Maternity Clothes – What worked for me

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This blog has been neglected for a while, but I haven’t just been sitting around!  I am 34 weeks pregnant, and it’s been a very busy summer. Highlights included a trip to London for work (and visiting my mom’s side of the family in the U.K.), two gorgeous weddings in California (picture below is from Santa Barbara), and Paco’s and my last childfree vacation (for a while at least) to San Francisco.

 

Paco and me (32 weeks pregnant)

Paco and me (32 weeks pregnant)

When I first found out I was pregnant, I did a ton of internet searches on what types of maternity clothes are useful. There are tons of recommendations out there, some which worked for me and some that didn’t, so I thought that I would put my two cents out there. A few things to note–I live in L.A. and it’s been warm (uh, HOT) for most of my pregnancy, and I work in a casual environment (jeans are okay, no need for maternity suits, etc.).

  • Belly bands – I bought both the Bella Band from Nordstrom and Be Band from Target. Although they’re both made by the same company, the Bella Band worked better for me; it’s longer, a little bit more snug, and has rubber lining on the bottom hem which keeps it from riding up.  These allowed me to wear non-maternity pants for an extra month or two.
  • Versatile maternity jeans – I tried on a bunch at all price points, and chose a pair of Paige skinny jeans. I can wear jeans to work so these were worth the price for me, but if you don’t wear jeans as often or are looking at a lower price point, Gap’s skinny jeans were the runner up and were about $60.
  • Long, stretchy tank tops – I bought a few maternity tank tops from Old Navy early on for $6 or $8 each. Other than the side ruching, they pretty much look like regular tank tops, and you can wear them when not pregnant. I still wear regular tank tops as well, but it’s nice to have extra long ones that you know won’t ride up.
  • Blousy, stretchy, long, non-maternity shirts – I bought/borrowed a few blousy shirts to wear to work, but didn’t buy any maternity tops outside of the tank tops mentioned above.
  • New bras – I definitely needed new bras by 20 weeks. I have read “minimalist” recommendations that you wait until your 8th month to buy new bras, but that definitely would NOT have worked for me. Go to TJ Maxx/Target/Ross and pick up a few cheap ones. . .I changed size multiple times so I would not recommend investing in nice ones until after the baby arrives.
  • Thick leggings or yoga pants with a fold-over waist – I bought regular Victoria’s Secret black yoga pants in my normal size and one size up for further along. Honestly, I haven’t gotten to the point where I wear these outside the house beyond dog-walking, but I think these will come in very handy during maternity leave, paired with a long sweater (assuming that it cools off!).
  • Stretchy dresses, empire waisted or able to be belted above the waist – I had a ton of summer dresses that I thought I would be able to wear while pregnant. However, I did not realize how short everything gets (if your clothes tend to be shorter).  So I did end up buying a few stretchy dresses to wear to work and on the weekends. Both regular dresses (sized up if necessary) and maternity dresses (which can be worn after the baby comes if they’re just the stretchy type) will work.
  • Long cardigans and light jackets – Some I bought while pregnant, some are from before, but all can be worn after the baby comes. These really helped to round out my wardrobe and make clothes evening or office appropriate. This light sweater jacket from Nordstrom is perfect for L.A nights and will remain a staple all winter.
  • Comfortable shoes, flats or wedges – Try to find something with arch support. These Born Julianne flats (which I purchased before being for traipsing around a hot city) are a little boring but they are super comfortable and go with almost everything. A pair of Nine West gladiator sandals that I picked up at the Nine West outlet were also a lifesaver and are actually more comfortable than flip-flops.

Everyone says it, but my main suggestion is to not overbuy early on. . .your body changes in pretty surprising ways, and what looks good on others won’t always translate to your body. Also, be open to veering from your normal style. I love fitted clothing normally, and I thought I would be able to get into the maternity “body-con” style, but after trying on a few dresses I realize I feel much more comfortable in a flowy empire waist or something a little less form fitting. Be open minded!

Singapore, March 2014

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I was in Singapore last month for work, and I had to post a few pictures of the food.

Beef noodle soup from a mall food court (which are amazing there):

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A food hawker center:

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Tiny deep-fried prawns from a Japanese restaurant:

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Prawn fishing with my aunt, cousin, and her husband (we caught 3, not sure we would survive in the wild):

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Skewered and grilled prawns from a Szechuan restaurant:

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Soft-boiled eggs with toast (they slice frozen butter for the toast, then top it with sugar). I have been eating a LOT of soft-boiled eggs since I got back:

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Thanksgiving 2013

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Paco and I hosted Thanksgiving for both of our families at our house. We decided on a turkey-less Thanksgiving meal, with bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin roast as the main course. Also on the menu were a mango-chutney glazed ham, stuffed mushrooms, apple herb dressing, roasted squash with brown sugar, goat cheese chive mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy.

My brother Doug took the pictures below; he is the real photographer in the family!

I tied two pork tenderloins together and wrapped them in bacon after rubbing them with the mustard marinade.  I followed Claire Robinson’s recipe, but since I roasted the pork loins together, I roasted them for about 50 minutes, until they reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees. I also brined them overnight to ensure that they would be juicy.

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Here’s Lando waiting for me to drop a morsel of pork.

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A few of the finished dishes.

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For other recipes that I used to inspire this meal, please see:

Happy holidays!

Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls, Argentina

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I am writing this from Puerto Iguazu, Argentina. I was in Buenos Aires for a week for a conference, and tagged on a weekend trip to the Brazilian/Paraguayan/Argentine border so to visit Las Cataratas de Iguazu (Iguazu Falls).

This was my fourth trip to Buenos Aires, but I hadn’t been here since 2006, when Paco and I spent 3 months there.

In many ways, there has been very little change:

  • Argentine men still love tying sweaters around their shoulders.
  • Tourists and expats still love The Kilkenny. Warsteiners all around!
  • Cabana las Lilas is still very popular with visiting Americans. I didn’t go there on this trip (I think I was the only person at the conference who didn’t!), but I was pleasantly surprised to visit several of the restaurants that I’d been to previously, and see that they’re doing well.
  • Beef is still king, although I’ve had some good seafood and good bread on this trip.

Differences I’ve noticed:

  • It is much more expensive than it was years ago. When I visited (2003-2006), the Argentine economy was not doing well.  The peso had fallen dramatically, and prices hadn’t adjusted, so it was very cheap for Americans. The exchange rate is even less favorable for the peso now, but prices have gone up. (This as a positive thing.)
  • There is a secondary market for U.S. dollars. Suddenly everyone is running a casa de cambio (currency exchange). Banks, hotels, and other large establishments use the official rate (about 6 pesos to 1 dollar), but many restaurants and stores will give you a much better rate (9.5 pesos to 1 dollar). Had I known this I would have brought more dollars!

Iguazu Falls are incredible.  I haven’t traveled alone in years, so I was unsure as to whether this side trip would be worth it. It absolutely was. Here are a few pictures of the falls.

From the Paseo Inferior (lower trail):

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La Garganta de Diablo (Devil’s Throat) – There is a kilometer-long bridge that walks across the river so that you can see the top of the biggest waterfall close up:

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A rainbow at La Garganta de Diablo – There are rainbows everywhere! I even saw a double rainbow:

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I am spending one last night in Buenos Aires tonight before heading back to L.A., just in time to start preparing for Thanksgiving!

Happy Labor Day! Summer Recipe Recap

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It’s been the hottest weekend of the year in L.A., and although Labor Day traditionally marks the “end” of summer, it still feels like it’s in full swing here.

It’s been a busy summer, and this poor blog has been sadly neglected. Even though I haven’t managed to post along the way, we’ve made some delicious summer meals and I have to share a few pictures/links:

Grilled Bacon Salad with Arugula and Balsamic, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen:

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Vietnamese Summer Rolls:

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Beef Lettuce Wraps, courtesy of The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook:

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Biscuits and Gravy (not exactly summery but we used chicken sausage to lighten it up):

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An Argentine-inspired parrillada, with grilled chicken, sausage, vegetables, and chimichurri:

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Here’s to a memorable summer and an even more delightful fall!