My Perspective on Gift Gifting

As I’m reflecting on this past holiday season (I realize it was a few months ago :-) ), I want to share my thoughts on what I believe to be the best gift giving idea for friends/families/co-workers/etc.

The method I am a really big fan of is (there’s no real name for it) a group of people picking 2 names out of a hat and buying for them instead of buying for everyone.

One might think…

…well then I won’t get as much OR I feel bad not buying for everyone

But the truth of the matter is, when you’re an adult, what do you really need from someone else that you can’t buy yourself? (Nothing) Or are the presents really what makes the holiday season? Not at all.

Here are the reasons this method is so great!

  • You can set a price limit per gift

  • Save $

  • The gift is more meaningful (keep reading to see what one of our favorite gifts was this year)

  • You have more time to focus on buying one gift that the person will really want instead of multiple gifts for multiple people

  • This gives an opportunity for you to buy for others that you may not speak or visit with all that often (cousin gift exchange, work gift exchange, etc.)

  • You can share some gift ideas with the group beforehand to list exactly what you’ll really enjoy

Let’s be honest, the holidays aren’t about the gifts. It’s about spending time with those you love and honoring your own beliefs (whatever they are). If you have another gift idea that has worked for you, I’d love to hear it in the comments below.

I will say, one of the coolest presents we received this year was a digital photo frame. I truly believe everyone should have one. We all take so many photos on our phones, however not many of them ever get printed these days. This photo frame was so easy to use, you just put your photos onto a flash drive, insert the flash drive into the photo frame and “wa-la!” It even turns off when it doesn’t detect motion around it, and you can alter the time each photo is on the screen for. If you’d like to add videos, you can do that as well. I highly recommend it (if you can’t tell already). LOL!

This picture (and yes it’s on my digital frame as well :-) ) is my husband I during our first Christmas together out here in Marina Del Rey.

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How to Approach Giving Things Back

If you have been a victim of a hand me down that doesn’t spark joy, then this article is for you!

I’m starting off this blog post with a unique situation. (Please no judgement here as this isn’t a place for it, but hear me out.)

I am an only child and my mom tends to give me lots of hand me downs. These aren’t the kind that have been worn out and torn. These are the kind that most people dream of owning and I am beyond blessed. 

However, I find myself looking at, holding and touching these items with very little joy. These were not items that I purchased and most of them I don’t use that often because of the lack of thrill I get when using them. 

So here I am, with designer accessories and I’m complaining. What’s wrong with me??? At least that’s how I was feeling until I read Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. 

In the book Marie references how it is a burden to accept these things since you were not the one who originally made the purchase nor wanted them as gifts. 

After reading this I realized that I am at the point now where I need to return them to their original owner (my mom) to let them free of living in my house (where they spark little joy) and send them off to a place of immense joy. 

One might think that since she gave them to me she must not have joy for them either. However, it’s not the case at all. My mom loves to share. I know that she wants me to have only the best in life and that’s why she shares so much (fashion, accessories, etc) with me. 

So fast forward a few weeks after this Ah-Ha moment and I decide to share with my mom this realization and the plan. Here’s how it went...

First I should mention, we’re super close. We talk on the phone every day lol. I call her and I explain what I’ve been doing (the KonMari Method). I told her how I appreciate her letting me “borrow” (I say that because she would have never asked for them back but knew it would help when asking to return them) her designer accessories but I’m not getting as much use out of them as I know she would. I then proceed to say, “would you like me to ship them to you or do you want to get them when you’re out here visiting? I then say “or if you don’t want them anymore we can sell them to make some money back.“ She then goes on to tell me what she wants back and what I can sell. I felt a huge sigh of relief. For the first time ever have I asked someone to take something back that they gave me and it went smoothly! 

I also want to mention that this may not go as well for you. I think that this is a very personal and case-by-case situation. These items don’t hold sentimental value and if they did, I may have thought twice about it. My mom is a very understanding person, and she knew my thought process behind my decision. I think one of the most important things about finding happiness in your heart is to be honest with people about what you do and don’t want to accept in your life. 

This very thought is what brings me to my next topic which you’ll find in my next blog post and that is gift giving.  Check back in a week for it! 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and I’d love to hear your stories about situations where you had to confront things head on. Just remember, you are strong, you are confident, and you are doing this for you.

All the best,

Alex

p.s. My mom and I below on our last girls vacation together :-)

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The Path To Chasing My Dreams & What Led Me Here

Have you ever been in a job that didn’t fulfill you? Where each day you dreaded getting up and going to the place of unhappiness?

I have.

And what did I do? I took control.

This journey that I am on has been filled will all sorts of feelings: excited, scared, empowered, humbled, and I could go on and on. So many of us are stuck in this rat race of doing something that doesn’t fulfill us in many ways.

How many times do you think, “I don’t feel fulfilled anymore” or “I don’t feel appreciated for the work that I do.”? I’m sure many of you said yes, and at one time, I too, felt this way.

I dedicate this post to my husband, Stephen. I never pictured that my dreams would become reality, that I can turn my passions into a business, be creative on a daily basis, and be my own boss! He inspired me because he too is a business owner, and a supporter through and through.

One of my “light bulb” moments I had during this time of transition was how in my past I lost control of my career. Which is ironic because I truly believe that you do carve your own path; I mean, nobody is forcing me to take a job, right? I was taking promotion after promotion because I wasn’t clear about my goals, timeline to achieve them or the steps to get there. I was only living in the present day and not planning for the future.

I never stopped to think, “What do I REALLY want?”

Now, by me saying all of this, I will say I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences as they have made me who I am today. I am able to be my own boss because of my past.

When I was young, I would always organize my families and friends spaces. I never knew why I wanted to do that other than I liked things to be in their place and I absolutely loved the instant gratification that I received from doing so (I still love it!!). I also have such a passion for art. I used to get scholarships to Columbus College of Art and Design when I was a young girl. I would attend Saturday morning art classes and it was such a great outlet for me. It gave me a taste of independence, it created a sense of individuality, and it allowed me to be creative.

Fast forward 20 years (how is that even possible) and here I am. I still have that little girl inside of me aching to paint, draw, make jewelry and declutter/organize/design spaces.

Below are some of the things that I needed before making the leap & started chasing my dreams:

  • Business idea & plan

    • And also be open to change! How many businesses do you know that are doing the same exact thing they did 5, 10, or 20 years ago?

  • Support team

    • Both Professionally & Personally

  • Financial means

    • There are so many costs associated with starting your own business

  • Self-driven & Persistence

    • If you’re your own boss, you have to be ready to get up and get going every day & not give up!

  • Mentor(s)

    • Both Professionally & Personally

  • Sense of Self & Strong Back Bone

    • Everyone will give you opinions, but you listen & then you decide what is right for your business or what isn’t

Feel free to share with me in the comments below how you are chasing your dreams. I’d love to hear the struggles, the monumental moments, the hurdles and everything in between! We are all on this journey called life and truly deserve to find happiness every day. You create your destiny. Happy Sunday, and dream BIG!

All the best,

Alex

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Steps to Creating a Home That Speaks to Who You Are

Your home should be one of your favorite places to be, right? Besides where you like to escape to on vacation or fantasize about.

As time goes on, your design style may change (it most likely will). As I’ve discussed previously, my design style has definitely changed over the years and I am always looking for ways to upgrade my space.

I’m currently in a time where I recently got married and “my” space isn’t really a thing anymore. I have to learn to adjust and make it “our” space. I will say, I did marry a man who lets me (for the most part), do my thing. :-)

Below are what I’ve recently had to do to figure out how to update our home into a space we both enjoy and that speaks to us.

Here are some easy questions to ask you & yours:

  1. Take a look around your house and write down common themes you see throughout your house (you can even look in your closet to see common colors and patterns).

    • What about it do you like?

    • What about it would you change?

    • Can you bucket your style into a specific category (Modern, French Country, Traditional, etc.)?

    • What is your lifestyle like?

      • Do you travel a lot and if so, what do you collect from your travels?

      • Are you more of a casual or formal person?

  2. Do you have one room that you spend most of your time in?

    • Why do you spend most of your time here?

    • Is this a space that’s for gathering or for yourself?

What’s Next?

After you’ve answered question 1, you probably have a sense of your design style.

After you’ve answered question 2, you can now walk away with knowing which room to transform first to your dream design space.

The Takeaways…

Now I recommend that you look at the meat and potatoes of your room (flooring, walls, furniture, etc) that you’re going to start with.

  • Are these items in line with the design you are going for? If not, this is where you will want to start finding furniture pieces or a wall color that does suit your style.

One of the easiest ways to get started with this is to create a vision board. Feel free to check out my vision board here.

Let me know how your transformation goes! Leave me a message in the comments below.

All the best,

Alex

What Do You "Really" Need? Is Minimalism the Only Way?

This past year my Husband and I have focused a lot of our energy on minimalism (watching videos, reading articles, etc.) and really taking a second look at what do we really need?

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve never once thought of myself as a minimalist. Minimalism to me always came off cold and the opposite of what I thought a home should feel like. If you’ve been reading my blog posts, you will probably remember that I’ve moved 12 times in the past 12 years. One would think that I’m probably a minimalist at this point because who lugs around their stuff from place to place?

This past year has brought an immense amount of clarity in my life. I definitely attribute that to continual organization, de-cluttering, & as of late, working towards a more minimalistic type of life.

So what does this all mean?

It means that I took a real hard look at every single piece of clothing, every book, piece of kitchen utensils, knick knack, dvd, you name it…and said do I love this? And if the answer to that question was no, then I got rid of it.

Have you ever been shopping and you really didn’t have the money to go shopping but you still did anyways? And during that moment when you’re in the fitting room and you try something on and like it but don’t love it?? Yes, it’s that type of difference. It’s like something isn’t worth the money because you don’t love it. So I took that same type of approach to my belongings.

Now, I’ll admit, I do this about every year because I have moved about every year (some years I moved twice and others I didn’t). But I don’t think I’ve ever taken this deep of a look at my belongings, nor did I feel the desire to.

Here is the order of how I went through my belongings, and I encourage you to try the same:

  • Clothes

  • Accessories (Scarves, Hats, Shoes, Belts, Jewelry, etc.)

  • Books/DVD’s/CD’s

  • Bedding/Towels

  • Kitchen

  • Knick Knacks (everything from picture frames, photos, vases, pens, etc.)

One other thing that I did was after going through all of my belongings, I wanted to try to sell them for whatever they were worth to make some extra money.

Below are some tips & tricks I suggest when trying to do the same:

  • For any designer items, I would suggest researching local consignment shops.

  • Download the Letgo app & you can sell just about anything on there!

  • Research and see if you have a Buffalo Exchange near you. I tend to get the most bang for my buck there!

  • If you work with people who have a similar style, see if they want anything that you want to sell!

  • For items that won’t sell, take them to your local Goodwill. They will give you a tax receipt!

If you’ve recently de-cluttered and went for a more minimalistic approach, leave a comment below and share your approach and end result. I’d love to hear from you!

All the best,

Alex

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Moving Tips From Someone Whose Moved 12 Times in the Past 12 Years

Moving can be life changing and a huge task. It can be really scary if you haven’t done it very often, or trying to do it all on your own.

As someone that has moved 12 times in 12 years, I can say that it’s exhausting yet thrilling all at the same time. Not to mention that I even bought a house and only had it for 10 months before my job re-located me and I had to sell it.

I want to share with you some tips & tricks that I have come up with over the years to help me move easier, faster, & more cost efficient.

When it comes to preparing for the move…

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • When was the last time you de-cluttered?

    • And I mean, opened every cabinet, drawer and closet and sold/donated items you don’t need/want anymore. If it’s been more than 3 months, I suggest planning time to de-clutter (or hire me :-) to help you with this)

  • What furniture pieces do you want to keep/repurpose vs sell/donate?

    • I have decided to always sell/donate furniture that is inexpensive and doesn’t have any sentimental value. Try to letgo App! It’s worked a few times for me.

When it comes to packing for the move…

  • If you are packing yourself, you will want to purchase the following:

    • Boxes

    • Bubble Wrap or Paper for wrapping breakables

    • Moving Tape & Dispenser (it’s worth the extra $$)

    • Large Permanent Market (write on the top and sides of every box what room it goes in)

    • Trash Bags

    • Shredder (hopefully you already have one, but if not, you’ll most likely need one!)

  • Use your suitcases to transport some of your items you will need right away in your new home or that have a significant meaning/value!

    • Change of clothes

    • Bath towel & hand towel

    • Soap

    • Toilet Paper

    • Plate, Silverware, Mug, Water Bottle

    • Snacks

    • Toiletries

    • Jewelry

    • Important documents

    • Valuables

  • If possible, do your laundry the night or two before your move. That way you can use your hamper for moving as well.

When it comes to deciding how to move…

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • How far are you moving?

    • If this is an in-town move vs an out-of-town or cross country move, your options will look very different.

      • Option A:

        • If you are moving in town and you don’t have many items, I suggest getting some friends together to help you with your move.

      • Option B:

        • If you are moving in state but to a different city with minimal heavy furniture, I suggest renting a U Haul or moving van/truck of that sort.

      • Option C:

        • If you are moving in town or in state but have heavy furniture, I highly suggest hiring professional movers. They have the expertise, insurance, and strength to move your precious belongings from place to place. They are usually really fast too!

      • Option D:

        • If you are moving out of state, I highly recommend moving by using a cube service. Recently, my husband and I decided we are moving to California and we hired Move It, Cube It. They offered an excellent rate to load the cube, move it to California from NYC and then unload the cube. This will be my second time using a cube service and it’s really hassle free.

      • Option E:

        • If you are moving out of the country, I don’t have much advice! I’ve never done this before. I do have friends that have and they were only moving temporarily so they put their belongings into storage for a year while they lived overseas.

Nonetheless, moving brings change and change is good! Remember to plan in advance, do your research to see what is best for you, follow the tips & tricks above, and feel free to reach out should you have questions/would like to schedule a consultation to go into detail about your de-cluttering/organization for your move.

All the best,

Alex

*Below is Tom (my step-dad), Emma (my dog), Lilly (not pictured: in her cat cage) & I on my last move from St. Louis, MO, to NYC!

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My Favorite Home Stores & Shopping Tricks

Whenever I’m looking for something new for my place, there are generally a handful of places I like to visit. Before I get into all of that, I’m going to back it up to my earlier years.

As some of you may know, I’m originally from Ohio and my first car was an SUV. I absolutely loved having an SUV!! Not because I got to drive all of my friends around (that was a perk too), but I really enjoyed being able to pick up furniture from thrift stores or the side of the road (please don’t judge me!!! -if it didn’t look too gross or destroyed).

Some thrift stores in Ohio received goods from Target on specific days. I remember figuring out when they received the deliveries and always checking out what was dropped off. I found the cutest black and white tuffed chair there for next to nothing! I will give the credit of thrifting to my Grandma Kay. She would take me to thrift stores all the time and we would have so much fun. She loves collecting antiques and has always been a supporter of me being creative.

Fast forward 15 years…

Ever since moving to the city, selling my car & having to rely on the subway or taxi’s, my shopping (especially furniture shopping) has had to change a bit. I still have that thrill of the hunt inside of me, but it’s a bit different since I don’t have a car or SUV of my own.

One thing I found interesting is that so many people just throw out their furniture here instead of moving it because it’s such a hassle (or too expensive). Good luck for me because in my neighborhood (Upper West Side), people are constantly throwing out perfectly good furniture. As I’m sitting in my living room now, I’m looking at 4 pieces of furniture that others didn’t want & I snagged up. Talk about a bargain!!

Here is a list of my favorite home stores and some of the best items to purchase from there (in my opinion):

  • Anthropologie

    • Candles (my favorite right now is Pumpkin Clove!)

    • Knobs (for dressers, cabinets, etc. and these can really transform old pieces of furniture)

  • Home Goods

    • Rugs (Amazing deals on living room rugs)

    • Lamps (Really unique lamps…just check to ensure the shades are sturdy)

    • All things Bath (shower liners: found one for $4.99!, soaps, etc.)

  • H & M Home

    • Duvet Covers

    • Picture Frames

    • Throws

  • Ikea

    • Storage Containers

    • Pots & Pans (I’ve had mine for 8 years now!)

    • Bathroom Rugs

    • Plants (my lucky bamboo!)

My last trick is that you have to check out the clearance at all of these places! Many times at Anthropologie for example, they will have some knobs on clearance. I buy different styles and mix and match. This style works for my vision (and it may not for yours…that’s ok too!) but I’ve been able to get great deals that way.

Most importantly, have fun. Take your time, don’t go on these adventures if you’re short on time. Otherwise you will just leave frustrated and disappointed. Happy shopping & feel free to share in the comments where your favorite home stores are or some of your shopping tricks!

p.s. Enjoy the photo of my dog, Emma and I at Home Goods :-)

All the best,

Alex

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Where & How To Find Design Inspiration...

From the time I was a little girl, to this day, I have found the majority of my design inspiration through the furniture and belongings that I already own. I was always willing to put in the effort to update my furniture (fresh coat of paint, new hardware), or decorate my walls (new paintings, add an accent paint color) to achieve the “look” I was going for.

One of my earliest memories of “designing” my room was when I was around the age of 8. Obviously at that age, I wasn’t purchasing my own furniture, or really getting too much of a say on what my comforter looked like, or the color of my walls. What I did get to decide was how my furniture was organized in my room and how all of my belongings (clothes, teddy bears, dolls, art supplies) all fit in that space. Believe me, I was always moving my furniture around. My mom would come up and say, “Oh you’ve changed things around again” with a slight smile on her face. One thing that I will always be thankful for is my mom to have allowed me the freedom to move things around and to share my creativity.

It’s funny looking back on my earlier inspirations as I wanted to be fully surrounded by fashion magazine pages & boyband posters. As I got older it evolved to being surrounded by my own art work and today it’s all about relaxation and serene vibes.

My biggest goal is to design on a budget. I am very practical in the sense that I realize to go out and purchase all new furniture is really expensive. I also understand the fact that there are times in our life where we collect certain things and then eventually wonder why we ever did such a thing (beanie babies and crazy bones) lol.

One of the best ways I recommend for you to find your design inspiration is to do the following:

  • Take a look around at what you own.

  • Write down the things that really stand out to you that you love.

    • What about them do you love?

  • Look at your clothes, jewelry, etc. and pick out your favorite pieces.

    • What about them makes them your favorite pieces (color, shape, texture)?

  • Start a vision board.

    • Include pictures of your favorite items

    • Add in pictures of things you like and want to incorporate into your home.

  • Do you have a friend/families house or store (my personal favorite is Anthropologie) that you enjoy being in and appreciate their design?

    • What about it do you like? The color on the walls, the furniture, the smell?

  • After you’ve taken these steps, I suggest you take a closer look at your place.

    • What furniture can you repurpose?

    • What walls can you paint?

    • What items can you donate or sell?

    • What items would make the biggest difference in your space?

      • Rug

      • Comforter

      • Shower Curtain

      • Upholstery on your chairs

Don’t stop searching, enjoy the journey and don’t settle for meh…enjoy the bliss of making your home or office space the best it can be.

If you would like to discuss your design vision, feel free to schedule a consultation.

All the best,

Alex

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