Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wacky Wednesday

Today is one of those days where I just stopped and laughed.  The past week has been a blur of shipping almost 400 pairs of engraved sunglasses (who said corporate retreat gifts were boring!), a school fundraiser and the realization that Mini K needed new running shoes when her toe popped through the top of hers.  Baby C's costume arrived in the nick of time...the first one was literally sewn together and the replacement arrived yesterday.

I finally just wanted to sit down with a glass water (I am daring tonight I know!) and blog while watching Nashville.  I still need to locate the kids Halloween trick or treat bags, tie the tags on to both of the little class party treat bags and pack up their costumes for their respective school parades tomorrow.  Halloween for me marks the start of the crazy holiday season and this year is already shaping up to be a great one.  Mini K has appointed herself the chief ribbon cutter for the Grove and I am already humbled by the faith our corporate clients have in us to pick out the perfect items for them. This seems to be the year of the tween and the stocking stuffer and I promise to be posting gift lists in the next few weeks.

I promise to post photos of all of our Halloween moments tomorrow to make up for a if only someone can tell my brain where I packed up the treat bags last November 1st....I KNOW it was someplace that would make it easy for me to remember this year.   Clearly I am a GENIUS right?

Oh well, maybe a piece of candy will help my memory!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stocking Up and Solving Problems

So I have been all over the place this week and why not keep it up on the blog.  I have left friends random messages, at ODD times, of favor ideas, started keeping a notepad and pen on my nightstand as I have developed a new habit of waking up with great ideas at 3:17a.m. --NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH 3 a.m., and processing orders.

This is the time of year when I panic, with 2 birthdays and Christmas in 5 days, not to mention this being busy season at the Grove, October is when I try to get everything done.  I have already selected this years hiding place, presents have already started being wrapped and my list and I are never more than a few feet apart.  As the littles get bigger and their schedules get busier, this time of year has required a bit more planning.

Our big crisis of the week, and yes I am being dramatic, try living with an almost tween before you judge is that swim team have left Mini K's fingernails thin and peeling.  Her pediatrician suggested we try Quimica Alemana and it is AMAZING.  We have been using it for 1 week and the difference is shocking.  They could charge double or triple.  If you or anyone in your casa have weak nails, PURCHASE IMMEDIATELY.

Stock Up
Yes I stock up!  Mini K has a lift of friends she wants to gift this year and I love that the first list she made was one for special things for her friends and not her own list so I am happily helping her.  She is making bling Rainbow Loom bracelets for each of them thanks to an "expert" YouTube video made by what I think is a 10 or 11 year old.  She also wanted to give them lip gloss and the Christmas Boo dog. I am a big fan of Willa for girls.  It is a little more glam than Lip Smackers without the price of Fresh and the color is barely there.  I order it from Amazon, through Ebates of course.

And for those of you living in a house of Boo dog lovers, Justice (yes I actually typed it) is having a 40% off sale and has them for less than $11 and FREE shipping.  You can also get 3.5% cash back when you shop through Ebates.  If you need a code for 40% off use 779.  You can find the Christmas Boo dogs HERE.

I always end up with a list of people that I want to surprise with a little something before the craze of the holidays.  Last year I did gift bags of fun nail files and a bottle of Essie polish with a note that said "Rest Your Hooves This Season!" with reindeer ribbon and fake snow in cello bags.  This year the tags say "You make life sparkle!" and will contain my new favorite jewelry wipes  and a little crystal ring dish that I found over the summer.

And every single year I say I won't add a ton of new products at the holidays and then I see things that I LOVE and of course want to share them with all of you!  I also am so blessed to have several corporate clients that just send me a budget per person and a list and tell me to GET IT DONE.  So you can look for these two lovelies to be on the site this weekend.

Authentic Vintage Chanel Jewelry

This cuff is my favorite.  It's bold yet simple all at once.

And for those of you that are constantly in motion and clutching little hands in addition to bags, phones and handbags, these new key rings are the BEST.  They come in a ton of happy colors and the best part is that part of the key ring can clip off to give the valet!

Tomorrow's Friday 5 will be my 5 favorite recipes!

Monday, October 21, 2013

20 Thanks: Gratitude in a busy life...

Today was Monday...some weeks I hit the ground running and some weeks Monday seems to take a LOT more energy.  Today was the latter so I am trying to end it on a high note.

I am not saying the following isn't true for people without kids, but for me, I really started to notice the little moments in life when Mini K and then Baby C were born.  I am not talking about their first words or first steps, but the little things like the first time I heard each of them singing along to a song on the radio, select their first outfits...  In other words, sometimes we can all use a reminder that life happens in the little stuff.  There is a quote about motherhood that the days are long, but the years are short.  I couldn't agree more.

So in an effort to change the direction of my week, here are 20 things I am truly grateful for.  If you blog and have done a post like this, or want to...PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE leave a comment because it's on our muddy days that we ALL can use some encouragement!

1.  Holidays:  Yes they can be stressful, but there is something magical about looking around and hopefully seeing all of the people you love in the same place, even if you need a break 5 minutes later.  REMEMBER I SAID GRATEFUL BUT FOR ME THAT STILL MEANS HONEST.

2.  Freshly Ironed Sheets:  I know this is simple, but there is something magical about climbing into a bed of freshly clean and ironed sheets.

3.  A Crossed Off List:  I am pretty sure God invented Sharpies for the feeling I get when I cross things off my list!

4.  Birthdays!  Next year I will be 39, I am choosing to own it.  I believe that birthdays for kids are about sugar and fun and presents.  As an adult I believe they should be celebrated and presents should never be practical, they should be something you know the person will love and most likely would  not purchase for themselves.

5.  Car Singing:  This needs no explanation and only is made better when the voices are your children destroying the lyrics of a song that they are much to young to know what it means.

6.  A good cookie:  Yes, I am serious.  It must be the perfect combination of crunchy outside and chewy inside and the right amount of semi-sweet chocolate chips and it must be warm.

7.  Coffee Table Therapy.  I cherish a night with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and some coffee table books.  There is nothing like escaping reality in the glossy pages of a book.

8. A Good Deal:  I am a sucker for the thrill of the hunt.  I am constantly searching for a good deal, and if you are my friend in real life you now will have received the random, sometimes 3 a.m., emails from me alerting you to a good sale or discount.  I still get excited when a friend or babysitter text or email me a photo of their first check from Ebates.  It is addicting.

9.  CROSSFIT:  This workout has changed my life.  It has introduced me to some amazing people, taught me to do things I never thought would be possible and given me a time 4-5 days a week where I simply do and not think.  A fellow Crossfitter wore a shirt one day that said:  "I hate you.  I hate th s place.  I will see you tomorrow."  This could not be more true.  It is tough, and painful, but it leaves me feeling like a better version of myself.

10.  The Arrival of the RED CUP:  There is something about seeing that first red cup of the season at Starbucks that makes me feel like a kid.  I start to think about how excited the kids will be on Christmas morning and how Mini K will soon be one year older.   The fact that I always order a Skinny Peppermint Mocha for my first red cup drink is merely icing on the cake.

11.  Unexpected Gifting:  I truly think that surprising someone with a just because gift is the FASTEST way to change your own mood.  How can you not find gratitude in seeing how your actions impact others in a positive way.  TRY IT....this week.

12.  Handbags:  I am grateful that i can mask the mess that is my life in a bag that makes it look pretty.  I might not be able to find a pen in 10 seconds, but Mr. G says I could have a garage sale out of my bag on any day.

13.  A MIX.  I REFUSE to call them a playlist.  I have given up the tape, the yellow waterproof Sony walkman (BTW, I never tested that waterproof claim) and the CD, but I am hoping on to my title of the Mix Tape.  I have mixes for Christmas, for runs, for walks, for commutes to school and even one to fall asleep on a plane.  They make me happy.

14.  Friends That Make Me Better.  We all have them.  These are the people God placed in our lives that make us want to be better.  They challenge us through their own example to be better christians, better mothers, better friends.  These are the people that answer the 2 a.m. phone call.  This is the type of person I truly want to be to all of my friends.

15.  A fur blanket.  It doesn't have to be real, it can be faux.  My current favorite is from Restoration Hardware.  If you doubt me, order one during their next Friends and Family sale and then tell me I am wrong.

16.  Mail.  I know stamps are getting expensive, but I LOVE mail.  Cards, letters, packages, you name it.  I do not think I will ever tire of opening my mailbox and being surprised to hear or, in the case of holiday photo cards, see a friend.

17.  Hugs from my littles.  There is something I cannot explain about hugs from my children.  They leave me speechless and are a reminder that these two little humans made me a mother and I owe them my best, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

18.  Charm Bracelets.  I like to think of them as a bauble scrapbook for those of us that do not scrapbook.  I can look down and see quotes from my kids, memories from childhood or places I have visited.

19.  Monograms.  Do NOT laugh, but I am grateful for monograms.  A monogram makes us our own.  It makes us remember that font we select is a reflection of who we are.  It can give the most basic item a sense of purpose or luxury.  A monogram is reminder that we are ALL special and God has a plan for each and every one of us.  Your monogram might change in life, you might select another font or thread color, but at the end of the day it is still a reflection of us...of where we are in our lives and what makes us unique.  Don't laugh, I think most of spend far too much comparing ourselves to others or standards that aren't realistic, but a monogram brings us back and can remind us that we are enough.

20.  My Journey.  I wouldn't have listed this 15 years ago, but tonight I sit here with those years under my belt and know that while the bad stuff has been bad, the journey has led me here.  I am surrounded by a husband who loves me, faults and all, 2 healthy kids, 2 companies and too many blessings to count.

I needed to write this tonight.  There is something powerful about putting our feelings on a page as women.  We are constantly thinking of others, of asking others about their day so tonight sit down with your favorite drink and just breath.  You made it through this day.  You are alive and there is ALWAYS someone out there who is going through something far worse than you.  Today was a muddy day, but there was still joy in walking through the mud and for that I am thankful!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday FIVE

My apologies, but the Friday 5 will be the Saturday 6 this week!  I am swimming upstream in a sea of cello, grosgrain and monograms!

A special THANK YOU to our fabulous customer Mrs. M who has trusted us with her daughter's double digit birthday favors!  I am in denial that we also have done her birth announcements (10 YEARS AGO next week), and all of her birthday invites since!

This sleepover will be the talk of the town with monogrammed pillowcases and blankets!  She has promised I can share photos AFTER the event, but this is what I can share now.

The girls are being driven in a limo to a hotel suite (yes Mrs M and her good friend are staying there too!) and they will have an evening of room service, movies and MONOGRAMS of course!

So forgive me, but when the monograms and ribbon are this cute, I have to get back to work!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Land of Unfinished Projects

I am ALL about keeping it real.  I help people cross things off their list:  holiday cards, gifts, decorating, yet lately I feel like my personal list keeps getting longer.  I know this is a phase and certain things are clearly so much more important, but I have spent the last week trying to get the list under control.

A friend said to me yesterday I need to not be a slave to my list, but my list makes me feel better.  I can see progress, or no progress, it helps me think of things that I may have forgotten to write down.

In a world full of technology, I am still a list girl.  I am also a notebook girl!

I wanted to pop in this morning before my meetings and conference calls start back up to say Hi and make sure I shared the contents of my inbox that might be helpful to you.  Tonight I will finish up the Grove Gift Guides for the holidays.  I think I have managed to find something to every budget and person and hope you love them as much as I do, but until then, here are some of the latest in pre-holiday deals:

I confess most of these discounts come with the added gift of cash back via Ebates so if you still haven't joined, join HERE.

Horchow is offering 25-30% off its ENTIRE site and FREE shipping, plus you get a 6% cash back when you shop through Ebates.
I am in love with these monogrammed gingham napkins.  They would make the perfect hostess or neighbor gift and at this price you can order a set for yourself.  You can mix them with white napkins with a similar color monogram.

I love a good vest and this tweed one from Old Navy is both a steal and fashionable.  I ordered a few extra and am monogramming them on the back for gifts.  When you enter ONSAVENOW at checkout you can save 20% off your order and get 2% cash back when you shop through your Ebates account.

Joe Fresh
I love this NYC store.  Great basics at even better prices.  When I can't squeeze in a trip to the city, I can now shop this brand at JCP!  When you enter PUMPKIN you can take 15% off your purchase and if you remember to shop through Ebates another 4% cash back!  One of my fall favorites is this camo dress.  I wear it with an oxford underneath and some fun sparkly flats and it is the perfect mix of fun and glitter!

My mother always said every little bit adds up and that is so true when it comes to Ebates.  I have become addicted to making sure I use it every time I shop and I love seeing the money add up in  my account.  I am not being paid to post this, but I believe for as busy as we all are, we should share are best finds!

Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Happy Hurricane

With our weatherman predicting 4 days in a row of rain I do NOT mean this as a joke.  Someone on Instagram posted that their house is a happy hurricane and I immediately related.  Our house is the same way.

I emailed a PGG customer back last night, or I should say this morning at 3:16am to be precise, which she pointed out to me, and asked what I was doing.  I have a simple answer:  something I truly LOVE.

After my mom's last bout with cancer, not the one she is winning now, she emailed me and said. you should have one thing in life that is yours alone, that you love, that even when it causes stress, it is stress you know makes you you are...and ended the email with her usual "I am not telling you what to do, just giving you the benefit of my hindsight."  I am so truly blessed to have a mom who has battled so much adversity with a smile on her faith, a super strong faith and a grace that I can only hope to grow into.

So when I got this email this morning, I answered it simply:  "I love owning a business that is mine."  I am so honored to be included in helping customers pick out gifts, invites and cards for events and people that are special to their lives.  Please know it is something that I cherish.  I also know that life is hectic so for those of you that have emailed and said you need more time but money is tight, I hope I can help.

From now until November 3rd ALL holiday photo cards are 20% off and if this year you just need return address labels, they are 50% off.....and in case you are too short on time to put stickers on your cards, ALL return address printing is also 50% off.  All you need to do is enter O13H20 at checkout.

SO in my happy hurricane of a home and life I thought I would share some of my favorites, let's call them practical favorites.

I spent this evening helping our old babysitter shop for appliances for her first ever condo!  I am so proud of her!  In my typical deal searching self, I wouldn't let her purchase because I of course went to Ebates and discovered a deal.  Sears is giving 7% cash back for your purchases and online appliance purchasing made online are an extra 10-30% off.

A go to recipe to brighten a friend's day!  Mine is Salted Nutella Fudge.  The best part, it's SUPER easy!
1 cup Nutella
1 can fat free sweetened condensed milk
8oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons of butter
Melt all of this in a double broiler

Remove from stove and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract pour into pan(s).  Top with sea salt and hardened in fridge.

A good workout.  I firmly believe there is something medicinal about a good workout.  The kind that makes it hard to breath where I am drenched in sweat afterwards.  It is then that an ice cold bottle of water tastes like an amazing treat.  Today's crossfit workout was one of those:  burpees, box jumps, double unders and pistols.  13 minutes has never felt so long in my life.  I found myself thinking my favorite Crossfit motto"   I hate you, I hate this place, see you tomorrow.

I write this post to keep it real.  We all have insanity in our lives:  I have single friends who are working nonstop hours on Capitol Hill without complaint or pay, my stay at home mom friends feel like they never have any me space, in other words look around you and remember that everyone has a long to do list, and we are ALL looking for that one thing that can distract us and make us forget about our list for a little bit.  Thank you for being the world's best distraction!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday FIVE

I had 3 post planned for this week not including this one, but I am trying to not beat myself up when life gets in the way of blogging or other things.  Some things you just do not get a second chance at and I feel like sometimes as women we get so caught up in our list of should do's that we overlook the must do's.  Does that make sense?

My Friday 5 this week is all about fall finds.  I am choosing to ignore the fact that it is 85 degrees in Washington, D.C. in October and think FALL!

1.  Blazers
I am big fan of blazers, always have been...even when they weren't in style.  I have been eyeing this one from Elizabeth McKay for awhile and plan to add it to my collection during the Friends and Family Sale.  This weekend you can take 25% off your purchase with code: FRIENDS25

2.  The Easy Catch All
I have to go to a lot of receptions and dinners for my day job.  I always need my phone, my license, some case and lipgloss.  If my dresses do not have pockets, I have a gem of a tailor that will sew them in for me so my lipgloss has a place, but when a friend gave me this phone clutch and I LOVE it!  I have the blue but will be giving the orange to a couple of friends this Christmas.  You can get 25% off your purchase this weekend with code: OURFAMILY

3.  Boots
Enough said right?  I think Tory Burch always does a great riding boot and this year is no exception.  I love these!  They are 25% off this weekend during their Friends and Family sale, the code is: FRIENDS  Don't forget that Tory Burch is also on my favorite EBATES so you can save more by getting cash back on your purchase!

4.  Lipgloss
I do not think I want to know how many different tubes I have in my bag on any given day, but let's say I am prepared.  My new favorite is the Fresh Sugar gloss.  It's the same great benefits of the balm but in a shiny clear gloss.  SOLD

5.  Fabric
It's bordering a problem.  I confess I have purchased too much in the last months for projects I have yet to start (read:  digging out our basement in a year, but I am ready for the pillows in the movie room!).  Lately I have been thrilled that has so many great designers, free shipping, no tax and 4% cash back through Ebates.  I will also tell you they have some of the best down feather pillow forms out there and I have tried a LOT of different brands.  This fabric is currently at my upholsterer going on our master bedroom bench.  I cannot wait to see the finished piece!

Have a great weekend!