ENTERTAIN: A SUMMER INSPIRED TABLESCAPE


My absolute favorite season is starting... and so big surprise, I found a way to celebrate! Summer will always have a special place in my heart, since my childhood in Chicago I always obsessed over those short three months of bliss; no school, good weather, warm evenings, summer camp. It was a season full of fun memories, the icing on the (always ice cream) cake being my August birthday and the excitement everyone else seemed to feel celebrating in the height of the season before school and work resumed. So even though I now live in a city of endless summer, I appreciate the seasons even more and this time of year still remains the best. Fortunately, I will be adding another great moment to celebrate every summer to come as my wedding is coming up very soon! I'm so excited to celebrate with all our friends and family, but even more excited to have yet another reason to cherish the summer each year. So many fun tables to create, is it weird that I am excited about that? 

So in honor of the upcoming season I was inspired by the festivities and beauty of Europe in the summer, Italy in particular and there the theme was born. For the food I had my fiancé whip up dishes from various European countries; a spiralized cucumber and feta salad (Greece), potato au gratin (France), fish-without the chips- (England), cacio e pepe pasta (Italy). My contribution involved less culinary skill and more fun with my sheep cheese (Portugal), chorizo (Spain) and Aperol Spritz, olives and chips (Italy)

I had a lot of fun setting up this table. I was inspired by the abundance of lemons in Italy and after finding this perfect invitation on Paperless Post, the theme was solidified. I bought about three bags of lemons and spread them all over some green leaf garnish I found in the floral department at Whole Foods. I think I am going to buy a reusable fake version, linked below, since I loved the greenery so much and would love  to use it again. I knew I wanted the lemons to serve as place cards too, but instead of inserting paper into the lemon wedge I decided to assign everyone a European country and see if they could guess which one they were and hence, where they were sitting. Spoiler alert, everyone successfully guessed! I printed out mini flags so that I could have the exact six countries I wanted, but there are plenty of mini flags available online. The leftover lemons went towards my floral arrangements and looked really pretty sliced up against the vase. 

For the rest of the table, I used my beautiful mismatched blue and white plates, natural woven placemats and blue and white linen napkins which all naturally did justice for a summer theme. I found a wonderfully summer colored table linen at Tuesday Morning but linked some similar options you can find online. Last but not least I added my tapered white candles and pretty glass holders from the NYE table I created last December and they added the most simple romantic touch. The easiest way to elevate a table is by adding candles and florals, preferably ones varying in color and size. Overall, it was a truly beautiful start to the many future summer evenings ahead. Have a wonderful first weekend of summer everyone, enjoy! 


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-MGN

CLASSIC STYLE: THE STRAW BASKET EDIT


Summer is coming... and this is one trend I will never tire of. The straw basket, whether embroidered, monogrammed or plain; I will TAKE IT! Take it everywhere, use it for everything, these baskets just add such a wonderful warmth to any setting or wardrobe. Summer is obviously their most popular season but I happen to use mine all year round, hence the little collection I've started. They are extremely practical, coming in so many amazing sizes and such a great range of price points. The majority of the baskets I have are from Etsy or Poshmark, which is a great place to find something more unique or personalized, for not a lot of money. I've linked a whole lot of Etsy finds that I love, most of which I seriously considered purchasing myself. Etsy also has a million monogramming options when it comes to straw bags, my very first being from Mariella Vilar's shop, which is now her own main website. They have become especially popular for bachelorette parties and I think they would also make wonderful gifts for friends. I'm not a big DIY person but I did upgrade the handles on one of my bags with some tropical beads I found at Micheals. So if you find something you love online that needs a small tweak, that's always an option. But for the rest of us who prefer the ease of online shopping, here's my roundup of all the best buys now. Enjoy!
 { no. 1 | no. 2 | no. 3 | no. 4 | no. 5 | no. 6 | no. 7 | no. 8 | no. 9 }


{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 }

Top Etsy Finds


 { no. 10 | no. 11 | no. 12 | no. 13 | no. 14 | no. 15 | no. 16 | no. 17 | no. 18 }


{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 }

More Etsy Finds


CLASSIC STYLE: LACE AND BOW WHITE TOP


As you already know, I just can't resist a pretty bow. Add lace-white lace- and DONE! I'll admit, I was slightly skeptical about purchasing this top as I hadn't ordered anything from this shop before. But once it arrived, I was in a complete bow-mance, as I like to call it. I wore it with a high waisted skirt, which I think is the best route, especially if you're like me and don't like super fitted tops! Some things to keep in mind, the sizing runs super small. I ordered both a medium and small, but honestly would have preferred a large even though the medium fit pretty well. I tend to wear looser tops so perhaps it's just a personal preference but it's something to keep in mind. Another thing to note is the organza bow is beautiful but it comes separated, without a way to hold it on. Since I am so particular about my bows I took it to my seamstress and had her sew it into the perfect spot on my right side of my neck. If you needed a quicker fix, you could also just use a small safety pin but it will likely show through. Last but not least, the blouse does not come lined so you will need a white undershirt or bra you feel comfortable with. Overall, I love it so much, despite some of the things I mentioned before! If' you'd like one too you can purchase it here. Enjoy!

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-MGN
All photography by Gladyxa Mari

MAY INSPIRATION


May flowers are blooming... and inspiring all sorts of excitement for me knowing that my favorite time of year is just around the corner. The summer brings so many beautiful memories, my August birthday serving as the annual climax for all these years. However, I know our wedding and honeymoon will serve as more than just icing on the cake, but before getting too far ahead of myself, May is a great time to reflect and reorganize right now. In so many ways I feel like I am in the thick of it, being extremely busy with our condo remodel and wedding planning, and yet on the other hand, I know these next couple months leading up to a major move and the wedding won't be any less relaxed. But I guess that is something I am working on, learning how to live in the little moments, despite how overwhelmed I get. Maybe I am just more tired or maybe I am actually learning something with age, but it's nice to not transfer my worry from one thing over to the next. Trust me, I'm still not that seasoned in practicing mindfulness, but I am increasing my consciousness around it. Hopefully when those peonies start blooming I can peruse the market with joy and a little less anxiety about how well they will look on film. One step at a time, right? Happy May everyone. 

Image Sources
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 }

CHIC PLACES: THE CHARLESTON GUIDE


Charleston was one of the most beautiful places... I have ever visited and it's certainly somewhere I would return in a heartbeat. It also made me eager to visit more of the American South, an opportunity to connect with the other half of the country I am much less familiar with. Of course I only spent a weekend here with my sister, so I am by no means creating this guide with much expertise, but I am sharing what we did and loved most during our very short stay. Aside from some of my more complex feelings about visiting The South, everything was quite spectacular. Some highlights of the trip included strolling the beautiful historic South of Broad neighborhood, getting my cheese fix at Goat Sheep Cow North and taking pictures in front of so many pretty pastel homes. But the most impressive part was how much I actually enjoyed talking to our Uber drivers. I will admit I get into Uber rides with the intention of not making small talk, since I am a therapist I often joke (to friends) that I am "off the clock" and plug in headphones to decompress. But I will admit that everyone my sister and I rode with had such a warm and friendly attitude that went beyond just small talk. A lot of them shared their connection to Charleston, what they thought about the city's history and where the best barbecue existed, among other things. One offered up his own umbrella when it was pouring rain outside, another convinced us to change restaurants while on our way to eat. I can't quite put my finger on what was different, I can only describe it as genuinely kind, dare I say, Southern Charm? Enjoy. 

STAY



I'll admit, I really wanted to stay at the ultra charming Zero George, however, most of the rooms were sold out or just too expensive given the popular weekend we chose to visit. So we stayed at the perfectly pink and pretty Mills House Hotel and had a great time taking photos out front before venturing out around town. The location was great as we were just north of Broad Street and all the lovely houses and had easy access to King street with all the main shops and restaurants. We didn't spend a whole lot of time in the hotel but it was perfect for our trip. Everyone on staff was very friendly and the room service was actually spectacular. Before my sister arrived I was exhausted after a redeye flight with no sleep and a couple hours of shooting blog content so I caved and ordered room service my first night.  The chicken sandwich I ordered was so good and so southern, in my humble non-southern opinion, and the fries were anything but soggy! One other thing to note is that it's a popular place for weddings. There was a wedding while we stayed but it really didn't affect our experience that evening. Another hotel we visited a few times is the brand new and stunning Hotel Bennett which would be my more luxurious choice. I'm obsessed with the beautiful painted walls in the rotunda entryway and the beyond fabulous ladies lounge is so spectacular it deserves it's own full blog post!

Charleston Hotels
EAT



To say we ate our way through Charleston would be an understatement. There was so much information about everything we loved that I decided to do an entirely separate blog post with all the details. But here's a working list of all the places we tried and loved, as well as a bunch of others on my list that I researched and wanted to visit but didn't have a chance to. Charleston has become such a big foodie destination and I certainly plan to go back and try more things at my next visit! Some quick favorites were Goat Sheep Cow North, Chez Nous and Le Farfelle


Restaurants
SEE/DO


There are so many things to do in Charleston, but I will admit, some of the most fun moments I had during my short trip was sitting on a porch with my sister, just hanging out with a glass of pink champagne, taking in the slow pace of the South. But aside from that sweet moment, I think taking in the beautiful small city is the next best thing. The South of Broad neighborhood is full of beautiful, historic homes with all the details most people love Charleston for. The pastel shades, contrasting colored shutters and preservation society seals of approval. Coming from the west coast, where cities tend to re-build more new and get rid of the old, I really appreciated how seriously Charlestonians preserve what everyone seems to unanimously love. Becky and I took a very nice walking tour of the city and learned a lot of the city's history and some interesting things about the architecture of the city. Whenever I go back I would love to take a more in depth architecture tour but the one we did was great and our tour guide Todd was amazing! We also visited Magnolia Plantation, which was quite an experience for me, as was visiting the South and being reminded of our country's history of slavery. More about that here. But it was a very interesting visit and I think visiting plantations and being confronted with our past is something most Americans would like to experience. There we did a tour of the slave quarters and the guide did a good job of walking us through plantation life and specifically how slavery evolved over the years there. I also love an art museum so the Gibbs was a perfect stop for a morning stroll with my coffee before my flight back Monday morning! 

Things to Do
Charleston City Market
Gibbs Museum of Art
Holy Spokes Bike Share
Magnolia Plantation
Self Guided Walking Tour South of Broad 
Pineapple Walking Tour

SHOP



Shopping in Charleston, or just the south in general, is very different than Los Angeles. There is an abundance of preppy clothing and I just had a great time seeing all kinds of gems in person that I typically only see online. I will admit some of the patterns are just too much for me, but I love the clean lines, year round summery spirit and the fearless colors. Below are some of the shops Becky and I enjoyed visiting most. I absolutely loved the selection and concept of The Skinny Dip Charleston, which has two other locations in Nantucket and Palm Beach and is full of fun, colorful pieces. Even better than that, they have a full on coffee and cocktail bar upstairs, serving frosé. In my humble opinion, this is the future of retail. Shopping in person will need to become a lifestyle experience and this is a perfect example of just that. Another store I really loved was Lake Pajamas, which has the most beautiful bedtime clothing and an equally charming store to match. My best purchase of the trip, however, was the small sweetgrass basket I found at the Charleston City Market, which is known for their wide selection of these historical baskets. Passed down from generation to generation, descendants of slaves learned the intricate technique from the Gullah culture. I was happy to purchase something that I consider a significant part of Charleston's history. Many of the baskets come with beautiful woven roses adorned to them and I was excited that mine did too. There were so many shapes and sizes, unfortunately I wasn't able to carry much else home and therefore will have cherish my new trinket tray forever!

Shops
Charleston City Market (sweetgrass baskets sold here)
Gretchen Scott
Hampden Clothing
Lake Pajamas
Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store
Mac & Murphy Stationery
The Skinny Dip Charleston

WEAR


INSTAGRAMMABLE PLACES
More Instagramable Locations
106 tradd st | grey house 
126 tradd pink door | pretty white house 
11 meeting st | pink house 
40 king st | white and blue shutters 
1 atlantic st | pink house, pink shutters 
14 atlantic st | rustic concrete black shutters 
11 legare | rustic pillar with ivy 
13 legare st | nice ivy wall 

-MGN

GIFT GUIDE: MOTHER'S DAY


Mother's Day has always felt... like such a specific celebration since it's always been about just one person, my own wonderful mother. But this year in addition to cherishing my own, I'm also thinking about my soon to be mother-in-law and also the concept of motherhood that is starting to mean something new to myself and my peers. Many of the woman I am around are planning to become mothers soon or already are. This of course also makes me think about the many women who have or haven't shared their struggles with fertility or desire to become a mother but for a variety of reasons aren't ready or don't feel they have the support yet to embark on such an endeavor. It's also the first year I have really given some thought to what my journey might look like when I am ready to have children with Arthur, which is quite a shift in recent years! Regardless, however, of whether we ourselves are mothers or not, we all have experiences being in the presence of the amazing women who fill that role in some way, nurture our existence throughout some point in our life, or the majority of it. It's a wonderful way to honor each other's contributions and I am reminded that a mother's role is not only by those who give birth to us. There are so many people involved that don't fit the mold so to speak and in my career I have had the great pleasure in working with so many types of mothers; grandmothers, friends, sisters, aunts, nannies, caregivers, resource parents, house moms- the list goes on and on. This isn't to take away from our birth mother's celebration, just to include all the variations we are all so grateful to have. 

So much love, Happy Mother's Day!

-MGN

CHIC EATS: CHEESE, CRUDITÉS AND CHARCUTERIE BOARD


I recently hosted Book Club... for the very first time since I first joined this amazing group of women about 5 or 6 years ago. The group was started by a fabulous woman ten years ago, Jenny, who has created such a wonderful space for us all to share our accomplishments, goals and struggles in the most safe and reliably empowering way. I don't always attend regularly but the monthly get together has always left me feeling apart of something so impressive; a bunch of women who support one another. Each month the group rotates homes all over Los Angeles and I was very excited for everyone to come see mine, meet Arthur and little Pierre, and hopefully feel as welcomed as I always do. Since we have such a variety of of women in the group we all aim to be more conscious about other's dietary preferences and so I always try to bring something dairy free, vegan or gluten-free. So when I was thinking about what I'd serve/have Arthur make us, I wanted something inclusive and also me. And since my only culinary talent lies in creating beautiful cheese plates, I figured I would expand it to include crudités, which is just a fancy way to say chopped veggies and dip. So I got Arthur to whip up some vegan/gluten free pub cheese dip and I found all the pretty vegetables at the store. The purple cauliflower was probably the most impressive of them all, but I gasped when I found the cute baby carrots with their little greens leafs attached! The goal for me was just a variety of color. The vegan/gluten free hummus I found isn't pictured but was a perfect addition with all the veggies. I typically do about three cheeses, so in addition to my vegan cheese dip I added my usual suspects, manchego and a creamy brie adjacent, camembert. When it comes to picking cheeses you always want diversity in texture and taste so I always have something creamy and something crumbly. For accompaniments, I always do something salty and something sweet: toffee peanuts, olives, dried fruit, peppered salami and the star of the show, raw honeycomb, which is fully edible if you're wondering, and where all my bragging rights stem from! Enjoy!


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-MGN

#DENIMDAY, SOME AUTHENTIC THOUGHTS

In the 1990s the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape case because they assumed that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have assisted her rapist in getting them off, thereby acknowledging consent. The next day, women in Italian parliament wore jeans in solidarity and for the past 19 years Peace Over Violence has run the #DenimDay campaign, to raise awareness about sexual violence. As a mental health therapist and social worker, raising awareness and speaking out about sexual violence and advocating for gender equality has always been an extremely important passion of mine. The majority of my work has centered around empowering survivors of trauma, and sexual trauma is unfortunately one of the most common and complex experiences to navigate given the all too common stigma and shame it's often associated with. That is why the #MeToo  movement has always been a human issue for me, not a political one. Brené Brown researches and presents about shame, vulnerability and empathy, all things I know have so much power over people and how they live out their human experiences. She says; 


“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” 
-Brené Brown

And she is right. Bringing this topic to light is the only way we can make a change in the larger culture. Making sexual trauma less taboo is the only way to help people feel empowered to seek help. My role as a therapist has always been to make the uncomfortable, more comfortable. To peal away the shame by openly speaking about those things we hide away out of fear; it's the only way to make them less scary. Brené Brown says that shame can't survive being talked about and this is exactly where we need to start. This is how we change culture, we expose difficult truths and find ways of dealing with them. We talk to each other, we don't always have the same opinions but we all listen, we all learn, we all shift. This is magic of conversation and connectivity. And this is why we have things like #MeToo, #TimesUp and #DenimDay. We aren't letting shame take our power, our voices, our experiences from us. We all have a responsibility to welcome one another, listen to one another, help one another.


So when you have this opportunity to listen, to help, to sit with someone sharing something that could easily fall into shame- what do you do? Well again, Brené Brown puts this so simply, something I thought only therapists could do. She says we can sit in the dark with someone. We don't need to console, we don't need to give feedback, we just need to share. Share yourself with someone, be present, be there to listen, be there to take on some of the pain by simply acknowledging, validating, being real. For example, when a client shares something extremely painful or just straight horrific with me, I respond as a human, wow, that must have been so difficult, I'm sure that was painful, I am so sorry that happened to you, what was that like? Before going to graduate social work school, I spent so much of my time trying to 'fix it' for everyone else. To have those magical words of advice and say the 'right thing' that would instantly heal someone. As well intentioned as I was, I realized I was really discouraging my friends from authentically expressing their feelings. Having the right answer was about helping someone else, but it also meant I was superior in some way, that I knew everything. 

Sympathy is about feeling sorry for someone, empathy, however, is about understanding them. Empathy requires us to tap into our human-ness and find a way to connect with another person's pain. Not all humans have the exact same experiences, but we all have felt pain in some way or another and we are all capable of having the same feelings. Empathy evens the playing field, as it reminds us all that whether we are currently suffering or not, we all are equally susceptible to it and we share that with one another in this human experience. We are all equal and therefore pain is not to be shamed, but to be shared. As a therapist all my clients have told me about experiences I have not personally had myself, but I have never not been able to imagine what it must feel like when they share their stories with me. This is why we cry when we hear songs, watch movies, listen to stories. I'm not married to a country singer suffering with addiction but I did cry when Lady Gaga sang that last song in A Star is Born. We are all capable of empathy, of having some smidge of an understanding about what it must have been like to go through something challenging, painful, scary, violent, terrifying, exciting, inspiring, hopeful, fulfilling, lovely. We can relate, you can relate, and it's really all we need to do for one another. 

So when we have a day like today, #DenimDay, we don't have to be victims of sexual trauma or therapists. We just have to be willing to sit in the dark, to listen to the stories of our friends, family members, neighbors, colleagues. To make the scary feel a little more safe by allowing these difficult conversations to take place, making the world more aware, making shame less powerful. 

CLASSIC STYLE: LONG PLEATED SKIRTS IN CHARLESTON


Pretty, pretty pleats... I will admit, I have never been a long skirt wearer, most likely because of my short height and the fact that higher hemlines have always been much more flattering on me. Let's blame Fran Fine for all her fabulous jackets and mini skirt sets I saw growing up watching The Nanny. But since I was visiting the South, a place I always imagine is a bit more in touch with the past, when women wore full long skirts and seem to float around so gracefully, like in the first twenty minutes I watched of Gone With the Wind. And I think Julia Engel, who lives in Charleston, embraces this sprint so beautifully and helped push me out of my short skirt comfort zone! I found this skirt and earrings at Zara a month or two ago in store and can't seem to find it online, same with the top from Forever 21. But I did link similar options below, as well as all the other long pleated skirts I really like. I paired the skirt with a breezier top considering how humid Charleston was that weekend, but I love, love, LOVE, the sweater and silk skirt trend. You know how much I love a sweater, no matter the season, no matter the temperature, I will do it. And ever since women started wearing these long silk shirt dresses and skirts I have always thought about the possibility. I think I would need a fairly cropped one so I can have a torso but I've seen it look great with longer ones too. See all my picks and pics, haha, below. Enjoy. 



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More pleats please





-MGN

All photography by Gladyxa Mari