This Design Hack Will Make Everyone Think You Are A Creative Genius.

I am totally outing myself here, but some things are too good to not to share. Even though I kinda want to protect my secret...Oh well, too late now...

Canva. You guys, it is EVERYTHING when it comes to making people think you have some super design skills.  

Canva is an easy-to-use graphic design tool for designing anything from social media graphics (they have preset sizes for Facebook, Instagram, etc.) as well as marketing materials (flyers, business cards, infographics) and a ton more.  There are more templates (and font options and stock images) to work off of than you could possibly count- and now, as I have become more comfortable using it, I often create my own specific dimensions and create templates from scratch (well, by scratch I mean dragging and dropping different pre-designed text banner options and graphics onto a design sized to my choosing.) You can use it on your computer or mobile device (the app launched last year, but Canva itself has been around for like 5 years. 

Most recently I used Canva to create hang tags to elevate the party favors at Alexa's birthday party. I found the cutest acrylic keychains HERE and wanted a way to make them feel like a personal gift from Alexa to her friends. See, her birthday celebration was one of those plug-and-play parties at her gymnastics school- which I love, so effortless- but I always try to add a personal touch so years from now, when she looks back at the photos, she will say to herself "Wow, my mom really was amazing." (Note: At that point, pigs will fly and hell will freeze over.) 

I found a basic template that I liked in the "Label" section, and completely changed it. From importing emoji images I downloaded from a design website, to changing the fonts and color scheme- it took all of 15 minutes to create this. Then, I emailed it on over to the local FedEx Kinkos printing shop, and the next morning, picked up a stack of gorgeously designed (if I do say so myself) cards on which to affix the key chains. 

As long as we are on the birthday theme- I also use Canva to make "gift cards" when I buy subscription service gifts for people (Pipsticks is one of my go-tos for girls between age 5-11, check it out if you haven't already- cutest sticker subscription club ever!) I place the graphic into a small, inexpensive picture frame and wrap it up so we never arrive empty handed. 

I gifted Alexa's teachers with mini acrylic frames last year- and will do the same this year as everyone loves them.  You can find them at The Paper Alley, which is where I buy most of my gifts because they have the cutest stuff, the acrylic selection is insane! Using Canva, I created this little graphic to put in the frame.

Canva is free to use- unless you want to upgrade to a business version (I have a business account too for work-related design projects- the advantage there is that you can save a style guide of sorts as well as a few other bells & whistles). And no, this is not a sponsored post- I have no affiliation with Canva. I just love it. A lot. 

Please share in the comments if you have tried Canva? What did you create? And are there any other easy peasy graphic design tools that you swear by? Do tell...

FAQ FROM YOU: THE BEST WAY TO APPLY EYELINER

 Seriously,  this eyeliner  is the key to pretty much everything involved with a perfectly lined eye. 

Seriously, this eyeliner is the key to pretty much everything involved with a perfectly lined eye. 

About a year ago, I did a Facebook Live of my makeup routine, and to this day, people ask me about the eyeliner application technique I demo'd at least once a week. For me, there is one method that ALWAYS results in perfectly defined eyes that don't look overly done. As such, this technique works for every look- from "no makeup" natural-ish to camera-ready to evening out and anything that falls in between.

Here is my no-fail eyeliner application technique:

1- Use THIS LINER. (Not kidding- I have never found a liner that comes close to the lasting power, ease of use and soft glide of this one.) Make sure it is freshly sharpened to a fine point- this is the sharpener I swear by because the colors are fun and bright so I can find it easily in my drawer, plus the price can't be beat AND it has a catch-all for the shavings.

2- Lightly tug on the skin under your lower lash line, using your ring finger (it has the lightest touch) so as to expose the waterline of your lid between your lashes and eyeball. Lean into the mirror and, with the pencil pointing up, glide it along the waterline, starting from the inner eye and working your way to the outer edge. I usually repeat this twice just to make sure I haven't missed any spots along the way.

3- Look up like you are trying to see your own brain, but leaning into the mirror close enough so you can still catch a glimpse of your eye. With the pencil facing up (as in Step 2), glide the liner from the inner eye to the outer edge, and repeat if needed. 

4- Repeat on other side.

5- Lean back and look into the mirror to make sure both eyes are evenly lined- and adjust as needed. Also, you may need to touch up the outer edges slightly just to complete the line so it goes continuously around the eye for total definition.

From here, you have options. Like, if you want more drama, I go over each line again but instead of really getting into the waterline, I place the pencil slightly closer to the lash line, so a little of the product disperses between your lashes, slightly thickening the line and upping the impact. 

You can also enhance a more daytime-appropriate look by using a dewy champagne or silvery cream shadow in that spot between the inner eye and the bridge of the nose- just press it in with your fingertip to brighten up in an instant. My favorites include this one (bonus- you can get it via Amazon Prime!) or this (lasts forever, and is also great all over the lid as a shadow base).

What is your go-to eyeliner application technique? Have you tried mine? Please comment below with all the details- or, of course, any questions you have... 

Birthday Books: How To Capture 365 Days In One Hour, Annually.

I obsess over making sure that my girls know what they were like when they were little and what I was like when I was a new(ish) and cool(ish) mom and what our family was like as Brian tried to figure out how to navigate parenthood. And with January being the month that both my daughters celebrate birthdays, it also tends to be the month where I scramble to gather up the memories not only from the year prior for our family photo album (more on that in a post coming next week), but also individually for each girl so as to capture as much as I can of who they became over the past 365 days.

When both Alexa and Goldie were born, I created Birthday Books for them. Nothing fancy, just a 3 ring binder filled with empty sheet protectors where I can stash little keepsakes and mementos that otherwise would create even more clutter around the house. Holiday cards, special drawings, school progress reports- the things that I wish I had from when I was a little girl so I could imagine who I was then, or (in all honesty) things I worry I may regret throwing out but don't quite know where to file away.

But the real THING of the birthday books is a letter that I write to them each year. In one (way-too-long and completely unedited) Word document, I do my best to recap their personalities, funny anecdotes, unique adventures, milestone moments, challenges and successes and anything else that I just want to make sure is written down somewhere so it doesn't disappear.

There is honesty in each letter too- because while I know there are things I could easily keep to myself and pretend every second from the moment they were born was pure perfection, that wouldn't be fair to them. Because one day, if they become mothers, they will know how freaking hard it is, and they shouldn't feel alone in that, ya know? 

There is no consistent format, no list of things I must include- like height/weight statistics or words learned or math skills mastered- rather, it really is just a stream-of-consciousness collection of thoughts, opinions and memories.

Every year, as soon as the holiday hangover has worn off, I begin thinking- and overthinking- my letters. And as such, I put off writing them.

Alexa's birthday passes...Goldie's birthday passes...and the 2018 birthday pages remain empty. Then, somewhere around, well, NOW, I talk myself off the ledge of needing to make the letters perfect and all-encompassing. It gets to the point where I just want to check them off my mental to do list. So I crank the letters out, one right after the other.

All in all, it takes about an hour- a small chunk of time to create a life-long time capsule. 

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Besides being something I hope Alexa and Goldie will forever treasure, it is something that I enjoy pulling off the shelf and perusing myself every so often. Because as much as these books are about them, they really are also about me. And that makes me feel less guilty about not keeping up with all my resolutions to keep a daily journal that I have made every damn year since I was like 25....

Two birds, one stone, people. The true mantra of motherhood.

Do you keep memory books for your children? Please comment below and share how you capture milestone- and just everyday- moments for your family! 

 

The Socks That Will Change Your Life.

 I will never buy a pair of socks that are not  THESE  for the rest of my life.

I will never buy a pair of socks that are not THESE for the rest of my life.

If I let myself overthink the fact that I am sitting at my desk writing a blog post about socks, I would never write it. Shouldn't I be spending my precious peaceful daily writing time pontificating on something more, well...substantial? Maybe. But trust me when I tell you that the next couple of paragraphs may just be the most useful I have written in a long time.

Socks are tricky, especially when you want them to be invisible yet comfortable, warm yet not bulky, and, most importantly, when you want them to STAY ON YOUR FREAKING FEET. Am I right? (There is a reason that quote about "I walk around like everything is fine, but deep down, inside my shoe, my sock is falling off" gets shared on social media so much- it is completely relatable!)

Traditional low cut ankle socks have always managed to peek out from atop my sneakers- and just look messy and unflattering. But super low cut "invisible" socks never stay on my feet- all it takes is like 5 steps and said sock is crumpled somewhere under my arch. And the need for the perfect invisible sock is intensified by the proliferation of low cut ankle boots. I live in my Rag & Bone Margot Booties and seeing a sock line cut across the v-dip in the front just ruins the look. Plus, distressed high-tops (like my beloved Golden Goose sneaks) don't look very edgy/cool when you can see a white puffy cotton sock tucked inside. 

The ONLY- and I repeat ONLY- socks I will buy/own/wear for the rest of my life are THESE.

My style-savvy friend Anne told me about them years ago, and I didn't pay much attention at first just because I figured socks are socks are socks. I would buy whatever I found by the register at Marshalls/TJ Maxx/any sporting goods store when I felt like my sock drawer needed replenishing. Only to discard them days later because, well, they annoyed me for reasons relating to fashion and/or function. But when it comes to most things fashion, Anne knows best. And alas...

I wear these every time I put sneakers, knee high boots, cowboy boots, spin shoes, ankle booties, rain boots or snow boots on my feet. And you will too. Trust me. 

Buy the best socks on the planet via Amazon Prime HERE

(Oh, and I did the math for you- they come out to be $3.33/pair- proving that there is no excuse to wear any other sock for the rest of your life.)

Mom Notes: Adventures In Memory Making

Next week, Alexa turns 7 (and Goldie turns 3. Yup, they are 5 days- and 4 years- apart. I joke that clearly I drink a lot of Tito's vodka every April.). 7 is a PERSON.  A person who is almost as tall as me, reads books, writes stories, draws emojis, obsesses over YouTube stars that make me cringe, watches shows that are not animated, and expresses strong opinions (well, she had those since she was born but now, they have reasoning behind them- whether or not the reasoning is rational is a whole other story).  

This year I notice more than ever the weight of my actions as a mom, especially as it pertains to how certain moments and details become memories. Alexa can articulate little things that she remembers so clearly, and other things- bigger things, in my mind- that I remind her about, she has no recollection of. Weird how that happens, right? But I guess it makes sense, speaking to all the sayings about the importance of the little things/its the little things that matter/yada yada yada. 

Which brings me to yesterday. It was a snow day- the most perfect kind, in my opinion, because the snow was falling so fast and it was so windy there really was no option to leave the house, and I am the ultimate homebody. My husband was traveling for work, so it was "girl time"- the morning was spent watching Lex & Goldie take turns doing ballet performances (which you may have seen in my Instagram Story if you follow me there), sugar cookies and messes and even a museum dedicated to the "first baby who was ever in a movie" (Alexa's idea, incorporating Goldie's beloved new Luvabella doll from Christmas) were made. 

By 7pm, we were SPENT. As I was looking for a show that everyone could agree on to watch for 30 minutes before starting bedtime, I noticed that 3 of my (and hence, Alexa's- perhaps by force but I like to think by choice) favorite moves of all time were on: "Annie" (the original, obv.), "Mary Poppins" and "The Sound of Music". Sure, they were wayyyy longer than 30 minutes. But in a moment of "WHAT THE F, I GOT THIS" brevity, I suggested we watch one.

Goldie was being a crazy lunatic and can't sit still if anything besides "Minnie Mouse Bowtique" or "Goldie & Bear" is on the screen, so somehow, I was able to get her upstairs and to bed while Alexa proudly showed our au pair the previews of the movie options and described each in detail (proud musical-theater-freak-mom-moment). They decided on on "Annie" (YAY!), and we piled blankets over us and settled in for the show. 

In my head, as I mentally justified not getting my to-do's done during the day in order to engage in snow day shenanigans, I figured the girls would be in bed by 8pm, giving me the entire evening to myself. That time would be used finishing up some marketing concept work for a client, front-loading blog post links for next week, going all Marie Kondo method on Brian's closet drawers, cleaning out my bathroom cabinets and, by 10:30pm, tucking myself into bed to watch Vice News (anyone else obsessed with this show?) and scroll social media aimlessly until I fell asleep.

Well, "Annie" is a long movie. 2 hours and 10 minutes- not counting the pauses for bathroom breaks and such. When I first sat down next to Alexa and looked at the clock under the TV and did the math, I had a moment of panic realizing that bedtime was gonna look more like 10pm than 8. At that exact moment, she reached her little hand out to me, and said "Mommy, will you snuggle with me?", and curled in to me in the sweetest way ever. We proceeded to sing every song aloud together, discuss the merits of Grace wearing her hair up versus down- Lex agrees with Annie that is looks SO much better down, debate the timeline of what happened to Annie's birth parents, and, at the final scene, reminisce about how Alexa & I used to dance almost every night before bed to "I Don't Need Anything But You" with a whole choreographed routine.

At first, she actually didn't remember that part of her bedtime routine. And my heart momentarily sank- that memory is so special and clear to me, and it drove home just how many moments we, as parents, hold on to that our young children will never know happened at all. 

But after a little more prompting ("Lex, remember you would sing Annie's part and I was Warbucks and you loved the line about 'yesterday was plain awful/you can say that again' and had a funny move to go with it?") she remembered. And it also reminded her of the song she would dance to with Brian when he did bedtime duty (Animal Action, one of those you-can't-help-but act-it-out-like-an-idiot kid's tunes), and how he would always make us laugh doing his impression of a Rooster. 

While I don't know if she will remember all the moments that I will (or at least that I hope I will- hence my obsession with writing, I live in fear of forgetting), I know she will remember cuddling up watching "Annie" at the end of a cozy snow day and staying up way past her bedtime on a school night. I knew it when I suggested it, and I knew it as I rested my head on top of hers while she held my hand and made sure we both had enough blankets to be extra toasty.  

So, Brian's drawers are still a mess. And I stayed up until 1am on my computer. But guess what? Giving Alexa one more childhood memory to look back on and smile about someday was totally worth it. 

"Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."- Robert Brault