Why Instagram Makes Me Feel Like Crap

We are all guilty of it right...endlessly scrolling through photos wanting and hoping for what others have, comparing our lives to strangers and then ultimately feeling like crap when you're done. I am sure this post may surprise some because it's easy to see someone else's successes or perfectly styled picture and say to yourself, "wow, they are kicking butt an taking names." But little do you know that they are struggling to keep up with the Joneses and that it's taking a toll on them. I found myself in that place a month ago and I've decided to take a break from Instagram. Many people may never admit to that or even write a post on it, but I have always been transparent when it comes to my struggles as a small business owner. (while still working as a full time pediatric R.N.)

It's funny how different life was before this app existed. I really wish sometimes that it was never created because life would be so simple and full of contentment from the things we have already been blessed with, we would enjoy hot meals because we didn't spend 15 minutes trying to get the best lay flat, or answering the question "did you see that?"...No, because I was checking my feed. I remember when I first joined Instagram, I would snap a random photo from time to time, add a filter and post it with no worries about the likes, comments, or the number of times people regrammed it. (Pretty sure that word was made up because of Instagram) Then we got engaged, started wedding planning, and my posts became all about wedding details and the planning process. Our wedding was on a beautiful day in November, surrounded by our family and friends, we ate and drank until the night was done then left for our honeymoon the next day. It's was truly the most perfect day. The day before we were heading home to Miami, we received our photos back from Shea Christine and all of the memories from our wedding day flashed before my eyes. I cried tears of joy and happiness because the images were everything and more, full of moments to relive for the rest of our lives. Some time passed after the wedding and I was waiting patiently to hear from Shea to tell use that our wedding was selected for publication. The day never came and other real weddings were being featured everyday on different platforms and there it started, those negative thoughts..."our wedding wasn't special enough, "it wasn't beautiful enough, "I didn't plan it well enough" and all because a blog said no. Or because I didn't see one of our photos pop up on my Instagram feed, with the most perfect caption, and everyone commenting "so beautiful", "swoon", "or I want this for my wedding." All the happiness was taken away the moment I let comparison get in my head.

                                                                                      Photography: Shea Christine

                                                                                      Photography: Shea Christine

Fast forward to February of 2016...I had this crazy idea to start Cotton & Crumb. Of course, the first thing I did was secure my Instagram handle because I knew that a small business would never survive without a perfectly curated feed, full of photos and quotes. In the beginning, I never thought twice about it...I posted the photos of my gifts and creations, with the most confidence in the world. I never worried about the likes, or how the overall layout of my images looked. I posted for me and for the business I was growing.

                                                                            One of my FIRST Cotton & Crumb Posts

                                                                            One of my FIRST Cotton & Crumb Posts

As the months passed, I continued to get busier, but I also became more aware of what others were doing. I was constantly seeing posts about "another fully booked wedding season", or "YAY, another published wedding", and all I was trying to do was survive and hope that another inquiry to come through because someone trusted me enough. It wasn't until recently when I was putting together a large welcome gift order, along with a few individual gift requests, on top of working 36 hours, and creating a new line of things for the shop, that I almost had a full mental breakdown. I was anxious, I was constantly on my phone looking for new emails and spending hours figuring out my post for the day, designs weren't free flowing and natural. I kept second guessing myself and it hit me...this damn app is ruining everything; my happiness, the time spent with my husband, the confidence I had in myself and the product I was producing. I couldn't believe that I let Instagram make me question everything!? Who is to say that my success is less than the accomplishments of others!? What did it take for them to get there...what did they sacrifice?!  Was I willing to do the same? I felt like I couldn't work fast enough to keep up and it was Lotte (past bride, current virtual pen-pal) that reminded me "No matter how long your ideas take to come into fruition, you have to remember that for the most part that for these other people, this is their full time job, where they are spending all their time and energy on these projects. She soo hit the nail on the head and this is where my anxiety was coming from...trying to keep up with everyone else. 

                                                                                              Lotte's Bridesmaid Gifts

                                                                                              Lotte's Bridesmaid Gifts

It was after that conversation that I realized it was time for me to take a break...to detox and just live without the pressure of posting and to create freely without the pressure and influence of what other were "launching" or getting published for. May is always thought of as a time for renewal and refreshing. The flowers start to break through the ground, the leaves are green, there is an excitement for the arrival of summer and the fun it brings, so I couldn't think of a better time to take a break while I create, just be, and most importantly celebrate my birthday during our road trip to Savannah & Charleston.

For my current clients, I will still be here for you and for future clients or friends...this does not mean I am not here for you. Reach out, send an email, come see what I am up to here on the blog. Here is to new things to come and to enjoying the every day moments without pausing for the perfect picture. Remember friends....you are enough. 

                                  Photography: Shea Christine

                                  Photography: Shea Christine

xo, Danielle

Must Love Dogs

A few days ago I shared a sweet peek into some custom welcome gifts that I designed for a Karma Goddess couple. During this project I worked closely with the bride's mother, Rhonda. While getting to know her daughter and future son-in-law, I also was introduced to Rebecca & Ryan's sweet Great Dane, Humboldt who was the whole reason these two fell in love.

One day Rebecca was attempting to carry home a large bag of dog food while wrangling a 150 lb. Great Dane, the office manager simply asked her if she was still single and the answer..."yes, so what?" She quickly apologized and the manager said, "I'm simply trying to find you a handsome man to carry your dog food home for you." As fate would have it, Ryan then stepped out of the elevator, was introduced to Rebecca, and those two were never single after that day. I mean seriously, how CUTE is that story!

We decided on a breakfast themed welcome gift that guests could enjoy Saturday morning before the big day of celebration. Now my little baker heart would have loved nothing more than to bake for this lovely couple, but only having one oven and 56 gifts to bake for, I knew my limitations so I partnered with one of my local favs here in Miami...Zak the Baker. Seriously, if you haven't tried out their bread or pastries you are missing out and I feel bad for you. Anyways, we selected their banana bread and rugelach to include for the guests, along with my small batch honey almond granola. For the sips, I went with a welcome bags staple, FIJI water, and after Bob, Rhonda's husband, ran taste tests on multiple coffee drinks, we selected on from Starbucks. Each gift also include a small "just in case" bag of Advil and Pepto tablets.

Now the finishing touches...

 

I obviously knew we needed to include the adorable pups that was responsible for this love story, so I enlisted the help of Quinn Luu, who also designed my amazing site, to design welcome tags to complete the tote bags. I then selected an all natural jute tote, which doubled as a bag the guests could use for the pool or the beach, to package all the goodies in. Finishing off the gifts was the watercolor gift tag and beautiful silk ribbon to give them a classic and elegant feel. 

Interested in customizing some "totes" adorable gifts for your guests? Send me a note (and a virtual hug) because I would love to meet you!

How To Survive A Remodel

Last summer Frank and I had this crazy idea...what if we remodel his mom's home into our forever home. Ultimately we want to be closer to work, to have a space to entertain our family and friends, and the fact that we would be living in his childhood was the icing on the cake. He didn't have to convince me anymore! But this all sounds fun right?! People tell me that all the time.

"Oh it must be so fun to design a home from scratch."

"That must be so nice to pick everything out yourself."

My response..."If you can survive a remodel, your marriage can survive anything." A close friend of my mine said that she had two friends nearly considered divorce after remodeling their home. Somehow I wasn't surprised. It's the ultimate test of patience, understanding, and finances. One may ask how is it even possible to consider divorce after remodeling and it all boils down to style choices and taste. It's the ultimate meaning of compromise, It's blending two styles and tastes, understanding whats important to each other, and understanding those choices and the financial impact on your overall budget. I decided to share my insight on this process because Frank and I are brand new to this whole remodeling process and when I say remodel, I really mean taking a house stripping it to the studs, reworking a septic tank, plumbing, electric, and adding an additional 1,500 square foot, 2-story addition. My hope is to share what we have learned along the way so that if you are reading this and are going through the same process or about to start, that you're not alone and that all couples face the same emotions and stresses that come with a project like this.  

Image: Studio McGee

1. Be PREPARED!

My first and biggest tip is to be prepared. This may seem obvious, but be sure you are both on the same page when it comes to these basics. Know the square footage you want to achieve, have an idea of layout, have a budget in mind (for architectural drawings and building costs), know how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want. This can save a lot of awkward conversations and decision making in front of your contractor or architect. Once you start reviewing and checking off on plans, it can becomes costly to change them after the fact. It wasn't until a close friend of ours generously agreed to look over our plans that we realized a few things didn't make sense. In our head, everything looked great, but when you talk with someone how builds for a living, they are able to make sense of it all for you. Thankfully we were able to make the corrections without adding extra cost, but it's always a good idea to have a second set of eye take a look, especially if this is all new to you. 

Being prepared can also go as far as starting to shop for finishes like countertops, cabinets, tile, that way you both don't sticker shock or a coronary when its time to make decisions. (I realized that faucets don't come with sinks and that they are just as much as a sink. And light fixtures...be sure to have a few hundred dollars for one. Oh you want four bathrooms, remember thats four toilets and four toiler paper holders so don't get picky on which toilet is the prettiest. It's a crapper people, pick a functional one and more on.)

 

2. Assemble a great team

Finding a trustworthy team maybe be on of the hardest choices in this process. We met with 4-5 architects who had 4-5 options and we were left more confused than ever. I am a big believer in meshing well with people that you are hiring for a job. What I mean by this is..."Does the person listen to what you want but also gives honest feedback." Do you feel a good energy from them." "How did the conversation flow during your initial meeting?" "Are they within your budget?" If your project involves an architect, make sure that his communication is efficient and responsive. During the building process, your contractor is going to need him to respond quickly to issues or questions that may arise and that goes the same with your contractor. Are they just sending teams to the house while they are in the office making phone calls. The truth is, you are going to have to get to know these people well and don't be afraid to speak up or be hands on. 

Remember, you are probably spending more money than you ever have in life on this, so you want to be sure it'd done right. NO PRESSURE FOLKS! We have yet to select our contractor and this may be even harder than selecting our architect. I'll keep you posted on that friends!

3. Compromise

I can honestly say I am pretty guilty of not doing this already. One thing about me you may not know, is that I can be so stubborn (my husband call me wood head in spanish sometimes because I can be so stubborn), especially once I have an idea in mind. (Like a natural wood front door, regardless if it isn't hurricane proof.) Conflict arises when one person refuses to compromise...Remember this YOUR HOME TOGETHER, not a house build by one person and you both happen to live there. Try to talk about styles that you both like, finishes you want to select, or spaces you each want to work on. The beauty of working on a project like this together, is that you end up creating a space that is reflective of you as a couple and that has a mix of both your styles.  

Image: Studio McGee

4. Plan ahead

We started to see a constant theme when we would speak to different people regarding timeline..."Oh they said 6 months, well double that because it always takes longer." Silly us, we thought we could pull permits, build this massive addition, do remodeling, and move in by next Christmas. In reality, we will be lucky to be in the new by next January, if not later. When you start a project like this, you have to be ok with not meeting hard deadlines because in the end you will only be more stressed and disappointed that things aren't going as planned.

My best advice...start your research and question answering early. Think about weather and vacation schedules..."Is it going to be snowing when it's time to start the roofing?" Luckily in Florida we don't have to worry too much about snow, but there is that thing called hurricane season, and to our luck we will start demo and framing right around the start of this year's season. Going to Italy for three weeks isn't the best idea while your home is being built in the U.S. Since we are investing so much in the project, Europe will have to wait until our wallets recover....maybe in 2018. For now it will be weekend getaways and I am ok with that because our end result will be worth every scarafice.

Want custom cabinets? That will be about 12 weeks. "Want that fancy oven from France...sure that will be three months." When we started shopping for finishes, we always made sure to ask lead times that way once construction started, we wouldn't end up putting things to a halt while waiting weeks for materials to arrive. Also, keep in mind where you will store your materials if they arrive early or before the contractor is ready for them. It never hurts to ask if the cabinet guy has somewhere air conditioned that he can store them in case things get delayed. 


Image: Studio McGee

I recently was reading an article from Houzz and people reported on a remodel survey that they spent more time at home after a remodel (We already spend 80% of our time at home), 42% entertain more, and 41% had an increased level of happiness with their spouse. This process has already had moments of stress, doubt, sleepless nights (AND WE HAVEN'T EVEN STARTED BUILDING YET!) but we constantly remind ourselves the real reason we started. I encourage you to take moments to disconnect from your Pinterest boards, from the number crunching, and emails to reconnect and remind yourself of the same.  We love walking Dakota in the evenings, talking about our thoughts and ideas, and I am so thankful for that time and I know that he is too. I am really excited to share this adventure with you all.  

Images shared from a few of my favorite interior designers. Take a peek at their shops and blogs for design inspiration and pieces to give your home a new, fresh look

Studio McGee

Caitlin Wilson Design

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

Some of my fondest memories of growing up were during the fall season...Friday night football games in the bleachers, crisp, cool air, the anticipation of the holidays, neighborhood trick or treating. The list could continue for another mile or so. It's around this time that I start to miss home and the changing of seasons. Don't get me wrong, I love not having to start my car 10 minutes before I leave or spending hours shoveling snow (secretly I wouldn't mind maybe one day of that), but there is something magical that happens during the transition from summer to fall and that magic doesn't exist here in sunny South Florida. 

Let's face it, along with cooler temps, fall brings the permission to bake pumpkin everything and mix up fall inspired cocktails. So naturally when I was selecting recipes for my fall inspired portfolio shoot, I had to incorporate something pumpkin and something boozy. I decided on three of my favorite fall food groups...pumpkin, s'mores, and a cocktail best served warm, mulled red wine. For most Miami natives, the thought of drinking warm, spiced red wine is strange and maybe only reserved for the days when the temperature drops below 65 degrees and everyone pulls out their boots and scarves, but trust me, this cocktail will bring all the fall feels and is perfect for an evening in while watching Netflix, wrapped up in your favorite blanket and pjs. So turn down your A/C, grab your bestie or hubby, and give this recipe a try. 

 

 

Mulled Red Wine

Serves: 4       Time: 25 mins


-1 bottle of semi-dry red wine, favorite Cabernet Sauvignon
-2 cups of apple cider
-1/3 cup pure maple syrup
-1 apple sliced
-1 orange sliced
-4 cinnamon sticks
-3-4 stars of anise
-1 vanilla bean, split down middle
-1 teaspoon of whole cloves
-1/4 cup of brandy (optional)

 

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Simmer on medium heat for about 15-20 mins. (Get ready because it will make your house smell amazing.) Pour wine through fine mesh strainer.  Mix in brandy, if desired, for a little extra booziness. Serve warm with slices of apples, oranges, or a cinnamon stick.

Cheers friends!

*If making ahead of time, this could be kept in the fridge them reheated on the
stove or in crockpot.*

 

Photography: Michelle March      Floral Design: Julia Rohde Designs