Valentine’s Day nails: Neutral half crescents

This year, I’ve decided to shy away from all the pinks, reds, and sparkles, and opted for a more neutral nail design for Valentine’s Day. Why? It’s a strong reflection of where the minimalist wardrobe building has taken me and I really like it. This nail design isn’t specifically for Valentine’s Day and can be worn any time of the year because of its neutral-ness, but I do like the idea of sporting them as a little twist on classic solid neutrals for the upcoming weekend!


This nail design is really easy to do. All it requires is a bit of patience between layers for drying! What you’ll need are two different colours of nail polishes and a sheet of paper hole reinforcements.

Step one: Apply base coat and let it dry. One the base coat is dry, select one of your nail polish colours to be the base. This is what will show up as the peeking crescent design. I chose the lighter shade of nail polish for this. Specifically, I used Zoya’s Jacqueline. Make sure that this coat is completely dry before moving onto step two.

half crescent nail tutorial

Step two: Using the hole reinforcement stickers, go about 1/3 of the way up from your nail bed and stick a reinforcement onto your nail, making sure to press down firmly on the sides/corners of the nails. Pushing out any air bubbles will help to prevent nail polish from leaking.

Step three: Once the sticker is on, paint coat of your second nail polish colour from the top of the reinforcement to the tip of your nail. I used a darker shade, Zoya’s Rue, than the colour in step one. Peel the hole reinforcement off before the polish dries (this will help to keep a crisp edge).

Step four: Wait for the second shade of polish from step three to fully dry before applying the top coat. Once your top coat is dry, you’re done!

How easy is that? Such a sophisticated nail design in under 5 steps!

If you’re looking for something a little more pink and sparkly, here are some tutorials for Valentine’s Day nails from past years:

DIY heart nail decals

Valentine’s Day nails 2 ways

WISHLIST: Valentine’s Day gifts

It’s been more than a month into 2016 and I’ve been holding out on making any clothing purchases. There’s something really comforting in feeling like there are no gaps in my wardrobe as it exists today! That’s not to say that I haven’t been doing lots of window shopping and eyeing pieces, but there hasn’t been a single item that has made me feel particularly compelled enough to break my no-shopping-spree for.

I thought about treating myself for Valentine’s Day this year, but then passed on it. Why? I honestly can’t bring myself to frivolously spend on something that I don’t need. Nevertheless, here are some pretty pieces I pulled as potential Valentine’s Day gifts (*cough for myself cough* haha! A girl can dream!):

wishlist valentine's day gift ideas

Rebecca Minkoff Regan Satchel | $375
Everything about this purse is perfect! The minimalist silhouette and palette would match all of the other “boring” and “basic” pieces in my wardrobe. The muted “biscuit” colour (I don’t know if this make the bag more or less appealing by comparing the colour to food) is a fresh take on the expected cognac or chocolate brown that has been overdone by other minimalist purses.

Herbivore Botanicals coconut milk bath soak | $32
After a long work day, the one thing I look forward to is taking a bath. The combination of warm water on the skin and aromatherapy really takes decompressing during “me time” to a whole knew level of relaxation. As a longtime fan of Herbivore Botanicals, I can only imagine how luxurious this bath soak would smell and feel!

Alberto Fermani cutout booties | $215
No wishlist is complete without a pair of shoes, am I right? I ended up retiring my beloved Hinge caged booties last fall (the heel got completely ground down to the steel post after a few too many bike rides in those bad boys), I wanted to replace them with more traditionally cutout booties. I initially bought the Seychelles Haywire booties but quickly realized they’re not exactly very Spring appropriate. They’re much more Fall/Winter with the fuller coverage on the foot. These Alberto Fermani ones are pretty high up on my list of shoe lusts!

Cloverpost parallel ring | $36
This ring speaks so much to my inner nerd that loved circuits labs in university. The parallel lines remind me of the capacitors in circuit diagrams hehe! I actually bought a similar ring like this one from Forever 21 last year, but it tarnished after a few wears and ended up turning my skin green for a few hours on its final wear before getting tossed. I never replaced it, but this 14k gold version from Alternative sounds like it’ll stick around for longer than a month’s time!

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!