Friday Favorite- The Royal Wedding

The Royal Wedding. A "regular" girl becomes a princess. That's just magical. I have an affinity for Catherine/Kate Middleton. I hope she manages the extreme pressure and publicity; I think she's had more of an opportunity to get used to the scrutiny than other royals. Hopefully that bodes well for much happiness and longevity. I was fortunate enough to live in Britain for many years growing up and even met the Queen, Prince Phillip, and Prince Charles. I was not able to meet my favorite royal, Princess Diana. Like most girls I grew up desperately wanting to be her, fancy jewels, pretty dresses, unfortunately we didn't know until much later that there was also much unhappiness. I hope the newest addition to the royal family enjoys the pomp and circumstance along with love and support.

The dress, designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. It reminds me of another royal wedding where a "commoner" married a king- Princess Grace Kelly. I think that's a pretty good person to pattern your wedding dress, or any dress after. Like Grace Kelly, Duchess Catherine was full of poise and classic beauty. Congratulations to the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

My Friday Favorite- The Royal Wedding (and wedding dress!)

Easter Breakfast Casserole

I think it might be a Southern rule that every household has a breakfast casserole recipe. This one is mine (technically, it's from my husband's aunt). It's ridiculously easy and open to interpretation- you like onions? put em in, how about peppers-that too...The world is your breakfast casserole.

Breakfast Casserole

6 eggs

2 cups milk

1 tsp dry mustard

2-6 slices of bread, broken (you can use any bread, I used a baguette on Sunday)

*You can substitute hash browns or tater tots for the bread

1 tsp salt

1 lb sausage, cooked and chopped (any kind)

1 cup grated mixed cheese

Combine all ingredients, pour into a greased 9x12 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. That's it. It's so easy it's ridiculous. And, so good. I usually make this for holidays and will mix the ingredients (let the sausage cool before adding to the eggs) and let it sit in the refrigerator while we go to Mass. This is a no-fail, one dish, awesome addition to your brunch table. You can thank me later!

Friday Favorite- Anthropologie Present (Giftcard)

It's my birthday! Yea, shower me with glad tidings and choruses of " You don't look a day over 21." Flattery will get you...a gift card to my favorite store, Anthropologie! I love Anthropologie, I love it even more when I get a great deal on something pretty; I'm sure you do too. Since I am now firmly in my 30s, how about a $30 gift card? If you'd like a chance to win a $30 gift card to Anthropologie, follow the directions below.

Here are a few of my current favorites:

Eureka Cargo Skirt (above). I got this just before Mom 2.0 and it is awesome, extremely comfortable, flattering and versatile. Plus, under $30!

Oscillate Heels. Pretty, pretty, pretty. Why, yes, I'd love to dance.

En Route Blazer. Super cute and on trend (STRIPES!). You can easily wear this at work with pants or a pencil skirt, maybe even a yellow or pink skirt/dress and then with jeans for a night out. I love this, clearly I need it now!
Antilles Tank. Bright, fun, colorful pair this with black skinnies and you have an outfit (FYI- it runs way big).

If you'd like to enter, just leave a comment below with your email information. For a second entry, become a follower, or let me know that you are already a follower (again, I need a way to contact you). A winner will be randomly drawn at 10pm CT Tuesday April 25th. Good Luck and thanks for being here.
*This post is not sponsored in any way. Anthropologie does know who I am but only because I buy so much of their clothes!*

The giveaway & comments are now closed, Mir is the winner!

Mom 2.0 Recap

The Good, the Meh, and the Pretty
*Yes, this is formatted weird and No, I can't figure out how to make it better. I apologize. But, pretty pictures at the end, so soldier on.*

It seems that every Mom 2.0 attendee has blogged about the conference. Seemingly a recap would be over saturation at this point. But, then I remembered that most of my lovely readers may not read the other Mom 2.0 bloggers (because I am your favorite, right?!). Besides, when has over saturation ever stopped me before?! Last year I went to Mom 2.0 at the encouragement of Karen (if it gets her seal of approval, then I generally will heed her advice). I got a party pass and had a wonderful time meeting the bloggers I read for years. It was a no-brainer for me to attend Mom 2.0 again this year, it was relatively close and I reasoned that it was the equivalent of a really fun & fabulous girls weekend. I'm not at all upset that I attended, but, for various reasons, likely won't attend again for some time.

The Good

Mom 2.0 does a really great job of attracting the right people to its conference. The attendees are overwhelmingly smart, creative people who have concrete ideas for making blogging their business. Likewise, they have great ideas on how to change their communities for the better. I like to be surrounded by smart, goal oriented people (especially women), so my fellow participants were a huge draw for me. I also really appreciate that the conference is limited to a manageable 500. I have gone through sorority rush, I don't need to go through that again. Anything over 500 people would be too much for me. The relatively small number of attendees allowed me to interact with people and form friendships.

The conference does an excellent job of selecting the right women to give its opening and closing remarks. I already mentioned how wonderful Abigail Disney's discussion was, the closing keynoters were likewise extremely accomplished women with exciting ideas and different worldviews.

I think Mom 2.0 also does a great job of encouraging interesting discussions. I attended sessions that have little to do with my blogging world, such as dad blogging and the new family. I was really happy I selected those session since both were really interesting.

The Meh

I can't quite figure out the Mom 2.0 brand. In one sense, it is absolutely THE preeminent conference for women (primarily mom) bloggers to connect on a professional level with marketers. On the other hand, the conference does not always act professionally. By that I mean, that Mom 2 chose not to release agendas or speakers until the tickets were full price. I suspect this was their way of creating excitement. I just found it frustrating. I really wanted to know what the conference would offer. As a professional, I would never attend a legal conference that refused to release its agenda or speakers until a few weeks before the conference. I was also disappointed in the lapses in communication on the Mom 2 website for most of the year and then daily updates with the newest greatest addition in the couple weeks before the event. Just release an agenda with a full roster of speakers, why is that so hard? There were plenty of little surprises at the conference that did not require the furtive PR campaign.

The other two large issues that I couldn't figure out, but are easily corrected for next year, were the food and the lack of internet connectivity. The conference organizers kept boasting about great food. Yea! I thought, it's the Ritz, in New Orleans, I am going to EAT. The conference selections were meager and not very good. Maybe I am a foodie snob, but I expected more. Much more. The lack of internet connectivity meant that most of the attendees (like me) weren't able to connect to the internet to blog, tweet, or even email for most of the conference. As a result, Mom 2 missed out on opportunities for real time social media excitement. I have high hopes that Laura and her team will continue to improve.

The Pretty

The people. The end.
Mom 2.0 Summit-0067
Me & Mir-Courtesy Sarah

The women who attend this conference are AMAZING.
Mom 2.0 Summit-0013
Me & Georgia (BOSSY) courtesy of Sarah

Make you so glad you know them great.

Me & Susan Come up with amazing ideas amazing.

These are women that I would be (and am) friends with in real life. These are women that I could hang out with for weeks and not get tired of seeing their lovely faces. These women are the reason I attended the conference. I was inspired, I learned, I laughed-oh, how I laughed. I got to meet tons of my twitter folks like Regan (BEST shoes ever), Britt and Rachel, and reconnect with amazing women like Laurie and Sarah. Not to mention my amazing roomies- Pam, Sarah, and Jennifer. In fact, many of my best times at the conference were the times I was just hanging out with awesome women. I really loved doing things that were not scheduled sessions like running with the group below on Saturday morning, walking around the French Quarter, and just chilling in my room while Mir made carpet angels (as soon as I can figure out how to make a video, that goes up here). That was well worth it. Run 2.0 (or 3.5!) courtesy of Rookie Moms

I laughed, I met new friends and reconnected with old friends. I came thisclose to meeting a fairy- I DARE you to listen and watch Erin Loechner and not think she is a real life fairy (an extremely savvy fairy). I was complimented by Gabby, Allison (who I desperately needed more time to hang out with!), and Susan, so pretty much I am complete. I learned that blogging as a business is not for me. I also learned that when you get a group of educated women in a room for any amount of time, the talk will inevitably lead to boobs, poop, or shoes. And, possibly I may be wearing the wrong bra (That was for you, you know whos).

There's my recap. And, as a thank you for reading that, I have a special Birthday present for you tomorrow, so come on back!

Mom 2.0 Advice

The mother you are today and the mother you want to be.

I'm back from Mom 2.0 and have lots of ideas, inspiration, exhaustion, memories, and pictures. I'll get to everything in due time. There was one thing that struck me so deeply that I need to remember it every day.

The conference opened with a keynote from Abigail Disney, who shared a quote from a Gloria Steinem speech to a boys' school: "Think of the father you have today and the father you want to be." The words really resonated with me slightly differently, "Think of the mother you are today and the mother you want to be."

I struggle with being the mom I want to be daily. I find myself saying 'No' more times than I'd like. I find myself getting frustrated with repetitive whining or the "I'm really tired and going to throw a fit for no reason" fits. I try to remember that my kids are great kids. I try to remember that they have spent their day remembering rules and growing; that's got to be exhausting. I try to remember that my girls are little sponges who soak up what I show them. And, yet, more times than I am comfortable with, I lose my temper. I show them my frustration rather than my patience. More times than I am proud of, I have to say 'Mommies make mistakes sometimes too." I'm not writing this because I think I'm a bad mom. I don't. I love my girls more than anything I've ever thought or known. Being their mother is my great privilege and joy. I just want to make sure that how I mother them shows them my joy and love. This post is my public resolve to do better.

Sometimes I get it right. My girls and I love creating things together. I paint their nails and play dress-up with them. When I ask them, those activities are their favorite things. Yesterday, I drove straight fromt he airport and immediately took them for a mommy & girls afternoon. We had lunch and then spent the rest of the afternoon at a Family Fun Day. We were silly. I let them ride whatever rides they wanted as many times as they wanted. We planted seedlings and I watched them win the carnival games. I let them have cotton candy, sweets, and take as long as they needed. We were on their schedule and we had a wonderful time. I loved seeing them experience the different activities. I loved seeing how each of my girls reacted differently to the same situation. How brave my oldest child is. How ready she is to take on the world. I saw how quietly observant my younger daughter is and how she still really wants to just be by my side. I love being that mom. I love seeing them just Be.

I know that I can find a way to be a fun mom at the same time as being the mom who gives them guidelines and boundaries. I don't want to lose sight that I have an obligation to these girls to raise them to be more than they dream they can be. It is an awesome responsibility, to be a good parent. I know I can do it. From now on I need to remember to be the mother I want to be.

Hump Day -Om Day

I'm packing, prepping, and generally getting ready for Mom 2.0 in New Orleans tomorrow. I'm also trying to get caught up on work, household stuff before I leave. Which is all leaving me feeling quite anxious (but ready to go to New Orleans!), I'm leaving you with a nice, peaceful, tropical landscape from our trip to Puerto Rico. Deep breaths, and ommm.....

Shopping with Eddie Ross (and Tori Spelling)

Jaithan, me, Eddie

A few weeks ago I was able to go to one of Eddie Ross' flea market shopping trips. Eddie & Jaithan picked the biggest antique market in Texas (Roundtop/Warrenton/Marburger) to shop. I had been looking forward to shopping with Eddie for almost a year and was not disappointed. We concentrated mostly on Warrenton since the prices in Marburger and Round Top are getting higher and higher. Eddie and Jaithan previewed the day before and had certain booths set aside to explain different items and techniques. I learned how to negotiate at markets (I am usually the WORST negotiator. I'm great in legal negotiations, but purchasing items? No); so that was well worth the price of admission. Eddie pointed out items that I might have normally overlooked. He showed us how to create table displays, furniture groupings, etc. It was really interesting and really helpful. I didn't end up with too many things. In fact, everything Eddie showcased on our walk-through was gone by the time my friend and I went back to the booths after lunch! Eddie clearly has great taste, he sold them out. Actually, a group of ladies on the tour with us went and bought almost every item he pointed out. The ones that got away?- an AMAZING pair of purple mid-century glass lamps (think Z Gallerie) for $90 the pair. I racked my brains about where could I use them...DUH- the master bedroom. Alas, they were gone by the time we got back to that booth. Shoot. Lesson learned: when in doubt, buy them out! I can't wait to go back to Warrenton in the fall with my new tips of the trade.
I was happy after meeting Eddie & Jaithan and learning so many great tips. But, wait! There's more!

While looking around an architectural dealer for barn lights, I spied this man. And immediately knew he was Dean McDermott. I was sort of tipped off by the camera & crew around him. By the way, he is incredibly tall and MUCH hotter than he comes across on television. Like, OMG so HOT. Since the whole crew, including Patty (what? You don't know the name of Tori's nanny?! Pshaw?!) were there with a tour bus, I knew Tori had to be there as well.

After walking around a little bit more, we found Tori. I didn't get a picture since she had just finished taking pictures with at least 40 other people. She was very gracious about all the pictures and also much prettier in real life. I desperately wanted to get a picture, but I don't bother people when they are shopping. Obviously this woman didn't mind bothering someone while they were shopping!
If you ever get the chance to go shopping with Eddie & Jaithan, do it! You'll learn great decorating, shopping, and party tips and might run into celebrities along the way!

Friday Favorite- Spring Dresses

Big surprise that two of my favorite Spring dresses include this dress from Anthropologie. I am (im)patiently waiting for my birthday discount so I can buy this. It would be perfect for Easter or our family pictures, or pretending like I'm Donna Reed. I love the silhouette and the colors. I haven't seen this in person, but can't wait to try it on!
Shabby Apple has a new line that I love. I may have mentioned before that I really like wearing Shabby Apple dresses. They have a great vintage vibe and are unique enough so that nobody else will wear your dress. At least, nobody has shown up in the same dress as I have before. I love this striped dress, it looks so fresh and fun. I think stripes are great for Spring (and Summer, and Fall...). This would make a great Easter dress or for a fun family photo. It reminds me of something Anthropologie would sell, which makes it A-ok in my book.

*Not a paid post, I just really love these dresses.

Pretty Spring dresses are my Friday Favorites today.

Gallery Wall of Pictures

I love using gallery walls and have several gallery walls in our home. I love seeing how our family grows displayed in our home. As part of the great Master Bedroom makeover, I created a new gallery wall in our bedroom. I had about eight frames up before, but they were way too small and didn't make enough of an impact. This gallery wall has more pictures and items that are just "us." I am a (Some may say OCD or obsessed...I'm not arguing. It may or may not have taken me 2 days to finish this project.) I start out by laying everything out on the floor. Once I play around with moving everything around, I cut out paper shapes for each frame.
I then use painters tape to place the paper "frames" on the wall. It makes it much easier to move everything around. You are supposed to hang pictures at eye level, which is difficult for us because we are so tall. Usually 57 inches is a good point. I started at 57 inches here, but ended moving everything up 8 or 9 inches because my husband's hamper would have hit the bottom frame. Also, it looked weird to have so much wall up top with no frames. I decided hanging things at the "right" height didn't matter because my husband and I are going to be the only people using this room. Luckily, I discovered this BEFORE making holes in the wall.

I branched out a bit this time and included some objects, rather than just art or pictures. I have the crucifix from my grandfather's coffin-wow, writing that out seems morbid. But, it's not. At least not to me. On the other side I used the ribbon from my wedding bouquet and added magnets we've gotten from attending bat mitzvahs for our friends' children.

The gallery wall includes our first photo ever together (even before our first date), awww. Our wedding invitation, our children's hand prints, our wedding photos and mat. I also managed to get in the photo of us with a Longhorn-woo. Oh yeah. In other words, it's "us." I 'm pretty pleased with how everything turned out. I still want to add some dimension by adding a couple of frames on a higher level (in between frames), as well as a Lisa Leonard sign. I also need to update some of these pictures-but look how sweet our girls are in these pictures. So sweet, so little. sniff... But, for now, I'm really happy with how this wall has brightened up our room.
I still owe you a description of my antiquing trip with Eddie Ross with added celebrity sighting (Spoiler alert! Tori Spelling & Family). Additional Spoiler Alert! Dean McDermott is Hott Hot hot.