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how to throw a party on a budget, how to throw a party, how to throw a holiday party, how to throw an awesome holiday party, how to throw an awesome holiday party on a budget

It’s the holidays and we all love to get together and have fun. Which always leaves me wondering how to throw an awesome holiday party on a budget ? For our family, it starts with Halloween and we party like it’s 1999 through New Year’s Day. Then we rest. The thing is while everyone likes to be at the party, not everyone can afford to host the party of their dreams. Lots of times people will just forgo the whole thing but that doesn’t have to be the case. With a few simple tips, this is how to throw a party on a small budget.

No shame in being budget conscious or simply not having the extra cash and budget to throw a party. It’s a lot of work and they can get expensive. However, don’t ever let being financially strapped keep you from living your best life. I’m serious. A party is not just about what you have and how it looks, it’s more about the people and the atmosphere.

READ ALSO: How to Celebrate Dia de Los Muertos

Remember in college? We threw parties all the time. We didn’t care what it looked like. All we needed was alcohol, good friends and good music. Really, that is all that you need for a great party. The rest is fluff. Believe me when I leave a party, I don’t remember what the decorations looked like or even what the menu was, I remember how I felt. I remember the fun.

You can be broke as a joke and still know how to throw an awesome holiday party on a budget. Just have to be creative. Some people grew up with money and they have exquisite taste when it comes to hosting a party because they’ve been to plenty and probably hosted as many. I, on the other hand, grew up without a lot of money so I had to be creative. My parties had to be known for being interesting and having personality. Bottom line is that to have an awesome party on a small budget, you just need to make sure that people have fun.

Tips on how to throw an awesome holiday party on a budget

Timing

Throw your party on a budget when people aren’t expecting a full meal. Primetime is 2-5 pm, but anything after 7 usually works too. Time it wisely. Happy-hour drinks and apps are cheaper than hosting a meal. Plan on three appetizers per person.

Don’t do cocktails.

Stocking a full bar is expensive. You can save money by having one signature drink. Cheapest option: Only serve beer and wine. The standard one to two drinks per person per hour. Set out pop, juice, and water for guests. If they want something special, BYOB is the perfect hostess gift. The last option is having a dry party but then you run the risk of no one showing up.

Plan early and buy your supplies spread out over time so you are not hit with a big bill all at once. If you are smart and you host an annual party, no time like the day after this year’s party to start buying for next year, especially if its seasonal and you can get next year’s supplies for 75% off.

Don’t be too proud. Let your guests help. When your friends ask what they can bring, never say, “Just bring yourself!” The correct answer is always alcohol or a favorite appetizer/dessert. And be specific, as in “Please bring a bottle of wine you love” or “Can you bring those meatballs you had at your last party? It was delicious.”

Make the ordinary, extraordinary. Good music and cocktails are 90 percent of a good party. Pinterest got you wanting to aim higher? Use items you have at home (a string of lights, candles) or outside (branches, pinecones). Go ahead and splurge on fresh, in season, flowers to set a celebratory mood. Also, don’t be afraid to upcycle your decorations. Now that’s how to throw a party on a budget

DIY, baby.

Decorations, food, drinks.  You can do it all. It will be so much more budget-friendly than having it catered or buying it already made.

Know your budget. Decide how much you can spend. Add up the cost of drinks, food, and decorations. If you’re over budget, shorten the guest list or recruit a friend to co-host with you to split the cost.

Shop in your budget.

Go to Dollar Tree or Thrift Stores. Avoid party stores and their markups. Dollar tree has so many party supplies that you can easily dress up and they are only $1. And I know it sounds crazy to get party supplies at a thrift store but I’m talking decorations like a punch bowl, serving tray, charcuterie board, vases for flowers or holiday decorations. I mean, if it’s good enough for your Halloween costume why not for other parties. Buy items at a discounted price, clean them up and upcycle.

Have a great playlist

There is nothing more important at a party than the music playlist, aside from the nibbles and drinks. The playlist will set the mood and can electrify the atmosphere. If everybody is feeling good and dancing, you have achieved party success. Start planning this early. Or if you have a friend who is a D.J. ask them to make you a party mix.

READ ALSO: Recipe for the Perfect Thanksgiving

As the host, always introduce your guests to one another.

This sounds like a no-brainer but if you’d be surprised how many people forget to do this. Believe me, it is important. If people don’t know one another and no one introduces people, you may have a room full of people that feels more like a middle school dance than a kick-ass party. So if you really want to know how to throw a party on a budget, simple human interaction is free.

how to throw a party on a budget, how to throw a party, how to throw a holiday party, how to throw an awesome holiday party, how to throw an awesome holiday party on a budget

What’s your number one tip for throwing an awesome holiday party on a budget?

 

 

 

 

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When a Back Deck is More than Just a Deck

It’s finally fall and that means it is finally cool enough to sit outside again and enjoy nature. One of my favorite things to do is sit outside on weekend mornings and drink coffee with the Big Guy. It’s like date night but without getting dressed up.

Disclosure: This is a compensated post written in partnership with Wayfair, but, as always, all opinions are my own.

After almost 20 years of marriage, with a tween and a teenage daughter, you have to squeeze in that alone together time anywhere you can get it. Seriously, it’s not about what you do but with who you do it. For me, sitting on the back deck with a hot cup of milky coffee in my pajama pants and a comfy sweater sitting next to the Big Guy is one of my favorite things to do.

Of course, I wouldn’t turn up my nose to sitting on the back deck under the stars sitting on that same love seat enjoying a nice glass of Malbec. It’s about making the time and effort to find those stolen moments with the ones you love.

This summer, we traveled a lot so we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to our yard. Like, I’m still waiting for my hot tub to show up. But we did do something that really changed the entire aesthetic of our yard and gave us some privacy. I mean, what’s the point of going outside on the deck to enjoy some alone time with your favorite guy away from the kids if every single person who lives in the addition can walk past on the walking path? So, we put up a Gazebo and strung some globe lights.

 

The gazebo gives us privacy and protects us from the elements and bugs. It has a mosquito net around all 4 sides (because mosquitos love me and nothing ruins an intimate moment than itching and scratching) and, for extra privacy, it has nylon walls that can zip around all four sides. The globe lights add the perfect warm glow inside the gazebo.

Not to say that we only use the gazeebo and lights for spending time alone together, it’s great for parties too. We strung globe lights throughout the entire yard and it’s perfect for when you are entertaining. We like to entertain as a family and it’s nice to have the warm glow in the yard so children and adults alike can see how to get to and from the house. The gazebo comes in great as a retreat for those of us who want to enjoy the party but not get eaten up by the mosquitos.

The thing that makes my backyard my dream backyard is the fact that it’s not an extension of our living space. With the gazebo, it’s almost like having another room in the house but instead of being surrounded by four walls, you are surrounded by nature. There is nothing quite like spending time with the ones you love, listening to the owls comingle with your children’s laughter, playing cards or making up silly songs, having a few drinks or just enjoying a conversation while the kids chase fireflies around the yard. These are the moments memories are made.

A dream backyard is not about what you have, it’s about what you do in the space. For us, our gazeebo and globe lights create an ambiance that affects the way we feel when we are in the space. We are happy because we are together and these days are fleeting like a dream you’ve woken from smiling. You smile because you feel happy but you can’t remember why and does it even really matter?

What do you do to make the space in your house feel like a home?

 

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about, the truth about motherhood, motherhood, parenting, Deborah Cruz, the truth, How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordstroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school, The Truth about Motherhood, Latina mom, Chicago,baby, pregnancy, conception, family travel, teen, parenting, Deborah Cruz, the truth, Disney

Do you dream of a high fashion wardrobe but you don’t have a trendy label fashion budget? I love clothes and so do my girls and (shhh) even the Big Guy. Fashion is our passion after travel and equal to food. We love nice clothes that feel good, wear well and look good on us. My favorite clothes are the ones that are made so well that you feel naked when you wear them. Not too bulky. Not too tight. No gross cheapy fabrics that hang weird. I want clothes that fit and move with my body and look and feel good on me.

My current wardrobe is pretty amazing. I’ve been a “clothes whore” since it was “clothes horse”. That’s how long I’ve been addicted to fashion. I got my first job just for that specific reason, to buy myself a trendy fashion wardrobe. But, full disclosure, I’m also pretty budget conscious. What can I say, I grew up poor and as much as I love the good life and nice things, spending money on myself isn’t something that I think I will ever be comfortable with.

Now, before you go thinking I’m cheap. I’m not. But I am very aware and I love a good sale. I don’t love a sale for the sake of a sale. I know people like that. No, I don’t have a stock room full of Rag and Bone Jeans or Free People dresses because they were on sale for half off. I don’t hoard clothes the way Mama June hoards toilet paper. I only like to spend money on things I want and to some degree need. And unfortunately, I couldn’t wear a stock room full of jeans in a lifetime.

READ ALSO: Fashion Police, please

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

I realized a long time ago that it makes more sense to spend $150 on a good pair of jeans that I’ll wear every day than a $25 on a pair of jeans that I will never wear. In one case, I’ve wasted $25. In the other case, I’ve gotten every bit of $150 of use out of those jeans. This is how I approach shopping. I am in it for the long game most days. I look at a good piece of fashion as an investment.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

There definitely is a difference in higher quality products versus lesser quality ones. You definitely get what you pay for unless you shop wisely. I’ll be honest, I want $500 quality for $100 so I shop like it’s my job.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

If you want to take your wardrobe from Target and Kohls to Nordstrom and Macys or even to Louis Vuitton and Burberry, these tricks work to get you the fashion wardrobe that you want and deserve. Believe me when I tell you, once you go quality fashion over trendy chic ( though, I still do love Primark, Zara and Target for cute trendy pieces for myself and the girls) you will never go back. It’s like trying to go back to a PC after using Mac. It’s just too impossible to do. You can’t unknow the good life.

Here are my tips for owning an amazing, high-quality fashion wardrobe on a budget that will last forever and fit like they were made for your body.

  1. How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-schoolShop your favorite brands when they are on sale.

Fashion seasons don’t match up with actual seasons. So don’t worry about being out of style. By the time the average person is buying their swimsuits, the fashion industry is marking it down because it’s already out of season. Fashion has to be ahead of the curve, you do not. For example, the day after the 4th of July, you can find crazy sales on bathing suits and summer clothing. If you live in the Midwest, like me, you know summer doesn’t really start until July anyway.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

2. Christmas in July.

All the Big brands have Christmas in July sales and the sales are amazing. With a little planning, you can save a ton on everything from half price appliances, to hot tubs and especially fashion.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

3.Nordstroms Annual Sale

It’s everything you want, on sale. All the name brands that your heart desires. You just have to be patient. Building an amazing wardrobe is a long game.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

4.Macy’s Stackable Sales

Ok, Macy’s lets you stack sales up to 5, I believe. So does Kohls for that matter ( if you are thinking back-to-school for the kids). Also, in case you weren’t aware, there are constantly sales going on at Macy’s. Like constantly. I am a Free People junkie. I will freely admit that I am obsessed with their products. I have gotten great deals where I have paid less than half.

  1. Prime Day

Not sure that you are going to find crazy couture on Prime Day but whatever you find will be a steal and even if it’s just a few really good quality pieces, a deal is a deal and that’s money to be spent on something else. For instance, I’ve been eyeballing a pair of Stella McCartney shoes. While the shoes are most likely not on a Prime Day sale, maybe something else is and that extra saved money can go towards my Stellas.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

6.Back-to-School

When it’s back-to-school time, everybody is shopping for their children but guess what? Sales are not just restricted to your children. College-aged people go “back-to-school” too and they are full human sized. Get your sale on. Everything is on sale. Go take advantage.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

7. Outlet Malls

Not all outlet malls are created equal. You need to find yourself a good fashion outlet mall. I have a couple favorites. I’ve scored some crazy deals on Burberry and Kate Spade at these malls. You just have to go there with an open mind.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

8. Shop the Sales Rooms and Racks at your favorite high-end stores.

One of my absolute favorite stores to shop at is Von Maur and they have amazing sales. Eventually, everything ends up on the sale rack and they do 3 markdowns and being that I’ve been a loyal customer for over a decade, I know the days they do first markdowns and subsequent markdowns. Plus, they have absolutely the best customer service, no interest, free shipping and gift wrapping. They are heaven to my budget friendly high fashion wardrobe heart. Did I mention they have an entire room for markdown shoes? Also, FYI, places like Intermix and Anthropologie also have great sales racks. You just have to be willing to take the time to search for them. You may be thinking, that sounds like so much work and I don’t have the time. I get that. I really do but what if you could find a Burberry bag for $100 that is normally $800. Is it worth it then?

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

9. Try it before You make a Huge Investment

Last but not least, if you want something trendy and you are not sure it’s “your style” but you want to try it, by all means, hit up your local Target, H&M, Zara or Primark. The prices are definitely affordable, the clothes are cute and you get a big bang for your buck. The thing is don’t expect Burberry quality at Target prices. Though, I highly recommend checking out the Target special collaborations whenever they are available. It’s a great way to dip your toe into high fashion without high fashion prices.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

10. Consignment

It is not a dirty word. I am not telling you to go to Good Will and find yourself some couture. Though, depending on where you live, that may be an option. Where I live, in the burbs, it is not. But if you are are in Chicago, NYC or L.A. gently used high fashion at a bargain basement price may not be a bad thing. In fact, in my mind, that would make you the winner, winner chicken dinner. Hell, you may even have money left to buy yourself some groceries.

There are sites like ThreadUp that can help you get that high fashion wardrobe that you covet on a reality-based mom’s budget. My favorite non-traditional ways to shop is via my favorite fashion bloggers. Look, I’m aware that some influencers might promote items because they are being paid to but honestly, I don’t care. I care about how it looks, how it fits and what it cost.

One of my absolute favorite fashion bloggers, Paola Alberdi of Blank Itinerary, always features a swipe up feature on her outfits on Instagram and not only does she share the brands she is wearing, she shares ” for less”  copy this look styles. Occasionally, if she is going to get rid of something she no longer uses, she will offer it up at a huge discount to her fans.

To be honest, you can have the fashion wardrobe that you’ve always wanted on a budget, you just have to be willing to plan and check often. It won’t be a Target budget but it’ll be worth it. You just have to decide how much you want a piece and figure out the best way to get it at an affordable price.

READ ALSO: Honey, where did all the Toilet Paper Go?

I know there are women who know how to coupon like it’s their job. They have mastered the art of saving money on food and household goods. I wish I could. I hate paying for toilet paper. But, as it stands, I can’t even remember to present the coupons…that I picked off the product…in the store to the cashier.

But, I can sniff out a Kate Spade bag on final markdown like a drug-seeking German shepherd at the airport. This is my gift and I am teaching my girls the same. Why pay full price when you can get whatever you want on sale? That’s the key…what.you.want! Life is too short to put up with uncomfortable fashion to save a few bucks and, repeat after me, every woman deserves a Louis Vuitton. And believe me, it all goes on sale. You just have to want it, look for it and be patient.

What are your secrets for how to get a high fashion wardrobe on a budget?

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Latinas in business, Fashion, jewelry, Touchstone Crystal, Swarovski, Head of Latina Development, Graciela Balmori

As a woman who loves fashion, one of my favorite things is jewelry. While clothes allow me to express my personality, beautiful accessories have always had a special place in my heart because no matter what my weight or circumstances, accessories always fit and make me feel beautiful.  Ladies, I know you get this.

I was introduced to Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski a few years ago and it quickly became one of my favorite everyday jewelry brands. I love versatile, high-quality pieces that I can wear on different occasions depending on my mood. I really appreciate that the pieces look beautiful and wear time and time again without losing their luster yet are affordable.

Fashion, jewelry, Touchstone Crystal, Swarovski, Head of Latina Development, Graciela Balmori

Disclosure: I was provided Touchstone Crystal products by Swarovski Crystal for review purposes but all opinions and love of the Touchstone Brand are my own.

READ ALSO: Every Woman Deserves Sparkle in Her Life

Some exciting things are happening over at Touchstone Crystal. Touchstone just named Graciela Balmori Head of Latina Development as part of an effort to more personally cater to it’s Latina customers. I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Balmori and getting the scoop on what her plans are for developing that initiative.

Fashion, jewelry, Touchstone Crystal, Swarovski, Head of Latina Development, Graciela Balmori

Q: As a Latina woman myself, I know we like our fashion and accessories, how will Touchstone market to Latinas differently than the general market? What steps will be taken to personalize the advertisement experience for the Latina market? Women of color models?

Answer:

Touchstone Crystal is part of the 120-year legendary, trusted Swarovski family of brands (www.touchstonecrystal.com).  Over the past seven years, TC has experienced fantastic success and growth so it’s very exciting for me to join the company right now.   In fact, we are the fastest growing division in Swarovski—over the last two years our sales have more than doubled! Swarovski has a rich heritage of craftsmanship, design and crystal innovation and the brand is a regular on the red carpet.  Swarovski also collaborates with the world’s most famous fashion houses and brands.

Through my role as Head of Latina Market Development at TCS I’m introducing the brand for the very first time to many Latinas and I know they will feel embraced by our thriving community of empowered women and our supportive team.  At Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski we have two offerings:   1) Our exclusively designed jewelry product line and 2) Our unique, rewarding (and proven) home-based business opportunity.

When I explored my new career opportunities with Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski, I instantly learned that TCS is built upon the same driving forces valued in the Latino sector:  1.  On-trend product   2.  Growth potential and 3. Entrepreneurial spirit.  The more I learned about how in line TCS is with Latinas, the more I felt like it was love at first sight! Our Integrated Marketing Strategy (an intentional decision not to run a separate Latina Division) has us all working in unison to support the success of every woman.

Debi, I’m glad you asked about advertising because TCS has already been featuring multicultural models in our catalogs and brand imagery.   After I joined the team, we discussed incorporating more family imagery: a daughter placing a Touchstone Crystal necklace on her mother for the first time or a young man buying jewelry for his grandmother, girlfriend, mom — or all three! We want our ads to resonate passionately with consumers because they portray the values of our Latina market while also strongly reflecting mainstream trends, too.

Q: How will you appeal to the Latino narrative?

Answer:

Latino business entrepreneurs tend to see their business as an extension of themselves. As you know Debi, as Latina women we care deeply about our families and our communities. I have met thousands of Latino entrepreneurs and read lots of research and what I have found is that there are common reasons for why Latinos start their own businesses such as the desire to provide a better future for their family, to purchase a home, to offer a better education to their children and to elevate their entire family’s financial status.

I feel very strongly about the Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski business opportunity because I know first-hand the impact it is having for real people – real women I have met or connected with online. We are already incorporating the personal success stories of Latina Consultants through our marketing materials and on social media. The real life narratives of our Latina Consultants are filled with success on so many levels for many reasons:  quality, price, ease of business, plus support and community.  Not to mention Latina women love our sparkle and style!

Fashion, jewelry, Touchstone Crystal, Swarovski, Head of Latina Development, Graciela Balmori

Here is a recent success story from one of our Latina Consultants:

“The best thing about this business is helping to empower women to have the confidence to pursue their dreams – big or small, whatever they may be– through my Touchstone Crystal business. I’ve rediscovered the leadership skills that I put aside while raising my family, plus my passion for helping other women and the confidence needed to run my own business.  My biggest joy is watching my two sisters, Laura and Imelda, grow in this business.  They both joined TCS a month after I did and I’ve seen wonderful changes in their incomes and their happiness! For us as sisters it’s been so much fun doing this business together. We talk on the phone every day, help each other set up events, and share business ideas.  Of course the ,icing on the cake is we get paid for sharing jewelry that we love! Touchstone Crystal truly supports us – and they are committed to our growth and success. I’m proud to share it with Latina women.”
– Martha, Touchstone Crystal Business Leader

 

Q: Will there be a new line or different pieces made to reflect the Latino spirit and the colorful culture?

Fashion, jewelry, Touchstone Crystal, Swarovski, Head of Latina Development, Graciela BalmoriAnswer:

Our jewelry designs are inspired by Swarovski’s trend experts.  They explore the globe for style trends regularly. Swarovski creates new crystal colors and innovations each season and Touchstone Crystal is lucky enough to have access to this world-class expertise.  We are always listening to product feedback from our customers and consultants and we continually launch new pieces year-round…so the answer is stay tuned!

Q: How will you cater to the Latino market? What will you do to make Touchstone the go-to product for Latinos?

 Answer: 

Our goal is to make TCS the go-to opportunity for Latina women looking to start a business because we offer a fantastic income opportunity, wonderful flexibility with a great line of quality jewelry, and a business strategy supporting expansion into the Latina market.  We are welcoming Latina women all over the US to the TCS team every day.  As they say, actions speak louder than words and TCS is committed and passionate about this!   Your readers can find out more on our website.  https://touchstonecrystal.com/regional/our-opportunity-rewards

You and I both know that with a purchasing power of about 2.13 Trillion, according to The Latino Donor Collaborative, if Latinos were categorized as a stand-alone country they would be the ranked as the 7th largest country in the world by GDP, making us even bigger than other countries like India and Brazil!  Wow, right?  And Touchstone Crystal wants to give pathways to success to our community.

The beauty of starting as a Touchstone Crystal Consultant is the simple business model, a minimal financial commitment of just $139, and the heritage and credibility come with being a Swarovski company.

Swarovski is also investing in new technology to make our entire business completely mobile in every respect. We know this is extremely important to our demographic – according to Nielsen, “nearly 3 out 4 Latinos own smartphones (72%), close to 10% higher than the average in the U.S.”

Owning your own time, having the freedom and flexibility to work around the things that matter the most to you like: family events, school activities, meal times, charities, vacation time, all while having a lucrative business is priceless.  This is why I joined TCS and why I know my Latina sisters will, too!

Fashion, jewelry, Touchstone Crystal, Swarovski, Head of Latina Development, Graciela Balmori

Q: What is your goal for Touchstone and the Latino market?

Answer: 

At Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski we believe all women deserve to shine every single day. Our goal is to share our beautiful, affordable jewelry and offer our proven business opportunity to the entire Latina Community in the US.  We feel confident that by making Latinas feel valued and supported we will help more women accomplish their personal and professional goals.

Currently, we’re expanding in all regions and offering new Consultants training and mentorship opportunities.

Since I was raised by a mother with a home-based business career, nothing makes me happier than to pay it forward via my new role at Touchstone Crystal and to help other women achieve their dreams with our unparalleled opportunity.  My mother came to this country from Mexico as a newlywed, pregnant with her first child, with nothing but a small suitcase in hand. She was offered the opportunity to own her own direct-sales business and it changed the course of our lives – affording college educations for all of her children, several homes, nice cars, and a very comfortable lifestyle.   As a result of my Mom’s perseverance, she taught me to dream big, too.

I feel so grateful that Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski is allowing me to offer women the same kind of opportunity so that I can help other women and their families– just like my Mother did.

As the daughter of an immigrant myself, I can relate to a lot of Ms. Balmori’s story. And as a mother who works from home, I know how important it is to have the option to be there for your children and help provide financially, as well. I was raised that where there was a will, there is always a way. Aside from just being a company that provides beautiful pieces for women, Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski is the way for many women to pursue their will regardless of race, religion or circumstances. Touchstone Crystal is giving all women an equal opportunity.

Fashion, jewelry, Touchstone Crystal, Swarovski, Head of Latina Development, Graciela Balmori

Thank you Graciela for sharing your story with us and I’m looking forward to seeing all the great things to come at Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski.

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tarte cosmetics, How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens

When I was a tween and a teenage girl, I was forbidden from wearing make-up. Not even lip gloss. If I was really slick, I could, maybe, get away with some shiny chapstick. Thank you Lip Smackers. But my teenage self had no idea how to put on make-up.

My dad was very old-fashioned and opposed to the thought of any sort of male looking in our direction and harbored even more disdain at the thought of us growing up. So, needless to say, middle school was the pits and even asking how to put on make-up was about as offensive to our dad as asking how to get pregnant.

Disclosure: I was gifted some of the products I use by Tarte cosmetics but all opinions on how to put on make-up and love for the product are my own.

Aside from the obvious and prevailing normalness of hormones, gangliness, body parts changing at lightning speed and an overall collective ugliness that hits everyone in those awkward years, I wasn’t allowed to paint my fingernails, shave my legs or wear lip gloss. It was just me and my caterpillar eyebrows fending for ourselves in a world of shaven legs and make-up.

READ ALSO: I shaved my 7-year-old

Honestly, I didn’t wear anything above that shiny Lip Smacker until prom. PROM! I was 17 and had never put make-up on my own face. Now, on this point I do agree with my dad, teenage girls are naturally beautiful. They really don’t need much but, I mean PROM, it’s like the closest thing you get to your wedding at 16 and 17. You want to be extra. More than Lip Smackers anyways.

Prom day came and I had my hair professionally done. Of course, it was a disaster because the hairdresser took my natural curls and made them into spiral curls and I looked more like Shirley Temple than I had any of intention of looking. Then there was the situation with my prom dress that needed last minute alterations. My prom date was awesome enough to pick up the dress, only to find out 5 minutes before we had to leave that she took the chest area in too much. So the girl who never wore make-up and had just secretly shaved her legs, had 17-year-old cleavage coming out to attack her date. You think that was bad?

My brother was dating my best friend so we were double dating to prom. My brother picked up the flowers from the florist and promptly put them in the freezer. They turned brown. They looked dead. I would have been hysterical had it not have been happening to me.

Then my friend offered to do my make-up. I figured why not since I had no idea what to do and compared to the terrible hair, come atcha cleavage and brown flowers…I needed a win.  In retrospect,  I should have just asked for a how to put on make-up tutorial but alas, there was no YouTube when I went to prom… just friends with good intentions and less skill. How bad could it be?

Bad! It could be awful. I looked like a goth princess. You see how that could be distracting? I had to wash my face off, and apply Lip Smackers as my mom tried to brush the Shirley Temple curls out of my hair. It was the worst. I was crying and mascara was streaking my cheeks. My poor prom date sat in the living room wondering wtf he had gotten himself into. You know, if my parents had planned this, they would win at the game of blockers for sure.

This is why I decided (that night at prom) before I ever had sex or children that I would never let that happen to my girls. When I went to college, the first thing I did was learn to put on make-up. Don’t get me wrong, during the day (most days of my life) I still love a bare face. I’m good without it. But when I go out, I want my face to look like it came to impress. I love make-up.

For me, applying a beautiful face of make-up is respecting the occasion and the people that I am spending time with, in the same way one would dress up to go out. I feel like putting no effort in reflects badly on me, like I don’t care about what I’m doing. But it’s not all about make-up. Beauty comes from within and sometimes beauty is pain. I mean, those fancy braids that look all carefree, they hurt going in. I’ve taught my girls this from the get.

READ ALSO: My Daughter Taught Me an Invaluable Lesson

The girls are ballerinas and perform on stage a lot, so at the ripe old ages of 11 and 13-years-old they already have more make-up experience than I did in high school. But, as anyone who has seen stage make-up, you know it’s not appropriate for daytime wear on young girls. It’s very heavy and dramatic because it’s purpose is to be seen under harsh, bright house lights. I’m trying to teach the girls that you can be creative, expressive and have fun with make-up without being overly dramatic and look-at-me-ish. I’m also trying to teach them that beauty isn’t just about what you look like, it’s who you are and how you behave; it emanates from within like a light.

How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens, tarte cosmeticsHere is what I’ve been teaching my tween and teenage girls about how to put on make-up:

 

1.Beauty is pain.

How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens

2. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated, maintain your suppleness and skin elasticity.

How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens, tarte cosmetics

3. Wear huge sunglasses to keep yourself from squinting in the sun and to protect your face from the damaging rays of the sun.

4. Clean your face daily. Never go to bed with a dirty face. I use St. Ives Apricot scrub.

5. Use witch hazel after you clean your face to make sure it’s clean.

6. Moisturize your face. Moisturize your neck. Moisturize your hands and make sure that your daytime moisturizer has SPF in it. Also, moisturizing lippys never hurt anybody. My favorite for the girls is Tarte lip quenchers.

7. Always wear sunscreen

8. Don’t pull at your skin. When applying moisturizer rub up and dab around the eyes.

9. Buy good cosmetics and less is more. This is what I have found to be true for me anyways. The more pigment, the less you have to use.

10.  Apply primer and your make-up will last longer.

11. Apply setting spray and you will look flawless all day.

13. Curl your eyelashes before you apply mascara, even if you aren’t applying mascara.

14. Do not pluck your eyebrows. All of us moms who lived through the 90’s can tell you from below our anorexic eyebrows that all of the castor oil in the world can’t bring them back to life. I miss my Brooke Shields caterpillars.

How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens, tarte cosmetics

15. Love who you are because let me tell you what…confidence is the most beautiful thing a girl can possess.

What’s your best beauty secret for tween and teenage girls? At what age were you allowed to wear make-up? How do you teach your daughters about how to put on make-up?

 

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Ivory, focus on the important things, mother and daughter

Some days, I miss the quiet chaos that we existed in when the girls were little.  I know it sounds crazy because I’ve waited so long for my girls to be “old enough” to be self-sufficient. The day they could get their own water or fix their own bed. I felt like I waited for those milestones forever.

It was like that first year of motherhood, waiting for your precious little one to be able to learn to roll over, crawl, pull themselves up and eventually walk and talk. That year felt like a lifetime. Why do we rush that first year? We actively encourage and cheer them on. Don’t we realize we are only rushing our own letting go? Independence will come soon enough on its own.

Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with P&G but all opinions are my own.

I’m as guilty as anyone. I was thrilled when Bella turned 13 because suddenly, I realized that I could leave her home alone while I went to the grocery store. Then, I got to the grocery store all pumped up on the fact that I could get in and out without anyone slowing me down or asking me for everything they fancied.

However, I realized almost immediately that I was alone and, as grueling as our trips to the store may sometimes feel, those moments together are when the good talks happen. Memories happen in the aisles of the grocery store, at the mall and even on those car rides to ballet class every day. They keep us connected so laughter and those deep, long conversations can happen organically. So what if the price is buying some overpriced flavored water or froyo once in a while?

The decision was a made a few years ago to try to remember to slow down; to take the moment and drink in the present. I simply remind myself that they won’t be little forever and before I want to let go, they will be off to college. If I remember that, I won’t rush the experience away.

They are girls are bigger now, closer to young ladies than babies but some things don’t change, like bath time and bedtime. There’s still lots of bedtime cuddles and stories (more often now the daily school gossip rather than books) and my absolute favorite part of the night, the hair brushing and braiding.

The girls know how to brush and fix their own hair but every night after bath time, they come to my me and ask, “Mommy, will you braid my hair?” I used to get a little tired of it night after night because I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t just do it themselves. I’ve since realized it’s an excuse to chat and it’s a comforting ritual that we’ve done since they were toddlers. How could I ever say no?

Ivory, focus on the important things, mother and daughter

They come to me smelling fresh and clean, and we all exhale. Letting out the tensions and taking in all the relaxation. That clean and fresh smell of them brings me right back to bath time when they were babies and it reminds me to slow down; to live the moments and enjoy the journey. That smell reminds me to focus on the important things right there in my arms; my babies and remember that nothing else is more important.

We recently started using Ivory body wash and we love it. I’m not new to Ivory products. They’ve been around for over a century. Ivory products are made pure and give me peace of mind. Starting with the purest bar of soap 138 years ago, Ivory continues to uphold the standard of using only pure & purposeful ingredients in its products.

Ivory, focus on the important things, mother and daughter

I remember my Grandma Daisy kept Ivory in her house when I was a little girl and would visit her. If my grandma and my mom trusted Ivory for their families, I feel like I can too. Also, I love that it’s safe, pure and gentle enough for my entire family, no matter what age.

 

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Kate Spade, Kate Valentine Spade, Andy Spade, Davide Spade, Suicide, Beatrix Spade, fashion, depression, bipolar

Like many of you, I was shocked and then immensely saddened by the passing of style icon and designer, Kate Spade. I was out shopping with my daughters, ages 11 and 13, when I read the CNN blurb of her suicide, I was speechless. It felt tragically personal. I had so many questions.

Then the news began to report the details. A red scarf. A note to her daughter, Beatrix. Suicide by asphyxiation, similar to that of Robin Williams. We all know how I felt about that. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It all feels a little too close to home.

I’m still shocked that Kate Valentine Spade is gone. By all appearances, she seemed so vibrant and happy-go-lucky but, that was the brand, right? I, of all people, should know that life is not always what it appears to be. Sometimes there is madness just beneath the surface, holding us down like an anchor around our necks.

It’s not like we all go around shaking hands with every stranger saying, “hello, my name is blah blah blah. My diagnoses are…” That would be weird, right? Helpful, maybe but definitely socially awkward. Instead, many of us walk around with our illnesses on our shoulders like some sort of punishment and never seek relief out of shame. The shame is what kills us because it makes us too afraid to seek the help we need.

READ ALSO: When Mental Health is Marginalized

You’re probably wondering when is she going to get to the “personal” Kate Spade story. My story is personal and it relates to Kate Spade in the way that I can personally relate to her circumstances and depression. I have no “that one time I met Kate Spade” story for you today. But, in a way, aren’t we all Kate Spade’s, that’s part of what made her so beloved.

Kate Spade, Kate Valentine Spade, Andy Spade, Davide Spade, Suicide, Beatrix Spade, fashion, depression, bipolar

She was an American Dream success story. A girl from the Midwest who made good in the big city. She took nothing but a dream and built it into an empire. She hustled her ass off and in the process, we all fell in love with not only her bags, shoes, clothes and accessories but the woman who made them. I’ve always admired the woman as much her designs.

“Don’t rest on your laurels. The end result isn’t as important as the effort that goes into it. Jump all the way in. Don’t be afraid. And don’t worry so much,” Kate Spade.

I’ve always fancied my personal style as Carrie Bradshaw meets Audrey Hepburn meets Coachella. It all depends on my mood, as are many aspects of my life. Kate Spade helped me keep it classy; she brought the Audrey to my wardrobe. I’ve owned many of her pieces over the years and I wore them each proudly because it felt like I was finally a grown up. Her pieces are classic yet edgy. The touch of Holly Go Lightly we all so desperately crave in our lives. Even my girls love Kate Spade.

I don’t know what her diagnosis was nor would I try to guess. Diagnoses are very personal and indiscriminate. You can’t share them until you are ready and every single one of us are different. Some of us can’t hide them and everyone knows that something is “off”, some us of blend into normalcy and you never know the anguish we are suffering through on a daily basis and some of us would rather die than reveal our diagnosis.

For me, before my diagnoses, I thought I was broken. That feeling is daunting and overwhelming and nearly too much to carry. Definitely, too much to carry alone. Hearing my diagnoses said out loud gave me so much relief that I cried tears of joy because I realized then that I was only bent. But it was a humbling experience that I mostly got to experience in private surrounded by those who loved me unconditionally.

I didn’t come out to the world as mentally ill (see, I still cringe when I type that because I know that to someone, somewhere that diminishes what they think of me) until 2012. I was diagnosed in 2000. It took me over a decade to be able to be completely open about it and yet, it still bothers me to say “mentally ill” out loud. I feel like the moment anyone hears “mentally ill” they conjure up images of people in padded rooms in an asylum wearing straitjackets. I can’t imagine how someone of Kate Spade’s notoriety would deal with a diagnosis or if she even had one.

It’s obvious that she was depressed; that’s usually a given in a suicide. I read that her sister is claiming that she suffered from undiagnosed Bipolar. As I am Bipolar (I just cringed a little again) I know a little more about that disease. I know firsthand that it can make you depressed and it is a fact that 15 % of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder will commit suicide, half will attempt it and 80% will contemplate it.

I was part of the 80% in my teens. It was over a decade before I was diagnosed but your brain doesn’t need an official diagnosis for you to feel the full weight of the symptoms. You just do. And when you don’t know what is causing that pain, it’s so much worse because you assume there is no relief. You assume you are terminally broken, so what is the point of trying to live? If you’ve never felt this kind of melancholy, you are lucky. If you have, you know exactly the depth of despair of which I speak. It is unmistakable and sometimes feels unlivable. Many of us have been here.

I only dwelled in darkness for brief moments of my lifetime. For me, the darkness gave way to mania and immense irritability. My natural state is a revved up motor stuck in neutral which can be, at times, equally as painful. Imagine being chronically up and never being able to turn your brain off; that is your brain on mania.

I know it seems like I’m rambling now but my point is this, you never know what someone is going through in their life or in their minds. We all wear our protective armor and some of us are better at hiding the pain and misery than others but that doesn’t diminish how strongly we feel it, only how clearly you can see it from the outside.

I am sad that the world lost Kate Spade, absolutely gutted. I don’t know if she had a formal diagnosis, I hope that she did, if only she knew what it was because the feeling of being terminally broken is so much worse than being mentally bent. I also know for a fact that even when we are at our lowest, we can still know that we are loved and love others even if we feel we don’t deserve it. I hope she had that too. Sometimes the reasons are outweighed by the anguish and that has nothing to do with the people who love you. They are enough but you feel that you are not.

Unfortunately, there is only one way to survive this kind of depression and it is to get through it, which is much harder than it sounds because it hurts unbelievably. You have to get the help you need, whether that be getting the initial diagnosis, medication and therapy all the way through to making the choice every single day to keep fighting through the excruciating pain you feel on some days just to breathe.

If you feel depressed or you are thinking about harming yourself, please call the 24-hour Hotline National Suicide Prevention Helpline 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK).

I know when you are in that dark place, it feels like there is no way out but there is and it starts with letting someone throw you a line; someone listening and making you feel heard. Talking through it can provide enough relief to get you through to the next day.

READ ALSO: Carrie Fischer; the Warrior Princess who gave me Hope

And if you are someone who sees a loved one hurting, depressed, overwhelmed with sadness let them know that you are there for them. Listen and encourage them to get the help they need but know that you cannot force someone to feel better and they can’t simply cheer up. And no matter what their life may look like to you from the outside, you have no idea what they are going through on the inside so don’t diminish their pain by telling them that they need to “get over it”. It’s not that simple. They need your support and unconditional love. Full stop.

Kate Spade, Kate Valentine Spade, Andy Spade, Davide Spade, Suicide, Beatrix Spade, fashion, depression, bipolar

I hope her legacy is the immense joy her pieces brought to so many of us and will bring to future generations of young women. My thoughts and prayers are with those who Kate Spade left behind and though they will never fully be able to understand or accept what she has done, may they find peace in knowing that she is no longer in pain.

What is your Kate Spade story?

 

 

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glassdoor, sliding doors, barn door, DIY, home renovation, frosted panel, interior barn door

You’ve heard about breaking the glass ceiling but what do you know about a glassdoor, barn door and sliding doors is the real question? Renovating an old house sounds like an adventure to some ears. Not mine. I like new. I don’t like old, especially in houses. Put it this way, I’d love to visit your old renovated and updated house but I prefer mine to be brand spanking new. I know, I sound like the biggest ageist alive but I promise I have good reasons. Just bear with me.

Firstly, I grew up in an over 100-year-old house. It was small, of course, they sold it as “cozy”. I never had a “shower” until I was in college because the house I grew up in had 1 bathroom (with 6 kids) and 1 claw foot tub. Sounds so quaint, right? Try 1 bathroom with 6 kids when the stomach flu hits. Not as “quaint” as it might sound.

glassdoor, sliding doors, barn door, DIY, home renovation, frosted panel, interior barn door

The entire house was very sectioned off. Every room had a door. Of course, every room felt like a closet so “old houses” are not for claustrophobics, which my mom happens to be. On the plus side, there were plenty of spaces to hide and seek, especially when you were in trouble as a kid. However, you spent a lot of time with the people you loved developing your personality. My kids go to my mom’s house and are always in awe how we all lived there together and everyone survived.

Aside from everything needing to be “updated” in old houses and them being oddly laid out, chances are there are some residual remnants of the previous owners and I’m not just talking about those creepy baby portraits we found in my parents crawl space right next to a first edition copy of “The Joy of Sex”. No, that’s not creepy at all. I’m talking about the things you don’t see, like the whispers in the middle of the night with no people attached to them. Of course, apparently, that can happen in new houses too.

READ ALSO: The True Story behind my Ghost Photo

Still, after buying two brand spanking new houses, in a moment of relocation desperation, we bought an “old house” with “good bones”. FTW, “good bones” is code for you’re going to spend a lot of money to get this house to look and feel the way you want it. Now, our house is not 100’s of years old. It was built in 1977.

It’s a beautiful 2-story John Hughes special in the suburbs. In a coveted neighborhood that’s lush with green rolling heels and miles of biking paths, parks, tennis courts, a clubhouse with not 1 but 3 swimming pools. On paper, it is everything we wanted. Well, mostly. I wanted new. I wanted a basement and a loft. Apparently, lofts weren’t a thing in the 70’s.

Still, desperation to relocate out of our temporary housing at our in-laws had me wearing my DIY goggles. I thought I could do all the things. Feral cats as past tenants, no problem. Complete kitchen renovation; we’ve got this. 1990’s textured walls; I can fix that. Desperate times tricks the brain into believing it can when it can’t. Well, it can because I’m a Mexican, not a Mexicant. But boy was it a lot of work.

We’ve lived in the house for almost 6 years and it’s been a labor of love (and hate on some days) but slowly but surely, it is becoming the house we always wanted. It’s amazing how knocking out a few walls and opening up the floor plan can bring an old house into the future. It’s shaping up nicely. Of course, if I ever see country blue wallpaper ever again, it will be too soon. Thank God for a mother in law who knows about all these things and doesn’t mind helping out her high maintenance daughter-in-law (apparently, they were as ready for us to be gone as we were to go).

READ ALSO: Moving and Trying Not to Die is Hard

We’ve replaced all the flooring in the house, renovated the entire kitchen, movie room, dining room, eat-in and over the past few weeks, the Big Guy put his back into giving me a new half-bath and laundry room area. You can’t imagine what a difference removing wallpaper, adding some paint, new flooring, sink, lighting and a sliding door can make. It looks like a new house. Chip and Joanna Gaines ain’t got nothing on us. * That was a joke. They make that stuff look easy. It’s not but it is definitely worth it.

I would have never thought that a door would have any bearing on the way a room came together. When I think of doors, it’s an afterthought purely for function. I was wrong. It’s the first thing someone sees when they enter a room. The door creates the vibe, especially if it’s an amazing statement piece door.

glassdoor, sliding doors, barn door, DIY, home renovation, frosted panel, interior barn door

I don’t know about you but I have been cuckoo for sliding barn doors for the past couple of years. I’ve seen them in all the new builds and in all the Interior design magazines. I was super jealous because I thought they just weren’t to be a part of my story and then, I partnered with Wayfair on a sliding door project and the heaven’s parted and angels sang and I knew these “good bones” were about to get better.

We removed the old brown, hollowed door which paired perfectly with the circa 1970’s wallpaper that led from our hallway to the laundry room and replaced it with a brand new modern frosted glass, interior barn door. It changed the whole look of the space.

glassdoor, sliding doors, barn door, DIY, home renovation, frosted panel, interior barn door

I am not an interior decorator but I have been living in this old house for 6 years (and it’s still very much a work in process as you can tell from the missing baseboards) and trying really hard to get these old bones to support the facelift we’ve been giving our home. If you’re thinking of buying an old house with “good bones” and testing your DIY skills don’t be afraid. It can be amazing.

Just know that it will take some sweat equity on your part but in the end, it will totally be worth it. There is something very satisfying about building your dream house with your own two hands. Of course, there is nothing wrong with outsourcing if you need to. But don’t call me. I only remove wall texture as a labor of love, you couldn’t afford my rates.

It’s easier than ever to renovate your home with Youtube tutorials, the DIY channel and places like Wayfair to get affordable options to update your home. Now, about those creepy baby portraits and any residual energy from the previous owners, you’re all on your own.

What’s on your bucket list of DIY home renovations; new deck, new kitchen, new glassdoor, barn door or sliding doors?

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backyard, garden, patio,How to Make Your Dream Backyard Garden and Patio

Wondering how to get your dream backyard garden and patio? The weather is warming up, the sun is shining and I am having dreams of sitting on my back deck, watching the girls play with their friends while I finally put that margarita machine to use with my friends.

My backyard garden and patio are much like my house, a fixer-upper. Luckily, the Big Guy doesn’t shy away from DIY home renovations and I have lots of great ideas. This is why we work so well together.

READ ALSO: How to Refresh a Room to Inspire Change

Currently, our backyard garden and patio are good. The grass is lush, the firepit is welcoming and the deck is clean. We have lots of shade and it’s just a really comfortable space to be in. However, there is no covering on the deck ( we built a pergola and hung drapes at our previous house) and that means no privacy which is a slight issue when the neighborhood walking paths run parallel to your backyard.

What would your dream backyard garden and patio look like?

My dream backyard garden and patio would include some kind of coverage and protection from the weather, as well as, some privacy. I’d like something that allowed us to be outside while protected from the mosquitos as well if I’m being honest. I’d like my outdoor living space to be an extension of our indoor living space. I’d like it to be fun, functional and comfortable but stylish.

I love the idea of globe string lights hung throughout the yard for ambiance. Perhaps some new Adirondack chairs around the fire pit. They make me nostalgic of our summers in Ogunquit and truly that is my happy place. Definitely, need a grill for cooking outdoors. I love the taste of chargrilled food in the summertime. Ample seating for those friends of mine that I plan on hosting for margaritas.

READ ALSO: Elote Casserole Recipe

If I’m really dreaming big, a hot tub with all the jets would be a great addition to our family’s yard. We all have muscle aches; between the girls and ballet and the Big Guy and I with all the old age and broken bones and whatnot, a hot tub is a must. I know a hot tub sounds ultra retro but I promise we won’t be getting any lava lamps or water beds any time soon.

Here are a few items on my wishlist to make my dream backyard garden and patio a reality.

Willingboro Solid Wood Adirondack ChairWillingboro Solid Wood Adirondack Chair // More Patio FurnitureFordyce Solid Wood Adirondack ChairFordyce Solid Wood Adirondack Chair // More Adirondack Chairs100-Light 100 ft. Globe String Lights100-Light 100 ft. Globe String Lights // More String LightsWire Free Take Me SpeakerWire Free Take Me Speaker // More Decorative Media Players
Outdoor Kitchen Prep TableOutdoor Kitchen Prep Table // More Outdoor Kitchens13.5 in. Cadet Built-In/Kamado Charcoal Grill13.5 in. Cadet Built-In/Kamado Charcoal Grill // More Charcoal GrillsKamado Grill CoverKamado Grill Cover // More Grill CoversOdilia Tropical Palms Indoor/Outdoor Area RugOdilia Tropical Palms Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug // More Area Rugs
Greening Outdoor Daybed with Ottoman & CushionsGreening Outdoor Daybed with Ottoman & Cushions // More Patio FurnitureRyele Canopy Outdoor Patio Daybed with CushionsRyele Canopy Outdoor Patio Daybed with Cushions // More Outdoor Sofas & LoveseatsNewport Circular Sun Daybed with CushionsNewport Circular Sun Daybed with Cushions // More Patio DaybedsCollingswood 3-Piece Conversation Set with CushionsCollingswood 3-Piece Conversation Set with Cushions // More Conversation Sets
Benbow 8-Piece Sofa Set with CushionsBenbow 8-Piece Sofa Set with Cushions // More Patio Lounge FurnitureVerona 11.5 ft. W x 16.5 ft. D Aluminum PergolaVerona 11.5 ft. W x 16.5 ft. D Aluminum Pergola // More Pergolas8-Person 88-Jet Spa with Stainless Jets and Waterfall8-Person 88-Jet Spa with Stainless Jets and Waterfall // More Hot TubsSpa StepSpa Step // More Hot Tub Accessories
Deluxe Spa StepDeluxe Spa Step // More Hot Tub & Spa Steps5-Person 30-Jet Spa with Backlit LED Waterfall5-Person 30-Jet Spa with Backlit LED Waterfall // More LED Lighting Hot TubsStripe Beach TowelStripe Beach Towel // More Beach TowelsMonterry Eco-Friendly Outdoor Hardwood Garden BenchMonterry Eco-Friendly Outdoor Hardwood Garden Bench // More Benches

If you could build your dream backyard garden and patio, what would that look like?

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fresh cut flowers, peonies, flowers, wayfair, spring

Where were the fresh cut flowers? Where was the sweet fragrance wafting through the air? Winter was so long this year? I am basking in the warmer temps. All I want to do is be outside surrounded by nature. I’ve brought my office outside because I am so vitamin D deprived.

One of my favorite things about spring is all the life; new growth and so much beauty. After a winter in Indiana, where everything is brown and dry, occasionally covered in dirty snow, there is nothing more welcome than sunshine, blue skies, birds singing and fresh flowers.

flowers, fresh cut flowers, mood elevator

I keep a little of the outdoors inside all year long with my orchids but at my first chance, I like to bring fresh cut flowers inside to brighten up the mood. Fresh flowers are more than just beautiful, they bring the fragrance and vibrancy of spring to life. They make you happy.

fresh cut flowers, peonies, flowers, wayfair, spring

I actually keep a flower garden outside so that I can have fresh cut flowers, all summer long.

My favorite flowers are peonies and there is something about seeing them on my table every morning that makes my heart happy. It’s funny how something so small and trivial can change your entire mood.

I can wake up feeling overwhelmed by the tasks of the day, hello laundry and dishes, the monotony of real life but somehow seeing those fresh cut peonies make an otherwise ordinary day feel special. It’s the same way that I feel when my husband surprises me with flowers. Why does that feeling need to be reserved for special occasions? Don’t we deserve to feel special every day?

fresh cut flowers, peonies, flowers, wayfair, spring

It’s like saving your favorite clothes or shoes for special occasions. Why isn’t every single day that we’re alive, that the sun is out, a special day? I want to live with more gratitude and appreciation for the small things. Life doesn’t need to be filled with momentous occasions and grandiose gestures, I just need to take a minute to see the good and the purpose in everything and be glad that I am a part of it all.

Flowers for me are such a small thing but they mean so much. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, ordinary or just uninspired with life, get yourself some fresh flowers, pop them in a cute vase and put them on a table. Before you know it, you will be a little happier, feel a little more inspired and you probably won’t even realize why. It’s the flowers feeling your heart up with joy and your house up with spring.

What’s your favorite fresh cut flower and how does it make you feel?

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