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 aniaelizabethblog@gmail.com – 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


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.