Tagged: Spring

Creative Habit: Spring Cleaning

In most cases, when you want to make room for something new, you have to let go of something old. If you want to update your wardrobe, you might consign or donate items in your closet that no longer fit or are out of style. If you’re moving into a new home, you may have a garage sale to get rid of furniture that you no longer need. There are even small, everyday instances in which you simply remove the old to make space for the new without even thinking. Before taking a trip to the grocery store, you might clean out your fridge and discard leftovers or items that have spoiled. Purging something old to make room for something new comes naturally to us in so many facets of our lives, yet we don’t instinctively turn to this practice when it comes to creativity.

Creativity is intangible – it doesn’t literally take up space like a new pair of shoes or a couch or a carton of milk. Even though you don’t physically have to make room for a great big piece of creativity, you have to make space for it mentally. Just like your dresser or fridge can become unbearably full, so much so that you can never find the right pair of jeans or marinade when you need them, your mind can become cluttered and creativity can get lost. It’s easier when you can physically see that you have so many throw pillows you can no longer comfortably sit on your couch. You know it’s time to sell or give away a few. However, when you’re dealing with something more abstract like creativity and making space in your mind, it can be more challenging to know when and how to clear things out.

Like New Year’s Resolutions or bikini season diets, spring cleaning is a bit arbitrary. There’s never a wrong or right time to define goals, commit to a healthier lifestyle, or clear out clutter in your life. While these annual milestones are somewhat trivial, they serve as good reminders that it’s important to regularly set intentions, practice healthy habits, and let go of something old to make room for something new.

kaboompics.com_Coffee in vintage cup.

For this month’s AOC Blog Creative Habit Challenge, do a little metaphorical spring cleaning. Actively find ways to clear your mind and make space for creativity. This could be as simple as shutting off your computer, powering down your phone, and allowing yourself to detach and decompress for a few hours. Maybe you just need a breath of fresh air – go outside and get lost in the beautiful spring weather. Perhaps you’ve always been curious about meditation, and now could finally be the time to give it a try. If your mind is feeling particularly cluttered and the thought of freeing your mind sounds paralyzing or impossible, you might want to dig deeper into your spring cleaning.

Over time, the buildup of stress or the pressure of the never-ending to-do list can really start to saturate your mind. In these instances, a simple walk around the neighborhood park won’t suffice – you don’t just need spring cleaning, you need deep cleaning. Carve out some time and space to ritualize the process. Grab a pen and paper, and physically free write or sketch whatever you need to release. Try to be as raw and honest as possible. Then, tear it up, burn it, or throw it into a nearby body of water – really let it go and allow your mind to empty.

Whatever mode or method you choose, don’t just clean out your house this spring. Clean out your mind and make space for creativity. Let’s continue the conversation – tweet me @AOCBlogGirl using the hashtag #AOCBlogCreativeHabit!

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AOC Wedding Series: The Reader

Welcome to the next installment of the AOC Wedding Series! In case you missed it, I’ve already covered the biggest wedding role of all (after the bride of course), the Maid of Honor. Now, I’ll be covering a role I believe to be totally underestimated, the reader! In my experience, when it comes to the actual day of the wedding, the reader is more challenging than the Maid of Honor – yes, I said it! As the reader, you have to battle nerves and emotions while actually speaking in front of the entire wedding party and guests. Do not make light of this key role!

Kat and Cait B

Photo by Angie Webb

I also want to acknowledge that my experience as a reader may be somewhat atypical and some of the following advice may not be applicable to all readers. Oftentimes, a reader is a cousin, brother/sister in-law, or someone who was not included in the wedding party that the bride and groom want to involve in the wedding in a special way. In my particular experience as a reader, the bride didn’t have a traditional wedding party, and much of my pre-wedding involvement consisted of duties often designated for bridesmaids. This is a great example of how every wedding is a unique and personal experience for those participating and attending. Now without further ado… the reader!


 

5 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Estimate Expenses, Create a Budget, & Start Saving

  • Here’s a list of some possible expenses you should plan for as the reader:
  1. The Bachelorette Party (see below for a breakdown of potential bachelorette expenses)
  2. Your Dress, Shoes, and Accessories for the Wedding (keep in mind, you may already have something in your closet that will suit the dress code for the big day!)
  3. Bridal Shower (see below for a breakdown of potential bridal shower expenses)
  4. Wedding Gift
  5. Transportation and Accommodations for the Wedding

 

4 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Mark Your Calendar for the Bachelorette Weekend

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  • Communicate your schedule to the Maid of Honor so that she can coordinate a day or weekend that works with everyone’s calendar – keep in mind this may require a trip to another city
  • Follow the reimbursement plan and repay the MOH
  • Be clear on the game plan for the weekend, and ask the MOH if you can help contribute to the festivities in any way

P.S. Don’t forget, the bachelorette party may include a lingerie shower!


3 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Begin Dress Shopping or Getting Alterations for Yourself

  • Some brides may want to help you select a dress that will coordinate with the colors and aesthetic of the wedding party, and others may leave it up to you – either way, don’t forget about shoes and accessories
  • If the bride wants to help you select a dress, you may need to get alterations
  • If you’re selecting a dress for yourself, be sure to communicate with the bride about your options

2 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Attend a Bridal Shower

  • You may be invited to attend a bridal shower, so head to the registry and get a gift – again, keep in mind this may require a trip to another city

1 MONTH BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Start Practicing Your Reading

  • Don’t put off familiarizing yourself with your reading – you don’t necessarily have to memorize the reading unless the bride specifically asked this of you
  • Address any words or points of inflection you’re stumbling on
  • Practice reading it out loud to a friend, family member, or significant other

DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING:

The Rehearsal

  • Be sure to have a few easy to read copies of your reading printed, packed, and ready for the rehearsal
  • Get clear on the point at which you’ll be reading in the ceremony – make note of what happens or what the officiant will say right before your big moment
  • Know how you will enter and exit

DAY OF THE WEDDING:

Practice + Drink Plenty of Water (and maybe a little champagne) + Breathe!

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Photo by Angie Webb

  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Be sure you and your plus one each have a copy of the reading in case of emergency
  • Keep yourself hydrated so that your voice and throat are clear (don’t forget, a little champagne never hurt to calm your nerves)
  • Breathe and speak slowly, deliberately, and confidently
  • Stand up with your girl and try not to cry – you got this!

AOC Wedding Series: The Maid of Honor

6 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Estimate Expenses, Create a Budget, & Start Saving

  • Here’s a list of some possible expenses you should plan for as a MOH:
  1. Plane Ticket for Dress Shopping
  2. The Bachelorette Party (see below for a breakdown of potential bachelorette expenses)
  3. Your Dress, Shoes, and Accessories for the Wedding
  4. Bridal Shower (see below for a breakdown of potential bridal shower expenses)
  5. Wedding Gift
  6. Transportation and Accommodations for the Wedding

5 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Accompany the Bride Dress Shopping

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  • Coordinate a weekend to go dress shopping – keep in mind this may require a trip to another city
  • Keep the bride nourished and hydrated throughout the process
  • Take photos of the bride in the dresses from every angle so she can look back and analyze
  • Give honest feedback
  • Bring a simple surprise or souvenir to celebrate when she says YES to the dress

4 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Plan the Bachelorette Party

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  • Talk to the bride about her vision for the festivities
  • Communicate with the bridesmaids and bride to coordinate a day or weekend that works with everyone’s schedule – again, keep in mind this may require a trip to another city
  • Determine a budget and reimbursement plan that works for the bridesmaids
  • Research and book reservations for whatever is needed: a venue, hotel or housing accommodations, transportation, restaurants, spa day, etc.
  • Make a game plan for the celebration: think about meals, games, gift bags, decorations, activities, etc.

P.S. Don’t forget the bachelorette party can be a great time for a lingerie shower too!


3 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Begin Dress Shopping or Getting Alterations for Yourself

  • Some brides may select a dress for you, and others may select a color and allow you to select a style – either way, don’t forget about shoes and accessories
  • If the bride selects a dress for you, you may need to get alterations
  • If you’re selecting a dress for yourself, be sure to communicate with the bride and other bridesmaids about your options

2 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Host or Attend a Bridal Shower

Bodine Feather Wedding Shower

  • You may decide to host or co-host a bridal shower or you may just be asked to attend a bridal shower – and again, keep in mind this may require a trip to another city
  • If you’re hosting, be sure to coordinate a date and guest list with the bride and plan for a venue, food, drink, decorations, games, etc.
  • If you’re attending, head to the registry and get a gift

1 MONTH BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Help the Bride with the Details

Evan Tables

Photos by Angie Webb

  • This step may vary depending on the your location and the location of the bride and the wedding, but be sure to offer to help with any of the wedding details – you could easily communicate over email or video call to help the bride finalize things like floral arrangements, centerpieces, or her accessories for the big day

MONTH OF THE WEDDING:

Provide Emotional Support & Encouragement for the Bride

  • Plain and simple, check in regularly and ask: How are you doing, and what can I help with? Don’t forget that the bride is one of your best friends. After the wedding talk, remember to catch up about work or chat about your favorite reality TV show

WEEK OF THE WEDDING:

Write Your Toast for the Reception

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Photo by Angie Webb

  • Don’t put off your toast for the reception – lock this thing down and get it in your head so you can speak through the nerves and tears on the big day

DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING:

Be there for the Bride

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Photo by Angie Webb

  • Get your nails done, enjoy the rehearsal dinner, and get a good night’s sleep

DAY OF THE WEDDING:

Breathe! Take Care of the Bride & Any Hiccups that Arise

Bodine Feather Wedding Collage

Photos by Angie Webb

  • Keep the bride nourished and hydrated
  • Do something nurturing, restorative, and relaxing like a yoga class or massage if time permits
  • Accompany the bride to hair and makeup
  • Check in with the wedding planner, florist, caterer, etc. and be sure everything is going smoothly
  • If you can, field and address any hiccups before the bride finds out
  • Assist the bride in getting out of her clothes and into her dress
  • Be sure the bride looks her best in the photographs
  • Stand up with your girl and try not to cry
  • Head to the reception, toast the happy couple, and dance

 

If you’re a future Maid of Honor, download my Maid of Honor Checklist to help you prepare for your BFF’s big day!

CRAVE: First Edition

Crave, a verb:

1. To long for; want greatly, desire eagerly

2. To require; need

The routine has become second nature to us. We open our Facebook page, Twitter app, Instagram feed, Pinterest board, we start scrolling, and we click, click, click away at that little Like button as something passes by that strikes our fancy. In what feels like a matter of minutes, an hour passes, we close the tab or window or app, and we resume our day. But what happens to all the Likes? Just as quickly as we endorse a photo, article, video, we forget. Where does all our interest go? Is it really that fleeting? Or are we so overloaded with things we Like that the next time we visit our accounts, we hastily move on to the next interesting thing?

Call me a virtual hoarder, but I compile my Likes. I visit my activity log on Facebook, view posts I’ve liked on Instagram, scroll through my favorites on Twitter, and look through my likes on Pinterest. And in a much less robotic and more engaged manner, I extract the information I actually like and bookmark it in a folder called Cravings. Here are some of the most recent things I crave:


BRYR CLOGS

Bryr horizontal

Longing for… sandal season? Add an open-toed clog to your spring and summer shoe collection. Bryr clogs are designed and handmade in San Francisco using traditional European wood bases and American leather.


TASTEMADE

Tastemade

Hungry for… innovative eats? Download Tastemade to watch food adventures, cooking shows, and local quicktakes. Find the perfect recipe for your next dinner party or the tastiest restaurant for your next date night or girl’s night out.


LAZZARI

Lazzari

Yearning for… European style? Check out the Italian clothing and accessories brand Lazzari. Thanks to their collaboration with amazing North Carolina based artist Jordan Grace Owens, I discovered this unique European label.


THE NEW POTATO

TNP vertical

Itching for… an innovative online magazine? Add The New Potato to your reading list. It started with sisters Danielle & Laura Kosann and the basic concept, “everyone has to eat.” From there, they blur the lines between food, fashion, design, and media in every article.


CALORIE-FRIENDLY COCKTAILS

DIY Life Skinnygirl Cocktails for Spring

Thirsty for… calorie-friendly spring cocktails? Visit the Elvis Duran Morning Show site for three recipes featuring Skinnygirl wine and liquor courtesy of DIY savant, Web Girl Kathleen.


BY ELKE

Elke horizontal

Pining for… a new leather bag? Look no further than By Elke. These one-of-a-kind and small-run leather and vintage canvas bags are handmade in Boulder, Colorado using repurposed, antique, and vintage materials.

Lockwood Spring Preview Party Recap

Locally-owned boutiques are the key to preserving your morale and your budget when shopping in NYC. A friend in Astoria introduced me to Lockwood. Thankfully, I don’t live in Astoria or else I might be there every day. Lockwood is a standout among the countless shops in NYC not only for its warm and welcoming ambiance but also for its range of clothing options. The boutique carries sizes 2-20, offering numerous brands with plus-size options, like BB Dakota, Alternative Apparel, Articles of Society, and more. While I’m not a plus-size girl, I appreciate the tone Lockwood is setting by offering fashion for everyone.

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Fashion in NYC can be intimidating. More times than not, you walk into a boutique in Lower Manhattan thinking… I’m too curvy to wear that… I’m too broke to afford that… That sales associate is watching me like a hawk… Those girls are gawking at me… Do I even belong here? Lockwood is a place where women can actually enjoy the shopping experience without the pressure of haughty sales associates and patrons, unreasonable price points, and limited silhouettes. At Lockwood, you can feel confident at the rack, in the dressing room, and at the checkout counter – the way shopping should be but so rarely is in NYC.

Last week, the boutique hosted a spring preview party complete with DIY goodie bags, tattoo bar, Polaroid photo booth, wine, and 20% off all merchandise. The minute I saw the event, I texted my friend in Astoria and told her to clear her schedule.

 

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The first time I visited Lockwood, I was like a kid in a candy store: I wanted everything. However, on the night of the spring preview party, I committed to exhibiting some self-restraint. I told myself I would stick to the needs not the wants – I needed a new dress for a few summer weddings, but I wanted this athletic little sweat-set from Alternative Apparel.

 

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I successfully resisted and walked away with my goodie bag, a Kitsch metallic tattoo reading “inspire” on my wrist, and a few of Lockwood’s amazingly on-point paper goods. I left satisfied yet still wanting more. I can’t wait to see the spring and summer collection evolve as warmer weather makes its way to NYC. Thanks to Lockwood, there’s always a good excuse to visit Astoria.