Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It's a Giveaway!

Last week I hit two big social media milestones - more than 1000 followers on Facebook and more than 2000 followers on Twitter.  I'm so grateful to everyone who I connect with via social media so as a BIG thank you I'm offering a reader/follower the chance to win a free 8x12 open edition print of your choice from my Etsy shop!

There are a few ways to win:

1.  Visit my Etsy shop and  leave a comment on this post to let me know which print you'd choose
2.  Tweet the giveaway @ciaochessa with a link back to this post
3.  Share the giveaway on Facebook

Be sure to let me know you've shared it in a separate comment below!

The giveaway is open to people in the U.S.A. and I'll choose a winner next week!

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Happy birthdays

How I see her in my dreams.
Today my baby is three years old and life is a bit of a whirlwind.  Days, weeks and months pass by in what seems like an instant and before we know it another year has come and gone and I'm left wondering where the time went.  Soon we'll be welcoming a little boy into our family and my first baby who made me a mother when I never thought it was possible will be a big sister.  Another milestone in her life that will forever be ingrained in my heart and in my mind.  Sometimes I catch her staring at me the way I'm certain she so often feels my eyes on her and she smiles so knowingly and genuinely I feel like she can read what my heart is feeling.  She says "I love you, mommy" and it's like my heart might explode.  I stare at her in wild wonder unable to wrap my head around the fact that she was once inside my belly growing and kicking me incessantly like her brother who never seems to stop moving.  In a few years he will be as big as she is and she will continue to grow to be whoever she is to become.  Her curiosity, sense of adventure, fearlessness (that kind of freaks me out) thoughtful and kind manner, and even her stubbornness motivate me and inspire me every day.  Happy birthday, sweet girl.  We love you so.

When she turned two.
When she turned one.

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Friday, June 21, 2013


So many goodies.  Lucia was most excited about the glitter and the lip balm.  Definitely my kid.
Today is the first official day of summer and the afternoon could not be more beautiful here in New York City.  Yesterday I spent the day at Alt Summit and it was everything I hoped it would be and more.  I connected with so many cool and interesting people and finished the day feeling so inspired.  When you spend the day listening to the likes of Grace Bonney and Garance Dore you cannot helo but walk away feeling ready to do more.  I've shared some of my favorite quotes from the day below.  Our plans for the next few days include the Swedish Midsummer Festival tonight, time with family, and a trip to the Smorgasburg and carousel in Brooklyn.  Throw in a little early birthday celebration for my girl who turns three (!!) on Monday and I think we have the makings of a perfect summer weekend.

Garance and me (with fuzzy, pregnant summer hair apparently.)

Cupcakes at the after-party that I still regret not eating.


 "Urgency is addictive. Urgent doesn't equal important." Alpha Mom

"You're defined by the things you do as much as you are by the things you don't."  Garance Dore

"Branch out but stay on the same tree."  Garance Dore

"Always be learning.  Always be streamlining.  Always be teaching."  Grace Bonney

"There is vital importance in sharing beauty and stories." Valentine Freeman

"Try Rejection Therapy.  Keep asking for things until hearing "no" is no longer scary." Grace Bonney

"Change isn't about abandoning old ways-it's about embracing new ones..think of your business as a continual evolution."  Grace Bonney

"Be completely and unapologetically yourself online."  John Jannuzzi

"I always remind myself 'it's just cookies.'"  Kathleen King of Tate's Bake Shop

"Take the emotion out of your decision process.  Not the passion but the emotion."  Kathleen King

 "You don't control what you're given but you control what you've got."  Stephanie Housely

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Young Photographer Xin Li

18 year-old Norway-based photographer Xin Li embarked on a weekly photo challenge (52 Photo Project) and the result has been an emotional, serene and deep collection of images.  Each photo tells a story whose narrative is seemingly left up to the viewer.  After exploring this tremendously creative collection so far I'm eager to see what else this young artist can do.  

Check out her flickr page and Facebook for more.

And remember this other young photographer, Olivia Bee?  See more work from other talented photographers featured on the blog here.

Via My Modern Met and Republic X.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Confessions of a Complainaholic - How to help yourself stop complaining

My worst habit is actually my biggest complaint about others.  People who complain are my pet peeve.  I complain about other people complaining multiple times a day.  "Ugh, so annoying" (accompanied by my ever-present eye roll) is a daily phrase. Some weeks I whine so much that I even annoy myself.  But I've taken notice and I've been working (very hard) to curb this most irritating and unhealthy of habits.  It can be because of the weather, the parent on the playground who lets their kid run wild, the photography show I didn't get into, my husband not picking up his socks, there are no ripe avocados at Whole Foods, I missed the bus, someone didn't return and email, the subway car that smells, my daughter won't eat her dinner, I have a headache, and on and on and on.  You feel me?  But recently I've been making a conscious effort to change and stop this negative cycle of constant complaining.

I've realized a lot about myself (some things that I like and some that I don't) since having a child and complaining is one that I actually feel ashamed of.  After I had my baby I recognized two traits that surprised me - first, I'm actually a really patient person when I always thought the opposite and second, I'm a terrible whiner and complainer about anything and everything.  I often hear myself and wonder when and how I got so bad and lost so much control over my thoughts.  In an effort to become better, for my daughter's, my husband's and my own sake, I've been working on curbing the complaining and I think that with a little more work I might actually kick this habit for good. 

Here are five tips to help stop the cycle of complaining.

1.  Ask yourself why you are complaining.

This is something I always think about even when I'm happy with the outcome of a certain situation.  I determine what my expectations are and whether or not the result of what I'm doing meets those expectations.  This always motivates me to work harder and to be better.  Complaining while comparing yourself or your situation to someone else is a complete waste of time and energy.  Here's a great article about this.

2.  Let yourself vent.

Venting is not the same thing as outright complaining.  Instead of letting all those negative thoughts and stresses marinate, let them out with a person you trust.  I usually find that when I let myself talk things out I realize it's not as bad as I led myself to believe.  Also ruminating is just not healthy.

3.  Listen to yourself.

It seems like a simple concept but most people don't think before they speak.  Are the words you're saying mostly negative?  Try to change the way that you talk about things to be more positive.  When I hear others complaining it also reminds me not to do it because who really wants to put that much negativity out there?

4.  Control your focus.

I find that I'm most centered when I concentrate on what I'm doing rather than on what people around me are doing.  Staying focused is increasingly difficult when we're all so connected via social media and our smart phones but taking a personal time out to focus on yourself is important.  I try not to constantly have my phone and I carve time out for myself to read, work out or go for a walk and it helps to control my focus and handle daily stress.  When we feel better we have fewer things to complain and whine about.  If it's a problem in your life, especially a financial or professional issue or a problem in your relationship that you are complaining about try to focus on ways to fix it.  Shift your focus from how terrible the situation is to how you can make it better (this helped me A LOT when I was trying to decide whether or not to change careers and it's helping me now as I think about what I want to do next).

5.  Be grateful.

Being mindful of little things can change your entire perspective.  In recent years and especially lately I've made it a habit to find one thing to feel grateful about every morning and trying to carry it with me all day long really sets the tone for my day.  When you take a few seconds to be thankful you'll find that you have many positive things to feel happy about.  Focusing on negativity makes me less productive and unmotivated but finding things big and small to be grateful for makes it easier.

I also loved these tips from the Huffington Post and Eyla for how to stop complaining.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Instagram Weekend

We visit our local library every week and we finally (finally) got our girl her own library card.  We've already lost it 15 times since we picked it up because she refuses to let me put it in a safe place but she loves having it.  We've got a bookworm on our hands and we love it.
 Pigs are flying somewhere.  In between visits to the park, time with family and a lot of running around I actually took the time to take a nap.  Even when Lucia was a baby and I was exhausted and everyone told me to sleep when she sleeps I always found something that needed to be done.  These days my to-do list is longer than ever and my baby is a big girl (who mercifully still naps 2 to 3 hours a day) but when she went down for her afternoon sleeps on Saturday and Sunday I sat on the couch and for once didn't fight it when my eyes inevitably closed.  These days I feel like I spend my time day dreaming about my son and daughter together.  I plan to really enjoy these next few weeks (!!) of having an only child before we welcome a newborn and all the beautiful chaos that comes with a new arrival.  Here's a glimpse at our weekend via Instagram and I hope you have a great week ahead.  I'm really looking forward to Alt Summit in New York this week!  It's my first time going.

We both hit a rite of passage this weekend - I finally let her go up into this crazy jungle gym by herself and she conquered the "big slide" at last.  She was always afraid of it but I think she got a little extra courage from knowing that we trusted her up there by herself.  It resulted in about 30 consecutive trips up and down the steps and we were all thoroughly exhausted by the time we went home for lunch.

I will always love to make prints and I love having them in my home.  Stickygrams are one of my favorite ways to preserve memories - especially because their bite-size are perfect for tiny toddler hands.  She sits by the dishwasher every night and chooses a different photo and asks "do you remember this day, mommy?"  Here she's pointing to an instagram from a trip to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Last year at the beach on Father's Day.

Her ballet recital last week and her first trophy.  Processed with a couple of my favorite apps for iPhone.

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Friday, June 14, 2013


I've been in a decluttering mood lately.  Part of it is nesting and part of it is that I am just tired of having so much stuff every where.  This spring I donated or gave away more clothes than ever (most likely because I've spent the last three years hoarding and refusing to get rid of anything) and I'm starting to actually store home decor that I've been living with for years (that I can't quite part with yet) and actually shred papers that we will never, ever need again (like extremely old tax returns and student loan documents).  The next project/challenge will be making room for baby in our existing nursery without having to sacrifice too much of what my girl has and loves in there already.  I've also been spending more time trying to manage everything in anticipation of the birth of my new baby which has left little time for most other things including this blog.  I'm hoping that I can pick up the pace again and get back to doing what I love and that's sharing on this space.  In the meantime we're going to enjoy a quiet weekend where we actually have no plans but to relax at home in the city and spend time together - especially on Father's Day.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend where ever you are and here are some fun links from around the web.

Last week was the 15th anniversary of Sex and the City.  I still remember the first time I watched it and the anticipation waiting for a new episode every Sunday night!

The new VSCO Cam photo app is here!  And I just wrote about it in this post.  Read more about it on Cult of Mac.

I LOVE this site: The Moment Junkie.

I'm co-hosting a giveaway over on Glamamom where I'm a Contributing Editor.  It's an amazing HP printer valued at $199!  Go check it out.

Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg on the Business of Blogging.

Facetune will help make your portraits more flattering.

This Tumblr is so cool - Awesome People Reading. via Cup of Jo.

I'm of the opinion that these photographs are an invasion of privacy but some call them art. 

Are photography contests worthwhile or worthless?

I will be making this strawberry compote this weekend.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

HP’s Mom + Me Create Event {& Giveaway}

This post originally appeared on Glamamom where I'm a contributing editor.  Today we're teaming up with HP to giveaway an amazing printer.  Visit Glamamom here to learn more.


We love to craft at home.  I save every piece of tissue paper and wrapping paper imaginable and we use everything from popsicle sticks to paper plates for making art.  Recently I've also been printing photos from my iPhone and dslr on so we can make crafts with them - Lucia recently made a sweet collage using some pictures and lots and LOTS of glitter.  So when Jill told me about a special crafting event for grown-ups and kids at the Dwell Studio flagship in collaboration with HP printers there was no way I could turn it down. 

We headed to Soho and met with Christiane Lemieux, the talented designer and founder of Dwell Studio (I'm obsessed with everything there) who is also a mother of two, a few other moms and their kiddos.  We talked about creating fun projects using our photos printed with HP technology (we used the HP Photosmart 7520 e-All-in-One Printer) and then we got to printing and making "fun stuff" as dubbed by my almost-three-year-old.  The best part for me was printing quality images quickly, efficiently and wirelessly from my iPhone.  The best part for Lucia was all of it - taking the photos, watching them print, and then using them to make a cool coaster for her dad and a fun canvas tote with an iron-on picture of herself and her two besties (her cousins).  I'm really looking forward to using the printer to make more things at home and also to print photos for framing and scrapbooking.

We instantly printed this sweet photobooth picture from the event and used it to make a fun coaster. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Instagram Weekend

After a very rainy (torrential, actually) start to the weekend on Friday the sun came out and we spent every second we could outdoors.  We also celebrated my sister's birthday with the most unique surprise party ever planned by my ever-creative brother-in-law...a go at making paella with Chef Martinez inside David Bouley's Test Kitchen in Tribeca.  It was one of those New York experiences that I won't ever forget.  Finally, a laid-back barbeque with friends and the babies on the terrace on Sunday before the rain made an appearance today was exactly what we needed to top off an already nearly-perfect weekend.  I hope you had a good one and here are some photos via Instagram.

One of the things I miss while being pregnant (other than wine and sushi) is dressing up more often and heels.  I decided to rock the stilettos this weekend while I still can (in other words, while they still fit).  It's amazing how your look can instantly change your mood.  I'm all for it.  I'm obsessed with this *new* skirt from Zara that I definitely plan on wearing post-baby thanks to the new(ish) elastic waist trend. 

This was incredible.  So fun.

Me and my girl wearing matching denim jackets.

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