April 11, 2016

Answering Your FAQ’s: Part I

TB1

First off, I wanted to thank you guys for commenting and emailing me with your questions. I had so much fun reading and answering them!

I decided to split this post into two parts. One with questions that are a bit more technical/blog/business related and then the rest, which were a bit more random and personal. I’m going to start with the random/personal ones, but check back on Wednesday for part II. Tomorrow I’ll be posting some photos from my baby shower with Barneys!

Q: How do you plan to juggle being both a mom and blogger at the same time? Will we see any new types of posts from you?

Good question and naturally, something I’ve been thinking a lot about! I’ve come to terms (I think) that I’m no longer going to have the luxury to just run out of my house! I know that coming up with an organized, strategic game plan is going to be key in being able to properly juggle both. I guess only time will tell and I’ll eventually (hopefully) get into the swing of things, but there’s certainly going to be a learning curve. 

As far as content, there will most definitely be new types of posts from me! Of course I’m still going to have my outfit posts, but I really plan on having the blog evolve with the changes in my life. When I first started this blog, I was in a different place and for me, it only makes sense to have this blog grow with me. I’m very passionate about beauty and skincare, so there will be more of that. Then of course, I plan to share my experiences as a new mother. I realize that for some, that will be incredibly boring, but hopefully I’ll have enough variety to have something for anyone who cares to tune in.

Q: Can you tell me more about your Russian heritage! Do you speak Russian?

My parents immigrated from Moscow to NYC in the early 80’s and I’m first generation American! Russian was my first language since that’s only what we spoke at home. I still speak it fluently, but sadly, it’s gotten a lot worse since I don’t use it on a regular basis. I’m incredibly proud of the rich Russian heritage and growing up in a very Russian culture and household has truly shaped me into the person I became as an adult.

Q: Do you like Russian food? Ever been (or have any desire to go) to Russia?

Yes! I love Russian food. Maybe not all of it, but a lot of it! I love anything to do with beets, especially Borscht! I love potatoes with dill and mushrooms, beef stroganoff and many of the traditional things you’ll find in Russian households. Sour cream is also one of my favorite condiments, which I attribute to being Russian.

 I’ve been to Russia many times and when I was a young girl, I’d spend full summers there. With the exception of my parents and a few people, we still have a lot of our family there!

Fun fact: My mother is a Russian/English translator.

Q: You have such a great mix of high and low. How do you decide what to splurge on and what to save on? Any more advice on budget or sale shopping would be awesome!

 Ever since I started making my own money as a teenager, accessories have always been the thing I splurge on. My first real fancy purchase was a Louis Vuitton Pochette and I remember paying $175 for it, which was a HUGE deal for someone making $6.25 an hour at the GAP. As I’ve gotten older, it’s still accessories that make my heart sing. Handbags, shoes, statement jewelry and for apparel, it’s outerwear and denim. Basically, the items I’m wearing over and over again. With that being said, I love seeking out a good sale or finding these items gently worn (especially with accessories). I’ll peruse eBay for brands in my size, or Facebook groups that I’m part of or even swap with friends. And for those who have been following my blog for some time know, when I’m over something, I have no problem selling it to put money towards a new thing. I don’t grow attached and have no problem of letting something go that’s no longer getting any love.

For trendier items, knits and items that wont have a great cost per wear, I’ll have a harder time justifying spending a lot of money. I love H&M, Zara and ASOS for those type of pieces!

Q: Do you mostly shop online or in-store? Which do you prefer?

I definitely prefer shopping online! No doubt about it. There are a few stores I like to pop into like Barneys, Intermix and Club Monaco to touch and feel certain things, but overall, 85% of my purchases are done online. I also despise the feeling of Sales People hovering over me. I’d so much rather be in my own element!

Q: I’m a longtime reader of your blog and I remember you used to wear very colorful outfits. There past few years it seems like you’ve been sticking to neutrals (with the occasional pop of red). Why did you stop wearing bright colors?

I think as I’ve gotten older and really figured out my style and what I’m personally drawn to (both on myself and on other people), I’ve realized I’m way more of a neutral girl. Don’t get me wrong! I love some color, especially in the form of accessories or outerwear, but I’ve realized that whites, greys, camels, creams and blacks – basically all of the neutrals – are more of my thing.

Q: What is your all-time favorite handbag that all women should have in their closet?

I have to go with the forever classic quilted Chanel! My black caviar is probably my favorite bag that I own, followed by the red one and my vintage one.

Q: Did you ever buy designer items when you were in your early 20s? If so, how did you manage to save up for it?

My first designer items was actually purchased a few years before my 20’s, but in those days, it was items that were a couple of hundred bucks and I just made it my mission to save and save until I made it happen! As I got a bit older and made a bit more money out of college, I applied the same principle. At that time, I never bought anything retail and always found a way to buy designer items for way less. I always looked at it from a ‘I’m investing in my self’ mentality. It might sound shallow or silly to some, but it’s how I felt (and still feel). I always preferred to have 1-2 nice bags versus 10+ cheaper ones and even back then, I was probably wearing head-to-toe Forever 21, but my handbag elevated my entire look.

Q: What is your ultimate dream travel destination?

I’m dying to go to so many places! On top of my list: Positano, Italy and Japan!

Q: Have you packed your hospital bag and what is in it?!

Yes! All packed and ready to go. I plan on sharing a post on what I packed and what I actually used once I go through the actual experience. Stay tuned!

Edited to add: You can find my hospital bag essentials here. 

Q: Can you do a post about your hair and how you do it so neat when it’s slicked back?

Yes! I’ll be sure to work on that! But honestly, it just requires hair that’s a little greasy and some product (hair cream, a bit of gel and hairspray).

Q: I’d love for you to talk about how often you review what is in your closet and discard? And how do you make the decision about what to discard? 

I do major closet cleanouts about 2-3x a year, but that’s because when I’m buying trendier pieces that I don’t spend a ton of money on, I don’t expect them to take permanent residence in my closet. Generally though, I think it’s important to live by the rule “if you haven’t worn something in over a year, get rid of it!”

For designer items that I’m no longer into, I list the items on a resale site or drop off at a resale shop  to put money towards new purchases. Like I said above, I don’t really grow too attached to my purchases. If the item no longer excites me or is no longer getting any love, it’s time to let go.

Q: What fashion item do you plan on investing in following the birth of your baby boy?

I know this might come to a shock to many of you, but I’ve actually been investing in more and more stylish flats (and booties)! Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never (ever ever) not be a heels girl, but I also realize that since I’m about to enter #momlife, I’ll need a lot more casual and comfortable alternatives so I can properly be “that stylish mom!” For example, my Isabel Marant booties are probably one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I own, so I’ve been thinking about getting the black ones.

Also, been trying to figure out a black tote that can also be used as a stylish diaper bag option and been eyeing this one, to which I’ll add a diaper bag organizer.

Q:  What is the one beauty essential you can’t live without?

This is a hard one because there are so many, mainly related to skincare, but I will never feel like I’m properly washing my face if I don’t use a muslin cloth. I also swear by and wouldn’t want to be without the Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm. If you’re interested in that full post, you can see it here

Q: What facial sunscreen do you use? 

This is the one I’ve been using for years and I’ve repurchased many times! Definitely holy grail status.

Q: I’m a student with a pretty tight budget, what skin care products would you recommend splurging on and what products can you save on?

Personally, I’d splurge on both  serums/face oils and exfoliating acid treatments. I find that when I use a good serum/oil, I can get away with using more of a basic moisturizer that doesn’t break the bank. Same goes for eye cream! While I admit that I do love a luxury eye cream, I’m able to get away with using a cheaper one since I layer my oil underneath, especially at night.

With exfoliating acids, they do more for your skin than most other things! Whether you want to fight the signs of aging, improve uneven skin tone, brighten your complexion…etc, nothing does that better than a good exfoliating treatment. I think if you’re in your early 20’s, you can get away with something a bit milder like the Pixi Glow Tonic, but for 30’s and up, I feel that alternating (even 2x a week) with something a bit stronger is important! I love Biologique Recherche P50 and ExfoliKate from Kate Somerville.

Q: I have been an avid follower of your blog for quite some time now. Your personal style has influenced mine in a big way! I am going to be attending college; could you give me any tips on building a good versatile wardrobe on a budget? I will be shopping soon for college and would love your suggestions!

I would start with some great basics that you can easily rotate around! For me, that would  mean three pairs of key jeans in blue, grey and black! H&M and Topshop make a great jean that don’t break the bank. Then, some white v-necks, a white button down, a couple of neutral knit sweaters, a black leather jacket and a camel coat are all the foundation of building a great wardrobe. Again, H&M, Topshop and Zara always have great choices. For shoes, I’d opt for a pair of booties, a cool pair of sneakers or flats (depending on your style) and a dressier pair of black shoes for when you want to get a bit more dolled up!

Q: I realized that most of your jeans have the ends frayed. How do you get them that way?

Good eye! I do have the ends frayed on a lot of my jeans because with many of my outfits, I prefer the unfinished look the fray gives. Also, weather permitting, I love the look of a little ankle showing and how it balances out the proportion of an outfit. I use and highly recommend these dress maker’s shears for any fabric cutting. I’ll measure where I want them to hit, use some white liner to make my mark and then cut.

Q: What is your weekly fitness routine? 

With my pregnancy, I tried to stay as active as possible, doing some light yoga, cardio and walking on a daily basis. In the beginning, I didn’t workout as much because I was way too tired and nauseous and even though at this point, I stopped going to the gym, I still try to walk as much as possible to get some sort of physical activity in.

Prior to getting pregnant, I did a mixture of yoga, strength training and cardio about 3-4x a week and again, I walk a lot! I notice that my body looks the best when I do a combination of things, especially when yoga is incorporated. It looks leaner, longer and significantly more toned.

Q: Can you tell us what you plan to do to get back in shape after the baby arrives….

For instance, do you plan on wearing a postpartum girdle and /or what are your thoughts on those? I’m 8 weeks pregnant and worried about what my body will look like after the baby arrives. I’m always either nauseous or ravenous and end up eating all the food, but have no energy to workout. As someone who has struggled to maintain their weight and was finally in a good place about my pre-pregnancy body, seeing the pounds pile on is going to be very mentally challenging. Is this something you can relate to and do you have any advice on coping with these kinds of feelings?

The other night, my best friend (who is also pregnant!) and I were saying that one of the hardest things about being pregnant is seeing your body change. Yes, of course it’s an absolutely beautiful thing, but without sugar coating it, it can also be very mentally challenging. So, you are certainly not alone in having these worries and fears.

Firstly, I want to say that please don’t let the first trimester scare you off! There is no doubt that the first trimester was the hardest point in my entire pregnancy. Even now, at 39.5 weeks pregnant, I still found the first few months way more difficult than the stage that I’m in now. I couldn’t get by without eating carbs upon carbs and working out wasn’t even a thought in my mind. I promise you, it gets 100000% better! You will get to a place where you get your energy back and you’ll be able to resume working out, (even if it’s half the amount that you used to) and eating like you did pre pregnancy. Right now, do what you have to do and don’t feel guilty about it!

Once our baby arrives and I’m given the green light to workout again, I cannot wait to get back into shape! I’m going to have to be a lot more strategic of when I fit it in, but I’m going to make it a priority. Even if that means doing the Kayla Itsines workout at home until I get into the groove of things with the baby, I’m going to find a way to make it work. Once I get into a routine, I do plan on getting a baby-sitter for several hours a week so I can properly work on projects and have “me time,” in which I plan on doing whatever I need to do, including getting a workout in. I know my personality and in order for me to feel balanced and happy, that’s something that’s extremely important to me! #happywifehappylife

I’m also planning on trying to breast-feed, so hopefully that will help shed some baby weight. I’ve read that with breastfeeding, eliminating dairy is suggested, something I’ve already been wanting to do, so that will give me the push to finally do it! Same with sugar and gluten. While I don’t plan on eliminating it completely since I enjoy food way too much and can’t go cold turkey, I plan on cutting back so I can give my body the push it needs to get back into shape.

As far as the post partum girdle, yes! I’m all about it. I’ve done a lot of research and spoke to my doctor and friends and most have claimed it did wonders for getting their midsection back to a normal state. I ended up ordering this one. For those that care, I promise to keep you guys posted on whether it helps, on my hospital bag and registry essentials! I know those were some of the main things I was researching, so hopefully I’ll be able to help others from my personal experiences.

Q: what is your opinion of “vlogging” and do you intend to start vlogging at all in the future?

I actually enjoy watching some vlogs, but don’t know if it’s I’m cut out for it! It definitely takes a certain type of person and personality to successfully do it and I tend to get quite awkward on camera. I’ve been told that with some practice, it gets easier and easier, so maybe I’ll slowwwwly start to dip my foot into it. If you guys have some favorite vloggers, who are they? Would love to know!

Q: How tall are you?

I’m roughly 5’7″

Q: When did you develop an interest in fashion? 

Quite honestly, ever since I was a little girl! I remember being around 11-12 years old and reading through my moms fashion magazines with complete heart eyes. I wanted to know everything about the world and completely immerse myself in it.

Q: My daughter is turning 14 years old and she wants to go to NY for the weekend. What is  there to do for her? 

I would visit the top of the Empire State Building, see a Broadway show like Wicked, go to  Serendipity for some frozen hot chocolate, go on a pizza tour and of course, take her shopping! Go along 5th avenue and the 40’s and 50’s for H&M, Zara, American Eagle and Sephora. For something with a little more culture and history, I’d visit the Met and the 9/11 Memorial.

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28 comments

  • Yinka

    This was such a great Q&A post Helena! I love your transparency and that you are true to what you like. I’m looking forward as you document this next chapter in your life with the bundle of joy you are expecting! Xx, Yinka

  • sasa

    These are some awesome questions about you! Good to know:P

    Shall We Sasa

  • mONIKA

    Love this q&a!
    Love,
    http://www.thestyleventure.com

  • Lauren

    I’m quite new to your blog so it was really interesting reading this and learning more about you! x

    http://www.wonkylauren.com

  • Cristina

    I really enjoy this type of post, Helena. It’s nice to know more about yourself.

    http://memoriesofthepacific.blogspot.com/

  • Joules

    I had a Russian friend of mine make me Borscht recently, and it was so good! I’m seriously a huge fan now.

    Lifestyle by Joules

  • Vicky Sullivan

    Loved reading your answers! It was fun getting to know you better. Can’t wait to see the baby.

    xo,
    Vicky
    http://www.aspiringsocialite.com/

  • Fashion and frappes

    This was so great Helena! I wish I had asked my questions but missed this post!

  • Annie

    Really enjoyed this Q&A! Excited for your post-baby content as well, because of course the blog has to grow with you!
    xo Annie
    New England Romance

  • Camille

    Thanks for creating a post like this and sharing your honest answers. Loved learning more about you.

  • brett

    loved reading these! it’s nice to “get to know” a blogger i have been reading for years!

    http://www.giltedgeblog.com

  • Madeline

    Thank you so much for answering my question! Looking forward to part two!

    • Kerrie summers

      Hi Helena

      Thank you for answering so many of my questions! I have really enjoyed reading this post and finding out more about you. I have been following your blog for many years and this has been one of your best ever posts. It’s so nice that you have taken the time to talk to us, your readers. I’m really looking forward to following your blog over the next few months and seeing it evolve as you become a mother. I can’t wait to find out what you name your little baby. Sending you lots of love and best wishes for the little mans arrival x x x

      • Kerrie summers

        P.S

        I can’t believe you won’t be pushing the stroller in your Louboutins!! 🙂

  • Nicole Sioui

    An enjoyable read!!! The interaction blogger/reader was a fresh and stimulating idea. Always look forward to your posts and even moreso as the the site evolves. 🙂

  • Nicole Sioui

    Oups! Forgot to mention, your skin is absolutely glowing in this picture! 👌👌👌

  • Kristina

    It was so interesting reading this Q&A! I love to get to know a blogger I really like better 🙂
    ♡ Kristina
    TheKontemporary

  • vera

    Love this post & that is a beautiful picture of you!

    Blonde in Cashmere

  • Annie Short

    This post was amazing to read! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your crazy schedule to really listen and respond to your readers. It shows that you truly care and it is so refreshing. I have been a long time follower and I can say this is one of my favorite posts so far! I can’t wait for Part II!

  • Latoya

    Love love love you! Been following your blog for years. Just a tip….I would think twice about getting a baby bag that doesn’t close (that one you were thinking about looks like it doesn’t). I initially brought a baby bag that didn’t snap and ended up buying a new one because I had to many accidents where all the things would fall out my bag!

  • Kim

    Love this post. Really well put together and honest. I am a fan of yours for sure! Good luck with everything. You will be an amazing mom!

  • Shauna

    SO surprised that you’re 5’7″! You always struck me as so petite!

  • Anne Benton

    This is all wonderful advice…thanks for sharing and congratulations on becoming a new mom1

    http://www.bloomgirlblog.com

  • lisa

    Hi Helena! I wish I had thought to ask this earlier… I know you’re big into skincare and beauty. What changes, if any, did you make to your skincare routine after getting pregnant? I just found out a few days ago I am expecting (OMG), and already worried about the stuff I can/cannot use on my face. Thank you!

  • Virginia

    I’ve been reading ur blog for almost five yrs now. I remember back in the days i would pay 500 tanzanian money (about 2cents) at the Internet café to browse. With 2cents I’d get 15mins to read real quick and live with my head full of both excitement and envy. Today ur one of the top bloggers on my list and u inspire me and so many others alot. Soon ur going to be a Mum and am soooo excited as if I were becoming a Mum, well im exited that there’ll be motherhood related posts. Someday when i am a Mum myself I won’t struggle much. Sending you love and good vibes from Africa 🌍

  • serEna

    Hi Helena,

    Such a great post!! Loved reading your answers! I would love to know what diaper bag you choose. Did you buy the Mansur Gavriel?

    I look forward to reading more about your hospital bag, registry, and amazing post-baby style 🙂 Good luck with everything – congratulations! Can’t wait to see your little guy.

  • Diana

    I’m a new mom to be, currently 10wks pregnant. What kind of pants do you recommend for maternity? I see you’re still wearing your jeans on most pictures. How do you manage that?

  • Nadia

    I’ve been reading your blog for ~2 years and just now found out you’re Russian (how did I miss this??)!
    Amazing! Me too 😉
    Love everything I read here!