What’s in my Beach Bag?

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lifestyle

Whether you’re a busy mama like me, or you’re just a gal heading to the beach to catch some waves and soak up the sunshine, your beach bag is essential. After becoming a mama to a fun, crazy, incredible little boy my beach bag has changed immensely. I’ve been to the beach every weekend since summer began this year, and I always pack my beach bag hours before to ensure that I don’t forget anything. I’m here to help you pack for your next beach day! What’s in my beach bag?

  • Sunscreen for myself and Greyson (I bring sunscreen with me, but I apply it to myself and Greyson before we head to the beach to save some time)
  • Bug spray
  • Healthy snack 🍇
  • Water (you can always bring a small cooler for all of your food/drinks)
  • An insulated baby bottle tote that fits food and a bottle for Greyson (I usually pack a PB&J sandwich, a snack, and a drink for him)
  • Baby wipes
  • Diapers & swim diapers
  • Two extra outfits for Greyson (always be prepared)
  • Sunglasses (I usually bring one of my Ray-Bans to the beach) 😎
  • Hair ties
  • Trader Joe’s Rose Water Facial Toner (refreshing after laying in the sun) ☀️
  • My wallet & cash 💵
  • A book (always bring a book, or a magazine with you…everywhere) 📖
  • Perfume
  • Spray deodorant
  • Hat (a beach hat, or a baseball cap)
  • A cute cover up, or a comfy lounge shirt

There are also beach essentials that don’t fit in my beach bag, but that I always bring with me! What are my other beach essentials?

  • Towels
  • Tanning mat
  • Beach toys for Greyson
  • Cooler (optional)

This has been a very weird, trying year for everyone and I truly believe that the beach can cure all wounds. Take a day trip, or rent a beach house for a week and escape from your daily routine for a little while. You deserve it.

Xo

Coming Home

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lifestyle

The Ultimate Staycation

2020 has not been what any of us envisioned as we watched the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, ready for resolutions and adventures. We had a vacation planned for May to celebrate our one year anniversary, which we cancelled due to the pandemic, and I had a New York City trip planned with a girlfriend that we put on hold for the time being. We missed seeing my brother and family in the city for Passover and Easter, which made me sad. Although I’ve been making up for the lost time and going to the beach, shopping in my favorite boutiques, and enjoying the outdoor dining experience, I’ve been living the staycation lifestyle for months and I can’t complain. Whether you’re taking it easy, cautiously moving forward post-pandemic, or tight on money after a weird, stressful few months, going on a vacation might not be an option. That’s okay! Don’t let jetsetters on social media make you feel envious. You can have a wonderful summer at home. Here’s my guide to the ultimate staycation…

  • Go to the bookstore, or online, pick out a book that interests you and create a cozy reading area in your home, or outside.
  • Have a barbeque with summer drinks, good food, and music.
  • Do a wine tasting at home with your significant other or friends with a few bottles of wine, cheese, fruit, and crackers.
  • Set up your bedroom for a personal yoga class. All you need are candles, leggings, and a yoga mat (Amazon). Download a yoga app on your iPad and get your zen on.
  • Go to a local farmers market and shop colorful produce, baked goods, and plants.
  • Have a spa day at home and take some time for yourself. Buy some flower petals, lotions, facial masks, scented candles, and make a playlist.
  • Pick a DIY project and have fun creating and crafting something beautiful.
  • Have a movie night with popcorn, candy, and wine. Make it a film festival vibe!
  • Campout in your backyard or near your home, tell scary stories and watch a movie.
  • Have a cultural day at home by picking a theme, such as Greek day. Dress for the part, make something Greek themed for dinner, and decorate your home for the occasion.
  • Go for lots of walks around your neighborhood, discover local parks, and make it interesting for yourself and kids. Tell your kids that on your walk they need to discover different types of plants, birds, or bugs. Make it a learning experience and record everything new you’ve discovered.
  • Enjoy a Disney-themed staycation with Disney music, Disney movies, Disney decor and decorations, and even wear a pair of Minnie ears around the house. This is perfect for a weekend at home with your kids. Make some Disney-themed foods and hide hidden Disney toys around the house for your kids to find.
  • Have a Christmas marathon in the summer, because it’s never too hot or too early to drink egg-nog and watch Hallmark movies, right?
  • Game night is always a good idea! Buy some of your favorite board games and DIY some new, different games and have fun with wine, games, and appetizers.
  • If you have a pickup truck, or can borrow someone’s truck fill the bed with pillows and blankets and lay out under the stars.
  • If you want to have a romantic night at home with your lover, pick a place you both want to visit and transform your bedroom into that place by candles (specific scents), food, and wine (unique to that country or state), and decor.
  • Have a bed and breakfast themed morning in bed with your significant other and, or your kids. Watch a good movie and eat waffles, eggs, and drink some flavored coffee.

The Doll Diaries

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lifestyle
Joss has been staying cool and creative by spending her time writing 💗

For all of the little girls watching the hate and violence spread like wildfire, it’s important to stay close to your passions and to block out the negativity that surrounds us. It’s important to remember that you cannot fight hate with hate and what the world needs the most right now is more love and positivity from all age groups. Stay close to the ones you love and whatever makes you feel alive. If art, music, and writing makes you feel the happiest, spend some time today creating beautiful sentences, painting a picture, or listening to lyrics. Share the beauty with friends, family, and neighbors. If spending time in nature, playing sports, or taking care of animals keeps you calm, spend time doing what you love most. Fill your world with peace, light, and love. Fill your days with the things that mean the most to you and give everyone else a little inspiration. During times of chaos and violence it’s often best to shut down your phone and stay away from social media. Peace and quiet can be healing.

I’ve gotten so many messages from girls and their moms, especially on Instagram who have fallen in love with the dolls 💗 I’m so glad that the photos have brought smiles and insight to girls everywhere. I am currently writing a new young adult drama, which will be posted as a blog series soon and I’m so excited to share it with everyone. To keep my blog filled with writing, I’m keeping The Doll Diaries going on Instagram to share the inspirational photos with girls of all ages, but my blog will be focused solely on my writing from stories to The Greyson Diaries, which has always been everyone’s favorite. Be sure to click the button below to follow The Doll Diaries on Instagram ✨ Share the dolls and their beautiful photos with the girls of the world and girl mamas. Stay safe, healthy, and let your positivity be a light.

The Greyson Diaries

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motherhood

Creating a Comfortable World For Your Child

There are questions parents ask themselves, every day. “Should my son like the color pink more than blue?” “Is it okay for my daughter to want to play football rather than dance?” “Are toy guns dangerous or simply apart of pretend play?” “Should my child eat meat if I don’t?” There’s no rulebook to being a parent and at the end of the day we know our children better than anyone, but our children are also their own people. Even at a very young age, they have their own opinions, thoughts, and ideas. Sometimes, Greyson is my absolute twin and other times he’s a totally unique, independent kid. I was always incredibly girly, obsessed with fashion, dolls, and glitter, but I was also in love with sports, nature, and animals. I spent hours on end playing in the dirt with my dogs, riding my horses bare back, and crawling through bushes and climbing trees. I wasn’t one, single descriptive word. Your son can love the color pink and also play football better than anyone. Your daughter can play with cars and love sports but hate dance and dolls. You can choose to keep toy guns and video games out of your home, but you can also introduce them in simple, innocent ways, if you choose. Unfortunately, we can’t shelter our children from everything and they deserve to learn and grow, despite the weird, crazy world we live in.

I believe there’s nothing wrong with little kids playing with toy guns, swords, and light sabers, fighting off monsters, zombies, and bad guys. I think pretend play is so important and we’ve all been doing it since the beginning of time. But, I think it’s also so important for your child to understand that if they ever see a real gun, to stay away from it, and to tell a parent or an adult. It’s crucial for them to understand that weapons kill people, innocent people, children included, and that they don’t just exist in pretend play situations. Especially with all of the violence surrounding us, children need to know right from wrong, peace from war, fear from strength, and love from hate. They need to know how to be kind, inspirational, and creative. Spend more time raising a strong, independent, happy child than worrying about whether or not your son wears a lot of pink. They will discover who they are as they wonder, grow, and learn, but it’s our job to provide them with a comfortable, loving environment. It’s our job to allow them to be who they truly are. If we don’t believe in them, who will? It’s a big, scary world and home should always be a safe place. I’ve already taught Greyson so much and although he’s only eighteen months old and has a mind of his own, I know that the lessons that Andrew and I teach him will make a real difference in his life. The love that we show him every single day will impact him in beautiful ways.

Beyond teaching Greyson to always say “I love you”, to be kind and polite to others, and to brush his teeth at least twice a day, I also teach him the fun, sparkly life lessons. I teach him to never stop believing in magic, to never be too old to search the skies on Christmas Eve, to never be too old to play with toys, and to be unapologetically himself in a world filled with people pretending to be something they’re not. You can ask yourself those questions every day, but the answer is up to your child. You might not always like the same things as your children and that’s okay. You might’ve loved baseball as a child, but your child may love bugs and books about different bugs. I see so much of myself and Andrew in Greyson, but he’s so unique and special. I love that even at eighteen months my son has his own mind, spirit, and interests. I know without a doubt that I’ve created a comfortable world for him to grow up in.

We live in a world where even little kids are judged for who they are and that’s the saddest thing I’ve come to learn as an adult. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but you don’t tell your child who they are, they tell you and the world. I’ve heard dads say that they’d never allow their son to play with dolls, or to push a baby stroller because that isn’t manly…well, my husband is one of the strongest men I’ve ever met and he pushed Greyson in a stroller everywhere we went, he also carried my diaper bag for me, and would never tell our son who to be. Why shouldn’t a little boy learn at a young age that taking care of someone else is significant? I read a beautiful article the other day in a parenting magazine where a dad explains that he, just like my husband pushes his baby girl in a stroller every single day and is a burly, thirty-year old man. He supports boys playing with dolls, girls learning to play sports with the boys, and children exploring who they are. It made me feel better reading that there are real men out there, like my husband, in this scary world that are supportive of their children and who they are. Boys playing with dolls is just a simple example for a much larger, deeper topic, but the point is let your child be whoever they want to be. There will be plenty of obstacles in their way as they grow up. Don’t be one of them.

I’ve heard moms say that they’d never let their daughters play basketball or football because they should be dancing or singing. Well, tell that to all of the women who’ve fought so hard for their place in sports, at The Olympics, and in the world today. I don’t think you’d appreciate being told who to be and your daughters deserve the right to be whoever they choose and to explore their passions. Creating a comfortable world for your children starts at home, from the day they come home from the hospital. There’s nothing wrong with showing our children what we love, but it’s so important to show interest in what they love, too.

To all of the mamas and daddy’s out there doing their absolute best in a world filled with hate and chaos, you matter so much. Raising our children to be kind, honest, passionate individuals is the most valuable job in the world. I’m so proud to be a mama and to be doing what I love every single day.

The Doll Diaries

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Friendship goals ✨🤍

Friendship changes as you grow older and you realize that you may not always agree with your friends, like the same things, or have the same goals. One day you might have a disagreement with your best friend over something and you’ll feel horrible, but true friends can overcome anything. They hold your hand when you’re scared, wipe your tears when you’re sad, and laugh with you on the good days. They accept you for who you are and they respect your decisions, appreciate your flaws, and admire your strengths. They love you for everything you are and everything you’re not.

There’s a lot of chaos and violence happening all around us, but friendship is stronger than hate. Love is stronger than any other emotion and it can heal wounds, inspire great stories, and create beautiful memories. Take a moment to tell your friends and family that you love them and hold on tightly to the ones you love most. Kaya and Delilah are very different, but their differences have never hindered their friendship. Never allow hate into your heart and don’t waste your time with negativity. Girls, we can change the world for the better. As you grow up, let your smile change the world. Don’t let the world change your smile. Be the light you wish to see and inspire others everywhere you go with kindness, creativity, and positive vibes.

The Doll Diaries

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Rainy days 🌧

Kaya loves rainy days, good books, and cute clothes. She spent the day cuddling in bed with Summer the cat, reading some Bret Easton Ellis, and trying on her new outfit for summer vacation. She put on her favorite lipstick shade and lounged around, waiting for her best friend Delilah to come over, but as usual, Delilah was running late.

There was a time in Kaya’s life when she was very lonely after moving to a new town. She had waved goodbye to her old life, friends, and childhood home and the new town she found herself in was filled with people who didn’t understand her. She was bohemian, unique, and outspoken. At school, she was bullied for being artsy, strong, and different, which made her feel lost and uncomfortable in her own skin. As she got older she realized that being different is a powerful tool in a world filled with too much of the same. She was bullied by insecure girls who didn’t know who they were, but Kaya knew who she was. She loved the rain, reading on a Sunday morning, and shopping for new clothes. One day she was sitting at the mall, cozied up in a favorite sweater, at a little coffee shop when a sweet, pretty girl walked over to her. She introduced herself and shared a smile with Kaya. Her name was Delilah…Kaya never felt alone again. Kaya had never forgotten the days of being bullied and feeling like she didn’t belong, but she learned to be strong as one and to never forget her own strength.

Delilah was late because she was returning from a New York City adventure with their friend Hudson, who is a total city girl. Before she knew it, Kaya had filled her entire day with things she loved before Delilah even arrived. She learned that rainy days are the best for creativity and getting things done at home. She also learned that it’s okay to be alone and that independence is a beautiful thing. There’s a difference between alone and lonely, remember that girls. Take a page from Kaya’s book and enjoy your alone time. Be creative and pick up a good book, try on your favorite clothes, and put on a little lipstick. Listen to music, write a story, and clean out your closet. Never lose that fire inside of you and don’t let anyone dull your light.

The Greyson Diaries

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motherhood

Bless This Mess

Parents know better than anyone that some weeks don’t go as planned and others play out perfectly. The past week has been filled with issues, chaos, and unexpected surprises. It’s been such a drama-filled week that I feel the need to share all of the details with you. If you’re having a long, rough week you’re not alone! Hang in there. Every day, good and bad, brings new lessons and growth.

Friday was a normal, mama and Greyson day and we went for a walk, watched a movie, and I did my usual household tasks. I cleaned, did some laundry, made a list of home projects to tackle over the weekend, and did creative work for my blog. Andrew came home late that night and we were both exhausted by the end of the day. We’ve been bottle feeding our baby cow, Oliver, and fitting interesting responsibilities into our schedule. Bottle fed baby animals are a huge responsibility for anyone whose never had the pleasure of taking care of a sheep, goat, cow, etc. that needs motherly care until they’re old enough to eat grain and hay. It’s incredibly rewarding and you will create a true connection with the baby animal, but it’s tiring. We’ve always had unique responsibilities and fun projects happening at home, but this week took on a life of its own.

Saturday we woke up ready to tackle my list of home projects and sadly, the weather interfered. This has been the weirdest year of weather from the temperature to the tornado-force winds we’ve experienced over the past couple of months. Sunday was a new, bright day and we were determined to complete the home projects with little to no issues and have a good day as a family. Greyson is such a happy boy and has always been easygoing in all types of situations, but for some reason this weekend he was in one of those moods. We all know the mood I’m talking about…the mood that makes us question everything, want to cry (just like them), and makes the child pass out, completely exhausted from their own emotions. I’m a positive person and I always see the light, but this weekend kept testing me. Finally, I felt lighter and relaxed. Andrew needed my help holding a piece of trim while he nailed it to the wall. I stopped one of my creative projects (The Doll Diaries) and went to help him.

I was holding the trim for him, which I’ve done many times before. I’m married to a very talented man whose skills range from construction to farming and we’ve done so many projects together, small and enormous. I always help him and we’re a good team. I heard a strange noise echo from the nail gun and then I felt an intense pressure in my finger. I looked down and realized a three-inch, relatively thick nail shot straight through my finger, luckily missing the bone and my fingernail. I turned white as a ghost and screamed a scream that scared my husband half to death. I looked like a child, thinking the world was coming to an end. Andrew looked at me and I burst into tears, finally feeling the extraordinary pain from the nail. The nail gun had misfired and it was such a freak accident. We don’t even know how my finger was in the way or what really happened, but the end result was a nail through my finger. Andrew told me to look away and he pulled the nail, in the blink of an eye, out of my finger. I screamed again, in complete shock. My finger was black, blue, and bright red and I kept looking down at the two, giant holes in my finger and felt as though I was going to pass out.

Andrew is incredible in situations like that and he took care of my finger, disinfected the wound, wrapped my finger, and reassured me that although it’s going to be very painful for a few days, it’s going to be okay. He felt awful, because he nailed a finger through his wife’s finger, despite it being a total accident. I tried to continue with our day and push through the pain, taking painkillers and being as careful as possible, but even changing Greyson’s diaper was tough. Andrew managed to finish every home project that day alone and I tried to stop replaying what happened in my head over and over again. At the end of the day, I laughed and looked over at my husband. I said to him, “Babe, I thought my finger would have to be amputated.” He fell over laughing and said, “Baby…you’re a trooper and I’ll never forget the look on your face when you held your little finger up to me with the nail sticking out of it. You lost your tan for a minute…you were so white.” It was a very eventful day.

Memorial Day was beautiful and the weather was perfect. I was in a lot of pain and my finger had swelled up; my finger looked even worse than it did when it initially happened. On our way home from Shoprite, ready to barbecue, drink, and relax, we smelled a horrible, burning rubber smell. We pulled up to our house and sat in the truck for a moment, confused as to what we were smelling. I looked out the window and the back end of his truck was smoking. Smoke poured out and the smell became worse. It’s also important to note that it’s a work truck and Andrew had just finished installing a new front bumper, grill, and he put about $2,000.00 worth of work into the truck a couple of weeks before. I grabbed Greyson and rushed out of the truck, panicked. Andrew hosed down the back end and sparks, smoke, and a white, smelly haze came off of his back brakes. His brakes literally caught on fire. This event delayed the entire barbecue and evening. I ran inside and poured an extra-large glass of wine for myself and sat with Greyson on our deck, finally taking a deep breath after the weirdest, craziest weekend we had experienced in a very long time.

Yesterday I drove Andrew to work and picked him up since his truck is at the mechanic and it was a busy, but normal day. Greyson and I wound up waiting for Andrew at the end of the day for an hour and we drove around, discovering a beautiful park near his work that we didn’t know existed. Greyson and I walked around, relaxed, and soaked up the sun while we waited for Andrew to be done for the day. He had a long, complicated roofing job far from the office. The day came to a close and we both fell asleep happy and relaxed. This morning I drove him to work again and on the way home I realized my tire pressure was dropping rapidly in my one tire. It was seven in the morning and I was barely awake. I was so excited to get home and cuddle with Greyson.

Anyone who knows me knows that my truck, Luna (a 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road) is my baby and I’m so careful with her. I always make sure she’s clean, detailed, and that everything is in perfect condition. I arrived at the farm forty-five minutes later to feed Oliver and I looked at my tire, knowing something didn’t feel right and there was a giant nail lodged in my expensive tire. I couldn’t believe it! A nail through my finger and then a nail through my truck tire…what was happening? Did I offend the universe and deserve a crazy, bad week? I wanted to cry and laugh. Luckily, I got my tire fixed late this morning and it’s perfect again, but it was one hell of a morning and a week I will never forget!

The moral of my long, detailed story is that everything comes with a lesson. I learned that my husband can handle and take care of literally anything and that he always does. He took care of my finger, called to arrange for my tire to be fixed while he was at work, because I was overwhelmed, and thanked me over and over again for the ride to and from work, incredibly grateful for me and our relationship. I am so grateful for him and for our strength as a team. I learned to never take any good day for granted and that every day, even the messy ones are a blessing. I also learned that there’s nothing I can’t handle with a little positive thinking, a deep breath, and a glass of wine…of course!

Cheers to life’s messy moments 🥂

The Doll Diaries

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Emmy is ready for summer vacation and warm adventures with her best friend, Daisy the lamb.

My blog has always catered to adults who need some fashion, home, and life inspiration, but after cleaning out our closets and discovering my old American Girl Dolls and going on a nostalgia trip, I’ve decided to create a new blog series called The Doll Diaries for all of the young girls who are missing out on school, friends, events, and celebrations. I want to inspire little girls to dream big and stay creative in a world filled with so much negativity. I also wanted to do something special and fun for parents and children who’ve been at home and dealing with a lot over the past few months from stress to sickness. To all of the mamas with little girls who light up after receiving a new, pretty doll this is especially for you. I’ll be putting my photography skills to work and creating playful, inspirational photo stories and I hope they bring a little joy to young girls during such a weird, transitional time. For any mamas who are still little girls at heart these posts will make you smile, too. Never lose your inner doll and your love for dress up, adventure, and magic.

Xo

Spend as much time outside this summer as possible, learn to dance in the rain, and enjoy nature, just like Emmy. ☀️

Follow my blog, if you don’t already and stay up to date on The Doll Diaries ✨

Coming Home

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Home Design

DIY CACTUS PLANT 🌵

Hey there! I am sure anyone whose still quarantining and remaining cautious is feeling bored and tired. I’ve been spending a lot of time creating, writing, and online shopping, of course. I’ve also spent as much time as possible outside. I drove to the beach the other day, go for walks every day, and hangout with my animals. I love exploring the forest and state parks, too. I’m lucky enough to live in an area surrounded by woods, fields, and I’m not far from the beach. Try to make the most out of every day!

Whose ready for my latest DIY project? I made a DIY cactus plant the other day and it’s adorable. I made mine for my deck but you can place it indoors, as well. If you’re in love with color, bohemian trends, and summer, this project is for you. It’s also a great way to keep your children busy and inspired.

What will you need?

  • A pot (terra-cotta planter, ceramic pot, decorative pot, etc.)
  • Sand
  • Large and medium painting rocks (I bought painting rocks but also used rocks I found at our farm)
  • Outdoor Acrylic Paint (I ordered mine from Michaels)
  • Small paint brushes
  • Cardboard (to paint on)

First, fill your pot more than halfway with sand, dirt, or even rock. You want your finished rocks to sit on top of the sand and be visible. I used some soil and sand. The sand is the last layer before adding the finished product in my DIY cactus plant, which makes it look more authentic and natural. If you bought a terra-cotta planter and you’d like to paint it, do that before anything else and let it dry. After filling your pot with the dirt, rock, or sand more than halfway it’s time to paint! Lay all of your rocks, spaced apart on a piece of cardboard, and begin painting the rocks whatever color you’d like. I went with a classic cactus look, painting the rocks dark green and lime green. I painted four coats on each rock and then I let them dry. After they are dry you can add pink or yellow to the tips (imitating a cactus flower and adding pops of color). You can also paint white dots, lines, stars, or stripes onto the rocks to make the cactus rocks look more realistic. After finishing the one side of the rock, (and assuring they’re all dry) flip the rocks over and paint the backs the same base color you did on the front, for example green. I did another three-four coats on the backs of the rocks and then by the evening they were dry. Once the rocks are dry you can simply place them in the pot and arrange them however you’d like. I used about twenty rocks, but you can make your pot as filled or as simplistic as you’d like. I set mine outside on a little side table to add even more color and summer fun to my deck. It goes with an adorable pillow I just bought from Michaels, too.

Have fun! ✨