Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Office Style

With our current move and excitement of living life in a new space, it has been fun to go through and make new plans for the interior decor of our new house. Before we planned to move, Darshan and I had already started to change the style and decor of a few of our spaces in our current place; one being our bedroom, the other our office. Now that we officially have a reason to remodel and redecorate, my mind has been growing with excitement for the items I have been adding to my shopping cart. I thought it would be fun to share some of our plans and lists here, and I also plan to share photos of each room as its completed over the next few months. 


desk || chair || table book || desk lamp || book shelf || trash can 

Today is the official move day!!! Movers, trucks, and tonight brings our first night in our new home... it all feels so surreal and almost too exciting to be true.,, not to mention all of the nerves that come with a huge change, for us and Rajan. We have made so many wonderful memories in our house, which will always be so special, but now it is time to start the next chapter in our new home!


With love,
Amanda

Monday, June 13, 2016

In the Wake of Heartbreak...

It is with a heavy heart that I sit here and type this message. There has been so much sadness lingering inside of me since the tragedy of the mass shooting in Orlando over the weekend that I have not been able to shake since Sunday morning. I wasn't personally effected, I don't know any of the victims or their families, but there has been something so personally heartbreaking about the entire act, that I can't help but think I am not alone in how I feel. 

As a mother to a child, I feel shattered over the events that occur in today's society. I remember vividly sitting and cradling Rajan as a newborn when the Paris and San Bernardino attacks happened, and it was during both of those times when I felt that first painful realization the huge amount of responsibility and duty to protect my son in any way possible. How could something so ugly and horrific occur in such a beautiful place like Paris, and how could something so heart wrenching take place in the community I grew up in, San Bernardino. I had never in my life felt so out of control of my surroundings, and terrified as a mother for the world I was raising my son in. After this weekend, I feel struck with heartbreak and sadness, and my level of comprehension for the tragedies we see all too often is too little. 

I wrote a post last week and shared some of the books I want to read this summer, and in the post I wrote about being young and riding my bike to the library, making lists of books I wanted to read as a child, and even when I was writing the post, I felt a longing and a sadness for the amount of innocence in it all. I longed for the days of being able to hop on my bike and riding the library, alone, and thought of the simple task of writing a list onto paper because there was nothing else to fill my brain with other than the simple desires of childhood goals. I sat for a minute after writing that post, and wondered honestly to myself if my own son would ever get to experience such simple tasks. After this weekend's tragic occurrence, and now sitting here scouring the internet and news sources and learning about all of the beautiful lives that were cut so short on Sunday morning, I can't seem to shake the heartbreaking reality that is the world my son is growing up in, and thinking back to my thoughts last week, it literally pains me to know the answer to the question I wondered is 'no.' How is it fair to hear kids are terrified to go to school these days, that they fear such simple tasks as walking into public places, places like malls, theme parks, restaurants and movie theaters, all of the places I grew up feeling so safe in... that even now, I as a parent, feel a small pitter patter of fear walking through the gates of Disneyland? These kids hear it everywhere they go, they practice gun drills at school, they see photos and videos on the news, and hear their mom and dad have conversations about their fearful lack of protection against the world. 

I am sad, and I am scared. I am sad as a mother that my son will not know the freedom and leisureliness of jumping on his bike and riding to a 'safe' place like his school or the library. I am sad that my son has seen more tragic events splashed across the television in his 19 months of existence than I ever recall seeing before the age of 10. I was 11 years old when Columbine happened, and I remember walking in from school being so confused about the occurrence and not even understanding an ounce of it; and to know that for my son this will be all too common kills me. I am scared that no matter what I do in my or his life, I will not be able to protect him during every minute of his life. Since as early as I can remember, and even to this day, my dad has always ended any and every conversation we have had with 'be safe, don't talk to strangers, and don't go anywhere by yourself,' because since my childhood, that was the only true danger that existed - not going anywhere by yourself... but now, its frightening to think that I can be holding my son in my arms and if a tragedy like Orlando were to occur, I just don't even know what sort of safety I could provide for him. That as a mother, kills me. There were so many places I have always felt so safe: school, work, public domains, bars and clubs, all of which are no longer safe to anyone. 

I don't know the answers, I don't have any solutions, and as a mother right now, I sit here wondering why I felt the need to share these fears. I guess maybe I just know that I am not alone in feeling this way, I can't be, and that is the one solitude of thought that gives me peace of mind. I hold on to the hope that there is, there has to be, more good than evil in this world, and that one day, good will prevail. Through all of these horrific tragedies our children and the world sees these days, all we have to hold on to is the unity of love and unity of each family and community with whom we seek refuge. I can't bare to think, as a mother, as a human, that there is no goodness left in humanity. Together, we have to overcome the bad, and we have to do so with love, respect, and kindness towards one another; it is the only way. 

My heart breaks for all of the mothers, fathers, and families who lost their little boys and girls over the weekend. It is in their honor that will will squeeze my son, my husband, and my loved ones just a little bit tighter today and everyday. It is my hope that they know that despite the ugliness and horrific acts that took their sons and daughters, there is still beauty left in the world we live in. And, although I don't know any of them personally, my hearts breaks with and for them, and in their honor I will do my duty to provide kindness and love to every race, religion, and human I come across, and I will be sure to instill the same into my son. 




With love,
Amanda

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Summer Reads

When I was younger, there was almost never a moment when you wouldn't find me holed up somewhere in my bedroom reading my days away. Since as far back as I can remember, I would ride my bicycle to the library with my best friend, and go home and get started on my latest book obsession series. From The Babysitters Club to freaky murder mysteries, my interests have always been on constant rotation, but my love for reading never changed. I recently found a box of my old journals, drawings, and miscellaneous collections, and amongst it, I found a list of books I made for myself to keep track of what I wanted to read (since they were all Babysitter's Club books I am guessing I made it in elementary school), complete with little tiny boxes so I could check off the books I finished reading (if all of our items weren't currently packed in boxes I would share a photo of the list for laughs). As I got older, my social life grew, school work got more busy, and summer seemed to be my favorite time to make my lists and get caught up on all of the leisure reading I couldn't do during the school year. This habit continued well into college... and then over the last few years, adult life took over. Between a growing career, growing and caring for a baby, and all of life's labors, I somehow lost the time I had always previously found to read. 

A few months ago, after I found that old list, I started thinking about how stressed out I have been over the last few months and what a slump I was in. Between selling our house, looking for a new one, keeping up with business work, taking care of a baby, and everything else in between, I had felt for a while like I needed to find something that felt like my own again. Reading that list made me giggle about my 9 year old self, and it sparked something in me that I used to love so much - my passion for getting lost in a great story. I made a promise to myself that day that I would do what it took to allow that pastime back into my life; I needed it. 


Of course while I was pregnant, I read everything I thought I was supposed to read; all of the pregnancy milestone books, parenting books, baby books, mom books... all of it. Even after Raj was born I was always scouring the latest 'raising a baby' and 'raising toddler' books. That fulfilled my enjoyment of increasing personal knowledge, but somewhere along the way, it started to feel more like homework rather than a personal treat for myself. It doesn't take long before you start to feel like you are living and breathing motherhood all day and every day, and I started to realize that taking motherhood into the bathtub and relaxation time didn't truly give my mind much of a break. I started to think back to all of the books I used to read that made me so happy... sweet and silly love stories, thrillers, mysteries, and novels that you get so passionate about, you almost forget where you are sitting when you set the book down. Finding that again became my mission. 

One of my good mom friends, Bri (Bri's Glass of Wine), had talked recently how much she loves reading, and I remembered having a conversation with her once about how her and I shared the same interest for romance and suspenseful novels. I texted her immediately and asked her to think of all of the best books she has read over the last year and send me her list... she, being the amazing friend she is, did even better than that, the next play date I saw her at, she handed me a pile of books from her collection! The second I left I was counting down the minutes to Raj's bedtime because I couldn't wait to get started on my first one... 

Needless to say, its been about a month since this exchange and I have finished off about 4 great reads; and have since added about two months worth of books to my Amazon shopping cart!

I thought it would be fun to share with you the books I have read recently that I loved, and also to share with you the ones in my cart that are on the to-read list...

Recently finished:

by Colleen Hoover
This book had me hook, lined, and sinking; quickly. I was addicted from page one and the entire way through! Ugly Love originally caught my attention because I heard it was going to be made into a movie this year, and I always think it is so exciting to watch a movie after you have read the book (unless that movie is 50 Shades of Greay - side eye). I was so in love with the characters in this book, every single one of them, and this story had me involved and feeling every emotion imaginable. I finished this book in under two days, and that is with a toddler to keep up with during the day, and even though the next day I was running on 4 hours of sleep, it was so worth after I finished it! This isn't just a top book I have read recently, but is a top of all time.

by Nora Roberts
This was one of the books that my friend Bri loaned to me, and it is no surprise why she did. Nora Roberts is the queen of romance and I love that her books involve love mixed with a little bit of suspense. This was such a fun book to read and the perfect one to get me back into the habit of taking the time to dive into a great story. This book includes a big list of characters, but each one of them is so distinct that it makes it easy and fun to keep up with each of them. This one is great if you like a love story, but crave a little more to the storyline than just romance, because it has a great balance of both! Warning: do NOT watch the Lifetime movie version, its terrible (and nothing like the book)!!! 

"Taming Natasha" and "Luring a Lady"
(books 1 & 2 of the Stanislaski series)
by Nora Roberts
This book contains two of the first stories about the entire Stanislaski family (which actually includes six stories - 3-6 found below on my 'to-read' list - "Chasing Passion" and "Chasing Destiny")... I am always a sucker for a series, I love that they give you the satisfaction of keeping up with the original characters of the first book throughout the series of others, and this collection does just that. The Stanislaski family is one that you want to belong to, and each of the siblings will have your heart melted in a platter, which is why this series is so fun. Nora Roberts can develop such strong characters that makes it easy to fall in love with each one of them; don't you just love when authors can do that? I closed the book and though, "I should totally text Natasha and see how she's doing..." because you know, the characters and I are total besties. 


Below is the list of books I have been collecting and adding to over the last few weeks. I love to enter a book I have enjoyed reading into google or on Amazon, and look for lists for other books readers suggested to read after. I have found some of my favorite authors this way (like Colleen Hoover - seen above), and I suggest anyone who loves to read to do this if you are ever having trouble finding a new book after you have finished one.




To-read list:




If my selection of books aren't exactly your type, hopefully just the few tips I suggested will help you compile your own list. Reading has become such a treat for me, and I am proud of the fact that no matter how busy my day is, no matter what is going on, I find 30 minutes to an hour to sit and allow myself to have some personal time no matter what. It is hard to believe, but that has made such a huge impact on my mood, my days, and has helped me reconnect with myself. It has been such a gift to myself to revisit with this hobby of mine. Another reason I love it: I want Raj to grow up remembering his mom always with a book in her hand... not a cell phone, not talking about Facebook and texting all day, but reading. I remember vividly being a child and walking into my Papa and Nana's house, and there wasn't a time I didn't see my Nana reading while waiting for us with a huge stack of books right next to her. It is such a fond memory I have of her, one of the earliest memories I have, and I sometimes wonder if that is where I picked up my love for reading, and I hope to pass down the same love to my children. 


Happy Summer reading!! And if you happen to pick up any of the books I suggested, I would love to hear what you think!


With love,
Amanda 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Swim Shop

I have been on the hunt and gathering up all of my summer gear this last week, and of course I couldn't get prepped for summer without picking out some great swimsuits. Over the last few years, I have found myself gravitating to one pieces, of course they're super comfortable, but more so because I think a one piece is so stylish, chic, and sexy. I don't believe you have to wear a two piece teeny tiny bikini to look great on the beach, in fact I personally believe that a one piece bathing suit on a girl can show just the right amount of skin that if worn and styled right, a one piece suit is often more sexy than a two piece! 

One of my close girlfriends, Bri, of Bri's Glass of Wine, asked me at swim class recently (both of our little guys take swim class together) where I find all of my one piece suits and that got me to thinking that it would be great to share some recent favorites here...

one || two || three || four || five || six || seven || eight || nine


With the 4th of July around the corner, you know I had to add some fun American print suits... everyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for great red, white, and blue swim gear. I have one (ok, maybe like 5) of these suits in my cart already, the most difficult part? Not buying all of them!!



With love,
Amanda 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Napa, Day 2

top sold out, similar here || skirt or similar style here || 
belt || shoes || bag (use code theSCMovement for 5% off)


Welcome to my tour of Day 2 in Napa... for our second day, we slowed things down a bit and went to some wineries with the most breathtaking views where we got to sit back, relax, and enjoy our last day in Wine Country. Each of us being moms of 1 year old boys, we took advantage of a full night's rest and waking up without being climbed on like mountains; which left us feeling refreshed and ready for the new day. I will admit, I don't think I have slept as many consecutive hours as I did that night, and it felt amazing! This trip was a huge part about the tour de wine, but also a much needed mommy break for each of us!


Our first stop on day two was at Sherwin Family Vineyards in St. Helena. All I can say is, goodness gracious, the beauty of this estate is breathtaking!! Surrounded by hundreds of trees, at the top of Spring Mountain and with a gorgeous tasting room overlooking the family's private lake, I was blown away when we arrived. During our tasting, we tried a great selection from whites to reds and learned about the Sherwin Family history. They are the only wine/alcohol makers to have the Amercian Flag on alcohol bottles, and what makes that even more great is that this came about by a charity donation for a 9/11 fundraiser from the Sherwin family. The wine tasting matched the estate's beauty, and I loved every wine I had; the Chardonnay and reds were especially a favorite of mine. Not only are their wines great, but the bottles are such a wonderful collector's item, and their wine glasses that share a matching American flag logo are a great item to splurge on as well. 







After our morning tour of the Sherwin Family Vineyard, we took a stop at Charles Krug. This had been one of the 'bigger' estates we visited, as we had spent more time at smaller family owned and operated vineyards, but it was a great experience to visit this one. Because it was a Saturday, they had a really fun brick oven company there making pizza lunch for visitors which paired so wonderfully with their tasting. They have the most gorgeous barrel room and although we didn't take a tour of it this time, my friend Bri (Bri's Glass of Wine) has been in before and shared how wonderful it is. 



One of my absolute favorite places on the trip, Tamber Bey Vineyeards. From the horses, to the beautiful outdoor tasting lounges within the stables, and the fantastic cookie pairing, it is no wonder this vineyard left a lasting impression on me. It was so cool to do a tasting with a cookie pairing, especially since these weren't just any regular cookies. From spicy, salty to sweet and tangy, the cookies were such a wonderful compliment to each of the wines we tasted. 

My favorite: 2013 Merlot





Of course, we were starving at this point, and were on our way to dinner but had to pull over and take a stop to check out Castello di Amorosa. This beautiful castle built atop a mountain of vineyards feels as real as the ancient castles in Europe. We didn't do a full tasting here, but we did take some time to enjoy a walk around the castle and I have already promised myself a full tasting on my next trip to Napa. This is a place I would want to spend more than a few hours at, and I noticed on their website that they offer a cheese and wine tasting, just the thought of that already has me salivating!





As mentioned in my post from last week, here, my girlfriends who I took the trip with had us all lined up with the best wine tastings and restaurants to try. My friend Janell is an expert foodie and she was dying to have dinner at The Culinary Institute of America, so we made sure to make reservations there on our last night in town. The food was as wonderful as you would imagine, and we ordered just about one of everything on the menu for the day and shared it. We completely indulged and I have to say it was worth every calorie. Nice dinners and expensive meals are a treat for me since I don't indulge too often in them, so I truly treasured every bite. It was great to enjoy the food cooked by the best future chefs of America and I would highly recommend anyone who visits Napa to make this a stop!


I can't tell you enough how much fun I had on this trip, and how much it meant for me to get some much needed alone time with my girlfriends. Going with other moms made the trip a little more guilt-free, and it was nice to have them to lean on when I was starting to miss my guys back home, especially knowing they were feeling the same way. We did a pretty good job not mourning in the sadness of missing our boys, but it was fun to share videos and pictures we were each getting of our little guys while we were away. 

I have to give a huge shout out to Janell, J. Aitken Photo for snapping all of the pictures from the trip, most of the images above were snapped by her and I can't say enough how much I love and appreciate her artistic eye. 

Thanks so much to Bri, of Bri's Glass of Wine, for being such a great tour guide. As I mentioned last week, if you are wanting to get more thorough details of each of the places we visited, check our her new blog... I am completely addicted and love checking in daily to see what new tips she is sharing, definitely follow her along on her wine journey!


Hope you have enjoyed this virtual wine tour with me, I had the most lovely time and can't wait to go back again soon with D!!

Cheers!


With love,
Amanda 






Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer Whites

Nothing says summer style like wearing all white. As you would have probably guessed by the theme of my recent birthday shindig (all white errrrythang), I looooove wearing white. I feel it is a common misconception that white makes people 'look big' or if your skin isn't tan that you 'can't' wear white. Anyone can make white work for them. White is now commonly worn all year long, but there is nothing better than a white ensemble or perfect accessory for summer! 

With only 21 days 'til summer... I would say it is time to get a head start on that summer ensemble shopping list!





With love,
Amanda 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Thank you...



One of my favorite posts written from a few years ago was a dedication post from Memorial Day (link above). Being the granddaughter of two proud veterans, I understand first hand that this holiday means more than BBQ's and a 3 day weekend. 

Thank you to the men and women who serve our country, thank you for our freedom, thank you for allowing me and my family to live how we wish and to dream our dreams, and thank you to your families for paying the biggest sacrifice so that we can live in peace in this beautiful country. Political and religious views aside, one thing every Americans can agree on is that we live in the best country in the world. 

May God bless all of the soldiers and their families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for all of our freedoms...


and God Bless the U.S.A.


With love,
Amanda