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Natural (ish) Hair

2014 November 22
by WWGD

Hair-WhatWouldGwynethDo

For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of having straight, frizz-free, shiny Asian girl hair.

It always looked so stylish, so chic, so utterly effortless…and my thick, wavy, coarse-ish Romanian locks were anything but.

But I am happy to announce that 36 years into this little journey we call life, I have FINALLY learned to embrace my hair in all its natural glory.

Well, natural-ish (see list of products below).

Hair-WhatWouldGwynethDo

It started with the bangs.

This isn’t the first time I have fallen for a thick fringe but this time it feels even better than in the past. It adds instant style to my every day look (which was getting a little yawn…) and more importantly, it goes really well with thick, wavy, almost FRIZZY hair!

Yes, frizzy is kind of my friend now. This is a happy day, indeed.

I love it when the bangs look a little choppy but still neat, and the rest of the hair looks texturized and real and the opposite of sleek.

It adds dimension and makes the bangs stand out more, injecting a cool, chic element to my look that I have been missing for a long while now.

Hair-WhatWouldGwynethDo

And the best part? It’s almost effortless.

After I wash (I like Pantene Smooth and Sleek shampoo and conditioner for a little added control), I blow dry my bangs immediately just using my fingers for a tousled, natural look.

I use Living Proof satin serum on the rest of my hair and a little Moroccan Oil on the ends only for extra hydration.

Then I blow dry for maybe a minute, again just using my hands to actually build a little volume and bring out my natural wave.

Then I air dry. I just let it be.

If I need a hint of extra definition, I use a small amount of Bumble and Bumble Defrizz all over and maybe a hit of Oribe dry texturizing spray to finish it off.

And throughout the day, I actually find myself trying to make it bigger, wavier and full of extra volume, plumping it up with my fingers to add lift and body.

Smiling at all the sleek, shiny heads of hair that walk on by.

Finally embracing my own natural texture and shape.

Finally figuring out my coarse, Romanian waves.

Finally loving it.

It took 36 years to get here, but it’s a really nice place to be.

*photo credits: 1 | 2 | 3 

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Are Bad Guys in Real Life?

2014 November 21
by WWGD

BabyBatman-WhatWouldGwynethDo

Kai has been all-consumed with talk of bad guys and good guys and superheroes lately.

He is three, after all, right?

He asks me all the time, in his sweet, innocent voice:

“Are bad guys in real life, mama?”

“Do superheroes get the bad guys in real life, mama?”

“Can I be a superhero when I grow up so I can get the bad guys, mama?”

These questions became especially poignant over the past few days. You see, there is some drama on the preschool play yard at his school. Apparently, there is a “gang” of three year old boys who are taking their pretend play to another level, frightening some of the other children, bullying some of the kindergarten kids two years older than them, and making bad guys seem awfully realistic…in a three year old kind of way.

So the response from the school has been to cut out all pretend play related to superheroes, ninjas, bad guys and the like. The boys are also restricted from wearing clothing featuring their favorite superhero.

It all feels very Footloose-ish to me. Without the dancing. Or Kevin Bacon.

I am certainly not an advocate of bullying or violent play (my son plays toy “fire hoses” instead of guns, because we force it down his throat) but I am also not comfortable with his experience with play, physical and dramatic, being stifled and controlled because of the actions of another group of kids. Shouldn’t those actions be dealt with directly, between those kids, their parents, their teachers and the school?

Should my little “good guy” pay for the mistakes of the bad guys?

We consciously teach our children about boundaries and respect – both on the playground and not – and reprimand them when their behavior doesn’t meet our personal interpretation of right and wrong. We expect other families do the same, within their own parameters, and certainly expect our school to enforce similar boundaries. But at what point does an interpretation of “bad guy” or bad behavior, in this case, become so subjective you can’t define it? And how does it translate to the real life concept of bad guys and bullying and the true dangers that are out there in the world…just far enough beyond these sheltered little preschoolers’ grasp?

So the lesson of the week for my son was this: yes, there are bad guys in real life, Kai. There are apparently bad guys on your sweet little sun-drenched play yard. And on your pajamas. And on your favorite hoodie. And you will keep meeting bad guys – some far worse than the ones you know now – for many years to come. And sometimes they will stifle and control your life, even when they shouldn’t. And some people won’t think they are so bad. And some people will. And some of them will eventually stop being bad guys. And some of them won’t.

I just hope that amongst them all, you remain a good guy. And that you dance like Kevin Bacon.

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…

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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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