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A Gift Guide PSA

2014 November 19
by WWGD

Giftguidesortof-WhatWouldGwynethDo

Gift guides.

Sigh. Is it just me? There are too many. So, so many of them. Some good, some boring, some riddled with advertising.

While I consider gift giving a little too personal to fully rely on someone else’s perfect picks, I do love the ones that really unearth something new and cool that I didn’t know about and I appreciate the time and effort that goes into those…especially since it appears they are all way ahead of me.

So this year, I am going to let the other guy’s gift guides take center stage on your shopping list.

Instead, I have a Pinterest board dedicated to my wish and giving list for the season which you can see (and shop) here. I will be updating it regularly so feel free to check in when you want to and if you find anything you love there, let me know!

And when I come across someone else’s gift guide that I think is particularly awesome, I will share it on Facebook.

Hope that’s helpful in some way and don’t forget…in the end, the inspiration is great but the best gift is the one that you choose yourself for your loved one, with no guide at all but your heart.

*these cute Anthro soap dishes would make a perfect stocking stuffer for the new home owner in your life…

Thanksgiving Table Inspiration

2014 November 17
by WWGD

ThankgivingTable-WhatWouldGwynethDo

I think I lucked out for Thanksgiving this year.

My parents have decided to host the dinner and cook all (most) of the food and I get to do the table setting…at their house.

Which is decidedly more spacious and luxe than mine.

Thanksgiving is quickly becoming one of my favorite holidays and creating a chic, inviting table scape is one of the very best parts. You can infuse the holiday with a little style, warmth and the perfect personal touches to make the meal memorable far beyond the pumpkin pie. It’s such an important tradition and one I look forward to carrying on for many years to come.

Here are some bits of inspiration that I am loving for this year’s look.

(above) A hint of glitter should really be incorporated into every holiday and this is a subtle, stylish way to do it.

ThanksgivingTable-WhatWouldGwynethDo

I incorporated fresh herbs into our Thanksgiving table last year and it was such a nice touch. I love the idea of doing it again and these little rosemary wreaths are a perfect option.

ThanksgivingTable-WhatWouldGwynethDoThese calligraphy menus are definitely a little too luxe for our small family celebration but I love the elegance of a personal menu and these are stunning. Some day…

ThanksgivingTable-WhatWouldGwynethDo

A simple and sweet rustic table. This one is a little too rustic for my family’s taste but if I were ever to host a Friendsgiving, in the woods, under a blanket of November stars…it would look a lot like this.

ThanksgivingTable-WhatWouldGwynethDo

Finally, I love the idea of adding something personal to the party. These printable placemats let you inspire your guests to really think about the holiday and all of its significance and to share their feelings of gratitude and joy. And that is much easier than having to share the last piece of pumpkin pie…

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Morning Muffins – Bran, No Raisins

2014 November 16
by WWGD

MorningMuffins-WhatWouldGwynethDo

This morning’s muffins were much-needed in more ways than one.

I am working on this stressful project for work right now. I had a feeling it was going to be stressful when I signed up and it has delivered on that promise. It has dampened my Friday morning, crept into my Saturday night and it was there again at dawn this morning. On a Sunday. Poisoning me with its promises of worry and frustration. I hate those kinds of projects. I try my hardest to avoid them because at this age, at this stage in life, I prefer to focus my energy – both personal and professional – on things that feed me and nurture me and don’t ruin my Saturday night.

So this morning, I chose to feed my soul instead. And when my husband randomly mentioned that he was craving bran muffins, it became a clear sign that I needed to make my Sunday morning much better than my Saturday night. So here is the recipe for a batch of simple, delicious bran muffins – sans raisins, because I can’t deal with a raisin in my muffin – that were stress-free and fed us all.

Bran Muffins 

Ingredients

1 cup wheat bran

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup milk

1/2 cup molasses or honey

3/4 cup applesauce

2 tbsp. oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Optional accessories (we opted to keep ours plain and simple this time):

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup chopped nuts

chocolate chips to taste

1/2 cup shredded coconut

Instructions

Preheat over to 400 degrees.

Combine wheat bran, flour, baking soda and baking powder.

In another bowl, combine milk, applesauce, oil, eggs and molasses (or honey).

Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring until just combined.

Bake in prepared muffin tin for 15-17 minutes.

My husband enjoyed his hot from the oven, slathered with butter and a little maple syrup (Canadian boy syndrome) but mine was perfect all on its own.

Happy Sunday. xx

 

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A Loss for Words

2014 November 13
by WWGD

PalmSprings

I am at a loss for words these days.

Call it writer’s block. Call it a creative stump. Call it the longest week ever.

But I don’t have anything particularly witty or interesting or inspiring to write about right now.

I do, however, have this picture.

And it makes my heart smile.

Hope it does the same for you.

Have a great night. xx

 

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Anatomy of a Good Business Card

2014 November 11
by WWGD

Bizcards

I recently redesigned my new business cards (well, I art directed – my husband actually designed them) and they seem to get a lot of compliments everywhere they go. Thought I would share some of my tips for a business card that stands out from the bunch:

1) Keep it simple and subtle. Prints, patterns, colors and cute details can be more distracting than you think and often come across as pretty, but not all that professional. If you’re in a creative field, choose one distinct element that conveys your style. But just one. And think really long and hard about what that element is and how you can simplify it. If your business, like mine, is not driven by your personal style or creativity, stick to a very simple logo (or none at all), a neutral color palette and a one-sided card with the backside left blank. If you think you need to use both sides to share your info, you’re sharing too much.

2) Logos aren’t law. My business is me. I am a consultant and all I am really trying to sell to potential new clients is me and my expertise. So I decided to forego a traditional “logo” and simply used my name instead, designed in a strong, simple font with some detail work. A logo can be beneficial if it truly helps to summarize your work in one image; if not, re-think it altogether. You’d be surprised how impactful a logo-less business can be.

3) Titles are. Whether or not you choose to use a creative logo, make sure you have a title on the card that spells out what it is that you do. Mine is simply: Public Relations Consultant. Nothing fancy or complicated, just enough to remind people of who they were speaking with and why when they dig my card out of a pile on their desk. Yours might be “floral designer” or “graphic designer” or “private chef”. Skip the hierarchical titles unless they are given to you by a company – in an age where CEOs sit alongside account executives in open-air cubicles, it’s not your position that matters, it’s your expertise.

4) Contact info is key. But don’t put it all on there. The days of listing your office number, mobile number, address and email are long gone. If people want to get a hold of you these days, they will use email first. Nine times out of 10. If your email is related to your professional web site (i.e. @ralucastate.com) then no need to list that, either. Just the email is fine. If not, include a web site and post the rest of your contact info, social media handles, etc. there. And no mailing address, please. That’s by request only.

5) It’s all in the details. Once you have a clean, simple design in mind, shift focus to the quality of your cards. Because that is what leaves a true impression. I order mine from Moo* and opt for their luxe offering which is a thicker, sturdier paper that feels weighty and substantial in your hands. It’s a slightly higher investment, but in my opinion, well worth every penny. I also get their border color option (I chose black to keep it super simple) which adds a nice thin frame around the edge of the card that makes it stand out. I opted for sharp square corners (as opposed to trendy round ones) to keep the look classic. Finally, I opted for Moo because they don’t have any of their own personal PR on the back of the card. That is the number one business card blunder out there. Pick a printer who doesn’t put their name or logo (even if it’s in tiny print on the back of the card) anywhere on your card. It’s your business, after all. And your job isn’t to promote them.

Hope this helps! Would love to hear any additional tips you may have – leave them in the comments below. 

*not sponsored, I truly use them and love them.

In This Moment

2014 November 8
by WWGD

PalmSprings-WhatWouldGwynethDo

In this moment…

I am interested in good conversation and books and stories that capture me heart and soul.

In creating memories for my kids and my husband and my loved ones.

In people who inspire and dream and are brave enough to share their dreams with the world.

In moments that bring happy tears to my eyes.

At this exact place in time…

I want to think big but find joy in the small things.

To appreciate every smile I encounter, every hurdle I overcome.

To laugh with abandon.

To look back on the past with warmth in my heart and to look to the future with stars in my eyes.

On this very day…

I look for quality over quantity. In all aspects of life.

I know that money and success is nothing but a means to what really matters in life.

I believe in my talents and my experience and my creativity.

I trust my instincts to lead me to exactly where I should be…

In this moment.

At this exact place.

On this very day.

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Saturday Reads

2014 November 8
by WWGD

PS

We are holed up at our favorite spot in the desert for family getaways. The sun is shining, the heat is at that perfect level of tolerable and indulgent and the smell of sunscreen is in the air. One last little family getaway before we dive into the holidays and all the joy – and stress – that comes along with it. I will be sharing tidbits over on Instagram if you want a peek – and in the meantime, here are some finds for your Saturday morning. Hope you have a great one! xx

9 Tips on How to Grow a Social Media Audience While Staying True to Yourself. This is a hot topic for me and for many of you, I am sure. Staying authentic and being comfortable with what you are  – and aren’t – putting out there for the world to see can certainly impact your “numbers.” For instance, I consciously put very little about my children online and when I do, it’s highly edited. That’s a conscious choice I make. But the truth is, when I look at the people I love to follow the most, many of them are far more liberal with sharing their personal lives, kids, etc…if even only a very glossy version of it. And I love and appreciate and gravitate to that, as a follower, reader and fan. So I see both sides of the coin. For now, I am focused on authenticity and my comfort level. Numbers are what they are. Mine are higher than some and lower than others. But regardless of growth, I am in my comfort zone on social media. And that’s where I will stay for now.

Staying is Settling: Why You Need to Move Five Times in Your Life. It’s official. I am obsessed with change. As much as I consider myself highly scheduled and organized, I am constantly seeking new opportunities, new inspiration and wondering what the next chapter will be. My husband may or may not want to kill me most of the time. But this article sums it up. Unfortunately, I think it’s really intended for the young 20-something without kids and a mortgage and a business that relies on you. And that’s not me. But if it’s you – read this, bookmark it, and live it. You will be happy you did down the line.

Beauty Editors’ Picks. Always love these round ups.

How to Build Boys’ Self-Esteem. A great read for mamas of young boys. Kai’s teacher recently brought up how he is not showing as much interest and appreciation for arts as he is in the sensory play, dramatic play, etc. and this article reminded me that we need to make that a priority for him moving forward.

How Can I Get a Publisher’s Attention? For all you aspiring book writers out there. That includes me.

PS – this is what I am reading in the desert this weekend. Will report back!

*image above via here

Being a Beginner

2014 November 5
by WWGD

BeingaBeginner-WhatWouldGwynethDo

I read a Twitter bio the other day where the person described herself as, among other things, “a beginner recipe developer and photographer.”

In a world of “experts,” “leaders” and “top everything,” it was so refreshing to see someone who is starting out at something new, realizes she is just starting out, and tells the world she is just starting out.

With pride.

We spend so much time striving to get ahead, to do more, to be better at everything and it felt really nice to have someone own the beginner title and everything that comes along with it: interest, excitement, naivete, innocence.

I think there is something truly special about beginning something new, something unexpected, something outside of your comfort zone. To ask for help along the way, to embrace your mistakes as you learn, and to be a student all over again.

So what are the keys to being a beginner?

An open mind. So you’ve never baked a cake in your life. Maybe you don’t even know what “manual mode” is on your camera. Perhaps you haven’t picked up a paint brush since preschool. That’s ok. In fact, maybe that’s better. A beginner is there to learn and to try and to progress. Starting from nowhere can take you everywhere.

Patience. Knowing that it’s hard to begin again. To try something new, to break away from the things you already do so well (you were a beginner at those things once upon a time, too!). And being patient with yourself and the process as you work your way through it.

Time. Finding time to indulge in learning and experimenting and not feeling guilty about taking that time to do so. Regardless of your busy social calendar or the weight of your inbox.

Inspiration. A passion that propels you forward. It may not be there every day, it may not be there every hour. But it has to be with you in some sense to keep the flame ignited.

A mentor. Can be physical, virtual or mental. Someone or something that can guide you as you explore your new path and offer you support and advice along the way.

And finally, confidence.

To know you are just beginning and that you will get better (or not – and then you can go and begin something else).

To try it today. Even if you think you’re too old or too young or too busy or too shy.

To tell the world you are beginning. On Twitter. On your blog. Over a coffee date.

And to say it with pride.

I am a beginner photographer. I am a beginner floral designer. I am a beginner book writer.

And while some day it would be nice to be an expert at all three, for now I am just going to enjoy…beginning.

*image above via Death to the Stock Photo

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Must-Have: 3 New Kids’ Lines You Need to Know

2014 November 3
by WWGD

Babe2

This must-have for your Monday is all about the kids…and the amazingly creative mamas behind them. These three new kids’ lines are labors of love for the cool, young moms who designed and developed them and make great, one-of-a-kind additions to your littles’ already H&M-filled wardrobe.

First is BABE, a brand new (i.e. just launched today) collection of tees and hats from two SoCal moms who are probably already on your blogroll. The simple and stylish logo and cool colors (black with gold is my fave) make these must-haves easy to wear anywhere.

Babe

Next up is Westerly Commons from Haydee, a super sweet mom of two in Long Beach who pens the popular blog, Happenstance:

BookBag_PrintedWord

Westerly Commons is a line of tees, sweatshirts and this brilliant book bag (firmly on my gift-giving list for the littles in my life this year) inspired by Haydee’s infectiously happy approach to the every day.

WesterlyCommons

Finally, Kindred Oak is a boho-trendy line from a mom in Utah whose Twitter bio says she’s a “part-time rapper.” So clearly, I am down:

KindredOak1

She takes timely trends like buffalo plaid and everything Ryan Gosling and turns them into mini-me must-haves for the sweet little sartorialists in your life. Pint-sized perfection.

KindredOak

My Menu Plan

2014 November 2
by WWGD

MyMenuPlan-WhatWouldGwynethDo

Last week I was in Los Angeles for meetings and found myself with some time to spare in-between appointments.

I was conveniently on Third Street in West Hollywood and Son of a Gun was a mere block away so clearly there was no decision to be made. Lobster roll for one, it was. That lobster roll is something special, I tell you. The lobster is cold and fresh with the lightest aioli (if you can even call it an aioli – it is that light) and that perfect, golden little brioche bun…sigh.

The only problem is the mini size.

So clearly I had two.

With a hot cup of mint tea and some good people watching.

I love a great impromptu solo lunch. Kind of hoping this week surprises me with another one. In the meantime, here is our menu plan for the days ahead:

Sunday – tonight we are having Giada’s pork tenderloin with honey mustard sauce (recipe here) with couscous and arugula. I am obsessed with arugula lately, it somehow appears on my plate at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Monday – grilled salmon with sautéed corn, cherry tomato and avocado salad.

Tuesday – Taco Tuesday.

Wednesday – spaghetti squash and a homemade meat sauce, inspired by my homemade(ish) meatballs, but going to use ground turkey this time instead.

Thursday – Ina Garten’s crispy roasted mustard chicken. It has been a while since we made this all-time favorite and in celebration of her newest book, Make It Ahead, it’s back on the menu. She is on a speaking tour right now for her book and half of me is dying to see her and half of me is dying over the ticket prices. Will let you know if I bite the bullet. Pun intended.

Friday – we are hoping to run away to Palm Springs for the weekend. I know what you’re thinking (because my husband is thinking the same thing…): weren’t you just in New York? Well, yes. Yes, we were. Apparently, I have an issue with sitting still lately and I think a few days in the desert sun at our favorite little spot (when we’re with the kids…) may just be the ticket. The holidays are upon us and with them comes a lot of obligations and very little solo time with just us and the kids so I am looking for one more memorable weekend before we bid 2014 adieu. At least one, that is… ;)

Have a great week. xx