Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Music Favorites

2016 has really been a mixed bag. In some ways, it's been a really crappy year--I mean, we got off on a bad foot when Alan Rickman died last January (and I still can't talk about it without tearing up), and it definitely didn't earn any favors with election season. I lost some childhood icons this year, a couple of friends, and also a lot of faith in humanity. I've been boiling-point livid and overwhelmed in sadness. In other ways, though--my first summer off in years, a Portland/Seattle trip, making some new close friends, and absolutely loving my job--I've had one of the best years of my life. I've had days of radiant happiness, and most days an overall sense of contentment that I've never felt before. Maybe it's the Libra in me, but I tend toward thinking that balance is best--acknowledge the bad, but focus on the good. And in the spirit of the latter, I'm going to focus on the best new music in 2016 (at least in my opinion).

This is always my favorite post of the year--partially because I like being able to look back on what I listened to over the past 12 months and compare it to previous years' playlists, but also because I get to hear your recommendations. I love finding new artists & albums, so leave any good suggestions in the comments--whether they came out in 2016 like these, or they're old favorites that you can't stop listening to. Happy 2017!

Friday, December 23, 2016


Feeling: excited to see my family, but dreading the six-hour drive just a little bit.

Eating: mozzarella pearls and beef jerky. I am the picture of class.

Drinking: water. But I'm definitely making a cup of cinnamon tea before we leave.

Watching: I just started season 3 of Ripper Street! I'm obsessed. And I can't wait until Sherlock comes back January 1st!

Wearing: jeans, a turtleneck, and boots.

Reading: another Jennifer Macmahon novel. Big surprise, right?

Thinking about: asking Tyler if we can skip out a little early (he's working from home for a half day today) so that we have time to stop by Elle's Patisserie in Springfield.

Loving: having our apartment totally clean before we leave. There's just something about coming home to a clean place and not having to worry about doing anything at all.

Excited about: having a whole week off when we get back. I'm going to binge-watch so much British television, you guys.

Working on: reorganizing and cataloguing my books. It's out of control.

Listening to: Christmas music, mostly, with a little Warpaint and Lord Huron thrown in.

Worried about: the weather holding out until we get home. Freezing rain? Tornadoes? No thanks.

Hoping: you all have the most wonderful holiday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Quiet and Calm

Comparison is the thief of joy, and I know this, but it's still hard sometimes. A lot of my friends are traveling pretty regularly, seeing things I've always wanted to see, and doing things I've always wanted to do. Some live in places I've always wanted to live.  I don't know if it's jealousy, exactly, because I'm happy and excited for them--I just sort of get mad at myself instead. Why haven't I figured out a way to make it work like they have? Why isn't my life that exciting? 

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Not-So-Little Holiday Playlist

I like to think that I'm pretty up-to-date with music--I love finding new songs, bands, and albums to listen to as soon as they emerge. That's not to say that I don't enjoy older stuff, too, though; Stevie Nicks, Patsy Cline, Nick Drake--there are a wide range of decades gracing my record shelves. The same mostly holds true for my taste in Christmas music. My preferences definitely lean more heavily toward the classics when it comes to the holidays, but I've been known to slip some N'Sync, Sufjan, and Civil Wars in there, too.  Over the last few years, I've been slowly working on my perfect holiday playlist, and I think I've almost got it. I thought I'd share it here in case you need some Christmas spirit in the next couple weeks before the holidays. Perfect for cookie making, tree trimming, wrapping presents, snuggling up with a mug of hot cocoa--whatever you fancy, really. Give it a listen--and let me know if there are any must-have songs I missed!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Happy Mail Day: Noon Design Shop

I love shopping for Christmas gifts--it's one of my very favorite things about the season, even if it can get a little stressful trying to find those perfect presents for everyone. I'm a true believer that it really is better to give than receive, but it's still nice to get a little something too! Last week, after an online present-purchasing binge, I was sorting through all the boxes that the mailman brought, and I found a gift box from Noon Design Shop. It was so sweet, and absolutely no-strings-attached. Even though they didn't ask me to do so, I just had to post about this gorgeous stuff, though. I mean, look at it! 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Columbia River Gorgeous: Ponytail Falls Trail Scenic Overlook

Warning: Photo-heavy

If there's one hike I always take people on in the Columbia River Gorge, even if we have limited time, it's the hike past  Ponytail Falls to the scenic overlook. Not only does it take you behind a waterfall, but if you keep climbing, it also takes you to one of my favorite views in the Gorge. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

KC Loves: Nelson-Atkins Museum

I love a lot of things about living in KC, but two of the big ones are (1) having a big, gorgeous, free(!) art museum, and (2) having local friends who love going to art museums. Last week, on Thanksgiving Break, my friend Claire and I drove into the city for brunch at Heirloom Bakery and then spent hours wandering the halls of the Nelson-Atkins museum. When I say hours, I seriously mean hours--my feet hurt when we left, and it was two full hours later than either of us realized! It was the best day, and we literally saw everything in the museum except the special exhibit. Obviously I had serious heart-eyes for the British section, and I also stared for an extra-long at the Andrew Wyeth painting in the American area. He is forever my favorite. Claire and I both became fascinated with trying to find the oldest piece in the museum--and we spent a lot of time in the modern art area too. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Fall Chill Out, Again

I'm just going to warn you that this isn't going to be the most eloquent post I've ever written. November has been a little bit chaotic, to say the least. I've been feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally drained over the past few weeks. A huge part of that has been a result of the election--I was really not prepared for how much it would affect me. I'm an INFJ, which can mean a lot of things, but one of them is that I'm empathetic to a fault. I'm also an introvert, and introversion combined with feeling all the things(!) for disenfranchised groups affected by the outcome of the election (and hell, even for Hillary Clinton) and trying to be there for everyone hurting in the aftermath was just a recipe for emotional burnout.  The worst part was how ashamed I was of my own distress, knowing that even though I was directly impacted by virtue of being a woman, there were so many others who had it so much worse. I felt guilty for needing to step back, disconnect, or even escape for awhile, because I knew that so many people--by virtue of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or country of origin--couldn't. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Hocus Pocus

Happy Halloween! Being an October baby, autumn has been my favorite season since I was a kid, but when it comes to holidays, I've always been more of a Christmas kind of gal. The past few years, though, I've noticed that Halloween has really been growing on me again. Part of that, I think, has really been rediscovering the parts of Halloween that I loved when I was younger--the history, the magic, the dark and creepy parts (and of course, the classic movies!). It's been a few years since I've donned a costume, but hey, maybe next year, right? I'm starting to feel the need to up my decorating game too. For now, though, just give me a cool night, some hot cider, and a good ghost story and I'm as happy as can be.  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Smile Brilliant Review + a Giveaway!

Teeth Whitening Kits

The following is a sponsored post. I was provided a whitening kit and desensitizing gel by Smile Brilliant for review. All opinions are my own. 

I've never been one to fuss all that much about my appearance--I'm a little bit lazy that way, if you want to know the truth. Beauty routines have come and gone since my junior high days, but one thing that has been pretty constant is my dedication to maintaining white teeth. I can take or leave eyeshadow and blush, but you better leave my whitening products alone. 

Since starting my current job a little over a year ago, I've become a twice-a-day coffee drinker, with some tea also thrown in most days. It's good for my sanity, but not so good on my smile. When Smile Brilliant contacted me with the opportunity to review their whitening kit, it seemed like perfect time to set aside the whitening strips and try something a little more personalized.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fall Reading List

Now that the seasons have changed, I thought I would share my fall reading list--or at least part of it! I've been trying to make an effort to read more, even if that means letting blogging and other responsibilities lapse a little bit. The last couple months have really shown me the importance of self care and giving myself grace, and for me, reading is a big part of that. I'm generally reading multiple books at once--usually a fiction book, a non-fiction (mostly British history) book, and a book of poetry. Here's what I have on deck:

1. The Long Sonata of the Dead by Andrew Taylor and The Compendium of Srem by F. Paul Wilson:  A friend from work lent these to me to read. They're short little mysteries--perfect for a quick read right before bed.

2. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur:  I've been following Rupi Kaur for awhile on Instagram; I love the snippets of her poetry that she shares online, so I can already tell this is going to be a frequent read for me.

3. The Night Sister by Jennifer MacMahon:  Honestly, I'm already almost finished with this. I picked up another one of her books, The Winter People, a couple months ago, and I immediately went to Half Price Books to find every other book I could by her. They're all so dark, suspenseful, and creepy.....and a little bit weird. Perfect for a pre-Halloween read, you know what I mean?

4. The Book of English Magic by Philip Carr-Gomm & Richard Heygate: I've started this one already as well, and I honestly can't decide how I feel about it. I thought it would be a historical view of pre-Christian England, and it is--but it's also insight into current magical religions as well. Not that I'm not interested in alternative culture in the UK, but historical is more my speed--and let's be honest, I'm never going to try dowsing, so I really don't need a how-to guide. The historical bits are really interesting, though!

5.  The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins: It's Billy Collins. Enough said.

6. King Death by Colin Platt: This is another one from the non-fiction (i.e. British History) section, about the bubonic plague in England. Also creepy enough for Halloween season--which means I need to hurry up and get it started!

7. Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs: This is series of short "historical" stories in the Peculiar Children world. Tyler and I went with family to see Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children a couple weeks ago at the theater, and even though I had mixed feelings about the film, I mostly liked it and it made me want to jump back into that story again. I had picked this up right after it came out, so it was perfect timing.

What are you reading lately? I'll need some recommendations for when I finish this list!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Columbia River Gorgeous: Ponytail Falls

One of my favorite little hikes in the Columbia River Gorge is the hike from Horsetail Falls to Ponytail Falls and the scenic overlook. It's perfect if you don't have much time (or hiking experience) but you want to see more of the Gorge than just the waterfall pit stops by the road. After viewing Horsetail Falls, you take the trail to the left of the falls and hike up a series of switchbacks--no shame in having to stop and catch your breath! Make sure to turn around once in a while, too--you can get gorgeous glimpses of the river through the trees, and it's rather rewarding to see how high you've climbed! 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Creative Chat: Layne Eckhardt

Hey hey! Believe it or not, September is already at an end, and that can only mean one thing: time for another Creative Chat! I've been looking forward to interviewing my good friend Layne for a long time--I even snapped some photos of her in preparation when I visited this summer. Layne is an incredibly talented fiber artist who specializes in macrame. I have one of her gorgeous pieces hanging in my home, and wrote about it here back in June. I loved watching her work during my visit, and I came away with a million questions about macrame. I picked a few to ask her for the interview, but if there's anything you're wondering about that doesn't get answered, feel free to ask below in the comments! 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Columbia River Gorgeous: Horsetail Falls

If I had to be stuck in one single spot in the United States for the rest of my life, you can bet your begonias that it would be the Columbia River Gorge. My friend Don took me here during my first trip to Oregon when I was in grad school, and I absolutely fell in love with it. So when Layne asked if I would be up for a day trip to Portland, since she hadn't had the chance to explore it yet, I jumped at the chance to show her the city--and the Gorge.  For one day, we switched our tourist-and-tour-guide roles! 

There's no way I could condense our visit to the Gorge into a single blog post--even though we were only there for a few hours--because I love it that much, so I decided to break it down into it's own series. Since we didn't have much time, we decided to stick mostly to the waterfalls that were close to the scenic highway and the Vista House at Crown Point (another blog post!), but the one exception was the short hike that started at Horsetail Falls.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Seattle, Day Four

Day four in Seattle was probably one of my favorite days (I think I've said that about every single day....oops). It started out with sleeping in and then heading to the Fremont neighborhood for some exploring. We wandered in and out of shops, picking up trinkets and petting resident bookstore cats. The weather was perfect for an outdoor lunch, so we found a local Thai spot and claimed a spot on the sidewalk. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Seattle, Day Three

By day three, I was starting to feel like maybe I belonged in Seattle. I was beginning to recognize where I was, and was trying to predict the roads that we would take to get back to Layne's after we had been out adventuring (and most of the time, I was right!). I seriously can't say enough about what a great tour guide Layne was: I checked off all the must-see tourist destinations, but spent most of my time in local shops, parks, and restaurants. We started off day three by wandering into whatever shops caught our eye, and found a huge bookstore (I had to show some serious restraint!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Morning at the Sunflower Farm

Back in the spring, when I was taking my photography class at KCAI, my professor mentioned a sunflower field near Lawrence, Kansas that he said was fantastic for photos--and the owners opened it up for the public every year. He encouraged us to follow them on Facebook to see when the flowers were blooming. I took his advice, and we headed down on the Sunday morning before Labor Day--along with basically every person in the state. :) We were there early enough that it wasn't too terribly crowded, thankfully, but it was starting to fill up as we were leaving. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Creative Chat: Mina Habibi

Time for another Creative Chat! It seems like it's been forever--unfortunately, the one I had lined up for last month fell through at the last minute, but this month's will seriously make up for it. I have wanted to learn hand-lettering ever since I learned that hand-lettering was a thing, and if you're in the same boat, you'll want to keep reading. I'm talking to Mina Habibi about her beautiful creations, how she got started, her must-have tools, and where she finds inspiration. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August Playlist

It's hard to believe that I've been back at work for a full month; August completely flew by. Most of my busyness at work has been more related to developing programming, professional development and other resources instead of managing ongoing behaviors, so I've been spending a lot more time in front of a computer than I typically do. It's been a bit of a nice change of pace, and a good way to ease back into the school year--especially when I've got a good playlist to keep me company.  Here's what I've been listening to lately:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Seattle, Day Two

There are very few ways I'd rather wake up than in the Pacific Northwest with a cat on my lap--and that's exactly the way I woke up after my first night in Seattle. Layne's cat, Max, had decided that he needed to head up the welcoming committee, so he kept me company all night. 
After we got up and ready, Layne and I headed out to Pioneer Square, which is the oldest part of Seattle. We wandered into some shops, including a bookstore with collectible Steinbeck books(!), and heard a little bit of Seattle history from a local vintage shop owner. It's such a fantastic area, and you know I'm a sucker for buildings with vines growing on them. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Until this year, I hadn't had a summer off since high school; some summers in college I took classes, and even if I didn't, my work hours generally picked up and balanced it out. After taking a job in a school district last year, that was one thing I looked forward to most, and it didn't disappoint. From spending a week in Seattle, to driving back home to hang out with my mom for a few days, and even slipping in a few multi-hour marathons of British TV on the couch, this summer was by far my best in ages.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Seattle, Day One

Sorry for the crickets around here last week; turns out I'm the world's laziest jet-lag recoverer. I had such grand plans for my last few free days before heading back to work (including documenting my Seattle trip), but instead I slept, a lot, and binge-watched Marcella on Netflix.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Favorite PNW Instagrams

I've been in love with the Pacific Northwest since my first trip to Oregon six years ago. To be honest, it wasn't even on my radar until my friend Don invited me up for a visit. He said I'd love it, and man, was he right. It's absolutely gorgeous. The Columbia River Gorge is literally my favorite place in the whole country, and there are more than a few photos and prints paying tribute to the PNW scattered around my apartment. I follow a ton of PNW Instagram accounts, too, and I thought I'd share some here in case you're looking for some gorgeousness to fill your feed.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Seattle Bound!

Today's the day! I'm headed to the PNW to hang out with my good friend Layne for a week! This trip has been on my mind constantly since the day she first mentioned me coming to visit. It's been a busy couple of weeks, and with only two left before I'm back at work for the school year (how did the summer go by so fast?), I'm planning on making the very most out of my vacation. Things might be a little quiet around here this week. I'll definitely be posting about this trip when I get back, but in the meantime, feel free to follow along on Instagram (username: @jessica.lafferty) or Snapchat (username: jessicae429). See you soon!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Rug Wishlist

If I had to break down my thoughts into percentages, a good 20% at least would have to involve home decor in some way (the other 80% is England, cats, coffee, Game of Thrones, and Matthew Gray Gubler....oh, and probably Tyler too). I'm never really satisfied with our little space, although I'm a lot happier with it now than in previous years, and I'm always looking for ways to improve. Since we rent, hardwood floors aren't a possibility (*insert a million tears*) but that doesn't stop me from perusing the internet for a few rugs to toss here and there. Our decor right now is mostly neutral, so I've been thinking about ways to add some more color into our lives, and I'm thinking a rug is a good first step (I say this, even as one of these rugs is black and white! Oops! What can I say? I love me some neutrals). Here are some of my favorites lately:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

June Playlist

Time for another monthly playlist--okay, actually, I'm a little bit late. I spent a couple days last week feeling a little under the weather, and I've had a major case of the lazies ever since. I'm trying to catch up, though, and with a couple trips in my near future, I better get back to my to-do list! Good thing I have the perfect playlist to keep me motivated. :) Hope it does the same for you as you tackle your week.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Creative Chat: Emma Marion

It's time for another  Creative Chat! This month is photography month, and I'm interviewing the gorgeous and talented  Emma Marion, who is a part-time ethereal fairy goddess in addition to being an amazing photographer. I just finished up a photography class, so I'm extra excited to read Emma's answers and get a peek inside her creative mind.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

I'm a terrible vegetarian, but I have good recipes!

Last month I decided to try vegetarianism for 30 days. I didn't think I ate much meat anyway and didn't think it would really be difficult, so I didn't really mention it beyond a passing post on Instagram. I had a few people ask how it had gone, so I thought I'd share a bit about my experience here.

So, for starters, within the first week, I accidentally ate bacon twice. 

 I know, you're thinking, "How do you accidentally eat bacon? C'mon, Jess." Well, let me tell you. The first time, I was doing really well, actually, and ordered some potato soup and a vegetable plate at a restaurant. The potato soup? It had bacon in it.  The second accidental bacon ingestion came a few days later when Tyler and I had gone downtown for a photo op with the actual Iron Throne from Game of Thrones (!!!!!) and decided to spend some time in Westport before heading back home. We hadn't had breakfast, so we swung through a drive thru for breakfast sandwiches, during which point I apparently completely forgot that I was attempting a vegetarian diet for a month. I didn't even realize it until that night, and probably wouldn't if it wasn't for Tyler. That conversation went something like this:

Tyler: "Hey, wanna order a pizza for dinner?"
Me: "I mean, it sounds good, but it would have to be a veggie pizza."
Tyler: "Veggie pizza? Why? Gross."
Me: "I'm doing the vegetarian thing, remember?"
Tyler: "You are? Oh, yeah.......wait, you ate meat THIS MORNING."
Me: "What? No, I didn't."
Tyler: "Yes you did, remember? Breakfast sandwich?"
Me: "No I didn't. That didn't have............oh."

To my credit, I didn't eat pizza that night, but I definitely wasn't perfect the rest of the month. I mean, if I can't avoid meat when the name of the food I'm ordering is literally "bacon, egg, and cheese bagel," there really is little hope for me avoiding sneaky meats, right? I did get better as the month went by, though, even though the cravings for pot roast were oh-so-real.

I had a lot of people tell me that I would feel "so much better" after cutting out meat, and to be honest, I didn't feel different at all--except for maybe emotionally or morally. Maybe that's what they meant. But I did find some really incredible recipes for meatless dishes, and I definitely plan on incorporating them more, and trying to cut out meat where I can. I learned that I'm really awful about eliminating things completely all at once for a variety of reasons, but I think I can make small steps toward a reduced-meat diet going forward. Maybe eventually I'll head back into full vegetarianism and be better able to avoid accidental bacon the next time around.  :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vinyl Love: Zaba // Glass Animals

Zaba by Glass Animals

In three words: Gorgeous, mesmerizing, moody

Favorite tracks: Gooey, Toes, Black Mambo

I am SO OBSESSED with this band right now, you guys. Holy. Like, if the only thing that I would have gained out of a move to KC was discovering this band, I would have declared the whole thing worth it. I can't even put my finger on what it is exactly--typically I can pull out what I like and analyze an album piece by piece--but on Zaba, I really just like everything. If the new single from their upcoming album is any indication, I'll continue to like everything they do for quite some time. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Feeling Fine

Holy smokes, you guys, it's officially summer. If you've been in Kansas City, you know that summer actually arrived a couple of weeks ago, and he wasn't shy about his entrance. (I don't remember the last time we had a day with a high below 90. Ick.) Tyler and I spent last week watching our niece and nephew while their parents were on an anniversary trip to Cancun. Hot temps kept us inside most of the time, but we still managed to get snowcones and take little trips to bookstores just to keep the cabin fever at bay. We had a blast, but we're back to life-as-usual this week. I'm pretty sure the cats are happy to have us back, and I am a little relieved to be caught up on Game of Thrones so I don't have to avoid spoilers. ;) 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Do the Thing

I'm about halfway through my photography class, which is hard to believe. I've learned so much in four short weeks, even if I don't quite use it all consistently yet. It's really coming together, though, and I'm starting to figure out the balance of settings and how they all can be manipulated toward a specific image.  I've been telling myself for years--since college, actually--that I was going to take a photo class, and now I'm 30 and finally doing it. A lot of that was fear, if I'm being honest.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Viola Maye

Yesterday I talked about intentional friendships, and today I'm going to talk about my first intentional friend: her name is Layne Eckhardt, and she is one of the most talented and creative people I know. A few years ago, Layne sent me a message after one of my blog posts resonated with her and she asked if we could get coffee. We followed each other's blogs and Instagrams, but had never met in "real life"--and of course, I said yes immediately. Coincidentally, immediately is also the time frame in which we became friends. We had so many common views, experiences, and interests (even though she has more talent in her left pinkie finger than I have in my whole body) that we just clicked. Soon we were having craft nights and taking thrifting trips....and getting lots more coffee, of course. Layne was really into fiber art and had begun making the most incredible weavings; during one of our trips, she confessed that she was thinking about opening an Etsy shop.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Intentional Friendships in the Age of Social Media

I remember the first time I talked to a stranger on the internet. I was staying over at my friend Amie's house in junior high, and she introduced me to the (our local internet provider) chatrooms and messaging on ICQ (did I just age myself or what?). We didn't have internet at our house--it was too far out in the country for internet to even be an option--and my mom was terrified at the thought of chat rooms, so it was like a whole new world for me. It was weird, and kind of exciting, but I never thought for a minute that there would be a day where the majority of my friendships would start online.

Here we are in 2016, though, and that's exactly what has happened. Even just fifteen years ago, I would have scoffed at internet friendships--they aren't "real" friendships, you know, and how do you even know that the person you're talking to is who you think they are?--and thought there is no way that I'll ever meet up with a total stranger I met online. I'll avoid being murdered thankyouverymuch. Yet I have some of the strongest, deepest, and most authentic friendships of my life....with people who started out as total strangers on the internet. All but one of the amazing girls in that photo started out as an Instagram friend.

So why is that? Why it is that the one thing I swore I'd never do has somehow become the norm for me? If I break it down, truly and honestly, I think it's this--the internet, particularly social media, has allowed me to become picky about my friendships. That sounds a little bit snobby, but stick with me. Growing up in the country and going to school in a (very) small town (I graduated high school in a class of 60. Not 600. 6-0.), most of my friendships were friendships of convenience--not all of them, but the majority. These were the people around me, so they were the people I hung out with, regardless of whether we actually had much in common besides geographic location. That's not to say that friendships of convenience can't evolve into something deeper, by the way-- my maid of honor and all three bridesmaids at my wedding all started out as friendships of convenience. I have legitimate friendships with current and former coworkers that I wouldn't trade for anything. There's a lot of luck and time involved and a lot of playing the odds, but very real relationships can come from people you just happen to meet along your journey, and I would never want to discount the depth of my friendships that started that way. They are some of the truest, most incredible friendships I have; I just got lucky enough to bump into the right people.

Social media, for all of it's downfalls, actually has this incredibly brilliant upside--it allows you to connect with people all around the world who have similar worldviews, passions, values, and interests. It allows you to form intentional friendships based on common threadsYou can bypass all the awkward getting-to-know-you small talk, and have real conversations from the get-go, because all the basic stuff is already out there. Sounds like the recipe for some pretty incredible relationships if you ask me. A few years ago, I had a friendship start because I wrote a blog post about feeling like I had screwed up my life with the wrong career; another blogger/internet friend emailed me, said she was going through the same thing, and asked if we could get coffee. We had never even been in the same room before, but were having authentic and honest conversation before our cups were half empty. We intentionally built a friendship because we knew something about each other from the internet, and in a month or so I'm flying halfway across the country to hang out with her for a week.

I'm not saying that intentional friendships take less work than friendships of convenience--quite the opposite, actually. Friendships of convenience just happen by virtue of proximity. Intentional friendships are just that--they take intention, initiative, effort to begin; if you've never asked a stranger to get coffee, as a socially anxious introvert I can tell you that it's not effortless. But the work has meaning. It has depth. 

So this is me apologizing to the internet. I haven't been murdered. I have some darn good friendships, though, and I couldn't be more grateful to have been wrong about you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

5 Faves: LUSH masks

Since moving to Kansas City, I've become a bit of a LUSH addict (and no, this isn't a sponsored post!). I keep a stockpile of bath bombs in my bathroom cabinet, and I've talked a bit about my favorites here. If the bath bombs suddenly (and tragically) disappeared from the shelves tomorrow, though, there's another reason I would keep coming back: face masks. I thought I'd share my five faves today.

Monday, June 6, 2016

With Bells On

Last Saturday, I really just wasn't feeling it. You know when you wake up and you aren't sick or anything, but you just feel blah? That.  There were three festivals we had planned to go to, but suddenly none of them sounded better than tea and a book on the couch, you know what I mean? I finally talked myself into getting dressed and going to the Strawberry Swing pop-up craft fair in Brookside, though, and I'm so glad I did. My wallet is less glad, but I found some amazing things from local artists, and it really set the tone for the rest of the day. 

I went solo to the craft fair (we both had a case of the lazies, I'm tellin' ya), but by the time I went back home, Tyler decided that he wanted to go out too. We spent some time looking at camera lenses, then headed downtown for Lulu's Thai--it's life-changing, guys. So good. I hadn't really planned on taking any outfit photos, but by this point I had amassed six (SIX) compliments from total strangers on what I was wearing. That NEVER happens, so I decided to run with it. Tyler is a patient man.

At this point, we debated about driving up north for the Italian festival, but we decided to head down to Westport instead. (Tyler really wanted Andy's Frozen Custard, so I decided I'd trade the prospect of Peach Bellinis for some shopping.) We stopped by Mills for some records; I snagged the Glass Animals album I've  had my eye on and found a used Father John Misty album for cheeeeap.  
 On the way home, I decided to swing by a local vintage shop, Boomerang. I've had good luck with them previously, and their prices are SO reasonable. I'm so glad I did--I seriously hit the jackpot, and I can't wait to show you my finds. I'm dying over them. Sometimes the best laid plans are no competition for what can happen if you just let a day unfold naturally, and Saturday was the perfect example of that. Hope your weekend was carefree and fun!
Outfit: dress & hat: F21// tights: Target // boots: Madewell // rings: Kris Nations // Necklace: Broken Arrow // earrings: Wild Juniper

Friday, June 3, 2016

Doughnuts and Celebrations

There's a holiday for everything it seems. National Ninja Day? Put a Pillow on Your Fridge Day? No Pants Day? Take Your Houseplant for a Walk Day? (By the way, those are all real.) There are a healthy proportion of silly ridiculous holidays that mostly serve just to make us laugh, but today is a holiday I can REALLY get behind. 

(It's also our anniversary, but priorities.)

In grad school, I visited Portland, Oregon for the first time and tried the famous VooDoo Doughnuts off Burnside (and fell in love with maple bacon doughnuts). I don't care how touristy you think it is, it's worth the hype, and I go back every time I'm in town. Ever since that trip, I've been completely convinced that every decent-sized town needs a quirky, experimental doughnut shop. When Hurts Donuts opened in Springfield, I was SO excited....and when we decided to move to Kansas City, I was more than a little sad about leaving them. As it turns out, though, Kansas City has everything--including a weird little doughnut shop called Doughnut Lounge. We decided to go yesterday and it was so good. We each picked two to try: I got a tirimisu and a strawberry mascarpone, and Tyler got a berry cheesecake and a root beer, basil, and sheep's milk cheese custard. (That last one was the winner by far--oh man, it was delicious.)

Needless to say, I'm recommending a wholehearted celebration of National Doughnut Day. We may have celebrated a day early, but I'm celebrating again today with the ones we got to-go. Oh, and we'll probably celebrate our anniversary too, while we're at it. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Favorite May Posts

Good grief, it's already time for another monthly round-up of my favorite posts. I feel like I just did one of these! Thankfully, I follow some pretty amazing bloggers who offer a never-ending flow of great posts. Here are some of my favorites from May.

1// Joshua Tree at Sincerely, Kinsey. Of all the places I've been in the continental US, there are two major gaps: New England, and the southwest. These photos from Joshua Tree make think that the latter has to be next on my list. After Seattle, of course.

2// 10 Photo Organisation Commandments at Caylee Grey.  Caylee is an organizing goddess, and I want to be her.

3// Woven Leather Bench DIY at A Beautiful Mess. Oh man, this is right up my style alley, and looks fairly simple. Might this be the DIY that finally leaps from my Pinterest board into reality?

4// Roasted Carrots with Avocado and Yogurt at Smitten Kitchen. I can't stop roasting veggies, you guys. It's a sickness. I know it's practically summer, but I don't care. And these look amazing, so I don't see myself stopping any time soon.

5// How I Accidentally Became a Minimalist at Kate Lives Simply. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. I'm starting to get minimalism burnout, you guys--it's like one more thing that we're suppose to aspire to and feel bad about not accomplishing (trust me, I've tried to KonMari with the rest of humanity). It is so freaking refreshing to hear someone say, "Hey, I became a minimalist out of necessity and found that it really works for me" instead of just reading another lifestyle post from a blogger who jumped on the bandwagon and became a condescending expert on all things "non-essential." I respect life choices that have a story --one beyond, "well everyone else was doing it...." This is life change that is valuable, meaningful, and lasting beyond the fad. Love love love.

6//Dos and Don'ts of Burning Candles at She Learns Things. Did you even know that there's a method to burning candles?! It seems like it should be (1) light it (2) blow it out when you're done, right? Yeah, apparently that's why my candles burn black smoke and only last about a month even when they still have plenty of wax in them. Noted.

7// DIY Natural Room Freshener at A Beautiful Mess. Well, I know what I'll be doing this weekend. #MAKEALLTHEROOMSPRAYS

8// My Fave Digital Photography Tools at Caylee Grey. Now that I've finally started a photography class, I'm soaking up everything I can from everywhere I can. Like I said in number two, Caylee's a goddess, so I'll take all the advice she tosses out.

9// Mexican Bean Salad at Hiser House.  Yum yum yum. I know for a fact that Lauren and I like a lot of the same foods, and I can already tell that this is going to be incredible. This makes me actually want to go grocery shopping this weekend.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Playlist

This month made me realize just how much of my playlists come from (1) driving between buildings listening to KC radio, which is awesome (The Buzz and The Bridge just get me, ya know?) or (2) listening to Spotify at my desk at work. Since a sizeable chunk of my work time is spent either in my car or at my desk, my new music discoveries (and old music re-discoveries) have really decreased since I've been off work. Even with that, though, this month's playlist might be one of my favorites; I'm SUPER obsessed with Glass Animals lately, and I've been really getting back into Josh Garrels, too. Maybe not being inundated with new music constantly forces me to be more conscious of music I really connect with, rather than just what I like for a month or so at a time? Whatever it is, I'm good with it. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Creative Chat: Michelle Houghton

It's time for another Creative Chat--this is the month of painting, and I'll be interviewing Michelle Houghton. Back in December, when the idea for Creative Chat came up, Michelle was the very first person who came to mind to interview. She is very literally one of the most inspiring and talented people I've ever met, and I can't believe I get to call her my friend. She is constantly just blowing me away with her insight, creativity, and amazing heart. Not only is she an incredible painter, but she's also a counselor, the co-founder of The Bravery Board--a mental wellness and personal growth organization that offers services such as counseling, life coaching, and regular workshops & gatherings--and a writer for The Mystery Hour, an Emmy Award-winning locally televised late night talk show. (You might have seen their hilarious viral video, "Instagram Husband" earlier this year!) Oh, and she's also a wife and a mother to one of the most adorable kids on the planet. She's basically Wonder Woman. No big deal.  
Okay, I'm going to shut up about how amazing Michelle is now, and let her show you herself:

1//When did you first become interested in painting? How did you choose painting out of all the creative mediums that exist?
I’ve been interested in painting since I was a kid. The first time I remember doing a painting I was probably 8 or 9 and painted watercolors on top of a JCPenny box that my mom ended up framing and putting on her wall. (And yes, it's still there in my parents’ house!) Although I always dabbled in painting growing up, I never pursued training for it until college. Throughout childhood and adolescence I mistakenly thought I needed to be naturally talented at painting or drawing in order to sign up for any sort of art classes. Anytime I created anything-- I had a lot of doubts about how good my work was, especially when I thought about how gifted some of my friends were at designing and drawing. Eventually I matured though and stopped taking myself so seriously, so when I took that first drawing class in college I loved it and produced some cool stuff. I’ve painted and drawn as a hobby off and on ever since.

Friday, May 27, 2016

KC Love: Thou Mayest

Is it wrong to declare a favorite coffee shop before you've visited most of the ones in your city? Even if it is, I think I'm okay with it. I mean, Thou Mayest has a lavender latte, the perfect atmosphere, and they're named after my favorite book--it's basically meant to be.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Spring Wishlist


Even though it's officially spring for another month, I'm starting to feel those summer vibes already. This will be our first summer in Kansas City in addition to my first summer off(!), and I can't wait to do lots of well as take a couple of trips. It's been a little while since I put together a wishlist, so I thought I would make one to capture my summer mood!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Planet Comicon 2016

I really don't put much effort into hiding the fact that I can be a little bit of a nerd at times (like, um, any time anyone talks about British history or Game of Thrones, for instance). One of those times comes a few days a year in the form of comicon. Tyler and I have gone the last few years, and even though capes & tights aren't really my thing, I've really come to look forward to it.  We went last weekend, and my brother and his girlfriend came up to join us!
Sorry for the crappy iPhone photos--I try to carry as little as possible!
I had my heart set on meeting the green/white Power Ranger, but the universe was working against me--well, the universe, and my aversion to waiting in long lines and paying $50 for a photograph. I still walked by and got to see him, George Takei, Stan Lee, Jason Mewes, Tom Felton (DRACO MALFOY, YOU GUYS!), and a bunch of other interesting folks. (We also ran into Ming Chen from Comic Book Men/Tell 'Em Steve Dave out on the sidewalk Thursday evening and got to chat with him for a bit!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Currently: Thou Mayest.

Feeling: A little nervous. I have to turn in my first assignment for my photography class tonight, and I really have no idea what I'm doing yet. 

Eating: Nothing, but I'm starting to dream about 3:30 pm.

Drinking: An iced lavender latte. It's the stuff dreams are made of. 

Watching: People mill about in Thou Mayest. This might be my favorite spot in the city so far. 

Wearing: one of those outfits I'm not sure I can pull off--a 90's throwback complete with tights under ripped denim shorts, combat-style boots, and a long plaid sleeveless shirt. Maybe I'll get brave enough to throw some photos up here once I decide if it's really a hit or miss.

Reading: Right now, my blog calendar and notes I took from last week's class. Buuuuuut I brought my Kindle in case I want to/have time to catch up on a little Game of Thrones. :)

Thinking about: Dinner. Seriously, it's 3:30.

Loving: Everything about my plan to camp out at Thou Mayest for a little while. I even nabbed a corner seat! 

Excited about: buying plane tickets to Seattle next week! 

Working on: making a to-do list for the rest of the week. You best believe it's going to include blogging, finishing a painting project, and watching the whole season of Broadchurch (UK edition, of course).

Listening to: An 80s soundtrack that's playing. First it was Land Down Under, and now it's Time After Time. Seriously, I love everything about my decision to come here. 

Worried about: drinking myself poor with those lavender latte's. 

Obsessing over: my summer work schedule! This is what heaven is like you guys--enough time to do the things you love and enough money to eat. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Lately I've been feeling caught at the crossroads between striving and contentment. Ever since I was a kid I've felt the pull--the pressure--to do well, do more, do better. If my family had a motto, it was "Always do your best and give it your all." I'm pretty sure it's just in my DNA somewhere. So I brought home A's straight through grad school. I collected degrees, certifications. I pick new things to learn like some people pick out shoes. I try to be good at a lot of things, and I try even harder not to let my identity get entangled in them.

Don't get me started on societal expectations; there's so much pressure to constantly improve yourself--your looks, your contributions, your education, your weight, your budget, your fitness level, your possessions. "Live your best life!" and all that. It's exhausting. 

I wonder at what point the striving negates the living. 

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