My RI Life: Very Stylish Working Mom Jen Collins
A Bit About Me
I'm a practically life long Rhode Islander (small stint in Houston from age 3 - 6, can't say I remember much). I'm a 41 year old married mother of 3 almost grown adults, ages 16, 18 and 20! Yikes!!! I have found a fabulous career in the challenging world of retail commission sales, as a Home Furnishings Consultant and Mattress Specialist at Raymour & Flanigan in Warwick. I love my job, despite working long hours, weekends, and holidays. I work with great people, and I get to meet new people everyday. Helping clients with their furnishing dilemmas is a fun challenge. (I'm good at solving puzzles.)
Because I work 45 - 50 hours a week, and have a husband, and children, it's easy to feel bogged down by the obligation of it all. My mission this year has been to enjoy, and explore, every available moment away from work. I needed greater work/life balance. (So) Housework is on the back burner this summer. Spending time with my family and adventuring through RI have been my top priorities. There are so many wonderful, local places I had never been.
This Summer's Favs
Fort Wetherill in Jamestown, or as I like to call it, my Hawaii. It's scenic and a bit secluded, and simply gorgeous. I went in late June and again in early July. Midweek is best, perfect for retail workers or introverts, as there are fewer people there to share the space with. Wear practical shoes, an ongoing challenge for me... there are better views if you can do a little climbing. If I knew how to meditate, this is where I would go.
Wickford Village, crazy that I'd never been! This year I went twice. The first time, I explored on my own and I swear I smiled the whole time. I enjoyed every inch of this quaint, historic town, from the cobblestone sidewalks, eclectic shops to the beautiful water views. Wickford hosts an annual art festival in July, that is worth the day trip from Cranston. There is a wide array of artistic medium displayed, truly something for everyone. If you are trying to park for free, you will end up driving forever in traffic, and begin to feel frustrated. Park in the first paid lot you see. It is well worth the $10!
The Audubon Society in Bristol is a great place to connect with nature. There is about a mile long walking path where you can spy birds, butterflies and marshland. I purchased a family pass on Groupon for like $14. My son and I went on one of the many beautiful days we've been lucky to get this summer, full of sun, blue skies and fluffy clouds.
Food And Restaurants
As a long time quasi vegetarian (I eat some fish), Garden Grille has been a great "go to" favorite. Can't go wrong with a Tofu BLT for lunch or one of their delicious seasonal salad for dinner. My favorite appetizer would be the bbq seitan. So yummy! Tastes like sweet, savory meat, but it's not. Seitan is made from wheat gluten, so if you have sensitivity to gluten, try the grilled sweet potatoes. It comes with a side of the same mouth watering bbq sauce.
Pizza is my love language, and Campanella's on Oaklawn Ave in Cranston, has my heart. My go to is a small, original crust pie with mushrooms, black olives and broccoli, with NO CHEESE. It sounds crazy, but really it's just crazy good. I could eat this particular pizza as dessert. It's that good!
Homemade fresh ice cream? Yes. Lemon ice cream?? YES! Went there, tried it, loved it. Dreaming about it ever since...
Beauty And Skincare
Rimmel Brow Pencil: I used to go threading to keep my brows in shape, but it hurt and I'd always put it off, because Ouch! So I was super excited when full brows became a trend. I hope it lasts forever. Instead of getting threaded, I bought a brow pencil and feathered in my now aging, sparse brows. At first I felt very conspicuous and Joan Crawford-esque, but I think I've got it now. I use brown/black on my black brows. Just use a light hand, and try not to draw them on. You don't want "angry eyes"!
Neutrogena Naturals Fresh Cleansing + Makeup Remover: I have very sensitive, acne prone skin. This cleanser is the only one that doesn't make me dry and itchy. I use it every night to wash my face. I then go over my eyes with a little bit of organic coconut oil on swab. Coconut oil is the best eye make up remover! It's quick, easy and non-irritating. LOVE.
Not Your Mother's Beach Babe: Fabulous texturizing sea salt spray, that has allowed me the give up the flat iron and embrace my slightly wavy hair. It has been a summer godsend! This product has made growing my hair out a whole lot easier. It's not heavy. Just spray on dry hair and scrunch it a bit. Easy peasy!
Style And Shopping
Gap: I've been a Gap girl since way back. It was the first credit card I got when I turned 18! They have fantastic sale pricing. I never pay retail for clothes, unless it's something I "need" immediately, or if I think it may not make it to sale because it's just that fab.
J. Jill: Or as my husband calls it, "the old lady store." Again, fantastic sales! And I don't think I ever look like an old lady. Don't wear matching tops and pants, and you'll be ok. They have great easy dresses, and sweaters. I buy my Born sandals and boots there as well.
I like simple clothing: jeans, tanks, dresses, sweaters, and sandals or boots. I adore accessories, especially jewelry, hats and totes.
Home Decor Tips
Play with color and texture: If you prefer neutral furnishings, add color to your walls or your accents. If you prefer a more monochromatic look, play with different fabrics and textures. Mix leather pieces with fabric pieces, and add some velvet, metallic, or faux fur. Play around and have fun. Spend your money on quality furnishings and get a deal on the accents. I've had fabulous luck at Target for pillows, curtains, lamps and frames.
Not everything has to match: Please mix up woods and color tones. By using different colors and grains you create warmth in a room. People sometimes hesitate to have more than one wood tone in a room. My advice - Step outside of your comfort zone. Your end tables do not need to match your cocktail table, and your floors, and your tv console, and the bookcase in another room!
Pick pieces you love: There are no rules. You define your style by what you chose to put in your home. There's no right way. Pick pieces that make you feel good. Your time at home should be relaxing and comfortable to you. It's your oasis. Make it such.
Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of Jen Collins, except for Garden Grille exterior and beauty products which were found on Google Images. Photos of Garden Grille interior and denim jeans were taken from the PattyJDotCom Instagram.