September 29, 2014

10 Halloween Party Hosting Essentials

T minus one month until Halloween!  For some of you, this is no big deal.  For others, this means an excuse to host a fun party – for adults and kids alike – and to perhaps snag up a few new items to make your party go from good to great.  This year, I may be in labor for Halloween so I am not planning anything big.  Instead, I had some fun curating 10 Halloween party hosting essentials.  All sources listed below (just click on the names) and some things are on sale and are going fast!  Happy Halloween!

10 Halloween Party Hosting Essentials

1. One Kings Lane Trick or Treat Sign $25 // 2 One Kings Lane Stripey Straws $19  // 3 West Elm X-Ray Glassware $39  // 4 One Kings Lane Silhouette Luminaries $19  // 5 Pottery Barn Outdoor BOO Banner $19.50   // 6 One Kings Lane Faux Crocodile Tray $25 // 7 Pottery Barn Skeleton Cocktail Napkins $22 // 8 Williams Sonoma Skull Coasters $12 // 9 One Kings Lane Pumpkin Tree Place Mats $35 // 10 Pottery Barn Pumpkin Drink Dispenser $55

September 28, 2014

{Real} Life Behind Social Media

Hello hello!  After a small hiatus from writing and sharing all things beautiful and otherwise, I am back and it feels marvelous.  Let’s just say this: on Friday of last week I had my 34 week ultrasound.  Two nights prior, I was experiencing pain in my shoulders like no other.  Like pain that gives you the chills, makes you bawl like a baby and not sleep.  That was me for two nights.  Which led to my routine appointment becoming a visit with my doctor and a non-emergency trip to the emergency room.  Given my history of four miscarriages and that I have a blood clot gene mutation (which means I am more prone to getting blood clots), the doctors have been very conservative during this pregnancy and even the small stuff gets over-evaluated.  For me, that is perfectly fine.  I have come this far, a trip to the ER or a few (ahem, or a dozen) extra doctor appointments is worth it.  And after 7 hours of x-rays and ultrasounds and very nice residents and doctors, all is a-okay and baby U is right where she is supposed to be!

And today is a new today.  A day waking up rested and refreshed and wanting to share some things that have been on my mind for weeks.

Today’s topic: Social media.  I love it.  I love the visual language.  The connecting.  The learning.  The inspiring.  I love it all.  Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram.  And therefore, I use it.  And I use it for positive and probably not perfectly, but, I use it.  And a few weeks ago I reached out to some of my closest friends in need of serious prayer.  I was in the midst of moving, hormonal, Rick and I were not doing well and the list goes on.  And a couple of my friends responded with “wow, I would have never known you were going through this by looking at your Facebook posts!”

Those comments struck a chord with me.  One, because I am generally a very real, authentic person who isn’t afraid to share the good, bad and ugly.  And I felt, for a moment, inauthentic.  Is what I post via social media not the real Ann Ueno?  Am I “that person” who posts only beautiful things leading to people thinking I live only a beautiful life?  GASP.  What?  No!  That can’t be!  Or can it?

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It can.  And having had some time to reflect on this, I have some thoughts.

First, I am challenged on how to share the other, real, raw, bruised, broken side of my life on social media.  Thankfully, I realized the issue is not that I don’t want to share it, but what does that actually look like to share that side of life?  Posting pictures of Rick and I in the midst of a tough discussion?  Hmmm. #awkwardselfie  Posting pictures of the mascara that has dripped from my face to my pillow more than a few times since living in Miami?  Tweeting out that I am getting an x-ray in the ER at Mt. Sinai in Miami?  You guys, I am conflicted.  Because I have NO PROBLEM sharing that side of my life.  None.  I am the queen of living an imperfect messy life.  Do you have a few hours?  Oh let me begin sharing!  But, how does one do that via social media?  I suppose we all have those friends that are the “negative Nancies” on Facebook and that’s just not me.  It’s not me in real-life and it’s not me on social media.  Maybe my conclusion is we all use social media differently and I use it to share positive things?  Or maybe with all the negative things happening in the world, I’d rather not add my own personal fuel to the fire?  This one is tough, I welcome your thoughts.

Next.  Okay.  People.  Please remember that social media is one piece of technology, one channel, one communication stream in our life.  It’s amazing and awesome and connects us unlike anything ever has.  Amen Mark Zuckerberg.  But, it’s not the ONLY piece of technology, channel, communication in our life.  Try not to deduce someone’s life status with someone’s Facebook status.  That’s just not even close to the full, real picture.  Remember, there are other means of communication that let you uncover the full picture of someone’s life.

Let me name a few:  a phone call.  The phone has been around for over 140 years, 130 more years than Facebook has been around, and rightfully so.  Verbal conversations can do wonders for the soul and for affirming, perhaps, some of the beauty from social media and also, discovering the other 95% or so of that person’s life and what is going on.  #pickupthephone

Or, he’s another, albeit not a perfect solution, but an option nonetheless:  an email.  Emails drive me crazy and some days I hate them.  But, I am grateful that I can type to someone, hit send and we can connect relatively quickly.  I can type as much or as little as I want.  Let me share with you one way I use email to connect with a dear friend.  She and I don’t live in the same state and even when we did, we only got together maybe 2-3 times per year.  And so, once a quarter or so we send each other “our bullets.”  In fact, I just sent her mine last week.  We write to each other like modern day pen pals and because we both are type A, we love bullets (we are impartial to actual bullets, letters or numbers).  I can get a full picture of her life in roughly 10 bullets or less.  It’s quite brilliant.  And keeps us connected, authentically, even though her recent Facebook pic was a gorgeous shot of her and her husband on vacation.  Trust me, that’s not all that’s happening in her life.

Another communication stream is, brace yourself, a face-to-face date with a human being or human beings, plural.  Chances are you won’t be talking about your status updates while sharing a meal in your home.  You will talk about life and love and questions and challenges and celebrations and everything in between.  You will laugh and cry and eat and drink.  You will dream and plan and share fears and failures and success stories.  You have more than 140 characters and more than one online photo album to communicate and give updates on your life.  It’s amazing, isn’t it?

A final thing I realized is that my view and use of social media is not the same view and use everyone has.  What do I mean by this?  Well, I use social media to be able to see what people are up to, what restaurants they’ve tried, if they’ve fallen in love.  I use social media to learn and grow – what’s new and next in the fashion world?  What home tour can I be inspired by?  What article can I read that will help me lead my team better?  What is a new app I should try?  I look at friends on vacation and it brings me so much joy to see the world in just a few scrolls.  I love when people ask for prayers.  Praying works and the fact we have a medium that can reach so many in our call for prayer is just incredible.  I like to share food.  Quotes.  Blog posts.  Some personal pics.  Pics while I am traveling.  Let’s be honest, our moms love when we do this :)  All of these things mentioned above are simple, beautiful, very fast moments in life at home, on the road, around the world.  They are in your feed and gone.  And that’s how I view social media.  Quickly and I move on.  If someone posts beautiful things all day long, I KNOW their life isn’t beautiful all day long.  Come on, nobody’s life is beautiful all day long, is it?  Aren’t we all a mess at times?  Of course we are!  So I haven’t let social media jade my view of the reality of all of our lives.  They are messy, even if your newsfeed isn’t.   This was a big aha to me over the last few weeks.  We are living in a social media world where, potentially – and sadly, people have lost sight of the mess behind the newsfeed.  I am no expert and nor am I here to tell you what to do. But, please know that perfect newsfeeds do not equal perfect lives.

I guess my summary would be this.  Can we not put so much weight and pressure on social media being the definition of the story of someone’s life?  I don’t think it was intended to be that but we have made it that.  We all have stories much bigger than Twitter or Instagram.  And if you really want to know the story, get off social media and pick up the phone.  Or write an email.  Or get really crazy and meet that person or those people face-to-face.  If nothing else, it’s an excuse to plan a dinner party, right?!  Oh, and don’t forget to share pictures of that perfect meal and perfect tablescape you put together.

Until next time, my friends.

September 26, 2014

{Motherly} Words of Wisdom

Ahhh!  I have been crazy these days and my poor little blog has taken a back seat.  Why?  A couple reasons.  One, we just moved into our new house a couple weeks ago and unpacking and nesting and nesting and nesting has taken over my spare time.  Did I mention nesting?!  Two, I have so many thoughts and things to say and feel like it requires some space and I just haven’t had it.

So.  Here I am.  And one of the things that is on my mind is this baby girl that continues to wiggle and kick and grow in my belly.  I am a little over 34 weeks and I am at the stage of complete panic and fear and excitement (and about 20 other emotions).  And in the midst of a midnight Google search to help ease my fears, I came across a post from The Glitter Guide from last Mother’s Day.  A few mom share their advice and words of wisdom on motherhood and I loved reading and wanted to share.  And I promise to get back into the swing of things and share some updates on our house, home inspiration, prepping to deliver a baby and a few hormonal thoughts in between ;)

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September 19, 2014

My Keepers

I received the below forward from a dear family member a couple weeks ago.  First, I have to say getting a “forward” was sort of nice.  Remember those email “forwards” which are now really the crux of social media?  In the world of content overload, this email actually did stop me and slow me down for a few minutes to read.  Funny how email forwards are a thing of the past!

And it struck a chord with me because lately, I have been pursuing and focused on many of the things God does NOT care about.  Focused on things vs. people.  Focused on projects vs. serving in a meaningful way.  Focused on myself vs. others.  This happens, life happens and sometimes we – ahem, I – end up needing to reevaluate, adjust and refocus.  And this is the beauty of life.  That each day is new, each moment is new.  And we have chance after chance to learn and grow and spend our precious minutes on earth on the work that matters.  The people that matter.

So, without further ado, here is the forward.  I hope it helps you as it helped me.  And I don’t know the original source to give credit.

I grew up with practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it… A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.

Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away..

 I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things.. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.

 It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy.. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there would always be more.

 But then my father died, and on that clear winter’s night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn’t any more.

 Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away…never to return.. So… while we have it….. it’s best we love it…. and care for it… and fix it when it’s broken……… and heal it when it’s sick.

This is true. for marriage……. and old cars….. and children with bad report cards….. and dogs with bad hips…. and aging parents….. and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.
Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with.

 There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special…….. and so, we keep them close!

 I received this from someone who thinks I am a ‘keeper’, so I’ve sent it to the people I think of in the same way… Now it’s your turn to send this to those people that are “keepers” in your life. Good friends are like stars…. You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there. Keep them close!

 TEN THINGS GOD WON’T ASK ON THAT DAY.

  1. God won’t ask what kind of car you drove. He’ll ask how many people you drove who didn’t have transportation.
  2. God won’t ask the square footage of your house, He’ll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.
  3. God won’t ask about the clothes you had in your closet, He’ll ask how many you helped to clothe.
  4. God won’t ask what your highest salary was. He’ll ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.
  5. God won’t ask what your job title was. He’ll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.
  6. God won’t ask how many friends you had. He’ll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.
  7. God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived, He’ll ask how you treated your neighbors.
  8. God won’t ask about the color of your skin, He’ll ask about the content of your character.
  9. God won’t ask why it took you so long to seek Salvation. He’ll lovingly take you to your mansion in heaven, and not to the gates of Hell.
  10. God won’t have to ask how many people you forwarded this to, He already knows your decision.
September 16, 2014

Vintage French Baby Shower

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Last month I had my bebe shower and it. was. perfect.  I am so thankful to my sweet friends, mom and sister for doing this for me!  When I finally got to the point of my pregnancy where I needed to start thinking about a shower, I knew what I wanted:  A Vintage French Baby Shower, around lunchtime, some champagne and my closest friends and family!  From the food to the drink and all the sweet details in between, my vision was classy French with soft-toned pink/peach/ivory colors and decor.  Here is a recap of the celebration…enjoy!

Setting the Tone // The Invitation!
Source: Posh Paperie

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What Matters Most // Food and Drinks!
Source: My close friends and Chicago restauranteurs, Rayah and Mutaz Abdullah (they did an incredible job catering…homemade potato chips, French bread baked the day of the shower for the sandwiches, an incredible cheese spread, simple mixed greens with homemade dressing…perfection!)And of course, some sparkling Rose to toast at the soiree!

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End Well // The Sweets!
Source: La Fournette Bakery & Cafe (macarons)
Source: Sweet Mandy B’s (cupcakes)

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The Heart and Soul // My People!
I love the picture of my sweet friend Vaneesha praying over our food and bebe U!

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Wrap It All Together // The Thank You Cards
Source:  Posh Paperie

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Photography:  And a HUGE thank you to Danielle Moss for her amazing photography skills!

 

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