Happy 2018!

New Year, New Motto!

New Year, New Motto!

The last six weeks of 2017 were rough and I'm just now beginning to break through the fog. I'm still trying to wrap my head around everything that happened last year and plan on writing about the highlights, the low lights, and the lessons learned. But for now I'm going to focus on today and the year ahead.


New Years is a big deal for me, my mom, and Russians in general. There are many traditions to be followed and superstitions to be believed. How you welcome the new year is a reflection on how your year will pan out.

We rang in the new year with a small, but mighty, crowd. It was also the most sober celebration we've ever had, including the years when a handful of us were either pregnant or breastfeeding. This year most of us have been sick or injured in some form or another and the antibiotics, steroids, and pain medications prevented us from indulging in adult beverages. But that didn't stop us from having a good time.

My NYE kiss for the past 10 years! 

My NYE kiss for the past 10 years! 

Three generations. 

Three generations. 

My mom and I have a tradition of going shopping (specifically at Dillard's) on New Year's Day. They always have a one day sale and we make it out of there like bandits. We didn't this year. By the time we got there, the selections were meek and the lines long. So instead, Charlotte and I rode the escalator at Belk's a few times (her new favorite thing), I re-stocked on my favorite Clarin's face wash* at Nordstrom, and we indulged in burgushi at Cowfish for lunch. 

We drove back home to drop off the sleeping toddler (she stayed up till 11pm last night!) and then I drove to Concord Mills to make a couple of returns and check out a clearance rack (or five). 

I found a cute new workout tank* at Old Navy (they were all $7 today) and a gold belt* for everyday wear. I spent a total of $2.13 because I had $10 in credit card reward cash from Gap. I'm also very proud of myself for actually getting something for myself instead of the kid like I always do.


Anyways, here are some pictures from today and links to all the things.

(*All the product links below - and a few above - are affiliate which means I get a small kick back if you purchase something which helps pay the bills for running this blog.)


Charlotte made new friends while dancing outside of the Microsoft store at SouthPark Mall.

Shop Charlotte's look (exact and similar items linked):

Hair Clip (Janie & Jack) | Coat (Target) | Fleece Lined Leggings (Target) | Knee High Socks (Target) | Gold boots (Zara)

Meanwhile, I had total FOMO over the preteens' fuzzy over sized sweaters, leggings, and sparkly kicks. 

I was rocking high waisted denim, my favorite sweater, and booties (exact and similar items linked):

Oh, and here's all the gear you'll need for your next dance party:

An Xbox One + Xbox One Kinect Sensor + Just Dance 2018 for Xbox One = DANCE PARTY!


Speaking of FOMO, I'm already missing my lunch.


Loose leaf Jasmine tea is my favorite. So is sitting at the bar and trying to find the cowfish in the fish tank.


TNT Roll: spicy tuna, kani, avocado, and masago.


Charlotte's bento box included grilled chicken bites, apple slices, french fries, and a rice crispy sushi dessert.


What's Shakin' Tuna Bacon is my favorite burgushi sandwich! It's spicy and crunchy and oh so delicious. I got it with a side of seaweed salad because it's January 1st and I'm watching my figure (ha, not really!).

Also, I finally got a new phone (thanks, Santa!) so can we please take a moment and appreciate the beauty that is portrait mode on an iPhone 8+?


Mandatory kid on Cowfish picture. 



Party animal taking a power nap in the car, shop her favorite car nap items:


My Old Navy athletic top finds, starting at $7! (I got the first one in grapefruit.)

P.S. You can find the letter board used at the top of the post here.


What did you do for New Year this year? Do you have New Year traditions or superstitions?





The Daily Birch: Lately

"Life is going to get easier in the new year,"  I said to myself. "I'm going to have more time to blog, to take care of my self, and to get organized!" I excitedly thought to myself. 

Seven weeks in to 2017 and I finally started to put my plan together to achieve just that.


I spent the better half of December, and a good chunk of January, sick. By the time I started feeling better our house was overrun by the holidays, two months worth of clutter piled on top of already existing clutter, and unpacked boxes scattered around the house from our move in July. 

On a mid-January morning I woke up feeling claustrophobic and spent the whole week scrubbing, decluttering, and organizing the house. I had barely scratched the surface but I was finally able to breathe. 


Stop to snap the sunset. (February 10, 2017)

Stop to snap the sunset. (February 10, 2017)

Setting small habit forming goals has been my MO the past two months. Increasing water intake, decreasing alcohol consumption, spending more times outdoors, and hitting the gym have been helpful in reducing my anxiety. I can count on one hand the number of times I've felt crippling anxiety this year. Granted, there are daily stress inducing events but I've been able to handle them...for the most part.

My daily gratitude journal has been a blessing, specifically on days when it feels like nothing good happened. There are days when I don't want to reflect, I don't want to be grateful for anything, and all I want to do is just quit. But that's never an option and pushing through and finding ten things to be grateful for helped me end those bad days on a good note. Because let's be honest, I (and we) have a lot to be thankful for and we are truly blessed. Every bad day, and every challenge, makes us stronger and helps us handle the next day and the next challenge with new found strength. 


Finding time to blog again. :) 

Listening to minimalist moms podcast.

Learning to do more with less.

Reading Grace, Not Perfection. This book is helping me re-think the structure of my days and how I organize my life (family, friends, house, etc.). Highly recommend it!

Working on my consulting website and looking for my next digital marketing client! If you or someone you know needs help with digital and social media marketing strategy, content creation, and daily maintenance, let me know


What are your favorite life organizing books, podcasts, bloggers, worksheets, etc.?


The Daily Birch: Show Me Your Teeth

It was bound to happen sooner or later: the teething, the tantrums, and me going deaf in both ears from the screaming. At eleven months old, Charlotte's teeth are finally coming through. Four at the top and two at the bottom. All at the same time. Jesus, Take the Wheel. Or at the very least, make me a margarita and hold my hand.

Listening to Lady Gaga's "Teeth" because it's the right thing to do.

Watching a segment on Charlotte Today with Carrie Reinecke of Charlotte Parenting Solutions provide insight into tamper tantrums and how to properly handle your child when it happens. I had no idea that children throw tantrums because they're having a fight-or-flight reaction to an unknown (to them) emotion. I have always found emotional health riveting so I'm excited to dive further in and learning more about it. 

Eating two bowls of freshly made organic chicken soup and ramen from Futo Buta in SouthEnd. A little bummed that they up-charged me for extra spice without letting me know. Who charges extra for spice?! 

Drinking coffee, a mint mango smoothie, Wicked Weed's Pernicious IPA, and a tiny glass of water.

Dancing to LEN's Steal My Sunshine at Bulldog Beer & Wine in SouthEnd. 

Snapping an after hours dance party.

The last Thursday of the month is my favorite because it means I get to see my favorite people at #instabeerupclt. Tonight it was at Bulldog Beer & Wine and I won a bag full of swag. Pretty excited. Also, there were plenty of dogs for me to pet and friends to hug. A much needed evening out after dealing with a teething baby throwing tamper tantrums.


selfie with Elvis

selfie with Elvis

#instabeerupclt swag from Bulldog Beer & Wine

#instabeerupclt swag from Bulldog Beer & Wine

Tonkotsu Ramen from Futo Buta. FYI - if the server asks you if you want it spicy, there's a $1.00 up-charge.

Tonkotsu Ramen from Futo Buta. FYI - if the server asks you if you want it spicy, there's a $1.00 up-charge.

The Daily Birch: a New Kitchen Tool


Yesterday I tried to avoid a trip across town to Costco by going to Sam's Club near the house. We're out of formula for the baby and I'm pretty sure the pricing is similar at both stores. Great idea except I lost my Sam's Club card and was not able to find it last night. So this afternoon we trekked to South Charlotte. We went in for formula and walked out with a Vitamix. Oops.

In our defense, we have been in the market for one for over a year but have not been able to find a great deal. Until today.

It's exciting to have a new kitchen tool to not only break me out of a cooking rut but to also start making food for Charlotte. I've definitely been slacking on making baby food and now I have no excuses.

Researching baby food recipes, including ones specific to the Vitamix. 

Eating Bagel Bites, Whole Foods hot bar, spicy chicken with rhubarb and cucumber salsa. 

Drinking a vanilla sugar latte from Not Just Coffee, a giant water from Whole Foods, and rose. 

Dreaming about going to bed early. 

Checking out a house in Harrisburg and crunching numbers before making an offer. It a great house in a great neighborhood that meets most of our needs and majority of our wants. The catch? It's a distress sale (similar to a short sale) and has not been occupied for four years, aesthetically it is stuck in 1994, and we fear there may be a possibility of mold. 

Killing mosquitoes with my bare hands. 

Taking allergy meds. Is allergy season over yet?

Blogging twice in one day.

Snapping the baby refusing to eat and using her car seat as a jungle gym.


Glazed chicken breast topped with rhubarb salsa, served with rice.

Glazed chicken breast topped with rhubarb salsa, served with rice.

The Daily Birch: Thoughts on Mom Brain

There comes a time when one has to come to terms that they will never get everything done on their to do list. I have a hard time doing so but then I remind myself that there was a time, back in my corporate ladder climbing days, when my to-do list was five to ten pages long. What I learned then, and apply to my life now, is that the most important things always get done and everything else is just extra and mostly unnecessary. It's all about focus.

Today I felt less overwhelmed and more accomplished. It also helped that the baby was in good spirits, stuck to her feeding and napping schedules, and was okay with playing by herself for stretches of time.

Walking 7250 steps without leaving the house. 

Decluttering the dinning room so that I can set up a temporary office downstairs, near the play room, and missing my office upstairs. However, this new set up will allow me to increase my output while spending time with Charlotte so it's win-win-meh (meh referring to the uncomfortable dinning room chairs).

Wrapping a gift for my brother and sister in-law's baby girl. 

Listening to Kasey Musgraves. I went to her concert last Friday and I really enjoyed the show, her music, and the company I was with.


patio life at Common Market: bottle of sparkling rose, pimento grilled cheese sandwich, and great friends.

patio life at Common Market: bottle of sparkling rose, pimento grilled cheese sandwich, and great friends.

sparkling rose at Common Market in SouthEnd

sparkling rose at Common Market in SouthEnd

Kasey Musgraves @ Amos SouthEnd in Charlotte, NC (April 15, 2016)

Kasey Musgraves @ Amos SouthEnd in Charlotte, NC (April 15, 2016)


Eating leftover Indian food...from Tuesday. Take out pho from Pho Real. Popcorn seasoned with cayenne pepper and truffle salt.

Watching season two of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Comedy gold. Joshua Jackson's Pacey rant was top notch. 

Working on a survey for my client. 

Excited about my new bright yellow pajamas that I bought at Gap earlier this week. I have been purging my closet this year and have removed a ton of old t-shirts that I have been sleeping in for decades. Some shirts dating back to middle school. Wearing coordinated pajamas makes me feel more like an adult. 

Writing a list and checking it twice because sometimes I get the case of "mom brain" and need to write out a timeline for the day. We have to be in Taylorsville by 11:30 tomorrow for a baby shower with a pit stop at Target. The goal is to be on time, with a stretch goal of being ten minutes early. Coordinating my morning routine with the baby's napping and eating schedules can some times be a challenge but I think I've got a great plan! 

Speaking of mom brain, I believe that it is a real thing but hate using the term. I feel like it allows society to discount women's abilities to contribute in the work place, or anything for that matter, and leads to more discrimination. And we all know we deal with enough as it is.


Face swapping with myself from nine years ago. Dear youth, I'm sorry for not appreciating you more.

The Daily Birch: Flower Crowns

"Did you read my post?"

"Yeah, I did. Do you think you'll be able to keep up with it?"

"I know there will be days that I miss and I'm okay with that. I just want... no, I need to write."



Mondays are always a little crazy and the past three have been a little more so than usual. The baby is taking swimming classes at the local Y and we have what feels like a 12 hour day before noon. Thankfully, she takes a two to three hour nap when we get home, allowing me to tackle client work and make a plan for the week. 

Writing pen to paper, planning Daily Birch posts. Feels good. Really really good.

Editing GoPro videos of Char's swimming classes. The one from last week is a classic.

Reading Harper's Bazaar's March 2016 issue, the one that started it all

Following #SMMW16 and experiencing major FOMO. 

Buying items for baby's first birthday party and gifts for her soon-to-be-born first cousin. IKEA on a weekday afternoon is my favorite. 

Visiting the local park on a beautiful day is quickly becoming our favorite thing. We took the baby to swing on a swing before eating an early dinner at Three Monkey's, our favorite neighborhood bar in Harrisburg. We each got a side salad and split an order of hot wings and sweet potato fries. Delicious. 

Tonight I watched Sia's performance at Coachella. I enjoy her music but have never listened to her whole album. She's impressive. The dancers are impressive. She definitely has a new fan after tonight. Speaking of Coachella, I've been researching this year's fashion statements. The event sets trends for the remainder of festival season and it's important for me to be in the know for one of my clients. It's all so fascinating. 

Overall, not bad for a Monday.


Baby is ready for Coachella with this flower headband. #flowercrown

Baby is ready for Coachella with this flower headband. #flowercrown






The Daily Birch: Planting the Seed

I miss writing, yet I seem to never be able to find time to write. I also feel like this is a sentence I write quite often and then nothing happens from it.

Once upon a time I had a LiveJournal. It was a long long time ago. And I made it a point to write every single day, no matter what. Making it part of my daily routine helped it be a successful endeavor. It also left me with a glimpse into my personal growth and a cringe worthy look into my past. 

My phone died last night before my nightly social media routine. Instead of being a slave to the short cord and mindless scrolling, I grabbed a magazine and let my fingers wonder through the pages. The mental block disappeared immediately and ideas started to flow freely. I realized that the only way to get Birch Collective off of the launch pad was to start writing. Everyday. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it does have to happen.

And so The Daily Birch was born. A daily collection of my thoughts, events, eats, and so much more. 

I haven't been this excited in a while and look forward to showing you a daily glimpse into my life.