May 19, 2015

A Beautiful Mess

I’ve been brewing up this post for quite some time now and wrestled on whether or not I should share.  But, if you know me or have been following me for some time now, I hope you have gathered that I am a pretty transparent person.  And on occasion I share a bit about what’s going on behind the scenes of my life.

Right now, in the midst of this beautiful life comes an equally beautiful mess.  You can find me right in the middle.

I have no graceful or smooth approach to this post.  My head is clogged and jammed and spins a bit out of control, on the reg.  Since becoming a mom and going back to work, I can only explain my life as a cluster.  And after giving this some thought over the past few weeks, I think I can boil it all down to two things.  One, I can’t do it all.  Two, I need God.  On the reg.

You see, having a child is the greatest, most precious amazing heart-tugging incredible thing on the planet.  And working for one of the best hotel companies in the world is pretty frickin’ amazing.  And being married to a funny, God-fearing, loving guy is superb.  And being a blogger is creative and surprising and innovative and adds passion to my life.  And losing baby weight and staying healthy is just a necessity.  And having time with my girlfriends.  Yeah, also a necessity.  Being with God daily?  HUGE necessity.  And serving at our local church is a glorious obligation.  And helping friends with their businesses is beyond rewarding.  And managing a household as a wife, a mom is also rewarding; also a glorious obligation.  And designing rooms and spaces, in pursuit of a giant love that was stamped on my heart when I was just a child?  Yeah, that’s a home run in my life.  And traveling to visit friends, see the world, explore new territory…now we’re talking grand slam territory.  Homemade meals midweek?  Sign me up, I love acting all Julia Child-ish.  Add a few people to that meal for one of my favorite pastimes, dinner parties?  I feel like Babe Ruth in 1921.  BTW, I have no clue where all these baseball analogies are coming from.

a-beautiful-mess

And then I start hitting foul balls.  I swing, I miss.  And then I strike out.  And my head explodes.  My heart follows suit.  And my neck hurts.  And I’m eating chocolate chip cookies to feel good about  my life.  And the second I take the last bite I am pissed at myself because, baby weight.  And I’m doing most things at 70% and minimal things at 100%.  And forget 110%.  The percent at which I functioned prior to being all grown up.  And I’m mad at Rick for not totally understanding me.  And I’m not praying because I don’t want to face God.  And it takes me longer to respond.  And I think about my life.  And the tension.  And me.  And me.  And me.

And now I’ve entered selfishville, the worst city in the entire world.  A world where all my thoughts are focused around my stress, how I can’t do it all, how I’m thankful for everything but awesome at nothing.  And I want awesome.  And my life.  And I only live once.  And I need this.  And I need that.  And I want this.  And all-consuming me thoughts.  Barf.

So, there’s that you guys.  There’s where I am at.  And as I keep asking what’s next?  And what do I do?  It finally hit me, thanks to my husband.  I’ve been throwing these questions at him for some time.  And finally, unexpectedly he answered.  As I anticipated his response to “what is next for me” – I thought for sure he’d say something bold like “quit your job and become a full-time blogger!”  Or “let’s move to the south of France!”  Or “be a stay at home mom!”  Or “try out for HGTV to flip houses!”

My loving, God-fearing, superb husband says this:  “I know what you need to do.  I know exactly what you need to do next.  PrayOh, and be patient.

It’s the most annoying, cliche, brilliant, loving response to my insanity.  So while my head spins and I perform life at 70%, I will be praying.  And it comes as no timing coincidence that I leave this weekend to go to Israel.  By myself.  Ahem, with God.  Begging for a Jesus intervention in the holy land. Praying my face off.  Being thankful for this beautiful mess.  And having hope and confidence because Romans 5: 3-5 and because I’ve been here before.  And God has picked me up.  And has made beautiful things out of the dust.  Out of us.  All of us.

May 14, 2015

Throwback Thursday – Design Sponge Love

In the design world, there are a few leaders in the space (pun intended).  Grace Bonney of Design Sponge is one of them.  She’s sort of the pioneer of interior influencers.  She’s an author, a creative and a writer, to name a few.  She inspires so many of us little guys in the design world.  She’s brave and real while being award-winning and a public icon.  This is not the easiest thing – or the most common thing – in the design world!

So.  When her team wanted to feature my Chicago home on Design Sponge I basically died.  A year ago this all happened so I thought a little #tbt was in order.  In case you are new to House & Host or missed this last year, here’s a little peek into our Design Sponge chicago home tour before we moved to Miami.

Grace and Amy and Design Sponge team, thank you for the feature and granting me the joy of seeing my work published on such a prestigious platform!

ann-ueno-design-sponge-home-tour

 

 

May 12, 2015

Everybody’s Workin’ for the Weekend

It’s so true, isn’t it?  We work for the weekend.  When it’s Monday, we dread getting out of bed.  Wednesday we make camel jokes just to incorporate humor to get through a couple more days.  And by Friday, the moods are lighter, the tones are sweeter and we feel like life can begin.  It’s no wonder there are nearly 18 million #tgif hashtags on Instagram.  Yeah, society is craving the weekend.

In some ways, it’s sad.  In other ways, gosh, I am so thankful for the weekend.  To recharge.  Work out.  Sleep in.  Travel.  Have a dinner party.  Travel.  Play with Zoey.  Enjoy my favorite bottle of white wine.  Perhaps, ahem, travel.  Watch a movie with Rick.  Explore a new city.  Try a new restaurant.  Jump on a plane to visit a friend.  Read a book.  Write.  Travel.  All these things happen on the weekend.

And, ladies and gents, I am so thrilled to share with you a project I had just a bit of involvement with at work that addresses this desire – and execution – to live life on the weekends…and…travel 😉  Of course, you can live life during the week as well.  But, this is focused on helping every day consumers like me and you have a better weekend.  Making more memories, drinking more wine from around the globe, sharing experiences with those closest to us.

Drum roll please…

I bring to you the SPG Weekend Channel, designed to bring you inspiration and tips to turn on your weekend.  And my challenge to you is this.  Summer is quickly (gasp) approaching.  Let SPG guide you a bit.  Play around on this site.  Daydream.  And plan a weekend away.  It can be a staycation.  A road trip.  A short flight.  A long flight.  With girlfriends.  Boyfriends.  Spouses.  Moms.  Dads.  Dogs. Kids.  Whoever.  Wherever.  Whatever.

spg-weekends-pool

Because here’s the thing.  Life is short.  The world is big.  You have the vacation time.  And you need a weekend away.  Seriously.  Don’t put this off.  I promise you won’t regret it.  I have taken MANY trips that pushed me outside my comfort zone financially, emotionally, physically, mentally.  And I don’t regret not ONE of those trips.  Not one.  And for me, traveling has literally brought me to places that have given me new perspectives on life.  A clear mind to focus, to make big decisions.  A platform to dance, sleep, eat and drink.  A village to meet strangers.  A city to connect with old friends.  No regrets, weekends maximized.

Because this is what life is about, isn’t it?  Experiences, not things.  So what do you say?  Are you ready to turn on your weekend this summer?  Here are a few city guides to inspire you a bit.  If you need a travel companion, just ping me, I’m in 😉

spg-weekends-nyc

spg-weekends-la

spg-weekends-boston

May 5, 2015

Must-Have Shift Dress

I have been in Miami for a year now and one thing is clear:  I have some serious work to do with my style and attire.  Coming from Chicago, I basically wear black.  Leggings, jeans, sweaters, jackets.  Yeah, black jeans on a regular basis in Miami amidst 90 degrees and 1,000% humidity is tough.

I told my husband the situation.  And that I needed more cute “Miami” dresses.  But ones that cover all my body parts, of course.  His response was similar to most husbands.  I have enough clothes.  True, true.  But, seriously, honey.  I can’t wear a black leather jacket and jeans in Miami in May.  Or June.  Or July.  Or August.  And my black workout clothes are just not an excuse anymore, six months postpartum.  Based on his facial expression I think I sold him.

So, I had a mission.  Easy-wearing, multifunctional dresses.  Maybe floral.  Bright colors.  You know, very Miami.

And then.  I found a black dress.  Seriously, Ann, black?   Yeah.  Anyways, it’s the best black dress so I went with it. Here’s why.

First, it’s $48 (and ships for free).  Second, it’s flattering.  Third, I can wear it with flip flops to church.  Or with heels for date night.  Or with a blazer to the office.  It’s multifunctional for sure.  Last, it’s from Nordstrom.  And we all know Nordstrom is the best department store in the universe.  Oh and one more thing.  It’s just a perfect black dress.  We all have room in our closet for one more.

And I am here to tell you to get it.  And prove me right.  And if I am wrong, that’s okay, too.  Tell me that.

nordstrom-black-shift-dress-tildon

April 21, 2015

15 Kitchen Finds Under $50 from Anthropologie

As referenced here, I am an Anthropologie addict.  So hopefully you haven’t gotten sick of me posting about my love for that little shop.  Today I bring you 15 kitchen and dining products all under $50 – perfect for a gift..or, ahem, for yourself.  How cute, ha?  You can find the full collection here!

Happy shopping.  #sorrynotsorry

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