Happy Holidays!

2018 is rapidly coming to an end, making this my final post for the year. These next few weeks I’ll be focusing on the holidays and spending quality time with the family. As we hustle and bustle through the holiday season and countdown to New Years Eve, I wanted to leave you with a brilliant idea I read in one of the local parent forums I am a part of.

SG: "We have a memory jar. It sits on the kitchen counter with a pen and a stack of paper, and whenever something memorable happens, any one of us (including kids) can write it down and put it in the jar. We read them all together on NYE."

This idea really resonated with me and I’m excited too incorporate it in the new year. It will help us appreciate the simple moments as they happen and is a great (yet simple) way to practice gratitude as the year finishes. How fun and special it would be to read all the moments to remember together with the family on New years Eve!  

I also want to thank you for stopping by and reading! I love sharing pieces of my life with you and I’m excited to bring more inspiring content and photography to my page next year. Wishing you all a healthful, peaceful, joyful, and mindful December. Happy holidays and cheers to 2019!


10 Resources to Help You Buy Art for Your Home

A while back, I promised to share how to buy art in a separate blog post, so here we are. These resources cater to a range of price points, from affordable options to splurge-worthy pieces and everything in between. You can also choose between art prints vs. original artwork. Whether you are moving into your first dorm room or have a mature, refined aesthetic, there is something for everyone!  This list will serve as a good starting point to deck those walls or simply enjoy browsing art.
1. Art Galleries - The most obvious and a no brainer. Check out your local art galleries or visit galleries while on vacation. This can be a good starting point to get your feelers out there and figure out what type of art you are drawn to. Personally, I rarely have the leisure time to visit local galleries, but I love to pop in and browse while traveling. I have vivid memories of visiting random galleries in Santa Fe, San Diego, Palm Springs, and Vienna.
2. Online Resources - I am listing a few of the myriad options to buy art online.

- Artsy
- Anthropologie
- Urban Outfitters
- Minted
- Tappan Collective
- 20x200
- Etsy

3. Open Studios - Artists’ open studios or studio tours in many cities are a great way to get acquainted to upcoming and established artists. Many cities have designated days where all studios are free and open to public. In Boston, South End Open Studios and SoWa First Fridays are popular ones if you are local and would like to check them out!

4. Antique Stores/Flea Markets/Estate Sales - A great way to find eclectic, vintage artwork. One of my favorite pieces (seen below) is from Ramble Market -- a local antique store. A visit to Saint Ouen Flea Market in Paris was a memorable experience earlier this year, too.

5. Artist Collectives - A lot of cities also have artist collectives showcasing the work of a group of artists. A great way to find affordable, original art and support the local art community.

6. Art School Sale - Art schools in your city may have an end of the year sale of works by students, alumni and faculty. Another great way to find an eclectic melange of artwork and support arts education. I was recently very happy to discover SMFA Art Sale in Boston.

7. Artist Commissions - If you are already aware and love the work of a specific artist, commissioning a personalized piece of art is a special way to collect art. I discovered the work of Chambers Austelle on Instagram and this commissioned piece (see below) by her will always be one of my favorites.

8. Local Art Shows - Check to see if your city has a local art fair or art show. I have never been to one but I know they exist.

9. Art Consultant - If you don’t have the time or the knack to collect art of your liking, hiring an art consultant or seeking recommendations from your interior designer (if you have one) can be an option.

10. Your Network - Don’t be shy to look inside of your own network. If you have an artist friend or acquaintance, browse their work online or set up a time to see it in person if they are local. Buying their work is such a wonderful way to show support and appreciate their art.

Use these resources to get started and keep your eyes open for the artist’s name or information when you come across any piece of art you love. Remember, decorating your walls isn’t something that has to happen all at once - it's a labor of love. Collect pieces at your own pace and buy only what you truly love as it's always personal.

Do you know of any other resources not listed here? How do you go about collecting art for your home?


Practical Approach to Gift Giving This Holiday Season

I have a bit of a different mindset when it comes to gift giving. Growing up in India, except our birthdays, we didn’t ever really get tangible ‘gifts.’ We mostly got money from family that we could save and put towards something we really wanted later on. That was our culture, at least in my family. Hence, I’m not sure if it’s my upbringing or my relentless effort to declutter the house that I’m less enthusiastic about actual gifts, and more excited about gifting experiences. 

Don’t get me wrong. Actual gifts make kids (even adults) happy and are an integral part of holiday traditions. I totally get it! I, too, love finding unique gifts, especially for my girls. The holiday gift guides I created two years ago were super popular. Check them out here and here. Remember that it’s OK to break away from the norm and try a more practical approach to gift giving. 

If I had to create a list for Santa from my girls, it would look like this:

1. Museum Memberships - Trips to the museum have become a unique way for us to bond and expose the girls to new cultures. Children’s museums are fun, but art and science museums have peaked my girls’ interests more than expected. A membership would encourage us to go more often and come in handy especially during the upcoming colder months.

2. Mommy + Me cooking class or rock climbing experience - It’s important to try new things, no matter your age. These two different experiences both sound like a lot of fun and would push us out of our comfort zones a bit, too.

3. A trip or weekend getaway -  We surprised the girls with a weekend getaway this past summer and they still talk about it! Even if you go somewhere close to home, the change of scenery and time away is an easy way to switch-up routine. 

4. One-on-one time - I generally tend to do activities together with  both girls; however, a one-on-one ‘date’ with each separately is special and always memorable. It’s important to give them that undivided attention, as each bond is unique.

5. Theatre/show tickets - Another fun way to create lasting memories. There are many holiday shows happening this time of year, making it easy to plan a trip to the theatre. It can be fun to get dressed up and watch a show that all family members will love.

6. Trip to the bookstore - Local or not, bookstores always have something magical in store. Plus, most stores have specific ‘kid areas’ that allow you to read with your kids or watch them get lost in books on their own. 

7. Volunteer Opportunity - We’ve been volunteering at Cradles to Crayons (a non-profit helping kids get the essentials they need) for a couple years and it’s a truly rewarding experience. I would like to take my 7-year-old to an animal shelter to see what we can do there, too. Volunteering is a great way to bring balance to receiving and giving. 

8. Gift of a new language - Languages are so beautiful. I only speak two and regret not learning more as a child. Learning new languages seems to be lost in some cultures, but this is a gift that your kids will thank you for later on in life. Whether it’s signing up for a class or using a learning app to learn together, this is a lifelong gift. 

9. Ski Lessons - We have been procrastinating on ski lessons since two years. I hope we can get our acts together this season and hit the slopes with the girls. 

10. Arts and crafts - Finding new ways to be creative is always a big hit with the girls! Create together, follow along with fun tutorials or let their imaginations run wild. Either way, they’ll love this gift.

There are so many things to spend your money and time on that can bring as much joy as a traditional gift. Kids may not understand in that exact moment, but making these plans and sharing in these experiences give them something to look forward to and make the best memories.

Similarly, for adults, try to think of non-materialistic items. Consumable gifts for a cozy night in (wine and cheese are always a hit), restaurant gift-cards to new places, spa packages, or invites to new adventures like hiking or more mini getaways are perfect ways to show you care. 

What are some of your favorite non-material gifts?


5 End of the Year Happiness Highlights

The past two weeks have been quite action-packed. Between spending time with my family around Thanksgiving, holiday prepping, wrapping up all 2018 client work, and other everyday activities, time has flown by. Here’s a peek into some of my favorite highlights as 2018 comes to a close. I hope you’re making the most of this last month!

1. Family first

We spent Thanksgiving at my aunt’s home in NJ followed by some quality time with my parents over this past week. I am grateful for so many heartwarming moments with those I love. My parents’ visit was super short this time, they live in India, but we tried to make the best of it. We all were fed and pampered more than we could handle!

2. Thanksgiving outfit

I was looking for something festive to wear for our family Thanksgiving this year. Since we are pretty much home/cooking all day, I never put any effort into dressing up. I’ve been wearing jeans & a glorified version of a tee since as far back as I can remember. While cleaning up my closet a few weeks ago, I discovered this jacquard silk top from my cousin’s wedding in India 16 years ago. I had only worn it twice before! I tried it on and was pleasantly surprised that it still fit! I mixed and matched it with a wool skirt, threw on a statement necklace, and voila! an outfit was created. Repurposing an old ethnic top and breaking the ‘outfit’ mold this year made me happy.

3. Art explorations

We attended an art sale at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts University a couple weeks ago. The sale featured thousands of works from emerging and established artists. It was such a fun opportunity to discover and browse the work of exceptionally talented SMFA students, alumni, faculty, and affiliated artists. The girls weren’t keen on going, and basically refused to get out of the car. They eventually walked in (after some coaxing), participated with enthusiasm and my older later said “Mama, I didn’t want to come at first but it wasn’t that bad. It was actually kind of fun!” Success.

I’m glad I happened upon this annual event for the first time, and discovered another resource to expand my art collection in the future.

4. “I have this thing with floors”

As you know, from outfits to home decor, I love sharing what makes something unique and floors are no exception. I love this picture because of the fall color palette and colorblock boots combo. Small details that put a smile on my face! Check out @ihavethisthingwithfloors if you don’t already follow them! (when feet meet nice floors take a selfeet).

5. Reading magic

Last but not least, running a Book Club with my girls and hanging out and reading with their friends and friends’ moms makes me happy. For December’s Book Club, we read poems. Shel Silverstein, A.A. Milne, miscellaneous authors in Sing a Song of Seasons, and some by our very own little poets. It was such a fun evening!

Since the magical holiday season has already begun, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite poems by Shel Silverstein -- Magic. Hope you enjoy it!

What makes you the happiest around the holidays?


Boston Holiday Musicals/Theatre Outings With the Kids

There’s something so festive about kicking off the holiday season with a show or musical. Since the girls were little, we’ve enjoyed the tradition of going to the theatre during this time of year. We have yet to decide on a show for this year’s outing, but stay tuned! 

Interested in holiday stage experience with the kids? Here’s a handy guide to holiday family fun in the Boston area.

1) Boston Children's Theatre - Velveteen Rabbit, Madeline's Christmas
2) Boston Pops - Holiday Pops Kids Matinee, Home Alone in Concert
5) Shubert Theatre - A Charlie Brown Christmas, Urban Nutcracker, Cirque Dreams Holidaze
6) Wang Theatre - Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker
7) Emerson Colonial Theatre - Lightwire Theater's A Very Electric Christmas,
Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, The Hip Hop Nutcracker
8) Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre - Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience,  The Nutcracker by José Mateo Ballet Theatre
9) The Blue Man Group - Not really holiday themed but could be really entertaining for older kids.
12) Disney on Ice - Agganis Arena

Isn’t it fun to get dressed up, aw at the decor, and have a magical time with the kids!?


Easy Friday Fusion Dinner Platter & Movie Night!

This past weekend was girls’ weekend at our house since daddy was traveling. After a long week, I wanted to have a no-fuss and relaxing Friday evening with the girls. I decided to create a fusion platter for dinner. This kept it simple and gave the girls a chance to serve themselves and pick and choose per their liking. Most prep work was done before pick-up time, making it easy to assemble the platter as soon as the hot food came out of the oven.

Baked breaded cod fillets, buttered shrimp, pita, tzatziki, zhoug sauce (latest food crush from Trader Joe’s that is so similar in taste to Indian coriander chutney) and veggies. My older loves shrimp, but we rarely include shrimp in family dinners as my husband is allergic to crustaceans. My younger loves fish and pomegranate. And both girls love broccolini & carrots. Zhoug sauce is a little spicy for them but it added just the right kick and flavor for me. Overall, a balanced platter appealing to all taste buds.

After an easy clean up, we were ready to tuck ourselves into the couch for a movie. We ended up watching Bolt to please a certain 7-year old dog lover. It turned out to be a smooth Friday evening, just as intended.


Wall Art Ideas for Kids' Rooms

Collecting artwork for kids’ rooms is so special. Surrounding your children with engaging yet playful art not only livens up a room but gives their minds a chance to wander.  I truly enjoy finding unique pieces that inspire storytelling and creative thinking. I usually steer clear of artwork that is too cutesy so the kids won’t outgrow the prints quickly. The pieces you choose can still be playful and full of color, but be selective that they’re not “too young” to make it worth your while.

Today, I selected five pieces to share with you! They may or may not belong together in a gallery wall, but any of them will provide a great starting point to create a collection with your kiddos.

These whimsical pieces are so full of life and energy! They remind me of traveling and books you get lost in. What type of art is your family drawn to?

1. Cranes
2. Jaipur


Girls Fall Fashion: New Outfit Crush

New outfit crush! We are loving this graphic velvet dress for the upcoming festive season. The patchwork print adds such a fun twist to an otherwise classic velvet dress. You can style this dress with checkered leggings and neutral shoes. The checkered leggings add an edge to the outfit without being a distraction while the shoes keep the cozy-fun-feeling going all the way down to the toes! However you choose to style this dress, it’s sure to look and feel special.

Graphic Velvet Dress
Check Leggings


5 personal strategies to practice self-preservation

Let’s talk about self-preservation. A lifetime ago, when I was a PR intern at CBS News in New York, I remember writing a press release about Daniel Day-Lewis. He has been known to take breaks in his acting career as a way to revive himself. His quote “…I think, in a way, it’s a sort of an act of self-preservation,” has stuck with me for years. 

Self-preservation means different things to different people. I use the term loosely here, and possibly even synonymous with self-care, although they are different. As a busy mom, business owner and creative, my form of self-preservation may differ from yours. 

“Self-preservation is one of the most important gifts we can give to ourselves. By knowing our limits, honoring our needs and desires, and taking the time to heal and repair, we are able to give ourselves more spark to radiate our internal light.” -  Marisa DeMarco 

Most people don’t have the luxury of taking extended time off or even breaks some days. The idea of being constantly busy is something society has instilled in us as a positive thing. I’ll admit, I do have this mindset and I tend to overextend myself often. Even though I understand the importance of self-preservation, acting on it hasn’t been a priority. But I’m here now, ready to make some proactive changes before resulting in burnout. Better late than never, right?

Below, I’ve shared five ways I will commit to preserving myself so I can continue to be the best version of who I am.
  1. Learn to say NO
  2. Choose battles wisely (especially with the kiddos aka energy vampires)
  3. Take the time to do more ‘feel-good’ things! Movies, books, art, theater, etc.
  4. Accept help when offered and outsource some mundane tasks
  5. Adopt the “good-enough” mindset

I hope these pointers will help me “slow down” and use my energy efficiently to be able to “refuel.” After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup!

What are some of your self-preservation strategies? Would love to hear!