Vampy Blood Orange Sangria Pops Perfect for Halloween

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If you're like me, as a kid you LOVED Halloween. Your costume was planned out a month in advance and you had your trash bag or pillow case or whatever giant bag you can get your hands on to acquire the biggest haul of candy possible. Now, trick-or-treating as an adult would be.....creepy to say the least, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the same joy of Halloween with these fun boozy vampire-inspired treats!

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To start out, you'll need to squeeze enough blood oranges to make about 3 cups worth of juice. I love cutting these things open because each one is such a stunning surprise of color inside! Plus blood oranges. Blood. Vampires. Halloween. Get it? ha ha, ANYWAY!

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Next, pour the juice into a saucepan, and combine with three tablespoons of sugar to start out.

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Add in 2 1/4 cups of red wine (you can choose whatever your favorite is, but we went with a pre-blended sangria wine for ease!) and taste to make sure the mixture is sweet enough. If not, add sugar to taste.

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Finally, to make these pops extra vampy and spooky, we added in two capsules of activated charcoal. Activated Charcoal is actually really great for your digestive system, and can help reduce bloating! Yes please! 

After you mix in all the ingredients, simmer on low until the sugar dissolves, then let cool completely.

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Lastly, pour the cooled-down mixture into the molds and freeze! It's better to leave them in the freezer for at least a day before serving just to ensure a good solid freeze.

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REcipe:

ingredients:

3 cups of Blood Orange Juice

3 Tbsp. Sugar (or more to taste)

2 1/4 cups of Red Wine

2 Activated Charcoal Capsules

instructions:

1. Combine blood orange juice, sugar, and wine into saucepan, adding more sugar if needed. 

2. Simmer ingredients on low until sugar dissolves.

3. Let mixture cool, and pour into molds.

4. Freeze, and enjoy!

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HAVE A SPOOKY HALLOWEEN!

Relaxing with Riddle Oil

Those of you who know me know that I looooooooove all-natural alternatives for cosmetics and skincare and pretty much everything actually. I had been searching for an everyday perfume, but couldn't find one that I liked that wasn't loaded down with chemicals. I tried several different essential oils and blends that I already had, but I wanted something that smelled a little more perfume-y, if that makes sense. When I found Riddle Oil, I was so excited because it was the best of both worlds. It's an all-natural oil blend that still smells like actual perfume except honestly, BETTER. It is my favorite scent I've ever owned. No lie. I literally used to go into one of my local boutiques just to try the different scents, and I'm totally not embarrassed about that at all in any way, why? 

My favorite scent from Riddle Oil is Santal. It's warm, sultry, and a little bit spicy. I love their roll on perfume, and it lasts all day minimum. Sometimes I catch a whiff of it like two days later after showering and everything. It could be black magic, I'm not sure. 

The best part is that they make a lotion and a candle in the same scent so I can surround myself at all times in this delicious smell. There's nothing better than slipping into my comfiest pajamas, throwing on a good movie or opening a good book, and lighting a wonderful smelling candle, and kicking backkkkkk. Thanks to Riddle Oil, that's my latest routine. 

Three Ways to Style the Awkward Corner In Your Apartment

This blog post was created for Advice From a 20 Something and can be found here.

All styling, writing, and photography was done by me.

When moving into a new apartment, you start with the basics. A couch. A coffee table. A rug. A lamp. But once you get everything moved in, you look over, and it seems like there’s always a weird corner that looks totally empty. If you’re like me, you try a bunch of different things and ideas, but all your furniture looks too randomly placed or awkward and you end up either leaving it bare or keeping the awkward piece there just so there’s something there.. SO, I decided to try a few different looks to help you transform your own awkward corner into your favorite part of the room.

Music Afficianados:

If you play any musical instruments or just love music in general, this one’s for you. Instruments can look weird in the middle of a room anyway, so the corner is a natural space to put them so that they’re out of the way. Make yours the center of attention by mounting it on the wall, which gives you easy access to it, and turns it into part of the decor.

If you’re more of a music-appreciator than a music-maker, invest in a cool record player and display your collection on a funky storage shelf. Not only does this let you show off your awesome music taste, but it’s a fun conversation starter and always leads to some good vibes for get-togethers.

 

Cozy Corner:

If your idea of a good time is reading a classic book while smoking a tobacco pipe and sipping cognac OR if you just like to sit down in big regal chairs (who doesn’t??), don’t worry, I thought of you too. Find yourself a chair that is really going to shine. It’s the main attraction, so go bold either with a strong color or a nice deep tan leather like this one. Pairing it with a sheepskin pelt cozies it up a little, and immediately turns your awkward corner into a place where everyone wants to sit.

Adding plants is pretty much a go-to for every weird space. It closes in the strange gaps of blank walls, and somehow makes a room feel more open and clean. I say, “the more the merrier!” Urban sells some really cute brass planters for big house plants that I recommend.

Finally, a lamp is a nice touch so that you can read your heart out morning, day, or night, and this mid-century modern one from Target pairs nicely with almost anything. Finish it off with a to-die-for Santal candle from Riddle Oil. You’ll thank me later.

 

Storage, Storage, Storage:

If you’re thinking, all this sounds great, but my apartment is the size of a cardboard box and I can’t afford to waste all that space: I know that feel. I too struggle with sacrificing aesthetic for storage space. BUT, I think there’s a way to have your cake and eat it too. I picked up this ottoman from World Market, and it’s so nice because it opens up and you can store seriously tons of stuff in it. When you’re not using it, you can just close the top and use it as extra lounging space. Also, its rectangular shape fits perfectly into a corner making it the perfect little corner spot to drink your morning coffee or meditate before your day gets started.

Add some fun woven baskets around to keep your throw blankets or extra pillows in. It makes the corner look even cozier and doubles up for more storage. You can even add a dresser into the mix and store all the stuff you normally would put in your random drawer (I know you have one!!) like all ten of your remotes and your board games you’ve played once.

Top the dresser off with some tiny cacti or succulents to keep the meditative vibes flowing and add height to that section of your corner. If there are still weird empty spaces, adding some posters or wall art can pull a look together. An artist, Sarah Minks, painted my moon picture, and I absolutely love it. I’m pretty sure she can paint anything, so consider commissioning a piece that means something to you and that adds your unique personality to your apartment or home.

 

Which corner works best for you?

xx,

Kendall Skye

Dear Long Distance,

I wish there were a word for feeling 100% happy for someone and being 100% jealous of them to the point of bitterness all at the same time, because if there were, I would write it down and that would be the end of this blog post. But since that word doesn't exist as far as I know, I guess I'll go ahead and drone on about the crazy odd mix of emotions that I've been feeling this week.

First of all, pulling into San Fransisco was a dream. I had only been there one other time for just a couple days, so I hadn't really gotten a good feel for the city. This time, I was really busy also so I didn't get to explore too much, but when I was exploring, I just got so excited and felt so at home in the busy streets. 

Michael's apartment is so charming and cute also. This is where the envy comes in. He lives in a corner unit in the North Beach area of San Fran, and his room overlooks the bay and he is a 10 minute walk from like everything in the city. We were walking around to Trader Joe's and World Market and sushi restaurants and coffee shops and it sounds dumb, but it just felt like the whole world was at his finger tips and in a way, it made me feel so stuck in Malibu. I KNOW. I know. Malibu is an incredible place to live as well, but without your best friend there, it seems a little sleepy and lonely. San Fran is bustling and happening and innovative and EVERYTHING. ugh. Even as I write this I totally feel guilty for being unhappy with Malibu. I don't know. I just feel like a piece of my heart stayed in the city when I came back and now my home feels a little emptier. 

Fixing up the apartment was interesting too. It was like one of those moments where you know you're gonna look back and laugh. We were having the roughest time painting these textured walls and we did like 2 and a half coats before we busted out the pizza and beer and sat on the floor to eat cause we hadn't built any of the Ikea furniture yet to eat on. It felt like those cheesy country songs that talk about when "they were just kids" or whatever. Like Michael and I are on the cusp of adulthood and he is starting his career and I'm just bouncing around trying to figure out my passion. Perhaps my passion is pizza and beer. Can I turn that into a career? Anyway... I can't even explain the pride I feel for him at the same time. This kid is toe to toe with Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and all the other Ivy League graduates and he is headed to big things. He is so driven and excited, and I know he's gonna be "that guy" that everyone looks to at his job. He has always been that guy, and that's why I like him so much. I am so happy he gets to explore this incredible city and live his finance job dreams. And he looks so darn cute in his fancy clothes.

Also,

The room turned out pretty awesome.

I could lay in the fluffy down comforter-ed bed and watch people walk by those windows all day long. It's so dreamy and cozy and exactly what I wanted his room to be for him. He has four windows since he's on the corner so you seriously feel immersed in the city. 

We even DIY'd this hanging closet because San Fran closets are a little smaller than most. Low-key proud of our interior design skills haha.

I think overall, after moving Michael in I'm super bummed but I'm actually so motivated. Being in the city and feeling a little buzz of energy makes me want to start running in the morning and eat paleo granola for a snack or something. I'm totally planning to use this last year of college to get going on some things I'm passionate about, glow up a little, step up my wardrobe game, and live a little bolder. So I'm calling that my silver lining and San Fran Resolution. 

Dear Long Distance, 

You totally suck. I hate you I hate you I hate you. But I thank you for the opportunity to grow.

Please be nice to my melancholic heart, and hopefully you'll be gone before I know it.

xx

Kendall

 

Coming to Terms With Being a Total Loner

I've never been the type to have a ton of friends.

It's not like I didn't want friends, but it seemed like the girls I wanted to hang out with were always just out of my league. Or they would hang out with me, but I was never that girl that walked into a party and everyone turns around and smiles is like "OMG What's up girl?". If I came at all, I would huddle with my one introvert ally and try to look occupied until someone decided to make conversation with me. I was never the first to be invited to well, anything, and if I wasn't explicitly invited, I was too embarrassed to show up, which generally meant I would spend a lot of Friday nights alone in my room. 

When I came to college, I had this whole idea of "re-inventing" myself. Like maybe if I was somehow different from high school me or middle school me, people would like me better. I seriously SERIOUSLY considered going by my middle name, Skye, to seem edgier. I desperately wanted to feel vital to a friend group. I wanted someone to feel the ache of my absence from a hangout. I just think I wanted to feel like people liked me.

SO, I tried really hard Freshman year. Like too hard. I wore bronzer (what???), joined a sorority, and was flirting with boys I knew I didn't even like, and was basically exuding the phrase PLEASE GIVE ME ATTENTION. I talked about things I didn't care about, and claimed viewpoints I didn't believe in, and in the process I made some fake friends. I felt cool for like 3 seconds until I realized I still didn't have anyone that cared about me for being the real me. Like maybe they liked "cool artsy Instagram Kendall" but when I acted like myself, somehow the facade faded and I was an outsider again.

I started coming up with theories about why nobody wanted to be my friend, which is something I do when I feel insecure. I can't tell you how many times I have cried to my mom asking what it was about me that was so undesirable. The feeling totally sucks. I've considered the possibility that I wasn't attractive enough (even to girls) to merit making friends. I've thought, maybe if I was skinnier, more people would want to get to know me. I've been told I don't come across as a "nice" girl when people meet me, so I've tried handing out compliments like it was my job, a habit that I still have btw and you have probably noticed if you've ever talked to me, but I still didn't feel like it was working. I'm generally introverted and have some social anxiety that hinders me from wanting to reach out directly to people or invite myself to things I wasn't invited to. Even so, I tried REALLY hard to set up coffee dates with people I didn't really know and just anything I could do to get people to like me. 

Then I up and ran out of damns to give.

I thought, "why am I doing this?" Along this road of loneliness, there have been friends in my life that have contributed more to my self esteem than groups of 500 fake friends ever could have. With their help, I finally came to the realization that I honestly don't care if I have 500 friends. I just REALLY wanted to be myself at that point. I was tired of being fake or holding back my thoughts so people would think I was nice, I was tired of suppressing my support for feminism or my political views so people wouldn't think I was aggressive and crazy, I was tired of taking free pictures for people I barely knew only for them to never talk to me again afterwards, I was tired of putting on crop tops and eyeliner for people I didn't even like, and mostly, I was tired of not even liking myself at the end of the day. 

I still only have like 4 close friends and I'm probably never gonna be the girl who lights up the room or walks around with a posse of people, but I'm trying to be the most authentic version of myself, and attract the people who like me for that version of me. And the best part is, when you surround yourself with people that actually care about you and your feelings and your life, it feels like you have so many friends even when there's only a few of 'em! It's so much more fulfilling and inspiring. I'm still a naturally emotional and lonely person, so I'm not trying to act like there's a fairytale ending to this totally emo blog post, but all I'm saying is that I'm done punishing myself for not "fitting in" or whatever the heck you wanna call it. Maybe I'm not supposed to fit in, and maybe my loner tendencies are growing me in ways I can't anticipate yet.

That being said, I'm so hopeful for this last year of university, and I'm pretty lucky to have some fine ladies by my side as roommates. Here are some pictures we took of each other on the beach as we planned our girl power shrine for our future apartment and our wednesday night roomie dinner dates. Things work out, guys.  

you know we self timer-ed this ish

you know we self timer-ed this ish

Some Things Uganda Taught Me in 27 Days

#1- I am very privileged.

I am 20 years old, and have more material and racial privilege and agency in the world than most Ugandans. I have done nothing to deserve this, but I have it whether I would like to or not.

#2- I am very poor.

There are many areas of my life that are in poverty. These would include social poverty, spiritual poverty, and emotional poverty. Struggling doesn't only include material poverty. Based on the people I met, Africans are much richer than most Americans in many of these areas. 

#3- Beauty can be found in the most unsuspecting things (like a rooster's crow, a cup of tea, or a child saying and remembering your name even though it's in a strange and foreign language).

#4- Love has no language, but learning someone's language is a good way of showing love.

#5- It's not our job to "fix" things we don't understand.

#6- It takes a long time to "understand".

#7- We all have unique gifts- but we shouldn't waste them on ourselves.

#8- You don't have to be a missionary or work at a nonprofit or move to Africa to impact the world and use your gifts for good-- and it's often better if you don't.

#9- Africans are just normal people. 

#10- My way is not the only valid way of thinking about something, even if all of my western logic says so.

#11- A key question to ask a nonprofit is, "What is your exit strategy?"

#12- In Africa, a 2 hour bus ride is really more like a 5 hour bus ride.

#13- I am lucky beyond comprehension, and should seriously consider taking advantage of my opportunities and use my platform of privilege for good. My friend Ida says she would kill for a library of books to read. Makes you think..

#14- I am a slave to time and use it like a commodity, but I now know that sitting around with the ones you love is never a waste of time.

#15- Nature is sacred and should be protected. 

#16- In general, if you think you've answered your questions, start questioning your answers.

#17- Being vulnerable is a great way to make new friends.

#18- "Thank you"s are important and necessary.

#19- No matter how hard you try, someone will misunderstand you. Try not to get your feelings hurt, and do better next time.

#20- The most important thing is to love with all you've got.

 

"katusanuke"

let's be happy

 

Check out this video I made of my time in Uganda! Have mercy, it's my first attempt at video ever, but I hope you can enjoy a little slice of my life lately.

What I'm Packing for a Month In Uganda

If you've watched Minimalism, caution: you will probably offended by this blog post.

hahah, I'm actually joking (slightly) and have honestly spent so much time thinking about the optimal amount of things I should bring with me on a one-month trip to Uganda. I don't want to be THAT person and show up to LAX with eight bags, but I also don't want to be the girl who didn't remember her passport and only packed two pairs of socks. You know? There's definitely a sweet spot, so here's my attempt at being a minimal-yet-prepared world traveler, and hopefully you can snag a few tips for your own future adventures.

1. The Essentials

To begin packing, I always gather my most important items that I CANNOT leave behind. For this trip, that includes:

1. passport

2. wallet

3. camera

4. phone

5. laptop

6. chargers for ALL OF THAT. this is v important and easily forgotten.

 

2. The Carry On

Carry-ons get tricky because you want to keep them light, but for over thirty hours of flying? Girl's gonna need a bunch of stuff to stay cozy and prepared. 

The main concern of what to put in my carry on started with what to put my carry-on items in. I quickly discovered Atlas Supply Co. and I am in LOVE with my new Entrepreneur Backpack. It's all leather which means it's waterproof (great for Uganda) and most of all beautiful. I've only been using it for about a week and so far haven't gone a day without a compliment on it. It also has a little shelf that fits my camera equipment perfectly. Total score. 

Besides the obvious laptop/camera gear, I filled my backpack with a change of socks for day 2 of traveling, sunglasses, headphones, gum (a MUST), a toothbrush, chapstick and some essential oils and face serums. Nothing dries out my skin more than flying, so when everything else is uncomfortable, it's nice to at least smell and feel fresh!

Lastly, I included a LifeStraw Go water bottle! This bottle filters all the nasties out of water, so even unsafe water is good to drink! I'm really excited about this because I was disappointed at the thought of using bottled water for everything for a whole MONTH. That's a ton of plastic, and this little guy will keep me safe and healthy while still being eco-friendly. I plan to bring it through security empty (obviously) and fill it up once in the terminal just to, again, stay hydrated!

 

3. The Toiletries

Ok, I'm stoked about this one. I've partnered with Osana Bar, who is doing super cool things to prevent Malaria in under-developed countries. I've always been a total treat for mosquitos so I'm stoked to try this! It's an all-natural insect repelling soap, which means I won't have to lather chemicals on my skin to stay safe and malaria-free. This will be great both for Uganda and back on the farm in Texas! For 10% off your own order, use the code: kendallmcleod at checkout. Surprisingly, it smells pretty dang good (I was totally expecting that citronella bug-spray smell, but it's non-existent! Think, "sweet minty fresh."). They've also given me a couple samples to hand out to local Ugandans, so I'm excited to hear reviews from them as well! Make sure to check out their site to hear more about their campaign, #biggerstory.

I also brought along Alba Botanica sunscreen for the hot African sun, a wooden recyclable toothbrush, Tom's of Maine toothpaste, and some of my favorite all-natural jasmine face wash from Essensu.

 

4. The Big Bag

For this trip, I have two stores to send my love to: Madewell and TjMaxx.

Honestly, I was so lucky to find some awesome finds for super low prices. 

Here are the highlights from each:

Madewell-

  • bandanas make every outfit better. I snagged this one for $12.50.
  • I looked for a classic white safari shirt, and finally found this one I'm probably never taking off.
  • these pants are staples. I love the fit, and they're super dependable and mix-and-matchable.

TjMaxx-

  • I'm OBSESSED with these pants I got from TjMaxx's Runway section. I got them for $50, and they were so huge, but I got them tailored for $20 which means I spent $70 on pants worth $300. SCORE!
  • The sandals pictured are also from TjMaxx and are Maypol.
  • I also snagged some Shea Moisture shampoo and conditioner (perfect size!!) and tore the labels off to keep things looking simple. 

I got the hat from H&M and the makeup bag from Izola, which are also great places to shop for travel essentials!

5. The Splurges

The splurges are the things I didn't necessarily neeeeeeeeed per se, but really wanted to have for my trip. First, this included my guilele from Cordoba. A guilele is 1/2 ukulele and 1/2 guitar, meaning it uses the same chords as a 6 string guitar, but sounds just like a guitar. This is perfect for the guitar player who needs the convenience of a uke (hey, that's ME!!), and I know that music will comfort me when I'm feeling homesick in Uganda, so I decided to go ahead and bring this for added good vibes and campfire-y memories that are sure to be made. 

My other big splurge, atleast weight-wise, is my pair of Danner hiking boots. These things are tough and durable, and even though they weigh 300 lbs, I knew I wanted to bring them along. Plus, they are GORGEOUS.

 

NOW,

I'm not sure how much I will be able to update my blog whilst in Uganda, but stay tuned for my travel photos and experiences I will definitely be adding on here as soon as possible! Thanks for reading!

Girls' Night In- with DOVE promises

This post was done for Advice From a 20 Something

The original posting can be found here.

Thank you MARS, Inc. for sponsoring this post. All opinions are, of course, my own.

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While I’ll always love a night out with friends, there’s just something about girls night in that can’t be beat. It takes me back to my middle school days of sleepovers and giggling until your stomach hurts. But just because you and your friends are staying in doesn’t mean you can’t make things a little interesting. Here are some super easy and fun ideas for hosting the perfect girls night in on even the tightest budget:

1. Do a “chocolate pairing”

If you like to pretend you’re a foodie, this one is for you. :) DOVE® Promises® come in so many different flavors that go perfectly with various drinks, fruits, and even cheeses! Fancy up your night by pouring different drinks into unlabeled bottles and laying out a platter of fruits & cheeses to pair with 3 different types of DOVE Chocolate Promises.

Tips:
– Pair fruity flavors with DOVE’s chocolate covered cherries or cranberries.
– Citrus flavors tasted best with milk chocolate, and this DOVE Promises Silk Smooth Caramel Milk Chocolate was heavenly.
– Try a mild cheese with DOVE’s dark chocolate covered almonds. The combo will blow your mind!

2. Make indoor s'mores

There’s no better way to bond than around a campfire with s’mores. Well, why not bring that feeling indoors? Start with some basic terra-cotta pots (you can buy these for less than a dollar), and fill them up about three-quarters of the way with potting soil. Place a little heat canister (you know that thing caterers use to keep their dishes warm?) inside the pot, and top it off with some pebbles. I was a little nervous this wasn’t going to go as planned, but low-and-behold it went perfectly! Instead of using a traditional chocolate bar for the chocolate portion, we popped a DOVE Promises Silk Smooth Sea Salt Caramel Dark Chocolate on our s’mores and I’m never going back! So yummy and so melty. Make sure to stop by your local Walgreens to prep for your next girl’s night and to save $1 when you buy 2 DOVE Promise bags between 4/30-6/4!

3. Recycle the pots for a DIY craft

Next, we let the heat canisters cool in our pots, then popped them out leaving the perfect amount of space to plant a succulent in them. This was super fun because everyone had something to take home with them, and nothing went to waste or ended up in a random cabinet somewhere! I snagged a couple of white paint pens from my local craft store and everyone decorated their own pot with them for added flair and personalization. If you’re looking for a more hands-on activity, as well as something you can take home after, this is the perfect thing!

4. Homemade Movie Theatre

Instead of watching a movie on your TV curled up on the couch, why not amp things up a bit? Hang a sheet on your wall and use a projector to create a homemade movie theater! Get on your pajamas, plug in the twinkly lights, and turn on an old classic movie that everyone loves that way- if you guys want to talk, you’re not missing much because you’ve all seen it 1,000 times, yet if you want to watch, you know it’s gonna be a good one.

5. No Phone Policy

When your friends arrive, have everyone toss their phone in a basket. Having a night with no distractions can really help everyone truly be in the present. Your focus won’t be on the stresses of your daily life or social media. Instead, you’ll be able to enjoy each other’s company to the fullest!

Home Away From Home

Basically all of my family lives in Texas. We're all super close, arguably TOO close ;) , and we make EVERYTHING into a party. Mothers' Day? We cater it. Halloween? My grandad dresses like the same vampire every year and you can bet my grandma makes punch in a witch's cauldron for like a billion small children. We host get-togethers so often, my grandparents have two margarita machines in their house, running allllllll the time. And these get-togethers are never small either. I would estimate 10-15 when things are on the small side, and on times like Christmas and birthdays? Seventy people easily. One time my brother came home from Afghanistan and the airport put us at the back of the greeting line because they thought we were a school. Another time, my cousin had an accident and the waiting room at the hospital was so full the hospital gave us our own conference room. We do EVERYTHING as a unit.

And all of this really sucks to watch from your iPhone when you're somewhere else.

Which is usually the case for me.

Growing up, I knew I had to get out. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing inherently bad about staying in the small town you grew up in. Especially for folks in my family, moving away from the incredible support system we have just really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. As for me, however, I always felt called to be somewhere else. I never really fit in with the whole Texas vibe, and maybe it was my angsty emo vibes, but I just really longed to move to California. I was such a poser too because I had never even been to California, but based on all my favorite Tumblrs, I knew I was destined to be here. I hope the cringiness I'm feeling right now comes across as you read, hahah. 

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SO, when I got into Pepperdine University I cried the sad kind of tears. I guess I knew I had to do it. I had been looking forward to it and begging for it for so long, I couldn't back out. So I took the dive, and drove out to Malibu, California. I wish I could extend that sentence to say "and I've never looked back!!" but I've looked back tons of times and wondered and questioned whether I had made the right decision. I looked back, but I think more importantly, I've kept moving forward and learning and growing from my experience.

I've honestly gotta say, moving to California was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Don't get me wrong, it totally SUCKS like 49% of the time. If I had a dollar for every time I sat in my room crying over Facebook photos of memories I would never share with my family, I could maybe actually afford something to eat other than Jack-In-the-Box, but even so, I proved to myself that I could do it. I followed my dreams, and that feels incredibly good. My eighth grade self would be pretty damn proud.

All this goes to say that as much as I don't regret my decision, nothing is better than having a piece of home away from home. Seriously. Nothing is better. So, lucky for me, my beautiful (understatement OBVIOUSLY) cousin Cassie took her weekend to come visit me, and we had an absolute blast! We had so much fun, actually, that we realized the night before she left that we never did the photoshoot we had been planning for weeks. SOLUTION? Wake up at like 4:45 the next morning for this sunrise shoot. We ended up with these lovely photos, and she made my job easy as cake. Thanks for comin' down and making my whole entire April, Cass! Come back soon. 

How To Make Your Shower as Relaxing as a Bath

This post was originally posted on Advice From a Twenty Something, and the text was provided by contributor Chelsea Becker.

All photos were taken and styled by me.

The thought of a long, luxurious bubble bath in a fancy bathtub is what dreams are made of, especially on a stressful day. But let’s face it, not everyone has a bath, and if you do, it’s likely in a hundred-year-old apartment and isn’t the most inviting thing in the world. Even if you have a nice bath, who has the time for one every day? Not me! If you want to unwind but a bath isn’t in the cards, you can still get that at-home spa feeling during a shower. Here are 5 ways to create a relaxing shower experience:

Dry Brush

Before you step into the shower, give yourself a detoxing massage with a dry brush. Dry brushing is popular in the wellness world right now because it helps with removing dead skin cells, inflammation, and even cellulite (score!), and it’s so easy—and cheap—to do. Move the brush in strong strokes towards your heart. Do your feet and legs first, then follow up with your arms. By the time you step into the shower, you’ll feel exfoliated and super soft!

SHOWER MELT

Basically the equivalent of a bath bomb but for your shower, a shower melt is the quickest way to feel pampered while showering. Just drop it by your drain and let it do its thing. As the water runs, it’ll melt and the relaxing eucalyptus steam will fill your shower. Perfect after a long day or when you’re stuffy, eucalyptus is great for clearing up sinuses. Plus, this melt is non-toxic!

FIND THE RIGHT SOAP

You may not be soaking in bubble bath, but you can use a soap that feels just as luxe. Since your body is already exfoliated, now is the time to give it some moisture. Use a gentle hydrating body wash, like this, and let it soak into your skin. And the best part about being in a shower? You can actually rinse away product and feel squeaky clean when you get out!

SPA MUSIC

We all like the occasional jam sesh in the shower, but when it’s time to chill, soothing music is the way to go. I like to use any type of meditation or spa music, as these instantly wind me down. Spotify and Pandora both have “spa music” channels that are great for zen vibes!

OIL UP

As soon as you get out of the shower, pat yourself dry, then apply a body oil to lock in the moisture. This one smells insane, is non-toxic, and leaves your skin feeling super dewy.(You can even make your own like Kendall did for today’s post — more on that soon!) Lathering up with body oil feels so luxurious and your skin will feel ridiculously soft when you’re done!

Ahhhh! Relaxed yet?

What tricks do you have for creating a relaxing shower?

Written by contributor Chelsea Becker.
Photography & styling by Kendall McLeod.
Location courtesy of Claire Fagin.

Breathe In. Breathe Out.

Ok, so I am young for my "grade", so I've always felt a bit left behind. I was the last of my friends to get a driver's license, the last to see rated-R movies, I'm still not 21 and I'm about to be a senior in college (excuse me, WHAT), so you won't see me on Margarita Mondays, which is incredibly lame. I've always been left with this heavy feeling that everyone was embarking on these novelties that I couldn't try out yet, and it made me feel super lonely and forgotten-about. Still does sometimes. But I think circumstances are placed in our paths for a reason, and I am not certain of a lot of things, but I have a feeling that year 20 of my life is definitely trying to teach me something, and it's stretching me and growing me in ways I didn't know I could.

Back to this left behind thing.

Something you should know about me: I've applied for about 3 jobs in my whole life, I don't even have a profile photo on the LinkedIn account my professor FORCED me to create, and I certainly have not a clue what I'm doing, where I'm going, or when I'm going there. None of this is to say I have no ambition. I am a very passionate person and I truly work hard and pour my soul into my endeavors. Life just hasn't paved out a nice shiny asphalt path for me... my path is more like one of those gravel ones where you hit ten pot holes and have to pull over to see if your tire is flat. Then, apprehensively keep going and lose service so you have no map and you're panicking but then you see a hopeful sign, but don't want to get your hopes up too high because you're still unsure if you're ever gonna see civilization again. This metaphor is getting too complex, but you can probably follow? hahah. Long story short: I'm still wandering a bit.

SO. why are there intermittent photos of my boyfriend and I in this blog post, you ask? This is all relevant because Michael, said boyfriend, is a year older than me, and is graduating in roughly two weeks. I, said wanderer, am not. I still have a year to go as an undergrad student, and I'm coming to terms that his adulthood adventure is starting a little before mine. 

It should be noted that I am so proud of him. I'm so proud of him my stomach hurts. Does that make sense? (no). But seriously, he has worked so hard, is graduating with honors, and has an amazing two year job contract at a finance firm thing (what?) in San Francisco, and I am so stoked to see him thrive. However, there's a part of me that can't help but feel left behind. 

For someone who had no clue where she was headed, it was such a weird sensation to have a road sign placed in front of me. Basically, I should be imagining my life in San Francisco from this point on and it is both comforting and terrifying that there is finally a place where I can project my life experiences happening, and it not be a stupid fantasy inspired by pinterest. Six months ago I could have been told that Michael was headed to Montana or Hawaii or Switzerland, and that would've been my guide, but like this is it. San Francisco, California is claiming my love.

Obviously nothing is concrete and it's not a 100% guarantee that I will follow Michael to San Fran, but it just feels like that is my new direction. It's strange. It's incredibly strange to see him go there first, and be stuck here with my midterms and group projects and lectures.

ANYWAY:

Since I will be in Uganda all of May and have Summer School all day every day in June, Michael and I really only have a few weeks left to spend together before things change a whole bunch. I'm sure she had no idea, but when a pal of a pal Alivia Latimer called and asked to snap some pictures of Michael and I, she didn't know that she was capturing some precious mems for me to hold onto during these next two years of unknowns, and for that I'm super thankful. I hopefully will be able to find a job in San Francisco after graduation, but life is crazy and messy and wonderful, and honestly, who knows where my path is headed. I just know I'm lucky to be so loved, and that's all that matters for now. I'll just be bathin' myself in Clarity essential oil blends in the mean time.

a huge thanks to Alivia Latimer for all the incredible photography featured in this post.

Desert Dreamers Retreat

A couple weeks ago, I was hiking in Yosemite when my friend amelia called and invited me to meet up with her and some amazing creatives in Joshua tree, and to be candid, my first thought was "oh shit." I felt a little heavy and was tempted to decline, which is a part of my personality I don't fully understand, but maybe you've been there. Like, it's not that I didn't want to I really really wanted to, I just felt so small and unworthy and was so scared to embarrass myself, but I didn't want to show it so I said yes. You're probably reading this thinking that I was taking things way too seriously which I totally WAS but I couldn't help feeling like I didn't deserve to be there with these people who I had looked up to for a long time. 

As the date got a little closer I was feeling a little panicky about my lack of outfits/skills/equipment/etc which started to wear on me a little. If I don't correct myself, I can be pretty self destructive, and it definitely spirals. Amelia assured me that it was gonna be super chill and I was smiling like "yeah for sure, for sure" and then going straight back to stressed. Again, maybe you can relate. 

 

When we finally arrived, I felt a little better. First of all, the AirBnb was absolutely incredible. Down to every last detail, it was so amazing, so my geeking out from that definitely took some of the edge off. Secondly, as the girls rolled in, everyone was so nice and I felt stupid for ever being freaked out. 

photo by @jessicaspohr

photo by @jessicaspohr

It was obvious that I wasn't the most experienced photographer there, and at moments I had a hard time feeling confident in my talent, but these girls really surprised me in their humility. Meeting someone you've already followed on Instagram is always served with a side of awkwardness and a dash of intimidation, but this was different. Everyone was totally lifting each other up with encouragement and tips and good vibes and I genuinely felt really lucky. Each and every girl there added so much to the dynamic, and it was inspiring to hear so many totally different perspectives from some of the most talented people I've ever met, but also to feel like someone "got" the same struggles and doubts I have faced as a creative. 

So here's to facing fears when you don't want to, leaping into embarrassment, and ending up with some good memories, pretty photos, and a heart full of light. I highly recommend it. 

enjoy this little desert playlist collab with Jason Munninghoff for all the magic:

 

Photo by @paytonhartsell
photo by @jessicaspohr

photo by @jessicaspohr

A huge thank you to @allegraroseb, @courtneysteeves, @paytonhartsell, @amelia.edmondson, @jessicaspohr, and @gabriellacullynephotography for being a part of this, and an especially huge thanks to @allegraroseb for organizing the beautiful #happyhomesteadhouse AirBnb and to @amelia.edmondson for inviting me. you guys are absolute gems.

Going and Doing

At my university, Spring Break is no joke. I can't even begin to tell you how many people I know went out of the United States for our week off. It would actually be quicker to list the people who stayed. It's crazy! There's absolutely nothing wrong with traveling to other places, believe me I'm a HUGE believer in expanding horizons both metaphorically and literally, but if you're anything like me, watching all your friends leave to magical destinations leaves you feeling a bit entitled. Why was I missing out? I deserve to go somewhere. This week, I've said out loud that it's not fair. Not fair that I have no crazy amazing plans for a week in Thailand or London or Mexico or honestly anywhere. Not fair that I couldn't afford a cute Airbnb in the jungle or even in Portland. Not fair that it was raining everywhere I had in mind. With nothing planned and spring break underway, I stayed in California. Poor poor me, right? 

Then I started thinking about it. I live in CALIFORNIA. In high school, I would have been thrilled to hop on a flight to Malibu, California for Spring Break. I would have died to road trip up to Northern California. Honestly, I live in the destination. Suddenly, I felt better about my lack of plans, and vowed to hit the beach daily to relax. I'll be honest, seeing travel photos on social media still stung a little bit. I still teemed with jealousy when I thought about other people's plans. I wanted to do something that felt like a spring break, but I had nothing. I knew I wanted to go camping at Yosemite, but the only time we could go was Saturday morning, and it seemed like a waste to drive all that way just to turn around and drive home the next day. However, Friday night, we finalized the plans. We just packed up and left at midnight. Sleepy eyed and sunburned we drove and drove (I slept mostly, sorry guys) until we arrived in the valley. 

For those of you who know me, you know how much I love Yosemite National Park. It is my happy place. I have an entire collection of enamelware just waiting for the opportunity to escape the box and hold some fresh campfire coffee. Along with that, I have pretty much all the buffalo plaid my closet will hold, and a sherpa jacket that has been around the globe, so you know I was thriving when we pulled up and there was snow on the ground.

As I looked at Yosemite Falls, I tried finding a speck of falling water and watching it hit the bottom. There is such an awesome wonder about that place, and I found myself totally at peace. Our spontaneity suddenly filled me with such a joy and gratitude. I hadn't blown all my money and I had still made it. I achieved the high I was looking for; and you know why? Because we went. We just did it. There was no time for comparison because we were filling our precious time with doing and planning our own small adventure. It felt good guys. It's the type of happiness that nothing can take from you, which was good because a blizzard had us leaving that night instead of the next morning. We spent not even 24 hours in Yosemite National Park, but I felt so alive as we pulled back in the driveway at 1 a.m.. I'm so thankful for people that are willing to go and do and even leave the elaborate plans at home. Thanks to them, I was able to enjoy the simplicity of going with the flow this week, and instead of entitled, I'm feeling pretty dang lucky.

we cheated and bought coffee cause we were frozen solid. worth it.

we cheated and bought coffee cause we were frozen solid. worth it.

By the way, I have this camping dinner tradition, and I wanted to share the recipe for anyone who wants a fun easy campfire meal!

Here's what you'll need for 3-5 people:

  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • 1 white onion
  • 3-5 carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • aluminum foil
  • 1 box of dry onion soup mix
  • salt & pepper

Here's how ya make it:

Make 2 sheets of foil about the size of letter paper for each person.

Next, peel and cut the ingredients (except the beef) into small cubes and place enough for each person on 1/2 of the sheets of foil you have cut.

Form little patties with the beef and place those on each pile of veggies.

Sprinkle some onion soup on each pile, the more the better honestly. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Take the remaining foil sheets and place over the piles. Pinch/fold/roll the edges together to make a little foil pouch.

Place on the fire, and try to cook as evenly as possible! Check periodically until the meat is no longer pink. Enjoy!

February is for Lovers

February is for lovers. A time for loving others, your significant other, or yourself. We forget that last one too often. In between rushing for last-minute flowers or scrambling for reservations, we don't stop to breathe or reflect for a second. When's the last time you took an evening to relax and treat yourself? Like honestly? Without feeling super bad about it later or feeling like you have so much catching up to do? My guess is that it's been a while. One of my favorite things to do is throw on my cozy socks, mix up some yummy-smelling face serums, listen to music, light candles, and drink coffee in bed. It's my paradise. Valentine's Day advice: take the day to create yours.

Love Potion Facial Serum Recipe

Mix equal parts: Argan Oil, Vitamin E Oil,

Rosehip Seed Oil, Pure Aloe Vera, and Jojoba Oil

Pour into glass bottle with dropper or pump.

Fill rest of bottle almost to the top with Safflower Oil.

Add Essential Oils:

5 drops lemon

5 drops eucalyptus

2 drops bergamot

2 drops lavender

I also created a Valentine's Day Playlist for you guys to help you get allllllllll in the cozy bluesy lovey feels. 

Here you are:

 
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Check out Amelia Edmondson and more pics of our collaboration on Instagram: @amelia.edmondson

Learning to Love

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I always seem to feel a little insecure. I grew up with a single mom, and I remember Valentine’s Day as being a time we joked about the silliness of such a superficial holiday. I hoped I would never be tied up in its fanfare, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve certainly taken the cynical approach to experiencing it. It’s a day I love to hate. Truly. But I say I feel insecure, because even though this will be my third Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend, I can’t help but to look at so many couples around me and feel a sense of comparison and jealousy. I don’t even want a huge teddy bear, ok, don’t get me wrong, but I’ll be scrolling on Instagram and some girl is hugging a giant bear, and suddenly in my head I’m furious at my boyfriend for not “being as thoughtful” as her boyfriend. It’s nuts. And I know it's nuts, and believe me, I feel crazy, but that doesn't make the feelings go away. This made me start thinking about how much we let comparison steal our joy. I’m so guilty of it. It seems like any positive thoughts I have about myself are instantly extinguished when I look at someone else who has something "more" than me. I think my relationship is wonderful and full of love until I find an Instagram of some girl and her boyfriend traveling Indonesia together and suddenly my relationship is crap? It’s sad how little credit I give to the good parts of my life. But this is a work in progress for me. I’m learning to condition myself, little by little, into cherishing all the good I have.

When we started taking these photos, Michael and I felt so stiff and awkward and quickly determined PDA was not our thing. And in spite of Claire’s phenomenal photography skills, I don’t think being a famous Instagram couple is ever in our cards, because kissing on camera is WEIRD, folks. But something I noticed after all the pictures were taken was that the less I worried whether we would look as good as them or whoever in our photos, the closer Michael and I got, the more we started to breathe normally and explore the trail and find hidden little treasures in our foggy wonderland.  After a while, the awkward staring into each others eyes for a photo actually had feeling behind it and it was really really good. Sounds lame, but I love forgetting that we have been together for so long and feeling giddy to get to be close to each other. I get so much comfort in knowing that through all of my doubting and invalidating of myself and of my life, what I’ve invested my heart into is still very much real and healthy.

So, no. I still don’t have it all together. I don’t have a perfect relationship or a perfect life or a perfect Valentine’s Day planned. But I’m so so lucky, because I’ve got a love that aches and sometimes cracks but always holds together, and I am beginning to understand the beauty in that.

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A huge thanks to Claire Fagin for all the photos included in this blog post. You can find her website here.

Cozy Beach Mornings

So, I've been wanting to get this ball rolling for a while, and I think this shoot was the beginning of my progress. I don't know about you guys, but I'm always feeling stuck between my pipe dreams and the "real world". I have this voice inside of me that tells me to create and create simply, and I know that won't make me millions, but I feel so drawn to that concept. Then, I think of internships, job applications, emails, and I feel like I'm unconsciously beginning my journey up this corporate ladder, and even though I can tell it's not where I'm supposed to be, the world seems to shove it in front of me. I often feel like maybe I'm crazy, because I don't have the best gear, the best photos, the most polished aesthetic, and honestly, I really haven't even found my voice yet, but I still hold onto this thing that I feel called to.

That being said, I've been blessed with only a few really really good friends in life, and it's rare I find new friends. Amelia and I met for about 7 minutes (lol) before she went to live in Switzerland for four months, but when she came back, I knew she would be a gem in my life. Here's to many more early morning shoots, good conversations, and creating whatever feels good.