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So excited as I type this post… keep reading, you’ll know why.

As much as I enjoy decorating our house and doing little makeovers to rooms, moving things around, adding little pieces that I come across – the foyer for some reason always remained neglected. May be because it is such a small space and ofcourse not one where we spend any time per say. All these years, we’ve had a basic console table and a chair that I found from an antique store in Cape Cod many-many years ago. And this little setup was functional. But then recently, Pottery Barn Apartments ( yup! Pottery Barn *imagine me saying it with big wide eyes, big hands and a big smile* )  reached out to me and gave me a very fun challenge – decorate a small space – make it functional and stylish!

Hmmm – that sounds fun, let’s do it!

The jute chair caught my eye and set the tone for everything else that I picked. Since our foyer opens up into the dining room, the rug was a nice addition to have the two rooms flow into each other. If you know me – you know I love adding fake plants in every room of the house. The pop of green brightens up the space and lends it a nice, natural vibe. The hanging plants are old and we’ve had the home and love frames for years. I was unsure of the candle-stand initially when I ordered it, but then after I put it on the console table, I love how the wooden finish goes well with the other jute pieces, especially those cute baskets.

It’s a small space but as usual the process of looking for ideas, browsing magazines and online archives, picking pieces, shopping for decor, arranging-re-arranging, is so much fun. Almost therapeutic and makes me so happy to see the facelift of this space that I never bothered decorating.

I have collected some ginger jars from antique stores over the years, once Zoe is old enough to not knock them down, I plan on bringing those out and arranging them on the table as well. And now, I cant wait to give the foyer touches with fall and holiday decor ! xo Neha

 

A huge Thank You to Pottery Barn Apartment for partnering on this post. I have been a fan of the brand since years, so it was an honor to be thought of. I hope you loved this space reveal too and thank you for all your love and support on these fun, creative projects that I share here. 

 

 

 

 

 

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All you need to know about traveling with toddlers on a LONG flight

Well, hello there! Long time – no see – no read! Things have been a little slow here and it has been quite a while since the last post. The reality is, I was back home in Bombay in the last month. And it isn’t that I was just geographically far from Boston but mentally too. Checked out completely. During my time away, there were a few ( actually many ) moments, where I was tempted to pick up my laptop and start writing. But I was focusing on my niente ( doing nothing in Italian ), focusing on taking a break, focusing on recharging.

And here I am. Back to Boston, my home, jetlagged, homesick and recharged! So much to talk about the trip, but let’s talk about the part that I was extremely nervous about. Traveling with a toddler on an 18 hour flight!  We’ve traveled to India before with Zoe, but then  she was just a 6 months old baby. Give them the boob or a bottle and its that simple. But traveling with a toddler is a COMPLETELY different ball game.

I was really terrified to put it mildly. Not so much for myself but for the fellow passengers. Active, loud, naughty, tantrum throwing everything that could be difficult to manage in an airplane, being enclosed in it for hours – is what a toddler is. My idea was to buy drinks for passengers around us if we couldn’t control our child. Hah! But let me tell you – it wasnt all that bad.

Here’s how we prepared and managed on the flight. For context – our total flight time was about 18 hours with a layover of about 4 hours in between two flights.

Seat Booking

Most seat bookings can be done up to 36 hours prior to the flight. Get to it the minute it seat booking opens up! Put an alarm for it if you need to. We picked aisle seats for all the legs of the journey.

We took a separate seat for Zoe ( although if you decide not to, kids under 2 can fly as an on lap child. ) Having a seat for her made it rather comfortable for all of us. Having the space was nice for her to stretch and sleep and also gave us the room to watch movies, eat with the trays out.

Entertainment

Keeping them entertained for a 1 hour car ride is challenging at times, imagine the preparation you have to do for such long flights.

Have the iPad ready with videos downloaded. Tip : YouTube subscription lets you download videos and have them available offline on the device. Use the iPad in intervals, like 20-30min and then take it out after a few hours.

Sticker and coloring activities also helped keep her busy. Just keep a couple crayons and some blank notebooks or coloring books. For stickers – Target has some non-pricey options and also these reusable sticker books work great.

The magnetic drawing board is another toy that we love and comes in handy during car-rides, flights.

I also made a trip to the dollar store prior to the trip and picked up some random knick-knacks and pulled them out like tricks from a magic bag every time she started to get a bit fussy.

Keep the snacks ready as entertainment as well. When they are getting fussy or bored, put a few crackers on the tray in front of them. And keep their favorite candy at hand too.

We also had some kids around us  and some sweet passengers, who dint mind the peek-a-boos and high-fiving games. Every little distraction helps pass time.

Walk around

Us, adults, we ourselves get fussy siting in the same place for a long time, I can’t even imagine how frustrating it must be for the kids to be stuck inside an airplane on the same seat for hours. Amit and I took turns walking around the plane.

Sleeping in the flight

The good part about our flight timing was that, both times they were night flights ( as are most flights to and from India ) So in the first leg of the journeys,  Zoe slept for good portions of the flight.

It was great – but that also means she barely slept in the second leg.

The BedBox by JetKids wasn’t allowed in our flight ( Air France ) , but if your flight allows it, it is a cool way to transform the seat into a bed. Since we couldn’t use it, we had her sleep across her seat and our laps. The BedBox still came in handy because I had stowed all her toys, coloring books, stickers, snacks, diaper changing stuff in it and had it under the seat for easy access. Basically all the things I might have to get up again and again for were in the BedBox.

Diaper Changes

Ahhh.. if there is one thing I hate about the flight trips is how small the bathrooms are, making diaper changing really difficult. But believe it or not anyway, those tiny flight toilets have changing tables.

Tip : don’t carry your entire diaper bag to the toilet, just the stuff you need because there is not enough place to have a bag in with you.

Food and Milk

I have a major aversion to flight food. I have seen and read way too many documentaries on the preparation and storage of this food and I cant bring myself to eat it. For Zoe, I carried crackers, bananas,  parathas ( Indian bread ), candy, biscuits, kids protein/cereal bars ( I like these ) and other things in small ziplocks.

For milk, these tetra packs worked perfectly. They don’t need to be refrigerated. For going through security, give yourself about 30 minutes extra because the milk will go through extra screening. They open one pack and screen it. ( Note : this has been my experience in all the trips. But I’ve read a couple of instances on online forums where some people weren’t allowed to carry the tertapacks.) Some airlines also have individual milk bottles that you can get from the airline staff, so that is always another option.

Keep a couple spoons, milk and water bottles with you in the carryon. These Dr. Brown cleaning wipes are my favorite for cleaning toys/milk bottles on the go.

Luggage

For carry-on luggage, we had 4 pieces with us. Organizing everything strategically helps so in the flight you dont have to get up again and again to pull stuff from overhead bins.

We had one carry-on bag between Amit and I for our stuff – extra set of clothes,toiletries, headphones, laptop, book to read on flight, etc.

For Zoe, I love this duffel bag with wheels and extra pockets to keep food, milk, change of clothes, extra diapers/wipes, blanket,, etc. Packing cubes really help in keeping things organized. Don’t forget to keep small laundry bag in your carry-on as well.

In addition, we had a diaper bag and had the BedBox in hopes of using it as a bed, but came in handy for toys and other stuff nevertheless.

Reality check. It’s not easy. Be prepared. Stay patient. It’s not that bad either.

All the naps, entertainment, chocolates don’t guarantee an easy trip . There were moments where she was fussy, especially when having to put the seat belt on. Tantrums when not wanting to play anymore and throwing the toy because … ummm toddler tantrums have no “because”. At one point, she threw her toy and it dropped on someone’s lap. And that person was fast asleep. Oops! the embarrassment. And ofcourse she wanted to go “outside” – which is her latest obsession. Ughh *eye roll* haha! Also, even if I had the entire food pantry in my carry-on – she barely ate through the flight. So the thing is, be prepared for the funny, annoying, embarrassing, tiring stuff. It’s going to be fine. And most importantly – please dont put off traveling because of the fear of how a flight trip might be.

Hope this helps. If you have any tips or stories to share, please do share them. We can all learn from each other’s experiences. xo Neha

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I wasn’t planning on doing a round-up of gift ideas, but then I got a few emails and messages on Instagram on what I was getting for Amit. Here are some of my favorite things – ones that I’ve either gifted in the past or those that Amit has hinted ( very openly ) for stuff that he’d love to get.

    • Oculus Virtual Reality Headset – I got this for Amit last Christmas and it is one of my favorite gifts that I’ve given Amit, because I probably play with it more than he does. It is the trendy thing that guys love having ( #eyeroll ) but also so much fun for anyone else.
    • Targeted Relief Foot and Calf Messager : We have this at home and trust me, it is one of the best “self-care” things you’ll ever purchase. After a long day, hard-core workout session, long trip or just to relax on a weekend – it is amazing. Infact, over the years – I’ve purchased this as a gift for close friends as well. Everyone loves it.
    • Apple Smart Watch : This is one of the most popular Father’s Day gift ideas. I personally don’t like smart watches – because it’ll be another thing in addition to my laptop and phone that I’ll be tempted to check/engage with all day. But I think, Amit is going to get one pretty soon. He loves these gadgety-things!
    •  Yeti tumbler and mug : It makes a statement at work walking into meetings and does a good job keeping the drinks warm. Can’t go wrong with either of these.

Other Ideas:

  • Car detailing gift certificate :  trust me, this will be very much appreciated.
  • Massage gift certificate : It’s a clichéd gift idea, but again – one that will be appreciated.
  • Personalized mug : A customized mug with a family pictures-college

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At the risk of giving away the climax of what I am going to say – let me start by saying that last night was tough. I broke down. It came from no where and I started crying. Hysterically.

Have you had a time where it feels like things are piling up, nothing seems to go right, the to do list is getting out of control and you seem to be adding more to it than checking off. I’ve been so overwhelmed with everything lately – just feeling that work is piling up, I haven’t been able to post to the blog which affects me a lot because it so much a part of my life and therapeutic to me when I write – so not being able to post makes stresses me out. And then the usual stuff – daily routine, kid, home, social stuff, ordering/shopping stuff for the home… all that.

And trust me – I know the whole break down what needs to be done thing. Manage time. Prioritize. One thing at a time. Delegate. But then some times it feels like a dam crashing and you are drowning. That’s what happened.

My mental checklist was exploding. I turned on my coffee machine for my cappuccino which you know is my version of self-care – I forgot to keep the coffee mug in the machine, the coffee came out creating a mess and seeping inside the machine and that’s what triggered it. I broke down!

Why am I sharing this.

  • not to get sympathy. Not at all. Ugh.  Major turn off for me anyway
  • Not to show how busy I am. Nope. Not delusional. I know that we all have million things on our plate

Because sometimes I get messages asking how I do it all. The truth is I don’t. Or I see people commenting “goals” on accounts. None of that is the whole picture. The social media life is such a curated version of a snapshot of our lives. My goal is to keep it real here.  And the reality is we all feel drowned, overwhelmed at times. And it is okay to cry it out. okay to take a break and start again. Okay to go to bed early and get some rest. Okay to soak in the tub, put on a mask, sit down and drink your coffee. Okay to do whatever fills your cup again before you can pour from it.

Anyways I cried my eyes out. I went to bed right away. The next morning nothing miraculously changed. There weren’t any elves who magically completed everything on my list. My list is still the same. I still have a lot of work to do. But atleast my outburst, the sleep helped. What is important is admitting that I was drowning. The self-inflicted pressure to keep going and keep rocking at everything does no one any good. admitting things are falling through the cracks and you need to take a break is the right  start.

And as for a happy ending to this post –  My husband made me coffee after I created that big mess. Also cleaned up the machine. And I am here with my coffee again, with my favorite under-eye masks that seriously feel like they are soaking away the stress from my under-eyes and I am writing this post which actually makes me feel much-much better  =)) xx Neha

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The drives are long, when you cry in the car seat
But the years are short, soon you’ll be at the wheel not needing to hold my hand in the car,

The days are long, when work is piling and you are being clingy
But the years are short, and you’ll soon be typing away your own,

The kitchen is messy and cooking is hard when you want to be held
But the years are short and you’ll be rushing away from the dinner table to be with your friends,

The nights are long when you refuse to sleep and want to be rocked
But the years are short and you won’t need my lullabies anymore,

The times are tough when you are sick and it hurts so much to see you in pain
But the years are short, so let me not complain
For you’ll grow up soon and will fly away.

Let me hold on these hugs
Let me take away your pain
Cook and work with you on my lap
Rock you all night, Till you feel like yourself again

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When you see this picture – you probably think beautiful location, nice dress, lovely photo.

But, what you don’t see is …

the argument I had with my husband while we were taking this. I wanted a certain angle, a shadow play and he had a different vision about the capture. We weren’t just getting it. After about two hundred and eighty pictures of the same scene, more than an hour , a heated conversation, complaining, comparison, feeling like a failure – we left the place fuming. ( ofcourse I am not at all proud of this )

As we drove back home and my frustration started to wane – I started to realized how frivolous this was.  I had just had a fight over one photo!  I was so single-mindedly focused on one picture that the value of time had been circumvented!  Talk about narcissism and not valuing my or someone else’s time.

How is that a good reflection of what is shown in the square of Instagram? Is that one picture really worth the time dedicated to it, the negativity it caused, the feelings of self-doubt? The answer is No!

Now imagine someone dangling from a moving train in the name of content creation. Risking your life and those around for getting that Instagram photo – is that really worth it? It is becoming increasingly and scaringly common that people are attempting different kinds of stunts to create content to capture the attention of others. Standing on the rooftops of a skyscraper, in front of an oncoming train,  taking selfies on mountain tops! The drive is to get creative on the social media platform to get noticed and attempting stunts can be tempting – but the question is – where is the line drawn between creativity and irresponsibility.

“Influencers” are doing things in the name if creativity to gain likes and followers, and that is pushing people over the edge ( yes, pun intended ) I don’t think this can be regarded as being creative. and this is certainly NOT influence.

I keep going back to the point that being on social media comes with a responsibility. This era of selfies, obsessive posting on social media, incessant scrolling, narcissism, risk taking – is causing addiction, losing time, self-doubt, imitating instead of originality, unhealthy competition, depression. By putting something in the world you are “influencing” the person behind the screen to potentially attempt the same thing. People don’t see the back story behind that perfectly curated and heavily edited square. People don’t see the skill and numerous takes to capture a dangling off a train shot, the possibility of a team of people to support that stunt, the amount of photoshopping that might have been done for the picture to look effortless. But it will surely inspire someone to be in that very location and recreate that picture. I have been researching a lot about this culture, this trend of people wanting to take risks, trying to stand out with their dare-devil stunts, including during taking selfies – and the stats of things going wrong are sad and scary.

What can we do about not propelling this culture. Don’t be a part of it. Remember, it is okay to not take a selfie or capture and share every moment. Don’t like or share things that you don’t believe in and wont want to pass on to the next generation. Value life! Value time. Value your mental and emotional self.  Put things in perspective. Think about how much is a piece of content you share really worth?

Why am I writing all this? Because it riles me up to see influence being regarded in this irresponsible way. I strive to ( atleast that’s my goal ) take the responsibility of using the platform responsibly. To not be part of or encourage risky behavior or in general, behavior that I don’t believe in. And with the hope that this inspires you to also think about what is the value of social media in your life, what a photo is worth. As a mother, I constantly think about where social media will be when my child is using it. And that itself is a good reminder to me about what really is the worth of an Instagram photo and the responsibility we owe to ourselves, the era today and the generation to come.

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Love Playing Dressup by Neha Gandhi - 2M ago

Last month, we took a trip to New York. The city holds such a special place in my heart – mainly because it reminds me so much of Bombay, the city where I grew up. The energy, the people, the fast pace of life  – all of it is so invigorating. Amit and I have been to New York so many times over the years, yet each time the idea of going to the city gets me excited. I had been dying to take Zoe to New York and experience the city with her,  to do things that Amit and I love about New York and share those with her.

I am so happy that the weather was on our side while we were there – it was the perfect light jacket kind of spring weather. We had a fabulous time, ate our heart out, walked around a lot and Zoe had a blast. She would scream “taxxxiiii” every time she saw a yellow cab. She loved watching the people, the cars, the trucks and would call out aunty or uncle to random people on the streets. And wanted to go pet every dog or chase the pigeons in the park.

// Where we stayed

We stayed at the Langham, New York. The location is perfect – right on fifth ave, close to the places we were planning to visit and with so many restaurants around. The view from our room was so quintessential  New York – it was unbelievable. One night after Zoe went to bed, we ordered food, opened a few wine bottles, watched Game of Thrones and then later sat there by the window doing our own things – watching the city, the people, the lights, the life of the city at 2am. I was on my laptop writing  and couldn’t help but feel a little a bit of  Carrie Bradshaw-esque.

// Fun things we did 

This trip was different from our previous trips since we were doing it with an 18 month old. We planned our days, activities t0 do, places to go to – accounting for walking around with a toddler, considering either of us might have to carry her at times, account for afternoon naps.

We spent almost half a day at Central Park, walking and running ( behind her ), chasing pigeons and squirrels. We went to Times Square pretty late one night, almost around 11pm. Zoe was fast asleep by then – so we just bundled her up and put her in the stroller. Once we were there, I just had this idea that I wanted to get a family picture here – well I woke her up. Once she was up – we also went to the M&M store ( her current favorite candy! ) and filled our custom M&M bags.

Inspite of having being to the city so many times, I had never been to the New York Public Library. I was blown away. The architecture, the shiny marble staircase, the reading room, the book collection !

Other than that, it was just mainly walking around – mostly from one restaurant  to another.

//Now the exciting part – Places to eat 

Kati Roll company – finding Indian street food at 2am is something I do not take lightly =))

La Maison Du Chocolat – This Parisian cafe is tucked inside Rockefeller Center and had the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.

Friedman’s – a perfect brunch spot. ( put your name on the wait list if going on a weekend ) One of the best pancakes I’ve ever had. And very lovely staff.

Chennai Garden – loved the south indian food here. Infact, Curry Hill, the neighborhood in New York is Indian Food Paradise.

Spice Symphony – Ahhh how do I say this without drooling – Indo-chinese !!! I love The Indian flavored chinese cuisine and this place really made me happy. We ordered takeout from here and I packed extra to take some back with me to Boston as well. Manchurian, hakka noodles, paneer schezwan – just go ahead and order everything!

Ralph’s Cafe – This cafe inside the Ralph Lauren store is an Instagrammer’s delight. They opened a new location – go here for the decor and the coffee art.

Hole in the wall Pizza shops –  a slice of hot New York Pizza while you are walking down the streets is so New York that you have to do it even if you don’t like Pizza. But if you don’t like pizza, I don’t know if we can be friends =)) Thankfully Zoe shares our love for pizza !

Halal guys – I am a vegetarian but Amit loves his chicken and he made me add this to the list, because he could just go to New York for this!

As with each time I go to New York, cant wait to go back!   xx Neha

Outfit details

Black ruffles dress
Blue maxi, white belt
Green blazer
Basket bag

Comfortable shoes to walk around New York in 

Zoe’s dresses : cherry print smocked dress, colorful tulle frock

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This series is quickly becoming a popular read which makes me excited to sit down at the end of the month and pen everything down.

Well technically, we are a week into May but on that note, it doesn’t quite feel like Spring yet. It has been very rainy and cold and I am now just hoping that summer sets in sooner. Spring – you may be skipped!

April was all in all a very busy month – workwise and also on the blog front. But the most exciting thing was our trip to New York. More to come on that – I will be doing a full recap post about our trip. A lot of you have asked for it. For now, lets start with the round-ups …

//Lovepop cards

I was so excited when Lovepop reached out to me to share some of their beautiful cards for Mother’s Day. It is a brand that has been popularized by Shark Tank and their success is well deserved – the cards are simply unique. I shared some of my favorite designs on Instagram.

// Book – One Day in December  

I am trying to get back to reading books and hoping to do atleast one book a month. This book is such a sweet, romantic novel – almost like a holiday movie. Definitely recommend it if you are looking for an easy-breezy and feel-good read.

//Podcasts 

Ahhh SO many this month. My work commute is long but I can’t complain. I listened to a LOT of podcasts last month – some that I absolutely loved but there were also some very disappointing ones. I am a sucker for good content and really get upset if I have picked something that sounds interesting but doesn’t live up to delivering. Time is an important asset – which I hate to give away to bad content. ( don’t you feel that way when sitting inside a theatre watching a horribly made movie? ughh! ) The ones that were definitely worth the time –

– Super Soul Conversation : The interview of Melinda Gates by Oprah

Melinda Gates talks about the work they do to empower women, transformation improvements in the health and prosperity of communities around the world. About how to raise children to understand the importance of money and ambition and how does it look like raising kids in extremely affluent households.

– Ted Radio Hour : Failure is an Option

Some very good examples talking about how failure is okay, and makes us smarter and stronger when on the path to success.

– The Ikonns : Building a Positive Mindset

When I asked for recommendations on Instagram for podcast shows – quite a few came in for the Ikonns podcast. I’ve been following the couple, Mimi and Alex Ikonn for a while on Instagram and have always loved reading about their journey and the perspective towards life. This is a nice episode where they talk about gratitude, visualization and persistence.

– Harvard Business Review – Women at Work : Step into the Spotlight

Talks about viability for women in the workplace. Do women have to make sacrifices, have to take a step back at times to manage family responsibilities, on how to find balance, ways to make yourself seen – a very good conversation.

//Moroccan Oil

OMG – love at first drop. I am obsessed with two things about this oil : one – how it makes my hair feel and second – the smell! I’ve been using it on and off since last few months and wanted to write about it about getting a good sense of it. How I use it : after a hair wash and air drying my hair ( or with a hair dryer if in a hurry ) – I take a few drops in my palms and rub it gently in my hair. It smoothens out any frizz and the hair feels really-really soft. Plus – did I mention it smells amazing!

//Shopping Finds 

– these colorful tassel earrings from Target

– and the perfect lavender summer dress to wear them with

– pearl accessories are having such a fashion moment lately, I ordered this white pearl beaded handbag. It will be on repeat through the summer

– these pearl hair clips are popping all over on my Instagram feed

– I wore this blue flowy maxi in New York and got so many compliments from strangers on the streets

– I am very skeptical of ordering clothes from Amazon, but this sheath dress from Calvin Klein looks amazing and will be so perfect for office

//Home Office

Incase you missed it – a tour of my home office. The contemporary desk from Raymour and Flanigan is such a statement piece.

What are some of your recent favorites?

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Can you believe that this is a section of an awkwardly positioned room in our basement? Nope, right? I couldn’t have either =))

Let’s back up for a second. I had a room, an actual room that used to be my home office / workspace/ a room where I would put my head down and get some work done because if I sit on the couch and work, I end up getting distracted by house chores and TV and everything else that is not work. But that room has been surrendered to Zoe and her toys and I like it that way, because I can actually close a door and leave the mess unseen versus having everything strewn in our living room. Having said that, I still wanted to have a dedicated space to work. On days that I work from home and if Zoe is home too from school, then it helps having a secluded space to take meetings and focus.

There was an obvious challenge here to utilize the space and make it functional. There is no natural light coming in. As I type this, I realize that these are definitely first world problems – huh! =)) But, anyway – now that my time has been invested in figuring out a solution for challenge to make something good out of the unused space – here are the three main tricks that I leaned towards :

  1. choosing white pieces to make the room white and spacious
  2. adding some green using plants to liven up the space
  3. keeping the whole decor minimal and simple

The rug and the faux-marble are actually what tie the space really together. The rug is from Raymour and Flanigan and it has a tiled look which definitely elevates the room. We loved doing the wall makeover using peel and stick wall-paper.

A sleek corner bookcase is piece that could easily be added in any room. I have a lot of books and each room in our house has a bookcase. This one doesn’t use a lot of space and is fun to play with different accents.

I picked the vintage flair chairs to bring in some color and I love the green tone since I plan to keep a few faux plants in here. Aside from the fact there is no natural light in here, I cant seem to keep any plants alive anyway, so faux plants are my real friends.

The writing desk is such a statement piece. It has a contemporary design, with movable sections that can be arranged in different ways if you are feeling creative and the glossy white finish is exactly what I was talking about. The white glove delivery and setup service always helps because of the flexible delivery schedule and you having to do literally no setup. The delivery guys were so nice to help me try arranging the table in different ways ( I was originally thinking of keeping the table against the wall ) and playing with the sections.

The frame I used on the wall is old but Raymour & Flanigan has a nice collection of wall decor. The overhead lamp is the one we had in our master bedroom ( see the master bedroom tour here ) but wasn’t getting used a lot and what better place to put it to use where I could use more light and some overhead drama!

I am very happy with how the finished space looks. It was such a bare, basement-y section that was getting piled up with boxes and clutter, so it makes me really happy to transform it into something so fun and functional.

Here are all the pieces I’ve used and I have also linked details of my outfit below.

My outfit :

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Camari Area Rug
Shiori Writing Desk
Vintage Flair Chair
Corner bookcase
Peel and stick wallpaper

A huge thank you to Raymour & Flanigan for partnering on this post. It is a brand that I truly love and have shopped with over the years. 
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What a last few days it has been. My blog was hacked last Friday and it was an extremely stressful 12 hours that we had. 12 hours probably dont sound like much but the thought that I would lose everything that I had ever written was extremely nerve-racking.

I was at work on Friday when I got a DM ( direct message ) on Instagram from a reader that she wasn’t able to access my daily make up post ( this one  ) that I had shared and that the link she had bookmarked was getting redirected. Surprised at that, I tried going to the site from my phone. I was getting redirected to a spam site from the home page itself. I tried from my laptop – same thing but site redirected to a different spam site.

I frantically called Amit, he dint answer, texted him – Blog has been HACKED. He was driving when he saw my message ( another issue for another time  – but can we just establish that no reading texts while driving please !! ) Anyway, he called me back and told me that he’ll look into it after reaching home. I think his calmness threw me in an angry spiral. I mean – here I am frantic and panicking and he is – hacked? umm no big deal. Ughh!

We got Zoe into bed a little early and then sat down troubleshooting the hack. We are both computer engineers and have built the site ourselves – so we know most of the back-end stuff of the website. Going back to the topic of me worried about losing my content – in reality that wouldn’t happen because I have my content backed-up every single day so restoring was anyways an option. Yet I was in panic mode and as a complete contrast – Amit was calm and composed and working towards a solution. Eventually somewhere past midnight, we were able to nail down the issue, had our technical team scrape out the virus and put additional ( tighter) security in place to prevent anything like this happening again.

But the real thing to share here is not about the hack, not the vulnerability of the site or the fear of losing everything I had written ( kill me first if that happens! ) – but the calmness, the optimism that makes us see through the stressful moments.

I have to really work hard to be optimistic. When I am spiraling down in negativity in a tough situation, I have to remind myself to think positively, to pull myself out of the sinking hole that a negative mind can be. Contrary to which, Amit is a beacon of optimism when my world becomes blurry and my fears border on pessimism. He doesn’t have to work towards being optimistic, it is something that comes naturally to him. Like second nature, as if his mind is wired that way. 

Let me give you an example. Have you the seen the show The Office? I was having a bad few days, everything seemed to be falling apart, a project that I was working on wasn’t making me happy, I wasn’t feeling like I was shining in it and quite honestly – I was feeling like a failure. As much as I’d hate ti admit it, I was going into a state of self pity. The feeling that I wasnt good at anything was all-consuming. One evening, as I was sitting in front of the TV flipping through – a re-run of an episodes of The Office came on – where Pam ( a female protagonist of the show ) doesn’t do good at the art exhibition that she was really passionate about. Watching that triggered something in me and I broke down crying hysterically that I was Pam – failing! And to that, Amit said something that remains forever etched in my mind. He reminded me of the episode where Pam recognized an opportunity at her workplace and quite literally created a job, a title and a salary for herself and turned things around. He said that she could either have sulked, engaged into self-pity or she could have found a way to turn things around. ( Sorry I know this probably doesn’t make sense if you haven’t seen the show)

Then a week later, things took a turn and not only I was doing a different project but was in a completely different, brand new, much amazing role. I know this sounds like a classic movie where miracles happen and you are rescued and an amazing things falls into your lap. That’s NOT what happened here. What happened was that that example of the fictional show, a metamorphic positive story gave me a fresh perspective on the crisis I was going through. It made me think through what I wanted, helped me understand was the positive side of that not-so-happy situation and stay attuned to opportunities to turn that around! Riling in sadness and pessimism wouldn’t have helped. 

And with that – here I am. The blog is back up and running. And I understand that I still have a long way to go in ingraining optimism into my being, and that I will have to work 10X harder at staying calm and positive when things get tough – but I try and when I am not doing such a good job at it – I have my husband to show me the light. And for that – I am eternally grateful. xo Neha

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