Monthly Archives: October 2016


ania styles: blue jean baby, cali lady

October 28, 2016

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top: similar here at urban / jeans: anthropologie levi’s / bag: old zara – similar here at uo

rings: urban outfitters / shoes: birkenstocks from nordstrom

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one of the things on my (intentional shopping) list was a pair of comfy jeans. i have never owned a pair of jeans that i like to wear. honestly even just saying jeans makes me want to throw on a dress instead and wage war.

and then we got these levi’s at work and i wore them for 5 days straight.

at first, i didn’t want to try them on because the fabric is kinda stiff, like that good ol’ fashioned jean and not the legging-y jean material i am used to. but then e v e r y one at anthropologie was buying them so in an attempt to be able to sell to customers, i tried them on.

and the darn pants couldn’t get over my bum. lol.

after taking someone’s advice to size up because the top is a bit snug, like most high-waisted jeans, they fit like a glove.

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the waist is not really high waisted on me because of my height so it sits perfectly in place while i do photography, run errands or travel. people, i liked these jeans so much i CHOSE to wear them while flying instead of nike shorts. i mean, doesn’t that speak volumes?!

the detailing of the frayed edge at the bottom makes them unique and the wash is just this super great true blue. i seriously can’t get enough of them! now that i’ve worn them a few times, they’ve worn in all the right places like a trusty pair of jeans should – mainly in the hips and the knees which makes them even more comfy.

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i’ve paired them with everything: white slouchy tank + black blazer; sandals + button-down white shirt; graphic tee and converse. they just bring their a game every time.

this outfit also features two of my other favorite trends: tiny rings and mock top blouses.

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i bought the tiny rings in a set from urban outfitters and i wear at least two everytime i leave the house. i find myself loving delicate gold jewelry more than statement pieces lately so urban and madewell are my go-to’s for a little gem. (also this pack is SO affordable).

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oh and mock tops? i love the trend almost as much as i love saying mock top. they’re like for people who are a little afraid of going all the way with a turtleneck – just a small raised neckline that adds a lil extra somethin’ somethin’. they’re flattering and add different dimension to a top. if you’re in the market, i love this long sleeve peplum top, this lacy tank on sale at anthropologie and this waffle-knit sweater that’s not quiiiiiite a turtleneck in my book.

hope you all have a great weekend! i have some good posts planned for next week and the holiday months to come so i am excited to see how you like it!

xx, ae


vibed while writing to the sound of the rain falling because this dust bowl is in dire need of it because #droughtforever. *praise hands*


part iii: meet my alter ego, the intentional shopper

October 24, 2016

part iii of iii and i must say, this has been so fun for m to write out and reflect on! after the realization that i had been sucked into consumerism, the purge(s) and of course, reading seven by jen hatmaker (i will continue to recommend that book for forever and ever amen), what was  next for me?

i could have gone back to buying clothes, letting them sit in my closet and then giving them away. but that sounds like literally the last thing i want to do. but yet it happens year after year….

OR i could put in a solid 15 minutes of work with my little guide below and work on defining my style, forever eliminating the phrase “but i have nooottthhiiiiinngggg to wear!” from from my vocab. also, i eliminated going through hundreds of pages of clothing online or spending loads of time trying on clothes because i can figure out exactly what i will wear a lot after being in a store for a fraction of the time.

let’s do this. take about 15 minutes in your room with a piece of paper, a pencil (because you will inevitably want to erase and rework the following) and your closet/dresser/pile of clothes.

F I R S T take a look at the clothes that remain post purge and take note of three things: silhouette, style and color. sometimes it’s easier when you read an example so i’ll throw a couple of my own realizations in here for guidance.

silhouette: here’s an example for ya: one thing i want more of in my closet is dresses. they’re easy to wear, comfortable, you can move around (which for me = photography friendly) and are easily layered. i noticed from looking at the dresses i wear over an over that i like dresses that have no cinched waist or overall structure because i don’t really like tight clothing, especially on my stomach because it tends to make my acid reflux symptoms worse. actually, my doctor literally told me not to wear tight clothing which is why i love brands like free people and clothing at anthropologie and madewell so much! random fun fact for ya. #health so from that realization, i easily dismiss manyyyy dresses before i even try them on. there was even one on sale the other day at work for like $15 and i didn’t buy it because i knew the cinched waist would upset my stomach and i’d never reach for it. now that is what i call growth.

style: pinterest is great for determining what you want your style to look like but you also might figure it out by looking at your fav pieces. after seeing a lot of flowy tops, bell sleeves, button down shirts and slouchy sweaters, i could see that i tend towards more of a 70s meets boho meets jenna lyons style. i like stripes, dainty florals and solid colors. i like flare pants and i love lace. i have a thing for an all black and/or monochromatic look. i love crisp edges meets feminine flows. when i shop, i think of what i want my style to mimic and what i wear over and over in my closet. then, when i go to buy something, it’s easy for me to say to myself, “this necklace is super cute, but in reality, i don’t wear a ton of necklaces and i’d rather spend my money on something to wear everyday or put that towards the loafers i’m eyeing.” determining your style is kind of like trying to pin jello to a board with tacks so don’t feel like you need to put it in a box. it’ll develop but i think taking note of what you want it to look like will help you as you shop.

colors: for me, the biggest realization was the fact that i don’t look good in all colors. that’s not even meant to sound vain or something. i genuinely didn’t realize that i didn’t look good in some colors and that’s why i never wore those pieces i was soon getting rid of. once i had that lightbulb moment, i was able to eliminate items before even trying them on while shopping. case in point: my friend ashley tried on this gorgeous bell sleeved (DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER) dark green top from anthro. i was like omg i neeeeeed. and then i realized, BEFORE trying it on, that i actually don’t have anything that color in my closet and that ashley is lighter skinned and brunette thus looks s t u n n i n g in that perfect fall green. but i do not. i started looking at fashion bloggers with similar skin tones as me and noticing what they look good in and looking at my own closet. i like denim, white, cream, gray, black, chestnut brown and blush recently because they also like me! take the time to look at the common colors in your closet and recognize which items are the most complimented when you wear them to figure out what colors/patterns you should keep an eye out for.

S E C O N D make a simple pie chart to figure out where most of your time is spent so as to spend your money accordingly. my mom and i literally talk about these pie charts every time i make a purchase lately (#budget) and it’s been so helpful! i got the idea from caroline joy’s worksheets. simply make a circle and construct pie pieces to represent your week’s activities. for example, i have a large, 40 hour pie slice devoted to ‘work’, a medium-ish sized slice devoted to ‘casual/running errands’ and a smaller slice for ‘church, events (weddings, going out, etc.)’. so most of my purchases should be for work clothing. however, the nice thing is that i am now looking for tops and shoes that could be worn both to work and perhaps to dinner with a friend or on a date because of that realization. i don’t want all my clothing to be so work-y just because that’s where the majority of my time will be spent. likewise, my sister has noticed that her time has changed since becoming a mom to sweet xavier (note: change in circumstances!!), my mom spends most of her time at work in a garden nursery or doing things around town, and my other gal pal is a young mom to two plus works retail. all of us have very different pie charts of time so realistically we won’t be spending our money the same way! the advertisements will tell you that you NEED a lot of things but don’t let that fool ya. this has been the best realization for the conundrum of “i have nothing to wear” though because i am now filling gaps in my closet that i never actually put money towards (as much as i needed to). for example, if someone invited me out on the town, i have like two tops i can wear. same goes for being a wedding guest. even though these are small slices, i still need a couple in each and am keeping an eye out!

T H I R D easiest for last: make a list in your phone of what you need and reference it every time you make a purchase. mine (no, like this is literally a screenshot of a note i have in my phone) looks like this:


the list did include black skinnies, flare jeans and nude sandals but since i am only spending money on these things and actually shopping for them and only them, they’re actually being removed from my list! gone are the days of accidental shopping sprees at target. hellooooo intentional shopper ania!

the reason we always say we have nothing to wear is because we are just merely shopping to shop. when i shop intentionally, i spend less time and get more satisfaction.

ps to this whole three post series: to have a list and shop intentionally doesn’t mean you need to spend a ton of money on the items – that’s the glory of this plan! it’s not about the money you spend, it’s about the way each item fits into your life and takes your time from endless hours surfing sales to pointedly shopping for what you need and putting your time where it should be – out adventuring through life! so don’t feel like each item needs to be expensive and saved up for – the list is just merely to help you stay away from the dollar section at target and yet another sports bra when you already have 4.;)


vibed to the sound of brooklyn nine-nine. it’s becoming my go-to blog-background-noise-while-writing show.


part ii: 6 steps to a successful closet purge

October 23, 2016

i am sick of moving but i am more so sick of moving things i don’t wear, want or need. since i knew that i wasn’t going to live at home for longer than probably 6 months, i was proactive and started going through paperwork, clothing, photos, books and anything else i would move to my new home – which is now known as st. louis.;)

i have a foolproof purging system and these are the components:

1 | be ready to try things on. the classic closet purge fail comes from the “oh, i don’t know – i probably just haven’t seen it on me recently” while tucking it back into your closet because you’re too lazy to try it on and realize, right then and there, that the top from high school just might not ever fit the same again. (which is ok!!!) try everything questionable on. have on proper undergarments because let’s be honest, no one ever got any good shopping done in a sports bra – same goes for your closet.

2 | stop feeling bad about the money wasted. this is a hard hump to get over but this is the way i see it – you basically have two options: 1. see the wasted money, save the item and continue to waste said money or 2. see the wasted money, donate/give away the item and turn that frown upside down.

3 | be realistic about your budget post purge. for example, i would love to get rid of all of my flats and start over. truly all i wear is nude flats and i don’t love the embellishment on my black ones. however, i don’t have the money right now to buy ALL the shoes i have on my list at once. so, be realistic about your budget. get rid of things you’re really not going to wear but keep some that you can keep until you have the moolah to get what you want.

4 | be realistic about future changes in circumstances. while i was doing these purges, i had to keep reminding myself that although i wanted to get rid of the two pencil skirts i bought my senior year of high school, i didn’t know what the dress code would be at my future job. if you are looking for a job, about to have a baby or really any big life event, perhaps get rid of some of those pieces but keep a couple in case future circumstances demand them. (mine didn’t –> pencil skirts are gone-o)

5 | be intentional about how you get rid of it. something that really struck me in seven by jen hatmaker was when she reflected on the way people typically give away clothing which is to bag it up and drop it off. with a clap of your hands, it’s gone and you can stop thinking about it. she took her purge to the next level and gave away her clothing in person. she, along with some of her friends also purging their closets, made basically a second-hand shop in one of their guest bedrooms and helped members of their community as needed. for me, i sent some clothes off to friends and tried to truly be “green” in the real sense of the word – simply making products last longer by passing them on. by doing something like these two examples or even just driving to a local womens’ shelter and seeing how little some people have, it’ll make you think before you buy something you don’t need down the road. try to give it away in person so you can see the effect and let that sink in.

6 | purge more than once. my mom and i agreed recently that you have to be consistent in purging your closet otherwise you’ll quickly get sucked back in to that more is more mindset. i think the idea of spring cleaning once a year is rubbish. if you want to actually be conscious of your spending, do it once a month. this way, those items you thought you were CERTAINLY going to wear again can be looked at again in a few weeks and labeled as a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ it also allows you to reevaluate after seasons pass and circumstances change.

purging has been good not only to curb my spending but to focus my heart on what is actually important. one of my favorite instagrammers, @jennaskitchen, posted this quote on instagram the other day and i think it sums up perfectly what i have found from wearing some items over and over and settling with less for now. she posted this from the book love warrior:

“You will meet plenty of people who are pretty but haven’t yet learned how to be beautiful. They will have the right look for the times but they will not glow. Beautiful women glow. When you are with a beautiful women you might not notice her hair or skin or body or clothes, because you’ll be distracted by the way she makes you feel. She will be so full of beauty that you will feel some of it overflow onto you. You’ll feel warm and safe and curious around her. Her eyes will twinkle a little and she’ll look at you really closely, because beautiful wise women know that the quickest way to fill up with beauty is to soak in another human being. Women who are concerned with being pretty think about what they look LIKE, but women who are concerned with being beautiful think about what they’re looking AT.”

so last but not least, if you feel like you might have a little less for awhile as you rework your closet, that’s okay. i’ve noticed that people don’t notice. a post coming tomorrow on how to take these purges and use them to make the perfect closet for you. i call it “shopping intentionally” and it’s the best.


vibed to the sound of my freezer humming. i am literally sitting on the floor of my kitchen. #whatislife


part i: the lessons from the great purge of summer 2016

October 18, 2016

how about that title? already doing great on minimalism, right? #iamfunny #tomyself

if you follow me on snapchat (@ania.sulllivan), you’ve seem me purge my closet multiple times this summer. although it appears that i would have nothing else to wear after four times of cleaning it out, i still have plenty.

let’s back it up.

i have moved a million times. okay, not a million but pretty freaking close. my family has lived in four states and five houses plus me living in france for a year plus the seven residence halls/apartments/subleased apartments i lived in while in st. louis for university. after all those moves, i learned that the aggravating part of moving is often not the actual moving; it’s the realization while unpacking, or even a couple years later, that you shouldn’t have even moved some items in the first place. you don’t wear them, don’t want them hanging on your walls, it’s a bunch of odds and ends from senior year of high school – the list goes on.

so i have become a bit of an aggressive purge artist, i shall call myself. and i realized this summer that various events have made me a lot different than the shopaholic i was in high school. sit down and let me spin you a tale…

while living in france, i had a fraction of my clothing and almost nothing as far as decor or other small things. and i liked it. i loved how my room closet wasn’t bursting at the seams. i loved looking in my closet and knowing that i would wear any of the pieces because i only brought my favorites. i was super critical of everything i bought while shopping there because i would have to lug it back with me at the end of the year – so everything i bought was well thought out and i still love (and wear) today.

when i left france, i left behind what i had brought to france but hadn’t worn and it felt SO good. my family had just moved to california (literally just moved – i landed at 10 pm in fresno, ca and the moving trucks came at 7 am the next day) so i decided to purge again before i had to go back to school at the end of summer for my senior year.

my mom was kind of freaked out by the bags of things i started rapidly accumulating to donate. i was giving away things had been expensive, had the labels still attached, and were great brands. however, at the end of the day i didn’t wear them. i didn’t care if it was a free people tank – i hated the length. i didn’t care that the jeans were true religion – i shouldn’t have bought bedazzled jeans because WHO WEARS BEDAZZLED JEANS. except me. in high school.

i wanted my closet to be like those suitcases i flew back with to the usa after my year in france – a collection of items that i wore over and over without a second thought. you see, the french women dress well. i’m sorry, they dress IMPECCABLY well. it’s like an art and i was the biggest fan. but the art of dressing french is not their mountains of options in their huge walk-in closet. that’s not the french way. (**cough cough america**) quite simply, there is no room for all that clothing in tiny french apartments. the art of french fashion is wearing timeless pieces. a classic black winter coat, a sharp pair of booties, the perfect winter scarf. they didn’t need 7 coats plus a north face plus a rain jacket plus a down jacket. they had maybe 2 or 3.

everytime i went on a trip, i would go into a frenzy thinking of things i needed to buy. going to morocco? i needed the perfect maxi skirt. going to italy? where is a cheap, chic leather jacket. headed to london? i need to completely reassess my style.

however, when my host family went on trips, they worked with what they had. my host sister audrey went on a ski trip with her boyfriend’s family and was completely set by borrowing some things from me, friends and layering. i would have easily gone and bought an entire outfit to be “prepared”. in america, we find reasons to buy something more. going hiking? oh, we couldn’t do that in normal tennis shoes and a pair of nike shorts. we need to head to REI and be completely outfitted, head to toe, in the best (and most expensive) gear.

it’s consuming and never ending.

i learned that the french had fewer things but they held their value. even items that were a bit more “trendy” could easily still be worn in another season. for example, capes and shawls were all the rage for the fall of my year there. but the capes at zara weren’t these crazy plaid monstrosities that would be recognized every time you wore them. they were in classic colors – black, brown, a deep green. they could easily be worn for many autumns to come. classic and trendy.

it was pretty humbling as an american to see how this consumer mindset had completely caught me without me knowing it. and i didn’t really like that feeling. i once had to explain walmart to my host parents and they were completely confused. i admired how my host sister often wore the same pieces because those pieces were so perfect. she went shopping at zara and bought one blouse. i went shopping and bought five accessories when what i needed was one blouse. there was a certain mindset there that yes, we could have everything but we don’t need it. we will shop for what we need.

returning to america was culture shock for a NUMBER of reasons but our addiction to shopping (and not just for clothes) was probably the harshest and long-lasting. it was almost embarrassing, especially because of how easily i was duped into thinking it is better to have more.

it is not.

enter seven by jen hatmaker. the premise of the book is that she takes areas of her life (food, clothing, shopping, etc.) and, over seven months, made seven simple choices in those seven areas of excess to become more simple, generous and intentional. it hit me where it hurts people. ESPECIALLY with my big move to STL coming up in a week and a half.

i want to buy all the things right now and i want a nice car not a used car and all of a sudden i had a live experiment on my hands. i could either give in or i could say to myself “i don’t mind if i don’t have the nicest car on the block – it will get me from point a to point b and i will never see the outside while i’m driving it.” i can choose to take old furniture and wait patiently til things come up on craig’s list that i can diy. i can choose to see how many things have fallen perfectly into place instead of seeing the lack of, well, a bed.

i think the concept of minimalism freaks people out – me included. in my humble opinion, it doesn’t mean you can’t shop or buy nice things or deck your house in anthropologie goods (slowly but surely this will be happening – please and thank you). it just means that in the meantime, you’re alright with less. you have taken your identity away from what you don’t have and can see what is right there in front of you.

in the next three days, i’ll be giving a guide on how i go about doing efficient, realistic purges (for instance, i can’t get rid of ALL the things i don’t like because i don’t have money to replace it all #reality) and what little changes i have made that have really improved my attitude already towards minimalist living. i don’t have to have it all right now and what i’ve realized is that if i never do have it all, i’ll be just fine.


vibed to the sound of my phone ringing because i am trying to do 6 things at once right now. #hellomoving


fri-yay favs: madewell’s best

October 14, 2016

so for this week’s fri-yay fav (changing it from ten because what if i don’t have ten? then what? i still want to be able to talk with you all #ohthedrama), we’re talking the best of the best at madewell. one FINALLY opened here in fresno and it reminded me how much i love that store. their stuff is great quality, they have good sales and it’s very wearable. even though i love anthropologie, our clothing has a certain flair and i tend to go elsewhere for the basics, like tees, striped everything’s and sweaters.

enter madewell.

the cool teenager cousin of j crew. she works from home as an entrepreneur and loves a crisp white tee with a great leather accessory. i don’t know why i went so far with that but let’s just throw in that her favorite drink is a shot of apple cider vinegar. trendy, healthy, boss lady type threads.

so today i thought i would do a round-up of my favorites at madewell. if i had to buy ten things right now, it’d be…

1 | whisper cotton v-neck pocket tee: i have this in optic white and heather pewter – they’re epic. i have been hunting for a good white v neck, saw this on sale, added on my student discount and they were 15 bucks. the best tees in the game.

2 | the perfect striped tee: a good striped tee is a staple. i have been eyeing this one for forever and i am just waiting for a sale to grab it. i have seen it appear on multiple blogger’s fav so you don’t have to just take my word.;)

3 | my go to black skinny jean: perfect mid-rise, solid black, great length black skinny jean. bam. bam. BAM. their denim is C L U T C H.

4 | the best open cardigan on the market: so i realized doing my closet purge (yes, the post got moved to monday – sorryyyyy) that i don’t really like sweaters with buttons. probably because i never button them? genuinely don’t know. but i love open sweaters that just hang without tons of fastens. madewell’s ryder cardigan sweater is a DREAM. i tried it on the other day just for kicks and fell in love. it is SOOOOO soft, falls perfectly in all the right spots and there are no buttons. i remember this sweater going on sale last year so i am just waaaaaiiiiiiiiting…..

5 | ballet flats with an ankle strap: so this style of shoe is very trendy right now and at first i was kind of indifferent about it. when the store opened here, they had this shoe and i was a walking heart eye emoji. it’s such feminine look with the tiny heel and ankle strap – they would look so darling with cuffed skinny jeans and an oversized flannel or a long sleeved dress (speaking of – i linked a bunch back here on this post!).

6 | the weekend bag from dreamland: if i had this bag to tote off with me on little weekend rendezvous trips, i would feel like a QUEEN. i mean, talk about fine. leather. goods. (direct parks and recs reference which if you didn’t catch…well, you are dismissed.)

7 | THE green jacket: fall comes and the utility style green jackets come popping out of nowhere. and for the right reason! they are a great transition quote from fall to winter and winter to spring plus look great layered over dresses, sweaters and just about everything else. both the previous and this fleet jacket are great options – like always, just wait for a good sale! although i must say, that’s a really great price for the quality of this jacket – you’ll have it for life.

8 | the leather tote that inspires all other leather totes: the transport tote is madewell and madewell is the transport tote. it wears beautifully, is the perfect dimensions, has the perfect length straps and there’s just none like it. i have a black longchamp tote right now that i bought with my high school grad money and that little guy has been all over the world with me. i have been eyeing this madewell tote for forever but it is a little more expensive so i have looked for alternatives. and by looked, i mean SCOURED. there’s just not another like it. the leather is so soft and slouchy, and the other ones either had too short of straps or were too square. it’s the real freaking deal people.

9 | bell sleeved, striped dress: i mean C’MON MADEWELL. stripes AND a slight bell sleeve? i will be s t a l k i n g this dress to the sale rack. i love bell sleeves and this one has just the right touch (although i have been known to try some on that are huge and i love them all the same.)

10 | the coat of my sweet sweet dreams: this coat has it all going on. the perfect chestnut, feels-like-fall-forever color? check. the blanket-y extra fabric for a snuggle effect? check. that relaxed, oversized blazer look with the lapels and one button? check. i don’t need another winter jacket but if this number goes on major after christmas sale…………………….

(okay so it haaaaaappened to be ten items this week.)


vibed to the sound of the laundry machine while writing. my mom verryyyy conveniently always runs a load right before she goes to sleep and then pops her head in to remind me to hang the delicates when she’s done. and no one can refuse mama sullivan in her pjs.

my 20s

5 steps to better sleep

October 12, 2016

this summer put the hec in hectic. and my sleep was one of the first things to suffer as a result. so i developed a five step, foolproof system for myself that i thought i would share with you!

here’s the thing: you’ve probably read a list about sleep hacks before. tips about pre-bed yoga and long, warm baths and all that jazz. but if we’re being real with ourselves we would realize that the reason we’re sleeping poorly is probably due to lack of time combined with increase stress and if there is a lack of time, i want to see success from any pre-bed routines. (because i would obviously rather watch the latest new girl episode.)

these are five things i try to do every night and honestly, it’s has proven to result in success almost 10/10 times.

1 | make a cup of sleepytime tea as you clean up after dinner. it will be cooled down, ready to drink and be out of your system before you lay down to go to sleep thus not waking you up at night with a full bladder. similarly to children, it’s good to have a routine. your body will sense it’s time for sleep soon and start to calm down as you do the same things every evening. it doesn’t have to be crazy – something as simple as putting on your pajamas, lighting a candle or drinking tea will do!

2 | try to keep workouts before dinner. when i was hard core suffering from insomnia when i was younger, that’s the first piece of advice i got from the doctor. try to give yourself the whole evening to wind down and get your heart rate to normal.

3 | do not let yourself to start any big projects or work on anything that will hype you up for the hour or so before bed. for instance, i don’t let myself look at apartment things or house hunt before going to sleep because i either stress myself out or i get super excited and can’t fall asleep. do simple, basic tasks like prepare lunch for the next day or set out your clothes. save those big, energetic tasks for the morning when you’re fresh!

4 | have one book/essay/paper object to read for 20 minutes before going to sleep. if you have a kindle, get a real book – they’re available at this thing called a library.;) it has been proven that screen time before bed will really mess with your quality of sleep. case in point: i started sleeping so deeply once i dedicated this minimum 20 minute reading partay that i noticed i had begun dreaming again. #deepsleepforthewin

5 | speaking of screen time, get those glowing squares awayyyyyy for the hour before you go to sleep – or longer! put away your computer, iPad, iPhone and anything else that glows. take a shower. chat with your roommate. browse your clothes for new ideas. get away from the screens ESPECIALLY when you are having an especially difficult time falling asleep. don’t pick up your phone and start scrolling. lie there and think about a dream vacation, your dream home or your dream ice cream flavor.;)


vibed to brooklyn nine-nine while writing. kasia got me hooked – it’s GREAT busy work background tv if you needed a rec.;)

my 20s

book club: summer reads

October 10, 2016

*yes, it is JUST NOW turning to fall here. so i felt like that title was appropriate since i was sweating outside today helping my dad. #centralvalleyswag

a while ago i asked for some book recommendations on my instagram and i have been slowly working my way down the list ever since! there are few things i like more than a recommendation for a good read. i don’t know if i am the only odd duck that does this, but i have to finish a book once i start it. so when i start a bad one, we’re in it for the long run.

these are the ones i have read since then. i rated them on a scale of 1 – 5 stars with five being the best … but you might like something i didn’t so keep that in mind.;)

Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist: ☆☆☆☆☆

i have gone back and reread sections of this book and that should tell you something because i RARELY reread books. and i had it on my kindle but i am going to order it for one of the books to have in my apartment / forever. wow. this is a masterpiece by shauna that will help you see that this daily life we’re living is the best darn thing we have if we just notice it. i had so many people recommend it to me and when i finally read it, it was like reading something that had already been written on my heart. gahhh, can’t recommend this enough!

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica: ☆☆☆☆

i am not usually a huge fan of suspense ANYTHING (cried because the suspense in lilo and stitch was too much for me just to give you an idea of my tolerance level) but i really liked this book surprisingly. nothing ever happened that was grotesque or scary so it ended up being a great book because i truly dislike reading scary books full of really awful, realistic events. but this was suspenseful without have those scenes so win-win!

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica: ☆☆☆☆

^^^ same as for good girl. it’s just a good thriller with some unexpected twists but nothing ever happens on the pages that’s too gruesome but i would definitely say it’s pg-13.;) her writing reminds me a lot of gone girl if you liked those vibes! i don’t typically reach for these kinds of books but it was a good change of pace!

The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Santa Montefiore: ☆☆☆☆

i read this book in one night. it’s not the most elevated writing in the universe which is why i didn’t give it five stars (that’d be like giving nicholas sparks five stars – i don’t know if i could compare that to like a harry potter five stars?) but if you’re looking for an easy, romantic read – look no further!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion: ☆☆

the only reason i gave it two stars and not one is because it is well-written from the man with autism’s point of view. i have a soft spot in my heart for autism so i appreciated the cleverness and the accuracy of his traits but the book as a whole didn’t pull me in!

I’m Glad About You by Theresa Rebeck: ☆

it just wasn’t good in my opinion? it’s basically a high school romance that doesn’t work out and there’s some infidelity action  which is my least favorite thing to see in media. and i thought the story line was suuuuuper drawn out. but yes, i finished it. ugh.

Make It Happen by Lara Casey: ☆☆☆ (but only because of the timing! read below!)

i am reading one self-improvement book a month in my 23rd year as you read on my to do list for dreamy 23 here and this was september’s book! it’s all about just doing the dang thing and tackling the fears that are holding back from your dreams thus discovering your self-worth. i think i kind of already had that realization earlier this summer when i launched my blog and started revolving my life more around “imperfect actions make things happen” so the book didn’t have as much of an effect on me which is why i only gave it 3 stars. but if you need a little kick in the rear to get yourself going, this is the book for you! it’s well-written and will give you a realistic chat with yourself before jumping off the deep end with an idea.

Seven by Jen Hatmaker: ☆☆☆☆☆☆

yes, i do realize i gave this book six stars. i read this right after i finished my third closet purge and while reading it, came full circle and had some pretty not pretty realizations about how despite my best efforts, i still spend money on things i don’t need. this book will rock you. don’t read it if you want to stay in the happy bubble of frivolous, accidental shopping sprees at target and buying one too many candles at anthropologie. DO READ if you’re ready to see what consumerism does to us and our brains. it’s completely changed the way i spend my money but i am writing an entire post on how to purge your closet and shop intentionally for this friday so stay tuned! gonna be one of my best yet, i can feel it. anywho, get this book and let it change you.


also, as I remember them, I’ll list some of my just all-time favorite reads at the end of these reviews for you to check out! see you in the beginning of december when i go over my fall reads – they’re already pretty stacked!

The Kite Runner

A Thousand Splendid Suns

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

Me Before You

Gone Girl

The Girl on the Train

every single harry potter book of course


vibed to a cinderella story because it’s now on netflix and yes, that scene where he runs up to her in the stands S T I L L gets to me.


fri-yay ten: sale best

October 7, 2016

there are so many good sales this weekend! i pulled together some of my favorites for you all to enjoy – anthropologie is having extra 40% off sale, j crew factory has 50% off everything, urban outfitters has extra 30/40% off and moreeeeeeee. check out some of my favs below!

1 | anthro: this tank is technically a lounge piece but i almost bought it to wear under sweaters or just as a cute tank! with an extra 40%, it’s quite a steal for a thicker fabric. the pink is beautiful but the white would be so cute under a flannel with jeans.

2 | anthro: my mom got these pajama shorts and they are SILKY smooth. word to the wise: once you go anthro pjs, you never go back. luckily they almost always go on sale.;) you can also get the matching tank – gooooood morning, beautiful!

3 | anthro: i have this denim swing tank and it is one of my go to’s. it looks so cute with a little necklace and i love the fit. it reminds me of a madewell piece with it’s classic structure and silhouette. so cute!

4 | anthro: okay so this shower curtain is SO cute – i think cuter in person. it’s this really perfect gray and if my mom says it’s good quality, it’s good quality. it will definitely add something to your bathroom – we couldn’t resist!

5 | urban outfitters: the cut of this little dress is so darn ladylike and flattering! i’ve seen it in person and it made me want to host a tea party – gahhh it’s so darling!

6 | urban outfitters: if you follow me on snap chat, you probably saw me try on this sweet romper when i went to the urban outfitters in st louis – it is even cuter on if that is possible. it was a leeeetle short on me (i am 5’9″ for reference) but if you’re a wee bit shorter, GET IT! all of the patterns are more beautiful than the next!

7 | urban outfitters: i have been eyeing this top 5ever. quite literally have been stalking it. now it’s on sale. patience, young grasshoppers, patience. (i first saw it on alexis on instagram here – how perfect is it?!)

8 | j crew factory: this is the lowest i have seen this long stadium jacket that i have been eyeing for AGES in a long long time. if you need a christmas present (for yourself), you’re welcome.

9 | j crew factory: this shirt dress is cute in e v e r y color and would be a good layering piece under a vest or sweater for fall!

10 | nordstrom: i have seen so many bloggers wearing these topshop high waisted black jeans with rips in the knees – and now they’re $40…i mean, YES.

happy shopping! remember – just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need it. only reminding you because there will be so many sweaters and new goodies in stores soon!!!


vibed to grey’s anatomy while writing. still not that impressed with this season so far…also v peeved that there isn’t a new ‘this is us’ this week – can’t we just elect dwight for president and call it a day?


ania styles: long-sleeve dresses

October 5, 2016


dress: old free people – similar here and here / shoes: report sandals via amazon

long sleeve dresses are my new favorite type of dress. after doing caroline joy’s capsule worksheets (my review of those next week! plus i might be making my own revamped version…), i realized how much i wear and love this dress.


it was labeled as a tunic but since it’s so flowy and innocent, i am able to pull it off as a dress. also, it has a slightly longer back which makes it perFECT for twirling which i do quite a bit everytime i put it on..


i splurged on this dress on sale at macy’s (ps that’s where i buy most of my free people clothing – although now i have a discount since i work for another URBN store) and it has been worth every penny. i LOVE how it’s light enough to wear in the summer to church (#airconditioning #blessup) AND i can layer it with a long cardigan or jean jacket as summer turns to fall!


the detailing on the top is so delicate and feminine – two qualities of clothing i am drawn more and more too. i love that i can wear minimal make up – maybe just a little mascara and blush – and feel put together. that’s my ideal outfit situation.


paired with my new favorite sandals that i have worn for the last month straight, it’s a winning combo! i love it with my gold hoops that i bought on a whim at the lucky brand last christmas and have quickly become a staple in my (small) jewelry collection.


this exact dress is no longer available since i bought it last may but this one is almost identical, here’s another that i love with the same lines and this tunic from anthropologie works as a dress on me so it might on you as well!

my tip with pricier items like some of these free people pieces as well as with other brands is to put them in your online “shopping basket” and wait for a sale! i have realized that with time, EVERYTHING goes on sale – just be patient. 🙂

i went ahead and did some research around the web for more long sleeve dresses for both your benefit…and mine.;)

Nordstrom Floral Mock Neck | Forever 21 Knit Sweater Dress | Old Navy Swing Dress | Old Navy Cowl Neck Sweater Dress | Free People Collared Mini | Free People Striped Tunic | Free People Embroidered Swing Dress | Anthropologie Grey Lounge Dress | Fringed Chambray Button Down Dress | Urban Outfitter Cozy Henley Dress | Urban Outfitters Cozy Fit and Flare Dress

vibed to diana by one direction while writing this. thank you sarah l. for the rec!

my 20s

instafollow: *praise hands*

October 3, 2016

the final installment of the instafollow series is all my praise hands accounts. these are accounts that i follow to keep my ig feed full of encouraging, faith-filled photos, quotes and women. if i am honest with myself, i am on instagram a lot (although i have been less lately! #babysteps) so it’s nice to automatically see the refreshing feeds of other women or accounts that are trying to slide into social media with grace and hope.

these are my favorite accounts to follow. some of these have quite honestly changed my life with their words and insight. whenever i write a wordy instagram caption and think to myself “is this too much? do people like this?”, my mind goes to these accounts that make me pause mid-scroll and reflect.

enjoy these (in no particular order) and thanks for following along with this series!

1 | jess connolly: jess is everything. my sister and i refer to her as if she’s our friend. “oh did you see jess is in stl?” “yeah, i insta-messaged her some restaurant recommendations!” have we ever met jess? no. will we ever? maybe not. but she speaks truth, people. honestly we could be friends in real life. she says everything you think no one else thinks and does it so wonderfully that kasia and i are constantly tagging each other in her posts even though there’s a very slim chance we’d miss one. she inspires me to be bold, wild and free in my faith.


2 | blessed is she: if you aren’t signed up for their daily emails, do that here! guaranteed to be an email that will help you start your day off right. they have the BEST quotes about faith and from saints. i love love love their feed and their work and their ministry and that cute little wreath around their name.


3 | katharine griffin: she. slays. the. word. game. honestly, just go through and read some of her captions! so so good. also she’s so cute. also she’s a ‘denim enthusiast’ – if you coin that, you’re a winner in my book.


4 | beating 50 percent: i have already signed my future husband up for beating 50 percent’s future retreats. neither exist but i am so there (and so is he – let him know). they are so encouraging and even though i am not in a relationship, i learn so much from this account and stow it away in my brain so i can be a better girlfriend, fiancé and wife one day! audrey roloff is amazing so i haven’t been surprised at how much of a success this has been for them and i hope ALL the best continues to flow their way.


5 | deeply rooted: they have wonderful posts – really uplifting and profound words!!! another magazine i need for around my apartment for sure. they also host retreats which would be amazing, i’m sure, if there’s one in your area!


6 | lara casey: oh lara. where do i begin?! lara is probably the realest of the real. she has a pretty crazy past and from her rough beginnings, through grace and prayer, she created a life that will inspire you to find joy in your REAL life (not some pretty instagram version). she talks when she struggles, she talks when she rejoices and her daughter grace talks a lot too which is seriously the best thing ever. also they adopted a baby girl which just reallllyyyyy gets my heart pumping.


7 | rach kincaid: jess and rach are best friends and it’s such a good model of what friendship should be. also her bio for her instagram (see photo below) is my life. i feel sometimes too old for my generation and i love the way she approaches faith, motherhood and relationships – all while being an all around boss lady. also her family is so cute and i am sincerely obsessed with her snap chats of her kids walking to the bus every morning – it’s so darn cute.


8 | my freedom bell: jess strikes again. she made this account as a well to ring her ‘freedom bell’ and be healthy, fit and learn to love her body. since that resonates with just about every woman i can think of, you might want to follow this one too. she is so real and fresh – it’s refreshing.;) #getit #someonestopme


9 | she reads truth: if you aren’t signed up for SRT daily email devotionals, do that now! it is such an easy way to insert a little grace into your day by merely checking your email – something you probably around do. they have great prayer plan books and everything is so cute. like this advent one for this year? praise hands for that.


10 | tapestry magazine: even though they have a small following, they have something really good going on here. i love their aesthetic and their magazines are so beautiful!! they could even be used for a coffee table read. #apartmentplanningalways #stilllivingathome



vibed to brooklyln nine-nine via my sister’s orders. funny show while i wait for the mindy project to come back…