Back At It: JORD's Wood Watches (Contest!)

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I've never been the best with accessories. I typically stick to the same earrings, several necklaces, and a bandana here and there, but I know there's always room to up the ante on my accessory game. Everyone seems to be jumping on the smart watch train, but for me, I've decided to stay a little more traditional. A couple years ago, I teamed up with JORD for the first time, but they've since expanded their offerings, and have even more stylish options. I'd been thinking about looking into a dark or black watch to wear, and with perfect timing, JORD reached out to see if I'd like to do another collaboration! This time, I'm also able to offer a little contest, so that you could win a gift card towards your own watch as well. 

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The watch I'm wearing here (and will have more photos to share of soon!) is the new edition of the Frankie watch. You can find more about it and get a closer view HERE.

With JORD's help, I'm sponsoring a little contest! One lucky winner will receive a $100 gift card to spend on JORD's site, and all other entries receive an automatic $25 off. Enter from now until 11:59pm on 10/22! Contest link: https://www.woodwatches.com/g/bl128906ig

Both the $100 and the $25 codes will expire on 11/30/2017.
Best of luck! 

Photo c/o Roach x ReprsntSTL

Video Recap: First Trip to the PNW!

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At the end of September, I visited Portland, OR for the very first time, which also marked my first time ever further west than the Grand Canyon. A goal of mine always remains to travel more - and when you have friends that have scattered themselves across the country, destinations become easier to choose. People have told me that I'd really enjoy Portland, and they weren't wrong. 

Outside of visiting the city, my friend Elizabeth (who played the most gracious and warm host!) and I headed to Mount Hood National Forest to camp, hike, and check out Bagby Hot Springs. I also ate my weight in tacos, sushi, pizza, and drowned in local coffee and bagels. I worked remotely, wandered about on my own, and took in all the delightful quirks Portland folks have. For instance, people park on whatever side of the street they feel like, regardless of which direction they were driving. Also, there are a lot of four-way streets with only two stop signs. There's no such thing as the "Saint Louis roll" through intersections in the PNW.

Instead of detailing every moment, stop, and location of the trip in a blog post, I opted to take some video while there. It was a fun challenge trying to fit everything into a short enough recap to not only set properly to music, but also not bore friends with! It also kept me from trying to capture "perfect photos" the entire time.

I hope you enjoy, and thanks for watching! 

Locations Featured: 
Portland International Rose Garden (:13) (4:10)
Mount Hood National Forest (:31) (3:24-3:34)
Bagby Hot Springs Camping Ground (:39-:50),  (2:35-3:23)
Bagby Hot Springs Hiking Trail (:51-1:31) 
Bagby Hot Springs Bath Houses (1:32-2:34)
Robo Taco (3:40)
Spielman Bagels (3:56)
Portland International Airport (4:16)

A STL Night Out: The Grand Experience

If you've followed my blog for a bit, or you know me personally, you know that I really do love my city. Saint Louis has been my home since birth, and although I've been tempted to move away, I never have. This city just always has more to discover, and I'm forever grateful for opportunities that come my way to explore it more deeply!

Saint Louis is home to a thriving, diverse arts scene. One of the driving forces behind our artists is the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. I recently had the privilege of visiting several of the Foundation's locations throughout Saint Louis's city center, such as the Kranzberg Arts Center, the .ZACK, the Grandel Theater, and The Dark Room at The Grandel. A group of influencers and their guests were invited by Socially Jen to explore, taste, and enjoy a few our way through a lovely summer evening - and I've been dreaming of the night since! Follow along with us below! 

My darling friend Ellie joined me for the evening, and you can find her blogging over at Eudaimonia. We began the evening meeting up with the other influencers at .ZACK, where we sipped cocktails at Sophie's Lounge and learned the Foundation's mission. From programs that give proceeds directly back to artists (Sophie's, for example, puts any profits from its bar directly back into the artist scene), to maintaining multiple venues and galleries, and supporting emerging creators, the Foundation has its hands in just about every aspect of the arts community. 

After we sipped cocktails on Sophie's rooftop patio, we were treated to a tour of .ZACK, which houses Music Record Shop, the .ZACK Theatre, a wedding venue, small business offices, and more. I had a little too much fun climbing into the tub featured in the wedding venue's suite. 

Photo courtesy of We Eat Stuff STL.

Photo courtesy of We Eat Stuff STL.

After peeping .ZACK, we took a stroll through Grand Center over to the Grandel Theater. This gorgeous theater is inside an old church, and we were invited to not only view the theater's seating area (which I've seen productions within when the space used to house the St. Louis Black Repertory Co.), but also climb all the way up into the bell tower. I was already fairly hungry, but we all certainly worked up an appetite on a 90+ degree day traipsing around in the belly of a church - luckily, dinner was next. I'd heard some pretty stellar reviews of the Dark Room, but this was my first time eating there. I have to say I was delightfully surprised with the quality and flavor of everything! Add in an expansive wine menu and a stunning charcuterie board, and you know I'll be back soon.

After filling up on some phenomenal food, we walked a little further south to the Kranzberg Arts Center. The group checked out the "Variations and Adaptations" exhibition, which is brought to the Center by Artists First - a non-profit that nurtures and cultivates the talents of artists with disabilities. We then sat down in the Center's cozy black box theater for a production of "Tangled," a feisty tale of three women vying for power, money, and attempting to maintain a friendship in the face of their struggles. With the perfect amount of drama and comedy, and perfect pop culture references, "Tangled" kept me engaged and was a perfect end to a fun evening. I have to admit that prior to this Friday night, I didn't even know there was a theater inside the Center! I'll be keeping their show calendar in mind for future entertainment. 

Thanks again to Socially Jen for the invitation to such a art-ful evening, and to the Kranzberg Arts Foundation for being wonderful hosts!

Photos (unless otherwise attributed) courtesy of Socially Jen

Find Kranzberg Online: 
http://www.kranzbergartsfoundation.org
www.twitter.com/KranzbergArts
www.instagram.com/KranzbergArts
www.facebook.com/Kranzbergartscenter

Not A Socialite: An Ode to Misconceptions

Social media makes it all too easy for you to think something is something that it isn't. It can give you false ideas about people, places, and events. It's especially dangerous when it comes to only sharing the highlights and shiny parts of your life (FOMO, anyone?). For the most part, we all want to be liked. We want everyone else to think that we're enjoying our lives, succeeding at our dreams, and having a grand old time. Social media can lead us to believe all sorts of incorrect stories and identities. We start constructing how we perceive others to be by putting them in boxes that make sense to us: nerd, workaholic, partier, homebody, socialite. Since grade school, I've been a person that greatly dislikes being put into boxes. And at one point last year, someone referred to me as a socialite in a negative manner and they couldn't be further from the truth.

Do y'all know about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test? It's been a fad for several years now, and it's almost as pervasive as astrology when it comes to people trying to put you in a box. You meet someone new these days and they automatically want to know what your Myers-Briggs type is. Between being told by others what they thought I was, and taking the test once, I was pegged as an ENFP at first, and then later, an ENFJ. The only important part (for the purpose of this post) to remember out of this acronym is the E - because it stands for Extraversion. Being extraverted generally means that you pull energy from that of others, you enjoy being in group settings, and you feel comfortable being in or near the center of attention. 

People might assume that I'm a socialite or an extravert because I am "out" while DJing and go to events here and there around the city. For the most part, I consider DJing to be a job (that I love), so just because I'm up until 3am some weekends doesn't mean I want to be out amongst the stumblers, ramblers, and generally tipsy type. DJing doesn't mean you are or want to be the center of attention, either. I spin for the love of music and to help others enjoy themselves while out. Nothing is more satisfying than a full crowd at a bar, bumping along to the music you're playing. In addition to DJing, many of the events I have attended in the past few years around Saint Louis have been connected to blogging, which I too consider a job. 

Toss in my friendly charisma, and you have a strong case for this whole socialite/ENFJ gibberish.

Enter my therapist. Recently, we talked about how I have felt that my energy had been completely sapped by this past year. She asked if I preferred one-on-one time with people and partners rather than in big groups, and I answered yes. She asked if I feel like I need to recharge by being at home, and if I hit "a wall" while being in busy environments for too long. I also answered yes to these. And then she said, "So, you must be an introvert." 

I replied, "Wait. I've always thought I'm an extravert."
She said, "Are you sure?" 

Surprise! I'd been beginning to wonder this myself. Over the last several months, I would fall apart after being over-stimulated at busy bars while not DJing/working. Being in groups of people might make me feel neglected or alone because I thrive on those one-on-one interactions. Everyone seemed to constantly assume I could go, go, go until the sun would rise, when in fact you might discover me clutching the edge of the bar whispering aloud to no one, "I just want to go home." But how could I be what seemed like such the opposite of who I (and apparently many people who knew me) thought I was? 

I was temporarily beyond confused. You could find me hiding in my bed for nearly two weeks on end every second that I wasn't at work. The realization that I had been trying conduct myself as an ENFJ while I was most likely not one opened floodgates of accidental understanding. Suddenly, a whole lot of the mess I was sifting through while healing made quite a bit more sense. 

I talked with a friend a weeks ago about losing yourself. A sense of self-loss can be brought about by many things, and although her situation and mine are not equal - because every human experiences different journeys - they are similar in response to grief and healing. I wouldn't say that right now I don't know who I am, because I have worked throughout my life to "know" me. I know where my morals, ethics, dreams, and passions lie. Even in my darkest moments, I can remind myself what makes me "me." I'm very proud of not changing for the worse, when it would have been so easy to lash out at those who have hurt me. If you work to know your true self, doesn't that mean that you ARE your best self?

If you spend a good chunk of time trying to fit into a box that is mislabeled, eventually things may get a little muddy. I still not 100% certain about this Myers-Briggs hullabaloo, but I do now further grasp how it can help you evaluate how you relate to others. I won't fully ever subscribe to this idea that your assigned letters describe you completely. Thanks to therapy, and a little self-reflection, however, I'm much closer to understanding the parts of myself that have largely been ignored or dismissed due to a silly box with a sticker that says ENFJ. 

And now? I'm looking forward to getting to know my introverted self better. 


Photo: A. Gillardi Photo

OOTD: Lil Plants and Ripped Pants

Last month, I had the opportunity to host an amazing shopping party at one of my favorite places, May's Place. In conjunction with May's Place and Hex STL, I spent a Sunday afternoon hanging out with friends, drinking local tea from Big Heart Tea Co, and supporting sustainability in Saint Louis (and beyond). I wrote a blog post before the event, if you'd like to check that out!

Since I focus a lot on sustainability in my personal life, I knew that when it came time to decorate my apartment, I'd want to curate my space accordingly. I found a fun set of vintage barrel mugs at May's Place before our event, and knew they were perfect to use as planters! Why buy new, boring pots for your green babies when you can repurpose something with a lot of character?

I don't mind a mono-chromatic look in my outfits - if you know me, I'm regularly guilty of wearing denim on denim. This soft, lightweight top I found at May's Place is perfect for transitioning into summer. I look forward to wearing it with my cutoff shorts and sandals all season long. Recently, local shop Living Collective had a sidewalk sale that I scooped a few new items up at. I've mentioned before that my figure is currently a bit more curvy than it has been in the past... and when you wear jeans constantly, you find that you need a couple pairs that have a lot of stretch and wiggle room. I also found these cute beige flats at the sidewalk sale, which are perfect for just about everything. My footwear game used to be loud and wild, but I've become a lot more function-focused in my old age (ha!). 

I hope you'll visit some of my favorite shops this summer while searching for your warm-weather wear! May's Place is on Ivanhoe near Lindenwood Park. Living Collective in just over in the Central West End. That amazing bolo tie is from a Manmade pop-up shop, and they'll be hosting another one soon in Alton, IL! 

Photos: Lily Voss Photography


Outfit Details: 
Top: May's Place  |  Jeans and Shoes: Living Collective  |  Bolo Tie: Manmade

Music Video Monday: The Weeknd, "Secrets"

Having just been added to Forbes' list of highest paid celebrities, it's not a surprise to see The Weeknd drop another stunning video. If you've got the money, you best be poppin' out pretty pictures. I almost wanted all of the videos from Starboy to reflect the treatment that "Party Monster" received, but I'm glad in the end that they didn't. I understand that all that wild '80s nostalgia is a bit overwhelming. However, if you're a fan of music from the '80s, you probably will jive with "Secrets" - it rips lyrics from the Romantics' Eighties hit "Talking in Your Sleep" and also features samples from Tears for Fears' "Pale Shelter."

Although the video for "Secrets" isn't anything brand new concept-wise, it's shot well, and I am in love with the scenery (apparently part of it was shot at the University of Toronto). I'm a sucker for anything that's reminiscent of the morphing castle scene in the movie Labyrinth, or might nod its head to A-ha's mind-bending "Take On Me" visuals

If I can't get the '80s treatment on "Secrets" too, I can at least appreciate the fact that the album's cross/crucifix motif appears in this video as well. 

If you like The Weeknd and his work, you can also find another new song/music video he's been featured in from Lana Del Rey: she and Abel get a little illegal by climbing around on the Hollywood sign for her song "Lust For Life."

Love Your Mother (Earth) at May's Place

Hi, friends! If you're in the Saint Louis area and are looking for weekend plan ideas, I've got something for you to do! You might remember me posting about May's Place before on the blog (here) because I'm a huge fan of its mission and lovely, curated vintage finds. In collaboration with Hex STL and May's Place, I'm hosting an afternoon of shopping, socializing, and supporting charity this coming Sunday, May 7th. We will have tea to sip from local favorite Big Heart Tea Co., and we're inviting everyone to bring in an item to donate to Support the Girls as well. Read on below!

With Mother's Day right around the corner, and Earth Day just passing us by, we knew we wanted to tie these two elements to our event. May's Place's slogan is "Be Green, Buy Vintage," and you're probably familiar with my goal to live a sustainable lifestyle. Think of our original mother, Earth, when shopping for your mamas! Buying vintage is the ultimate green option. Supporting local pours funds back into our own communities. Change your mindset, change the world. 

May's Place not only offers a hand-selected variety of vintage goods and clothing, but also carries local items. Lonesome Traveler (pictured above) has built a huge following in our city with their darling hand-crafted accessories for both men and women. Also found in-shop are candles poured just for May's Place. I suggest you sniff the Egyptian Amber because it's absolutely heavenly. If you're looking for a sweet, easy way to liven up your home, you can snatch up an embroidered hoop by local maker, The Wind and the Sun, like the one below!

We're looking forward to hanging out with you this Sunday! We're even more excited to offer you 10% off your purchase with a donation of gently used bras or new feminine hygiene items like tampons, pads, and other menstrual hygiene products to benefit Support the Girls - a local charity that distributes these items to homeless women in the St. Louis community. See you soon!

Love Your Mother (Earth)
When: Sunday, May 7th, 12 - 4pm
Where: May's Place, 3249 Ivanhoe Ave

RSVP on Facebook Here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1760429714286395/

On The Lessons of Hitting Rock Bottom

A few days ago, I lifted my glasses to my face and momentarily couldn't figure out why my vision was blurry. I took my glasses off and realized they were stained with tear streaks. Oh, good heavens. What have I gotten myself into?

It's Earth Day weekend 2017 and I haven't left my house once today, except to let the dog out. Our weather started out with drizzles and a completely overcast sky, but has since changed to sun, with our beautiful Midwest clouds floating by. I've always been a fan of Earth Day, and it's most definitely something I would love to be more involved with. But, what if I can't even get off the couch? What if my fears overweigh my desire to go party with my eco-conscious community? 

I once made a promise to be more "real" on this blog. I believe it was just over a year ago, and for a while, I followed through and delivered. Then, life happened. A lot of life happened that included a lot of promises that were unfulfilled. In the past year, I've gone through just about every ringer you could ever name. Coming out on the other side of months and months of changes, hard work, unconditional self-giving, and heartbreak has left me asking a lot of questions about myself and how I relate to others. The more I open up to other people about what 2016 was for me, the more I hear back, "I can't believe that happened" and "That makes no sense whatsoever." And last month, when things went from unbelievable to pure and utter confusion for me, I fell apart. 

Fun fact: People change. Even more fun fact: Sometimes, people change so fast, so immensely, that you're left in the dust of what once was and you hide under your bedcovers because the weight of the confusion scares you too much to function. 

Here's the most fun fact, and my first lesson learned: It's okay to fall apart. Sadness and anxiety can combine into a total tempest and knock you off your feet. I've been thinking a lot about how the internet and social media glamorize anxiety, depression, and often: people don't believe you when you're hurting or tell you to cheer up or "take care of yourself." When your body, which is meant to protect your heart and soul, betrays you and stops you from being able to eat, you drown. When you've lost your best friend and feel strange reaching out to other people because you don't want to dump your problems on them, you drown further. You sit in silence every moment of every day because music resurrects memories and emotions, and the silence makes you feel suffocated. And when you miss three days of work because you're already in so deep you can't breathe, you finally reach the bottom.
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There are all sorts of sayings and short anecdotes that I can use to describe what just happened in my life. I started to remind myself constantly that "it's always darkest before the dawn," which is a lyric pulled from Florence + The Machine's "Shake it Out," and I haven't even listened to this song in quite some time. I basically gave up on trying to be okay and just let the darkness happen. Sleeping for days on end eventually got old. Being weak and tired and emotionally terrified of social media and everyday life started to feel stale as well. Crying all the time after talking to anyone who was even the slightest bit of friendly became more frustrating than cathartic.  

Finally reaching out for help was about the most petrifying thing I've ever done, but it was the second lesson I learned. When you might think you need help, you likely do. Honestly, I could have used help a long time ago. Truth be told, I've kind of always thought I had quirks, but I never looked into where they might have sprouted from. Turns out, I'm a relatively anxious person that just sort of hides it well, and my quirks weren't quirks at all, but rather, small little ticking time bombs of anxiety traps. And it also turns out that therapy is about the best type of self-care one can do. Just because some people will find a way to survive without it, doesn't mean that you have to try, too. Listen to what you need from yourself - and if a seeking professional assistance is the answer, accept that call. 

Another lesson I'll share today is that it truly is important to not care what others think of you. I mean this in a sense of self-defense, not in a way of saying this gives you the right to do whatever you want, without regard for others' emotions or well-being (because there are people who actually live like this, I've learned). It means that if you decide to suddenly open up on your basically dead blog because you spent all your time on another human instead of writing, then so be it. 

My therapist made a great point this week about how people "like us" tend to give all of ourselves to those we adore, and although we should expect the same of others, we don't often receive it. And at some point, I need to understand that taking care of myself comes before taking care of others. Grieving is a process, and as long as you're not harming others while putting yourself first, you shouldn't care what others think. I never thought that I'd be at the tail-end of my twenties, sincerely excited to see a therapist and "move the hell on with my life." 

So, in honor of celebrating myself, and in honor of healing, I'm going to throw myself back into this. I'm going to write myself raw, and hopefully shed some light on how anxiety and depression are real things that happen to real people after traumatizing events. Therapy is good, and safe, and needed. Self-care can be crafted in even the littlest ways. I want to be myself again, and my blog has always been an extension of that self I have come to miss very dearly. 

Thanks for bothering to read my rambles, and thanks also in advance for following along on this little healing journey. I hope it's not too boring! Who am I kidding - it's going to be ANYTHING but boring from the looks of it. Seeya along the way. 

Mani Monday: Ella + Mila's "On The Runway"

Hey, darlings, I'm back with another Ella + Mila color. I purchased a three-pack during a sale they ran during the winter, so you're correct - I'm guilty of posting a lot of their products! I'm still very much in love with this brand's quality, and I have just one more color in my arsenal to post on here. Saint Louis has seen a number of spring storms lately, and this color was perfect to wear while seeing them roll through. 

In direct daylight, this color reminds me a bit of an old favorite of mine from Essie: "Petal Pushers," which I featured on the blog here. This Ella + Mila hue, "On the Runway," is much more gray, and darker, but I feel like it gives off the same mood. A little edgy, but not too harsh. A perfect match for my personality, perhaps? Gentle enough to hang out with air plants, but prickly enough to also own a bunch of cacti. This little air plant cutie comes from local shop Flowers & Weeds, of which I am on my way to becoming a frequent patron. I want a little jungle in my home.

As always, this polish brand's quality is A+. I did a full three coats of application to make sure that I didn't have any sheer streaks left from my brush. It lasted quite a while too! I think I wore this for nearly a full week before I sustained any noticeable chipping along the edges. In fact, I've been lazy and out of whack enough these past few weeks that I haven't even bothered to remove this polish... and it's still hanging on. 

After my next post of my last remaining Ella + Mila color, I hope to find a new brand to show you. Stay tuned! 


Products Used: 
Gray Polish: Ella + Mila's "On the Runway"
Base & Top Coat: Seche Vite (top coat c/o of Face & Body Shoppe)
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Mani Monday: Ella + Mila's "Blindfold Me"

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I appear to have a knack for buying nail polish with names that might be slightly suggestive. Or it could just be that nail polish companies like saucy names. Likely, a combination of both.

This rich navy blue comes from a company I've been loving lately for its 7-free chemical pledge, easy application, cruelty-free mission, and USA-made status. I've shared Ella+Milla on the blog before here, and I had been hoping to scoop some new colors up. Luckily, the brand just celebrated its 3rd birthday and ran a great promo, so I grabbed a set of three new polishes

I'm a sucker for darker hues like this - if you've been following along on my nail polish posts, I know I've mentioned a handful times that dark polishes are kinda my favorite. I think they're classy but also edgy at the same time. 

Although I still am not *perfect* at application, I feel like Ella+Mila's polish looks so professional. I had a coworker ask if it was a gel polish, actually! "Blindfold Me" was totally opaque in two coats. In fact, it just barely missed fully covering my nails with only one coat. Keeping my nails short most definitely also makes for easier application, so I've been filing them down lately. Keeping them short also helps with other more important things, like keeping my WPM in tip top shape for work or other such nerdy endeavors. 

I'm looking forward to trying out my other two new colors! Stay tuned to see how much I love them as well. 

Polishes Used:
Navy Blue: Ella+Mila's "Blindfold Me"
Base Coat: Seche Vite  |  Top Coat: Seche Vite, c/o Face and Body Shoppe