Thursday, December 6, 2018

Special Holiday Memories with Simon Malls Menlo Park

The holidays hold a special place in my heart.  My biggest memories from my childhood are my parents decorating the whole entire house with Christmas decor - no corner was left undecorated.  I would fall asleep to the soft glow of the string of Christmas lights on the fireplace mantle.  I would stare aimlessly at the porcelain carousel that sat on top of my piano as it slowly circled around to Christmas carols.  My parents always made the holidays very special for us as kids and I want to reciprocate that same feeling for my kids. 

I took them to Menlo Park Mall soon after Thanksgiving weekend and they were floored that the Christmas decor was up.  I have to say, they do an amazing job with their decor.  In the center court they had stunning, tall Christmas trees that flanked Santa's area.  The kids were in awe at the decor and would shyly peek in between to catch a glimpse of Santa

As you walk through the corridors of the mall you'll see white twinkling lights hanging down from the ceiling - reminiscent of icicles.  These were so pretty to look at.  The kids had such a great time looking at all the pretty decor.  They shared a big cup of hot cocoa with lots of marshmallows and of course they had to finish off the day with 2 big sugar cookies from the cafe at Barnes and Noble.  

If you follow me, you know I'm a big advocate for experiences with the kids.  Its not about the presents, its about the experiences and the memories you create with them.  That, I think, is the best gift you could give your kids - the gift of time and experiences together as a family.  

Huge thank you to Alex De Dios Photography for capturing these beautiful moments with Gabe and Alessa.  

Sunday, October 28, 2018

6 Tips to Rock Your Holiday Card Outfits

Do you struggle with planning out your holiday card outfits?  Are you meticulous like me? Here are some tips on finding the right assortment of clothes for you and your family for your holiday cards:

Christmas 2017
Theme: Luxe fall foliage
Color scheme: deep green and burnt orange tones with rich textures
Photography by Alexander DeDios

1) Figure out your location/theme. Do you want it set outdoors? Fall/winter? (Pro's are beautiful settings, con's are you are subject to the weather) Do you want it indoors (pro's are controlled settings/lights/etc) Do you want it by the fireplace? Are you all drinking hot cocoa on the couch? Are you all decorating your tree?

2)  Figure out a color scheme.  Try to pick at least 3 colors to incorporate into the look.  Unless you like the all white top and all khaki pants looks that everyone does by the beach then go for it.  But to make it a more stylized shoot, try to incorporate more colors so its cohesive but not so matchy matchy.  Pick colors that match your theme or colors that you probably have in your closet already. 

3) Shop your closet.  You don't have to buy new clothes just for your pictures.  Figure out what you have and be creative! Is there an old dress you wore to a wedding?  Can you dress it down by adding a chunky sweater to it?  Is there a plaid skirt that you love?  can you pin it in the back and make it a dress somehow for your daughter?  Does your son not own something in your color scheme?  Can you find socks in that color as a pop?  Also, the tones don't have to be exactly the same.  The different tones the better in fact - again so there's some contrast.  Don't be shy to use your accessories on your kids.  Do you have one too many plaid blanket scarves?  Use them on your kids for that perfect fall shot.  Or better yet use one of them as a picnic blanket and sit on it while you guys huddle amongst the leaves drinking cider.   Do you guys wear matching pj's for christmas morning every year?  Why not get more use out of it and use it for your pic?

4) Do you have a new addition to your family?  Make sure they are wearing the brightest color in your color scheme so they really stand out.  So for example if you are doing a red/tan/black theme, your little baby girl could be in neutral colors but could have a bright red bow on her or for boys, a bright red bib or even shoes.  

5) Time of day. This all depends on your family.  Pick a time when everyone has napped or just woken up so no one is cranky.  If your shoot is outdoor, sunset is always the optimal hour (the golden hour) to get that beautiful light.  But really the important thing is to have everyone in a good mood so you decide what time is best for your family.

6) Accessories.  If you are going to spend money one something new for the pictures, make sure its something you can reuse again.  Or instead of buying a whole new outfit, again, focus on the accessories.  Accessories do wonders for your look.  Focus on scarves/statement jewelry/ shoes/ hair pieces/ even makeup! 

Here are some of our past photos for our christmas cards.  I'll go through each pic with the theme/color scheme/and overall vision i had in  mind:

Christmas 2013
Theme:  Rustic Luxe/Fall Foliage
Color Scheme:  Plaids with a pop of red
Photography by Richelle Schroer

Christmas 2014
Theme: Winter Wonderland
Color Scheme: pink/grey/ivory with hints of fur
Photography by Richelle Schroer

Christmas 2016
Theme: StreetStyle Luxe
Color Scheme:  lavender and navy with luxe hints of tulle and fur
Photography by Peter Atkins

 Christmas 2015
Theme: New Year's Eve Celebration
Photography by Richelle Schroer

Hope you love these tips!!  Tag me in your holiday card family photos! Would love to see your beautiful family!



Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Holiday Party with Maggy London

I know, it's hard to envision the holidays being upon us.  But with Halloween coming around the corner, it's inevitable.  To be honest, I'm really looking forward to the holidays.  I love decorating the house with elegant gold and silver garlands, beautiful tablescapes with pinecones and holly leaves, and of course decorating the tree. 

I am actually  really looking forward to holiday parties - I'm envisioning adult conversations, sipping a few cocktails, and dolling up with a great red lipstick and a killer dress - all the complete opposite of my life now with the kids during school days! ;)

I love every single one of the dresses in the Maggy London holiday line.  Picture rich jewel tones of blue, emerald, classic black and a gorgeous lurex fabric with hints of gold and silver.  Their silhouettes are always so slimming and so flattering. 

My absolute favorite from this collection is the Sabrina dress.  It's an off the shoulder style which just exudes sexiness without being too much.  It skims the body to show off a women's beautiful figure but still ruches in the center so it's very forgiving.  I'll take that!!  And black is always classy.  I paired it with a classic pump, a metallic clutch and of course a pop of red lipstick. 

Bring on the holidays...and the cocktails!!

xoxo, Karen

Friday, September 28, 2018

5 Things I Learned a Month into the School Year

It's almost October, people.  How the heck did that happen?

This month flew by and while we're still perfecting our back to school "system" I learned a few tricks in these past few weeks that I wanted to share that hopefully will help you too in your pursuit for time efficiency and being rockstar parents.

Here are 5 things I learned after a month of school:

1) Paper plates are your best friend.  Yes, I know, this is not environmentally friendly, but when you have dishes a pile high with unspeakable organisms growing 5 heads in your sink every night, you really don't care.  Paper plates make life soooo much easier. 

2) Rewards chart/chore chart.  After a long day at school the last thing the kids want to do is homework or any house chores.  I found that creating a chart with things you'd like them to do everyday after school makes it more fun for the kids to complete them.  Plus it makes for a friendly competition between siblings.  You can include things like, homework, eating a fruit/veggie, getting the mail, or anything tedious that you know it will take some convincing for them to do.  We usually mark ours with a sticker on the chart. And once they complete a whole row they get a small prize or they can buy some ipad time.  Our good friends taught us the system of putting 15 minute increments onto popsicle sticks and those can serve as prizes.  The kids can redeem ipad time by handing in any popsicle sticks they've earned.  You can read more about this here.  This is a big hit in our home as Minecraft and Roblox are favorites here.

3) Block schedule planning.  Its so common sense but I honestly never implemented it.  I watched a YouTube video by Jordan Page and its life changing.  I think being an entrepreneur, you don't have a set work schedule so you just squeeze things in as you can.  You end up all over the place with your to do list.  But just like things in your house, your things you need to do should have their set place in your day.  So an example would be from 6-9 am you do everything house related so get kids ready for school, prep food for day, clean room, laundry, etc.  9am-12pm - this is your out of the house block so you go to the gym, set any meetings during this time, go to grocery store, get your nails done, have lunch with people, and do anything you need to do outside of home/office.  12-3pm - you sit at your desk and tackle all work related stuff so make calls, send out pitches, schedule photoshoots, work on blog posts, or whatever you need to do.  3-6pm is solely kid time so pick them up from school/bus stop and get them ready for all their after school activities games, homework.  6-9pm dinner time, bath time, bed time for kids.  And then 9pm and on you finish up anything you didn't get to finish, binge watch on your latest Netflix obsession, or spend time with your significant other.  Jordan explained this system so well in her video.  Check it out for more details here

4) Be patient with the kids.  I've gotten so exasperated when nothing is being retained in their heads for big tests or from homework.   But remember, their brains are fried; they've had a long day.  Just try again early before they go to school to study for that big Vocab test they have.  A good night's rest does wonders for them and their information retention.

5)  Give yourself grace.  "Grace is giving someone the opposite of what they deserve."  I heard this amazing quote from one of Rachel Hollis' "Rise Together" podcasts.  You may feel like a failure because you are constantly running late to kids' appointments, you missed their back to school night, you mixed up spirit day at school and your child was the only one with an obnoxious amount of blue and gold spray paint in their hair at school.  You're adjusting to the changes too just like the kids, so give yourself some grace.  Give yourself a chance to get used to the busyness of the school year.  Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to adjust.  If you haven't listened to her podcasts, they are a great resource for #lifehacks. Check out the one she does with her hubby here

I hope these tips help.  It's a big learning curve for kids and parents alike so give it time!

xoxo,  Karen

Monday, August 27, 2018

Empowerment: 5 Ways to Take Your Power Back This Fall

Now that summer is done, its time to get back in control of your life.  Summer was all about making memories with the kids, truly savouring family time without having the constraints of a school calendar.  And now that school is almost back in session its time to regroup and refocus on you and growing yourself and your business forward.   It's time to focus on personal empowerment.

There are so many things you can do to empower yourself but these are 5 tangible, immediate things that I think we can all do to get ahead in being productive and in making our lives easier and more receptive to the opportunities that are awaiting us this year.  

1) Declutter: We've all heard the saying, "cluttered environment, cluttered mind."  If everything around you is in disarray, how can you expect your mind to be at peace?  Of course all your to do lists run rampantly through your mind as you see the pile of laundry in one corner of the room.  Of course your day starts off crappy as you open the pantry to grab a cereal box for the kids and 5 cans fall out and land on your toe because your pantry is filled with too much stuff.  Of course you can never find anything to wear because your clothes are stuffed together in the closet and you can't see anything.  If it doesn't serve you, get rid of it.  Just focus on a room a day for the next 2 weeks.  Spend one hour after dinner with a big trash bag (or 3 or 10) and put stuff in there that you really don't use or maybe have multiples of and donate it or give it to someone else who would appreciate it.  If it doesn't inspire you, get rid of it.  For a good decluttering method I've heard a lot of great reviews on the KonMari method.  And a great book on this is the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  

2)  Forgive:  This is so important for your mind and your soul.  Look at this as a decluttering of the mind.  There are a lot of things in life that hurt us - friends, family, lovers, situations, jobs.  And we carry that hurt around with us. It makes our heart heavy and it contributes to how we communicate with the world.  It fills us with negative emotions and resentment and prevents us from being open to receiving any positive energy around us.   Forgive them and grow forward.  You don't have to forget but try to forgive.  Most people don't do things to intentionally hurt us so try not take anything too personally.  This is actually one of the 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  If you haven't read this, its a must.  Its like a handbook to life if there ever was one.  A great movie on learning to forgive and move forward is "I Can Only Imagine." 

3) Create a playlist:  Music is one of the rare forms of healing that can completely change your mood around 180 degrees in a second.  Listening to your favorite song can take you out of your stupor.  Listening to a song can take you back to your first kiss.  Listening to a song can take you back to childhood memories of fun road trips with the family.  I heard this tip while watching the movie “Made for More” based on Rachel Hollis, motivational speaker, author, fellow mompreneur, and founder of the Rise Gathering conferences.   I couldn’t agree more.  Having a playlist readily available to pick you up is a great tool for keeping you empowered.  

4) Eyelashes: Getting lash extensions is a game changer. If you've been following me for awhile you know how much i love them.  I started getting them a year ago and I can't stress enough the confidence you feel with long lashes.  Not only does it cut your time getting ready in the morning in half but you feel so glam from the minute you wake up to the moment you go to sleep.  As a mom, you usually don't feel so glam running around from errands to kids appointments, to games, etc.  In fact you feel sweaty, run down, and plain old tired.  But knowing that you look way better than you feel gives you that extra boost of energy.  Yes, its a mental game but I promise, it will change your world.  

5) Power undies:  Yes, I said it.  Yes, no one but you (and your significant other) will probably see your underwear but you are who matters right?  There's something about having sexy, beautiful, luxe undergarments that sets the tone for your confidence each and everyday.  How do you expect to channel your inner goddess and boss babe with big old grandma cotton underwear?  Put on those sexy lace or satin underwear and go rule the world.   You can get plenty of cute underwear anywhere but my go to is always Victoria's Secret.  They are always running special promos but the best deals you can find are at their outlets so if you can find one near you, I suggest running there.  

Hope you can put some of these into place TODAY and take your power back!

xoxo, Karen

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Insanity Check - 6 things you must make time for in order to be a better mom

The summer is quickly coming to an end and before we know it, the long endless summer days will be replaced with the hustle and bustle of school days, after school activities, rushing back and forth to appointments, kids parties, etc.  

And while I might not have the answer on time management, there's one thing that I'm absolutely sure of- you need to make time for yourself.   I know many people worry about being selfish but I truly believe - if you are not personally 100%, then I don't see how you can give 100% to your family, work, or anything else that demands your attention. 

There are 6 things you absolutely must make time for: 

  1. Gym time/active time - nothing is a mood booster like a workout is. Yes it's hard work, but the energy and accomplishment you feel afterwards is priceless. And the best part is, the benefits don't end there! Every little step or action you take moves you closer to your overall fitness goal. You have nothing to lose.  While there are many physical benefits to this, imagine that alone time in your head. That's valuable time for positive affirmations.  My favorite form of exercise is dance - you can dance from the comfort of your own home with so many options here. 
  2. Food prep - you've heard this quote "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." There are so many benefits to prepping your meals for the day/week. First you save money. Second you are controlling what's going into your body. You control how much sugar, fats, vitamins, nutrients that go into your body and for those you love. Thirdly, you save time throughout the week. Instead of wondering each and everyday what you are going to have for dinner, if you've planned it out then you'll have all your ingredients ready and hopefully chopped and ready to cook.  
  3. Weekly face mask - your skin will thank you later...and so will your sanity. All it takes is 15 minutes. Put on a sheet mask, or a charcoal mask. Read your favorite book for 15 minutes, meditate, listen to your favorite podcast or playlist, and wash off! Your skin will feel like a million bucks and you'll be so happy that you made 15 minutes of time for yourself.  My favorite masks to use are by Peter Thomas Roth and my favorite sheet masks are my Skin Laundry. 
  4. Personal things that you love to do- I know this is a tough one but put it into your calendar. Weekly might be aggressive but if you can do bi-weekly that would be amazing. Go to a coffee shop and read a book for an hour, spend time perusing an antique shop, nurture your inner green thumb, join the local volleyball team. Do something for you. The rest of the time is almost always for the rest of the family so focus this time for yourself 
  5. Focus on something to help your side hustle and propel your business forward. We live in an age where our full time job is not our only job. We live in an age where the term "stay at home mom's" doesn't exist anymore.   Everyone has a gig. Everyone is an entrepreneur. We all have ideas. But what are you doing to put those ideas into action? Make time into your day/week to focus on your side business.  A great resource for helping you create an actionable plan is the Passion Planner. It helps you break down your dream goal into minute goals so reaching the overall goal doesn't seem so daunting.   If you need motivation, You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero is an amazing book. 🙌🏼
  6. Talk to your girlfriend. We all have different friends for various situations. You have your co- worker who you can vent to about your crappy boss, your spontaneous friend who you can call to go out for drinks or even to go dancing with, your friend you can cry to. Make time for the girlfriend who makes you laugh the most. She's the one you can probably be the most real with because you both share the same sense of humor. 

Make time for these 6 things regularly and you will be the best person you can be for your family. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

6 Things You Probably Do, But Shouldn't When Networking

Networking is one of those things in business you love to hate.  For some people it comes naturally.  For others, it's a chore.   But in business it is necessary.  Relationships are the root of all business transactions and should be cultivated and nurtured.

Lena Grae Photography

For everything you need to know about networking, "Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi is a must read.  In fact it's one of my favorite business books of all time.  Keith stresses that you should constantly be inviting people out for lunch and coffee and growing your relationships with people.  Think about how you can help them and add value to their lives. Naturally they will want to return the favor at some point.

While Keith stresses that we should incorporate networking into our daily lives, I'd like to talk specifically about networking events.  I've been to quite a few in my time here in NJ this past year and I've met so many amazing people including my fellow #momboss 's and style influencers. And based on "Never Eat Alone" and from my personal experiences here are some things you probably do but shouldn't at these types of events.

Davin Tes Photography

 - don't bring a guest - I know it sounds intimidating to go alone, but when you bring a guest you use them as a crutch and end up talking to them the whole night.  When you go by yourself, you're forced to look outward and catch other people's eye.  You'll have a better chance to talking to more people.

- don't wait until the end of the panel to talk to the guest speakers or to hosts of the event. The speakers at an event are always publicized before.  And they're usually milling around before the panel starts. Do your homework, find out who they are and what they are about and start chatting with them from the getgo.  Guaranteed after their talk, there will be a line of other attendees just waiting to talk to them and pick their brain.  So get a head start and talk to them before.  They will remember you.

- don't go on an empty stomach.  Its so hard to chat and chew at the same time.  Take advantage of this valuable time talking to people and working the room.  Don't waste your time holing yourself up at the food table.  Plus I'm sure alcoholic beverages are involved and you definitely don't want to be downing those on an empty stomach.

- don't try to absorb everything spoken from the panel and assume you will remember everything.  There is such a thing as information overload and mental notes in your head will be replaced with more current notes.  Jot things down.  Write down key takeaways from each speaker.  Reference these later so you can take actionable steps and use these to improve yourself and/or your business.  And bonus points if you recap these same takeaways back to the speaker.  Message them after the event and talk about how you loved when they talked about "----" and recap your notes.  It shows them that you were engaged and listening.  This will only solidify your relationship. 

- don't get too comfortable.  Congrats - you found yourself a new friend at the event that you have so much in common with.  You can exchange numbers and promise to meet for a follow up drink/coffee but don't stick with them the whole night.  Save those longer conversations for your next meeting.  Go find yourself more people to meet.

- don't come without knowing the guestlist.  Do your research and try to find out who else is going to the event.  I like to stalk social media posts surrounding the event and I read through the comments trying to gauge potential attendees.  And I pinpoint who I'd like to meet so I can make sure I look for them at the event.  Be strategic about your time at the event.  Face to face time with people is important.  You bypass all the gatekeepers when you see them directly at an event so use this time wisely. 

Davin Tes Photography

  Sharing here some photos from a recent event I went to this week at Bloomingdales at the Mall at Short Hills called "In Her Shoes." It was a great panel showcasing 4 #momboss's local here in NJ sharing their struggles and triumphs as both a mom and an entrepreneur.  It was encouraging hearing other mother's truths and let's face it, sitting inside the shoe department can never be a bad time.

I really hope you find these 6 tips helpful in growing your network and creating lasting relationships for both your personal and business needs.  

xoxo, Karen

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Summer Strut - Athleta x Paris and a Latte

How is summer already here?  It's crunch time!  Memorial day weekend, which is the official start of summer is almost here.  Yikes!  Time to step up the workouts and the clean eating to show off that summer body.

Last month I was lucky enough to partner with Athleta, along with my fellow bossbabe and trainer, Mary Massey for a Summer Strut It party where we showed off some great summer trends as well as sweat it up with a Zumba session. 

We showcased some great athleisure wear pieces from Athleta that transition from day to night.  We wanted to show pieces that were versatile that you could take from Barre to the bar.  Our beautiful models for the night came from Barre3 in Morristown, a great barre studio right next to Athleta.  Stay tuned for my review of my first barre class with them.  Kristen, the manager at Athleta talked about each piece that the girls were wearing and I had the chance to dress up the outfits with jewelry from the Cayetano Legacy Collection  and show how with a few simple key pieces you could change your look. 

Some pieces that I think are great investment athleisure wear pieces are:

1) white button down shirt
2) leather like leggings
3) joggers
4) windbreaker
5) a good layering tank 

Here are some outfit ideas to take you out of the gym and for everyday wear.

All you need to dress up these looks are items that should already be in your closet:  a good pair of heels, a moto jacket, a good chambray/denim button up, and some amazing jewelry/accessories.

Almost all of our guests left a winner.  We had so many great raffle prizes such as gift cards from local juicer, Green Point Juicery who also provided drinks and snacks during our event.  We also had prizes such as a gift box from local, women owned company Pause and Unwind, free classes to Barre 3, a huge gift basket by ProVere Physical Therapy and of course we wanted to give away one of our beautiful statement necklaces from Cayetano Legacy. 

We ended the night with a fun jam Zumba session with Mary

It was an amazing event at Athleta and it was the start of getting our mindsets into summer mode.  But now its crunch time because summer is officially here!!!  I get my workouts in but my eating and my nutrition is what I need to focus on.  I definitely don't get enough vitamins and nutrients so I just started using capsules from Juice Plus that incorporate nutrients from over 30 + fruits and vegetables.  My body's been craving it for sure and so I'm slowly but surely getting myself ready for the summer! Message me and let me know some tips and tricks you've been using to get yourself ready for summer! Would love to hear from you.