Two Books To Help Me With My Independent (almost) Two-Year Old

Scores and scores of moms, and parents in general, are overcome with stress.  Although at times we can see humor in stressful times, insight and occasionally find a practical solution to our stress, there’s still that serene lifestyle that is out of reach.  Yes, when you have adult responsibilities such as a career, children, running a household,  and financial commitments, stress is just part of the everyday norm.

If I’m being 100% honest with myself and totally transparent, my source of stress right now is my almost two-year old and the worries that most other parents face.  Most days, Gia is my little shadow – she’s eager to please me, mimics everything I do and is an overall very happy and well-mannered child.  Like any toddler, she has her moments and now those moments come around a little bit more often as she is tasting what it’s like to be an independent big girl.

The last week or two has brought about new behaviors that are usually directed towards me, mommy.  After all, I am with her everyday, all day, so it’s only natural that she would show defiance and resistance to me more than daddy or grandparents.  We all want to raise respectful, well-behaved kids who make good choices, but it’s not so easy at this age.

About two weeks ago when I took Gia to use the potty she was adamant about not going (because she was very busy playing) but it had been far too long without her taking a potty break.  Most of the time if she says “no” to going potty, I honor her request but keep a very close eye on her because she usually refuses to go only to exert her power.  This particular time I wasn’t going to bend because we were out in public and business needed to be handled before getting in the car.  The short of it is that she smacked me right on the head because she didn’t want to go.  This was a brand new behavior that was kind of shocking to me.  I’m sure she’s seen other kids do this at our gym daycare, but I was still emotionally hurt by it.

This week, after an activity packed visit to San Diego to see her cousins, Gia has had more frequent outbursts that are quite obviously the “terrible twos.”  I’ve always kind of hated that term, but it’s now truly starting to rear it’s ugly head just a couple weeks before her second birthday.

Learning to discipline such young child who is obviously very bright can be confusing and frustrating, to say the least.  There are so many methods of discipline and ways to parent, and everyone who has their opinions about it.  Craig and I are approaching this new phase of toddlerhood with as much patience as possible and with open minds.

I think that the hardest part about all of this for me is that I expect so much of Gia.  I don’t expect perfection by any means, because I expect that of no one.  It’s just difficult to remind myself that she still is quite young.  Just because she’s grasped so many things at such a young age makes me forget that she’s still not quite two years old.  Her mind is still developing and the concept of discipline is hard at this age.  I mean, really, what kid her age will sit in time-out, even if just for one minute?!  (If your kid does this, my hat is off to you and you can message me immediately about how you make that happen!)

What I’m getting at is that these little humans are evolving every single day and sometimes that means the days feel a little bit longer.  I like to share these normal hiccups and challenges because as parents we ALL go through it but don’t always share about it.  Sometimes it’s just nice to commiserate, simply to know that you aren’t alone!

As a result of our opinionated and independent girl developing new habits, we are slowing down and taking the time to explain things at her level.  She has such empathy for her age and knows when people are hurt or even if feelings are hurt.  If she hears me say to another adult that I was upset she immediately tells me, “Mommy, don’t worry.”  The fact that she tells me this means we’re doing something very right.

We are just continuing to plow through and prepare her for life the best way we know how.  We’ll continue to make mistakes along the way, but we’re all just winging it anyway!

In case any of you are going through this phase of toddlerhood, I’d like to share two books that I just ordered through Amazon to help me out:  “Hands Are Not For Hitting” and “Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.”

I know that people laugh about these kinds of books because they weren’t accessible to parents of earlier generations and their kids “turned out fine.”  While that may be true, just because there’s new knowledge and support in the world doesn’t mean it’s bad or that we can’t be open to it.

Happy Friday my friends!

xo

More Than A Wannabe

Everyone is a blogger these days. Whether you’re a journalism student hunting for a platform (I was one!), a makeup lover with on fleek contouring skills, or just a “normal” person like me who enjoys posting about your real life, anyone can be a blogger.

Ask any truly successful blogger or influencer and I’m sure they’ll tell you the struggle is real. Not everyone has ideas for blog posts just flooding their brains, let alone coming up with enticing blog post titles to catch the attention of a follower. Hell, this rings true for me and I just do this stuff for myself, not a big audience. I guess it’s kind of like my journal and I’m hoping I grow by sharing it with others, whether they care about the content or not.

Even though I’m just a sometimes blogger whose following is mostly family that I’ve bribed into reading along, part of me still would love to somehow make this hobby a job.

Yeah, I’m not organized like these Instagram influencers and fashion bloggers who post daily, but I’m passionate about trying to show others that we are all more alike than we may know. I might not have the photoshop skills for this, let alone a fancy camera…..hello iPhone! But, I’ve got gusto and I think I’m a decent storyteller, writer and I’m a realist. (Did I just compliment myself? Go me!)

At the beginning of this blogging rendezvous there may have been a time or two where I’ve wondered why I’m not famous and getting freebies in the mail. I’m sure I’ve also pissed people off, or at the very least, annoyed people with things I’ve written. I’ve gotta share posts to put myself out there, so my skin has gotten thicker.

I’ve thought about trying to add more glamour to my everyday life, but again, let’s keep it real. Most days are spent bare-faced with day 3 (or was it 4) hair and chasing my firecracker toddler. I’m no Julia Engel, Rachel Parcell, or LaTisha Springer – not even close when it comes to the blogging world. (Ladies, go follow them!)

What I do have that these other bloggers don’t have is an innate drive to share real life moments (good and bad), to try and not be so filtered, and to write thoughtful posts that allow me to remain totally true to myself.

I may never have a following and I definitely don’t have the aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed that these other bloggers do. I may always struggle with the tone of my blog, for fear of others thinking I’m an over-emotional wacko. My main reasons for writing and sharing the things I do is to sort my own thoughts out, to learn from my own mistakes, and to share my limited, yet still valuable life experience as a young mom.

I feel funny saying, “I’m a blogger,” but isn’t that what I am? I have this blogging platform that I contribute to on an almost regular basis, so I’m no wannabe. I’m going to own it from here on out, whether I get sent goodies from companies or not. I’m having a good time doing what I’m doing. That’s what this whole thing should be about anyway!

Putting my thoughts and opinions out there has been hard at times, but it’s teaching me to continue to focus on what’s important in my own life. Plus, challenging myself mentally like this is good for my emotional health!

Go ahead and put yourself out there! Own your truth, whatever it may be. Things might feel uncomfortable, but the growing you’ll do afterwards is so worth it.

Xo

Not So Frequent Flyer

For those of you who follow my Instagram account, @mrsbennigson, you already know that Gia and I took off for a weekend adventure.

For the last few weeks I’ve been wanting to head to Newport Beach to visit my brother. We don’t get to see him all the time and in turn, he doesn’t get to see Gia on the regular. We do what we can with technology and FaceTime, but the real deal is always our first choice.

Initially this trip was just going to be my mom coming down to visit Zach – I always have her for Mother’s Day, so Zach was long over due to have some mom time with her. I thought this would also be a good chance to visit Zach with Gia before baby #2 gets here, because Lord knows that we won’t be hopping on a plane with a toddler and newborn right away.

First of all, my hat is off to parents who regularly travel by air with their little ones. Flying can be stressful with or without kids – delays and being surrounded by loads of people means we aren’t really in full control.

Now, I know a flight from Oakland to Orange County is nothing compared to a transcontinental or international flight, but we had to start somewhere! Thankfully our flight was just over an hour and I armed myself to the teeth to make sure Gia and I would be prepared.

I have to say, we had it pretty easy when it came to luggage and necessities. My mom opted to drive down a day ahead of us because that’s just how it worked out. Luckily enough, I sent the stroller, car seat and our luggage with her. Yes to semi-free hands in the airport! All I needed to concern myself with was the little umbrella stroller and backpack with extra undies, snacks and books for Gia.

I think my biggest worry was the whole potty situation and not being able to get up on the plane during takeoff and landing. Fortunately, Gia was awesome about using the potty exactly when I needed her to.

I tried to think ahead and reserved our seat close to the lavatory. (My pregnant brain/mom brain didn’t fail me with that idea!) Once we boarded the plane Gia just hung on to me so she could snuggle, which is a rarity these days. Right after takeoff she dozed off and later woke before our decent. I offered her some crackers and we took a potty break before getting ready to land. Success!

Once we deplaned we were promptly greeted by my mom, or Gagi (gah-ghee), as Gia likes to call her. Needless to say, I was so proud of Gia while she was at the airport and on the plane. I think she must have been proud of herself too.

Anytime we try something new and unfamiliar it has the potential to be a little nerve wracking. I knew we would ultimately do fine on our first flight (and without daddy), but we all want things to go smoothly, especially with tots in tow.

As I’ve said on my blog many times before, just go for it. Don’t let your nerves or fears stop you from anything! Take the flight, apply for that dream job, go on the date, follow your curiosity wherever it takes you. Once you do it you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll wonder what your hang up was in the first place.

Maybe I’m a little preemptive in this post, as my flight home isn’t until Monday, but in the spirit of positivity, I’m sure we will do just fine on the way home too. I realize not all flying experiences go as planned, so I’m sure I’ll have more travel stories to share in the future – good and bad!

Happy travels and wishing all of the moms out there a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

Xo

In The Loupe

For you non-jewelry folks out there – no, I didn’t spell loupe wrong. The title of this post is my attempt to show that I can be clever! I know, I’ve got some major room for improvement in that department. At least I tried! 🙂

With Thanksgiving only two days away, Christmas around the corner and countless holiday parties on the horizon, I wanted to talk about how to care for some of our most cherished possessions. After all, us ladies will likely be sporting our diamonds, pearls, colored stones and gold to some of these upcoming gatherings.

Like I said, jewelry can be one of our most intimate and cherished accessories. Understanding how to care for and protect our treasured jewelry can make a world of a difference in maintaining its beauty, while keeping it dazzling for generations to come.

First, let me tell you why I’m not just a random woman pretending to know what I’m talking about. My love for diamonds, colored stones and pearls really became apparent to me during my time working at Tiffany & Co. During the time I worked for the company known for its famed blue box, I wanted to become a Gemologist (I still want to, but have put it on hold to be a stay at home mommy). I took courses with the Gemological Institute Of America to get the ball rolling on a process that can be quite lengthy. Although I have yet to become a Gemologist, I did receive my certificate in diamond grading and can call myself a GD, or Graduate of Diamonds.

This picture shows me in action when I was with T & Co., and yes, I got the sale:

Why do you even care? Well, I have gained the skills to grade the color, clarity, and cut of diamonds. I’ve learned to determine proportions and estimate diamond weight. I have also studied diamond treatments, synthetics, and simulants, and understand the effect of fluorescence on diamond body color.

Mind you, I haven’t actively done this since my daughter, Gia, was born, so I have some brushing up to do. Looking at diamonds and knowing what to look for is a practiced skill that requires the right equipment too. Even though I don’t get to work with diamonds everyday as of now, I am still constantly reading and learning more on my own with the materials I have been given from the G.I.A. (It’s a complete coincidence that my daughter is named Gia, by the way.)

Anyway, I digress. Now let’s get back to caring for our jewelry.

Be careful around light and heat with your jewelry. Light and heat can affect a colored gemstone’s color and durability. Over time and in excess, some colored stones can fade and their durability can be compromised.

Pearls, which are very delicate, can bleach if exposed to extreme light. When heat is excessive or if there are sudden extreme temperature changes, some gems can actually fracture.

Look at these gorgeous aquamarine earrings:

This next tip is kind of a no-brainer….keep your jewelry away from chemicals! Chemicals can damage and discolor your precious metals, like gold, silver and platinum. Chemicals can even damage some gemstones.

Even everyday items like hairspray, perfume and lotions can permanently damage the surface of your pearls or other porous stones, like turquoise. As a rule of thumb, you should always remove your jewelry before washing dishes, jumping into a chlorinated pool, spritzing with perfume and setting that hairstyle with spray. It can be tough for some to break these habits, but I’d much rather take the extra time to make sure my jewelry is safe from damage.

Use ultrasonic cleaners with caution! Not many people have these machines in their home, as they are a bit of a luxury to have. Your local jeweler will probably have more than one though. Not all gems and jewelry can safely be cleaned in an ultrasonic. Organic gems such as pearls, coral, ivory and amber absolutely CANNOT be cleaned in an ultrasonic.

The vibration generated by the machine can also shake loose your stones if they aren’t mounted properly. Ultrasonic machines are great for your tarnished silver pieces. It’s best to let a professional decide what can and cannot be cleaned by using this method.

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so let’s make sure we always show them the love they deserve. I hate when I see people handling their diamonds the wrong way. What I mean by the wrong way is that they are touching the stone itself, instead of holding the band that the stone may be mounted on.

Diamonds attract the oil that’s naturally occurring on our hands and fingers. If you touch the diamond, the oil from your fingers will make dirt and dust adhere to it, dulling the fire and brilliance. Minimal handling of the diamond will keep it sparkling much longer.

Ultra classic round brilliant:

The key to a diamond’s sparkle lies in its facets – which work like a series of many tiny mirrors reflecting light in and out of the stone. Regularly cleaning the facets will keep your diamond sparkling and your diamond jewelry in gleaming condition, ready to shine for your next special occasion.

Pictured below is a gorgeous 2.69ct pear shape, D color and internally flawless. (I sold this ring a few years ago – It commanded a $155k price tag.):

If you have additional questions about how to care for your jewelry, feel free to comment or shoot me a message! I’m happy to help!

May your holiday season be bright and merry, just like your jewels!

Mommy Has An Owie 

Two days ago Craig and I loaded up Gia’s beautiful round crib and glider to bring over to the new house. These were the last “big” items that we needed to get in the house before we could officially start living there. 

As beautiful as Gia’s crib is, it’s a pain in the neck because it doesn’t breakdown at all. Almost every normal size doorway does not allow it to pass through, which spells out problems. We had to remove a small piece of wood from the doorway to get it into her new room, just as we had to do at the old house when we first got the crib. 

With the glider and crib being the final big pieces to move in, we decided to start off with the easier of the two and get the glider in first.  Craig was holding one end and I had the other – he was going into the house backwards with it so I didn’t have to. Once we got from the bottom of the driveway up to the walkway things went south. 

While holding the glider and not seeing where the walkway curved, I rolled my ankle off the walkway and into the grass. I immediately screamed out and collapsed to the ground. I’d like to think I’m pretty tough and tolerant of pain – after all, I made it through all natural childbirth of an 8lb. 15oz. baby in 30 minutes. (Yes, I’m proud of that!) Even though I’m tough, the loud snap that Craig and I heard confirmed in my mind, along with the pain, that I definitely had a broken ankle. Even the neighbors came running down the street to see if I was okay. 

Picture of me smiling through the pain:


Low and behold, after a trip to the ER, the doctor came in to give me the bad news. Yep. Broken. The absolute worst part about all of this is being completely useless with Gia. I’m pretty much bed ridden all day because I need to keep my ankle elevated. Anytime I get up I feel like my ankle is about to explode.  Things could have been worse though, so I’m thankful. 

Dr. G is taking good care of me:


I head back to the doctor on Tuesday for the real cast. The one I have is temporary because the swelling needs to go down and the doctor needs to make sure everything is aligned properly. 

I’m not sure how long I’ll be in a cast, or how long I’ll be using crutches. The other upsetting part about all of this is no working out. You never appreciate your health and mobility more than when you’re out for the count. 

Speaking of health – I found out that the blood I donated a few weeks ago went to use at a hospital in West Covina, CA. It’s pretty cool that I was able to find out where it went and that it helped someone in need. That’s just another reminder as to why this broken ankle is just a bump in the road. Life is still good!

Happiness Is Your Hometown

So, we’ve done it.  We’ve done the thing we always swore we would never do.  Yes, we consciously decided to live in the town that we grew up in to raise Gia.  In high school I remember silently vowing to myself that I would never move back to sleepy little Benicia.  Look at us now – we’ve sold our first home here and are in contract with our next.  Go figure.


Picture of downtown Benicia:

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When I was a teenager, specifically during my high school years I didn’t dislike my hometown, but I also didn’t have a lot of love for it either.  I was often bored because most of my friends lived over the bridge.  (I went to an all girls, Catholic high school.)  Actually, I should retract that – I wasn’t bored.  My time was always filled with softball practice after school, homework and late night hitting + catching lessons that sometimes took me as far as San Jose.

In my early 20s, after graduating college, I moved back in with my parents for a little while, which meant the return to my Main Street town.  After finding my way, getting my first real job and saving money, I booked it out of Benicia and lived in Walnut Creek – a place where I still like to spend time.  I lived there for a year and during that time, I found myself constantly gravitating back towards Benicia.  I don’t know if it was the fact that my parents were there, or that I was beginning to appreciate the friendly, small town I called home for almost all of my life.  (Maybe it was a combo of the two?)

Fast forward to the present….Craig (he’s also a Benicia native) and I feel like we couldn’t have made a better decision about settling down here.  We are within walking distance of both of our parents, are close to cities where we like to spend our free time adventuring, and we feel like we are truly part of the community here.


Photo of Gia trying to join the seagull community here in town:

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I think it’s such a nice feeling that I know all of the faces at my gym and I can say hi to them when I see them at the Farmers’ Market, or in the grocery store.  I love the fact that when I walk downtown with Gia, the security guard at the bank always goes out of his way to say hi, or ask about our day.  Some may not like that type of thing and think that in a town like this everyone is in your business.  I’m sure there is some truth to that, but I only see the positives.

These are some of the reasons why I’m so happy to be living in our hometown, raising our daughter:

  • Support events and local vendors – Benicia is always good for a Fair or Festival.  Yesterday I made a quick trip downtown to the Fine Arts & Crafts Fair that I mentioned on my Instagram.  Gia and I strolled up and down First Street, then picked up some YUMMY macarons from Wildflour Bakehouse.  (Go check them out and thank me later!)  I’m sure there will be another fun event here in town soon, but I don’t know when.  You can always visit the city website to see the list of happenings around town.

Picture of the Fine Arts & Crafts Fair:

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  • Reconnect with people who also grew up here – I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with or even reconnecting with since living here as an adult.  A lot of it has to do with my lifestyle and having a child.  I’ve gotten to meet other parents who want to get together and made great friends through my husband.  It’s nice to see that people other than my husband and I have the same idea of “coming back home.”
  • Gia will go through an “I hate this town” phase too – It’s pretty likely that Gia will go through the same phase that I went through, but if that helps her find her way through life then that’s fine.  If she one day chooses to move back here, then I will be happy knowing she went through a similar thought process to mine.  If she lives elsewhere, whether it be 15 minutes away or a 15 hour drive, it will also make me happy knowing that she’s content being there.

If you’re a resident of Benicia, comment and let me know what you love about our town! I’d love to hear about other cities as well.  Let me know what you love most about where you live.  As much as I like living where I do, I know there will be days where I will feel like my high school aged self and “hate it.”  Just remember to stop and smell the flowers on days like that!


Picture of Gia smelling the flowers at yesterday’s event:

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When Life Gives You Lemons, Trade Them For Coffee

Remember when I told you about my hot friend???  Oh, yes you do….his name is coffee!  Now you’re telling me he was your hot friend first?!  Okay, okay, he can be a friend to all.


Pictured below is a gorgeous cappuccino from Urth Caffe in Laguna Beach, CA:

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I am absolutely a coffee person (sorry tea drinkers) and I live for finding great places to enjoy that dark, delicious, liquid gold.  I’ll even admit that many, if not all of my errands and outings, revolve around the ability to also grab a cup of the good stuff.  I’m sure many other people are similar to me in that sense.

Let me get one thing straight before I go ahead and tell you about some of my all-time Bay Area favorites….I by no means am claiming that I was the first to discover any of these coffee shops.  Some people get really possessive about their local hangs and haunts, claiming that they’ve known about them for years – sometimes people even get mad when they find out you are frequenting a place that they like to go.  Good news – there is room for us all!  My only intention here is to share the wealth.  I’m positive that many of you already know about the places I want to talk about, but what’s nice about that is knowing I’m not the only loyalist out there.

Let’s get this thing started before my first cup of the day starts to wear off!

There is a very special place in my heart for a spot called, Caffe Greco.  I’ve been going to this San Francisco staple for a long, long time.  It appeals to me because it’s located in the heart of North Beach and being the good Italian girl that I am, I like to be true to my roots.

They have a beyond friendly staff who I’ve gotten to know over the years.  They’ve seen me grow up in a sense – from high school age, to visiting when I was home from college, to having engagement photos taken there, and now Gia is keeping up the tradition by visiting too.


Here’s Craig and I trying to get comfortable during our engagement shoot at Caffe Greco:

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A trip to Caffe Greco wouldn’t be complete without grabbing a pastry from Mara’s Italian Pastries, just a block away.  I highly suggest getting their “raspberry wreath,” or at least that’s what I’ve always called it.  When you walk up to the window at Mara’s you’re greeted with the most beautiful pastries, made fresh each day.  Although I’ve still never been to the motherland (Italy), I imagine it would have pastry shops like this all over.


Picture of pure decadence:

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The next up is Artis, located on 4th Street in Berkeley, CA.  Artis is unlike many coffee shops out there in the sense that they’re all about the story of your coffee, from seed to sip.  My mom loves Artis and makes pit stops here often, especially if she’s made a trip to the Monterey Market for some beautiful produce.

I like the location of Artis as much as I like their coffee because you can stroll the shops and make an afternoon of your visit.  The knowledgable staff at Artis make for a great customer experience, which is harder to find these days that you would imagine.  If you’re willing to do some experimenting with your coffee tastes, this is the place to do so.

Also, for all those who commute into the city for work, there is now a Hayes Valley location!  Yay!


This next spot I’m going to mention is beloved in the Bay Area and it is taking over – Philz Coffee.  My first encounter with Philz came back when I was working for Virgin America.  Before last year’s big merger with Alaska Airlines, Virgin was always about supporting local.  We started serving Philz Coffee on all of our flights and I vividly remember when that shift happened.  All of the in-flight team members were schooled on the coffee at headquarters, in Burlingame.  It was a really cool and unique experience because essentially Philz was brought to us to be demoed and tasted.


My days with Virgin:

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The majority of Philz locations are in the city and on the peninsula, but now more and more are sprouting up all over.  Berkeley has a few locations and better yet, there is one in Walnut Creek now.  My sister-in-law, Michelle even mentioned to me that they have some opening in the greater San Diego area.


I know that I said I was going to mention a few of my Bay Area go-to coffee shops, but I cannot finish this post without mentioning two places that are a little bit out of the area.

The Flying Goat and Bibo Coffee Co. are both fantastic.  The Flying Goat is located in the heart of Healdsburg, CA, while Bibo is in Reno, NV.

I stumbled upon The Flying Goat with my parents when they became members at a great winery in Healdsburg, called Lambert Bridge.  You should always drink copious amounts of coffee before wine tasting! 😉

Bibo is a place I discovered in college at the University of Nevada.  I spent a lot of time studying there and finding myself during those years.  Now, they have quite a few more locations sprinkled throughout the biggest little city.  I think Craig and I will be needing to make a trip up that way soon, not only for the coffee, but to get some Wolfpack apparel for Gia.

Make it a good day, and remember, coffee is good at any hour!

Local Girls Do It Better

A few posts back, I mentioned that my husband and I are in the selling process with our home and are getting ready to move.  I don’t think that the couple moving in realizes that they’ve hit the neighbor jackpot by purchasing our house!

Our next door neighbors are wonderful people – they grab my packages if I’m out of town, they let me borrow an egg or two when my mom brain neglects to add them to the grocery list, and they keep an eye out for people who don’t belong in the neighborhood.  Pretty much everything you could hope for in a good neighbor.

I’d like to think I, myself, am a good neighbor as well.  Keeping with the theme of being neighborly and kind to one another, I wanted to share some juicy gossip with you about “the girl next door”, her name’s Nicole, for all those wondering.

She is a local boss lady who owns and runs one of the greatest little boutiques to happen to our town – Pink Arrows Boutique.


Cute and oh so soft pullover sold at Pink Arrows:

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If you have spent any time in Benicia, (in my case, the majority of my childhood and now adult life) then you know we have a plethora of hair salons, antique shops and mediocre food.  Now Benicia can not only be known to the world as the state’s third capitol, but the home of Nicole’s Pink Arrows!


Nicole’s boutique is in a quaint location and is as friendly as she is:

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Here’s some Q + A and inside scoop on the owner, Nicole, and her dream, turned reality:

What inspired you to start Pink Arrows Boutique?

My love for fashion was nurtured as a child….and while still in pigtails, my mom taught me how to sew.  Over the next 20 years I graduated from FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) and built an extensive career that included design, merchandising, buying and quality control.  But, my dream was to always open a boutique.

About three years ago, when I was between jobs, I decided it was time, and the idea for my boutique began.

How’d your boutique get it’s name?

The name Pink Arrows balances bold symbols of beauty and strength.  Throughout my life I have admired many women, including my mentors – my mom and grandmother – in their aspirations to successfully combine the two.  My goal is to fill my boutique with modern, yet cozy and bohemian, glamorous clothes and accessories that women will covet.

What do you think makes Pink Arrows special?

My goal is to always look for pieces that have the softest fabrics, the best fit and the most unique graphics.  I have spent a good part of my career in sourcing and quality control, visiting factories overseas, and I have a unique eye for detail.  Sourcing is my passion.  

I love when customers are surprised at the range of sizes and prices that I carry.  I’m not just trying to cater to one age group or one body type.  It’s a good feeling when someone walks in skeptical and leaves having found something they love….and with a smile.

What’s the toughest part about running your own business?

The same challenge every woman feels – there is never enough time in the day for everything!  Trying to balance work, family, friends, etc., there is always a trade off (sometimes it’s sleep).  I truly believe if you are doing what you love, it doesn’t feel like work.  I have had some jobs during my career that were tough to wake up for everyday, where the work environment wasn’t positive, or the commute was CRAZY LONG.  I am super grateful to live in Benicia and work in Benicia.  I get to surround myself with so many amazing people on a daily basis.  

Do you have any future plans for the business?

My goal for the last few years has been to find a location in Benicia for my shop.  Now that I’ve found it, I’m settling in to my new surroundings and constantly trying to improve the space.  I am loving that I accomplished that goal and now I realize I need to set new goals for the future.  For right now, I’m just grateful.

If you could raid one celebrity closet, whose would it be?

That is a tough one!  There are so many great style icons, but if Nicole Richie were my size, she would definitely be my pick.  I love how she mixes bohemian prints in such a fantastic way.  She is fearless and has a confidence that is contagious.  I admire people who take risks with their style and are not afraid of what others will say.


It’s only appropriate that Nicole loves another Nicole’s style:

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I don’t know about you guys, but I love everything that Pink Arrows Boutique is about – from how it got it’s name, to Nicole’s attention to detail!  It’s definitely the kind of place I want to tell my friends about.  I’m also all for a supporting local, especially when the woman who owns and runs the boutique wants to represent women of different sizes and styles.

Life is too short to be tearing others down.  We need to support one another and be happy for the achievements of others.  Get out there and spread the word about Pink Arrows, or better yet, come check it out.

You better believe I picked up something for Gia and myself during our Saturday afternoon downtown stroll….


Picture of the goods that Gia and I scored:

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Pink Arrows Boutique Business Hours:

Currently the shop is still on “summer hours,” and is open Tuesday/Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.; Thursday/Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., & 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., & 2 p.m. until 4 p.m.  They are closed Sunday and Monday.

You can make an appointment by e-mailing Nicole at nicoley@pinkarrows.com, or calling 844-264-6456.

They will adjust their night time hours to shorter “winter hours” in November.

Pink Arrows Boutique Address:

301 First Street, Benicia, CA 94510 – They are located in the courtyard between Plein Air Gallery and Gallery 621, just past Rookies Bar and Grill.


 

 

Fantastic Favorites

So….I woke up this morning in complete shock – I slept until 7:45 a.m.!!!  That does not happen, like ever!!  I couldn’t even tell you the last time I slept that late, even before Gia came around!

I was kind of excited that I had slept that late, but then I was kind of annoyed because I had already wasted a good chunk of my morning.  Regardless of that, I guess my body was letting me know I needed the rest.  When I woke up, Gia was playing quietly in her crib, happy as a clam.  She must have known mama needed the rest too.  🙂

After hitting the gym with my girl, while Craig was at a training for work, I put Gia down to snooze and got to thinking about some of my favorite things.  Let’s be real, I have a lot of favorites when it comes to many different categories, and they are ever-changing.  I always enjoy hearing about favorites and suggestions from others, so I thought it’d be a nice thing for me to share with all of you.

As you may have seen earlier on my Instagram, I was making a quick and easy frittata with Gia.  It’s one of my favorites for breakfast, or in today’s case, it was lunch.  I thought I’d share this recipe with you, along with my favorite cookbooks of the moment, as well as a few of my favorite gifting items.

Favorite Cookbooks of the Moment:

“Eating Purely” – by Elizabeth Stein

This cookbook is awesome because it keeps things super simple.  Cooking certainly doesn’t have to be rocket science, and this book shows that.  It has more than 100 all-natural, organic, gluten-free recipes for an overall healthy life.

I don’t eat a strictly gluten-free diet, but I will definitely make things that require you to use gluten-free ingredients.  I don’t discriminate!

The recipes are pretty fun and approachable, ranging from brunch and salads to vegetarian mains.  (Craig and I enjoy being carnivores, but it speaks volumes that he will eat anything lacking meat that I make from this book.)


Here’s a look at the frittata I made this afternoon from “Eating Purely:”

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“The Seasoned Life” – by Ayesha Curry

I can’t be the only person who is loves the Curry family, can I?!  I love Ayesha’s cookbook because it comes from her roots and everything is super easy to pull off!  I’m sensing a theme here, aren’t you?….nowadays I need quick, easy, nutrient rich and delicious!  Ain’t nobody got time for anything other than that!

There’s something about a good meatloaf that makes me feel like I’m eating at grandma’s, and Ayesha’s is one even grandma would approve of.  I remember when I was newly pregnant with Gia, meatloaf was my first craving!

I also love this cookbook simply because Ayesha Curry is just like any other mom out there.  I know, I know – I don’t even know her, but I did have the pleasure of meeting her and her husband, Steph, when I was still working.  I want to support this mama because she is following her dream, as we all should!

“The Big Book of Organic Baby Food” – by Stephanie Middleberg MS, RD, CDN

Giving your baby solids for the first time is a pretty exciting milestone.  (At least it was for me!)  The first thing we gave Gia was green beans and she didn’t exactly love them.  My thought process with solid food was that I should give her veggies and not-so-sweet foods first.  It’s a given that a baby will like bananas.  It’s like dessert for them!

This book was great for me when I was in a food rut with Gia.  I was adamant about making all of her food and wanted to make sure she was only getting the best and healthiest kinds of food.  My favorite thing about this cookbook is that the food progresses with your baby.  As your child gets older, the food is a different variety, with different textures and recipes.

Now, I am less anal about the things that she eats.  I don’t let myself get upset if she will only eat yogurt all day, or skips a serving of milk.  I can’t sweat the small stuff and I know she is growing and developing properly because of what I feed her and how I care for her.


Here is photo evidence of Gia’s first encounter with green beans:

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Favorites for Gift-Giving Right Now:

Venus Et Fleur

Elegant luxury is the best way I can describe what you get from Venus Et Fleur.  It delivers the romantic tradition of sending flowers, but with exceptionally stylish design.  To be honest, I don’t really recall how I stumbled upon this company, but I recently sent a Le Petite box of champagne colored roses to one of my best friends for her 30th birthday.

I have to admit they are a bit of a splurge, but well worth it indeed!  What makes these flowers so unique, yet also pricey, is that they are real roses that can last for up to a year, if cared for properly.  I know some of you are calling BS right now, but if you go look at their website and read about their “eternity roses” you will see what I mean.

This is the type of gift that is best suited for someone who appreciates a meticulous, hand-crafted floral design.


This is the exact Venus Et Fleur arrangement I sent my girlfriend, Catherine:

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Glassybaby

Glassybaby is a glass blowing studio that sells unique, handmade candle votives and drinkers.  It’s a Seattle based company that has multiple locations, with Berkeley being the closest to me here in the Bay Area.

I heard about Glassybaby a few years ago from my dad.  Yes, believe it or not my dad is very up on what’s cool.  He regularly reads his magazines, like GQ and Esquire, and should probably be at New York Fashion Week right now.  (He’s a tough guy but likes to look good.  He was a model when he was my age, but that’s neither here nor there!)

My dad bought a variety of Glassybaby drinkers as a Mother’s Day gift for my mom a while back.  I looked into the company after he bought them and found out they hosted glass blowing parties as well.  I had my 29th birthday celebration there last year and it was a blast!

I love giving the votives and drinkers as gifts because they have any and every color/hue that you can imagine.  What makes them really special is that they all have a specific name.  For example, I got a good friend of mine a votive a few months ago that was a gradient silver color.  It was called “Silver Lining.”  She was going through a tough time and I wanted her to have a little pick-me-up.

I enjoy giving gifts from Glassybaby because they can have deeper meaning, depending on the occasion.

Here’s is a picture of me at my birthday party with a bada** glassblower who helped me craft my own beautiful bowl:

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Stargazer Barn

I cannot talk about Stargazer Barn enough!  Yes, this is another floral arrangement type of company, but their blooms are show stopping!

I first heard about Stargazer Barn through an old friend and colleague, who happens to be a very successful blogger – Kristy Wicks.  (If you don’t already follow her on Instagram, go ahead and do it now, thank me later.)  She partnered with Stargazer Barn and I decided to see what they were all about after hearing her rave about them.

The blooms that they grow are definitely flowers for flower lovers, if you know what I mean.  Stargazer Barn grows tulips, lilies and irises.  Farming is hard work and these people work tirelessly to ensure that the flowers you send/receive are enchanting.  They offer actual varieties of tulips, instead of “red tulips” or “white tulips.”  The same goes for for their lilies.

Anything you order from Stargazer Barn would stand out in a crowded marketplace.  If you know a flower connoisseur, I recommend sending them some of these beauties right away!


Here a few shots of flowers I have sent to friends:

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I could keep this favorites variety list going and going, but I’ll save some for another day. I also want to share some of my favorite baby products/toys because no mom and dad should be missing out on some of the things I’ve come across.

Also, I have a long list of fitness related products that I can’t live without, so that will be coming soon too.  And of course, you can always count on an eventual post about my favorite places to dine, sip and hang!

I hope you take my advice and look into some of the things I’ve mentioned.  The gifts will not disappoint and neither will the recipes from the cookbooks!

Until next time my friends!

xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shrinking Attention Spans

It’s been brought to my attention by my brother, Zach, that people have the attention span of goldfish and I should have more photos on the blog. (Goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds, while the average American has an attention span of 8 – yes, I looked it up.)  I’m in complete agreement and love that someone gave me some constructive feedback!

The real reason why I didn’t put any photos in previous posts was because I was a bit overzealous about getting this whole thing started.  I thought that trying to find the right photos to enhance my story-telling would slow me down.  I understand that I’m going to have to take the time to add this type of content to keep the attention of all these goldfish – not everyone enjoys such a text heavy blog.

With my brother’s advice in mind, I got to thinking about what photos I do have and what kind of post I could create with them.  Of course I immediately thought of Gia and being a mom.  I don’t have any shortage of photos when it comes to that kid.  If I’m not mistaken, I think I have over 4,000 photos and videos on my iPhone and the vast majority are of her sweet little mug.  Prior to Gia’s big arrival last year, many of my photos were of the dog and my growing pregnant belly.

I know other mom’s and parents out there have phones filled with photos of their child/children doing anything and everything.  I feel like I have to document it all – even if that means I’ve become a mamarazzi.  I’ll wear that title with pride until the day I die!

I’d like to think that there’s lots of people out there reading this, but if I’m being honest, I know that it’s likely just my close friends and definitely my mom!  For those of you reading who I don’t know personally, let me introduce you to my little family through photo…..

The number one person in my life – my daughter, Gialina:IMG_8113

This picture of Gia and I was taken at a great little restaurant in Berkeley, CA, called Riva Cucina.  It was my family’s first time here and it won’t be our last.  The staff was so friendly and accommodating, and of course the food was delish!  I recommend getting their Antipasto Misto as a starter!


This is my hunky husband.  I couldn’t ask for a better partner and father to my daughter. Meet Craig:

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To date, this is my favorite picture of Craig and Gia.  We were getting a frozen yogurt and trying to stay cool during a heat wave.  As you can see, Gia did not want to give up the spoon.


These two are the people I look up to most, my parents.  I always want their approval and to make them proud.  Meet Rick & Sherri:

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Let me tell you about the restaurant that this photo was taken at….When Gia was 10 months old we took a road trip to visit my brother down in Southern California.  He had been wanting to take us here for ages.  It did not disappoint!!  The restaurant is called Farmhouse and it was fantastic.  They didn’t miss a thing when it came to the food!  They even have blankets placed on every chair, as it’s an outdoor dining experience only.  Before eating here I highly suggest visiting the on site gardens.  Check out their website to see what I’m talking about – Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens.


Last but not least, on to my younger, better looking brother.  He’s the most compassionate, creative and all around awesome person I know.  Meet Zach:

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This photo of Zach and Gia cracks me up every time!  It was taken at Gia’s baptism, which also happened to land on my first Mother’s Day.  Being the good brother that he is, Zach flew in from SoCal to be there.  I think Gia is trying to show Zach how to give a proper “blue steel” pose.

Sidenote:  Zach is an über talented graphic design guy.  I suggest that you go follow his work on Instagram at @zachnichdesigns.


There, now you have some faces to go with the names that I will bring up on my blog quite often.  After all, without these people I wouldn’t be who I am today!