VIBES // I CAN Stand the Rain

Rain gets a bad rap. It’s the weather you wait for to pass so the “good weather” can come. But I’ve always been partial to a rainy day. I love an excuse to cancel plans and curl up and watch a movie instead. And there’s no better way to fall asleep than by listening to raindrops hit the window. So while this has been the warmest and rainiest winters I can remember in my lifetime, that’s okay with me. I think rainy days are pretty darn cool. My hair, however, is telling a very different story…

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Do you like a rainy day?

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Weekly Roundup 1.11

Welcome back to the weekly roundup! It’s been a while since I posted my regular roundup, and I’ve missed celebrating my favorite links in style, art, design, and more from around the web. Here are some of the finds I’ve been loving lately.

1  I’m crazy about the thoughtfully-layered items in Anna Valdez’s still life paintings, especially the intricately patterned rugs. They feel so fresh and vibrant, but also homey and comfortable. (Anna Valdez)  |  2  Do you like to read the original book before seeing the big screen adaptation like I do? If so, here’s a list of 10 books to read before they hit theaters in 2017. (The Everygirl)

 

3  These DIY rose petal bath salts seem pretty simple to make and would make seriously gorgeous gifts for your friends on Valentine’s Day. (Paper & Stitch)  |  4  This Brooklyn home tour has loads of creative inspiration and organization ideas for the home that’s big on artistic vision but short on space. I’m particularly fond of this rolling rack/plant hanger/book shelf combo. (Apartment Therapy)

 

5  Sometimes I like to share thought-provoking videos to make you question your entire life’s philosophies. This is not one of those times. I hope you’re all okay with that situation. (The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)

I always admire Elise’s one second a day videos and wish I could commit to one myself.

Some of the stunners from the Golden Globes.

I, too, love Josh Radnor.

And also these whimsical mermaid notebooks.

Some home office inspiration. How great is the dotted desk?

Tips for beating sugar cravings from Liz.

I’m loving Candace’s eyewear style post, especially the metallic skirt look.

What are your favorite finds this week?

** Feel free to share one of your own blog’s links in the comments.**

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GREENERY // Pantone’s Color of the Year 2017

Greenery is in as the official Pantone Color of the Year for 2017. According to Pantone, the bright, zesty green with a hint of yellow was chosen for it’s ability to evoke spring, a fresh start, and to “revive, restore, and renew.”

Green is often considered “nature’s neutral” because of it’s abundance in our environment and omnipresence around the world. From far eastern matcha tea powders and tropical palm leaves to the grass and trees in your own back yard, it can at once bring a feeling of exoticism and comfort. A color so universal evokes a sense of both global oneness and personal vitality.

How do you feel about Greenery as the color for 2017?

For a color so universally abundant, the response has been a bit more polarizing. I’ve seen lots of comments from people, likely put off by the yellow tint, who can’t see a hue like this being incorporated into their wardrobe, decor, or day-to-day life for fear of it being unflattering. If you’re on that side of the fence, I’ll be exploring the versatility of Greenery next week with different color combinations and ideas of how to incorporate into your current style. So make sure to check that out. And if you’re already team green, here are some items to shop to kick of 2017 in Pantone-celebrated style.

 

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Will you embrace Greenery this year?

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VIBES // Happy PSAs with Jeremyville

Whether or not you take part in resolution-making, it’s pretty hard to deny the power of the new year for motivating change. If you caught my Resolution Blueprint post you know that this year I’m focusing less on breaking habits and more on adding one simple positive action to add growth and happiness in areas of my life that I’d like to improve. These cute-yet-powerful illustrations by NY-based artist, Jeremyville, fall right in line with that positive momentum. Started as a daily online art project, these Public Service Announcement prints aim to “explore such concepts as self empowerment, personal growth, human virtue, love, loss, and what it means to be human, through simple imagery and words.” I’m digging that. Happy 2017!

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2017 Resolution Blueprint // The Power of ONE Positive Change

Happy New Year! I’ve decided to go a different route with resolutions for 2017. I find that when I set an intention that is a dramatic change based on restriction, e.g. I will cut out all diet sodas, I tend to obsess about said limits and inevitably fail. If I set a more positive intention with a more lenient boundaries, e.g. I will drink more water, than I tend to not only stay motivated, but feel much better during the process.

So this year’s blueprint is all about making positive additions to your life this year. And to keep things even simpler, it’s about choosing one specific thing to add in different areas of life. You can do any or of all of this list. The point is simply to focus on simple, gradual improvements.

Download PDF Version

I’m choosing the word FOCUS as my word of intention for 2017. It’s about trying to focus my mind, simplify my goals, and not procrastinate. A few years back, I have to be honest, I thought the whole word of the year thing was a bit pointless. I thought I’d set it and forget it. But I actually found it very helpful this past year to have am overarching intention that I could keep in my mind as a regular reminder of my goals. My word last year, “NOW,” helped to propel action, and I’m hoping “FOCUS” this year will help me to reign that action in and move towards more specific goals.

As for the rest of the list, I’ll leave that a mystery. But if you’d like to implement this into your day-to-day, you can use the link above to print your own 8.5×11″ version.

Will you add any of these ONE things to your goals this year? Leave me a comment with your resolutions so I can cheer you on!

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Studio Days // Reflecting on the Second Half of 2016


My second half of 2016 was busy, busy, busy. I designed two more collections for HOWL for two more fashion shows. I also moved from Columbus, to Dayton, and finally to Cincinnati, which is my new home. If you ask me, that’s plenty of stress already over six months’ time, but the crazy part is that originally none of that was in the game plan. But in the spirit of my word for 2016, “NOW,” to prompt less thinking, more acting, I went with it. And then some. Here’s a little recap of some of the highlights from the last six months.

2016 in three words: Exciting, challenging, and sleepless!

My common state of being: Tired, but focused and moving. I pulled a lot of all-nighters and created an ever-growing to-do list (I still don’t even have all my boxes unpacked). I’m ending the year absolutely exhausted, but even more in focus with my 2017 goals.

Favorite accomplishments: If you remember back in June, I had the opportunity of showing a collection for Alternative Fashion Week. It was such a cool experience, and to my surprise it led to an invitation to show at Fashion Meets Music Festival and Fashion Week Columbus. All of these shows were on my brand bucket list for HOWL, but I never expected to have them all happen in a matter of months! That took a whole lot of work, but was a very happy and unexpected surprise. Here’s a peek at both of those shows.

Photo creds from top left:  1 + 4, Kris Misevski  |  2 + 3, Tony Bentivegna

FMMF, the Fashion Meets Music Festival, was such a cool experience. It’s basically a weekend of concerts and fashion shows in one place. Highlights for me included the fashion shows by local designers/friends, the coolest-ever finale show by Project Runway All-Stars winner Michelle Lesniak, and of course, having my family there for my first ever solo show. Plus, it was just so cool to be having a show in the same venue as some really big-name musicians, including one of my all-time favorites, BORNS. I even had my models walk to his song, Electric Love, to show my admiration. This collection was called Moonbow, and was basically just a bright, festival-ready take on the Alternative Fashion Week collection.

Photo creds from top left: 1, 2 + 5, Lauren Ashley  |  3, Stephmina Photography  |  4, Kris Misevski 

Fashion Week Columbus came as a total surprise to me this year. It’s been a long-time dream of mine to have a collection at this event. I used to go to the runway show as a blogger every year and my mind would just spin with ideas of what I would want to do one day. Well, back in the beginning of 2016, when HOWL was just the tiniest, newborn brand, I auditioned and ended up being the runner-up for the final place in the show. Little did I know, due to a couple twists of fate, there ended up being an open spot and, all of the sudden, a years-long dream was becoming a reality! The rest of the designers had already been working for months and I had just a few weeks, so it was stressful to say the least, but it all came together in the end.

The show was called, Red Moon, and was a spin on the Little Red Riding Hood. I always love to mix masculine with feminine styles, so this collection really expressed that, with half of the models walking as “Little Reds,” complete with fresh flower baskets from Dummen Orange, and the other half walking as the wolves in masks that my sister put in hours to help me get done, God bless her. They were full-face masks worn backwards, so it came off as a little surprise on the runway when the girls turned. It was my personal nod to the wicked side of an otherwise romantic collection. 

Not bad for the brand’s first year, huh? I’m looking forward to continuing the momentum in 2017, but working to be ahead of it and in control of it, rather than frantically riding the wave. 

Lessons learned/skills strengthened: I’ve gotten more draping and construction experience this year than ever. I also learned that I can make pretty much anything happen in crunch-time. There were times leading up to Fashion Week Columbus where my workload was seemingly impossible and the pressure was really overwhelming, but I stayed focused and made it happen. Was everything perfect? Not even close. But I kept trying to remind myself about the value of imperfect progress, something that kind of stays on a loop in my head. I also got a little better about the on-camera interviews/public speaking that goes along with all of this. I even presented as a featured speaker at an event after FWC, and I didn’t die! This has always been the hardest area for me. I’ve worked on my on-stage nerves for years with little-to-no progress, and I finally feel, dare I say, slightly capable in this area. Not great by any means, but capable. This is major for me. 

Little things I’ve loved: Spending more time with both mine and Zach’s families than we’ve been able to in years. Finding new places to love in Cincinnati. Shopping for decor for our new place. Taking walks to our neighborhood library. Making about 100 bracelet sets as thank you gifts. Meeting so many new people and having so many thank you’s to give. 

It’s been a big year and I can’t wait for more in 2017. Check back in tomorrow for a goal-setting checklist to get it started off strong! 

 

What were some major moments in your life this year? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear them!

 

Happy New Year, friends!

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FWS Reader Appreciation $50 PayPal Giveaway!

Happy holidays, FWS friends! I’ve had a pretty wild year and it’s shown here on the blog with some inconsistency and even ghosting out for a while to focus on my personal/professional life. Overall, the break has been great for me, and I’m more inspired than ever for new and exciting blog content for 2017. However, I know as a reader, that can sometimes be frustrating and/or confusing.

As a thank you for sticking by me and a hope for new things to come, I want to take some time this holiday and say thank you to all of you. Anyone who has kept up with what’s been going on around here this year, I want you to know it means a lot to me. You’re a special crowd and you deserve a treat!

So how does $50 PayPal cash to spend however you like sound? Good? Great!


To enter:

  1. Entries are for loyal readers and new visitors alike. Just make sure you are following the blog, either through email subscription on the sidebar or via Bloglovin.
  2. Check out my recent post series, The 12 Days of Holiday Gift Guides (links below), and pin your favorite guide. You can also access the pins on my Free Wills Studio pinterest board.
  3. Leave me a comment with a link to your pin. Make sure that your comment is linked with your email address so I can contact you if you are chosen.
  4. Voila! You’re done! The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on 12/31. A winner will be chosen on 1/1 through random comment selection and announced here on this post.

 

I wish I were giving away a million bucks, because you all are worth it. Happy holidays!

Update: Congratulations to Jessica Mielke! Your comment was chosen randomly and you have $50 PayPal cash heading your way!

~xoxo    Ashley

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The 12 Days of Holiday Gift Guides: The Party Animal

Today’s gift guide is the last of the series and it’s all about the season’s parties, especially the big one on New Year’s Eve. I’ve got some of the most festive party-perfect finds, either for your own celebrations, or to gift to your most fun-loving friends.

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Gear up for a special night with a pretty gold mask bottle opener, sparking cocktail party picks, metallic lace crowns, and an ultra-luxe disco ball. There’s never a better time to get really decked out in pieces like this dusty pink faux fur jacket, a glam pair of embellished silver heels, and feathering beaded statement earrings. Add even more sparkle with a lilac sequin mini bag and matching iridescent phone case, both from Skinnydip, or these shimmering hair glitter sticks from Free People. And what’s a party without some treats? This Rebecca Minkoff-created limited edition Chandon with some champagne and strawberries macarons from Dana’s Bakery sound absolutely perfect.

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Nothing says “life of the party” like some festive duds. A green velvet blazer, balloon print tie, party cup cufflinks, and bronze oxfords, plus a spritz of Viktor and Rolf’s Spicebomb, send that message loud and clear. Every party animal needs the right bar essentials, like these encouraging bottle openers, some stylish sceptor cocktail picks, and the pièce de résistance, a rolling cooler that is as sleek as it is functional. JT’s own Sauza 901 tequila along with some chocolate almonds parading as martini olives get the night started on a tasty note, while a deco-style wireless speaker and copper plated dice set help up the entertainment factor.

Do you have any exciting New Year’s Party plans?

 

If you’re scrambling for some last-minute ideas for anyone on your list, make sure to check out the rest of the series:

The Trendsetter  |  The Free Spirit  |  The Techie  |  The Entertainer  |  The Animal Lover  |  The Homebody  |  The Athlete  |  The Old Soul  |  The Artist  |  The Prepster  |  The Music Buff

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The 12 Days of Holiday Gift Guides: The Music Buff

I’m hoping for the sake of your sanity that you’re almost done with your holiday shopping. If you’re not, however, the good news is that standard online ordering is still available for on-time Christmas delivery for almost all sites. And in the meantime, if you’re still looking for something for the music aficionados on your list, maybe some of these fun ideas will hit the right note.

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Your vinyl-collecting friends will love this 12×12 marble frame for displaying their favorite album art, the EP-33 Bluetooth turntable in the prettiest hue, and these super-sleek headphones by PRYMA. Give the gift of iconic style with a Sgt. Pepper-esque toggle jacket, a Biggie nameplate ring, and some Ziggy-inspired lightning heeled ankle boots. If anarchy is your giftee’s middle name, they’ll love Oh So Pretty, a striking visual history of punk in Britain, as well as some makeup from Ardency Inn, a brand built on the downtown NYC music scene, and the most adorably aggressive punk salt and pepper shakers from Jonathan Adler. Or give them some clever lyric-inspired products, like this bobby pin dish that speaks the truest of truths, a “Funky Town” keychain, or “No Scrubs” doormat.

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Audiophiles will love a stylish vinyl storage crate, the impressive Marshall Major II headphones, or an army green Bluetooth record player from Audio-Technica x UO. Keep them styling in a sweatshirt from Zara’s Rolling Stones collection, some Rock & Roll Suicide face scrub made with volcanic ash and green clay, or a pair of classic hip-hop favorites, the Adidas Superstars. Accessories like these music-themed beaded lapel pins, a guitar pick-holding keychain, and a guitar print slim tie let him wear his passion on his sleeve. For music-makers, deck out his studio space with a “Kanye for President” desk plate or give the gift of inspiration with Anatomy of a Song, a look into the creation of some of the most impactful and iconic songs ever recorded. And for the serious musicians, the award-winning Seaboard RISE is considered one of the most innovative products of the year (you can see it in action here).

Are any of these music gifts on your wishlist?

 

Still shopping?? Let Free Wills Studio help! Check out these other gift guides for more links and inspiration.

The Trendsetter  |  The Free Spirit  |  The Techie  |  The Entertainer  |  The Animal Lover  |  The Homebody  |  The Athlete  |  The Old Soul  |  The Artist  |  The Prepster

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The 12 Days of Holiday Gift Guides: The Prepster

The classic styles of these prepster gift guides are probably the furthest from my own personal style, but I always love them for one simple reason: the styles are classic. That means these gift ideas can work for your boyfriend or your grandpa, your bff or your child’s teacher. Plus, classic gifts in polished styles feel luxe, so even though they might be generally universal, they still feel special to the recipient. Easy for you, special for them; basically, everybody wins.

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Our preppy pals would love these updated takes on classic pieces. The Tippi sweater from J. Crew, one of the brand’s best sellers since 2011, got a mini makeover in this fair isle print with athletic striping, while the Tory Burch Gemini Link necklace features a graphic abstraction of the iconic brand logo. Our classic gal will be pretty in pink with some Tata Harper lip products, the super-stylish “Rose Gold Dawn” watch from KYBOE!, and a posh flamingo iPhone case. Leather is even better when it comes in rich colors, like on this purple Day Designer binder, the bright pink Tory Burch convertible bag, or these rich canary yellow suede smoking slippers. Audrey at Home, a peak into the icon’s private life, favorite recipes, and memories, as told by her son, would make a lovely gift. And similarly, help your giftee create her own home memories with vibrant tobacco leaf tin plates, a quirky pineapple tumbler, and a classic gold bar cart.

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Celebrate your recipient’s classic good looks and style with a cheeky Tall, Dark, & Rich gourmet chocolate box and the Men and Style book, an in-depth look at fashion with insight from the industry’s leading men. Speaking of style, help keep his classic look on point with a Nanamica down-filled pullover, a colorful Nixon watch, timeless lace-up boots, and a box of mixed print socks from The Dapper Way. Give him the gift of being happily imbibed with these embroidered beetle cocktail napkins, a retro-inspired steel flask, and a classic lucite bar tray. A Tommy Hilfiger hard-shell suitcase, shaving set from Baxter of California, and wood grain wireless speaker offer a style upgrade to his everyday items.

What’s your favorite classic go-to gift?

 

If you’re looking for more gift-giving ideas, make sure to check out the rest of the series:

The Trendsetter  |  The Free Spirit  |  The Techie  |  The Entertainer  |  The Animal Lover  |  The Homebody  |  The Athlete  |  The Old Soul  |  The Artist

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