Paris Travel Guide: What to Wear

Two years ago tomorrow my plane touched down in Paris! This was my DREAM trip. The planning for the entire trip started three weeks prior. The only mistake we made was not planning more in advance to get cheaper tickets. Once we had tickets purchased I set forth on my journey to find the best outfits to wear so that I didn’t stand out like a tourist!

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. But don’t wear tennis shoes. Or sandals. The French woman is chic. She is understated. She is sexy. I knew I wanted to wear comfortable shoes for all the walking we would be doing. I also knew wearing tennis shoes is not true to how I usually dress and I knew that is how I would stand out at as a tourist. I found some incredibly comfortable black flats from Clarks. My feet never hurt from my shoes. One day they hurt from sheer exhaustion of jet lag.
  2. Be minimal. I brought a lot of black and a couple of jeans. Black t-shirts, black cardigans, black and white stripes. Black. It was July, but still a little a little cool, so having a cardigan was perfect. I brought my khaki trench coat as well.
  3. Let’s talk accessories. This is also a place to be minimal. I wore a single pair of stud earrings and a necklace each day, both were small and delicate. I took my cross-body coach purse with me to hold a wallet, my phone and lip gloss. I wore my purse under my jacket when I had my jacket on. It made it easier to take on and off as I went in and out of locations.

One day while I was wearing the outfit below a woman stopped us and started speaking to us in rapid French. I have a limited French vocabulary (thanks to various years in class between 8th grade and college), so I got a little bit of what she was saying. But not near enough to be able to help her. As I replied in broken French she switched to English and I was actually able to help her find the boulangerie that had the pretty breads (look at that bread!). But being mistaken for a Parisian was my goal. It was achieved!!!

Some do NOTs:

  1. Do not carry a backpack. This targets you as a tourist.
  2. Do not wear high heels. I know the Parisian woman does it, but those cobblestone streets will wreck an ankle. Plus you will be walking all day long. Be comfortable.
  3. Do not have a big purse full of stuff. This will also make you a prime subject for someone to pickpocket. I know you may have your children with you, and then everything about a backpack or big purse. People will notice the child and see that you have stuff for them, not of value.

Becoming the Expert

This is the third post about MY story, you can read one and two. (linked)

As time went on, I worked my way up as an insurance agent. To be an insurance agent you have to be licensed to sell insurance in your state. That means taking a state licensing exam. With exams comes studying. Most can get all of their studying done in one month to take their licensing exam, however I was going through a divorce, taking care of 2 little kids and trying to survive. The first time I took the test I had been studying for 4 months, and I failed. At a time in my life where everything was going wrong it was only fitting that I failed my exam.

I studied HARD for the next 6 months. I was not grasping the material. My brain was not absorbing. One evening I was studying when I thought, enough. This is not going well. This is not how I learn. So I took a long hard look in the mirror and realized that I need to be in a classroom setting with others learning the same thing and asking questions with real life examples. I found the in-person course and signed up. For four days I sat in that class for 8 hours each day. The Saturday after the course I took my licensing exam and I PASSED! This was a great moment.

In taking that course I didn’t realize my path trajectory was going to be changed for my whole life. The class was full of around 20 other who were getting licensed for insurance. One of them happened to be Aaron. He was super tall and I felt comfortable enough sitting next to him because he was married. Being newly divorced I still didn’t know how to handle my singledom. Aaron was buying an agency in Utah. We took our test together and passed together. We became facebook friends. I had several clients move to Utah and I passed his information along to them and vice versa.

I had passed my test, I called my boss, and I was fired.

With a new found confidence in myself I went to work updating my resume and sending it to every agency in a 25 mile radius. Within a week I had a position with a new agency and I was going to learn everything I could about insurance. Little did I know that the agency that I was working for was going to be the PERFECT fit for me. This office had 4 women that worked in it (including myself) from all different backgrounds.  The agency owner was a woman that I respected so much and she taught me how to be a trusted advisor to our clients. I learned organizational skills that I would never have thought of. Two of the other girls taught me how to rely on others when you needed it. Together the 4 of us were able to increase our office sales, retain more clients than ever before and lean on each other when times were tough.  

I learned so much about all aspects of insurance in this new office. For myself, I had to be the best to prove that I could make it in this world as a single mom. All of this was for me. Not for anyone else. However, I also wanted everyone to know that I cared, that I knew what I was talking about, and I wanted everyone to believe in me. In order for others to see value in me I had to believe in myself. And in order to believe in myself I felt that I needed to be the expert in insurance so I could take care of my clients. 

Girls Night Out

Planning an event is not as easy as one would think! There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of people to communicate with and a lot of ideas!

I am so excited for the boutique I am hosting next week. There are going to be so many amazing vendors, delicious food, giveaways and shopping. In my mind it is girlfriends hanging out and enjoying a night out without kids. In my dreams there is a lot of laughter, memories and happiness.

I am still working on the decor and layout for the boutique. I have some gorgeous pennant banners I made that are white lace, I want to get more lights to hang, the table Scott made me is going to be perfect for food & drinks. I just don’t know exactly how I will make it all tie in. Scott will be amazing and make things work just how I want them to be.

The vendors I have are incredible women who are entrepreneurs in their own daily life! The shopping will have amazing deals from: Ruby Ribbon, Maskcara, doTERRA, ColorStreet, Chalk Couture, Monat, Wink, Photography, Twirl in Pink, Usborne Books, and Teeth Whitening!

I would love to have you come to the boutique! I have 5 tickets left to give to you my dear readers! If you are in Utah and would like to come to the event, click HERE and get your ticket with the discount code THENEST.

A Non-BBQ Summer Party

For the 3rd year in a row we have hosted a Summer Solstice party on the first official day of SUMMER. The first year we had everyone bring their own meat and a side to share. The second time we provided burgers and hot dogs and asked everyone to bring a side. This year I didn’t want to mess with the grill at all.

Some of these are affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission if you buy something from them at no cost to you.

We were going to have a party and ask everyone to bring an appetizer, salad or a dessert. They could choose what they wanted to bring and it would be a surprise. It was quite freeing for me. I usually like to make sure that we have a good balance of all the things. But not this time!

We had an amazing mix of food. I made each of the options since I was hosting and wanted to make sure that we had enough food in case everyone brought a dessert! I made a 7-layer salad, two different appetizer trays, and the Brownie Pie from the Magnolia Table cook book. For the appetizer trays I had one with crackers and hummus and blue cheese dip and the other was tortilla chips, potato chips with guacamole, ranch dip and salsa. Of course, before I could have them set out and take photos they were descended upon like food was a hot commodity.

Others brought pasta salad, more chips and dip, peach pie (this was to die for), peanut butter bars… I am missing some of the other stuff. It was a great mix and so much fun! The best part was not having to worry about the grill!

A Sweet 16 Pool Party

I think that Courtney has been planning her birthday party since Christmas! The idea changed around 54,678 times over the course of a few months. But we finally had the idea nailed down. She really wanted a party that her dad could be at, and he lives overseas. But he was going to be in the country for the month of June. It worked out perfectly.

We decided to have a pool party where everyone could come and play in the water. That gave us the activity. At first Courtney had lofty goals for food. A party planner at heart that I love. She wanted to do a pig. Yep, roast a pig. I was struggling to figure out a way to say no… When Scott said “if you help dig the hole to roast the pig we will do a pig.” That quickly ended that discussion and we decided on pizza since it was easy and everyone would love it.

Next was a cake. Courtney wanted something close to a luau theme. Oh my. That was so open ended and there was a lot of searching on Pinterest. She finally settled on the watermelon pineapple cake. I think it turned out amazing. However, the cake started sinking and leaning. My husband, Scott, called the bakery and they told us to put it in the freezer to get it solid to prevent more sinking.

In the end we had a lot of kids who had a fun afternoon and evening swimming and eating typical teen foods!

Courtney’s Birth Story

Happy 16th birthday to my sweet Courtney!

I bet it is hard for you to believe that I have a 16 year old. It is even harder for me! Like I said in Oliver’s birth story I love to read other birth stories. So today, I am going to share what happened 16 years ago when I became a mom for the very first time!

While I was pregnant with Courtney we moved from Virginia to Oklahoma. Oklahoma was supposed to be a 6 month assignment for the military, but we were able to stay in Oklahoma for our follow on which made the transition to motherhood so much easier. While we were in training they were asking for people to stay and help with the training instead of going to a combat unit.

On March 20, 2003 the US invaded Iraq. My husband was a field artilleryman for the US Army. That meant that the unit we were going to was being deployed to Iraq. He would have gone to Germany ahead of me because I would have been too far along in my pregnancy to travel. Once he arrived he would have deployed immediately. I would have been left in the US to deliver our baby alone and then moved to a new country alone with my new baby. We chose to stay and help with training.

I was due on July 10th, 2003. I lived in Oklahoma. Have you ever been to the south in the middle of summer? Forget taking a shower and drying off. It doesn’t happen. The humidity is high, the temperatures are high and ice was my favorite thing to eat. I was a million weeks pregnant and told my doctor that I couldn’t go home pregnant. He agreed to help the labor process along.

On my due date I went to the hospital to have a prostaglandin gel inserted to help me dilate. I was told that they would monitor me for a few hours and then be sent home to hopefully come back in the next few days in labor. I was not pleased with that. The good thing was, I was able to walk around for a little bit and then get monitored. We walked up and down the halls for about an hour and I was not feeling too hot. Once I got back to my room and hooked up to the monitors you could see that I was in active labor. They checked me around 2:30 and I may have been dilated to a 3 still. It was so frustrating!

Everything got intense very fast for me. The contractions were one on top of the other. I may have been getting a 30 second between the end of one contraction and the beginning of the next. I was holding on to the hand rails of my bed and squeezing my eyes shut and reminding myself to breathe. When I was in the heat of the moment I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t get myself together at all.

By 4pm I was crying and asking for something to take the pain away (read: epidural). The anesthesiologist came in and got the epidural placed. But it wasn’t fast enough. At 4:30 I told them I needed to push. They said they didn’t think I was anywhere close to being fully dilated and able to push. When the doctor went to check to see where I was, he was surprised. Courtney was crowning. Immediately the room (smallest room on the face of the planet) was a flurry of activity. No one expected that to happen that fast!

I think I pushed for about 15 minutes before I was holding Courtney in my arms. She had SO MUCH black hair. Courtney was my smallest baby weighing in at 6 pounds 15 ounces. But not much smaller than any of my others, my largest was 7 pounds 11 ounces.

Holding Courtney for the first time I felt this intense love come over my entire being. It was fierce, it was unreal, it was intoxicating. I was a mom. The euphoria I was feeling was fulfilling. I had found my calling. I was a mom.

The next morning the hospital administration came to my recovery room. I had not been admitted to the hospital for my labor and delivery. They needed my permission to deliver my baby. I couldn’t believe that I had not been admitted when they were inducing me! I signed the paperwork and have spent the next 16 years loving my sweet girl.

The Strawberry Nest Boutique

AAAAHHHHHH!

I am doing it. My first ever event! I cannot wait to share this with all of you. I am hosting a vendor boutique. I have wanted to host an event for a long time and I finally have had amazing mentorship from Chelsey (housewife2hostess) and feel like I have a good foundation for doing this.

My vendors are other women who have a side hustle, a main hustle, a hobby hustle. They are stay at home moms, single moms and working moms. I love that I can provide a place for them to meet others, share their business and feel success!

If you want to come, I would love to have you as a guest at the event. It is Friday July 26th from 7-9pm. You can get a ticket here!

If you want to see what will be at the event: