Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ugly Christmas Sweater DIY: The Best Couples Ugly Christmas Sweaters...

Oh... Tis the Season... It's a time of year where friends gather together to boast this years best, YET UGLIEST Christmas sweaters!  Haha!  Well I don't know if you're anything like me or not, but store bought just wasn't an option!  No, no!  You see, I want something creative, something funny, something where people will be talking about it till the next year!  Hopefully I did just that with this year's creativity.
Oh where do you begin with this hilarious motif?  Well it was super easy and this is how I did it...

Get matching colored sweaters.  I will not be caught dead in something that doesn't flatter my figure so off to Ross I went...  I found this sweater for $17.99 and my Hubby's for only $6.99, gotta love those kind of department stores!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Journey to a Health(ier) Lifestyle...

Have you ever felt as if you were on a rollercoaster ride of being your best healthiest self?  Some days you feel great and others maybe not so much.  Yah, me too!  A lot of people don't know that I struggle with this every day of my life.  

When I was a child I was raised by a single mother like many people have been.  I was a latch key kid like many as well.  But the difference in my childhood unlike others is that I was raised by a bipolar mother who abused alcohol and unfortunately what that meant for me was that there was very seldom ever food in the house.  I was lucky if we actually had Top Ramen lying around and if we ever had milk, most of the time it was spoiled rotten.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Comparison is the thief of JOY...

Do you ever have moments where you completely feel inadequate?  Where you look around and it always seems as if other moms really have their S#%T together but you can't even seem to find the time to step out of the house or even get out of your pajamas.  I have those type of moments all the time!  The problem is that with social media we don't post those moments because who really wants to see that?  I mean, you've probably seen those posts where someone says that they haven't done a thing all day and that they are still in their pajamas but the picture seems to be glorified with a cozy fire, maybe a cute coffee mug, jammies that match the decor of the house, maybe some tossed hair with a slight wisp of mascara and pink cheeks with a dab of lip gloss.  Listen, I am totally guilty of doing this too but I can tell you (as I sit here in my ugly lavender robe that's about 13 years old and a desk that is piled with paperwork) that that is NOT going on over here in CJ's house most of the time!  To be quite honest those are not the days that I typically live at all.  Do you?  And if so can you teach me how you do it all?  No really, I truly want to know!  I wish someone could come to my house, organize my ENTIRE LIFE!!!  How amazing would that be?  Always being picture perfect, always have a organized home... I DREAM....

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

In the Eyes of the Youth...

Today is the day that MANY of us have been waiting for for what seems like a lifetime!  Wether it's the constant banter on social media, the news, commercials and even at parties where you try to escape the all the negativity, it never seemed to go away.  Lets face it, this has been one ugly election.  But today I am so glad that I took the time to vote because for me, I think about all the people who paved the road for not only me but my beautiful daughter to have the right to vote for whomever we see fit... even if I may not agree with who she may be voting for ;)  

As parents we must show our children that we care about this country and that it is our responsibility as citizens to show up and do our part.  No one is allowed to bitch and complain if they do not vote so you might as well cast yours.

Monday, November 7, 2016

On The Lighter Side...

Ahhh...  Since my last two posts were on the more serious side, I thought I would post a little project that I did that really helped calm me down a lot.  One of the things that Dr. Sun suggested that I do is to find something that truly made me happy, something that I could find passion in.  And well, as I would not say that this is my passion, I did however REALLY enjoy every step of doing this project all by myself.

Here's the thing, we've been in our rental for quite some time now and since living here I honestly have never felt like this is my home. So since the start of 2016 I decided that I was going to start decorating this place so I enjoy being here more, no one else in my family seemed to care but it just never felt right to me.  I want to feel like this is my place to call "home" as well and I want to make it more welcoming and enjoyable for all of us (really just me, lol). It's not a great feeling to live somewhere that you have never settled into and by saying that we signed our 5th year lease so it's not like I just moved in here, lol!!!!  So no better time like now to embrace the fact that we just might be staying longer than anticipated.  

I started with redecorating the living room, I'll post photos later, and I absolutely love it!  Worked my way to the dining room and on to the downstairs powder room.  Now that the downstairs is pretty much finished, I'm working my way upstairs and the first place that I want to start is the Master bedroom!

Let me start by saying that I am no home improvement guru.  I love seeing transformations and I LOVE home improvement shows but I am limited with what I can do.  I do however have vision and I guess that's half of it! For the rest, I can just hire out for someone else to do it, haha!  

On to my nightstands...  First I spent a few days on Craigslist and other sites looking for the perfect set of nightstands.  Oh and by the way, if you are looking for a pair of your own, people call them all different names like nightstands, night stands, bed side tables, side tables, bed tables, night tables and of course tables, lol!  And trust me, I was getting so tired of seeing the same things for sale until I had decided to look up different names.  In fact I found these beauties on Craigslist as side tables for only $75 for the pair but because no one really called them that anymore they had been listed for over a month without anyone noticing.  These are true antiques and absolutely beautiful pieces.
With that being said though, they just didn't match my style and I've been a little obsessed with chalkboard paint transformations that I've seen others do so I thought why not give this a try!  It's suppose to be super simple and completely give a whole new look to a furniture style.  So I went over to Home Depot to pick my colors.  Not too many to chose from but I decided to go with grey because I wanted a lighter shade to accent our new bed.
Yesteryear is the lighter grey and Relic is the darker grey that I chose from DecoArt and you can even find them on Amazon for cheaper.

When I got these tables they were pretty oily so I washed them down with Dawn soap and warm water to remove the excess oil.  I am an extremely inpatient person so I let them sit for a bit after drying them off with a towel and when I felt that they were dry enough I started painting just to see if I liked the color or not.  No, I didn't even lay a drop cloth down yet.  So glad and completely shocked that I didn't get paint everywhere. 
I stopped here for the night just to see what it would look like in the morning.  Well being impatient does not pay off!  What went wrong?
Agh!!!  I was so bummed to see this!!!  So back to Home Depot I went to get some sand paper and advice.  Come to find out that there was probably so much oil that I should have washed these a few times with Dawn to make sure that I got all of it off.  Oh well, live and learn!  

So back home with the sandpaper I went.  This time I put an old sheet down so paint dripping didn't matter and I started to sand this down just to the surface of the wood.  I didn't want to go too much into the wood otherwise I would make it uneven and we don't want that!
Once the paint was on and I was happy with it, it was time to varnish it with Ultra Matte Varnish so it didn't give it any shine but that it would protect from water rings and such.
I decided to varnish the inside of the drawers, the table tops and the shelves.  The rest I left alone as I didn't think that it needed it.
While the varnish was drying, I decided to spray paint the handles.  I looked everywhere online and at Home Depot for the correct size handles but because these are antiques, I honestly couldn't find hardly any that were the right size BUT also I couldn't find ones that I liked as much as the originals.  SO I decided to soak them in a lot of hot water and Dawn liquid soap to try to get the years and years of oil and guck off of them.  I scrubbed with a brush and after a while it started peeling off.  Once I got them cleaned, I spray painted them with Rust-Oleum Auto Primer.  I know, you're probably thinking, what???  Well, I couldn't find the right color in a matte so I asked the gentleman who worked at Home Depot if this would work and he said "Yep, it sure will!" and so that's what I went with!  I used an old towel because I didn't want excess paint drips on my hardware.  This way it would soak up any excess around them.
I honestly couldn't wait to get the hardware on.  The handles ended up being a little darker than what I has wanted but I think all in all I was pretty pleased with them.
Mind you, we are in a rental and when we moved in it was important to me that my kids rooms were painted even though I hated the color in our bedroom.  To this day, I still hate the color in our room and I really need to paint it.  I took a picture of my husbands side first but then decided that this table needs to be shown in all it's glory but here's Adam's side first...
And instead of trying to show you what this looks like in the master, I decided to pull it outside for all the natural light. So much fun to do by the way!
I'm not sure what I'll be doing next but honestly this project was super easy and very enjoyable.  I encourage anyone to do it, just play your favorite music and start painting, you never know what kind of masterpiece you can create!


PS - If you are interested in any of the products that I've used for this project, I have listed them here for you :)


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wait! What did she say???


Why has this post taken me so long to write?  I know I'm suppose to write in the moment on how I have been feeling but to be honest the last two months have been a one foot in front of the other, day by day, minute by minute.  BUT I have so much to tell you, so much to write about it's just completely overwhelming for me at times to even think about sitting in front of my key board typing this up, my feelings, my issues, my crap.  I honestly love writing but since my last blog, "Summer Blues" came out I have had this undying sense that I needed to figure out what the heck is going on internally with me and post after the journey is over.  However today is different, today I read something that REALLY resonated with me and hit me to my core.  It said something to the effect that if people come to you, like when reading your blog, if they feel a connection to you it is your responsibility to continue to enlighten them.  Some subjects can be difficult and others fun but no matter what, you started this and you need to continue with it even through all the ugliness.  Ok, well that made me jump right up and start typing!

For those of you who haven't read my last blog post, I was basically at a breaking point in my life.  A point where I felt like I couldn't deal with ONE. MORE. THING.  Like I had a pile of bricks on my back and if one little feather landed on the top of the pile, everything would be crumbling down on top of me and everyone around me.  Not a fun place to be by the way!  So as I stated in the last blog post, I had made an appointment with Dr Karen Sun at the Integrative Wellness Center doing  Bioidentical Hormone Therapy (BHT) hoping that there would be something that she could see in my blood work that was reflective on the way that I have been feeling.  

So yes, I made the appointment and went in for my first visit the last week in August.  Ok, so let me start by saying that her office is beautiful!  Walking in, I felt like I was in a spa, very gorgeous and tranquil feeling.  Being as nervous as I was it really helped to calm me down as I walked in.  Why was I nervous, you ask?  My fears of her looking over all of the extensive blood work and saying to me, I don't see anything wrong with you... was the biggest fear of all!  Was this all in my head?  Was I going to have to live like this for the rest of my life?  What if she can't help me! There were so many fears going through my thoughts, I wanted the results now and I couldn't wait another minute for them.

I was called back into a typical medical exam room, asked a few questions and then waited for Dr Sun to come in.  As I waited I took many deep breaths, shed a few tears and tried to pull myself out of this emotional madness that had become my norm for so long.  I didn't want Dr Sun to walk in and see me like this so I wiped my tears, grabbed my phone and flipped through social media to numb my feelings and suppress them down.  After waiting a while she walks in, introduces herself, sits down and asked me why I came in to see her.  I took a deep breath and then I unleashed all the bricks, the piles of my feelings and emotions, the lack of life that I'm living and the tears just came streaming down my face.  She looked at me with a kind of stoic face, looked through the pages of my blood work and started going through all of the different hormones.  As my brain is trying to retain all of this mumbo jumbo, all I can think to myself is that maybe there is nothing wrong, oh my God I hope this isn't all in my imagination! But she keeps going into more of the hormones and tells me that some of them are so low that she doesn't understand how I'm functioning.  She said, it's like running a 10k marathon everyday and having your entire family at the finish line wanting something from you and all you want to do is eat and sleep.  Say what???  Did she just confirm what I've been feeling?  Then she goes on to tell me that I'm peri menopausal.  Wait!  What did she say???  I think I was in shock because I'm so young.  How can a 43 (yes I said it) year old be peri menopausal?  How the hell does this happen?  What does this even mean?  Well what it means is that all of the feelings that I've been dealing with, the anger, the sadness, the tiredness and all the mixed emotions are because my hormones are not only depleted but I'm FRIGGEN PERI MENOPAUSAL??!!??  

Thinking to myself well, now what?  Dr Sun looks at me and lists out some options of BHT for me to take. Well of course I accept everything that she is offering to me because what do I have to lose?  I cannot live another day feeling like this!  I cannot go another day without doing whatever it takes to fix this and get back to where I once was! 

I've read and researched a lot about BHT so I knew going into this that a compounded pellet made by a compounding pharmacist would be inserted into my butt cheek, ouch (but not really)!  And even though my testosterone levels were actually at a normal level I got a testosterone pellet because other hormones that are completely depleted effect testosterone one way or the other.  I was also given vitamin D for a serious deficiency and other supplements to aid in my adrenal glands.  Your adrenal glands are so vital to your wellbeing and they actually play a huge role in the production of your hormones.  Mine were almost non existent.  Dr Sun pointed out that if she had not seen my age on my paperwork by just looking at my results on the blood work that has been taken, she would have thought that I was post menopausal.  To be quite honest, this news did not upset me because it answered so many questions, thoughts that I was going crazy and gave me a solution to my issues.  I actually felt that someone not only understood what I was going through but knew what I needed to do to get back to a normal life.

After checking out of her office with a multitude of supplements, prescriptions and a pellet in my cheek (I swear I didn't feel a thing) I wasn't looking for a miracle.  I was leaving there very optimistic yet knowing that this could take months before I started seeing severe changes.  I was totally fine with that because when you are at a breaking point you will do anything and if that means being patient then you will be patient.  

Two weeks later I started to notice that my energy level was going up and I could feel that my short fuse was starting to get longer and that was enough to get me excited.  However there were so many other areas that I knew needed drastic improvement but this is all about patience, right?

Dr Sun wanted me to do an at home test that collected saliva and urine throughout the day so about 2 weeks into my hormones I had to do these tests at home and send them off to a neuroscience lab for testing.  Not really understanding what this would tell me, I did it and sent my samples off to the lab.  I also had to go in for more blood work 3 weeks after my initial appointment with Dr Sun so she could see if anything had changed with my hormones.  I hate needles too!  I feel like I am pregnant right now getting poked and prodded on a monthly basis but like I said anything it takes!  

One week later from my follow up blood test I also had my one month check up with Dr Sun.  I couldn't wait to see if anything had changed.  I mean I was feeling a lot better, definitely not 100% but better for sure.  She walked in to my exam room, sat down and proceeded to tell me that some of my hormone levels had actually dropped which meant that I was definitely in full blown menopause!!!  So what she thought about me being peri menopausal was incorrect and I am neck deep into this transition in my life.  As shocking as it may be I honestly don't care.  What does Menopause mean anyway?  Well for me, it's just a name given for all of these symptoms that I've had and have been dealing with for a really long time.  So hello Menopause!!!  

The neuroscience tests were so interesting to me because they showed what times of the day I would be tired, had the most energy and most interesting were all the different neurotransmitters.  The neuroscience report was so eye opening for me though because everything that was reported told the story of CJ.  I could see the 12 neurotransmitters and where my levels were compared to the normal range.  I couldn't believe it when I saw that out of the 12 neurotransmitters only 3 of them were in the normal range, one was very low, 2 were elevated and the rest were at a very high range.  The great thing about this report was that it gave me the commonly associated symptoms that went along with all of them that were not in normal range.  Oxidative and immune stress, anxiousness, sleep difficulties, cardiovascular stress, urges, cravings, focus issues, low mood, intestinal complaints, discomfort, sleep difficulties, weight issues, fatigue, sensitivities, mind racing, and vascular issues are all of the symptoms of these neurotransmitters being in the levels that I am at.  I think I've read this damn report about 50 plus times already because it's spot on with the way that I have been feeling.  The report went into my adrenal hormones and how my cortisol levels were basically non existent but more importantly at what times during the day they were slightly higher and lower which is exactly reflective of the blood work that has been taken as well.

With all of that information given to Dr Sun and I, we needed to add another pellet but this time it was estrogen along with a little more testosterone.  I am also taking some supplements prescribed by the neuroscience company to aid in my neurotransmitters which I have been on for a month now.  Some are to support with my immune system, improve my mood, increase my memory (who doesn't get foggy brain at this age), mental clarity, reduce anxiousness, promote sleep, reduces urges and cravings, reduce stress and so, so much more!  

I sat my family down to explain to them that I have been feeling completely out of whack and all of these appointments are telling us exactly why I have been so grouchy for so long.  Reading a report like this can be shocking.  It stares you right in the face and it's like here I am, I'm not going anywhere so get your shit together otherwise the road that you are on will get worse!  My daughter who's 18 read the report with me next to her and to see the shocked look on her face and the "oh my God, Mama" out of her mouth let me know that she now understood what I was going through.  I cried sitting next to her because this report is so telling of what I have been going through.  And to see your baby read it and get it was such a pivotal point for me.  Not for the fact that I wanted her to just see the report but to really see the struggles that I have had to face for the years that this has crept up on me.  I also wanted her to know that I was willing to do anything to make sure that I was not going to continue through life like this any longer, not just for me but for her too!  We hugged for a really long time and I apologized to her for anything that I have done to make her life more difficult.  It kills me to think that I could have done anything to my family in a negative way but now I know and I know that I need to get this down to the point where I don't even feel the symptoms of menopause.

I just had my third follow up appointment with Dr Sun after another 13 panel blood test and things are finally getting better!  I mean holy moly, thank you Jesus!!!  I'm still not 100% and that's ok because... I am getting better.  There are a few areas that need some work but I am here to stay and I can not wait to meet the old CJ again, give her a hug and tell her that she's been missed.  This road that I'm on is one foot in front of the other, day by day, minute by minute and I cannot wait to see where it takes me!

If you have been feeling any of the crazy emotions that I have talked about, feel free and reach out to me because I would love to help you with what I've learned.  This goes for both men and women!  Sometimes you literally cannot control your emotions due to hormonal imbalances and the only way to fix them is to get a professionals help.  Much love to anyone and everyone who has gone through any of this, just know that there is help out there and you do not have to live your life this way!  


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Summer Blues...

You know I started this blog to put my ideas down so that I could look back and say "ok, that was a cool place to visit" or "that was a fun project" but after realizing that if I continue to mask what is really going on inside I will never get to do all of the fun things with this blog that I really want to do.    This is not a fun subject, this is not something that I had planned on writing about and this is definitely nothing that I wanted ANYONE to know about me.  And obviously I didn't for see myself writing anything like this so I don't even have a "Just Life" tab at the top of my blog, lol.  But do you know what?  This is me.   If only one person can relate to me and how I feel then that is one person in this world that I can feel good about helping. 

And here's the thing, I wish that I had a clear reason, a clear understanding of how... or maybe I should say why I feel so sad and alone but I can't quite put a finger on it.  Sure, there is the social media effect where you see everyones posts each day and wonder how you are in the life that you created vs everyone else lives that are so exciting.  Yes I know, you can't compare your behind the scenes with everyone else's HIGHLIGHT REEL!  I totally get that and while I can admit that comparison can be part of the problem, it is not the cause of it entirely.  And hey, I'm sure someone out there could look at my life and think that it's pretty darn awesome.  And I'm not here to say that it isn't, I'm just going to shed a little perspective with you that maybe you didn't know about me.

You see, maybe I shouldn't even title this blog post "Summer Blues" maybe it should be called "Figure it Out Already!!!" or "What Now???" or how about "Get Your Act Together!!!" because this feeling, this anger, this "what is the purpose of my life" feeling has been around for a long time, NOT just the Summer Blues!!!  I just have moments in-between that make me a little happy that make me forget for a short moment that AGH, I'm so sad and angry and mad and hurt and... just not happy.

I swear to you this is not a boo hoo, pity party, poor CJ, give me a break (well ok, you could be thinking that) break down moment.  This has been going on for way too long and as I write this I am thinking about all of my fake smiles that I have probably given to a lot of my friends, not in a vicious mean girl way but in a "if you only knew how I really feel about myself on the inside" kind of way.

Here's the thing, for EIGHT years I have been in this downward spiral.  EIGHT YEARS!  Maybe it was the 2008 real estate crash, maybe it's because I'm getting older, maybe it's because I'm depressed, maybe it's because... let's just blame it on the 2008 crash, that sounds good to me.  Just to give you an idea of how this horrible time affected me and my family... (nope, not ready to talk about that yet) well lets just say, we lost pretty much everything except each other.  And yes, absolutely I am so tremendously grateful that my marriage to my husband never wavered, never.  You would think that I should be in a grateful bliss right now and nothing matters as long as we have each other, right?  Well that's what I've been told... that I should feel grateful for what we have and yet all I feel like doing is SCREAMING!!!  Not because I'm ungrateful, not because I don't love my family and not because I'm not thankful for every opportunity and blessing that has come into my life... I'm just MAD and I feel like I'm in a vertical hole trying to climb out and every once in a while I get a glimpse of the outside but then something gives in and I fall back down again.

Honestly though, take away losing the 2 homes, the car, the money and all of the materialistic BS,  I really feel like this sense of loneliness is much deeper than the "stuff"!  It has to be because I really am not a materialistic person or one to ever go out and spend frivorsely so it has to be much deeper than that!  And if you're thinking "c'mon lady just go to a therapist and take some meds and call it a day." Yep, been there and done that! I've literally tried everything I could think of.  And each trial is like a bandaid on your hand that as soon as it gets wet it's no longer any use anymore so I just put another one on and so on.  Except this wound inside me never heals completely. And because I have no clue what the heck is wrong with me, I just move on to the next remedy that someone told me about that has "totally helped them and every woman in their entire family".  Then I try it and it's always "I can't believe it didn't work for you".  Or I stop taking it because I don't want to feel like I'm drugged up or that I have to take something before I see my family because my fuse is so short.  Oh and let's talk about that fuse, oh my GAWD!!!  I mean I'm even short with myself and there is never room for errors EVER!!!  Does anyone out there ever feel anything like this?  I feel like a monster, I feel like I'm alone, I feel like I am living as a caged animal trying to walk this life with a smile on my face all while this sense of anger, depression, anxiousness and irritability consumes everything inside of me.

Here's the thing, I'm at a point where ENOUGH IS ENOUGH for good this time!  I am on a mission.  A mission to find something that will fix me, help me, never let me feel like this ever again.  Something that will bring my happiness back.  And of course there will be a bad day here and there, I'm not asking for a miracle but what I am asking for is to feel normal and engaged again.  And since I'm on a mission, I'm going to get my compassion and love for life back too!  NO MORE SHORT FUSES!!!  Feeling as hollow as I have for so long, as I write this it makes me realize all the things that I use to love.  And when I look in the mirror I don't even see an ounce of the old CJ left.  How fun am I to live with?  Not fun at all and I will get the old me back!  

And so as many bandaids that I have put on before maybe, just maybe I have been trying to bandaid the wrong wounds.  I will not give up until I find something that will work for me. So here goes another trial at something new because what do I really have to lose?  I'm going to to a specialist to try Bio-Identical Hormone Pellet therapy, get my blood work done and hopefully find out what is off balance.  Have you ever heard of it?  Have you or anyone you know tried it?  A friend brought it to my attention (yes I will take any advice I can again and again if I have to) and said that she did this and she has been feeling so much better about many aspects in her life.  

The first thing I did was do some research, I found out that this therapy is not in a synthetic form, nor is it an animal derivative and does not have any artificial stimulants, YAY!  Unlike other treatments that require creams, patches and pills that require self administration and carful timing, Bio-Identical Hormone Pellet therapy is safe to use and are hand compounded by pharmacists then inserted just underneath the skin.  Each pellet is made from soy and other plant ingredients and have little to no side effects.  This therapy has been thoroughly researched and has been published in some of the worlds most respected journals.  With all of this information, I called the office of Dr Karen Sun MD at the Integrative Wellness Center and made my appointment!  I will report back my findings on how it has either helped me or not.  I'm optimistic yet skeptical at the same time and pray that this is going to help me get out of the hole that I've been in and stop falling back into it, I want to stay out for good.  Maybe then I will be strong enough to help others get out of their holes too... oh yeah and continue to write more fun blogs.  ;)


Monday, July 18, 2016

No More Tangled Necklaces When You Travel...

If you are anything like me, you hate the dreaded packing for a trip.  What to wear?  What will the weather be like?  Should I bring extra just in case?  You know what I'm talking about, right?  For me, even though I hate packing there's a part of it that I dread even more!  What the heck am I going to do about all of my necklaces????  AGH!!!!  No matter how careful I am they always seem to end up like a tangled mess and then I spend upwards of hours trying to untangle them. 
Well not anymore!  I found a little life hack using straws that has literally changed the way that I pack my beautiful ensembles.
First I pick which necklaces I will be bringing with me.
I grab straws and scissors that I will be able to cut to size.
Slide one end of your necklace chain through the straw and clasp it together.
And voila it works and no more messy tangles to deal with!
I know it may seem silly but if this little hack helped me, I'm sure it can help someone else out there that dreads dealing with this as much as I do.  So wherever you are traveling to I hope you make memories all over the world!


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Beginners Guide to Flatlay Photography...

Ahh yes, the world we live in is made up of beautiful pictures filled with Photoshop in all of it's glory.  I've been so perplexed by this for some time now, always wondering why some photos look amazing and others are completely lackluster (mine always seeming to be of the latter).  So I went on a mission today to try to discover the art in amazing flatlay photos (I actually had to Google what it meant, lol).  Please bare in mind that I am in no way an expert on this I am just a woman trying to break this down into easy steps for all of us unexperienced "Flatlayer's" (Is that an occupation? Lol).

Alright, Let's get this party started!  First and foremost, make sure that you have natural light.  You don't want to take your photos in the early morning or late evenings as this can cast more shadows.  Here's the spot in my house that gets the most light.  I took this photo after I did my flatlay pictures just to give you an idea of the right kind of natural lighted space that I used.

Next you want to pick a background that will compliment your flatlay photo.  I chose to use the faux fur rug that I use for my desk chair (see picture below) but you can use a wooden floor, clean sheet, tabletop, blanket, tiles, rugs or just about anything that you can think of that isn't too busy.  And definitely don't go out and buy anything too quickly, take a look around your home for items that could work, I bet you have a few!

Now that you've picked your background, it's time for you to pick the items that will go on your flatlay.  Try to pick items that compliment one another nicely.  All you need is a little creativity and imagination.  I am about to leave for Dallas in a couple of days to go to AdvoCare's Success School at the Dallas Cowboy Stadium so I wanted to put together items that correspond to what I'll be wearing and bringing with me :)

I don't know about you but I think this makes a good flatlay picture too and all I did was throw the items that I wanted to use on my bed, lol.  Ok, stay with me here...
Next you will need to place your background on the well lit area and start to organize your items as you see fit.  Now see how this original picture (below) had more yellow tones to it?  I learned how to change the yellow color cast in order to get the bright whites that we see in these type of pictures from a quick tutorial from It's Always Autumn.

And after all that work here is my finished product!  I'm sure there is plenty of room to grow but for my very first one I'm pretty impressed with how it turned out.  And remember, there really is no wrong way or right way to place your items.  As you can see from the above photo where I just kind of threw everything down vs placing everything down right where I want them just gives both photos a whole new look :) 

If you can think of anything that I may have missed or you have a better solution to making a flatlay, I'd love to hear your input in the comments below.  

And before I take off, I thought it would be fun to list out the items that I used in this picture for you so here you go...

1) "Make it Happen" journal from Home Goods
2) MAC Lipstick "Viva Glam"
3) Ring from Stella and Dot
4) Earrings from Bebe
5) Jo Malone Candle "Wood Sage & Sea Salt"
6) Gold Pumps made by Chinese Laundry
7) AdvoCare Spark for mental focus and energy
8) Michael Kors watch
9) This is a bracelet that I got from a boutique in Laguna Beach which is no longer there :(
10) Whoop whoop, this is the AdvoCare Gold Pin that you can receive if you are looking for a way to make some extra money

Anyway, I hope you liked my tutorial and come back for some more fun ideas for the beginner like me ;)


Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Happy Hour of Friendships, Frolic & Feasting...

Do you ever need to just get away?  Even if it's for a quick hour to decompress from the madness of life.  Of course you do!  Thank goodness for girlfriends that say "I'm picking you up!  How fast can you be ready?"  It always helps when you have a restaurant not too far away with a great happy hour to accommodate moms just like us :)

Living in South Orange County has a ton of amazing restaurants to eat at however our little town of Ladera Ranch is extremely lackluster when it comes to food choices.  It can be so annoying sometimes trying to figure out where to eat next.  Half of the time you list out all of the restaurants where we live just to have more problems deciding because driving too far is a task in itself.  Seems like everyone wants to stay put in our ho hum town.

Today was different!  We decided to go down Ortega Hwy for a very short drive to a restaurant called Tannins.  They had a delicious "Happy Hour" to allure us to get the heck out of our town!  Just what these two mama's needed!

Ahh yes!  A Chardonnay to toast getting away (even if it is for a moment) hit the spot.  Sitting on the patio talking about life with no one to bug us!  Juts two friends enjoying a good laugh!

Next came the white fish ceviche' which was a little sweet for my taste buds but to be honest I really didn't care.  Getting away was just what we needed!  Oh but let me tell you, the salmon tacos are so delicious and packed to the rim!  It's exactly what we needed to pair wit our Chardonnay!  And let's be honest here, another glass was ordered and well deserved!  

This is definitely a happy hour that I will return to, even if it is for a quick escape!  Always having a girlfriend by your side to pull you out of your craziness is the icing on the top!  And next time we'll need to extend our "Happy Hour" to more than just one hour, but this time...  it was so worth it!  If you have suggestions for other great restaurants with happy hours I'd love to hear about them!