FRIDAY VIBES // Keep Swimming


I have a very draining creative cycle. It basically involves having big events and deadlines, like Sunday's runway show for Alternative Fashion Week, and working kind of obsessively for weeks, not sleeping nearly enough, you get the drill. Then the event or deadline passes and I'm in massive recovery mode for a couple of weeks, needing to catch up on rest and all the self-care that I neglected the weeks before, until the next big event or project is on the calendar and it's back to the cycle. While I have definitely been resting up this week, I'm trying not to fall too deep into recovery mode. I instead feel like I just need more structure and balance at all times, looming deadline or not. This is the constant creative struggle for me.

I love these swimming images because they're basically how my mind feels right now. Or, I suppose, how I aspire for my mind to feel. I've never been much into swimming myself, but I love how swimmers seem to have this perfect balance of zen mindlessness and focused purpose, kind of like meditation. The repetition of motion and pattern in these images is speaking to my quest for routine while the overall vibe is reminding me not to obsess or shut down, but to patiently and continuously keep pushing into the next phase. Just keep swimming.

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Happy weekend!


Weekly Roundup 24/52

Hey friends! Do you remember me? Sorry that my posts have been few and far between the past few weeks as I was finishing up our Howl brand collection for Alternative Fashion Week. The show was this past Sunday and it was an absolute blast! Here's one of my favorite photos from photographer Emma Parker...

LOVE this shot from @eparkerphoto1 of our @howl_brand collection for #alternativefashionweek. 💜💗💚

A photo posted by Ashley Wills (@freewillsstudio) on

I'll share more about the collection this weekend as more of the photos are released. In the meantime, I'm super excited to get back to blogging and have a lot of ideas and plans lined up for the summer! For now, let's check out some of the coolest things that have been happening with the rest of the blogging world. Enjoy!


1  I'm terrified of bugs, but I would kill to have one of these massive macro images from Levon Biss‘s exhibit, Microscuplture, on my wall. Isn't it weirdly beautiful?! (PetaPixel)  |  2  I was completely fascinated with this studio tour of Craft Boat, a paper goods company that hand-pulps, marbles, and block prints recycled fibers into beautiful stationery. (Design Sponge)


3  Considering that Jennifer Aniston truly does not age, I'm thinking this recipe for her daily Chocolate Cherry Collagen Smoothie is definitely worth trying. (Hello Glow)  |  4  I recognize a lot of my own childhood in this hilarious post. Plus, isn't this tank perfect for the 4th of July? #DreamTeam4EVA (The Daily Tay)


5  Beck's new single has gotten mixed reviews, but I'm pretty crazy about it. I've listened to it a couple of times today and I totally get lost in the beat. What do you think?


Check out these incredible work-of-art scarves.

And these gorgeous tech wallpaper downloads.

Loving the color combo on these DIY tassel earrings.

Have you seen this new graphic tee line?

A boho glam home tour that needs to be seen.

Decision fatigue and the wardrobe, or why Steve Jobs wore the same thing everyday. As a designer who lives in the same 2-3 outfit combos, I can tell you this struggle is so real.

Speaking of outfits, Karlie Kloss wore a really cool one.

This IG account makes me laugh.

And my favorite site of the week: The Design Network. I was talking to my sister the other day about how I miss all the interior design shows that used to be on TV. You know, shows where they actually decorated and did projects and stuff. Now it seems like all the shows are only about real estate and renovations. Enter The Design Network! This is where all my favorite designers, like Genevieve Gorder and Thom Filicia, have been hanging out. I'm so happy to see you, old friends!


What were your favorite links this week?


Weekly Roundup 21/52

Hey guys! It took me foreeeeever to get this week's links compiled because I was just loving everything on the internet! Bad news for me, I spent way too many hours of my life surfing the web. Good news for you, you are in for some tasty treats, my friends. Let's dig in!

1  While we're on the topic of tasty treats, how amazing do ice cream-filled doughnut holes sound?! I can't even eat them (I'm gluten-free) but still I've been thinking about them non-stop. Gluten-friendly pals, do me a favor: make and eat these in my honor and tell me all about it. (Tasty on BuzzFeed)  |  2  I really loved this post on Broad City's costume designer, Staci Greenbaum. I mean, obviously I love the show, but for those interested it also gives great insight into breaking into the costume biz. (Fashionista)


3  How gorgeous are these rainbow marbled wood slats?! I'm not even sure I knew something like these existed, but now that I've seen this mesmerizing behind-the-scenes post, my brain's pretty much exploded forever. (decor8)  |  4  I love these clever film-themed flat lay posters from Jordan Bolton Design as super-affordable (and super-cool) wall art. Other pieces include Moonrise Kingdon, The Royal Tenenbaums, Amelie, and more. (Etsy)


5  I love that all Adele has to do is sway a little while she sings and it's completely captivating (of course, wearing a gorgeous Dolce & Gabbana gown and having the best face in town helps, too). Seriously though, isn't this video great?

And more...

Have you seen the #QueenofTumbling? Just...whoa.

This is super cute: adults explaining Tinder to kids.

How to write a wedding speech in 10 minutes or less.

Loving this moth pin and this metallic trench.

NEED these shoes.

And I never thought I would want a post-dorm-room mini fridge, but this one is seriously cool.

For bloggers, a list of game-changing blog and biz tools and ideas for beating burnout.

Stella & Dot is having a crazy good sale this week and they're offering Dot Dollars! I've got a trunk show open if you want to shop my link. My favorite sale pieces are these earrings and this necklace. What are yours?


What links are you loving this week?


Our Happiness Project // Tip #3: The Importance of Self-Knowledge and How to Gain More of it

Zach and I are in month three of Our Happiness Project (we're following along with Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project) and this chapter is all about aiming higher at work. In addition to our monthly recaps, each month I also like to share one tip or piece of information that really sticks out to me and has helped to either change a habit or perspective in regards to improving happiness. For me this month that was reading about the importance of self-knowledge over self-esteem. I have been working on my own personal theory about this for a while and was just talking about it with my sister last month, so reading it from Rubin with expert wisdom to back it up was like a giant "Hallelujah!"


Throughout The Happiness Project, there are regular references to Rubin's Twelve Commandments of Happiness and right at the top of the list is "Be Gretchen." Not to be the best, or smartest, or fastest at anything, but just to be herself. To be perfectly honest, in the past I have sometimes fought with the concept to just "Be Ashley." I grew up the middle child, and as all you middle's know, you're basically born into a role of mediator, appeaser, and overall compromiser. Being agreeable becomes sort of a survival skill for yourself as well as a necessity in a larger family to avoid constant chaos. Anyway, because of this I was often considered "the shy one" or "the nice one," and neither of those categorizations made me feel particularly great. It's not because those qualities are inherently good or bad- in fact I love Zach for being both shy and nice- I just didn't really feel like they described me very well. Though I do tend to be pretty reserved and don't require much attention, I'm actually quite outgoing. And while I like to consider myself thoughtful and caring, "nice" isn't really horribly accurate either. To me it implies someone who is sweetly modest, but I'm a bit of a rule-breaker. I'm also sarcastic, opinionated, and very direct, so there's a bit of disconnect with that term as well. These are small problems in the grand scheme of the world, but still, I felt like I wasn't completely being seen for who I am. It was kind of a 2-D representation of myself.

As a teen I totally rebelled against those inherited personas. I worked really hard to prove people's ideas about me wrong. I became the life of the party, I tried to act fearlessly, and decided I was unaffected by the cares or concerns of people around me. I dressed loudly, lived loudly, and basically wanted to be anything other than "nice" and "shy." From an outside perspective I may have seemed confident, and in some ways I was, but I wasn't very authentic or self-knowing or even whole.


Here's the point where you might be thinking, "Who cares? Every teen feels like they don't know who they are." And I get that. But the problem is, a lot of us carry that into adulthood. As referenced in the book, Erasmus observed, "The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is." Simple as that. However, our society is so invested in social extroversion or status masked as self-esteem that some of us go through our entire lives under a veil of false self-esteem without really understanding the depths of who we are, without ever really reaching authenticity or happiness.

Self-esteem is a result of self-judgment. It is literally a self-estimation, an appraisal, of our personality traits against a perceived standard of value. Because of this, self-esteem is conditional and unstable. If we meet a certain condition of worth, we have self-esteem. If we don't, we have a lack of self-esteem. According to Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D. for Psych Central, "This dichotomous, dualistic, conditional view of self cuts us apart and fragments our wholeness." Self-esteem is conditional and always changing. If I get a promotion, my self-esteem will soar; however, if I get laid off, my self-esteem will plummet, even though I remain the same person.

Self-knowledge is different because it is unconditional. Where self-esteem is measured through comparison of others, constant evaluation of oneself, and other always changing variables, self-knowledge is the acceptance of who you are at any given time. It is an acknowledgment of the reality that you are a full person, with strengths and weaknesses, living a life that is in progress. Your evaluation of worth, therefore, is circumstance-free.


Why does any of this matter? Well if you want to be happy in work and in life, you have to understand who you are and what you're meant to be, perceived flaws and all. Not who you wish you were or who you think you should be, but who you actually are. For me this means accepting everything I am as much as the things I am not. I am empathetic, though I am not very sentimental. I am driven and adventurous, but I am also a worrier and I don't care for the outdoors. I am funny and friendly, but I'm definitely not one of those people who is just naturally charming or always "on." I love books, art museums, thrift shopping, and "bad" tv. I have realized that I really don't like politics or sports all that much and I'm much too picky to ever be a foodie.

I spent a lot of time and effort throughout my 20s to get to a place of understanding who I am. I sought counseling in college when I couldn't pick a career path. I loved going to my counselor, where I was given tasks like creating a mood board about who I am and what makes me happy. I was also given the task of asking five people close to me to assess my biggest strengths and weaknesses. That exercise was a little unnerving but also eye-opening and informative. If you, like I was, are in a place where you would like to seek more self-knowledge, here are a few places I would recommend starting.


1. Seek Out Feedback (and Listen)

Much like the strengths and weaknesses task above, understanding how you are perceived is a powerful step towards understanding who you are. Asking people you trust questions like, "Could I have handled that situation differently?" or "How do you think I could improve in this area?" can shed some light on how people view you. When doing this, be prepared to be surprised and potentially hurt, but try not to be defensive. If you can take this criticism productively, you can help remove limits that may hold you back in the future. That being said, we are talking about judgments made based on the value system of others, so some thoughts should be taken with a grain of salt. For instance, if someone thinks I'm insecure because I don't like taking photos, that doesn't necessarily make it true. I'm just simply not great at it, so it's not my favorite activity. However, I can choose to look at that as something that I need to work on so that I don't appear insecure to others who might have an influence on my career and potentially miss an opportunity in the future.

2. Seek Out Personality Assessments

While I don't think taking Buzzfeed's "Which Dead 'Game of Thrones' Character Are You?" quiz is going to give you any information actually useful to life, there are several online tests that are worth looking into for gaining self-knowledge. The acclaimed Myers-Briggs test is my favorite because it gives very detailed, and in my opinion very accurate, information into how to most effectively use your personality type in the world. The official test can be pricey ($50-$100), but there are lots of free abridged options online. Other free tests that I like are the Princeton Review Career Quiz, the RHETI tool based on the Enneagram concept, and the Keirsey Temperment Sorter (which, by the way, told me I am driven by a quest for self-knowledge- ha!).

3. Test Your Limits

Once relationships are established, human beings are very adept at morphing their behaviors to fit the situation. This is an important social skill, but like my middle child story above, adaptation can cause us to lose sight of who we are at the core. It can be as elaborate as solo overseas travel or as simple as training for a 5K. Anything that pushes your limits, mentally or physically, will help you to realize that your boundaries aren't fixed but temporary, and that your situation does not encompass the sum of your being.

Finally, I just want to state that increasing self-knowledge is not about changing who you are. If you're becoming increasingly aware that a personal blind spot may be causing you to make bad decisions, feel depressed, etc., that's a good signal that it is in fact time for a change. But for the most part, it's more about making realizations or shifts in perspective that allow you to be more understanding and accepting of yourself so that you can have true confidence. As always, I hope this offered some insight into the things I study and work on in my own life, but please know I am coming to you as a continuing work in progress. I don't presume to have it all figured out, these are simply some of the methods that have helped me to make progress. If you have any other input in ways that you've increased your self-knowledge I'd love to hear them in the comments!

Make sure you're subscribed to keep up with the series! Zach and I will be back with our monthly recap on Monday, June 6th!


FRIDAY VIBES // Paint it Black


Call it a moody May, but I've been really inspired by dramatic inky black interiors lately. I love how a coat of black paint can make something worn look chic, hide imperfections, and really make the interesting lines in a vintage or sculptural piece sing. Whether fully committing to a room with black walls or just adding a graphic impact in a mostly white room, one thing's for sure, black is always a good choice.

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Would you paint a room black?


Weekly Roundup 20/52

This weekly roundup (especially the link from Fran of Fall for DIY) has me feeling all the self-acceptance feels. I think of all the negative aspects that are associated with the internet- mindless content, trolling, self-absorption, and materialism- I hope that more importantly it has helped us to make major strides in accepting ourselves and one another. The internet and social media, I think, has really switched the conversation to inclusion and celebrating individuality rather than such a focus on "perfection." Some of these links are the usual colorful creative content I'm always drawn to, but this week's roundup also has a running theme of personal acceptance. I'm into it.

  1  I've been thinking about these roasted strawberry oatmeal cups ever since I read this post. Plus they're (optionally) vegan and gluten free, so there are wins all around. (Hummusapien)  |  2  Have you heard of Coverstory, the exciting new boutique for sizes 10 and up? Founder Heidi Kan noticed that “everything that was available [in larger sizes] was either way too sexy or way too matronly, there’s just nothing that was very modern and chic.” Enter some seriously cool silhouettes and a dream store is born. I would love to live in this dress all summer. (Coverstory)


3  I've always loved Katie Rodgers' romantic ballet illustrations, so it's pretty awesome to see her Belle of the Ball print translated into sleepwear for all ages in a collaboration with BedHead Pajamas. (Paper Fashion)  |  4  I've never pressed flowers but I've always wanted to try it, especially when the final product is so gorgeous! This tutorial is really good and at the end you could have some really impressive new wall art. I'm sold! (Design Love Fest)


5  "I could call the Midwest for you?" Lol.


And Don't Miss These...

I so related to this touching post on how hard it can be to put yourself out there in the name of blogging.

The three questions to ask yourself when you're procrastinating.

I thought these over-sized house numbers were super cute.

Decor solutions for music lovers.

Lisa Frank Zebra Cakes. Enough said.

What is summer if your plates don't have a shark wearing a bikini on them?

A gorgeous new collection from Oana Befort.

I'd have to sell my car to buy this dress, but it's sssoooo cool...

As are these new Adidas wood slides.

And finally, #bloggervibes.


What links are you loving this week?


THE OFFBEAT BRIDE // 8 Great Sites to Shop for Unexpected Wedding Dresses

That movie, The Five-Year Engagement, might as well have been written about me and Zach. We're going into 3 1/2 years, and I have to say, I'm still a little unsure about what we plan to do. I think we're leaning more and more towards a spur-of-the-moment elopement, but one thing is for sure, regardless of what form the nuptials end up taking, this bride-to-be has done her research! One of the reasons I have had such a hard time pinning down plans is that, of all the wedding resources out there, none of it actually feels "right" for us. I guess we are about as non-traditional as it gets. And honestly, non-traditional wedding resources are hard to find. So over the next six months I have given myself two important goals: 1. Figure out a wedding plan, even if it involves matching tuxedo t-shirts at the courthouse (actually, I really dig this idea...) and 2. Share the many, many, many out-of-the-box wedding ideas I have found and considered with you all. So if you know any brides-to-be that march to the beat of their own drum, point them to this series! All my creative, clever, weird little brides, this series is for you!



To kick things off, let's look at one of the most important aspects of the wedding day- what you're going to wear! If you've always envisioned yourself in a traditional ballgown, more power to you! You have a lot of options to choose from. However, if you're more like me and can't picture yourself in a big white gown to save your life, the task is a bit harder, but also really fun! The great news is that you've made a decision to reflect your unique personal style on your big day. Now the job is to simply find the dress (or jumpsuit or separates) that scream "you"! I've put together eight great sites that offer some more "creative" options to help you kick off your search.


1. Reformation


Reformation is a great place to look for clean and classic silhouettes that are also extremely current. They do have several stunning white gowns, but I particularly love the floral prints and bold colors for both the bridal party and the bride! With price tags ranging from about $250-$650, you're also getting a lot of style bang for your buck.


2. Stone Fox Bride


No matter the era, from a colorful flowing bohemian gown to a retro white bustier, everything at Stone Fox Bride gives me Old Hollywood vibes. With a wide range of styles and sizes, you're bound to find an out-of-the-box treasure here. Make sure to check out the crown and veil sections for additional gorgeousness.


3. Mara Hoffman


For fashion-forward brides, Mara Hoffman's bridal line offers some really unique options. From relaxed shirt dress-inspired maxis to elaborately beaded and textured gowns with bold silhouettes, one thing is for sure, you will be making a total style statement in one of these looks!


4. Free People


I'm assuming we all know by now that Free People has a ceremonial collection, FP Ever After, but are we all aware of the fact that it's completely stunning? Keeping in line with the brand, everything has a bohemian quality, ranging from stylish jumpsuits to relaxed crocheted midi dresses to full-on boho-glam sequin gowns. Free People was a leader in the off-the-shoulder revolution and continues to offer wonderful sleeved options and unexpected silhouettes.


5. Viva Aviva


Speaking of unexpected silhouettes, holy sculptural canoli! Viva Aviva offers dramatic ruffles and architectural shapes, mostly in the form of mix and match separates. The collection is small, but if you're looking to make a fashion-forward statement unlike any brides before you, these pieces will do that in spades.


6. Bona Drag


Label-lovers will rejoice in Bona Drag's ceremonial collection. It's a tight selection, but if you've had your eye on, say, last season's ruffled Zimmerman gown at a discounted price (or perhaps a turtleneck swing dress and a shrug made of chains), this site will make you very happy. This one is for the very bold, but even the more tentative will enjoy the vast selection of unique ring options.




I've been looking at the BHLDN site for years- it's always gorgeous. A sister brand to Anthropologie, BHLDN offers that same beautiful, vintage-inspired quality in some truly breath-taking gowns. The real standouts to me, however, are the trendier top and skirt separates and the charming accent pieces, like that capelet above.


8. Daughters of Simone


I'll never forget stumbling upon Daughters of Simone years ago. While I'm unsure of so many aspects of my own wedding, I knew for sure that I wanted an off-the-shoulder dress. A few years ago these were much harder to find than they are now, and seeing the 60s and 70s vintage gowns on Daughters of Simone was like a shining beacon of hope. They've since expanded and now have an expansive collection of dresses and accessories along with their vintage gowns. This site is a boho bride's dream come true.



Now, fellow off-beat brides, let me hear from you! What sites would you add to this list? What areas would you like to see covered in future posts? Let your voice be heard in the comments!



FRIDAY VIBES // May Flowers


Here in Ohio spring has pretty much been cold then rain then cold then rain. And all of the sudden, I pulled up to my apartment yesterday and the rose bushes were all full of gorgeous blooms. The color and the life after such an arduous winter was such a welcome little surge of energy.

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Happy Weekend!


Weekly Roundup 19/52

Here's a moment of real honesty: I have been having a very hard time blogging lately. Not because of a lack of inspiration or motivation or anything like that. It's come down recently to a simply an impossible lack of time. I saw the scheduling issues approaching and seriously weighed taking an extended blog break, but I just couldn't. I love what blogging brings to my life. It keeps me creative, self-aware, and is basically my favorite hobby. So what all of this comes down to is a simple apology. I'm sorry I went almost a whole week without posting recently and that these weekly links posts have been a different day and time for the past few weeks. But as long as you can stand by me for the time being as I continuously drop some of the balls that I'm juggling and have a less-than-consistent approach to blogging, I will continue to show up and try to provide some fun and creative content! And as for why I have been having such a hard time with scheduling lately, I also have a shameless plug for you all. You all know my HOWL design partner, Shiree, and I have been designing a collection for Alternative Fashion Week, and recently we also had a chance to interview for Fashion Week Columbus. We are currently competing for the last spot in the finale runway show, which is pretty awesome for such a new brand. That being said, we're not there yet so we could really use your help in voting! All you have to do is click this link and like this pic. Easy as that! This is seriously my dream, you guys, so every single vote means the world to me.


And now onto the business! These are the links I've been loving this week...


1  I always love a good art-over-photography concept and I thought these Luchador embroidered images by Rebecca Chew were particularly cool. (BOOOOOOOM)  |  2  This Marie Antoinette-inspired bridal shower is about as gorgeous as it gets. (Camille Styles)


3  I'm loving the latest collection from jewelry designer, Meredith Kahn, especially the suede chokers with interchangeable semiprecious beads. (Honestly WTF)  |  4   I was surprised and delighted to discover that one of my favorite blogs also has a YouTube channel. I've been loving following along with the #LarsFlowerChallenge, featuring a different flower drawing tutorial every day throughout May. (The House that Lars Built)


5  I don't have much to say about this video except that it totally hypnotized me and sometimes you just need that, you know? I hope the images blow your mind like they did mine. (Instrument)



A few more favorites...

Behind the jokes on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Between this one with Isaac and this one with Genevieve, I'm pretty much in podcast heaven.

How to roll with critical feedback.

How to talk yourself down from an anxiety spiral.

And, equally important, how to blow bubbles while wearing a mouth guard.

These are like a raging party for your ears.

Love these floral gift toppers.

This top couldn't be more perfect.

Favorite blog of the week: Room for Tuesday. I've been obsessing lately over this Ohio-based blog, which posts really impressive interior design projects and ideas that are both aspirational and practical for real lives. Love, love, love!


What links are you loving this week?


Our Happiness Project // Month 2 Recap: All About the Love


For those of you who have been keeping up around here, you know that Zach and I have been working our way through Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, doing one chapter each month. Last month we worked through chapter two, which was all about love and relationships, both romantic and with family and friends.

I'll admit, this month was really difficult for us. We have just both been so busy with work that thinking about things like a date night or leaving a little note to each other just really wasn't taking priority. But then that's part of the reason we're doing this in the first place, because we need more of a work/life balance. So while I can't say we hit every challenge out of the park, it was nice to have these topics in mind throughout the month. What we're sharing today are a few of the points that kind of changed our perspective, provided a little a-ha moment, and will hopefully stick with us for months to come.



Hugs Powered by Science

Z:  One thing I thought was cool in this chapter was the concept of the seven-second hug. Rubin references research that says six seconds is the minimum necessary hug time "to promote the flow of oxytocin and serotonin, mood-boosting chemicals that promote bonding." Focusing the hug and actually counting the seconds adds another layer of tension release and helps me ease my mind. It's calming to take that time to connect, especially in moments of stress.

A:  I really liked that he grabbed onto this concept, because I actually didn't even remember reading this particular part. Then one day when I was stressed out, he just hugged me and was counting. When he was done he just said, "It's science." (He can be a man of few words.) I thought this was really funny so every time it's happened since I have a little happy memory to go along with it. That plus the legitimate power of the longer hug has actually really been a really helpful way to combat stress this month.



No Dumping, No Snapping

A:  So I actually don't think we have any super serious problems when it comes to fighting. Not that we don't fight, but in my opinion, it's pretty normal relationship conflict. We also don't have kids yet, and I know that can really be a game-changer, so I'm prepared to eat my words when that day comes. One thing I didn't realize I already do with Zach is try to employ what Rubin refers to as "no dumping." Basically, I just can't expect Zach to be my partner, my best girlfriend, and my therapist. According to the book (and basic human observation), women have more empathy than men do and both men and women feel more intimate in relationships with women. So when I'm looking for an understanding ear, I try to go to Zach with only one very specific thing. If I do this (especially if I can do it calmly), he is always a big help. However, anything else and he gets overwhelmed, I end up hurt, and nothing is accomplished. And really, I can't blame him for that. After all, "It's science." ;)

Z:  It can feel overwhelming to get dumped on, so I definitely like it when we're focusing on just one problem at a time. For me, I chose to focus on not snapping at Ashley. I carry a lot of work-related stress, so I really tried to be mindful of how things like my tone of voice when I'm feeling overwhelmed can have an effect on both of our feelings.



Be a Love Mirror

A:  This was my favorite part of the chapter and something I hope sticks with me in the future. The concept is simple but carries a lot of impact: in order to show love you need to understand how a person wants to be treated. To understand this, it is important to look to how they act rather than what they say. Rubin talks about planning a party for her mother-in-law, and to explain this point, I am also going to use my parents as examples. When asked what they would like for their birthdays, they always say (as most of us do) that they don't really care. However, if we're trying to do better than this, we should put a little thought into figuring out what they actually do want. My mom, for our birthdays, tends to keep celebrations simple, but also beautiful, thoughtful, and with a few extra-special treats. So this helps me to know what she would like for her own birthday. A small and relaxed gathering with beautiful touches and something a little indulgent, like a pretty cupcake and some new jewelry, would make her feel happy and loved. My dad, on the other hand, loves to surprise people with elaborate, well-planned gifts and has even thrown a few surprise parties for others. He's a "the more, the merrier" kind of guy. So I know that when it's his birthday, something with a surprise element is the way to make him feel appreciated. Something like a big cookout with friends and family he hasn't seen in years would really make his day. Everyone places value in different kinds of acts of love, and a great way to figure out where another's values lie is to look at how they show love to others. It's kind of obvious, but I'm going to make a special point to try and actively think about this when celebrating others in the future.

Z:  I'll be honest, I hadn't really ever put thought into "how" to show someone I care about them. It has been pretty eye-opening how this concept is so simple and doesn't necessarily require more work, but the result can be so much bigger and so much more thoughtful. I can see how this could be useful in all types of interpersonal relationships. I feel like it's also a good guide for men who might struggle with connecting with others because it's such a straightforward way to understand someone. You don't have to have the answers, you just have to pay close enough attention and be more observant. If you are will to be receptive, people will show you how they would like to be treated.



Have you read The Happiness Project? Did any of these tips resonate with you? Were there any we haven't covered that you particularly liked? Let's chat it out in the comments! :)




For May, we're focusing on chapter three, which is all about "Aiming Higher" at work. Like I said earlier, this is pretty much always the main focus in our household these days. We also both are in transitioning periods with work, so I'm excited that it's coming at such an opportune time. Some topics covered include launching, embracing failure, asking for help, and working smarter. If you'd like to join in, grab your copy, read up, and check back in with us on the first Monday in June! (I also do a mid-month tip from the book, too, so make sure you're subscribed to receive new posts!)


Are there any areas in your professional life in which you would really like some tips? Let me know in the comments and I'll try to gear a future post around what I learn!





FRIDAY VIBES // Inspiration Boards


Sorry there's been a bit of radio silence around here the past week. I had a design opportunity come up and it has pretty much consumed my thoughts and time recently. I've been really immersed in gathering creative inspiration and along with that I've started becoming fascinated in seeing the way other people collect inspiration. Please enjoy my inspirational collage of inspirational collages. :)

Friday-Vibes-Inspiration-Board-Mother-Mag Friday-Vibes-Inspiration-Board-Home-Polish Friday-Vibes-Inspiration-Board-House-Beautiful Friday-Vibes-Inspiration-Board-A-Bubbly-Life Friday-Vibes-Inspiration-Board-Coco-Lapine Friday-Vibes-Inspiration-Board-Planete-Deco Friday-Vibes-Inspiration-Board-Hello-Giggles Friday-Vibes-Inspiration-Board-A-Beautiful-Mess Friday-Vibes-Inspiration-Board-French-by-Design Friday-Vibes-Inspiration-Board-Apartment-34

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Do you keep an inspiration board outside of Pinterest?


Weekly Roundup 17/52

Happy midweek, friends! It's officially T minus 2 days until the weekend so hang in there! In the meantime, maybe these links can help to get you through.

1  I LOVED the rainbow dripping candles at the Rosie Assoulin FW16, but I never even thought of recreating the look myself as a centerpiece. Good thing Ashley came through with this brilliant DIY. (Sugar & Cloth)  |  2  Anyone else take their earrings off all over the place? I'm thinking this cute brass pyramid earring holder could be a good office solution to help reign in the never-ending pile that accumulates on my desk. (A Beautiful Mess)


3  I always love these hand-written posts by Adam J. Kurtz, and this one about conquering the common creative fears is especially on point. (Design Sponge)  |  4  This IG account features an anonymous Londoner snapping pics as Where's Waldo at nostalgic landmarks. Aside from being hilarious that this is someone's real life, the pictures are actually really beautiful. (HonestlyWTF)


5  I love a good behind-the-scenes, and this interview with celebrity designer Naeem Khan, backstage at his Spring 2017 bridal show, doesn't disappoint. All the intricate details and dreamy colors- it's really just breath-taking. You'll have to click through for the video, but I promise you won't regret it.



Looking for a few more?

How cool are these beaded celebrity pins?!

Purple cacti + a Prince tribute = a post I can get behind.

You can now buy and live in Michaelangelo's old home.

Feeling lucky? Why not enter this Clay Mask giveaway from Hello Neverland or this Elizabeth Suzann giveaway from Lily Schlosser?

This one's kind of random, but I think these tooth fairy pillows are too adorable not to share.

I've been seeing this wolf print shirt everywhere and I'm in love.


What links are your favorites this week?


STUDIO DAYS // The Beginning Stages of HOWL


One of the hardest things about being a "creative" is that it can be a real challenge to wrap up for other people that age-old small talk go-to, "What do you do?" Sometimes I think you could ask my closest family and friends what I do all day and many of them wouldn't exactly know. I wear a lot of strange design "hats" and I'm not always the best about sharing the finer details of that with the world. Maybe it's classic middle child syndrome or something, but attention or praise is just about the last thing I even think of when I'm working on a project. It was pointed out to me recently that because of this, I don't really share enough of my creative work and that it possibly holds me back in progressing my career. This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. I often feel like the act of blogging alone is so self-focused that saying, "Hey guys, look at this other stuff, too!" is a little bit of overkill, but according to my friend (and every biz post ever written) this opinion is pretty off base.

Anyway, that is the long-winded backstory on this new post series. The short version: I'm hoping to start chronicling and sharing more of my projects here on the blog. My life lately has been pretty consumed with launching a clothing/accessories brand with my design partner, Shiree Houf. The brand, HOWL, is a combination of our last names. We just created a Facebook page and Instagram account about one minute ago (literally), so if you want to be among the first likes and follows, please hop on over! We have been very busy working on our first full collection for Alternative Fashion Week here in Columbus.


These are some very preliminary sketches. They've changed A LOT since this picture was taken, but I don't want to give away too much of our final designs. ;)



I've been a part of Alternative Fashion Week before as a band stylist and blogger. Those pics above, taken by Meghan Ralston, are of local bands, Trachete and The Salty Caramels. I LOVE styling shoots, especially with bands because they always have such cool personal style, but I've never actually shows a full fashion collection as a designer before, so that makes this year even more exciting for me.



In an attempt to not let a little thing like an out-of-reach budget hold us back, we ran a fundraising campaign selling handmade friendship bracelets and, because our friends and family are obviously incredible, we reached our goal! We actually met it on my birthday, so that was extra special. The materials list is pretty endless (think zippers, snaps, linings, garment bags, shoes, etc.) so these bad boys are still on sale for anyone interested. Donations of $10 come with a friendly rope bracelet, while $25 gets you a mix-and-match set of three.



Now that you've heard my official Shark Tank investment pitch, let me tell you about our collection! There are several points of inspiration: Star Wars, the 70s, athletic wear, chunky woven textures. It's got a lot going on, but there is one thing that every single piece has in spades and that's COLOR!! We are using a rainbow-inspired color scheme. The specific goal was to have a rainbow that was a little bit "off." Colors that are non-traditional to the good ole' ROY G. BIV, like salmon and mint, are what really make the color palette exciting to me.



We've been doing a lot of hand-crafted textiles, like the picture above. It's a black quilted "vegan" leather that we cut into strips and sewn into tubes, which we then used those to create our own woven textile. For now you'll have to use your imagination on what this will become, but I think the woven pieces are turning out so cool! They make me really excited to see everything in it's final stage.



We have a lot of white and denim pieces, but each look, even a classic flowing white shirt dress has a pop of color with a row of rainbow buttons. These buttons we actually made ourselves (and by these I mean several hundred of these) with a button tool because the only rainbow sets we found were the standard spectrum and, like I said, we're pretty committed to those "off" colors.



We have made a lot of fringe. We looked into buying fringe at first, but decided instead to make it out of white cotton denim and dye it an assortment of colors. In retrospect this idea might possibly have been crazy (I won't be starting a fringe-making club anytime soon), but I do love how the colors came out and I'm really excited for the fringed garments.



Thanks to the help of some friends, we were able to put together a little impromptu promo shoot. Our model, Madison Wilz, and photographer, Laurel Harvey, both deserve trophies because they helped squeeze this shoot into the narrowest of scheduling slots. Luckily, they're both total pros, so as much as we were flying by the seat of our pants that afternoon, I think the pictures turned out so good! If you're in the South/Central Ohio area and are looking for a great photographer, Laurel is really talented and working with her was wonderful. Our model, Madison, is actually my future sister-in-law and she'll be walking in our runway show, too. Isn't she the cutest? :)



The show is June 12th so the next weeks are going to be pretty intense. We've got a lot of Alternative Fashion Week-related events coming up, including model fittings, an event called Couture Cuisine, where chefs will create dishes inspired by some of the designers' past looks, a Gallery Hop Pop-up Shop, where we'll be selling some of our jewelry and accessories, and filming our designer interview videos, which will be played before our runway show.


Now the real question is, when in the world am I going to have time to get my ridiculous roots done?! For real though, I'm thinking about kicking my platinum up a notch to icy white, almost gray, like this gorgeous 'do. Please live up to your reader's civic duty and place your hair vote in the comments. ;) I can't wait to share more of the process and eventually the final product with you!


What do you think of the new blog series? Do you ever have a hard time taking credit for your work?


FRIDAY VIBES // Earth Candy


I've always had a thing for gemstones. My older sister had a collection when we were growing up which I obviously thought was the coolest thing ever. We used to go to this store in the mall, and I have no recollection of any details about this store, except that they had little gemstone grab bags for a couple dollars. Every mall trip we would each get one and it was so cool because it was like playing the childhood lottery. You could end up with our most coveted, an amethyst geode, or the baby's breath filler of the gem world, a stinking piece of petrified wood (which, to be fair, I still kind of loved). Anyway, with today being Earth Day and all, I thought it was the perfect occasion to celebrate the fact the our planet is so cool that it actually makes its own jewelry. Earth, you are truly a gem. :)

Friday-Vibes-Earth-Day-Gems-Flourite Friday-Vibes-Earth-Day-Gems-Pink-Pearls Friday-Vibes-Earth-Day-Gems-Candy-Gems Friday-Vibes-Earth-Day-Gems-Rainbow-Gem-Wall Friday-Vibes-Earth-Day-Gems-Blue-Druzy Friday-Vibes-Earth-Day-Gems-Opal-Geode Friday-Vibes-Earth-Day-Gems-Rainbow-Crystal-Grid Friday-Vibes-Earth-Day-Gems-Green Friday-Vibes-Earth-Day-Gems-Raw-Diamonds Friday-Vibes-Earth-Day-Gems-Scolecite Friday-Vibes-Earth-Day-Gems-White-Crystal-Grid

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Do you have a favorite gemstone?


Weekly Roundup 16/52

Hey pals! I hope you're looking for a little distraction today, because I've got some great links to share!


1  Have you heard of microblading? As someone who draws in about 70% of their eyebrows everyday, I'm really dying to try it. This post gives the scoop on the process and the results. (Maskcara)  |  2  My fave fitness guru, Cassey Ho of Blogilates, just launched her second POPFLEX collection. It's inspired by mermaids, so obviously it's beautiful, and the silhouettes are really innovative for fitness wear. (POPFLEX Active)


3  I absolutely love the theme of this "Good Vibes" ladies lunch. Plus, the dramatic mix of design elements makes for a really glam tablescape. (Mimosa Lane)  |  4  As an Interior Designer, Editor at Vogue, and Creative Director for Domino magazine, Sara Ruffin Costello obviously has great taste. This peak inside her home is so good at actually made my heart race. New life goal: get a showgirl headdress for my mantle. (One King's Lane)


5  With Mother's Day just around the corner, this seemed especially appropriate. And funny.... and very true. I love you, Mom!

Grab a shovel, there's more to dig!

Have you seen the new Gypset home collection from Zara? It's so pretty and super inexpensive.

These DIY almond vanilla clay facial soaps look heavenly.

I'd never pay this much for a bag, but if I did, it would be for this perfect peach from Delpozo.

So many gorgeous hair accessories happening here.

I'm loving the sophistication of these animal portraits- and you can download them for under $10!

A wonderful collection of quotes from the best gals around about being who you're meant to be.

I'm definitely DIYing something like this for our front door.

Lol. These cute "potheads" made my day.

This sequin set is one of the best things I've ever seen in my whole life.

What links are you loving?


Weekly Roundup 14/52

It's officially my birthday weekend! Let's start it off by celebrating my favorite links of the week! Are you in? Cool. Let's get this party started!


1  I would have never thought to DIY a filing cabinet to look like a public trash can, but the result is surprisingly clever and super cute. Don't you think? (Studio DIY)  |   2  I loved this piece on quirky textile artist, Kate Jenkins, who knits unexpected everyday items like sardines and sausages. Her life is focused, fascinating, and completely out-of-the-box. (We Are Scout)


3  One of my favorite jewelry designers launched a gorgeous seascape-inspired collection that would be perfect to wear to a beach wedding. I want ALL of those rings. (Melissa Joy Manning)  |  4  I melted over this charming animal-themed nursery room that walks the perfect line between designer chic and adorably sweet. (Cup of Jo)


5  I'm sure most of you have already seen this by now, but let's be honest, it cannot be watched too many times. The roller skating bit is comedic gold. And the end? I'm dead.

Want some more?

Have you seen La Ligne, the Vogue editor-founded line about lines?

DIY your way to organized jewelry with this earring rack and this ring sorter.

A great roundup of affordable rugs.

Staying sane when you work from home.

Dessert quinoa? Yes, please.

The best news for tv.

I want this kimono and these new Converse to wear all spring and summer long.

While we're at it, let's throw in these crazy cool sunglasses.


What links are you loving this week?


Weekly Roundup 13/52


Hey old F⋅R⋅I⋅E⋅N⋅D⋅S! It's been a little light around the blog this past week. I decided to take a little blogging break to catch up on life and hopefully get a few updates done on the site. I'll be taking the weekend off, too, but will be back on Monday for an update on Our Happiness Project, then will resume posting life as normal. Have any of you read the book, The Happiness Project, or been taking part here on the blog? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts this Monday!

And until then, let's dive into some of my favorite finds from around the internet this week...

1  I'm so inspired by these colorful embroideries by artist Karolin Reichardt, which are based on cellular forms and microorganisms. Her Hey Symmetric series is pretty amazing, too. (Brown Paper Bag)  |  2  These are chocolate chip cookies with buttered popcorn baked in them. I don't even have words. (Hunt & Harvest)


3  I'm obsessed with the design on this DIY painted eye statement wall. (A Beautiful Mess) Also on the radar, are these super-adorable DIY sleepy eyes sheets. (A Joyful Riot)  |  4  I love how this bathroom design strikes the perfect balance of sleek/modern and boho/cozy. Also, have you heard of avocado soap? Because it's really cute. (Room for Tuesday)


5  I have to admit, I'm pretty happy to see this trailer. Anyone else love Bridget Jones?

& & &

I'm "laughing out loud" at this. Things people tweeted in 2006.

And this: 90s teens in their bedrooms.

Strange questions to help you discover your life's purpose.

Best newsletters for bloggers.

The most beautiful napkins- and they're DIY.

Kind of obsessing over lace-up tops. This one and this one are at the top of my wishlist.

Speaking of laces, a big whoa to these shoes.

The most clever drawer pulls in all the land.

This SF exhibit.

This post is full of great home office ideas.

And this one has some major organization inspo for your accessories.


What links caught your eye this week?



FRIDAY VIBES // Fringe Benefits


There's never been a time when I haven't liked fringe, but lately I'm fringe crazy! From Western wear to vintage glam, rocker chic to boho flair, fringe adds so much attitude to a look. Today I'm taking a moment to celebrate this fun and fancy swinging trim.

Friday-Vibes-Fringe-Benefit-Silver Friday-Vibes-Fringe-Benefit-Rocker Friday-Vibes-Fringe-Benefit-Cowgirl Friday-Vibes-Fringe-Benefit-Evel-Knievel Friday-Vibes-Fringe-Benefit-Coat Friday-Vibes-Fringe-Benefit-Baroque Friday-Vibes-Fringe-Benefit-Flapper

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What are your feelings on fringe?


Weekly Roundup 12/52

Hi pals! I've had a pretty exciting week creatively. My design partner, Shiree, and I attended a model casting for our collection for Columbus' Alternative Fashion Week. We also started creating our first look and, if I do say so myself, it's already looking pretty gorgeous! I'm so excited to keep working on this collection and I'll be sharing some sneak peak photos with you as it progresses!

While we've been cutting/shredding/dying this week, others have been creating some internet gems. Here are a few of my favorites as of late. Enjoy!

1  I'm a big paper product fiend and was so impressed with this DIY Rainbow Stationery. The bright colors make it so much fun while the sharp lines make it really chic. (Studio DIY)  |  2  I'm fascinated with the giant brushstroke paintings by artist Donald Martiny. It's such a simple concept but I think the hefty textures and dramatic movement really make a strong statement. (Donald Martiny)


3   If you ask me, copper is the metal of the moment. This pretty DIY message board is a great way to incorporate it into your home. (Francois et Moi)  |  4  And if you (okay, me) need a little pick-me-up after your standard haven't-yet-fulfilled-my-dreams panic attack, you will be thrilled to read this post on wildly successful women who were late bloomers. (My Domaine)


5  I always love a new post from Alisa Burke's in-depth series on how to use different art supplies. This tutorial on crayons will change how you see that standard box of Crayolas.


I'm crazy inspired by this home decor.

An adorable succulent stamp set.

This flair has my name all over it.

How are we feeling about the changes to Instagram?

Coveting these sneakers.

This necklace.

And these sunglasses.

Design opportunities in your home that you're probably missing.

I love this DIY stool.

And am obsessed with these collars.

What links did you love this week?


Our Happiness Project // Tip #1: Tackling Clutter with the One-Minute Rule


If you saw this post two weeks ago, you know that Zach and I have started a personal quest for more balance and general happiness based on Gretchen Rubin's best-selling book, The Happiness Project. Basically, we are just following along with the book- one chapter per month- and taking some of Rubin's methods and applying them to our own lives.

We just started the first chapter this month, so there is still plenty of time to join in if you haven't yet! This month's topics are all about energy and vitality. Physical aspects of energy, such as sleep, exercise, and even "faking" energy, are emphasized. But what I really wanted to talk about today is the effects that de-cluttering and organization can have on energy levels.

One of my favorite discoveries in this chapter was the use of the "One-Minute Rule."

The One-Minute Rule: If a task can be completed in one minute, do it now.

Examples of tasks that fall within this rule: hanging up your jacket when you get home, opening and sorting mail as it comes in, putting your dinner plate in the dishwasher instead of the sink, etc. It seems like kind of a "no-duh" concept, but internalizing it and really being aware of opportunities to utilize it can make a big impact. Small tasks really do add up when it comes to staying organized. And furthermore, taking care of simple tasks in the moment helps to lighten the mental load that comes from having a constant list of things to do piling up, put off for a "better time."

I'm using the One-Minute Rule to work on a few things that always pile up for me. For example, making sure to clear trash or accumulated objects from my car and purse at the end of the day or making sure to answer emails that only require a quick reply in the moment instead of planning to go back to them and inevitably forgetting. I've also been trying to use passive time for more multi-tasking. For instance, I've realized that I can unload and reload the dishwasher in just the time it takes to boil water or wait for something to cook in the microwave. I can basically clean the whole kitchen while cooking if I'm really on the ball.


All of these quotes/images are from Gretchen Rubin's blog. If you're not already subscribed, I highly recommend it. It's a daily must-read for me.

If you're also going through the book or just want to keep up on the topic, make sure you're subscribed to get future posts! On the first Monday of every month we'll have an update on how the challenge is going, talk about what prompts are really helping, what was hard, etc. And if you're already taking part, I'd love to hear what's working for you so far!

Do you already use the One-Minute Rule in your life? And if not, do you think it could be helpful?