The Office Takeover | 60’s Inspired Fashion Shoot | Modern Ink Mag


how i  L O V E D  the days of modern ink mag! i came across this photoshoot today – one of my favorites – and cannot believe that this was S I X years ago! many days I find myself longing for modern ink mag + our team. today … i will bask in the goodness that was modern ink mag.


modern ink mag was an online lifestyle publication that placed an emphasis on uncovering, highlighting and exposing the clever, adventurous, artistic and eclectic side of life.









creative direction: allison sprouse + rachel baila
photography: amelia strauss
wardrobe styling: michelle simpson
make-up artist: claire balest
hair styling: megan church
models: anna parmley + rob echols

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Cottage by the Sea: My Sanctuary

Thanksgiving is quickly sneaking up on me which has me compiling lists upon lists of all that I have to be thankful for this year. It sounds cliche I know, but unless I intentionally make space to record these moments, (both good + what seemed bad), my days will pass by without allowing me to grasp on to the reality that I have been given much in this life!

2 Brewster

Our cottage by the sea is my sanctuary and I am thankful every day that we are able to enjoy this space and the community it offers. It’s hard to believe that this time last year, we drove my parents and sister to Bellport, NY to see the house of our dreams. Our whirlwind renovation began in mid-March and ended in June and I loved Every Second of it!

3 Brewster

We intentionally designed our home with a calming palette in order to offer our family + guests respite from the city. The art displayed throughout our home tells of our journey to Cuba and boasts of my incredibly artistic + talented dad and great-uncle.

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In telling our story, we felt that it was important to display Abode prominently over our fireplace. Abode was my life … I mean … home furnishings store located in Market Square in Knoxville, TN many moons ago. Abode offered me a place to grow in my love for home design, meet so many talented local artists, and truly learn the balance of being a working mother as both of my girls were practically born and raised there for the first few years of their lives.

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This West Elm rug was the very first purchase I made for our home. I remember feeling on top of the world – literally giddy – after I purchased this rug. The purchase itself was not what was driving my excitement (although I love this rug) rather, it was a pivotal  point where I was able to rediscover and exercise my passion for home design since closing Abode’s doors 7 years prior.

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The twin beds are my father-in-law’s childhood beds that have been modernized with a new coat of paint. There is something about passed down furniture that makes my heart sing as it offers a connection to someone else’s life story.

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My oldest daughter was dead set on having a “graffiti” room. Although I am a big fan of graffiti, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around how we would incorporate that into a beach cottage. I was thrilled when I found this graffiti painting (in her favorite colors nonetheless) while traveling to Cuba last winter. That was pure luck!

I am thankful for this home and for the journey it has taken me on to appreciate both my past and present. It is truly my sanctuary.

“Bellport is many things, but most of all, it is a sanctuary for those who still treasure community and good old-fashioned relaxation.” – Town & Country Magazine

*Contractor: Barry Goggin with Meadowview Construction

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Cottage by the Sea: All Revealing

It’s nearing the end of July and A LOT has happened since that snowy day in March when we became NY homeowners! I had the best intentions of sharing all of the step by steps of our renovation but let’s be honest — most people just like the reveals anyway.

Exterior BA

Dining Room:




Living Room:

living after

Master Bedroom:


Sophie’s Bedroom:

Sophie Room

Hazel’s Bedroom:
This room was padlocked when we 1st viewed the house! It is the mirror image of Sophie’s room

Hazel's room

It takes time to make a house your home and there is certainly much more work to be done but we are thrilled to be IN and enjoying a laid back summer outside of the city.

Growing Up Brooklyn: Graffiti Party


Hazel celebrated her 8th birthday in true Brooklyn form with a Graffiti party – – cue the Beastie Boys. We met up with Leaf from Graff Tours in the heart of Bushwick to learn all things graffiti.


Leaf demonstrated different fonts and spray techniques while encouraging the girls to create their own designs.





Several layers were placed on the canvas to create …



Leaf taught the girls how to pose without showing their faces – in true graffiti artist form.


Leaf also taught the girls the importance of having a tag name. They stood wide-eyed and accepted the challenge to create their own.


Smile: Aviva


Shine: Zuri


Angel: Sophie


Sun: Vivian


Split: Hannah


Happy: Noa


Star: Hazel



Brooklyn Tag Team.

Cottage By the Sea: Demo Day

And the walls came tumbling down! The demo is not done … but is certainly on its way. We have taken the entire house down to the studs in order to:

  • insulate the house – this house currently has ZERO insulation!
  • create an open concept on the main floor
  • install central heat and air – good-bye radiators!
  • install new sheetrock throughout

Kitchen / Dining

kitchen dining

Living Room


Sophie’s Room


Hazel’s Room




Cottage By the Sea: Before Home Tour

We are ready to begin demo to this sweet little home! Introducing the old before we welcome the new!

Entryway / Dining Room




Living Room


Laundry Room / Downstairs Bathroom


Master Bedroom / Bathroom


Sophie’s Bedroom


Hazel’s Bedroom


Upstairs Bathroom


Our Cottage By The Sea


It has been a long time coming … we finally have our little cottage by the sea!

We were introduced to Bellport Village in September and immediately fell in love with this house. Built and owned by the same family since 1950, there are a lot of memories already wrapped up in these four walls.

We can’t wait to build memories of our own in this humble abode. We are embarking on a full renovation with about 3 months until summer – what could go wrong?!

an approach to prayer


i was introduced to the five-finger prayer during the christmas eve service held at trinity wall street. this approach offers a simple visual and reminder of how many people need to be remembered in our prayers.

thumb: the thumb is the finger closest to you, so pray for those who are closest to you, such as mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, stepparents, stepsisters, stepbrothers, grandparents, godparents.

index finger: the index finger is the pointing finger, so pray for those who point the way for you, such as parents, teachers, clergy, policemen and women, firemen and women, security guards, bus drivers, crossing guards and elders.

middle finger: the middle finger is the biggest finger of all, so pray for those with big responsibilities like our president, government leaders, state and city leaders,  and others who lead and guide you.

fourth finger: the fourth finger is the weakest of all the fingers, so pray for those who are weak. pray for those who are sick or sad or alone; for those who are in hospitals and rest homes, as well as those who are poor, hungry and forgotten. pray for people who are disabled, physically and mentally. pray also for those who have died and for those who mourn them.

little finger: the little finger comes last. pray now for yourself and as your hands are now fully open thank god for your many generous blessings.

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edgar – our elf on the shelf

edgar kicked off our holiday season a bit early this year. {we are still scratching our heads in amazement that this little guy “magically” arrived in a bag brought by my mother from knoxville weeks before thanksgiving!}

thankfully my little gals eagerly embrace the magic of christmas and chalked up his early arrival as a prelude of mischevious behavior to be exhibited during the days leading up to christmas. edgar has  lived up to their predictions – leaving the girls, at times, to become a bit upset with him for not picking up after himself and playing with their things while they sleep.

below is a documentation of our time with edgar this holiday season and his silly antics. we will miss this funny little guy … until next year!


day 1: sugary snow angels
day 2: feeling close to santa by coloring a picture of him
day 3: chillin’ in the fridge with a santa towel to keep him warm
day 4: soaking in a marshmallow bath
day 5: dreaming of a white christmas with a q-tip snowflake
day 6: declaring his love for barbie
day 7: missing the girls when they spent the night out
day 8: sippin’ on maple syrup
day 9: rainbow looming for his elf friends
day 10: giving in to his sweet tooth
day 11: fooled by homemade baking soda ornaments {thought they were sugar cookies}
day 12: a quick shave – wishful thinking
day 13: peek-a-boo game {of course with sprinkles involved}
day 14: showing school spirit
day 15: love and candy canes
day 16: coming in like a wrecking ball
day 17: stripes on stripes
day 18: finding his twin in a snowy day
day 19: introducing his girlfriend in hopes to be adopted by the girls’ friends. {she was adopted and named rosie g!}
day 20: fishin’ for goldfish
day 21: late night tic-tac-toe games with pete the cat
day 22: his presence is present enough {he stole the girls’ sugar cookie for this … they were not thrilled with him!}
day 23: last late night rendevous with his buddy barbie

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why yes … there is a santa

girls with santa

i adore the ages of four + six when christmas magic is fully alive!

one of my favorite christmas traditions, since living in nyc, is visiting with santa at the plaza hotel. this year my father-in-law spoke to santa {while the girls were not looking} “reminding” him of their names. without skipping a beat, santa invited the girls by name to join him. watching the wonderment, excitement and the look on their faces after receiving a personal invitation from the big guy ignited within all of us a renewed sense of magic! this gentleman is thoughtful, engaging, calming and never in a rush. i will forever be thankful to him for taking the time to talk {and listen} to my girls.

i know as they grow older the magic {of santa} will look a bit different as they begin questioning the mysteries more deeply. i came across a letter written by author martha brockenbrough to her daughter lucy after she questioned who santa really was. martha’s thoughtful words and explaination are simply eloquent. while reading this letter i have cried with a mixture of saddness that the magic {as it had been known} was now revealed as well as with tears of joy that she is now empowered to embrace and share the magic with others.

i hope that you enjoy her words as much as i do!

may the magic always be alive within you! happy holiday!!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dear Lucy,

Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”
I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.
The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.
I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)
I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the Christmas magic stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.
This won’t make you Santa, though.
Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.
It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents, and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.
Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.
With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.
So, no, I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.
I love you and I always will.

*a version of this essay {designed as a picture book} will be available for purchase in 2015 by scholastic!

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27 Cupcakes

cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes. cupcakes.

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