rosé mansion

yes! here are the photos from rosé mansion! my friends and I had so much fun checking this place out back on august 31st.

here’s some info on the mansion: it’s an exhibit that’s only in NYC from July 14-october 21. initially, the last day was the 7th but I’m guessing overwhelming popularity allowed them to stay open fo two more weeks.

admission is $45 ($35 on weekdays before 4:30pm). tickets sell out FAST for the weekends so buy them as soon as you can. at last check, the next three Saturdays are sold out and there are only two more Saturdays left after that.

the mansion is located at 445 5th ave, New York, New York 10016.

the experience: you wander through differently, and vibrantly, decorated rooms to sample all kinds of rosé and learn more about each one. of course, these rooms are totally meant for the ig-obsessed people like me to take photos in!

the majority of the patrons are women (I’ll say 95%!) there were a few guys when we went, and the one man that was in our group remarked, “I guess I’m the group photographer!”

just in case it isn’t clear.. you must be 21 and over to attend since alcohol is served. you actually are allowed to bring a child but only if 1) they are 12 months and younger, and 2) you are wearing them. they do check your id at the door so don’t think you can purchase a ticket online and think you can get away with it.

okay, on to the pictures!

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the wall as you go up the stairs to begin the tour

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complimentary wine tumbler, pin, and stickers

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everything is covered with the grapes stickers

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scratch ‘n sniff walls!

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these next three pictures would have been lovelier had it not been for the harsh overhead lighting. one improvement to the rosé mansion experience would be to change the lighting.

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this turquoise room was tiny! and more harsh lighting… boo

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this room reminds me of a glam trailer park in florida 

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this room had plastic bags containing different kinds of “rosé” that you could squish with your feet and hands

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I absolutely loved the grapes tunnel

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one of my favorite backdrops

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I quickly snapped this photo when the employee behind the lab crouched down to get something

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the next section is the sparkling champagne room

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the next five photos are hilarious: an employee snapped photos of struggling in the ball pit, and of us helping her up!

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waiting for the garden bathtub room!

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so many cool walls

 

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I wish we had had more time in here but there was a long wait!

we chose our crowns and acted regal

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sing it with me: iiiiii want to swinggggg from a chandelierrrr, chandelierrrr

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I wish you could view the next five photos like a flip book! the pics are so adorable

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so concludes our tour… major props to genie for hearing about the rosé mansion back in july so we could plan accordingly. it was so hard to find a date that would work with our conflicting schedules but we were so ecstatic when we were able to make one work.

here’s to more fun and unique exhibits in the future!

 

 

 

 

 

 

ezra’s tutti frutti party

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it was hard getting him to smile for this photo

ezra’s 100th day party has come and gone; now we can all relax. the night before, dennis and i stayed up until 2am cleaning and organizing the house (him) and putting together last-minute details & decor (me). we knew we still had a lot to do in the morning (and still take care of two kids) so we tried to get as much as done as we could before heading off to bed. what helped was that ezra didn’t wake up until 6:30am! he slept his longest stretch yet: 11 hours straight. what a wonderful gift! even penny ended up being tired enough to sleep in until 8am. that was a great way to start the day.

 

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initially i had a different theme in mind for ezra’s party but the details and decor were turning out to be too elaborate so i saved it for his first birthday! (you will have to wait until then to see what it is.) plus, i had chosen a bright yellow lemon invitation from paperless post for ezra’s party so i wanted to stick with a fruit theme. while i love the trendy minimalistic / modern look that is so popular these days, the bright color scheme for the ‘tutti frutti’ was perfect for a mid-summer party.

it’s been two years since penny’s 100th day party so i will share briefly on the history of the 100th day celebration. back in the olden days when infant mortality rate was high, if babies lived to be 100 days it was thought that they had a very good rate for survival into adulthood. of course this doesn’t apply anymore as korea has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world (especially the women) but the celebration still continues partly due to tradition but mostly for enjoyment purposes.

dennis was in charge of ordering the food. he decided to have restaurant bricco in west hartford cater, and we were very pleased with the decision. guests raved about the food and came back for seconds and thirds. my parents also brought tang soo yook (deep-fried sweet & sour pork) and beef bulgogi from their restaurant, and everyone loved those as well.

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a big staple in korean cuisine is ddeok, rice cakes, and these are important in celebratory events such as birthdays and weddings. it is known as “the food of the gods” and is usually a food that is shared. for the 100th day celebration, it is believed that if 100 pieces of ddeok are consumed by the guests, the baby will have bountiful luck. my mil brought homemade ddeok, lovingly prepared by a grandma from our church.

(the ddeok cake with raisins spelling out “baek il”, or “100 days” along with the 3 different kinds of round ddeok can be seen in the table display photos.)

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as for dessert, i had planned on ordering cupcakes from nora cupcake company in west hartford. as is the case for many bakeries, their “regular” cupcakes are huge. i wanted to minimize waste and also make the cupcakes kid-friendly so i chose the mini cupcakes (which actually aren’t really that small). the price for 40 mini cupcakes came out to over $106! i understand these are gourmet cupcakes but that price is ridiculous. i decided to bake my own cupcakes as well as a cake. inspired by one of nora’s cupcake flavors, i settled on fruit loops cupcakes and cake. perfect, right? the actual cake part was funfetti cake mix for the festive colors.

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for the decorations, i turned to trusty pinterest for inspirational ideas. one pin led to a blog that had a fruit garland available for download. the creator suggested printing the fruit on ‘photo paper’ option (even though you will actually print them on card stock) so the colors would be bold and bright. as suggested, they printed beautifully. after cutting out each fruit carefully, i taped each piece onto twine.

*note: the pieces of fruit may flip over if there isn’t enough weight to the card stock. i had to tape some of the fruit pieces onto the tablecloth to prevent this.

i noticed on an event planning website that brightly colored poms in various sizes were used for a backdrop so i decided to incorporate those as well. i was stuck on what to do for the wall. i thought about using the window & shade in our kitchen for the backdrop but the sun sets in that direction causing light to filter in through the shade. i didn’t want to just use our wall either because the paint is an off-white color and wouldn’t look as nice as a bright white background. then i remembered we had a roll of faux wood bulletin board paper that we had used for penny’s cake smash so we opted to use that instead.

one detail that was spontaneous was the letterboard. this has made a comeback in recent days and is no longer just for churches and businesses. many people use these in their homes to write funny and/or inspirational messages as part of their home decor. while i was at joann fabrics to buy other materials, i stumbled upon a letterboard display and decided to purchase one with a white background along with large mint letters for a splash of color. it added such a nice touch to our 100th day table display, and i know we will continue to use it in our home.

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a detail that took up too much of my time were the “fruit” plates. to make the plates appear like fruit, i cut out seeds from black and white adhesive vinyl. there was a listing on etsy that sold 96 seeds in either black or white but i wouldn’t receive them in time. plus, they were $9.00. i would have to purchase about 4 (two in each color) to make sure there were enough. in the end, i stacked the plates so that every other one had the seeds on them. even though it was a lot of work, i still enjoyed making them and they turned out really cute.

my only regret, and there is always one, is that we didn’t take more pictures during the party. i had wanted to take more family photos with ezra but we didn’t get the chance. i don’t even have pictures of most of the guests! i also felt bad about pulling people away to take pictures but i still should have tried! he was sleeping for the first half of the party and then took another nap towards the end. he was passed around like a doll but he did so well! penny started getting more nervous with each arriving guest, so my mil took her down to the playroom to play and she ended up warming up to everyone later on.

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grandma lee feeding ezra

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dennis encouraging will to splash ryan with the hose

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poor will caught in the crossfire!

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lucky penny got to open up ezra’s gifts. she had one, too!

we took pictures with the grandparents the following day

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for ezra’s first birthday, i plan on having a friend take pictures so i don’t miss out on the actual party. usually i don’t mind taking pictures, but i miss out on a lot of opportunities to be in them because i’m the one behind the camera. i’d like to be in the pictures with my children, too. we still have some time before we have to think about planning for ezra’s birthday (much to dennis’ relief) so i won’t worry about that for now.

 

 

diy cake smash photo shoot

when you have a baby, the costs keep adding up. there are the necessary everyday items like diapers, but then there are also optional luxuries such as having professional photos done for your child. like many parents, we opted to do the newborn photo shoot because 1) we wanted high-quality images of penny, and 2) we didn’t mind splurging for our first child. (i’d like to think we’d be as generous with our subsequent children.)

dennis and i didn’t truly appreciate the work that photographers go through for the newborn photo shoot until we were at the studio. i mean, how hard could it be taking pictures of a sleeping newborn? thing is, newborns don’t sleep all the time and they have to be asleep for certain poses. our photographer cranked the heat up in the studio and was constantly feeding penny so she’d be sleepy and full. also, babies are diaperless during these photos so you can imagine what a lot of milk and no diapers can do during picture time!

as much as we love the newborn photos and now know how much work goes into baby photo shoots, we still couldn’t justify paying upwards of $700+ for the cake smash session. a baby’s first birthday is a significant occasion in general but in the korean culture, it is a huge deal. with the big guest list, traditional tie-ins such as the doljabi and hanbok, entertainment for the younger crowd, favors, and food the final total can go into the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands (eek!) in the end, we asked our friend, john, who has a really nice canon to take family photos and pictures of penny for her cake smash. that left dennis and i to arrange the “home studio.”

we chose the basement aka penny’s playroom for the space because it’s spacious and has a lot of natural light. fyi, natural light is your best friend. it’s okay to use both natural and artificial light but, if possible, you want to take photos near big picture windows to ensure the photos come out their absolute best. we chose to have penny’s photo session take place around 3:30pm (after her last nap so she has a long window of awake time). we also decided to use the wall facing the windows for optimal light since the sun sets in that direction.

word of advice: have, at least, one other person present during the photo shoot. i recommend two people though. while the photographer (could be you) is taking pictures of the baby, there needs to be someone distracting the baby by making noises and trying to make them smile and face the camera. also, when you’re doing multiple outfit changes it helps to have extra hands to do the job super quick. while john took the photos, his wife, alice, helped set up the different backdrops. remember: your baby will get agitated sooner or later so you have to make sure you allow plenty of time, but also give yourselves a break! we stopped for a short while so penny could have some milk – don’t forget, they’ll be hungry so have snacks and milk ready!

also, the photo shoot could take more than one day. i ended up taking pictures of penny with my iphone 6 a few days later so i could have more pictures of her, smiling. during the original photo shoot whenever dennis and i made noises for her to smile, she’d end up looking at us. thankfully, dennis’ mom came over to help with wardrobe changes and using props to get penny’s attention. these pictures turned out great too! i was worried about the quality of the iphone photos but i think the natural light helped immensely. all of the photos of her smiling were taken with my iphone!

okay, onto to the preparation of the home studio. i did a lot of research and saw that people purchased a big roll of bulletin board paper or craft paper for the backdrop. some used white (blank canvas and makes the photos super bright) while others opted for colored backgrounds. dennis and i went to jo-ann fabrics to see what we could find and we were pumped to see that they had a faux wood bulletin board paper! the ones that some people were using were 52 inches wide and ours was 48. just a few inches short but the width does make a difference because it determines how close/far you can take your pictures since you don’t want the wall to show. try to make sure you can find a width that’s 48 inches or more.

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make sure you tape the backdrop up high and without cutting it, roll it out so the floor is covered too.

i made the ‘one’ banner and hung it low so it would show in the picture. have a few decorations and/or banners on hand so you can have a variety of “looks.” i saved a fringe banner from last year’s baby shower, made the ‘one’ banner, bought balloons, and saved paper fans from my baby shower and penny’s 100th day celebration.

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how it looks close-up

 

for the smash cake, i decided to make a giant cupcake. i purchased a giant cupcake pan from amazon and it’s around $15.

i referred to this blog post, and it was really helpful. the only thing i have to gripe about is how much cake batter was left over. the ingredients ask for 2 boxes of yellow cake mix and you end up using about half, maybe a little more. i suppose you could just make more cake or cupcakes with it but after spending all morning making and prepping the smash cake i didn’t even want to eat the remnants.

anyway, if you don’t feel like opening up another link i’ll post the ingredients here:

ingredients and supplies

  • 2 Boxes of Yellow Cake Mix
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 Package Jello-O Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 1 c. oil
  • 2 c. water
  • giant cupcake mold
  • cooking spray
  • glass bowl
  • hand mixer
  • 1 lb. candy melts
  • long knife
  • 2 cans of frosting or homemade buttercream frosting (i opted to make frosting – recipe in included in post.)
  • *food coloring (only if you’re making the frosting – i used wilton)

i poured 2.5 cups of batter in the cone portion (left side) and 3.5 cups in the bottom part of the cupcake (right side).

when it’s done, let them cool in pan for 15 minutes and transfer over to a wire rack to cool completely.

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after they cool, level the raised parts of both the cone and the bottom portion of the cupcake. the bottom photo was taken before i did that. notice how the cone isn’t perfect? i used frosting later on to cover it up and faced that part away from the camera.

with the knife, you also want to slice off the ridges of the bottom part so that it fits into the candy mold later on. you will see what i’m talking about in the next picture.

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this candy mold for the bottom part of the cupcake is optional but it has a much better presentation than if the cupcake was just shown with the cake bottom.

the blog post says to put the candy melts (most of the bag) in a microwaveable bowl and melt the candy for 30 seconds in 3 intervals. i found that two times sufficed for me because the candy was too watery the third time around and wouldn’t coat the sides of the pan to create a thick shell.

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i purchased these from party city

after the candy is melted, pour it into the bottom part of the cupcake mold and make sure to coat the sides. if it looks too thin, you may need to harden the candy and try melting it again. i learned that the hard way. after refrigerating the shell for 40 minutes, i saw that it was way too thin to even take out of the mold so i had to scrape the shell off and redo it.

okay, so after the melted candy is in the mold put it in the fridge for, at least, 40 minutes so that it’s solid. then, turn the mold upside down and gently tap it… it should slide out easily!

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see how the candy walls are thick?

then, gently place the bottom part of the cupcake (with the ridges sliced off) into the mold. i had to keep taking the cupcake out to trim it even more because it was too big to fit into the mold. keep playing around with it.

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ta-da! it finally fit! see how much better the cupcake looks with a candy mold???

after i finished making the frosting, i put in one drop of the pink food coloring. the color i desired was a light pink so i wanted to start off slowly. be aware that food coloring can deepen over time so you want to start with one drop and then slowly add more. you can always make the frosting darker but you would need to add (and then make more) frosting to make it lighter. i only ended up using two drops!

here is the recipe for the frosting, borders & writing (if you’re into all that). i got it from my baking instructor.

icing

  • 1/2 c. crisco
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 4 tb. warm water
  • 1 lb. domino 10x confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tbs. corn starch

mix everything but sugar and corn starch.

add sugar slowly, and then corn starch. mix until smooth.

add food coloring drop by drop.

 

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IMG_6036and, viola! i took a cake decorating class at jo-ann fabrics a few years ago. sadly, i forget most of the techniques but the rosette is not hard to do at all. i just practiced a few of them on the plastic pad that i got with my decorating kit.

*note: if you want bigger rosettes, you want to use a bigger tip. mine took a while to do and the frosting was hard to squeeze out because i had used a lot of powdered sugar. more sugar, more stiffness.

please give yourself plenty of time to bake the cake, make the frosting, and set it up. ideally, it would be best to do the photo shoot in the afternoon so your child is well-rested and you have more time to get ready. dennis took care of penny in the morning but i still got up around 7am to prep and bake the cake. i was still working on it three hours later! i also didn’t put the frosting on until a half hour before the shoot, and we took pictures of it during penny’s nap.

it’s kind of sad to see your hard work get destroyed, but hey, it’s a cake smash! i admit, it was fun to see penny get mystified by the cake and then hesitantly touch it. she didn’t go all out as we had hoped but we still got some good pictures!

remember to have fun… and relax!

enjoy the pictures!

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penelope’s newborn photo shoot

like any first-time parents, dennis and i were beyond excited for the arrival of our little one as soon as we learned of the good news. as we anxiously spent the next nine months preparing to welcome a baby into our lives, we made many decisions. some were major like finalizing my birth plan and choosing a name while others were decidedly less significant such as the nursery paint colors.

one of the important choices included whether or not we should do a newborn photo shoot. while researching photographers we quickly realized that it was quite a costly commitment. after discussing it with one another we decided that it would be well worth spending our hard-earned money to have high quality photos of our first born child.. especially with the charming props and adorable poses.

it’s recommended to have the shoot held during the first 14 days of life because that’s when newborns have the deepest sleep. this will make it possible to put them in the adorable poses that we see on pinterest and facebook. because of conflicting schedules, we scheduled penny’s shoot right on day 14. even then she was being stubborn as she woke up a few times and in one photo her leg dangled over a stool despite the photographer repeatedly attempting to tuck it underneath her chest.

we hope you enjoy penny’s photos 🙂

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our little angel

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she looks like a little potato

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here’s another bit of her stubbornness peeking through!

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at peace

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adorable tush

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it kind of looks like she’s read for a workout sesh 🙂

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love the rustic look

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proud daddy

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if you are considering a newborn photo shoot for your lo, here are two things to keep in mind:

* your budget – what are you willing to spend? remember that the session cost is separate from whatever package of photos you purchase. our session alone was $250 before tax for a 3-4 hour shoot. then we had to decide which package we wanted (hard copies, CD of images, canvases, etc.) the shoot takes a while because you want the baby to be asleep for certain poses. if the baby is awake, she needs to be fed to make her sleepy. the studio is also very toasty to help the baby stay warm during the shoot since many require the baby to be naked. in addition, there’s a high chance of the baby peeing and pooping (on you!) so time is spent on the clean-up.

* time frame – since newborn photo shoots have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, many photographers are finding themselves booked months in advance. it is advised to book a session 2-3 months before your due date so you can secure a date. once the baby arrives, you will need to contact your photographer to set up the actual date.

now that we have the hard copies as well as the digital images, we just need to have wrapped canvases made and regular photos framed to display on our spartan walls. i’m also itching to create a scrapbook but oh, to find the time…

diy decor

i hope everyone had a lovely weekend. today is my last day of a 4-day weekend. normally, i would’ve had a week-long february break but it was shortened to two days due to our district having 9 snow days last year. i’m pretty bummed to be returning to work tomorrow but  at least it’s three more days until the weekend again.

valentine’s day was very low-key for us this year. first of all, we got hit with another snowstorm albeit a much minor one compared to the ones we’ve had but still not ideal to be out driving. dennis had to work this past weekend anyway and we just wanted to hunker down at home where it’s warm and comfortable. we told each other we wouldn’t give each other presents so we can save money for the baby, but dennis surprised me with a beautiful bouquet and a much-coveted patriots pom hat.

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i’ve been trying to purchase this hat since december but it was out of stock everywhere. (unless you count the exorbitant marked-up prices on ebay.)

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close-up of the bouquet. i love how the roses are placed in the center of the hydrangeas.

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with two baby showers coming up in march (ct and boston), i’ve been preoccupied assisting with details especially since one of my friends organizing the ct one is 33 weeks pregnant. we hung out on sunday to make tissue paper garlands and flowers. both looked easy enough on pinterest but we found out just how time-consuming the projects are, particularly the garlands. i was cutting each tissue paper by hand and painstakingly rolling them to make the garland.

i ended up purchasing a garland cutter from michaels so i could slice 4 tissue papers at once. using the device is a little tricky at first because tissue paper is so delicate and rips easily. the directions recommend not using less than 4 sheets of tissue paper and also putting a piece of copy paper on top to help prevent the papers from snagging on the blades. i also stood up to apply even pressure when moving the blades and instead of slicing them in one go, i made little cutting movements to prevent tearing. they were okay for the most part but some did tear in places.

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the adorable gray-and-white dewey decimal organizing drawers are from land of nod. i love that store – they have a lot of cute toys and accessories for babies, children and even adults. i plan on using the drawers to store things like diaper rash cream, q-tips and other things for the nursery.

here are the directions

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lastly, these two are great finds from homegoods. we can’t wait to hang these up above the changing table in penelope’s nursery. they go with our color theme and fit our vision for a modern-elegant nursery. the one on the left is a canvas and the chandelier one is a mirror.

dream big, sweet pea.

our daughter’s name will be penelope.

we had a girl and boy name picked out a few weeks into my pregnancy so it was either one or the other when we found out the gender. ^_^

I hit the 6 month mark this past Friday. ALREADY. I thought the nine months would drag but it has been flying by. with each passing day, Dennis and I experience feelings of joy and anxiousness. naturally, we are thrilled to be parents but sometimes the prospect of becoming parents terrifies us. I suppose we had a little practice raising a vociferous, energetic pomeranian mix the past four years but a human baby is a different story. never mind worrying if we’re ready because the baby is coming in three months!

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six months!

what’s been helpful during this time is being able to share pregnancy symptoms and my hopes and fears with other expecting moms. one of my good girlfriends is due in early april and she’s been able to give me a heads-up of what to look forward to (or not) in the coming weeks. and it’s also fun to be able to plan things like baby showers and decorating the nursery together. if you ever plan on having a child, try to find a community of moms (and even dads) to share the journey with – being able to swap stories with my friend among others has been greatly beneficial since it’s tough for the father-to-be to truly empathize with the woman’s changing body and what she’s going through no matter how supportive he is. that said, dennis has been so hands-on since day one. these past few months have given me a glimpse of the loving dad that he will be when our baby girl makes her entrance.

dennis and i had long chosen our nursery colors before we knew of the gender. i had been scouring pinterest for inspiration since the day i found out i was pregnant so i’ve had plenty of time to see what colors i wanted. i knew i wanted gray walls – a nice neutral that is modern and chic – and dennis immediately agreed. i also wanted something to make the nursery stand out and was deciding between having an accent wall via a different color or patterned wallpaper or painting stripes on the ceiling. dennis and i settled on the latter because we thought it was such a unique touch. i chose gold which dennis was hesitant about until he painted the ceiling. it is the perfect shade of gold – rich and elegant.

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 we converted the third bedroom into the nursery. the chandelier has been there since we moved in three years ago so we kept it for the nursery, and it’ll be perfect for “princess penelope” as a former colleague put it 🙂

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another panoramic view of the room

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close-up of the chandelier and the gold stripes

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for those of you interested in the colors, here are the paint chips for behr: natural gray and classic gold

before i close, i would like to share one last piece of advice for future parents: remember to relax and still make time for yourselves. not only will you not have the luxury of peace and quiet once the baby arrives but being active helps keep the stress level down for the baby mama and also can help make delivery easier when the time comes. so go out there and have fun when you can… although it’s easier said than done since all i want to do nowadays is veg on the couch…

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yesterday, we went to the uconn vs. cincinnati game in hartford with our friends john and alice. it was an exciting game because it was close the entire time, and uconn won their third game in a row. afterwards, we went to dave & buster’s to eat and play. sad to say, but my arms are sore from an intense sesh of a 4-way air hockey game.

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dennis & me                                                           john & alice