Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Touch of Green

"Wow, it's really coming together! HOW long have you lived here?" a guest asked, taking a look around at all the accessories that I'd frantically placed in the living room just a mere few hours before.

Thanks to my amazing Mom, friends with great taste (here's looking at you Andrea) and a deadline of hosting a baby shower, the family room has started to piece together. A quick stop at NFM resulted in the perfect chair, with just enough oomph of personality and comfort to bring some character. Next up was the sofa table, a unique blend of metal and woods and the ideal spot for Matchbox races. Both were excellent price points for our active family and completed the furniture quota for the room.
Finally, there was a need to fill all those cute little vases I had stuck in every nook and cranny. On a limited budget and not knowing where to start, I hit the usual haunts of Hobby Lobby, Target, Michaels and IKEA. Striking out there, I remembered that Featherstone had some great accessories in the past, so ventured out with fingers crossed. And thank goodness, because we had quite a bit
of luck:
A succulent that forever lives coupled with a fun little wishbone for good fortune
Can't get this pic to rotate, but you get the idea - a
flourishing welcome to the home with these fresh sprigs
Some flare for the mantle
A little height to accent the dining room art
Wild greens to mix up the structured table and
hydrangea balls to soften the hardware

A room that's starting to feel warmer and ready for family lounging

Moving into new construction means starting with a beautiful blank state, making it fun to innovate and create. Grabbing some greens is the perfect way to start warming it up without committing to a level like drilling holes in walls. Even better, there's options for those with no desire or ability to keep actual green things alive at an affordable price.

Next up, we may get brave and try for a fiddle leaf fig for behind that chair and a live house plant for the corner of our eat in kitchen. We'll see...

A touch of green: good for the soul and the home.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Date Night

"Honey - they just posted Parents' Night Out - we're in!" I half-shouted into the phone, the opportunity for a date night after a few fun but intense weeks sounding more than delightful. "I call dibs on you planning!"

That plan he made turned out to be oodles of fun - out of the ordinary, affordable and in a part of town we rarely venture to in our more "mature state" of life (read: exhausted parent/worker people).

We started at Char Bar in Westport, my fear of barely keeping my lids open fading away as I enjoyed one of the best brewskis that have ever touched my tastebuds. We followed that with perhaps a top five favorite meal around town (holy cheesey hushpuppies!),  porch swings, bags to toss and excellent people watching. It was an excellent entrance to an enjoyable, laid back evening.
Since we were already in Westport, hitting Murray's was a no-brainer, despite the lack of tummy room to hold all the goodness. Move over intestines, there is mint chocolate chip to be had!
We closed with something we've never done in our 15 years together, which was to catch an improv show at the Kick Theater. Tucked in a dark corner of a coffee shop, air barely venting through and a slightly rowdy crowd, we weren't sure what to expect. But several minutes in to the announcer pumping us up, a killer MC for the night and meeting the comedy crew, we were hooked. The humor and talent of those folks to constantly think on their feet and be funny was pretty baller. There is one skit that still makes me laugh today, which involved a "pick me up" theme with rounds of role playing strippers, a dad trying to take his kids to TCBY and a constipated lady. Needless to say I was in tears.
We closed the night feeling fat and happy, which I vote is always a win. So if any of this is newish to you, give it a shot. It just might be the comedic relief of a date night you need.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Never Shop Again

For clothes at least. Because Abby Wood should do it for you. You're not longer qualified...

It started out innocently enough, the daunting task of her finding me the perfect fitting jeans. It spiraled into incessantly texting her about what exactly should go over my winter formal, then quickly ended up into a three-page email of requests.

Then, there was our appointment.

Oh, our appointment...swoon!

After several Stitch Fix bombs (everyone my size was wearing the same thing around town, then they sent the "totally 80s" box and not in a good way), my eye was drawn to the many compliments floating around on Abby Wood Wear's Facebook page. An old sorority sister with the greatest of smiles and warmed of hearts, I began to follow her on Pinterest and marveled at how she could coordinate the simplest ensems. After becoming a mom and hitting my mid-30s, I yearned for that effortless, comfortable, wearable look that was still trendy, and simply didn't know how to do it. Couple that with body image woes and an unhealthy love of accessories, and I was ready for help.

The idea of working with a stylist was very new to me, and something I thought only people with a lot of money and a thin frame could pull off. Instead it's been quite the opposite, with affordable packages and ensems that fit YOUR frame. In other words, I suddenly became a size 14 that still looked and felt like all the beautiful single-digit-somethings around me, even sporting some of the latest trends, all while building a wardrobe that would work from 9-5 and 5 to, er...midnight!

The final result: only about 4 tops and 6 pair of pants from my original collection and a whole lotta new tops, dresses and even a swimsuit that fit my new style. Each morning, it's no longer an emotional, drawn-out game of what to sport - it's just grab n' go. Because it all goes together, feels great and inspires happy all day long.

You know why? Because Abby picked it for me! Here is how I chose to work with her, and couldn't be happier with the results:

1. Define your goal. Are you shopping for a specific event? To find some new things to pair with your favorites? A complete ensem makeover?

2. Name your budget. Consider Abby's costs and what you want to spend on clothes in this round, particularly if the Anthros and Nordstroms of the world are your fav.

3. Review her packages. Choose if you want her to shop for you virtually or in person, or shop together. For me I looked forward to connecting with her and having the whole experience. Nothing is more exciting than entering a fancy dressing room with racks of clothes, sparkling water, a big ol' mirror and piles of accessories. Plus you can hash it out ad nausea and have some fun along the way.

4. Have a pre-styling appointment. Meet her at TLoft to review your goals and answer any outstanding questions she may have so she can be most effective in choosing clothes for you. Plus she generally picks up the tab - ha!

5. Have her over to audit your closet. She'll kindly tell you what to keep, toss or donate, then use what you have to pair your new pieces together to make multiple outfits.

6. Review the Pins she posts for you. She'll create your own board for consideration on Pinterest based on your goals. You'll dig through them and leave little notes on what you do and don't like or ideas to consider. She'll evaluate and use your feedback on her shopping journey.

7. Shop! For me, she did her pre-work at Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack with Anthropologie as a strong third location. Given my limited budget and preferences, we started at Nordstrom and I of course fell in love with my entire budget in one swoop. Here, we combed through the racks of items she had selected and talked through them first, then she helps dress you like the days you searched for your wedding gown. Assessing as she goes, she cuts the pile, you create yours, and wa-la - your new wardrobe is ready for the next year's wearing!

It's the most I've ever spent on material items in one sitting outside of furniture, a house, vehicle...that sort of thing, but again, it's not something I will have to do again anytime soon (darn!). Our trip completely supplied me with versatile work and fun outfits for week, the perfect items for my upcoming vacation and some great basics I'd not been able to effectively find on my own. I even tested it by wandering through Nordies a week later and selecting the items I would've chosen for myself, tried them on and found them not nearly as appealing as what she had pulled.

I can't wait to do undies, accessories and athletic wear next!

One of my favorite ways to use her is a minimal cost, and includes shooting her a text, email or pic message where she quickly responds with links on where to shop or how to pair what with what. It's practically become a standing budget item in our house, and some days I wonder how I walk out the front door in clothes without her...

Abby Wood: look her up, check her out and shop away. You won't regret it.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Nothing But Bundt

"Yes, I'll take the chocolate chocolate chip, pink flower and the baby accessories," I stated on the phone, the friendly employee on the other end making recommendations to create the perfect dessert.

Since the start of 2016, we've hosted exactly 14 parties for a variety of reasons, each requiring a cake or sweet of sorts. Given working full-time outside the home, moving, traveling, etc. doesn't exactly lend itself to home-baked goodness at times, Nothing Bundt Cakes has become my go-to call in a pinch. (Ok, not even in a pinch - always!). The number might as well be listed in my favorites...

Whether you need the "Baby Cakes" for a shower, a bundlet for a friend who's had a rough week or a bundtini round for Teacher Appreciation week, they have something for everything. They're beautiful, wrapped gorgeously, can be customized, reasonably priced and is sure to delight almost any eater. 

Recently, they came out with the "Baby Gender Reveal" cake, something I sure would've liked to have around a few years back.

So give yourself a break from the kitchen next time you celebrate and give Nothing Bundt Cakes a ring. With a quick turnaround, it can be yours same day.

And don't forget to a) sample one while you're there b) get one for you to indulge in while you drive home.

You're gonna love it.

Monday, April 25, 2016

He's On To Me

It started as an innocent homework assignment. One that was easy enough for him that I didn't have to help in any way other than nab the crayons from the mud room.

On the scramble to the car, my eye caught a certain worksheet word as it was forcibly stuffed into the camo back pack. Yep - you see it. Line three.

"Wine." And an innocent lady sitting all alone at the table.

Next it kind of went like this:

"Laws - tell me more about this word and picture on line 3? It's very nice, but I'm concerned that Mrs. G may think it's not appropriate for school since kids are not allowed to drink wine."

He goes on to assure me this is an adult (read: his Mom) and the he will share that with Mrs. G.

It's now 7:43 and we're late. Mrs. G? She's gonna see this. And I'm going to have some explaining to do.

The first chance I have to write Mrs. G is close to lunch, which is ok, since she's been teaching for nearly 30 years. Surely she's seen some of this debauchery in her long career...

The email is sent, explaining we frequently have guests and family over and indulge in healthy amounts of the good grape juice. Her response:

"Thank you for letting me know. I did see his 'W' homework and he pointed it out to me that there was an adult sitting at the table with a glass of wine. So no worries. The adult looks like a very responsible wine drinker." End: smiley emoticon.

Mrs. G  - she gets me. I mean, to teach Kindergarten, a solo wine drinker at the kitchen table cannot be a foreign concept to her.

And, as my principal friends reassure me, it's better than another four-letter "w" word he could have written...

Kendra's Killin' It

Ping! "Sneak Peek of the Summer Collection," my inbox screamed at me. Seeing it was from none other than Kendra Scott, it had to be opened, teleconference or not.

And deliver she did, once again...
Gold trimmings, sunbursts, vibrant colors, pieces that can be worn multiple ways...swoon!!! At a recent stop to the Plaza location (shout out to those fun girls!), I walked away with these little beauts:
I had no business purchasing them and nearly made it out the door, but won't they be fab in Meh-he-co in a few weeks?! Add the necklace and I'm be really set to go.

Thanks to the most giving girlfriends and a few investments of my own along the way, I have about six pieces that are core to any outfit. With her style on hand, I never have to try and piece things together or guess what looks good with what.

And did you know they host small and large parties?! So grab your favorite girls, request your bottle of wine and start daydreaming which stones you want placed into your favorite baubles.
So if KS isn't part of your regular ensems, stick it on your Mother's Day list or just go splurge yourself. It will be worth it!

Happy shopping...

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Road to No Rails

"There's no crib in this house. I mean - there's NO CRIB in this house!" I half mumbled, half shouted to my husband after a late night check in on the wee one.

I think his response sounded something like a grunt of gratitude, for any "stuff" that leaves this house only delights him.

But the CRIB?!

Seven years ago we shopped for that crib, running our palms against the different woods, dreaming of  snuggly nights perched in a glider, a burrito of a babe tucked in our arms. For hours we dissected spindles and heights, espresso vs. eggshell, contemporary vs. traditional. No drop down of course. Invest or save. Transitional or no.

Weeks later it arrived in all of its espresso glory, fully assembled and ready to hold all of our dreams come true.

Nearly four years later, a few teeth and kick marks worser for the wear, it protected the second son who stole our hearts.

And now, here it sits, leaned against the study wall, ready for it's next baby to have and to hold. Love and protect. Serve as a play thing. Take a licking or two. This crib...

Tossing old onesies, donating no longer loved toys and removing all that's been outgrown has generally been an easy task, making room for the new and exciting while the rest was captured in pictures.

But this crib...

The road to no rails has been an incredible one. I'll never forget all of our sleepless nights, leaning down into it to grab the loves of our lives, their faces as they peer between the bars for the morning greeting, the peeking in to find them more peaceful than you ever imagined...

So that rocker. It's gotta stay for awhile. Because that crib...

Boy, I'm going to miss that crib.