27 Sep


Like most people I have been tirelessly chasing “my thing” since I was old enough to realize when my mom said I could be anything, she didn’t mean a mermaid…except THIS

And recently I had a revelation, which I shared over at Stratejoy. The thing I’ve realized as part of this magical year-long journey with Elevate is that maybe we’re not destined to do just one thing. Also I firmly believe we’re not meant to be just one “who”. Because that would be boring.

No. Life is not meant to be lived in a plotted line. You’re not meant to reach upward, upward, then hit this point of revelation of “Ah ha! This is it!” then just stay the course. Life is meant to be messy. Have ups and downs, moments of speeding light years ahead and sometimes looping back and rediscovering a forgotten joy. Life is meant to live in circles. It’s why I started this blog. A Circular Life has always been about discovering and journeying. It’s been about embracing my present state, while not being afraid to simultaneously explore in all directions. The heart of A Circular Life has always been to serve as a reminder for me to never lose contact with the little girl I used to be. The one who is still very much a part of me. She’s the one twirling. Singing. Staring in awe big sparkling eyes at each new wonder as she plots how to make magic happen. She’s the one I answer to, because she keeps it real. She keeps me honest with myself and what I need vs. what I feel I should be doing. She whispers to my soul the secrets that remind me to reach for who I want to become.

Throughout life I have tended to take the sensible route. In pursuit of the most practical decisions. Want to be a Mermaid? Too bad. Maybe a Marine Biologist? But how would I be successful? How would I provide for a family? Business. That is the way of viable success.

But now as I look at the sweet, sleeping face of my baby girl, I can’t help but admit I’ve been living fear and not toward fear. The difference is letting fear push me. It means choosing the safe path. Making decisions based on comfort and financial obligation. More obligation, less passion. Less joy. Living toward fear is to step up and claim my dreams. To not feel selfish for spending my energy to make life magical. To make life extraordinary.

That is what I want for my baby girl. A Life Extraordinary. I want her to dream big dreams. Chase sparkles. Live her life comfortable being with the fear. The kind of fear that comes from being connected to your soul and listening, really listening to its calling. The kind of fear that allows her to follow her heart even when she doesn’t see the end goal. Because I don’t want her to live life in a line. I want her to live it in circles, with the promise of adventure beyond the horizon. Just as Columbus knew the world wasn’t flat and paradise might just be found if he could sail “off the edge”. I want her to dive into the unknown.

To raise our little Shimpress with the confidence to live in circles, I have to step up to my own fears though. I have to make my own magic. So here it is. Out in the universe just as it’s been secretly inside me these last number of years. The fear I am following is acting.

My life extraordinary is as an actress.

As with the other circles of life, I’ll be sharing tidbits of the journey among the wedding, baby, fashion, soap box moments of this blog. I’ll be sharing my sparkles hoping that it might just encourage you to follow your fear too.


A Shrimpress Story

26 Aug

This is the story of how my heart exploded.

Bucket List

On May 17, 2014 Zee Hubs and I paced around the apartment counting contractions. We snacked on what we expected to be the last “real food” for the weekend, tried to bide our time with a movie and counted…minutes….seconds….contractions.

Contractions had actually started on Thursday when our doctor had informed me I was already 6 cm. dilated (DOUBLING DOWN from last week’s 3 cm.). Zee Hubs had canceled the conference he was supposed to speak at in San Diego under the knowing proclamation that she’d be seeing us later that afternoon. But that afternoon came and went and though the contractions were technically in the holy grail of the 5:1 ratio they didn’t seem to “hurt the way I thought they should”. So we tried to sleep through the night, which meant Zee Hubs snored away while I awoke every few min. with each sharp jab in the gut.

Friday was not much different except the pain had increased and I was frantically trying to wrap up projects at work that I’d thought I’d have at least another week to finish based on her revised due date of May 23rd. Turns out the German genes are strong with this one, as she chose to stick to her original ETA. Friday night I was a bundle of nerves. While Zee Hubs slept, I was beyond able to sleep with regular contractions so I finished packing the hospital bag, bounced on the exercise ball, took a bubble bath and to Instagram (See Also: Without my husband I’d probably have ended up delivering at home with my insane avoidance of any form of doctor).


But Saturday sh*t got real. The pain was escalating, but more than that was receiving very good advice from a friend that if I waited too long I might be too exhausted to push from lack of sleep. #truth

So being the good German he is, Zee Hubs declared the game plan would be to go in at noon unless my water broke any earlier.


Surreal is willingly going somewhere knowing that your life will be irrevocably different when you return.


My water hadn’t broke by itself, and I was slightly terrified that if I waited too long the baby would end up being delivered sans epidural because SIX CENTIMETERS you guys! So we checked ourselves in with excitement, dread, impatience and all the oh-my-gosh-this-is-happening feelings.

As Lilibean took her sweet time making her way to the world we decided to have the doctor break my water if it got much later. At 6 PM she was still playing “not touching, I’m not touching” with that last barrier keeping her safely swimming in her little amniotic pool. This barrier being insignificant in size, yet paramount as the only thing separating me from pregnancy and mamahood. Game on.

After the doctor broke my water all fears of water breaking in public or on our new king sized bed were realized – Holy Old Faithful! With every contraction a new gush of “Lili’s pool” flooded out. Along with it was the sudden pain of full on contractions, which seemed to go from zero to ONE HUNDRED immediately. The nurse knowingly smiled as she noted, “now it feel like a real 7 on that pain scale, huh?” – I stabbed her repeatedly with my eyes.

At this point I was playing how-long-can-I-last-without-an-epidural, while Zee Hubs looked at my face and made the decision.

Not long. The answer was not long at all.

Again I am reminded that without him I am pretty sure I would be dead somewhere for my crazy anti-medical ways.

The epidural was pure bliss delivered from a saint. And basically if any of you are med students you should just go ahead and become an anesthesiologist, because you will be reminded every day of how you are God’s gift to Earth from sweaty beaming, crazy-eyed gracious mamas-to-be.

{Warning to all future mamas when they say the epidural will take about an hour to kick in they are not messing around. Plan accordingly.}

By the time the pure, liquid gold epidural kicked in I was swept away to a beautiful land of sparkles and unicorns bouncing around on pink puffs of heart-shaped, cotton candy clouds. Having never done any form of drugs previously, this may have just proven to become my gateway experience (I kid. I kid.). But pink, sparkly dreams were interrupted when the doctor swung by to see when she’d have to come back that night. Turns out life without her pool was decidedly less fun and Lilibean wanted to join the cool crowd. With plans to come back later canceled, the nurses prepped us for pushing.

Around 8 PM I started pushing. With Zee Hubs dishing out ice chips and supporting my back, I followed the nurse and doctor’s requests to bear down and push for the count of ten. This is where I would like to say all my exercises with the epi-no truly paid for its outrageous shipping and handling cost. This is not the case.

After thirty minutes the doctor may or may not have caught on that sometimes I didn’t push for the whole 10 seconds (HEY! I WAS EXHAUSTED AND THE DRUGS PROMISED SWEET, GLORIOUS SLEEP). They asked if I’d like to have a mirror brought in to see the baby’s head. Rational me said “Hells to the no”. Unfortunately drugged up me was much more assertive and convincing, so by the next contraction I was peeping at the perfect circle of Liliana’s little head of hair – also known as the end of sexy time.

The doctor thought this would motivate me, but in actuality it really just pissed me off as I saw the miniscule movement I made with every push sink back as soon as I finished. Gonna. Be. Like. That. Huh.

But within another 30 minutes I was being told to stop pushing as our doctor brought our daughter into the world.

In an instant, the landmark moment of our lives, she pulled Lilibean into our world, placing her tiny body on my chest for us to meet her. Our daughter.

Zee Shrimpress was the most beautiful, breathtaking thing I have ever seen in my life. My heart bursts daily when I look at her and realize this little person has somehow been brought into our lives, and that the universe miraculously entrusted us with the honor of being her parents. Any doubt of whether she’d be cute or fear that I may suffer from postpartum depression was swiped away with one look at her tiny, perfect being.

And then I threw up. (epidural aftermath y’all)


Liliana Irene Armstrong

Born May 17, 2014 at 22:42 PST

7 lbs. 19″ of pure perfection

A Bri-autiful Day in LA

15 Mar

When I first met Bri about 5 years ago we were in Seattle. I was finally finding “my tribe” after spending the year with Molly Mahar’s Lifestyle Design program. And she?

She was projecting fabulousness.

That’s right. PROJECTING it. She was still working a full time “big kid gig”, but it was what she did on the side…in her non-existent free time…that was the key. While others (including myself) were quick to hide their passion projects and fast to make excuses for why they aren’t able to invest more in them, Bri was a standout.


She introduced herself as a designer. A creator. She spoke with pure confidence and poise of her visions, her line, her business. Her brand. It was the day job that was her “oh and that…” to her story. And from that moment I knew this girl was going places. She had this aura of success. An unwavering faith in herself that makes it impossible to fail.

And boy in the last 5 years has she done anything BUT fail.

It’s been an inspiration to count her as a friend and watch as she’s blazed a path to her dream. “Bid kid job” nixed. Fashion shows conquered. Awards won. Move to LA done. And now from the beach to Beverly Hills, she’s leaving a glorious, sparkling trail wherever she goes! The latest being her debut of the Chrysalis Collection at today’s private event.

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This new line is a statement of her maturing style and self-proclaimed “new direction”. It radiates sophistication, elegance and fierce fashion with a hint of flirty, femininity.

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In a word. It’s…

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 8.30.43 PMSo while I’ll continue to try to coerce her into branching out to baby wear, please enjoy the latest collection from the inspirational, admirable, powerhouse beauty of Bri Seeley.

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I’m pretty sure that after Baby Liliana makes her appearance the lace and red babydoll dress will have to be mine…

What are your favorites? Shop all her styles here. And be sure to follow her here and here.

“Redefined feminine luxury for iconic women – fashion for women to BE women, not just look like them!”




Wednesday Wedding Inspiration

12 Mar

We interrupt this regularly scheduled Hump Day to bring you my latest crush obession-worthy designer…

Ladies and Gents. Please a moment of silence in appreciation of the absolutely stunning creations by Jaton Couture…


This beauty was first spotted on Pinterest, but I didn’t think it’d be possible to find a whole treasure trove of breathtaking, elegance as I did when finding @jatoncouture on Instagram…since then my attention mind has been on a downward spiral chasing the white rabbit…

Jaton Couture 1


Jaton Couture 2

Gorgeous and more gorgeous…

But this exquisiteness isn’t even limited to just weddings! {cue heart palpitations…}

Jaton Couture 4

Jaton Couture 3

Totes every day wear right? This mommy-to-be definitely thinks so…

So what do you think loves? Are you as desperately, hopelessly in love with Jaton Couture as I am? Because seriously as if the accents weren’t enough, all of this makes me ready to hop on a flight to Australia and right about now…


This one’s for the girls…

9 Mar

As days of sparkling rings, beautiful bouquets and glamorous gowns begin to mix with precious soles for tiny toes and miniature couture, I find two women creating a beautiful bridge between these two worlds. Just in time for Zee Shrimpress’ impending arrival…

Marie of EmiciBridal was a glorious find during my days of wedding pining planning! Her handmade creations are of another world. One of delicate, elfin satins and chiffons, of carefully crafted petals and gems painstakingly placed to perfection. From hair accessories to bouquets and so much more, her creations inspire Audrey Hepburnesque fantasies of Tiffany’s and diamonds.

But don’t take my word for it. Just take a sneak peak at the below sampling and try not to immediately start planning your future wedding… or devising how you can get married again (Vow Renewal anyone?)

Emici Bridal Collection


Single Bloom


{Photos curated from owner Emici Bridal}

Luckily for Zee Hubs, as I was busy scheming how to convince him we needed to renew our vows (after only 3 years)…I was introduced to the delightfully talented Kelly Schell of LoveCrushBowtique – also known as the most adorable thing to happen to your Instagram feed since #puppiesofinstagram.

Like Marie, Kelly hand designs her awwdorable collection of accessories with the love and fine detail as only a mommy of little princesses could. A lot of other Etsy owners may attempt to mimic her beautiful feathered bands and dainty, lace crowns, but she has a unique style that embodies the romanticism of fairytales. And it’s translated to every precious adornment she shares.

She is for little girls, what Emici Bridal is for big girls. A stolen moment of princesshood…


Feather Bands

Tiara Band{Curated from Owner LoveCrushBowtique}

The magical imaginations of these beautifully, talented designers are TOO.MUCH.TO.HANDLE. So I naturally had to share them with all of you. Because it’s so much more fun turning what would be productive days into Aww’s! and Oooh’s! when I know you’re out there doing the same.

And if Marie or Kelly happens to come across this love letter…then yes. Yes ladies, I am crushing on your boutiques/bowtiques…Crushing hard.


Now I lay me down to sleep…

18 Feb

Before bedtime, one of my favorite things to do is scour the Internet Pinterest for new inspiration.







So tonight as you dream and tomorrow as you wake, I dare you to leave not only some, but a vast ocean of room for the…


Night lovelies


She’s crafty!…Bachelorette Swag DIY style

17 Feb


This is exciting stuff. And in honor of her countdown to the chapel, I’ll going to be posting some of my fav. wedding Robin Hooding loot over the next month.

Starting with one of my very own!

When my little Pocket Jenny (because she is literally the size of a Polly Pocket…I kid you not) decided to have her bachelorette in LA, to say I was excited would be an understatement. I had pretty-woman-sans-prostitute-thing-with-real-housewives-of-beverly-hills-a-dash-of-clueless-and-a-splash-of-beaches visions dancing in my head. This would be epic.

But the reality of anything destination for a wedding is that it’s all about mixing your splurge-worthy items with your savvy-saves – unless you’re marrying a millionaire, then splurge all the way to Bora Bora where there are huts OVER WATER. So to make sure it was an unforgettable weekend, the bridesmaids all collaborated ideas, personal touches and big plans for a girly, special and personalized weekend at the beach.

One of our savvy-saves were theses fun “kits” that I made as a surprise “Welcome to LA – The Real Bachelorette of Beverly Hills” gift for everyone. Based on the “kit” idea, they mixed a little practical (PINK DRINK CUPS) with unnecessary fun (mini-tiaras). So for any of you looking for a sweet, savvy way to gift your girls, hope this give you some inspiration!


What you need:

  • Drink Container – There are tons of options. Target has little mason jars with straws, you can get any number of water bottle varieties or make your own. I chose pink ones similar to this from Sports Authority.
  • Adhesive labels (basically stickers to stick your design to the cup) – You can also find these a few places, but I found ones large enough at Staples and chose opaque ones to make sure you could read the saying. However, we found out that when they were wet from condensation the print would rub off, so next time I’d put a protective spray over top.
  • Mini charms – These double as name tags and drink tags! {I can’t find them online, but they are in the wedding section of Michael’s Craft stores and come in packs of 4 I believe}
  • A Metallic Paint Pen – To write on the bottles {Also can’t find the link but got it at Michael’s}
  • Then you just fill the inside with any fun, personal items for your bride and girls! Fun ideas include mini tiaras or something to all wear during the party weekend, snacks or gum, chap stick, lotion, nail polish, anything cute and small!

For the outer decoration, I wanted to have a quote for the weekend which is what I used the sticker for. I went with “Tan Lines May Fade, but Memories Last Forever” inspired by our beachy theme {My Pinterest Inspo}. Using the paint pen, I also added each girl’s name and role or relationship to the bride.


On the lid I used the mini charms for each girls initial, which I tied to the top with a small ring as a “drink tag”.


The inside was filled with fun snacks including Luna bars, some favorite candies and gum, as well as some bachelorette necessities like heart-shaped sunglasses and of course glowing rings! Then I topped them off with mini-tiaras (I got these from a party supply store, but this link also has them on Amazon) and voila! Cute DIY gifts that any bachelorette party can enjoy!



Hope you enjoy this super simple, fun idea to shower your girls!

What are some of the fun DIY projects have all your crafty brides and bridal party pro’s whipped up?


27 Weeks Later

15 Feb

I  have a confession. I am an alien host.

Or so my ever sensitive German Hubs likes to remind me over the new AM ritual of watching my belly move in waves while Zee Shrimpress practices her gymnastics skills. Pregnancy really is an amazing experience, but it’s also not ALL the glow and “cute belly” you hear about. Nothing I’m about to share will be any new, ground-breaking news. Plenty of blogs, books and uncensored friends will tell you the same thing. But here we are 27 weeks. Less than 100 days to go.

Sharing is Caring

To each their own on the 12 week rule. But let me tell you from a place of severe nausea…through 17 weeks. I seriously questioned whether that 12 week rule was really created by spiteful Moms who wanted everyone else to suffer as they had…But in all seriousness, this is a very personal decision but having a support group who can offer comfort and tips – especially one including friends who may have a little more recent experience with pregnancy than your Mom – can really help when you’re going through the exciting but scary, and potentially nauseating (literally) first few weeks of creating life. Because, by the way, THAT is a really big deal.

Baby Belly

The right of passage. The mark of a mama. The cute week by week belly pics! Because we all secretly want to be as stylish, creative and beautiful as adorbs mommy-to-be Jessica of Little Baby Garvin


Not my story. I wish the sweet expanding evidence of your precious bundle for all of you, but unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how you look at it) my belly didn’t “pop” until late in the game. This I later found out was true for most of my friends with their first pregnancy. So if you find your abs decide to show they were in fact there in existence all along, as they fight the fight against your growing baby. 1.) Appreciate that “Hey! I had a pretty kick ass body after all!” 2.) Be patient, because inevitably that little one will win out. It just might be more like 6 or 7 months along.

Making “her” presence known at #25weeks (which was actually during week 26, but not to be confused with 26 weeks…more on that below)


Measure to your own stick 

Some mamas become pros at telling time and measurements. They start counting in weeks, then days. Lbs. to ounces. But if you’re like me pregnancy may be a bit of a haze from double lines to “oh hey, there’s less than a 100 days until we have a little person to keep alive…”. I’m finding that depending on the book, app, tracker, or whatever your ruler of choice may be, the “months” and “weeks” of your pregnancy may be slightly confusing. The Pregnancy HD app seems to help rush you along a little, in that it shows which week you are IN vs. which week you’ve completed like the BabyCenter App.

Some fun apps, sites and people that I’ve tried/followed based on recommendations from Jennifer Stano (AKA epitome of stylish Mama and future bestie – she just doesn’t know it yet;))


BabyCenter has been my go-to for it’s basic, straightforward updates. However the comparison of the baby to veggies/fruit sizes is totally confusing. Somehow the baby goes from the size of a spaghetti squash to the size of a mango…pretty sure that’s smaller…

{Note: They do chance their measurements from size, length and weight, but Zee  Hubs and I found it a little funny}

Other fun apps are shared on JS’ Instagram for Nikosfavoriteproducts:


By the time she posted this we were already relatively far along, so I haven’t used a lot of the others much. But I did like the interface for Sprout Baby and Pregnancy HD. They were both more visual than the BabyCenter app, but in general most apps seem to have similar components: Week by Week information, Checklists, Kick Trackers, places for your appointments and Registry ComponentsWonderWeeksWord from the crib is that The Wonder Weeks will become your sanity after your baby makes his or her entry into the world. Recommended by JS and other friends, it’s an informative guide to help understand the changes your baby continues to go through after leaving the womb.


No really don’t. Unless you have time and love getting all the details, don’t feel the pressure to read everything. Instead find your Board of Mamas – 3-5 close friends who’s lifestyles and parenting styles you like – and ask them for their recommendations, copies of birth plans, lists of things that you absolutely need for baby and YOURSELF, etc. And then throw in a spa day thank you for them ;)

For the reads that you do want to do on your own, it’s really up to you and your hubby. But basically the “What to expect” types are largely the same things you’ll read online from sites like BabyCenter, Pregnancy, etc. Some books that I’ve found really helpful and clicked with our personal style are:

Baby Bargains Bringing Up Bebe Kiss me

Baby Bargains is a popular book, but one I didn’t hear about until one of my Baby Board Members sent it my way after repeated texts of “Does this matter?…What about this?…What’s the best brand for this!?…”. It’s packed with product and brand information, but also really helpful, quick summaries on why things are considered “better” or “safer” than others. I recommend getting the physical copy so you can tab it, post it, mark it up!

Bringing Up Bebe was another friend recommendation. It’s really clicked for us personally because the philosophy is about understanding your baby, being observant to their patterns and cycles, setting boundaries but with room to learn and why not making your baby the epicenter of the world might be better for them an you. Quick, insightful and enjoyable!

Kiss Me: How to Raise Your Child with Love – Jennifer Stano, if you ever come across this post, you’ve been my Fairy-New-Mommy-Mother. JS posted a quote/pic on Instagram from reading this, which stuck me. So this was one of my first reads and I loved pretty much all of it. It’s not necessarily a parenting guide (though can be taken that way), but more asks pointed questions about why we believe and do what we do in parenting. From a psychological standpoint, we really clicked with this one! For example it talks about reprimanding babies when they don’t share their toys, but then flips that to think of it within context. So, when was the last time you let a stranger borrow your phone or your purse?…go on…right? Love it or leave it, I think it’s a great reminder to not see things through your babies eyes.

Not pictured, but an OBVIOUS watch/read for us was Happiest Baby on the Block. Brilliance people. Brilliance.

So what about all you mommy-to-be’s and full-fledged mommies? What have been your favorite finds and discoveries along this process?

When I wake up…

2 Feb


Throwing sparkles and pink streamers around the room, I didn’t know. When I picked up my best friends from LAX, I didn’t know. Dressing up, singing, dancing, poolside bathing. I didn’t know.

Rides along the pier and handstands in the sand. All the while I didn’t know.

But I thought. I dreamt. I hoped.

And after the girls went home and the haze of the weekend’s distractions cleared, we found out.

We were pregnant.

After all the angst and unfounded, crazy fears, we had created a perfect little life. We were going to be meeting our precious little Shrimpress.

24 weeks later, Zee Hubby’s office has moved out to be replaced with a princess’ crib, complete with chandelier and crown overlooking where Zee Shrimpress will dream. We’ve survived 17 weeks of “morning” sickness (a cruel misuse of the word in every sense). We’ve seen her twirling in my tummy and felt her funny little feet kicking. She’s a dancer.

It’s crazy to know that in 4 short months our lives will be forever changed. Our hearts will forever be open, vulnerable to ever tear, giggle, fear of this little person. In the 6 months of knowing she’d be joining us (did YOU know pregnancy is actually 10 months long?…), our world has already been turned upside down. What we once thought important somehow seems silly and irrelevant. New priorities form every day the closer we get to her arrival, the more we realize what we want for her. What we dream for her…

And oh what glorious dreams they are…


Happy girls are the prettiest girls

26 Jul

Happy Girls

Sometimes the secret to life truly seems to be just L.I.V.I.N.G.

Today I was supposed to be at BlogHer in Chicago with a dear friend, but life happens and we had to cancel our plans last minute. So I found myself with a scheduled vacation day and no where to go. Cue perfect excuse for a personal recoup, rejuv, rejive day! Which I’ve decided needs to be a new monthly tradition.

A single day dedicated to pure, selfish, soul feeding, goodness.

Today’s installment came up a little unplanned, but it’s really brilliant in its simplicity. A single day. 24 hours. One day to focus on giving that used and abused creative muscle a day at the spa. Zee hubs and I decided planning future days will be a necessity. Otherwise we might not get a chance to really do all the fun, things we’ve been coveting for our creative souls. But today I will just be happy spending time connecting with the things that make my heart smile.

Things like supporting friends like Linda Kahle. Linda is the pint sized, “prettiest girl” behind Fine Art Imagery. I met her on Twitter once upon a time when I was toying with the idea of becoming a wedding planner. Because she’s an ABSOLUTELY talented little doll, we ended up having her do our reception photography (even though we had not even been planning reception photos!). And I cannot say enough how happy we are we did. She caught the most sentimental picture from our whole wedding celebration, which we cherish.

But she’s not all lace and satin…well at least not all white lace and satin. Linda has been busily building out her portfolio with Boudoir! And I cannot get over her fun video promoting this ultimate celebration of a woman’s beauty.

As Linda puts it perfectly, “to make every woman look and feel as beautiful as she actually is….”

Enjoy! And make sure you contact Linda for your special day…or night!




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