Jessica Ashley facebook twitter babble voices pinterest is a single mama in the city, super-savvy editor, writer, video host and shameless shoe whore.
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Back in time in our city: The World's Fair on display


What if something as culturally shifting, as technologically revolutionary, as WOW as the World's Fair happened in your city? 

The World's Fair did take place in our town, and in six months in 1893, visitors came to see exhibits packed full of artifacts, machinery and even people on display. That moment in our city's history is big, not just because of the art and culture and advent of chewing gum, but because it built up a city that, only 22 years before was ravaged into ashes by the Great Chicago Fire. 

Chicago loves the World's Fair. My son has studied it in school twice and was a lead in a play at Lookingglass Theatre, where his drama camp performed an intricate depiction of mystery and wonder of the White City -- right in the original Water Tower, one of the only buildings in that area to survive the fire.

Today, 120 years later, Chicagoans and out-of-towners still want to retreat to the fair, playing tourist in the Field Museum's Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair exhibit, open now through September 7, 2014.  

We pushed back on the packing, cleared the busy kid schedule and decided to be tourists in our own city, fair-goers nearly a sesquicentennial later.  Here's what to do and see if your family hits the fair, too. 

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What every single mom needs for a sleepover

No, not the kind with twelve screaming kids who abandon the third showing of Kung-Fu Panda 4to wage a war between the Lego Friends figures and all the Halo guys dug up from the bottom of Mommy’s purse. Not the kind where adults pay kids in cash to be quiet already way after midnight, or where braces meet Doritos for the first time, or where cuss words are tentatively whispered inside a sleeping bag fort. The sleepovers – and what you need should you be invited to one – we’re speaking of today are none of that.

This list of must-have toiletry kit items is just for the slumber party that involves a single mom and a date, a lovahhhh, a BF or GF or SortaF, a friend with bennies, a fling, someone on Reddit that you have already run a criminal background check on (twice) before meeting anywhere with dim lighting. It also (prayer to the Visitation Fairies) includes much fun, some freedom from the intensity of the many nights and days you’re solo parenting like a boss, safety and sessiness to the hotness temperature you desire.

For THOSE kinds of overnighters, one-nighters, weekends away and maybe even lunch dates, these 14 items are exactly what you, sizzling single mama, need to pack up and throw into your purse, giant bag, carryon, or rollerboard to be prepared, happy, healthy, prettified, and relaxed from the time you arrive to the kiss goodbye.

From peepers to puckers, oral hygiene to hoo-hoo care, here's the concise list of what you need to take good care of yourself for overnights, one-nighters and weekends away from the kids. {cosmetic case photo via}.


The cutest little brush of all time

For quick fixes and pulling back your mane so you can get down to business, tuck a tiny brush into your toiletry kit. I love that this one has a mirror and folds up nicely, rather than snagging at your tampon wrappers and leaving trails of your DNA all over the inside of the bag. 


Condom and tampon carrier

I get oogied out when my tampon wiggles out of its wrapper and just hangs out with whatever else is  floating in my purse or stuffed in my overnight bag or has pooled at the bottom of the inevitable leaky thing in my cosmetic case. I also know it is critical for single moms who want to get lucky or are actively laying it down right to be in charge of sexual protection (that means birth control and condoms, since we all need a little Sex Ed 101 reminder now and then from a friend). That's why I squealed just a bit to find these cute, compact handmade "privacy pouch" carriers that are the perfect size to slip in a few emergency tampons and plenty of condoms. It looks like there's also room for a smallish bottle, should you prefer to BYOLube. Why not buy a second for your purse and car, just in case?


Avocado oil, for like, everything you need to do in the loo

I am a lady who requires much moisturizing. My bathroom is a buffet of lotions, serums, creams, and homemade anti-winter-skin-all-year-round concoctions. But my kit needs to be compact, which means I have to narrow down to one perfect moisturzing option. And that will always and forever be avocado oil. Avocado oil (keep that lid cranked on tight) is the perfect travel beauty pick because you can use it:

  • to slather on as moisturizer (it works wonders on red, chafed, broken out, sensitive or troubled skin)
  • to remove make-up (without burning eyes or making a big old mess or carrying those sheets that always dry out)
  • as a cleanser (you won't die, I promise, if you put a few drops in your palms, rub over your face and then carefully towel off the day's/night's debris)
  • as shaving prep (unless you use the below-mentioned razor)
  • as lip balm
  • as massage oil

Perf, right? OH! And it's a great bargain. Pick up a little bottle for about $8 and it will last for many rendez-vous nights off.


An extra pair of pretty panties

Wherever your travels and adventures and acrobatics take you in this chapter of your dating life, having an extra pair of pretty-yet-practical panties in your kit seems like a wise bit of self-care. I love these lace bikinis that hint at your yummy skin and still cover some of that luscious mama belly.


Read the rest of the list of essentials right here. 


When you were so cool

A hipster toddler -- or rather, a toddler dressed as his hipster mother would like him to look -- had just been pulled from his carseat, his oversized newscap, tiny-sized aviator sunglasses, nubby sweater, cuffed jeans and bitty Converse tennies overpowering his wiry body. 

The October sun hung low. There was a fall festival and a nearby park and we were checking it out in the final hour before the petting zoo goats and ponies were ushered off, the face painters packed up and the few runt pumpkins not claimed by little kids were gently tucked away in a corner of the fieldhouse. E, on his scooter - the one with the sparks that fly when the brakes are hit - whizzed by. 

"HE. IS. SO. COOL!" The toddler yelled out in that completely awesome, lovable, totally not self-conscious way the littlest kids do. 


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