The Kind of Woman: Balance

For the second edition of The Kind of Woman, the series Jeanne of Shop Sweet Things and I launched last month, we decided to tackle an issue we have a feeling plagues most of you, as it most certainly is a challenge for us: BALANCE.*


There’s a lot of talk about balance out there these days. How we need it. How it’s the holy grail to happiness. How it will keep us young, fresh, friendly and amazingly zen. But as I sat {and sat and sat and sat} thinking about what advice I’d give about trying to achieve balance I realized: do I even understand what balance really means?

What is balance anyway?? In today’s world of doing everything all the time, how do you know balance when you see it? Do you need to achieve it everyday? How about every five years?? Sure, I see women I deeply admire who appear balanced all the time! Put together, successful, accomplished, multitasking, yet always with an outwardly cool, calm and collected demeanor. In my mind that is certainly the outward appearance of balance, but how are we to know what’s bubbling under the surface.


According to the Webster Dictionary definition balance is:“a state of equilibrium or equipoise or mental steadiness or emotion stability.” Now, I can confidently claim to have mental steadiness and relatively strong emotional stability {the husband might say differently}. But how do I measure everything else in my life to see if it’s all in fact equal? You know the list: family, friends, colleagues, spirituality, fitness, jobs, kids, dogs, the house, car, bills…I could go on – but all these things certainly aren’t all “equal?”

As I continued to ponder this notion, I found myself asking – why should I have an expectation or even a desire for everything to be equal? We simply cannot evenly divide time, attention and energy to everything in our swirling worlds. That’s just not physically possible. And I’ve decided that’s actually ok. I’m officially declaring that the first step toward achieving balance is recognizing its highly imperfect nature!

There will be times when you prioritize work {major projects, promotions, new positions or simply a desire to grow professionally}. Sure, in all likelihood you’ll experience some guilt for neglecting your partner/your/kids/your bestie, but it’s ok! If you. The fact that it happens is reality. It’s something that life requires. And if you take the time to communicate to your loved ones why you’re making the choices you are, they’re very likely to understand and support you! The key is to ensure you balance those intense periods where you are hyper focused on one aspect of your world with other periods where you reinvest in neglected areas. That could be relationships, your health, your mental state, your love of travel or your favorite pastime.


All this being said, it’s always good to reassess your current habits. There’s losing a bit of balance due to unique circumstances and then there’s just never setting priorities in the first place. If you feel like you have to do everything for everyone all the time, in all likelihood you’re going to let most people down, including yourself.

Here are few internal questions to consider:

> Are you letting those nagging deadlines interfere with a good dinner conversation?

> Are you secretly checking your phone while your kids are on the swing set?

> Are you skipping the gym or putting off a friend yet again to deal with work??

Those are all tale tell signs that it might be time for the pendulum to swing back a little bit.

I’m the first to call out that I’ve been in a phase of prioritzing my career…for quite some time now. I find incredible satisfaction in pushing myself to do more, do better and to constantly grow. But I’m also the first to admit that I can let the pendulm swing too far and I need to remember to stray from my to-do list once in awhile. If there were FIVE super simple, no brainer easy changes I’d add to my daily routine to create more “balanced” habits, they’d be:

> Call a friend or family member on my drive home every day- even if I just leave a voicemail

>Text one person a day to just let them know they’re on my mind

> Do 10 minutes of yoga in the morning

> Put the phone away after 9pm {no liking, hearting, tweeting or status updating – the cute baby videos will still be there the next morning}

> Spend 30 minutes reading something that is completely separate from the work on that interwebs that I do all day

And so, in the spirit of balance I’m publicly committing myself to achieving at least one of those five things every day for the next 30 days. See, I’m being balanced about it. Adding all five at once would just be too much pressure! While there may never be enough hours in the day and we may always say yes to too many things, I’m going to look for my balance in small, digestible moments of zen.

What do you think about balance? Is it a necessity? An unrealistic goal? How do you approach finding balance in your life? Be sure to head over to Shop Sweet Things to hear how Jeanne approaches the search for balance.

*I do think it’s fascinating how similarly Jeanne and I approached this topic in our posts. Please note, we did not discuss them before hand or compare notes until this morning! I find it incredibly fascinating and strangely reassuring to know we share similar struggles and concerns. 

original image for The Kind of Woman by Aubrie Pick // styled by Erin Hiemstra & Jeanne Chan // image 2 // image 3

5 Design Trends to Refresh Your Home for Fall

While the world is running around in their street style best enjoying the chaos of the concrete jungle, that is New York Fashion Week — we have other things on our mind. Fashion has always been a passion, but it will never stand in the way of our one, true, love: design. When asked to make a decision between recaps of the runway or sightings from the latest design showroom, it’s a no brainer: decor me, please! It’s why instead of chatting our favorite Spring 2015 moments — although, did you see the Tome and Suno show? Ok, how ‘bout Mara Hoffman? And dammit J Crew, I think you got us again. So good. But anywho. We’ve rounded up five design trends we’re loving for the new season!

Like Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, clusters of pendant lights are still going steady this season and are in fact H-O-T-T-E-R than ever. We love this high contrast matte black trio against an all white backdrop!


Marbleizing everything is everything right now! Since we trust you won’t be adding gorgeous slab counter tops to your world anytime soon, why not get a marble fix with smaller, more accessible accessories! These goodies {from H&M no less!} would pretty your fall table right up!


Gold cabinets. They’re not really trending, but they can be if you want them to be. And we want them to be…Is this even real life?


Sure, we’ve all got a sheep skin {or three, preferably Icelandic!} in our homes these days, but how about adding a furry little seat? Shearling stools seem to be having a moment. They’re popping up everywhere – even Nate Berkus has a version for Target! While we’re still not entirely sold on this one, a sassy little stool is certainly a fun way to add a twist to your space without making a major design commitment.


But we are all for adding a divan. Half bed, half couch, 100% chic. I’m stalking 1stdibs as I type.


And those my friends, are five fall design trends that will quickly catapult you to days of pumpkin spiced lattes and too much TV. It’s why we’re currently running, nay sprinting, {in our trending Normcore outfits!} all the way to the hardware store! —Bianca

image 1 via Norm Architects // 2 via // 3 by Brooke Holm via Vogue Living // 4 via // 5 via 

Getting in the Mood the Old Fashioned Way

We’re taking a poll. Who used to cut their favorite pages out of magazines and tack them onto their walls?? Guilty as charged. Oh how many Teen Beats I destroyed! Thankfully I moved onto Lucky, Domino and Elle Decor. Even just a couple of years ago I was still saving boxes of my favorite tears. But now we’ve all become wholly subsumed by Pinterest and the digital versions of our favorite glossies. It seems the old school moodboard has fallen by the way side and that makes me sad. There’s something so important that comes from the physical act of compiling your inspirations, moving them around until it suddenly just fits!


That’s why I purposefully/forcefully/willingly/excitedly created an area in our Team Apartment 34 office redesign for a physical moodboard because, really, nothing beats it! No matter what kind of photo shoot or project we’re prepping for, we always feel more focused once we go through the exercise of creating our board. It’s also a fabulous way to get our butts out of our chairs and our eyeballs away from the screen!

But in the days of digital everything, we have to get a little more creative with our creative process. You may remember this outfit we posted last month. Well, the inspiration came from the moodboard below! Despite popular belief, we don’t just throw on an outfit and snap a pic or two. Wardrobe styling is taken pretty seriously around here. We always start with a a general idea or theme, but we focus in on the final look based on our compilation of design spreads and fashion editorials. It can be a pattern, a mood, color palette or texture, light, or even typeface. The only qualification we have is that it must make us stop and say, “omg- obsessed.”


While we still pull objects, fabric swatches and yes, occasionally tear from a magazine, now we print out our favorite inspirations! You remember those things- printers? If you’re a visual person, we highly recommend adding one to your home office. We’ve been putting our Canon Pixma Pro to serious good use. The photo quality images it prints out – even of our pins – is just jaw dropping. There’s something so satisfying about getting things off of a screen and into your hands. That way you can mix, match, tack and tape to your heart’s content! You’ll be amazed at what new life images take on when actually on paper!


After we’ve amassed a good stack of prints comes the fun part: bringing everything together. If your brain hasn’t already done so, it definitely will start to detect patterns as you begin taking things from the printer and putting them up on you cork board, wall or office door. We have a wire grid from the hardware store {you could use chicken wire for a similar look!} that we spray painted white- it’s our favorite place to clip our printed images and it only cost about $7 to make!


Some of our favorite sources for inspiration boards include:

> Hit The Pavement: Go outside, walk around the block and pick up feathers, rocks or any other flotsam and jetsam that catches your eye

> Play Photog: Snap pics of cool architecture and patterns – to print out on your Canon Pixma Pro of course

> Swatch It Up: Go to your nearest fabric store for free swatches and to get your crafty brain gears in motion

> Print from Pinterest: Print out your fave pins to really bring your pinboards to life

> Scan Old Magazines: don’t forget those 1990′s Vogue issues- their pages are packed with forgotten inspo. If you don’t want to tear, scan and print, instead!

> Bobbles and Bits: scour your office or home for anything that jumps out at you- a necklace, handwritten note, the latest business card someone handed you, etc

Et voila! You have inspiration that not only helps you execute a creative project, but a process that also gets you through any creative rut that may come your way- that is until you’re ready to take it down and start all over again!

While we’ve been focused on mood boarding, after our crazy travel season we’re excited to use our Canon Pixma Pro in a ton of other ways! How fun would it be to print out travel photos we’ve already forgotten about? Need some quick art for your gallery wall? Why not create your own by printing out your very own Instagrams! They’d look stunning coming out of this printer. Really, the possibilities are quite endless.

What are some of your favorite sources for finding inspiration? We’d love to know!


original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick // styling by Bianca Sotelo 

This post is in partnership with Canon Pixma Pro. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting posts that keep Apartment 34′s doors open.