Sincerely Lo Blog.

She takes gorgeous photographs, could be a Taylor Swift look-alike, and this year she is going to be brave. She believes in purpose over perfect. Her name is Lauren and she writes at Sincerely Lo. She is the kind of person who is beautiful inside and out. The inside is worth getting to know too. Really.laurenThe Lord has put so many dreams inside of this girl’s heart and sometimes, like all of us, doubt creeps in. You know what I am talking about? The worry, the what-if-I-can’t do it? And this year she heard a whisper and that whisper was one some of us would ignore. Lauren did not. The whisper was the word: brave. And so this is Lauren’s year of bravery, of taking in risks, in believing in what the Lord has for her and the dreams he has placed in her heart.lauren3 (1)Lauren loves Jesus, her husband, the Sincerely Lo Blog39_1924_full…and taking photographs.lauren4And she is pretty good at it too. Okay, that is an understatement. She is amazing at it. Just look how she captured the Cox family:3As an aside, I think she perfectly captured this little family, their joy in each other, their closeness, and a type of inner radiance. It takes a special type of photographer to do that. And a little bit selfishly, I hope that Lauren’s word of the year–brave–applies to photography because she clearly has a God given gift.

One of my favorite things about Lauren is her heart to reach people who may have been hurt by the church (I count myself on that list) or people who are put off by the idea of God. Lauren writes about the fact that love works. It reaches out, just like Jesus did. It keeps reaching out no matter what. She writes, “You can never influence people that you reject” and how important it is to love the people it is the hardest to love. You don’t hear that a lot. Most people struggle to love the people that are actually pretty easy to love. After all, we are all busy. Life is crazy. But love works. Love works hard. And we should love hard.

Recently she was able to meet a few blogger friends in person. You’ve got a chance to get to know her through her words. I am telling you that you’ve got to hop on over to Sincerely Lo and get to know this girl and her heart. She’s worth the read and she’s worth the time and remember, she’s worth the love. Show her some!

Trust me,

Signature

 

 

 

use the code BIRTHDAY for 20% off all sponsor spots. If you need more convincing, check out what I look for in sponsorships and what I aim to give my sponsors.

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

Using Instagram to Find Beauty.

instagramcirclesFollow me on instagram @nbwearsflowers

My thoughts on instagram have evolved over time. I am never going to like those feeds that show perfection and none of the mess or the ones that cram every single designer label into one shot. It’s just never going to be what I post and it’s never what I gravitate towards. But instagram has become something else for me–this little place to find the silver linings in the day, when the light is perfect, and my desk is perfectly imperfect, or I finally made my bed, or I am eating an insanely good donut. It’s a way of counting gifts He gives me just as much and it also just happens to be social media.

So yes, recently, my feed has become a little more professional looking (I hope) because the more I learn about staging and photography the more I really like it. I use the term staging loosely because you will not find me setting up lipsticks all in a row (yet…Ha!). But like I said, when the light is coming in through the window, and the mess on my desk is colorful, I am going to stop and snap it. I just am.

Sometimes it is a challenge to find beauty in the day. But I am up for it. And it is pretty cool that everything is documented. I can go back and look at these silver linings to each of my days. They make me smile. They make me forget, at least for a moment, all the work and the pain and my hurting body. There is beauty everywhere. We just have to look for it. We don’t have to stage it or fake it at all. We live it and it goes by in a rush and so I stop pause andpfull out my phone to capture something–like magic in a bottle.

If you don’t follow me on instagram, I’d love to have you: @nbwearsflowers.

Also, use the code BIRTHDAY for 20% off all sponsor spots. If you need more convincing, check out what I look for in sponsorships and what I aim to give my sponsors.

Love,
Signature

 

 

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

Ladylike.

ladylike shoesCross your legs at the ankle and tuck your toes beneath the chair; write your thank you notes in perfect cursive; sip delicately at your coffee (or better yet tea) without making a sound. Elbows never on the table. Speak softly and even quietly. Your voice is one that can heard only if one is listening very carefully.

Growing up, I was told to “act like a lady” or “to be ladylike.” The fact is, I don’t regret these directives because I was taught manners and I was taught etiquette. I was taught these things well and I believe these things are important. Still, I wonder if the word ladylike ever held me back. If as a little girl, I did not speak or use my voice the way I should have. I am sure my lovely parents, who I talked back to often enough, would say I didn’t hold back. But when I wasn’t with them, did I look down at the saddle shoes or the penny loafers my mom made me wear (and I loathed at the time but now love) and let things slide by because a lady wouldn’t do this, a lady wouldn’t do that. Because I didn’t yet understand what a lady was really.
ladylike coffeeLadylike, to me, is like the word “bossy.” You don’t often hear a boy called bossy. Of course, there is the word gentleman. And yes, boys are taught to be gentlemenly. But that means stepping up to open a door, standing when a woman leaves the table. Did any little boy, taught to be gentleman, ever keep quiet when he should have spoken up in the name of being gentlemanly? A gentleman may take off his jacket but he can still put up his fists and fight–if the cause is worthy. (It is always better to use words if a cause is worthy enough to fight for, of course. I am just think thinking of situations girls are put in that are meant for us to think, to teach us, we are powerless. Then a dignified punch of a well placed knee before we ran to safety might be called for depending on the situation. But we aren’t taught that as little girls.)

A lady never could. A girl who is supposed to be ladylike never would.

ladylike booksSo I cross my ankles and tuck my feet beneath the chair. I write those thank you notes. I do not make noise when I sip my coffee and my elbows do not touch the table. I will pass these things on someday as well. But I will also pass on the fact that a girl can be ladylike and have an opinion. A lady is not a doll. She is not to be played with. A lady can speak up. A lady has a voice.

And if something happens when you are a little girl that you know should not, you are allowed to scream and kick and cry. It has nothing to do with manners and everything to do with your voice. Which is worth hearing. Which is worth listening to. I am listening.elizabeth bennet ladylikeI love things girly and feminine. I like polka dots and blush and gold. I paint my nails pink. The older I get the more I realize how complicated things are, how I have misunderstood things. My whole life I looked at other girls and thought they were more ladylike than I was because they always had the sweetest things to say while I found humor in sarcasm. Humor encouraged me, made me laugh, when someone handed it to me, but their sweetness–so sweet it nearly hurt my teeth some times, that typical type of sweetness, that ladylike sweetness–that must be the right way to be. And from what I saw, when a boy yelled, gentleman or not, a lady dropped her chin to her chest and pressed her lips together.

Now I know different.

Now I know better.ladylike coffee in bedBut how do we impart this to girls? This complicated version of the word ladylike is hard to put into words, let alone words for a little girl to understand, the little girl I was when I misunderstood and kept quiet when I should have screamed. I want to write thank you notes. I do not want to put my elbows on the table. But if being loud is not ladylike, if speaking truth in love is not ladylike, if honesty even when it hurts is not ladylike, then I will never be a lady. I will never be surrounded by ladies either. Because the girls who have my back speak up. They tell the truth. They call me on my junk. And I love them for it.lady2

I was lucky because I have parents who love me, who used the word ladylike but plenty of others too, important life-giving words.  Still, I think someday I will say things like this:

Be strong but not so strong you are brittle and not so strong you forget to always be soft with compassion.

Speak, because sometimes that’s the only tool you have and it is a powerful one. Speak especially when others are trying to silence you because no one who loves you would ever ask that of you.

Grow. Explore. Take adventures. Learn who God made you to be and love that person.

Forgive. Even when it is the hardest. Especially when it is the hardest.

Surprise yourself.

And baby, you can still expect to write those thank you notes.

It’s just a word, you know. Ladylike. But as a little girl, I didn’t understand that. I thought it was something I had to live up to, something to achieve, something I could never fully be because there was always more I could do–I could be a better daughter, a better hostess. I could always be better. That’s one of the mantras I’ve lived by for too long: be better, be more, never stop. But what if I just stopped, and for a moment alone at my desk, put my elbows on the table, and didn’t try to be ladylike but tried to be the woman God made me to be (who still writes thank you notes)? What then?
Signature

 

 

 

Don’t forget to use the code BIRTHDAY to receive 20% off any sponsorship option.

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

 

The Nashvillian

 

Project Wellness with Bex.

I’m starting a new project with my blogger friend turned real life friend called Project Wellness. I’m going to let Bex introduce it to you today and let you know what this month’s focus will be: Project Wellness Whole 30.project wellness


Hey guys! I’m Bex the girl behind Butcher’s Niche. The most talked about topic on the Niche is style . . . and being a fashion blogger I’ve learned takes a whole new kind of confidence. Sending a selfie to your mom, your best friend, or your boyfriend/husband of a cute outfit you’re rocking is much different that putting several styled pictures on the internet for all to see. The internet can be mean . . .

IMG_5376

I’ve been lucky so far. Not much negative has been said. But I haven’t been doing it all that long either. It’s still sometimes hard though to hit publish on those posts (or schedule since I’m a organized, multitasking planning over achiever). Ya see, I’ve never been skinny. In the 3rd grade I was 5’5 120 lbs and wore a 34 b. The 3rd grade. I was 7 years old.

I wish I could tell you that I’m still that size. That I work out regularly and eat right and that I just went through puberty much quicker and earlier than most. While that part is most definitely true, I did not stay that way.

statement1

Thankfully, in the world we live in, it’s better than it used to be about size. People are more accepting of you whatever size you. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but it does mean that a plus size fashion blogger could actually make it in this big bad world.

My blog started as a way to document my wedding (which super awesome even though my mom gave everyone red solo cups), but eventually those posts ran out. My wedding was only 1 year of planning and 1 day of actual the actual event; then it was time to be married. So I started doing fashion posts . . . I started for a few reasons

photo 4 (2)

Of course, there was the obvious. I liked fashion and this was going to get my creative juices flowing in that area and keep me accountable to be fashionable, not frumpy. I wanted that anyway so it was a no brainer.

I also did it to give myself confidence. That picture up there in the blue skirt . . . those are all my favorite pieces. I feel comfortable. I feel pretty. stylish. confident. healthy.

I also did it because I want other to feel that way. Hopefully, even if there’s just one girl that I can give an outfit idea to and she feels encouraged and hopeful . . . pretty even. Then it’s worth it.

bexcoat4

This isn’t about being a certain size, or a quick fix, and it’s not just about eating right and working out. It’s about general wellness . . . health, fitness, mindset, skin care, body image, self esteem, I could go on and on . . . So Nina and I have started a project. We’re essentially going to be accountability partners for each other about our general wellness. Each month we’ll each post about a certain focus topic.

projectwellness

For me, wellness is going to start in the kitchen with weight loss. Food affects our mood, our behavior, our mindset, our self image . . . food affects all of it!! And before last week I mostly ate bad stuff that made me feel even worse. Nina and I will be following a whole 30 diet. Go to whole30.com for all the details and check back in at the end of February to see how we did, how we feel, and what the next topic will be.

Where does wellness start for you?

Bex 
Butcher’s Niche // twitter // instagram


Please feel free to join us! We want this to be ongoing and about the inside and the outside–just being well and healthy and whatever that means uniquely for you and for us. What do you think? (Isn’t Bex great?)

Signature

 

 

 

Don’t forget to use the code BIRTHDAY to receive 20% off any sponsorship option.

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

Nonna’s Ice Box Cake.

ice Box cakeIt’s time for another one of Nonna’s recipes. I have to tell you, for Christmas, I gathered all the photos I’ve taken for the blog and took some more, as well as over four generations worth of photographs and gave Nonna her own cookbook for Christmas. It was a huge hit (the idea goes to my mom; she is so clever with gifts)! But as the family came to this page, with this dessert, my dad was a bit up in arms.

“Ice Box Cake?” he asked incredulously. “Since when is this called an Ice Box Cake?”

“Nonna gave me the recipes with the titles,” I told him. I was super sly about it too and asked for them for the blog so she had no idea what was coming.

“That’s not what it is called!” Dad insisted.

Maybe because it’s always been called Dad’s favorite’s dessert? And then when my brother came along, it was called Joe’s favorite dessert? Nonetheless, no one heard the term “Ice Box Cake” until Nonna named it officially. Her friend, of the same generation, backed her up on Christmas as well so…It’s an icebox cake, for better or for worse, and apparently always has been.

Nonna’s Ice Box Cake Recipe
1 pkg each KOSTCO, vanilla and chocolate pudding (NOT INSTANT) (listen to her capital letters, ha!)
Line a 8×8 or 9×9 square glass dish with squares of graham crackers
Cook chocolate  pudding  according to package, pour over graham crackers
Place another layer of graham crackers on top of chocolate pudding
Cook vanilla pudding according to package, pour over graham crackers
Cool, then refrigerate
(This can be made the day before)
The day of serving, slice bananas (round),  and cover top of vanilla pudding with bananas
Whip, small container of real whipping cream, until peeks form, then add a little powdered sugar (to taste)
Cover the bananas with whipping cream
Refrigerate and serve cold
Enjoy everyone’s favorite dessert!

Signature

 

 

 

Don’t forget to use the code BIRTHDAY to receive 20% off any sponsorship option.

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

The Nashvillian

Speed through Airport Security with these Seven Tips.

speed1. Consider signing up for the TSA Pre-Check.

Depending on your situation, there may be a fee (find more information here and here) but if you travel often or if you find yourself cutting it close and running late, the TSA Pre-Check offers shorter lines. And by shorter I mean practically nonexistent.

2. Pack Your Carry On with Security in Mind.

That means make sure your computer is on top for easy access to remove and place it in its own bin. Not only are you speeding up the process for yourself but for everyone else as well.

3. Easy shoes, Easy Jacket.

Whatever shoes you wear, consider choosing ones you can slip off and wear socks because, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my bare feet on the airport floor. Instead of jacket, if weather permits, consider an easy to remove blanket scarf.travel shoes 1

4. Have All Your Documents at the Ready.

Who loves the person in front of them that is frantically searching for their driver’s license? Nobody.

5. Follow the Rules.

Just like the TSA says, pack your toiletries into a clear ziploc bag. It’s best to do that with medicines as well. Make sure you don’t have any liquids (like a water bottle) in your bag either.carryon

6. Don’t Wear Jewelry.

Place it in a pouch in your carry on and put it all on at the gate. You won’t have to bother removing your watch or anything else.

7. Smile.

This sounds so corny but the thing is: no one loves airport security. But a smile can go a long way. And think of those TSA agents as people that are there to protect you, not to make your life difficult. Smiling at them can’t hurt either.

Do you have any tips to add? Because, girlfriend, I will totally use them!
Signature

 

 

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

Thrifted Inspiration.

yellowbagMy friend, Lyd, makes a great model. When I asked her if she would let me use her for some editorial shots, she was up for it and so kind. We went through her luggage and I considered bringing my own. Her family is all about adventure so I wasn’t surprised to see a lot of North Face roller duffles and back packing gear. Then she pulled out this yellow Tourister bag she thrifted in Nebrasksa. “What do you think of this?”

I found something out in putting together this shoot (in truth, I feel a bit funny calling it that). But I had a vision of what I wanted and to see it come to fruition was some kind of magic that I may be obsessed with it. I’ve always loved photography because it’s just another form of creative expression but then Lyd pulled out that yellow bag, and I saw the pictures in my mind.

When I told my mom that I could see myself directing in some capacity she laughed so hard and said: “So, this is supposed to be some type of surprise?”girl travel tips 2It got me thinking, after I was obsessively editing the photos, how a simple yellow bag led to a dream, and then just a few hours later, that dream was something I could see and touch. When I asked Lyd to do the shoot, I had no idea what it would be and then it hit me like a flash and she was lovely and it turned out perfectly. Something as simple as that going right made me want to keep dreaming and pushing for those things I really want. yellowbag1

And a lot of people mentioned wanting that yellow bag…Unfortunately, as I mentioned, the literal bag is thrifted but what are the yellow bags in your life? Those little spots that light up in the inspiration inside you and shake out the cobwebs? Maybe it’s a book. Maybe it’s a song or a movie. Or maybe it’s something as odd and forgotten as a twenty year old yellow bag.

What’s your yellow bag? What is inspiring you today?

Let’s inspire one another,
Signature

 

 

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

Seven Tips for Girls Traveling Alone.

travel tips 3Just do the next thing–that’s always my advice when it comes to taking an adventure. Whether it is moving across the country, interviewing for a new job, or starting a relationship: just do the next thing. It’s also my mantra for traveling. Singleness is not going to stop me from seeing the world (the only thing that may do that is my bank account). It boggles my mind that some women are afraid to travel on their own. Single or married, hear me when I say: you are plenty capable. Still, in this crazy world, though it may not be fair (it isn’t), as women, there are some things we can do to not only be safe but to feel safe. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve gleaned in my adventures and travels. Some have been passed down to me. Others I learned the hard way, like I learn a lot of things.

Traveling, especially alone, even as a girl, is an exciting prospect, not a scary one. St. Augustine said: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I don’t know about you, but I want to read the whole book. So here are my seven tips for girls traveling alone.

1. Have a Plan to Look Like a Native.

Nothing says tourist (or “Someone-To-Be-Taken-Advantage-Of”) like a huge map in front of your face. Not only does this make it impossible for you to be aware of your surroundings (which is always a must) but it makes you a target. The same goes for the map on your iPhone; if your eyes are on google maps, you can’t keep track of your surroundings. Meanwhile, while you’re distracted, other people may be noticing you and your lack of awareness.

Before you leave your hotel or your new apartment in your new city, either have a plan or key everything in your phone. Have some idea of the route you are going to take and the streets you need to be looking for as you strut down the street. That way, you can casually glance down while walking like you’re on a mission. Remember, you know exactly where you’re going and how you’re getting there (even if you don’t!) so no one should mess with you. If you do need to reorientate yourself (believe me, I have to all the time) stop in a café or shop so you can study your map or phone at your leisure.

2. Carry It All without Breaking a Sweat.

This lesson I learned the hard way, no matter how many people told me. Sure, I can roll a fifty pound suitcase behind me through the airport. But what about when I land in Paris? Can I carry it up the metro steps that come from the middle of the earth on an incredibly steep incline? I certainly cannot, especially when I am randomly and unexpectedly ill for several hours on the plane ride  earlier (another story for another day).  I’ll qualify this tip one step further: the less you know a place or what it will be like upon your arrival and commute to where you will be staying, the less you should carry. If I flew into Rome, somewhere I know very well, I would have known exactly where I needed to go, how far I needed to carry a suitcase, and how many flights of stairs I needed to climb (and that’s if everything goes according to plan).

What about when  you have to go to the bathroom? Be sure that everything you have can fit in a lovely stall with you (while you’re at it, hang everything on the hook but your roller bag(s) so someone doesn’t grab anything in the gap between the floor and the bathroom door).

Just think about the millions of things you may have to do on your own. Hungry at the airport? There is no one to watch your stuff. You have to cart all your bags. Crossing the street in a strange city? You’re carrying everything. Bathroom break? Yup. girl travel tips

3. Leave Your Diamonds at Home.

Yes, I lost a pearl earring in a Roman mall one time. I still feel guilt about it as I type this. This tip is mostly so you don’t have to worry, not because I picture some nefarious man with a knife demanding you give him your wedding ring. Still, if that were to happen, how great would it be to give him a paste ring instead?

4. Wear your Don’t Mess with Me Mask.

Yes, that’s right. You have no reason to smile or go out of your way to be friendly with people. Your job while walking down the street is to appear capable. You are on a mission and you know exactly where you are going. How you carry yourself goes a long way. Studies have shown that people can even be targeted based on body language. As they say on every reality show, you are not here to make friends (unless you are making friends while traveling which is a whole other article). Meanwhile, I don’t know how you have time to smile at people when you are busy being super vigilant of your surroundings in this new locale.

Once an old man offered to help me carry luggage. I gently argued with him in both of our languages before we agreed to carry it together. I never took my hand off the bag but I did need help. Sometimes, you need to bend rules in order to get up the stairs with your luggage. But you better believe my grip was tight.

5. Choose Comfort Over Fashion.

I know. This is a hard one to swallow. When travel goes exactly as planned and you’re swept from first class into a black car to your hotel (who are you and where do you work?), maybe heels work. But I never could have known how many connecting trains I would have to take once landing in Paris to meet up with my friend (and I never would have worn skinny jeans if I knew I would be ill on the plane). There are so many contingencies and things that go unplanned when traveling–at least be comfortable. But comfort does not have to mean ugly. Consider flats and some type of pant that you can breathe in. I always want a hair tie available and a scarf in case I catch a chill.travel shoes 1

6. Be Safe, Never Sorry.

Have you see the movie Taken? I wanted to throttle those girls when, upon arriving in Europe, they happily told someone they just met exactly where they were staying. They may as well drawn him a map and given him a key to get inside too (for the record, this does not mean I think they should have been sold into human trafficking). Please just be smart. Even though we are taught, especially as women, that we have to be nice, it’s better to be skeptical of others when you’re traveling alone, especially abroad. If something feels off in you gut, listen. If someone wants to know where you’re staying, don’t tell them (even if it is another female). One time, a man asked to use my cell phone. I’m sure he was a nice guy but there was plenty of other people for him to ask so I kindly made a joke of what he could already tell: “Would you mind asking someone else? I’ve got to be careful–a girl on her own and all!” The vast majority of people will respect that.

While we’re on the topic, don’t announce you’re on your own unless it is painfully obvious. If someone asks if you are alone or tries to pry, your antenna should immediately go up.girl travel tips 2

7. When All Else Fails: Pretend You Know What You’re Doing.

The thing is, traveling on your own does not need to be a scary thing. It can be a liberating and thrilling experience. If done right, you never quite return the person you were before. There is something amazing about that. Still, there will be moments where you have no clue where to go, who to ask for help, or what to do. If you’re in public, you’ve got to keep your game face on, your purse across your body, hand on the zipper, your eyes like laser beams across the cobble stoned streets or the dirt roads (or wherever you may be). Know that feeling lost is part of the adventure, just don’t let it show where you may be vulnerable. On a personal note, I wish I could tell you how many of those lump-in-my-throat-moments have turned into life defining memories.

How do you feel about traveling on your own? Any tips I missed?

Don’t let fear hold you back. Be an adventurer!

Signature

 

 

 

Lydia’s Outfit Details: Lips | Sunglasses | Trench | Jacket (similar) | Pants | Booties (similar) | Yellow Bag (vintage) | Watch | Scarf (old)

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

Choose Your Own Adventure.

I no longer live in San Francisco and this baby is from the archives but you never read it, it’s so old. I’m so glad I read it because that is what I needed. Now in Chicago, in the middle of winter, I still feel that thrill and wonder and the click-clack of all the gears working together, when I just know I’m where I am supposed to be. But there are other days too. Those days are hard and long. But I go to bed and sleep. When I wake up, it is a new day.

It’s worth it to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, to choose adventure every single day, even when it’s hard.

***

Do you know that feeling, when everything seems to be going right, all the chips are falling into place, and you use every cliché in a sentence? No, but really. Today at work, everything went smoothly. It’s a super busy time for us so the energy is electric. I don’t have time to really think and so I go on auto pilot, only it’s auto pilot on speed. I have to crank it out. I have to. I cannot fail. In the middle of it all, I ran to a doctor’s appointment that normally would never be scheduled during this time of the year but I’d been on the waiting list forever. I walked through the gorgeous city and enjoyed the San Francisco September Summer, cutting through Union Square. I felt home. This place is mine now. It is a part of me.

But not every day is like that.

Some days are so hard it’s like trudging through mud. San Francisco does not feel like home all the time. It feels like a place very far from my friends and family. I haven’t explored the way I want to explore. Cab to real grocery store. Cab back home. Then cook? Right. Most nights, I go to bed before my friends and family (including my three year old sister) who live in the central time zone. On my birthday this year, a homeless man spat on me. He wasn’t aiming for me but nonetheless. SONY DSC

And I know I am twenty five, but sometimes I want my mom. She came to visit me for a week and did life with me. She finally admitted, “Your life is exhausting.” I can’t just take a drive to Walmart when I am out of things. Everything is an adventure–and that word does not have a good connotation in this sentence. When she saw how I have to do laundry, I think she had a conniption. One such laundry example (there were many: from how hard it is to get quarters, to creepy basement, to the expense):

Mom: Well, we’re at Target. You need laundry detergent.

Me: But we’re walking home.

Mom: But you need laundry detergent. And it’s more expensive at that corner store.

Me: Do you want to carry that with us? (along with a poster sized frame and other assorted goods) (You win some, you lose some, Mom.)

(Oh, P.S. in an effort to be more green, San Francisco has a LAW where one must pay 10 cents per bag at any store. When I go to other cities and they ask, “Would you like a bag with that?” I get so excited because it is free! free! free! “Why yes, I would LOVE a bag with that.”)

Do not get me wrong.

I have some great friends–here, there, and everywhere. These are girls who know me, deep down to the heart of me. If we fight, there is no question if we will make up. We make up. We’ve become family. I’ve made a few friends like that here, don’t get me wrong. Friends like that don’t come cheap and they don’t come easy. Friends like that are born through the fire of hardship and difficulty. You see one another at your worst and at your best. I do have friends like that here and they are one of the reasons San Francisco still feels like a place I need to be.

Sometimes I feel as if I am scattered, made of pixels, not even really whole. Who am I? Who do I want to be? I hear (supposedly) your twenties is the time to ponder such things but sometimes it is good to have people to remind you of the answers.

Sometimes the story of the San Francisco Adventure is much better than the reality of it. But then there are those days, when everything flows together, and I am walking across Union Square and I am not a tourist; I am not here on a visit. This is where I live. This is where I work. This where I do life. And really the adventure has been incredible, not just the made for tv movie version of it.SONY DSCA grown man said to me, when I first moved here, “Sometimes I wake up and walk out my front door and I thank God that I live in San Francisco.” He was completely serious and he isn’t one to invoke God in a sentence unless the words damn and it follow. But that’s how people are here; once you live here, you cannot imagine living anywhere else because it really is that great. I loved it when I came, but at first, I didn’t get that concept of the superlative. It’s great but so is Chicago, so is Rome. But then. But then. It really is that great.SONY DSCOne day, I was walking down Filmore and I realized. I love it here. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in that moment. (Let’s just not talk about my rent, okay?)

The San Francisco Forty Niners and their fans are known for this phrase:Who’s got it better than us?” To someone who has never lived in San Francisco, it can come off as extremely pompous. Actually, it does come off that way. But people mean it genuinely. They throw their arms around you with drinks in their hand and look at the skyline. “Man,” they might say dreamily, “Who’s got it better than us?” In a weird way, it’s an actual acknowledgement that living here is a blessing.

I would be a liar if I said that I don’t think that on some days–who does have it better? This city does something to you, I am not kidding. I am not the same; yet I am not wholly different. And so, maybe it is like falling in love. Once you fall, there is no going back to the person you were before, whether it works out or not. And you can’t stop those questions either: will this be a forever love? will we just be friends, seeing each other once a year? how will this story end? So yes, I do think on a day like today: who’s got it better than us?

But there is one problem. When this picture was taken:IMG_1798I thought the exact same thing. Who’s got it better than us, Ava, right now snuggled up together in this bed? Nobody.

Adventures are complicated. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

***

But not so complicated. If I had to choose, even if it means feeling the constant push and pull, I will continue to choose to leap. Because adventures are complicated. But they are beautiful too. My San Francisco Adventure taught me that.

Signature

 

 

 

P.S. Don’t forget to use the code BIRTHDAY for 20% off any sponsor spot.

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

 

How to Clean Your Make Up Brushes.

clean your make up brushesThis is going to be quick and easy: how to clean your make up brushes. You should clean your make up brushes. But who actually does it? Once I went a month cleaning them every single day but it’s hard. You have to wash them in the morning or they won’t be dry before you need them the next morning and forget about needing them for a touch up that night.

And yet, I knew I was taking grime and old make up and putting it back on my face every morning–which is also gross. So I came up with a solution. Once a week, I do the deep clean which is simple and easy.

You just need your make up brushes and baby shampoo. That’s it.IMG_9983A few tips, always make sure you’re pointing the brush hair down, or at least at that angle. Don’t ever flip it hair up because water will find its way into the base of the brush where it will rot. That’s gross on its own but it also makes your brushes loosen over time. So use the baby shampoo and warm water and then lay them flat to dry on a paper towel.

During the week, when I can’t do a deep clean, I spritz them with this brush spray. It doesn’t take as long to dry as the full shampoo and I still feel like they are kept relatively clean throughout the week. Still, make sure not to spray hair up.

Does anyone have a system? How do you keep your complexion look great? I think this is a step in the right direction and but I am always looking for tips for better skin!

Hit me.
Signature

 

 

Visit the Peony Sponsor: