Photography: My Journey, Growth, Advice, Etc.

I've touched on the topic of photography a few times on here but not as much as I'd like to. I understand not everyone who reads my blog is a photographer or is even remotely interested in the subject - but I hope something I share speaks to you in some sort of way or at least gives you a breather from your busy work day. Who knows, man.

A bit of back story. I got interested in photography when I was 14/15 years old. A freshman in high school. I decided to take a film photography class on a complete whim. I wish high schools still had it available these days. If yours does, I highly suggest trying it. It changed my life. Deep.

I didn't actually start shooting clients for money until I was around 17 years old. I would just ask friends to model for me so I could take photos of someone other than myself. MYSPACE. I shot my first two weddings in 2008 when I was 18, a contract written in one paragraph, 3-4 hours for I think, $400 (when I lived in the midwest). Looking back at those photos.. its.. so weird. So different from how I shoot now. But this is how you find your own style.

Let's go back and cringe to the beginning when I started having real clients. 2008-2009. 

My first two weddings. Oh boy, haha. This was when I lived in St. Louis, MO. These make me happy but they are also hard to look at, haha. There are photographers who can use layers of textures and make it absolutely beautiful and then there's 18 year old me googling "old vintage paper" textures thinking I'm an innovator, haha. Hey! At the time, I was stoked. As I should be. I was growing and didn't even know it and that's pretty fucking cool. I put myself out there in a city I was a newcomer in. I'm really proud of myself for that. 


Fast forward to 2010-2011. 

I still had a day job, this was HARDLY paying my bills. I just never wanted to stop and I'm very glad I didn't. I was 20/21 and in the middle of a divorce but still pushing myself to shoot. I would do specials, discounts, even doing shoots for free just to have content and keep my brain on creative mode. No matter what shit is going on in your life, if something brings you joy - don't let anything stand in your way of doing it, as a career or for free, who cares. Do it. 

Some of my work from 2011. 


Fast forward to 2013/2014. 

We're trying new things now. Stepping a bit outside of my comfort zone here.

This was still a very chaotic few years of my life, trying to figure out what the fuck I was doing basically. But here we are, the one constant I had was photography, still. I shot the most weddings within this time period and I'm glad that I did - because it made me realize how I could never be a full time wedding photographer, haha. Don't get me wrong, shooting weddings can be ridiculously fun and I love the on-spot challenge, but full time? I was getting wiped out and fast. And what I learned? There is nothing wrong with realizing that. This goes along with my entire theme of this post: You learn as you go. You realize what you love and what you don't; there's no right or wrong. You're growing. You aren't a failure just because you can't shoot a wedding every single weekend. Fuck, I can't do that. But I know some incredible photographer friends of mine who do just that and LIVE FOR IT. And hell yeah! I don't know how they do it and I applaud them. But don't ever beat yourself up thinking that's the norm.

There is no norm. There is only you. And what you love. Do just that.


Fast forward a little further, 2015-2016.

This is when it all started coming together and I feel like my own style was being born. Of course, I'm still learning new things, but this was the year I feel like I definitely bloomed. aw. See, almost 10 years after I got into photography did I find my own personal style. 

This is when you start coming up with your own ideas instead of trying to mimic those you admire. Sometimes people get stuck in that rut and I've been there 100%. Don't feel discouraged. The best thing is to feed off of the moment and try something you've never seen before. Get to know your clients and make sure the session represents them as a whole. As a unit.

See below. I did an entire family shoot inside of a school bus yard because their toddler was obsessed with school buses. Why the fuck not? That is 100% uniquely THEM and I love that so much. Push yourself to ask questions and cater to them individually rather than just finding somewhere pretty. Just my two cents.

2016 itself was a year of extreme growth, not only in how I shot, but in my business in general. Late 2015 was when I got laid off of my 9-5 office job and started freelancing photography full time. This was also when we began the shop which has now become my full time gig as well. It was a crazy year but I've never hustled so much for photo work in my entire life. I was being shameless. as. fuck. But that's what it takes when that's your only form of income. There's nothing wrong with "cold calling" people for sessions or running 1 hour specials. Work is work god damnit, no matter how you get it, haha. You're building a portfolio and that's most important.

If you'd like to check out more of my current work, CLICK HERE FOR MY WEBSITE.


Here we are. 2017.

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My Advice.

This isn't going to be in any particular order, I'm just going to word vomit like usual and hope this all flows, haha.

Personally, for being such a weirdly introverted person, I found that I am actually a very good people person when it comes to working with new clients. How? I honestly feel like the more confident you are in the work that you're providing... the more confident you are with strangers and making them feel comfortable. Because you're comfortable. They trust you. And it's a comforting combo. This is something you develop over time 100%. Especially if you're an introvert. Do not feel discouraged if it takes you awhile to come out of your shell. You're human.

The advice of "fake it 'til you make it" also runs true in this craft. Well, any craft. Act confident even if you do not feel confident in that moment. I will admit, so often am I in the middle of a session and I have no idea what my next shot is going to be; I'm coming up with random shit until something clicks and I run with it. Please note: I very rarely will walk into a session with a secure idea in mind. I just fucking wing it. And my current clients are reading this laughing right now...haha. But it's true. You have to think on your feet most, if not all of the time.

Having clients who are willing to do your wacky ideas and trusting you is one of the best feelings in the world. Pleaseee keep those people around. They are gold. Building a client base took me YEARS and I can proudly say I've never spent a dime on advertisements. It's all about word of mouth and tagging your clients on Facebook. Honestly. The better experience you give them, the more keen they are to recommend you to their friends and family and it's a beautiful snowball effect. This is just what works for me, everyone is different. I mean, one of my current clients is a former high school teacher to another one of my clients. Like, the fuck? The internet is crazy I love it so much. 

One thing I get asked A LOT is about equipment. "I'm a beginner, what kind of camera should I buy?" People thinking that the amount of megapixels in a DSLR equals it's overall quality. Wrong. Unless you're intending on blowing up images the size of buildings, you don't need that 50.6 megapixel camera, Susan. I started off shooting with a tiny credit card sized camera my grandmother bought me. Probably had the resolution of a razor flip phone, not even joking you. Slowly saved money and bought a Canon point-and-shoot (I don't remember which one specifically), from there as time went on, I saved and got a Canon 30D and a 50mm 1.8 (the best beginner portrait lens if you're on a budget). And etc etc etc. I grew overtime, but I honestly feel like the equipment I used and upgraded to had nothing to do with my growth. There are photos I took on my old cameras that I love just as much as my current ones. Camera bodies and lenses can only do so much... I've seen some incredible photographs taken with some incredibly inexpensive gear. It's all about who's behind the lens. AS CHEESY AS THAT SOUNDS. I believe it. Get what you can afford and go from there.

That being said. My advice to aspiring photographers is always this - Never stop shooting. Whether it's your career or a weekend hobby. Never stop creating. I never went to college for this. Like I've mentioned before on this blog, I'm not a classroom person. I'd rather learn by doing and by failing. BUT there is nothing wrong with going to school to learn more about something if that's what suits you personally either. Know that. Everyone is different.

Growth is there, over time you will see it (like you saw mine in this post), as long as you are always eager enough to try new things and step outside of your box. This goes for EVERYTHING you do in life, not just photography. I am in no way perfect at what I do. I'm messy and I have bad days where I get in my head just like everyone else, but I never stop trying and that's what's key. I hope this inspires at least one person to dust off their camera or whatever it is their creative tool is and get back out there. Go get 'em, nothing is stopping you, I believe in you.

Owning A Small Business: Our Story, Advice, etc.

So, you're thinking about starting a small business? Or you're bored and curious? Either way, let's start off with a little disclaimer: Reality is, there's no step by step process that guarantees you 100% success in the small business world. I feel like if there was, everyone would be doing it. And if there was, very few would be sitting here writing out all of the steps, haha. 

We've had this business of ours for a year and a half now. Which in no way makes us experts. But I do feel like we're far enough along to be able to sit down and share what we've learned, what works, what has helped, and what we're still currently learning... because the learning is NEVER over. You are constantly evolving as a brand, as a human fucking being which takes your business in many different directions as you grow. A journey, if you will. How profound. How deep.


A little back story. I've always dreamt of working for myself. My dad has had his own construction company my whole entire life so I grew up surrounded by it. I'm sure that's where I get the drive. Thank you dad.

Now, me. I personally never found happiness in working for other companies or other people. I'm just gonna be honest and blunt, as always. It never made sense to me to put so much time and effort into something that I wasn't getting the full benefit from. Not just talking about profit. I know that may sound ridiculous and somewhat selfish to some people... but for some reason that's how I'm wired. I know tons of people that LOVE working a 9-5 job and being able to come home and shut off and relax and that's okay too. I want to make that clear. I'm just talking about me personally, I never found fulfillment in it. I like to be pushed and challenged. I've had "normal" jobs my whole life. I've worked at Forever 21, Jamba Juice, a custom interior door company, a wholesale cosmetology company, a photo editing software company, etc etc. I've done my fair share of "working for the man" since I was 15 years old, and while I don't regret ANY of those experiences because they've taught me so much... I've always longed to work for myself and be my own boss. I find that in that environment I work harder and I care more because the harder you work, the more opportunity you create. Everything is in your hands and you have the power to make as much or as little as you want. It's daunting as fuck, yes, and there's ZERO stability, yes, but I love it. It's not for everybody, that's OKAY, because again - I'm just telling my story. 

October 2015. Originally, this started off as something fun we could create and sell and make some extra cash. The beginning. The Face Shit™ Makeup Bag. Our baby.

For those of you who are curious... this became a thing when I saw a makeup bag on Youtube that said "War Paint" on it and I hunted it down on the internet to purchase. It was like $60 and I couldn't swing that... so I decided to make my own, but obviously not copy the same words, I came up with "Face Shit." Because well, that's what it fucking is, am I right? Long story short, I hand painted one on a plain bag, posted a harmless photo of it and immediately had multiple requests to make and sell them. I brushed it off but Spencer convinced me to try it. Boom. I'm glad he did.

And here we are today... creating tons of different products, it's my full time job, Spencer just recently quit his full time job to devote more time to the business and our freelance work. Yes, we both still do freelance photography. I don't think either of us will ever stop taking photos no matter what our financial situation is. But regardless, it's crazy we've made it to where we are today.


Tips.

The first thing you need. A business name + purchase a domain. This is usually the hardest part, like choosing the perfect AIM screen name. Unfortunately I can't really help you with this process other than offer this piece of advice: Stay simple, pick something that's unique, easily remembered and easily pronounceable. 

Second step. Pick a platform. There are tons to choose from and it does seem a bit daunting.. but depending on your goal for your business, it's easy to narrow it down. Currently, you're on a Squarespace driven site. Super user friendly and easy to set up if you have NO idea how to do html or any type of coding. However, if you're looking to be 100% commerce without a blog involved - you might wanna check out Shopify. A bit more of a setup, but more commerce options to choose from. Just my two cents. 

Third step. Get your legal ducks in a row. What do I mean? Documents. Business license. FBN. EIN. Tax paperwork. Trust me when I say you want all of these things filed and live before you start selling. If you're looking to purchase wholesale - a resale license is also required. Every city and every state is different - so I would research this information wherever you're located and find out what you need to do to set these things up. 

Fourth step. Create a home on social media. Set up an Instagram account, or use your personal one like I do. Facebook, twitter, whatever you want. You don't NEED to have all of these accounts, but if you have the time to keep up with updating them all - why not? When it comes to Instagram though, setting up a username: treat it the same way as you did when you created your domain. Keep it simple and easily rememberable. 

Fifth step. Start coming up with ideas for your products (if you haven't already). Start putting things into action. Figure out if you want to print from home or you want to outsource your printing and production. Again, there's no right or wrong way for this either. Both are completely respectable ways of doing business so don't feel pressured any which way. Us personally, we outsource our production, mainly because we don't have the space or room to print items ourselves at the moment. Do whatever is best for you! There are of course pros and cons to either choice so it's strictly a personal decision and what best fits for you. I would also suggest starting off with a small number of products in the beginning. You should give yourself time to assess your customer base and learn what works and what doesn't before you start growing. (You know, saving money doesn't hurt)

Sixth step. Start promoting. Get your stuff out there. Whether it be out on the internet, on human beings, in the hands of influencers, local pop-up markets, etc etc. There's no need to go overboard and do all of them at once, these are just suggestions. Make your own strategy. :)


Advice. When you're starting out, don't go into it expecting to make tons of money immediately. You're not going to. And that's okay. We all didn't. It is also not necessary to pour tons of money INTO the business when you're just starting out. Granted, it is correct that you have to spend money to make money, but what I mean is - don't go overboard with details. Don't be extra. There are so many ways to be frugal and creative in the beginning. When we first started, I was hand writing shipping addresses with a sharpie on every single package because we didn't have money for a label maker. We slowly upgrade our materials and systems as we go, as we see growth and as we can afford to. Slowly but surely. And to be honest, it feels that much more amazing when you do - because you know you've earned it. 

One more piece of advice. Make sure you stay true to yourself throughout this entire process. Don't get caught up in what other people are wanting and lose focus on what's important to you. Your brand. Your message. Be authentic, be honest. I always say, I would never put out a product that I wouldn't personally use or wear myself. That's a good way to stay grounded. Also, if you think of any idea for ANYTHING, please do research before you put anything into production. As someone who's dealt with her fair share of copy cats, nothing is quite as discouraging as people ripping off your creative ideas and hard work. Don't be that guy. 

Like I said in the beginning, we're still learning as we go. You will too. Especially as we continually create new products and try new things. As long as you stay true to yourself in this entire process, you're golden. It isn't easy but I can assure you 100% that the pay off is worth it if you work hard and don't give up. I almost said 'it's no cake walk'... do you remember those things? What the hell was that? Why did I not question the randomness of that game as a child? Anyways, yes, it's going to be difficult because it's all up to you and there isn't someone giving you deadlines and paychecks every 2 weeks but that's what's so fucking great about it. The possibilities are endless. 


One more thing. Please don't take this post as me nudging you to quit your day job either. Everyone moves at their own pace. I had a full time office job in the beginning of this and so did Spencer up until just a month ago - so please do not rush yourself if you're not ready. I want to make that very clear.

I will humbly repeat myself and remind you: I am no business expert nor do I claim to have the answers to everything. This is just what we've learned and what has worked for us. I truly believe I've found a huge part of myself since starting this business and I've never been this driven or passionate about anything in a really fucking long time. Why not share it with all of you?

If you currently own a small business and you're reading this, I'm high-fiving you. Keep kicking ass and I urge you to comment your website below as I'd love to check out what you do! And if you're reading this wanting to start a small business, I say hell yeah. There are SO many creative and inspiring individuals in the world and I want nothing more than to see people succeed and be happy and support them in any way possible. I hope this helps anyone who's been looking for direction or a friendly nudge to start something. Thank you to everyone who's ever supported us or any small business because you are who make this all possible. The real MVP's. I love you guys, thank you for making our dreams come true. 

2 0 1 7 Favorites - So Far.

I feel like we haven't spoken in awhile on the subject of favorites. Can we all just sit down with our pocket books and shoes in a circle here and talk about girl things? There are a few products I've been using so far this year that have been game changers. I know people tend to do monthly favorites but I'm slow, I need time to develop feelings and begin a deep emotional relationship with products. Love and tenderness, love and tenderness. 

Keep in mind, I'm going to cover everything. Makeup, skincare, hair care and even clothing. Shall we? I've got 10. In no particular order.


1. Benefit Cosmetics Hello Flawless h20 Foundation.

I've been using this foundation all. mother fucking. year. long. I'm obsessed with it's natural finish and dewy-ness. Super hydrating, super light but also build able if needed. I'm a really big fan. Can you tell? It's basically empty.... 

I found it best to apply this foundation with my fingers rather than a brush or a sponge, I find it just sinks into the skin better. *shrug* 

I'd probably say this is light to medium coverage and great for people like me with normal/dry skin. I'm in the shade Champagne for anyone interested as well. :) 


2. Colourpop Blotted Lip + Ultra Blotted Lip.

Now, these came out a little bit ago. I added these to the list because since the second I got them, I've been wearing them pretty much every single day. And this is coming from a girl who buys lipstick but in reality, doesn't wear lipstick on a daily basis. Ever. There are times I put it on, take a photo and then make the split decision to take it off before I leave the house. Guilty. But these... I'm obsessed. The blotted lip is more like a matte lip tint/balm. Super creamy, a little transfer but not enough for me to be annoyed. Subtle colors. Super pretty! And the Ultra blotted lip is basically the liquid matte version. Super light I can't even tell it's on. Also, zero transfer. I can go on and on about how much I love this line... now excuse me while I stock up on every single shade. 

*favorite shade. Ultra blotted lip: Zuma

*favorite shade. Blotted lip: Drip


3. Get Frecked.

This is a company that I've been following for what feels like years. They were originally a kickstarter that I was extremely intrigued by. Coming from someone who's been wearing the occasional freckle by eyeliner for years now... you have a product that's easier? I'm listening. They just recently launched and you bet your ass I was up at 10am PST clicking like a mad man to score one. I did. And I have been rocking them ALMOST every single day since it arrived and this is no exaggeration. For those of you that like the occasional freckled sun-kissed look like I do, this is a must have. They blend SO much better than eyeliner, they sink into your skin and don't rub off when you put more products on top of it. I'm amazed. If you want to see what they look like ON me, click here. Also, yay for supporting small businesses! The owner of this business is a boss ass bitch and I'm so impressed with her hustle. Git it, Remi.  

 

 


4. EvoHair Salty Dog Spray (Really, EvoHair Everything)

This company has been talked about for a few months now. I've been hearing so many rumors on the interwebs that I finally had to see what the hype was about.

I bow down. I am at a loss. Fucking incredible. My hair feels fucking incredible. Let's also talk about their Sea Salt spray that doesn't make my hair dry and sticky. What kind of sorcery is this?! I gotta say... super impressed. This company may have just beat out Lush in my opinion and I know that is saying a lot. My soft and pretty hair speaks for itself.

*another favorite product: Evohair moisture mask! 

 

 


5. MuddyBody Glow Skin Perfecting Elixir. 

(Use the code: Girrlscout)

I've been using MuddyBody masks since, god, forever? We'll just go with that. Still using them on the weekly, might I add. But we're not here to talk about that. This glowy gold goddess of an elixir has been a part of my daily skincare/makeup routine since the day it arrived on my doorstep. I kid you not. I use this before I put on foundation as sort of a moisturizer/primer and it doubles as the greatest lip primer of all time. 

Now, I know there's another gold or rose/gold elixir like this by Farsali. And the answer is yes, I've tried it. I've tried both and they both are good. Not going to lie. Just different scents, both good. Now, $39... or $55. That's what it comes down to. Also, small business support trumps everything for me. I like being a part of the muddy body family. No I am not being paid to write this. #notsponsored 


6. Blueprint Botanicals Be Brilliant Face Serum.

I have been religiously using this face serum every night before bed for the past 2/3 months or so. I have seen a crazy difference in my skin and it's texture even. I wake up feeling glowy and it also smells amazing. 

It's also best to pat this into your skin instead of rubbing it in. I've learned that recently and saw a huge difference!

I've also used this as an overnight scalp treatment - works really well! This stuff is amazing. Also, YES, SMALL BUSINESSES FOR THE WIN.

*please note: looks like her site is temporarily down at the moment but it should be back soon! I had no idea until after I wrote this review. eek!


7. Duvolle "Impulse" Far-infared Flat Iron.

(Use the code: GS70)

Super impressed with this flat iron coming from someone who's used cheap ones in the past that have worked just fine, but overtime I noticed it wasn't treating my hair very well. You want something gentle  This doubles as both for me. Easiest flat iron I've ever curled with because of it's 1" rounded *tourmaline coated plates for superior straightening and hold, as well as ENIG (Extra Negative Ion Generation) technology to lock in moisture.

This was a pleasant surprise for me and it didn't break the bank! My code will give you 70% off and no I am not being paid to write this review. #notsponsored 


8. KL Polish

Most of you know who KathleenLights is. For those of you who don't, she's a super adorable youtuber. I don't follow many BUT, she's pretty damn cute. She started her own nail polish line and I was immediately hooked after one purchase. I feel like I now own every color. The brush on these is so AMAZING and SO easy to apply. I've never done my nails so fast and efficiently. Go me! I've always hated skinny brushes that take forever and you have to sit there for an hour doing one hand. *eye roll* So fast, so opaque, unique colors and stays on! IMPRESSED, KATHLEEN.

*Not sold in stores. Online only. But super fast shipping!


9. Topshop Jamie Jeans.

I've talked about jeans on here before I think -back when I discovered American Eagle "jeggings" *barf* that word. I now can officially say I've traded those pairs in for Topshop Jamie jeans. Holy beautiful ass. These are SO comfortable, SO flattering and SUCH good quality.

Now, I know what you're thinking, $70 for a pair of jeans? Or maybe I was thinking that at first, but once I caved and bought one pair.... I now own 10? 11? If you can't afford that, which makes total sense - try looking on Poshmark or Depop, I've scored a few pairs on there as well for half the price. I will treat myself to a pair every now and then when I have extra cash. Definitely worth it. These are game changers, people. The only jeans I own. 

*They sell them at Nordstroms for anyone who wants to try them on in person before they purchase online.


10. Puff.Me Volume Powder Spray

I came across this product on Instagram and patiently waited for it to come back in stock for WEEKS. I'm so glad I grabbed it! I literally LIVE for hair volume, especially during this growing out process. Anything that will make it look like I have more hair than I actually do... sign me the fuck up! 

I've tried so many root lifters and powders and it's a pain to apply and it leaves my hair feeling disgusting. This is the only one I've tried, not kidding, that works well, is SO easy to apply and doesn't leave my hair feeling gross afterwards. I've talked about this in a few videos on Instagram... and here I am again. Talking about it. Because it fucking works and that's what matters. I love it!


I hope this was useful to someone... anyone... I'm gonna hope for the best, haha. There's always so many products circulating out there that you never know what's actually good and what's just marketed well. That's why favorites posts are so important. Let me know if you guys have ANY questions I'm happy to answer them in the comments below! Have a great motherfucking week. I friggin' love you all! xo

My Name Is Spencer And I'm A Drug Addict.

I'll start off with saying that I don't normally talk about this part of my life. I am not ashamed of it, but I have found that when you tell people you are a recovering drug addict a snap judgement is made. I can't say I blame those people, but in any case it's easier to just avoid the conversation all together unless it is relevant. 

That being said, Michelle shared a dark chapter of her life not so long ago in hopes of helping people that might be going through a similar situation and after seeing the overwhelming positive response the post had, I thought sharing my dark chapter might also be helpful to some people.

I'll spare you the gruesome details, but at the age of 14 I was arrested on my high school campus for possession of narcotics for sale. I had a pretty hefty addiction to heroin and crystal meth and I had a stiff liking for just about any pills I could get my hands on. I had been using very heavily for about 3 years. Now I'm sure a lot of you are thinking how could you be a drug addict at such a young age? Well, let's talk about it.

Addiction is a disease. You are born with it, or you are not. An alarming amount of people suffer from it, even if they don't even know it. That doesn't necessarily mean they are drug addicts, it just means that they have become powerless over an addiction and their lives have become unmanageable because of it. It could be anything - shopping, sex, video games, food, etc. or in my case - drugs. Drug abuse just happens to be the most widely destructive because it is mind altering, in most cases illegal, and a lot of the time your body can become physically dependent on it. 

Now, in my case, my addiction caused me to do a lot of things I'm not proud of. I lied, I cheated, I stole, I hurt people, just like any respectable drug addict would. But at that age and especially with that kind of addiction, I didn't care. I just wanted to be numb. I hated everyone and I just wanted to be left alone. I wanted to escape from what I thought was a living hell. Which is funny now that I look back on it. I didn't have a bad childhood. I grew up in a loving middle class suburban family. I had plenty of friends. I played sports and was good at them. But for whatever reason I wanted to escape that. I started hanging out with gangs, selling drugs, fighting a lot, all with little regard for the potentially life ending - or at least life ruining consequences. All things considered I was very lucky to have been caught when I was, although at the time I felt very differently. 

I was obviously expelled from my school and spent quite a bit of time in rehab and began my journey of recovery. Of course, as a young rebellious 14 year old kid I had no plans of staying sober. I continued to sell drugs, fight, roll with gangs, and was arrested more times in my early years of sobriety then I was when I was using. I figured I would stay sober until I was 18 when my father would no longer have any legal influence on my life.

But as time passed, I realized what a mess my life was. I mean, what 14 year old is detoxing from amphetamines and opiates at the same time in the substance abuse rehabilitation wing of a hospital? As I reluctantly began to work my way through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous I realized that I had created quite a bit of wreckage even though I had little to show for it. I remember being in and out of court for the first year or two dealing with my felony charges and wondering if that was what my life was going to be like from then on. It was daunting. I had to learn how to live again. I had to learn how to feel things and deal with pain and depression without the help of narcotics. I had to feel all the feels and get through it. Sounds easy, but to a 14 year old who spent most of his puberty on drugs, it wasn't.

Early on in the program, I was told I would never be able to use drugs or drink alcohol ever again for the rest of my life, and if I did, I would surely end up in jail, rehab, or the morgue. I was told that I would never fully recover from drug addiction and that this nightmare of a disease would be with me for the rest of my life doing pushups in the back of my mind. And if I didn't do everything I could to fight back, it would undoubtedly destroy me. Some strong things for a 14 year old to hear. Especially because all I wanted to do was get high and all these crocks with their sobriety chips and 'higher powers' were bonkers anyways. It wasn't until I started to hang out with older people that had what I wanted that I started to realize how much of a piece of shit I truly was and that a change really did need to be made. Not only did I need to not use drugs ever again, I needed to repair the wreckage I had caused, and spend the rest of my life repaying my debt to society and working relentlessly to be the best person I could be. Again, a tall order for a 14 year old to swallow. Forever is a long time.

You see - by nature addicts are selfish. They are masters of manipulation. They are self destructive. And our disease will convince us to do just about anything to get what it wants. 

So for the next 4 or 5 years I spent every day chipping away at my darkness. Letting a little bit of light in one day at a time. Making amends to those I had wronged. Being selfless wherever I could. Graduating high school ON TIME by some miracle. And I eventually got to the point where I could live a somewhat normal life and not every day was spent fighting a darkness that never seemed to go away. I stayed busy. Got passionate about other things or 'switched one addiction for another'. Occupied my mind and my hands any productive way I could. Because I knew that if I didn't, very very bad things would happen.

I still struggle every day. I still crave every day. I still fight every day. I still struggle with depression and social anxiety. Even though it has gotten a lot easier over the last 12 years, the darkness still haunts me every day. But it doesn't control me. I combat it by being selfless. Going out of my way to do nice things for people that may or may not deserve it. Working hard and trying to be the best at everything I do even though my cynical mind knows I am far from the best at anything I do and I never will be. I surround myself with good people that will push me to be better and rid my life of the poisonous ones. I don't sit in self pity. I don't feel sorry for myself. I take responsibility for my life. No one else can control me. No one else can hurt me if I don't let them. I have gone through just about everything life can throw at a young middle class Californian and more all in sobriety. And I'm still here. I'm not in jail or rehab. And I'm not dead. In fact, I am in a place in my life that I never thought I would be in. Now my biggest problem is that it's hard for me to stop working long enough to enjoy my accomplishments. It's also incredibly difficult for me to accept compliments and praise. But thats a whole nother battle. 

I will end with this by saying I do not regret my life's path. And I again am not ashamed to call myself an addict. It forced me to grow up a lot faster than most people, and because of that I like to think I got a head start on life. There are people from my high school that are still wasting their days partying and getting loaded and that is their choice. But I choose to be happy. I choose to work hard and feel accomplished. I choose to build a life I can be proud of. And I choose work to be a better person. I get to remember every great moment of my life. I get to enjoy the little things. I get to be happy. I get to be free. And that is a better high than any drug can give me.

I Survived An Abusive Marriage.

Okay, where do I even start here...

First off. I was never one to be pressured into doing things, even in high school. I never felt like I gave in to anything I didn't want to do. Hell, it's 2017 and I still have never smoked weed and I'm cool with that. Not my cup of tea. I liked doing my own thing. I still do. But peer pressure is absolutely nothing compared to being scared to leave an unhealthy situation. 


circa 2008

circa 2008

Eighteen years old. Working part time making smoothies with my friends and hanging out. Your typical teenager. I've always been into the internet and blogging; hell yeah I had a melodramatic, a live journal, a myspace, flickr, etc. you name it. I had no real big online presence by any means, but that has never stopped me from writing and being social. One thing lead to another and I met a guy online through a mutual friend who lived a few states away. A bit older than me, but at 18, that was totally cool. *exaggerated eye roll* As these stories go, they are great in the beginning. Of course. No complaints. I felt loved and treated well and I was happy. I visited him, he came out here to CA once, and within 3-4 months I made the 18 year old decision to quit my job and move there. Fuck it. You only live once, right? 

There were definitely red flags once I made the move. Nights when I would be on the phone with my mom and had her asking me if I wanted to come home. But in my mind, all I could think about was that I had already made such a big commitment in moving, my car was driven all the way out here, I had no job to go home to, I was scared. I would brush it off, cry and wake up the next day hoping it would be better. Sometimes it was or sometimes a blow out argument would occur for the slightest reasons. Yet there I was, still taking photos and posting them to everyone like everything was great. It's weird how you go to this place in your mind where you're numb and everything is cloudy and you're just sort of floating through each day, walking on egg shells and trying to them happy and forgetting about yourself.

circa 2008

circa 2008

Not even 2 months later, we came back out to visit my family for the holidays. Apparently he asked my parents permission to marry me and they told him to wait longer. Of course he didn't listen. It was hardly a proposal. I don't even think the words "Will you marry me?" came out of his mouth at all. He just tried putting on a ring that was at least 3 sizes too big. He got angry and threw a little fit. Romantic, right? I tried to stay calm. I was scared and not knowing how to act. He told me that my entire family was waiting at the house and that I "needed to act happy." I threw up a little on the way to the car. Trust me, a congratulations was hardly needed.

circa 2009

circa 2009

I sometimes wonder how painfully obvious I was to the people around me or how completely oblivious everyone was. I never knew what people were thinking but I never really told anyone because the days would fluctuate so rapidly. I was usually pretty good at hiding my emotions back then. I got flung into wedding planning and was enjoying it. What girl wouldn't at 18/19? We ended up getting matching tattoos and told each other that after the wedding we would each get the second piece to complete it. Needless to say, I got the second piece after the wedding and he never did. Clever foreshadowing, universe... if only I had taken notice. A few months flew by, we ended up moving out to CA because I knew I would feel safer near my family. I really missed home. The wedding happened. That's all I have to say...it happened. No fond memories or crazy enjoyable moments. It was awkward and I was painfully sober. A big waste of money is what I think and it makes me physically sick. What an expensive lesson. I am so sorry mom & dad.


Nineteen years old. Newly married to someone I had zero respect for and who clearly had zero respect for me right back. Tumbling down the rabbit hole we went. I figured, well, this is my life I can't back out now. Not even a month into the marriage, being in an unfamiliar place for him with zero friends, he put me on constant watch. It was go to work and come straight home. If I didn't, I was questioned. No grocery store by myself, because why on earth would I go without him? What's the password for your computer? Email? I would take my laptop with me to work just so he wouldn't try and break it if I wasn't there. Most arguments would end with me trying to be calm and stepping outside to get some air but getting locked out of the house or locked out on the balcony in the cold. One time when I stepped out I took my keys with me, because I knew his locking pattern, yet came back to find the door barricaded shut with the coffee table. A few times I was forced to pee in our kitchen sink because he locked me out of our bathroom. Getting called stupid for overcooking dinner or folding the laundry "wrong". This did not seem like typical married life to me but I didn't know what to do about it. I was always told you get married once. I had never had the "What if I want to get divorced?" talk with anyone before. 

circa 2011

circa 2011

No, I was never punched in the face or thrown down a flight of stairs but that does not mean this relationship wasn't abusive. There are so many different types of abuse. There were times when I would wish he would hit me so that I would have a reason to leave and I'd have physical proof to show people. But you almost feel foolish running to the police or any authoritative person with "He's calling me names and being mean to me." You somehow, in your naive frightened mind, feel like it's not a good enough excuse. But I'm telling you, it is. It fucking is.  


Twenty one years old. I left. I lasted 1 year and 10 months somehow. I don't even know how I made it that long. I am the first one to always admit that it takes two people to create a problem in any relationship. I wasn't going to walk away from this unless I knew I tried everything possible to fix it. Just for my sanity. I got myself a therapist. It felt amazing having a neutral person to talk to about my frustrations but of course, I was still a bit guarded in disclosing some details. About 2 months later, feeling a bit more confident... I was slowly gaining respect for myself; I started to see the light. She had asked me to invite him to our next weekly session. Now, this was my ah-ha moment. My light bulb. Everyone has one. I asked him to come, and I got the response: "Why would I go when you're the one with the issues?" 

K, bye. 

He went out to visit his family a few days later, I did not go with him, and while he was gone I had friends and family help me move my stuff out. I finally felt strong enough to leave. I tried everything to better myself for the sake of whatever was left of the relationship and he basically spat in my face when it came to doing his part. That's okay. I'm okay. I'm better without you. I will never have a "what if" thought because I tried so I'm moving on with my head held high.


I have never publicly written about this portion of my life before. Even when it was happening. Mainly because I was still healing from everything and trying to move on, but mostly because I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for me. Yes, I was the victim, but I never wanted to be viewed as a victim. Does that make sense? I also felt like it was really nobodies business and if they wanted to make their own judgements about me without asking, then cool whatever. I lost a few friends who never bothered to ask and just assumed I was young and wanted to play the field some more and didn't take the institution of marriage seriously. *shrug* When you're 21 years old and you're at the courthouse alone filing for a divorce, you don't get the most comforting looks. People don't know and that's okay. I knew what happened and that's what's most important. People will still assume and say to me "Well you're writing off marriage now huh." Um... Absolutely not, I definitely want to get married again. Why would I blame the institution of marriage because one person was a complete asshole? 

The best thing I did afterwards was stay in therapy. Building myself back up and focusing on ME was so important. The worst thing I did was try to find comfort in jumping into other relationships. Going from the mentality of "this is forever" to "okay it's not forever, I'm free" is quite a culture shock especially since I was so young and still very naive. The one thing I do regret is jumping into things so quickly because I ended up hurting some people who didn't deserve it. 


before / after

before / after

It's now been 6 years since I left.

I just recently covered a big piece of the past. That matching tattoo. This was a total psychological cover up. Nobody should ever be forced to carry around a painful reminder and nobody should ever feel ashamed for the ways they need to heal.

This tattoo is now mine and only mine. I feel such a sense of pride in this. Fuck. It feel so good. 

Now. (Almost) Twenty seven years old. Today. I am 200% confident in saying that if this all never happened to me, I would not be the person I am today. Now, that's not saying I'm glad it happened...at all. What I'm saying is it's all about perspective. I spent years trying to grasp "why me? why me?" and sulk about it but when it came to eventually healing... it ended up shaping me and making me strong because of how I viewed the situation, not because it happened. I'm really proud of who I am because of that bullshit. Thus my "give no fucks" attitude was born. I now put respect at the top of my list when it comes to relationships. Even friendships. I am so happy now and I recognize my worth because of the times when it wasn't recognized. I am in a healthy relationship with someone who respects me and loves me and pushes me to be better. Spencer, you are an angel. 

A very big part in why I'm choosing to share this with you is... I never had someone to relate to, to run to, to confide in when I was going through all of this shit. When I was slowly realizing that the things that were happening to me were not normal I would print out articles online regarding abusive relationships and make all of the necessary connections but as we know, wikipedia isn't always very personal. There could be 5 million different definitions of this shit. I'd rather hear from a freaking human being who's been through it. Who is now.. me. 

I'd like to think I'm a good example of how you can trudge through trauma and still come out on the right side. You are not unlovable. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to be the one to create it and you have every tool necessary. The more I viewed this whole situation as one big lesson, the less and less I regret it happening. I just think - the more I learn from, hell.. everything that has ever happened to me, the better person I will be tomorrow. All of the times I got fucked over, the times I fucked others over, it's all to help you grow - it just depends on how you look at it. Like I said, it's all about your perspective. 

If sharing my story helps even just one person who is currently in the same position or a similar position I was in so many years ago, that's all I want. Know that I am here and you are not alone. This is not the end. So much life exists after abuse and so does love.

chriskphoto.com

chriskphoto.com

It's Ok To Admit Something Is Hard For You.

A bit late for an announcement if you follow me on social media but, we have a new member of our little family. Meet Warwick, he's a little loaf of corgi bread with much sass. And if you're wondering, yes he is named after Warwick Davis. ;)

We've had him for a month now and let me tell you... hardest month I've had in a really long time. Eight week puppies are NO JOKE. Spencer has never owned a pet before, much less a puppy, so he was less prepared than I was. Mentally. Getting this dog is something we have been daydreaming about for YEARS and I think maybe the sheer shock of it happening so quickly is what threw us for a loop. "Oh ok, now? Alright. Uh, well, let's go then." It felt like a now or never kind of thing, plus, he was pretty darn perfect. Have you seen that faaace?! I saw Spencer's eyes when he held him and I knew he was hooked. You can't just walk away from something that makes the most important person in your life light up like a god damn christmas tree. You can't. Feels like a sin of some sort.

I've grown up with dogs, we had two when I was growing up so I'm somewhat aware of what was to come but I have to admit, the first few days when Spencer was at work and I was left to handling him by myself, I felt like I was hit with a ton of bricks. I know I know it's NOTHING compared to taking care of a newborn child, but as someone who doesn't have kids yet, it's pretty fucking hard. I felt like my whole life was suddenly on hold and I couldn't do anything I wanted to get done. I felt paralyzed, stressed, and overwhelmed in the sudden shift in my entire daily routine. To some, it may sound like I'm overreacting, and now a few weeks into it, I am much more relaxed... but I was dancing that line of depression for a bit. I'm not afraid to admit that.

The first day I was with him alone while Spencer was at work all I wanted to do was take a shower and I felt like I couldn't. I felt like I wasn't able to accomplish anything, let alone take 30 seconds to pee. And now, 5 weeks in, I'm definitely much better. I'm able to go get errands done every day and I have a schedule to tiring him out and keeping him busy so I can somewhat keep my daily routine. But god damn... I'm looking at motherhood in a completely different way now and I also have a ridiculous amount of respect for people who get puppies WHILE having kids. Mom, you fucking beast. Two puppies with 3 children?! You're some sort of superhero. But I already knew that.

At first, I felt ashamed to admit to anyone that I was having a hard time with this. Why does it seem so easy for other people? Am I doing something wrong? Am I over-caring about this dog when I should be more relaxed? I still have days when I ask myself this. You also have people telling you what THEY believe is the right thing to do and everyone's opinion is different. So fucking frustrating! I can't imagine how it feels when it'll be my actual child. I know some mom's reading this will be rolling their eyes, "Oh it's a dog, not a baby. You're fine." and compared to raising a child... yeah, you're right. But hey, it's still OK to admit when something is hard for you. That's all I have to say.

It's definitely been a huge learning experience for us both. We've had our long nights and tiny feelings of regret when it's the hardest, but we must persevere. There's nothing we can do but try our best and move forward day by day. I just have to remind myself that it's up to us on whether or not he's a good boy. Persistence and patience. I refuse to let this be the thing that takes me down a rabbit hole of anxiety, especially since he's so fucking fluffy and adorable. 

This is a puppy PHASE, Michelle. It is what it is. A phase. I have had great dogs in my life and I know they always grow out of this and become amazing if you train them right and love them to death. And we have every intention of loving this loaf all of our days. I just have to keep repeating this to myself every single day, especially on the hard ones.

I hope that me admitting all of this helps anyone who might be going through the same struggles. It's okay to admit something is difficult for you. There's no shame in that. But the amount of time you lie in the dirt is completely up to you. Maybe your issue has nothing to do with raising a puppy, but dealing with a matter that may seem like it's just so easy for others but is tiresome for you. Know that you're not alone. I know that it brings me comfort when people tell me they agree it was difficult in the beginning but they always ALWAYS finish their sentence by telling me it was worth it. That brings me peace.

Shit hits people and we all handle it in our own ways. There are things that have happened to me that didn't seem like a big deal but I'm sure it was for others. I hope that I can be there for them if they need it. I believe imbalance like that brings balance to the world. We're all here to help each other and learn from each other. I was blown away by how many of you tweeted me the sweetest words of encouragement when I was being vulnerable and worrisome the past few weeks. You have no idea how much that means to me. So thank you. You're absolutely allowed to be a boss ass bitch and still feel overwhelmed and cry sometimes. 

Maybe this is life's way of saying, "Hey... you've had it a bit easy these past few weeks, here deal with this. aaaand Go." What a cruel joke, universe. haha. But I will take that challenge. Bring it the fuck on. I hope you don't let whatever you're trying to conquer beat you down and I hope you know that it'll all be worth it in the end. You got this, I got this, we're solid. 

Growing Out My Hair (& What Helps!)

Let me start off by assuring you, this isn't goodbye forever for the undercut. I constantly get questions asking what I would do when/if I ever wanted to grow out my undercut. I've tried a few times in the past, made it about a month before I couldn't take it and buzzed it again. I'm not fucking lying, it's hard. But, after I took out my tape in extensions in November (which I only had in for 2 months...) and it left my hair shorter and much much thinner, I felt the need to at least try again. Go hard and document it.

It's now February and I'm still going strong. Well, kinda strong. I figured I could sit down and write this post talking about all the things that help my hair grow but also talk about things that help my sanity during this process. I know a lot of you are in the same boat as me and I really love that. Makes me feel a lot less alone in this and I hope you feel the same.  So put the clippers down, I believe in you.

First off, I'm not here to tell you not to cut your hair. I'm not here to tell you to grow it out either. It's your choice, your hair, your life. Do what makes you happy! This is just something I sorta want to prove to myself, something I want to experience and sort of log for you guys. 

I know "tips on how to grow your hair faster" is all over the internet. I am guilty of googling it multiple times. While most of those sites are correct, I figured... why not add my blog to the list of tips. that felt really weird to say. list of tips.... 


The Beginning.

Let's begin. End of November 2016 (around Thanksgiving). Two months ago, this is what my hair looked like...

Photo by Baldwin Media

Photo by Baldwin Media

Pretty much the same as it's always been, buzzed all the way around at a guard #3 and my top was about down to my nose. Really thin and really sad. (Stupid extensions...) My poor hair.

One thing I always said to myself was that whenever I decided to grow out my sides is that I'd just part it down the middle or a little to the left and easily hide it. That has definitely wrung true because putting it up in a pony tail or a bun is freakishly laughable at this point. It's a 24/7 bed head disaster under there! Stock up on thickening products and learn how to tease your roots and you're gonna be just fine, trust me. I think finding the right in-between style during this process is so fucking key. You have to find a way to be content with every stage, even if that stage requires wearing a hat for a few weeks. Hey, fuck, we've all done it.


Vitamins.

Quick story time. I looked into different hair growth vitamins for awhile when starting this process and I started off with something I was recommended called Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Nutrients + I grabbed a bottle of regular Biotin tablets. *shrug* I had no idea what I was doing but I went with it. Within less than a week my chest was breaking out really badly, which is pretty unusual for me. I sat and thought... I'd rather grow hair at a snails pace than deal with this shit... so I stopped. Threw them away. And wudda'ya know? My skin cleared up. Ok, so fuck that idea. Everyone's body is different. It's all about what works for you. So don't get discouraged if you find yourself in the same situation. Keep going. 

I still wanted to take SOMETHING. I had read about SugarBearHair vitamins all over social media. Sponsored by everyone and their mother who's "Instagram famous". I figured, well, they are obviously sponsored posts so who knows if they actually fucking work. I researched a bit, read some articles on people who felt the same way I did and tried them out for real. They were all pleasantly surprised in the results and the ingredients seemed much more mild than the ones I was taking before that screwed me up. Fuck it, I grabbed one month just to see what happens...

Please note: I fully understand that it takes a lot longer than a month's worth of vitamins to see if it makes an actual difference to my hair - but I figured, if it didn't break out my skin, I'm already winning and I might as well keep truckin' on with it.

Before the month was over... I was hooked. Not only did they not break out my skin AT ALL but I noticed a difference in my hair growth. I was not expecting that. Also doesn't hurt that they pretty much taste like candy heaven. 

1 MONTH DIFFERENCE!

1 MONTH DIFFERENCE!

After one month (see above difference) I splurged and got a 3 month pack which I'm currently still taking. I'll be all out by April so I can update you guys on my progress then. They are on the pricey side, but I honestly do see a difference or else I wouldn't have used my Christmas money to get more. Just being honest. 

*I feel the need to mention that- no, this post is not sponsored by SugarBearHair and they did not send me these for free. I purchased them with my own money. $$


Hair Care.

Now that vitamins are all set... let's talk hair care products. These are my top 3 personal must haves.

1. Not Your Mother's Way To Grow Shampoo.

Let me start off by saying this whole brand surprised me. I've used their beach wave styling spray in the past and I hated it so much I wrote the whole brand off in my head. But when I asked you guys on twitter what the best shampoo was for growing out your hair, this was recommended by at least 80% of you. And I have to say, I stand corrected, I'm a fan now. This stuff is great and it smells fucking awesome.

2. Not Your Mother's Thickening Conditioner. 

I found myself loving this conditioner better than the Way To Grow one, maybe because I'm also looking for volume. By combining some sort of shampoo conditioner cocktail I felt more productive somehow. Maybe I'm weird... but it works great. My cocktail skills have been good to me. 

3. Not Your Mother's Intensive Hair Unit Treatment.

Holy shit, this stuff. I use it once or twice a week on my ends and my hair feels like god damn silk afterwards. When I styled my hair for this grow out phase, I did a mini ombre so my ends were a little angry with me. This helped SO much and brought them back to life. I also am obsessed with how affordable this entire brand is. Everything was under $10. 

*again, this is NOT sponsored by Not Your Mother's either, haha. 

I also highly suggest investing in some wooden hair brushes. They are the best for your hair. While I'm no expert, this is what I've learned. Natural wood helps naturally condition your hair while being the most gentle and durable (less likely to break your hair). They also produce zero static!  


Current Stage.

And here we are, February 2017. Still struggling (I'm only human) but I'm definitely starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel because shit is actually happening. I feel like within the first month most see zero progress and therefore you grab your clippers and say "fuck it". That's what I did at least 3-4 times in the past few years. Don't lieeeee you've done it too. It's okay.

Above is a little over 2 months of growth. Not fucking bad, right? I still trim the bottom of my hair on my neck because that mullet is REEAL. I have a baby bob right now so keeping it all at the same length all the way around is important. I do my best to stay away from heat tools but it's difficult. I just do my best to use GOOD heat tools and spray a protectant beforehand. (*important) There's also a lot of scalp massaging that happens as well. Stimulation! I've heard a few essential oils are great for this, but I haven't tried yet. I'll definitely look more into that.

What really helps me mentally is the thought that when I'm done growing it out to the length I want, I can ALWAYS go back to my undercut but this time, I can cut it exactly how I want. Does that make sense? Being able to start from scratch is really comforting. You can always cut your hair again. Just like if you get a bad haircut, hair grows back, it's going to be okay. It may sound cheesy but it helps me. Remember, the first month is the hardest. You barely see any progress and if there is any, it's annoying. But I can assure you, after that it gets easier. You see your hair growing and you style AROUND it. 

I'm excited to document more of this process for you guys. I'm sure I will find more ways that help along the way but this is what I know so far that has made a difference. I hope this was helpful, literally and mentally, for those who are also on this journey with me! May we be strong in this endeavor! We got this. I believe in us. 

How To Deal With Feeling Overwhelmed

Now, don't think I have the magic answer to everything right off the bat here. I'm no magician. But I do have a few tips on what helps me when I feel like my head is going to explode... It's the friggin' holiday's, I know we're all somehow on the same wavelength here.

First off, I keep wanting to apologize for being so MIA here on the blog... but I also never want to promote feeling the need to apologize for living and trying to stay sane. What a pickle. If you follow me on social media you'll know my life has been sort of hectic lately. It's safe to say I've become pretty familiar with the whole overwhelming feeling. We're buddies sometimes. Not something I'm proud of though. 

Anyways, there's a few things I've learned along the way that have helped... One of them is honestly writing this post. Therapeutic. We're in this together you know. But let's dive into it.

1. Make a list.

Oh, lists. My best friend. Daily, weekly, monthly, whatever works for you. I find that when I sit and write things down that I need to/want to accomplish, there's nothing quite like completing it and crossing that fucker off. I find you breathe a little better. No matter the task, big or small, nobody is judging you. Every task is big when you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Trust me. Tackle one thing at a time and I swear to god you'll feel so accomplished. 

2. Take A Hot Bath (or shower).

Nope, not sponsored by Lush. (I fucking wish) For some reason, their bath bombs leave me feeling drunk and I get out of the bath so relaxed I collapse. Total Bambi legs. Giving yourself 20 minutes to sit and relax is sometimes all it takes. Especially when I've lost something... I'll never find it if I'm throwing couch cushions in the air and freaking out... I'll sit and think and retrace my steps. Same goes for when I'm feeling so stressed out... I just need a second to clear my head, create a plan, A LIST haha. Everyone has their own outlet, it doesn't have to be baths but fuck it. If you don't have an outlet, feel free to adopt it.

Here are my top 3 favorite bath bombs right now. All super relaxing and calming.

1. Big Blue - Lush 

2. Butter Ball - Lush

3. Lord Of Misrule - Lush

3. Put On A Calm Record. 

James Taylor. Jason Mraz. The Paper Kites. I know it seems simple. And you'd be right; it is. I turn on my essential oil diffuser (read more about that here) and throw on some calming tunes. I usually will power clean the entire house as well, if my mind is a wreck. I have an entire Spotify playlist literally called "Relax" and I'll put it on if I'm driving or at home... or if I'm feeling like I just wanna dropkick a baby. (It's just a saying, put down your pitchforks)

You're more than welcome to adopt my playlist, too. I sincerely hope it helps. 

finally, 4. Give Yourself A Fucking Break.

You are one person. Breathe. Find the silver lining. I swear it's there. It's always there.

I'm gonna keep his post short and sweet. Just spilling out my thoughts, like usual. If anything, this post is just as much for me as it is for you guys. I also know the simple fact that not feeling alone is so important. It's true, you're not alone. We all get overwhelmed no matter how "together" we may come off. Like I always say, we're all just fucking wingin' it. Tackle one thing at a time, as it comes. I guess I'm just here to remind you that you are absolutely more than capable. I personally believe certain shit is thrown at us because it knows we can handle it. A test, maybe, but it's something passable. At least this is what I tell myself. And you know what, I always somehow make it through. Ten bucks says you do too. 

Also, one more thing, don't be afraid to reach out and talk to someone close to you. Even if it's just to vent about shit. I know I always feel better after hearing an outside opinion on any situation that intimidates the hell out of me. Not asking for help doesn't make you brave. I'm always here if you need to talk to someone. Add me to your list. I'm a good listener. 

I hope you all have a ridiculously stress free holiday season. xo I love you guys, see you on the other side in 2017. I'm so excited for what's to come.

Life Hack: The Men Are Hiding Things.

One thing I've learned when evolving into my own style is, who cares what section you're shopping in. Really. Who the fuck cares. Explore.

One of the best fashion and/or life "hacks" that I'm a believer in is shopping in the men's section. Excuse me, why must they insist on hiding such great finds in there? Rude. I'm over here with my long torso just wishing things would fit me properly, swimming in a sea of crop tops and capped-sleeve tee land. Not a fun place to be. It's constricting. 

Let me run you through some simple outfits that I personally love that all include a MEN'S item of clothing. You wouldn't have noticed if I didn't point it out. Oddly enough after putting them together, they all happened to be from H&M. So, there's a nudge in the right direction...  ;)

DSC_6902.jpg
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A crewneck sweatshirt that's actually long enough for me and able to go over my hands? I'm a hand hider. Guilty. It's hard to find these days. Even our crewnecks here on the shop are unisex because women's are just a joke (size wise).


Now, I fully understand why some girls like the smaller tees, the tight fitting shape, I understand. If you've got it flaunt it. Who am I to tell you not to buy it? For me, I don't personally wear "oversized" tees to hide my shape, I just love the casual style of it, man. I mean, even the most simplest of tasks like tucking in the front of your tee in your skinny jeans makes a look 30x more put together and/or "styled". I don't know how that's a thing but IT'S A THING. It's a thing that I denied for a long time and eventually gave in and understood. 

Everyone's style is different and that's what makes them, well, them. Embrace the fuck out of that. I will never tell you to do otherwise. I'm just sharing my shopping secrets, from me to you, in case you're always having a hard time. I find that when people try and find something I tagged online... they can't find it, well because most likely it was found in the men's section. See what I mean?! They're hoarding the good shit over there. Selfish bastards. Who needs to spend extra money on a women's "oversized tee" when you can pay a fraction of the price right over in the other section?! Am'i'right ladies.

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My hands are just so happy, tucked in their little sleeve home. Toasty. You can't do this with women's thermals... and if you do, the second you reach up to grab something or hug someone, it creeps up your stomach. *eye roll*


I guess my whole thing is simplicity. Fake it til' you make it, in a sense that... you look put together and styled but you're also stupid comfortable and hey, you saved money. That sounds like a huge win to me. There's nothing that says you can't shop in any section you want. You might be surprised at what you find. 

I've been on the hunt for a distressed hooded cardigan that wasn't paper thin for MONTHS. Turns out, again, I was looking in the wrong section. Men's XS. Fits like a damn dream. I live in this jacket. AND IT'S GOT POCKETS!


Before I keep rambling on and on and on, I think you see my point. This is also something most girls probably already know, I'm completely aware of that. But hey, it's something I live by... and it's something I needed to share. Don't let them steal the good shit, ladies. There's a whole 'nother world out there. Unite and conquer. 

You're Allowed To Fiercely Feel.

This blog, like most of my posts, was something that just hit me and I immediately sat down and I'm going to word vomit all over you. Sit tight.

Photo credit: @ryanlongnecker

Photo credit: @ryanlongnecker

If you follow me on social media, you'll know that Spencer is out of town for 3 weeks on tour and like most significant others do, I miss him a great deal. It wasn't even 24 hours into him being gone and we were both saying we missed each other. Daw. A couple hours after posting that on Twitter, I of course receive an anonymous negative message stating something along the lines of, "Dude he's been gone for less than a day. You're crazy pathetic. I thought you were supposed to be some bad ass bitch?

Now, you know me, I don't respond to negative messages. We've talked about this subject before on here. Not worth my time. And this blog post isn't responding to whoever that sad person is... but it got me thinking. Is that really what people think being a bad ass is? Having no feelings? Missing someone is somehow pathetic? That sounds off, maybe that's just me. I mean, over the years, I've definitely grown into myself and I'm able to stand on my own two feet and say "no" when I want to but I'm also very emotional. I personally feel like wearing your heart on your sleeve is brave as fuck. THAT makes you a "bad ass" in my dictionary at least. I will never shy away from expressing how I truly feel, no matter who thinks I'm a big baby for it. You shouldn't either. 

This isn't about women being more emotional than men. *eye roll* I know some emotional ass men. And this isn't about hormones (which are a bitch). This is about the apparent misconception that being an independent "let's fuck some shit up" person somehow means you're less of who you are because you're sad over something that might seem trivial and small to most. You don't need to apologize to anyone for feeling the way you do. I understand people go months, if not, years apart from their significant others and I'm bummed over 3 weeks. But that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to be sad about it.

My biggest fear of undergoing the experiences I have gone through was that I would come out of them a very hardhearted person. I never want the world to have such a hold on me that it makes me someone who becomes indifferent and insensitive. Being ‘soft’ takes bravery. Don’t let it be mistaken for simply being ‘weak.’
— Makenna Winner

My point to this little rant is this; It is possible to be an independent "fucking try me" bad ass and still cry when things happen. Still be sappy and love people as hard as you can. Be fiercely kind. You can be both - who are they to say you can't? 

I understand that this whole message isn't new. Hopefully you've heard it many times before and this is second nature to you but I believe it is an important subject to spread around. It is important enough for me to share it. I will forever continue to spread fearlessness and strength in everything that I do, but I believe being soft is also being fearless. Being kind is also being strong. Now go kick some ass and if you wanna be emotional about it afterwards, call me and I'll join you. xo

Face Shit Favorites.

It's been awhile since I've talked about my favorite skincare products. Literally has been over a year... wow what the hell michelle. I had been originally wanting to do a Youtube video covering this topic but I have yet to set up a filming space. I figured writing about it would be the next best thing! I like writing, damnit. 

The last time we sat and spoke about this, I was ranting and raving about Osmosis products. Here I am, over a year later still raving about them and using them on the daily. I've just added a lot more shit to my collection that I need to share with you! Hm, the easiest way is to go through them is probably step by step... in order. Just as a quick disclaimer, these are the products that work for ME personally. Please keep in mind that everyone's skin is different. ;) 

H-OKAY, let's get into that good shit. 

1. Makeup Removal. 

Neutragena Night Calming cleansing towelettes. Now, Neutragena produces one good thing for my skin. Makeup removal products. I've been using the night calming wipes for YEARS now and I keep going back to them when trying new things. My skin is sensitive and this is just the right amount of whatever that makes me happy. Sometimes if I'm too tired to function, I just use these bad boys and go to sleep and my skin still wakes up happy. That's definitely something worth keeping around. 

As for the eye makeup... I go for Neutragena oil-free eye makeup remover. As many of you know, I have eyelash extensions, therefore finding a good process of removing eye makeup without irritating your eyelashes is SO key. First things first... OIL-FREE is a must. Anything that contains oil will not help your extensions and it will loosen them causing them to come out. Second, I only use this when I have to remove eyeliner or things that are closest to my lashes. Simply dip a Q-tip and gently rub your eyeliner off. Pat dry without disturbing your lashes and you're good to go! Also, try not to get that shit in your eye, it's not cool. 


2. Cleanser.

Here we meet again, Osmosis Enzyme Cleanser. Yes, this is the same cleanser I've been using since day one and I'm still completely in love! I know what you're thinking... I'm actually sharing which Osmosis products I use?! Yep. I've been asked so many times I figured why not. You guys broke me down. Peer pressure, man. Like I mentioned in the disclaimer, these are the products that work for my skin and not everyones skin is the same. Just keep that in mind! But this cleanser is great!

Also.. pfft, like you're no stranger to my Pure Spin brush. I have a post on here from last year about the regular Spin brush (which I still own and use once a week for exfoliating!) Here's the deal. I did notice the regular Spin brush, when used daily, wasn't the softest for my very sensitive skin. I use it strictly for when I do facial scrubs and exfoliants. I came across the Pure Spin brush a few months after and instantly noticed a difference when I tried it. Much softer and provides two speeds. I am HOOKED on this baby. It's specifically made for us sensi's who have skin that needs baby butt soft things only. I also use this in the shower as I'm a complete mess and fling foam all over the bathroom if used at the sink. You can't take me anywhere, I swear...

If you have sensitive skin like me, I highly suggest getting this sucker! I use it every other day with ease. It's a god send. >> CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE. Use the Code: PureScout for 70% off your brush.


3. Masks! (once a week)

My faaaavorite. Masks. Here are my two go-to facial masks that I am obsessed with. MuddyBody makes AMAZING clay masks that are great for calming the skin but also sucking the dirt and shit straight out of it. My two favorites are the RELAX and DETOX. I am 100% out of my Detox mask right now or else I would have added it in the photo... just goes to prove that I use them VERY often! The Detox mask is also great for spot treatments.

How To Use: I get this question a lot. Easiest solution... Target. I picked up this little ceramic bowl (pictured above) from Target for $1.98 and I have a mini facial fan brush that you can find anywhere, I don't remember where I got this one... Mix some of the powder with water in the bowl until you reach a clay-like consistency and BOOM. Lather that on your face. I know a lot of people that mix in oils as well, but that's completely up to you. I personally just use it straight and it gets the job done. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE. Use the code: GIRRLSCOUT for 10% off your entire purchase.

Another favorite, of course, Lush. I'm obsessed with the Cup O'Coffee mask. I've tried most, if not all, of their fresh face masks that you can only get in the store. And while I absolutely love some of them, I find because they are too fresh, they go bad very quickly and I feel like I don't get enough bang for my buck out of it. I use it once and then I'm struggling to use it before it goes bad. Hm, maybe that's just me. But this mask, which you can also keep in the fridge if you so choose, is just as amazing and doesn't go bad in 2 weeks. This + the Mask of Magnaminty are great, this is just my personal favorite! Mmm. Coffee. Great for mornings!


4. Toner + other great uses.

This is my holy grail product. Juice Beauty Hydrating Mist. Can you read what it says? Tones... refreshes... AND SETS MAKEUP. Sign me the fuck up. I got recommended this product while at Ulta one day and I haven't looked back. This is a multi purpose machine. Juice Beauty makes some amazing shit, I'm serious. I use this bad boy as a toner for my face + to set my makeup when I'm done. I will even keep this in my purse on hot days and spray myself throughout the day for the most refreshing feeling. One bottle lasts be MONTHS and it's only $22. You can't beat that. 


5. Moisturize. It puts the lotion on it's skin.

Another favorite of mine. Moisturizing. It's so important to moisturize, god damn. Here are two of my go-to's. 

Fresh Moisturizing Face Oil. Hello beautiful. This is another multipurpose product. You can either use this alone as a moisturizer, or add to an existing moisturizer for an extra unfff, or you can mix a drop or two of this with sugar and use it as a lip scrub, add a drop to your foundation for a dewy finish. I swear, I could go on and on about what I use this for. It seems a bit pricey but you don't use a lot so it lasts FOREVER. This is still my first bottle and I bought this months ago.

Juice Beauty GREEN APPLE Age Defy Moisturizer. This is a recent love of mine, since I was in love with the hydrating mist so much, I decided to try out more of their products. They do not disappoint. It smells amazing and a little goes a long way with this stuff. All of their green apple brightening products have been great so far and I plan on trying out some more in the future for sure. I'm a fan, Juice Beauty, I'm a fucking fan. *cries with hands in the air*


6. Eye Serum.

"You know what they say, the eyes are the windows to the face." Osmosis Refresh Eye Serum.

Of course, Osmosis, my dear old friend. We meet again. I didn't start using eye serums until recently but this one I'm a big fan of. I only use this in the mornings before I put on my makeup and it smells like oranges and citrus heaven! It wakes you the fuck up. A little goes a long way.


7. Hand Cream. 

I'm a sucker for a good lotion. Having a lot of tattoos, you grow to use a lot throughout the years but a good hand lotion is hard to find. I always test ones out at stores and they either smell ridiculous and I'm stuck walking around the mall smelling like a sour pineapple or they make your hands slimey or sticky. Behold. Ipsy provided me with a FULL SIZE of this baby and I haven't stopped using it. Cake Beauty: Delectable Lemon & Cream Hand... Cream.

PS. If you aren't signed up for Ipsy, what are you even doing with your life? It's only $10/month and you receive a bag full of samples and full size products once a month. This is how I found my favorite foundation amongst other products I wouldn't have found otherwise. It's great! Been using it for so long.  Click here to sign up.


Makeup Brush Care!

This is so important for skincare. Hnnnng. Keeping your makeup brushes clean! I know we get lazy and put it off... but once you start cleaning them every 1-2 weeks, you'll notice such a big difference in your skin. I'm tellin' you. Your face will thank you.

Blendercleanser Solid. I got this sucker on Amazon and it lasts forever, even though it says it's for beauty blenders, it's great for brushes as well. Wet your brush, rub it around in the soap and under running water, gently rub your brush back and forth on these little brush egg cleaners. 

Which brings me to my next adorable thing... Egg Brush Cleaners. Also bought on Amazon, these things are so great if you don't have a sink that fits the brush mats or need something easier to travel with. Maybe I'll do a video on how I clean my brushes and such... But for now - these are what I use and I highly suggest investing if you don't have any solid cleansing tools!


And you know, if you ever need a place to store all of your face shit... I got you covered. ;)

I hope this wasn't TOO much to read. If you're into beauty products and trying out new shit as much as I am then I hope you learned something cool today and if not, I hope you chuckled a little at my word-vomit style of blogging. ;)

Kick some major ass, make Monday your bitch. It's not over yet.

PS. Thank you to Moonshine Devine for the adorable crystals featured in my photos. I'm in love.

Portland, Oregon.

Wow, a normal-style-type blog. Writing about an adventure. What is this sorcery? Something I haven't done once since I started this blog back in 2014... but I feel like it's time. Plus, this past trip was absolutely mind blowing and frankly life changing, how could I not share it with you guys? Let's jump into this shit.

Being from California, I'm used to a somewhat fast pace lifestyle. Just in the fact that everyone has to be where they're going before everyone else, all the time. Portland was different. A good different.  Spencer has been a number of times but I'm really glad that I subconsciously saved it so that I could experience it with him for my first time. D'aww, cute. :)

We stayed at the ACE Hotel downtown because we loved the Palm Springs location so much. As photographers, I feel like this choice was a no brainer, haha. We spent the first few hours just roaming around downtown, checked out the Saturday Market, snagged some out-of-this-world grilled cheese sandwiches from a food cart and just... explored. Eventually we ventured over to Vancouver, WA to meet up with some friends. I couldn't get over the fact that our GPS told us there was "heavy traffic" yet we were all still moving at least 20 mph. Pfft, that's not traffic, not California traffic, we're supposed to be at a dead stop for hours. And get this... Everyone was calm. Nobody was having a meltdown and I was in disbelief. I'm not used to this.

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There's something so calm and peaceful about the Northwest. Those of you who have visited or live there know what I mean, but I suppose coming from a fast paced, self-centered city, it was so refreshing to be in a place and not feel judged or treated like an obvious tourist or outsider. We were there for 4 days and not once did I encounter a rude human being. From the coffee baristas to even homeless people on the street. That, to me, is something you never expect when visiting a city for the first time. Nobody was driving around us in a hurry, honking their horns and yelling at each other to get out of the way or hurry up. Just sitting at a coffee shop for 30 minutes we made 4 new friends who were helping us map out some hikes to do the next day. 

I was blown away by the kindness I felt in Oregon. Also blown away by it's greenery and jaw dropping landscapes. As photographers, we both had a fucking hay day with our cameras. 

Handsome Disclaimer: Most of my photos will be of Spencer, I'm not apologizing one bit, I'm just letting you know. He's my favorite subject in the world. Deal with it. ;)


The one thing I really wanted to see was Cannon beach. Most of my favorite photos have been of this beach so I had to see it for myself. Plus, Goonies. It did not disappoint. I still love the fact that beaches are so vastly different everywhere I go. I definitely liked this one the best. More relaxing and spacious and not as many douchebags running around hitting me with their frisbees. Thanks a lot California. 

Seriously though, is this place even real? Come the fuck on...


Negatives. The one thing I will say about Oregon that I didn't particularly like was the fact that you are unable to pump your own gas. We spent 20 minutes sitting waiting in line to get gas because there were only 2 people working and most of the pumps were taken. People just sitting... next to a perfectly good working gas pump... and these people had two working hands. TWO! It was like playing a video game but my fucking controller was broken. "Just get out of your car... pump your own gas and be on your merry way.... Oh my god...."

But I mean, if this is the only negative thing I have to take away from Oregon, I'll take it. I'll just look forward to lots of tickets if that's what happens when I get out and pump my own gas. I have arms and legs. Let me do it.


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baldwin media

Our last full day we spent exploring. Got up early, not that Portland gets up early because nooothing was open until 11am, WHAT'S UP WITH THAT? Multnomah Falls was the first thing to knock off the bucket list. Very iconic. We both couldn't stop staring - see pictures above, I have proof. We hiked all the way up to the top running on Red Bull fumes alone. I would not suggest doing that. But we made it and I'm proud of us! Go team!

After that we really didn't know where to go. But I like that. We just kept putting random things into the GPS and driving there. We ended up checking out Mt. Hood which... holy shit. We're just driving up this farm road pointing out llamas and BOOM we got slapped in the face with the prettiest mountain have literally ever seen. 

And, yes that's our car. Enterprise decided to throw us a curveball and lead us to a bright red Dodge Challenger at the last minute like "here take this one, same price, whatever" What a blanket sweep. But hey, that fucking car is faaast. It really made it more vacation-like to just have a ridiculously impractical car the entire time. A very large "Why the fuck not" decision. I highly suggest making some of those decisions in life.

After awhile of oogling this mountain, we came across a hiking trail off the side of the main highway called Mirror Lake Trailhead. We pulled off, parked, "fuck it" let's do another hike. It did not disappoint. (I know I'm saying that a lot but it was very rare that I was disappointed damnit. Let me express myself!) haha.

This was listed on the sign as one of the "easiest hikes" but our out-of-shape asses beg to differ. Trudging through mud for 3.5 miles we finally made it. We do now know that "easy" does not mean easy in Oregon. OK, NOTED. But they didn't lie when they said it was one of the best pay off hikes.

Look. at. this. shit.

It was a lake out of a movie. I can only imagine how amazing it looks during the winter... and how terrible that hike would be in the winter... haha. We hung out for awhile, taking photos and trying our hardest to summon chipmunks and then we made our way back to the car before it started getting dark. We spent the remainder of our time roaming downtown, eating large amounts of pasta in our hotel room and picking up some sweet Docs because NO SALES TAX, MOTHER FUCKING THANK YOU OREGON. 

Truth is, I've been here once now and I'm already daydreaming about calling it home one day. Both of us are. We left with a "Don't worry, we'll be back" kind of attitude. We've been talking about moving up north one day but I had never been to this area before so it was hard for me to make an assessment. Well, assessment made. I'm in love. 

Traveling with no itinerary and relying on your sense of adventure is always the way to go. I'm all for spontaneity and I can't wait for more adventures with this one. We're coming up on 2 years next week and all I want to do is spend MORE time with him exploring places we've never been, making art and creating memories. :)

Travel often with your significant other. 

I know this isn't a typical style blog for me but it was refreshing to sit down and write it out. Share memories. Be all nostalgic and shit. Makes me happy. I hope you guys enjoyed this little run through, let me know if you want me to write out our adventures more often like this, I'm curious to know! 

Thanks for reading. Keep kicking ass per usual. You know the drill. xo

DIY Life Hack ft. Hats

First, let me just say what everyone is thinking - I'm sorry I've been so MIA lately, I am a horses ass. If you follow me on social media you'll know it's been for a good cause - the shop. Spencer and I have been working our tails off on new fun stuff and restocking items in a timely manner... making sure everything is perfect and full of tasteful profanity. You know me.

That being said, I have a quick fashion life hack that I must share with you! This has been another result of me having an oddly shaped head and refusing to give up when something doesn't fit. There's always a solution, you just have to dig around a craft store to find it. 

Exhibit A: a beautiful Brixton Messer Fedora (one of the best fedoras I've ever owned, just saying...)

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Here's a little back story, I've bought Brixton hats before, did I mention how great they are? I was a size medium in my other hats and this one the reviews said it ran large, so I safely assumed that I would be a small. (Tip: Don't assume, ever) I digress. It's still, for my oddly shaped head, half an inch big and just wobbles when I put it on. I probably just don't have enough hair, but that's my own fault. I refused to let this beat me down and I couldn't return it, so I headed to the craft store for a solution. 

PSA. This isn't a crazy hard tutorial by ANY means, so don't be scared. I'm sure there are more practical ways to fix this situation but this is just my way. I figured I'd run you through the short steps anyways because well, it's easier. What I'm saying is, it's freakin' easy. 


What you need:

  • Hat 
  • 1 sheet of regular black felt (or whatever color the interior of your hat is)
  • 1 tube of super fabric glue 
  • Scissors (preferably not the ones pictured, they were horrible... mistaaake)

Step 1. Cut 2 vertical strips of felt that are relatively the same width as the inner lining of the hat. (The part that hugs your head the tightest) This doesn't have to be perfect by any means, but just around the same size.

Step 2. Run some of that super fabric glue on the pieces. Be generous but don't go overboard. Be an adult now, this isn't play time. These are expensive hats! 

Step 3. Carefully place the strips of felt on the inside of the hat. Pressing down hard and making sure it sticks. Do the same with both strips. Two should cover one layer (One on the left, one on the right) You understand.

Step 4. Wait for it to dry. It shouldn't take too long but I'd give it an hour or two, just in case. Your hat should look like so. Like, basically the same because we're sneaky fuckers.


Step 5. Your head is now being softly hugged by a glorious hat. Go live life to the fullest.

or Step 6 if needed. If your hat is still a little bit loose, you can always double up and do another layer of felt on the inside. I recommend doing one layer at a time though, just because you can't really predict how it'll fit afterwards until the glue dries and you try it on. And let's be honest, we are people who bought hats in a size that doesn't fit us. We're not so reliable at this point when it comes to assumptions. Better safe than sorry.

I've done this magic trick now on 2 Brixton fedoras I own. It's seriously amazing and it actually stays on BETTER being grasped by felt instead of the original inner lining. No offense, Brixton. But I'm so in love! I had to share this hack with you, even if all it is is gluing more fabric on the inside of a hat. I'm no innovative genius, just a determined hat lover. 

I hope you all learned something and I hope there are hats in your closet that can now love you. xo Enjoy

Romp Around.

It's been way too long since I covered some fashion on here and I decided to make a comeback with one of my favorite things: Rompers. Let's be honest guys, they are gods gift. Glorified pajamas (some of them). I can't get enough. 

Even though I struggle with long torso syndrome, I still find a way to make them work and find the right ones for my shape. It's a science. I studied. I also love the fact that they cut outfit deciding time in HALF. One thing, boom. Pick out shoes. You're done, uh'bye. 

I know I've written a post about rompers before, way back in 2014.. and my opinion still stands. There are ways to wear and enjoy rompers whilst having a longer torso. Easy. Just find rompers that are either 1) not elastic at the waist or 2) halter or have adjustable straps.

The elastic waist is tricky, especially for people like me who have child bearing hips. It's usually a no-no and I gravitate towards rompers that are one width, (like pictured above) that way you don't have anything riding up while you're walking, virtually turning your outfit into a thong by the time you've taken your 3rd step. Whenever I see one width rompers like these... I pounce. They are so comfortable. 

Outfit Details:

At Ease Ribbed Romper by Tobi

Cusco High Top Kicks by Inkkas 

Crossbody Bag by Irene's Story (here's one that's similar)


Another alternative is a halter/off the shoulder or adjustable straps, cutout backs, etc etc. If you find something that has a separate bottom piece all it's own, that's good, that way you're able to adjust the length of the back. Girls like me with a booty know what's up.

This particular romper was such an awesome exception and like I mentioned before, cut outs are your friend. They allow extra length and the back was open, thus giving me room to adjust. I hope you're writing this all down because if you have the same problems as I do, this will save a life. Unfortunately there's the one disadvantage that comes with sporting a romper... I love them, but every bathroom trip turns into an episode of Naked and Afraid. There's no way around it. Sorry guys.

I know I wrote about this subject two years ago but I feel the need to highlight on it again because I keep stumbling upon amazing rompers that are not only affordable but great quality. I found both of these at Tobi.com and the best part is if you sign up for their mailing list, you immediately get 50% off your entire first purchase. Uh. Yes please. (please note: this does not give me any sort of commission, I just like sharing good shit with you guys.)

And this, is, good, shit. 

Outfit details:

With You Off Shoulder Romper by Tobi

Black Ankle Boots by Boohoo.com (here's some that are similar)

Black Messer Fedora by Brixton

For more cute shit, here are some other Tobi favorites: DressesCrop TopsRompersJumpsuitsBodysuitsMidi Dresses

My Little Saving Grace.

It's not often that I come across products that I immediately rave about. I usually like to give a few weeks of usage before I go, "Ok, you all need to check this out." This is an exception. I'm in love. 

As you may or may not know, one of my very first blog posts on this site in 2014 was about what helps me deal with my anxiety. I can link it to you right here. I mentioned the fact that I use essential oils when I'm feeling anxious or I simply just need a boost to help feel relaxed without the use of alcohol because well, I don't drink. Now, I'm a total newb when it came to this, but I had no idea that essential oil aroma diffusers existed in this world. Why didn't anyone tell me this?! 

Holy shit you guys. 

I give you... my little saving grace, my baby dinosaur space egg, my glowing beam of hope, my "you make me feel like leo did when he finally won an oscar" container. 

Now, know this, you don't need to struggle with anxiety to enjoy the effects this little lady will bring into your life. Yes, she's a lady. Essential oils help you sleep better, breathe better, help when you're sick and feeling congested, when you're emotionally drained, needing an extra energy boost or dealing with the struggles of being a fucking female once a month...

I use Lavender when I need help going to sleep, especially if I have anxiety. Eucalyptus or Peppermint when I'm feeling sick and need to unplug my entire head. Lemongrass or Orange when I'm just cleaning around the house or needing some extra energy. It just instantly helps. I have a few oils from DoTerra like I mentioned in my older post but if you don't wanna break the bank, I got a cute little starter set for not much from Radha Beauty, I'll give you a link right here.

It runs consistently for 120 minutes (or less if you choose) and all you need to do is refill it with distilled water, add a few drops of any essential oil and turn it back on. Boom. No batteries, no nothing. What's the best part? This will not break your wallet. That's what's so amazing. Lean back and breathe it all in. You feel that? Fuuuuuuuck. That's relaxation, baby.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE from Vanity Planet. 

Use the code: AROMASCOUT for 50% off. 

Take A Moment. {unplug}

I came across this video the other day that sparked something inside of me. That sounded like something from Disney, wow. Anyways, I've had this feeling time and time again to cover this subject on here but I could just never find the right words. Well, I dug real deep and found some, so let's give this a shot. 

As a photographer, I shoot a lot of newlyweds, couples, families, etc. People that have been around the world and back together and don't get me wrong, I fucking love what I do, but it's rare when I come across a couple that's just dating and they just want rad photos together. You don't see that very often. People get their photo taken when something big happens, an engagement, a baby on the way, a wedding, an anniversary, but never just because. 

The fact that Spencer and I are both photographers, it's somewhat rare we have professional photos of us together that aren't taken on an iPhone. We recently took a road trip with a few friends into the Imperial Sand Dunes to take some photos. There was no sponsorship behind this shoot, there was no secret meaning, rhyme or reason - it was just to have knock-your-socks-off photos of my man and I and hangout with some good people. Why the fuck not? Of course, the second we post a few on Facebook, everyone and their mother had assumed we got engaged. I mean, there's clearly no picture of a ring here people so I was a little confused but that just proves my point.. why else would we drive 3.5 hours east to take some epic photos together, we MUST be engaged or something, right? Wrong.  I mean... not yet. ;) 

Photo by Chris K Photos

Photo by Chris K Photos

Photo by Chris K Photos

Photo by Chris K Photos

Something people don't know, or I guess don't find out until they do it is... when you're posing during a photo session you are forced to honestly just stand there and stare at the other person. Obviously someone you love, but how often do you do this in every day life? Now, I know that sounds sorta awkward, I can assure you it isn't. But honestly, you have a moment together. You're just looking at each other, no phone screens, not even talking, you're just... there, together. I have to tell you, that shit lights you on fire. Every single time we do a photo shoot, those quiet moments I have where I'm just looking at him.. I fall deeper in love with him. I leave that shoot feeling so warm and fuzzy inside it's indescribable. It's almost like it recharges your batteries as a person and as a couple.

Photo by Chris K Photos

Photo by Chris K Photos

Couples and relationships aside, even photos aside, the video below is the one that inspired me to actually sit down and write this. I felt like the two subjects go completely hand in hand. You don't need to schedule a photo session to take time for this, it just happened to be my personal example. It is SO powerful to put everything else aside and just look at someone you care about. I feel like people tend to get caught up in technology and forget that. Says the blogger who's career is based on the internet. Spencer and I still make sure to make that time and have weekends where we unplug and put our phones on airplane mode to be with each other. It's extremely important and more impactful than you know. Try it.

I shouldn't have watched this in public, now I can't stop crying !"Can simply looking at someone for 4 minutes improve your relationship?" Share it with your loved ones and give it a try. How did you feel?

Posted by pindaPanda on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wipe your tears. I know this is a very off-the-wall post for me to do but it hit me pretty hard and I had to share it with you guys. Even if it's just something to take a step back and think about. The relationships you have in your lives are so important and it's amazing that something so small can be so impactful. Take a moment to see. Love those close to you. Look them deep in the eyes and don't forget to tell them. Hell, make it awkward and whisper. haha. 

I love you all so much, in the most awkward way possible because, that's all I know. 

Budget Yourself In Order To Treat Yourself.

This has been something I've wanted to cover on here for quite some time. It has also been one of my most frequently asked questions, which, is so odd yet so awesome. My parents will throw their fists in the air with pride when they see this like, "hell yeah! we fucking did it!". Allow me to explain how I personally budget my money and have successfully never been late on bills or rent in YEARS. Keep in mind, I am no accounting expert, this is just the shit that works for me. 

Let me take you on a field trip, which unfortunately involves numbers EW, but hear me out...

I was introduced to this budgeting app called Good Budget in 2011 and I haven't looked back. Keep in mind, there are tons of other budgeting apps similar to this, I am fully aware, this just happens to be the one that I use and would recommend. It takes a good minute to set it up, but once you have everything put in place... it's easy as pie. I never really understood that reference...

First things first, download the app. It's free, hell. yeah. The icon should look like this little dude. --->

Once it's downloaded, put your phone down and hop on the computer (real quick, JUST REAL QUICK) and go to www.goodbudget.com. Set up an account, again, fuckin' free. From there you will create "envelopes" which represent your monthly expenses. For example: I have an envelope for my Phone Bill, Car Insurance, Credit Card Bill, Health Insurance, etc etc. Whatever you pay for on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis, make a friggin' envelope for it.

Personal preference: Once you do the things, create an envelope called "Spending" and one called "Savings". These, obviously, represent spending money and your savings. I personally don't have a separate savings account, I just have a virtual one that lives in my mind. If you have an entirely separate Savings account, then there's no need to create an envelope for it .

Next, figure out how much you get paid monthly at your job. Whether you get paid once a month or twice a month or every week, it doesn't matter, it all works. 

Wait until it's your pay day to start this process, it's much easier and less confusing I promise. Let's say I get a paycheck twice a month for $1000. Let's click "Fill Envelopes" and get ready to create a quick fill. Don't worry, I'll explain this weirdo lingo. This is basically saving the settings that you're about to make so check the box that reads "Remember Quick Fill As..." and name it whatever the hell you want and begin.

Step 1. Enter in your paycheck amount. For this example, it's $1000. The Payer can be whoever as well, whether you want to name it Paycheck or not is up to you. 

Step 2. This is where you're spreading your $1000 around to all of your bills. For this example, I get paid twice a month, therefore, I need to cut all of my bills in half. I have a $300 car payment, therefore, I take $150 from this paycheck and $150 from the next paycheck to equal $300. Easy math. Even if you get paid every week, just divide your bills by fourths. Make sure you also take into account WHEN your bills are DUE to make sure you have enough money in your envelope by that date. This is important. 

Once you're done with the important stuff, you'll see off to the side there's a little box talking about sweeping. Step 3. This is any money from the original $1000 that didn't get put into an envelope. Your last nights leftovers basically. Sweep that shit into spending, savings, wherever the hell you want it to go.

After these 3 steps, you're done. It's saved. Whenever you get a paycheck, all you have to do is refer to your quick fill and all of your bills will be accounted for and whatever is left is yours to spend or save. It's seriously such a fool proof way to make sure the important stuff is taken care of before you go spending money on shit that makes you happy. I've trained my brain over the years to literally only see what's in my spending or savings as WHAT I HAVE and ignoring every other number. I no longer look at how much I actually have in my bank account as a whole because it's really not there. In my mind it's already spent. It's gone. Bye. 

I run into too many people, Spencer being one in the beginning, where they get their paycheck, "sweet $1400!" and boom it's gone and they are left to scramble for bill money at the last minute and constantly over drafting their accounts. Ever since I started this method and kept myself in check, I have never had a late payment on a bill nor have I ever had to scramble for money last minute. 

I can't even believe that I'm sitting here writing about fucking budgeting but god damn, it has saved my life. I have successfully converted Spencer to the process about a year ago and he hasn't had one late payment since. He can vouch.

So hey, I know adulting is tough as fuck and we're all basically wingin' it in life but I wouldn't be sharing this information if I didn't think it would be helpful. It is absolutely possible to not suck at budgeting, I am living proof, I used to be terrible. I hope my explanation wasn't too confusing, I swear it's easier than it looks and once you get the hang of it... you're solid, man. You got this. 

Go out into the world and fly, fly away from over draft charges and pissy landlords. I hope you all learned something cool today, no matter how nerdy it is. xo

Photo by: Baldwin Media // Tee by: Passive Juice Motel

Photo by: Baldwin Media // Tee by: Passive Juice Motel

P.s. This blog post is not sponsored by GoodBudget, they have no idea who the hell I am. 

DIY T-Shirt Bodysuit

This has been a DIY I've been dreaming about for years.. YEARS. I somehow knew a size XXL tee would fall into my lap in the year 2016 and be perfect for such a easy dreamy craft. Literally somebody at my mom's work gave her this t-shirt and she immediately handed it over to me because she knows me so well. Fate, I tell you, fucking fate.

This project was probably the easiest one I've done so far, so prepare yourself for not that many steps. 

What you need.

  • Oversized t-shirt
  • Good pair of scissors
  • Needle and thread 
  • At least 4 sew in sew-on snaps
  • A very good friend (optional)

Step 1. Cut the sleeves off of your t-shirt, however thick or thin you want them, it's completely up to you. Obviously you can opt out of this step if big sleeves are your thing. I ain't here to judge your style, girl. 

 

Step 2. Put the t-shirt on and safety pin the crotch to what is most comfortable for you. Find a good friend who's willing to help you cut out the hip shape and the back, or you could simply chalk out some lines for yourself and do this solo. I personally found it easier to get these lines perfect while standing straight up and having someone else cut. The struggle of having a long torso is so real. 

ps. thank you ashley, i love you so.

Step 3. Once you have the basic front and back shape cut out, take it off and finish the job. Again, this comes down to personal preference and how Bay Watch you wanna expose those hip bones. 

Step 4. Taper in the sides to your personal body shape/comfort with some pins. You can either cut and pin or fold and pin. I chose to fold, as it's the easiest for me. Flip the t-shirt inside out and sew them shut to your liking. I honestly didn't even use a sewing machine for this, I just did it quickly by hand in less than 30 minutes. It could just be because I am extremely lazy, but it doesn't matter either way works. Do you.

Step 5. As for the crotch, don't sew this. I had a very white girl moment and sewed it shut, stood in my living room ready to try it on and looked at it like, "Yeah, I didn't really think this one through" because I had no way to put it on. Good job, Michelle. Don't do that.

Step 5 Plan B. Find some sew on snaps, that they typically use for baby onesies. You can find them anywhere, Michaels, Joanns, etc. Sew 4 on. You've got a snap crotch, baby. 


Boom. Quick and easy t-shirt bodysuit sewn perfectly to your shape. Slip on some high waisted jeans and you're good to go. Or strut around your house like a god damn boss.

Either way, I support it. 

Every Day Valentine.

It's been awhile since Spencer and I collaborated on a blog post for you guys; it's long overdue, I'm sorry. We're going to write this one together, as a unit, as a collaborative force. 

Now, I don't ever want to come off like we know it all or we're telling you what you should do. That's not how I do things and frankly, that's not how I feel one learns. We're going to share how WE do things and what we feel has helped shape our relationship along the way. We're all still learning here, as I always stress. Alright, let's dive into it.

Photo by: Anna DeMarco

Photo by: Anna DeMarco

Every so often we get asked how we keep our relationship interesting and constantly growing, that's not to say we don't have our set backs every once in awhile just like every other couple.. but we feel along the way we've figured out certain things on how to keep things alive, thriving and healthy. 

First things first, it takes a lot of effort from both parties in order to sustain a healthy/growing relationship after the "H-OMG THEY LIKE ME!" phase. That whole saying, "it doesn't take 50/50 from each party, it takes 100/100" is extremely important. Write that down. 

Secondly, we wake up and choose one another and make a conscious effort to make sure the other person feels loved, encouraged, and important. Effort not only stems from reassurance and let's say, gift buying... it also means making the effort to learn about the other person: How do they receive affection? Also how do they show affection? Everybody does these two things differently, most of the time. It is important to realize that. Communication and speaking up is also so important when it comes to establishing that base line. I mean, it's important regardless, but you know what we mean. Speak up. Asking these types of questions is so key in any relationship; fuck... asking ALL THE QUESTIONS is key. Don't ever stop learning, don't ever stop continuing to grow with each other.  

We also get asked how we keep things spicy and fresh as time goes by; one major thing we do is we make an effort to step out of our routine. We go eat somewhere new, go on a spontaneous road trip, plan a vacation, hangout with people we haven't seen in awhile, get all dressed up and go out on the town for no reason; JUST PLAN STUFF. We make a note to have a fancy date night once a month, no matter what. It's so important to do this and not get stuck in a rut and these things most definitely do not all require large amounts of money. We're not millionaires, we don't have the money to jet set around the world frequently, but that doesn't mean your life/relationship can't be adventurous. Write that down, too.   


While we have many similarities when it comes to interests like photography and such, please don't assume that includes ALL of our hobbies. Both of us are into different shit, but we both make sure we are there to support said hobbies/interests/passions regardless. Whether or not you understand it, being a supportive counter part goes farther than you think it does. 

Sustaining a relationship is hard work and it only succeeds if both parties are giving it their all, like we stated before I know I know haha. We've both been put through the ringer when it comes to past relationships but it has done nothing but shape and prepare us for handling anything and everything that is thrown our way. I mean, this goes for everyone as well, we know bad eggs exist and we believe they are there for a purpose. This purpose. Don't ever let assholes from your past hold you back from loving someone as hard as you fucking can. There are people in the world that don't suck. There are people in the world who are looking for the same kind of love and companionship as you are and don't give up on them. They won't give up on you.

Like we stated in the beginning, this post is not meant to come off like we have the answer to everything and we have a picture perfect relationship. That is far from the truth, nothing is ever perfect. It is perfectly imperfect. Every relationship is different but they are more similar than we think - we are all one big family and we can all learn from each other. To be just as good at listening rather than shelling out advice is important. Stay humble and stay eager to learn, that is how we all can achieve what we want when it comes to love and frankly, when it comes to just, life. 

We appreciate every ounce of love and support we receive from you guys and we want nothing more than to shove it right back at you. In your face. I mean, you know, in an affectionate way. I hope everyone, whether you're in a relationship or not, has a great weekend full of love. It doesn't need to be Valentine's day for you to spread love to people you care about. Happy February 12th. We love you today and we'll love you tomorrow and you see where this is going... 

Cheers,

Michelle & Spencer

Confidence.

One thing you need to know diving into this, is that I was never this confident person that I am today. Frankly, I still have bad days where I feel off or intimidated by life or not pretty for whatever reason. It happens, that's life, just don't let it set you back is what's important.

Over the years I've learned a lot while figuring shit out and downloading the 101 on being authentically myself. As I stated before in my college post, I learn best from trial and error. I'm stubborn, I'll admit, and I'd rather fail and figure it out the hard way than go forward not knowing first hand, that's how I've always been, ask my parents. I need experiences! Well with that mentality, I've had a fuck ton of them so far and embracing those experiences as lessons instead of trials that hold me back has changed my life INDEFINITELY. Some days are harder than others and it's not something that just happens, you have to make a conscious effort to see things this way, but it's 100% worth it.

Photo by: Baldwin Media

Photo by: Baldwin Media

This is not something I've discovered overnight, keep that in mind. Finding confidence in yourself and who you are is not a race to the finish line and it is not something that can ever be compared to anyone else's journey. This is so fucking important. I've had a heap of wrong turns in order to learn who I am, what I want out of life, what I want in a relationship and how to stick up for myself but that's my story. The biggest mistake that I see people making, that I made myself at one point in time, is thinking everyone around me "has it all together" and I must be doing something wrong. What other people do with their life has NOTHING to do with you and yours. Remember that. People can be getting married, having kids, traveling all around you - that does not mean your life has derailed and you're a failure. You're doing great. That's what they are doing; focus on what you are doing. 

We were born to be real, not to be perfect.
— a friendly reminder

I'm still learning. Nothing feels better than looking back at the things you were upset about and thinking "I'm glad that happened because look at me now, fuckers!" Let yourself embrace the process. I swear to god the second you start giving yourself some credit for how far you've come year after year, you'll never be disappointed. The second I stopped comparing my life to the lives of others around me, that's the second I started living. The moment I stopped caring what other people assumed about me or about what has happened in my life, I started living; fully. Opinions only matter if you let them. They don't matter, just sayin', a personal tip from me to you. 

When it comes down to it, nobody knows you better than yourself. You have a story to tell and it can only be told by you. Own it all, own every fucking second of it and confidence follows.