Katy Perry: Smurfette in Sapphires

Katy Perry's dress at the Smurfs movie premiere in New York yesterday almost stole the show from the little blue guys themselves!

Sporting a bedazzled Smurfette corsette designed by The Blondes, a smurf manicure and blue Louboutins - what else does the voice of the world's most famous female smurf need?

How about sapphires? Seems the like the smurfiest choice, right?

Looks like Ms. Perry took the blue bling to heart, wearing a pair of sapphire button earrings and what looks like a sapphire, diamond and gold bangle bracelet (still looking for designer credits...anyone know?)

The other jewelry highlight of the night was violet vixen, Sofia Vergara, in a a gorgeous Missoni gown, turquoise earrings and elbow-deep bangles in every shade of purple - all by Lorraine Schwartz!

Papa Smurf? Eat your heart out!!!

Yellow dress

How adorable is this yellow dress? (And it's only $40!) I'm thinking of getting it for weddings and date nights this summer.

PB&J bar

Oh my goodness, who wants a bite of this PB&J candy bar? Delicious.

Would you wear a caftan?

Would you wear this beautiful new hand-block-printed Indian caftan by EmersonMade? It would be effortlessly breezy to wear while reading books, curling up with friends or hosting a late-night dinner party. Reminds me of my mom when she was really young in the 70s.

Thoughts? Would you wear it?

Temporary tattoos!

These days, I'm smitten with all the clever tattoos out there, but I'm too wussy to get a permanent one. So I was THRILLED to discover tatt.ly, a new online shop offering awesome, designy temporary tattoos.

Which would you wear?

My balance of work/baby/life

My lovelies, last week, seven amazing mothers shared how they juggle work/life, including the ups and downs. It's so wonderful to be honest and normalize what that all mothers are going through. Thank you again to those brave and lovely bloggers!

Now I'd love to share my own juggle post. I have to admit, it feels strange to be sharing my own routine because I didn't have a decent schedule figured out for a long time. After Toby was born, it took me months to figure out a solid schedule that worked well for us, and I'm still experimenting and tweaking!

OK, my darlings, here goes....

1. What's your work schedule?
I work from home Monday through Friday from 9:30am to 4pm, plus a couple evenings a week. I take the other weeknights off, and I try to take weekends off completely.

During the workday, I run Cup of Jo, am an editor for Beso, and do branding work and trend consulting. I'll also be blogging for a magazine again later this fall (yahoo!).

2. How do you handle childcare?
Toby wakes up at 6am, and Alex and I switch off waking up with him. So, every other day, I get up with Toby (bleary-eyed!), feed him breakfast, take a quick shower while he chills out and chews his rubber ducky in the bouncy chair, and take him to the playground really early (we're often the only people there!) or take a walk or bike ride together. Even though I'm usually pretty sleepy on those mornings, it's lovely to spend that time with him, and see the city as it's waking up. Then, every other day, Alex will get up with Toby, while I either sleep until 8:30—bliss!—or get up at 7am and start my work early while they hang out.

(A little note: Alex and I didn't always switch off. I used to get up with Toby every day, and after a while, I felt completely exhausted and run ragged. So, finally, I asked Alex to switch off—and we both were sort of like, wait, why didn't we do this sooner? It's funny how easily and subconsciously we can fall back into long-held stereotypes that the mom is the #1 main caregiver, even while spouses are both happy to share parenting responsibilities equally.)

Anyway, then the babysitter arrives around 9:30am. We have two beloved babysitters: Naudia comes Mondays and Tuesdays, and Sophie comes Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. They stay from 9:30 to 4. Now and again, they'll stay an hour later if I have extra work or a big deadline.

After the babysitter leaves, Toby and I spend every weekday afternoon together from 4 to 7:30pm. I absolutely adore this special time together. Whenever possible, we try to make it 100% hang-out time—no errands allowed!—and go to the playground or meet up with friends or take bike rides. On Wednesday afternoons, we have a playgroup with a bunch of other neighborhood one-year-olds and their mamas. (Once in a blue moon, I'll take Toby along to an evening work event—but then we run the risk of scary camera flashes!) I feel so lucky and grateful to get this wonderful quality time with him every day.

(Afternoon activities might be a bit trickier in the winter, I'm guessing. I have to admit, I'm a little nervous about this coming winter with a toddler who walks! It will take some imagination to make our tiny apartment fun for Toby every afternoon. We'll have to learn to make soups together or something!)

Then, in the evenings, around 6:30pm, Alex gets home from work, and Toby and I will meet him back at our apartment. And we'll spend an hour together feeding Toby dinner, giving him a splashy bath, reading bedtime stories, or just hanging out on the bed in the nursery.
(Toby also once joined for a beauty tutorial photo shoot at our apartment with Jamie Beck:)

3. Where do you work during the day?
When the babysitter and Toby are outside at the playground or the library, I work at my desk in our living room; when they're at home, I work on our bed.

4. What do you like best about your current set-up?
I feel really grateful that my schedule is flexible. Even though I work full-time hours (40 hours a week), I can decide to work early mornings or late evenings, in order to have my afternoons off with Toby. The other day, I ran into a dear friend who loves her amazing job at a major beauty brand; she looked chic and windswept on the street, wearing a silk dress and a chignon, but she admitted that she was literally running home from work to see her baby. Every work situation has pros and cons, and everyone does such a great job doing it all.
5. What do you find so-so/tricky/hilariously bad about your current set-up? What would you change if you had a magic wand?
You know, I really hate working on my bed! Sometimes I feel like I spend 20 hours a day in my bedroom. It's a nice enough room, but that's a little crazy. :)

If I had a magic wand, I would rent an office space outside the home, where I could be part of a community of people. It can feel really isolating—especially in the winter—to be working at home alone all day. I would love to be surrounded by other creative people during the day, to inspire each other's creativity or discuss last night's 30 Rock episode or order lunch together. (Unfortunately, it's tough to find an affordable place like this in Manhattan, although I'm still looking!)

On the rare day when I have a work lunch or meeting (maybe once a month), I’m always SO revitalized to be around adults and feel part of a working community.

Another thing that was tough, especially at the beginning, was when I was working at home, and I could hear Toby crying in the other room. The sound was heartbreaking to me, but I couldn’t go out to him because I was busy working or on a conference call—and plus I had to respect the sitter and trust her to take care of him. There's a certain stress of being on deadline, and a certain stress of hearing your baby cry, and I was getting both at once. (And when I heard him playing and laughing, I would want to go out to him, too!) I do crave some mental and physical distance from the baby while I'm working.

6. How do you and your husband fit your marriage into the balance?
Toby goes to bed around 7:30pm, so Alex and I have the rest of the evening to hang out together. Alex is a great cook, and he’ll make us dinner—like spaghetti Bolognese, or eggs and sausage, or a big salad with tons of toppings—while I finish up work. He listens to music while he cooks, so it always takes a while (since he'll just stand there, drumming on the counter and watching the water boil:). Then when dinner is ready, usually around 8:30, we'll hang out for the next few hours, and watch a movie or play games or just chat. Also, a few nights a week, we'll go out to dinner with friends, or we'll have friends over. We usually go to bed between 11 and midnight. I cherish that grown-up time at the end of the day.

My parents got divorced when I was little, so I'm really conscious of focusing on my marriage as much as my child/ren. I feel lucky to be able to spend frequent quality time with Alex and love having our own adventures together, separate from the baby. Plus, I think most kids like seeing their parents dress up and go out to dinner together; it's exciting! (There's a beautiful passage in the book Peter Pan about Wendy watching her parents get ready for an evening out.) I love the idea that the goal should be not only to have a happy child, but to have a happy family.

(By the way, a few commenters last week mentioned that it's hard to afford babysitters. I totally agree! At $15/hour, it adds up. Everyone needs to figure out a solution that works best for their family. For daytime babysitters, it definitely makes sense for me to work, financially, and I also enjoy working overall. As for evening babysitters, we talked it over, and we decided we would prefer to spend less on other things so we could afford to spend more on babysitting. It's too bad we don't all live closer to grandparents, aunts and uncles, who would be happy to babysit for free—what a dream that would be!:)

6. Do you have any time for yourself?
Not really! For me, the thing that ends up coming in last place is free time alone. Now and again, Alex will go out to meet a friend, while I'll stay home, have a glass of wine and read magazines; or I'll sneak out at night while he's home and get a pedicure, but overall free time by myself is pretty rare. That's ok for me, though. I'm kind of a pack animal anyway.

7. Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Have you talked to other women about it?
Yes, I've wondered about it so much, which is why I really wanted to do this series. It's so wonderful to hear from other moms and realize that we're all in the same boat, even though our circumstances might be different. I only wish I'd had time to feature many more parents (single moms, moms working in offices, stay-at-home moms, dads, etc.); but like I mentioned last week, this time, I wanted to feature moms who are in similar work situations, so we could see how they've each created very different schedules that work for their families.

I think sometimes people feel nervous about talking candidly about motherhood and their own scheduling choices, and I understand that. Parenthood is emotionally ridden, because everyone cares so much about their babies—so sometimes it can seems as if, when another mom makes a different decision from you, you are at odds. Differences in parenting choices can make people defensive. But, really, making various parenting decisions is like apples and oranges. We have to remember that there are 824,739,894,536 ways to be incredible, loving parents, so we should all support each other and our lucky babies.

8. What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?
My own mom often tells me, "Take gentle care of yourself," which I think is a surprisingly profound thing to remember. Of course, it's true for everyone, not just mothers. Everybody feels overwhelmed sometimes, and it's really easy to beat yourself up or put too much pressure on yourself or assume everyone around you has a perfect life. That's not true, and we should be kind to ourselves and treat ourselves like the sweet souls we are.

One commenter last week left a great line: She said, "Bless you new moms. If you're trying, you're doing a great job." We don't have to be perfect; we just have to be gentle to ourselves and take it one step at a time.

Back from England

Hi, my darlings! We got back from England last night, after a wonderful, dreamy, windy, sunshiny week visiting our relatives in Cornwall. I keep gazing at this photo, which my cousin took while we were on a boat to the beach. I wish I could beam myself right back there. :) How was your week?

P.S. My own work/baby juggle post is coming up today. Thanks to the amazing mothers last week, and love to you all! xo
(Comic by Dagsson)

My balance: Jenny Rosenstrach of Dinner: A Love Story

Jenny Rosenstrach writes the fantastic food blog Dinner: A Love Story and is writing a cookbook memoir; she and her husband also write a column for Bon Appetit. And fun fact: Jenny has a diary listing every single dinner she's made since 1998! They lives in Westchester, New York, with their two daughters. Here's how she attempts to juggle it all...


1. What's your work schedule?
It isn't the same every week, but it's pretty close. Since I'm currently writing a book, I have to make sure I build in large blocks of time into my week before it fills up. I can write posts for my blog (Dinner: A Love Story) in the waiting room of a 45-minute ballet class or on the 5:20pm train home from Grand Central, but I've found I can't work on the book (or any big project) like that. I need to build in at least three five-hour chunks between Monday and Friday in order to produce at the right pace. So I start with that, then I schedule everything else--meetings, lunches, breakfasts with my dad--around it. I'm lucky because my kids are in elementary school so they get on the bus at 8:09 and come home at 2:57. That's the same amount of time I had when I worked in an office, minus the commute, the long lunch, and (tragically) the office gossiping.

2. How do you handle childcare?
When I was working full-time, we had a full-time babysitter. When I lost my job (I was working as features director at Cookie Magazine when it folded), we knocked the hours back to Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays from 1pm to 6pm, but often our sitter came in only Mondays and Wednesdays. Right now we have no babysitter, which means I am an obsessive clock-watcher. I live in the suburbs, so whenever I have meetings in the city, I have to make sure they are early and somewhat close to Grand Central so I don't miss the 1:54 back to my neighborhood in time to be at the bus stop. My book deadline is rapidly approaching, so the sitter-less schedule is not going to be viable for much longer. I'm going to have to start extending my work day until 6pm again soon.

3. Where do you work during the day?
Seventy-five percent of the time the answer to that question is at my local library on the second floor, at the southwest corner looking west at the view of the Hudson River. I crave routines. Since I worked full-time in an office for so many years, I find comfort in structure. I like to feel like I'm reporting somewhere, even if no one notices whether I show up or not. What I love about the library is also what I hate about it: No one talks to each other. So I get an incredible amount of work done, but I can also get incredibly lonely. I remember last winter talking to my friend Yolanda after a particularly grueling day among the Janet Evanovich stacks and she was like "Jenny! You need to get the hell out of that library! Go see a movie! Meet me for a drink or something! You sound awful!" She was totally right. As much as I crave routines and rituals, I need to remind myself to take advantage of my flexible schedule and not put so much stock on productivity every single day. I've gotten better about that. And also, now that I am a contributor at Bon Appetit, I use their office space, too, which goes a long way towards feeling like I'm part of something big and exciting.

4. What do you like best about your current set-up?
I love that I can say "yes" when the class mom's email asks, "Help! Can someone bring paper cups to the Halloween party at 1pm?" For so long--eight years to be specific--the answer was usually no. I remember opening those emails in my office wishing so badly I could be the paper cup hero. I had this awful habit of totally romanticizing what was happening on the domestic front in my absence. Not just classroom stuff, but everything else, especially picking the kids up and dropping them off at their various activities. I remember scheduling a tennis class for them that ended at 6:30pm so I could catch the last two minutes and drive them home. The funny thing is, now that I am home for all of this, and now that I spend 95% of my time schlepping the kids from activity to activity, drop-off and pick-up has become the bane of my existence.

Oh! Another thing I love about my current set-up: I can go to Trader Joe’s or Fairway in the middle of the week!

5. How did you decide to go freelance/start your own business?
I worked full-time for eight years and I'm pretty sure every single day during every single one of those eight years I'd have the thought "Am I doing the right thing here?" after kissing my daughters goodbye in the morning. I was so envious of other mothers who seemed to have such conviction in their choices--whether it was staying home or working in an office or something in the middle. I was never that mother. I always went back and forth and questioned my decision to work full-time. Remember that Roz Chast cartoon "The Insomniaplex"? The one where it shows a marquee listing everything that was keeping her up at night? My insomniaplex had nightly double features of the "How do I find more of a balance" show. It's all I thought about. Can we make it work financially if I stay home? Are my long absences the reason why my daughter is having trouble with math? Would I ever be able to walk away from such a great job and such great people? The suits at Conde Nast ended up making the decision for me the day they folded Cookie and I lost my job. I know now that I would have probably been too gutless to ever make the decision to leave on my own. So even though I was bitter, now I think I owe those suits a big thank-you.
Thank you, Jenny!

P.S. My own balance post is coming up on Monday, and I'm looking forward to sharing. Have a wonderful weekend! xoxo

My balance: Amanda Hesser of Food 52

Amanda Hesser co-founded the addictive website Food52 all about home cooking. A former New York Times food reporter, she has written cookbooks and memoirs, including Cooking for Mr. Latte about her adorable courtship with her husband. (Have you read it? I'd highly recommend it if you want a great, fun read this summer). They live in Brooklyn with their twins, Walker and Addie. Here's how she attempts to balance it all...


1. What's your work schedule?
My days usually begin around 7:30am, when my husband wakes me up to do yoga. I am not a morning person, so I try not to be fully awake for yoga or it would be too painful. We do Rodney Yee DVDs on my laptop in our bedroom. Just 20 to 30 minutes. If our kids wake up, they join us and crawl between our legs. Our babysitter arrives at 7:30 during the school year and gives them breakfast while we shower and dress. I'm out the door usually by 9:00.

I'm a big fan of breakfast meetings. Two birds, one stone. Eat and meet. There's a great café, Taralucci e Vino, near our office. I usually have their delicious cinnamon bun, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a latte.

At the office, our days are packed with meetings--fun ones! Meetings with investors, designers, potential hires, and other companies. Our office has a bunch of sofa "pods" and we have lots of meetings, calls, naps in the pods. It's the office equivalent of a womb. (Two of these facing each other.)

In between, I email and email and email. Sometimes I think that all I do is email. We have a small team--just 8 of us--and we all sit at one long desk, so there are lots of spontaneous discussions, as well. Micro-meetings! Did I just coin that? The micro-meeting might be about functionality on our site, what our next recipe theme should be, or how to structure a partnership.

I usually eat lunch at my desk. Snooze! I know. But I like to catch up on the news--and the lunch is most often from 'wichcraft. Today I had an asparagus frittata on ciabatta bread. 'wichcraft has a half-price coffee happy hour in the afternoon, and we never, ever, ever miss it because we’re hard-core addicts. It's also located right down the street from Burdick Chocolate, and that keeps us well fed and plump.

I work until 6:30, and a couple nights a week I go out to events in the evening. If I can, I'll zip home to see the kids to bed between work and events. Then I usually get back home around 9:30, eat leftovers, drink a bourbon, and then work until 1am. On the nights I'm home early, I get in at 7 and hang out with our kids until they go to bed at 8pm. Then we eat a quick dinner and work until 1 am. Summary: we kind of work all the time.

2. How do you handle childcare?
Our kids are our babysitter's fifth set of twins. She's both unflappable and indefatigable. She works long days, like we do.

3. Where do you work during the day?
One day a week, we cook and do a photo shoot in my apartment. The rest of the week we work at our office near Union Square. It's a place called General Assembly. The guys who founded it wanted to create a campus for start-ups, and that's exactly what they've done. It's an inspiring place because everyone there is working hard to create something new. It's also well-designed and stylish. Maybe it's shallow, but I like a nice office.

4. What do you like best about your current set-up?
I love that I get to see my kids on Tuesdays when we're doing a photo shoot. They zip in and out over the course of the day, tasting the recipes, playing with toys, tapping on our laptops.

5. What do you find so-so/tricky/hilariously bad about your current set-up? What would you change if you had a magic wand?
We do a lot of our food photos in my bedroom on my bedside table--it has the best light. It's more than a little strange to have a photographer and other co-workers romping around your bedroom when you're not in the porn business.

6. What's your favorite part of your work?
Problem solving--starting a company demands every ounce of creativity and resourcefulness you have and I love that.

7. What's your favorite part of your home life?
Sitting on the sofa with my husband and our two kids, reading together.

8. How does your husband contribute to managing the juggle/house/childcare?
My husband Tad doesn't just contribute. We're partners. If anything, I'd say he's even more on top of it all than I am. And I should work on making it more even.

9. How do you and your husband fit your marriage to the balance, in terms of hanging out together?
We try to go out once a week together for dinner or a movie. The other nights of the week, one of us is often out, and, if not, we hang out and work after the kids go to bed.

10. Do you have time for yourself? What do you do during that time?
I have a family I love, and a job I truly enjoy, and I know that this is a particularly busy time in my life, so I'm not looking for or expecting much time for myself.

11. What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?
My advice would be to stop thinking about it as a gender issue. Think of it as a parent issue. And demand as much from your partner as you demand from yourself.

12. Do you wonder how other women manage the juggle? Do you think people are open about it?
What I wonder is why no one asks my husband how he juggles? It's not fair to him--because he juggles just as much as I do. And why there is not a blog like this for men?

Thanks, Amanda!

(Second photo by Sarah Shatz)

Duchess Catherine Jewelry Roundup


Now that Princess Kate and Prince Wills have left the continent, I've finally been able to sift through all of the elegant and surprisingly conservative jewelry statements our favorite royal wore on her whirlwind tour.

Before I get to it, I'm thrilled to announce that my sugar mamma, Jewelry.com gave me a little corner of their blingy universe to bring you all the great celebrity looks I gush about here at prices we mere mortals can afford. Click here to see my first go at it - A Princess Kate-themed bauble extravaganza with all of the looks featured in this post and then some!

Perhaps we should have known from the moment we saw her down-low diamond tiara choice for her walk down the aisle that this princess-to-be is not one to 'BRAG' about her bling. Rather, we're seeing a continuation of that 'splash of sparkle' trend I've spotted on the red carpet this summer - along with a few sartorial surprises.

They don't call her the "Discount Duchess" for nothing. I like that she's open to using her accessories with more than one outfit - like the sapphire drops pictured above and below with her diamond cross pendant.

And our Kate loves to bring out the basics - crosses, circles, and studs. Certainly not a 'fashion-forward' choice but a great way to bring the jewelry box classics back on trend.  

Chandeliers made a swinging appearance - on loan from the Queen - at the tony BAFTA event held in Los Angeles, where the Duchess rubbed elbows with Hollywood royalty like Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Jennifer Lopez and Reese Witherspoon.

And the surprises? I don't think I've ever touted a celebrity citrine piece - and these barely there drop earrings by Kiki McDonough are just lovely. Citrine. Who knew?

These tiny treasure-esque gold leaf earrings are just the right touch of whimsy. Remember her diamond acorn earrings from the wedding (pictured above)? Somewhere, The Lorax is smiling... 

Speaking of tree-themed accessories? Everyone was talking about the diamond maple leaf brooch the Duchess wore on several occasions while visiting our Canadian friends to the north. It's another loaner from the Queen's coffers - and continues to give the brooch category some oomph (Michelle Obama? Watch your back.)

But with 40 outfits making the rounds for her 9 day adventure across the pond, this is just the tip of the 'ice' berg. A reminder to visit Jewelry.com for a complete sale curated by yours truly, where I've collected all the top Kate jewelry looks and paired them with pieces you can bring home to your own jewelry box.

Get in touch with your inner princess, jewelry hounds! Kate's style makes it easy. Jewelry.com makes it affordable.  Enjoy!

My balance: Jenna Park of Sweet Fine Day

Jenna Park writes the incredible blog Sweet Fine Day (don't you love her photographs?) and works as a freelance graphic designer. She lives with her pastry-chef husband and two young daughters in Brooklyn. Here's how she attempts to find balance...


1. What's your work schedule?
During the school year the mornings are quite hectic: getting lunches made and the girls dressed and fed and out the door by 8:20am for school. We also walk our neighbor kids to school two days a week, and it can be like herding cats getting four kids to two different schools. As soon as I get home at 9:20am from dropping the kids off, I have my cup of coffee and respond to emails. Then the work day begins, and it's often a marathon to try and cram as much stuff into 4 1/2 hours as possible, until I have to pick up my youngest from preschool at 2pm. Mark used to have a more flexible kitchen schedule, but he's been consistently leaving the house at 6am to start baking. Sometimes he'll get home by 3pm to pick up our 7-year-old from school. It's a lot of juggling everyday where we're checking with each other's schedules the night before to see which one of us can pick the kids up from school. After the kids go to bed,we'll both work again often until late at night. Then it starts all over the next morning at 7:30am.

School vacations throw everything off. There's a lot of stress, cursing, juggling, drop off playdates and late nights, but somehow things always get done.

2. How do you handle childcare?
We used to have a part-time nanny two days (totaling 16 hours a week) from the time our oldest was three months old up until last year. This enabled me to have two solid days where I could schedule meetings and errands. Mark and I would trade off on childcare the other days. When our youngest daughter started preschool four days a week last September, we reluctantly decided to say godbye to our nanny of six years because we couldn't afford both. We now rely on a combination of school and tag-team childcare to get our work done. It will get a lot easier this September because both girls will be in the same school full time with the same schedules.

3. Where do you work during the day?
On the couch in the living room.

4. What do you like best about your current set-up?
There are quite a few things I learned about myself after I graduated from graduate school eleven years ago.
1) I don't like working in an office situation every day and I feel lucky that I can work remotely from home.
2) Flexibility is really important to me, and it became necessary when we started having children. It was really the only way I could "afford" to work while not giving over the majority of my paycheck to childcare, and it allows me to spend as much time with my kids as possible while still working full-time hours. Because we value flexibility in our lives, we'll do most anything to protect it.

5. What do you find tricky about your current set-up? What would you change if you had a magic wand?
The number-one thing I would change, hands down, is better, more affordable healthcare for freelancers and small businesses. It's almost criminal what we pay a month for a family of four, and I hate having to choose between better healthcare vs. cheaper premiums, but this is exactly what I had to do this year because our healthcare became unaffordable. Everything else in our situation runs fairly smoothly, for the most part. We've had more than seven years to figure out how to maneuver the freelance life with children. It isn't perfect, and we've lost some projects and found ourselves in some hairy situations (like miscommunication about who is picking up the kid from school which resulted in NO ONE picking her up), but now that both kids are school age, I feel like we've won the lottery and we've made it through to the other side.

6. How does your husband contribute to managing the juggle/house/childcare?
Mark does everything. I often joke that he is a better mom than me. He does all the cooking for the family and generally handles bath and bedtime too. Usually when he gets home from work it's my turn to work, so most days we split childcare and house duties into morning shifts (me) and evening shifts (him).

7. Do you have time for yourself? What do you do during that time?
I really savor the late night hours. I'm a total night owl and will head to bed around 2am. It's the only time in the day when it's quiet from both clients and family. I can actually design work done, or I'll watch a movie on Netflix while editing photos and writing blog posts.

8. What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?
I'm not sure I've found the balance myself yet, but I tell myself that whatever challenging situation I find myself in now, isn't going to be forever.

9. Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Do you think people are open about it?
I didn't meet very many people who were in the similar work/life situations when my kids were younger, but I've been meeting more and more freelance moms over the past two to three years. It helps immensely to have someone to talk to, who can relate to some of your struggles and experiences. I don't feel there is enough open discussion about it, however, and it could be because we don't want to appear vulnerable or weak or admit to ourselves or to others that juggling a career and parenthood is often really hard. I do think that women need to talk to each other more honestly about it--we can learn so much from each other.
Thank you, Jenna!

My balance: Elizabeth Antonia of The Littlest

The beautiful Elizabeth Antonia writes the blog The Littlest, runs an online vintage children's shop, and works as a freelance art director. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two-year-old daughter. Here's how she attempts to juggle it all...


My day-to-day life as a sometimes full-time, sometimes part-time working mama has run the gamut over the last two years. I was contractually obligated to go back to my job as an art director for Lucky Brand when Elodie was 4 1/2 months old (heartbreaking) and knew that I would make a jump to freelance the first chance I could (during that time we had a nanny and I would work at home in the other room a couple days a week). When she was about a year old, I took eight months off to be with her (while still freelancing) -- I would work during her naps and at night, which was always a crapshoot with her sleep. At 20 months old, she started going 2-3 days a week to a wonderful little 'preschool' down the street from us.

1. What's your work schedule?
My schedule is always changing! Right now, my work schedule is more crowded that it has ever been since I'm finishing a big corporate project, running a little vintage store and also working on my first line of children's clothing.

No matter what, we start and end the day adhering to Elodie's routine. Toddlers thrive on predictable schedules, so every morning we have the same ritual: She wakes up, we read a book in bed and then get dressed, eat breakfast together and then usually sit in the garden or in her room and read another book or play a game. We then go as a family to the coffee shop and have a leisurely coffee, talk about what we are planning for the day and then my husband and I drop her off at her preschool.

By then it's usually around 10-10:30am, so I go straight into emails. I typically will work 6-10 hours a day and divide it into sections as much as possible. I have heard great things about the Pomodoro technique but typically I just set a timer for 45 minute intervals and will try to stay focused on the task until I hear the timer. If I know I have a really busy 40-hour week, then I will do my best to shift some of the hours to the night, so I can take Elodie for a morning activity such as a pony ride, playtime at the park or a music/developmental play class. I typically work two evenings a week and at least one weekend night (which is great because my husband works on the weekend). There simply aren't enough hours in the day so I usually do what I absolutely MUST and then go spend time with Elodie and Michael.

2. How do you handle childcare?
Because of my current big freelance project, Elodie is enrolled five days a week at the same little school she's been at part-time since twenty months. She's usually there about 5-6 hours a day. For my line of work (art direction), it's less stressful/cheaper overall to pay for five days and be able to have her go whenever I need the extra time instead of scrambling to find a sitter for $15/hour on the days I have a photo shoot or client meeting. We love it! I've become close with a couple of the other moms from the neighborhood, and and we always have picnics after school or playdates on the weekend. The teacher is a very nurturing, traditional woman who really respects the children, and I'm always asking her for advice! She's such an angel. Elodie will probably go back to three days once the summer is over.

3. Where do you work during the day?
I mostly work at home but sometimes go to my husband's office, or to a work session or photo shoot wherever my client is located. I have a little office in our breakfast nook which overlooks our garden. It's also right next to the water cooler and the espresso machine; I typically spend about 5 minutes a day talking to myself at those two locations.

4. What do you like best about your current set-up?
I love not having a commute in Los Angeles! It's wonderful being 5 minutes away from my husband and Elodie at any given time and having the flexibility to make my own hours. Michael travels a lot for work, and we love to go with him when we can -- I definitely make less money but I wouldn't trade the ability to be with Elodie for anything.

5. What do you find so-so/tricky/hilariously bad about your current set-up?
I sometimes feel a little isolated working from home. I love being around other people and miss bouncing ideas off of a creative team. Also, we live in a little community called Mt. Washington, which is a car drive from coffee shops, restaurants, yoga studios, etc, so if I want to do any of that I have to get in the car. Also my dog drives me a little cuckoo -- he is always under foot or wanting to play.

6. What would you love to change down the road (or would change right now, if you had a magic wand?
I think the biggest problem with my current set-up is that I hate schedules! And I am always winging it. If i had a magic wand, I would have a life organizer come tell me what to do. Tell me how to create the hours I need in the day to accomplish what I want for my brand, but also to have enough time to enjoy life with my family.

7. What's your favorite part of your work?
I love learning and enjoy doing something different every day. Whether it's creating an inspiration board, looking for fabric for my children's line or helping a brand have a more cohesive presence, I love to wear all these different hats!

8. What's your favorite part of your home life?
When it's 5pm, the day is over for my husband. He leaves his computer at work and we really make a conscious effort to turn off all social media until Elodie goes to bed. (Okay, I'm a bit addicted to instagram!) We spend a lot of time before bed on walks, cooking dinner together or having dance parties. I love the buzz of home life -- there is always a bit of music because Michael and I thrive on that; I love when Elodie comes in and out of the kitchen/backyard/bedroom to play with us with the washing machine on in the background, or just sitting on the porch reading a book!

9. How does your husband contribute to managing the juggle/house/childcare?
We've made it a rule to get up with Elodie together (except when he's out of town or has worked late). He makes her breakfast and I get her ready for the day. He'll clean the kitchen after dinner, and I'll run the bath. Basically we have a set of tasks and the counterpart to that task. I think being open to talking about expectations helps make a happier home life.

10. How do you and your husband fit your marriage to the balance?
I am going to go ahead and say it, I think marriage is one of the easiest things to neglect once you have a child. It's so important to foster the connection you have with your spouse. My husband and I are around each other a lot, and I'm thankful that we have the ability to have date nights on a regular basis. I should probably 'schedule' more time together but I really love the spontaneity of meeting for coffee or lunch or staying up late to play backgammon or having a drink on the porch talking until the wee hours.

11. Do you have time for yourself?
I'm a much more pleasant person to be around (and more creative) when I do things for myself. The saying is true: 'If mama's happy, then everybody's happy!' Even though I know this, I have to force myself out of the house and away from the computer. It's so easy to put off exercise for one more item on the to-do list.

I love to read (biographies, the New Yorker and cookbooks are my favorites), do yoga or hike, or go out to dinner with friends -- basically things that clear the cobwebs out of my mind and are life giving!

12. What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?
Every day I find myself thinking, 'If not the mama, then who?' Women really are extraordinary in their ability to do so much as caregivers, partners, sisters, friends. I think we innately just want to please and to help each other. However, it's of vital importance that we are authentic to ourselves and simply do our best, whatever that is. It's so easy to compare ourselves to other moms out there (especially online) thinking that they have it all, do it all. We can look to each other for inspiration and connection but at the end of the day, how we translate this into real living with our family and friends is the most important thing.

13. Have you talked to other women about how to juggle everything? Do you think people talk openly about it?
I am not sure other people are open about it. I struggle with this. My impression (which could be wrong) is that everyone is so invested in making their own right choice that it is easier to put down another woman's choices. Stay-at-home mamas say that it's awful that a mother is letting another woman 'raise' her child. Some working mothers feel superior because they have their own lives and income. The decisions we make are a culmination of our life experiences and I don't know about you, but I'm still learning how to live and doing the best I can along the way. When Elodie was born, I didn't have any other choice but to work. Many mothers have to work. We are all mamas with unique perspectives on parenting with so much to teach each other. We should spend our time uplifting each other and not trying to prove that 'our way' is the right way. I honestly don't know what way is right. I want to be inspired and I want so much to constantly improve. While we are learning, we are alive! (This is a bit of a rant!)

14. Do you think the juggle is harder for women than for men?
I do think it the juggle is harder for women than for men. I can't speak for anyone else, but I think the day Elodie was born I was injected with a healthy does of guilt -- about not doing enough for her, not doing enough for myself, not calling my grandparents, not letting my husband know how special he is to me, not working hard enough. On and on. There are so many facets to life it really is hard to do it all!

I think men don't feel the need to be with their children the way women do. And maybe women just want to do everything? I sure do! I think it's great to have so much to be excited about so I'll take feeling a little pressured over feeling apathetic about life.
Thank you, Elizabeth!