Chalk It Up

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Now that my home office is up and running, I have been looking for some custom art to spice up the walls and make it feel more like my own comfortable, motivating work space. I am SUPER excited about this new custom piece I have added to the room created by Kristyn of Chalk It Up. She creates beautiful designs and quotes using chalk markers on handmade chalkboards, wood stumps, canvas, glass, or anything else you can imagine.

Kristyn started her business by chance as her cousin was getting married, and they asked her to make a chalkboard sign. She had never completed one before, but she decided to take on the challenge. She knew she had a talent for drawing, but never thought it could turn into something like this! Guests at the wedding were very complimentary of her work, friends encouraged her, and she realized she had something here. Thus, Chalk It Up was born!

Her pieces are fabulous for events or weddings, can be used as home decor, a monthly baby board, and they also make for excellent gifts. With the holidays right around the corner, this could also be the perfect opportunity to add some Christmas or Chanukah sparkle to your home or to someone else’s!

She creates custom work and is happy to collaborate with you or also get creative herself. I had a few style ideas in mind for my office, but Kristyn came up with this concept and the font all on her own. I was super impressed, and she was such a pleasure to work with!

Working from home has gotten even better and prettier!

Now for the exciting part…Kristyn is offering a GIVEAWAY to one of my loyal popcorn and pandas readers!!! One of you can win a custom piece of artwork of your own to use for any upcoming event, to decorate your home, or to present as a gift to a friend or family member. The options are endless.

To enter you must:

1. Be a follower of popcorn and pandas & comment below on what type of chalkboard you dream about winning

2. Like Chalk It Up on Facebook

3. Share this Giveaway on your Facebook Page

Winner will be announced Tuesday November 17th!

Good luck!

XO,

Gina

{29} Lately…

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Lately I’ve been…

reading  Just started The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and so far it has my attention.  

writing  I have been writing a ton lately.  A few opportunities have arisen lately in the writing world, and it’s all very exciting!  I’m not quite ready to share yet, but keep a look out in the next month!

listening  Love this song, Stay, by tyDi featuring Dia Frampton (Frank Pole Remix)

thinking  We had a lovely Friendsgiving dinner at our house the other night.  We decided to do a sit down and all write things we are thankful for about each other.  We also had a new addition to the crew this year as my friend brought her newborn baby.  I am very thankful for my NYC Upper East side loves.

smelling  (and eating) lots of pumpkin pie!  Mmmm.

watching  The hubby and I watched 12 Years A Slave over the weekend.  It was an incredible film, and also extremely heartbreaking.  I was pretty much in tears the entire time.

wishing  Everyone safe travels and a Happy Thanksgiving!

hoping  That all my little soccer students enjoyed our session!  We had our last class of the season yesterday.  It was a lot of fun, and it was definitely a learning experience coaching such young children (ages 2-5) !

wearing  Lots of plaid and aztec prints this fall.  

loving  At how quickly Nico is picking up new words.  He is like a little parrot right now just copying everything we say.  It’s super adorable, but I realize I also need to start watching my potty mouth!

laughing  At Weird Things All BFFs do.

wanting  To find some time to edit my personal photos.  I am super back-logged!  Maybe I will get a chance over the break, although that is probably wishful thinking.

needing  To get packing.  We are heading back to Maryland for the holiday, and excited to see family and friends.

feeling  Motivated.

craving  What else?  Thankgiving food.  Turkey, stuffing, corn, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.  All the essentials.

clicking  Through family photos to try and pick one for the holiday card this year.

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What have you been up to lately?

Hope you all enjoy the holiday week!

XO,

Gina

***I was inspired by Tina of Like Ordinary Life to create this post, and she was inspired by Lauren of siddathornton, who started The Sunday Currently.

Creative Ideas for Engagement Gifts

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Photo Credit: Misa Me Photography

Since becoming a mom, I sometimes feel that I have neglected to be a very good friend.  I have always been the person who remembered every single birthday of friends and family members.  I remembered to call.  I remembered to go out of my way to do something nice on an important day for them.  Nowadays, I am lucky if I even know what day it is, let alone that there is something special going on that day.  I love my friends and want them to know that I still love them.  I know being a mommy is not an excuse to forget about my friends, and I hope they know that I do still think about them often, even if I don’t always remember to call.

One particular instance of me being a bad friend…my bestie from high school called me up one night when I was particularly exhausted from lack of sleep.  I felt bad for not answering, but I just didn’t have the energy to have the catch up session that we needed.  The next day, she called again when I was in the middle of watching both my son and another child at the same time for the first day.  I figured since she called again, that it was important, but again it was just a bad time.  I answered, but immediately said, “Hey, can I call you back.  I’m watching two babies and it’s a little insane.”  She said “ok” but sounded like she really wanted to talk, so I said, “What’s up?” and she follows with “I’M ENGAGED!!!”

Oh. Em. Gee!!!  No wonder she was calling so much!  And here I am blowing her off, because I’m too crazy and tired on one of the most important days of her life!  What a jerk!  I said, “Congratulations, and I will definitely call you back later to hear the story.”  To which I did follow through.  Upon calling her back, she says, “Did you remember today is also my birthday?” F@#$!!!!!!  Ok, I am officially the worst. friend. EVER.  I knew her birthday was coming up, but when the actual day arrived, I didn’t even know the date.  I felt AWFUL.

Luckily, she is an amazing person and has forgiven me.  And I know gift giving totally doesn’t erase the fact that I am a nincompoop.  HOWEVER!  It’s cannot hurt, and I totally owe her one.  So I have spent a lot of time trying to come up with some creative engagement gifts to send her way, and here are some of the ideas that have crossed my mind:

Wedding Planning Basket:  As a new bride-to-be, it can be really exciting to think about planning your wedding, but it can also be a bit overwhelming.  A wedding planning basket will give them a little boost to get started and fill them with ideas and organization tips.  Include bridal magazines, a planner, pen, thank you card, ideas for local vendors, to-do list with typical budgets, wedding-themed movies to put them in the wedding planning mood, and more.

Personalized Champagne Glasses:  Nothing says celebrate like champagne!  I love the idea of personalized champagne glasses with the names of the couple and the date of their wedding.  They can use them for the big toast on their wedding day, and toast again with them year after year on their anniversary.  Include a nice bottle of champagne for the win.

Take Them Out/Send them Out:  Take them out for a night on the town, a nice dinner, or a fun activity you know they will enjoy to celebrate the new journey they will take together.  You could also get them a gift certificate to send them on their own adventure together.  A couples massage to relax before their big day would be one of my favorites to suggest!

Create a Slide Show:  Gather photos from friends and family members to compile an adorable slide show for the future bride and groom.  The thought and effort put into the project will mean the world to the engaged couple.  You can include photos from their childhood  with family and friend or include photos of solely the couple themselves on their many adventures together.  The slide show can be used at an engagement party, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, etc.

Photography Session:  Speaking of photos, a professional engagement photography session could be an amazing gift for a couple.  With all the insane amount of expenses that come along with planning a wedding, a couple might not have it in their budget to include an engagement session as well.  The photos could be used for their future “save the dates,” thank you cards, at the wedding, or framed and hung in their home.

Personalized Art Work:  My husband and I received a piece of art work for our wedding, and we still have it hanging in our home.  Something sweet to hang as a reminder of their special day will always be appreciated.  I really enjoy this simple Happily Ever After piece from Etsy.  Artwork is also not limited to the wall!  A personalized platter, ring holder, pillow, or anything else for the home could be a great gift and beautiful  reminder of their special day.

Wine Box:  If the engaged couple is into wine, a wine box could be a really fun idea.  Choose about 6 bottles of wine or so and label them with tags for different milestones that they will reach in their lives (First Anniversary, 10th Anniversary, First Home, First Christmas, etc.)  Make sure to ask someone at the wine store for advice as they may be able to suggest wines that age well.  You could also include a bottle of sparkling cider to toast their First Child.  If they have a different drink of choice, you could do a similar box filled with beer, mini liquor bottles, or something else that would interest them.

Personalized Greeting Card:  Sometimes it’s the simple things that mean the most.  A personalized greeting card is an inexpensive, yet thoughtful way to let someone know you are happy for them.  I absolutely love the greeting card options available at Treat.  They have lovely designs, deliver right to the recipient’s door, and they can also include photos or a gift card inside if you wish.

I cannot divulge what option I ultimately decided on because said friend might be reading this post, and I haven’t presented her with my gift yet.  😉  Hopefully one of these ideas will speak to you.  I know I will definitely be returning to this list for future friend’s engagements.

Hope you all had a great weekend.  I have a short week here in New York, before I head off to my longtime friend and pen-pal’s wedding in Arizona!  I haven’t seen her since our Tucson reunion last year, so I am very much excited to see her and her awesome fiancé tie the knot!

XO,

Gina

{28} Lately…

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Lately I’ve been…

reading I Am Hutterite by Mary Ann Kirby.  An inside peek into the life into a Hutterite community (similar to Amish), leaving the community, adapting to the English world, and trying to reclaim a heritage.

writing  A practice schedule for today’s soccer class this afternoon.  Since I have some free time on my hands these days and there was desire for a soccer class in the neighborhood, I have spent the last few weeks obtaining a permit from the Prospect Park office, and my class is now ready to go!  We had our first one last week, and seemed to go well, so my assistant, Nico, and I are looking forward to the next 8 weeks of soccer fun.

listening  To a lot of kid’s music.  Luckily, we have amazing bands like The Dad Beats around here which makes listening to kid’s music (somewhat) bearable.

thinking  About the next steps I want to take career-wise.  Soccer class is great, my Poshmark closet is selling well, and I love spending time with my little Nico, but still craving something a little more creative in my life on the job front (that – full disclosure – can also bring in a little more cash for the family).  I have a few ideas in mind, but still researching and will see what might come about.

smelling  I can still smell those apple cider donuts in my mind that we ate at Stakey’s Farm on Sunday.  Mmmmazing.

watching  I FINALLY watched The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  I was a big fan of the series, but wasn’t able to get to the movie theatre when this one was released.  It was everything I thought it would be.

wishing  Congratulations to Nico’s former nanny who just presented the world with a brand new baby girl last night!  So happy for her, and can’t wait to meet that baby!

hoping  To find some time to carve the amazing pumpkins we got from the patch.  I always say I want to carve, and then I rarely get around to it.

wearing  My new custom made Guilty Jean bracelet given to me as a gift from a dear friend.  The coordinates are from the place where we originally met.  Love love love it!

loving  The fact that our neighborhood is currently the set of the newest Steven Spielberg movie starring Tom Hanks.  He’s pretty much my favorite actor.  And I got to see him on set yesterday which was pretty damn amazing.  The film is also starring a friend of mine who I met on an airplane, who at the time was a soap opera actor and asked me to rehearse lines with him on the plane.  Although, I was incredibly embarrassed, I obliged because he was so nice.  He’s now making movies with Spielberg and Tom Hanks.  Way to make it big Billy Magnussen!  Can’t wait to see you rock out this film.

laughing  At how my son continuously manages to outsmart me.

wanting  A date night for the hubby and I in the near future.  It’s been too long!

needing  To figure out what I am going to be wearing to the black-tie optional wedding we are invited to this weekend!  And needing to figure out what Nico will be wearing as well.  Looking forward to seeing my cousin walk down that aisle!

feeling  So proud of my little guy who took his first steps this weekend!  He took even more yesterday, and this mama is going to be in big trouble soon!

craving  Candy corn.  I’m still wondering why we only eat this one month out of the year.

clicking  Away on career research. Thinking of making a switch up.  We shall see!

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What have you been up to lately?

Hope you are all having a fantastic week!

XO,

Gina

***I was inspired by Tina of Like Ordinary Life to create this post, and she was inspired by Lauren of siddathornton, who started The Sunday Currently.

A Summer Shower

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Recently, the matrons of honor along with the bridesmaids (myself included) and close family threw a beautiful wedding shower for our dear friend Teri that was all about the details.  Starting with the “guestbook” above made out of a Jenga game, the delicious mimosa bar with fresh fruit, customized “Rome” (her future new last name) gift bags for the guests, handcrafted custom made gifts, and carefully designed centerpieces, this shower definitely showed both creativity and care in every aspect of the event.  All of the bridesmaids are currently married, and Teri was involved with each one of our weddings.  This was truly our chance to give back to her and show her how much we appreciate having her in our lives.  A custom slide show was designed with photos of her and her fiancé and their loved ones, and we also played a little game where we interviewed her fiancé, Charlie, on camera to see how many questions they could answer the same.  It was a great time, and we hope that Teri enjoyed being showered with love on her special day.  The countdown to the wedding in October is getting close, and I am definitely getting excited to see these two tie the knot!

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This was one of my favorite gifts that she was given, handcrafted by a guest on canvas.

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This cool handcrafted water container was first personalized with puffy paint, and then painted over with chalkboard paint, so you can actually write on the outside! So great!

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Hope you enjoyed the photos from the shower!

The weather has been beautiful in NY so far this week.  I have been super busy both with work and life.  Just trying to find a moment to breathe…

Enjoy your Wednesday!

XO,

Gina

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Seven Fishes

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The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian Christmas celebration.  The dinner features seven different types of seafood and commemorates the wait, or vigil, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.  The most famous dish that Southern Italians are known for is baccala, or codfish.  Italians today also incorporate many other different types of seafood into their meal.

My family has been celebrating this tradition since before I can even remember.  What used to be a feast at my Grandparent’s house for many years has now moved to my Aunt and Uncle’s due to spacial reasons.  The family keeps growing!  Christmas Eve is a night that my cousins and I look forward to all year long.  It’s a time where the whole family is together, we drink delicious drinks, eat the best meal of the year, share gifts, and take our annual family photos.

This year was no different.  We shared many laughs, pumpkin martinis, cherry bomb spritzers, pesto rockfish, breaded baccala, escargot, clams, mussels, shrimp (ok so we had six, not seven, but close enough!), broccoli, garlic bread, the amazing corn pudding, brie, homemade cookies, awkward family photos, presents, and silliness.

I always hate departure time, but I was able to end the night knowing that we would be seeing everyone in less than a week for a family wedding before the new year!  Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.

Buon Natale!

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Your Favorite Holiday Things

Thanks to all of those who sent in your favorite holidays things!  I loved getting them!  We all have our own traditions and things that make the holidays special for us, and I appreciate the little peek into how you celebrate the season.

From Justin – @justin_goldberg

Favorite Holiday Treat:

Amazeballs – cooked by his wife, Jessica of The Quest to Be Cookie Queen

 

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From Angela – @acguaragna29

Favorite 2012 Holiday Present:

Finley

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Favorite Movie:

Love Actually

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Favorite Christmas Album:

The Carpenters

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Favorite Cooks:

Grandma & Aunt Marie for Christmas Eve Seven Fishes Italian Dinner

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From Zigi – @zigisitch of ZiGiSituations

Favorite Place to Shop:

Macy’s Windows + Bryant Park w/ the fam

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From Olivia – @PressTerp

Favorite Holiday Tradition:

Decorating my trees…big and small!

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Thanks again to all those who participated and sent in your holiday favorites!

Today I am headed to my aunt and uncle’s house to celebrate Christmas Eve Italian style – the Seven Fishes dinner.  Clams, rockfish, codfish, shrimp, escargot, and whatever else today’s dinner will bring.  It’s one of my favorite days of the year where all of my crazy family gets together to celebrate, eat good food, drink yummy cocktails, sing songs, share gifts, and eat Grandma’s delicious homemade cookies.

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!  Hope you have a fantastic day!

XO,

Gina

‘Tis The Season for Giving

'Tis The Season for Giving
‘Tis the season for giving!  Since I already shared my holiday wish list, I thought I would provide some helpful ideas to think about when shopping for loved ones this year.  I assume most of us have started at least perusing, but for those of you who haven’t quite gotten into the holiday spirit, maybe this inspiration board will give you a little jump start.  Whether you are shopping for your mom, dad, husband, wife, best friend, or boss, I hope you can find something on this list your family and friends will enjoy.
For…
1.  The Sister or Best Friend: Floral necklace from Baublebar
2. The Hipster: Nerd Glasses from boohoo.com
3.  The Make-Up Hoarder: Urban Decay Naked 2 Eyeshadow Palette from Sephora
4.  The Party Girl/Boy: Corkcicle from Uncommon Goods
5.  Hostest with the Mostest: Darkest Night Red Wine Balloon Glass from Mikasa®
6.  The Ski Bunny:  Coal Creme Pom Pom Beanie Hat from Zumiez.com
7.  The Sassy Girl: Essie Nail Polish from Target
8.  The Bicyclist: RED Trace Audio Classic Helmet from Zumiez.com (Also works for skating, skiing, and snowboarding)
9.  The Future Photographer: Vintage Toy Camera Onsie from Etsy
10.  The Glamour Girl:  MAC Russian Red Lipstick from Nordstom
11.  The Dad, Hubby, or the Music Junkie:  Big Blue Studio Wireless Bluetooth Speaker from Brookstone
12.  For Sister or The Organizer:  Kate Spade Wallet from Piperlime
13.  The Mom, Grandma, or Someone Sweet:  Amazing Grace Set from Philosophy
14.  The Athlete:  Pure Balance Water Bottle from Lululemon  (made of glass covered in silicone, so no BPA!)
15.  The Boss: Steve Jobs Biography from Barnes and Noble
16.  The Tea Drinker:  Breville Ikon Electric Tea Kettle from  Gracious Home
17.  The Cold Weather City Dweller:  Volcom Earmuffs from Swell
18.  The Coffee Addict or The Comedian:  Mustache Mug from Customized Girl
Happy Shopping!
XO,
Gina
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Holiday Wish List 2012

Holiday Wish List 2012

1. Mustard Satchel: Aldo / 2. iPad Cover: Tory Burch / 3. Betsey Johnson Perfume: Kohls / 4. Dots for Life Coat: Tulle at Modcloth / 5. New Balance Running Shoe: Nordstrom / 6. Ivory Polka Dot Tights: Madewell / 7. Michael Kors Rose Gold Watch: Nordstrom / 8. Kate Spade Bangle: Piperlime / 9. IPhone Fish Eye Lens: Restoration Hardware / 10. Marc Jacobs Gold Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs / 11. Leopard Gloves: Dorothy Perkins / 12. Tulle Vintage Coat: Nordstrom / 13. Blythe Blouse: J Crew / 14. Ivory Peacoat: Express / 15. Military Boots: ALDO / 16. Spike Bracelet: ASOS / 17. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Perfume: Lord & Taylor / 18. Business Card Holder: Kate Spade
I wanted to share some of my favorites this holiday season.  Christmas is my most cherished time of year.  Spending quality time with family and friends is one of my favorite things to do, and I am lucky I get to see almost everyone from back home around the holidays.  I love shopping for others and seeing their faces as they open their gifts.  And let’s be totally honest…we all love to receive some shiny new things for ourselves under the tree as well!
Now that I’ve shared my holiday wish list, please tell me what’s on yours!
And stay tuned for an upcoming gift-giving guide for ideas of what you can give others in the next week.
In other news…HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my amazing DAD!  Stay tuned for another special post coming this week as well. 🙂
Happy Holidays!
Gina