Isn’t it amazing what talented photographers can capture with a few clicks? No bickering, no meltdowns (adult AND child), no insecurities — just pure joy and love come through their lenses. After recently borrowing some camera equipment from my friend and photographer extraordinaire, SHANNON AHLSTRAND, I came to the realization that:
1) Photography is physically hard work, y’all!
2) Shannon is a magician with the camera.
When giving back her equipment, I made sure to tell her as much and made her pinky swear that she would never leave me!!! She made me promise that I would help her put together a handy guide about coordinating complimentary color schemes and family photo wardrobes, which is apparently a HUGE source of anxiety/stress among her clients… even more so than getting everyone to smile pretty!
So here we are… and here YOU are:
6 RULES FOR NAILING FAMILY PHOTO FASHION
1) Location, Location, Location…
Prior to picking any color scheme or specific outfits, it’s important to know your location. In this case, location has two components:
a. Where are you planning to use these photographs?
When booking your photographer, make sure you let them know exactly what you’re considering using your images for. Now, think about that specific space – a hallway, an office, a bedroom… wherever. Those spaces all have different color schemes in place and you want your beautiful family portrait to compliment them rather than stick out like a sore thumb.
b. Where are you planning to stage your photo-shoot?
Are you headed downtown for an urban backdrop, a beach-y Lake Erie shore, or a grassy field? Is this going to be a shoot surrounded by the calming shades of blue waters, or a photo opportunity engulfed by intense fall foliage? Your destination and season should be the starting point for selecting complimentary colors — so let’s move on to Rule #2!
2) Select Complimentary Colors
Now that you have a location confirmed, it becomes much easier to hone in on the colors! A summer beach photo-shoot practically begs for more muted, neutral colors, while a lush park setting mid-Fall is the ideal backdrop for richer, bolder tones. It’s important to think outside of the black and white fashion box, because as we can all attest, that’s a sure sign of some great 1980 + 90’s era photography! I swear,every family has at least one portrait shot in matching black or white turtlenecks.
Obviously, the photo below came from awkwardfamilyphotos.com + the caption reads: ‘the family that caters together stays together.’
Need I say more?!
3) Start Neutral
Regardless of where your photo is being captured, each color scheme should be grounded with a neutral to keep it from skewing too circus-like or haphazard. Tans, browns, olives, greys are ideal for this task- and let’s not forget about denim. Yes, denim is a neutral!
4) Play With Color Pairings
So a neutral base has been established, now the fun starts! Let’s consider the beach background… obviously a blue would be a seamless compliment to your surroundings, but blue on it’s own will just fade away into the background. Instead, pair shades of blue with a contrasting pop of color to complete your palette — like a soft coral! Coral is on the opposite side of the color wheel, which is why it works.
Another approach to building a color palette is to complement a color with a color next to iton the color wheel. Continuing with the blue example, a purple or lavender would be a great match!
5) Layers Of Fun
So now you have the color thing sort of figured out, it’s time to make it look like it was all effortless. Easier said than done, right?
Actually, the easiest way to make outfits look natural and unstaged is through creative layering and the use of textures. Don’t be afraid of patterns, textures and layers! Think patterns under a solid jacket, or a plaid shirt open to reveal a solid color tee for men. Women, you’ve got lots of choices: a cardigan over a patterned dress, wrapped with a neutral belt, or a patterned scarf layered over a striped shirt, etc. Get creative, because this is where your personalities can shine through! The layers and textures also give your end photos tons of visual interest which keeps everything from looking too flat (a.k.a. BORING!).
This rule is critical and may be the most important of all: find clothes that fit and flatter. Don’t wear something that’s not perfectly suited to you because it works with everyone else’s looks. Find something that makes you feel confident and fabulous – trust me, it shows in the final product!
Pro tip: A little bit of structure and shape (i.e. button downs, stitching & shaping) also has a way of making us look extra lean on camera!
Also, especially when kids are involved, don’t select anything to precious or fussy. Kids will be kids and therefore by universal law, get dirty. It’s all part of the fun. A good photographer will capture those special moments as they’re jumping in that mud puddle or picking up that disgusting worm, and those will be your favorite shots of the session. I promise.
So, what do you think? Think you’ve got this one?
In case you need a little more help in the visualization department, I’ve put together a few additional color schemes for a family of four.
Make sure to PINTEREST pin + bookmark for your next family shoot!
It’s pretty obvious that New York has made it lifelong imprint on me — the way I dress, the way I carry myself, my political and social opinions, as well as my general personality.
The longer I’m out of my hometown city, the more I recognize the differences between my views and attitudes vs. others. More specifically, my occasionally sarcastic, borderline-pessimistic, neurotic and anxiety-fueled, New-Yorker way of thinking and relating to the world around me. For better, or worse, I can totally relate to the characters of Seinfeld… minus the Elaine Benes dancing part.
Sounds like a hoot, right?
I wish I could change all of that to become this lighthearted and easy-going, go-with-the-flow type of individual, but ultimately the whole “I-am-what-I-am” thing comes into play. At this point in my life, I have enough self-awareness to recognize when I’m falling down the rabbit hole of frustration, annoyance and melancholy and I don’t like it.
In my current role as a wife, parent and business owner, these day-to-day struggles can quickly put a damper on mood, not to mention productivity and creative inspiration. I’ve been thinking a lot about techniques and strategies to maintain positivity and creative gusto and thought that we all could use a positive push in the right direction at times, starting with this list of tips:
STEPS TO POSITIVITY + INSPIRATION
(Even When You DON’T Feel Particularly Positive OR Inspired!)
1. Create a comforting environment for yourself
What does that mean exactly? Well, for me it’s all about structure, order and surrounding myself with aesthetically beautiful things. A clean house, office and desk is a good start. My world can be a hot mess but as long as my bed is made, I feel infinitely better… but that’s me.
2. Find inspiration in the everyday
Whether it’s by looking outside and noticing the changing landscape, browsing a magazine, or even getting lost in the virtual pages of PINTEREST and INSTAGRAM, it’s important that we think outside our own box and allow others to inspire us.
3. Keep a journal
I am guilty of not following my own advice here, but I really think putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) allows you to an opportunity to document all of the things we have to be grateful for. With so much going on in our over-scheduled lives, it’s easy to overlook all of our blessings. Your journal should serve as your constant reminder.
4. Unplug + Disconnect
Between our obsessions with our phones, iPads and high-speed internet connections, unplugging is critical to just allowing our minds to rest, reflect and recover. Whether through meditation, prayer, exercise, or just watching mindless and entertaining television (Hello, ANCIENT ALIENS!) it gives us a chance to bring the focus inward.
5. Change the Conversation
Frustrated at work? Annoyed with the kids? Upset with yourself? Rather than dwell on what is fueling these negative feelings, take action. Insanity is officially defined as a repetition of an action or behavior with the expectation of a different result. Unless you make a change, you can’t expect the world around you to.
Some of these ideas are not exactly groundbreaking, but hey, they work!
What are some of the things that you do when you’re struggling to stay positive and inspired?
Birds are chirping, bees are buzzing and women everywhere are cursing the spring-cleaning struggle, especially when it comes to learning how to clean your closet! As a stylist, the months of March-June are probably some of my busiest as clients are dreaming of crisp new wardrobes and a reclaimed sense of organization after the long winter months.
There is really nothing better than a well-edited wardrobe and an organized closet when it comes to helping you get dressed each morning (this SPRING DRESS COLLECTION can help too)! It’s a game-changer. As part of my mission to leave women loving their style (and closets) again, I’ve come to adapt a 3-category system to make closet purging and organization a much easier task.
Remember these categories: keep, consign + donate.
Let’s start with the very basics. Pull everything out of your closet. There. Now you have a gigantic mess. I swear it always looks worse before it starts to look better. Pick up each item piece-by-piece and ask yourself:
1) Does it fit and flatter?
1a) If YES, proceed to #2.
1b) If NO, is it stain free, in good condition and still on-trend?
i) If YES, consign.
ii) If NO, donate.
2) Would I still be happy wearing this (fill in the blank) for the next 3-6 months?
2a) If YES, place back on hanger and insert in closet. (i.e. keep)
2b) If NO, see #1b.
Easy enough, right?
The whole process takes about 2 hours, but in the end you’ll be left with only the things that bring you joy and that make you look and feel great. You’ll also be left with 2 rather large piles of clothes to consign and/or donate.
Don’t worry I’m not going to leave you here without a plan of action to get rid of those piles and potentially make a few extra bucks, too! If you aren’t familiar with consignment, it’s a great system to earn some cash back on those lightly worn, mint-condition clothes that you’re willing to part with. After years of doing these sort of closet clean outs, I’ve tried all forms of consignment shops both brick and mortar and online. I can say with confidence that none have been as easy or as rewarding (cash rules!) than thredUP.
Here’s HOW IT WORKS: You go to the thredUP website, you create an account and ORDER A BAG. Within a few days you get a plastic, postage-ready bag for you to fill with all of your consignment items. Drop the clothes in, seal up the bag and hand it over to your USPS office, local FedEx store or mail delivery person. Once received and processed, the consignment elves at thredUP will send you a notice with the proposed up-front value for your accepted items. Items that don’t make the thredUP cut can be donated, or returned to you (for a small fee).
The cash value gets credited into your thredUP account and you can choose to use the money to shop away on thredUP’s SITE, or wire the funds into a linked Pay Pal account to cash out.
For the sake of 100% transparency and disclosure– nope, this is definitely not a sponsored post by any means! I just discovered thredUP, ORDERED MYSELF A BAG and was really happy with the process and end result so I wanted to share with you all. For the past few months I’ve been telling my styling clients about thredUP and I’ve only heard great feedback as well. Hey, what can I say?! I’m passionate about products and services that I like!
So, let’s get down to business:
Who is going to be cleaning out their closet this week? More importantly, who is going to be giving thredUP a try? Please drop me a line if you do! I’d love to hear all about it!
Let’s get real… real life, real talk, no social media “filter.”
Each day as I put together my daily posts, I try to be as upfront and honest with you as possible. I only write about the people/places/things that are meaningful to me– my heart’s delight. That’s not to say that my life is a glamourous whirlwind of shopping, socializing, vacationing and delicious gourmet meals. This girl is no lady of leisure, by any means. My hair often goes unwashed, my house strewn with rogue toys and my refrigerator contents a pathetic assortment of condiment jars and not much else. As with many women, each day is a mental and physical battle to find a healthy balance. Some days you come out a winner, others, well… not so much.
Lately, one of my LEAST favorite times of the day has been mealtime. As much as I try to be organized and plan out a weekly menu, it doesn’t always go according to plan for one reason or another- work commitments, after school activities, etc. Sometimes, I’m just plain tired. Mealtimes in my house have become a frustrating daily event that goes as follows:
I spend 30 min-1 hr cooking a healthy and delicious meal. Not to toot my own culinary horn or anything, but I’m a pretty good cook!
My kids refuse to eat the meal.
We battle over eating the prepared meal for 10-15 minutes.
My husband calls to let me know he is working late or stuck in traffic.
I cave in and give the kids an easy meal alternative- chicken, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, etc. for the sake of time and my sanity.
I eat the prepared healthy and delicious meal alone.
As an adult, I know there are probably better parenting solutions I could use to resolve this issue, but you know what? I pick my battles. With a 6 and 4 year old, I have plenty of battles to choose from. So when CHIPOTLE contacted me a few weeks ago to participate in their picky eater challenge, I was ready and willing to try anything that would make mealtime a little more enjoyable for everyone.
Are you guys familiar with the CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL restaurant chain? Chipotle originated in Colorado when a young chef names Steve Ells decided that he wanted to create a casual restaurant concept that made healthy, natural and delicious food accessible to the masses. Oh, and Mexican food… he was all about the Mexican food! Who isn’t, really?
Over the years Chipotle has developed somewhat of a cult following. Deservingly, so. Yet, somehow I had overlooked this place as an option for kids?! Duh. Rather than have yet another dinner table battle, I decided instead it was time for my kids to get their chance to create their own meal.
Off we went…
Lured by the excitement of “going to a restaurant” the menagerie was totally psyched when we got to the counter. I think their level of excitement may have skyrocketed when I told them they could order whatever they wanted and pay for it themselves at the register. It’s a mommy Jedi mind-trick… and it worked like a charm.
So what did my picky eaters order?!
My son was all about the “make your own taco meal.” At 6, he loves to be as hands on as possible when it comes to his food. It’s a twisted mix of messy boy and mad scientist. He opted for two soft flour taco shells, cheese, steak and lettuce with a side of rice and beans. What goes better with this fiesta feast than apple juice? His choice, obviously. I’m happy to report that most of the tacos ended up in his mouth… the rest on his shirt and pants. Break out the Tide stain stick.
My daughter on the other hand, is just like her momma and all about the cheese… as in cheese quesadilla. If we’re being technical, quesadill-AS (plural)… she ate 2 of them. As well as a side of brown rice, black beans and fruit. Wild and crazy, I know.
Just so you’re aware, all of this went down as I was leisurely sipping my Patrón Margarita. WHAAAaaaat!? Chipotle serves alcohol and no one told me!? It’s ok.. now I know. In case you were wondering, my order of choice is the Sofritas (tofu braised with a combo of poblanos and chipotles) taco with corn salsa, lettuce, cheese and guacamole. Super fresh, super filling and still relatively bathing suit friendly- remember the awesome SWIMSUITS we talked about yesterday!? Good times.
When all was said and done, my little Mexican dinner adventure was a success. Two happy kids, one happy mom and no complaints. Actually, my little one asked if we could go back tomorrow… Maybe not tomorrow, but we’ll definitely be back again soon.
Picky eater challenge… you’ve been defeated.
What tricks or recommendations do you have to help deal with the picky eaters in your life?
Disclosure: Thank you to Chipotle for sponsoring this post. While I was generously provided with a restaurant gift card, all opinions shared are my own.
That in itself makes for a pretty boring anecdote, but the text was not a personal message reminding me to call my brother, or wish someone a happy birthday, or to see if my ever temperamental 4-year old had a good day (meh, she was so-so). It was simply a text with a brief description of my astrological sign, the Libra.
Here it is, in all of its glory:
Nice to everyone they meet. Their love is one of a kind. Silly, funny and sweet. Have own unique appeal. Most caring person you will ever meet! However, not the kind of person you want to mess with… you might end up crying. Libras can cause as much havoc as they prevent. Faithful friends to the end. Can hold a grudge for years. Libras are someone you want on your side. Usually great at sports and are extreme sports fanatics. Very creative. A hopeless romantic.
At first look, there were some qualities included that I think are fairly on point when it comes to describing my personality. I especially agree with the faithful friend and creative aspects. However, there are a few descriptors that slightly miss the mark: Holds grudges?! Great at sports- extreme sports, no less!? Obviously, whoever put this summary together doesn’t know me very well.
When I brought up my hesitation to my mom, she mentioned that perhaps it can be interpreted differently… for example, maybe I have been fortunate enough in my life to not have been “wronged,” thus, I haven’t had the need to hold a grudge. You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to.
Nevertheless, it got me thinking about the role astrology plays in shaping who we are. Is it all really encoded in some grand master plan devised by higher beings? Or is it just a self-fulfilling prophesy that we encourage and lean on in order to make sense of the world and our place in it?
Clearly, this post is a divergence from the usual materials here, but I just find this all so interesting! I’ve never really been an astrology/horoscope/psychic/crystal ball believer. Should I be?
What do YOU think?
P.S. So as not to stray too far from regular content, I recently found these really cool EAR CRAWLER EARRINGS and had to have them. Coincidentally, they are designed to look like a celestial star constellation. They look super cute on and make the most basic of outfits (see yesterday’s GREY T-SHIRT post!) look chic. While my pair is no longer available, I did manage to find a few other really fun celestial options:
I used to think so as I worked 12+ hr/days in a male-dominated industry and constantly juggled my career ambitions with my personal life and family. For all of the highpoints and successes, there were many tears cried and many special moments missed with my babes (kids AND husband included). I felt as though I was on this never ending hamster wheel where I needed to work so that I could afford my life and nanny, so that I could go to work in one of the most expensive and cutthroat cities in the world.
After many years of that financial industry nonsense and a fortuitous relocation to Cleveland, I essentially self-selected myself the f*ck OUT. But you know what? I missed it (p.s. I still DO sometimes!). I didn’t miss all that junk referenced above, I missed the feeling of accomplishment. Not to say that raising two children that are not sociopaths is not an accomplishment in itself, but I just felt like I needed more: more social interaction, more purpose, more challenge and most of all, more fun.
Enter, The Hearts Delight, LLC and the magical, mystical, rainbow and unicorn world of self-employment. The Holy “Work-Life Balance” Grail.
Ummmm… not exactly.
I wish I could say that working for myself has been a cakewalk, but I can’t. It’s damn hard! I am fortunate enough to make a reality out of what will only remain a dream for many, but I don’t want to sugar coat anything. Owning your own business is ridiculously hard. It requires a laser focus at all times to keep you on track and some major balls to take the risks necessary to stay there. Over the past few years, I’ve learned so much about what it takes to be a #girlboss and I’m only a tiny fraction of the way there. For those of you considering entering the world of self-employment, here are a few takeaways I think may come in handy.
1. Have a goal… and follow through!
A great idea is just that, only an idea. It’s crucial to take that simple idea, flesh it out and create a clear vision of the type of business you’d like to start and your action plan to get the ball rolling. Clear goals are necessary to keep your business focused and moving forward. Ever put together a business plan?! This is the time. Develop your target audience, know who they are, what they want and how you can reach them. That audience is going to keep you in business, so don’t skip this step!
2. Your admin skills should be on point.
As a business owner you are your own administrative assistant, legal team, accounting department and compliance. From the point of business inception, your record keeping should be meticulous enough that you could pull up any document at any time without hesitation. On a side note, the more organized your “back office” is, the more professional your “front office” looks to the rest of the world. Kind of a big deal. If you get this organization stuff mastered from the start, your life will be much easier as your business grows and gets more complex going forward. Trust me.
3. Keep your reality in check.
It’s hard as hell to not play the comparison game. Competition is important in business and I know we all want to be the best, but it’s important to not compare your beginning with someone else’s middle, or even end. They might have more clients, media attention, sales, etc. but you don’t know what went into getting them there. Everyone starts at the beginning and it’s not a bad place to be as long as you keep your reality in check. Developing small attainable goals is helpful- at least for me. Each quarter, I make a list of things that I want to see happen over the next three months. It’s a really great feeling to be able to check those off and visually see how far I’ve come, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
4. Be social.
Some days/weeks/months are definitely busier than others, but it’s always been important for me to network and stay social both in real life, as well as on social media. It’s amazing the connections you can make and the partnerships you can develop when you put yourself out there and interact with other people. One of the best lessons I learned from my time at Goldman Sachs is that while you may be very educated and informed, you don’t know everything about everything so it’s important to surround yourself with people who do. You gain credibility as a business owner when you can bring trusted experts (and their knowledge) into the picture. So moral of the story, put yourself out there and get social!
5. Know when to say no.
Women by nature tend to be “pleasers.” We go out of our way to meet the needs of others, sometimes at the expense of our own well-being and happiness. When running your own business there are countless things you could be doing more of in the hopes of growing the aforementioned business and your bottom line. You’ll be presented with opportunities both good and bad, but it’s up to you to decipher which category they fall in. PRIORITIZE!
I’ve learned over time that it’s necessary to say no sometimes… occasionally, “Aw, hell-to-the-no!” If that specific thing/request/project/event/job has nothing in it for you, does not strategically align with your vision and goals (see #1) and involves an investment of more time/energy than return, just say no. Limiting the tasks you take on allows you to focus your attention on things that are just more important- whether they’re other work related projects, or just personal time spent with friends and family.
Okay, so now you’ve heard all the dirty details. Still into the whole #girlboss thing?
While I focused on the challenges, I want you to know that there are also countless perks to working for yourself. Making your own hours, owning your brand, being involved in critical decisions every step of the way… There are no limits! Working from home in sweatpants is also encouraged… as is drinking on the job. What can I say?! My best work happens after a glass of wine!
Are you currently self-employed, or thinking about becoming self-employed? I’d love to hear your story and all about your experiences as a #girlboss!
You know I’m totally rocking out to the classic HEART song, Alone… it’s a goodie.
Obviously, my playlist jams are the not the sole purpose of this post. I wanted to dig into something that’s been on my mind lately, besides the Valentine’s Day shipment of FAT WITCH brownies that’s sitting in my kitchen- thanks, Mom.
Ever since I can remember, there has always been a negative stigma and connotation to the word, “alone” especially for women. Being alone meant that you were lonely, depressed and someone to feel sorry for. Chances are you had a few cats and an appropriately themed bedazzled sweatshirt for every major holiday. Tsk, tsk… how wrong we were/are. Over 11 years into a relationship, 9 years into a marriage and 6 years into being a parent, I now realize that I totally took alone for granted for a good chunk of my life.
While I definitely consider myself a people person and thrive on surrounding myself with my colleagues, friends and loved ones, it took a long time and some serious life experience to appreciate what alone really means. It means the freedom to be selfish, to be spontaneous, to be creative, to be lazy, to be thoughtful, to be introspective, to be YOU. Not to say that you’re not authentic now, but as a wife, mother, partner, daughter, friend, employee/employer how often do you get a chance to spend time solely focused on your own well-being?
Not very often, right?!
Well, I’m taking a stand. I’m committing 60 minutes each day to being alone. Whether that time is spent exercising, watching terrible reruns of House Hunters, playing dress-up in my closet, or just taking a luxuriously long shower, it doesn’t matter… whatever it is, it’s for my own sole (AND soul) benefit. We all know that ultimately, happiness comes from within and being alone is your time to nurture and grow that feeling.
Speaking of happiness, I’ve got a very important morning date with my coffee and Harper’s Bazaar to attend to…
As much as I’d hate to admit that this is the case, I’m married to a pretty smart guy who is not only a wealth of random American history (seriously, he CRUSHES any American history Jeopardy column), he’s also business-minded, goal-oriented and managerially inclined. What’s not to love?
Occasionally, this smart man of mine says something that resonates (see, I DO listen to you!). Most recently, he gave me some good advice when it comes to productivity… or as I like to call it, “Getting Sh*t Done.” Before I divulge his secret, let’s bring the conversation back a little.
Ok, where do we start? Ahh. Got it.
Twelve years of my career were in a high-stress financial environment, ruled by short term transactions, millisecond trade ticks and deadlines. Everything was urgent and everything needed immediate attention, especially when it came to servicing my Institutional clients. Kind of exciting and kind of debilitating at the same time. My days were ruled by numbers and generally there was order… until there wasn’t. I’m talking to YOU, epic financial crash of 2008! Anyway, given the nature of my job and the structured environment in which I spent my days, getting sh*t done was a necessity and just happened because if it didn’t, I would be out of a job.
Now, let’s flash forward to 2015. In the 3 years since I left that world behind, I created a creative outlet (why hello there, The Hearts Delight!) and new career for myself that allows me to live a (more) balanced, fulfilling life doing what I love. It also leaves me in a constant state of uncertainty about when and how I will manage to accomplish these lofty goals for myself and my business, while working from home and maintaining my responsibilities to my family and kids. Quite the conundrum.
Some days, I can fly through my “to-dos.” Others, not so much. The latter scenario was in effect this past weekend. I went into my office to work on some upcoming content for you all, and literally got sucked in. Three HOURS later, I emerged to a house full of chores and a neglected family. Ok, stay with me… this is where the productivity advice comes in. My husband pulled me aside later that morning and told me this:
When you’re working (for yourself or an employer), give yourself a hard deadline on everything you do. That time stamp will keep you on track and focused on completing your task. You’ll be surprised at how much more you can accomplish in the same period of time, when a deadline is involved.
Not groundbreaking… more like, “duh… I know that.” BUT, trust me when I tell you this. IT WORKS. Somehow, that made up deadline helps me to clear my mind (and web-browser) of all things that are stealing my precious time/attention and I can more easily complete projects in record time.
Anyway, I know this is a slight departure from the typical postings around here, but I thought if this little gem could work for me, perhaps it could work for YOU too.