Donut Grow Up! Goldie Turns 3 and Finally Gets a Birthday Party.

Goldie3-016.jpg

With my girls being 5 days (and four years, but that is irrelevant when it comes to birthday celebrations) apart, Goldie has never gotten a proper birthday celebration. Because I know better than to think she actually would remember eating leftover cake while holding a 4 day old balloon from her big sister's Pinterest-worthy party (you may remember THIS crazy undertaking from a couple years back).

But this year, Alexa requested a gymnastics party at her gym- which is plug & play and couldn't be easier. So, I felt like it was time to roll up my sleeves, procure the email addresses of Goldie's friends' parents, and throw a party in our playroom like I had done for Lex many times before.

Goldie's favorite thing in the world is ballet- but I wanted a more gender-neutral theme. The only thing that Goldie loves equally as much as ballet? A donut. Or, more accurately, many donuts.

Donut Grow Up became the theme- partly because I can't resist a pun, and partly because I couldn't think of an easier way to decorate our basement than blowing up a ton of giant donut floats and calling it a day.

We covered up the toy storage cubbies with donut-covered plastic tablecloths (a trick learned from parties of the past- way less distractions and wayyyy less mess), rented 2 rectangular toddler-height tables and 18 chairs, and otherwise, everything came from Amazon and Etsy (shoppable links in captions in case you ever have a hankering to throw a similar celebration).

A few favorite details are below...

An inflatable donut- with GOLDIE written across the top using my beloved sparkle stickers- greeted guests in place of a wreath. Oh- and the doormat is always a hit- I got it here.

An inflatable donut- with GOLDIE written across the top using my beloved sparkle stickers- greeted guests in place of a wreath. Oh- and the doormat is always a hit- I got it here.

To balance out the actual donuts, we served sliced apples with cream cheese- we whipped a giant block of Philadelphia Cream Cheese from Costco with skim milk to make it all fluffy, and added pastel food coloring, topped with rainbow sprinkles. 

To balance out the actual donuts, we served sliced apples with cream cheese- we whipped a giant block of Philadelphia Cream Cheese from Costco with skim milk to make it all fluffy, and added pastel food coloring, topped with rainbow sprinkles. 

Throw-away party favors annoy me endlessly- so we affixed $5 Dunkin Donuts gift cards to these insanely inexpensive squishies.

Throw-away party favors annoy me endlessly- so we affixed $5 Dunkin Donuts gift cards to these insanely inexpensive squishies.

Inflatables procured by the dozen here, and these grouped-to-go donut paper goods made setting the table simple.

Inflatables procured by the dozen here, and these grouped-to-go donut paper goods made setting the table simple.

You can find ANYTHING on Etsy, including this easy-to-inflate foil balloon wall hanging and a ballet tutu outfit with a gold "three" in the front (I got Alexa a "seven" version but she wouldn't wear it, so...)

You can find ANYTHING on Etsy, including this easy-to-inflate foil balloon wall hanging and a ballet tutu outfit with a gold "three" in the front (I got Alexa a "seven" version but she wouldn't wear it, so...)

Bet You Never Knew THIS About Boudoir Photos.

One of my favorite pics from my crazy cool Private Portraits photo shoot experience.

One of my favorite pics from my crazy cool Private Portraits photo shoot experience.

The word "boudoir" makes me feel awkward. Throw the word "photos" after it and omigod, I am on the verge of feeling full-on queasy. In my head- based fully on preconceived notions- the whole concept of taking sultry photos in lingerie you would NEVER wear in real life to give to your significant other is something I could never, in a million years, EVER see myself doing.

Enter one of my close friends who also happens to be an incredible photographer, Jen Goldberg. Jen has taken photos of my family for as long as we have known each other- her work can be seen on various Falik Family holiday cards, giant acrylic prints in my home and, of course, on her website.

A few years ago, Jen mentioned to me that she was starting to do some boudoir photography here and there. A short time later, she was doing wayyyy more than "some"- and opened up Private Portraits, dedicated to boudoir shoots.

Jen has a modern aesthetic, and a sophisticated style to her photography (not to mention a sophisticated clientele). I could not reconcile that with women draped in feather boas pouting towards the camera donning overly painted red lips and perhaps even- GASP- body glitter. 

So I took a look at her work. And I was FLOORED. It was cool and modern and sophisticated and beautiful. And fascinating. Every photo I saw was completely different- but there was one thing every single shot had in common- you could tell that the women in front of the lens felt POWERFUL. 

On a whim (and probably after 3 Tito's on the rocks with a splash of soda), I decided to do it. 

And now, I get it. Completely.

The process may be the coolest part. This shoot is an appointment on your already packed calendar that forces you to think about what you think is sexy about YOU. And, I can tell you, what I find sexy about myself at this moment in my life has nothing to do with lingerie or body glitter or feather boas. Going out on a limb here but- guessing most of you will agree?

Between the booking and the shoot, I pored over Pinterest images, comparing notes with Jen on how we could translate them into something that felt right for me. We had one "official" meeting where she took me through what the shoot would be like (very helpful!) and tips on what to bring- meaningful pieces of jewelry, signature shoes or a favorite old t-shirt, etc. I don't think we uttered the words "pearl thong" or "leather bustier" once.

One week prior, I did a Shopbop order (felt like i had to have these) and a trip to Urban Outfitters. The night before, I packed up 3 giant rolling suitcases of shoes, accessories, favorite tank tops, the neon distressed sweatshirt from this pic, an oversized hat, my signature black blazer and most beloved jean jacket, and then some. 

The morning of, I got my hair blown out, threw on makeup, took a few deep breaths and drove to Jen's studio to get naked. I worried it would feeI a little weird- I mean, this is the house, besides our own, in which family and I probably spend the most time hanging out. But it wasn't weird at all. It was so much fun. 

We incorporated my favorite products from my makeup bag- and my makeup mirror from my vanity at home- into a few shots.

We incorporated my favorite products from my makeup bag- and my makeup mirror from my vanity at home- into a few shots.

When the proofs came back, I had a giant hardcover coffee table book made with my favorite images.

Not for my husband.

Not as a relic to prove to my girls how I once looked when I am inevitably older, more wrinkled and more paunchy.

The book is a gift to ME. A gift to make sure I always remember the things that made me feel powerful and strong and confident about myself when I was 38 years old, raising 2 young girls, learning to take care of our first home, growing a business and trying desperately to keep my head above water. Many (er, most?) days, I feel like a hot freakin' mess. But on that day- and the days leading up to it- I just felt hot. And for all the right reasons.

Moral of the story? Don't let your preconceived notions of any experience deter you from actually having said experience. Because it may surprise you- and in the process, you will most certainly surprise yourself.

So whaddya think- would you do a shoot in your skivvies? Do tell.
Or, have you already? If so, would love to hear what you thought of your experience...I mean, c'mon, I shared mine...

 

Instantly Improve Your Nightly Bedtime Routine And Go To Sleep Feeling Like Parent of the Year

THIS is the best purchase I have made in a long time... Alexa loves the routine we have of doing one entry each night, and I love the #momoftheyear feeling I get (at least for these brief few minutes) each night.

THIS is the best purchase I have made in a long time... Alexa loves the routine we have of doing one entry each night, and I love the #momoftheyear feeling I get (at least for these brief few minutes) each night.

I think one of the best habits we can train ourselves- and our children- to do is keep a journal. Ideally, regularly. But it can be daunting- especially if there is this expectation that every night you should be scrawling pages and pages of deep thoughts and dreams, when, the reality is, by the time I crawl into bed at night, I am WIPED.

As such, the benefit of this journal is three fold:

1- It shortens overly long bedtime routines since each question is just concise enough, and you only do one per night (as opposed to the 5+ stories I get suckered into reading otherwise...)

2- It creates a habit that is easy for both kids and parents to stick with

3- It is a nightly conversation starter- and way to share memorable anecdotes with children over the years that they may have forgotten but you never will

Plus, even if I haven't done one educational-ish activity with Alexa all day, at least we have this 5 minute window just before bed that makes me feel like #momoftheyear.

Basically, there is a simple question that is asked for each day of the year- and over the course of the three year span in which this journal is designed to be used, kids will answer the same questions on each day every year and see how their answers- and handwriting! and attention to detail!- evolve over time. 

It is around $12 on Amazon (or you can get this one which seems to be almost identical, but is available to ship immediately and arrive for Valentine's Day) order it today and thank me later.

SHOP THE POST:

 

 

Three No Fuss, No Fail (And, Quick Ship!) Valentine's Day Gifts For Guys.

Shirt (similar, more practical for now style that is also over 60% off now!) / Jeans / Oversized Heart Ceramic Ring

Shirt (similar, more practical for now style that is also over 60% off now!) / Jeans / Oversized Heart Ceramic Ring

Like many of you (giving you all the benefit of the doubt that you are not a "candle-lit bubble bath for two followed by rose petals spread on the duvet" kinda crowd), I don't buy into the idea of Valentine's Day needing to be this insanely romantic occasion. Too forced, too cliche (sorry, can't figure out how to do a damn accent acute on Squarespace!), too "ugh I have to put on pants that button?!" for me.

But, since in years' past, my husband has surprised me with a few fancy gifts (he is good like that- and, funny enough- when it comes to things like fashion and accessories, his taste is often much better than my own!), I like to keep a handful of "in the event I catch the hint that he is getting me something good" gift ideas on my radar- typically ones that can be procured quickly via Amazon Prime and their partner retailers.

Here are 3 picks for unique, yet completely useful, Valentine's Day gifts that you can order at the last minute...ya know...just in case. (And hey- if the gift exchange thing doesn't happen, they are super easy to return, haha.)

Coravin Wine System
With this, if you two want to enjoy a glass of wine as you unwind from the day, you will never feel bad opening up a really good one. With this, you can reseal even the best bottle in your wine fridge to be good as new! Coravin's system keeps wine safe from oxidation, allowing it to continue to age naturally- the non-coring, faster pouring needle allows access to wine without cork damage. Really genius- we saw this at a friend's house a few months ago, and Brian still can't stop talking about it. 

Want Les Essentials Money Clip Wallet
Combines the best of both men's-pocket-friendly-wallet needs- a money clip for cash, and pockets for credit cards and ID. Plus, I love the neutral color combo- whether his style tends towards the more modern, minimalist black and navy hues, or the more classic browns and camel tones, this feels on point. 

Filson Barrel Pack
He has a briefcase. He has a travel bag. This falls perfectly in the middle- that sweet spot between work and weekender, perfect for heading to the gym, a one night getaway, or to lug extra essentials on any kind of outing. The canvas is durable, and the style is timeless. 

QUESTION: Do you exchange Valentine's Day gifts with your significant other? What is the best gift you have ever given (keep it clean, people... keep it clean...)

Photo credit: Samantha Rose Photography

5 SIMPLE STEPS For PANTRY PERFECTION, Plus the Best Bins Ever.

Organizing is a slippery slope...In a good way (usually). After a week of enjoying my newly made-over fridge (check it out here), I really could appreciate the benefits of designated areas for different categories of food. There was much less food waste, and healthy dinner planning became so much easier. Plus, I could know at a glance what lunch options were available to me when I have a 10 minute window to stuff something in my mouth between conference calls and getting down to the bus stop in time. 

Basically, I was ITCHING to organize my pantry. 

After ogling these clean white plastic bins that seemed to be all over Instagram (this is what happens when you start following the #pantryorganization hash tag- that new feature is both a gift and a go-down-the-rabbit-hole curse), I tracked them down online and ordered a ton. The price is SO right, and I figured even if I couldn't use them all in my pantry, there were a million places that they would work throughout my home. 

And let me tell you something...

These bins are the most perfect bins I have ever found in my entire bin-binge-buying life. Which says A LOT.  

Want to organize your pantry? Here are the 5 steps of my pantry process that I recommend to get started:

1- I spent about an hour categorizing the contents of my pantry, and creating groupings of like things- i.e. "Oils", "Vinegars", "Asian Ingredients" (we cook lots of Asian-inspired food- so this is where I put things like mirin, soy sauce, fish sauce, Ponzu, etc.), "Pastas", "Rice/Grains"...For snacks, I tend to buy in bulk (I am a big fan of BOXED for healthy snacks), I sorted them by type. When I had enough to fill a bin, the extras went up to the top shelf.

2- For some of the more obscure items, I got creative with grouping based on how I use them. So, salad dressings and marinades went together (since often they are interchangeable), and nuts and dried fruits got paired up since they are often used as oatmeal or yogurt toppings.  I also grouped all my different bars together, and coffee-related staples (from disposable to-go hot cups to sweetener packets and even stirrers) became roommates. And we eat a lot of soup- so a large bin corralled all the different kinds- canned, just-add-water mixes, ramen packets, etc. 

3- I assigned each category to either a small, medium or large bin, and filled them up accordingly. It took all of 20 minutes. (Note: I need to make labels- but I am debating if I figure out how to use the Silhouette Cameo 2 that my friend just gave me and design them there, or go the easy route and use dry-erase markers...decisions, decisions...)

4- Since the aesthetic is very important- almost as much so as the functionality, which I didn't ever really believe in until I re-worked my fridge and now can't help but feel at least 10% more calm each time I open the door and look inside- I placed the clean white bins at eye level , centered within each shelf or, when there was extra room, centered alongside other bins. 

5- Cookbooks got prime real estate- which my husband thought was nuts since I rarely use them (instead, I tend to rely on apps like Yummly or recipes provided via text  when I am in a pinch by my bestie Heather, who is an amazing nutritionist and founder of The Food Fix that you have probably seen me mention here or on my Instagram). Placing them front and center, grouped by color, adds a great pop of happiness. And guess what? Since doing this, I have begun to use them again! Love that they are no longer crammed into a bottom shelf on the side wall, collecting dust. 

A few other random details that I think you may find helpful:

-I put paper plates and disposable cookware together up on a high shelf since they are easy to spot and don't really make sense to stuff into bins.

-The shallow wire drawers that were built in to the pantry before I knew better (everything falls through- or looks messy in them) became home to canned food/non-perishable pasta sauces (since I can organize them by color so again- awarding myself a few bonus pretty points here). For the larger drawers, placing bins inside them became my best options- seems silly to put a bin in, well, a bin- but it looks so much better and keeps things from literally slipping through the cracks. (Bin on order for that empty bottom drawer- I ended up with so much extra space, this drawer that was formerly full became totally bare!)

-Along the right hand wall I have ingredients like flour and sugar stored in plastic containers, and this is also where I keep a bin of things like vanilla extract and cream or tartar that typically get used for baking purposes. 

-Reusable grocery bags get folded into a large bin, and I corralled my kids' lunch and snack containers this way as well. So easy to literally grab-and-go, which is the point anyway, right?

So there you have it- my personal pantry process. It is simple enough to do in an hour or two, to be honest- and the joy it brings me every time I have to go in to forcibly pull Goldie out as she howls incessantly for a pack of Goldfish has made me a significantly more patient person. Which is priceless.

QUESTION: What is your personal pantry organization top tip? Please share with me (and my readers!) in the comments below!

DSC_0145.jpg