Coming Back, Moving On

Twin Falls, WA

Hiking in Twin Falls, WA

Welcome back.

These past two months have been…enlightening. I should start off by saying that I had no intention of taking this long off from the blog. Time got away from me a bit.

It’s not that I haven’t been working on the blog – I’ve just been working on things that you can’t necessarily see (yet) or won’t ever see. I’m trying to figure out a blog redesign, which for my old-fart brain has been tough. Learning how to code has been the worst experience because, for some reason, I just can’t. I’ve never had a problem learning new things before, and it bothers me like crazy that no matter what I do, this shit still makes no sense to me. I could learn to speak fluent Russian faster than I could learn even the most basic html. So for now, the site will stay how it is until I can figure this shit out (or figure out a way around it, or find the money to pay someone else to do it for me…haha).

Failed Posts Collage

A lovely collage of photos I’ve taken for posts I’m never writing…

The other reason I haven’t posted for two months is that I felt incredibly uninspired to write the posts I’d been working on in April and May. I have hundreds of photos like the ones above that will probably never make it to the blog, and posts I’ve trashed after they were already done because I didn’t like how they turned out. Sometimes, you can start out with a good idea and it just doesn’t work – and for some reason, every post I worked on in May came out that way, so I scrapped them all. Having writer’s block would have been a better use of my time, to be honest.

So where do I go from here?

I’m going to let go of the 5-day posting schedule, and post whenever I feel like it. In addition to that, I want to mix in more personal posts with the usual “Top 5 Places To Drink Rosé” types of posts (note to self: write a post where I get to drink rosé in 5 different places). While I understand that might mean the blog’s focus will change a bit, I’m not happy with only writing things I think are “fluff” pieces – I have more to say than that.

I’ve also spent time lately getting more involved in the blogging community, and trying to form better connections with others in the same boat. A lot of bloggers have written about feeling stuck or uninspired lately, and sometimes it’s nice to cheer each other on for a change. There are amazing things happening out there, but sometimes it’s hard to see that when you’re stuck on your computer editing the hundredth hiking photo into submission.

I’m also considering starting a letter-writing club of some kind – like a pen pal program for bloggers. So many of us got our love for writing blogs from being pen pals as kids, and I think it would be cool to interact with other bloggers on paper, rather than always online. I miss that sometimes – and getting mail that isn’t bills is always welcome!

Anyway, before I go insane and keep writing for another hour, I should go.

I’ve got work to do.

Friday Favorites (with a twist)

Friday Favorites

It’s been a rough week.

Last week, I shared with you my feelings about the relationship between authenticity and audience as a blogger (click the link to read more). It was one of those rare moments where I finally felt comfortable with myself, and trusting of you, to share something a little more personal. After not getting the best response afterward, and add to that some major allergy headaches, it’s been a long path to get to Friday.

So instead of sharing my favorite links from the internet this week, I thought I would do something different. Today, I share with you a few quotes from some of my favorite bloggers who are fighting tooth and nail to keep things real around here:

“Shame on me for giving someone else that power. Shame on me for allowing some hypocritical jerk to make me question a decision I have not doubted for ONE SECOND since Henry was conceived…Should I stop sharing as much personal stuff to protect myself? Maybe.  But nothing truly great has ever happened from being cautious and scared off by criticism.”
~Erin Gates

“I’m the daughter of loving parents, Chris and Elaine, I’m a blogger, a Southerner, a hopeless lover of animals, patterns and anything shiny- and I’m also gay. That fact may make no difference to some of you reading, but being able to be 100% myself here means the world to me.”
~Grace Bonney

  • Whenever I think of an example of the risk of opening up to our audience, I think of Grace Bonney’s post in 2013 where she came out to her readers. It takes a lot of strength to take that leap – even more so when you realize she was potentially alienating herself from the very readers who help keep her blog (and business) up and running.

“My purpose is to share and to connect with you, those that choose to come here and read it. And damn, I’m lucky to be able to say I can do that. I would fear the day I’m not allowed to express myself the way I do now because someone told me it wasn’t “brand-friendly.” 

So, don’t conform. 
Don’t seek acceptance in the dark.
Don’t look for approval in every move you make. ”
~Christina Topacio

  • Christina, aka Profresh Style, has often written about her life unabashedly and candidly for her readers – offended be damned. Her post, “Conformity Is For The Stupid” is one I refer back to from time to time when I need a reminder of why we all got into this in the first place. That, and we share a birthday – how cool is that?

“To be honest, it’s hard to put into words; clean, sparkling words that live on blogs. Especially, especially on a style blog. I’ve wanted to share so many times but fear stops me. “Shut up and wear clothes” it says…Maybe it’s not about the clothes that bring you here (meh, or maybe it is) but maybe it’s about life. Everyone has a story and maybe you just want to hear mine.”
~Kendi Skeen 

  • Kendi Skeen of Kendi Everyday is one of the first bloggers I followed. I appreciate her writing about her history with anxiety and depression, and how it affects her life now. She’s also open about the struggle to be honest with readers and maintain a fashion-based blog, which are not always known for praising openness.

“…I just want to mention that in today’s final hours I’m making the choice not to label it as a “bad day”. It’s served as a reminder to accept these unexpected challenges as a motivation to keep fighting and to appreciate the encouraging people in my life who cherish my investment and never fail to give back.”
~Kayley Vandenberg

  • Kayley Vandenberg of That’s Your Gold (formerly Sidewalk Ready) is another blogger I’ve been following for years. She’s unabashedly honest about her feelings, love, and life – and has been an inspiration for me over the years to share, even when it hurts. Maybe it’s the midwestern connection (we both grew up in MI), but I’ve always come back to her blog, even after she or I have been away for a while.

I genuinely hope that whether you like the blog or not, you have a great weekend. 

I, for one, will hopefully spend my weekend outside, among the trees (if my allergies aren’t too bad), or near the water, trying to let go of the previous week while looking ahead to the next.

Spring 2016 Fashion Trends

Spring 2016 Fashion Trends

Spring is finally here, which means it’s time to pack up the bulky fisherman knits (okay, maybe leave out a couple) and bring in some freshness to our closets! For some reason, this spring I’m more inspired to update my wardrobe – probably because spring and summer here kind of blend together, so I’m killing two birds with one shopping trip!

Anyway, here are some spring fashion trends that I’m looking forward to adding into my closet this season, and some styling ideas thanks to my Pinterest feed!

Spring 2016 Fashion Trends

Trend #1: Marled Knit Sweaters

I have a ton of lightweight sweaters, but I’d love to add a cozier one to the mix for chilly spring days and summer nights. Marled knit sweaters are so soft and cozy, which makes them perfect to throw on with jeans and nice flats in the spring, and toss on with shorts and sandals in the summer.

Spring 2016 Fashion Trends

Trend #2: Orange

Sure, we all wear a ton of orange in the fall (due to Pumpkin Spice Fever, I assume). However, orange is such a universally flattering color that we really can rock it all year! To keep it more spring/summer ready than fall, keep the orange bright and cheery! I love that it works well with denim and other neutrals, and bright orange accessories add a nice pop to any outfit. I don’t look good wearing yellow unless I have a serious tan, but I can pull off orange any day!

Spring 2016 Fashion Trends

Trend #3: Soft Pinks

Soft pinks are clearly a nod to one of the Pantone colors of the year, but I have to say they should be a staple in our wardrobes for years to come. I’m not usually a fan of pink, but I love the subtly feminine twist this can have on both casual and work outfits. It’s a great change-up from the white tee, and matches damn near anything in your closet. Consider it your new neutral!

Spring 2016 Fashion Trends

Trend #4: White Shirt (with a twist)

White blouses have existed since the beginning of time – and this year is no exception. Spring is calling for crisp, white shirts with unique details. I have a feeling the basic white tee is going to fall out of fashion if this trend catches on. I love seeing white blouses with unique details that flatter almost any body type. As a woman who struggles to fit into blouses (thanks to my button-popping DD boobs), I love that this look is structured but not tight-fitted. For the first time in years, I might actually find a white shirt to keep for years to come!

Spring 2016 Fashion Trends

Trend #5: Flats

Flats are making a major comeback this year, in new colors, fabrics, patterns, and designs. I blame (and praise) Olivia Palermo for inspiring us all to leave the heels for date night, and elevate our everyday outfits with some seriously amazing flats. Your feet will thank you!

For more spring fashion inspiration, head on over to my Pinterest page to see more!

Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Short-Distance Move

top 5 tips for surviving a short-distance move

During our most recent move, it dawned on me that this is the 21st time I’ve moved in my lifetime! After spending most of my life moving once a year from house to house, city to city, and across the country a few times, I’ve built up years of experience to make moving as painless as possible.

Our most recent move was to an apartment 3 buildings away – my shortest distance to date! Moving a short distance can be deceiving – it might seem like it’ll be a piece of cake, but they can be more difficult than you might think. So in the spirit of sharing what I’ve learned over the years, here are some ways to make your moving day (short or long) go much more smoothly!

Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Short-Distance Move

#1: Take packing seriously.

Whether you’re moving across the country or across the street, you still need to pack your things carefully. Anything that is fragile is still fragile for the short time you’re moving it, so pack those things carefully in tissue paper, bubble wrap, or whatever works best.

Also, don’t use the “empty box method” of packing – it’s a huge waste of time on moving day to keep packing and unpacking the same box. It’s also incredibly annoying for the people you get to help you move – they won’t want to wait around for you to pack/unpack (and definitely won’t want to help do either).

#2: Prepare a “new place kit” with important things.

Moving can be chaotic, and the last thing you want to do during a long day of moving is hunt through your boxes to find the toilet paper – or (gasp) discover you forgot to bring some with you. Here are some suggestions to pack in your kit:

  • Toilet paper. Don’t leave you or your helpers stranded with no t.p. – that’s the worst!
  • Paper towels (leave some in the bathroom and kitchen)
  • Hand soap (one in each bathroom)
  • Trash bags
  • Cleaning supplies
  • First aid kit (bandages, antibacterial spray, ibuprofen, ice pack, tweezers, etc.)
  • Water bottles and easy snacks for you and your helpers (granola bars are my personal favorite)
  • Important documents for moving in or out (lease, checkbook, utilities information, etc.). If you have a purse or locked glove compartment, that’s a great place to put everything vital to getting those keys!

#3: Use your car for small stuff.

If you’re making a short trip like, you can get away with moving most stuff in your car(s). We moved almost everything in our two cars, and only rented a pickup truck for a couple hours to move furniture. It ended up being cheaper and easier to do this than renting a larger truck.

When using your car, make sure it’s ready to go the night before – fill up the tank, check tire pressure, and clean out all the junk! Also, don’t pack the car up the night before – that’s practically begging someone to break in and steal everything.

#4: Valuables stay with you – and only with you.

It’s pretty common knowledge that moving can leave you vulnerable to theft, especially if you are occupying two homes at once (like we did).

To prevent this, I have a few suggestions:

  • Leave your valuable items (computer, television, jewelry, paperwork, mementos, etc.) in the home you’ll be sleeping in each night. Burglars keep an eye out for movers who leave and don’t return in the evening!
  • Keep important documents for moving day (lease, checkbook, cashier’s checks, etc.) in a safe place. A locked glove compartment is a great suggestion if you can’t keep an eye on your purse or don’t use one.
  • Do not allow a moving company to move anything irreplaceable. There are more cases than I can count of moving companies “losing” valuable jewelry, artwork, furniture, and other expensive items – and no amount of insurance can replace having a family heirloom stolen. If you’d be heartbroken if an item got stolen, move it yourself.
  • Close all windows and blinds of the home you won’t sleep in so people can’t peek inside, and leave on a few lights around the house as well. Also, double check all doors are locked and in working order before leaving – in a new house, you’d be surprised how many people forget they have a back or side door to lock!
  • Don’t broadcast over social media that you’re moving until it’s already done. It’s not smart to tell the general public that you’re leaving your home empty for the night (or a few nights). Don’t trust that information to the general public – you never know who’s lurking around online!

#5: Don’t overdo it on moving day!

For most people, moving is one of the most physically taxing things we’ll ever do. Even if you’re in good shape, most of us don’t spend 12 hours every weekend lifting boxes and furniture up and down flights of stairs. Take care of your body with these tips to save yourself from excessive stress or potential injuries!

  • Don’t rush! Take your time moving heavy objects to avoid mistakes and injuries.
  • Take frequent breaks to rehydrate, eat, and stretch. If you need to, put a reminder on your phone to stop and rest every hour for a few minutes.
  • Be realistic about your physical limits. If you can’t lift something, ask for help. If you’re lifting something with a partner, speak up loudly if you need to stop or readjust. Don’t try to be a tough guy – that’s when injuries happen!
  • Take care of those helping you move! Make sure everyone stays safe, encourage everyone to break for water/snacks, and remember to thank them for taking the time to help.
  • Accept the day is going to come with surprises. Moving is stressful for everyone, and it always comes with complications along the way. Try to take it all in stride, and know that in the end, it’ll all be okay.
  • Once you’re done moving, REST! Don’t try to unpack the whole house in one night – go out for dinner or order in a pizza, and spend the evening recuperating. Those boxes will still be there tomorrow – and you will be much happier to tackle them after a good night’s sleep!

I’d have to say our most recent move was one of the easiest we’ve done, mostly because it was around the corner – but also because we tend to be well-prepared on moving day. It was exhausting, but thankfully I woke up the next morning ready to tackle the unpacking and decorating with more energy than I’ve ever had the day after moving.

I hope these tips help you on your next move – however far it is!

Friday Favorites

friday favorites april 8

(Finally back to work after a month of moving, unpacking, and lots of allergy meds!)

Friday Favorites

I’m not sure what my plans are for this weekend. Last weekend was a busy one, since my husband basically kicked me out of the house all day Saturday (and for a good chunk for Sunday) so he could work on some writing alone. Hopefully he won’t do that again, but if he does, I guess it’ll be a good excuse to take my laptop somewhere awesome – like the Starbucks Reserve Roastery downtown. Come to think of it, I might have just come up with some plans!

What are you doing this weekend?

Authenticity and Audience

authenticity_quote

Authenticity and Audience

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the connection between authenticity and audience in the blogging world. It’s a complicated topic for both bloggers and readers, and there is no singular answer for staying true to ourselves while keeping readers satisfied. Many others have tackled this recently, whether it means being more open with readers, reducing sponsored posts, or quitting entirely.

From my own experiences as a blogger, authenticity and audience are undeniably linked. The ability for me to be honest and open with my readers is entirely dependent on audience.

In the past, I wrote for a mostly anonymous audience. I kept my identity a secret, but the rest of my life was fair game. Those blogs were a place where I could openly share my passions, fears, dreams, and frustrations with readers who were mostly bloggers themselves. I loved being able to write when the mood hit me about any topic that was important to me at the time. It was an amazing time to be a blogger.

Now, I write for a combination of anonymous readers and people I know. The problem with knowing your reader in person is that content can easily suffer. Even posts where I feel I’m being more authentic sound like a watered-down version of my real life. My life is far from perfect, but if you read this blog you may not know that. I wish that I could share more about the things in my life that worry, frustrate, or motivate me – but fear often wins out, and I hit delete.

So from here on out, I’m making the decision to try. No one is perfect, least of all me, so I’m going to make an effort to include more posts about things that aren’t always perfectly edited to death. I need to learn how to write like I used to, and not worry so much about how people will take it. I also want to make this more of a community again – so here’s where you guys come in:

Comment!

Comment about what you read, about your own lives, questions you have, links you want to share, stories to tell, how terrible you think I am…whatever you want! I’ll even take some good-natured trolling if it means I get to read something other than the obligatory comments from my mom. She’s great and all, but I’m craving a community – not just one cheerleader who only says I’m great because she has to (she likes my sister more). 

Spring Ready Hands & Nails

spring ready hands & nails

I don’t know about you, but winter is absolute hell on my hands. The dry air and constant hand-washing (no cold/flu germs here!) leave my hands and nails in bad shape come springtime. I also have the most sensitive skin on my hands – I suffer from contact dermatitis, which means I’ll get rashes/blisters from almost anything (soaps, moisture, my wedding ring, etc).

Once spring comes around, and my skin finally clears up, I make sure to treat myself to some new skincare for my hands and nails. Here is what I’ve been loving this past winter, and continuing to use well into spring!

Spring Ready Hands & Nails:

Vaseline Intensive Care Essential Healing Lotion

I’m a huge fan of Vaseline’s hand lotions, which I use before bed to make sure my hands are baby soft in the morning. I also like that they’re pretty inexpensive, so I don’t feel bad slathering my hands in tons of it each night!

Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream

Before bedtime, I also add some of the Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream to my cuticles and any other parts that are extra dry (like my knuckles) to soothe the dry, cracked skin and keep my nails healthy. I’ve had the same tin for, like, two years and it’s still going strong!

Que Bella Moisturizing Hand Mask

As an extra treat, I’ll occasionally use masks like the Que Bella Moisturizing Hand Mask before painting my nails a nice, happy color. Que Bella makes these amazing glove masks that you just put on and chill out – and you can find them for only a couple bucks at Target!

OPI Nail Lacquer in My Chihuahua Bites

I’ve been hooked on OPI’s nail polishes for years because they don’t contain formaldehyde – an ingredient that commonly irritates people with sensitive skin. It’s the perfect cheerful color to throw on any time of year!

My regimen is something I try to keep up with year-round, and while it doesn’t totally fix my issues with irritation, it has kept me from breaking out in blisters like I did in the past. If you suffer from sensitive skin like me, these products are all definitely worth checking out!

New Season, New Home!

new season new home

A sunny new apartment to decorate! / Swooning over flowers at Home Depot / So hard not to bring them all home from Home Goods / Organizing a small kitchen requires a trip to The Container Store

Welcome back everyone!

While I had every intention of continuing to blog during our move, it just didn’t happen. After a week of packing, and three days of hauling our stuff to the new place, I needed a week off to unpack, get organized, and work on some home-related projects. I still have a lot to do (no pictures are hung yet), but I’m hoping by the end of this week, our new place will look a little more like home.

I’m excited to share some projects with you soon, and how we pulled off one of the shortest moves we’ve ever done (we moved 3 buildings over). It wasn’t the easiest move we’ve ever done, but it certainly wasn’t the hardest! I’m also very happy that our apartment gets some decent light, which means I can actually share more of our home this time around!

I hope you’re all enjoying the first days of spring, and I’ll be back soon with some great home projects to get things ready for spring and summer around here!

Home Inspiration: Going Green

Home Inspiration: Going Green

Clockwise from top-left: The Everygirl / Design Sponge / Sarah Vickers via The Glitter Guide / The Aestate

Home Inspiration: Going Green

We’re moving today, and while we’re only moving a few buildings over, it still has me excited to decorate a new space. I’ve been going through my Pinterest boards recently for inspiration, and noticed a trend lately – a lot of green!

Green isn’t a color I gravitated to in the past, even if I’ve used it in a lot of my home decor choices in the past. I love hanging pictures of nature on my walls, and it’s a color that seems to work better with our “apartment beige” walls and carpet. It also matches up well with our neutral furniture, which is always a good thing. I’ve always fought against the terrible paint colors in apartments, but lately I’ve discovered it’s better to work with it instead. If green works, it works!

I’m looking forward to adding more green elements indoors, perhaps with a new shower curtain, some more nature-inspired wall hangings, and textiles – and plants, of course. We have more (and better positioned) windows in our new place, and I’m hoping they’ll bring in enough light to grow a small herb garden (I’m tired of paying so much for herbs…seriously). Our current place is so dark that almost nothing has survived the past year, so I can’t wait to live somewhere that things might actually grow.

This is also the first time we have a real balcony space we can decorate without the worry of cats eating our plants or people stealing our patio furniture. I can’t wait to make that a calm, plant-covered space to relax and enjoy as the weather gets warmer.

Moving to a new place is always a hassle, but knowing I get to decorate a place from scratch is a great motivation to get through it – even if it is only a short walk between the two places!

Spring Thrift Shop Haul

spring thrift shop haul
It’s strange to think that spring is coming soon – it’s felt somewhere between fall and spring for the past several months. I don’t think the temperatures are going to change much, but I still wanted to update my wardrobe to reflect the changing season. One afternoon, I headed out to my favorite thrift store haunts to add some much-needed color to my closet.

On my first trip, I was looking for a handbag that I could adjust from a shoulder to a cross-body bag. In true thrifting form, I came home with 3 – all of which will be perfect for the spring/summer months! I also found a few scarves that I can’t wait to find a good use for. I’m thinking about framing and hanging the red one, but we’ll see – finding frames is next on my list….

About a week later, I ended up at another store to find they were having a 50% off sale on all of their long-sleeved tops, and I went a little nuts. With the exception of the short-sleeved top, all of them were around $3-4 each! After a winter of wearing mostly black and navy, I can’t wait to add some softer pastels and ivory into my wardrobe.

Now, if only it would warm up a little around here, I’d be all set!