Would You Rather

The privilege of remote learning.

My 8-year-old loves “Would You Rather” questions. At the beginning of the pandemic, he tossed this one to me: “Would you rather live in a tree house or an underground shelter – both options, you can’t see any people.” A few days ago he posited, “Would you rather be bitten by a venomous snake or bitten by an angry tiger?” And that basically sums up the back-to-school options this year. Would you rather send your kid to a slightly dystopian school, with masks and social distancing, where they could potentially get sick or bring sickness back to vulnerable members of your family OR keep everyone safe in a bubble at home, struggling through remote learning, sacrificing kids’ socialization, risking your financial security and mental sanity? Neither. I don’t want to be bitten by a venomous snake nor angry tiger. Administrators, teachers, and families have no good options. Like many parents, I have been lying awake at night, stressing about making the right choice for my family, but simply having the ability to make the choice of remote learning is privilege in action. So many people do not have this option, including both working parents and teachers.

My parents are both retired educators {a high school teacher turned college professor and a college professor turned administrator} and I, quite literally, grew up roaming the halls of the high school and campus grounds that I would later attend as a student. As a child, I chatted up the teachers, faculty, and the custodial staff – Zelda would always let me follow her along and help clap the chalk dust out of erasers. I watched my mom stay up late and wake up early, grading papers, preparing labs, and tutoring students. At times she worked 3 jobs. In college, I even majored in elementary education for a little bit. I’m sure everyone reading this knows and loves at least one teacher, but likely more. These people we love, who have left an inedible mark on our lives, who are helping raise our children, many of them do not have the choice to opt to teach remotely and they are being asked to shift their teaching process, yet again, and bear the weight of the range of consequences. I have seen and heard people saying the most disturbing things about teachers in the last few weeks: ‘They should just suck it up like essential workers.’ ‘My tax dollars pay for teachers and if they’re not doing in-person learning I should get a refund.’ ‘The percentage of people who get sick and die really isn’t that high.’ On the flip side, some teachers who are ready to get back to their classrooms are being told that they are ‘signing children’s death warrants’ and that they are putting their own children at risk and should have their children taken into protective custody. Snake or Tiger?

There is so much that scientists are still uncovering about Covid-19, so it is simply not humanly possible for administrators to develop plans that will keep the virus fully managed with large gatherings of people, with people who will likely only loosely follow guidelines. {Do you really expect kids to wear masks all day?} My entire professional industry – the event industry – has been grounded for this exact reason. There’s no safe way to have large gatherings. It kind of reminds me of sex-ed in the 90’s – the only safe sex is no sex. But in this circumstance we aren’t talking about unwanted pregnancy and STD’s, we are talking about a virus that has already killed 142,000 people in the US since March. When I started writing this piece 4 days ago this number was 4,000 fewer. Teachers, students, and their family members will get sick. People will die. It is a mathematical and scientific certainty, and it is already happening. The medical community is still learning about the long term health effects, even for asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic people. It’s not just the teachers, faculty, and staff who are being expected to take this risk, it is vulnerable families who don’t have the financial means or privilege to choose remote learning. Predominantly White mom’s groups online are feverishly creating remote learning co-ops, micro-schools, and pandemic pods, where private tutors are hired to teach small groups of kids, at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars {or more}, leaving the most vulnerable families in the dust. This situation will only prove to create a more drastic discrepancy between the haves and the have-nots. If it weren’t so predictable, it would be stunning to see this unfold on the heels of the awakened energy of White folks newly engaged in the Black Lives Matter movement just a couple of months ago. There is a deep divide forming, not just between the remote learning and in-person learning crowds, but along socio-economic lines as well.

While my family is not at the level of privilege to afford a private tutor to facilitate homeschool, I am acutely aware of the privilege we do hold in this situation. It is a privilege that we can afford for me to pump the breaks on my career {again, thanks to motherhood – but that’s a different matter!} so I can be engaged in remote learning with my Kindergartener and third grader. It is a privilege that my mom has moved in with us to navigate these times together. It is a privilege that my husband can work from home for the most part, so we can keep our little bubble tight. Beyond that, it is a privilege to have internet, access to multiple forms of technology, an overflowing bookshelf, enough space in our home to create a healthy learning environment, and resources to fill that environment with 2 little desks and plenty of colorful supplies. This is what I mean by privilege in action. Ultimately, Covid has proven to us, in so many ways, that as a society, we have failed each other. Utterly failed.

“The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

Hubert Humphrey

In previous moments of global crisis, our ancestors shifted their priorities. I’d wager a guess that “academic rigor” wasn’t part of the thought process when children were sent to safety during WWII. What about the trauma that our kids {and frankly us as adults} are living through? At my local school board meeting last week, over 30 minutes of public comments were played and the most commonly expressed concern was the demand for summer sports camps to open immediately and multiple emphatic statements of how people want to see their tax dollars at work. 3.5 hours were spent reviewing plans, when most questions were met with “we’re still working that out” because there are no good answers. Yes, these are complicated issues, but are we just going to plan on building the plane when it’s already in the air flying? What do we honestly expect our school districts to put together that will rise to the occasion? When Covid-19 cases inevitably spike and we are all forced back to remote learning, like we were in the spring, we will be left scrambling to try to successfully pivot. Instead of spending so much energy developing untenable plans for school, couldn’t we, especially those of us with privilege, be focusing some of this energy toward finding a way to make learning safe and accessible for everyone? Funding programs that provide parents with the resources they need and bolstering efforts to ensure at-risk children are safe at home and have their basic needs met? Schools are already underfunded and have trouble getting the supplies they need, so how are can we expect the most underserved to keep their charges and teachers safe under these circumstances?

Haven’t we asked enough of our vulnerable communities already? We ask them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, when they don’t even have boots in the first place. As I mentioned, a lot of schools are underfunded – hello, redlining and systemic racism. We have pushed vulnerable populations to the edges of society, left them hungry, and hurting, and when they lash out, we call them uncivilized. Now we are asking them to send their kids to school, regardless of whether or not they are comfortable with it, because they need to work and they don’t have the resources to even log into a Google Classroom remotely.

Haven’t we asked enough of our teachers already? We ask them to provide educational and emotional support for our children when we’re not there, even if it means they are waking up at 4am to work before their own children awake, after they’ve stayed up until midnight grading papers and answering parent emails. We ask them to physically protect their students, if faced with a threat. We expect them to literally take a bullet for our kids. We ask them to buy their own supplies. We ask them to take criticism and smile in the face of comments like ‘my tax dollars pay for you.’ We ask them to do all this with a salary that often requires a second job to supplement income.

Haven’t we asked enough of our children already? We ask them to hide under their desks and in closets for active shooter drills. We ask them to raise their standards, do more homework, participate in more activities, and burn the candle at both ends. Now our society is asking them to go into environments that would be deemed unsafe if it were an event or office building, just so companies can recover lost profits and maintain productivity. Just so politicians can present a false picture that we are “back to normal” so that it’s less obvious that they absolutely dropped the ball.

Shouldn’t we be asking more from our leaders? None of this is easy and the solution requires our government to take a proactive approach, and obviously that’s not happening. Addressing these issues is the only place to start, because pretending they don’t exist is not going to make them go away. Kind of like how pretending the virus doesn’t exist won’t make it go away. Or pretending that we’ve solved racism, and therefore it shouldn’t be talked about. Ignoring issues is not a solution, it only causes things like gangrene. So let’s not forget to consider the root cause of why are we are even in this inequitable situation in the first place and help our communities do better.

So would you rather… disregard your neighbor or live in a society that strives to support, protect, and uplift one another?

Organizations To Support:

Chicago: {resources for underserved communities}
My Block My Hood My City
I Grow Chicago
Ladies of Virtue

Suburbs: {homelessness and domestic violence}
Mutual Ground
Lazarus House

Across the Country:
Together Rising
Futures Without Violence

Bridging the Gap

*Trigger Warning: This piece references sexual assault and suicide.

I launched this blog on the eve of 2016. A sugary lifestyle blog about parenting, wedding planner work/life balance, and home renovations. My goal was never to depict a perfect life, but rather a sugared life – a life with a little sweetness. Within 2 months I was tackling issues like white privilege, racism, rape culture, and politics, you know, sugary stuff. I was unpacking things that I had hidden away about myself and writing about what I now know were PTSD triggers, in real time. The process helped me to trust myself and speak up when a boundary had been crossed or a hurtful or offensive thing had been said, and in doing so, I made people uncomfortable and burned bridges that can never be rebuilt. I stopped writing at the end of that year because I thought writing itself had made life painful. But here’s the thing, the pain was always there, simmering beneath the surface; writing just let it breathe and gave it a voice. And that’s how healing happens.

For years this blog has largely sat collecting dust and racking up page views and SEO ranking, thanks to a few popular posts on Pinterest, until I started giving it a facelift about 6 weeks ago. I almost started writing again under a fresh new website, because I thought I wanted separation from all the ups and downs of the last time I wrote, but, I decided that the journey that lives here in the archives is part of who I am. As we all navigate this historic time that we are living through, I want to write about how we show up in this moment and how we can bridge the gap toward each other. But first, I have to bridge the gap on this blog, before I can write about the shifting tectonic plates of our world. These are the things I think you need to know about me and the charged history of my writing…

I am a feeler; I feel things deeply and I am empathetic to my core. Which is probably why I am a fighter; a fighter and advocate for social and racial justice and I’m not afraid to use my voice. Using that voice explains why I am a talker; kids in school used to call me Loud Mouth Lauren and the moniker would still apply now, as I approach 40. And when I am tired of talking, I still use my voice because I am a writer. In fourth grade, I took the spelling words every week, the directive to use each word in a sentence, and stitched those sentences into a story about an old lady and a detective, performing a theatrical reading of my semester-long story for the class. Writing eventually grew into a form of catharsis, with cringey middle school poetry and high school papers where I processed painful experiences.

In 2004, my senior year of college, I had to do a “vision” project where we were instructed to dig deep about something we had overcome and represent it in the medium of our choice. I chose to write. My professor shut down my first idea and told me to go deeper, to dig into my soul. So I dug. And I wrote. And I cried. I read my piece to the class, with the lights turned out and just a candle in front of me so I could see the words on the page. I thought I could hide from the shame that I carried, but instead learned that even darkness can’t bury the shame that sexual assault survivors feel in their bones as they move throughout the world. I thought the silhouette of my now-husband in the back of the classroom would give me strength, but I couldn’t look at him. I didn’t write again for a very long time, because I didn’t want to feel the rawness that comes from writing, so I buried my trauma. I quickly built an entire world around that avoidance and instead of looking inward for my self-worth and my identity, I looked outward for approval and ultimately needed that approval like I needed air.

I lived like that for 12 years – got married, had kids, built a career – all while centering myself around whether or not people liked me. Over the years, the real me would peek through the protective shell and dip her toes into the waters of authenticity, only to pull back with the shock of the chill. And then the summer of 2016 hit, with all of the divisiveness and horrors that it held, the real me said, “enough with this bullshit!” and did a running cannon ball into truth. In a particularly heated conversation, I made people uncomfortable by challenging views regarding white privilege, women’s roles in politics, building a wall, and police violence toward the Black community. I stormed out of that conversation and onto a bathroom floor in silent sobs. I sat there, hugging my knees with the realization that I had been physically unable to stifle my voice for the sake of maintaining the privileged calm of our space. I wrote about the experience, then everything exploded and I found myself on a second bathroom floor. Without the approval of others, my sense of self had completely shattered and I felt like an empty husk of a person. I realized the world I had built didn’t have a foundation strong enough to support the full weight of my humanity. I took a lot of photos of my feet during that time, because I felt like I was floating and almost needed photographic evidence that my feet were firmly planted on the ground. I’d hit a fork in the road and there was no turning back, so I had to choose a new road: numb myself and attempt rebuild the protective shell OR risk losing everything. Ultimately, it wasn’t really a choice, because I knew that if tried to live a half-life of numbness, that it would eventually release a landslide of self-hatred that I likely wouldn’t survive.

I don’t mean that metaphorically. I sat on that bathroom floor with suicidal thoughts pin-balling around in my head and thinking about my friend who had died by suicide ten years earlier. She was vivacious and the epitome of the ideal popular girl of the early aughts and when she died, it was as though we’d all been knocked off the monkey bars, landing on our backs, gasping for air. It could happen to anyone – even the people you least expect, so could that be me someday? I wondered if my friend’s mental illness had collided with a similar feeling of despair. I can’t say what lead to her final moments of desperation, but in my bathroom floor moment, I knew that living a life, constantly shrinking myself on the inside, so I could show up in the world as a bubbly, likable, peace-keeper, would be soul crushing and could eventually lead me toward a similar path. My two small children, sleeping on the other side of the door, deserved better. I deserved better. Like the line from Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” The only choice was to peel myself off the floor, leave those thoughts on the ground, and face my gaping wounds directly, to live life as my full self – whoever that self was. In choosing myself, I had to chip away at the shiny, polished shell, in order to get to know my own soul. I had to let go of the relationships that made-up my quicksand foundation and grieve those losses. I dug up my old trauma, processed it, and found a psychologist who diagnosed me with PTSD, and we still have our weekly appointments.

It turns out, the chilly waters of authenticity aren’t cold at all, they are a hot spring in an icy world.

Looking back on it, maybe it’s on brand for me to relaunch now, in this, the most charged and volatile time that any of us have ever lived through. We must fight against our tendencies to lean away from discomfort, to take the path of least resistance, because it is only within the discomfort where we grow. That is why the most difficult conversations in life are the ones we most desperately need. Those conversations are how we become whole. So, that’s what you can expect from the next chapter of this blog: conversations that aren’t easy. I will not shy away from my experiences as a survivor, anti-racism work, parenting, politics, living with PTSD, the intersection of all of it, and the never-ending pursuit to find the sweet spots of life.


UNcurated: the evolution of a wedding planner

I wrote this love letter, of sorts, to my career, in the wake of the impact of COVID-19 on the event industry. With the realization that things will look very different on the other side of this crisis, I felt the need to grieve what has been a cornerstone of my identity. So I wrote. For now, I’ve decided to let this piece live on my wedding business website, Curate Plan Style.

Click Here to read UNcurated.

Me, playing dress up. Destined for a career in the wedding industry!

taking back control after 20 years: a survivor’s story of teen dating violence and sexual assault

Trigger Warning. The following contains descriptions of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 24 hour hotline: 800.656.HOPE

If you scroll through my Instagram feed, you might see me as a bubbly wedding planner with a big heart, an honest mother with charming kiddos, and a lucky gal whose husband is essentially a dashing, grown up Beaver Cleaver with a dry sense of humor. Picture perfect, right? But last month, I opened up to my social network about sexual assault trauma that I experienced when I was in high school. See what I did there, I was vague and referred to it as “sexual assault trauma” because I’m still not comfortable saying it directly. I was raped.

In my post, I intentionally simplified my assault story and implied that I was raped one time, by one person, however that is not the case. If you knew me when I was in high school, you might remember that I was “troubled” but you probably didn’t know why, because I didn’t really know why. I’ve touched on my personal experience in glancing statements before digging into broader issues within society.

Rape culture is masterful in the way survivors feel we must blame ourselves and stay silent, which is exactly the hospitable environment that allows those abuses to continue, so I feel like I must speak out. I am finally beginning to unburden myself of the shame that I’ve been carrying for 20 years and it feels a bit like an out of body experience, like I’m writing about someone else, but it happened to me when I was 17. I’ve spent much of my adult life attempting to craft layers of polish to hide the trauma, but the broken pieces are still alive underneath, like an old textured wall covered by wallpaper and several coats of paint.

So, here it is; all of my broken pieces for everyone to see.

In high school, I struggled to fit in. I don’t pretend that many teenagers don’t similarly struggle, but my crippling case of low self-esteem was often all-consuming. My sense of self began to hinge on the validation of having a boyfriend and what that boyfriend thought of me. I’ve been re-reading old diaries and poetry from my formative years and revisiting memories with a focused lens, instead of the blurred perspective I had at the time. Many of my early relationships were full of coercion and actions that minimized my self-worth. The boy who broke up with me and immediately began going out with my friend, after I told him I wasn’t ready for him to put his hands up my shirt. The boyfriend who regularly belittled me in front of friends for the sake of a joke or in an attempt to assert some kind of intellectual upper hand, all while physically pressuring me in private. The jealous boyfriend who viewed me as his property. And then there was the older boy who I thought really saw me, but in reality he only saw me as an opportunity.


After he pursued me, we dated for several weeks. I thought we were at the beginning of a long-term relationship, one where we would sit next to each other at family dinners, go for walks while holding hands, fall in love, and eventually my first time might be with him.

I remember the weirdest things about the weekend it happened. He took me to a place I had never been before, about 30 miles away from home and I only know this place now because of a distinctive architectural feature that is burned into my memory. I can’t tell you the exact date, but I remember getting gummy orange slices from a gas station and eating them in the car. I voluntarily went there with him and when it became clear that his expectation was that we take things further than we had before, I panicked. I was like a duck on the water – paddling frantically underneath while trying to remain calm on the surface. I think I was aware that this might have been his expectation all along, but ultimately, I was not ready to lose my virginity.

In that moment, I wasn’t sure what to do because I didn’t want to lose all of the promise I thought the future held. In that moment, I was worried about embarrassing him or being a disappointment. After all, my previous relationships taught me that my value as a person was contingent upon how a boyfriend saw me, so I stopped seeing myself. There’s a lot I don’t remember about those moments, but I remember shaking uncontrollably and the things I said in protest. I said, “But, I want my first time to be with someone who loves me and you don’t love me. You don’t love me.” I thought he would stop and say something like ‘we don’t have to if you’re not ready,’ or ‘let’s wait,’ but he said neither. I don’t remember how many times we went back and forth with this exchange or how it ultimately happened – it’s like I closed my eyes and detached from myself. I still shake now when I think about it.

Via Planned Parenthood

I often minimize the experience, telling myself that he probably didn’t know what he was doing, though the act of taking me far away suggests otherwise. According to RAINN {the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network}, force, as it relates to rape, is defined as not simply physical pressure, but also “emotional coercion, psychological force or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex.” RAINN also states that 7 out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, such as an intimate partner. Many survivors of sexual assault experience self-blame and denial as a coping mechanism and I still struggle to understand why I reacted the way I did.

I didn’t think sexual assault looked like this so it just didn’t occur to me. It didn’t occur to me that while I didn’t scream the word “NO,” I did not freely consent and his disregard of my protest fits the definition of date rape. I just knew I felt violated and uncomfortable, but I thought it was my fault for so many reasons. My fault for going to that place with him, consenting to other things, not leaving, not fighting and being confused. And when he wanted more, I obliged because I thought if I was congenial, we could still have that relationship I envisioned. If he became my boyfriend, then it would make it all okay and I could rewrite the story. Instead, the whispers began at school and a few people even called me a “slut” in the hallway and the girls locker room. And then he was gone. My fault.


In an effort to find stability a few months later, I got back together with an ex-boyfriend. The jealous one. He told me that he was the only one who could ever really understand me or love me, but that love was conditional, because he couldn’t be with me if I didn’t do with him what I had done with someone else. I owed him a debt. My fault. Even when he actually said that his goal was to physically hurt me so I wouldn’t forget ‘where he had been,’ it was my fault. When things turned violent he never hit me, so I convinced myself that it was okay, but it wasn’t love, it was ownership.

My memories of the abuse aren’t linear and we frequently broke up and got back together, so I don’t know in what order each assault took place or the events that lead to them. In fact, I can’t pinpoint if any of it started during the first part of our relationship, when I was 16. Once during English class, I laughed at another boy’s joke, so he scowled at me from across the room and after class, quietly walked me to an empty stairwell and shoved me against the beige cinderblock wall, before hissing that I was an embarrassment and a slut. Once we were fighting in my kitchen, during open campus lunch, and he tossed me to the floor near the breakfast nook. In another fight, he slammed me into a built-in spice cabinet with a tiny knob that sent a searing pain into my spine between my shoulders. Most of the assaults took place in my own house while my mom was at work. I would often go on “cleaning binges” and rearrange my bedroom furniture, as though I could clear the slate, and most nights I slept next to my mom to feel safe. She desperately tried to pull me back from the edge, but I was ashamed so I hid the abuse from my parents, community and friends. I internalized all of the horrible things he said. I was a whore, I was dumb, I wasn’t pretty and I was nothing without him. I stopped eating much and got so thin that my French teacher brought in a scale to weigh me before class each week. Toward the end of our relationship, he was simultaneously involved with another girl and would tell me the details of their intimate activity, saying that if I really loved him, I would try harder. I don’t think I ever would have voluntarily left him, despite months of heartache and utter degradation, so our relationship ended when he chose her.

I was absolutely shattered and legitimately thought I would never deserve anything more. So, I cried for help, in the form of a handful of Advil, and voluntarily walked into a mental health hospital, hoping for a reprieve. After feeling unsafe and un-helped, my mom got them to release me sometime after 10:00 PM a few days later. As we drove home, we listened to Cher and we talked about how things were going to get better. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety, but I never divulged the reality of any of the abuse in therapy.

With all of the therapy I received, NOT ONE professional ever explored my relationship history – I was just a broken girl with depression and low self-esteem, who was devastated by a breakup. I didn’t get the help I needed. 

Almost 1.5 million high school students experience relationship violence each year, yet only 33% report. That’s approximately 1 million victims of domestic violence who don’t say a word every year. Half of these young victims of both relationship violence and rape attempt suicide. Based on the statistics, I couldn’t have been the only one in my school: One in three teens reports knowing a peer who has been physically hurt by a partner, while 45% of teenage girls report knowing a peer who has been sexually assaulted.



In the next year, I firmly cut ties with my abuser, but still desperately looked for solace and stability in other relationships. I cut my hair in a pixie cut, phased off the anti-depressants and stopped going to therapy. I was still drowning in shame, so I threw myself into music, got active in a local youth group, and prepared to go to the Big Ten university in my hometown. What I needed was a fresh start.

It was on the floor of my freshman dorm room when I was 19, that I finally began to realize what had happened to me. I recounted my relationship experiences in rather intimate detail to my new best friend and roommate, when she explained that what I had experienced was date rape and assault. I thought she was crazy, but something about this acknowledgement changed everything and I started to find myself. When I was 21, I ran into the boy who raped me 30 miles from home four years earlier and he insisted on taking me out for ice cream to apologize. Ultimately, the fresh start of college wasn’t fresh enough, so just before my 22nd birthday I cut my hair again, cut ties with almost everyone who knew me in high school, changed my phone number and transferred to a school in Chicago. Less than a year after my move, I was sitting in the passenger seat next to my new boyfriend, who would later become my husband, when I received an unexpected phone call from my abuser. He had a singular purpose in getting in touch after five years – to extend an apology.

The uncanny thing is that they both said the exact same thing when they apologized. They each said “I’m sorry for everything I put you through.” I wonder how much they were actually apologizing for. Was the first vague “everything” only meant to cover the messy aftermath that left me isolated and labeled a slut; was the second for the thumbprint bruises on my arms and the humiliation? Looking back on the details of how it all unfolded, I wonder if they each targeted me because I was particularly vulnerable. Did either realize that what happened between us was not consensual, or did they both think that they just successfully “convinced” me. {Pro Tip: if you have to convince someone, that is not consent.} Did their apologies give them absolution or have they lived their lives with the same ghosts that have haunted me for two decades? Will either of them read this, recognizing themselves and be shocked at their impact on my life? *These are all rhetorical questions. Please don’t contact me. I don’t really need these answers. It’s okay.*


Soon after the final apology, I finally told both of my parents what I had experienced, I did a senior project about my trauma and then I packed it away. Three years after my move to Chicago, when I was 25, a friend/roommate suddenly passed away. In my grief, I physically felt that sharp pain between my shoulders from the spice cabinet knob, so I sought help. In those therapy sessions, we focused mostly on the grieving process but when I briefly addressed my relationship history, I felt ashamed, so I stopped going to therapy, neatly packed my trauma back into its vault and threw another few coats of paint and polish on top of it. I continued building my career, got married when I was 27, became a mother just before my 31st birthday and kept moving forward. Life happened, so now I am 37 and I’ve never really addressed my trauma with a therapist. In the last two and a half years, I’ve experienced panic attacks stemming from the onslaught of headlines about sexual assault and the embodiment of rape culture by public figures and political leaders.

Trauma changes the way your body responds to stress and certain triggers. Studies have found that cortisol levels were more elevated in survivors of rape, in comparison to survivors of other types of trauma. Other studies have shown that rape survivors experience higher rates of PTSD than combat veterans. Triggers for rape survivors are pervasive and the very nature of how society treats those who speak out is in stark contrast to the lack of accountability for perpetrators. My trauma fully came to the surface in 2016, though I didn’t appreciate how profoundly it was affecting me at the time. I unceremoniously decided that I was done living my life consumed by making other people comfortable to my own detriment.

For years, I ceded control of my life by hiding from my trauma and trying to fit into a mold of who I thought I should be. When I stopped pretending that I was a polished version of myself, it had a dramatic impact across all aspects of my life: I lost a few friends, but solidified other friendships and gained many new ones grounded in authenticity. I quit my job, but then I started a business and have never been happier and I’m doing some of my best work. Just a few weeks ago, I finally unfriended my abuser on Facebook, though I’m not sure why I accepted the friend request years ago in the first place. I’ve learned a lot about behaviors of survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence – we take both healthy and unhealthy steps to regain control in our lives.

Speaking openly and accepting my experience as a part of who I am, is the healthiest thing I’ve ever done and doing so in such a public way is just another step of taking back control.

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories.” – Anne Lamott

I don’t need to simply be an insta-ready version of myself so I’m learning to love the broken pieces too and I won’t allow them to define me. It now feels like there is a reckoning to be had and I believe if we shine a light on our experiences, then we can start to breakdown the system of silence that allows rape and abuse to continue. Even though I may not know you, thank you for helping me break the silence and take back control.



RAINN: 800.656.4673

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.799.7233

One Love: 10 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship {All 10 of these applied in my case}

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Teen Dating Abuse and Violence Stats

Pacific Standard: Lifelong Consequences of Rape {duplicate reference, because it’s that good}

Futures Without Violence {another duplicate reference}

CDC: Teen Dating Violence

don’t let the door hit ya, 2016!

Fresh start to the year with a fresh organizer! {similar}

Oh hey there – it’s been a while! We have officially said goodbye to the shit show known as 2016 and there’s A LOT to reflect on. So let’s reflect, shall we? This past year was a doozy.

It was this time time last year that I started this blog as a warm and fuzzy little project where I envisioned writing about our home renovations and lifestyle, under the umbrella of honesty and authenticity. I wanted to pull the veil back a bit from the ever-present idea of attaining perfection and boy, did I ever! A year later, I absolutely still think that there is a sweetness in embracing the imperfections of life and finding joy in the mess – maybe more than before. I also still enter each day with a heavy dose of sparkle, but this year changed me a bit. I felt a general heaviness or heightened awareness of things happening in the world, and I couldn’t push it aside in my personal life and that came through in my writing.

For better or worse, I opened up myself online and I got some criticism and a lot of questions about WTF I was thinking. Some people ultimately pushed away from me, but others pulled closer. I learned that it’s easier to play the “everything is AMAZING!” game, in an effort to fit in and not make any waves. Apparently, my subconscious had other ideas about the importance of not making waves. Funny, or actually not funny, that even in my mid-30’s, I’m still playing little games with myself to make sure people like me. If I learned anything throughout this last year, it’s that the status quo doesn’t work for me anymore. I decided to face {mostly} every messy, confusing and uncomfortable thing head on.

The events of 2016 became a flashpoint of connection that created new or more substantive friendships. It highlighted the importance of meaningful relationships and mended some old friendship fractures and strengthened already strong bonds. Because I was so open, casual friends reached out and shared their own experiences with me. Those connections have turned into some of my most treasured friendships: the neighbors I didn’t know very well, the friend from middle school whom I haven’t seen in two decades, colleagues and more people than I can count on two hands. Other close friends offered a different perspective on the things I wrote about, which broadened my outlook.

2016 also drew a line through some relationships; like a line through the middle of a shared bedroom with a sibling – your side/my side. You can still live in that same space, but you’re always aware of the division that creates a comfortable distance. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have lost friendships and relationships with family members, due to dormant issues that bubbled to the surface. Now that they are out in the open, those issues feel like a fundamental game changer. That is a difficult thing to process. Like a teenager, I definitely noticed when a few friends stopped “liking” my photos on FB or Instagram. It took a while, but I finally learned to stop second-guessing myself for just being… myself.

2016 hit my marriage too. There was a moment when I was really worried. That worry was straight out of one of our favorite writings that we have hanging up in our home. The Desiderata poem has been an important work for both of us since before we met, and somehow I completely missed a major point and how it was impacting our relationship.

“But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.” – Desiderata

The print of the Desiderata that we had made, emphasizing specific phrases, even though we love every single word of the piece. This is hanging in the most high traffic spot in our house, with the idea that we should be reminded of it every time we pass.

I was most certainly distressing myself with imaginings. It turns out that 2016’s effect on our marriage was to bring us even closer and show us our strength. For the 13+ years that we have been together, I thought I was somehow tricking my husband into thinking I was an unblemished version of myself. This summer, I learned that he knows me far better than I ever gave him credit for and even better than I knew myself in some cases. I had a few epiphanies and thought “WOAH. That makes total sense now!” but when I told him, expecting shock and awe, he responded with something like “Ummm… yeah? Duh. I’ve known that about you for years!” I married the right guy. I married my best friend. What excellent foresight I had 8 years ago!

None of this was my resolution for 2016. I can’t even tell you what my resolution was last year. But, I think it’s important to continue setting goals and checking in with ourselves as we make our way through each year. None of us know what challenges, successes, heartbreaks and joys 2017 will bring in each of our lives or in the world and we can’t control it. What we can control is how we respond to those things and how we choose to begin each day. For now, I’m going to continue down this road of authenticity and see where it takes me. I’ve cleaned my desk, and I have a few things up my sleeve that I’m ready to set into motion. If I see something I want to accomplish, change or be a part of, I’m going to get after it!

So, I guess this year didn’t change me so much as it provided a choice: stay safe and take the path of least resistance or not. I chose the latter and it was uncomfortable. Last year I dug deep, and analyzed lots of experiences and how they have influenced who I am. It was intense. It was lonely, but it had to be lonely because it was work I needed to do by myself. At times, I felt like I had a first class ticket aboard the Hot Mess Express, but I was reminded by a few amazing friends – old and new – that I wasn’t a mess. Life is messy.

Sending everyone a heavy dose of New Year sparkle.


an open letter re: my soul

Segrada Familia, Barcelona

Last week, I voted early and then posted a photo to Instagram and my personal Facebook professing support for my candidate. The next day, I received a private message calling my vote into question on religious grounds. I took a few days considering if I should reply at all, reading relevant information, crafting a response and seeking insight from a handful of friends who are more pious than I. 

“I was really surprised to see you voted for Hillary. I thought you were Christian…”

This message was from a friend of a friend with whom I had not spoken in about a decade. I was definitely a bit taken aback, but I’m always up for a healthy conversation about deep issues with anyone. I sincerely appreciate being challenged, especially considering that I’ve been known to challenge others. I have decided to write about this, not to call anyone out or dig in my heels, but because I value discussions that can help us all to more deeply consider our own points of view and those of others. 

The note continued, “I’m sure you have your reasons, however I wanted to share this with you. All the best. By the way, I don’t support Trump, and I don’t send this to you with ill intent.”

What followed was a 20 minute video of a Catholic priest delivering a homily to his congregation regarding the upcoming election. If you don’t want to sit through the sermon, here are the highlights that I took away:

  • While neither party fully aligns with the Catholic church’s stances, one party is an unacceptable option because of its pro-choice platform.
  • Throughout the video, I found several inaccuracies and misleading statements, not to mention a tone intended to instill fear and shame.
  • He felt compelled by his position to state to his congregation that a vote for a candidate who is pro-choice will put “your soul in grave danger.”
  • He compared abortion to capitol punishment and casualties of war.
  • He even drew similarities between abortion and issues like Affirmative Action and immigration. 
  • He stated that a vote for the Democratic Party would “jeopordize the well-being of your soul,” make you “unworthy of holy communion” and that “you will be a source of scandal for others.”
  • He asks his congregation for the same outrage toward the pro-choice stance as is shown toward priests who sexually assault children. 
  • Finally, he demands the support and “admiration” of his people for speaking on this issue, “rather than resistance and criticism.”

Frankly, this sermon is precisely the type of thing that has kept me from attending church outside of special occasions. That and sentiments fueling the firestorm surrounding Jen Hatmaker, a prominent Christian voice who is currently being skewered for speaking in support of the LGBTQ community, but that is an entirely different blog post.

My religious and spiritual beliefs have evolved since my days with Young Life and Campus Crusade for Christ. My great-grandfather was a Jewish man who married a Catholic woman. I am the granddaughter and daughter of Catholics and Protestants. I was baptized in the Methodist church and my children were baptized in the small Presbyterian church that has been home to generations of my husband’s family. In a college debate class I chose a pro-life stance and fiercely argued with my pro-choice counterpart. I am now unwaveringly pro-choice. I am still deeply spiritual, though I can’t claim any one denomination. My approach to religion is complicated at best. 

By the time I had finished watching the sermon, I felt as though it was sent to me out of concern for the “well-being of my soul,” but I was also a bit rattled. I stuffed down my feelings of offence and started viewing this as an opportunity for an honest discussion on opposing points of view. Thus, my open letter in response to the sender.


I hope you and your family are well.

While there are many reasons behind my vote, as a matter of math, either the Democrat or the Republican candidate will be elected. Though I was a single issue voter 10+ years ago, I am no longer a single issue voter and the unbelievably high stakes in this election have only reinforced that stance. My conscience won’t allow me to either directly or indirectly support Trump and I believe that anything other than a Democratic vote in this election is doing just that, aside from the fact that I am a Democrat.

“In a speech delivered at the Vatican just three days before the U.S. presidential election, Pope Francis urged social justice activists from around the world not to give into the politics of fear by building walls but instead work to build bridges.

“Because fear—as well as being a good deal for the merchants of arms and death—weakens and destabilizes us, destroys our psychological and spiritual defenses, numbs us to the suffering of others,” he said.”

American Magazine 

I have to say the sentiments in this sermon are not reflective of my relationship with God or that of many other Christians. In fact, it is my understanding that what this priest did is both strictly forbidden by the Catholic Church as well as illegal, as a tax-exempt religious entity.

“Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy said in a statement…

“It is contrary to Catholic teaching to state that voting for a Democrat or Republican automatically condemns the voter to hell,” the statement said. “The Catholic Church does not endorse specific candidates, use parish media or bulletins to favor candidates or parties or engage in partisan political activity of any kind.””


I encourage you to read the entirety of the Patheos piece I link to in the excerpt below. It is a thoughtful and well-researched article that addresses the points made by the priest in the specific sermon you shared.

“Using this homily, as imprecise as it is, for or against some political trend or candidate or party, knowing its flaws and understanding that more accurate teaching is available, seems insincere, an abuse of Priestly authority, and disrespectful of the Holy Mass.

In the end, Father’s homily lacks much that is easily accessed in other teachings on voting from a Catholic perspective and is not recommended for guidance.”


I appreciate that we all have our own views and values and I know that you meant no ill will expressing yours. In kind, I hope you will appreciate my confidence that my soul is not in grave danger because of my support of the Democratic Party or my vote. 

Wishing you nothing but the best,


not okay 

Fall is in full swing and I haven’t written a blog post since August. This summer was particularly intense for a lot of us, with the election and so many social issues catching fire. I have been in a season of serious soul searching and have mostly steered clear of my blog of late. But right now, I need to write and share about an important subject that has recently gained traction. I need to connect.

We all heard Donald Trump boasting about his fame affording him the ability to do whatever he wants with women and “grab them by the pussy” and I’m not sure many of us were shocked. Appalled, disgusted and angry, but not shocked. I’ve heard a number of people, including the offender himself, repeatedly say that these are “just words” and they have assigned it the charming label, “locker room talk.” As many of us know all too well, these are not just words.

We are talking about real actions of assault and violation. It was real for me when I was grabbed in the “pussy” by a famous baseball star.

{Using this word absolutely makes me cringe, but let’s be consistent with the language that triggered this discussion. As I’ve said before about other topics, getting uncomfortable with the things we discuss is the best way to change the status quo, so I guess that’s true of the vernacular within the discussion itself.}

I was a 22 year old waitress and college student. I had just moved to Chicago from my small town roots and was still finding my footing but thought a job at a sports bar in my well-lit, populated neighborhood was a safe bet. Like every other young woman I knew, I regularly secured my keys between my knuckles when I walked home alone – I thought that was the most likely time and place for an assault, so I was on my guard at all times.

I’ll never forget that night the Cubs clinched the division and the infamous slugger who thought it was okay to do whatever he wanted with my body, as I served him the drink he’d ordered. I shot him a horrified look and hit his hand away from between my legs. Without flinching or skipping a beat, he did it a second time, this time even more aggressively. I hit his hand again and bolted.

This is where the story gets even better. I went straight to the manager, a nice guy who always looked out for the waitresses and bartenders when customers got aggressive or inappropriate. How quaint and naive of me to think that he would be equally horrified and kick him out, because guys had been kicked out for much less in the past. But this wasn’t just any random guy. The manager said, “there isn’t anything I can do because he’s a celebrity.” And there you have it.

Men in power think they can get away with whatever they want because they CAN.

This power doesn’t just apply to famous men. Men can gain power over women in other ways. For instance: The college professor who regularly ogled me and touched me inappropriately while I was seated at my desk or handing in an assignment – but he was my teacher and elder. The former boyfriend who sexually assaulted me and left both physical and emotional bruises – but he was my boyfriend. Sure, I could have filed a complaint against the professor or broken up with the boyfriend much sooner, but I felt powerless and afraid. I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers or make the situation worse. The idea that women do not have agency over their own bodies is rape culture. Sometimes rape culture is actual rape and assault and other times it’s an unwelcome touch or demeaning language, whether in or outside of the presence of a woman. This culture leads to offenders like Brock Turner and those who justified his actions and lightened his sentence.

Rape culture goes further, with the overwhelming emphasis on making oneself desirable and sexy in the eyes of a man. There are entire magazines devoted to teaching young women and girls 27 ways to blow his mind and a step by step guide to make sure you successfully transform yourself to fit his idea of what you should look like, what you should wear, how you should act and who you should be, because only then will you have value. For your convenience, 45-51% of those magazines are ads for the products that will help you to achieve the goal of desirable vixen. It took me years to deprogram myself from that mentality. What’s more, because my husband never asked me to change anything about my appearance and never expected me to fit this mold that I had learned, I thought something must be wrong when we were first dating.

Watching this campaign has been difficult for many of us and has elicited a visceral response in me. That response has only grown more intense as the insults and “othering” have compounded, but it wasn’t until I read a piece about domestic abuse victims being triggered by Trump and his campaign, that it finally hit me: for months, this has been a trigger for me as well and I didn’t even realize it. I just thought I was going mildly crazy. Watching him has made me feel raw, vulnerable and absolutely terrified. It’s made me angry, it’s made me want to hide and it’s made me want to fight back. I’ve had panic attacks and one utter meltdown.

There was a 33% increase in calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline with domestic violence and sexual assault survivors being triggered by Trump during the second presidential debate and the onslaught of media coverage of the Access Hollywood tape. Liz Plank with Vox, posted an excellent video {highly recommend!} that went viral on social media last week. Plank concisely illustrates why Trump isn’t actually a bully, as he is often described, but that he has consistently exhibited many classic traits of an abuser, such as gaslighting, humiliation, deflection and making threats.

Writer, Kelly Oxford asked women to tweet her about their first assaults 10 days ago. She has since received millions of tweets from women, describing their experiences with sexual assault.

There is now widespread acknowledgment for this broadly defined culture of disrespect and abuse, that we have been taught to shrug off because it’s just the way things are. Women are voicing their outrage with the realization that it is not actually their fault. Men share in this outrage, but several men have associated their outrage with the chivalrous need to defend their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters. Rather, shouldn’t men be outraged, not for the sake of women but for the sake of human dignity? Not outrage on behalf of women, but also on behalf of men. Last night, my husband said that it is easy for a man to be outraged when thinking about this culture and its effect on his own loved ones, but the next step is to go beyond that personal scope and feel that same level of outrage when considering the impact of rape culture on society at large. Further still, to feel outrage for the boys who are taught these behaviors in the first place.

The resounding message from so many voices telling their stories, is that it is no longer our burden to carry this shame. Let the shame fall to those who perpetuate rape culture and those who deny dignity to women. It is not okay. We can and MUST do better.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault, please visit RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) for support.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.HOPE

get over it: anxiety

Flying: one of my biggest sources of anxiety. Panic attack level anxiety. I absolutely love to travel so I don’t let it keep me from flying!

More than 20 years ago, I was formally diagnosed with anxiety. When it got really bad in high school, I felt broken. I worked very hard to overcome it and I came out on the other side feeling like a stronger and much more complete person. That’s it, right? Buh-bye anxiety!!! Not so fast, honey.

A few months ago, I realized that I never really “got over it.” Struggling with anxiety is one of those things that once you start talking about, you quickly realize you’re in good company. That said, it doesn’t come up often and can be a bit of a taboo topic, but apparently I like writing about taboo topics, so why not!

I think anxiety is something you never really get over but that you learn coping mechanisms, whether or not you’re conscious that you’re doing it. My coping mechanisms have taken a hit since I became a mother, so my anxiety has been sneaking up on me a bit more than usual. Thanks to my two littles, I am waaaay too tired to stay up into the wee hours cleaning the house, organizing and reorganizing. Taking time for yoga has also fallen by the wayside. The internet says that getting enough sleep is important for keeping anxiety in check, so it’s probably safe to add that to my list! Combine these changes with some environmental stressors and you have a perfect recipe for your pot to boil over. Anxiety manifests itself differently for everyone and it’s a perfectly normal response to stress. However, for some people it can color even neutral experiences. Some days, I feel anxious about the normal things that everyone feels anxious about and other days, it doesn’t feel so normal. Each person has different anxiety triggers. For me, it seems to be connected to the ability to control my surroundings and being in environments where I feel comfortable enough to be myself.

My husband brought up a really interesting point the other day – I have built my career around what can be one of the most stressful times in life, but planning weddings isn’t an anxiety trigger for me. One would think that my nerves would be through the roof with the responsibilities of a wedding planner, but I’m cool, calm and collected. Now the stress over work/life balance is another thing entirely, but the actual wedding planning process is almost relaxing. I think that’s because it’s my job to plan, to organize, to control what can be controlled. {All the love, pretty things, creativity and the warm and fuzzies probably don’t hurt either!}

Writing this blog has been helpful, for a few reasons:

  1. The writing process, in and of itself, is therapeutic, especially when I write about things that feed my anxiety.
  2. Posting those writings in a public forum is a great way to connect with people who can relate or who appreciate my perspective, so there’s no longer room to feel alone with my thoughts. It gives me a voice when I feel my voice is lost.
  3. Writing publicly and putting it all out there keeps me accountable to myself. It keeps me from floating back to my old habit of trying to be someone else in an effort to fit in and be liked.
  4. Writing about things that I love helps me to focus on the fun adventures in life and give those things emphasis.

So, for anyone who has ever wondered why I write publicly about personal things and touchy subjects, in addition to the fun stuff, there you have it. Life isn’t all fluff and prettiness for anyone. Part of being real is acknowledging and learning from the less than pretty. When I started this blog, I set out to keep from falling into to the look-how-fab-my-life-is kind of trap. I wanted to be sure I was open and honest, so writing this post is important for me to stay authentic.

This video popped up in my newsfeed via Upworthy {if you don’t follow them you should!} as a repost from The Mighty. It’s excellent and totally with the minute and a half. {No sound needed.}

Even though I sometimes try to convince myself otherwise… Having anxiety doesn’t mean that I’m weak. It doesn’t mean that my voice isn’t valid. It doesn’t mean that I’m not capable. It doesn’t mean that I’m not good at my job. It doesn’t mean that I’m not driven and focused. It certainly doesn’t mean that I am not a happy and bubbly person. {Because I am super bubbly, sometimes maybe to a fault!} Having anxiety just means that sometimes there’s a lot going on in my head and it’s harder for me to turn the volume down.

Understanding my triggers is essential. I know that if I’m approaching a situation that I can’t control, like flying, I need to do certain things to help me manage and get on with my travels. In that same regard, I’ve learned that it’s imperative to surround myself with people who bring the positive vibes so that I don’t sink into my own insecurity and defensiveness – I mean, who wants to hang out with Debbie Downer!? I certainly don’t want to hang with that girl, let alone BE that girl. Positive vibes and support are key.

I know I’m not perfect and I’m okay with that, but I think I’m finally done trying to be perfect.


in defense of open shelving + styling tips



I’ve gotten a lot of questions and comments about our new open shelving in the kitchen. Many people have called us brave to replace a whole wall of cabinetry with a collective 17 feet of reclaimed wood. “What about all of the dusting?!?” “But you can’t just close the cabinet door and forget about it!”

We knew open shelving would work for us because I really really love hyper organized spaces – hyper organized in a livable and functional kind of way. There was very little that we were hiding behind cabinet doors, so the loss of the cabinetry hasn’t been an issue. It’s been about 6 weeks since we finished our 10 day impromptu kitchen makeover and the dust really hasn’t been an issue and I have some ideas as to why.


Issue: Keeping it Clean

  • Location, location, location: Our shelving is on an opposite wall from the stove so we don’t need to worry about grease splattering up from cooking. If we did, then we’d seriously need to reconsider our cooking technique.
  •  Filling up the space with items you use regularly and not having it be purely decorative is key. This avoids large swaths of open space that would act as big dust collecting areas. With daily use items like dishes and glasses, there just isn’t much space for the dust to settle.
  • Our glasses are turned face down, so no need to worry about rinsing before use.
  • We don’t worry about our plates getting dusty, because we’re continually using them and thus cleaning them, so it’s a non issue. The larger serving pieces that don’t get regular action, do need a quick wash or rinse before they’re used, but that’s something I would do regardless of where they’re stored so it’s not extra work.
  • We chose reclaimed wood, which I think was exactly the right choice from a dusting perspective. I treated the wood with a light sanding and two coats of polyurethane so it is easy to wipe down when needed, without snagging on splinters. On the flip side, it’s not a high gloss white shelf that would be a magnet for dust.


Some day the rest of this cabinetry will go, but some white paint and the open shelving has entirely changed the space! More details here.


Issue: Styling/Clutter Control

  • Before the cabinets came down and shelves went up, I took stock of all the items that I would rather hide behind a cabinet door. I was able to find a home for all of these bits and bobs in the cabinetry that we still have.
    • Plastic cups from baseball games and what-have-you.
    • Less than attractive kitchen items like a chopping device and super boring mixing bowls.
    • The collection of mismatched beer glasses from different breweries. Because if you’re drinking a Two Hearted, it needs to be in a Two Hearted glass, of course.
    • Kiddo plates and cups.
      • {ORGANIZING TIP! I moved these to drawers that the boys can easily access to help them with independence. Although little G, being a typical 18 month old, just loves to empty the drawers and randomly throw stuff back in, so they are typically a hot mess, despite my best efforts to keep them organized. Sometimes you just have to go with it, right?}
  • I was really excited to style these shelves, in large part because it created an opportunity to showcase the our dinnerware that I’m obsessed with along with some other special pieces like my Grandma Jayne’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, vintage cook books from my mom and Grandma Bunny and a French poster the hubs and I got on our trip to Paris.
    • {SIDE NOTE: Dinnerware obsession. I spotted the Vietri Incanto dinnerware at the Home Show event at the Merchandise Mart probably 11 years ago – i.e. well before the hubs and I were engaged. I grabbed a flyer and tucked away, then hunted down a boutique that had an online registry for the dinnerware when we got married several years later. They have some new items that I think I need to get my hands on!!}
  • When it came to styling the shelves, I started with those pieces that I knew I wanted to feature and spaced them out in a way that I thought was pretty but also functional. {i.e. no plates on the top shelf; where is it easiest to grab a glass? etc.}
  • From there, I added serving pieces and just placed them in a way that felt balanced and visually appealing. After that, there were some big areas that were still open, so I went into our storage closet and grabbed the box of stemless wine glasses and mason jars that I only used for entertaining. Now these forgotten pieces are all out and getting daily use.
  • It’s worth mentioning that I kept the color palate consistent across the shelves and spaced out the white, pops of color and glass so that it feels balanced.

Everyday items, serving pieces and a sentimental reminder of the little book sellers along The River Seine.


These are a few of my favorite things! Complete with cookbooks and a framed recipe from my grandmas.


I know I’m not crazy for wanting to add this design feature, because I’m certainly not the only one. Open shelving has been all over Pinterest, social media, blogs, magazines, etc. and for good reason. It really opens up the space and adds endless amounts of character because in styling your shelves, you can change it up while keeping your favorite items showcased. Don’t be deterred if you want to jump on board the open shelving train. It’s a fun ride!



friday faves: paint it gold


IMG_3075 (1).jpg
What a difference a little paint makes!

When we were building our addition and picking out hardware, our contractor said “brass is deader than disco.” BUT… I think brass and tones of gold can be wildly versitile as long as they’re done well. Picking the right shapes, tones and pieces is key to not having it come off dated. Gold and brass are having a moment.

It’s hard to find the right tone of gold and it’s all about preference. For me, I like it to have some warmth to it and to be a bit deeper and even skewing into the copper/rose gold family. The shape and style of different pieces makes a huge difference – again, this all comes down to preference. My preference is for pieces that have clean lines and geometric elements. I also love mid-century modern touches and I’ve been looking for the right kind of baroque mirror for one of our bathrooms. Reading all of those likes makes my home style sound a bit all over the place, but I think that’s the best kind of style. Style that includes elements from various areas and blends them all together, so the end result is something that feels true to you and makes you happy! I’m not a buy-a-matching-set kind of gal.

Sometimes you might find something that’s the right structure but the color is off. That’s where my new favorite thing comes into play. Gold spray paint! When I have that can of paint in my hands, look out. I mean really, in the last two months, this is what I’ve painted gold:


Fireplace Screen

Previously silver brackets for reclaimed wood shelving in mudroom.

Of course, also on this list of items I’ve painted gold of late are the brackets for the new open shelving in the kitchen.

Brackets used for the open shelving in the kitchen.

Completed kitchen shelving and brackets.

Like most of my projects, I didn’t want to make this spray paint thing too complicated, so I just popped over to the paint aisle at Lowe’s during a trip for something else and checked out their options. I grabbed two options, because they were the only shiny gold options on the shelf and did a test to see which I preferred.

The Contenders

Left: Rustoleum; Right: Valspar

Between these two options, I definitely prefer the depth and richness of the Valspar gold on the right. The outdoor light in the photo featuring the options in the grass, above, doesn’t accurately reflect the true look of the Valspar can. Thus…

Valspar Metallic Gold

I should mention, when you’re picking up the spray paint, you’ll want to grab some rubber gloves because it is a total pain in the ass to get this spray paint off your hands and when you’re spraying, it tends to blow back onto your hands. I was starting to get a bit of carpal tunnel from holding down the trigger on the spray paint, so I grabbed this little device, which helped a lot with that. It also helped with the amount of paint that got on my hands. It dries really quickly, so I would wait about an hour between coats and then after I installed the pieces, there was just a bit of touch up from scuffing. For most of the touch ups, I sprayed some paint into the cap of the can, then took one of Henry’s paint brushes from his art set. The paint brush was toast afterwards, so don’t do this with something you hope to wash and reuse.

All of that said, I still love the glint of silver tones of nickle and pewter, so you’ll find a lot of mixed metals throughout our home. Every room in our house has some tone of gray in paint or furniture, so it acts as the perfect backdrop to the warmth of the gold, blended with cooler silver metallic tones with the mixed metal vibe.

But… I think I might need to paint the starburst on this mirror next, even though the hubs doesn’t want me to. {I’d keep the center as-is and just paint the starbursts and the little rope frame around the mirror. Should I do it??} After all, the hubs also didn’t want me to paint the bookshelf or the fireplace screen and I think we can all agree that I was right!

Next up?




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