Weekly Roundup

Weekend Reading Vol. 9

August 2, 2015

A few of my favorite internet finds this week…

1  I’ve been wanting to make a DIY neon light sign FOREVER and this project actually seems simple and affordable. (I Spy DIY)  |  2  Can you believe these are paintings?! This artist just totally knocks my socks off. (Kurt Pio)


3  This dresser makeover has been making me dream of painting everything high gloss navy. (The Jungalow)  |  4  Nothing says #hairgoals quite like this super cool half-up style, complete with instructions for recreating. (Olivia Palermo)


5  Just watch, listen, and prepare your breath to be taken away…

Was that not heavenly?


And don’t miss these…

So cool- lipstick eyeliner.

Plus, some solid beauty tips you might not have heard of yet.

How reading does a body good.

The four kinds of introverts.

The decluttering bible, summarized for your convenience.

Did you know there is an auction going on of the props from Mad Men?

I want these shoes.

And, finally, the overall coolness of Dallas Clayton.


What links did you love this week?



#FWSBeautyChallenge Recap + Winner Announced!

August 1, 2015


doodle via Instagram

Whew! What a gorgeous month it has been on Instagram! I want to give a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who participated in the first ever #FWSBeautyChallenge. It has been so much fun to see how you all have been experimenting with your beauty routines each day.


Doing the challenge all month has certainly helped me get out of my beauty rut. My biggest takeaway was that my routine I had gotten into wasn’t really the final say in speed and efficiency. The 15 minutes I was using for my same old go-to’s could easily be used to try a new braid (or three) or put on a standout lipstick. I think I needed a reminder that creativity doesn’t necessarily take more time or effort. It really got me excited about experimenting with my style again!

Thank you to everyone who didn’t tap unfollow after being subjected to an entire month of pictures of me making the exact same face. I’ve got one and only one, friends, and I’m sticking with it!

I am thrilled to be sending the winner, @lindsayestelle, her brand new beauty bag filled with gorgeous goodies from two of my favorites, Stella & Dot and Mary Kay!

I need to take August as a little break, but I’m already excited about hosting another challenge in months to come! I’m thinking of a broader theme, focused on art/design/crafting/overall creativity. A set of prompts geared at finding creative inspiration in your daily life…?

Fellow IG Challengers- let me know what you think of this idea! I am very open to your thoughts and ideas!

Oh, and in case I haven’t made it clear…


 And if you missed out on all the fun because you are not yet following me on Instagram, well here’s where I shamelessly self-promote and ask you to do so now.

But seriously, you all are the best! Happy weekend, friends! :)


Personal Posts

Using the “Power of 10″ to Solve Life’s Problems, Big and Small

July 29, 2015

Desk- Post It Notes

How are you in a crisis? Calm and practical? A whirlwind of racing thoughts and fear? Maybe you just become completely frozen?

All of these are natural physical responses to stressors and perceived danger. I pride myself on being “good” in a crisis. A few years ago I was a victim of a violent crime in my home- a random armed burglary in which the police report listed being “held hostage” among other things. At the time, I was very aware of the danger and even mentally prepared myself for the moment that I was going to die. But instead of crying or shaking or anything I would have assumed to happen in that situation, I found myself somewhat calmly thinking about things like who was going to have to deal with my dirty laundry if I were murdered. I don’t know if it was shock or survival instincts, but my physical reaction was very calm, as if my body was in a complete zen state. My mind seemingly became clearer under the stress and I was able to think very quickly and logically.

I came across this post on Earnest Home Co. about problem-solving that involved brainstorming ten solutions for whatever stressful situation you come across. She uses an example of how, after losing her mode of transportation in a foreign country, instead of spiraling in feelings of stress and negativity, she made a list of ten things she could do to fix the problem. Some of them were extreme or a little ridiculous, but the point was that seeing ten options provides a sense of comfort and control among chaos.

I read it and realized that is exactly what my thought process is when I’m in an incredibly stressful situation. When faced with a chaotic situation, where others around me are very appropriately frazzled or frozen in fear, I’m mentally assessing the situation and coming up with my list of solutions, helping me to feel some sense of calm and control.

It’s quite powerful to know that I do this well. It’s made me a bit unphasable to more common stressors. For instance, if I walked out my front door to find my car stolen, I know that I would just immediately launch into auto-solve and would hardly bat an eye. However, since the big scare, I feel very stuck when it comes to making smaller life decisions. Things like setting a wedding date or choosing an insurance plan and other very common “life” things can make me feel almost paralyzed. This can be a normal side effect after trauma- the start of stress signals your brain’s cognitive decision-making skills to shut down, switching into fight or flight mode.

It’s normal, however, I thought it would have gone away by now and it definitely hasn’t. So I started thinking about that post again and, since I know logical problem-solving is my strength under stress, how I could use this tactic in low-stress situations when my natural fight or flight response doesn’t need to be in control. Times when I’m stuck creatively or professionally without an urgent need for a solution because those are the times lately when I notice I can really get consumed by stressed.

For instance, I’m starting a creative side project with my sister and we’ve been trying to come up with a name. Now, this might seem simple, but choosing a name has been my number one hangup in every project/idea/creative endeavor I’ve taken on in the past few years. I will literally spend days, weeks, months (yes, sometimes it has been months) coming up with a name and will eventually decide on something that I feel like is only “okay,” making the whole process pretty much a waste of time.

So taking this idea, lets say I’m trying to name a pet obedience school, I will start by coming up with at least ten viable name options. This, by the way, is most definitely not the project I’m working on with my sister (sorry Mom), but merely an example of brainstorming. Also a great way to use the animal puns I just googled (some of these are totally real places, by the way). The goal here is not to come up with ten perfect solutions, but simply to force yourself to come up with at least ten options.



When you are experiencing idea overload, the physical act of writing (or typing) your ideas, in my opinion, is crucial. It gets out all of the thoughts that are floating around in your head, therefore allowing you the space to actually think clearly and make decisions.

So I can take this list, for example, and start to examine it to find the best name. Let’s say I decide that I really want the pet obedience school to include all pets, so the first thing I can do is cross off anything that is too cat- or dog-specific. That quickly narrows down my list.


At this point, a favorite may or may not have emerged. If it has, problem solved! If it hasn’t and I just can’t decide between these three options, I could do a couple more things to narrow it down to one.

  • I could further the brainstorming into separate lists for each option. For example, take the Royal Academy of Paws & Claws and envision the whole brand- briefly sketching logo designs, pinning color schemes, etc. Do the same branding steps with each name and then see which package is the best overall.
  • OR I could channel my inner Peggy Olsen and do some market research. Contact my pet-owner friends and ask them which name they would be most likely to contact and why. Tally the votes and choose a simple majority rules winner.

There are many more options for finding the solution, but I think you get the idea. It seems a little silly to me that I was using this very efficient method for disasters- My car is stolen, now what?- but when it came to something simpler, like a creative project, I was letting my brain kind of shut down and not land on a solution. I think the trick here, whether you thrive in high- or low-stress situations, is to be very conscious about the decision-making process whenever you find yourself feeling stuck.

So, if you are more of a high-stress thinker like me, the next time you find yourself unable to make a decision, try utilizing what I’m calling the “Power of 10″ list method, and pushing yourself to decide on an option that will work. If you are the kind of person who might really panic over how to handle something like a flat tire, the next time that kind of situation comes up, maybe you can be more conscious of trying to calmly go through your list of options and see if that helps you find control.


Are you a high-stress or low-stress problem solver? Have you ever used this brainstorming method? What other problem-solving methods do you use when you are faced with a stressful situation?





Weekly Roundup

Weekend Reading Vol. 8

July 27, 2015

Okay, so the weekend’s technically over and I’m totally late on this post. But my fiance’s family was visiting and I chose life over blogging. It’s the summer- sue me. Well, please don’t, but do check out these links (they’re pretty cool)…

1  I’ve been completely obsessing over interior design lately. I was so excited by this thrifty glam home because the style is not only gorgeous and unexpected, but also seems very livable and achievable. (Design Sponge)  |  2  And there are so many knockout moments in this fashion-forward home, from the inspired punches of color to the many grand-scale statement pieces. (Rue Mag)


3  Bodacious babes rejoice! In case you haven’t heard, Reformation has a line specifically for those whose cups runneth over- C to DD, to be exact. (Reformation)  |  4  I’m crazy about summer scarves done “the Zara way.” Check out this cute post for some great skinny scarf styling tips. (Who What Wear)


5  This guy is funny. :)


Plus, all of these gems…

A big thanks to Cbus Chic and Dionna Carter for including me in this feature about blogging.

That digital clock screen saver that is in every Pinterest office image ever? It can totally be yours.

Tie dye soap!

Some awesome UO sale finds.

Dying to read this.

A little functional bathroom art.

First do the verb– love, love, love!


What links topped your list this week?



#FWSBeautyChallenge Recap and Week 4 Inspiration

July 24, 2015

images via instagram

We’re officially in the home stretch of the #FWSBeautyChallenge! It was a little harder for me to do this week since I’ve been out of town, but I’m still so glad to be taking part! My favorite picture from this week was definitely my matching top knots with my niece. I always forget to capture memories when I’m spending time with my niece and nephew, so it was a very welcome excuse to snap a picture. :)

And as always, I’ve LOVED checking the hashtag every day and seeing your beautiful faces! I know it’s been harder to feel beautiful this week in the rising heat, so I really appreciate you all sticking with it- you are the best!


I LOVE seeing these beautiful pics every day! Way to keep it up, ladies! I’ll be so happy to announce one of you as the winner of the ultimate Beauty Bag Giveaway next week!



If you still haven’t joined in but want your chance to win, don’t fret! There are still seven more days and that means seven more chances to enter! You can download the prompt calendar here and simply tag your daily photos using the hashtag #FWSBeautyChallenge and voila! You’ve earned your entry for the day! (Tag me @freewillsstudio, too, so I can like and share your pics!) That’s over $200 in free goodies for one lucky IGer, so don’t forget to tag!

There are absolutely no “rules” in this challenge. Just check out the daily prompt and post a pic that shows off your own personal take on that day’s themes. The goal with this project is to feel free to express yourself and add some fun to your beauty routine, so let your imagination run wild!

If you, however, are one of those people that prefers a little more structure, I’ve put together a few fun pics to help clarify the prompts and help get your creative juices flowing for the upcoming week. Use this or don’t- it’s totally up to you! :)


Saturday, July 25: High Shine Metallic

Is there anything better than a glimmering bronze, silver, or gold? I think not. Unless, of course, we’re talking rose gold. Then we’ve got a dialogue. 😉

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Sunday, July 26: Pastel Perfection

I love a pretty pastel hue, especially because pastels can be so surprisingly versatile. They can be ultra-feminine and delicate or unexpectedly edgy. How do you rock your candy colors?

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Monday, July 27: Graphic Mani

Graphic designs are my favorite way to wear nail art right now. They can be very simple or very intricate, but in my opinion, they always look chic. Inspire us with your own graphic works of art.

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Tuesday, July 28: Eye Liner Love

What’s your favorite way to line your lids? Do you go bright or smoldering? Maybe you’ve got a brand or product you’re raving about? Whatever your take, show us the tricks and tools you use to make your eyes pop!

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Wednesday, July 29: Budget Beauty

Who doesn’t love a good bargain? Especially when it means stocking up on great beauty supplies! Show us your favorite drugstore finds and check the hashtag for some new recommendations to add to your list!

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Thursday, July 30: Hollywood Icon Beauty

Whose iconic style are you always trying to emulate? Maybe you’ve always wanted to try Sophia Loren’s glam cat eye, Brigitte Bardot’s sexy hair, or Ali MacGraw’s au natural beauty. Whoever inspires you, now is your time to show us how you incorporate their classic style.

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Friday, July 31: Summer Fun!

You made it! Take today to have some fun in the sun, snap a pic showing us your summer style, and congratulate yourselves on a very beautiful July!

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Which prompt are you looking forward to most this week?


See you on IG, beauties!


Personal Posts

Motivation for Change: Feeling the “Upswing” and Working on One Small Step

July 23, 2015


Hi friends! I wanted to take the opportunity today to brag on my sister, Brooke, who was chosen as FLIP’s Monthly Inspire story for July. She’s a preschool teacher, an animal lover, and has always been the kind of person who thrives on taking care of others. But like myself, and most other people, her journey to her own good health has not always been an easy one.

A little over a year ago she became a part of Juice Plus+, a whole food based nutrition company, and it’s been both impressive and inspiring to watch her health transformation.

One of my favorite takeaways from Brooke’s Monthly Inspire interview is that she describes her current state of health and wellness as being in an “upswing.” I thought this was such a powerful word choice, because it refers not only to the positive progress she’s made but also a commitment to continue to trend upward. It’s an inspiring word choice that signifies progress over perfection.

It’s been a lesson for me to be a part of Brooke’s life as she has made change after change this past year, from walking on her lunch breaks to becoming a full-fledged vegetarian. Taking the knowledge and encouragement she’s gained from her work with Juice Plus+, Brooke has not only lost over 20 pounds since March, but, most importantly, has made major changes in her overall health and wellness.

Brooke credits her big changes simply to her commitment to make small changes. In the story, she advises others looking to make lifestyle changes to, “Start with one simple change. Drink more water, take the stairs instead of the elevator, fill your plate ½ full of fruits and veggies, give up late-night snacking…commit to one small change a month and build on that as you go. Make it attainable for YOU.”

So I’ve decided to take that advice and commit to making one small change: drinking more water.

Specifically, I am committing to drinking 2 liters per day. I am pretty sure my body is currently 90% artificial sweetener from all the Diet Cokes and iced coffees I drink, so it’s a change I’ve been needing to make for a long time.

Have you been needing to make some health changes in your life? What small change could you commit to making right now to make a big impact in your future? Share your “one small step” in the comments!


You can read the full Monthly Inspire story here and for more information on Juice Plus+, you can check out Brooke’s website and/or connect with her and follow along with her health journey on Facebook or Instagram.

Have a happy, healthy day! :)




#MonthlyMani: DIY Snake Print Nails

July 21, 2015


It’s the third Tuesday of the month, which means I’m linking up again with Delightfully, Kristi and the ladies of #MonthlyMani! Our theme this month is “Animal Instinct” so I decided to go for some metallic snake print nails. I really love this nail art technique because it is so much easier than it looks but really ends up looking chic.


To create this snake skin effect you need a few tools:

– three colors of nails polish (I used black, bronze, and pewter)

– a piece of tulle large enough to cover your nails (I used a larger and smaller tulle for variation, but that is entirely optional)

– a makeup sponge

– a cotton swab & nail polish remover


I started with base coat of flat black polish that I let dry completely before adding the print.

To start creating the snake effect, I covered the nail with the piece of larger tulle (meaning the holes are bigger). I have loads of material at home, so finding two sizes of tulle was simple for me. If you don’t have anything like this on hand, fishnets or even a piece from a shower loofah could work just as well.


Hold the tulle tightly over the entire nail then, using the sponge, lightly dab on the darker of your two colors. I found this worked best when the polish was very light on the sponge and I applied only a light pressure. I was a little heavy-handed on the first nail I tried and, let me tell you friends, it did not go well. So keep this step light and easy. Holding the tulle in place for about 15 seconds before removing also helped to create a good, clear design.

I used a very random pattern, just dabbing the color in spots and I really liked the way it turned out. I would say I covered only about 30-40% of the nail using the first color.


Repeat this step with the second (lighter) color and the smaller tulle (or the same size if you’re working with just one). I used a shimmer pewter color and again, a lighter hand is best for this. I used the same method as the previous step: using random dabs of color and covering 30-40% of the nail. I placed some on the black areas and some overlapping the bronze color to add texture.


Again, hold the tulle in place for about 15 seconds before removing for a clear pattern. Once you’ve done this on all of your nails, your cuticle area is going to be a hot mess of sponged polish, like mine is above. Just take a cotton swab soaked in nail polish remover around this area to clean it up. Add a coat of clear polish and you, my friend, are rocking one exotic mani!


Make sure to check out how the other bloggers interpreted the “Animal Instinct” theme!

Piniel from Pins-Place
Justine from The Thrifty Girl’s Guide
Jacki and Lesli from Sistas from Cali
Kristi from Delightfully, Kristi

Have you ever created nail art using tulle?


Weekly Roundup

Weekend Reading Vol. 7

July 19, 2015

The internet is so cool. Here are some of my favorite finds this week…

I’ve been entertaining the idea of reforming from a plant murderer into a real-life plant owner. These gorgeous DIY marbled spray paint planters are really sealing the deal for me. (Vintage Revivals)  |  2  Isn’t this Garance Doré x Equipment collaboration beautiful? (Equipment)


I’m loving the Instagram of artist Giulia Bernardelli, who makes intricate paintings with coffee, ice cream, honey- pretty much anything! (Instagram)  |  4  Is this DIY cactus pincushion not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? I definitely need this for my little studio/office. (A Beautiful Mess)


Wills sisters mark your calendars. We’ve got a date with destiny…

Plus a few more…

Love this off-the-shoulder look.

And how this maxi shirt dress is styled- so cool!

Bookmarking these easy-to-keep plants for my journey to a green thumb.

Bloggers take note: super valuable takeaways from WDS.

I really want this mug.

A great roundup of podcasts for makers.

Pantone confetti and other wonderful things.

You don’t owe prettiness to anyone– loved this!



#FWSBeautyChallenge Recap and Week 3 Inspiration

July 17, 2015

images from my Instagram account

Happy Friday, pals! Another week of the #FWSBeautyChallenge has flown by and, if you follow me on Instagram, you know that has meant another week of my half-smirked mug flooding your feed.

It also means a lot of pretty pictures from YOU! I have absolutely LOVED checking out your tagged photos everyday! Here are a few of my favorites from last week…

What a bunch of gorgeous faces!! Thank you all so much for participating this week!

If you haven’t joined in yet but think you might want to, it’s not too late! We’re only halfway through the month which means there are still plenty of prompts to take part in!

You can download and save the daily prompt calendar here and don’t forget- every pic you post with the hashtag #FWSBeautyChallenge is an automatic entry in the Beauty Bag Giveaway! One lucky IGer will score this adorable Stella & Dot pineapple print beauty bag filled with some of my favorite products!


That’s over $200 in gorgeous goodies so get tagging! :)

There are no real “rules” to the challenge. Just check out the daily prompt and post a pic that shows off your own personal take on that day’s themes. I want you to feel VERY free to interpret the prompts however your beautiful heart desires. I do, however, often get questions on the prompts and/or asked for ideas, so for all of those playing along at home, here’s a little inspiration for the week ahead…


Friday, July 17: Go Bold or Go Home

To me, this prompt is all about taking any aspect of your beauty routine and giving it that extra little push to really make a statement. Whether that’s a little extra va-va-voom in your hair, a daring winged eyeliner, or some knockout neon on your nails, it’s all about going bold! Hereare a few of my favorite bold looks. How will you put your spin on this theme?

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Saturday, July 18: Lady is a Vamp

This is the prompt I’m probably most excited about. It’s a great excuse to get in touch with your dark side and try out the glam goth trends. I’m pretty excited to try the dark lipstick trend, but if going full on vamp isn’t your thing, get creative with something less in-your-face, like a simple, chic black negative space mani.

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Sunday, July 19: Beach Babe

There are so many directions you could go with this regardless of your proximity to an actual beach. Mermaid waves, boho braids, sun-kissed skin, HAC/strobing, bronze lids, your newest sunglasses- anything goes!

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Monday, July 20: Accessory Must-Have

Showcase an accessory that makes you feel beautiful and helps pull together your look. Whether it’s a vintage keepsake, a statement piece, or a favorite that you wear day after day, this prompt is all about the extra toppings that help you express your personal style.

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Tuesday, July 21: Animal Instincts

Go wild with inspiration from the animal kingdom. From cat-eye liner to a fishtail braid to a snake print nails. How can you incorporate some of Mother Nature’s greatest designs into your own look?

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Wednesday, July 22: My Go-to Hairstyle

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. The fun part about these “go-to” prompts is that by the time something is your standby, you’ve probably got the technique down and know the perfect products and tools to recreate it. Feel free to share your “go-to” hair styling tips and tricks with us!

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Thursday, July 23: Orange Crush

Isn’t orange just the most summery color of all time? And in my opinion, it’s much easier to wear than most people think. Here are a few of my favorite orange looks- how will you rock yours?

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I can’t wait to see what you all come up with on Instagram this week!