Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Year of Self-Care

2017 is coming to a close – and while I’m excited about the fresh start that a new year brings, I’m a little sad to see it go. It was a year of personal growth and challenges, finding out what I’m made of and what I need to work on, and the realization that I can do hard things. I apologize in advance for the long winded-ness. I’ve been sitting here the last month compelled to share and have tried rewriting this to make it short and succinct several times, to no avail. I mean, I shaved quite a bit off and it’s still a lot of babbling on, BUT I guess that’s just what I do, so here you go!

A little back story: I decided in November of 2016 that 2017 was going to be the year of ‘me’. I was turning 38, done having kids and I was just at the point where I was sick & tired of feeling less than my best, most of the time. My typical answer to anyone ever asking, "How are things going/How are you doing?" over the past few years has always been, “Oh good, just busy, you know?" Never going much deeper, not wanting to admit that a lot of the time, I feel like I’m failing at something. Name a day and it’s either my business, my parenting, my marriage or my health that’s on the chopping block. I was feeling frazzled and anxious – for no BIG reason, it was just my constant state. I knew that to stop these feelings from continually circling, or getting even worse, something had to change. What’s the saying, “Change starts with you me,” right? (Ugh. I really wanted to put the responsibility of changing on anyone/anything else but me.) But, that wasn’t going to work, so I made a list and wrote down what I thought I needed to do to make this happen. Below were the main components:


Exercise : I am committing to five days a week. I want to be strong. I’m going to lift heavy weights and do yoga (bc they both scare me) and if I have a bad day and only do a 20-minute walk (or nothing at all), it’s ok. Endorphins = mood boosters, and I always feel accomplished and happier when I leave the gym, even if I’m cursing in the middle of a workout.

Sugar : I can stop eating so much, I CAN. Be quiet, brain.

Sleep : probably going to have to skip this one for now, with two kids who wake up in the night, and no more cribs to contain either of them.

Read : If I don’t fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. I miss getting lost in a good book.

Skincare : Let’s work on reverse aging…I can buy fancy creams or maybe try Botox? y/n? (I’d really be interested in anyone’s opinions on their favorite skincare - routines that take less than 2 min at night preferably) and if they do Botox…seriously.

Girls Night : make time for friends outside of the house at least once a month

Errands Alone : nothing like a mindless walk around Marshalls/Homegoods to boost my mood.

Meditate : I keep hearing about how calming your mind and learning to be still is good for you so I should try. Maybe it would help me be more patient (especially with my children)

Hmmm, what else, what else. I mean, I guess I could stop drinking alcohol.

Alcohol. The elephant in the room. The one thing that had been a constant in my life since becoming an ‘adult.’ What would I do to unwind? Have fun? Deal with hard days? Celebrate? Survive a long day with tantruming children? Commiserate with other moms? Mask my social anxiety when confronted with new situations. (Oh hi, 2017 – thanks for teaching me that I really am much more of an introvert than I realized) What would life be like without any alcohol whatsoever? WHAT?! WHY? HOW?! I could not fathom it.

And those thoughts, right there, were screaming in my brain saying YESSSS THIS. THIS. THIS. This is what you have to do. This is what you need to do (and what you desperately don’t want to do, because, life.) How will you deal? What will people think? Will my friends stop wanting to hang out with me? Will I be even less patient with my kids? What will I miss out on? What will I say? Will I be boring? How will I get through the long, cold winter without wine by the fire and gorgeous summer without cocktails on the patio and, and, and. You see where I’m going with this? I could’ve made a 5-page list with all the ‘cons’ I believed there were to giving it up. If you’re still with me at this point, you’re probably wondering how my ‘year of self-care’ story spun out on this tangent about giving up alcohol. But in all honesty, the self-care wouldn’t have happened if I had continued to drink.

Saying bye to booze was, hands down, the biggest gift I have ever given myself, and in turn, my loved ones. It is the reason that I consider 2017 to be a 100% success in the self-care department, even if my skincare routine is sub-par, I still have very little patience (for the love, put on your SHOES!!)  annnnnnnd my sugar dragon has reared its ugly head this month and I’ve been shoveling chocolate in my mouth like a kid sneaking candy from their parents (Joey, stop judging me!) It was the year that I proved to myself that I can do really hard things. The year that I finally, finally started to see glimpses of the person I want to be, the real me. As of tonight (at midnight) I will have gone 365 days without one sip of alcohol. Not one sip. I KNOW. I can hardly believe it. I’m an adult woman; a 38-year-old mother of two, ages 2 & 6 and I don’t drink. What?!? Am I crazy? I certainly would’ve thought that about anyone else a year ago, if they said they didn’t.

I’ll say this, my drinking after having kids was different than it was before. In all honesty, it became much more frequent and much less social (more wine on the couch with Netflix by myself or with my husband v. nights out with friends). Most days it was a (large) glass or two to ‘get through’ dinner/bath/bedtime routines, other times a lot more. Almost every time though, I’d sleep terribly, wake up at 3 am with a feeling of guilt/shame/regret and vow to myself that tomorrow would be different. It rarely was.

“But you don’t have a problem,” I kept hearing. And yes, while I have no rock bottom story or some other earth-shattering event that was the catalyst for giving up alcohol - nor do I identify as an alcoholic or whatever else society deems worthy of ‘problem’ status - the fact that this was waking me up daily meant that it was a problem...for me. (whew, run on sentence much?) It was a growing realization that maybe I could be happier without alcohol. That the things I wanted to try and accomplish might be attainable if I let go of this thing that held me back. That to truly DO ‘self-care’ justice this year I needed to be real honest and work hard to rid myself of the habits that were not serving me. How I fought against this revelation – anything but the wine!

I am not writing this in judgment of anyone who does drink or doesn’t have these thoughts. There are many people out there who don’t feel this internal struggle and can easily stop drinking after having just one glass of wine (that was not me). I actually don’t know anyone personally that doesn’t drink, although my close friends and family couldn’t be more supportive of my decision. BUT, if any of you are reading this and relate at all to my story, please know you are not alone.

I realize now that alcohol in my life was a distraction. Wine was my escape, my ‘adult’ treat, something the kids couldn’t share with me and something that helped me ease into the evening transition when my brain and patience were fried. It was a band-aid to my anxious brain, a very poor quality one that kept falling off. You get what I’m saying?

Do I still get stressed out or anxious now that I don’t drink? Of course. But now I’m better equipped to work through the feelings rather than try to bandage them up and hope they go away on their own. My mind isn’t fuzzy from a little too much wine and my brain isn’t sending me the ‘guilt’ talk every morning. Just the knowledge that I don’t have to figure out if I will or will not have a glass of wine in the evening has lessened my anxiety 1000%. And no hangovers, ever? Well, that’s just icing on the cake.

I would search the internet when I first started contemplating giving up alcohol as part of my year of self-care looking for stories from women who had done this. Other moms especially, who didn’t necessarily have a rock bottom story, just a desire to stop drinking, even if it wasn’t forever. They were not easy to find. You know what was easy to find? A thousand mommy/wine memes. (Which I fully admit I have laughed along with and high fived friends about in the past) You see what you want to see, right? Then I stumbled across an Instagram account @thesoberglow. Mia was unapologetically talking about living a healthy life – minus the booze. #soberfortheHEALTHofit. YES. That’s it. Through her, I found @drybeclub, run by Aidan, a mom in her late 30’s (like me!) who was starting conversations about this ‘gray area’ of drinking, and providing a space for people to ask questions or say ‘me too’ and find support online. And from there I found more (happy to share, just email me).

Finding these was like a wall coming down. I wasn’t the only one who was wrestling with how alcohol was making them feel. How drinking had been fun until it wasn’t anymore. How you didn’t have to be an alcoholic to decide to stop. MIND BLOWN. I can do this. And, here we are, and I’ve done it. And although saying the word ‘forever’ seems so FINAL and daunting, I don’t think that I’ll drink again. Right now, in this minute, I have no desire to drink at all. It took me awhile to get here, but it feels good. I feel GOOD.

If you’re like me, you also want to know what the tangible results are. I know I’ve talked about how much better I feel now that I’m not drinking but here are some other things that happened along the way:

1.     I lost 10 pounds. I did make the goal at the beginning of the year to go to the gym 5 days a week and I pretty much stuck to that, so exercise played a part, but not drinking those extra calories and then eating the bad food that comes along with it has definitely helped eliminate the ‘wine weight,' I’ll call it. And honestly, I wasn't looking to lose that much weight. I was looking to feel strong and tone my body, so that was a little bonus.

2.    My workouts! Everything about them has improved – strength, flexibility, speed, etc. I’m in the best shape of my life and I’m so proud of myself. Plus, I now look forward to my exercise time and don’t think of it as a punishment. I turned my daily wine drinking habit into a gym habit, and I’m not mad about it.

3.    I have fun. A lot of fun, actually. I thought life would be SO BORING if I took alcohol out of the equation. Turns out it’s not, who knew?! I still enjoy dinners out, going out with friends, relaxing on the couch with Netflix – AND I’m less likely to fall asleep during whatever movie we may be watching on the weekend. I have realized that wine was a social lubricant for me, and the only time I ever miss it has been when I’m in a situation where I have to make small talk with people I don’t know. You guys, I am awkward. It pains me to even write that but it’s true.

4.    I sleep soundly (between the couple times a night that I’m woken up by the kids) One day I’ll get a full night’s sleep again, I hope. But until then, I’m comforted that at least I don’t wake up feeling ugh from the effects of alcohol. If I’m dragging at all in the morning it’s because one of the little people wasn’t sleeping, that’s it. And no more anxiety wake ups at 3 am ever. Thank you, Lord!

5.     I’m happier. I feel good in my skin, I don’t wake up with regrets and I know I’m making choices to benefit my health. I think a lot about my children and what kind of example I’m setting for them. I’m showing them that you don’t need wine to unwind at the end of the day. To ‘get through’ the evening. To turn to when you have a bad day or crack open to celebrate a good one. Those little eyes are constantly watching, quietly observing our mannerisms, habits – so much of what we teach them is learned this way – not through what we say, but what we do. And while I’m sure I’m messing up in lots of ways, I’m thankful that I am not teaching them the narrative that you need alcohol to cope with life.

6.    I’m present. Present for the good and bad, the awkward and uncomfortable and the oh so very wonderful. This quote from Brene Brown just hits it home for me:


‘We cannot selectively numb emotions. Numb the dark and you numb the light.’


I don't want to numb the joy, that I know for sure. I'll sit in the hard moments if it means I get to show up for 100% of the good.

I am just so grateful for this year. The hard work was worth it. I have gained more from giving up alcohol than anything I may have lost. And to all of you, thank you for taking the time to read this. I get uncomfortable sharing anything that is really personal, and even before I posted this I felt the start of a vulnerability hangover. But like I said in the beginning, I have been feeling compelled to write this down and share. I felt so alone when I started having these thoughts and if I can give any of you comfort that that is NOT the case, then it’s all worth it. I wish you all a wonderful 2018 and if testing out the alcohol-free lifestyle is one of your goals for the new year I hope you’ll share with me so I can be rooting for you.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Five - Continental Floral Greens

Can you believe it's the Friday before Thanksgiving?! I cannot! Today we had the pleasure of interviewing Christine, with Continental Floral Greens. Is anyone else a huge fan of decorating with gorgeous greenery? I love it any time of year, but during the holidays there is nothing better than fresh garlands adorning the fireplace & a beautiful wreath hanging on the front door. And the smell of fresh pine? Get out of town! 

1. Christine, thanks so much for taking time to share with us today. Can you tell us about Continental Floral Greens?

We like to call ourselves a farm to vase, or farm to front door, greens experience. We are the largest floral greens grower in the US, with farms and operations in Washington, California and Florida. We grow more than 60 varieties of floral and holiday greens and take great pride in our farms and how we harvest.     

For the holidays, we produce the highest quality, handmade, all natural, Christmas wreaths and garlands with our signature High Mountain Blue Noble®. We believe in celebrating the classics while also offering unique designs - a twist on tradition - to set the stage for your holiday home.

From feathery ferns to strong salal, there’s a time and place for floral greens - always and anywhere. Often they are used to set the stage for flowers, but with all their variety in color, texture, line and fragrance, our high quality greens can truly hold their own.   

2. You mentioned a signature noble, what makes this noble unique?  

Our noble grows in nutrient-rich, volcanic soil near Mount St. Helens, at a higher elevation than traditional farms. The result is a stunning silver-blue hue and thicker, longer lasting needles than any other noble available. All of our Western Greens, including our High Mountain Blue Noble® , earn the highest rating for environmentally friendly cultivation.

3. What are your favorite holiday decorating ideas?

I love our striking High Mountain Blue Noble® paired with the contrast in color and texture of Southern Magnolia leaves. Magnolia is the perfect fall foliage for Thanksgiving decor and will carry, beautifully, right into the Christmas season.

Layer two garlands for maximum effect on a mantle or table - a Magnolia garland and a High Mountain Blue Noble® Mix garland. Add lights, pinecones, or a festive ribbon.  

We also like using our wreaths in interesting ways - turning them into a centerpiece by adding a hurricane and candles, or stacking our European inspired three-dimensional wreaths on a front porch.

Bulk Christmas greens are a quick and easy way to add holiday cheer. Create a holiday arrangement or centerpiece in seconds - just drop into your favorite vase or basket. Or add greenery to small candle holders at each place setting. Our favorite, add some greens to your stockings - until Santa comes, of course!  

You can see these holiday ideas and more on our Pinterest page.

4. Beautiful, lush greenery is everywhere these days, any thoughts on this trend?

Greenery is so versatile. From bold and bright to soft and subtle, there’s a green to fit any design style. We are seeing more and more garlands used in creative ways, and not just for weddings. Greens can be such a cost effective way to add texture to any space, any event - from formal to casual, classic to modern. Going heavy on the greens is a great way to add volume and scale to a centerpiece or arrangement- adding just a few blooms for a pop of color. Looking for fragrance - add eucalyptus.

I also see this trend continuing. It’s almost like the secret is out. Incorporating fresh elements from nature into an event, or your everyday home, really adds something special. We’re seeing beautiful and innovative uses of greenery throughout the home. Everyday use of greenery and florals are up, no longer do we need to wait for a special occasion.    

5. I noticed you have a fundraising option – tell me more! And before I forget to ask, what's in your apron? :)

Yes! We offer a simple fundraising program with our exceptional holiday wreaths and garlands for schools, sports teams, youth programs, etc. To learn more, email us at
In our apron we keep clippers, scissors, rice lights & batteries, ribbon, floral wire and tape...and of course a granola bar or two and a pack of gum. It's usually packed full!

Thanks again for sharing with us today! I feel like I've learned so much and can't wait for my greens to arrive next week so I can decorate. As a special treat to our followers, they are offering 20% off your order at by using the code OatmealLaceCFG at checkout.  
And always, free shipping!

For more Continental Floral Greens visit them below

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Holiday Ordering & Giveaway

Next week is Thanksgiving you guys, NEXT WEEK! What in the world?!?
So, here are the guidelines for holiday know me and my last minute instructions. SORRY.

To make up for the procrastination on my end I am going to be offering up a little something extra for those of you who take advantage of our 'early black friday' sale. We normally do not discount on digitizing and embroidery but for one day only I'll be including those when I release the coupon code Friday morning. And if you want even MORE discount love, you can sign up HERE to receive a super special code to use a day early. 

There is some fine print to make sure your order will qualify for Christmas delivery which I'll outline below. This mainly pertains to custom aprons, since prepping logos for those takes the most time. Clutches & monogrammed ribbons are easier to prep so if that is what you are ordering just make sure to order by 12/1 and they will be delivered before Christmas day.
I am only able to guantee delivery within the continental US you guys. I hate that, but I've had a few issues come up with overseas orders and I don't feel comfortable guaranteeing delivery when I can't control customs inspections. 

1. Last day to order aprons & toolkits is next Friday, 11/17.
 PLEASE include your logo (a large jpg/png is fine) in an email or attached to your etsy conversation as soon as you order. If we do not receive your logo or embroidery file within 24 hours of purchase, we cannot guarantee you will receive your aprons by Christmas.

2. Your logo will be sent to our digitizer immediately after receipt and we will be back in touch within 2 business days with your quote. Approval and payment need to be made within 24 hours of receipt and then you are ready to go!

Again, aprons/toolkits need to be purchased by 11/17, while clutches & bouquet ribbons can be purchased up until 12/1; all with guaranteed shipping dates of 12/18. 

Feel free to email me with any questions and if you want to get a jump on ordering, go ahead and email me your logo NOW so that we can get you a quote.
Last but not least, we're back this year with a 12 days of Christmas giveaway starting 11/27!
This time we'll be giving away 12 things from the shop, adding in a few fun surprises that we've never offered before. There will be gifts for brides-to-be, new mamas', your favorite wedding vendors & more. Happy Holidays! :) 


Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Five - West Sheridan

You guys, we are onto the 5th consecutive week of the Friday Five series and I am pumped! I plan to keep this as a regular feature on into the new year (as long as I have willing participants) although we will take a break over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday. I hope you all will continue to follow along, and if you have an apron and would like to be featured, email me! (seriously, I love to hear from you guys and am planning the calendar in January now)

Ok! So on to this week’s interview! I got a chance to speak with Nicole Hance, the hilarious, kind –hearted woman who’s the driving force behind West Sheridan; a hand lettering and illustration company she started on a dream and a prayer back in 2013. She’s also one of my oldest online friends and has illustrated several of our Christmas cards, hand lettered prints in my home and created the recipe and Thank You cards for Oatmeal Lace. If you’ve received a package from me, you’ve seen her work!
1.     Can you tell us a little about yourself, your company, West Sheridan, and how you began exploring calligraphy?

I started this answer with my age but then deleted it - that’s not how I want to introduce myself! Ha! I’m a mom to two little kids (Ava is 6 and Drew is almost 2) and have been dating my husband for 20 years (married for 9).
West Sheridan was born in 2013, out of my fervent need to not have to work in a corporate cubicle anymore. On paper it was a perfect job - great boss and co-workers, flexibility, offered financial comfort, etc. - but I felt like I needed MORE. I needed more time with my little girl, more creativity, more purpose. I saw a blog post (I cannot remember where!) about ‘faux calligraphy’; I think if you scroll back REALLY far on my Instagram you can see my first attempts. They were really….ummmm… bad. But I practiced a lot and thought it was fun and eventually decided “Maybe I can do something with this…” So I gave it a shot with my first Etsy shop and social media.  When I was expecting our second child I took West Sheridan full time and it’s been great! I have LESS of that whole ‘financial comfort’ thing but MORE of the other things I really wanted.

P.S. Fine, I’m 37. I have no problem with that, but I feel like much less of a ‘grown up’ than I should in my late thirties.  :)

Um, I’m 38 and still call my mom with questions every day because CERTAINLY I can’t be that grown up?! Still blows my mind that I am responsible for the well-being of two little ones…
2.      What are some of your favorite tools/supplies?

My answer has changed a lot in the past year and a half! I used to live for fresh Sharpies, Microns, a stack of bright white paper, and my Wacom tablet. I would do all my work on paper (pencil sketch then ink final copy) and then scan it into my computer. From there I would clean it up in Photoshop and then vectorize in Illustrator. But then… For my 36th birthday my overly generous parents, brother + sister-in-law gifted me with a Surface Pro and I’ve barely looked back.  Now I letter + draw directly in Photoshop or Illustrator and it has been nice to skip the step of scanning in all my work.  Of course there are still some times when only a piece of paper and pencil will do - but even then I can take a picture of it with my computer and skip the scanning!
Image by Channing Photography
3.      What gets you up in the morning? (I hope it’s not early rising children like me!)

No, all three of us sleep through my alarm daily! But I will proudly let you know we have never missed the school bus! (yet)

I’m not sure if I should be answering this literally or figuratively, but I guess either way the answer is: Ava and Andrew.  Everything is for them, from caring for them directly (feeding, dressing, bathing etc.) to showing them how to navigate the world (love others, spend your time on things that matter, pray hard, work harder, and be grateful. That’s the short list.) One day I might have a larger list of reasons but I’m OK with them consuming this season of life. I know it’s short and I’m overwhelmingly thankful.
Image by Mastin Studio
4.     Any tips for newbies on how to develop their own style?
Practice, practice, practice, practice, PRACTICE. Just keep sketching, doodling, writing the same words over and over.  Keep making things, even if you don’t think they’re “good enough”. One day your style will emerge and maybe it won’t be what you were originally going for, but it will be yours! And it will likely continue to evolve and improve forever.5.     What’s in your apron?
Oh my gosh, I just feel so fancy and OFFICIAL in my apron.  It is my uniform for craft fairs and shows, and I keep it stocked with pens, a receipt pad, business cards, scissors, and change.  I also wear it for on-site work, such as delivering + setting up wedding signs or lettering murals. For those occasions, I make sure the pockets have tape, scissors, a pencil, good eraser, tape measure, and twine.

I also have a 2nd one for my employee (just kidding, my husband) and I won’t lie, sometimes he wears his to grill when he’s off the clock.  I think he keeps gum, earbuds, and matches in his. 


Thank you so much for joining me this week, Nic. I’ve loved watching you from the beginning, both your business and your life as a mom…especially since our kids are so close in age and our stories of starting our companies feel so similar. Really looking forward to meeting you in person this February! 
Connect with Nicole: