Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What I'm Wearing Wednesday

Good morning and happy Wednesday friends! Today, I'm continuing with debuting one of the daily changes I am bringing to both my blog and INSTAGRAM • What I'm Wearing Wednesday;

Let me be honest, I am no fashion guru nor do I even understand what's "on trend". I am just a stay at home mom trying to find a style somewhere in between cute and comfortable, while not looking like I just rolled out of bed and stayed that way all day. But let's be honest, we all have those no makeup, messy ponytail, yoga pant wearing days (Or at least I do, more often than not). I've been a mom for over 6 years now, and my body has changed a heck of a lot since before I grew a human inside of me! I used to love shopping for clothes. I used to compile the cutest outfits, shoes, and accessories. Post-babies, that all has changed.

Pre-babies, you could find me shopping at Express, American Eagle, PacSun, H&M, JCrew, Forever 21, Nordstrom, Banana Republic, and Free People, to name a few. I could walk into any one of those stores, find something I liked, picked my size, walk into the dressing room and could walk out of the store with a bag full of purchases. 

Fast forward to after pregnancy and 60 pounds of weight gain later, 60 pounds which have been extremely hard to lose due to PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). My body has changed drastically. I am no longer the size I was pre-children, and after 6 years of trying so many different ways to change that, I have come to accept and love the body I am in. It hasn't come easy. And yes, I have days where I think back to how my body looked before, but overall, this body is healthy, it is strong and I believe that I am beautiful. 

I am now bumped into a whole new clothing category. And for someone that was used to shopping one way their entire life and suddenly not be able to shop that way any more, it's an adjustment. Out of those clothing stores that I listed above, unfortunately the majority of them do not carry plus size options. I had to learn where I could and couldn't shop, all over again. I had to discover new brands and what type of clothing would fit my new body shape, and cover that left over "mom-tummy". 

I have now spent 6 years shopping in the plus size section and while its been a struggle, it's also been an empowering adventure. I have learned a lot along the way of what works, what doesn't work, clothing brands that say they carry "plus size" but consider only an XL/XXL to be plus, and how to navigate finding AFFORDABLE and cute clothing options as a plus size woman that don't just look like a poncho. Can I get an amen ladies!

Every Wednesday, I want to take you on a journey of what I have learned, share with you my favorites and hopefully be able to help my fellow plus size women/ mama's find a style that works for you. I don't want you feeling discouraged when you walk into a department store, and out of the entire store you only are able to shop a 12' X 12' section. I don't want you feeling discouraged when your favorite blogger shares her capsule wardrobe and you aren't able to get any of those items in your size. I don't want you feeling discouraged when you feel like your only option is over-sized baggy t-shirts to "hide it all". I want you to feel BEAUTIFUL. I want you to feel EMPOWERED. 

For those of you women reading this who may not be plus size, I got you too, don't worry! While the majority of what I fit into and shop for is considered plus size, I am right in the middle and many times wear an XL/XXL, so I will also be providing the same or similar options of what I share for average sizing as well! 

I know that this is something new that I am incorporating, and my hope is that while it may not be decor related, that you will still follow along. Decor is just one part of me, and I would love to share the other parts too. Again, I am no expert at fashion, just sharing what I love, the things I have learned along the way and my hope is that you love it too.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Let's Talk About It Tuesday - Comparison

 Starting this week, I am beginning something new with both my blog and INSTAGRAM. I felt heavy in my heart, the desire to create a daily landing spot for you. One that you could come to each morning, evening or just at any moment that you have throughout the day. a place to come and find inspiration, encouragement, tips, tricks, you name it... I want to begin on a deeper journey of sharing not just the decor parts of my life, but truly who I am, the things that I enjoy, the struggles that I endure, and to shine a light of positivity on others and topics that are rooted deep within my core. I want this space to be one where you don't feel alone, I want you to feel comfortable sharing your journey with me and not be afraid to reach out to me and chat as if you would do with an old friend! 

 Social media can be tricky, it can leave us feeling inadequate, unworthy, misunderstood, and not good enough. We can look at someone else's life or home and think, "If only I..." And those 3 little words can destroy a whole lot more than just a tiny portion of our day. For some, we can dwell on those words. They can end up leading to... "If only I had a marriage like theirs.", "If only I could get pregnant easily like they can.", "If only I could afford a new pair of shoes like hers.", "If only I could travel like they do.", "If only I could just be happy for one day like they seem to be." See where I am going with this? 

 Social media can be used in so many great ways, to connect with others and build friendships, to shine light on an important topic and reach millions, to spread support and rally for someone struggling with the unimaginable, to build a business from literally just a tiny thought to a booming empire. But behind all of that good, the inevitable is that there will always be COMPARISON. Hand raised, I am fully guilty of this. I'm going to share with you something that is extremely personal, but in my mission to be completely transparent with you, I feel it needs to be shared;

 There is a friend of mine, I absolutely love her to death. She is the sweetest and kindest person whom I have had the blessing of becoming friends with. Her and I easily connected over having a love and a passion for home decor and quickly became each other's go-to's for all things home related. 

SIDE NOTE: As many of you may or may not know, I started this blog way back in 2012. I've taken some breaks along the way, but this blog was my "baby" that kept me sane after becoming a brand new mom. I worked hard at caring for this "baby", spending hours brainstorming up unique and creative ideas, working on DIY's while photographing the entire process, editing those photos, then writing all of the instructions into an easy to follow blog post. Just one post is more work than you might think and can take days to just complete one. Not to mention all of the extras like linking, promoting your blog, answering messages and emails, the list goes on and on. This has been something I have worked at for years, to build a following and to create ideas that you all will love! Because after all, it's because of YOU the reader, why I do any of this in the first place and I greatly appreciate each one of you.

Okay, so back to the story... My friend has a beautiful home, (I won't say her name in honor of privacy) she has inspired me in so many ways, and she may not even know this! Like I said before, I love her dearly. Knowing what I do about blogging and social media, I felt like she had such an amazing talent that needed to be shared. I encouraged her to jump on Instagram and knew that the wonderful IG home decor community would welcome her and her beautiful home with open arms! She hesitated. But I persisted! One day, she created an account... and within days, it took off. One of her very first photos ever shared received over 1,000 likes and she just barely had 200 followers! Her following quickly escalated to 1k, 3k and now, she has over 7k in just 3 months of posting and only 40 photos shared. I have been so ecstatic for her, cheering her on along the way! How amazing to be recognized for your talent! 

 Now, here comes what this whole blog post is about... COMPARISON. I watched from the sidelines as her account grew. I began to compare her numbers to mine. I began to question what it was that I was doing wrong. I had taught her everything that I knew about growing a home decor account and all of my advice was working for her but not for myself? Why? I work SO HARD at creating content, stories, graphics, photography, interacting and (this is just from my perspective) all she had to do was post a cell phone taken photo and people went crazy over it. No stories. No DIY tutorials. No giveaways. No blog content. Nothing other than a picture of her decor, and she was growing faster in just weeks than I had in years. Do you notice the bitterness in my writing? Well, that's how I truly felt. And this is someone who is like a sister to me. I didn't want to feel bitter against her. I didn't want to let her accomplishments cloud my own self worth. But it did. I allowed it to. I COMPARED.

 I realized that I had just done what I have told so many others to not do. I let numbers, stupid numbers, (that literally mean nothing) get in the way of the feelings I have towards one of the best friends I have ever had. And if be lying if I said she was the only one I have compared myself to. There have been many. I realized that this pattern needed to be broken. I couldn't allow other's successes to steer the direction of my ship, which is something else I want to jump into during next week's "Let's Talk About It" session...

 But for now, I want to leave you with a quote that I read this morning on my friend, Jenny's account, "A flower does not think of competing against the flower next to it. It just blooms." - Zen Chin

 So whomever you may be comparing yourself to, I challenge you to let it go and JUST BLOOM. It's not easy. Comparison will always be there as long as human kind exists, and social media makes escaping it so much more difficult. It has to be a daily choice to cheer on others, rather than wishing their success into your own life. We all are on our own paths, with our own purpose, just keep believing in that purpose and one day you will realize what all of the waiting and hard work was for. I promise you. 

 If you have any comments to add to this topic, I want to make these weekly "Let's Talk About It" chats something we can all engage with, so leave a comment below! Or to continue with your own thoughts on this topic, feel free to share this photo on your Instagram and use the hashtag #LetsTalkAboutItTuesdayComparison
and be sure to tag my INSTAGRAM in the photo itself so I can see it. I can't wait to hear how this topic effects your own heart.

 Until next chat my friends...  - Jennifer

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving Tablescape

Thanksgiving is here! Where did this year go and how is there nearly a month left until Christmas? If you are like me and love decorating for Christmas early, you know all too well the struggle of having one part of your hold decked out in all things Christmas while you table is being prepared for that Thanksgiving turkey. While I am a Christmas fanatic, we cannot just skip over one of the best holidays of the year... This year I wanted to create a simple tablescape playing off of copper and burgundy tones.There is something about that combination that is always so classy and elegant.

The copper bowl I found on clearance from Home Goods a few weeks back. They had a few higher priced real copper pieces in store recently, sadly, all of which are out of my teeny budget. So this $12 clearance find is to be praised! To create the faux floral centerpiece, I used desert dry foam blocks on the inside of the bowl, then placed the evergreen cedar faux greenery stems that I purchased from Hobby Lobby all around the edges and used the smaller pieces as filler in the center.

I really wanted the arrangement to be an eye catcher since it is the only feature on the table. I have seen beautiful tables set up with garland and candles down the center, and while they look amazing, I find them impractical when it actually comes time for your Thanksgiving feast. This arrangement keeps the table clear for side dishes and desserts! 

The faux pomegranates, cotton picks, faux green eucalyptus, seeded brown filler and burgundy dried eucalyptus used in the arrangement are also from Hobby Lobby. I then placed the entire arrangement onto a small marble topped cake stand from Home Goods.

So, let me ask you, what is your least favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner? Well, for me, it's the dishes. Those dreaded dishes. And I do everything that I can to cut down on the work that comes along with hosting, so when I found these plastic copper silverware sets from Target, I snatched them in a second. Can I get an Amen for less dishes to wash!?

I paired the silverware with my Classic White dish set from Pottery Barn. It has always been the perfect set to go with any holiday and tablescape that I have created. 

For a 2 min. table setting, try using metallic card stock as place cards and napkins tied up with a simple cinnamon stick and greenery! Your Thanksgiving (or any holiday) table doesn't have to be expensive nor time consuming to be beautiful. All it takes is a little creativity!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Floral Pumpkin Centerpiece Workshop

My floral PUMPKIN CENTERPIECE TUTORIAL was such a big hit that I began receiving requests to teach hands on, how to make them. Teaching classes was never even an idea that crossed my mind. While I can easily write up a storm, would it surprise you if I said that talking to a room full of people simply terrifies me? But... I have been trying to challenge myself over the past few months to step outside of my comfort zone, so once I began getting so much encouragement I was excited to jump in and go for it! 

My biggest challenge after deciding to offer a workshop, was where to host it? I have a wonderful friend whom is a local maternity/newborn/child photographer and creates her gorgeous work in her beautiful photography studio. Her entire studio is an old historic home here in the golden isles of coastal Georgia. When I brought the idea of a workshop to her, she was instantly on board and graciously offered her studio and wanted to join in on the workshop! I was ecstatic, as her style and mine blend perfectly and provided the perfect backdrop for my vision.

When planning out my workshop, I wanted my style and "signature" to touch every aspect of it, making the workshop an extension of my home and myself. I am a sucker for details, and when displaying the materials on the workshop table, I really wanted to pay attention to detail, even down to the tape on the packaging.

We opted to keep the class size small and intimate to really provide a fun night of crafting, laughing and snacking with "friends". The result was exactly as I had envisioned and was so much fun! Teaching my first workshop was a pleasant surprise and came natural to me, which was completely un-expected! The turn out was so great that I have now decided to offer more and a few Christmas workshops are already in the works so stay tuned to my blog and Instagram for announcements!

Photography & Styling: Jennifer Ciani
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