5 Things I Really Like About Me.

 Pure happiness, draped in  Allison Daniel  jewels- the  heart charm  actually says "Love You More" on it, which immediately caught my eye because it is what Alexa says to Brian and me whenever we say "I love you" to her. 

Pure happiness, draped in Allison Daniel jewels- the heart charm actually says "Love You More" on it, which immediately caught my eye because it is what Alexa says to Brian and me whenever we say "I love you" to her. 

Last week, I wasn't so into myself. I was cranky, low energy, impatient with my kids, and just generally "eh". It is so easy to get into a slump- especially at this stage in life, trying to enjoy your young kids, keep your house clean and perfect-ish, prep the healthy meals that it seems all the other moms are tossing together effortlessly, and retaining some semblance of your former smart, professional self.

It's funny- I feel like I spend so much time trying to master many elements of the "suburban mom" cliché, and just as much- if not more time- making sure I don't become one. 

Anyway- in the spirit of entering into Mother's Day weekend as the most happy, confident version of myself, I thought it was time to make a list of 5 things I really freaking like about ME. And I encourage you to do the same. We dole out compliments to other people all the time, why not throw a few our own way, right? Right.

1. I am funny. Like, really funny. My sense of humor is quick as hell- and also most times inappropriate as hell, but I can always make myself- and anyone around me who appreciates self deprecating, borderline offensive quips- laugh. Hard.

2. I am an easy friend. It takes a lot to truly hurt my feelings- most things don't bother me much. I don't lose a second of sleep if there is a "girls dinner" I'm not invited to, I don't get mad if someone has to cancel plans or can't make it to an event or something like that, and if someone doesn't call or text me back for a week/month/year, I GET IT. My skin is thick, and while I don't always consider myself empathetic, when it comes to my friends (all of them busy moms juggling a ton- regardless of if they work or not, this whole thing is still a grind), at this point in life I always give the benefit of the doubt, and let it go.

3. I am too honest about myself. Sure, the "too" makes it sound like I am slanting negative here, but I actually like that I probably share more than I should, because it is the way I have been all my life and to not overshare (example- at a preschool breakfast in the Fall I asked a girl I just met to tell me if I smelled because I realized, mid-conversation, I had totally forgotten to put on deodorant- this led to a heart-to-heart about our mutual TMI tendencies, and an instant bond) would just not feel like ME. I do stuff to my skin, I mostly make my kids take a bath on nights when I won't have to be home to give it to them, my tan is NEVER real, my au pair is the one that does my awesome braids, my 7 year old walks all over me and it is my fault, and when our dog poops on the floor, I totally know it will happen before it does because I hear him scratching on the door but I am too lazy to go downstairs and let him out. The list goes on...

4. I know every single lyrics to pretty much every single song that has been in the top 40 since, like, 1988. It impresses my kids, it impresses their friends (and also slightly frightens the ones who are only allowed to listen to the Kidz Bop versions of hit records) it impresses strangers, and it eternally annoys my husband.

5. I handle all the bill paying and tax organizing for our family. Which is so NOT something I would imagine myself doing, nor is it something I am perfect at doing, but, I do it all the same. And while I moan and groan about it (especially in March and April), taking on an aspect of adulting that is SO out of my comfort zone forces me to evolve my own self-perception, and in turn, gives me a unique sense of confidence/accomplishment/"you thought you knew me but maybe you don't"-ness.

There you have it, folks.

It would make my day/week/year/decade if you would share one  (or more.... I mean, I would LOVE to hear 5 but don't want to overstep here) thing you like about yourself in the comments below! xoxo JF

Mother's Day Gift Guide: One Word- Gucci.

 Get the goods  here .

Get the goods here.

Gucci.  It's on freaking fire right now and if you want to get anyone in your life a little- or big- somethin' somethin' for Mother's Day, you can not mess up with Gucci. Trust me. 

Here are 15 picks, at two price points. Everything here is under $1000!

Under $500: This belt is so perfect. Dying over this adorable cherry-covered card case. And anything pink and red right now is a sure win.  Summer slides don't get more glam than this pair- perfect for the beach or the street, and this iconic staple thong flip flop will never go out of style, and I am obsessed with this white and gold version too. Gucci also has an awesome fashion jewelry collection that many people aren't familiar with- this ring, for example is a sophisticated statement. 

Under $1000: Perfect night out- or running around during the day- cross body mini bag. There is no more chic tote for the beach than this rubber tote, that much I know. I have never seen a sexier update than this version of the vintage Gucci classic. Biased, because I personally own and LOVE this pair of shoes- but these are maybe the most amazing, and versatile, all-season velvet pumps ever.  And every style insider is buying this horsebit loafer in bulk- the pale pink is so insanely sweet (and currently at the top of my shoe wish list!). This cardigan is classic but still feels really modern, and can work with pretty much any style profile.

Get on it, people. They offer 2-day shipping from the Gucci website so you can get everything in time for Mother's Day. Treat yourself to something, or forward this along in a really un-subtle way to anyone who currently has your name on their "to gift" list.

Quick 6: The Best Things I Bought On Amazon.

 Shop these items and more of my Amazon favorites  HERE .

Shop these items and more of my Amazon favorites HERE.

I am addicted to Amazon Prime. And guessing you probably are too. Recently, I set up an "Influencer Shop" there to corral, and share, my favorite purchases.*  Every time I find something everyone should know about, I add it to the shop- so be sure to bookmark it or whatever your method of choice is so you can check back frequently.

That said, these are 6 of the things in my little shop that I am most thrilled to currently own, and, at this risk of sounding repetitive, I am guessing you probably will be too.

1- Heart Sunglasses: Yes, you can spend hundreds on a designer pair. But, why would you? These are a fun, whimsical, one-season-if-that wear- and while I strongly suggest getting a truly protective pair of sunglasses to keep your eyes healthy (seriously, guys- don't mess around with that- you can learn more here), I am obsessed with these $11 frames for fun photo ops and such. I got matching ones for my daughters in a size better proportioned to their faces- which you can also find here

2- ThisWorks Deep Sleep Pillow Spray: My friend Genny (yes, same one who turned me on this game changing skincare treatment) posted this on her Instagram ages ago. I saw it around 3am on a Wednesday- as I tossed and turned trying to sleep- and by Friday, it was in my possession. The scent is a combo of Lavender, Vetiver and Chamomile- and for whatever reason, it cues my mind into rest-mode and definitely helps me shut out the day. Maybe it is just the ritual of spritzing my pillow- but regardless, I am addicted. Plus, if you travel, bringing it along helps any hotel room feel that much more like home. 

3- Phillips Sonicare Kids Toothbrush: My 7 year old actually gets EXCITED to brush her teeth since this entered our world. It connects to an app which I thought would be annoying- having to hand over my phone every time she has to brush her teeth- but it is SO worth it. The app makes brushing into a game- as she follows the animated movie, she kills googly-eyed germs, gets time cues for switching to a new part of the mouth, and at the end, gets to choose a "reward". Sonicare's quality is well-known- but the fact that they make a $40 toothbrush with that same amazing tech plus kid-friendly bells and whistles was total news to me. 

4- MyCharge Portable Charger: This is the be-all end-all of portable chargers, bar none. It has everything built in: a foldable wall plug that goes right into any outlet and allows for pass-through charging so you can charge the powerbank and your devices simultaneously ; Apple iPhone Lightning and Micro-USB cables; and an extra USB port so you to charge 3 things at the same time, should you need. All the add-ons I usually forget when I run out the door are all attached- you literally can't screw it up. Once you have this, you will never be able to use any other travel charger again. Trust me. Oh- and it holds up to 6 complete battery charges when fully loaded, which is pretty awesome. 

5- Dyson V8 Absolute Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner: If you have kids, you need this. My husband actually bought it- and I didn't use it for a month, instead, sticking to our tried and true handheld dust-buster thingie, because it felt less intimidating to me. Dumb move by me- this thing picks up EVERYTHING. The charge lasts 40 minutes, and it stores neatly. There is a V10 version which is like $200 more, and while it may be marginally better, I gotta say, this version is pretty damn incredible. 

6- Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides: One of the most clicked-on items I have ever featured on my Facebook and Instagram,  a scoop or two of this in my morning coffee has made the most dramatic difference in my hair and nails. I am the ultimate skeptic, but even jaded ol' me could not deny the obvious changes I was noticing in the mirror thanks to the high quality collagen peptides that somehow dissolve into this flavorless, odorless powder.

What is the best thing you have bought on Amazon in the last 6 months? Please share in the comments- I am always on the hunt for new things to add to my wish list!

*Yes, the Amazon Influencer shop is an affiliate program. I earn a small commission on sales- which is kinda cool- but even more than that, being the nerd at heart I am, the reason I am so damn excited about it is that I can peep the analytics and learn what things you guys are most interested in- what you click, what you buy, and when you do it. Affiliate programs (I am also part of RewardStyle, and recently joined the ShopStyle Collective as well) provide a lot of value for content creators of all sizes. For me, since my blog is on the smaller side (woe is me, right?!), the monetary gains are teeny tiny- but the insights into my readers are perhaps the best- and most honest!- resource to help continually improve my content. If you have questions about these programs, feel free to leave a comment or message me, happy to answer anything and everything- it is such a fascinating space, IMHO.

How To Corral 365 Days of iPhone Photos And Be The Family Hero.

I think we can all agree that the abundance of photos that live on our phones is a major source of anxiety. What if they disappear? What if I can never find the ones that mean something to me buried in the abyss? How the f*ck do I organize them so I can access specific memories as the years go by- I mean, Alexa's rehearsal dinner could be just 18 short years away, gotta start thinking about the requisite photo montage video!

There is ONE thing I do annually (this started in 2012, so we are going on the 6th book this year) for our family to keep me from having an all-out photo induced panic every single time I accidentally look at the insane number of images that live in my Photos app. I dread this one thing literally for an entire year leading up to actually doing it-  but I know that if I don't complete it, I will be so upset with myself for so many years that the 15-20 hours it takes me to execute is a small price to pay.

I create a "Year In Review" photo book on Shutterfly- complete with clever captions and graphic design details- documenting what I like to (mostly) lovingly refer to as "Falik Family Fun Time". 

Here is how it goes down:

*NOTE: DO NOT TRY AND DO THIS DURING THE YEAR THAT YOU ARE DOCUMENTING. YOU WILL WANT TO INCLUDE WAY MORE THAN YOU PROBABLY SHOULD, BECAUSE IN THE MOMENT, IT ALL SEEMS SO IMPORTANT. LET AT LEAST 3 MONTHS GO BY- IT GIVES YOU A BIT MORE PERSPECTIVE, WHICH MAKES THE EDITING PROCESS MUCH EASIER.

1: Sneak onto my husband's phone, and create a shared album called "Falik Family Favorites 2017" (or whatever year just passed) and upload the best 40-50 photos in his camera roll.

2: Download those photos from the Cloud into the Photos application on my laptop.

3: Create Smart Albums for each month of the year (and title them January 2017, February 2017, etc. Nothing clever here- all about simplicity)

4: BI break them up into 3 sittings where I narrow down 4 months of photos at a time into albums titled 2017 SELECTS JAN THRU APRIL, 2017 SELECTS MAY THRU AUG and 2017 SELECTS SEPT THRU DEC.

5: I upload these albums to Shutterfly, using the same naming categories, so the photos are still in 3 groups- it feels MUCH less overwhelming this way. 

6: I go into the Photo Books section and choose to create a book using Custom Path. It is the most labor intensive, yes- but I have tried the Simple Path option where they arrange the photos into pages for you, and it actually ends up taking way more time because inevitably, it is not the way you would have done it. 

7: For size, I always go with 8.5 x 11. There are more modern options now- square, oversized, etc- but since the goal is year-on-year consistency, I stick to the tried and true. Next, pick a style. There are a TON to choose from- it is mind boggling- but in my experience, the more simple you go, the easier it is- so I suggest one of THESE.  Last year, I did Modern White, and the year before, Modern Black. 

8: The photos get batch loaded into the project- starting with SELECTS 2017 JAN THRU APRIL. Month by month, I lay out the photos to chronicle both special occasions and everyday events. At the end of each month, I always put in a collage page (using the template options that Shutterfly provides on the project sidebar) where I can throw any random pictures I want to include but can't figure out a storyline where they fit. Always click the option to "Hide Used" photos- this way, once it is in the project, it no longer stares up at you tempting you to rethink where you placed it.

9: After all the photos are loaded in, the real work begins- writing headlines and captions, and inserting in fun graphic elements to reflect the personality of the year. The text part is where Shutterfly kinda kills me- but I am in too deep, so I just deal. There is no easy way to make sure all your fonts and spacing and sizing and colors are consistent from page to page. Advice here- don't obsess over it. You will make yourself insane. Instead, have fun with the copy- be conversational, include any funny anecdotes that come back to you while looking at the photos, and, if there is a typo or a style slip-up, WHATEVER. (That is big for me to say, guys- so just go with it.) 

10: When I finally feel like I have done my best to corral the most memorable moments, I choose a cover format and insert my favorite photo(s), make sure to write "FALIK FAMILY FUN TIME 2017" on the binding (so, when they sit on a shelf, I can make sure they are in chronological order and the fonts all line up consistently), opt for the upgrades that they get me with EVERY. DAMN. TIME. Glossy hardcover, lay flat pages, yada yada yada- I mean, at this point, why the heck not, right? (Plus, they always have those 40% off coupon codes, so...) And- cue the sweeping orchestral music- ADD IT TO MY CART!

I order 2 copies (so it is one less thing for Alexa and Goldie to fight over when Brian and I kick the bucket)- one goes on display in our family room, the other in storage for safe-keeping. But the beauty of Shutterfly- and why I put up with the many less-than-ideal glitches and overall clunkiness of the site- is that the books are saved in my account and with one click, I can reorder as needed.

My books to date have been between 95-110 pages, and cost around $190 each. This cost includes the upgrade options mentioned above, and small fees here and there for additional sticker embellishments and premium storytelling pages that I think are totally worth it- just adds that extra touch of whimsy and personality that takes the pressure off having to showcase museum-quality photos (because who has those?!) and Pulitzer-worthy prose.  

Anyway- there you have it. Long, I know- but hopefully helpful enough to inspire you to give it a go yourself. Trust me- your family will thank you big time. My girls LOVE flipping through them, and it is so cute to watch Alexa narrate the pre-Goldie years to her little sister, years that I am fairly sure she only remembers through photos.

How do you get the photos off your phone? I would love to know- as would other readers... This is a topic that seems to come up all the time- what to do with all the digital photo clutter! HELP!

39 for 39.

  LOVE Sweatshirt  (similar style) /  Jeans  /  Sneakers

LOVE Sweatshirt (similar style) / Jeans / Sneakers

39 random things I love/feel/know heading into my 39th year of life, in no particular order.

1.     High waist jeans are more flattering, and versatile, than you ever imagined. And, THIS is the best brand to buy.

2.     It is okay that you impulse bought this extravagant pair of statement shoes  because, they are AWESOME and, at this point in your life, they will get worn 4 times a year and as such, last forever.   

3.     If you get cranky with your kids because they are dragging out the bedtime routine, once they do fall asleep, you will feel pretty shitty about yourself.

4.     100 burpees a day is the most efficient workout that you can rarely find an excuse to skip…and once you start, inevitably you are like “ugh, I already need to wash my hair so may as well do some more…”

5.     If you stop drinking by 10pm, no matter how much you drink before that, you will wake up feeling pretty much fine. (Easier said than done, but…)

6.     The best kind of girl friends at this stage in life are the ones who are your constant cheerleaders but also your most brutally honest sounding boards.

7.     THESE will make you feel sane and organized every time you look at them, even if you are a total mess. You can’t have too many.

8.     Flying with 2 young kids is a pain in the ass, but always worth it. The more you do it, the better travelers they become.

9.     If you put a reading nook in your living room, make sure the cushion is removable so said nook can transform into a banquette late night dance parties.

10. You only live once- so opt for the boldest wallpaper option offered, always. 

11.  3 things to always have in your freezer: Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Rice, Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Popsicles, and a giant box of frozen mini tacos from Costco (quick dinner for the kids, easy end-of-the-night tipsy snack for adults.)

12. During off-peak hours, the Metro North train is perhaps the best temporary office space ever. (First runner up- the local library- it makes you feel like a kid again, even if you are sitting there figuring out mortgage payments and filing taxes.)

13. If you don’t like your hands- but you like Instagram- stock up on oversized rings that cover up your fingers. THIS Etsy shop has a plethora of options- obsessed.

14. Lay out your kids’ breakfast place settings night before. Granted it only takes a few seconds but somehow when the morning rush rolls around, it makes you feel totally on top of things.

15. On the topic of breakfast, never be without THESE cereal bowls- 2 of each color is essential.

16. Get THIS coffeemaker, and a subscription to MistoBox. Your mornings will be consistently- and creatively- caffeinated.

17. Lots of products don’t do what they say they do- but collagen peptides deliver. Stock up on THESE. Stick with a scoop or two a day and your hair will look like it did in high school (but better, because, well, keratin.)

18.  Tune out the social media noise, but not the inspiration. In real life- and life in the blogosphere- it is important to be able to differentiate between what annoys you and what energizes you.

19.  Push your kids to be competent in skiing and tennis- even if they fight you. Because how grateful are you that your parents made you stick it out when now, 30 years later, you can keep up with your friends on the slops and the courts.

20.  Dear Evan Hansen is the best Broadway show ever. Ever ever ever.  See it one hundred times if you can.

21. Even if in your head you know your family is complete, you will inevitably question whether or not you want to have just one more kid while you still (presumably) can.

22. At a certain point, even though you give them a hard time about it, you kinda love it when you kids crawl into bed with you at 3am.

23. 3 things to always have in the bar: A giant handle of Tito’s Vodka, small bottles of club soda and 4 limes. (You can keep the limes in the fridge, but just make sure that you have them somewhere in the house.)

24. Being on the older end of the age spectrum in your industry can actually result in a quiet confidence and sense of calm, which is something you never expected.

25. Instagram Stories is the best thing to happen to social media- and THIS “graphic design for dummies” tool is the most priceless way to tell your stories with style.

26. THIS Iro leather jacket is worth every single penny.

27. THIS t-shirt bra is worthy of owning in every color- because open back shirts are amazing, but you going around town sans bra is not. (When you make it to #39, you will see a photo in which said bra is featured.)

28.  Laser hair removal is wayyyy less painful than it used to be, and even when it does hurt, the sting only lasts seconds but the ability to shave less often (or at all!) will last a lifetime.

29. If your kids refuse to take a bath, but you refuse to let them go to bed smelling like feet and cheese, just say the word “BUBBLES!” or “BATH BOMBS!” and consider victory yours.

30.  Paint your front door an unexpected color- and use a Fine Paints of Europe high gloss formula so it glistens even on the cloudiest of days.

31. A robust stash of 1 Liter Poland Spring water bottles is the best investment in staying hydrated- THIS delivery service is indispensable.

32. Write something every day. You will always regret the days that you don’t record some sort of memory- and the 3 minutes it actually takes to scribble down a few sentences is really no big deal.

33.  Organize your damn photos. Until you do, it will keep you up at night. But where to begin???

34. You can never have too many Veronica Beard pieces in your wardrobe- stylish and timeless and just perfect. The most easy go-to's for getting dressed.

35.  In marriage, timing is everything. Knowing when to bite your tongue and when to table a to-do-list related conversation until later is invaluable, and something you are still working to learn.  

36. Let things go. With your friends, with your family, with your work- because your kids notice these things, and it helps them to do the same- any little thing you can do to help thicken their skin is a good thing.

37. You CAN go home again. You may have never thought you would live in the town you grew up in, but times change, people change, and you can’t imagine being happier anywhere else.

38.  Read books. Don’t ever cancel your Book of the Month Club subscription!

39.  As long as there is Botox, SoulCycle, Collagen Peptides, THESE leggings, and that insanely flattering sparkle filter on Instagram, being one year away from 40 ain’t no thang.

 This is the bra mentioned in #27, btw.

This is the bra mentioned in #27, btw.