Stitch Fix now offers maternity wear!

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By now I’m sure y’all have heard many a lady sing the praises of Stitch Fix and their stellar personal shopping service. I mean, what could be better than filling out a brief style profile, and then coming home to a box of hand-curated clothing pieces?

My Stitch Fix ritual once the shipment comes, is to try everything on and hold an impromptu fashion show for Paul, to help decide which items to keep and which to mail back. No freezing dressing rooms. No unflattering fluorescent light! Sure, there’s a $20 styling fee, but that amount will be applied toward any items you purchase. If you buy all five items from your fix, you get 25% off the entire purchase! Their selections are super reasonably priced, too. It almost always lines up with what I’d be willing to pay in a store (averages $55/item) – but it’s so much more luxe to shop in the comfort of my own home. 

I already had a love affair with Stitch Fix after getting some fun pieces for my honeymoon through their service, but when I heard they were launching a maternity style service, I jumped for joy. My first “bump fix” was a hit – especially this darling, comfortable, horse-printed dress, which I can dress up or down depending on the occasion. I’ll probably wear it for one of my baby showers!

Here’s me dressed up for a fabulous dinner at Maude, paired with some cute Kate Spade dress oxfords.

stitch fix maternity

My favorite part of each fix is how they include a handy “style sheet” to help you understand the many ways you can dress your new pieces up or down… which is a fantastic bonus for the fashionably-challenged like moi.

stitch fix maternity

If you’ve been stalling on giving Stitch Fix a shot, go on and pull that trigger! Especially if you’re pregnant. you’ve got nothing to lose, because if you’re not thrilled with your Fix, you can ship it right back. But when it works, it’s such a great, convenient way to find cute duds that will grow with you. Dump that preggo frump, and start rocking your adorable bump!


15 First trimester must-haves

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Now that I have some quality hindsight on my first trimester of pregnancy, (which for me, was riddled with motion sickness, fatigue, and migraines)… I want to share my ultimate survival items for the first 12 weeks.

These are the things that got me through the tough times, things I couldn’t live without. They saved my ass, they saved my sanity, they made the dark days brighter. I hope they bring you comfort, too!
first trimester must-haves

Sea-Band Wristbands: I had about 6 weeks of general nausea early on in my pregnancy, but worse was the motion sickness that started at 3 weeks! Whether I was the passenger in a car, or just scrolling through facebook – I was miserably queasy. But it was made much more bearable once I got a pair of Sea-Bands acupressure bracelets. They apply consistent pressure to localized points in your wrists that help abate nausea – whether from motion sickness, morning sickness, chemo side effects, and other causes. It’s great drug-free relief from queasiness, whether you suffer only in the morning hours or all day, every day.

Prenatal Vitamins: There are a bazilliony choices on the market for pre-natals, and everyone has their own favorite… but after substantial research, I found that I could just keep taking my regular daily vitamin, Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women Women’s Multivitamin and then supplement it with a solid DHA pill like this one from Nordic Naturals, which afforded me the best ratios of the vitamins I needed for pregnancy. With the bonus that they weren’t giant horse pills, which I loathe.

Instacart: For me, the first trimester fatigue was crippling. I’ve had mono before, and wasn’t even this tired! Combined with the 6 weeks of nausea and motion sickness, and then the migraines that replaced my nausea… there were days on end that I literally could not fathom leaving the couch, much less the house. Instacart’s on-demand grocery delivery service saved my ass more times than I can count. For just a few dollars per order, their friendly “shoppers” will pick up everything you need from your local market of choice (everything from premium grocers like Whole Foods, to Costco, and everything in between) and deliver it to your home within 2 hours flat. Your first order includes free delivery, and if you sign up through my link, we both get $10 credit to use! I can definitely see Instacart coming in very handy once the baby comes, too, in the early days where I’m too tired or overwhelmed to get us both to the grocery. It’s a brilliant service and I’ve had nothing but great experiences using it!

Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow: Even before your belly pops, your body is going through some serious adjustments as your baby begins to grow, and finding comfortable positions for sleeping gets increasingly challenging, early. Plus, you’ll want training for side-sleeping because shortly after your first trimester ends, sleeping on your back is not recommended. The Snoogle will seem absurd when you unpackage it, but once you discover it’s myriad position options and snugggle into it for the night, you’ll be sold. My only beef with the Snoogle is that I found the default cover it comes with to be a bit scratchy and a huge hassle to remove for washing, so I give bonus points to the Snoogle Chic Jersey Replacement Pillow Case which is easily removable for washing and as soft as your favorite t-shirt.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Stretch Mark Cream: The only protection us women have against stretchmarks is prevention. Genetics play a large part, and given my family history, I know the odds are stacked against me. So I moisturized early and often with various stretch mark creams – and Palmer’s is a fave. It’s natural, it smells great, and it’s super affordable. And, it seems to work. Knock on wood, 23 weeks and no stretch marks yet!

Corded Digital Cooking Thermometer: If you’re a bath person, the tub can be a sweet retreat throughout your pregnancy. But for safety’s sake, you must keep the temperature at or below your body temperature – you don’t want to boil that baby! A corded digital thermometer like mine, by Polder, is a great way to monitor the temperature and have the peace of mind necessary to allow that bath to be truly relaxing.

Epsom Salt: Speaking of baths, throwing in a couple cups of Epsom Salts is a wonderful, inexpensive treat. It helps soothe aches and pains as your body grows and joints shift. It soothes nausea. It softens skin. It helps soothe and heal hemorrhoids (oh honey, that shit is real). I truly can’t imagine where I’d be without my salts!

Rice Paper Blotting Tissues: At about 8 weeks, my skin turned into a straight-up oil slick y’all. It was so greasy, all the time. I always had combination-to-dry skin, and this was unknown territory for me. But blotting papers saved the day. They gently remove oil without adding product build-up, and have a plain side or powdered side in case you need extra mattifying power. Thankfully, the grease blast only lasted about 6 weeks before clearing up, but I still use the blotting papers for maintenance, as needed.

Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband: Ah, the ubiquitous Bellaband. A mainstay on everyone’s pregnancy survival lists. In early pregnancy, they work as elastic safety-nets, holding up your unbuttoned pants so you can wear them longer before having to shell out the dough for new maternity wear. Later in pregnancy, they’ll provide support and coverage to your belly as it grows, acting as a sort of belly-bra and providing modesty as your shirts begin riding further up your tummy. Truth be told, the way I bloated in early days made even my unbuttoned pants too tight, so I didn’t get much use from my Bellabands then. But as I near the 3rd trimester, I can see how they’ll become more useful very soon.

Long & Lean Tank Tops: Oh Target, how I love thee. I’ve lived in these tanks through my whole pregnancy. They’re exceedingly comfortable, and stretch comfortably around my expanding belly. Their the perfect under-layer as your temperature varies greatly from moment-to-moment, thanks to your hormones running wild. My first trimester uniform consisted of these tanks, with yoga pants and a flowy cardigan cover. Now, through my second trimester, they’ve served as the perfect pajama top. The dark colors are quite slimming, and I’ve washed them a billion times to find they last forever. And they’re CHEAP! Just fantastic.

Cardigans: The perfect overlayer for the tanks described above, and a comfortable, effective way to mask a growing belly before you’re ready to make your pregnancy public.

Yoga Pants: Invest in a high quality pair of yoga pants and they might be the only pants you wear your whole first trimester. My Lululemons were just that. T’was a sad day when I finally outgrew them, but I know they’ll come in wonderfully handy in postpartum days as well.

KLOUD City 17 pcs Assorted Colors Bra Extender Strap: The first hint that I was knocked up came in the form of major bewbage. My funbags grew quite considerably in the early days of my pregnancy, and while my bra cups could handle the overflow, my bra strap started cutting into my back quite quickly. This 17-pack of multi-colored bra extenders work with all my bras, and add a few inches of relief as easy as pie, for a fraction of the price of a new bra.

Acupuncture: Getting needled in the first trimester can help alleviate a lot of those pesky new symptoms that are popping up every day. They helped me deal with my nausea and headaches, and generally helped calm me down and relax – which is definitely a good thing for baby! Acupuncture can even help regulate your hormones to keep your emotional roller coaster to more of a smooth ride. Make sure your professional has experience with acupuncture for pregnancy, because like exercise, the approach must be modified to best protect you while you’re being treated. If you’re in the LA-area, I can’t recommend Laurie Binder highly enough.

Variety in the kitchen: Early pregnancy can truly test your relationship with food. From aversions to cravings, it’s hard to know from one minute to the next, what will sound good or what will make your stomach turn. Our best defense was to have a super-stocked fridge and pantry, with a little of everything I might possibly want. That way, when a strange craving for fresh carrots and celery hit me mid-day, I was prepared. And the same for a late-night jello craving. It’s worth the splurge to make sure you’re prepared, and avoid hunger meltdowns when you inevitably “don’t know what you want, but you know what you don’t want… and you have nothing you don’t want in the house!” (Cuz that’s a real thing, friends. And it ain’t pretty.)

WHEW. That was far from exhaustive, but a pretty good round-up of the items and services which brought me the most comfort and relief during that first 12 weeks. Your body is going through a LOT during this time, sister. So beyond these things, my best advice is to take it easy on yourself. If you need to nap, do it. If you need to eat, do it. If you can only stomach saltines and chocolate milk, lean into that. You can make up the rest later. Do what you need to in order to get through and keep yourself calm and comfortable. Your baby and your body will thank you!


Five minute, four ingredient, no-knead bread for your mouth

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Friends, I am dead serious. I am here to share with you the no-knead bread baking secret that will change your life forever. Never again will you buy a store-manufactured boule, made with god knows what extra ingredients and preservatives.

All it takes is four simple ingredients, and about 5 minutes of “hands-on” work time… and for a mere fraction of the cost of store-bought loaves, you’ll be drowning in the intoxication of freshly baked, home made bread that will have you questioning: “why buy, when I can bake?”

Your friends will envy you. Your spouse and children will worship you. You will rise to legendary domestic goddess status among all who come dine at your home or receive a loaf as a gift. It’s crusty. It’s chewy. It’s delicious.

Prepare, people. There is no going back from here.

Granted, there is a lot of down time. So, patience is necessary. But trust me, while there may be 10 or so steps to follow, the effort you’ll actually put in is so minimal, you’ll be shocked at how foolproof and simple the process is.

five minute, four ingredient, no-knead bread

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups unbleached white flour (I use high quality flours like Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur, or Trader Joes private label (which is exactly Bob’s Red Mill, at a fraction of the cost.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast (Food 4 Less has the best deal in town)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water

What you do:

  1. Gently mix together your flour and salt in a decently-sized bowl. I use a Le Crueset
  2. Mix your yeast into the water, and add the yeasted water to your dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated with a wooden spoon. Your dough will look a hot, shaggy mess, but it will become clear that it’s done all the “coming together” it’s going to do.
  3. ***The above steps should take about 2.5 minutes total***
  4. Cover your mixing bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap and leave in a secure place on a counter top, preferably where the temperature is stable, for the next 12-18 (or more) hours. After 12-18ish hours have passed, your dough will have risen at least by double, and be sort of bubbly and smell amazingly yeasty-fermenty-bready. (that’s a technical term.)
  5. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface

no-knead bread

  1. Fold the dough over on itself a couple of times, gently pressing it down each time to remove excess air bubbles. Cover with the plastic wrap and let sit about 15 minutes *This step is optional. If you’re pressed for time, just skip this step and go straight to step 7. Your bread may just be a bit “airier” if you skip it. Still delish.*
  2. With wet hands (which, rather than floured hands, helps preserve the flour/water balance) fold the edges of the dough inward to the center, helping the dough find its way into a ball-shape with a smooth upper surface. Plop it into a parchment-lined 9-10″ bowl, (or wooden Banneton Basket, if you’re a baller like me). Cover, and let sit for 2 more hours.
  3. 30 minutes before your dough is done resting, pre-heat your oven with your cooking vessel in it to 450 degrees. I get my best results using a Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven and Casserole Cooker (which is super affordable), but you can use a Le Creuset, pyrex, or similar heavy, covered if you prefer. Preheating your vessel is crucial, so don’t forget.
  4. Once the dough is ready, lift the parchment paper with the dough in it, and place it into your dutch oven. (If you’re not using parchment, just plop the dough in, naked.) Give it a jiggle so the dough relaxes into the base of the vessel.
  5. Cover, and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the cover and allow it to continue for 15-20 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it’s golden and crusty, and the bread has a bit of a hollow sound when you gently tap or knock on it.

Then voila! You’re done! Gently lift the bread out of the pot, so it stops cooking, and try and patiently let it cool enough to handle before cutting into it. Then slice it up, and savor that warm, fresh-baked flavor and crusty, chewy texture. Good luck not eating the whole loaf right there and then! But while you do, practice your humblest expressions of thanks, in anticipation of all the praise you will soon be receiving from your loved ones!

 

Bread copy

 


First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage

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It’s official! We tied the knot on October 5th, 2014 – I became Mrs. Dana LaRue Park.

And, oh what a wedding it was! We hosted 40 of our nearest and dearest for an intimate ceremony, pre-and-post ceremony cocktail hours, and topped it off with decadent 14-course dinner party, complete with wine pairings. We aimed to feed everyone’s bellies as much as their hearts.

It was a magical evening, and left everybody buzzing with joy and full of love. It was a fairy tale come true!

Paul and Dana wedding

champagne press wedding invitation sls hotel

Paul and Dana wedding WEB-144
Paul and Dana wedding

SLS beverly hills wedding

sls beverly hills wedding

sls beverly hills wedding

Paul and Dana wedding

clover string quartet

Paul and Dana wedding

Paul and Dana wedding

tiffany wedding ring set

saam at the bazaar jose andres

Paul and Dana wedding WEB-568

Paul and Dana wedding

Paul and Dana wedding

Photo credit: EPlove
Location/Catering: SAAM at the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills
Make-up and hair: Sweet Fuss Hair & Makeup Artistry
Florals and decor: Winston and Main
Event Coordination: Moxie Bright Events
Invitation Suite/Paper Goods: Champagne Press
Dress: BHLDN
Jewelry: Tiffany & Co.
Officiant: Olivia Rosewood
“Park” Marquee Sign: Metal and Lights
Live Music: Clover String Quartet


The best honeymoon souvenir, ever.

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Created in Paris… discovered while in Korea… and debuting this July…

Our magical miracle, baby girl Park, is on her way!

baby park

Words cannot describe our joy. If you’re familiar with my story, you know we never thought we’d be able to conceive naturally, and had plans for a frozen embryo transfer scheduled for December. But lo and behold, nature had very different plans. And yet another girl, to boot! She’s healthy, and active, and looking pretty darn cute in her ultrasound photos!

We feel incredibly, magically blessed, and can not wait to meet her! I’m over halfway there. Time is flying!

23 weeks pregnant