FRIDAY VIBES // Summer Braids

Braids in summer are the perfect combo: you get to keep your hair off your face and still rock some major style. Plus they're pretty much the ultimate solution to less-than-perfect hair woes, from hiding roots to extended your wash for another day. This week I'm looking to the ladies of Instagram for their endless braid creativity. I'm crazy about these looks, especially the newer trends of braid rings and mixed textures.

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Have you tried any of these braids?

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ON THE RADAR | July 2016

I'm sorry for the light posting schedule last week, but I've got a really good reason: WE ARE MOVING! You may remember when I worked wardrobe on the film Tiger this past winter in Cincinnati. Well, the work itself was a dream but the commuting and staying out of town was tricky, to say the least. Ever since we've been talking about moving from Columbus to Cincinnati for a while and we've decided to take the leap! Zach is smack dab in the middle of interviewing and making a career change so it's all really exciting... and stressful. We'll be moving to our hometown of Dayton for a few months while we solidify jobs and look for our new home. There are SO MANY things I'll miss about Columbus, but at the same time both of us our really excited to be back around family. Lots of positive change is brewing!

ON-THE-RADAR-July-16

1  NEEDING  //  Area rugs.  New home equals new decor! I've been shopping for area rugs for a while now and am really loving the finds at Hesby. The colors and patterns are total knockouts and the prices are better than many other places I've been looking.

2  COVETING  //  These blue suede shoes.  The pale blue on these No.6 stacked heel loafers sets my heart aflutter. I think they're a perfect combination of pretty and practical, polished but fun. They're out of my price range, but a girl can dream, right? I'll be keeping an eye out for a pair that fits better in my budget.

3  PINNING  //  Colorful collections.  I'm often inspired by the color palettes of found objects, like this pretty spectrum of gummy bears. It can be anything really - pastel pieces of gum, brightly colored soaps, and on and on. My Color Wheel board on Pinterest holds all my favorite sources of color inspiration.

 4  WANTING  //  A pretty wax seal.  I love paper mail and, with blogging and design projects, the opportunity to send a thank you card comes up quite often. I'd love to up my stationery game with a classically cool, personalized wax seal. Backtozero on Etsy has some great affordable kits.

5  APPLAUDING  //  @alliepal's #the100dayproject.  Local creative boss lady, Allie, has challenged herself with the impressive task of creating a painting every day for 100 days. I'm a big fan of the series and her fresh color choices. They're really unlike anything else I've seen. You can check out her paintings for #the100dayproject on Instagram or sign up for news of when they become available for sale.

6  PLANNING  //  Our photo shoot for The Columbus Book Project.  I've been working on creating looks for an upcoming photo shoot as part of The Columbus Book Project, which will eventually become a Columbus-based coffee table book featuring high-fashion spreads to celebrate local creatives and landmarks. Our shoot is this week and I've been going crazy over the sneak peeks they've been leaking on Instagram. The photos are so impressive and I feel really honored to be a part of this project.

7  REMINISCING  //  With Marissa and Summer.  I've been re-watching seasons of The OC while I work and it's been hilarious and amazing. The main attraction has definitely been the early aughts fashion time warp of pretty much every ridiculous thing I wore in my teen years. Plus it poses the ancient philosophical question: who is the true sartorial queen of the OC, Marissa or Summer?

Are you Team Marissa or Team Summer?

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OUR HAPPINESS PROJECT // Month 4 Recap: Family Traditions

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Hi friends! Are you feeling happy? I'm back again with the monthly update of Our Happiness Project, where Zach and I have been following along chapter-by-chapter with Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. Last month we worked on chapter four, which is all about family. I would certainly recommend this chapter to parents. It's loaded with simple and effective advice for communicating with your children. I especially loved the part about acknowledging the reality of others' feelings. But even if you don't have children, like us, I think a lot of the chapter's talking points can be applied to all relationships.

Zach and I were particularly interested in creating traditions and capturing memories, because it's an area in which we undoubtedly fail. To say we are "non-traditional" is an understatement. In fact, I don't even know our anniversary (I know! I'm the worst.) and thus we don't really have one. We have no holiday decorations. We take very few pictures. I've just never been horribly sentimental and it's like the core of my being wants to reject most aspects of tradition. At the same time, however, as we are becoming more and more of a family unit, I know if we put in the effort for some sense of tradition, even though it's not always my style, it would make us happier in the long-run. Here are a few ways we're trying in the hopes of adding some more sentiment into our lives.


Man with Camera

1. Take More Pictures

This one is hard, because it's always been my belief that if you're putting everything you're doing all over social media you're not really enjoying it in the moment. I do think that's true, I mean, who likes eating dinner with someone who's on Snapchat the whole time? I definitely do not. So I've been trying to find the happy medium. The Fourth of July, for instance, is my family's big get-together holiday, so Zach and I both made it a point to take more photos that weekend. I thought it was really fun getting behind-the-scenes shots, but I realized when I was back home that we had taken zero pictures of ourselves together. I also didn't get any pictures of my mom. Moral of the story, there is some progress to be made, but it's a step in the right direction.

*Sidenote: I think I avoided this for a long time because I don't particularly like photos of myself, but I'm really trying to focus more on the importance of preserving memories and less on the vanity aspect of it. If you are a fellow photo-avoider, I'll tell you it gets easier and better. My sister even told me after this weekend I've gotten more photogenic. She was obviously lying, of course, but it was still nice to hear. Maybe, if anything, with practice I have become a little less awkward, which I'll count as a win.


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2. Smashbooking

Have you heard of smashbooking? It's basically like scrapbooking but much simpler and a bit artsier/messier (right up my alley). Zach and I have been collecting concert tickets for years. It is, in fact, the only actual collection of anything we have. I'm very fond of the fact that we've kept all these stubs, especially since it's out of the ordinary for me (I tend to be a little trigger happy with getting rid of things). I've realized that I do love this little collection and it's not like it's taking up any real space in my life, so I started thinking about how to branch this idea out. I've started picking up mementos, like the program and my backstage pass from the Alternative Fashion Week show, and am really excited to continue collecting and start smashbooking. And by "smashbooking" I really mean taping things in a notebook and scribbling little extra notes. The goal is to keep it simple so that it's something I'll want to continue.

*Is smashbooking something you're interested in learning more about? Let me know if it is, and I'll share some ideas/progress in a future post.


Vanity Tray with Makeup

3. Mini-Anniversaries

I mentioned above that we don't have an anniversary, which is totally true. I've never been a calendar date person, even for events by which I was hugely affected. I remember the feelings, I remember the details, I simply don't care as much about the actual day it occurred. Because of this, I actually don't even know when we started dating. In fact, don't even agree on the year, so clearly this is not an area of strength for us. Somewhere down our relationship road, I began sort of wishing we had one, so we made up the idea of having monthly anniversaries. They were on the 7th of every month, just like both of our birthdays. It was really fun- I'd wake up and sing some made up song about it and we'd just be really nice to each other and have a little date. Simple yet, as far as the happiness meter is concerned, horribly effective. Somewhere along the way, our schedules got the best of us and that tradition fell off completely. So this past month we decided to reinstate it and I'm really happy about it.

*If you're thinking about something similar, I just want to throw it out there that we almost never spend very much money on these anniversary dates. It's basically like any other day as far as extravagances go. It's much more about the thought put into it and just the general feel of it being "your" day. So try not to let things like time or money get in the way. They're very real hindrances, but an occasion can be made special even when there isn't much of either.


Cooking Citrus Salad

4. Holiday Traditions

If you're still with me at this point, you know what's coming: we don't have any real holiday traditions. And our entire holiday decor storage consists of two stockings. Literally. I have a friend that thinks this is a very sad thing but it's never really bothered me because we are always spending holidays out of town visiting our families and taking part in the larger, extended family traditions. But still, I got to thinking this past month that it might be nice to actually start making some traditions of our own. One tradition we started, really on accident, came from an only half-serious idea of Zach's. He wanted to eat giant drumsticks while we watched the Game of Thrones season finale and be like a barbarian (this is a common goal of his, with or without tv finales). I was a little less on board with the Renaissance Fair food, but we settled for rotisserie chicken. We had some ice cream for dessert, because "Winter is Coming," and the idea of themed season finale dinners was born. It's silly, but we love to watch series together, so it kind of just adds another element of fun. I'm already thinking of an all-A dinner for when I make him watch the Pretty Little Liars finale.


Do you have any weird/awesome family traditions?

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This month we're working on chapter five is all about being serious about play, finding time to have more fun, and appreciating silliness. If you want to read along with us, I'll be sharing our recap Monday, August 1st!

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Weekly Roundup 27/52

Week after week the internet is full of gems. Here are a few of my favorites as of late...

1  Seriously, how beautiful are those drinks?! I'm pinning these rosé cocktails (and their pretty pink cups) because they would be absolutely perfect for a shower. And pretty much any other day of your life.  (Design Love Fest)  |   2  The home of FleaMarketFAB's Jennifer Harrison-Ciacchi is exploding with creativity and inspiring design. (The Glitter Guide)

 

3  I've been trying to do a lot of projects utilizing fabric scraps lately, both from a budget and clutter-control perspective. I'm saving this super-cute denim hexagon pillow tutorial to put my varying shades of old jeans to good use. (Lil Luna)  |  4  Doesn't this DIY tropical enzyme ice face mask sound absolutely heavenly in this heat? Like please get on my skin immediately. (Hello Glow)

 

5  With all the jumbled lyrics and consistent nipple exposure, it can be easy to forget that Rihanna is also an epic artist and vocal talent. Her video for "Sledgehammer," the theme song to the new Star Trek movie, was shot using IMAX cameras and was premiered in theaters, as it should have been. Because it's beautiful.

And check out these...

The secret to thicker braids.

28 things to consider framing.

My style needs a boost lately so I'm excited to try this 30-day closet confidence challenge.

#growingupshy has been trending on Twitter and some of these are pretty hilarious.

7 totally free career-advancing classes you can enroll in now.

This was eye-opening: Sheryl Sandberg on the Myth of the Catty Woman.

And my fave blogger of the week: Elise Blaha Cripe for this adorable 1 second everyday video, which I didn't even realize was a thing but now definitely want to do. And also for her #100daysofelisepeptalks and her Elise Gets Crafty podcast. Oh, and her Get to Work Book, because she does everything ever and is amazing.

What were your favorite links this week?

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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?

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FRIDAY VIBES // Fine Art and Hip Hop

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In my opinion, art and music are two of the most important aspects of life, so I love to celebrate anytime they work hand-in-hand. The rap-meets-Renoir Tumblr account, Fly Art, got a lot of buzz a while back for their brilliant pairings of fine art paintings and hip-hop lyrics, bringing new meanings to both. These are a few of my current favorites.

Friday-Vibes-Fly-Art-Hip-Hip-Paintings-Formation Friday-Vibes-Fly-Art-Hip-Hip-Paintings-Forever-Ever Friday-Vibes-Fly-Art-Hip-Hip-Paintings-Eat-Your-Brain Friday-Vibes-Fly-Art-Hip-Hip-Paintings-Stanky-Leg Friday-Vibes-Fly-Art-Hip-Hip-Paintings-Cant-Touch-Dis Friday-Vibes-Fly-Art-Hip-Hip-Paintings-Check-Yo-Self Friday-Vibes-Fly-Art-Hip-Hip-Paintings-Call-All-The-Shots Friday-Vibes-Fly-Art-Hip-Hip-Paintings-Diamonds-in-the-Sky

Aren't they fun? I'm thinking this idea could make for a really great thrift store art DIY... And If you like them as much as I do, you can even buy a piece to wear on your person over at Rad. I want this one.

**PSA: The selections featured here are more PG-rated than some of the other lyrics on the site. So if that sounds like something you are not be into, you have been warned.

Are you a fan of Fly Art?

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The LISTS // March: Spring Fresh

You guys, I'm really excited about this month's lists! Spring is just around the corner and I'm really feeling the buzz of energy that comes with the season. It's great to feel like something new is happening, isn't it?

This wishlist and playlist are dedicating to exactly that: the fresh, brand new feeling of spring. I've got some items I'm coveting as well as some of my favorite songs right now, all fresh and brand-spanking new!

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I have seriously been listening to this on repeat. It's equal parts uplifting and mellow, which is basically my dream combo. You can listen to this playlist and all my others on Spotify here. And if you use Spotify regularly, let's follow each other! I'd love to hear what's on your playlists.

What are you excited about for Spring?

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Weekly Roundup 11/52

This week's links roundup began with me accidentally deleting my entire folder containing the bookmarked posts I was planning on sharing. Don't ever delete your bookmarks friends. There is no CTRL+Z option when it comes to Chrome. So that was fun to recover, and it's why this post is coming in so late this week.

With that said, I'm ready for a break and I bet you are, too. You might as well put off adult responsibilities and enjoy my favorite finds of the interweb lately.

 

1  Kelly's weekly post of her workday outfits is always one of my favorites. Her colorful, creative wardrobe is so inspiring! (Studio DIY)  |  2  Speaking of inspiration, these illustrations of fashion week make my heart flutter. Also, I just followed all of these illustrators on Instagram. (Vogue)

 

3  Can you believe this chic throw pillow was made with pom poms and felt glue? (Almost Makes Perfect)  |  4  This post, about a widow's home makeover, brought tears to my eyes. (A Cup of Joe)

 

5  I found this cover of Blue Monday on 1930s instruments mesmerizing.

Want some more?

Life lessons from a 90-year-old.

Maximizing productivity.

I'm working on this and it is sssooo hard.

I think this line is really cool.

Why your closet doors need ceiling medallions.

Crushing on black ceilings and painted brick.

The cutest barrette.

This gorgeous cake.

And the sweetest little tattoo.

 

What links did you love this week?

 

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In Case You Missed It // Standout Shows from Paris Fashion Week

After several weeks of pretty obsessively consuming fashion week news, I was starting to feel a little uninterested towards Paris Fashion Week. I was pretty sure I had seen all the statements that could be made this year, but the Paris designers made it clear that there was still a lot more to be excited about. I thought these following collections were absolute standouts in vision and innovation.  

Standout-Shows-from-Paris-Fashion-Week-FW16-Balenciaga

I think former Vetements designer Demna Gvasalia's debut collection for Balenciaga brought a new air of excitement to the brand. With a little bit of everything- off-the-shoulder puffer jackets, giant glasses chains, stirrup pants worn over the shoe, and even candy cane prints- it is a bit overwhelming, but in the best way. It's exciting, innovative, and as Vogue referred to the collection, "spectacular" and "sensational."

Click to see the full collection.

 

Standout-Shows-from-Paris-Fashion-Week-FW16-Chanel

There has been speculation that Karl Lagerfeld's presentation, a complete retrospective of past Chanel shows, may be a sign that he is stepping down as Creative Director. His sweeping homage to the brand is clear in the obvious nods to Coco, with the layered jewelry, impeccably coordinated accessories, and the multitude of tweed separates, particularly the gorgeous deconstructed tweed skirts. And while it does seem the perfect full-circle note to end on, it's entirely possible that the 82-year old (who claims he will never retire) was just showing a sense of humor regarding the rumors. Either way, this show served as another reminder of the power and importance the Lagerfeld/Chanel legacy.

Click to see the full collection.

 

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Loewe was the show that perhaps made me feel the most happy. The handkerchief hem skirts, the bold statement jewelry (which included large cat face pendants), the bustiers acting as belts, etc. all worked to create something that seems very grown-up, very polished, yet still has plenty of ease. Graceful is the word that comes to mind.

Click to see the full collection.

 

Standout-Shows-from-Paris-Fashion-Week-FW16-Dries-Van-Noten

If the Dries Van Noten girls were the cast of some dark and glamorous film, I would watch it over and over. Inspired by the affair of Marchesa Luisa Casati and the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, the look was rich in textures and moody in palette, offset by charming pearl embellishments. Standouts for me include the faux-fur collars and feathered ruffs, the sculptural heeled footwear, and the various ways that both classic prep uniform/varsity wear and pajama dressing were incorporated.

Click to see the full collection.

 

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Nicolas Ghesquière's collection for Louis Vuitton was among the most highly acclaimed shows of the season. There are more than a few references to the fashion house's past, with 90s-era slip dresses, luggage-inspired bags, and trenches that are truly innovative in silhouette. Elements that I was most excited about include the sturdy combat boots (especially the silver ones), the patent leather pants, and the t-shirt sleeved dresses and tops.

Click to see the full collection.

 

More worth checking out...

All serene at Cèline.

Poetry in fashion at Chloé.

The coolest girls at Elie Saab.

The bejeweled tapestries at Mui Mui.

The latest in sleeves at Roland Mouret.

Beautiful savages at Maison Margiela.

My heart skipped a beat for the prints and fabrics at Stella McCartney.

Ballet-inspired layers at Valentino.

Saint Laurent part two, the couture collection. Tell me these looks don't take you back to when Brenda and Kelly wore the same prom dress on 90210.

 

What collections were your favorite this season?

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Weekend Reading Vol. 15

Happy Sunday, pals! I have so many links to love this week- let's dig in!...

1  I'm fascinated by the amount of detail in these tiny paintings by artist Karen Libecap. (Bored Panda)  |  2  The Dress the Rainbow project is one of the most brilliant, aesthetically-pleasing ideas I've seen in a long time. Click through for a video of the full rainbow. (The House that Lars Built)

 

3  Oh my goodness, the detail in this editorial is ah-maaaz-ing! (Honestly WTF)  |  4  Adding "bake these Paleo Pumpkin Bars" to the fall to-do list. They look and sound like gluten-free heaven. (Hummusapien)

 

5  I'm pretty stoked about this marble nail DIY tutorial. (And that matching phone case!)

 

Looking for a few more?

The Free People September lookbook is 70s perfection.

Tinder for font pairing.

Mood rings!

The perfect summer-to-fall transitional dress.

I need this brilliant envelope addressing tool.

Primark has hit the US!

These cupcakes are equal parts disturbing and adorable.

A cool way to patch denim.

Love this shirt and this sweater.

And my favorite look of the week.

 

What links are you loving this week?

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Weekend Reading Vol. 11

From gorgeous design to inspiring projects, the internet was full of awesome finds this week. Here, a few of my faves...

1  My latest art obsession comes from Raven Roxanne, an abstract artist who really floors me with her sense of color. I especially love the faceless silhouettes in her Girls with Flowers series. (Raven Roxanne)  |  2  As far as plus-size fashion goes, I think ASOS Curve really stands out for being edgy and fashion-forward. The new fall lookbook (starring Gabi Fresh) is seriously awesome. (Gabi Fresh)

 

3  I'm very intrigued by this interactive book, Start Where You Are, with its gorgeous illustrations and prompts aimed at helping readers nurture their creativity. (Brown Paper Bag)  |  4  And have you heard of The Scout Project? Maybe I'm just trying to fill a childhood void from never having any merit badges sewn onto my Girl Scout sash (#middlechildproblems). ;) But, seriously, I just think the whole project is adorable. (The Private Life of a Girl)

 

5  I seriously love Jason Segel's perspective. (Austin Kleon)

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Jason Segel on being okay with being bad until you’re good:

I’m willing to be bad for as long as it takes, until I’m good….I don’t have a sense of shame. I just don’t. If I’ve hurt someone’s feelings, if I’m mean to somebody, I’ll lament over that for days. I’m that dude. I’ll lose sleep over mundane stuff. But I don’t really have the thing of, “Oh, I’ve embarrassed myself.” I just don’t understand why I would stop trying to play piano even though I’m not good at it. I want to be good at it. So why wouldn’t I keep playing?

Just. Keep. Working.

 

But wait! There's more...

Fascinated by these Japanese words. I'm a total Irusu.

In case you missed the "juicy" news- so excited!

Possibly the most gorgeous jewelry collection ever.

An interesting take on marbling DIYs.

"There were no wolves in this movie." Hilarious.

Coveting these shoes, this skirt, and this crazy cool jacket.

 

What were your favorite links this week?

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Dress Your Nest: East Coast vs. West Coast Retro Style

My favorite thing about the 70s trend explosion as of late is that there are so many styles to choose from that all fall under the same retro umbrella. Just check out the last two seasons of Mad Men and you'll see what I mean. The style differences between the New York and LA sets alone are so distinct, giving off completely different vibes in each place. For instance, when I think of East Coast retro style, I picture a graphic, structured look. This downtown aesthetic in general can be described as crisper and more polished than its Western counterpart.

Here's my take on the 70s trend, East Coast style, for both your home and and your wardrobe.

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runway looks  1  |  2  |  3  |  4

bag + table  |  boots + mirror  |  necklace + lamp  |  tray + bracelet  |  dress + sheets  |  pillow + scarf

 

 

West Coast style, to me, is the other extreme. Instead of sharp and bold, this look is all about being relaxed and free. It's at once both more casual and more glamorous.

Here are a few of my favorite 70s-inspired West Coast finds.

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runway looks  1  |  2  |  3  |  4

chair + clutch  |  light + necklace  |  shoes + pillow  |  jacket + glasses  |  pants + rug  |  cuff + table

 

My personal style is definitely more on the West Coast side. I'm a sucker for all things velvet and/or gold and I love a good flowing fabric.

What about you? Do you rock the 70s trend in your home or wardrobe? Are you an East or West Coaster when it comes to style?

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Friday 5: Top 5 Products Changing my Life Right Now

There's nothing quite like finding that perfect product. The one that makes your whole life run smoother. The one that you want to tell everyone about. Sharing is caring, right?

Here are five killer products that I'm loving this summer.

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1  Laura Geller Bright-N-Balance Baked FoundationYou guys, I do not have the naturally flawless, gorgeous skin of my dreams. Mine can actually be pretty problematic, from uneven tone to way-too-regular breakouts. But ever since I started using this powder foundation, I get compliments on my skin all the time. I usually wear it as a powder over my foundation, but it's also great as a stand-alone base, which is perfect in a hurry. This is a total face game-changer.

2  IKEA Mala Paintbrush SetThis brush set is from the children's section at IKEA, but it stands up to some serious art, too. I love these brushes for watercolors and the shorter, wider handles make them a perfect (read: sturdy) choice for easy script hand-lettering. But the real kicker here is the price- $1.49 for a set of six! Amazing!

3  Juice Plus+ Orchard and Garden Blend CapsulesI really can't say enough great things about Juice Plus+ supplements and all the positive health changes I've noticed since I started taking them. I have more energy, less brain fog, and have been less susceptible to getting sick. Also (bonus), my hair and nails grow at lightning speed. I'm hoping to add the Vineyard Blend to my daily dose soon for an added antioxidant boost!

4  ShazamI know, I know. You're like "Welcome to the early 2000s, Ashley." Shazam is definitely not a "new" life-changing product, but lately it's been a major facet in my playlist game. You know how you're always out and you hear some great song you haven't heard in a while and you think "I need to put this on my playlist," but then you go home and just forget all about it? Well, lately, anytime I'm otherwise busy but I hear a song I love, I just Shazam it. Like I'm bookmarking it. And then about once a week, I go through the songs I've tagged and add them to my playlist. This is probably not as useful or brilliant as I'm making it out to be, but it's a method that is totally working for me right now. (PS you can check out my slammin' work mix here.)

5  Victoria's Secret Bra ExtendersI was apparently leading an ill-fitted life under a rock somewhere, because I didn't know these existed until recently. If you haven't ever tried a bra extender, hear me when I say this: these will change your life. They come in a four pack and work with practically any bra you can think of to add a little extra length to the band. My habit of avoiding fitting rooms had left me with a drawer full of pretty bras that were almost the perfect fit, so this $16 wonder pack literally multiplied my options! I'm obsessed.

Now it's your turn! What products are you crazy about right now?

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Weekend Reading Vol. 9

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?

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#FWSBeautyChallenge Recap + Winner Announced!

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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...

#FWSBeautyChallenge-IG-Week4-Fun-Summer-Braid

 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! :)

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Using the "Power of 10" to Solve Life's Problems, Big and Small

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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.

 

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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.

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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?

 

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Weekend Reading Vol. 8

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?

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#FWSBeautyChallenge Recap and Week 4 Inspiration

 

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!

 

#FWSBEAUTYCHALLENGE-giveaway-July

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!

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#MonthlyMani: DIY Snake Print Nails

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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#FWSBeautyChallenge Recap and Week 3 Inspiration

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!

#FWSBEAUTYCHALLENGE-giveaway-July

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!

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