In case you missed the news over on instagram, we are having another boy!! I am excited, but stumped. I am stumped on names, stumped on room design. Last time around I had a boy room and a girl room designed and waiting in the docket. This time around, I am less prepared. I think I’m going with something gender neutral, and very earthy. These images are my jumping off point to finally pull the trigger on something, anything for baby boy #2.
It is definitely a tough thing to keep the train moving through this Happiness Project thing. In case you missed it, I am undertaking a Happiness Project a la Gretchen Rubin. Instead of making a couple of New Years Resolutions, I picked an area of my life for each month, that I want to improve, and I spend the month focusing on that area. In January I was all about organization, and I did really well. In February I focused on finances and due to unforeseen circumstances I got off track. And in March I focused on my business. I’ll update you on that in a moment.
So theoretically the point of this exercise vs. making 10 New Years resolutions is that you really set your intention and focus hard each month on that specific area, and by the time the month is out you have built new habits that you will carry through the rest of the year and beyond. In her book Gretchen goes into great detail about her spread sheets and daily practices, and while I am an enneagram type 1, I have not been painstakingly logging my progress, thus it’s easy to let things go by the wayside. I do however like that I check in here once a month, which holds me accountable to be honest about my progress, or lack-thereof.
In March I focused on business. I have a lot of half checked off items. I am absolutely in fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants mode. And have not been able to get ahead enough to feel like I have time to check the items off my list. But I’m sure that will never change, so I will need to make time or it will never get done.
I am working with my friend, Miranda Schroeder, from Thoughtful Thrifted, an amazing marking brain, to help me do a digital audit of my brand and come up with a go forward strategy. Yes! Professional help, people! Miranda also turned me on to Making Sense of Cents, an online affiliate marketing course. I am working my way though that content to learn to bring the best of what you want to make all this work worth my while as well.
So far my accounting system is a spread sheet, but it is not very organized and not something I could pass off to an accountant work with. Girl boss needs to get it together there!! I have started using Later to schedule my Instagram posts, which has been life changing. And I have also started using Tailwind to automate Pinterest, I’m still learning this one, but loving it! You can sign up for Tailwind here for a month free!
MARCH - BUSINESS
Consistently blog Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week in March
- Create new opt-in freebies
- Make a "do-plan" to increase efficiency of my business
Take affiliate and blogging income cources
- Clean up Pinterest
- Set-up accounting system
This month’s focus is close to my heart, but has not been an area of focus in a while. When Kyle and I got together, 10 years ago this summer (after being friends for 7 years prior), we made a “fun pact.” We saw the value of how we laughed together and always had fun. As happens with so many marriages, life gets monotonous, there are kids and yard work and dinner and bills and all the things that make adulthood no fun. But we realize, and admit, that we have to work at it. I know I have some work to do. I need to make a conscious effort to not nitpick on the dumb little stuff and to stop thinking and worrying about getting stuff done around the house for a few minutes to appreciate the amazing human that I have chosen to be my partner in life. So for April, I am renewing my commitment to the happiness project, because this relationship needs a little more love and attention.
APRIL - MARRIAGE
- one date a week
- make more time for sex
- be grateful for my husband every day
- let it go
- don't pick fights
- go out of my way to do acts of kindness
If you've been following along this summer, you know that Ollie and I have been hanging out and doing a lot more activities than usual. It has been so fun seeing his creative side come out, and watching him gain fine motor skills. Last DIY project I shared with you was a color block painting, this project was definitely less involved and less messy, we created art inspired by Henri Matisse's cut out art.
During the last decade of his life Henri Matisse deployed two simple materials—white paper and gouache—to create works of wide-ranging color and complexity. An unorthodox implement, a pair of scissors, was the tool Matisse used to transform paint and paper into a world of plants, animals, figures, and shapes.
You can read more about Matisse's methods here.
- colored paper
- white paper
Step 1: I did the prep work and cut out the shapes, in completely random sizes and colors. Do not cut white paper.
Step 2. Lay out your shapes on white paper
Step 3: Glue shapes on to paper. That's it!
Since moving I've pretty much put myself on a shopping hiatus, with few exceptions. One of those exceptions was this little yellow jumpsuit. I'm always on the hunt for jumpsuits. I like to wear a jumpsuit when I work weddings. They are often more polished than jeans and not as uptight as other pants, plus I can bend over, climb a ladder, crawl around on the ground or any other maneuver I need to do on a wedding day.
I've got to be honest, when I came across this linen jumpsuit at Target, I wasn't so sure I could pull it off. After trying it on, I still wasn't so sure I could pull it off, but after basically living in it the last few weeks, I'm here to tell you that I don't really care if I can pull off a baggy jumpsuit, because this is basically the best garment ever made! I'm kidding, kind of, but I love the cool relaxed vibes it gives off and it basically feels like I'm wearing pajamas. Paired with a straw hat and my woven leather slides I look like I'm ready for a fabulous wellness retreat in Ojai.
I just can't with this kid. He melts my heart.
SHOP THE LOOK
I've mentioned my shift in diet to eat a more inflammatory foods, I've also extended that goal to the rest of the family. Cutting sugar is no easy feat when mom and three year old both have a major sweet tooth. Instead of taking away dessert, I thought my best bet was to trick my little into eating a better option. I bought silicone molds and we adapted our favorite smoothies into kid-friendly, delicious summer popsicle treats.
HEALTHY PEANUT BUTTER BANANA POPSICLE
This popsicle is a riff on our very favorite smoothie. It tastes so sweet and delicious, but it's actually good for you. For the adult version I like to add a tsp of instant coffee.
- 1 banana
- heaping scoop of your favorite peanut butter
- about two tbsp yogurt
- coconut milk (until desired smoothness)
- coconut flakes (optional)
Blend all ingredients except the coconut flakes until smooth. Pour into silicone molds. If desired, sprinkle with coconut flakes to the bottom of the popsicles. Freeze!
BLUEBERRY YOGURT POPSICLE
- about a cup of blueberries
- about two tbsp yogurt
- about two tbsp honey
- coconut milk (until desired smoothness)
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into silicone molds. Freeze!
Do you know about my love for picnics? It is one of my absolute favorite family activities. I love that we are outside, sharing and passing. Our entertainment is usually the people or the dogs walking by, not our screens or the TV in the restaurant bar. Picnics are generally much more budget friendly than going out to dinner, but you're still away from your everyday dining situation, which is probably our favorite part.
Picnics can be as simple as filling your water bottle and making a few PB&Js, or one of our go-tos, stopping by the prepared food section in the grocery store on the way to "the spot." This particular picnic was a little more involved. We were at my family's "cottage," so we were able to utilize the grill, which you could also do at many parks, if you're okay with putting in a little leg work.
The menu I cooked up for the perfect summer picnic was a combo of pre-made and freshly grilled items, all kid-friendly, utilizing seasonal summer items and available at the tiny little town grocery store.
PERFECT SUMMER PICNIC MENU
- grilled peach and fresh mozzarella on prepared flatbread
- Tortellini salad with pesto (pre-made)
- grilled corn
- no-bake cheese cake topped with berries
What's on your perfect summer picnic menu?
I never quite understood what parents were talking about when they complained about finding activities for their kids to do during summer vacation, but now that I'm in transition and home with Oliver all day, I totally get it. I can't say I've been Martha Stewart mom, but I have done a few activities I'm proud of and I'm pretty excited to share this DIY color block art project with you. It was a team effort between my son and I, and a lovely way to spend a three afternoons.
I am in love with this color block art trend I've been seeing around the internet. I am in no way claiming that our work of art is as good as Jesslyn Brooks or Ines Longevial, but I am very happy with the way it turned out. I may have inadvertently promised our son it would hang in house "forever." These are a inspiration pieces for this project.
STEP 1: Have your little draw shapes on the canvas
STEP 2: He picked the placement for the colors, then I painted the outline of the shapes.
STEP 3: Ollie painted the inside of the shapes.
STEP 4: I cleaned it up and painted the sides.
I don't even know where to start with this post. I guess I'll start with the bomb, we are leaving our beautiful home outside New York City and moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan. New York, the city for 8 years and the Hudson Valley for the last four, have been my home. Friends, job, home, life it's all here. But our families are there. I am mourning the loss of my old life, but so excited about the future!
I moved to New York City directly out of college. I didn't leave the door open to go anywhere else. I can still remember the morning I arrived. My parents drove me from Michigan, the car packed with only clothes, a computer and a few personal possessions. We stayed overnight in a hotel in Newark and the next morning they would leave 22 year old Lauren in the Financial District of Manhattan. A few days later I started an internship at The Sak, which later became my job. The job. The only job I had in my 12 years here.
At 22 I had visions of meeting, dating and marrying a guy in this city. Maybe he would be from Connecticut or maybe Florida and New York would make sense, this would be my home forever. I didn't think I would marry my best guy friend from college. Kyle moved from Chicago in 2010 to New York to be with me. Kyle took me on a scavenger hunt around the city that ended in a proposal. We got married and lived together on the Upper East Side, until we decided we wanted the American dream and went north in search of a house.
Then Oliver came along. And we began to long to be closer to family. Every few months we would discuss moving "back home" to be closer, make things a little easier, people near by to help out if we were in a jam. I was always the one to shoot down the idea, citing the fashion industry and my love for New York City as my reasons we needed to stay.
Then my dad died. Next week will be a year when I sat on his bed in the hospital room and told him we were thinking of moving back to Michigan, the first person I confessed to that this was a real possibility. His response was, "Why would you do that, Lauren? Your job is there. There's nothing here for you." The sting of not being present or helping as my dad went though his illness was definitely a deciding factor for me, to tip the scales in favor of moving back to the Midwest. Then it became a question of when. Do I have another baby first? Or do we settle there and then try? The truth is there is never a good time, so we decided to pull the trigger and put our house on the market.
What will we do when we get there? We are moving in with Kyle's parents to transition us. I am staying on remotely with my job to finish up the season I'm working on and Kyle already works remotely so he will keep his job. I will be looking for a job in Grand Rapids, and my options are very open. There are a few fashion companies, I've been exploring interior design opportunities as well as event jobs. With extra hands to help out and a much shorter commute, I hope to devote more time to this space. I can't wait to share as I explore my new city, decorate a new home and settle into life as a Michigander once again.
photo: Clare Mullins Photography