First Day of Fall

first day of fall

(#TBT to some amazing fall hiking from last year!)

It’s finally the first day of fall!

While it has felt like fall around here for a couple weeks now, I’m so glad it’s officially here. Now I won’t feel bad about adding pumpkin spice to my coffee, oatmeal, bread – just about everything!

Summer was great, but around here it was just too hot to enjoy. I love being outdoors, and fall is the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy some amazing weather. Even the rain is something I welcome happily. It’s the perfect excuse to curl up under a blanket and read a book…or take a nap. I can’t wait to spend more time hiking, working, and generally being productive instead of hiding from the heat.

Fall also signifies the start of a new school year for most people. Even though I’m not a student or teacher anymore, I always considered fall the time of new beginnings. So to ring in the fall, I plan to sit down and carefully make plans and goals to round out the rest of the year. There are so many things I wanted to get done this year that I didn’t get around to, and many more I haven’t started yet. Just because the year is coming to a close doesn’t mean we can’t get shit done, right?

So to all of you like me to consider fall to be their favorite season, get out there and enjoy the changing leaves, damp air, and maybe even a latte or two. Hell, if I remember I’ll even show you how I make my own PSL – they’re easy and oh so tasty!

How do you plan to spend your fall this year? Do you have any traditions you take part in, or favorite foods you like to make? Let me know in the comments!

Fall Beauty Updates

fall beauty updates

(Sorry for the crap quality photo. Sometimes things just don’t go your way!)

Fall is finally here!

I’m looking forward to updating my beauty routine to reflect the new season. Summer is easy, with little makeup and simple updos. Once the weather cools, I get excited about the new beauty trends I can try out. It must stem from my years as a teacher. Instead of stocking up on new school supplies, I’m focusing on new lip colors and some old favorites I still love.

Fall Beauty Update

L’Oreal Preference Hair Dye in Medium Chestnut Brown (5CB)

For many reasons I should probably write about in another post, I chose to stop dying my hair around Christmas last year. It turns out that while I don’t really have any grey hair yet to cover (yay genetics!), my natural hair color is boring the shit out of me. So I’m excited to mix it up for fall with a deeper, warmer hue.

Not Your Mother’s “Love for Hue” Shampoo & Conditioner

Since I haven’t dyed my hair in almost a year, I want to make sure what I do sticks. I used other products from them in the past and they were all great, so I look forward to using these too!

Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation (Classic Ivory 120)

I have been using the “Dewy + Smooth” version of this all summer and loved it. For fall, I wanted to switch it up and go with the matte version, which is just as great. My skin gets stupid oily in the winter, so this should help.

NYX Butter Gloss in Red Wine Truffle

Okay, this was a total impulse buy. I don’t own a dark red lipgloss, and this shade is perfect for fall. The best part of the butter gloss is that you can really customize the look. I usually wear a little of it more like a stain, but it also looks amazing piled on too!

CoverGirl Clump Crusher Mascara in Black Brown

This is my all-time favorite mascara. Nothing new – just bought a new one after I got pink eye and had to throw mine out.

NYX Slim Eye Pencils in Charcoal and Light Brown

I have these in black and dark brown, but I like going a bit lighter on the eyes if I’m going darker on the lips. These are a great because I don’t have to be super precise when applying them, and on lazy fall days that’s just perfect.

Earth Therapeutic’s Triple Butter Intensive Foot Balm

I’ll gladly admit that my feet get absolutely wrecked in the fall/winter months. Changing out sandals for boots leaves them pretty dry and gross. So this year, I’m hoping to keep on top of it with a nightly ritual of foot balm and cozy socks. This one smells and feels amazing, and not at all greasy.

What are you planning to stock up on this fall? I’m still looking for a good hand lotion, so if you have any good suggestions, let me know in the comments!

Loving Lately: The Year of The Work

the year of the work

When I was a kid, I longed for a pen pal. I remember thinking how great it would be to have a friend on the other side of the world or country to talk to. We could bond over our favorite television shows, growing up, and silly things kids talk about. I tried a few times to keep up with old friends after we moved, but it never lasted long. Then the internet happened, and writing letters all but disappeared.

When Kayley Vandenberg, a Michigan-born blogger I’ve followed for years, wanted to start mailing out a monthly letter to her followers, I was hooked. She started “The Year of the Work” as a way to share her journey to find peace within herself, and to work out some things that were too intimate for an online forum. I look forward to getting her letter in the mail every month like I did when I was a kid waiting on a pen pal.

To honor the amount of work she puts into these letters, I make a point of taking each letter to a special place to read them. I also treat myself to a donut (a totally non-intentional thing). When I sit down to read, I take my time to pour through everything – often reading it a couple times. It’s a great time for me to relax and catch up with a woman who feels like an old friend. One month, I even ran into an old friend while reading my letter. He’s someone I know from college, and it was bittersweet to catch up with him. It was a nice reminder of a time when I used to have friends. (I’m only sort of joking about that…)

Kayley has also inspired me to start journaling more for myself, which has been a lifesaver lately. I don’t have people in my life I feel comfortable venting to. Most people I know have a tough time keeping things to themselves. Having a journal is a great alternative. I didn’t know I needed the journal this much. Now that I’m getting the hang of it, I actually miss it on the days I don’t write.

Now all I need to do is muster up the guts to write her back someday! I’m working on it, girl!

If you have been a long-time follower of Kayley, and want to join The Year of The Work:

Click here to sign up for the mailing list, or to read more about Kayley’s project.

Click here to donate to cover the cost of your letters or sponsor someone else’s.

Sick Day (or Week)

sick day

(via Pinterest)

Hi.

I need to take a sick day. Better make it a sick week.

I’m writing this post on Monday afternoon after getting maybe 3 hours of sleep the night before. I also haven’t been able to breathe out of both nostrils since last Wednesday. Gross, right?

This is either seasonal allergies (which I hope it is) or walking pneumonia I caught from our recent houseguests’ kids (which I hope it isn’t). If it’s the latter, I am banning out-of-state visitors with kids from our home for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, I’m going to set the bar really low and take the rest of the week off. I can barely think straight between the allergy meds and the construction still going on outside. All I really want right now is a nap, but I might have to settle for more coffee instead.

And ice cream. Send ice cream. It’s the only thing I can eat right now.

Fall Home Wishlist

fall home wishlistAs the temperatures here finally dip a little, I’m starting to think hard about making our home more cozy for fall and winter. While I don’t usually do much more than break out the candles and throw blankets, it’s good to fantasize once in a while about what you would do if you had an endless budget.

Here are a few things I would totally add to my fall home wishlist!

A Pendleton Blanket

I’ve been coveting these blankets for years, but they are way outside my budget! Pendleton did a line of blankets to celebrate the National Park Services’s centennial, and I really like the “Badlands Olive” pattern. It’s also a park I’ve been to (well, drove through), so that would be a fun story to go along with it. Alas, $100 is a lot to pay for a throw blanket. Maybe next year!

Cozy Fall Artwork

The artwork in our house is a complete mish-mash of random stuff both my husband and I like. Unfortunately, we also like very different things, so it makes our home look inconsistent. I’d love to replace some of our artwork with things that are reflective of the season, and this print from Society6, titled “Through The Trees” by Tordis Kayma would be perfect.

I might also go through my nature photos and print some out from Snapfish. This might also motivate me to take my camera out hiking this fall to add to my collection!

Candles…of course

While I already own a lot of candles, most of them are floral or unscented. I’m insanely picky about scents – no food smells, mainly. This sucks because most fall/winter candles have cinnamon, vanilla, pumpkin, or apple scents to them.

Candles are also a great way to explore local brands without breaking the bank. I’d love to add some pine/woodsy scents around the home, and this candle from Seattle-based company Whiskey Wicks sounds perfect. The description really does sound like a walk in the park (hence the name…haha), which is one of my favorite things to do in the fall. It might be the Pacific Northwest spirit talking, but I also like the idea of supporting local businesses!

New Pillows

This isn’t really a budget issue with my fall home wishlist. It’s an issue of having a husband who destroys pillows. I can’t buy decorative pillows for our living room. Within a month, they’ll be slept on, crushed, and smothered in Old Spice. However, I do have a small, white couch in my office space now that he doesn’t use, and I’d love to add some decorative pillows to add some color.

I really like these pillows from Urban Outfitters. These seem sturdy enough for my light lounging, and pretty enough to keep out year-round. I love the pattern, and that they’re woven to look like a kilim rug, which seems to be all the rage now.

Well there you have it – a budget-breaking game plan to make my home cozy for fall! Of course, I’m still on the hunt for things around the house, but at a more reasonable price for my tiny, tiny budget! I’ll have to share with you what I find!

Being Alone vs Being Lonely

alone vs lonely

A popular topic online lately is the notion of being alone vs being lonely. It seems that even though we’re permanently connected to the world via technology, people still struggle with loneliness. We grapple with how to deal with both in a healthy manner, or if we even can at all.

In the blogosphere, I read several articles aimed at trying to answer this question. I recently read Darling Magazine’s “Loneliness vs. Being Alone: What You Need to Know” and found it a great starting point if you’re not sure where you fall. Also, I found articles devoted to embracing being alone, like Darling Magazine’s “5 Signs You Were Made for Solo Travel,” Travel on the Brain’s “How to Not Feel Awkward When Eating Alone,” and LifeHacker’s “What to Do If You Start Choking When You’re Alone” (a nod to Liz Lemon’s greatest fear of living solo). Even my “The Year of the Work” letter from Kayley this month focused on the idea of being okay with living solo.

This notion is also flooding into the wellness industry. There are articles, apps, and videos focusing on meditation, self-awareness, self-care, and mindfulness. People are opening up to the idea that being alone can be positive and healthy. Taking a break from technology is also more common as a way to re-connect with oneself.

In my own life, I find myself focusing on whether I’m lonely or just cool with solitude. I think with all the messages I’m seeing around, it’s hard to ignore.

Am I lonely, or just a loner?

As a child and teenager, I spent a lot of time alone riding my bike, listening to music, reading, and just staring at the sky. I was still a social kid, between school, sports, and hanging out with my sister – but being alone was cool too. When I started college, I did what many of us do – I got wrapped up in being busy. I spent all my time in classes, volunteering, working, and being with friends.

Then I graduated, started working 40+ hours a week, and got married. The notion of doing things alone (or for myself) faded away for a long time. After a few years of this, my mind and body started to fight back. I was unhappy and unhealthy. So I bought a bicycle, started hiking and biking alone, started a blog, and spent time in coffee shops grading papers. I loved it at first.

Unfortunately, even in these times I spent alone, I never embraced it. Grading papers is still an obligation to someone else, which wasn’t a healthy use of my alone time. I hiked or biked when I was “allowed” to, and bargained with myself whether I had the time before being home to cook dinner, teach a class, or spend time with my husband. I would rush through hikes, race home on the bike, or give up entirely and just go home.

It took moving here for me to embrace being alone. I started hiking longer and going to coffee shops to work on the blog. Sometimes, I wander around the library, thrift shop, and have the cleanest house I’ve ever had. I read more, sleep more, and started meditating. Also, I use a Bullet Journal to stay on track, so I spend time doing things I want instead of getting distracted by dirty laundry or dishes.

But does doing these things make me less lonely?

I want to believe I’m not a lonely person, just cool with being alone. I am also really hoping that these small life changes I’m making will help in the long run, by establishing good habits I can carry with me through both lonely and not lonely times.

Fall Fashion Trends: Love/Hate

I’m sure I’ve said it a million times this month, but fall is coming. Today, I thought I’d round up my favorite fall trends for this year. While doing this, I also found a few trends I think we should all pass on this year. So for your amusement or inspiration, here are some trends I loved and hated for this fall.

fall fashion trends love hate

Sources: Photo 1 / Photo 2 / Photo 3 / Photo 4 / Photo 5

Trends I Love:

Navy-inspired Overcoats

Every French woman out there is probably groaning right now because they’ve known that Navy-inspired coats have been cool forever. So get out your old navy peacoat and freshen it up with some gold buttons. That’s what I’m doing, if I ever get around to it!

Pumpkin-spice Orange

Orange is always a big fall color. This year is no exception. Get out your pumpkin-hued clothes and pair them up with any of the other 4 trends here, or go monochromatic for a glamorous effect.

Tartan Plaids

Plaid is also a traditional fall staple, but this year think outside the flannel shirt too. Tartan plaids were huge this year at all the fashion weeks, from coats to skirts to dresses. You can still rock the flannel shirts too…but maybe grab a midi skirt for days when you want to look more fashion than basic bitch.

Turtlenecks Under Dresses

Leandra Medine has been telling us for years to wear turtlenecks under our dresses – and we’re finally listening. It’s a great way to transition your summer dresses to fall. I like the look of a turtleneck that matches the dress, but hey, the whole point of this is you can mix it up however you want. Turtlenecks are cheap as shit (try Uniqlo), which means you can find one to go with every dress you own.

Leopard Print

I’m not sure leopard print ever went away. Whatever, it’s back and ready for fall. Don’t be afraid to mix it with other prints (like the photo above) or treat it like the neutral it is (thanks Jenna Lyons).

Okay…on to the things we should leave to a Kardashian or tweenster…. fall fashion trends love hate

Sources: Photo 1 / Photo 2 / Photo 3 / Photo 4 / Photo 5

Trends I Hate:

Tailored Sportswear

I’m not a fan of the whole “sportswear as fashion” thing, mostly because it can fail so easily. This look seems perfect if you’re 16 and rocking abs – not so much if you’re over 30. Too much shiny fabric and puffy coats just remind me of Ali G, and if you go the other direction, you just look like you’re trying to rock your gym clothes in the real world. Not into it.

The 80s

I can’t. I just can’t. Leave the gold lame and power shoulders in the 1980s where they belong.

Chokers

This trend pisses me off because it hits too close to my childhood, and that means I’m old. Chokers were all the rage when I was in high school, and I’m not ready for them to come back. That, and were chokers ever comfortable? Nope.

Renaissance/Romantic

Thanks to Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and pick your Tudor-era television shows, this look is a thing now. I’ve never understood the Ren-Faire look outside of, well, a Renaissance Faire. I get that this trend showed up at more couture shows than ready-to-wear, so it’s not supposed to be realistic (though this photo did come from a RTW line…which is…odd). Either way, I’m not liking this one. Unless you’re into LARP-ing, then dive right in.

Dusty Pink & Yellow

I’m convinced this “trendy” color combo happened because designers got their Fall and Spring lines mixed up. Who the hell wants to wear their Easter best in October? I’d be fine if this was mustard yellow and a deep-red wine color combo, but nope – it’s not. I don’t like the combination even for spring, so it’s a no for me.

Well there you go – my yearly assessment of what I’ll be wearing, buying, and ignoring for fall 2016!

Cheap and Easy Wall Art

It’s that time of year again when I get fickle about my apartment’s decor. While I love switching things up around my home, I am usually working with a (very) tight budget. After years of college and “grown-up” apartments, I collected a few things I love and display in each place. However, when I want to change things because I’m in a new space, or it’s a new season, I try to do it without spending a lot.

So whether you’re a college freshman who wants to decorate your dorm room with something besides shitty beer posters, or a grown-ass adult who just needs a change (but has no change), here are a few ideas for cheap and easy wall art!

cheap easy wall art

#1: Magazines are your friend.

If you’re like me, you have piles of magazines lying around. Go ahead and cut out some fun artwork or photos and frame them in some cheap-ass thrift store frames.  No one will have a clue! The easiest way to make things look “nice” is to mat the photos – for a few dollars, you can have fun and interesting artwork that looks semi-legit. All of the frames I bought came with mats, but you can score some cheap ones from your local craft store if your frames don’t have them. Trust me – mats automatically make everything look better!

cheap easy wall art

#2: Speaking of thrift stores…

Seriously, you can find some amazing shit at thrift stores. I found the red scarf and square frame on the same day. The butterflies are real, by the way – and another thrift store score for only $6! I obsessed about buying something similar for years, but couldn’t cough up the $60+ for even one butterfly online.

Thrift stores also have frames in any size you could need, and with a little spray paint, they will look amazing in your space. I’ve painted a lot of the frames around our apartment, including the ones below, and they all look brand new. You’d never know those black frames were originally smoke-stained and different colors of off-white. With a little paint and some cheap mats, they look great!

cheap easy wall art

#3: Snapfish is your friend.

Do you take a lot of photos? Of course you do. With Snapfish, you can get prints of your photos for pretty much nothing. Each of these 8×10 photos are only $2.99 each, but if you pay attention, you can usually get them on sale even cheaper (I think I only paid $1.50 each for mine). You can even make photo books, which make great (and inexpensive) gifts for the holidays…if you’re thinking that far ahead already.

The best thing about using Snapfish is that you can order several photos, and when your urge to redecorate hits, you can easily switch things up. When you sign up, they even give you 100 4×6 photos for FREE – so go nuts!

So with a few great resources and a little work, you can decorate your walls for almost nothing! That leaves more money for important things, like beer…or bills…or both!

Friday Favorites: Happy Birthday Edition!

Friday Favorites Happy Birthday Edition

Me with my little sister, Lisa, way back in the day!

Today is my sister’s birthday! Happy birthday Lisa! Hope you’re having a great day celebrating, and sorry for texting you at 2am in honor of when your birthday really starts (if I remembered to do it…if I forgot, then consider yourself lucky)!

We’re hosting some friends this weekend, so I thought I’d leave with a few links to things I am loving on the internet this week!

Friday Favorites: Happy Birthday Edition!

Sorry the list is so short this week. I was busy getting things ready for our houseguests, and prepping for our Labor Day cookout. Speaking of, should I do cheesecake or apple pie? I can’t decide!

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Falling in Love with Whole Foods

whole foods

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it took me until now to set foot in a Whole Foods. Yep, at 33 years old, I finally went there.

I’ve lived in Seattle for two years, and I’m finally coming around to the idea that Whole Foods may have more to offer than overpriced produce. While I usually preferred Trader Joe’s, I thought it was time to see what Whole Foods had to offer.

On a cloudy day in August, I drove to my local Whole Foods. By local, I mean a 20-minute drive through soul-crushing traffic. Not sure I’ll make that trek very often, but hey, it’s technically “in town.”

My first impression of Whole Foods was a pretty good one. For one thing, the prices for food were close to the chain grocery stores. Of course, if you’re going for small-batch, pretentiously organic, blessed-by-a-shaman kind of stuff, it’ll cost you – but that’s expected. I even tried out their lunch buffet, and came home with tasty nachos and this vegan almond-chocolate thumbprint cookie that was…pretty amazing.

I initially went to check out their essential oils for a project, and was impressed by both the prices and selection. Also, I grabbed the latest issue of Thrive, a vegan food and lifestyle magazine, and a couple candles from a local company called Big Dipper Wax Works. The magazine gave me a few new recipes to try, and while the candles weren’t blessed by a shaman, they smell pretty damn good.

In the end, I have to say I would happily return to Whole Foods if I was on the hunt for something specific. I’m not sure I’ll go there on a regular basis (mostly because of that damn traffic), but it’s a nice place to go when I want to switch up my routine!