Sidetracked and ok with that

hooded oxblood jacket
outfit details:
grey tunic sweater: H&M (similar)
skinny jeans: J Brand (similar)
ankle booties: Sam Edelman c/o Aeropostale (exact and on sale!)
hooded coat: Forever 21 via Kim’s closet (similar options)

I cannot believe we are already a month into 2016! It’s been crazy– the good kind! Last month was filled with lots of reconnecting with friends new and old, reigniting old art flames (calligraphy and colouring), and getting a dose of reality from mentors.

If there’s one thing I learned and continued to preach from a past job, it would be the importance of mentorship (both inside and outside of work) and being able to have an honest reality check every 6 months or so. Mentors are not exactly people who I seek out explicitly, but after building up a solid friendship and getting to know someone’s strengths and/or weaknesses, it starts to become apparent whose life goals are similar to my own and who I want to continue to learn and get advice from.

Last month, I had dinner with a friend who I consider a mentor with strong insights to my personal career path. She is intelligent, articulate, ambitious, and carved her own career path by having a beautifully complimentary set of skills that melt into each other like butter. She’s the kind of jack-of-all-trades who is a master of her crafts, no matter which one is called on, and has played to many facets of her strengths across all the roles and jobs she’s held over the years. (Yes, she is my real life hero.) Our conversations are always filled with takeaways and strong lessons because of the fact that she has a few years up on me and is able to give me a dose of reality for circumstances in a foreseeable future.

Before actually penning my goals both for my personal life (here on the blog) and career (privately tucked away in my journal), I talked to my mentor about them. Why? I felt like I was getting sidetracked by the “generalness” of them and potentially signing myself up to plateau instead of continuing to grow. After all the crazy accomplishments last year, I felt like these goals wouldn’t be keeping pace for personal growth, which is why I kept waffling back and forth about lofty goals vs maintenance goals. She asked the hard questions around what I wanted my future to look like and why I thought it needed to look a certain way. On top of that, she made me realize that everything I panicked about career-wise in the past were slowly working themselves out because I stopped chasing things that other people defined as their own successes and started to understand what my own measurements of success are.

Mentorship has taught me that there’s no right or wrong way too define my own happiness and successes. While I may have gotten sidetracked in the past for chasing dreams that were not necessarily my own, or for blindly trying to find happiness in things that are not at all appealing to me in the same way they are for others, I’m ok with it. If it weren’t for these past life lessons, I would have never learned how to define success for myself.

A lot of that happiness was discovered last year, and this year is all about maintaining it.

Goals for 2016

I had a really tough time writing goals for 2016 because 2015 felt like such a crazy year full of ambitious goals that I would never be able to top. Every time I sat down to write about goal setting, I would think, “What can I do that will be bigger and better that the last goal?” and it got too overwhelming. Spending the last couple of weeks devoid from thinking about goal setting, I think I’ve finally figured it out.

goals for 2016

My goals for this year shouldn’t be to outdo 2015. Why did I think I needed to be in a competition with myself? So silly. I’m looking to change the tone of the conversation from chasing the “next big thing” to instead being happy in the present and maintaining where I am now. 2016 will be about learning how to maintain the current status quo after the “big wins” have already been accomplished.

Be present: let technology take a backseat
One big thing that biking taught me last year was to enjoy my current surroundings. Spending hours on a bike and not being able to constantly check my phone for the latest Instagrams, Facebook updates, or tweets, showed me how amazing it is to be present in what’s currently happening. Being 100% ingrained in conversations and attentive to the surroundings is what I want to do! This year, I’m hoping to keep my phone off the table while in the company of others, stay engaged in personal conversations, and know that things on the internet can wait for catching up on during down time.

Run at least once a week
I’m not a runner. I’ve never had the stamina to make it further than 5 blocks (no joke!) in a single go with a brisk jogging pace. Since I can’t bike consistently each week with the rainy Seattle winter days, running will be the way that I balance maintaining some sort of level of fitness this year. My goal is to be able to run at least 2 miles without stopping by the end of the year. Definitely doesn’t seem like a crazy goal, but trust me when I say I am currently an awful runner! haha ;)

Continue to learn new things
Last year, I was on a “learning kick”, taking classes, working on old skills, and getting excited to try new things! One of my favourite classes was a calligraphy class at Fresh Tangerine. This year, I want to keep taking classes and learning new skills! The thought of being out of my comfort zone to try something new makes me nervous, but I love a good challenge. On the top of my lists are classes for woodworking, welding (or some sort of metal smith), and pottery. In summary, this goal is rooted in the idea of exploring my passions and continuing to grow.

Finish building a minimalist, working closet
Last year, a lot of purging went down. I was able to downsize to about 50% of my closet, but I know there are still refinements that need to be made. It’s also now clear there are some holes that need to be filled. I want to be conscious of the pieces that remain in my wardrobe as it exists today, and even more aware of the pieces that get added moving forward. I’ve been working really hard to avoid falling victim to fast fashion and have seen the upsides to spending a few more dollars on quality pieces.

This year is a short list of goals, but I’m excited to stick with them! Each of them are pretty open ended, but I’m hoping to stay focused this year on maintaining the foundation that was set in 2015.

3 Podcasts for bloggers new and old

In light of the east coast snowstorm this weekend, I’m hoping that today’s post brings something fun for those who might be hanging out indoors to hibernate from the cold. I’m a huge fan of podcasts because they’re such an easy way to digest information, especially while commuting or to have playing in the background when doing chores.

Over the winter break, I went on a podcast listening binge and uncovered a handful of stand-out episodes of podcasts. These are the top 3 podcasts for bloggers that I thought were so fascinating to listen to and learn from.

#1: The Lively Show: Life after blogging (episode)
What this episode is about: Jess Lively, host of The Lively Show, is a blogger and former independent jewelry business owner. In this episode, she interviews John and Sherry of the popular home renovation blog, Young House Love. They discuss what it was like to run a popular design blog for 7 years, the skills learned from blogging, why they decided to leave the blogging world, and how to apply the skills they learned to future career opportunities.

Why you should listen: As someone who has been blogging for 5+ years, the question of “What’s Next?” pops into my mind from time-to-time. Hearing about YHL’s the transition from blog life to the next career opportunity was fascinating. There are so many skills that being a blogger and social media influencer requires and hearing about the ways others have transitioned their skill sets from one role to the next is inspiring! I won’t go into too many details before spoilers are revealed, but let’s just say this episode is really eye opening!

#2: Stuff mom never told you: The hidden lives of fashion bloggers (episode)
What this episode is about: This episode was actually recommended by Nicole of Writes Like a Girl, so I knew I had to add it to my queue. It explores the behind-the-scenes of how much work goes into blogging and the dilemmas related to the blurred line between “blog life” and “real life” that are sometimes crossed by those who are writing them. It’s fascinating to hear stories of bloggers who act a certain way during things like friend outings – or even their honeymoons – for the sake of blog content.

Why you should listen: This episode was absolutely fascinating! Sometimes it’s hard to get caught up in how “perfect” someones life appears based on how they decide to curate their life on social media. It’s easy to forget that not everything is perfect all the time and that bloggers brand themselves to essentially capture and curate a certain aesthetic and lifestyle appeal. This episode not only helped me to be more reflective about the importance of not “keeping up with the Joneses”, while also giving a whole new level of appreciation to the bloggers who have dedicate their lives to building their own brand.

#3: Start up (full podcast)
What this podcast is about: Based on the title, you guessed it! It’s about starting and running your own business (which many blogs are now turning into). While this isn’t specifically fashion or blogging related, the topics covered in each episode are really informative, as they chronicle the start of Gimlet Media, the company that is launching this very podcast (pretty meta stuff, eh?).

Why you should listen: Start Up not only shows the happy-go-lucky-sunshine moments of starting a business, but also pulls back the covers and reveals when things go wrong. Whenever we hear about start ups in the media, they’re always success stories that seem like ideas that “made it rich” overnight. In reality, many months – sometimes years – are put into a start up idea before anyone takes notice or an offer for acquisition is made. This podcast helped me better to extrapolate the steps it must have taken some of the top fashion bloggers to launch from being their own personal writer to growing a team to produce content.

What are some of your favourite podcasts or episodes? I’m so curious to know, outside of podcasts for bloggers, what you’re listening to!

The essential tote

The Essential cognac tote bag from Moorea Seal
jumpsuit ASOS faux fur moto jacket
outfit details:
pocketed jumpsuit: Lulu’s (similar)
Hartley tote: c/o Moorea Seal (similar options)
faux fur moto jacket: ASOS (exact & 40% off!)
black wedges: Rockport (similar)

As often as I can, I try to travel light. This usually means carrying nothing but my wallet, keys, and cellphone in my pockets. On the days that my pockets can’t fit my belongings, this tote is a lifesaver! Here’s what I’ve been toting around lately on my weekend hangouts in coffee shops:

moorea seal cognac hartley essential tote

Being in dry, winter air, hand cream is a must. I have 3 tubes of this L’Occitane lavender hand cream that I can’t get enough of. One tube is on my desk, one on the bathroom counter, and one in the tote. I also recently got the Néroli & Orchidée scent, which also smells sweet and is a nice scent to have in the bag to change things up a bit. Always great to have (at least) one handy!

It’s no secret that I am also a huge fan of colouring books and am currently dipping my pencil crayons (err… coloured pencils, as all of my American friends have corrected me) in the Enchanted Forest book that was also picked up from the Moorea Seal store. The pages in this book are so beautifully weighted, which makes all the difference when it comes to colouring books. Not to mention, the designs are intricate and really relaxing to fill in while trying to unwind.

Lastly, one thing I always carry in a bag with me is a pair of socks. Why? Well… something that not many people know is that I love to bowl. Bowling is the sport that makes my granny heart flutter, and I’ve had to pass up on a few bowling opportunities because I didn’t have a pair of socks on hand. To me, missing out on an opportunity to bowl is like watching a perfectly good cookie fall on the floor! IT SUCKS!! So yes… lesson learned to always have socks on hand. If you like squirrels, cats, and bears on your socks, this pack is for you!

There you have have it– the contents of this essential tote!

REVIEW: FIG + YARROW clay mask

Review: fig+yarrow clay mask rose review
(photo via Urban Outfitters, here)

As I’ve been revamping my skincare routine this season, face masks have been high up on my list of products to find a favourite for. I was first introduced to face masks with a paste-like viscosity in 2014 when my family bought a couple of cutely-packaged masks from The Face Shop (below).

The Face Shop clay mask

I loved these not only for the cute packaging, but because the masks left my face feeling smooth and silky after one use. The only downside was the fact that they did not meet TSA regulations, which led to them almost being confiscated once while they were tucked away in my toiletries bag on a carry-on for a flight. I try to keep face masks handy, especially when flying, because my skin gets extra dry – and sometimes irritated – after being cooped up on a plane for multiple hours.

Technically, I could’ve opted to buy a handful of individually wrapped face mask sheets (like these ones), but I wanted a “bulk solution” to keep the budget for traveling and everyday necessities realistic.

I stumbled across these Fig + Yarrow clay masks in powder form while searching for new masks to try on Amazon, and then ended up finding the same ones for $7 cheaper at Urban Outfitters (I’m a sucker for a good deal)! I bought the rose one because it’s made specifically for sensitive to normal skin types. Made of all natural ingredients, the powder can be combined with water, honey, yogurt, or aloe to create a mask consistency to your liking. I’ve only tried it with water so far and absolutely love being able to control the consistency of the paste, using a 2:1 powder to water mix. A little bit of power goes a long way!

fig+yarrow clay mask
Waiting for the clay mask to fully dry (20% there!)

In the last month, I’ve used this product 3 times. Here’s what I’ve concluded:

– Powder format is perfect for traveling, especially when going through TSA in your carry on
– A little goes a long way– I’ve barely made a dent in the amount of product after using this 3 times, so I’m guessing that this one jar will last me at least until the end of the year
– Skin feels very soft and silky after one use
– Has a nice, subtle, herbal fragrance once you apply water to create the mask
– Does not have an oily or sticky residue, like other masks I’ve previously tried

– Although easy to wash off, the clay will stain your face towel. I made the mistake of using a white face cloth, which is now streaky pink
– True to a powder nature, it is a bit messy to mix. For easy application purposes, I usually mix the mask in the palm of my hand, which means having to deal with a bit of spilled powder on the counter/sink

Would I recommend the Fig+Yarrow clay mask (rose)? Yes! Knowing that I have traditionally paid $4-$6 for individual sheet masks, there will be plenty of masks to be made with this $16 Fig+Yarrow jar. The level of exfoliating is perfect for my sensitive skin and my face feels soft and smooth after washing the mask off.

Hope you enjoyed the clay mask review!