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 fiancĂ© 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 frosĂ©. 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