my 20s

30 mins a day keeps the anxiety away

June 28, 2017

today i am going to chat about something that has really helped me combat the typical overwhelming feelings of post grad. aaaand you’re probably going to hate me for this post because you’re not going to want to do what i tell you i’ve been doing.

been there, felt that hard.

but it’s W O R K I N G. you know me well by now. i don’t recommend unless i am 100000% behind it.

and i am so behind this!

so what am i talking about? i’ll start from the beginning.

about three weeks ago, i had what i called a anxiety attack but after researching, i don’t really know what to call it because it doesn’t align with what an anxiety attack is. so i’ll call it a “live large attack.” because i think that’s what best describes it.

it was a Sunday night. my roommate was out of town for the week and i had spent majority of the weekend alone. i spent a lot of time on social media and researching photography websites and looking at (expensive) new cameras and thinking of travel plans and it was all very exciting in a good way!

but then Sunday night, i started to feel this tightness in my chest and i felt really sick, really anxious and i don’t feel like that very often. i am honestly not really a worrier. i get overwhelmed because i just love to do so many things and do them big but never to the point where it feels scary. i am honestly just a very excitable person so it’s easy for me to get worked up about something. 🙂

i texted my sister and mom crying, feeling like i was losing it because there was really no reason for me to feel so overwhelmed. i had had a normal weekend and it wasn’t because of work so why in the world did i feel like my world was falling apart?

i got to work Monday morning and the tightness was still there. i am uncannily good at pretending nothing is going on even when i am internally falling apart. i used to be oddly proud of this. but really, i have realized that i have a tendency to feel very lonely because i would rather listen to you and your problems than talk about mine and worry you. so i just passed through the morning like i was fine.

but i still felt sick. my chest was so tight and i felt nauseas. i had no appetite. i texted my mom to call me, something i never do during the work day, and she called me from work. i sat outside and tried to hold back the tears as she felt awful being so far and not able to do anything. i also think she was genuinely freaked out because i have never call her when i am  stressed. i usually move easily from starting to feel the beginnings of stress and i switch into go mode, getting a start on things instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself.

then she said something that she gently reminds me, as do my close friends, when my creative juices get flowing to the point where i get overwhelmed.

she told me, gently, that i am in a unique spot. that yes, i have to work 9-5 right now because there are bills to be paid and a team i really like being a part of. but that i have the unique opportunity to grow slow, to be picky about the photos i shoot, and the trips i take. that she was proud of me for choosing to work again at Anthropologie once a week and reaching out to photographers/creatives to grab coffee or shoot together. that there is not right path and that this has always been fun for me, so try not to ruin it with the view of other girls i follow on IG that are able to do it full-time.

the golden ticket of that conversation was when she reminded me that these feelings i had of being disappointed of not being able to capture all the ideas in my head or pursue some creative arenas more full time were all placed on me…by me.

i had essentially put myself in this state of panic and overwhelmedness (aware that that’s not a word). this happens to me kind of a lot. i just get really excited about life and all the opportunities for creativity and travel and photos. i literally am sitting in bed right now in California with like 83925209 ideas for photos just around town and mentally planning 4 trips. and i wouldn’t change that part of myself for the world! but those thoughts had overwhelmed me instead of motivated me as i realized i couldn’t do all those things in a week or pay for all those trips or get the camera right that instant (although i was able to a month later!).

i have only ever felt this way once before. it was sophomore year of college and i was director of recruitment for my sorority. i had gone from an extremely busy summer, to helping with new student move-in and straight into practices every night for recruitment. i sat down in the library and felt the same state of “i don’t even know what to do next,” called my mom, walked around campus and felt better the next day.

these intense feelings of anxiety lasted for about 5 days. i just did not feel myself. as you can tell from my Instagram or here on the blog, i am a pretty happy person. i of course have days where i feel off but i am usually searching for something fun or adventurous to do when that happens. i really don’t like to sit around moping for that long. because obviously that’s not going to help me!

this episode really freaked me out and i told myself that it was up to me to be proactive in not letting that happen again. i do a couple new things like reading my devotional, setting aside time during the week for rest and eating well but the big change was committing to running most mornings.

you have probably seen on my IG stories when i say “something is better than nothing” over my tired, sweaty face after getting up at 5:45 am to run. i do not do this to lose weight or to have a bikini bod or to burn calories.

i run because i know i am a better coworker, dreamer, creator, daughter, sister and friend if i do. i feel more clear headed. i have better energy and don’t have to rely on caffeine or turn to sugar for a boost. i am not perfect at this. i’d say i am at about 5 days per week and most days i’m trudging through it.

here are the lies though that i was telling myself and you probably are too: i am not cut out for morning runs/workouts. that if i can’t run a solid 4 miles, it’s probably not worth it. that i am tired and hey, those people working out are probably entrepreneurs who can get up at 8. they have energy, i don’t. they have a personal trainer, i have the cement sidewalk outside. oh, and 30 minutes of sleep is definitely better for me. because did i mention i am tired? like really tired. also i don’t want to shower in the morning. ugh, i would never be on time for work. yeah, i am just not going to.

but those are truly lies!

here’s what i have realized since running in the am: 

  1. it’s true what everyone said: you feel amazing the rest of the day. i make healthier choices, i drink more water and less caffeine, and i feel more motivated. aka less overwhelmed and more apt to realize when my dreams need to be put into smaller, doable chunks.
  2. 30 mins of sleep does not make a difference vs. getting your body moving. movement wins every time.
  3. something is better than nothing. i started VERY small. i ran pitifully and was at first just relying on an afternoon walk after work. but then it was hard to have energy after a full day to do much of anything. BUT i was getting moving and starting somewhere. be gentle with yourself!
  4. it’s also true what those crazies said aka my mom: you’ll crave it. you’ll get used to it and you’ll want the endorphins to jump start your day. moms are always right.

the reason this post is called “30 mins a day keeps the anxiety away” is because i heard recently on a podcast that if you do 30 minutes of physical exercise 6 days of the week, it’s the equivalent to taking an anti-depression medication. i don’t suffer from anxiety or depression and would never want to sound like running could cure all, but i can see how this would help from my own personal experience. it has helped me tremendously to just feel better about myself and my progress in work, my dreams or my travel plans. i am home on vacation and still running when i wake up!

i am not going to tell you it’s easy. but what i will say is that it’s not easy for that fit girl you saw at Trader Joe’s or your coworker or your friend. everyone is busy. everyone is tired. everyone has things to do, people to see, work to do. most people our age don’t wake up ready to run. if you do, let me know what you’re doing that i’m not. 😉

the choice is whether or not you want to be proactive or reactive. those feelings of anxiety scared me. i didn’t like the person i became that week. i felt scared, paralyzed and overwhelmed. i had to be reactive to those feelings and there wasn’t much i felt i could do other than wait for it to pass.

so i am being proactive. the same way i am with the food i eat or the books i read or the friendships i have. i am making moves to make sure that i don’t have to be reactive in moments of overwhelming Sunday nights.

i am running and moving and choosing the stairs instead of the elevator and trips over clothes and small steps over giant leaps. i really hope this helps someone who needs a gentle nudge to get moving. the next time you want to treat yourself, choose a yoga class or a long walk in the park or a new fitness routine like orange theory or pure barre. choose something that will clear your head, helping you and helping others who know and love you!!!

as i trudge on with this challenge to myself, i will share little tips and realness over on my IG stories. but here’s the true bottom line: if your motivation for working out and moving is for your own mental health, it will motivate you to get your booty out of bed every. damn. time. seriously it does without freaking fail. the perfect body or the cake you ate or whatever will not motivate you every time. you’ll find an excuse — or at least i did. so get a playlist loaded and get moving — it just takes 30 minutes a day! 🙂





ania styles: finding + filling the gaps in your closet

June 19, 2017

wow! so many of you resonated with the post last week about my intentional shopping method. it makes me feel so much less alone in this season of slowwwwwww growth. all over my life, but also with my closet. i honestly just get annoyed now when i need something so desperately because i want to be able to say no and spend that money on a flight.

but also i have a full-time job and i can’t wear Birkenstocks to work… 😉

so even though i would love to just not buy anything at all, i need to be okay with buying a bit every now and then. which is the thought process behind intentional shopping: being intentional about what you buy so you can streamline your money towards what you really love, whether that’s supporting your family, traveling or investing in hobbies.

i got a lot of questions about how to find and fill those gaps in your closet, basically where to put your intentionality to work.

i love that question! but full disclosure, it’s taken me about a year to wean my identity from the latest and greatest trend to focusing on what i need. IT’S HARD. i love style but i also know that my heart is way more full when i travel or do photography or get dinner with friends than having one more piece of clothing in my closet.

but ALSO: this has been the most i have felt myself in my clothes because i think and plot and try on until i am absolutely sure.

so let’s get started!

how to find the gaps //

essential tip: purge before you look for the gaps.

set that aside in a line by itself because it is C R U C I A L.

otherwise clothes you don’t actually wear or don’t fit will be super sneaky and fill those gaps, leaving you confused when you go to pull an outfit together and “can’t find anything to wear”. this used to happen to me all. the. time. for example, my friends would be like oh let’s go to dinner and i’d look at my bursting closet thinking to myself, wow i have nothing to wear.

what?!?!? but there’s so much clothing, my mom would say! and i agreed. but nothing i wanted to wear or felt like me.

it’s because i had bought things willy nilly on sale or because other girls were buying them, only to leave them hanging there for months (or years #imtheworst).

so step #1: purge. i wrote a three part series last summer about that process if you want to read about it more! here’s at the links to Part I, Part II and Part III!

the next thing you need to do is evaluate what you already have. this can be super revealing and a bit shocking. on both sides — either a slap in the face that you have way more than you thought or a reality check that you really do actually need what you thought.

for example, just the other day i was annoyed with buying more work clothes and went through my (small) closet only to find a couple more tops that were hiding and also made a point to see what i could pair together to make it seem like i have a new outfit. sometimes it just takes one new pair of pants to make m a n y new outfits! i have a post in the works for these pants but i want to share them with you now because they filled a gap (work bottoms) AND created so many new pairings because of their neutral color. sneak peek.;)

step #2: take inventory of what you already have

if it helps you to write this part down, do that! i divided categories like such:

  • work tops/night out tops (trying to sync these up so i don’t have to buy double!) vs. casual tops
  • works jeans (1 pair of flares, 1 pair dark wash skinnies, 1 pair of black skinnies) of  vs. very casual jeans (1 pair of boyfriend jeans, 1 pair of levi’s)

…etc, etc! you can also look through your jewelry, bags/clutches, shoes, work out clothing and anything else you put on your body! 😉 some other gaps i identified alarmingly quickly: lack of bras that actually fit (#nevernotgrowingandchanging), simple jewelry i actually wear, work appropriate summer shoes and dresses that were appropriate for more than running errands or going to the pool.

#3. identify the gaps and quantify what you need to buy to fill them. not want. n e e d. yes, i could buy 10 pairs of shoes to wear to work. but i really only need maybe 2-3 if i’m being real and also if they serve in two gaps – both to work and in my daily life.

how to fill the gaps //

it’s pretty simple! i have a little note on my phone with my gaps and it’s the BEST thing i could ever do when i want something because i double check with my note, which decides for me if i buy the item. obviously sometimes i say yolo and buy a white maxi just because, but i really try to stick to this note. otherwise i am frustrated time and time again with those darn gaps. in the past 9 months, i have bought a new bra, new work shoes, black jeans, jewelry, and casual tees all because of that note! and i am slowly filling the gaps in my closet. it works wonders! i try not to advise unless i’ve heeded the advice. 🙂

why don’t i just show you mine!


and that’s about it! i usually reevaluate every 3ish months. since i have fewer pieces of clothing, i will really be kind of continuously doing this method as i wear through items. but isn’t that wonderful? to live in such a materialistic culture and wear something to the point where you can no longer? that is countercultural and so good for us. less is more.





ania styles: n e w series – intentional shopping

June 15, 2017

dress: crepe shift dress at Nordstrom | shoes: jessica simpson espadrilles at DSW

i am kicking off a series today that i am very, very excited to share! and that i kind of invented. i have always like the idea of a capsule closet and follow quite a few bloggers that use that system. for someone who loves style as much as i do, i also love the ease of opening my closet to a wardrobe curated with intention and attention so the attraction of a capsule collection was strong!

but the more i thought about it, the more i realized that it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle. most of the women that are doing it are moms or entrepreneurs. which makes PERFECT sense! less thinking, less shopping, more ability to mix and match when you’re too tired to be creative.

i also just don’t have the budget right now to buy all the necessary items and i like the idea of buying pieces over time instead of being rushed to find them right now. a capsule wardrobe, for those who aren’t familiar, is a collection of pieces that can be worn together in various ways and are typically bought at a higher price point since the capsule can be worn for many seasons.

so i am starting my own thing. it’s called intentional shopping. after i read Seven by Jen Hatmaker last summer, i purged my closet and because way more honed in on what i NEED, filling the gaps in my closet instead of randomly buying shirts at h&m and going on shopping sprees in the nail polish section of Target.

however, this style of shopping is s l o w. it requires lots of buying, trying on, pondering, switching out sizes and pairing with other items already in your closet. not only that, but it takes even longer for someone fresh out of college where the wardrobe was extreme high’s (cocktail dresses for events and tops for going out) and extreme low’s (yoga pants and oversized t-shirts).

but i am really embracing the slow style. yes, i have worn the same 7ish pairings of the same 5ish tops and two dresses and one pair of shoes while i order and compare prices and quality. but the upside is that when i win, i win big. i love the piece and i am so happy that i waited. i want my whole closet to be done yesterday. but i also want to travel and decorate my apartment and grab dinner with friends.

one of the biggest takeaways from Seven was when Jen talked about how she realized that people don’t really care or notice what you wear — or if you outfit repeat. and then tying that to living abroad and seeing women wear the same beautiful piece multiple times a week, i was sold on less, exactly what you like and want pieces is more.

so i’m calling this style of shopping “intentional shopping” and what does it mean for you? it means that if i recommend something here, you can bet your bottom dollar i love it. no more impulse buys, no more “fast fashion” (okay, maybe occasionally) and lots more buying pieces i love.

i also wanted to share this with you all because i was beginning to feel self conscious that i will be sharing some clothing with higher price points, especially since i use my employee discount at Anthropologie and the URBN brand stores. but i just love the idea that in a couple of years, i’ll have a closet full of nice pieces that fit well in all the right places and have purpose in my closet. it takes longer, but the result is me reaching for clothing and shoes that i love and make me feel good.

so this outfit!! this one i am proud of because dresses have been the most challenging gap of my closet to fill — partly because everything looks like a tunic on me since i have daddy long legs. this dress has been a constant since i bought it a couple of weeks ago. there’s no need for a camisole or special lingerie which is great when it gets hot and i don’t have to layer with weird bras or camisoles. i have been especially loving it with a pair of statement shoes like these espadrilles!

they’re like my shoe-mates. gahhhh i feel so happy when i wear them. 🙂

quick quip about intentional shopping: this does not mean it can’t be fun pieces like embroidered shoes or statement earrings! it’s all about how much you like it and how often you will wear it.

for example, i would love to buy this really cute pair of fancy heels for when i would need fancy heels. which at this point in my life? is probably VERY rarely. so even though i love them, i wouldn’t buy them now.

on the flip side, let’s say i see a pair of booties for $200 and i know i’ll wear them work at least twice a week. i’d buy those.

it’s all about filling the gaps in your closet with pieces that make you feel good.

these shoes are just seriously me in a nutshell. i love that they’re work appropriate but feel a boho and very Anthro chic. i have also paired them with jeans and a couple tops — i get compliments on them all the time! i honestly forget about DSW all. the. time. so when i popped in and saw these, it was a good reminder to head over there every once in a while! i like to know that if i wear a pair of shoes and don’t like them, i can return them which is why i tend towards Nordstrom, Macy’s and Anthropologie but i knew these were definitely not going back. i have a post coming up soon all about espadrilles and my favorites because i love them so much — they’re just so summery – both work appropriate and perfect for dinner with friends!

i hope these posts help you find work clothes that you can also fit into your life outside the 8-4 hours. building a more “professional” wardrobe is killer for me because i refuse to buy something super business-y that i wouldn’t wear in real life. some other pieces i have added over the last months are this top from ann taylor loft (they have like 1 piece every couple of months that i love! it’s a very odd store relationship hehe.) and this blouse from free people along with those black jeans and nude flats. this dress was a win last summer. i wear it with a jean jacket to work and feel just a bit more ania in my cube. all of those pieces were more expensive but i’ve worn them over and over and over!

although my closet is growing ever so slowly because i have become so critical of every piece i buy, i really love and would recommend everything i keep so you can always count on the integrity of my suggestions!

do you have any dresses you’ve purchased lately that you love and wear to work?! it’s been by far the hardest thing for me to find — everything is so short on me. 😉

can’t wait to continue to slowly but surely share style posts, including one next week that will help you find the gaps in your closet and what to fill them with!




my 20s

the story i tell myself + the future of this shindig

June 12, 2017

the story i tell myself with blogging is that no one reads this. that it’s a waste of time. that i have no influence, that girls have other cooler bloggers to read with huge budgets and sponsorships and legitimacy, and i am no different than any other girl on the web who has style and a cute room. i mean, who doesn’t have a good IG feed these days? why am i different? does it make me prideful to think that i am different, that i have a unique voice, that girls my age would benefit from my musings and advice? also, people must think i’m a lunatic. i mean, do they wonder who takes my photos? do they think i make money from this? does anyone else do things anymore just because it makes them happy? do i need a reason to blog — whether that’s money or fame? do i repel people with my honesty? would it be better to be cool and vague? ugh, i’m not good at being cool and vague.

okay i just typed that in like 3 minutes. seriously. WHAT. brene brown writes a lot about how we make up stories in our heads and we live those fake realities. never have i ever resonated with something more.

i have been so in my head about this space lately and i just don’t even know why!!! and i have a feeling you might have a story you’re making up in your mind about your life that is reaaaaaally far from the truth, too. i feel (*felt) crushed by expectations with this blog and they’re all placed on me by me. anyone else? you’re not alone.

so i am rewriting the story i tell myself about my blog. from now on, i am going to tell myself that girls look forward to my posts, knowing that i’ll bring the raw and vulnerable and joyful. that people enjoy my style and learn how to dress like they have a closet straight from Anthro heaven but in reality sometimes buy their clothes at the thrift store. that someone might take my advice on designing an apartment on a budget that makes you happy to come home.

you might be wondering where this came from. that’s valid.

a girl DMed me on instagram this week and asked me for recommendations of other blogs to follow who keep it real – you know, gals in their twenties who love lovely things but also know that life isn’t one big, beautiful Instagram feed!

i was so stumped.

i suggested a couple girls who have blogs/instagrams that are beautiful accompanied with beautiful words but i was genuinely struggling to think of bloggers who write alongside me in this niche of real-life 20-somethings. actually, now that i think of it, i don’t follow any other bloggers that are my age.

then this got me thinking about my blog. y’all know i’m a thinker.

these are the questions that popped up in my head: what do i want this space to be? where does photography fit in? what kind of content do i want to post? how seriously do i want to take this? what do i need to do to give myself time to create weekly content? what are the posts with the biggest number of readers? why are they the most ‘popular’? would i ever do sponsored content if this got to that point? if so, what would i do?

yeahhhhhhh. i think a lot. both a blessing and a curse. 😉

all these questions stirred in me a need to just re-introduce myself and share my dreams for this space so you can see if you want to follow along. i just want to level the playing field, so to speak. my biggest fear as a blogger is that you won’t relate to my content because i feel like a 20-something that has it all together.

because i totally don’t. for example…

i literally almost just cried trying to get to this darn coffee shop because i felt so overwhelmed by lots of little things and a weekend that sped by and oh shoot i need groceries but wait where is my budget currently and then my dead succulent fell over in my car that i wanted to return and dirt got everywhere but who cares because i still haven’t made time to vacuum my car since i wanted to BACK IN APRIL and i looked at the gas gauge and frik me i’m almost out of gas. then i remembered i forgot the memory disk of photos i wanted to edit at home and OH MY GOSH IT’S ALREADY ALMOST 3 JEE ANIA JUST SCREW THE PHOTOS AND GET TO THE CAFE. then i got weepy again because i just was kind of lonely and hadn’t hung out with friends in a while and do i even have friends bah humbug post grad is hard and i am dramatic and can i move to colorado yet wait should i buy a ticket to colorado no wait until you get paid this week to figure that out and then i made some chicken and then i melted of heat in my apartment and THEN I FINALLY MADE IT TO SAID COFFEESHOP MULTIPLE HOURS LATER.

see? just a girl here on the other side of the screen.


the girl talked me in to a salted caramel frozen coffee. all i wanted was a water. and by talked me into, i mean to say that i was feeling sorry for myself and wanted to pregame the ice cream i am going to get later. sue me.

so can i just hit refresh on this blog and stop wondering if my content is blog-worthy and just treat this as a diary of a 23 year old who wonders if she’ll kill her plants and if her hair will ever grow and if anyone feel vulnerable as frik in their first job? because that’s what i’m about to do.

i want to fill a gap that i see in the blogsphere which is for all you gals that wonder if their future husband sometimes dreams of traveling the world together and has a Pinterest board of engagement rings even though they are nowhere near marriage but totally already know what robe they want to get ready in the morning of and the flowers they want in their bouquet and sometimes just stands in their living room wondering at what age one should buy an adult couch for their apartment instead of the floral grandma couch that currently sits there for you when you get home from a long day of work and also how long you can let chicken sit out in the water before it goes bad? anyone?

so let me introduce myself.

hi, i’m ania! no one calls me ania elizabeth if you were wondering. i needed a name for the blog and decided my first and middle name was cute together and didn’t want to deal with changing it when i get married. no no, i am not about to get married. single and ready to mingle and eat a pringle. actually jk, i can’t eat pringles! i am allergic to wheat, soy, egg whites and most nuts. yes, i understand it sounds like my life is over etc etc but i can still eat ice cream. so rest assured that i am doing juuuust fine. i used to post recipes and such here but honestly, in this season of my life, i am just eating on a budget so i can pay for my travel dreams and new photography gear! and little plants. and things for my apartment. i know i will have a season of life when i am married and have a husband who i want to cook for and kiddos that i want to please but right now i am completely fine with eating simply.

what else…

for those of you who think i work at Anthropologie for a living, i totally could see how that was perceived from my IG. but it’s just because my 8-4 isn’t as, well, aesthetically pleasing since i work in a cube — although a very CUTE cube, i must say. 😉 i have a post coming soon about how to feel comfortable in a business environment that looks a little more corporate than you were expecting with tips for decorating your space and making it feel like you. along with how to dress “business-y” without losing your own personal style!

i digress…

i do all things creative for a leadership institute here in st. louis — design, branding, advertising/marketing, collaborating on photography/videography projects, event support, etc. and i really like it! is it exactly what i thought i would be doing post grad? nope. not even close. i wanted to move to a new city, preferably in the West or abroad, working for a small agency surrounded by creatives so i could learn and work hard, proving myself. or working at the UBRN headquarters in Philly! no where in my brain did i want to move back to st. louis. but i have been trying to live open to His plan for me so i don’t miss out on something amazing while i pursue what i think i need and want so i said yes to this opportunity and i’m very glad i did.

but something else you must know about me is that my work has never and will never been my defining character. i love my job and the change we’re making in the world. seriously. never seen so many man-tears in my life! but it is also just a job. and when i leave, i leave it at work! no matter how meaningful work is, it is just work and that is not where my value lies. plus i love my life outside of that cube so very much! 

which brings me to the majority of what you see on my Instagram – ma vie quotidienne as seen through VSCO filters.

oh gosh, how do i explain my outside work life? yeeeesh. i do a lot. i just live large, ya know? this is not meant to get morbid all of a sudden, but before the age of 21, i knew about 7 kids my age who passed away. i think at some point, it just really seeps into your bones after funerals and seeing families being broken apart and teen suicide stories that life is short. and that the days may be long but the years pass in the blink of an eye. so i don’t live half arse. i am not about to waste the days that were stolen from others.

so my outside-work-life includes:

playing around with photography. i used to tell myself that if i wasn’t making thousands off of it, i shouldn’t do it. but that’s not really the point. i just like to create beautiful things and sometimes my head gets so bogged down by what i see that i need to capture it and bring the image to life. it is also my way of showing the daily beauty that many pass over in pursuit of whatever the next big thing is or the next stage of life brings. i’m building a separate site and IG for that to be revealed later this summer! i thought that at first i wanted to keep my blog and photog together but i don’t want to be a blogger that needs a professional quality photo for every post and you all didn’t follow me to get spammed with girls in wedding dresses so when that is live, you can follow along if you’re interested! and i’ll post a couple on the ania elizabeth account every so often.

working at Anthropologie once a week. i used to work at the Albuquerque location when i was in college on holiday. then i worked at the Fresno location while living at home with my parents last summer for about 6 months. then i wandered into Free People in St. Louis the day i moved back (i went to saint louis university!) here last November 2016 and they needed people for holiday hire so i worked there once a week over the holidays. but i missed Anthro so much. so i walked into the St. Louis location about a month ago, waltzed up to an employee and asked if i could come back because darn i miss it so much and would you let me just come in one night a week? and she said yes. the end. also, the discount helps me get clothes for work without taking away from my travel budget and candles and all the pretty little things you find in Anthro corners. it keeps me inspired and fills a big part of me that my full-time job doesn’t. and it’s another way to make new friends!

blogging here. i mainly want to focus on style, home design and my musings on the roller coaster that is my twenties. what can you expect? i think that is best answered by what makes me happy. i love braids, flowers, Pinterest, traveling, hand-lettering, trying new things, finding new places, healthy living, maybe essential oils soon if i can ever stop buying plane tickets long enough to buy the starter kit. i started out creating content based on my life. then i started creating content first and not really sharing much about my life. so i am trying to get back to the beginning! i am not letting myself believe that my life isn’t exciting enough for you all because i think what we all need is someone who lives an extraordinary ordinary life. or so i hope.

building community. not much to say there other than i love people and hosting people and planning things that will make my friends happy and sharing my life with people. that’s the biggest reason i love this corner of the web! having girls reach out and relate to me is so fun!!!! especially in a season of post grad loneliness.

hanging with my sister, brother in law and little nephew. my parents live in california (and have lived in washington, colorado and new mexico before that!) and my brother lives in denver so i love having a little piece of home here in st. louis. they’re great. and xavier is the cutest baby in the world. #notbiased

traveling. i love it. i love it so much that sometimes i work myself up and my mom has to talk me down because i get anxious about how much there is yet to see in the world and my dad is like ania, you’re 23. hehehehe. currently on the horizon aka the travel schedule i have in my head that is only final there in my cranium: california to visit my parents, denver (i miss it so much), hawaii (my friend’s truth is hawaii. end of story. i need to get her there. stay tuned.), potentially south africa to visit my friend who moved there two years ago aaaaand i want to go to thailand. and boston. and utah. and nashville and chicago again and you know, the list just really never ends.

creating and designing. i spend a lot of time per week just creating little things. i’ll turn on mumford and sons and just edit photos, design future photo shoots, pin little pictures to my wall, redesign the layout of my apartment, go through old magazines, wander through a thrift shop, snap photos of friends, write pretty phrases in pretty writing. i just like to create and i seek Beauty everywhere.

loving my faith. a while ago i read something along the lines of bloggers not posting things about their faith because you won’t attract the biggest crowd possible and i was like…..oh. that’s not the way i roll. to tell you about me is to tell you about God’s plan for my life. i couldn’t separate this space from that thought if i wanted to. which i don’t. i do vow to never be pushy because i understand that everyone has a different relationship with God and not everyone in the world is Catholic but i just wouldn’t feel honest leaving that part out of this blog.


ok. P H E W. did this post help level the playing field? do you feel like my friend now and could see me doing laundry just as much as you can picture me posing awkwardly for a photo for the blog because i love a dress and want to share it? i do hope so!

woah. i feel so good about this space again! rejuvenated! excited! hopeful! God is good! see you soon! i really want to be here twice a week so keep coming back if you liked what you read today.

ps thank you for the encouragement lately. the main reason i sat down today is because two weeks ago, i asked Him to make His plans for me clear as i struggled to prioritize this and was overwhelmed with the story in my head that there wasn’t room for me at the table. i had about five girls reach out and express how they appreciated how i showed up honest here. it was so clear it was almost uncanny. thank you for all of you who followed that urge to say something! it means so much to me every time someone reaches out. i screenshot all of them and have them in a little folder on my phone. 🙂


my daily make-up routine

May 25, 2017

first of all, i need to give credit where credit is due. even though i love reading reviews and trying products i find on my own, i have begun to rely more and more on the suggestions of people whose make-up style i love. the four i look at the most for recommendations are Katy of The Beyouty Bureau, Emily of Cupcakes and Cashmere and Kristin Lauria! Katy is SOOO real about struggling with acne and is hella honest. even though she is sometimes more glam than i am, i learn so much from watching her IG stories and everything i try that she recommends is freaking great. Emily has consistently weaned off make-up into a more and more simple routine which i admire and am trying myself as i work on my skin. and Kristin just nails that sweet, natural make-up look every time!

here’s the thing: this make-up line-up isn’t perfect. even though i really want to get to a point where everything i own, both in clothing and make-up but also in most other areas as well, is bought with the “quality over quantity” and “only natural” mindsets, i can’t just toss everything out the window and start from scratch because i don’t have that kind of budget currently. a couple of months ago, i did throw away all old make up brushes and foundation, breaking up with bareMinerals and trying tarte’s foundation which has helped my skin and has a much more natural, long-lasting finish. it’s like a thicker, fuller coverage bb cream and i am obsessed. it’s the reason i ever get a compliment on my skin, i am sure.

with all that being said, i do use e.l.f. brushes because they’re amazing and amazingly cheap, even though i’d love some big, fluffy, all natural brushes. so don’t get discouraged if you are replacing one product every couple of weeks — that’s essentially what i have doing since last november! you have to start somewhere.


my routine is simple and the purpose is to look as natural as possible, weaning off make-up as my skin clears more and more. i really struggled with girls being so forceful about “no make-up Mondays” and such because i would have/would still love to wear no face make-up/foundation. there is so much negativity about make-up but i just don’t think there’s a direct correlation for me between wearing some foundation and my strong belief in developing what’s on the inside first. so if it gives you a boost to wear something that evens out your skin tone or hides some scarring, don’t let anyone tell you that that makes you less self-confident.

so here’s what i do:

i take my foundation and dab a few dots on the top of my elf ultimate blending brush. less is more with this foundation which makes it last longer and look more natural. starting with the bottom of my face (always apply foundation first to your problem areas because you have the most foundation ready on your brush), i rub the product in circular motions, moving up my face but stopping before my cheekbones so i can still have a natural blush/flush throughout the day. i may apply a little to my t-zone (in-between my eyebrows and my lower forehead) if i need it but try not to.

then i take my concealer and apply it under my eyes in about four stripe movements, moving from the eye out to the cheek. i let it stay there and get a little tacky while i use the brow mascara on my brows, combing them into place and giving them a little more color. then i go back with the elf ultimate blending brush and tap it into place, being gentle with my under eye skin because it is so soft and pliable. i would like to try a different, lighter concealer because i don’t really have dark under-eye circles and this one doesn’t do much for me. i honesty use it more out of routine. i do love the bareMinerals Stroke of Light Eye Brightener so i may buy that next!

using the elf complexion brush, i apply a TINY bit of the bare minerals warmth powders to my face, trying not to focus on my cheeks but using it a bit below and on my t-zone. then i take the well people brightener stick and apply one stripe high on each cheekbone, using my fingertips to spread and tap it into my skin, giving myself a dewy glow. i read a ton of reviews on this product and i think i like it about 80% of the time. it sometimes makes my skin look oily but i also love that i can wear it without any make-up for a natural highlight.

using the Albeit all over face brush, i apply blush to right above where some would apply contour color. i don’t contour because that is way too much work for me, but ideally you would layer your blush right above that, so not to mimic jolly cheeks of Santa Claus super high on your face but just below to make it look natural. does that make sense? i tend to apply a little more blush than i deem necessary because it is my go-to trick for making my eyes look brighter and bluer. it also looks feminine and adds a natural flush which is a look i’ve always liked! this tarte blush is unbelievable. truly. i love it.

after curling my lashes (i had heard SO much about this curler and i do like it! it fits my eye shape better!), i apply the benefit mascara, top with a couple of coats of the lancome mascara and sometimes add a little bit of eyeliner to my top lid to make my eyes look bigger and brighter aka when i am tired. 🙂 i never go all the way across my lid, starting from the outer corners and work in about 60% across my lid. i don’t have many secrets with mascara and honestly, would love extensions because mine are so pitiful. could be worse.;)

as for lips, i usually just use Smith’s Rosebud Salve that i will get you hooked on if i talk to you for more than 30 seconds about it. it’s this perfect lightly tinted, rose-scented lip product that’s $6 and make you feel truly impeccable. the l’oreal nude lipstick is killer for a light color and looks good truly on anyone (also v cheap). one swipe of the buxom lippie is my go to now that i have a little bit of a tan! it’s such a cute color and so pigmented so i only have to use a little!

the point of this routine is to merely accentuate my features. i am not trying to recreate my face everyday. i just want to add some color, even out my skin and help with my super light eyelashes. i have ALWAYS loved that girls with thick, dark lashes and brows look amazing without any mascara but i truly look like i haven’t slept in a couple of days. i use to take it really personally when girls were like oh i never wear eye make-up but everyone is different! cheers to them and their luscious lashes. mine are short and light and need some tender loving care.


i put a star next to the products i would definitely buy again! the others i will compare others to  see if there’s something better.

*NYX Professional Makeup Tinted Brow Mascara in Chocolate

bareMinerals BARESKIN Complete Coverage Serum Concealer in Medium

Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Curling & Lifting Mascara in Black

*tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation SPF 15 in Medium Sand

*Buxom Full-On Lip Cream in Creamsicle

Lancome Hypnose Drama Instant Full Body Volume Mascara in Excessive Black

*L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Collection Lipstick in Jennifer’s Nude

W3LL People Bio Brightener Stick 

*Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler

bareMinerals All-Over Face Color in Warmth

*tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Captivation (bright peach)

Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner in Onyx

*e.l.f. Ultimate Blending Brush

*e.l.f. Complexion Brush

Albeit All Over Face Brush


a skin routine that works

May 23, 2017


today i am sharing my struggle with acne (yes, even as a 23 year old) because i am honestly just super frustrated with reading loads of blogs and either no one has acne or no one wants to talk about it. which confuses me but that’s the harsh side of social media for ya: we all complain that no one is real but then never talk about real things. #bahhumbug

for some reason on lifestyle blogs, i find everything except chatting about the following: Aunt Flo/Mother Nature/that time of month i feel like i might shave my head and eat my weight in ice cream and acne. why? i don’t know! we all experience both as women so it’s just very bizarre to me that we pretend they don’t happen?

so i am going to talk about them. 😉

**period chat will come at another time. i have cramps that have sent me to the hospital before and i have been working on getting them more under control because honestly, i am terrified to get them anywhere other than my bedroom because they cripple me and my hormones rage so freaking hard that i have written down on my calendar exactly when i start to feel loony so i can remind myself it’s just that time of month. BUT ANYWAYS! that post will come in a couple months because i am currently working through some solutions but i don’t want to say things that don’t work — so stay tuned! let’s chat Aunt Flo soon.

today i will go through my skin care routine which consists of two products i use everyday and a couple of lifestyle changes.

S K I N C A R E //

wanna play never have i ever?

i’ll go first.

never have i ever had someone tell me my skin looks good.

until about two months ago and i just about passed out.

i have struggled with acne prone skin since the first days of puberty in middle school. and you know when people are like, oh it’ll go away in your 20s? yeah, no. mine didn’t. it was so sensitive for me this fall. i felt so awful about my skin and the winter didn’t help. here in st. louis, it gets so dry and bitter cold, making your skin wonder why you’re trying to sabotage it.

i was SO frustrated and bitter with girls who had grown out of their acne and mine had came back on my jawline in these cystic pimples that just lay there for freaking ever, hurting and sometimes itching, and then leaving behind small scars. i literally couldn’t even pop them if i tried so i felt like i was losing the battle but not even doing anything wrong!!!

my mom and i did loads of research and found out that this is very common for girls in their 20s as your hormones continue to shift and settle (although do they ever?). this is part of the reason i continue to cut it out sugar more and more (more on that later!) and limit my dairy. i started drinking loads of water and really paying attention to what i put in my body, knowing that it would show on the outside soon enough.

but even though that helped, it didn’t cure it. and it was painful and embarrassing. so i finally just sucked it up and went to the dermatologist, who ended up being the sweetest lady who also shared that she’ll probably have acne for forever too. it was such a cool moment of her just chatting vulnerable woman to vulnerable woman.

i know many girls take birth control and other oral medicines to help with acne but i try to do things more naturally and only use medicine as a last resort (which is why i have been trying essential oils through my friend ashley!). at this point though, i needed something more than the creams and potions my mom gave me.

so here’s my routine!


i use two products every day. one is the Cetaphil cleanser and lotion combo. Cetaphil is great for acne prone skin and it’s very inexpensive. it’s recommended by like every dermatologist ever. i would love to invest in something more natural when it runs out but at the moment, it’s getting the job done.

i have used Cetaphil products for years and what i love is how gentle the cleanser is. i chatted with my dermatologist about scrubs and those little electric brushes you can use and all those fancy tools and she was literally like “just use this gentle cleanser, be consistent with the topical cream and be patient.” she was totally right! as tempting as it is to get these cool scented, beaded, exfoliating, glow-in-seconds cleansers, your skin is sensitive! treat it gently!!!

i am not the world’s biggest fan of the lotion because it’s a bit oily so i am currently hunting for a new one i like so stay tuned on that — i am sure i’ll share about what i find on my Instagram stories per usual. but it’s good for now! i used to love this Aveeno one so maybe i’ll go back to that? i am trying to buy products that rate low on the Think Dirty app though so i’ll have to see how that one rates!

although many people say to wash your face in the morning, i don’t unless i have worked out! my skin does way better if i don’t and i just wash it at night before i go to sleep after taking off all my make-up. ALL THE MAKE-UP. GONE-ZO. EVERY NIGHT. CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH.

the second product is a prescription topical cream called Epiduo. it. has. worked. wonders. i first used Epiduo Forte because it’s a big stronger (and my derm could tell how self-conscious i was). it did get worse before it got better but now my skin is the best it has been in a REALLY long time. seriously. and it was nowhere near that 6 months ago. the oral pill has some cray side effects so i chose the slower route via the topical cream but it truly only took me about 6-8 weeks to start seeing really great results. that might sound like a long time but when it’s already been bad, waiting  is relative.;)

T H E  R U N D O W NNNN //

  • pull back hair with a scrunchie
  • remove all make-up (going to start using coconut oil because my friend jenna said it’s been helping her eyelashes so YA COUNT ME IN. also #cheap #natural.)
  • splash face with lukewarm water
  • gently rub one pump of cetaphil cleanser all over my face and a little down my neck. GENTLY. no pulling or scrubbing. ain’t nobody want wrinkles.
  • rinse face.
  • PAT FACE DRY. my mom screeches at my when i pull at my face with a towel v aggressively and she has amazing skin. so i take a leaf out of her book and i pat pat pat and leave it a little moist!
  • let dry completely and then cover problem areas (for me — my jawline and lower face) with a thing layer/one pump of Epiduo.
  • the end. 🙂

if i do wash my face in the am, i just use the cleanser and a moisturizer! make sure to (again) be gentle and pat the lotion in. don’t pull and rub. pat. pat pat pat. GENTLE LADIEZ.

O T H E R  T I P SSSS //

i begged my derm to let me use fancy masks and she was like fiiiiiine every couple weeks you can. haha! she really swears by being consistent and simple and the freaking routine works. but i do use this #1 best seller $10 mask every 3ish weeks because it makes me feel like i low key got botox. it is unbelievable. and so natural and so cheap! BUY IT AND THANK ME LATER.

i guzzle water. i use the my water app to track it and just flush everything through my system.

i stay low-sugar, choosing when to eat sugar instead of it hiding in everything, and eat as many raw foods as possible.

minimal caffeine — i only drink caffeinated tea.

minimal dairy.

i tryyyy to keep sodium low.

i read through all ingredients of everything i buy to make sure i can recognize and understand what i am putting in my body. what you put in WILL reflect on the outside!

BE GENTLE. SEE A DERM. my two biggest tips. your face doesn’t need every scrub under the sun. it needs a personalized, consistent routine. make the investment to see a recommended dermatologist because you deserve to feel confident in your own skin.

i know how hard it can be when girls are screaming left and right to wear less make-up when you aren’t comfortable with your skin without any to help cover. but keep trying until you find the sweet spot. it took me from november til now to confidently write this post and even now, i am trying new products. the more natural the better. i think i’ll even try essential oils!

my goal was to get it to a manageable place and then reevaluate at my follow-up appointment with her this summer. so stay tuned! 🙂


remember that what works for many might not work for you! keep trying new ways and combos until your skin starts reacting positively. also, remember that the make-up you use will also have an impact on your skin — since it sits there ALL day. thursday i will be going through my whole routine and products! see you then.





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)