Top 5 Pins of the Week: On a Pedestal

Ever since we bought our little fixer upper (ok, and pretty much months before then), I keep dreaming about all the farmhouse décor I can’t wait to get my hands on. I’m currently commissioning my father-in-law, a.k.a the master carpenter, to build us a pedestal stand for a round table that’s been in my hub’s family since, well, lord knows how long. But somewhere in between apartment moves in Houston, NY, LA, & back now to Houston – the poor thing lost its legs. I like to imagine they were picked up off the sidewalk by some wide-eyed creative in NY, who was just itching to fasten them to some makeshift table as their prized (and only) piece of furniture. But I digress.

I’ve also pined (hehe, get it) over a banquet-style breakfast nook for as long as I can remember. I don’t know if it’s just my general love to eat in a booth (seriously, if a restaurant doesn’t have dining booths, it goes down a few notches in my book), or if I just like imagining my family all cozied up together sipping hot cocoa. Either way, I’ve already found the perfect spot for it in the new house, and have dropped subtle/not-so-subtle hints to my FIL who is now becoming familiar with my love of Pinterest. BTW, if you’re not already following me, check out my new board – farmhouse modern – and feast your eyes on my top five “pedestal table/breakfast nook” designs below. Feel free to chime in on your favorite in the comments!




CH2T Covets: Holiday Edition

I’m excited this year to finally be doing a Holiday Edition of CH2T Covets! Since I know outfits don’t just throw themselves together, I’ve listed some tips below to help guide some of your style and gifting choices for the holiday season upon us.

I’ve also featured my most recent addition to the CH2T accessories family – an uber cool JORD wood watch that I’ve paired with a Thanksgiving, Holiday party, and Christmas look. And you’re in luck my friends because I’ve partnered with JORD to offer y’all a Holiday Giveaway. Every person who enters will be instantly emailed a $25 e-gift code to use on their site! So check it out, and don’t be tardy for the party😉


Thanksgiving Comfy:

1) JORD Wood Watches Fieldrest Series, Dark Sandalwood

I’ve never been one for gaudy or girly accessories, but have always felt like a classic timepiece can truly pull an outfit together. So when I found this JORD watch, I fell in love with the sleek style and dark sandalwood that I knew would be the perfect compliment to the holiday looks I paired it with below. I tend to wear my watches more like a bracelet, and I like how the band is a little larger without being too bulky. It also has a scratch resistant mineral glass face, which gives you the benefits of a sapphire crystal without the pricetag. Plus it’s key when you’re running around with a toddler all day!

2) Calvin Klein/TJ Maxx, Long-Sleeve Plaid Shirt (birthday gift, similar here, here and here)

I think it’s fair to say that plaid is like the sartorial anthem for the holidays. So I recommend investing in some lightweight ones that are comfy enough to wear all day cooking/eating/sleeping (which I will be doing all three) on Thanksgiving. I was just gifted this Calvin Klein blouse by my sister-in-law for my birthday, and the best part is it’s super soft cotton and tunic shape that helps hide all that turkey and stuffing🙂

3) Kenneth Cole, High-Waisted Frayed Denim (bought from outlet, similar here) & Guess, Black Suede Pumps (old, similar here)

I’m so over low-waisted jeans – just say “no” to crack! I started off buying these Kenneth Cole ones for the frayed look, but fell doubly in love when I realized they were a flattering high-waist fit. I prefer a cut that’s more skinny (can’t quite get into the wide-leg frayed look just yet), to show off those killer heels. Heels on Thanksgiving, why not?

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Holiday Party in Style:

1) Via Spiga/Nordstrom Rack, Beline Over-the-Knee Boot

It was only a matter of time until I felt the undeniable need to possess a pair of over-the-knee boots. This fall season’s styles are by far my most favorite, with varying shades of gray suede being my absolute fave. When I set my eyes on these Via Spiga boots a mere two weeks before my birthday last month – the hubs snatched them up when I wasn’t looking and I couldn’t be happier with them. How perfect would they be for all those fun holiday parties coming up? Be prepared to stand out – in a good way🙂

2) Banana Republic Factory at Houston Premium Outlets, Cowl Neck Sweater (similar here and here) & Corduroy Mini Skirt

Even though moving back to Texas pretty much means saying bye-bye to all my chunky sweaters for all but 2 days out of the year – I couldn’t resist this Banana Republic cowl neck long sweater. I’d been mentally planning all my fall outfits around said new OTK boots, and one such look was the chunky sweater + mini skirt combo. I just loved the plum/raisin color of this corduroy mini, and knew it would pair perfectly with neutrals. Done and done.

3) Adrienne Vittadini/Marshalls, Charging Wallet/Wristlet Clutch (birthday gift, similar here and here)

Gone are the days of me cursing my phone for not holding a charge. When I came across this charging wallet at Marshalls, I just thought to myself – genius. Fashionable and functional is the name of the game when you’re a mom, and I love the gray pebble leather which makes it versatile with black or brown. It’s also perfect as a wristlet clutch to compliment that killer holiday look, all the while making sure you don’t miss out on all those Instagrammable moments.

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Christmastime is Here:

1) Ralph Lauren/Marshalls, Skinny Leather Pant (clearance, similar here, here, here and here)

So by now you’ve probably heard about the great POD fiasco this summer, where nearly half my wardrobe got stolen. Of course it couldn’t have been all my junky t-shirts and pajamas – noooo it had to be my favorite leather leggings and dressy clothes. Ever since then, I’ve made a mental note of the key wardrobe essentials that needed to be replaced and keep a watchful eye out anytime I’m browsing the shops. And hey, I love H&M as much as the next girl, but the hubs and I agreed it makes the most sense to invest a little bit more on these pieces that I know I’m going to wear time and time again. So as I flippantly tossed each article of clothing aside on the Marshalls clearance rack one day, I did a hard stop when I felt the high-quality leather of a pair of leggings. I about choked when I saw the label. No way was I about to score a pair of Ralph Lauren leather pants at 80% off. Yes way, and you better believe I held onto those like I’d just found the holy grail.

2) Cynthia Rowley/Marshalls, Merino Wool Pointelle Sweater (similar here and here)

You know when you find the perfect pair of pants/skirt, then go to try them on and realize you don’t have the right top on? Tell me I’m not the only one who sifts around the racks to find the just-right-perfect top, or sweater in this case, to give yourself the full dressing room experience. The only problem is, about 99% of the time I end up falling in love with the “interim” top and have to get it. Good thing this one wasn’t too much of a splurge, and how could I deny it in all its drapey gloriousness?

3) All Saints/Bloomingdales, Ankle Boot (no longer available, similar herehere and here)

If there’s one wardrobe staple I recommend to all my clients/friends – it’s the ankle boot. I don’t foresee this one going away for a while and I pray to the fashion gods that it doesn’t. You can wear it with jeans rolled up, sweater dresses, pencil skirts, and my personal favorite – leather leggings🙂 So getchya a pair!

p.s. A little monkey woke up from his nap at the tail end of our shoot, so I bribed him with a sucker and snagged a few shots for your viewing pleasure😉



This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches

Wooden Wristwatch

Links à la Mode, November 17th

SPONSOR: Amazon’s Shopbop, Ganni, Flight 001 Accessories, Gift Guide, P.E NATION, JADE Swim, Marion Parke, Bell Sleeve Tops, Camera Bags, Shearling Boots, Men’s Aer


Mom Jean Confessions: Dear Judgy Mom

Dear Judgy Mom at the park this morning,

I can see my son just offended you, and I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that my son, who just turned three less than a month ago, and who you undoubtedly took one look at and mistakenly took him for a five year old, didn’t live up to your high standards. Because here’s the thing – he does look five. At first glance, if I were you, I too would have scoffed at his behavior – running up and pushing aside your son who had at least four years on him and who he thought was done on the swing set. And I’ve been known to tell a kid (much, much older than Garrett) to let him have his turn, but minus the incredibly rude tone saying that “my son was playing there first.” And as you sat in the only other swing (as an adult), I’m sorry I didn’t thank you profusely for reluctantly getting up to let my son swing – because we all know how put out we feel to give up something to a child.

I’m sorry I didn’t feel like striking up conversation despite your belligerent attitude, because I too was annoyed. I too don’t like seeing my son bully another child (albeit one four years older than him), but instead of walking away and taking the easy road, I stayed and disciplined my child – explaining we use words like “excuse me” and “are you done swinging.” Because again, he’s three and has limited words in his brain – and I guarantee 90% of those involve trucks and cars – which means my job is to keep teaching him how to communicate with others on a daily basis.

I’m sorry that today happens to be daylight savings, and while it’s not an excuse, it’s pretty much an unspoken rule that all parents and kids get a free pass that day – cuz we all know it brings out the crazies.

I’m sorry for being overdressed at the park. Because on any other day you would catch me in the same exact workout top and pants as you with my hair in a pony tail. But today we just so happened to make the most of our morning, dragging ourselves out of the house before 9am on a weekend to enjoy Cars & Coffee. So forgive me for being a little too eager to put on a real outfit (All Saints boots, Madewell skinny jeans, Who What Wear chambray top, and Saks bday hat), because it finally wasn’t 90 degrees and I promised we’d take Garrett to a park on our way home.

And lastly, I’m sorry I laughed out loud when your son informed you while sitting on your lap “I’m gonna poo-poo on you” to which you slapped his hand. I actually thought about trying to bond with you over our son’s apparent obsessions with working “poo” and “poop” into everyday conversation like it’s their job, but I guess I just didn’t feel like small talk.

But then, just as quickly as the “Swing Debacle of 2016” came to be – you were gone with your two boys and I never had the chance to really say I’m sorry. Because I was. Because all snarkiness aside, we are all in this mamahood stuff together and we are all allowed a bad day, free pass, or just a non-judging eye when we need it most. Because what kind of mom would I be if I held a grudge when you clearly were just trying to enjoy a nice swing at the park with your two sons, before my toddler interrupted.

So when the uber-friendly dad with two boys came up after, joking with us about the critical talent for swinging two kids on two different swings at the same time, a funny thing happened. I felt the need to pay it forward, because I know that’s what Judgy Mom would have wanted. I looked over at the mom who had just walked up with her young son of five or six waiting patiently for the oh-so-sought after “car seat” swings as Garrett calls them (you know the big green ones that are actually for special needs kids). I told Garrett it was time to give him a turn, and he didn’t protest a bit. The mom didn’t speak much English but was very grateful, which made me smile and think – the next time someone gets under your skin, vent about it or do whatever you need to do to get over it, and then do the opposite for someone else. I bet you’ll leave there feeling less judged. And we all could use a little less judgement these days.


Some snaps I took at Cars & Coffee and our Mommy & Me breakfast date at La Madeleine – pre-park swing debacle😉







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My Week in Style: 35 is the New 25

NEWS FLASH: I turned 35 this week. It felt just like any other birthday, with the exception of one thing – it was one of those “mid” birthdays. Remember the first time you had to refer to yourself as “mid-twenties,” and you realized all those life expectations you set for yourself in your younger years were like one big fat joke played on you by the universe? Saying things like, “I’m totally gonna be married with a kid by the time I’m 25” or “I’m gonna live in a big house with two dogs and an awesome car.” But that’s the beauty of young naivety – you can dream about these things and no one will fault you for it. In fact, your parents even condone it all the while secretly knowing that life is a heck of a lot more unpredictable than you can explain to a teenager.

I mean, who knows what I might be saying now if my life circumstances had been any different. What if my dad hadn’t passed away right after my college graduation? Or, what if I hadn’t met Grant and decided at 25 to pick up and move my life to NY and then later to LA? Maybe I would have been celebrating this birthday in a little house up in the Hill Country, married to my college sweetheart with three rug rats running the place. But as I officially embark on yet another mid-decade milestone, I can’t help but feel like 35 is actually when my life is settling down the way I always imagined it to be. Sure, the past ten years have been a wild and exciting ride – not a bit of which I would change. Why? Because all of it had to fall into place to lead us here.

Here, where I’ve come back to my Texas roots, with a loving husband who I feel I could tackle anything in this crazy life with and end up laughing our heads off at the end of the day. Here, where I’m a mom to a child that I literally dreamt about having ever since I was ten years old, begging my mom for a baby brother and boring my best friend with ideals of motherhood. Here, where we finally found that first home, the one we’ve dreamt out loud about cozied up in our one bedroom apartments – and can you believe it’s back in the town where we dated? (“Clear Lake Fixer Upper” future post alert).

So you can find me here – 35 and the only place I want to be.

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Shop the Look:

Target, Mockneck Bodycon Dress (bday gift to myself)

Gap, Chambray Button-Down Shirt old/no longer available (similar here and here)

Steve Madden at Saks Houston Premium Outlets, Edania Zippered Sneakers (hubs bday gift)

Prada, Sunglasses (Christmas gift from hubs)

Links à la Mode, November 3rd

SPONSOR: Amazon’s Shopbop, Club Monaco, Enza Costa Sweaters, Splendid Booties, MCM Sunglasses, Fringe, Pajamas, Faux Fur Vests, Wallets, Black Mules, Men’s FairEnds


Sunset Hill Tree Farm: All in the Family

I never thought I could love fall, and October in particular, more than I did when I was a kid. But then I had my own kid and it’s like fall has taken on a whole new meaning. Primarily a new found love for pumpkin patches. I mean seriously, who knew plopping a baby down on a field full of pumpkins could be so stinkin’ cute? Now that my son’s a little older, we get to enjoy more things like hayrides, petting zoos, etc. which is what we found after stumbling upon Sunset Hill Tree Farm. We literally just mentioned it in passing when visiting my father-in-law in Alvarado, TX a few weeks back – and turns out, he knows the man who owns the farm. He told us the story about how he helped fetch him and his lawn mower out of the mud last Spring. After a good laugh I imagine, they got to talking about how Duane (the husband) and his family have been running a Christmas tree farm and pumpkin patch for the past several years – and invited my father-in-law to stop by. These are the kinds of good country folk who make us so proud to be back in our home state.

So we piled into the Jeep and headed down the sweetest country road you ever did see. When we got there, we realized it was about 20 min before closing, but they could not have been any more welcoming. It was quite the departure from last year’s pumpkin patch excursion to Tapia Bros Farm, where literally everyone in LA descends on the valley for a glimpse at the “country” life. This year, we literally had the run of the place and it was pretty dang picture perfect. I almost felt embarrassed at how many pictures I kept taking (almost), but when you get the chance to see your son soaking up real life on a farm – it just was too good not to capture. So if you live in the DFW area, it’s only about an hour from Dallas and 45 min from Ft. Worth. There’s one last weekend left to make it there this month, and if you can’t squeeze it in then be sure to make it out to their Olde Tyme Christmas & Hayride the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. See ya’ll there!


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Mom Jean Confessions: I Was Wrong

Garrett’s 3rd birthday came and went this week, and like most important life events – the build up is way bigger than the actual thing itself. I mean, I kept telling myself/repeating what I’d read from the mommysphere “the 3rd birthday is the one they start to remember.” That’s all I needed to hear and it was on. I picked a theme – construction, naturally. If you know my son I feel like his obsession with trucks is at a whole other level, so I felt like my creative skills needed to be kicked up a notch. I did the late night Pinterest binge to get the juices flowing, and hit up the trusty party planning spots the next day – Party City, Dollar Tree, Target and Hobby Lobby. I included photos below from his party along with all the décor and where I found them – hope it helps for future bday party ideas!

But similar to the reflection I did on his 2nd bday last year (see HIMYM), I felt compelled to do the same this year. So I’m fessing up to all the ways I’ve realized “I was wrong” on this road to motherhood (and yes, I can almost hear the hub’s ears perk up in the other room, ha), so here goes (in no particular order)…

  1. I thought work wouldn’t be rewarding after a child. I was wrong.
  2. I thought if I did everything for my son, I was protecting him from the world. I was wrong.
  3. I thought disciplining him would come naturally. I was wrong.
  4. I thought my husband wouldn’t want to do all the “mommy type” duties. I was wrong.
  5. I thought we needed a great big house instead of our small one bedroom to make a home. I was wrong.
  6. I thought living in a city would be more well-rounding than the suburbs. I was wrong.
  7. I thought only girls were sensitive. I was wrong.
  8. I thought all boys were loud, rambunctious, balls of energy. I was wrong.
  9. I thought dressing a boy wouldn’t be as much fun as a girl. I was wrong.
  10. I thought my son wouldn’t remember half the things we say to him. I was wrong.
  11. I thought chronicling our lives online would bring criticism not support. I was wrong.
  12. I thought my friends didn’t understand how much my life had changed. I was wrong.
  13. I thought I couldn’t talk about the anxiety I felt in the beginning because I was the only one. I was wrong.
  14. I thought my  mom wouldn’t be able to sympathize with how I felt as a new mom. I was wrong.
  15. I thought our relationship as a couple wouldn’t be any different after a child. I was wrong.
  16. I thought I couldn’t confide in my husband on all my fears as a parent. I was wrong.
  17. I thought yelling would get my point across and correct behavior. I was wrong.
  18. I thought my husband had everything figured out as a parent. I was wrong.
  19. I thought I would miss our freedom. I was wrong.
  20. I thought I couldn’t be any happier than we were when it was just the two of us. I was wrong.


Party décor:

Party City – You can find a ton of stuff online, but I was told they don’t carry any in the store so mama had to get creative. I found the construction worker hat first in the Halloween costumes, then came across a pack of construction trucks, and the caution signs  I found in the “over the hill” aisle but just had to peel the “senior” part off of it. The napkins/straws I thought I’d go with black & white to compliment the orange/yellow. For the table treats I got popcorn bags and buckets for candy. The bubbles, whistles, slinkies, bouncy balls, and Tonka truck tattoos I used as décor but then reused in yellow gift bags I ended up passing out to the kids at his preschool bday party.

Hobby Lobby – Hobby Lobby was always my go-to growing up, and they ended up having the cutest construction themed plates, signs, cupcake toppers and banner which were perfect to tie my theme all together. I saw a cute idea on Pinterest to use hard hats as snack holders which I filled with chips, gold fish and candy corn which doubled as traffic cones. They also had actual traffic cones that I just placed on the table, and I totally lucked into the dump truck piñata that I found on clearance. Tabletop construction stickers and construction truck erasers I also used in the gift bags.

Target – I bought all of the food here including bags of Boom Chicka Pop popcorn which I got the idea from Joy Cho of Oh Joy! to top with rainbow sprinkles which was a huge hit with the kiddos!

Dollar Tree – I knew they had Matchbox construction trucks, which I just wanted as extras on the table for the kids to play with and Garrett loves them. I snagged some accent yellow balloons, and wrapping paper/cards at a great price.


Adventures in Shopping: Old Town Tomball

Let’s just set the record straight. I’m a sucker for anything old. Vintage cameos, antique decor, old towns – you name it, I covet it. It started with weekends spent strolling the quaint streets of Old Town Spring with my parents growing up, where the shops and restaurants make you feel like you’re living in an old west town rather than in the middle of the booming city of Houston. We’d spend hours at our favorite lunch spot, the British Trading Post & Tea Room, where my father bonded with a fellow Brit, Maureen, who ran the place with her daughters and quickly became like family. After moving away, I would plea for Grant to take me back any time we visited home, just to get a glimpse of my childhood memories.

Now as we work to set down roots in Houston, I found myself yearning to explore the city once again for a little character and nostalgia. After hearing my sister-in-law, who’s lived and worked in Tomball for nearly 20 years, talk so much about all the antique stores and charming tea room – I finally talked the hubs into spending the day exploring Old Town Tomball. We started on Main Street where the sidewalks are lined with boutiques, restaurants, and the coolest custom boot shop where you can literally watch boots being made by the original shop owner’s grandson.

We also stumbled upon Kid’s Anthem, the cutest children’s clothing and toy store, while waiting out Garrett’s first day of preschool (aka, longest day of my life). The shop owner Sharon is a doll and chatted with us for quite a while, which was a welcome and pleasant distraction. Now if you’re looking for true, authentic antiques – you’ll have to wander one block over to Market Street, a little enclave of vintage goodness. My favorite shop was The Whispering Willow & Co., with its variety of antique home decor that had me daydreaming about shopping alongside my unknowing BFF Joanna Gaines. Not to mention, the lovely ladies working there reminded me how much I’d been missing that sweet southern hospitality. Speaking of, if you do find yourself in the area – don’t forget to stop by O’Suzannas and tell Linda (my best friend’s mom) “Hi” for me!

Since I had become so smitten with its charm, I knew it would be the perfect backdrop to share my favorite new bomber that you can score now on sale! Crazy story about this dress though – can you believe I paid a whopping $0 for it?? Gotta love the buy-one, get-one free clearance section at Forever 21. I just love how lightweight it is considering the warmer fall climates we all seem to be experiencing, and the sheer paneling at the bottom just adds a cool touch of design. Now if only I could save all my pennies to buy that vintage Dumas coat I found…

Shop the Look:

Target, Floral Bomber Jacket (love this Who What Wear one at Target too, and these are all super cute – Urban Outfitters, Bloomingdale’s, and Aqua)

Forever 21, Asymmetrical Hem Shift Dress (similar here and here)

All Saints, Ankle Boots no longer available (similar herehere and here)

Links à la Mode, October 13th


Top 5 Pins of the Week: Bombs Away

This past week I found myself turning to Pinterest more often than usual grasping for a little style inspiration. You might recall from our recent moving debacle, that somewhere in West LA a woman (or man for that matter) is walking around wearing half my wardrobe. Hence, I’m having to come up with more creative ways to make what clothes I have left work overtime. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Pinterest is your friend. I personally find it to be the best place to get a quick dose of fashion inspo, and the best part is that I can do it at night after I put the little guy down and have all my new outfit ideas ready to reference the next morning. Bazinga. Warning though – I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me slightly more shopping obsessed than I already am. However, after working for years to clean my closet down to the bare essentials (with a little help from some thieves), I don’t just shop mindlessly like I used to in my twenties. My method is simple – I see an outfit like one of the ones below, and I imagine what from my own wardrobe can I use to recreate it. Then, I allow myself to purchase that one last article of clothing that’s needed to complete the outfit and make it on trend. This week, it was the bomber jacket. I mean, you can’t be on Instagram for more than five seconds before you see every blogger and her mom sporting some variation of it. And truth be told, I’m diggin’ it. I’ve included links to some of my faves below, as well as a shameless sneak peek plug for my next post, where I sport the bomber I scored at Target for under $30! You’re welcome (in my best “Stewie” voice)…



Links à la Mode, September 29th

SPONSOR: ShopbopSaylorSalvatore Ferragamo ClothingPetersyn TopsRime ArodakyArmy By Yves SalomonSpencer VladimirSleepwearThigh High BootsLeather JacketsMen’s Tomorrowland


My Week in Style: Fall in Line

Waiting for fall to come in Texas is like waiting for cherry blossom season, and then it’s gone before you know it. I’ve never let it cramp my style though. Granted, I definitely miss my LA “seasons,” which essentially allowed me to dress like it was fall year round (le sigh). But alas, I vow to prepare for fall like a medieval knight going into battle. The easiest way, if you live in a warmer climate like we do now, is to start transitioning your wardrobe with a few key accessories. Now I realize not everyone is made for hats, but for some reason my tiny child-sized head (I don’t know how to prove it to you, so you’ll just have to take my word for it) loves a good hat. We’ve been on a considerable budget after the move, so I dragged the hubs to my go-to bargain shopping spots while the munchkin was at preschool – cuz hat shopping with a toddler is, well, not recommended. First stop, Marshalls – where I hit the jackpot. I was looking for something of the felt variety and they had a ton to choose from. So naturally, a fashion show ensued with myself and the random shoppers silently judging me as they walked by who I was “this close” to asking their opinion, but I used the hubs instead. We settled on a black large felt fedora with a gold chain accent from the August Hat Company, which I loved because I wear so much black and gold.

That same week, I convinced myself to try on the sweetest LBR (Little Black Romper) as we were perusing the Houston Premium Outlets. If you know me, you know this was a big deal for me fashion-wise, since I’d been swearing off rompers after the local tweens starting sporting them 5 years ago. It wasn’t that I didn’t think they were cute, they were cute alright, but I have a strict style code to not wear a trend just because it’s a trend. But as I slung each leg one by one into aforementioned romper – I realized the real reason I had been so afraid to wear them. I didn’t have the body confidence I once had in my younger years, and I was afraid of also looking like I didn’t belong in the “romper club”. A club that I imagined was only reserved for size 2 wearing, legs-for-days petite girls that this Italian mama didn’t stand a chance getting hazed into. But as I slowly and rather awkwardly (I mean seriously, a man must have designed these contraptions) pulled the soft black cotton over my shoulders, a funny thing happened. I felt. Cute. And let me tell you – moms rarely feel presentable half the time, let alone cute. So I strutted my mom bum out of the dressing room, tugging on the shorts legs as if to miraculously make them longer. I tried desperately to find Grant for a final “hubs nod of approval”which affirmed my cute feelings inside. Of course being the doubtful person I am, I tell him I just want to look one more time around the store for a size large because all I found was a medium. Knowing full well that the medium fit, I still was allowing my disbelief (and fear of romper membership revocation) tell me I was too old or too curvy to pull this off. The awesome hubs that he is pushed me to get it, and man I’m so glad I did. I was growing so tired of wearing shorts and running out of cute outfit ideas to pair with them – and I never realized the versatility of the LBR. So I decided to pair it with my new sassy fall hat and favorite lace-up brown suede sandals, to attend a girl’s reunion with all my former co-workers from my first job in Houston at Perry Homes – most of whom I hadn’t seen in over 11 years. I managed to snatch up my friend Molly’s new baby boy for a shot before we parted – check out those baby blues below…

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Shop the Look:

August Hat Co from Marshalls, Felt Fedora (similar here, here and here)

American Eagle, Front Cross Strap Romper (similar here, here and here)

Dolce Vita from Nordstrom Rack, ‘Jasmyn’ Ghillie Sandal (similar here and here)



Good Grief

Mom Jean Confessions: Good Grief

Good grief is right. Good grief, as in, “Good grief, why has it taken me the better half of 9 months to sit down and write again?” Or, “Good grief, could more things have happened to us this year?” But in the literal sense, a “good grief” is healing through loss, which I myself and those I love have experienced more times than once this year. Even as I’m sitting here writing this, I am stricken with grief of yet another close friend who was taken from us far too soon.

I didn’t quite know where to start, so I’ll just start from the beginning. Fair warning, it’s a five-parter and a little heavy, so get settled in for a long read. Oh and don’t worry, I’ll get back to writing fluff pieces about fashion, beauty, and my crazy mama stories soon enough.

Part 1: A Hopeful Outlook

As I looked forward to 2016, I couldn’t help but feel positive for so many reasons – Grant had started working on a new CBS show doing something he loved, Garrett had just turned two and we decided to start trying for a second baby, I had started to hit my groove again at work and my blog was taking off – what’s there not to look forward to? But that’s just it – life has shown me so many times just how fragile our illusion of it is. My late father always told me “Cammeo, all you can do is try not to get too low with the lows, or too high with the highs.” I thought he just meant not to get my hopes up about things, but what he was trying to teach me was a huge life lesson. There will always be ups and downs in life, and you can only prepare yourself mentally to handle them if you appreciate and value what’s important – and to him I know he meant family. So we finally booked our trip back home to Texas  which we hadn’t done in three years – I made the conscious decision to put aside everything (work, my blog, social media, everything) and just focus on family for the holidays. We all trucked it over to Louisiana where my brother-in-law has a beautiful home, and it just filled my heart so much to see Grant’s family get to enjoy spending quality time with Garrett for the first time probably since he was born. And we couldn’t have had a better Christmas.

But I kid you not, the minute it turned the new year – it was like the hourglass ran out. My small digital team at the magazine had literally imploded (translation – three people on a team of five quit), leaving myself and a brand new colleague of mine to fend for ourselves. Grant got an email (an email!), saying that the funding for the show he’d just started advising on had been cut, and they didn’t know if or when they’d be able to bring him back on. My mom, who had the best set up making enough money on the weekend so that she could help watch Garrett for us during the week – also got laid off. After going through a very emotional chemical pregnancy (I didn’t even know those existed), and being so certain that I was pregnant after months of trying, I couldn’t help but feel deflated looking at yet another “negative” pregnancy test. Truth be told, I put away all the tests since then and realized it just wasn’t the right time.

Then, out of the blue one morning at work, I received a message on Facebook that my close friend and former co-worker Christina (or Stina to those who knew her well), had been found dead in her apartment the night before. I was devastated and confused. She had been like a little sister to me, since we bonded over our Italian roots, yet I had no idea she was struggling with depression. Sadly, she’s not the first friend or family member of mine to battle depression. So I immediately felt overwhelmed with guilt – pouring over the last few exchanges we had with each other to see if there were any signs, or what stupid insensitive thing I might have said. I then remembered how I’d made some lame excuse (I think I was 9 months pregnant with Garrett at the time), to not be able to meet up the last time she was in LA. Then over a year later I randomly reached out telling her how Grant was now working with the producer on her favorite show “Criminal Minds” and of course made some false promises to connect her with him (she was a talented up-and-coming actress). I tried to find comfort in speaking with my former coworkers who were still close with her, and we all admitted to having the same confused, guilt-ridden reaction. Needless to say, all of the bottled up emotions I’d been feeling for the past month came to a head & I felt utterly blindsided by it all.

Part 2: Highs & Lows

But just as fast as January crashed down, February propelled us into an upward spiral of possibility. Instead of blaming the unforeseen circumstances at work for my current situation – I decided to finally put myself out there and present a new business plan to our publisher of the magazine. Even though things could not have been more up in the air, I felt that it was important for me to feel like I’d left nothing on the table and genuinely had a good idea that I was actually passionate about. In a nutshell, I wanted to marry what I loved doing, which was writing (see last post “The New Kit on The Block“), and help grow an influencer network for both new and existing clients of the magazine to partner with for sponsored content on Long story short, it was received with open arms, and all I had to do was stick it out for a few more months – piece of cake.

In the meantime, Grant randomly got a call from one of his former colleagues working private security asking if he was interested in helping head up Ted Cruz’s campaign security detail. It required him to travel for 2-3 weeks straight with only 1-2 weeks at home in between for as long as the campaign went on. By now we all know what happened there – but for the time it lasted, my husband had a front row seat to one of the craziest elections in history. It wasn’t the first high-profile client whose life was placed in my husband’s hands, but it was definitely one of the most intense security situations one could ever imagine. I even had a dear friend politely suggest he wear full body armor – which probably wouldn’t have been that over the top. While all the other candidates elected to have the Secret Service at their side, Cruz chose to keep his own personal security team – which just goes to show you what a bad*^*% Grant really is (I kid, I kid. No, but seriously, he is). Not a day went by that he or I didn’t get someone reaching out saying they’d just seen him on CNN, GMA, Fox, etc., and Garrett got used to saying “Daddy’s on TV!” (see proof below).

We were coasting into spring – Grant was given even more responsibility as security team leader for Cruz, I was on the brink of getting my business plan approved by corporate, and I was working on some exciting blog projects that finally made me feel like I’d hit my stride. But then I felt a sense of deja vu, and heard my dad’s voice repeating “remember, don’t get too high with the highs.” And as I opened my eyes one morning to a message on Facebook from my dad’s cousin in Australia – my heart just sank. Her sister, and my dear cousin Gabriella had passed away that morning, and in her words “I was so lucky to be there with her for her final moment. I am overwhelmed with grief, cause she was so young and always so funny, but as the world is a little darker today, heaven just got a whole lot brighter.” Of course you always want to know what happened, but all I could say was how saddened I was and what a beautiful soul Gabriella was. I first met Gabri when my best friend Emily and I spent the summer with my family in Sydney after our college graduation. We bonded so quickly and her love for life was incredibly contagious. Yet, she was also one of those people who just got a hard hand dealt in life – having just lost her fiance, she had a lot of inner turmoil which eventually as her sister said “her demons were just too strong for her to fight.” I couldn’t help but think of my friend Christina who I mentioned we also lost far too young, and how swiftly our loved ones can be taken from us. My heart still aches for her teenage daughter, and for the rest of our family that she left behind. The first thing I did to find comfort was to look back at photos from my trip – I’m finding this to be crucial in the healing process by keeping our memories alive.

Part 3: The Shake-Up

With all the travel that Grant’s new role entailed, I was feeling the need even more than ever to be home with Garrett. On top of that, my mom had been applying for jobs for months and finally landed the one she wanted – the only catch was that it required several weeks of training. Well as you can imagine, when you’re trying to lobby for a promotion with a great more responsibility at work – it’s not the best situation to be in. So I did what I had to do, which if we’re being completely honest – it’s what my heart had been trying to guide me to all along. I resigned. I walked into my boss’s office with a list in my head of the 5 reasons I was ready to regurgitate and left her office in a puddle of my own tears (and some of hers too mixed in between). It took days for us to finally have a real conversation where she admitted to being in denial and distraught over losing me on her team, and I cried (again) explaining what a struggle it has been for us over the past year and how torn I had been over making this decision, and that we actually were considering moving back home to Texas in a month or so. Then suddenly, she got it. She shared some really encouraging words that she had heard from a friend in a similar situation – the good Lord has already chosen our path and sometimes when we are faced with a choice that isn’t the right one, he makes so sure to keep that door closed as tight as possible. We both agreed that this was the right path, rather than my current career I’d been pushing for so hard with the magazine, and that everything was going to work out as planned. A huge weight had been finally lifted, and I felt then that I could finally move forward.

And it was a good thing, because forward was the only choice we had. Grant had just left for Indiana to accompany Cruz at the tail end of the primaries, when the rumors he’d heard came true – Cruz announced he was dropping out of the race. We always knew it was going to be a “fly by the seat of your pants” kinda situation every week, waiting to see how the election unfolded. We just thought we had more time. More time to figure out if we were moving or staying. More time to say goodbye to friends and my poor Mom who had moved to LA to help us, and who I now had to break the news to. Granted, I’d subtly been planting the seed about our move for months, but suddenly it felt like it was all really going to happen and I started to cry. I cried for my son who I always envisioned growing up as a SoCal kid, and for not being old enough for us to explain that we were about to upend his world for no real reason. I cried for my husband because he truly had found something that made him happy and a cause worth fighting for, just for it to be snatched out from under him so abruptly with no real promise of what’s to come. I cried for my mom because even though she has no problem expressing her emotions, she was holding them back to be strong for me and I felt like I was letting her down by leaving her and taking away essentially the one thing in the world that’s made her happy since my dad passed away. I cried (again) for my boss and marketing team who had been like family to me the past five years, and for my sweet “little brother” and lone digital team member who I’d developed such a close bond with in such a short time. And then, it was like the well dried up and my mind was telling me – you gotta pull yourself together and get packing, literally. We put our notice in with our apt managers who had also been like family to us, which is rare to find in a big city where tenants are a dime a dozen, and booked the POD (or so we thought, more on that below).

Part 4: Move Schmove

How’s the saying go – “If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”? Well, the move was proving to be just too easy. I had successfully boxed up everything in less than two weeks, the hubs miraculously jam packed everything into our moving POD, and we booked a killer deal on mine and Garrett’s one-way ticket back home. And then the wake up call happened – or rather, didn’t happen. We never got the call the night before from PODS confirming the pick-up window for our container. So the next morning as I’m calming my nerves about flying on my own with Garrett for the first time (we had decided it would work best for Grant to do the drive from California to Texas sans a crazy toddler, and wife ha), I decide to give PODS a call to make sure everything was squared away before Grant left town the next day. The very indifferent person on the other end of the phone kept trying to tell me that we had never actually booked a day for it to be picked up. Let’s just say – you don’t tell an Italian they’re wrong when they’re not. I put Grant on the phone to speak with a manager who could not have been any less helpful, but had agreed to listen to the recorded conversation where I explicitly stated today was the day it was to picked up because we didn’t want to leave it in the alley of our apt complex after we had already left town. I was distraught to say the least, aaaaand then the guilt came. I completely blamed myself even though I knew it wasn’t my fault – why do we do that to ourselves?!? I was rattled like an earthquake and luckily my mom was there to understand my emotional state, even if I didn’t – and just said she knew how hard it was making a big move like this and I’m allowed to feel emotional leaving the place we’ve lived for the past 7 years. Here are some shots from our last days in LA.

Against all odds, Garrett proved to be the best little travel partner and ended up sleeping the whole flight. Of course the weekend we choose to fly back home is the same week Houston had been hit with devastating floods. Luckily we flew in to Dallas, where we literally circled the storm, and this mama who is deathly afraid of turbulence didn’t feel a thing (thanks dad for that one, I needed it). The next day as we’re chowing down at The Daily Special, the best little breakfast spot in all of Alvarado, Texas, I get a call from Grant. He had been backing out of his friend Mike’s garage, and because we (ahem, I) had packed up the jeep so tight he couldn’t see out of it, he ended up scraping the entire passenger side door. I reassured him that it wasn’t a big deal and that I was just surprised I wasn’t the one to do it. If it’s one thing that going through a crap year will give you – is perspective. And that’s a good thing, cuz not 5 min goes by and Grant calls me yet again but this time it sounded serious and all he said was “have you checked your email?…Well no, why? I said.” He just got off the phone with our apt managers who informed him that our POD (yep, the same one that was supposed to get picked up the day before), had been broken into over night and he was headed over to determine the damage.

My stomach was in my throat for the next 5 min while I waited for him to assess what had actually been stolen. My mind raced trying to imagine what someone so low would want to steal – a stereo system, a couch, a TV? And I stopped right there – a TV! I suddenly remembered that we had packed into one of those TV boxes with our flat screen, the one piece of artwork my dad had left me that he’d painted himself. I frantically told Grant to check if the TV box was there. He couldn’t find it, and so I started to have a panic attack in the parking lot of The Daily Special. Because out of all our belongings, that was the one thing that couldn’t be replaced – and I began sobbing. Grant pleaded for me to hang up and let him look around more, and that there was a chance it still could be there – but all my being told me it wasn’t. Sure enough, he was right. And get this, the idiots not only left the TV box and pretty much all our electronics, but the only things he could tell that were taken were – my snowboard (which I had been trying to pawn off on FB the week before), a lamp, a sub-woofer, and the last part he was really hesitant to tell me. Because we didn’t have any more room in the Jeep and had run out of boxes, I had just laid more than half my closet on a chair near the front of the POD, and they had taken all but a handful of my clothes which had been strewn down the alleyway. You might be surprised by this, cuz I know Grant was, but I honestly couldn’t care less. “It’s just clothes” said the fashion blogger and aspiring stylist. But I meant it, and still do – we were all safe, and at the end of the day it can be replaced. Plus, I’d been cleaning out my closet for the better half of three years, and was getting uber-frustrated with myself for not being able to get rid of more things. Well, that took care of that, ha. My sweet sister-in-law, who has a knack for turning lemons into lemonade, gave me the bright idea for a future blog post – “How to Build Back Your Wardrobe After Half of it is Stolen in a Move” (ok, I’ll work on the title, but you get the idea).

Part 5: The Dust Settles

After waiting out the floodwaters in Dallas at my father-in-law’s, we finally made the drive to Houston where my mother-in-law had been anxiously waiting for our arrival. She had so graciously offered for us to stay at her townhouse until we found jobs and got more settled. Although people probably thought we were crazy to move in with family (my own mom even knew better when she moved to LA – either that, or she knew we couldn’t have possibly squeezed one more thing or person into our modest one bedroom), living with anyone just takes adjustment. More than anything, we all just wanted what was best for Garrett and for the first time he actually had his own room and big-boy bed. Then Grant’s sister so graciously saved a spot for Garrett at the preschool where she’s a Director – yah, that’s just a little different from a 2 year waiting list for a preschool in LA that you can’t even afford in the first place. The weeks leading up to his first day were filled with mixed emotions – would he be able to handle 5 hours away from us, or rather, would I? The night before I was a ball of nerves, and even said to Grant as we lay in bed “Well, we need to hurry up and have another baby, because this ones all grown up and graduating from college” which as you can imagine was met with a lot of laughter. Then my mom texted to remind me that I couldn’t cry when I dropped him off like she did with me, ha. So my strategy was to get all the crying out before we left the house in the morning – to which Grant reminded me “It’s only 5 hours, you can do this”, and he was right. When we got there Garrett walked right in, gave me a lame sideways hug (ok, I’ll take it), and Grant’s sis reassured me she’d text me after lunch to let me know how he was doing. Then a crazy thing happened – I suddenly felt at ease and actually excited to have a whole day to hang out like adults again. We went to Target (naturally), then caught a matinee after a rousing game of air hockey (mama won), and an arcade car race that left us both nauseous (dad won). Mid-way through the movie we got a text saying that Garrett was doing AWESOME, no tears and was doing everything like he was supposed to. I honestly have to say that I’ve never felt prouder. It’s so hard to explain that sense of pride you feel when your child overcomes their fears and exceeds your expectations. I know what you’re thinking my child-less friends, it’s only preschool ha, but it’s such a cool feeling to see a tiny human you created grow up right before your eyes.

With all the time we’ve had together, and the need to save money, I’ve actually started enjoying to cook again. On top of that, I’m determined to get back to my healthy state of being and even started running again. The Woodlands is known for their awesome running trails, and as much as my knees keep trying to remind me that I’m turning 35 in a couple months, I’m not gonna let it phase me. I used to feel so guilty leaving Garrett for even just an hour to go do something for myself, but with a little (ok, a lot) of coaxing from Grant – I’m actually at a point where I crave that alone time in the morning where I can run and just clear my head of anything and everything. It’s also allowed me to reflect even more on this year, and got me to a place where I could finally listen to my thoughts enough to want to write again. Not to mention, Grant and I had been itching to flip a house (because, who doesn’t watch Fixer Upper? #relationshipgoals). The search began for basically the worst house in the best neighborhood. My best friend’s mom, or my “utter mutter” as she calls herself, even offered to be our realtor, which has been amazing since she knows the north side of Houston like the back of her hand. We put an offer in on one house and realized quickly what it’s like to be wrapped up in a bidding war with multiple investors. Unfortunately we had to back out, which is hard especially after you’d already started spending your free time browsing Houzz (seriously addicting), and imagining all the cool updates you could do. So here we go again, and fingers crossed we find the one – if we do then be prepared to be seeing a lot more home design posts in the months to come.

Just when I thought I’d received the last bit of sad news for the year, I learned that my sweet friend Dahlia passed away tragically from complications during childbirth. I was absolutely stunned, and to be honest still am. She was at the peak of her life – she had just gotten married and announced they were having a son, and it made me so happy that she finally got everything she ever wanted. Dahlia and I first met after we moved to LA and I was still living the crazy media agency life. She was an ad sales rep who called on my team, but our friendship turned into more than just a working relationship. I’ll never forget the ski trip we all took to Mammoth Mountain for the annual Think LA Snow Jam weekend. Dahlia and her team had decided that instead of piling into the party bus with all the other media folks, she and her coworkers and a handful of her clients would take our own van. Needless to say it was a crazy 5 hours full of sing-a-longs, swapping agency/ad sales stories, and the weekend just got better from there. I will always remember Dahlia’s quick wit and no non-sense yet incredibly kind attitude that made everyone want to be around her. In the years that followed, that same group of friends made a tradition of girls’ night dinners at whatever new restaurant we needed the excuse to try. The last real time we got to see her was at Garrett’s baby shower, where she brought along her new boyfriend & now husband Jason. They moved to San Diego shortly after and although our girls dinners got fewer and far between, I always loved seeing her posts about her new life and the new life she was bringing into this world. It breaks my heart that she won’t be able to see her son undoubtedly grow into the strong and smart young man he will become. Every night since, Dahlia has come to me in my dreams – sometimes to show me glimpses of her life with her family, almost to say that she will never completely leave us, and my waking mind wants so badly to believe it.

As I start reflecting on the past couple of months, and all the highs and lows, I can finally start to feel the dust settle. Sure there are a lot of things still up in the air – will Grant finally get the big U.S. Senate staff position he was promised after the presidential campaign, and would I finally find the right freelance job through The Second Shift, a professional network designed for moms, I had been so close to landing? As stressful as the thought of not having any jobs lined up yet, I still can’t help but feel fortunate for the time off. I mean, when else do you have the chance to enjoy a whole summer with your husband, and toddler who’s about to turn 13, I mean 3? I started realizing after all that we’d been through this year so far – this was truly what we needed and the man upstairs knew that. Not to mention we are so lucky and grateful to have family close-by who would do anything they could to help support us and lift us up when we need it most. I’m still not sure what the rest of this year holds, but I can say that I look forward now more than ever to finally feeling settled in a place we can once again call home…

This post is dedicated to my dear cousin who passed away this year. If you or a loved one you know suffers from alcoholism, please seek help – whether it’s AA or even a local church or rehab/counseling group. Talking about our weaknesses shows strength, and I hope this helps raise awareness for those who might feel ashamed to speak up like I know so many do. 

I am also so inspired by Dana Saragaglia and Zihla Salinas Arbit, the sisters of my two friends who passed this year. Both have set up donation pages in honor of their sisters Christina Saragaglia and Dahlia Salinas– please visit and help share if you feel so inclined as I know it would mean the world to all of us.