Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

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Love is in the air, can you feel it? It’s time for our Valentine’s Day gift guide! Short and sweet– from self-love, to pet-love, and everything in between.

Photo: Shop BoxFox

New Love

Congratulations, you’re in love! Maybe you’ve told him/her, maybe you haven’t, but you’re sure you want to kick it up a notch, take it to the next level. These “My Place” and “Your Place” keychains, from Box Fox are the perfect way to say “let’s do this,” without going over the top. Chocolates and jewelry are predictable– this gift says so much more. Nothing says “love,” like trusting someone in your place when you aren’t home.

Photo: Jesse Goff for Doie Lounge

Friend Love

Have a friend who might need a little pick-me-up, or a friend who you just want to thank for her love and friendship? You can’t go wrong with a girly, super-luxe, robe (in pink!).  These robes are unbelievably soft and made in Los Angeles with the highest quality fabrics. This glamorous gift fits most bodies, comes in sizes XS-XL, and looks stunning on both short and tall frames.

 

Photo: Via

Self Love

Treat yourself! Give yourself the ultimate gift of love, balance, and well being with a Reiki session. Replenish your energy and restore balance with the healing energy of love. If you are unfamiliar with Reiki, you can learn more about it here. Ready to spoil yourself? Make an appointment with Nicole Montano here.

 

Photo: Barkbox

Pet Love

I’ll admit it. Sometimes I stop by my sister’s house under the guise that I want to say a “quick hello” to her, but I really just want a little snuggle with her dog! Don’t get me wrong, I do want to see my sister and her family, but I’m just obsessed with that happy little fluff ball that meets me at the door. Do you have a pet that you love? Surprise your furry friend with Barkbox, a themed monthly subscription box filled with toys and treats.

Photo: Google Images

Romantic Love

I’m of the mindset that “experience” gifts are often the most valuable gifts of all. A couples massage is not only romantic, it’s relaxing and will take you both to a “blissed out” happy place that will carry on throughout the night. This is also a great last-minute gift, as gift certificates are often available if you will be doing the massage at a later date.

 

Love to all and Happy Valentine’s Day!

xx

Sara

Shibori Themed Weddings

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Shibori, a Japanese dying technique that often resembles tie-dye, has been used in Japan since the 8th century, but has just recently become trendy in the United States. Sometimes referred to as Indigo-dyed, Shibori, has been an emerging theme on the wedding scene lately and can be used as an accent, or as the cornerstone, on which to build the entire wedding design around.

{ Photo: Dima Dychek }

{ Photo: Ulmer Studios }

A common thread in Shibori themed weddings is the deep indigo color contrasted with white. There are several variations and interpretations of this trend seen in paper goods, linens, and even incorporated into fashion like the below wedding dress and bridal robe.

{ Photo: Via }

{ Bridal Robe from Doie Lounge }

Cakes make a great canvas on which to showcase this trend. The options are seemingly endless as both patterns, and abstract designs, work well. This is also an opportunity to add some accent colors with flowers or a metallic frosting. As the wedding cake is almost always on display, this is a great way to keep the Shibori theme throughout, but in a subtle way.

{ Photo: Katie Pritchard }

{Photo: Via }

The most obvious and easiest way to incorporate the Shibori theme into a wedding is to use napkins and other fabric goods, such as table runners, in the tablescape. These are easily found on places like Etsy or there are several DYI online tutorials. I love this one by Honestly WTF. If you have a wedding planner, he or she might also know where you can rent Indigo dyed linens.

{ Another great DYI by Alice and Lois }

{ Photo: Pinterest }

From flowers to favors, there is so much more than can be done to incorporate Shibori elements into your special day. Exploring Pinterest is always a good place to start. Whether adding a few indigo dyed pieces into the mix, or taking this theme as far as it can go, Shibori themed weddings take “something blue” to a whole new level. Happy Planning!

xx

Sara

Destination Weddings

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Originally, destination weddings were more synonymous with eloping or an alternative to big, over-the-top weddings: you’d grab a few close friends and family and head down south for a quick get-away. But over the past fifteen years or so, destination weddings have become increasingly popular and include everywhere from Sonoma to Aspen, to Maine and Florida – with many adventurous couples even planning weddings abroad. And why not? Most often, destination weddings are less formal, more cost effective, and involve less drama than hometown weddings.

Photo Via WedFest

The true impetus for many is the desire to have something original, a wedding weekend that stands out among the more cookie-cutter ones. With the advent of destination weddings, brides and grooms have more ownership over decisions as neither set of parents can lay claim on the venue. With the help of Pinterest and wedding web sites, couples can tailor their weddings to the location. Weddings in the mountains may feature barns or cabins, wildflowers, haystacks – possibly even horses or livestock. Coastal weddings may include ceremonies on the beach, fruity cocktails, steel drum or calypso bands.

Song Saa Wedding, Photo by Mott Visual Weddings

Another added bonus? The guests who are able to make the trip will have many more activities available to them. At a certain close friend’s recent wedding in Healdsburg, we spent one afternoon wine tasting around Sonoma and the next day touring breweries. My husband’s most memorable destination wedding activity was a trip to the Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum in Jupiter Florida. No kidding – he still has the hat he bought at the gift shop. Point being – we all love to travel to new places, have novel experiences, and being a guest at a destination wedding is often a mini-vacation.

Photo: Erica Chan

A few final things to keep in mind:

  • If kids are involved, you’ll keep everyone happy if you schedule a destination wedding during the summer break.
  • Even at the height of wedding season, there will be conflicts. Don’t take it personally if not every single person you invite can make it; for many, the cost of plane tickets and lodging will prevent them from attending.
  • For those who do make the trek, put together an extra special welcome bag. It’s a nice gesture to great your guests with something to eat and drink upon their arrival. For your bridesmaids, who have most likely put in even more effort, make them feel appreciated with special tokens for the weekend – matching robes that you can all wear as you’re getting dressed or a gift that ties into the location – wraps for cold weather, sandals or flip flops for the tropics. You get the idea…

Destination Weddings Bridesmaid Gift via Doie Lounge

And remember, a destination wedding does not exempt you from the regular potential pitfalls of a wedding: there could be rain, snow or excessive heat, and at least a few guests will most likely be over-served. But as they say, a rainy wedding day predicts a happy marriage.

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Liz Mathews is a Connecticut based mother, teacher, and freelance writer who blogs on children’s books and related topics at La La La. Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Town and Country magazine, and Literary Mama.

Free Shipping, Always

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We love our customers and want to show them, so… standard shipping is now on us! No cost changes, no hidden fees, no minimums, just our new way of doing business.

Photo: Rebecca Rotherberg Photography

 

Small Business Shopping

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The holidays. Though this is a festive, celebratory time of year, doesn’t it seem harder and harder each year to come up with original gift ideas? While the internet provides ample opportunities to support independent artists (hello Etsy), this is also a great time to support local, independent businesses that depend on the holidays for much of the year’s revenues. From where I sit on the east coast, just outside of New York City, it seems like another mom and pop store closes each day. Yes, it’s easier (and many times cheaper) to shop online, but we should be mindful of how that collective behavior affects our towns and neighborhoods. We can’t expect our favorite local bookstore to stay in business if we never shop there. So let’s make it our pledge this year, to not only get creative, but to support each other while we’re at it. If you’re traveling for the holidays, think about something special that exists only where you live, and bring these items as hostess and holidays gifts. Here are four other ways to shop mindfully:

shop-small

  • Shop fair trade stores and nonprofits where you’re more likely to find handmade or artisan treasures. These stores are easier to find than you think; many have popped up in recent years as a backlash to the corporate conglomerates. Fair trade stores only sell items in which fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries, while nonprofits donate all or most of their profits to local and global organizations. You’re also more likely to find unique gifts at these stores.
  • Shop consigned items. Who doesn’t love a rare find at a local flea market? Well, okay, not everyone, but you are sure to impress that discerning family member with a rare art print, an antique china collection, or piece of mid-century flare (so on trend right now). Consignment shops are everywhere, and you can also find many high quality consigned goods and hand-crafted items at a Women’s Exchange. Check out the Federation of Women’s Exchanges to see if there is one near you or where you are traveling.
  • Craft fairs: These seem to be everywhere and every weekend this month. Local artisans gather in an open-space setting (schools auditoriums, libraries, warehouses, fields if the weather allows), to sell their artwork, repurposed furniture, jewelry, and fashions. If you’re lucky, your pop up market may even provide food trucks and some entertainment to keep the mood festive while you shop.
  • If you must shop online, find sites that are Certified B corporations like Etsy, that take into account social and environmental concerns along with its business goals, retailers like The Little Market that feature fair trade global handmade goods, or blogs like Emmaline Bride that focus on handmade wedding planning.

local-craft-fair

So there you have it. That should be enough to get you going. If a busy career or just a busy life makes it impossible for you to leave the house to shop, there are ways to shop mindfully online. Do your research, and remember everyone loves to receive meaningful gifts with unique stories.

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Liz Mathews is a Connecticut based mother, teacher, and freelance writer who blogs on children’s books and related topics at La La La. Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Town and Country magazine, and Literary Mama.

Put Your Oxygen Mask On First: Advice For New Moms

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Odds are, if you’ve had a baby in the past year or so, someone has said to you at some point: “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” But this can be frustrating, right? There always so much to do while they sleep: clean the burp rags; wash the bottles; take out the dirty diapers; find the exact paci or bouncy seat or swing that will soothe your hysterical child; research some strange infliction you’re convinced your baby has. And none of that takes you, the mother, into account. But as they say at the beginning of airplane flights: “in the event of an emergency, put your own mask on before your child’s.” How can you help your child if you can’t breathe? Here are some simple strategies for how you can take care of yourself during those first few weeks or months of being a new mom:

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Robe and sleep mask from Doie Lounge

  • Shut your eyes: even for just ten minutes. Wherever you are -sitting upright at the kitchen counter, sitting in the driver’s seat (in park of course) outside of CVS, on your couch while pumping a bottle – close your eyes. Odds are you won’t have time to go upstairs and get under the covers for a two-hour nap. Sleep masks help with this, and white noise, too. I also love the Headspace app that eases you into short daily meditations.
  • Take a drive or a stroll (not a walk). Ideally, this drive or walk is alone and you are singing along to your favorite tunes or nodding your head along to a podcast. Meander around your favorite roads, or slowly walk around a neighborhood that makes you feel peaceful. The idea here is not exercise – we’ve all heard that is good for your mental health and stress release; just take a break, albeit short, from the intense daily grind of taking care of a baby.
  • See a movie or go check out some art. This may seem obvious, but I did find it extremely rewarding during those early years to transport myself to a different (mental) place by going to see a movie –not too realistic, maybe avoid family dramas, or checking out an art exhibit. These types of excursions feed your soul in a way that make you fill a little more complete when you step back into your every day reality.
  • Call a friend. Again, this may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how people change when they have children. I always, always, always felt better after calling a friend – and in many cases crying – about one baby-related issue or another. They’ll provide much-needed support and you’ll be better off having vented whatever you probably had pent up inside.
  • Kick everyone out. If you have no budget for babysitting or you’re living in a new place and have not made any friends yet, ask your partner or a family member to take the baby out for a few hours, put on a robe, kick your feet up, and do whatever little thing you miss doing now that someone else’s needs come before your own: paint your nails (hey, maybe even file them), pluck your eyebrows, do a cleansing mask, read a mindless magazine or watch the Housewives. Try to be present and enjoy the sound of a quiet house while you can.

Obviously if you have round-the-clock help, these ideas won’t apply to you, but for the rest of us, it’s important to let go any ideas of perfection or mastery (that’s not good for the baby either). Accept that some days will bring you to your knees, but that every day your baby is getting a tiny bit older, and you are becoming a stronger, more seasoned mom.

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Liz Mathews is a Connecticut based mother, teacher, and freelance writer who blogs on children’s books and related topics at La La La. Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Town and Country magazine, and Literary Mama.

Project Nursery Giveaway

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We’ve teamed up with Project Nursery for a huge giveaway! They’ve curated a collection of 16 products and brands that they love, and one VERY lucky Project Nursery reader will win it all (over a $2,900 value).

project-nursery-giveaway

Below is some information about all of the awesome brands that have taken part in this huge giveaway:

Diaper Pail, 3-in-1 Potty, Diaper Caddy, Wipes Dispenser and Snack Tweat Container from Ubbi
Ubbi is no stranger to the Project Nursery community. They are best known for their bold and colorful diaper pails and for always hitting the mark on design. This year they did not disappoint. They released another trendsetting design with the launch of their brand new black and white diaper pail. Our hearts skip a beat for everything black and white. Leave it to Ubbi to make the dirty part of parenthood look trendy (a $100 value).

Ultra Breathable 2-Stage Organic Crib Mattress from Naturepedic
Picking out a crib mattress is such an important decision when curating your nursery. You want something that is not only comfortable for baby but also something that is safe. This year Naturepedic has you covered with their Ultra Breathable 2-Stage Organic Crib Mattress. Naturepedic has designed a waterproof mattress that has a firm, flat surface and is incredibly breathable to maximize airflow, allowing your little one to stay comfortable all night long. The best part is that this is all without flame retardants or chemicals like vinyl, PVC, PFCs, phthalates or formaldehyde. Now you can put your little to bed on a mattress that is certified GOTS organic and GREENGUARD® Gold rated for chemical emissions testing. Give yourself peace of mind knowing your baby will be cool and comfortable when you lay him down to sleep (a $399 value).

Healing Balm, Diaper Balm, Mommy Balm, Belly Oil, Baby Body Wash, Baby Lotion and Baby Powder from Era Organics
Start your kids off the right way with non-toxic, chemical-free skin treatment. Era Organics’ nutrient-rich products are made for sensitive skin and have hypoallergenic formulas, which include USDA Certified Organic Chamomile, Beeswax, Olive Oil, Hemp Oil, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Calendula, Raw Honey, Avocado Oil and a whole host of herbs and extracts. The products are paraben free, alcohol free, fragrance free and contain no toxins, phthalates, petrolatum or mineral oil. Era Organics’ organic products will have your baby smiling in happy, healthy skin in no time (a $120.33 value).
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(1) Robe from Doie Lounge
Every mom desires a little luxury in her life, especially a new mom! Doie Lounge, a line of eco-chic robes for women, can offer moms the perfect amount of posh, both in the hospital and at home. We especially love the new prints they have added to their ever-so-stylish collection this year. The robe is created from all natural fabrics, making it the perfect place for baby to snuggle up. The best part? The robe’s stylish look helps even an unrested mom feel comfortable and trendy (a $136 value).

Gelato 4-in-1 Convertible Crib and Tuba Extra Wide Glider from Babyletto
We are always excited to see what Babyletto is up to! Each year they hit the ball out of the park with their trendsetting designs. This year they added the Gelato 4-in-1 Convertible Crib to the MDB collection. This stunning 4-in-1 crib is sure to be a playful addition to any nursery design and will grow with your child. They also introduced a new glider to the family in 2016. Cuddle up and stay a while in the comfort of the Tuba Extra Wide Glider. This lovably large chair-and-a-half is perfectly sized for feedings, story time or just snuggling with your mini me. The Tuba Glider swivels a full 360 degrees, comes in either Seafoam or Winter Grey Weave, and can be paired with a matching gliding ottoman, sold separately (a $828 value).

$100 Shopping Spree from Pretty and Printable
We are always on the hunt for new nursery decor! We’ve recently discovered Pretty and Printable, and they have made our hearts swoon! This year they have launched an adorable new collection of soft and furry baby wall prints—Mr. Fox, Miss Bunny, Little Duckling, Cool Raccoon, Dearest Deer and Mini Hedgehog. Pretty and Printable gives parents the ability to mix and match designs to help you create the perfect fit for your nursery. Our favorite part? You can even print the art at home (a $100 value).

$150 Shopping Spree from SweetNSwag
We love it when 2016 fashion peeks through into the baby world. The innovative mama behind SweetNSwag is always coming out with new designs and on-trend fashions—2016 has been no different! The stylish footwear from SweetNSwag will turn your mini me into a fashionista. Designed by a fellow mom, these moccasins, boots and accessories will be sure to keep your little one comfortable and in style when she’s on-the-go. From solids to metallics to fun patterns, these shoes are designed to look great while keeping little feet moving (a $150 value).

(1) Designer Diaper Bag from Lily Jade
Lily Jade fans spoke and their designers listened. After two years of researching what moms want, Lily Jade delivered a new line of bags to fit the needs of moms. Some of the fabulous upgrades include wider pockets and every full size diaper bag can now be worn as a backpack. Our favorite new feature? The new Jade lining—it is beyond stunning (up to a $330 value).

Explore Air 2 from Cricut
We were wowed when we were first introduced to the Cricut, but in 2016, Cricut stepped up their crafting game. The new machine cuts over 100 different materials up to 2x faster. All we have to say is, AMAZING! From baby shower invites to wall decor projects, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is going to be your go-to tool for creating everything for baby and beyond (a $249.99 value).

$100 Shopping Spree from Giggle Six Baby
When searching for baby bedding, look no further than Giggle Six Baby. Always keeping with the latest trends in nursery decor with her wide array of fabrics, 2016 was no different for Giggle Six Baby, and their bedding can be created to fit everyone’s style. From custom crib bedding to pre-designed sets, there are a multitude of ways you can create the perfect bedding for your little one. This gorgeous crib bedding is handmade in North America from the most amazing prints and colors ($100 value, must be used within 6 months of the contest).

High-Definition Baby Monitor System with 1.5″ Mini Monitor from Project Nursery
The Project Nursery Baby Monitor has arrived! To kick off 2016, Project Nursery launched its very first electronics product line. This monitor gives parents all the key functionalities they need while also offering sophisticated style, complete with preloaded lullaby renditions from Rockabye Baby. This monitor system also introduces the world’s first mini monitor. Whether you are trying to catch some zzz’s yourself or making a mad dash to complete a few tasks while baby sleeps, this monitor is the mother of all monitors (a $299.99 value).

Mix and Match Caterpillar from Lamaze
Lamaze always hold a special place in our hearts. Every year we are excited to see the new toys they add to their collection, and the newest members for 2016 did not disappoint. The Mix and Match Caterpillar is not only adorable but a great tool to help your little one develop her early learning skills. Baby can pull him apart and put him back together or play the matching game with mom and dad. Also, if you give him a good squeeze, baby will discover he squeaks and chimes (a $19.99 value).

Knit Bundleme from JJ Cole
For over 15 years, the Bundleme has been a top registry essential to help prepare parents for baby’s first winter. This fall, JJ Cole debuts a new cable knit sweater pattern that adds smart style to parents’ travel ensembles and is perfect for chilly outdoor adventures with baby. Plus, it comes with an adorable matching hat to keep baby toasty warm (a $89.95 value).

All About Baby Chalkboard from Pearhead
Team Project Nursery has been fans of Pearhead for years, but in 2016 they raised the bar. The All About Baby Chalkboard gives you the the ability to track your baby’s monthly milestones with style. The fun and customizable chalkboard is the perfect way to announce and record baby’s likes, dislikes and new discoveries. Then share your monthly updates on social media or via email to help keep family and friends up to date with your baby’s milestones (a $24.99 value).

Thermo Thermometer from Withings
There is no better word to describe the new Thermo Thermometer than genius. This new state-of-the-art thermometer allows you to take your child’s temperature by simply hovering Withings’ Thermo over baby’s forehead. This allows you to take your little one’s temp even while he is asleep—AMAZING! You also have the ability to track baby’s temperature via the accompanying Thermo app (a $99.95 value).

Din Din SMART™ Stainless Mealtime Set, Solo Food Warmer and Portable Mega Food Warmer from Innobaby
Innobaby is changing the way feeding is done. Their signature Din Din SMART™ collection creates a fun mealtime experience for toddlers. Not only are their designs fun and innovative, but they are designed to help instill healthy eating habits for kids. The plates are divided into five compartments, one for each food group. Change up dinner in your home for 2016 (a $115 value)!
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WIN IT! One VERY lucky Project Nursery reader will win ALL the items featured in our 16 of 2016 Giveaway (over a $2,900 value). This giveaway is open to US residents only. Enter here.

The Hitchlist

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Every once in awhile, I come across a business that I feel is a great resource for brides, which is why I feel compelled to share The Hitch List with brides everywhere.

hitchlist-alexandra{Alexandra and her Bridesmaids}

Boston newlywed Alexandra Sullivan started The Hitch List in 2015, while planning her destination wedding in Colorado. Since she didn’t know anyone who had gotten married in the Rockies, she felt overwhelmed while searching for vendors and wished there was a place to get real brides’ real feedback.

Thus, she created The Hitch List, one of the first wedding websites to truly prioritize reviews from newlyweds. The site now has hundreds of reviews from brides and grooms all over the country, neatly categorized by Style, Venue, Honeymoon, Music, Flowers, Food & Drink, Bachelor/ette Parties, and Everything Else (covering topics like invitations, wedding planners, décor and lighting).

With its clean and beautiful aesthetic, couples can easily navigate through The Hitch List, and the potentially daunting wedding planning process, as well as post and read reviews, submit photos of their wedding, and discover leading wedding industry businesses and experts.

nihiwatu-a-pool-deck-and-sunken-outdoor-dining-room-with-a-view-1200x800{Nihiwatu– Honeymoon Destination}

Currently, there are reviews that clue readers into honeymooning in Cambodia, Africa and New Zealand, getting the best massage on the planet, avoiding hotel mark-ups, saving money on wedding alterations, as well as on a band that didn’t bring it, a florist who gave a bride a good dose of anxiety when she went off the grid on the day of the wedding, and a venue that went above and beyond for a couple.

“When I was wedding planning I could not believe how incredibly generous newlyweds were in sharing the information, expertise, and tips they learned while planning their own wedding so The Hitch List is all about making it easy to find honest feedback and helpful tips online. There is an expertise that newlyweds have about each and every one of their vendors that is so invaluable for those following their steps down the aisle,” said owner Alexandra.

The Hitch List also gives focus to beautiful, real brides and interesting indie wedding businesses through its blog, Musings.

To connect with The Hitch List, submit a review or be considered for its Bride/Babe series, visit www.the-hitch-list.com, email hellothehitchlist@gmail.com and follow it on social media: Instagram: @Hitch_List, Facebook: The Hitch List

Three Surefire Ways To Relax

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Because I design lounging robes, people often assume that I know how to relax. I, like most people, have a hard time relaxing but have actively worked on it over several years. We’ve all heard about drinking chamomile tea, and to taking deep breaths, but I find that these less conventional ideas work every time.

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Brain Dump

It’s impossible to relax when you have 100s of thoughts racing through your head. How can you really unwind when your brain is on repeat with thoughts like, “don’t forget to pick up dog food, write Aunt Kelly a Thank You note, check in with mom, get a dress for Meg’s wedding….” Enter the “brain dump,” a quick and easy way to get those thoughts out of your head, without letting anything fall through the cracks.

A brain dump is an idea that I first heard of in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. There are several different ways to do a “brain dump,” some more intricate and detailed than others, but I prefer the simple method below:

  1. Grab a pen and paper. If you are really in a bind, you can use your mobile phone’s “notes” section, but good old-fashioned pen and paper works best.
  2. Sit down and “dump” everything out of your brain and onto the paper. Write down every little thought, worry, and “to-do” task and I mean every, little, thing. Once it’s all out of your head and onto the paper, you should feel a huge sense of relief and relaxation. Yes, you might be a little stressed when you see how much you have to do, but once it is all in once place it’s easier to tackle, and you don’t waste energy having thoughts swimming around and around in your brain.

 

Mindless mantra

We’ve all heard that mediation can help one relax, but most people feel that they don’t have the time to incorporate meditation into their lives. After much research, I decided to enroll in a Vedic Meditation class. It’s basically meditation for “busy people,” (aka everyone). I loved the class, but I’d be lying if I said that I actively “practiced” meditation. The requirements are just 10-20 minutes, twice a day, but sometimes even that seems like too much time. However, I learned something invaluable in this class that has actually changed my life.

Full disclosure, I used to have a very hard time relaxing and falling asleep. I would even occationally pop a sleep aid to help me sleep. When you take a Vedic meditation course, the teacher whispers your mantra to you and you repeat it back to the teacher, in private, but you never tell anyone what it is. It’s a word that has no specific meaning (but it is said to have different vibrational qualities) and we were instructed to repeat it in our head while we meditated. Mantras provide a point of focus. By having this word to center our attention on, we are able to slow, or stop, the endless internal chatter that is going on in our minds. It should at some point become effortless. When you meditate, you are supposed to sit upright so that you don’t fall asleep, but when I noticed that I couldn’t relax right before bed, I started focusing on my mantra while laying down with my eyes shut. Low and behold, once I start to repeat my mantra, I am relaxed and asleep within minutes! For someone who has had sleeping problems for years, it feels like magic.

I would suggest taking a Vedic meditation class, but if you don’t have the funds or time, this is a quick way to find a mantra here that will work for you.

oils

 

Essential Oils

You may have heard a lot about essential oils and how they can boost immunity, promote a restful night’s sleep, ease bellyaches, and more. To find out which oils would best help with relaxation, I consulted Yael Marmar of the Essential Collective, who said: “to relax, it could be as simple as dropping some lavender oil (therapeutic grade) between you hands, rubbing them together and cupping them to your nose to inhale deeply.” If you would like to take this relaxation “on the go,” Yael suggests making a relaxing blend mixed with a carrier oil like organic cold-pressed fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil, or olive oil and putting it in a glass roller bottle to keep in your purse. Other ways in which to use these oils is by adding them to Epsom salts, for baths, or diffusing them in your house.

Some of Yael’s favorite oils and blends for relaxing are: Lavender, Frankincense, StressAway™, White Angelica™, Valor™, Peace and Calming™.

Sounds like with all of this relaxing, you’re going to need a new robe! Shop now with the code: RELAX for 20% off

 

Air Plants in Weddings

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Flowers and plants can transform a space. They can turn an otherwise ordinary backyard into a rustic paradise, or a lackluster ballroom into a glamorous wonderland. With so many flowers and plants to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down the choices. As indecisive as I am, I knew right away that I wanted to incorporate Air Plants into the floral design for our wedding. My husband and I both love their modern yet rustic look, and the greenery that they add.

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{ Photo: Valorie Darling Photography, Bouquet: Soulflower SF }

Throwing a wedding can be a very costly affair, and it’s all for one night only. Think about it (I’m sure you have), you won’t wear the dress again, the hair, make-up, venue decorations, flowers… everything is gone the next day. However, Air Plants last for years and are really easy to take care of. Despite their name, Air Plants still need water, but in the form of infrequent dunks every few weeks.


cake

{ Photo Valorie Darling Photography }

Our florist gathered up all of our Air Plants, after the reception was over, and we took them home the next morning. They are now displayed (a bit excessively) all over our house. They also make great party favors, you can tell your friends and family to take them as they leave. It’s a tangible part of your wedding that will literally live on after the big event.

From the bouquet to the place cards, Air Plants can be incorporated into almost any part of the wedding design. Below is some inspiration for anyone looking for ideas of how to use Air Plants on their big day.

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{ Photo: Koman Photography }

Even the groom and groomsmen can use Air Plants for their wedding look. They work well with any color suit and can blend seamlessly with other flowers or greenery.

Ruffled - photo by Monika Gauthier Photography http://ruffledblog.com/earthy-industrial-bohemian-wedding-inspiration

{ Photo: Monika Gauthier }

The decor options, with air plants, are almost endless. Below are a few stand outs.

air-plant-decor

{ Photo: Blue Rose Photography }

air-plants-on-chairs

{ Photo via Pinterest }

air-plant-table-top

{ Photo via Asile Planner }

air-plants-and-driftwood

{ Photo: Yvette Roman Photography }

Hopefully this post will inspire you to find a way to add some Air Plants to your wedding.

xx

Sara

Wedding Registry Tips

posted in: luxelounge | 2

I like to think of myself as a minimalist, or at least I strive to be one. Mari Kondo is my idol and clutter is my nemesis. That is why I’m ashamed to admit how caught up we got in registering. My fiancé (now husband) and I all of a sudden “needed” things that we never even knew we wanted. I meant it when I told friends that they shouldn’t get us anything, but I found myself almost addicted to the rush of coming home and seeing a package waiting at the door. As the wedding neared and the gifts started pouring in, I felt so grateful for everyone’s generosity, coupled with guilt about how lucky we were. Not only did I find the love of my life, but I was also going to get to spend the rest of my life with him, we were planning a gorgeous wedding… and now gifts on top of it?

Setting up a registry is a very fun part of the wedding planning process, but it can become frenzied with everything else going on. Below are some tips on how to streamline the process and receive items that you will really use.

Heath Ceramics

{ Photo Via Heath Ceramics }

All You Need Is Less

My husband and I had somehow made it through our lives without either of us owning a full set of plates, glasses, or pots and pans that matched. When we got engaged, and took stock of what we owned, we both felt that having these essentials was important for our lives together, moving forward. After that, everything else was just extra. Did we really need another garlic press or a special potato-smashing tool? Not really, and that is when we decided to add a charity to our registry.

After the engagement, everything is all about you—it’s great at first, but after awhile I started to feel extremely self-centered. Everyone asked how the wedding planning was going, out of true interest or just politeness, but I was starting to feel like I had nothing else to offer other than the update on our flowers, or my dress… That’s another reason why adding a charity felt so good. It was the one thing about the wedding that wasn’t about us, we were actually using this time when people were focused on what we wanted, to help people who really needed it. Friends and family wanted to give because we wanted them to. It’s like being able to use your “celebrity status” (albeit short lived), for something good.

IMG_8849

{ Photo from our Honeymoon at Song Saa }

Experiences

Let’s get real here—would you rather have some money towards a kick-ass honeymoon, or a mortar and pestle just because William Sonoma has it and you might one day want to grind your own spices? It’s now considered mainstream to register for aspects of your honeymoon or even experiences in your hometown, such as a cooking class or photography lesson that you will take together.

As cheesy as it sounds, experiences create memories and also help to strengthen the bond between yourself and your new spouse. Learning or experiencing something together can go a really long way. There are several registries out there that make it easy to add experiences to your gift list (a few are listed below).

Tent REI

{ Photo via REI }

What you really, really want

Think about what you really want. I know that this sounds obvious, but most couples get caught up in what they should register for, like china or a large kitchen mixer. While I do love to bake, I would say it is very infrequent, and while those kitchen mixers look pretty legit, they take up a lot of valuable counter space. For those baking a few times a year, a small (easily storable) hand mixer will do.

Registries like Blueprint and Zola let you register for basically anything on the web and compile them all in one place. They are like the Pinterest of registries. Your camping friends might buy you that tent you’ve been eyeing, while your crafty friends can see which Etsy finds you want.

David Mellor Heath

{ Photo via Heath Ceramics }

“Naked” Gifts

No… not that kind, I’m talking about no wrapping paper! Yes, it takes a little bit of the fun out of it, but “spoiler alert,” you already know what is on your list. Not only is there a nauseating amount of packaging for each gift, which is horrible for the environment, but you then find yourself living with a constant pile of boxes and paper.

Most registries have an option to have your gifts arrive without wrapping paper. Some of your more traditional or formal guests may still insist on sending something gift-wrapped, but we found that most of our friends complied with our wishes to have our gifts come “undressed.”

Just remember, the wedding registry process should be fun, but if it all becomes too overwhelming for you, you can always go the “your presence is our present,” route.

xx

Sara

Style Me Pretty Giveaway

posted in: Blog, luxelounge | 0

In honor of summer, we are doing a pastel robe giveaway with Style Me Pretty! Head over to their website here, for a chance to win your choice of the Betty, Shirley, Arabella, Paige, or Lillian robes.

Below is a little pastel pretty inspiration from some real bridal parties. Enjoy!

Rachel in Doie Lounge Robes

{ Photo: Andre Maier Photography }

Betty Robes

{ Valorie Darling Photography }

Sophie & Bridesmaids in Doie Lounge Robes

{ Photo: Keepsake Photography }

Kates-Bridesmaids-Doie-Lounge-Robes1

{ Jeff Tisman Photography }

Natalie_blfstudios Inc.

{ BLF Studios }

Healdsburg Wedding

posted in: Blog, luxelounge | 0

Barn_rev_Valorie Darling Photography copy

{ Photo: Valorie Darling }

Ok, I am well aware of the fact that this blog has been neglected for a few months, but I have a good excuse… I got married! Between work and wedding planning, the blog sadly got put on the back burner.

Although I work with brides every day, I didn’t truly understand how intense the wedding planning process was, until I went though it myself. I do have to say that it was all worth it. We loved how everything turned out even though there were plenty of bumps along the way… but I will save those details for another post.

Above is one of our favorite photos from our Northern California Wedding, taken by our super talented photographer, Valorie Darling. Full feature with vendor details coming soon…

xx

Sara

Writing Your Own Wedding Vows

posted in: luxelounge | 0

As the wedding date nears, many of the major logistics have been worked out, but the most memorable element of the ceremony is the exchanging of the wedding vows. It’s the moment when many guests will reach for their tissues to dab their teary eyes. For most ceremonies, the guests can even mouth along; it’s a script so familiar that many of us know it by heart: “Do you take this woman to be your wedded wife…” You get the idea. So what if you both (that’s key) want to buck that trend a little? Maybe you’re creative, maybe you’re not too religious, or maybe you’ve been to enough weddings that you want to do something a little different. You want to write your own wedding vows, but how do you do it? Here are few ways to get started:

marble-readings-780x520{ Photo: Marble Rye Photography }

  • Begin by writing yours independently. Don’t try to sit down with your future spouse and write the vows together at first. There will be too much pressure. Just sit alone and think about why you have chosen to commit yourself to this person for eternity. Make a list. Then come together and share; see if you have any overlapping ideas.
  • Use Repetition. Think about song lyrics and poems. Even if you fancy yourself a very strong writer, think about following some sort of pattern. The strongest vows, like a song or metered poem, have a refrain, some repetition. If you choose to share your vows with your partner before the ceremony, see if you can create a pattern between the two. Choose key verbs or nouns to repeat. See the example below.
  • Beg, Borrow, Steal. This is an old teaching adage, and it’s especially applicable here. Pay attention during the ceremonies at other weddings you attend. Perhaps you don’t prefer the traditional vows, but you’re having trouble writing your own. Borrow a friend’s creative mind. Maybe you both have a really close friend or family member who is prolific with the pen. Ask him or her to write something for you. Research literature on love; weave lines or passages into your vows. At our wedding, we used a Justice of the Peace in Vermont who found this; feel free to use:

If you fly to the furthest reaches of your dreams
I will fly with you.
If you walk among the obstacles of the earth
I will walk with you.
And should you stumble
I will hold out my hand to you-
Remembering our love and the promise it holds
To renew and begin again.
This, I Yates pledge to you Liz from this day forth.

  • Freewrite, Practice, and Edit. It is imperative that you practice reading your vows aloud for a few reasons: you need to hear how it’s going to sound, you’ll probably need to edit out a few lines (each should only last a minute or so), and you’ll want to establish a good pace. Try not to rush, mumble, or yell.

There is a plethora of templates out there that you can use to get you started if you literally have no idea what to say. But keep in mind, this is your day and you may choose to structure your wedding vows in which ever way you feel best reflects you as a couple.

———————————————————

Liz Mathews is a Connecticut based mother, teacher, and freelance writer who blogs on children’s books and related topics at La La La. Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Town and Country magazine, and Literary Mama.

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