So You Think You’re Really Pretty?

It’s rare that I take a whole week off from work, but I have been longing to go to New York City since my last trip there a year and half ago. I was able to time it perfectly with the opening of Mean Girls on Broadway!

If you haven’t heard of the queen teen movie from 2004 you must be under a rock. I remember seeing the movie in the theater opening weekend for a friend’s birthday way back when. I was a freshman in college and I could not believe that someone really got high school so right. My high school definitely at the cliques and we were not short of plastic queens either.

Rumors of a musical version have been floating around for years but in 2016 when it became official, I knew i had to see it! (It has always been a dream to be on broadway…*sigh*)

It did not disappoint!

The cast was perfect, the songs were hilarious and powerful, and all the good lines were kept with so many new ones added. When I left the August Wilson Theater my cheeks were hurting from smiling and laughing so much!

If you find yourself in NYC, I recommend it even if you haven’t seen the movie! The musical version really drives home the message of the original movie (I watched the movie after seeing the musical) and I realized what Tina Fey was trying to do the first time. Her musical does a better job ( thanks to the musical monologues provided by her husband, Jeff Richmond) of delivering the message that women are powerful and we should use our power to uplift one another, not tear each other down.

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Always The Bridesmaid… Or Multi

As most young southern girls, I dreamed of my wedding day.

When I was little I imagined walking down the isle at the First Methodist Church in my home town, the organ bellowing, my friends lined up and my future husband waiting for me.

Although the likelihood of me getting married now is dwindling by the year, I still love the idea of a wedding, and when my friends get married I am all in and up to my elbows in all the details. I typically buy my engaged friends their first Bridal magazines and a planner to help them. So it’s no surprise when I am asked to either be a bridesmaid or to help in some capacity.

I tell everyone, “I planned my wedding when I was 19 years old and so now when I think of my potential wedding, I think of a back yard ceremony, BBQ or a courthouse.”

My older sister was getting married and while she was away at college, my mother and I

planned the whole wedding.

It was at First Methodist.

There was organ music.

And a symphony.

I picked out the bridesmaids’ dresses (I was the MOH) and helped with details on the cake, the DJ, the gifts for the bridesmaids and what food would be served. My sister basically had to show up that day and get married.

From that moment on, I was always the person my friends asked to help with their weddings. I am a jack of all trades:

  • Wedding Singer (I have been singing for weddings since I was 12)
  • Floralist
  • Hair and Makeup Stylist
  • Director
  • Seamstress
  • Photographer

And I am sure I am forgetting some other job description. It’s my nature to be the “fixer” and to offer a simple and mostly free solution. (I have never charged my friends, but the good ones always give me some money). When a disaster happens, I am the one that they bring in to figure out what to do.

I have thought many times to venture into doing this for a living, but I feel like it would ruin for me. After this last wedding, which I was bridesmaid, making two sets of bouquets (the first set died), doing hair and makeup, and dealing with the rain and change of venue, I don’t think I could handle it.

But I still love it.

Here are a few photos from the last three weddings I took part:

These Bouquets were made TWICE. The first set died in a refrigerator because they were bought too early in the week.

I did not make this initialed heart, but I did hang it with fishing wire from the ceiling. Haha! Sometimes you have to get creative when your Bride hands you something and says, “I don’t care where you put it as long as it gets used.”

 

When it comes to my friends trusting me with their hair or makeup (or both), I typically have a lengthy conversation with them about what they want to look like, but I also remind them that less makeup doesn’t show up in photographs.

For Hair, I typically have my own vision, but depending on venue, gown, and personality, we go over options. Because I am such a visual person, typically if you show me a picture of a hair style, I can mimic it flawlessly.

 

And then there’s the whole wedding singing thing… I typically average two to three weddings a year singing. It’s always such an honor to have a friend ask you to be part of their day. 

Photography

A few photographs I have taken over the last few months:

This is perfect Della. My friends Emily and Brian are quite the proud parents.

A friend requested I take photos of their family dog for a Christmas present. We had a fun Saturday morning at Overton Park here in Memphis.

My youngest nephew was proud of every present he received.

My friends make pretty babies.

Another one bites the dust: Mary Helen and Ryan are engaged.

Downtown Memphis views

Colin and Katie’s engagement party: the shoe game

Interior photo’s for Monica’s condo listing.

kitchen interior shot

Figuring out wedding hair.

First Time Christmas Tree

During the Holiday Season, I am always approached by new Christmas Tree owners with questions about trees. If they want to hire me to help them, I usually go shopping with them, but I can always answer questions on what is needed to start your first tree. Below are the basics:

 


 

“What size tree should I buy?”

  • For a House, a 7 – 8 ft tall tree is the perfect beginner tree. Easy to Decorate and won’t break the bank, it will fit in almost all standard homes. Now, if you have vaulted ceilings and you want a bigger tree, there are a few things you should consider: Bigger tree, MORE MONEY. If you are on a budget, do NOT by a 12 ft tree, even if it is on sale. You will also have to purchase a ladder to decorate it with.
  • For an Apartment, a tree smaller than 3 feet would be ideal. You could even set it on a table.

The above tree is 7 1/2 ft tall, the lights switch from color to white.

“Pre-lit Artificial, Non- Lit Artificial, or Real?!”

  • This comes down to your taste and what how much effort you want to put into your tree.
    • Pre-lit tree will be easy to put together and take down. If a section goes out you could string some, but the way they are made now, it typically takes years for this to happen.
    • Non-Lit Tree, you will have to buy lights for the tree, and string them. This was my LEAST favorite part of decorating my family’s tree when I was a kid. If the person is asking ME to decorate their tree, I usually say “I won’t be stringing the lights.” HAHA this almost ALWAYS gets them to buy a Pre-Lit.
    • Real – They are beautiful, smell wonderful, and give off this sense of coziness and being in a forest. For some, this is the ONLY way to go. You will have the occasional infestation of bugs, or even an animal, not to mention the NEEDLES, the clean-up, the water. I am highly allergic to them. In the woods, it is usually fine, as long as I am not rubbing up on one, but if I am in an enclosed room I always break out in a rash.

 

“How many ornaments should I get for a tree?”

  • Depending on the size of the tree, your budget, and your preference this will vary. Some people like their trees drenched in ornaments. If this is your first tree, be prepared to spend hundreds to achieve this look. If you are content with a more modest tree and have a budget, I suggest Hobby Lobby for your Christmas Decor Needs. They usually have all of their Christmas Decor for 50% off. $100 will get you plenty of ornaments for a nice tree and then every year after you can add what you want to it. For a 7 1/2 tree this is what you will need.
    • 8 – 10 Large Ornaments

  • HL sells large cylinders with at least 40-50 small ornaments. They are themed by color but often have more then one texture. For a first timer, these are perfect fillers that won’t break the bank.

    • Larger Decorative Ornaments really make the tree Pop. You don’t need a ton of these. They are usually more expensive, so anywhere between 6-12 will be needed.

    • Large Decorative Fillers can be poinsettias, large candy canes, hats, snowflakes, etc. I have seen all sorts of things! For my friend’s tree that I helped with today, she chose snowflakes and poinsettias.

    • Ribbon that is easily manipulated.

    • Tree Topper which can but anything from a star, to twigs sticking out, or NO topper. This is your Tree, so make it what you want.

    • Hooks to hang the ornaments.
    • Tree skirt is completely optional. The presents underneath will hide it anyway, so if it is a budget question, then leave it off for the first year.

The above list will provide you just enough to get your first tree started. I always suggest to newly married couples that they should begin an ornament tradition every year. And I always say as soon as Christmas is over, head BACK to Hobby Lobby, or even Dillard’s or Macy’s to get great deals on their Holiday Decorations.

Scroll below to see more pictures from the Decoration earlier today:

 

2018 Goals

I do realize we are not even in December and I am already thinking about the goals I want to set up for 2018. Realizing how busy I will be over the next few weeks has fueled my desire to put these out into the universe so I can prep myself and even begin some now.

Resolution

I hate this word. I hate the concept of a New Year’s Resolution.

The definition of the word is “a firm decision to do or not to do something.”

A FIRM DECISION.

Although I do think that it is important to make firm decisions about one’s life, I tend to fail when it comes to resolutions because I don’t give myself the flexibility to be human and change / grow. For a few weeks now, I have needed a change. I need a reminder of what I want and to refocus on myself.

2017 has been a good year for me over all, much better than in 2016. The beginning of the year was difficult but once I moved past the hospital stays, things really began looking up. I would love 2018 to be a better year, a more stable and focused year; so instead of making a resolution (like dieting), I have decided to make a list of goals in different pockets of my life. I want to give myself lots of options that I can switch between when get tired of trying so hard. I can move to another goal, or even focus on more than one.

 

2018 GOALS

Personal:


  • Read – I cannot tell you the last time I read a book. I recently purchase one that I am truly excited to get into. But I don’t want to just ready books, I want to look at more articles, more psychology today articles.
  • Volunteer – I haven’t been able to do this for quite some time but I have a need to help others. I wanted to look up some groups in Memphis I could possibly volunteer for.
  • Less Phone Time – I am finding myself more and more on my phone. In the mornings, in the evenings, DRIVING. I have GOT to learn to put it aside and LIVE IN THE MOMENT. Deleting Facebook as soon as the St Jude Race is over.
  • No Dating Apps / NO DATES – Yes. I said it. No more bumble, no more match, no more dates. I have another blog planned for this, but in the year 2017 I went on 32 dates. I need a break. I am exhausted of going through the same motions and seeing NO results. I need to walk away.

 

Professional:


  • Focus – All through the summer I have been not giving work what it needs. And my numbers are showing. I need to get back into the mind set of my job and everything that it entails.
  • Make More Calls – Without the focus, I have been more lax on my calls.
  • SELL SELL SELL – pretty obvious.

 

Health:


  • Eat More Vegetables/ Less Bread – I want to make an effort to eat more greens. For the most part I do this, but I have to learn to say no when on business lunches.
  • Run: I stopped running. I have used excuses for reasons why I can’t, but I can run and I need to.
  • No Muffins – I had lost 30 pounds from March – September. I was so excited with how I was looking and feeling. But I slacked off, started eating muffins every day and stopped running. I have gained 10 pounds back, my left leg is messed up and my face is swollen again. NO MORE MUFFINS.
  • Get to 150 pounds – This is still the ultimate goal set by my cardiologists and my endocrinologist. at this point I have an additional 36 pounds to lose. I CAN DO THIS.

 

Hobbies:

  • Guitar – I recently bought myself a guitar so I can begin playing again. I want to put some of my poetry to music.
  • Photography – Take more photos!
  • Travel – I have spent almost all of my vacation time from work for other people. I help with weddings, I help my family. For the first time in 5 years I took a vacation BY MYSELF and I loved every minute. There were some sad moments, but overall I got the travel bug. I have a trip planned to NYC in April. I want to start planning at least one BIG vacation a year, and then 3 other smaller ones in year quarter.

 

Holiday Decor

For several years I decorated Christmas trees for extra money during the holidays. This was a skill I learned working at Dillard’s as one of their visual merchandising managers. It was my favorite part about that job and I still miss getting the planograms for the trees each year.

It always amazes me how many people don’t know how to decorate a Christmas Tree. Really, all you need to do is throw some decoration on a tree and be done!

But, if you are like me, I want an aesthetically pleasing tree; a theme if you will.

Several years ago I purchased my pre lit 7.5 foot tall tree from Trees and Trims. I am a traditionalist at heart, so when it comes to Christmas, I choose to go with red, gold and hits of green to add a pop of dimension.

I️ am pretty quick when it comes to putting up a tree. The misconception is you need tons of ornaments and tons of extras and that is just not the case.

To begin, assemble tree, with the lights on to be sure you do not need to replace any lights. Go ahead and fluff the branches too. If it’s a brand new tree or ones you have had in a box, the tree will need some life brought to it. Find the perfect location: I decided on a little corner right by my couch. I had to move some furniture around in my living room to ensure it wasn’t in the way.

Once you have fluffed the tree, you will need to add the ribbon. I always have three types of ribbon on my tree. It sets the color theme that will be throughout the tree and it always helps to add dimension.

The first type of ribbon is your traditional Christmas ribbon with wire on both sides. This ribbon is easily manipulated and will help guide you for the rest of the ornaments. I suggested twisting it and tacking it to the tree every few Inches by using the branches. I personally like my ribbon to cascade down the tree, almost like a waterfall of ribbon.

The second type of ribbon is actually a heavy duty outdoor ribbon that thick and sturdy. Super easy to manipulate, it creates beautiful large curls.

The third ribbon comes very last 😏

Now this will probably sound really OCD, but I sort my ornaments before placing them. First you want to put on the largest of the ornaments. The largest ones should be hung deep within the tree. This technique fills up any space there may be. From there you will begin to add mid size ornaments. These are typically solid in color but could have glitter or even sequins.

I make sure to evenly distribute these ornaments. Don’t forget the back! You don’t want your tree to fall over!

From the above photo, you could stop here if you wanted. But after these larger ornaments is when you want to add the more intricate/color-pop.

You don’t need a ton of these. Distribute evenly again.

I love to add beautiful Poinsettias to catch the eye. I bought all of these from Hobby Lobby years ago.

When adding these, I did move some ornaments around. They take up a lot of room, and you want them to be focal points, so it’s important to make room for them. Distribute sporadically and then add the skinny green ribbon on top.

I bought a new star for my topper this year:

And lastly a tree skirt that pulls it all together:

And the final tree:

Sadly I do not have a fire place or mantel. I decided to turn my kitchen bar top into one that tied the Christmas tree and the kitchen together.

I have been obsessed with mercury glass lately. In my normal house decor it is a running them in my living room. If I️ had more room, I would dedicate a whole section to this theme, but since I don’t, I decided to keep in that theme for one corner of my kitchen.

The colors are cooler but still give you those holiday feelings:

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