If You Jump, I'll Jumpsuit

Up until a month ago, I've worn officially one romper in my adult life. I had two for a split second a few years back, but during my minimalist phase I deemed it unnecessary (okay, but it was a 90's navy and white floral print and it was so beautiful and I might need a moment of silence for it). 

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Settling In: All The Ways I Wish I Could Make The Most Of Our Current Living Room

Today I feel like a cautious ray of sun peeking out of a dramatic autumn cloudbank. I feel like each word I say sticks and resonates like a dart in a quiet room. I feel a change on the wind. // Day two of this post has me feeling a little like a long-traveling ship that just spotted a distant shoreline. Home is on the horizon.

 Photo by  Nathan Fertig  on  Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash

And it seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
Mama, if that's movin' up then I'm movin' out.

- Mr. William Joel

I was feeling a little more loosey-goosey about my writing on Saturday night (the beer didn't hurt, either). I decided that it’s as good of a time as ever to paint a picture with my words (and images from the internet) of what my dream living room looks like.

This has been a two-parter, since I went well past the first hour yesterday, I'm spending another couple of hours on it this Sunday.

This brain dump is focused solely on my current apartment with a focus on longevity and moveability (styles that can translate to a new place someday). Our current "living room" is not so much a room as it is half of the main room in our apartment, where the couch starts and the TV ends. If you’re wondering what it looks like now, picture really high ceilings and wood floors covered with dumb rugs, and nothing but white, scuffed paint in between. It’s bleak.

So let’s imagine what it’ll look like when it’s a perfect oasis!

Starting from the bottom…

Let’s talk about rugs first. Our current IKEA rug looks like a rug you’d find obnoxious in a ten year old boy’s room. I would say I hate it, but it’s actually the only rug that’s fared well over the past three years: it’s easy to clean, has never stained, and hasn’t been eaten by the rabbits.

What I’d really like is a white shag rug, despite all of the warnings otherwise. I like the idea of a clean look. This rug on Amazon claims to be ivory white and stain resistant and has been my pick. In fact, I’m excited to see that the roughly 7x10 size is available in ivory after months of only having the 5x8. I’d love to get a larger rug for Bonnie, my rabbit, because she doesn’t know how to play on the wood floor so she lives exclusively on rugs. Her life is a game of lava.

I also play with the idea of a more colorful rug like this one, but I still want to keep it light. It all depends on what rug I want under my dining table on the other side of the room.

Paint points

I’ve been obsessed with Seasalt by Sherwin Williams. It might be too warm of a color, though, so I might need to go with a blue to make sure to avoid the “apartment yellow” that has long plagued me. Mountain Air looks like it might be a little cooler for me.

We’ve also talked about just repainting it all with a fresh coat of white (maybe in a semi-gloss since it’s all devastatingly chalky). I listen to home podcasts, you guys. I know these new terms.

No sit, Sherlock

Since couches are such a big ticket item, we’ll probably stick with our current IKEA baby for now, but if I’m dreaming, it would be amazing to have a sleeper sofa for guests. If anything, I’d love to get some updated mid-century legs like this for this Karlstad to make it a little more interesting.

Our current glass-topped coffee table drives me crazy, and in hindsight I never would have opted for it. It gets messy, and the metal is sharp and harsh against our geometric rug. I’d like something a little more natural and and organic like this oval sweetheart from West Elm. Or whatever similar one I find for ten dollars at a garage sale, or better yet—free on the side of the road.

My current writing desk is glass-topped too, and it just needs to go. We have far too many desks and tabletops and not nearly enough organization to responsibly handle all of them.

A quirky small sofa like this blue one would be fun, or a couple of side chairs so that we can host friends in a less awkward way than surrounding them on the couch that only fits three people.

And finally, a TV stand that’s more than just a tiny box would be nice. I like tall, white ones like this one (I know, putting myself at risk for the same trap of too much IKEA furniture again). It would provide a little more of a focal point on the wall and give us a little more height to start adding more complimentary wall hangings.

Speaking of wall hangings

WE NEED WALL HANGINGS. I’m sending out an SOS on this one. It wasn’t a priority when we moved out here, but now that we’ve been in this same apartment for three years I’m starting to feel the sad weight of our blank walls.

I keep scouring Shop Goodwill for art that catches my eye, since that looks like the least expensive way to get interesting and unique framed paintings. I haven’t poked around too much on eBay, and I want to shy away from getting wall hangings just for the sake of not having empty walls (although it’s almost gotten to that point a few times).

There are some amazing nerdy things over on Society 6, and I think I’ll go that direction for tabletop and smaller art prints versus focal pieces. I love little nods to shows we love like 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Rick & Morty, and The Office.

On an unrelated note, I’d love to get a portrait of a woman someday for my home—something that celebrates and empowers femininity. I don’t know why, but I feel like another “girl” in the house would be a powerful reminder to embrace both the bold and the soft.

I’d also love to get a big round mirror to get some more light circulating in our space. I love the giant gold mirror trend, and as long as we properly balance it, I think it’d really change the look of our room. Bringing in more natural light would make it an awesome space to bring plants into as well, pothos and air plants being my favorite (because I tend to neglect plants, I need hardy varieties), but I’m digging snake plants and monstera as well.

Textiles + curtains

Our current curtains are a bright and cheerful yellow, and I still love them. The only thing I’d probably do would be remove our vertical blinds and get some more sturdy curtain rods. Since we have such tall ceilings, I might even extend the curtains with another color for a blocked look. If we go through with a more green paint, I might consider switching over to white or cream linen curtains with a bold black rod.

Our pillow game is seriously underwhelming. A couple of tattered pillows from IKEA and a smurf head are all we have at the moment. (Ugh, I’m having a moment where I realize how unimportant all this truly is—we have more smurf heads than many people in the world will ever get and I’m complaining).

I’m personally not happy that our pillows are feather pillows. I’ll keep them on hand so that the animal-created product doesn’t get thrown away in vain, but I’ll be way more selective about the material in my next pillows. A couple new pillowcases like these ones and a few additional throw pillows would up our couch comfort game significantly. I love so much about the pillows from The Citizenry, but the price point is way beyond even my dream budget.

A couple of simple velvet solids and maybe some graphic ones would make it a much more dynamic sitting situation. I also love those faux fur ones, but maybe just a little faux sheepskin draped on the back of the couch would get less physical contact and not get as gross.

The cherry on top

Ultimately, I want a space that’s customized and functional, but I want a few extra touches to make it feel like it’s a real, curated home. Baskets, coasters, candles, cool coffee table books. I know we’re working with limited space, but it’s felt so empty for years and I want it to feel welcoming. Not just to us, but to our guests.

I’ve actually been avoiding entertaining folks because I’m so self-conscious about how much of a bachelor pad this space feels sometimes. Not that that's bad...it's just not a place I feel proud of.

In all honesty, it’s been at least six months since we’ve had a gathering at our place. Typing that out gives me all the feels—we’ve been busy, but not that busy. I’m sure that my lack of enthusiasm about my own apartment has contributed to these doldrums. I love welcoming people and treating them to a wonderful afternoon/evening and I’d like to do it again someday soon. But I can’t even pretend that our space is hospitable or conducive to long, sweet coffee dates or comforting family meals or memorable game nights.

So there you have it! It’s exciting and overwhelming to think about, but verbalizing what I want and why I want it is far more helpful than just a Pinterest board.

What room needs the most love in your house/apartment?


There Are No Clean Lines In Life, And You Don't Have To Worry That Much About It

Today I feel like a lightning bug, flickering, lingering, sluggish in summer heat. I feel like a lone and distant star, homesick for a galaxy I have never belonged to

 Photo by  Igor Ovsyannykov  on  Unsplash

Classic, clean lines.

Now that I'm spending more time in the fashion world, I’m surrounded by the “innovative” ways companies describe themselves. And I realize how many of them say the exact same thing (heck, I would have said the exact same thing if I were them). Each brand lives in a vacuum, describing their products as you would describe your own child—fully honest, but maybe a little blinded by bias.

It’s a thrill when I click through to a company site that either knocks the wind out of me or prompts a whaaaaat. Beautiful branding, beautiful products, great storytelling.

But this post isn’t about what I brands I find compelling. It’s about the phrase clean lines and why that it stuck with me today.

Everyone wants a life of clean lines, but it's unattainable.

We like to imagine our lives as neat and tidy bookshelves that we can artfully style—put all the skills and professional experience in a color-coded corner, cohesive and chronological. Pop a few happy family photo albums in between grandma’s vase and grandpa’s navy hat. Show off your very mature interests with The Complete Works of Gustav Klimt and War And Peace and of course a few works by Vonnegut because it makes you appear relatable to the common man while still being aloof and mysterious.

Clean lines, a starting point and an ending point for each thing, and everything contained in its proper place.

But our lives are a little more like a poorly-constructed IKEA bookcase that’s bulging with books and papers and half-filled journals. There’s a handful of books about vintage clothing because you thought that’s what you wanted to do for a few months, there’s a program from your grandmother’s funeral service in there, too. There’s a pencil holder filled with crochet hooks and loose bits of yarn not big enough to use, but you like the color so you've kept them. Your diploma is in there too, still in its mailing envelope. Where’s Waldo and adult coloring books are peppered in. Sometimes it all comes crashing down and you have to rebuild and you don’t care about the order of things because there never was one.

What I’m saying is that there are no clean lines. The story of our lives lays out like a Venn Diagram with a million circles, most overlapping, some hanging out as total islands.

So how can we embrace the squiggle? The roughness that can’t be sanded down? Where can we see it, and how can we celebrate it?

Non-attachment is a constant theme in my yoga practice, and I work at it almost every day. I can be good and non-attached for the hour long class (O.M.G. Look at how non-attached she is), but it’s bringing the practice into my daily life that’s been the challenge.

But it’s allowing me to see that I thrive more in a fluid state than I do in a rigid one. For example, flowing through my daily schedule versus delineating every minute allows for a little more margin, and a little more self-compassion.

Even though my last two posts were about structure, I think the key to handling structure is that fluid mindset. I do my best to write every day, but if I must skip a day or write a little less one evening, I’ve been working on letting that moment go. No good ever comes from self-deprecation or dwelling on failure. 

I think structure + fluidity can coexist.

Structure is having a glass to pour water into, and a fluid mindset means trying your best to pour all the water into the glass—but not minding too much if you spill. No use crying over spilled schedules.

Rough Edges Are Everywhere

I see the not-so clean lines when I see the scuffs on my shoes and the flyaway hairs on my head and the rabbit hay sprawled across my rugs. But that’s the sign of a life that is being lived—it’s not ever going to be exactly as clean as we want it to be, so maybe we should stop trying to force it.

Sure, we can love beautiful things, but we shouldn’t love them any less if there’s a presence of something ugly. I can be frustrated with my acne, but I can still appreciate how nice my eyes look when I wear my blue shirt. I can be completely fed up with the apartment and all its noise, but I can still take some comfort in my little lackluster writing corner that really lights up when I ignite one of my favorite candles.

I can be annoyed at my own voice on this blog, but I can celebrate the fact that I’ve never written this much in this span of time in my entire life. They’re just dumb words, but they’re still words. (And lots of them!)

So I hope you don’t spend all your time searching for something that may never come. Things will get cleaner, and clearer, and then they’ll get chaotic again. But it’s all a work in progress, and sometimes we need to just embrace the mess. 

And because I’m feeling dramatic tonight, here’s a little poem I hacked together:

Are there no neat containers, no straight days?
It’s all spilled out in so many ways.
And we spend all our time searching until we find
A few final beeps and a ringing clean line.


From Bland to Brand New: My Wardrobe Overhaul with ThredUp

Dressing myself lately has been a bit like eating nothing but oatmeal: utilitarian, and not fun.

Most of my t-shirts and dresses have holes and/or stains on them - if it's not a coffee stain, it's a wine stain. My last big clothing purchase, a versalette, has an oil stain from cooking and I recently discovered an irreparable hole on the front of it.

To say I've been feeling shabby is an understatement.

But first, a reality check:

The very fact that I have a wardrobe to complain about is a first world problem. Hashtags and snark aside, this privilege really is something to keep in mind.

I'm going to explore this more in a future post, but this year I'm working on sourcing my purchases more responsibly and intentionally. Ethical brands are at the top of my list, but since our budget is definitely tight, I'm also seeking quality secondhand items whenever I can.

My intentional secondhand wardrobe overhaul

So since my wardrobe has been downright depressing, I've been wanting to reinvigorate it for a few years.

Even during my most minimalist downsizing moments, I felt my wardrobe was not reflective of who I was. I primarily wore cheap, bland clothing that did not make me feel good.

I sought out colorful clothing in thrift shops, but never found the quality or (quite honestly) the quantity that I wanted in order to re-do my wardrobe. Enter: ThredUp.

My Thredup Haul

Here it is! The results of my first experience with ThredUp. It did not disappoint.

I was able to get 13 items for under $100 after using their new year's 40% discount code.

It's pretty easy to find a discount code for this site when you're shopping, so it's realistic to get a lot of great pieces for under $15 a piece. Plus, they were all in great condition when they arrived.

How cool is that tassle skirt? And the sequin pants? And the pleather jacket? Seeing these items in my closet and dresser makes me so happy. Like, prance-around-the-house happy.

If you're in the market for some new clothes, without wanting to directly contribute to the production of new mass-market clothes, I totally say give ThredUp a shot.

While this post is not sponsored in any way, I still want to share the referral link they sent me - you get $10, and I get $10. It's a sweet situation!

It's important to feel great in your clothes

For those of us privileged enough to have a wardrobe of clothes to choose from, it does make a huge difference to feel good in what you're wearing.

I feel more confident and present in social situations. Plus, when I put on those floral pants in the morning I can't help but skip around a little bit. Is it just me, or does something like a bright & cheerful outfit give you more energy too?

What are you planning next for your wardrobe?

3 Regrets I Have About Moving Across the Country

Two years ago, my new husband and I were making plans to move across the country. We intended to move from Indiana to Los Angeles in January 2015, and I had never even lived out-of-state.

So naturally, there are a lot of mistakes we made and regrets I have about the move that have shown up periodically in the nearly two years that we've been here. The greatest thing about these regrets, though, is that there's still plenty of time to rectify them. But if you're planning a big move, it's probably nice to get it right the first time.

The one thing I don't regret about the move? Taking the leap. I do not, and will not, regret following our hearts to the West Coast. I love that we've made a home for ourselves in LA, and I sometimes wish we would have moved sooner. Get used to us, California.

Moving quickly

Five days after the blizzardy January morning we left Indiana, we had a signed lease, an apartment full of assembled IKEA furniture, and Victor was off to his new job.

It was a whirlwind, and in the chaos of just wanting to get settled, I failed to take the time to really make intentional choices. Luckily, our apartment was (and still is) quite perfect, but I do find myself frustrated about our rash decision about the furniture.

I hadn't spent even a full hour in our apartment before we drove up to IKEA to pick out furnishings. Now, I realize that my desk is much too small, the coffee table is too angular and the curtains are just so....yellow. I have grievances about my desk chair, our bookshelf, and our vacuum cleaner too.

I was too rushed to take a moment to make any planned decisions. If I had to do it all over, I'd go to IKEA for the absolute essentials and work on furnishing our apartment over time instead of overnight.

Not enjoying myself

Speaking of the whirlwind of the move, I ended up being so tense that I hardly remember the days before, during and after. I do remember a crappy hotel and a terrible movie with John Krasinski in it, and having to check up on our rabbit every half hour during the car ride.

We took few photos, most of which have now been lost to disabled phones and unhelpful cloud services. This is the only picture of our trip that I posted to Facebook, and it was of Missouri, which is essentially Indiana all over again.

I wish we would have documented the trip a little better, and that we had maybe taken a couple of extra days to make the drive. The only thing really stopping us was Rory, and I'm sure he would have been okay with another night or two in a hotel (he was strangely at home in hotels).

I also wish I would have let go of others' expectations of me a lot sooner as well. I was so worried about hurting people's feelings that I didn't feel comfortable sharing our excitement about the move. I also let people get away with making harsh comments about our "life choices" and didn't stand up to criticism, when deep down I knew I was doing the right thing.

If I had to do it all over again, I'd share our excitement with more people and feel way less bad about leaving our hometown. I would document the trip, and I would have taken in some fun sights along the way.

Not getting out

This one is still relevant to this day, and might very well be my biggest regret. When I arrived in California, I relied heavily on my base of friends and family from Indiana to be my community. But it's not easy being a whole country's distance away from your community, so it's a good idea to create another one wherever you land.

 Our first Valentine's day in Los Angeles was also our first Valentine's day as married folks!

Our first Valentine's day in Los Angeles was also our first Valentine's day as married folks!

Soon, months had gone by and I had made one or two friends through Victor, but I was still keeping to myself, working alone at home day in and day out.

I would pass the yoga studio by my apartment and say "someday," I'd browse available jobs or volunteer opportunities and continue to scroll past them.  I made no effort to immerse myself in a new community.

While I do feel at home here, I haven't created the tribe of people that I want to call this home with. I've started by joining that yoga studio and this week is my first week of volunteering there (in exchange for free yoga, what?!)

If I had to do it all over again, I would join the yoga studio sooner. I'd explore Meetup groups and chat with other likeminded people. I would join the run club or find hiking buddies or take an improv class just to start laying down some roots.

There's still time to do that. There's time to take another road trip and enjoy every minute of it, and there's still time to redecorate my apartment. All of those regrets seem so little when I match them up against the regret I would have had if we hadn't chosen to move:

I wish we just would have followed our hearts to California when we had the chance.

What choices have you made that you don't regret? Which ones do you regret?

How to Use Pinterest as a Tool for Self-Discovery

I think most girls have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. On my best days it's a source of colorful inspiration that I go to when I have a few minutes to spare. On my worst days, it's a hotbed of comparison that evokes feelings of jealousy and failure.

But I've been feeling lost lately in almost every area of my life, so I've decided to use Pinterest to help get myself back on track. Get this: I'm using it as an actual mood board for life. Who would have thought?

Get to know yourself

With all the noise online and in the real world, it's tough to really hear yourself. To find that little voice inside you that squeaks out "I like that!" or "I abhor that!"

It's also nearly impossible to figure out whether or not you genuinely like something, or if it's just a trend you only gravitate towards because it's, well, trending. I don't think I actually liked chevrons when they were trending, but I felt like I had to have them.

My haphazard Pinterest use

My public Pinterest boards aren't the most organized. I generally use them for saving successful recipes, sharing blog posts and discovering paint colors (if I feel like stretching the limits of the "no painting" in our rented apartment).

I keep most of my boards secret, because they're more focused on the brainstorming process rather than concrete, final ideas.

This is where I use Pinterest to find out a little bit more about myself. It's my current favorite vehicle for self-discovery.

What can you discover using Pinterest?

If you use it right (which can be hard to do), you can make a serious dent in figuring out your style and personality. You can also discover what styles and vibes just really aren't all that up your alley.

I start by doing a search for the particular category I'm working on at the moment, then pin anything and everything that catches my eye onto a secret board. Then, I check out the board and start looking for patterns. It's as easy as it sounds.

So that's how you can discover new things about yourself, let's talk what you can discover.

Colors

Obviously. But if you're looking for a helpful spark to determine which direction your wardrobe should go, what colors belong in your blog theme, or if you're looking to start fresh with a new bedroom palette, getting to know your preferences intimately will help you develop a strong direction.

For this, it's easiest to search "color palettes" to keep things organized.

When I did this, I found out that I generally prefer bolder color palettes that include some variant of pink, orange and blue. I previously thought I was partial to grays, but there were very few grays on my final board. It was helpful for blogging, but also reminded me of my love for bright and varying colors.

Vibes

This one is a little more abstract than colors. I use my "Vibes" board to find out what overall feel I want to invite into my life.

I search for apartment interiors (I try to avoid houses and exteriors, because I'm going to be renting for the forseeable future) and office spaces.

Do you like clean lines or cutesy clutter? Do you prefer a sterile space with a few pops of color, or do you like color all day, every day? I've found that I don't like the cluttered or busy look as much as I used to, and am leaning towards more sparse spaces.

It's reminding me that I need to keep it simple, which is a wonderful reminder during chaotic times of life.

Styles

Use this to determine where you're at and where you want to go. What you wear has a lot to do with how you feel and project yourself in the world. Pin anything that resembles something in your current wardrobe, and also pin things that you can see yourself wearing five years from now.

The five years from now rule is helpful because it automatically escalates your style and keeps your mind focused on classics rather than trends.

From this, extrapolate a few keywords to describe your style. Is it professional? Festival-chic? Hipster? The best I have for myself is...bright and a little bit stripey. I'm a work in progress.

Manifest it, baby

Now make it happen. Identify the places in your life where you feel like you're in line with what you've just discovered, and where you're not yet in alignment.

For me, that means that there's a rug that has to go. It's just the opposite of everything I want for my home.

But beyond that, I've found that I need to do some digging to find pleasure in colors and variety again—something I've lost sight of in recent years. I've let some drab items and drab mindsets in to my life that I have to rid myself of.

But first, a few words of caution

Keep in mind that this is purely for inspirational purposes. These boards are not to-do's or wish lists for your next shopping trip. Go for the mood, not for the specifics, because if you get too focused on replicating your boards you will find yourself sucked into that comparison trap.

It's tough to maintain a perspective on what's realistic and what's not when you're online. It's even more difficult to accept the imperfections in your own life that Pinterest can highlight. No one likes feeling "not good enough," and if you don't approach Pinterest with a healthy, inspiration-seeking mindset, you'll leave the site emotionally drained.

Do you have a healthy relationship with Pinterest? How do you use it?

A Woman Is Not Measured By the Length of Her Hair

Ladies, let’s talk about hair. Let’s talk about the power other people feel they have over how we cut it, color it, style it. You know what I’m talking about.

I’ve been told to “never dye my beautiful blonde hair, because that would be a shame” and that I “used to be so beautiful with long hair” and that people “aren’t sure whether or not I like boys anymore” because of my short hair.

I’ve been questioned about what my husband thinks about my hair (as in: you should wear it how he tells you to wear it.) I'm grateful that my husband is supportive of whatever I choose to do with my hair, but unfortunately many men I deal with regularly are not.

I’ve been told that I’m more or less of a woman based on the length of my hair, or whether or not I choose to cut it based on what the men in my life will think of it.

Yikes.

The real reason I cut my hair

Are you ready for this? I cut my hair because I prefer it short.

Revolutionary, I know. But I usually have to argue my case when someone is commenting on my hair. It’s shocking how often I need to explain my choices.

Here’s how I defend myself: I feel more confident with short hair. Long hair weighed me down both literally and figuratively, and it’s so thick that I can’t wear it up without getting migraines. Long hair exacerbated my skin picking and the acne that frames my face.

Although, why should I have to "defend" my hair in the first place?

My hair regrets

A big regret I have about my wedding is that I spent three years growing out my hair. I spent years feeling miserable and uncomfortable about the awkward transition lengths, just so that I could have long hair for our big day.

In the end, I pinned it up. So those years I spent growing it out to down the middle of my back were futile.

I grew it out because I thought that’s what brides were supposed to do, and because I was told to not have short hair for my wedding. Neither of those reasons hold much weight with me now.

Then when I finally felt free to cut it, I was barraged again - did you donate it? What a shame that you didn’t. What is with everyone's obsession with each others' hair?

There’s a lesson here

First of all, I’d love to recommend that every woman give short hair a try in some capacity. I love the freedom and confidence it brings me. Think your face isn’t the right type for short hair? You’re wrong.

If you’re a human, you have the face for short hair.

That being said, if it’s ultimately just not your jam, then go ahead and do whatever you want with your hair. You don't need permission. Shave it, grow it down to your knees, dye it your favorite color. This all reminds me of that Dove commercial about expressing yourself that I may have made me tear up a bit.

Just don’t let anyone tell you how to wear your hair because that's the way it's "supposed" to be. You deserve to be exactly the woman you want to be.