Dear Doomsday Worriers: Please Stop It

by Aquila Mendez-Valdez on October 1, 2014


Do you ever notice how 90% of the irritation in your life stems from ridiculous things people post on Facebook? And by ridiculous, I mean stupid.  Half the time I’m researching a fake article on Snopes, mentally spell checking, or wondering if people talk to their mommas with those mouths.  A few days ago a friend posted yet another status that she’s worried about the state the world is in.  Ebola, ISIS, school shootings, I can’t say that I don’t see where she’s coming from.  My issue is the way in which she framed her worries, and how she chose to handle them. Let me explain. [click to continue…]


How my lack of a green thumb helped me grow as a woman.

by Aquila Mendez-Valdez on September 29, 2014

When local interior design and gardening boutique Baker Tatum invited me to take a short workshop on arranging orchids and succulents, I initially balked at the idea.  As the title to this post may have tipped you off, I do not have a green thumb.  I have whatever the direct opposite of green is, actually.  Anytime my mother-in-law comes over (who has the most uncanny ability to help things grow beyond expectations), she immediately starts weeding my flower beds, watering my desperately neglected bushes, and tsking until I feel like an abusive mother to these plants.  I remember to water my VERY low-maintenance house plants maybe once a week, and somehow they hold on for months at a time, barely on the brink of death but not enough to creep out guests when they come over. Have I made my point? I think so.

Baker Tatum San Antonio

So back to the Baker Tatum event.  I decided to give it a shot despite my lack of gardening skills, and stepped in to the store with modest expectations.  I of course noticed 5,348 home decor items that I secretly added to my “someday when toddlers don’t rule my house I will have this” list and admired all the beautifully potted plants strewn throughout the space.  Owners Jody and Nicole have done a lovely job curating their space and choosing items that you simply won’t find anywhere else.

photo 3

The two ladies then explained that we were going to be making these arrangements with a meaningful purpose: we could take one home, and the other would be sold in the store with proceeds benefiting The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  As we dug into the mulch, moss, and succulents, my fellow bloggers and I chatted about our various experiences with gardening.  Some were like me and had zero interest, others had dabbled here and there.  But we all enjoyed our time together learning about succulents and orchids, our two victims for the evening.

photo 4

Ta-da! My finished orchid and succulent.  I decided to take home the succulent option and it now sits proudly on my desk as I type this.  No, it’s not dead yet.  I think I chose the easier option, but Jody and Nicole insisted orchids are not difficult either with just a little tender loving care.  On my drive home that evening, I started to think about my shortcomings as a gardener.  Why was it so important to me to be great at taking care of plants?  Why am I not ok with simply excelling in some areas but not in others?  Are we, as women, programmed to feel the need to be good at EVERYTHING, no matter what?

photo 6

Have you seen the Sarah Jessica Parker movie “I don’t know how she does it?” Me neither, because I was pretty sure it was going to be a depressing reflection of my own life that might crush my little be-everything-to-everyone heart.  There are so many women in my life who are GREAT at plenty of things, but feel inadequate because they’re not good at EVERYTHING.  For the love of Pete, why do we do that to ourselves?  Life’s hard enough without adding additional pressure to be the perfect cook, gardener, stylist, educator, mother, career woman, housekeeper, and socialite. ESPECIALLY not at the same time!


So here’s the deal: I’ve decided I’m never going to be good at gardening.  But Jody and Nicole are.  So I’m happy for them, I’m happy to support Baker Tatum, and I’m not going to let their super stardom in any way diminish the fact that it’s not my forte.  I have other strengths, and I need to be content with them.  No more, no less.  If we, as women, can be happy just being FABULOUS at what makes us tick, then we don’t have to waste time worrying about the areas we struggle to feign interest in.  There are plenty of other people in the world who will step up to the plate in those departments.  As Kevin Hart says, “You do you, boo boo.”  Yup, I quoted Kevin Hart at the end of a sentimental soliloquy.  It’s what I do, among other talents. :)


See? I am really great at taking selfies in bright pink mirrors.  :)



P.S. I participated in a complimentary workshop and received a plant in exchange for this post.  Don’t worry though, all opinions are my own!

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7 places to shop for maternity clothes that don’t suck.

by Aquila Mendez-Valdez on September 26, 2014

It’s here already, y’all.  That point in pregnancy when regular jeans and tops are just a little bit uncomfortable, and you know the awkward ballooning phase is just around the corner.  Thus, I’ve begun to prepare my maternity wardrobe in anticipation for the belly to come, especially since Fashion Week San Antonio is coming up November 1-7 and I KNOW I’ll be too big for my normal attire by then.  With Cora, I was stubborn and literally bought two pairs of maternity pants – one black dress pant and one boot leg jeans.  Both had just ok fit and the over-the-belly band that ended up being hot and uncomfortable to me.  I also bought maybe three true maternity tops, but they were basically just flowy blouses and I felt stupid paying maternity price for something so mundane. By the time 40 weeks rolled around I was organizing my social calendar (or lack thereof) based solely on what I could wear sweatpants to and not be stared at.  It was just sad.

Thus, this go around I’m determined to make more of an effort when it comes to style while growing a human being in my stomach.  But where to begin? I crowdsourced on the Haute in Texas Facebook page to find out where all of you have shopped for your preggo selves or friends, and got a ton of great options! All of these shops have fashionable, affordable items that won’t leave you feeling like a circus tent.  Quite a few have pieces that I will most definitely be wearing post-delivery too!


Everyone who knows what ASOS is just RAVES about it, including my cousin April whose style advice I 100% trust.  I’m partially embarrassed to admit I’d never actually given it a shot until just a few days ago when I discovered their maternity line.  Something about the UK shipping made me nervous I think.  I ordered four dresses that I’m saving for Fashion Week, plus a pink purse I found on sale and they were on my doorstep in two days! Whaaaaaaaat?!  And yes, I understand purses don’t count as maternity wear, but darn it it was on sale and it was PINK. Must have in my book.

Anyways, ASOS has jeans, swimsuits, dresses, tops, anything you could ever wish for and it’s fabulous.  Seriously stylish stuff and after trying on my dresses yesterday I can tell you there are comfortable! With lots of space for the belly to grow. Straight A’s in my book. This isn’t one of the dresses I got but I mean come on. This is better style than most people have when they AREN’T expecting.

Cute Maternity Dresses from ASOS

2. Ingrid & Isabel

My friend Andrea tapped me in to this line, and I’m in LOVE. You know the pumpkin spice latte girl with tights, boots, and a super comfy sweater that everyone’s making fun of but secretly hoping to be right now? Picture her pregnant and that’s Ingrid & Isabel. Precious, precious stuff and I can’t wait to try them out!

Currently coveting this tunic that’s the perfect combination of space to grow and draping to avoid the circus tent look.  Especially with my booty if something is too baggy I end up looking wide in the front AND wide in the back. Not good. But this would be perfect to throw on over a pair of leggings, some chunky wedges, and boom. Good to go for the next nine months. Dear Lord, no, just the next five for me, please.

cute maternity tunic

3. Pink Blush Maternity

My friend Emily recommended Pink Blush to me, and their gorgeous model alone makes me want to buy their clothes.  Why can’t we all look this good while pregnant?  I swear, some women just look like they are their exact same selves and they just popped a little basketball under their shirts.  Anyways, I love this coat for the texture, color and fit, and I’m sure I could wear it even after baby arrives. BONUS.

Pink Blush Maternity

4. H&M

Y’all know H&M is one of my go to’s even when I’m not expecting, so it should come as no surprise that I’m obsessed with their maternity line.  Lots of great basics, fun surprises, and prices that won’t make you feel guilty for buying clothes you may only wear for a limited amount of time.  This sweater is perfect for holiday parties, fall walks, and paired with a black blazer it would even be work appropriate.

H&M Maternity

5. Gap

I skimped in the jeans area last go around, even tying a hairband around the loop and button of a few pairs to make them last until the last possible month.  This time around I’ve decided good, stylish maternity jeans are worth the investment, and of course Gap is the go to when it comes to denim.  I ordered six pairs in different washes, fits, and styles, but all with a below-the-belly band that I’m hoping will be more comfortable than my previous over-the-belly purchases.  Especially in Texas wrapping spandex around an already hot belly is just not fun. For anybody, much less a hormonal mother.

Gap Maternity Jeans

6. Madeleine Maternity

This boutique was a favorite of my cousin April’s as well, and it has a great combination of basics and dresses to die for.  This Capri wrap dress comes in a TON of colors, and I’m currently crushing on the orange, pink, and gray options.  Of course, the best part about a wrap dress is the flattering fit, both before AND after baby, and I really love the draped sleeves to give you some extra room in every area.  You gain weight in weird places during pregnancy, believe me.

capri madeleine maternity dress

7. TopShop

I’ve been trying to decide if I can pull off the kimono look for awhile, but this maternity option from TopShop sealed the deal for me.  I’m not sure how you can make a kimono maternity, but I’ll obviously still be able to wear this post-baby.  It’s flowy, it’s going to cover any areas you’re self-conscious about, and it’s on trend for fall.  TopShop has tons of great knitwear that would be fabulous for the expecting mama as well.

TopShop Maternity

Got any other great places to shop while preggo? Let me know! I’ve also created a Pinterest board for my ideas that you can find here.  Here’s to styling the bump, it’s gonna be fun!




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5 Ways to Treat the Man Who Has Everything

September 24, 2014

It’s not tough for me to admit that Orlando is metrosexual.  I’ve written about how awesome it is before.  What is a little tough, however, is admitting that he’s nearly impossible to treat with a surprise gift or nicety of life.  I’m his wife, I should know him well enough to be able to do […]

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A virtual scrapbook of our trip to Spain

September 22, 2014

Hello my lovelies! I’m back, I’m back, I’m baaaaaaack.  We actually returned from our trip to Spain a week or so ago, but I had so many guest blogs lined up I thought it would be the perfect time to catch up on some backend work, and perhaps even blog ahead a bit.  The blogging […]

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Does your daughter wear boy clothes?

September 19, 2014

Today’s guest blog is from my friend Megan, who blogs at Pistol Wears on her toddler’s distinct fashion sense.  We both share an affinity for natural parenting and raising independent little girls, so I was interested to hear her philosophy on how she dresses her daughter Pistol each day.  Take a peek in to her […]

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Keeping Balanced While Running a Large Family

September 17, 2014

Today’s guest post is from Stepfanie Cuevas of Stepfanie’s Desk.  She blogs about the craziness of motherhood while juggling a blogging and speaking career.  Stepfanie is the type of friend that exudes energy every time you see her, which is amazing considering she has four kids! Her post today is on balancing everything with a […]

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10 Tips for Finding Time to Work Out When You Have Kids

September 15, 2014

Today’s guest post is from Alison at ATK Style.  With three kids running around, she has plenty of reasons why working out could slip down the priority list.  However, I’ve admired her ability to juggle it all and still make time for CrossFit or a quick work out at home.  I’ve asked her to share […]

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SURPRISE! Our family is growing!

September 12, 2014

{Dada foot, Mama foot, Cora foot (or as close to one as can be expected for a thoroughly confused toddler), and now our family is growing by two feet! ) About the middle of June this year, I started to have a sneaking suspicion that my usual craziness might have been elevated a smidge.  Sort […]

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From parent to passion, how do we cultivate passion to our children?

September 8, 2014

Today’s guest post is from Emily of Defining Delicious.  You may remember her from her True Beauty feature a while back.  As I mentioned then, she’s a fiery spirit with a passion for superb food and great writing.  I’ve asked her to talk today about how she combines those when it comes to her kids.  […]

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