Coming Home

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lifestyle

Hi loves! I’ve been incredibly busy and I haven’t felt inspired to write lately, but I’m back! I thought there was no better way to return to my blog than with some home design magic. If you’re like me, a stay-at-home mama, and a homebody, then creating the perfect space for you and your family is everything. It doesn’t matter how small (or large) a space you have…every space is capable of creating the vibe you want. Every space can be magical and special. If you have a large space you’re designing, you want to make it feel as cozy as possible, and it’s important to be able to afford enough furniture and accents to fill the space so that it doesn’t look empty, an afterthought, or naked. You don’t want your space just hanging out in the nude! Dress it up. When you have a smaller space your goal is to make the absolute most out of every inch of the room. For example, tiny home living calls for smart, interesting ideas and smaller pieces so that you have room for what you need (a smaller fridge, oven, etc.). You can have a gorgeous, smaller kitchen and you’d be surprised at how little space you need. We have an apartment-sized kitchen and we love it! It’s beautiful, functional, and the perfect chic farmhouse kitchen. Every inch of our farmhouse was designed with so much love, thought, and purpose. We have a small, farmhouse bar in our kitchen, a coffee bar in our living room, and those are just two examples of how we planned out every bit of our space so that it’s not only functional but really special.

Our hallway bathroom was just remodeled and I’m in love! Today I’m adding some of the finishing touches and then I’ll be posting photos, naturally. I can’t wait to share the space with all of you! It’s been close to 95 degrees in New Jersey the past week and it’s unbearable, but I managed to plant a sunflower plant at our farm the other day, and I just bought three gorgeous, bright pink knockout roses for our yard that Andrew helped me plant. I love taking care of my plant babies and this season has already been difficult with the lack of rain and the intense heat, but all of my plants are thriving despite the challenges. I wish they were receiving more rain, but it is what it is! There’s something so beautiful and therapeutic about buying and caring for plants. They remind us of what’s important and that the little things are honestly the big things in life. I always recommend to those designing a space to incorporate live plants, because they add so much liveliness and beauty. If you have cats and dogs, please be careful what you choose at the nursery in case your pets nibble a leaf (or a flower) from a poisonous plant, or simply choose a place where your animals are not allowed to display your plants. Faux plants are great, but live ones are even better. Andrew and Greyson bought me a lemon tree for Mother’s Day and it’s by far one of my favorite plants. Take a trip to your local nursery and find a plant that makes you smile and also compliments your space. Cactuses, succulents, and an edible plant for your kitchen are wonderful options. I have a vibrant basil plant in my kitchen and it’s a must-have because we use basil a lot for cooking, especially for Basil Mozzarella Sandwiches!

COVID-19 caused so much heartache, panic, and stress for all Americans, but one thing the pandemic did for all of us is light a match. It inspired so many to be creative, thoughtful, and to make the most out of our homes. Our homes (big and small) are now everything…a place to work, eat, sleep, exercise, learn, fall in love, laugh, cry, and enjoy life. During the pandemic, I designed and created our coffee corner, kitchen bar, and I just created a little movie night tray that is always stocked with candy, chocolate, and popcorn. Again, it’s the little things. I want every moment spent at home to be comfortable, memorable, and inspiring. I planted and bought more plants than ever before during the pandemic, spent so much time at our farm, Andrew did a lot of work on our farm, and we welcomed a lot of new animals into our life from farm animals to our dog Simba. It was (and still is) a time for immense change, growth, sacrifice, and again…inspiration. I realized what I truly need to be happy and what I can live without over the past year. I gave Amazon all of my money (raise your hand if you can relate…haha), fell in love with new passions, and pushed myself to be the best version of myself. Commit yourself to create the space you’ve always wanted, because there’s nothing better than looking around your home and feeling at peace.

This is our movie night tray with candy, chocolate covered almonds, popcorn, and of course, some faux flowers.

Whether you’re in a mansion, cabin, rancher, suburban home, apartment, or a camper, your space matters and deserves your love and attention. You also don’t need a fortune to make your home look perfect, but you do need creativity and an open mind. Sit still, close your eyes, and think about what makes you happiest…the beach, your family, rolling hills, or the city. Incorporate those things into your space and make your home a story. It’s also important to remember that there will always be another home project that needs to be done, home projects we simply want to get done, and issues that arise. NO home is perfect and it never will be. Don’t strive for perfection. Take a breath…you will get to every last item on your home project list, but it doesn’t happen overnight (as much as we wish that’s how it works). Happy Summer everyone!!! I am happy to be back on my MacBook, typing to all of my amazing readers. I’ve missed you, xoxo.

Celebrating Women

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lifestyle

Happy International Women’s Day to all of the badass women out there who’ve made marks on this world. To all of the selfless mamas that care for children (some of them without a partner) and raise the next generation of inspiring individuals, thank you. To all of the female nurses and doctors that keep us alive and comfort us in times of great pain with soothing words, thank you. To all of our favorite female teachers who showed us the power and beauty of words, wisdom, and learning, thank you. To all of the women who paved the way from Susan B. Anthony and Eleanor Roosevelt to Hillary Clinton, thank you for making waves, changes, and igniting the fire. There was a time when the glass ceiling described by so many women only had cracks in it, but we’ve now shattered that glass ceiling. We have a female Vice President! I felt so proud of America during the inauguration of Biden and Harris. It was a historic day in America and one I’ll never forget.

It’s unbelievable that not that very long ago women didn’t have the same rights as men. They weren’t viewed as equal. They didn’t go to college, work outside of the home, stand up to their man (or their father), and they weren’t allowed to vote. We’ve made tremendous, heavy steps forward but there’s still sexism in this world. In certain parts of India young girls are sold into marriage as young as thirteen and abused by their “partners”. Women every day are raped, abused, and told that they don’t matter. Women are still viewed as less than in the United States in various ways, companies like Victoria’s Secret, for example, exploit women to make a profit by selling a perfect, female fantasy, and funny enough VS was created by a man. That company has treated their models and the females that make them their money horribly. Now, that’s Victoria’s dirty little secret. Women are expected to act a certain way in this country, be a certain image, weight, and personality to attract men. But, as I said before, we’re in a better place than we were in the past and I’m proud of the women who walked before me, whether in flats or stilettos.

I find inspiration in the women I know and I’m insanely proud of the woman I’ve become. My story is beautiful and my life is exactly what I want it to be. I’m free to be who I am and to love who I want to love. I love and live without boundaries and that’s everything. I’m a mom, a wife, a stay-at-home mom, a business owner, a student, a ballroom dancer, a writer, and a farmer. My husband supports me, loves me unconditionally, and allows me to be myself. This world is filled with good guys just like my man who support and love women from their mothers and sisters to girlfriends and wives.

I can rock the vote and speak as loudly as I want, letting my opinion shake the ground. I can write a blog post that inspires women and men of all ages and feel the respect from my readers. I can have conversations with my female friends about our goals, dreams, and passions and know that whatever we want to do, we can do. We can crush our goals, create the lifestyle we want, and live without regrets. It’s an ever changing world and the women we love have impacted it in gorgeous ways. Take a moment to call your mom, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, girlfriend, or wife and tell them how amazing they are. Raise a glass to the groundbreaking, beautiful, powerful women who surround us and who empower us. We can be moms and powerhouses. We can be models and teachers. We can be farmers and truck drivers. We can be soldiers and doctors. We can be anything we want and it’s thanks to so many females that walked before us and paved a never-ending road for the women of today and the women of tomorrow.

To all of the little girls out there, remember that you’re full of magic, strength, and the possibilities are endless. Never allow anyone, man or woman, to tell you who you are. You tell the world who you are.

Happy IWD to all of the ladies 💜

The Greyson Diaries

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lifestyle

Life with My Two-Year-Old

Life with a two-year-old is busy, tiring, and beautiful and I wouldn’t trade my days with Greyson for anything. Being a mama is an adventure, but keeping up with an active, growing, little man can be exhausting. I thank the universe for Greyson, his sweetness, and his smarts. He truly amazes me. I’m lucky enough to be home with him every day, which allows me to see all of the special moments, but I also see all of the tantrums, because I’m the one there 24/7. Mamas, it’s okay to admit that our two-year-olds are a lot to handle at times. They don’t call it terrible twos for no reason! They’re discovering their little voices, but they still can’t fully explain what they want, need, or how they’re feeling, which leads to frustration and the infamous tantrums. I do have to say that Greyson is really good and I’m grateful for that, but he does have tantrums. How do I handle them when they do occur?

The key to handling a tantrum is to ignore most of the dramatics. Toddlers are famous for over the top gestures because their emotions are overwhelming and they know tears and fits will lead to attention. The fire will burn out and they’ll snap out of their agitated state fairly quickly, but yelling, spanking, and overreacting make the situation worse. I don’t believe in spanking, at all. I’ve lost my cool from time to time and have yelled at him when he’s had a tantrum, but I don’t like to yell, either. I remain calm, which makes a huge difference.

If Greyson is really having a moment I just sit him in his height chair, or on the couch in our living room for a moment, and I tell him to sit there until he calms down, which usually works. Sometimes, all you need to do is redirect their attention and focus. Toddlers don’t like when they don’t understand, or when something they’re playing with isn’t doing what they want it to do. If your toddler is playing with a toy that’s bothering them, take it away. Give them something else. Take a moment to show them something interesting, whether it’s a trick, a book, or something around them. They love to learn, discover, and feel as though they’re included. I’m always asked how I keep Greyson so well behaved while grocery shopping, or browsing the aisles at stores such as Target. Well, one Greyson loves Target…haha. He clearly takes after his mama. Two, when I’m grocery shopping I make him feel included in the process. I ask him what he wants (even though I already have a precise list), I give him his own little list to hold, I point out all of the colors, shapes, and foods around us and ask him to name them, I talk to him constantly, and I allow him to say hi to people, giggle, and talk, which makes him feel as though it’s a fun experience. It’s important to make them feel as though errands, chores, and daily activities are fun, not an issue. I’m a positive, upbeat person and I feel as though that rubs off on Greyson.

During the colder months it’s harder to keep your toddler active and sane (I know it’s a challenge), because we’re indoors for most of the time. Also, COVID-19 hasn’t helped. We really haven’t gone too many places, because we’ve been cautious over the past year. We did spend a lot of time in the snow, but Greyson got tired of it after a while. I’m a cold weather gal, but after the amount of snow we had this year I’m ready for summer! When it was too cold to be outside I let Greyson watch movies that he loves, play for hours with his toys, we’d eat lunch together, and I’d include him in my daily activities from cleaning to fun projects. We have a farm, luckily. Now that the weather is warming up we go to the farm once a day, at least and he runs around with his two sheep that we raised, Olaf and Juniper, and he spends time with the other animals (goats, sheep, alpacas, chicks, etc.). He loves the animals and being outside, just like Andrew and I.

I know that being a parent isn’t always easy, but your day is as good as your outlook. If you walk through life with negative energy, that vibe will rub off on your children. Greyson is very much like me and Andrew. We’re both optimistic and full of energy. No day is perfect and even the ones that are pretty damn close aren’t without minor inconveniences. Let the little things go, smile and laugh more than anything else, and enjoy the time with your children. You want your child to know at the end of every day that no matter what, everything will always be okay. It’s our job to make everything okay. I’ve also been asked what are my favorite foods to feed Grey because we all know toddlers can be picky.

I love healthy choices for myself and for my family, but Greyson doesn’t always want what we’re eating, which is okay. Usually, he does eat what we give him and if he doesn’t we try the same food again later. Don’t allow your toddler to dictate every meal, give them only a couple of choices per meal, and be firm with the choices. My favorites (and Greyson’s favorites) are…

  • Eggs (scrambled) 🥚
  • Organic, all-natural Apple Juice 🧃
  • Vanilla Almond Milk 🥛
  • Pears 🍐
  • Bananas 🍌
  • Kiwi 🥝
  • Pineapple 🍍
  • Cubed cheese (sharp cheddar, Colby Jack, or Pepper Jack) 🧀
  • Dr. Praeger’s organic, frozen meals (fish sticks, carrot puffs, broccoli littles) 🥕🥦
  • Organic chicken nuggets (sometimes with ketchup) 🐔
  • Goldfish (he loves these as a snack and they’re way healthier than most snack foods)
  • Cereal with fruit 🍌
  • Homemade pizza bagels (I make these constantly and he loves them!) 🥯
  • Homemade pita bread pizza with sauce and cheese 🍕
  • Corn muffins
  • Croissants 🥐
  • Apples 🍎

Life with my two-year-old is a beautiful chapter and I love that he’s my best friend. He makes me smile, laugh, and think about life differently than I did prior to becoming a mommy. I love hearing him say new words, discover new things around him, and play independently with his favorite toys. He’s such a light in a world filled with chaos and darkness. Also, allow your child to grow up at their own pace. Never compare your child to another because they’re all different and special. If your toddler isn’t ready for potty training just yet, that’s okay. If your toddler is still learning to put together sentences, that’s okay. Tell your little one how special, smart, and funny they are every single day. Enjoy the little moments because they’re the big ones.

Farm Life

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lifestyle

My husband and I both grew up on farms, with a ton of animals, and spending countless hours outside. We love to soak up the sunshine, raise animals, and spend time on our farm. We not only have a farmhouse-style home, but we live the farm lifestyle. Some weekends are spent solely down at the farm, we take long, scenic drives to pick up new animals, and winters are busy taking care of the animals in the cold. Greyson has grown up cuddling with baby sheep, bottle feeding babies, and bonding with chicks. Right now we’re gearing up for the summer months by building a new chicken coop, repairing anything that needs repair, and raising our babies. Olaf and Juniper, the black and white sheep are brothers who we’ve bottle-fed. They’re known as bottle babies and because of us bottle feeding them from the beginning, they’re incredibly friendly and affectionate. They even slept inside our laundry area for a week during the coldest nights in February. They follow us everywhere and they adore Greyson. Greyson calls them, “brothers”. It’s adorable. We just bought a dozen chicks and we’ve been holding them everyday, imprinting on them. Spring is on the horizon and we’re loving our days spent on the farm. Enjoy the latest photos from our precious farm moments.

Xo

A Manic Monday

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lifestyle

My day began at 6:30 am and I am finally sitting down and relaxing for a moment. Greyson had a bad dream and wound up in our bed around 4 am this morning, Andrew crept out of bed and left for work very early, and I tried to sneak out of bed this morning to go to the bathroom without waking our little boy, but that didn’t happen. He stretched, looked up at me, and smiled. I cleaned, organized, and took care of my indoor animals all before 7 am this morning. I’m currently finishing up my first course, Fashion Merchandising in my Fashion Business Certification course at Parsons School of Design-The New School, and I just began my second course today. I found myself doing school work from 7:30 am until around 3:30 pm, which was exhausting, but I accomplished so much today, which made my manic Monday worth it. I did two quizzes, read six chapters, did two writing assignments, planned ahead, and for the one creative discussion we had to create something with materials found in our space, so I made an ivy headband from a real, live ivy plant, because that represents who I am as a boho babe who loves headpieces (and nature). I’m sitting there today, intertwining ivy together to make a wreath shape, while my active two-year-old was running back and forth from his bedroom to my bedroom, and I just felt very proud of myself. I manage to do so much as a busy mama and to never neglect my needs or passions. Whether it’s pet sitting, dog walking, school, or ballroom dancing, I always make time for myself and I crush my goals. It’s important to give yourself a pat on the back when you’ve accomplished something and to never doubt yourself. You are way stronger than you’ll ever know. Trust me, I’ve proven that to myself more than once.

I also really enjoyed reading about 1820s-1880s fashion history today in Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume & Style, which is a must-have for anyone interested in Fashion History. It’s expensive, but I highly recommend it. It’s a great coffee table book, as well. It’s heavy and the pages are gorgeous, colored with fashion throughout history. It takes you through each time period and shows you the designs worn by women (and men) of each period, which is really interesting and some of the designs are breathtaking. It got me thinking, if I had to live in a time period other than this one, what time period would it be? Well, as a boho babe I would love to live during the sixties or seventies, when bohemian fashion came into play, wearing flowers in my hair and living as a total hippie, driving a pastel-colored VW Bus, but I also adore the 1920s and flapper dresses. I wouldn’t mind partying it up Great Gatsby style during Prohibition, wearing feathers and crystals. I also love the movement of flapper dresses and the comfort level. There’s no way I would’ve been able to wear a corset and layers of fabric with no air conditioning during the summer months. I would die. But, despite the heat and the uncomfortable layers, I’ll always love Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (one of my favorite movies) and her famous red gown that she wears to the party at Ashley’s house, when she’s trying to win his love and affection. Also, the dress she wears made from the drapes she rips down from her great windows in her Deep South estate. She’s such a fashion icon. I adore Vivien Leigh (the actress who played Scarlett O’Hara).

I’m ending my day with writing, yoga, spending some time with my farm animals (I need to cuddle our new baby Easter-egger chicks), and actually…watching Gone with the Wind. Sometimes, the craziest of days bring the most inspiration and for some reason despite how exhausting and busy my day was, I’m wide awake and ready for more creativity. I wish everyone a productive, inspirational Tuesday.

xoxo

Hardwood Floors & Glitter

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Dance / lifestyle

I was never someone who felt comfortable in school and girls were never receptive of me or who I was. Even as a little girl, I was always confident, outspoken, and different. I grew up differently than the girls I knew, surrounded by dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, and other animals that my mom and I rescued. My mom’s an artist and I grew up surrounded by art, knitting, sewing, bright color, and an unconventional parenting style. My parents never pushed me or judged me and I was always allowed to be who I wanted to be, do what I wanted to do, and explore what I wanted to explore. I didn’t have boundaries. I also lived an only child lifestyle, because my brother is much older than me, and he only lived in the same household as me when I was a baby, which forced me to be creative, independent, and fierce.

I went to a private preschool, a public kindergarten, and then I was in private school again until entering into middle school. I decided I didn’t want to go to a private high school. My parents and I figured it would be easier to transfer into public school in middle school, rather than high school, but it wasn’t easy at all. I was always treated like the new girl who wasn’t accepted or understood and I just never felt as though I belonged. I went to a school that in my opinion, was very polarizing towards many of the students. I’m a social butterfly and I can get along with anyone, but in a school environment, I never felt like the best version of myself. School was suffocating, scary, and unremarkable to me. I learned more outside of the classroom than I ever did sitting behind a desk. But, I was respectful towards my teachers and the other staff, I got great grades, and I pushed myself to do my absolute best while I was in school. I was accepted into all of the colleges I applied to, including The Savannah College of Art and Design, which I was thrilled about. Unfortunately, after enduring more than one trauma during high school I wasn’t emotionally able to go away to school.

During my elementary school years I was suffering from a stomach ulcer, which went undiagnosed until I was twelve years old. It was finally treated and by age fourteen my stomach began to normalize, but I still get horrible cramps now and then. Your stomach is a muscle and it remembers the pain and the trauma. It was hard as a child explaining to other children and adults that I was in excruciating pain and no one believed me. Even my teachers thought I was lying and making it all up for attention, which never made any sense to me. I remember in third grade my gym teacher, who was really nasty, had us running laps around an outdoor track. I began to cramp so badly I couldn’t breathe. I told her I needed to go home and she called me a liar to my face and made me sit in the corner away from the other kids. I missed so much school and I’m convinced that’s why I’m horrible at math. I missed too many of the basic math components to ever truly catch up. Oh well, I was never meant to be a math guru, but it made it harder for me to feel normal in school when all of my peers understood math and got good grades and I was constantly struggling in that subject area.

When I was in first grade I joined my private school’s after-school dance program and I fell in love. I had an amazing dance teacher, the girls and I meshed well, and I was good at it. We did a little hip-hop and Jazz, but mostly we learned and focused on ballet. Ballet was so beautiful to me. I loved being able to express myself through body movement, the sparkly tutus, and the feeling of the lights hitting me when I was on the floor. Every day after school I had dance class and then every month we had our dance recital on a Friday night. I’ll never forget going with my dad to buy my leotards, ballet slippers, and tutus and feeling so excited to dance. Dance was the only time I ever felt absolutely comfortable at school. As soon as I stretched and stepped foot onto the dance floor I was home. My teacher was incredible, sparkly, and had been dancing her entire life. She instilled in us motivation, teamwork, and hard work, but she also was so kind, realistic, and easygoing. She never made any of us feel bad about ourselves, which isn’t always the case in the dance industry. I will never forget stretching every dance class to Jesse McCartney, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears…oh, the music of the early 2000’s. Take me back…haha.

I wound up switching private schools, a couple of times after my favorite school closed its doors. I was in the same dance class at my favorite school from first grade until third grade and I learned more than I ever could’ve imagined. I’m so thankful for those days and the experience. In fourth grade I went to a private school in Princeton, NJ and they offered a competitive and advanced ballet class. They also offered mandarin and french classes (fancy, huh?). The first week in the ballet class was all about impressing the teacher and actually placing in the class in order to continue with ballet. Anyone who didn’t place was able to choose a different elective and pursue a different passion, but after days of stressing and pushing myself, I placed in the class and I was able to continue dancing. We focused on ballet, but our dance teacher had a contemporary dance background, so we learned a lot of different techniques and I did two shows at the school during my time there. The shows were terrifying and very different than the dance recitals at my old school, which were casual and laid back. All of the girls I danced with were equally talented, or even better than I was in ballet and many of the girls planned on pursuing ballet professionally. A couple of the girls were already eating differently and trying their very best to be as small as possible, which was never my goal. I always wanted to be healthy. I was small to begin with and never believed in dieting or starving myself as a young, growing girl. I still don’t believe in any of that. I’ll never forget sitting in the ballet room in the fancy private school, admiring the light that flooded through the large floor to ceiling windows, the expensive hardwood floors, and the mirrored walls. I felt as though I was in a fairytale (or a Barbie movie) every time I entered that room. Dance makes you feel like magic.

I stopped dancing after I left private school in sixth grade, but I still danced in my room and choreographed little routines. I’d spin around and fall to the ground gracefully, with the lights dimmed and a favorite song playing loudly. When I was in my early twenties I finally exited from an abusive relationship and I found myself going to a Valentine’s Day dance at a ballroom dance studio that my mom danced at. I watched two talented dance instructors in a room across from me doing a sexy, dramatic, Argentine tango and I said to myself, “I’m going to learn how to do that.” and I did. A week later, I started ballroom dancing and I’m so thankful for the art form because it truly saved me at a time in my life when I needed some sparkle and distraction. I’ll never forget the first time I did Argentine tango and my previous dance instructor/partner looked at me, smiled, and said,”That’s your dance.”. I fell in love with tango (American and Argentine) and I excelled at it, but I explored other dances, and by the time I found out I was pregnant I had performed in countless showcases (the sparkly, holiday shows were my favorite), received recognition and awards, and had learned so much. My previous instructor/partner taught me that it’s never too late to become who you really are. Sadly, my previous instructor/partner left the studio, which is the absolute worst for a dancer, because you connect with a certain dance partner over anyone else. You need that connection in order to perform at your best and to show off your passion. I danced until I was about five months pregnant (with a different instructor/partner), but my equilibrium was off and I felt exhausted after my sessions, which made me realize I needed to focus solely on becoming a mom. I left the studio and after becoming a mama to the most beautiful boy in the world I took a little break from dance and didn’t return until right before COVID-19. I was actually accepted into Stockton Universities (New Jersey) dance program, but I decided to focus on fashion and marketing, which is my life by getting my certification in Fashion Business at Parsons School of Design-The New School (this year). I’m currently finishing up my first course, Fashion Merchandising. Who knows though, in the future maybe I’ll get a dance degree and open my own studio (which I used to dream of), but I’ve always seen myself sticking to fashion as a career. I have years of fashion and marketing experience under my belt and I can style an outfit better than most.

I decided to go to a different studio in 2020 and I met my now dance partner/instructor and I’ve enjoyed every minute of being back on the dance floor. My new partner/instructor is incredible and I’m so glad we have that connection. I danced through 2020, the pandemic, and our new normal. I try to go to the studio at least once a week, but as a busy mama (with other passions) sometimes my priority isn’t dance (that’s life as a mama). I’ve grown so much as a dancer over the years and I’m really proud of myself. I look at all of my dance costumes, photos, and videos and I smile. Dancers don’t dance because they want to…they dance because they have to. They can’t stay off of the dance floor and that’s always how I’ve felt. When I step foot onto the hardwood floor in my ballroom dance shoes the world falls still and I feel so alive. I’m so focused when I’m dancing and for that period of time, while I’m on the floor, nothing else matters. It’s therapeutic, beautiful, and a true commitment. It’s an expensive commitment to lessons, shoes, showcases, and costumes. It isn’t something you do on a whim. It’s something you do because you love it. Dancers watch what they eat, what kind of physical activities they participate in outside of dance, and they need to be careful not to push themselves too hard, or far. I’ve never hurt myself ballroom dancing but I have hit/kicked my partner accidentally (it happens) and I’ve done complex tricks that could’ve ended badly, but that’s why we practice over and over again. It’s a lifestyle, just like iceskating, horseback riding, and swimming. I don’t eat anything before dance because its always better not to dance with a full stomach, but I drink an abnormal amount of water. I don’t like to run because it’s bad for your knees and I have incredibly strong legs. which dancers need. You don’t want a knee or leg injury as a dancer. I love the feeling of pure bliss after a dance session, knowing I rocked it. I’m currently learning nightclub two step and as a country girl, I’m in heaven. During my last dance session I finally nailed the steps, which always feels great.

The dance industry isn’t always welcoming, comfortable, or pleasant. As a girl who used to do ballet I know that the dark side exists and I’ve witnessed various issues. Girls literally kill themselves to be the absolute best, the prettiest, and to make it to the top. Body image issues are a huge problem in the dance and gymnastics world. There have been studies and books published about the dark side of the dance industry, dance addiction, and social isolation due to dance. Studies have shown that many dancers are incredibly isolated and lonely people. Some women spend too much money on competitions, travel, and over the top costumes. Others starve themselves, recreate their image (spray tans, hair, and nails), and become a dance addict. But, many like myself dance because we love it and it’s never become an issue in our lives. I will admit that at one point I was spending way too much money on costumes, shoes, and showcases, but now that I’m a wife and mama my priorities have shifted and that’s not who I am anymore. I save my money and I’m careful with any purchases. Dance will always be a part of me and I cherish every routine, song played, and moment on the dance floor. I’m that girl that hears a song and immediately goes, “I did a dance routine to that song!”. Dance lives within you and dancers aren’t born…they’re taught. I’m thankful for my connection to dance, for hardwood floors, and for glitter

xoxo

Fashion Talk with Lizzie

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lifestyle

Downward Cycle of Popularity

Not every brand makes it to the next generation and some are currently holding on for dear life as I type. A downward cycle in fashion means that the brand is spiraling downwards and losing its popularity and base. There are so many stores I adored as a little girl and as a teenager that are either closed, or on their way out. Henri Bendel, Juicy Couture, Macy’s, Abercrombie, and Forever 21 are just a few examples. One store that’s currently on a downward cycle is Victoria’s Secret.

In the ’90s Victoria’s Secret danced into the fashion scene and defined the word “sexy”. The company made its mark as the go-to destination for fantasy and luxury intimates, became the largest and most popular lingerie retailer in the country, and solidified its place in the market by smart advertising campaigns and a sexy in-store experience. The company also branched out into activewear, creating the PINK label, which became famous among middle school and high school girls who wore nothing but their leggings, sweatshirts, and logo. PINK stores began to open separate from Victoria’s Secret and were supposed to be where the daughters of the younger, trendier moms who shop at VS could go shopping for their activewear and underwear. PINK isn’t as provocative and is more connected to comfort and daily activities, opposed to sex and fantasy. VS stood out among the competition and invented a new way to get women (and men) to shop the brand when they hired elite “Angels”, beautiful, famous supermodels to be their top marketing strategy, strutting down the runway during the famous Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in feathered angel wings and the brand’s latest lingerie, and promoting the intimates on social media, but over the years VS has embarked on a downward spiral in sales and popularity.

When VS entered into the retail scene it was a different world and young women, in particular, viewed themselves and beauty much differently than young women do today. Even older women have redefined what it truly means to be beautiful and sexy. Brands have reinvented themselves and newer brands burst onto the runway right off the bat with real women as models, from normal college girls and young moms to transgenders and plus size models. As hard as VS has tried to be an inclusive brand, especially with their signature PINK collection, geared towards young women between the ages of thirteen and twenty, they will always be the overtly sexy brand that used supermodels and stereotypes from the very beginning to gain sales and growth. Very few women relate to those supermodels and what they’re trying to sell and it has literally deteriorated the brand’s popularity and base over the years. Society’s definition of beauty has been redefined and we’ll never go back to the idea that only a size 00 model can be sexy and sell clothing.

VS has been most popular among Millennials and Generation Z (ages 13-34 years), with many of these customers using social media as their number one engagement tool. They love to follow influencers and models who promote the brand and the image they carry through selfies and glamour. The younger generations don’t look at catalogs or even frequent malls, which has been a huge change to the fashion world as a whole. Although Millennials grew up going to the mall every weekend, (I am guilty of this…just ask my poor father who went with me every Saturday) Generation Z and Y are living a very different lifestyle. They mainly shop online and stare at Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook for outfit inspiration before purchasing through the store’s website or app. on their smartphone. VS has always been more popular among a certain life-stage group, such as single, young women who aren’t necessarily settled down just yet. Although there are moms with daughters who shop the brand, the majority of women who shop at VS and PINK are single and without children. Most moms and married women have moved on to other brands that are more comfortable, inclusive, and less expensive. Moms, even those who are trendy, are looking for affordability and practicality. Of course, the brand’s demographic is mostly women, but over the years a lot of men have started shopping at VS & PINK for their daughters, girlfriends, and wives. My dad shopped at PINK for years with me and when I worked at PINK very briefly before getting pregnant (I was literally only there for a month and a half before I had to leave due to medical reasons), many boyfriends came in to buy bras, leggings, and underwear for their girlfriends. VS has always been expensive and is geared more towards families with a slightly higher income level, which is why you’re able to find the stores within upscale shopping centers and malls, next to Coach, Michael Kors, and Abercrombie. The VS I used to shop at was wedged between Apple and Michael Kors.

L Brands, which owns VS sold much of its stake in the brand to a private equity firm named Sycamore in February of last year (2020), right before COVID-19 threatened our daily lives, decreasing the value of the lingerie brand substantially. During COVID-19, VS decided to close some of its stores without permission from Sycamore and breached the contract they made during the initial deal, but VS argues that they had every right to protect their company during the pandemic. Many of the once beloved VS stores have closed post-pandemic, including one in an upscale shopping area near me that I used to shop at in high school. The VS Fashion Show was cancelled due to a steep decline in views, which damaged the brand’s marketing and image. The brand suffered after society’s views on beauty changed. VS has also been criticized for exploiting women’s bodies to create sales, for being too provocative (especially by parent’s of young girls), and for refusing to embrace real women and real bodies. The brand also struggled with embracing new fashion trends such as offering more comfortable styles (bralettes and sports bras) which are more popular among the younger generations, which other brands like Aerie (owned by American Eagle) and Lively have pushed fully. Finally, the brand suffered tremendously after the founder, Lex Wexner’s relationship with the now infamous, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was made public. The ties between the two were splashed across magazines and websites and their relationship was even discussed in detail on Netflix’s documentary series, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich. On the series, L Brands and Victoria’s Secret were both mentioned, along with Lex Wexner’s background and connection to VS, which looked beyond awful for the brand that was already struggling to remain above water. The company was also bashed by its own models for how they were treated, for inappropriate behavior towards models (including by Jeffrey Epstein on a few occasions), for refusing to hire and support transgender models in our ever-changing world, and for bullying and misogyny within the company.

In 2019, after 123 years of business, Henri Bendel, a store I cherished as a teenager, that was owned by L Brands went dark and closed all of their stores for good. I was a Bendel Girl and loved their fun, luxury items and was crushed when they closed. I still miss their brown and white striped bags, pretty displays, and fun merchandise. When VS began to struggle with sales and other issues within the company (as I discussed above), L Brands decided to close all of their Henri Bendel locations, including my favorite on Fifth Avenue in New York City and focus on VS and Bath and Body Works. The closing of Henri Bendel was a way for L Brands to hopefully increase shareholder value and was one of the first signs to me and to many others that L Brands and VS were in serious trouble, spiraling downwards. Of course, closing Henri Bendel hasn’t helped VS or L Brands and sales continue to decline, but it’s certainly interesting how a brand once worshipped can permanently fall from its pedestal.

Fashion Talk with Lizzie

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Introduction

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved fashion, styling, and shopping. I vividly remember crying over a cheetah print coat at Target when I was a little girl. I wanted a Barbie set and the coat, but my dad told me I had to pick between the two (a huge decision for a five year old), because they were both pricey. I took a moment to think about what I really wanted. I grabbed the coat. I chose fashion over toys. How many little girls choose outerwear over Barbies? From a very young age I felt a connection to clothing and sytling outfits and this connection has only grown stronger over the years. As a busy, twenty-five-year-old mama and wife, fashion is still an essential part of my life. I’ve decided to add another blog series to my blog called, Fashion Talk with Lizzie because I have years of fashion and marketing experience, a lot of stories, and a ton of passion. I know there are countless women, moms included that not only love fashion, but who also appreciate learning and knowing more. Why are you drawn to a certain brand? Why do some stores disappear with each generation? What’s behind the scenes? What makes up the fashion world we grew up worshipping? What affects the fashion industry and current trends? I’m here to explore it all with you and help other fashionistas learn and grow. Welcome to class, loves.

I started in fashion and retail in 2013 as a Seasonal Sales Associate at PacSun and I ended as the Marketing Assistant at an upscale shopping plaza near me, right after becoming a mommy. I love the industry so much that I’m currently enrolled at Parson’s School of Design-The New School, working on my Fashion and Business Certification. I wanted to continue to learn and dive into the world I’ve always loved and I want to add a little more bling to my resume. I’m so happy being a stay at home mama, but one day when Greyson is older and in school fulltime, I’ll want to return to the fashion and marketing world. I decided to share with my lovely readers some fashion history, my favorite brands, interesting facts and statistics that exist within the fashion world, and what makes up the fashion world (the behind the scenes), because it’s a world unlike any other. It’s also a world that is everchanging. COVID-19 has had an immense impact on the fashion industry and many stores we grew up going to are shutting their doors permanently, which makes me sad, but I saw it coming. With each generation trends change, stores must know how to grow and adapt, and generational needs/wants differ immensely. Anyone in my age bracket (twenty five-forty), if you ask your parents about their shopping habits when they were our age, what was in, and what pricepoints they shopped, you’d discover how different we are from them.

Generational Differences

Millennials are probably the most discussed generation of all time, but for good reason. A lot of events, trends, and of course, the technological advances have made Millennials very different than past generations. Even Generation Z is changing the game and is different than the Millennial generation. Millennials, were born between 1981 and 1996, making me a Millennial by ONE year. I was born in 1995 and I just made the cut. Millennials are between the ages of twenty five and forty years old, representing a huge majority of the world’s population. We define so much, including the fashion world. But, Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2015) are also contributing to the ever changing world of fashion and design. They’re much different than my generation, which is crazy, because the birth years are so close. For example, Millennials grew up going to the mall every Saturday with friends and parents, but Generation Z prefers shopping online and via social media, finding the absolute best deals, and are way more price conscious. Those little details affect the industry immensely because marketing and advertising now needs to be geared towards the online, Instagram shopper, opposed to the in-store, mall shopper. I consider myself to be very unique because I am on the border of both generations. I did indeed grow up in-store shopping, going to the mall every Saturday (my dad is a Saint, lol), but I also discovered the perks of online shopping during my late teen years. Especially during a pandemic, so many stores have now discovered that the way to survive is through smart, creative social media campaigns and easy, fun online shopping experiences. Influencers are the way into the hearts of young girls who stare at their Instagram feed more than anything else. It’s crazy how quickly women and men my age adapted to the online world, falling in love with social media and new marketing strategies that catch our attention, but luckily we discovered social media as young adults, not as children. Some of my favorite brands currently ONLY exist online (Lively and Pink Lily), which is such a change from my childhood-early teenage years.

Unlike my generation, Generation Z grew up immersed in the world of technology and fell in love with social media at a very early age. Instagram didn’t exist until I was a junior in high school, I didn’t have an iPhone, until my junior year, and none of my peers cared about selfies, or social media until we were entering into our senior year. Anyone remember the popular, pretty flipphone called the Envy? Well, that was what my friends and I had! I had the orange one. The same phone the glamorous, Upper East Side beauties in Gossip Girl carried around on Season One of the show. Yup. Even GG and other shows changed once they started using more technology. My friends and I didn’t have a frontfacing camera for selfies, we didn’t have social media icons on our screen, and we weren’t glued to our phones. It’s a very different world. Many of the Generation Z population had smartphones and laptops way before I and others my age ever did. A lot of children growing up today, born after 2015 (like my son Greyson), know technology better than any previous generation. My son sees me with my iPad, MacBook, and my iPhone, but when I was growing up my parents had landlines, beepers, and eventually a Dell Laptop with DIAL-UP…oh, the horror of waiting for your computer to “dial-up” so that you could logon to the internet, check your mail, etc. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Dial-up refers to Dial-up Internet Connection, which came before High-Speed Internet Connection, the kind we are all used to now using a WiFi connection. Dial-up used a modem and a phone line to connect you to internet services and was incredibly, painfully slow. You could cook a meal, write a letter, and pick out an outfit while waiting for your computer to finish dialing up. Teenagers today will not know the struggle and the pain of Dial-up internet, which is a shame. They also won’t know the excitement of getting a message on AOL Instant Messenger! I’m actually really thankful that I grew up before technology was so advanced and I honestly miss the simplicity of the past.

Many of my childhood friends didn’t even have a computer! Now, everything is instant and immediately available on our smartphones from shopping and booking events to paying bills and buying homes. I remember all of those dinosaur-like technologies mentioned above and my son will never know what a beeper is, a landline, or “Dial-up”. Wow…I feel old. The fact that Generation Z is so tuned into technology and fast, immediate experiences from shopping to medical care will have an earthquake-like affect on the fashion industry. The retail world is already changing and many stores cannot hold on much longer. It’s also important to note that many Millennials, grew up before 9/11 changed our world forever, but myself and many others grew up in a post 9/11 world. Parents became more cautious and the way we view events, places, and people changed in an instant. Events and political issues affect the way we shop, travel, and spend money. At this point, malls even make me nervous! I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d rather shop in smaller boutiques, or online instead of in huge, busy malls where attacks (shootings, bombings, etc.) are more common, and that was my thought process BEFORE COVID-19 infiltrated our daily lives. Now, I’m super cautious because if I don’t need to go somewhere I’m not going to, especially with my two year old son.

I’ve watched so many stores that I loved growing up close permanently since 2000, such as Limited Too, Blockbuster, Zany Brainy, Henri Bendel (this one hurt the most), Borders, Wet Seal, and Toys R Us. There are also plenty of stores that are on a downward cycle of popularity, which will make them the next to go. I read the other day that due to COVID-19, by 2025, 100,000 retail stores will be closed. In my next Fashion Talk with Lizzie, I’ll talk more about some of my favorite stores as a teenager that are on the way out, and why they’re slowly fading out. I’ll also talk more about what a downward cycle in fashion and retail really means.

Xoxo

Valentine’s Day Vibes 💗

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#ValentinesDayChallenge just in time for Valentine’s Day! I decided to post this to my blog and then to social media, because it’s just too cute not to share with my readers. By the way, Andrew and I aren’t obsessed with V day, but we always spoil each other and wind up having an amazing time. This year, due to COVID and being extra careful, we’re ordering Italian food from a favorite restaurant and staying in with Greyson. All I need is good food and alcohol.

Here’s our story!

How’d you meet? I was the manager at a store and during my shift he came in…I walked by him in cowgirl boots and ripped jeans and the rest is history 😘

First date? We had drinks & dinner at Pasta Vino, a favorite restaurant of ours. He actually proposed to me at the same restaurant!

How long have you been together? We’ve been together since October of 2017…but, we officially started dating on November 12, 2017.

Who asked who out? Andrew asked me to be his girlfriend in front of our good friend’s house, in the car.

Age difference? He’s four years older than me.

Who was interested first? I think we were both instantly interested!

Who is taller? Andrew is taller, because everyone is taller than me…lol.

Who said I love you first? I said I love you first.

Most impatient? Andrew!

Most sensitive? Me, 100%.

Loudest? Andrew

Most stubborn? We’re both equally stubborn.

Falls asleep first? Andrew always falls asleep first and it’s the worst.

Cooks better? Andrew

Better morning person? Andrew

Better driver? Oh, me all the way!

Most competitive: Neither one of us is competitive.

Funniest: Andrew…I’m more serious.

Where do you eat out most as a couple? We love Mexican food and Italian food. We bounce between a few restaurants.

Who is more social? I’m the social butterfly 🦋

Who is the neat freak? Me, me, me.

Where was your first kiss? Our first kiss was at my old work, where we met.

Who initiated your first kiss? Andrew

Who picks where you go to dinner? We both are super indecisive, so it takes a while!

Who is the first one to admit when they’re wrong? We’re both pretty good about this, but sometimes Andrew takes longer.

Who wears the pants in the relationship? It’s equal. We’re a team, always.

Who has more tattoos? Andrew has none and I have 5, plus a sleeve 😁

Who sings better? That would be me!

Spends the most? Andrew spends more money more often, but I buy more expensive products.

Who drives? Usually Andrew drives, but if he’s driving my truck I’m so neurotic about my vehicle that I wind up bothering him and then I drive…🤣

What’s your biggest flaw and their biggest flaw? Andrew’s biggest flaw would probably be how obsessed with working he is (not a bad thing at all), but I miss him when he’s gone, and mine would be my anxiety! I get so crazy about little things, hence why I’m a neat freak.

Favorite memory with each other? The day we had our beautiful baby boy & held him for the first time. I couldn’t imagine becoming a mama with anyone else 💙

Favorite Valentines Day memory? Every Valentines Day has been special. We always do dinner, drinks, and watch a favorite movie or show. I love that every year he gets me a different colored gold-dipped rose so that in fifty years I have a massive bouquet.

Who drinks more? Me 😁

Dream vacation together? We’re both homebodies and traveling stresses us out, but I really want to go to Iceland!

Happy Valentines Day to all of the lovers out there! Be safe and be sexy. 💕

Coming Home

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Creating a Zen Workspace at Home

I’m a firm believer in everyone having a desk in their home and a zen workspace. If you have a space designated for creativity and inspiration you’ll have better, clearer ideas and you’ll feel more focused. Whether you work from home, go to school, love to write, mail letters to friends and family, or you’re a designer, a desk space is a must. After the past year, so many are finding themselves more inspired and creative than ever, because we were forced to spend more time at home and alone. COVID-19 has ravaged our world, stalking us silently, but 2020 was actually an incredibly moving and inspirational year for me. Being alone more often and being home helped me discover more about myself and I grew as a person. I found new hobbies, fell in love with old passions, such as ballroom dancing, and dove head first into home projects. I realized what I absolutely need in order to be happy and what I can live without. It has been a year unlike any other, but with each year comes important lessons, growth, and light (even in the darkest of times).

My desk area is very special to me because it’s where I’m most creative and peaceful. It’s a place where I forget about all of the noise around me. My desk is also in my bedroom, which is quiet and peaceful. I do my yoga in my bedroom, my kitties hangout in my bedroom, and it’s a calming room. It’s important to put your desk in a place that doesn’t get a lot of traffic and is for the most part, quiet. I write, of course, but I’m also obsessed with fashion and I’m currently getting my Fashion Business certification from Parson’s School of Design; All of my courses are online, which is the norm thanks to COVID-19 for all students. I do my schoolwork at my desk, write, read fashion magazines (constantly), and I make my lists (grocery lists, home project lists, goal lists) at my desk. It’s a perfect space to sit, think, and begin. My desk is from 1925 and belonged to my Great Grandmother. I love to think how many women sat down at this desk and wrote letters, paid bills, and created (including myself). Every mark and scratch on this antique is special. When I was in high school I did my schoolwork at this desk, I had a little makeup area set up to do my makeup every day, and I still do my makeup at my desk with my makeup mirror, because it feels natural at this point.

You can buy a desk from various retailers (Wayfair, Amazon, IKEA), you can find an old desk at a yard sale, or an antique store and revamp it, making it your own, or if you have someone in your life whose able to, you can have your desk custom built to suit your needs and your space. First, find the perfect spot for it in your home (adequate space is very important). Then, decide what you want the energy of your zen workspace to be. My desk area is very bohemian and connected to nature. I can look out two windows that overlook a field, with deer, trees, and perfect sunsets. I have faux flowers on my desk and celestial decorations all around to remind me of what I love. Lastly, you get to shop for all of your desk needs and decor (my favorite part). It’s very important to be selective regarding what you put on (and in) your desk and to keep it clean, organized, and clear from clutter and junk. Every item on my desk was hand selected for a reason, which makes the space that much more special. I have an iron Brooklyn Bridge, because I’m forever connected to New York City, my jewelry, because it’s beautiful and each piece is special to me, and my favorite fashion books for constant inspiration. Take some time to find what makes your heart and soul happiest and incorporate those items into your zen space. Also, candles are a MUST. Certain smells can calm you down, motivate you, and make you feel as though you’re somewhere beautiful, like laying out on the beach, or hiking in the mountains. I buy a Citrine candle every so often from a local shop because Citrine promotes success. Scents are everything. You can also buy and incorporate crystals. I’m coming up with a way to display my favorite crystals, which I’m excited about. Crystals can promote peace, healing, success, and spirituality. Have fun designing your perfect, zen workspace and remember to make it your own.

Here’s my zen workspace…