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How to Prevent Holiday Meltdown

2014 December 16


I am not going to lie to you guys.

Between Christmas and Kai’s upcoming birthday and travel plans for New Year’s and a million and one work obligations, my head has been spinning, my credit card is burning a hole in my wallet and my spirit has been a little less merry than anyone would like.

It is amazingly easy this time of year to get lost in the seasonal shuffle, to misplace your priorities, to feel a sense of more, more, more when your body and your brain is pleading for less. And I don’t want to fall into that hole and miss the point of the holiday altogether.

I want to take a moment every day to sit and really look at the Christmas tree and truly appreciate its finite beauty and its scent and its glow.

I want to be more mindful about gift giving and choose things that my loved ones will really enjoy and appreciate, rather than just trying to rush my way through a list (except for the puppy thing, they are going to have to make due without that this year…).

I want to find time to take care of myself. Take my vitamins in the morning, sneak into a yoga class in the afternoon, go to bed early on the nights when I can.

I want to look at all the photos being shared around the world of cultural traditions and stunning winter landscapes and marvel at their inspiration, imagine what those people are celebrating this year.

I want to be particularly grateful this year. With all the unrest happening around the world and here in our own country, how can you not be? How can you not appreciate every single little thing in your life right now?

I want to watch my kids with the awe in their eyes and soak up that sparkle that only comes with this season.

I want to bottle up the silly stress and the useless worries and watch them float away.

And I want you to do the same.

Only a little over one week left before Christmas…how will you spend it?

*image via Pinterest, no credible source found


12 Days of Christmas

2014 December 13



In my mind, I keep hearing this little voice that says “when it’s Christmas” or “at Christmas time” or “for Christmas this year…”

Well this is it, friends. We are officially 12 days out and it’s time to revel in the joy of the season, to light the lights, to drink the eggnog and to dust off those credit cards and put them to use…heartfelt use, of course.

Here is a quick list of this weekend’s sales and specials from some of my favorite gift-giving destinations this season. And don’t forget to check out my gift guide board on Pinterest here.

Have a great weekend! xx

On Best Friends

2014 December 12


“Best friends” have been a hot topic around here these days.

Little D is in second grade and second grade girls are apparently very interested in the concept of best friends.

Having them. Changing them. Finding them.

On a daily basis, she brings up the idea of a “best friend” in some context and the truth is, it’s because she doesn’t have one.

Don’t get me wrong, she has a lot of friends. She is friends with girls and friends with boys. She is friends with kids in her grade and kids that are younger and older than her. She is friends with kids who have nothing in common with her and those that live down the street. She is friends with kids who don’t even speak the same language as her very well…and she might just like those kids best of all.

She is just that kind of girl.

The reality is, she is friends with everyone but best friends with no one and some days that’s awesome and some days, it’s not.

And while I want her to continue to be friends with everyone, of course, and we stress the importance and impact of that all the time, part of me also wants her to know the comfort and security of having a “best friend.”

It’s second grade.

I get it.

When everyone at the lunch table is paired off with their bestie and you’re not…

I get it.

But then I also want her to know that those best friends come and go in life. That some times, they let you down. That some days, you let them down. That old friends move on in new directions and new friends find you and fill your heart. That those people who have no best friends are often the most interesting ones you will meet. I want her to know that I still think about some of my best friends from the past who I haven’t connected with in years and I am surprisingly ok with it. And that I love some of the people I just met a year ago like they have been in my life forever. I want her to know that friendships are often complicated but the real ones are usually simple. That they all have an impact on your life, whether they are short-lived or not. I want her to know that in every chapter of her life, she will (and should) have a new best friend that lifts her up and makes her laugh and gives her a confidence she never knew she had.

I get it.

I’ve been there. At that lunch table. In second grade. And in sixth grade. And in ninth grade.

And today.

And I want her to know, to understand, that many friends are going to come in and out of her life. Lots of girls and boys and people from other cultures and cities and backgrounds. Friends who will sit with her all the time and friends who will sit with her some of the time. Friends who stay and friends who don’t.

But what they will all have in common is her.

Her friendship. Her heart. Her laugh.

And that will fill her life like no best friend can.

And when it doesn’t…that’s ok too.

Because she will have me.


A Year in Review – The Blog

2014 December 8

YearinReviewThis month, for many, is a hectic one. It’s filled with to-dos and to-buys and more to-dos. But this year, I made a pact with myself to enjoy a more mindful holiday season. Instead of simply focusing on the tasks that lay ahead – merry and not – I am making a conscious effort to also look at the next few weeks as a time to reflect on the year that has almost passed and to recharge for the one that lies ahead.

The merry will fall into place naturally, I am sure.

Up first? A look at this little old blog of mine.

It has been around for a few years now but this year saw continued growth and the growing pains that come along with that.

It wanted to be bigger some days and smaller on others.

It introduced me to so many new people, new voices, endless new sources of inspiration.

I struggled here and there with its content, its schedule and its purpose.

But never with its voice.

It somehow always found its voice, with every post. Whether they were frivolous or heartfelt. Whether they were widely read or not. Whether they were meaningful or mundane.

It had its voice.

It reflected my voice.

And for that – and for you, who takes the time out of your day to stop by once in a while – I am eternally grateful.

Here are some of my favorite posts from the past year:

Big Deal or Little Problem? A lesson in parenting and life.

Father’s Day. A lesson on love.

The God Club. A lesson in parenting.

Five Tried and True Parenting Tips. A lesson – or five – in parenting.

For All The Days. A lesson from my three year old.

She Still Needs Us. A lesson from my seven year old.

How to Be (Happily) Married with Children. A lesson on marriage.

On Conscious Uncoupling. A lesson from Gwyneth Paltrow.

Thank you again for taking the time to read and support WhatWouldGwynethDo. Means the world to me. xx

*image above via here


A Topless Tree

2014 December 3


Last night I was sitting on the couch and taking in our little holiday home.

The carols were playing on Pandora, the seasonal candles filled the air with the spicy, crisp scent of pine. Little lights twinkled from every nook of our small living room, casting a holiday glow over the entire space. The red tree skirt sat clear and waiting. The silver balls seemed to dance alongside the strings of lights hidden amid the thick, green branches of the tree.

The room was flooded with the magic of the holiday season, finally upon us.

Except one thing.

Our topless tree.

You see, we broke our tree topper last year. It broke in half when we were putting it on the tree but we decided to use the top of it anyways and it sat proudly on top of that tree for the whole season, no one but us privy to its shattered past.

When it came time to take the tree down, we tossed that topper. We promised ourselves we would get a new one, maybe one that would be even prettier, maybe one that would shine a little more, add an extra inch to the picture perfect display.

But we forgot to get that topper. The days after the holiday were a blur and soon January was upon us and Christmas decorations were nothing but a fading memory as we inched into the new year.

So this year, we brought home a beautiful new tree. A gorgeous new tree. Full and lush and deep green.

And we decorated that tree. My husband strung the lights, as he always does, cursing here and there but working those lights as only a man with years of experience can. My mom came to help us dress it up after school. The kids put on cheap elf hats from the Dollar Store, we listened to more Pandora, and we dug up the treasures that the holiday boxes always hold so dear. “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments and handmade reindeer and heirloom pieces handed down through the decades.

And we had no topper.

It’s a topless tree.

It’s lit and decorated and sits beautifully in the corner by the window in our little living room with a view.

Topper less.

And you know what? It may just stay that way.

We may leave that top totally bare, just a skinny little lonely branch sticking out of the top.

We may break another ornament.

We may have a light or two that burns out.

We may do a terrible job of wrapping presents (highly likely, if I am involved).

We may forget to move the Elf or burn some cookies or run out of eggnog.

We may keep that topless tree right into 2015.

And maybe even beyond that.

And it will be ok.

It will be topless and unfinished and unapologetically us.

It will be more than ok.

Because it may not be a perfect Christmas, but it’s still perfect…because it’s Christmas.

Tips for Wearing Winter White

2014 December 2


White in the winter is one of my favorite looks but there are a few keys to making sure it doesn’t look washed out.

Here are a few bits of inspiration and tips for wearing white that wows even when the temperature dips.

(above) Try some texture. Look for ivory pieces that have an added dimension of texture that inspires.


Pair it with warm tones of camel and gold for a creamy effect that isn’t ice cold.


Layer it with more white for an ethereal effect that is simple and stylish.


Master your makeup. Make sure your look is healthy and flushed with a little bronzer, blush and lip stick or gloss. A too-pale complexion will take the look from chic to meek.


Finally, keep it casual. White doesn’t have to mean precious or perfect or pristine. It can be just as cool for running errands or an afternoon of shopping…as long as you wear it well.

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What I Am Pinning…The Holiday Edition

2014 November 30


Some recent holiday finds to get you in the mood on this last Sunday in November…

(above) A creative twist for wrapping this year’s gifts.


The most gorgeous decor at Restoration Hardware.

I had to have one.


A friendly reminder to hang around the house.

You can read that however you choose ;)


Simple, chic seasonal style.

My very favorite kind.


A festive and fun holiday cocktail.

Recipe here.


A stylish invite for a seasonal soirée.


A warm welcome on a chilly day.

We won’t have too many of those around here.

But that’s ok.

There’s always Pinterest.

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And So It Begins…

2014 November 29


Well, the holidays are officially here.

We had a (mostly) lovely Thanksgiving. I backed out of doing the table…I was feeling a lot of pressure with work deadlines and obligations at the kids’ schools and life in general, and I knew something had to give. I am happy that at this stage in life, I can recognize that and do something about it and not feel bad about doing something about it. My mom didn’t mind too much. That’s what’s kind of great about family.

You can say “I can’t” and they say “I will”.

There were cute little pumpkins and pre-made floral arrangements and simple votive candles and not one idea from Pinterest. And it was lovely. The food was bountiful and the kids ate nothing but bread and turkey and the fire roared and we watched Charlie Brown and I found a sense of gratitude in everything. It was probably the after-effects of Thanksgiving morning yoga, but I felt a heartfelt gratitude in every little moment, in every bit of food on my plate, in every giggle from my littles.

Until, of course, the following night when my family erupted into argument after argument at our last dinner together. The holidays can be such an intense time for families big and small, near and far. It’s like every comment, question or opinion is magnified and every hurt stings a little more and every hot topic feels especially spicy. Tempers flared and judgments sat strong and then it all evaporated into thin air as another round of drinks were served and happy smiles toasted to the season ahead. That’s what’s kind of great about family.

The wrong words can fall out of your mouth but your heart is always there to catch them. 

So this weekend we are welcoming the holiday season with all of these lessons and reminders in mind. We will pull out boxes of decorations and argue over the placement of the lights. We will find the perfect tree and dread the thought of putting it up, opting for one more glass of wine first. We will make lists, check them twice, start all over again. We will watch Charlie Brown and find gratitude in everything, embracing a mindful holiday mindset that we hope to carry into the new year. And when we are feeling the pressure, we will back out of some things to focus on others. Like laughter and play and yoga class. And that will be ok, too. Because that’s what’s kind of great about family.

When you want to walk away and give into the pressure of the holidays and the obligations and the perfect, Pinterest-worthy lights…you always have them to steer you back. Them and Charlie Brown.

Have a great weekend. xx


Where to Shop Small Biz in San Diego

2014 November 26


One of my favorite aspects of the Thanksgiving holiday is the relatively new (I mean, new compared to Thanksgiving itself…) concept of Small Business Saturday.

It’s an antidote of sorts to Black Friday, originally conceptualized by American Express, and encourages us to shop small, independently owned retailers whenever we can, and particularly on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. To cleanse ourselves, and the economy, from the mayhem of Black Friday.

I am not a big Black Friday person for many reasons, but always find a way to sneak out on Small Business Saturday to support my local economy and pick up some truly treasured finds for the holidays, so I thought I would share my favorite places to shop small in San Diego this year:

Pigment in North Park. One of the coolest independent retailers in the city, packed with fun finds for the home, beauty, gifts and more.

The Library Shop at the new(ish) San Diego Central Library. Erin and her team have curated the chicest little shopping space in a corner of the library’s main floor, perfect for book lovers and trend hunters alike.

Lone Flag in Del Mar. Injecting a little city vibe into Del Mar’s beach scene, Lone Flag is the brainchild of Sam Larson (whose wife Kelli I met earlier this year at a Madewell event and instantly adored) and stocks great local and non-local brands for men, women and the home.

Aura Candles. This lovely line of hand-poured, custom-blended soy candles is made by two amazing moms in North County who put so much amazing passion into their work. Their “Merry” scent is a true must-have for the holidays and you can find it (and all their other yummy scents) in various local boutiques or online here.

Aloha Sunday. I just like these guys. Their stores (in North Park and Leucadia) are cool and simple and well stocked with a thoughtful mix of must-haves for the man in your life.

Univ in Encinitas. Tim owns one of the most unique little shops in North County, filled flawlessly with a mix of cool, under the radar brands and local homegrown favorites like Brixton and Raen. They also have their own signature collection of stylish staples for men, including this new Encinitas hat that should be propped under every tree in the county this year.

Be sure to get out there and support your small business friends in your community this weekend – every purchase truly makes such a difference to the men and women who pour their souls into their work. And if that’s not a great way to kick off the holiday season, I don’t know what is :)

*image above via Shop Pigment

7 Rules of Life

2014 November 25


A great find as we go into the holiday weekend.

I hope you spend the time reflecting on all that is great in your world.

Forgetting all that is not.

And being truly grateful for the things that bring you happiness – big or small.

*image via here