, the stripe by malene birger zonia sweater, re/done originals relaxed crop frayed slim boyfriend jeans, gucci jordaan loafers | grace atwood, the stripe by malene birger zonia sweater, re/done originals relaxed crop frayed slim boyfriend jeans, gucci jordaan loafers | grace atwood, the stripe by malene birger zonia sweater, re/done originals relaxed crop frayed slim boyfriend jeans, gucci jordaan loafers | grace atwood, the stripe by malene birger zonia sweater, re/done originals relaxed crop frayed slim boyfriend jeans, gucci jordaan loafers | grace atwood, the stripe

photography by Trent Bailey.