Monthly Archives: November 2016

my 20s

dreamy 23: first quarter stretch

November 30, 2016

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i am trying this new thing with goals where i actually follow through with them.;) so every couple of months i am going to pop in here and check on my year 23 goals! i did this internally for my new year’s resolutions for 2016 and it has been the most successful year at keeping those yet in my life. more on that later…

remember that you don’t have to wait around for your birthday to make a list! life is so short and i don’t want to miss out on the wonders of daily life because i am too hurried to get to the next stages and seasons of my life. this list keeps me grounded in 23 and all the joy i can find right where i am.

i put in bold the ones i have done/am doing soon – i am making progress! weeeeeeee!

  1. visit new york
  2. make my own ice cream
  3. (finally) buy glasses i love to wear (for once in my darn life)
  4. go on a road trip to an outdoorsy location – CARMEL. might have to do another road trip to a national park or something but this little one has got to count for something. 😉 
  5. shoot an engagement photography session
  6. spend intentional time with Him everyday for at least 15 minutes (guess i can’t really bold this til i know i have it in my routine…which i need to be better at…)
  7. bake a cake for no reason and top it with flowers
  8. launch a blog 
  9. read one self-development book per month
  10. make plans to travel internationally either in year 23 or 24
  11. go to confession once a month
  12. go home to colorado and visit my brother
  13. go thrift shopping at least once a season
  14. make a terrarium
  15. learn how to transfer my writing onto the computer to make my own lettering
  16. make a desktop background to share
  17. design a mock-up for a planner (this is a serious pipe dream of mine)
  18. make a diy holiday wrapping paper post
  19. shoot a family photography session
  20. schedule a wedding as the main photographer
  21. use first names whenever possible (grocery store, flight attendants, the homeless, etc.) to promote dignity of life
  22. volunteer at least three times (more would be great!!!)
  23. get 5,000 followers on my instagram account

it’s so good to get a refresher – i had forgotten about a couple of those! with new year’s in a little over a month, it’s good to start thinking about some things that are baby or big steps to take towards your goals or self-improvement or health or anything! i love the fresh, promising start of a new year. make it happen. i believe in you and your potential!!!


vibed to nothing while writing. it’s late and i am tired after a 14 hour day but i am committed as ever to this little corner of the web and you people who read. i love each of you dearly. xx


#aniathefoodie: cafe natasha

November 28, 2016

for those of you who don’t know, i lived in st. louis for the last four years while attending saint louis university. so this city wasn’t exactly at the top of my list for places i wanted to move after graduation. i literally sold all my furniture and moved to california to look for a job while living at home with the mindset that i would never move back.

that’s not meant to sound as dramatic as it comes off.;) i was just ready for something new and i placed a lot of my young adult identity in living in a new, bright city. since i had lived in st. louis, i didn’t see it as new and bright.

upon moving back, it feels like a completely different place than where i went to school. i live in a new part of the city and work in an area with a lot of young professionals. i have a different routine but a lot of familiar faces and, of course, place to eat.

there’s just a completely fresh vibe. when i swing by campus to see a friend or go to ikea (long live the swedes as my dad would say), i am almost surprised to see campus because it feels so different now.

with all that being said, one of the best parts of st. louis is the food scene. to say i am a foodie is an understatement. i LOVE good food and people in college constantly asked me for recommendations on where to go for dinner, brunch, ice cream and everything in-between.

so i am going to start keeping track of my ventures both in st. louis and elsewhere and label them on instagram with the hashtag #aniathefoodie so you can always search for something you saw on my instagram of something i ate through that hashtag! enjoy my first (documented) foodie experience!


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Location: 3200 South Grand Blvd.

Price: $12-17ish for an entrée

Type: Persian

I have wanted to try Cafe Natasha for FOREVER and I finally went on Sunday with my pal Sonya. It was amazing. AMAZING.

I have to preface that I love Persian food – saffron chicken, tabouleh, jasmine rice, feta cheese…it’s all good in my books.

The service was good, the $7/glass Cabernet was a hit and they also have a Gin Bar that has a trillion types of gin which would be cool if you know someone who loves gin. It’s displayed on the wall and it’s pretty darn impressive. Other than the Gin Bar, the decorations were minimal but it was clean and I was too distracted by my fat glass of wine to notice. #hangry

Anywho, Natasha (yes, like THE Natasha) took our orders and brought us our food which was pretty freaking cool. Sonya and I ordered the same thing (#typical) which I can’t find on their online menu but it was basically a big bowl of greens topped with saffron chicken, this feta cheese magical thing, cucumbers, radishes, onions and a tzatziki type of dressing. Oh, and pita chips if you can eat those! #allergiesruineverything

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IT WAS SO GOOD. The proportions were spot on (which I am quite serious about – proportions can make or break a salad/dish/anything) and I would definitely recommend it. Honestly though, everything on the menu looked amaze and I can’t wait to go back to try more.

I don’t say this lightly, but it could be one of my new go-to’s for STL recommendations to people. It has options for everyone – meat lovers, falafel lovers, vegetarians and even has a gluten-free menu! If you’re in the area, it should be at the top of your list.

vibed to fixer upper while writing. i would talk about my new love for chip and joanna but i might just have to devote an entire post to that.

home design

diy eucalyptus wreath

November 23, 2016

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i think my ideal job would mom/wife + florist + photographer + blogger. all from a cool home office. like some big loft upstairs with lots of windows. hey, a girl can dream!!!

going off that florist bit, i definitely got a green thumb from my mama, the master gardener extraordinaire. as i decorate my room and apartment, i am keeping an eye out for plants and greenery to add life to my spaces. there is something about plants that completely transforms a room – it’s so fresh.

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i saw this bundle of eucalyptus at trader joe’s and i couldn’t help but buy one (okay, fine i bought two). i love wreaths and greenery on walls, swooning over them in magazines, but they are SO expensive!!! who in their right mind charges over a hundred dollars for a wreath?! yeesh.

so, in classic ania fashion, i made my own.

what you’ll need:

  • scotch tape
  • eucalyptus
  • scissors
  • ribbon (i used this one)

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first, i identified the thick stems on some of the branches that would be hard to bend into the circle shape and either cut them in half or cut them off.

then i just took one branch and starting taping another halfway up the following branch so they overlapped until i formed a circle, taping bits and pieces as i went. it’s not an exact science and you can also add or snip pieces away when you’re finished. or you can start by taping a straight line of them and then bending the whole thing into a circle if that’s easier!

the branches will stick out and look imperfect but after you hang it up with the ribbon, you can tape some in or add smaller pieces here and there. it was therapeutic and adds a simple, beautiful touch to my room. plus, i put the extra pieces in little jars around my apartment and it adds just the right something extra.

the wreath hangs on my closet door now, just to the left of my favorite cross, and reminds me of st. therese of lisieux. she lived a life of deep love, living joyfully in her daily actions, and inspires me to do all with profound intention.

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”

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i hope you all have a lovely holiday weekend and have the opportunity to spend time with friends, family and good food. i will be in st. louis while my family is scattered around but i am excited to be reunited with me whole family here in st. louis at christmas!


vibed to the crown on netflix while writing. i have always loved the royal family and i am quickly being sucked into the show.


(first) family photo session: penna family

November 21, 2016

my sister, her husband and their seven month old xavier live about five minutes from me here in st. louis and it’s been one of the best parts of moving back to missouri. i take my role as aunt ania quite seriously and i love that i can pop over to visit all the time. also xavier is LITERALLY the cutest tiny human in the world. #notbiased

i have wanted to start dabbling more and more in photography so last weekend we took advantage of the beautiful fall weather and did a family photo shoot of the three of them. capturing them together after everything that happened with xavier’s health this summer was so special to me because i am so joyful that he is healthy. god. is. good.

enjoy the penna family – i love them oh so much! 🙂


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these photos give me so much joy and hope for family life which i truly believe is the cornerstone of every good society. happy fall to all!


vibed while writing to my new fav show, the crown. anyone else weirdly into it?!!


(first) engagement session: emily + corey

November 16, 2016

you know that phrase that goes “do something everyday that scares you”? well i have been doing that lately and it’s been honestly changing the game. i just DO it. i stop wondering what people will think or if they’ll say no and i just freaking ask. AND PEOPLE ARE NICE AND (mostly) SAY YES.

basically all that was to preface this engagement shoot i did with a friend from college and his fiancé (and now a friend as well!). i saw that they got engaged by seeing their post on facebook and mused for like a solid three weeks about asking them if i could do an engagement shoot for them.

there were also two problems: 1. i was in california and they were in st. louis and 2. i had no plans to go to st. louis anytime soon.

but for as messy and stressful as this summer was, there His fingerprints were. in a matter of weeks i was on a plane to st. louis to visit with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew (and secretly interview for the job i now have #catsouttathebag #canyoureadthat). so i just wrote out a text in a flurry to corey before i had the chance to second guess myself and asked them if they’d mind if i did an engagement shoot with them to see how i liked it and they said yes.

the end.

plain and simple.

ask and ye shall receive.

i thought i was going to throw up as i waited for them at the first shoot location on slu’s campus. but the way i felt throughout? it was so fulfilling. in a way, i could feel Him near because of how i really felt like i was using my talents. does that make sense? in those hours traipsing around and capturing their amazing love, i felt so overwhelmingly myself and in that, so close to Him.

it was beautiful and it made me fall in love with photography in a new way. being the one to give people photos that they will (hopefully hehe) treasure is an enormous blessing. hoping to do more shoots in the future!

if you or your friends are engaged (or soon to be!), i would love to be involved in that chapter of their lives as their photographer! they can email me at – my rates are quite low at this point in my career. 😉

enjoy emily + corey! their love for each other and Him is pure and golden and i can’t wait to see the glory they bring as a married couple next summer!




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vibed to the newest episode of this is us. i don’t even know if i like that show but i keep watching it….?


ania styles: boss ladies in black leather

November 14, 2016

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jacket: old zara – similar here, here and here / skirt: urban outfitters

v-neck tee: madewell / superga tennis shoes: nordstrom

in 100% transparency with you all, i shot this look back in cali wayyyyy before the election buzz. but you can bet your bottom dollar i’m going to soak up this golden little opportunity to use it because of the perfect american flag wall. all my blogger blocks lined up for me on this one. and i don’t even hate it.

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i know the autumn days that feel more like summer than fall are slipping away. i am slowly (emphasis on slowly) accepting defeat against the missouri winter weather that will be here so darn soon and i have been mixing + matching summer and fall pieces to slowly ease myself in. (yes, it is still 85 back in cali. thank you for asking.)

this outfit is the perfect example of flirting the line between fall and winter. you can just add tights or high-waisted jeans to this combo and you’ve got yourself a little number that will have you feeling like q u i t e the boss lady but also will let you cling to crisp weather just a bit longer.

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i got this black leather jacket from a zara in lyon, france where i lived for a year and i LOVE it. but what you probably have already gathered from me in the few style posts i have done is that i am not exactly motorcycle chic.

what really sold me on this jacket was the way my friend vivi wore it with such ease. we traveled together a lot while we were living abroad and she brought this jacket on every trip we went on, pairing it with something different everytime. i was so interested in the versatility of something that i had (mistakenly) pinned as high maintenance. she wore this jacket with a white tee and black skinnies plus her converse to dinner in budapest and rocked it over a flannel in hallstat and it was all so effortlessly COOL.

i had pinned myself as the non-leather-jacket-wearing type but seeing her throw it on like any other jacket made me want to do the same. so i headed straight to zara when we got back from one of our trips and have loved having this piece in my closet.

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it’s the perfect jacket to wear out on the town and is an awesome layering piece, with a chunky sweater, a ribbed turtleneck or a big blanket scarf in my jacket’s near future. i got it for under $50 in france but the ones i linked above are all under $70 which is not too shabby for a really good imitation. gosh i miss having a zara on every corner.

also, can we just talk about how freakin’ boss black leather makes you feel? i think i borderline develop a swagger when i throw this on.

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the other pieces of this outfit are longtime favs. the whisper cotton tees at madewell are the gold standard for worn-in, comfy tees that only they have perfected. the denim skirt was a splurge that ended up being an awesome buy. i don’t particularly love jean shorts so having a jean skirt is the perfect way to counter that! i like layering it with sweaters and long cardigans + booties in the fall.

oh and these tennis shoes? you guys, don’t tell my good friends, the classic low-top white converse – but these are stiff competition for my fav white shoes. i like that they are so plain and just have a little bit of a more simple vibe. but of course i still have converse because they have a certain edge and casual-ness that will NEVER be beat. i have been wearing my supergas with dresses, free people-esque clothing and i just love them. also, they’re comfy! i’d say they are very comparable to converse.

hope you loved this style post! little lesson learned from me to you: never rule something out because you’re “not edgy enough”. if i can wear a black leather jacket, anyone can.

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vibed to yesterday’s song by hunter hayes while writing. throwback to the time i met him…and was taller than him. #storyofmylife


at home manicure + fall nail colors

November 7, 2016

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if i had a penny for every time someone asked me where i get my nails done, i’d be chilling in the bahamas right now. the funny thing is that i have gotten probably less than five manicures in my life! i paint my nails about once a week, typically while i work on my blog or work on editing but have gotten so good at it that a salon manicure has lost its appeal. also, i hate how gel manicures make my nails feel after!

i do have a little system, along with very few products, that will help you get a salon-worthy manicure for a fraction of the price! i know painting nails might seem trivial and superficial, but it’s such a simple, cheap thing to do to make yourself feel a little bit put together and have fun with something you can easily change. if painting my nails is the worst thing i do, i figure i am doing just fine. here are my quick tips for a mani that will wow;)

1 | wash your hands and remove any remaining nail polish with nail polish remover and a cotton round. pro tip: buy cotton rounds. using toilet paper will make you lose your mind and make a mess. plus, you can buy a pack for a little over a dollar at target that will last you months.


also please don’t judge my yellow-y nails. i never don’t have polish on so truly does it matter?;)

2 | file your nails!* have you ever noticed that when you get a manicure, they never clip your fingernails? instead, they file it down to the perfect shape which is also what makes a good manicure look so polished. life hack: buy a file and do it yo self. this is the one i use and love – plus it’s super cheap at ulta.


*please clip your toe nails. filing them will be way more difficult and unnecessary.

3 | pick a great color and brand. my go to nail polish brands are essie and opi. my one complaint with essie is that the brush is a bit skinny and thin for my taste. i tried a blush sally hansen shade that i have on in my final manicure of this post and fell in love with their brush!


it’s full and goes on so much more evenly/quickly. so if someone knows a brush engineer at essie, that’s my one complaint.;) essie has great vibrant colors, like fun coral and red shades, but i usually tend towards opi for my blush, nude and dark polishes. the more you know.

i made this fun little color wheel for all of you for my summer and fall favs. i try to snap chat (@ania.sullivan) my nail color as often as i can but i thought it might be helpful for you all to have it in a post that you can refer to when you’re looking to pick out a new shade. here’s the unedited photo so you can really see the true color and all of the names are listed below the photo!


starting with the one i am holding and heading clockwise:

sally hansen: pink pong

essie: ladylike

opi: nein! nein! nein! ok fine! (i think – this one actually got lost in the move:(

opi: lincoln park at midnight

opi: casino royale

essie: no chips ahead

opi: mimosas for mr. and mrs.

opi: chocolate moose

opi: barefoot in barcelona

4 | paint more than one layer + be patient. i typically paint three layers and wait until they are completely dry in-between each. i recommend working on your computer, watching a movie, going for a walk/drive or reading while doing your nails. not before: cooking, fixing your hair, taking a shower – you know the drill. also, it tends to work better in cooler climates so turn on your fan or open a window because humidity will make them gel-y and easily ruined post-manicure. double also, don’t do your nails before bed. you’ll probably wake up with little creases from the sheets so pro tip is to do it after you shower but way before bed.

5 | use a good top coat. the most important step of an at home manicure is the top coat. this will make sure your nails don’t chip and look great until they’ve grown out. my two favorites are both by essie. one is called the ‘super duper top coat’ and there other is ‘no chips ahead top coat’ but i think super duper takes the cake.

follow these steps and your nails will look like….


…this! it took me a while to get this good and fast so remember that practice makes perfect!

a few more things i have learned: base coats are a waste of money; fast dry typically means less protection and shine; and try new shades! i never pinned myself as a black nail polish gal, but i love it now. also, check out this article by cosmopolitan – it will help you find the shades that look best on you. for instance, i don’t look great in hot pink/fuchsia colors but they look way different + better on my sister.

just a small, cheap pleasure to help ya through that money-tight, budget-heavy season you might be in. 😉


vibed while writing to i know somebody by locash