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.

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