Staying Stylish in Suburbia

5 ways to stimulate creativity

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I wish I could say that my creativity was a rushing river that never slowed or became shallow. That would be a lie though. It's more like a ditch that fills up to the brim during a good rain and then dries out again with frequent short lived mud cracking droughts. During a dry spell I'm always gestating though, even if I'm not actively creating. As frustrating as these lapses in innovation can be I've come to recognize them as another part of my personal process. While some artist/writers advocate the method of continued work no matter what (keep writing or painting even if it's garbage until you get back on track.) I've always found that a break in activity gives me time to replenish, taking a step back to gain clarity and perspective. When my husband asks how a project is coming along and I tell him I'm gestating he knows exactly what I mean. I mean that I am quietly accumulating, growing, swelling until I am able push something inspired out into the world again. Allowing the storm clouds to gather so to speak.

American author, Jack London, said that, "You can't wait for creativity, you have to go after it with a club."I take a slightly less aggressive approach but the basic ideas is the same. Meaning that there are certain things I know I can do to help stimulate the creative process. Not everything works all the time but I've learned to switch it up and to be patient with myself.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to get things going. A creative rain dance if you will.

1. Daydream 

And yes, you do have time. One of my favorite writers, Ann Patchett, talks about getting out of school and landing a dead end restaurant job. But instead of giving up while wiping down tables she used the time to develop the characters and plot in her very first novel. I've had similar experiences at bad jobs where it was precisely because I felt so stifled that my creativity suddenly kicked in. I would take my notebook with me during lunch breaks and write my heart out.

2. Read, read, read...

Poetry, novels and especially memoirs seem to help me tremendously.

3. Sleep and pay attention to your dreams

I have been totally stalled in my writing or with an art project until I went to sleep and dreamt up the perfect solution. Keep a notebook beside your bed and listen to your subconscious.

4. Switch up your playlist 

Music is another great stimulant. Finding new music often triggers my imagination, inspiring me to create.

5. Get out of your comfort zone

This can be anything from eating at a new restaurant or taking a new class, to hiking somewhere different or traveling to another state, city or country. In other words take yourself out of your normal comfort zone. Get out of the house. Observe. Look at things from a different angles. And always bring your camera or your notebook along.

What about you? What helps you get back into the creative swing of things?

Photograph source

Full Moon Baby?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I just found out that it is going to be a full moon on Monday. I've always heard that there can be a  connection between the moon's phases and a woman's labor. 

Hospitals often make sure to have more staff available during the full moon because of the influx in patients, especially expecting mamas. One theory is that in the same way the moon's gravitational pull effects the ocean's tide, it can also effect a woman's amniotic fluid, causing her water to break even without strong contractions. That doesn't necessarily mean labor will be imminent, especially if there are no other signs that the woman is ready to move forward with the birth. A lot of women visit the hospital during the full moon believing they are in active labor only to be sent home again. Still, it's definitely something I'll be thinking about as Monday the 22nd rolls around. What do you think? Will we have a full moon baby???

Summer hair- The Heidi Braid

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I have long hair and one of my favorite go-to hairstyles in the summertime is the "Heidi Braid." It's easy to do, keeps you cool and looks good with pretty much anything.


I found this tutorial on HairStyleM. The basic idea is to part your hair down the middle. Braid both sides and wrap each braid around the crown of the head, fastening with bobby pins. So simple and cute!

The new nursery

Saturday, July 13, 2013

We are at the two week countdown for baby number two. She could surprise us any time now which is why I'm so relieved to be done with the nursery. It feels good to have at least one room in our new house finished. Well, almost finished except for a paint job which will have to come later.

I had a lot of fun putting this room together on a budget. I wanted to create a space that felt calming, minimalist and feminine without being too girlie-girl, generic or overdone. I also chose pieces that she could grow into so I won't have to replace everything again in a few years.

The finished space

I love this paper star mobile from the Starcraft shop. It's simple and sweet and has great movement to grab the baby's attention. 

The crib was a craigslist find. Nothing too fancy but I liked the simplicity of it. Plus, it came as set with the changing table and the price was right. 

I cried when I first saw this print from, Yellow Button Studio. (Blame it on the pregnancy hormones.) I just loved the message for a little girl. 

This ombre paint job my hubby did on this chest of drawers ties everything together and makes the room feel so special to me. 

This painting by artist Debbie Littledeer was a gift and inspired the color pallet of the room. The stuffed kitty was also a gift from good friends. They own a shop called Ox and Rabbit Soda and Sundries with amazing products. Check them out if your ever in Durham North Carolina. 

Nothing like a soft rug and a rocking chair by a window to cozy a space up.

The pom-poms and tasseled curtain both bring a bit of whimsy and fun to the room.

I painted this picture of fox and girl for Esmae when she was a baby. I almost got rid of it until I realized how well it worked for the new baby's space.

We spiced up this bland craigslist changing table by painting boxes to organize diapers, wipes, blankets etc...

Another painting by artist Debbie Littledeer, entitled Bears in the Blueberry Patch. So sweet.

I often sit in here now rocking and thinking about the little suckling bundle that will joining us soon. Who will she be? How will she fill this space with her own remarkable self? It won't be long now until I find out...

 A few of the separate pieces I used

Nursery Mood Board

Foodie Friday-Grilled Steak, squash & caprese salad

Friday, July 12, 2013

This Foodie Friday is a simple marinated steak with yellow squash and a fresh caprese salad. Doesn't get much more summery than that!

Caprese Recipe

  • Ripe Tomato
  • Mozzarella Ball
  • Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper


  • Slice tomato (not to thin)
  • Add salt and pepper to each slice
  • Slice Mozzarella
  • Stack tomato then cheese followed by a fresh basil leaf one after the other until desired amount
  • Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar 

Steak Marinade Recipe

2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or just red wine works too)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1tsp oregano
Fresh parsley chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Allow to marinade for as long as possible before grilling to your liking

Yellow Squash Directions

Slice squash length wise (not to thin)
Cover with olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Grill to your liking. Don't allow squash to burn or it may become bitter. 

Happy Birthday Love

Thursday, July 11, 2013

If I could I would fly you to San Diego tonight to eat good Mexican food at Casa de Pico. Then we would jet off to Texas for a Ray Wylie Hubbard concert. For your present I would give you a big beautiful cabin built on our property in North Carolina, a pet grizzly bear and THE REST OF YOUR LIFE OFF OF WORK!!!

Instead I made you your favorite blueberry cheesecake and Esmae is going to draw you a card.

Happy Birthday my love. I couldn't be happier that you were born. We love you to pieces!!!

Be Brave

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Allowing fearlessness to thrive while keeping our kids alive

Do you remember a time when you were fearless? Or maybe you had fears but they were so small that they didn't have the power to hold you back in any way. Whenever I think about that question I remember being somewhere around 11 years old. My family had just been given two horses to keep out in the field in front of our house. Needless to say I was thrilled. What little girl hasn't dreamt of having a horse, right!? The fantasy of riding through a meadow on a friendly steed (or mare as it were), hair streaming behind me like some mythical maiden. Magic! The only problem was that the horses we had been given weren't exactly well trained. One of them had never been ridden before and the other one was less than reliable. That wasn't going to stop me though. My sense of adventure and excitement overrode all other emotions or common sense. I didn't even wait for adult supervision. I had ridden ponies at summer camp before. How different could it be to ride a slightly larger less broken in version of the same? Never mind that we didn't even have a saddle or any reins. I made due with my jump rope, attaching it to either side of the halter and hoisting myself up to ride bare back.

In hindsight it sounds like a very foolish plan. But was it foolish or just plain brave?! If you think about it doesn't bravery usually contain a good dose innocence, ignorance or just plain stupidity. By that I mean that you have to allow for a little thoughtlessness in order to try something that if over-thought would be far too terrifying to attempt.

The crazy thing is that, that first ride I had by myself was FANTASTIC! Nothing went wrong and I had a blast living out my little girl dreams as we galloped around the field. It wasn't until later when I heard other people's reactions to what I had done and witnessed one of the horses bucking someone else off that my unwavering bravery began to wane.

Unfortunately that sense of self doubt only grew and by the time I was a teenager I was too intimidated  to ride alone and eventually quit riding all together. It was also around that time that I became too fearful to raise my hand in math class. There have been studies about this of course. Why so many girls in particular begin to loose their self confidence at a certain age. None of the boys in my pre-algebra class seemed ashamed to raise their hands and give a wrong answer. They weren't over thinking things whereas I had begun to do just that, especially having been told over and over again that math wasn't my thing. I can see now that the boys participation in class was just another form of foolish bravery. It gave them an edge in the learning process though. At least they were engaged whereas I had checked out.

Now as I watch my own daughter, who is so full of innocent spunk, attempting to do fool hearty things like swimming off into the deep end of the pool even though she doesn't know how to swim. I find myself both terrified and in awe of her bravery. The kid has no fear and it's my job to keep her from harm while allowing her to retain that fierce little spirit. My husband and I talk about that a lot. The balance between protecting her without holding her back. I don't want to be one of those "American Idol" parents that fills my child up with false hope about a talent that doesn't exist. That only sets her up for another form of heart ache. On the other hand I don't want to ever give her an excuse to give up on something just because it might be hard or scary at first. Some kids are born timid but she wasn't and I see that as a gift. Keeping that courageous confidence alive is so important even if it leads to recklessness from time to time. If fear is the thief of dreams then my hope for my daughter is that she will continue to laugh in the face of self doubt, running towards the deep waters with wild abandon.

What do you think? How can we as parents strike that balance between allowing the spirit of bold bravery to thrive while also keeping our kids practical and alive???

DIY Ombre Chest of Drawers for the Nursery

Monday, July 8, 2013

We've been painting a lot of furniture lately. We did a little yellow nightstand for Esmae's "big girl room" and most recently tackled an ombre chest of drawers for the baby's new nursery.

Here were the steps we took...

  • First we sanded, primed and painted everything but the drawers in white.
  • Next it was off to the paint store to find the right colors. I knew that I wanted to hang a certain piece of artwork above the chest so I looked for colors in that same spectrum. 
  • There were five drawers to the chest so I choose five different paint colors light to dark using paint sample cards. 
  • We bought sample sizes of all five colors for 3 dollars each. 
  • Then we began painting starting with the lightest color on the top and working our way down to the darkest color on the bottom drawer. The lightest ones needed only two coats of paint while the darker drawers took about four.  
  • Lastly we added the knobs which we decided to keep a light wood to go with other components in the room.

Here's how it turned out...

What do you think? All in all it was a bit time consuming but totally worth it in my opinion.

P.S. More pictures of the nursery to come soon...

Currently Coveting Rain Boots

Friday, July 5, 2013

It's been such a rainy summer and I get stir-crazy after being pent up in the house for too long. I've been lusting after these rain boots lately. Fun and practical they make stomping through the  mud seem like a stylish affair. Plus they'll last forever so it's not a bad investment. Hard to choose which ones to go with though. Which pair is your favorite?

Currently Coveting Rain Boots

Happy 4th of July!!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

How are you spending your 4th of July???
I think we might take a dip in the pool, grill out and then hopefully catch a glimpse of some fireworks later on. Sounds like a lovely way to spend the holiday to me. Stay safe everyone! 

Source: Pinterest

Online Grocery shopping + What the World Eats

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I love to cook but motherhood can make the weekly trek to the grocery store a dreaded affair. Not to mention the added pain of pregnancy. Waddling around the isles trying to check off my list while entertaining a two year old who could meltdown at any given moment. Not so relaxing. But I just discovered the BEST thing EVER!!! Okay y'all might not be quite as psyched about this as I was but did you know that you can order your groceries online? Of course you did. Even I knew that. What I didn't realize was how affordable it was. You can order online, drive to the store, pull up to the loading area, give them your name and be loaded up for only...FIVE dollars extra!!! What!? Oh and they save your list so if you always buy bananas, milk and bread for example you don't have to re-enter it every time. Brilliant!

I told my neighbor about this. She has three kids one of which is only three months old so she could relate. I asked her how much she thought it would cost to do the online grocery shopping thing. Her guess was fifty dollars. Not even close to the real deal. That's why I had to spread the word. Whether you an overwhelmed mom, preggers, sick, handicap, elderly or simply too busy to be bothered with the task, it's definitely worth looking into.

In keeping with the grocery theme I came across this series in TIME PHOTOS called "What the World Eats" from "The Lonely Planet." It highlights families from around the world, taking pictures of their weekly groceries and explaining how much they spend per week along with their favorite foods. Fascinating, right!?

United States

The Revis Family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for the week: 348.98
Favorite Foods: spaghetti, potatoes, sesame chicken


The Manzo Family from Sicily
Food expenditure for the week 214.36 Euros or 260.11 dollars.
Favorite Foods: Fish, Pasta with Ragu, hot dogs, frozen fish sticks


The Aboubaker family at Breidjing Camp
 Food expenditure for the week: 685 CFA Francs or 1.23 dollars
Favorite Foods: Soup with fresh sheep meat


The Casales Family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for the week: 1862.79 pesos or 189.09 dollars
Favorite Foods: pizza, crab, pasta, chicken


The Ahmed Family of Cairo
Food expenditure for the week: 387.85 Egyptian pound or 68.53 dollars
Favorite Foods: okra and mutton


The Ayme Family of Tingo
Food expenditure for the week: 31.55 dollars
 Favorite Foods: Potato soup with cabbage


The Melander Family from Bargteheide
Food expenditure for the week 375.39 Euros or 500.07 dollars
Favorite Foods: Fried potatoes with onions, bacon and herring, fried noodles with eggs and cheese, pizza, vanilla pudding

baby collage birth announcements

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How can it be that there is only one month or less left before we meet the newest member of the fam!? We've been so busy these past six months that the time has truly flown by. That being said, third trimester is no joke. I'm ready to have my body back and meet this little one already.

With that in mind my posts might tend towards the baby centric these days. Like these birth announcements I found recently. I really like the idea of incorporating the baby into a collage of sorts. It gives it an original and lovely spin, don't ya think?!