Thursday, October 8, 2015

Photo Diary | Tola, Nicaragua

I was incredibly nostalgic during the editing process of these photos. They warm my heart so heavily! I can hardly explain how they really make me feel. The trip I took to Nicaragua with my friend Thania was truly so unique and extremely memorable. Travel photos are my favorite kinds of photos to take. Locals in action. The vibrancy of a culture displayed on buildings, painted on alleyway walls and in things as simple and nonchalant as fruit displays on the street side market. Things so normal to the everyday local person but that are so exotic and lively to us. A feast for the our senses. I like to capture these moments that standout to me. Moments that would go unnoticed by the locals going about their everyday lives. I sometimes wondered during this trip (as I do mostly everywhere I go), do the locals see what I see? Do the colors and complex textures of their neighborhoods create a little stirring in their heart as they do to mine? Does the zoom from a wave of young men on motor bikes going around the corner in colorful shirts send a buzzing through their spine? Most likely, not, but I like to think that they sometimes see what I see, and really recognize the beauty and uniqueness of where they live. But like they always say, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Lucky enough, the opportunity for me to travel and explore has grown tenfold in the past year. Which means more things for me to share with you all. This trip was paid for by little brand collaborations Thania and I worked on throughout our stay, and we were lucky enough to be hosted by one of the most wonderful resorts in exchange for social media coverage (thank you Aqua Wellness Resort!!). This might not be the most conventional way to travel and get to the places one has always dreamed to visit, but it's how we make it work. Travel is work. Work is travel. That's how I like to think about it nowadays. It's not too shabby of a combination, I must say. Every trip I take is not just content for the blog and beautiful photographs to inspire you to book a flight and pack a bag, but also a way for me to open my own eyes and grow personally. To look around me not just for the beauty on the outside of where I happen to be, but the real roots of a culture and its development and changes. It's all so intriguing to me. Luckily for us, on this trip we go to be guided by many who are so knowledgeable about Nicaragua and its local industry, both the good and the bad, and the ways that entrepreneurs are coming in to build up the country in a way that both preserves and is forward-thinking. The result of this trip has left me feeling really proud of the country and excited for where it is heading . . . not a country that gives in to the taints of tourist traps and overpriced adventure tours, but one that celebrates and cherishes its beginnings and its natural surroundings. It's peaceful and desolate beaches. It's sparkling waves and calm coves. It's luscious mountains and forests. Agricultural workers hanging off the bag of a rainbow colored truck, heading to their next job. The warm aroma of cacao beans around every corner in the city. Everything still felt so untouched here. 

The best closure to my trip was my driver to the airport who was a born and raised Nicaraguan man who conversed with me our entire 2 hour trek to the airport. He shared his stories. I shared mine. Funnily enough, he lived in Southern California for a solid two years doing construction work, in a city that my uncle currently resides in. But he said he came back to Nicaragua because he missed it so much. He proclaimed his love for his country, in-between sporadic bursts of cursing the police who would stop him every now and then for speeding or overtaking a car (his excuse was that he had to get the pretty lady in the back to the airport so she doesn't miss her flight). He was so sweet. And he held so much pride for his country, despite its downfalls. It is his home. I will always remember the smile on this face that he kept on the entire ride to the airport. It reminded me of the colors I saw this day on our way to Granada, passing through the city of Tola. So beautifully colorfully and bustling. Everyone on the go. Sometimes we get so caught up in the craziness of our own lives, the world seems to revolve just around us. Traveling is one of the best reminders to get outside that bubble . . . to realize the lives in existence in so many amazing parts of the world. Lives fabulous, lives far from fabulous and every sort of life in-between. It really puts things into perspective. 

Take a peek at this photo diary, and I hope it gives you that extra push to visit Nicaragua and explore its little wonders and its large realities yourself. Part 2 coming soon. Expect even more color ;)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dark and Stormy


Cleobella sheer dress
Paige high-waisted flares // SHOP HERE
Velvetine leather bag
Vintage neck scarf
Free People bra // SHOP SIMILAR

My friends aren't surprised when I show up in a getup that is verging on something straight out of The Craft. Head-to-toe black. Extra sheer. Neckline lower than usual. And most likely, lots of criss-cross detailing thrown in for extra effect. I don't actually practice witchcraft and all that jazz, but it's fun to pretend sometimes. I skipped the wide brimmed black hat because that would have been too strange. I was hanging out in the suburbs of Columbia, Ohio this day. No need to scare people. Despite the positiveness of my personality (well, most of the time, I like to say), I do have a dark side, showcased by my choice in TV shows and the books I read. I like to get scared and creeped out, and I like to read so I can feel pain and cry and get to a down place so I can in the end come up from them. A weird noise coming from behind a creaky door? Ghost stories and crimson red? I'm all for it. A depressing novel that makes me want to weep forever? I never want the story to end. You got me?

This blouse/dress by Cleobella is one of my ultimate wear-with-ease pieces in my closet. I love that it can be worn in like 100 different ways. Unbuttoned. Belted. Tucked in. Long. If it had sound effects, it would be "POW POW POW." Currently working on a super rad project with the brand right now, highlighting some of my favorite, creative women in my life. Can't wait to share :) 

So now, with Halloween just around the corner, this outfit is right on point. But I've already eliminated witch from my costume options. Which brings me to this question . . . What should I be for Halloween?!?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hair | Date Night Waves

One of the biggest stresses when it comes to dating (on top of the nervous butterflies and hoping your date will be a good conversationalist) is what the heck I'm supposed to be doing with my hair! I'm pretty low maintenance when it comes to my beauty and hair routine. The more natural, the better to me. But sometimes, taking just a few extra steps can make all the difference, livening things up tenfold so, so easily. I started using the XO Styling Iron, created by fellow blogger Cara McLeay of A Fashion Love Affair. I'm very particular about the hot tools I use on my hair to make sure I'm not allowing any damage while still getting the desired effects. I've been using the XO Styling Iron ever since I first tried it. I'm basically hooked because the results have been so spot on. Using the XO Styling Iron has taken me the least amount of time to do my hair ever! Which is great for me, because I don't like to spend a lot of time on these sort of things! And I prefer to use a straightening iron to add waves, because it gives me a less intense curl and I can always assure that I won't end up looking like Shirley Temple. If it's too curly, just a swipe of the straightener tames it down. So I can easily go both ways. On date nights, I tend to to make the wave a little more extreme than normal. As the night goes on, it will effortlessly get more subtle. 

I basically start work with the hair around my face first, then start creating waves in chunks from one side to the other side. I start the wave with the iron at a little above the middle point of my head, twisting the hair around the iron with the iron horizontal, and then slowly work my way down. I break up the waves throughout to give them that messy, worn-in texture. Then I put in more beach spray and add in more tousling once I've gotten through all my hair, and I'm good to go for the night! Super easy! Thanks Cara for creating the perfect styling iron. It's truly been a life saver :)

Shop the XO Styling Iron HERE!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Overalls on Beekman Street


Courtshop denim overalls
Minkpink top // SHOP HERE
Madewell wool hat // SHOP SIMILAR
Joie leather boots // SHOP HERE
BOYY leather bag // SHOP SIMILAR

Unfortunately, the days of bare legs and tan are far gone, but lets still take a moment to remember those sweaty, steamy days of summer. I hope they don't take too long to come back around.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Horoscopes | Being Libra

 I'm not a person crazy into horoscopes, but it's nice to read them every once in a while to look for some positive inspiration and motivation. I usually see them not as definers of my future, but representations of my present. Reminders of who I am and what I am seeking to do with my life and the relationships I have built within the world I live in. To give more thought to my every day. 

I randomly looked up my horoscope for the month courtesy of, and I felt very happy once I got to the end of it. It was extremely positive:

Do YOU, Libra! Until October 23, the Sun is in your sign, firing up your first house of passion projects and personal identity. Your relationship-centric sign often puts your own needs aside for the sake of staying in a twosome or making others happy. But this month is time to declare your independence—stand on your own two feet, and proudly! Steep yourself in little rituals or practices that affirm your autonomy. For the first three weeks of October, you could spend time every morning writing your goals and prioritizing activities near and dear to your heart. You may take inspiration from poet Mary Oliver's "The Summer Day" on what to do with your one "wild and precious life."

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

— Mary Oliver

I love the last line of the poem, which was called out in my horoscope. Such a beautiful way to describe one's life . . . both wild and precious. Not everyone would consider their lives wild, and sadly, there are also some who don't consider their lives precious. It's interesting to think about. How different we all view our lives, and especially in relation to each other. Someone who grew up privileged and with everything at their fingertips can view their life as less precious as someone who grew up watching over 4 younger siblings and saving all their money to feed the household. Or maybe they both feel their lives are precious, but in very, very different ways. 

A wild and precious life might sound like something that exists only in dreams, but I love the idea that everyone can have a life that exists as both. To be able to dream of even the most unattainable of things, and to find the feeling of freedom in areas where passions lie . . . these are things that shouldn't be denied from anyone. Yet, the reality is that they are. And saying that one's life is precious usually relies on the one's we surround ourselves with, and the worth that others imprint on us, which in turn affects the type of light we look upon ourselves with. Most of us grew up being taught not to care what other's say, and to form opinions by ourselves, but in today's society, it's not that easy. We are impressionable by nature and we are what and who we surround ourselves with. Being picky about the people you let into your life can be the best thing you could ever do, for it will naturally guide you in the direction that is best for you. And what is more wild and precious than that exactly? 

Although I can actually call myself an adult, I know that I still have a ton of childish (yet tamed) intentions. To me, that recognition is a freedom that I have. A freedom that leaves my life up to me to live exactly the way I want it. With no restraints. No holding back of myself. No road blocks that I could never hurdle. The recognition of my freedoms and the fact that I choose to share it with the ones I love makes my life feel precious . I love them so damn much, for the good impressions they leave on me. The impressions that tell me not to change a single thing about myself. The impressions that keep me moving forward and doing what I love. The impressions that keep me dreaming and exploring and never saying never. How about we kick off this new season by living wildly and passionately, and knowing that it is the one life we will live, and so we must never allow it to break under the control of someone other than ourselves. 

As a libra, I always work to keep both a wildness and a calmness alive in my life. There's not better way for me to feel at ease than this way.