travel tips: budget, style & research

May 16, 2017

traveling can be expensive and stressful. however, the more i travel, the less often i feel either! i have learned some tips and tricks to make the most out of every trip, decreasing the stress of making it perfect. i hope these tips help you for your next trip and i will continue to share them in my travel diaries like i did in my new york post!

  • set yourself up for success for when you come back. leave a couple of groceries in the fridge, have a plan for getting home from the airport, make your bed, do some laundry, clean your room, etc. there’s nothing worse than coming home to a messy room when you’re already overwhelmed with reality after a trip.
  • if you like to ‘gram photos, especially with your hands in them (holding an ice cream cone, holding a donut, holding a puppy — opportunities are endless!), paint your nails. hey, i said i was going to share all my tips!;) i knew my friend had made an appointment for us to get our nails done on Sunday, so i didn’t. #chipsfordays
  • have $20+ of cash just in case you need to tip anyone in-between home and your destination: airport shuttle drivers, cab drivers, airport personnel. also, it’s always smart to have cash on you when you travel! you never know when you’ll want street food or have a little emergency.
  • check with your calendar to make sure you know when your period is going to come and prepare as necessary. this is something i am hyper aware of because mine can/usually are painfully awful. i actually currently plan travel around my cycle because they’re so terrible. also when you’re clouded by hormones, a trip can seem way more daunting than it really is! it might be worth it to take note of when you’re due for aunt flow the next time you plan a getaway.
  • make a snack bag/lunch for the airport/plane ride. my favorite travel snacks/meals are bananas, cashews, sweet potatoes fries with a baked chicken breast, butternut squash, rice/beans/guac, and berries. why spend start your trip spending a lot of money on sub par airport food when you can pack and eat exactly what you like?
  • pack a water bottle and fill it up at Starbucks at the airport! ask them for a venti iced water and you’re set. hydration is key to beating jet lag.
  • pack or buy groceries for breakfast. two perks of this: you can get your day started instead of waiting in line for brunch and you will save money. i often pack some bananas, granola bars and grab some yogurts from the store once i am at my destination.
  • stay hydrated. for some reason, people throw health out the window when they travel and with that, water! stay hydrated and buy water bottles throughout your day. even if it is a couple more dollars per day, you’ll feel better and therefore have a better trip!
  • pack clothes that can be repurposed. a necklace becomes the accessory to jazz a day dress up for a night out. that one piece swim suit becomes the top to a pair of shorts or skirt. the high waisted black jeans are paired with converse for lunch and booties for happy hour. pack clothes you can mix and match! add some layers and stick to neutral colors, and you might find yourself being able to just carry on.
  • don’t pack something you won’t wear. okay this is the world’s most obvious tip but the hardest to learn: just because you’re traveling, doesn’t mean you are going to feel comfortable wearing an outfit you would never wear on your home turf. pack your favorites and that way you’ll feel confidant in anything you pull out of your bag instead of packing a lot of items that make you feel stiff and annoyed. i used to do this all the time! i would pack all these reaaaaaally trendy outfits but they were uncomfortable and i usually wore my other options. now that i have tailored my closet to the clothes i truly love, i don’t have this problem as often but it is the hardest habit to break! you don’t need to become someone you’re not when you travel — stay authentic to your style so you can pay attention to what really matters: where you are!
  • plan trips according to the weather. go see the Aspens in Colorado in the fall, jet to Ireland in August, head to New York in the spring, spend a weekend in London at Christmastime. try to think about how the weather can/will effect your trip and the activities you want to do, and plan accordingly! do keep in mind what the heavy travel seasons are for the places you have your list as well to avoid high tourist influxes and hefty flight prices.
  • space out trips, taking into account high-spending seasons. planning trips for before/after christmas takes a lot more effort because of the extra costs that you’ll experience as you buy gifts and save for your vacation. i like to travel in the late fall and early spring right now while i rock the cheap flights but i have to pay attention to birthdays and holidays, including buying flights to go home. i also think about the time of the year in relation to where i live. for example, i traveled a ton in April because i know the weather is unpredictable in st. louis and i love all the fun, free events in the summer so i’d rather spend money on settling here in the warm months. early spring and late fall are good to crank out some trips while there’s not much to do at home (if you live somewhere cold — if you don’t, we’re all jealous).
  • research, research, research. use hashtags like #travelnewyork and #newforkcity or instagram accounts to optimize social media to find the best restaurants, streets and airbnb’s. use sites like The Every Girl to look up guides to cities. stalk bloggers who have traveled or live(d) there. ask for recommendations from friends. google the city, the neighborhood, the best ice cream shops. use Yelp. and then map it all out. i spend hours before a trip making lists of things i want to do grouped by area for easy access once i am out and about. this way every opportunity for good food or sights is maximized without me trying to google something in the middle of the street with no data.
  • sort, delete and edit photos every night or else be overwhelmed by hundreds at the end of your trip. i’ll go through, one-by-one, deleting the ones i don’t want and editing in VSCO the ones i do! this makes it easier at the end of my trip to post to my blog and share with family + friends.

i will continue to share as i learn, as always! i hope this was helpful. do you have any tips + tricks to help with traveling?! do share below!


travel diary: new york, new york

May 10, 2017

i have wanted to go to New York ever since i can remember. when i sat down and made my year 23 list (can’t recommend this enough — totally holds me accountable!), i made visiting NYC a priority to me and in my budget. it makes me even more excited to share this weekend with you!

****this may be a long post, but i know you’re used to that.;)

because i do a lot of research and ask for recs everytime i travel, i rarely end up doing, eating or seeing something sub par. it’s the only way to go. i use other blogs, friends/family, Instagram hashtags/accounts, Yelp and Pinterest to find the best of the best. this girl isn’t about to spend a couple hundred dollars on a flight only to have a decent weekend.;) also, i have food allergies (soy, most nuts, wheat and egg whites) that can really stress me out while i travel if i don’t do research beforehand to make sure i’ll have options of yummy foods to eat.

i’ll try to incorporate as many travel tips in italics as i can throughout the tale! i am not an expert but i have traveled my fair share, especially while living abroad for a year, so i have learned some tricks along the way to save money and sanity. 😉 sharing is caring! if you can learn from my mistakes or successes, that’s a huge win in my book!

also, if you have any tips, PLEASE comment! i love when the blog creates a community that helps each other.

let’s get started!


f r i d a yyyy

i woke up Friday at 5:30 am, threw on the clothes i laid out the night before, didn’t put on make up (i always put on any make up i want wear when i land at the final destination – so much more comfortable and better for your face), ate a big breakfast (key for surviving a day of travel) and Ubered to the airport.

the flight was smooth as can be and i still landed on time around 12 pm despite being delayed. cha ching.

in my head, i thought la guardia would be a nice airport and i’d change in the bathroom when i landed before enjoying a great airport lunch since i had some time to kill before my friend landed. (try not to wear an outfit you want to wear during your trip on the plane. the chance of you spilling or just feeling gross in those clothes is VERY high so wear travel clothes that you can throw on for the way back as well.)

unfortunately, la guardia is an awful, small, dirty airport. to be blunt. hehe. it made me a little flustered but i checked myself before i became a whiny, priveleged mess and changed in a very tiny bathroom stall while trying to not touch too many surfaces.;) i actually ended up randomly chatting with a airport attendant while i did my make up and gave her advice on how to do her hair. i am never not making friends.

i headed outside, asked where to find the shuttle to where Ubers can pick up which is a little outside the airport terminal and got on said shuttle. i requested an UberXL by accident (yes, i have taken many Ubers before and no, i don’t know why i couldn’t figure out in that moment where the Uber Pool request was. fatigue? hunger? cloudy weather?). so that was a fun $48 to spend right off the bat. ughhhhhh aniaaaaa whyyyyyyy.

one thing you have to learn when you travel is to just suck it up when it comes to spending money, especially in unexpected ways. that sounds blunt but it’s the way i see my friends get so frustrated time and time again. you’re traveling. if you accidentally spend too much on a cab, there’s nothing you can do about it in the moment and the last thing you want to do is ruin the rest of your trip. (this is a great life lesson i learned as well! just gotta go with the flow!) if you budgeted for the trip, you have the money. even though i always incorporate ways to be thrifty, i try not to get so so obsessed with every penny i spend or it’ll ruin my experience. i chose in that moment to not beat myself up and just laughed when the guy asked where the rest of my group was. nope, just me in this large lincoln suv, sir!

my friend’s flights got delayed as she was coming back from spring break. again, this could have deterred my excited attitude but i chose to push those bad vibes aside and see the glass half full. i had already asked her for a coffeeshop recommendation near her apartment where i could sit while i waited and it was actually a blessing in disguise because the previous week was really heavy in new projects at work so i had been feeling a little tapped out. i was able to have some “i” time (introvert time — my phrase i use with close friends/family to designate recharging time) at Manhattanville Coffee and cozy up with my computer at the cafe. i face timed my parents who are traveling in Europe, perused Pinterest, and caught up with my sister.

i met up with my friend at 5 outside her apartment and we dropped off our bags, freshened up and headed out to have a night in the city. i had researched a couple of things to do that were close together for that evening, knowing that i would probably hit a wall around 8/9 pm. traveling on the weekend is a great way to just getaway and have an adventure, but i have learned to allow give myself early nights/moments of rest since it can be difficult to jet off after and before long weeks of work.

i bought a 7-day pass for unlimited metro rides for $32 which was totally worth it even though that sounds like a lot of money. it gave me peace of mind (important while traveling and being overwhelmed by so much new) and i ended up using the metro even more because of that pass which was cool to feel like i lived there. also i really miss public transport so i enjoyed that part of the weekend immensely.

we hit all the spots in the exact order i had planned in my head because it was all so convenient.  i will literally map out food spots in relation to where we want to go so it always ends up being a walk in the park. research pays off every single time!

first stop was Milk Bar where we both got milkshakes. i could only eat a little of mine because of the wheat (i thought it was gf because of the cornflakes but that is not the case!) but i really wanted to experience the cereal milk. it totally tasted like cereal milk and feeling a bit nauseas after was totally worth it.;) if you go, i’d recommend the crack pie milkshake instead. that’s what my friend got and it was sugary goodness. i am also an ice cream snob so my expectations are very high always and forever.

we walked around manhattan and headed to the MOMA. someone gave me a rec to go there Friday night since they have free admission from 4-8 pm and i am so happy to share that thrifty tidbit with you all. we got there at 7 which was actually accidentally great because there wasn’t a line and most people were starting to head out. i got to see starry night and lots of other work by some of my artists which made me EXTREMELY happy. we caught up as we walked around the MOMA which yes, i am totally aware sounds almost surreal.

from there, we headed to Cafeteria, a restaurant that serves 24/7 and had been recommended to me by a couple of friends. IT WAS SOOOOO GOOD. we sat at the bar and had drinks and apps. i ordered a blackberry mojito which i will definitely be recreating this summer and we ordered sweet potato fries, sautéed cauliflower in this amazing garlic butter sauce and truffle fries to share. can i get a freaking amen?!?! the garlic butter on the cauliflower was so good that we dipped/slathered our fries in the leftover goodness. oh my.

i have been trying to see the worth of every person i encounter and ask for names as often as possible as a rule of thumb. so, out of habit, i asked the bartender what his name was and he beamed as he said “ian.” well, then ian was a complete sweetheart and waived our food costs so we just paid for our drinks. i don’t think you should make people feel special to get free food but i do think there’s something to be said about treating people like people and not like they’re there to serve you. he probably never gets asked his name! how sad is that?!

we decided to head back to harlem where she lived because i was hitting a wall even though it was only 8:30 and stopped on the way back for some yogurt and breakfast items. i was so happy to be back with her since we hadn’t seen each other since she graduated two years earlier. we crashed early and naturally i laid awake for most of the night, so giddy about the weekend.

s a t u r d a yyyy

i am an early riser but luckily so is she so we got up early Saturday morning and spent a lazy morning sipping coffee on her couch and getting ready, still out the door by 9. just the way i like it!

we took the metro back into Manhattan and spent the next hour exploring Central Park which was honestly surreal for me. i have seen that exact landscape in so many movies and tv shows so it almost felt familiar. it’s going to be stunning in a couple of weeks when the flowers bloom, but it was a lovely overcast morning and didn’t rain (thank you God) so we were able to do a quick loop before heading to our next destination.

which was Chelsea Market, another heavily recommended place to see in NY. and now i know why! it’s this really cool urban, indoor marketplace with some chain shops like Anthropologie (of course we went inside).

but more frequently, lots of little shops and restaurants/food truck style options. i really, really loved it!! there’s TONS of options for food and browsing so two of my favorite things to do in one place. one of the shops, Artists and Fleas, was particularly cool. my friend described it as Etsy in store form and that was a perfect description. it had lots of little local vendors and artisans selling their goods. i love, love, love supporting small companies (partly because it’s my dream to one day have my own shop of some sort!) and loved looking around there.

we had made plans to meet up with another mutual friend who is getting her Masters at NYU so she met up with us for lunch. i splurged on a $9 juice while we waited and it was oddly a thousand percent worth it because it was amazing. #wheninNY

we bought tacos at one of the small food vendors called Los Tacos No 1. you can’t miss it: they’re cooking the food inside a tin booth and it will mostly likely have a line in front of it. SO WORTH IT. i got guac + chips and a chicken taco. mexican food is easy for me with my allergies since so much of it is corn based so i was in foodie heaven AND didn’t feel sick. #winwin

there’s also a doughnut place called Doughnuttery where they make tiny doughnuts that are fried right there in front of you and although i couldn’t eat them, my friend was obsessing over them. i’ll take her word for it and recommend it to you! you can get them in all sorts of flavors and i was droooooooling. so naturally i walked down the way and got myself gelato. it only made sense!;)

we left the market and walked the Highline at the perfect timing because it started to rain just as we headed back to the metro. I LOVED WALKING THE HIGHLINE. for those of you who’ve never been, imagine a walking path that is about three stories off the ground and is surrounded on both sides by really beautiful apartment buildings. there’s art, little gardens and great views of NY. my friend told me about their instagram account where you can learn more about what you’re looking at! (also: everything in NY has an instagram. EVERYTHING.)

the Chelsea area in general is just so gorgeous. it’s where DVF, Milk, boutique art galleries and lots of other designers have their offices/studios. i felt like Whitney from The City except i was just gawking from outside.

from there i headed back to Harlem to grab my bags and spent the rest of the day with my gal pal who lives in West Manhattan. she showed me the dreamy streets of SoHo, Nolita and West Village. we stopped at the store of one of my favorite designers, Ulla Johnson, and i just about fell over from love. i mean, look at this store. allllllll the heart eyes.

we just bopped around the little boutiques, chatted about our big dreams, ate ice cream in west village as we watched glam couples on their way out on the town and ate our weight in mexican. it was just the best. it felt like i lived there for those hours and that was a wonderful feeling.

the mexican restaurant is tacombi — i would recommend getting the chips + guac (the amount of guac they give is gold medal worthy) for an appetizer with a paloma followed by pollo quesadillas. oh myyyy, drooling just thinking about it! probably the best quesadilla i’ve had…maybe ever?

the ice cream shop in west village was absurdly expensive but uuuuuuhmazing. van leeuwen is artisan ice cream and they had this seriously good vegan ice cream. the prices are v high, but the quality is right on point.

we decided to end the night early because i was dropping fast. one of the best things i have come to realize while traveling is that you don’t need to do things just because of the expectations. yes, nyc has an amazing nightlife and i would love to one night have a glam night out on the town. but that weekend i was also thinking of the busy work week i was going into and was tired from finishing up work before i left. so really all i wanted was to take the metro home to a cup of tea and wash my face. so that’s what we did! there’s no reason to become something you’re not when you travel — stick to what you love and it’ll make the trip better all around!

s u n d a yyyy

i woke up sunday morning, packed my things up and walked down the street to a nearby catholic church for mass. if you need/want to go to a service when you’re visiting friends, just let them know ahead of time! i have never had a friend deter me from attending mass when they are hosting me.

i spent the rest of the day with my friend that i had met while studying abroad. she had recently moved to nyc so it was fun for her to still be a bit of a tourist in her new home. before we chat about the day, i haaaave to show you photos of her apartment. brace yourself. it looked like something out of an urban outfitters catalog. she found it through a friend of a friend and lives in one of the many bedrooms scattered throughout. this is exactly what i picture when someone says “artist loft.” what. a. dream. my eyes didn’t know what to land on.

she lives in Bushwhick so we started the day by walking around her neighborhood, which is famous for all the street art. i am not usually the biggest fan of graffiti but this was unbelievable. she says it changes all the time which we saw as artists were working on new pieces as we walked down the streets. it has this kind of hipster, oregon, authentic vibe to it and it was fun to see where she lives. we stopped in a local vintage shop that was one of the best i’ve been in and just stopped when we wanted, strolled when we wanted. you know, those sunday vibes.

she suggested we get a mani to start our sunday fun day off right and oh myyyyy, this place Local Honey. can you deal? let me know.

i haven’t gotten a manicure since my sister got married — here’s a post where i chat about mastering an at-home mani/pedi! but it was really fun to be pampered after a crazy last couple of days and slow down.

we headed to williamsburg from there and it was darling. i reaaaally liked that area! there were tons of people on the street and it felt alive. all the restaurants were full and looked amazing. the street vibe was just spot on, ya know? when you feel like anyone you talk to will be super cool and really nice? love that feeling.

we headed into the SoHo area again, dropped in for lunch at this place i had staaaaalked on Instagram called The Butcher’s Daughter (so yummy! a little pricey, but hey, that’s NY for ya! it’s also smaller than i imagined so be prepared for a wait!), and just bopped around that area some more. i was snapping photos left and right so it’s easier to tell the story of the afternoon that way by sharing it through my eyes with you!

^^ that adorable pink restaurant is called pietro nolita! it’s literally all pink inside. it looks like something out of a movie! we just stopped inside and snapped some photos because it was so darn cute.

we stopped at an ice cream shop, because….well, no particular reason other than the fact i wanted ice cream and OHHH MYYYYY i can’t believe we stumbled upon one of the best in new york – Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream. and fine it was. my friend got salted caramel and it was the best caramel ice cream i have ever had which might sound absurd, like what – does this ania girl eat ice cream for a living? but you need to know that i have an expertise in ice cream that is unparalleled since it’s one of few desserts i am not allergic to. so trust me on that one. i got the black ice cream because i was so curious – it was coconut and not super flavorful but when else will i eat black ice cream!?! if you go, get salted caramel.

they mix it all in front of you until you’re practically begging for them to hand it over. #cryingfaceemoji #hearteyesemoji

we then walked from soho to the Highline because why take a cab when you could walk and walked along the Highline again (no complaints here) to our evening spot, Gallow Green, which is on top of the McKittrick Hotel. oh my goodness. y’all if i could have my wedding reception be like this place, i would. there were twinkly lights, tiny banners, views of the city, rose properly labeled at “summer water” and just everything was right. everything. i cannot recommend making a reservation here enough!!!! the hotel is so old and cool. you take an old-fashioned elevator up to the roof and there’s all these attendants guiding you to the roof. i felt so legit and all just for a glass of wine? i can ball on a budget like that.;)

after the dreamiest glass of rose, we walked back to the metro (stopping for shake shack on the way — why are their fries so good??!) and headed back for the night! such a full, fun day. it’s so good to be refreshed on how much i can do in a day when i travel and to bring that mindset back home with me!

m o n d a yyyy

monday was chill! i headed to a coffeeshop, AP Cafe, in the morning when my pal headed to work…

and spent the morning there, editing photos and trying to wrap my brain around the busy week ahead back in Missouri.

then i met up with the amazing katherine harris, whom i interned for when i worked for The Refined Woman my senior year in college. i was her editorial assistant but since i went to school in st. louis and she lived in new york, we had never actually met! she is even more amazing in person, which i didn’t think was possible, and we had the most meaningful 1.5 hour conversation which i really didn’t want to end!

but alas, it was time to be whisked away in my chariot (**Uber) to the airport (**grungy terminal) to head back home.

overall, the trip was incredible. i am so grateful to have friends who are so willing to host and adventure with me all over the globe. spending that weekend in New York was so magical but also let me see His finger prints all over my move back to St. Louis. it is so much more expensive to live there and right now, as i explore photography and blogging and pay off loans, it’s really nice to be able to spend money on trips and shoots since the cost of living is a slice of New York’s. God knows my heart like no one else — He nails it every time. 🙂

i hope you use and share this as you visit New York! i love making travel diaries because since i travel based so much off recommendations, it feels so nice to give some right back to ya! enjoy and hurry over to the big apple soon. 🙂





ania styles: a dress for picking flowers

April 20, 2017

dress: sold out so quick! 🙁 purchased at roolee

two darling white maxis here and here

as much as i love having a minimal wardrobe and shopping with intention, sometimes you just need to buy a dress that makes you want to prance through a field and pick flowers.


that’s all there is to it for this post. i don’t know about everyone else, but sometimes in the midst of feminism, i feel like it’s not cool anymore to look soft or delicate. but i love that style.  and i just want to say that there is a space for ALL styles at the table. let’s not confuse being strong with not being soft because i think you can be both and be a boss woman all the same.

also, find friends that will take photos of you prancing through a little park field right next to a couple having a romantic easter picnic. those are the keepers.

my 20s

when you give up fear

April 18, 2017

i was at church the Sunday before Easter and the priest saying the homily literally punched me in the gut. (*okay, not literallyyyyy. my priest is the nicest man you could ever meet.) he advised us to think about something we struggle with. pride, humility, shame, anxiety, worrying, jealousy, vanity.

then he suggested we give up that emotion for Lent.

every year for Lent, i give up sweets. it’s just a thing i do because i told myself i needed a reminder in my day-to-day life and since i have a major sweet tooth, it definitely is a daily reminder.

this Lent, like usual, i tried to give up a million things and tack on a million more. even though i tried to keep it simple, it was still too much for 40 days and i could feel in my heart that i wasn’t really getting the fruit of this season because per usual, i wanted to do it all and have the BEST LENT EVER. #storyofmylife

so i really started to concentrate just on giving up fear. i broke the sweets thing a couple of times randomly. it was even in a vengeful spirit — i just literally felt so detached from that resolution. i already eat very minimal sugar so it just didn’t feel like i was doing much more. i have been giving up sweets for probably 8ish years and i have really never grown from Lent. that’s embarrassing to admit because i keep doing it every year but here we are. #keepingitreal

i started to work through giving up fear and focused on trusting in Him in all the hard areas where i don’t want to give up control (future spouse, future family, future kids, future career — can you tell a theme? 😉 ).

i realized in a (large) moment of humility, that for the past 22 Lenten seasons, i have been leaning on sweets as my crutch to have a “good Lent.”

but the crazy part was that then i started to see how this plays out all over my life. a great example is exercise and nutrition. i was leaning on small improvements (no sugar, less alcohol, more raw foods) to make me feel like i was making this huge shift towards treating my body better from the inside out. those aren’t even really changes from my normal life to be honest — i already eat that way after growing up with a foreign mom who didn’t understand the concept of doritos. 😉

what i really wanted to do was to exercise more. but that’s hard. like who has time or energy for that? not i. but once i started to get back into running and paying attention to the steps goal on my Fitbit, i really felt the progress i had wanted to feel all along.

wait let me clarify. not progress like “and she lost 249580 pounds overnight!”. i don’t care about that part. when i say progress, i mean that i had finally did THE hard thing that i had wanted to do all along. i stopped focusing on the food part because that was natural to me and really tackled my big fear, which was that i had lost my love of running altogether and i was scared to confront that. college ruined my perception of exercise and i was nervous that i wouldn’t ever crave it like i did in high school.

i am making this comparison because in Lent, giving up sweets was the equivalent to eating healthy. it wasn’t hard. i mean it was hard, because let’s be real i love ice cream, but i was leaning on it because i knew i could do it and it was something to check off my list. i would wake up Easter morning and eat sweets, proud that i got through 40 days without any sugar.

but you see, i had used sweets as my crutch. EVERY year, i also gave up more important things or tried a new positive change. but those fell wayside. because they were hard. and i knew that at least i could give up sweets and pat myself on the back 40 days later.

once this clicked, it was like all speed ahead. i leaned more and more into letting go of fear, reaching out to people and showing up as the most authentic version of me.

i wore a long pretty dress to mass instead of saving it for the “one day that i’ll need this dress and it’ll be perfect,” because i don’t want to wait for that day.

i shamelessly reconnected with friends, unafraid that they might judge me for not keeping in better touch throughout the years and the moves.

i shared more and more on instagram about my love for style and design, even though sometimes i feel awkward doing that when most of my followers are still my friends from school. i really have no idea what i am doing as a “lifestyle blogger + photographer” but i do know that i love it.

i just showed up as fearlessly as i could.

this part makes me emotional because it radically changes your life when you embrace it: what would happen if we, especially we as women, all acted in full trust in His goodness for our lives? if we all woke up everyday, choosing to see our life through God’s eyes, full of promise, hope and crazy big dreams that are so scary to think we, just your average gal, could achieve?

it’s easy to read this on some motivational poster and think “aw, that’s so true” but when you really, truly LIVE that way, it will change you. i am starting to feel this freedom i have never felt and i would say i have been, for the most part, a relatively confidant gal for most of my life. but now i just am giddy about life because i am no longer in a white knuckle grip of my life: i handed over the reigns to the One who knows me best.

God wants us to live, really live this bold, beautiful life he created for us. and how privileged we are to live in a society that lets us, for the most part, live the way we want. we have homes, food on the table, people that care about us and yet we continuously settle time and time again for the sand castles we make in the mud, convincing ourselves that we aren’t cool enough, thin enough, smart enough, talented enough, wealthy enough to do that, whatever that is for you.

well guess what: YOU ARE ENOUGH. you’re MORE than enough.

i call this way of living “terrifying & EXCITING” because it is. i talked in a mad rush about this whole idea to my best friend on the phone the other day as i paced around target. i talked her through a recent situation where i had to really just trust His plan and do my part but really trust that He would show me the truth. but i also had to show up and be present.

i kept saying “it’s terrifying” and she kept respond “AND EXCITING”. “it’s terrifying”. “AND EXCITING”. and that’s just the gosh darn truth. giving up fear made me realize how terrifying and exciting life can be. i understand now what it means to be fearful of the Lord and His mighty power. He can do BIG things in our lives. and that’s terrifying. but it’s also exciting. cheers to lives of terrifying and exciting proportions.


** i can’t recommend enough trying this fast of fear! just give up fear for a month, a week, whatever! this is not advice to do stupid things (please don’t make me regret this). i just want you to be bold. email that girl you admire and ask to meet for coffee. tell that boy you have a fat crush on him. plant a garden. plan a trip. call a friend you lost touch with. go on a run. pray for something that just seems too good to be true. just be fearless. (cue taylor swift)


travel diary: kansas city

April 12, 2017

last weekend i visited kansas for the first time — and it was so lovely! i mean driving through kansas is nothing to speak of BUT kansas city? SO charming! i was really impressed!


we spent friday evening enjoying the weather and walking from thou mayest coffee shop to brewery emperial. basically we just followed the outdoor seating. all the way to First Fridays, which is a LOAD of food trucks and open art galleries. food and art and good friends? i mean, what could be better?!

we spent all day saturday exploring kansas city. we hit the river market, bought flowers, ate beignets, went to the original joe’s bbq (the fries, oh THE FRIES) and then shopped around the plaza area. that are honestly impressed me so much — it was very european and right on the river. i wish st. louis would develop our downtown to have something similar because it had such a community feel to it!

since i was visiting a good friend who goes to school in lawrence, i do have one recommendation for there since we got dinner on their main street on saturday night. we got dressed up and got apps & fancy drinks at a little restaurant there called 715. it is so cozy and romantic — and naturally we were three girls just giggling and having loads of fun treating ourselves and catching up. 🙂

we ordered the papas bravas and meatballs in marinara. DROOOL. it was amazing. i could’ve eaten those papas bravas everyday for forever. it was fun to eat a spanish food since one of the best days of living abroad was a day i spent with the girl i was visiting in barcelona with her dad. we ate papas bravas, drank wine and rode our bicycles from spot to spot. it was a dream and it made me nostalgic to be back with her, eating papas bravas.

it was such a good weekend. i honestly am still riding the high from it. i just get such a thrill off of seeing new places and taking photos of new things. not to mention, i was in amazing company and it was so special to me to travel with her again. although our trips abroad might have lawrence beat for scenery… 😉

enjoy the trip through my eyes!


next stop: new york! do you have any suggestions for me?! i am overwhelmed with everything i want to do in three days! what are the absolute must do’s?!


up your ‘do: my hair routine

April 6, 2017

i am so excited about this post!!! i feel like my hair is truly different since using these products and tricks for the last 9ish months. err — my ‘do is different. 😉

we’re going to dive right in. after a tale…

when i was living in france, i got my hair trimmed by this super darling lady. the first time i went in, my hair was in a bun and was a gross mess. you know how it is when you go in to get it cut. who cares at that point, right? anyways, she told me this metaphor for hair that i always think about now: hair is like a plant. it needs water, sun and nutrients. that’s why our hair doesn’t grow as much in the winter – we eat worse, it’s cloudy and we aren’t playing in the pool or in the ocean. we also usually drink less water. if you treat your hair like it’s a living thing, which it kind of is, you’ll treat it differently.

so here we go.

i am going to run through my whole hair routine with you starting with…

lifestyle changes //

yes, LIFESTYLE changes. i have a couple of blog posts in the queue about how some of these changes have also helped my acne, energy and wacko + really painful periods, but hang tight for those!

  1. drink water. drink literal gallons of water. no more “i drink a lot of water” and downing one nalgene and thinking you’re through. download the “my water” app, set a goal and meet it every single day. this has made an enormous difference in my eating habits, hair, skin and energy. i feel more clear headed and have almost no headaches. WATER. the first medicine of the people, as my dad would say. i also use these true lemon packets (naturally flavored – woohoo!) to help me get to my goal. just a nalgene, water and some flavor.
  2. sleep more. this is obvious but the more/better you sleep, the better you will feel and the healthier your hair will be. bada bing bada boom.
  3. relieve stress. this is a bit much to get into now in this post about hair but i definitely notice that i lose more hair (i used shed like a dog in college) when i am under stress and not taking care of myself. tips on that in a future post! it’s definitely going to affect your body in so many physical ways. in a VERY short version, getting physically active everyday, realizing that i can only change me and reading more has helped me manage anxiety. that’s about as brief as brief gets. 😉
  4. shower less. i just mean wash your hair less. PLEASE BATHE. i wash my hair once or twice a week thanks to dry shampoo and caring less. seriously. when i lived in california this summer, i decided i was going to train my hair (that’s not a thing but also a thing) to be less greasy. so i washed my hair like once a week and just did lots of little braids and up do’s and changing my part. and the funny thing is that no one cares about your hair as much as you think they do unless it’s straight up dripping in grease. so just push yourself to shower less for a couple months and i PROMISE you’ll see a difference. this is coming from a girl who used to think she would have to shower everyday. success story right here. commit to it – so easy with summer around the corner and being able to pull off updo’s because of the heat.
  5. eat raw. what you eat will affect your skin and hair. fact. i am living proof. my hair is stronger and grows more quickly since i stopped eating loads of sugary, empty carb foods and started having balanced meals, including proteins and greens, and eating more raw foods, less processed ones. these changes were a consequence of severe allergies but has also helped me realize how many times i was putting something in my mouth that i couldn’t even read the ingredients list. i have a rule that since i am reading the allergens list already, i have to make sure i know every ingredient. really can’t stress this nutrition bit enough!! i think it’s why when you see photos of girls who live in hawaii, their hair is so lush. there’s so much produce and they eat so well and their hair reflects that! and they take showers by swimming in the ocean so there’s another reason. just a little hypothesis of mine.
  6. get frequent trims. just do it. i know it’s annoying money spent but the longer you wait in-between, the more they will have to cut off.

tools //

some random blow dryer that needs to be replaced (source: costco? kohls? france? who knows. not fancy is the bottom line. anyone have one they love?)

sedu revolution styling iron (use these irons ’til they die and then i buy another.)

a random brush (this is something i haven’t changed but also should probably look into what brushes are best to use…but i don’t use anything special currently!)

products //

so here’s the whooooole run through of a shower by moi

brush hair out

wet hair, wash with this l’oreal shampoo that i love, rinse

wash with the twin l’oreal clay conditioner*, wash body/stand there like i am in a fancy spa when i am not, rinse conditioner

*DO NOT IMMEDIATELY RINSE YOUR CONDITIONER. all caps because i am being very serious. it is essential that when you condition, you leave it in for a couple of minutes so do something else in the meantime! shave your legs, do a dance, belt out some tunes – you know the drill.

get out of the shower, GENTLY towel dry hair (i should really use an old t shirt instead – this is a good reminder for me!) and then the products begin…

first i put a dime-sized amount of this john frieda serum in my hair, starting by running it through the tips of my hair to heal those split ends with the majority of the product and then work my way up to my roots so that i have the least on my palms when i get to the part of my hair i see and touch the most. this is how i put any hair product in my hair and i never have that greasy, product-thick effect – works like a charm!

next up is the giovanni 2chic avocado and olive oil magic that i LOOOVE. it’s tiny in my photo because my mom got like 8274 samples of it so i am currently milking those but this is so worth the money. i work it through just like the above serum. note: a tiny bit goes a long way with this. giovanni anything is so so so good.

then there’s the aveda damage remedy which is PRAISE HANDS. my hair dresser recommended it to me and i was literally like no. not paying that money. and then she explained that by strengthening my hair, i could get it cut less (less money there) and it would grow faster (hallelujah there). i LOVE this product. it’s lightweight, my hair feels healthier and i have noticed that it doesn’t look as frayed and it’s been almost two months since my last trim. also, the bottle doesn’t even feel like i’ve used any because you use so little so it’ll probably last me … i am going to say 6 months? stay tuned on that.

i finish it off with a couple spritzes of the suave weightless blow dry spray. (yes, my hair is still wet. it’s a routine.) to be honest, i am not sure that this step even does anything but it also isn’t hurting so i am just going to use this bottle up and see if it did make such a difference. i’ll keep you posted on my IG stories if i repurchase it!

then i brush my hair, shake my head like a dog to get off the excess water and blow dry it if i want. i use my hot iron every so often to straighten it but i am trying more and more to pin it up in the classic ania braid updo that i invented this summer or attempting to curl it a bit. the slick straight look just isn’t really my vibe but my hair is also SUPER curly so i look approximately 5 years old if i don’t do anything. working on that situation. 😉

i also spray my hair with this biosilk shine on spray after blowing my hair out that my mom was addicted to this summer and then i stole and also became addicted to. oh. my. lanta. i have never used a product that claims to help your hair shine and it actually works. THIS STUFF DOES. my hair gets that glowy look that is usually ruined by blow drying and straightening thus making it look more natural and healthy. but it does not make it greasy. i have a back-up for this already because that’s how much i like it. and it smells SO GOOD. people used to stop me in retail and ask me what my perfume was but it was just this spray. such a good product.

after i blow dry it (if i don’t straighten it), i put it in a bun at the nape of my neck and fasten it there with a fancy neon orange scrunchie circa homecoming 2k10. #glam. that way, i don’t have a kink in some weird place on my head because of a top knot AND i encourage my tight curls to mimic the big curl of the bun, making it easier for me to curl later. or i’ll braid it loosely and pin it up! i used to immediately want to straighten the fro but i have found that if i give it time to naturally settle, i can apply less heat tools which is my goal!

oh, and if i need some hold for a style, i use my trusty nexxus comb thru finishing spray (medium hold). my roommate got me hooked on this stuff when i had to borrow hers. i LOVE nexxus shampoo and conditioner so i knew i’d love everything else they touch. and i do. it’s a great product and it’s going to last me months, i can tell already. it’s light, doesn’t make my hair stick or stiff and is just a really great hair spray. no complaints here.

then to make it last, i use my favorite ever dry shampoo by r + co – the death valley! as you know, i am trying to find a new, less expensive one so i’ll keep you posted on those results!

PHEW. that was long. if you were to take three things from that, i would…

remember that your hair will reflect the food and water you digest. be intentional! take your vitamins! eat some salmon! it’s a plant. 🙂 

buy the john frieda and/or giovanni serum. my fav products. been using the john frieda one since high school. 

take a couple months to be intentional about only washing your hair once/twice a week to give your hair a chance to reset.

i hope this helps anyone who is trying to make their hair healthy and long — especially with summer just around the corner! i am not a hair expert but between my mom, sister and i plus all of our wise hairdressers, we try a LOT of products. and i’ll keep you all in that fun loop! 🙂

now go up that ‘do.


newborn session: teresa guadalupe

April 4, 2017

last week i was invited to capture photos of sweet teresa guadalupe just a mere 24 hours after she was born. it was way more emotional for me than i was anticipating. i felt so honored and privileged to be among her family, basically as a stranger to most of them, to try to bottle up these first hours of her life in photos. it was a learning curve for me as i navigated a hospital room and it’s artificial light and i loved the challenge. also i love babies more than almost anything so it was a win-win. 🙂

the second i left, i sat in my car and just was so overwhelmed with the miracle of life. to be there in that intimate setting was so special to me and i hope i am able to do it again for another family.

here are my favorites from the shoot. i am so unbelievably happy for the new family of five as they start this new chapter with three babes. welcome to the world, teresa! you are so loved already.


best of the best: dry shampoo

April 3, 2017

i started a new series on IG stories this week. basically what will happen is this: i will ask for what your favorite ________ is. fill in the blank with whatever your heart dreams of knowing the champion of: dry shampoo, yogurt brand (noosa won that before it started), mattress company, mascara, swim suit store. then anyone and everyone can DM me on instagram with their favorites. a couple days later, i’ll compile them in a neat little post like this! this way EVERYONE benefits, i don’t have to try to do the impossible in trying to hunt down every single one and also we can be a tiny community helping each other through the hard stuff like which freaking deodorant to buy. ya know?

this week: dry shampoo. i splurged and bought the r + co death valley a couple months ago because i had heard SO much about it and just had to see for myself. IT’S AMAZING. it doesn’t turn your hair white (or any color for that matter) and i was able to go sometime FIVE DAYS to WORK with my hair loaded with THIS MAGIC SOLUTION. SO MANY CAPITAL LETTERS. also their packaging sings sweet things to my soul so that’s definitely in their favor.

the only problem? it’s a leeeeeetle pricey. but i pay like $8 for shampoo and conditioner at walgreens right now so i am honestly open to splurging again if i can’t find something i like as much. more on that $8 combo later this week…

so i took to you all to poll favs! these were the favorites and i am going to try a lot of new ones before slinking back to this golden dust i’ve been using because i would love to find something less expensive.

batiste dry shampoo: GREAT price point and recommended by all. so i bought it. trial 1. i hated it. HAHAH. i am the worst, you guys. but really – it turned my hair grayish/white and yes, absorbed the grease but I CAN’T AGE MYSELF 50 YEARS everytime i use dry shampoo. it’s headed back to target tomorrow and i am going to try….

dove refresh + care

straight up baby powder

TRESemmé fresh start

nexxus refreshing mist (i love their hair spray – more to come on that on Thursday!)

herbal essences naked dry shampoo


stay tuned on my instagram stories for which one wins my heart!

my 20s

book club: winter reads

March 31, 2017

winter is over and so is my worst ever reading record. between moving back to st. louis, getting settled in my new job and falling into bed every night, i read an all time low of two books. buuuuuut in my defense, i also crawled through one of them because it was so good and required being reread over and over.

but anywho, spring will be better. so without further ado…my winter reads!

“rising strong” by brene brown : this book. oooohhhh this book will rock you and make you really think about what it means to rise after falling. but also what it means to dare enough to fall. brene is one of my all time favorite authors. she has a way of combining her personal stories, research and a conversational tone that makes you really understand, reread every page and feel an urge to change. this book is an anthem to everyone who is showing up vulnerable and getting back up time and time again. every book i read by her is amazing.

“present over perfect” by shauna niequist : this book was an affirmation of so much that i believe. we have this present moment, of that we are sure of. but it’s so easy to get caught up in the instagram “reality” or looking forward. shauna bares her heart and talks about her own struggles with accepting the present along with learning to say no. it was a quick read and would also double as a great gift to a friend.


i am about to start “lean in” by cheryl sandberg and from there, i’m off to the races! spending more time this season with my nose buried in a book.





ania styles: dainty white blouses

March 28, 2017

top: old free people / pants: black jeans / shoes: lucky flats

i have a growing collection of little white blouses. short sleeve, florals, tanks, striped – i’ll take any variation honestly.

there’s something about the color white that i find so flattering and feminine, especially with summer coming soon and warm tans on the horizon. i am eyeing this swimmie with a white top and i love love love white dresses like this one. but we’re not quite there yet with this weather. #eyerollemoji

in march and april, all you reaaaaally want is a little summer sun but we are handed spring showers. so lately as i wait for true dress weather, i’ve been wearing white blouses with skirts, jeans, black pants and everything in-between! it makes me feel like the weather is warmer than the rain outside is currently proving.

although my collection is good as is, i thought i’d gather a couple of my favs on the web for you all. i have this floral h&m one and have given the link to so many girls because the trendy shoulder ruffles but at a good price point. below i linked a couple more in a variety of price points and styles – happy white blouse shopping!

lace short sleeve | eyelet tunic | floral bell-sleeve top | tie front bell sleeve top | wrap around embroidered top | v-neck bell sleeve top