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The One Resolution that Stuck

While I may not be Emma Watson or Malala (seriously, you go girls), I wanted to do something in 2015 that would be inspiring and educational. Last January I made a resolution to research various nonprofits (locally, nationally, and globally) and pick one to donate to each month in 2015. This would give me the opportunity to better understand the issues being faced and the programs that are being implemented to tackle them.

We get so caught up in our own worlds, that we forget there is a much bigger one out there. One where people don’t get the luxury of running through a fun and safe park, taking art lessons, eating fresh food, reading, or even putting on clean underwear.

To kick-off 2016, I thought I’d share a list of the organizations that I found. Some are because of my passion for art and reading, a couple build upon girl empowerment, and others are for my love of animals and parks. All of them inspired me in some way and continue to support the things I believe everyone deserves.

January: One Girl
February: Recipe for Success
March: Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP)
April: Buffalo Bayou Park
May: Discovery Green
June: NPR/Houston Public Media
July: Art Bridge
August: Girl Effect
September: Houston K-9 Division
October: Undies for Everyone
November: Pratham
December: Room to Read

This is one resolution I definitely want to continue to carry on. While I didn’t have time to write a short description about each one, I do encourage you to check them out. Maybe there’s something in there that you’ll be interested in helping out this year!

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2015 Round-Up

I don’t know about you guys, but I need me some “new year freshness”…like immediately. I’m so ready to drink champagne during the countdown, read my new year’s horoscope out of Cosmopolitan magazine (it’s legit y’all), and embrace 2016 with a hug (and I don’t even like hugs that much).

So I’ve got my new planner (trying out a Moleskin one this year), a new pair of Nikes, and some fresh goals. Like Cleopatra once said (the 90s girl group, not the Egyptian pharaoh), 2016…“I’m comin’ at ya.”

I had the opportunity to do some fun and creative shoots this year. While I didn’t get around to having as many blog posts as I would have liked, Kristen (from Kristen Eide Photography), had a few of the best ideas I’ve featured here—going all Little House on the Prairie in some Texas lavender fields, making a creepy forest look like something out of Game of Thrones, and my favorite, turning Buffalo Bayou Park into a fun jungle. I’m hoping 2016 brings even more great posts.

 

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Mustard Dress & Stripes

I’ve truly neglected the blog this year! Now that I think about it—instead of blogging, I was either working on a 1000 piece Star Wars puzzle (still incomplete), sleeping, or Netflix-ing. Let’s just say, the dark side got to me. (However, I am giving myself kudos for putting together the puzzle’s border…it only took 6 months.)

To round out 2015, I thought I’d squeeze in a few December posts. Here, I’m sharing one of my favorite fall outfits. (I do apologize that these pictures aren’t as great as the ones I’ve had in my last few posts. I wanted to get something up and had to rely on my go-to tripod pictures!)

I wore this dress in one of my first posts on the blog. It was never to be seen again…until now. To be honest, I’ve only worn it a few times since then—styling it with simple pieces, like a blazer and flats. I was about to let it go this year, but then I decided to give this shirts under dresses-thing a try.

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This look definitely takes me back to my 90s days, but I actually really like it. It gives me a fresh way to repurpose some of my dresses and shirts. I did think about adding a belt to define the dress. However, I didn’t want to overwhelm the look with both a belt and neck tie. Considering I’m still really into bandanas, that won. This just happens to be my go-to bandana look, but for a few different ways, check out my other post.

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While I haven’t quite figured out my resolutions for 2016, I do hope to come back to my blog space more often. I’m not quite ready to give it up! As I do every year, I’ll be back next week with a recap of my 2015 resolutions and favorite posts, and a fun NYE video. Until then…Happy Holidays!

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Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

 

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Image designed by me.

I don’t normally post topics like this on the blog, but the more I came to learn about this “below the belt” disease at work, the more I realized that that this is something that I want to share, even if no one really likes to talk about it. Really, what’s the point of me learning all of this information at work, having a blog, and not sharing it with my friends, family, and others?

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to research ovarian cancer-related topics and attend a screening of N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease). This powerful documentary follows six gynecological cancer surgeons who are on a “rock n’ roll mission” to raise awareness and educate women and their families on the signs, symptoms, and critical importance of early diagnosis. If you’re into medical/health-related documentaries, this is a really moving one!

Ovarian Cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death in women. In the U.S. alone, over 20,000 women/year are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and there are close to 15,000 deaths/year, due to this disease. Unfortunately, there are no effective screening options (pap smears do not test for this cancer) and the symptoms are so vague, that the cancer is usually caught in its later stages. The symptoms are common to other issues, and include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full too quickly
  • Urinary urgency or frequency

See…it could be anything else! However, if they continue to happen over a course of a few weeks, its recommended that an individual gets checked out.

Even though, today is the last day of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, it doesn’t mean awareness truly stops. Continued education and awareness are key to helping women and their families fight ovarian cancer. If caught in its earlier stages, the 5-year survival rate is greater than 90%. I wanted to share this information because it can affect any woman in your life. Educate yourselves and others on the symptoms–early detection really is the best defense.

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Winter Is Coming (just not yet)

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Considering the eerie feel and pointy branches of the background in these images, I was going to name this post Game of Thorns but then I wanted to vent about this, “craving pumpkin-spice-cozy knits!”-phenomenon happening since August (!), so I took a different Game of Thrones approach. But first, this has got to be one of my favorite shoots. Everything about it fits my personality–the creepy forest and branches background, the simple navy dress, the fact that I got to wear boots, a necklace that could easily be some kind of magical symbol or better yet, a port key–it was like I was finally able to live out my fantasy of being in a LOTR/Harry Potter-ish world!

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These images were shot by Kristen next to the lavender fields of her parents’ ranch, which I featured in my last post. Once again, she nailed it with the effect we were going for. She also let me borrow this necklace from Cheeky Vintage, a vintage shop here in Houston. They sell an assortment of vintage items including dresses, purses, hats, bridal wear, and so on; plus, you can check by eras (1940s, 50s, 60s…).

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I briefly touched upon this subject last year, this year I have to say it again (but louder)—WHY is everyone in such a rush to get into fall? A few weeks back, a best friend and I vented on how this OMG! CAN.NOT.WAIT.FOR.FALL-hype! gets worse and pops up earlier and earlier every year. I told her that when temperatures dropped down to 79 after a rain storm here (mind you, it was just mid-August), my IG was filled with, Ooooo lower temps! Can’t wait to snuggle up with hot cocoa and a cozy blanket for fall! UMM hello…that’s not called cold…it’s called perfect. For me, fall brings that dreaded “Daylight Savings Time Ends” crap, for my friend (as for thousands of others who live where it actually gets cold) it literally means “winter IS coming” and that is pure torture.

While the season-change does bring with it everyone’s favorites—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and warm blanket scarves—I really think we should slow our roll. As “appealing” as ice storms, blizzards, and pumpkin spice mocha ginger cinnamon lattes sound, I’ll wait my turn. For now, hand me a dang popsicle and flip flops.

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Dress: ASOS (borrowed), Necklace: Cheeky Vintage

Images by: Kristen Eide Photography

If you’re looking for an all-occasions photographer, visit kristeneide.com. She’s also done these images for the blog: Texas Lavender Fields, It’s a Jungle Out There!, Spanish Flower, and Midnight in Paris.

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Texas Lavender Fields

Earlier this summer, two girl friends and I drove up to my friend’s parents’ ranch house near Killeen to shoot some photos in the lavender fields that her Mom grows (!) Just the drive up there had me super excited! (I’m sure the BUC-EES Beaver Nuggets Sweet Corn Puff Snacks I consumed during the road trip, had nothing to do with my sugar high…) There’s something serene about driving for a couple hours outside of Houston, and then taking dusty, windy roads down through hills and farm lands. (I had also just finished watching Friday Night Lights, so I was REALLY into the whole “old Texas town” thing.)

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Before we left, our friend told us not to expect lavender fields likes those in France. The fields turned out to be perfect and pretty, and the whole experience of being in the middle of Texas was the chocolate icing on my yellow cupcake.We ended up staying in a very old ranch house on the property, but I found each part of the house charming (minus the bugs, of course). There is so much character to the house and surrounding land, with its old tool shed, water basin, clothes line, ranch gates, the tall grass, cacti, and miles of green land.

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The next day we woke up to take these photos, and the overcast weather worked to our advantage, as it added to the old-country charm and tone of the photos. All of the pieces I’m wearing are owned and were styled by Kristen. She had a very creative way of taking this dress and making it feel very “Little House on the Prairie”-like, which is what we were going for.

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Considering lavender is one of my favorite scents, it was hard to pull myself away from the fields. Good thing Kristen’s mom makes all sorts of goodies from the lavender—I have the lotion, insect repellant, linen spray, and picked up a bunch of fresh lavender for my room. It smelled pretty darn great for days (and kept the mosquitoes away)!

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This post has quite a few more photos than usual, but that’s because there were two talented photographers there—Kristen from Kristen Eide Photography and Rocio from Rocio Carlon Studios. I think they both did an awesome job of capturing the mood of the Texas country. Don’t ya’ll think so?

If you’re interested in knowing more about the lavender fields, visit: Lampasas Ridge Lavender Farm.

Linked up on: Cappuccino and Fashion, Penniless Socialite, Myriad Musings, Lizze in Lace and Pumps and Pushups.

Favorites

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I don’t often do these “Favorite Things” lists. If I did, there would be an inane amount of things—sprinkles, lavender lotion, anything and everything Paper Source, Vicks Vapor Rub, almond butter—you get the picture. But over the last few months, I’ve come across a few items that I think would be useful to share.

Mia Ballerina Flats
Next to jeans and swimwear (super ugh), I find buying flat shoes one of the hardest things to do. Being an avid wearer of nude flats, I’m always on the lookout for a good pair. Steve Madden has always been my go-to, but I recently came across these Mia Ballerinas at DSW. I’m a fan…like a huge fan. The material has the perfect amount of stretch, they did not scrape up against my ankles, the color is great, and there is a thin, padded cushion at the bottom (it feels weird at first, but then you’ll love it). They really are the most comfortable flats I’ve owned.

DSW no longer sells them online, but I did find them on the Mia and Macy’s websites. Only the black and nude ones are available through Macy’s but they are $10 cheaper, and have a “BST” promo code right now. If you’re a ballerina-flats wearer like me, the $30 or $40 you spend on them, will be worth it. I normally wear a size 6.5 or 7 and the 6.5 fit perfectly.

Mia Ballerina Flats in Nude

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eye in “Brightener”
Don’t freak out by the name. I’m not saying that you guys are old and need an “age-rewinder ”. I’m suggesting this for those girls out there that are interested in the whole strobing/highlighting makeup technique, but also using a concealer. I’ve found other highlighters to be too glittery or expensive. This one has just the right amount of shimmer/sheen to it, plus it’s less than $10 and really easy to apply with its sponge-tip. (Benefit’s “Watts Up” is another really great one—it is slightly pricey ($30), and it gives a bit more shimmer, if you like that.)

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Orly Flash Dry 
I don’t paint my finger nails very often, mainly because I hate waiting for them to dry. It’s not like I have other things to do (I’m not that cool), it’s just that I don’t want to spend my time sitting around, waiting for my nails to dry. However, a few drops of this stuff will dry your polish in 5 – 7 minutes. Score. Now I can just sit around, and not have to prop my hands up to dry.

Orly Flash Dry

VSCOcam or Instasize (photo editing apps)

  • VSCOcam has beautiful filters and quite a few adjustment tools for you to get an image that you really like. I’ve had it on my phone for a couple of years, but didn’t really start using it until recently. If you’re willing to spend a bit of extra time editing your photos, then I highly recommend this app.

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  • Instasize allows you to pick filters, make adjustments, re-size, create collages, and add borders, text, and so on— all from one app. While Instagram does have similar filters, I think the ones on this app are better. I also started using it to adjust and post my stop-motion videos.

Instasize

Pilot Precise V5 Rollerball Ink Pen

Ummm…hello my new love. I first used one the other week while signing my eye exam receipt at Target. I took one stroke with it, stopped, lifted it to my face and stared it. The girl behind the counter was like, “Yup. That pen gets people every time.” We had a brief conversation, which included the words “pen geek”, “school supply nerd” and “I stole this pen, and I’m never giving it back.” Then I rushed inside Target, and picked up a pack. I needed them in my life…immediately.

Pilot Precise V5 Rollerball Pen

Sprinkles Mini Cupcake Sundae

I allowed myself one the other day after a grueling few weeks of working out and attempting to avoid sweets. My dark-side took over and I got this. It was worth it and the mini-size is perfect if you’re just looking to fulfill a small sugar craving!

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Five Ways to Wear a Bandana

Five Ways to Wear a Bandana

Being a Texan, I already owned a couple of bandanas and ever since I saw this girl sporting one as a scarf, I’ve been playing around with the trend. Stores are carrying them in a range of prices (I’ve seen some that are $20 or more!), but I was able to pick up a couple of colors from my local Hobby Lobby store for less than $2. As it is one of my new favorite trends, I thought I’d share a few ways in which I’ve worn the scarf, and plan to, once the fall rolls around.

To start off, there are two basic folds that you’ll need to know; the half-fold (step 2) and long-fold (step 5):

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Bunny Ear Tuck

Start with the long fold and place it around your neck, with the ends facing the back. Tie it (1 – 2 times), and tuck the bunny ears in.

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Air Hostess

Start with the long fold, and then place the bandana around your neck, with the ends facing the front. Tie it around your neck, air hostess-style.

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Classic Cowboy

Fold the bandana in half, place it around your neck with the ends facing back, and tie it around your neck (1 – 2 times).

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The Cape

This is basically the Classic Cowboy, but backwards. Fold the bandana in half, place it around your neck with the ends facing front, and tie it around your neck, like a cape (1 – 2 times).

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Headband

Start with the long fold and wrap it around your head, tying it at the bottom. If needed, secure it with bobby pins. Note: You can either tuck in the ends, leave them untucked or you can also tie the scarf on the top of your head. (That’s a little too girly for me, so I tied it at the bottom and left the ends untucked).

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There are tons of other ways to wear a bandana scarf, but these are just the five that I found to be the easiest, and most suitable to my style.

Five Ways to Wear a Bandana

P.S. I’ve made up all the names for the folds and styles!

 

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It’s a Jungle Out There!

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Don’t let all that awesome, bright, green shrubbery fool you. There is in fact, a bayou with water the color of dark, brown coffee behind me. Oh yes…welcome to the “Bayou City” (aka Houston) guys. (Good thing I have an uber-talented roommate/ photographer who can pretty much turn any landscape into awesomeness.)

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These were actually shot around Buffalo Bayou Park, the place where I run. Scratch that—where I attempt to run and watch other people do their thing, and then I go get a donut to make myself feel better. In all seriousness, Buffalo Bayou is actually really cool—the running and biking trails are great, there are small parks lined up against the trail for people, kids and dogs, bridges, artwork, beach volleyball, the bat bridge (warning: it smells when you go underneath it) and great views of downtown, amongst other things. It really is nice to see Houston developing the bayou, and with plans to expand it with restaurants, swimming and concert areas, etc.—I can only see it getting better from here!

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On to the outfit—while I don’t always go for bold prints in dresses (and I’m definitely not a “plant-person”), for some reason, I couldn’t pass this dress up. I figured it’d make a fun collection to my subtle wardrobe. In scouting out a location to take these images, Centennial Park came to mind. However, I liked Kristen’s idea of having a garden-esque theme to it, and the areas along the trail were perfect for it. I almost felt like Annie Lennox (from The Secret Garden) in this shoot…almost. Though, with my horrible green thumb, any attempt at a secret garden would be lost.

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Dress – H&M (sold here), Shoes – Madrid, Spain, Bag – Borrowed 

Photographs taken by: Kristen Eide Photography

Linked up on: Cappuccino and Fashion, Penniless Socialite, Myriad MusingsWhat I Wore & A Little Bit of Cheer.

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Underwater

It’s official…Houston is flooded in (or out). To those people with kayaks–smart move buddy…smart move. But why do Houstonians think their cars have Aquaman powers, and can swim through water? When did I-59/69 become a watering hole or better yet, an underwater parking lot…that people willingly drove into? Also, good thing the Rockets won last night. Otherwise, it would have been a bad idea for the five Warriors fans to be trapped (literally) in the Toyota Center, amongst a slew of raging fans.

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I’ve been checking my Twitter feed all morning, and I’m completely engrossed with all the images people are posting. I haven’t seen the city shut down like this since Hurricane Ike (at least there won’t be a curfew this time around). It’s as if we just had our own little, water-apocalypse, that I slept through like no one’s business.

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Since I’m stuck in bed (I know…woe is me), I decided to clean up my photos and came across these. I haven’t posted in awhile, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get these up (even though it’s pre-short hair and I’m wearing a thicker scarf). However, I still love this bright color combo, and I’ve definitely worn this outfit (sans scarf) quite a few times. This pinkish, salmon-colored top has come in handy quite a bit. It’s light-weight and easy to throw on underneath something (like a blazer or cardigan) or just wear it, as is. It comes in quite a few colors (H&M), and I definitely recommend adding one to your wardrobe as a staple. Just make sure to pin it a little in the v-neck, otherwise you’ll be putting on a free show for everyone.

Well, I’m off to enjoy my four-day weekend. By “enjoy” I mean take, take a nap and pray that giant, bayou mosquitos don’t eat me. Be careful Houstonians, the water will suck up your car!

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Linked up with: Style to Inspire & Bless Her Heart Ya’ll.