1) How to make sure your e-mails leave the right impression. (Harvard Business Review)
2) I can’t stop looking at this Ted Baker skirt suit in pale lilac.
3) Syrian Refugees Find a Home in Trump Country. (You may need tissues.) (Washington Post)
4) H&M’s new arrivals include this slouchy purl-knit sweater and this pretty pink coat.
5) Five weird skincare trends for 2017. (Bustle)
6) Need comfortable, affordable shoes? Try these mesh-trim heels and basic pumps with Insolia.
7) Minding the gender gap: Career advice from tech’s top women. (Vogue)
8) This two-tone 14th & Union station necklace pulls together any outfit.
9) A satire that accurately and hilariously describes working from home. (The New Yorker)
10) Celebrity stylist Kristin Ess started an affordable haircare line, and I can’t wait to try it.
11) I binge-read this article on mommy bloggers and their Insta-perfect lives. (Atlantic)
12) This $10 tassel lanyard lets you wear your ID around your neck with a bit of style.
13) When and how to follow up on a job application. (Levo)
What I Keep Putting in My Online Cart. These $27 mesh, laser-cut booties in pale blush.
What I Watch When I Can’t Sleep. 30Rock. Somehow I missed this when it was new. I don’t know how either.
What Am I Baking for Valentine’s Day: Sno-Ball Cake or Pink Velvet Cake?
I can’t speak for her styling products, but it’s a hard pass on Kristen Ess’ shampoo and conditioner. My friend and I were so excited to try it and we both couldn’t believe how terrible our hair felt after using it — crunchy, dry, not clean, difficult to style, etc. At first I thought it was the water in my new apartment (I bought the shampoo/conditioner the same weekend I moved) but after switching back to my usual duo it was clear it was the new product. It also has an extremely strong smell, which I personally loved, but if you’re scent-sensitive you might want to avoid.
Good to know, I didn’t know about the scent. Damn. I guess it will be going back.
I vote pink velvet cake! I’ve been following Amanda’s blog for a few years now and every recipe I’ve made from there is AMAZING!
Belle, did you just vacation in Sedona? Could you share where you stayed??
I went to Phoenix. We got a deal at the Phoenician. I prefer the Biltmore, because with the food coupons, the all inclusive deal is a steal.
After reading that “work from home” piece, I am now wearing pants. I needed that. Thanks Belle.
Also, in my experience as a baker, southerner, and professional eater of red velvet cakes- red velvet and its variants contain chocolate. I Am Baker’s cake is just a traditional white cake that’s colored pink.
She addresses that in the post, and it really is a wonderful recipe anyway!
I saw her mention the baking soda, buttermilk, and vinegar- not the chocolate (which is the most important part). But I’ve never met a cake I didn’t like, I might try it next week for my birthday 🙂
She refers to “velvet” cakes not specifically red velvet, but I have her a pass since she acknowledges it isn’t technically a velvet cake at all. That said, I will happily rail against red velvet cakes that are nothing more than vanilla cakes with a pound and a half of red food coloring. That is an abomination. A good red velvet cake should taste of cocoa without being too chocolatey.
I once ordered a “red velvet cake” that had no chocolate and was instead a raspberry cake with cream cheese icing. I took it back and got a refund. I guess I’m just sensitive since I’ve been betrayed too many times.
Do you have a favorite red velvet recipe? I’m so picky about them, I’ve never actually made it, because I fear i won’t meet my standards.
I like the chocolate myself, but K isn’t much of a chocolate eater, so I was looking at this cake as kind of a chocolate alternative. But yes, not a real velvet without cocoa.
Rhianna Hoke says:
Intrigued by the pumps in 6. Has anyone tried them?
This is the best recipe I’ve found, by far. I made it for Christmas and it was sooo good. https://www.joyofbaking.com/RedVelvetCake.html
Thanks! I’ll definitely try that one out.
I own the Insolia gel insoles, and they’re great, so I’m hoping the shoes will be good, too.
Belle and everyone: If you haven’t checked out SUGARFIX by BaubleBar at Target you should! I am obsessed with everything!
Monica T says:
And that is why I don’t ask to work from home. That and tiny laptop screens.
I have stopped reading more and more blogs as their life stops being real and starts being a set up for a blog post, or advertisement. The very thing that makes them relatable slowly becomes a way to sell toddler snacks or something else. I mean they’re building their house to be as Instagrammable as possible. That’s their business, of course, but it seems like the modern version of The Truman Show. Their life is a set.
I only read on Mommy Blog, because I was friends with the blogger, and I stopped after she posted about how she loves how independent her kids are becoming and that’s why “she relies on Band-Aid brand” to cover all the cuts they get when traveling. I was like, shark jumped.
Belle, I do have to say that I appreciate your explicit disclaimers before, during, and after your posts about how much you were paid (or, in most cases, paid your own money) for products you feature. It frustrates me to get to the end of a lifestyle blog’s very pretty, colorful post, only to see that it was one big infomercial for another brand. It makes me doubt how much the blogger herself actually does use the items she writes about, or whether it’s all about the compensation.
The ones that make me completely nuts come in three forms:
1) Posts titled, “Blogger’s Essential Tips for Nighttime Skincare,” so you think you’re getting a great in-depth post. Then, all you get is an ad for Ponds. And you’re like, seriously, the same blogger who last week was pushing $179 SKII products wants me to believe she’s suddenly switched to Ponds?
2) Posts that are so far outside of what a blogger does. You blog about skincare and now you’re test driving a sports car and writing about that? I made this mistake a long, long time ago when I wrote about juice diets when juicing was new. Lesson learned. Your readers will notice if you suddenly go off scripts. I mean, why else would you suddenly be writing about the suspension and handling of a 70k vehicle on the track if it wasn’t for the $$$?
3) Posts that are shockingly contradictory. One month, a blogger is posting about her favorite DC hotel! Then the next month, she’s staying at a hotel in a different chain, in the same neighborhood, which is now her favorite DC hotel!
Listen, I know I’m not perfect. I try to be as transparent as possible by not taking many sponsorships, taking only free items with no strings attached, and never accepting other payment. I also try to write disclaimers that reflect what I would want to know if I was a reader. But I’ve always felt lucky that thanks to affiliate links (which have their faults, but allow me to post only things I genuinely like or use or want), I don’t have to take items for sponsorship unless I genuinely loved the product already. And I’ve been really lucky to work with brands like MM LaFleur and Dagne Dover and Lo & Sons who don’t force you to write marketing posts, and genuinely want your real thoughts about things.
But when I see bloggers who take sponsorships (esp one where 9/10 posts has a sponsor) trying to play this game like the money they take doesn’t impact their content, it makes me a little nuts. Because if you get to the point when you have to tell readers that a post isn’t sponsored, or claim that it’s not “sponsored” because they only sent you a freebie to try, you need to rethink your strategy. I would rather have ads in my sidebar than have to write the phrase “but all opinions are my own” at the end of everyone of my posts.
Word! I like that I’ve learned about new brands that are both innovative and high-quality from your blog (I’ve gotten bags from L&S and DD that I still use), and it really helped to know that you initially purchased them on your own, or only chose to review something because you would purchase it with your own money.
I always wonder what the point of taking something for free is if you wouldn’t be willing to buy it with your own money. How many times have you seen a blog post where the blogger is wearing something that is totally out of her norm and pretending to love it? It’s so obvious sometimes.
For the amount of MM in my closet (and probably other readers too), that relationship has paid off well for them (and us… as I wear MM for the third time this week!).
nothing about that mommy blogger’s life sounded the least bit enviable to me. It’s all so tediously fake
Not a mommy blogger. Like at all. says:
The only mommy blog I ever read was crappypictures.com. It’s on pause now, but back in its heyday I could swear the blog was stealing from my life — or that I was actually the blogger and just blacking out during every post. So many parenting fails.