Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Pretty Fair Day

Flashing fluorescent lights, all the food you can eat, and a ferris wheel. The Ozark Empire Fair is currently happening — once a year, the lot near Hillcrest High School is transformed into another world. Here, you can see all the animals you've heard live on a farm, and maybe even pet them if you're up to it! It costs $9 to get in, and in my opinion, the price of admission is worth it alone for people-watching. I went to the fair with some of my pals this weekend, and while we didn't get to see the animals, we did check out most of the snack options. We ate fried foods, rode the ferris wheel, and finished our evening off with more fried foods. Anyway, here's some photos of all of us being goofs at the carnival.

The ferris wheel turned out to be a lot more intense than we expected it to be! It was quite a bit faster than other ferris wheels I've been on. That coupled with a swinging car and a peek off the edge might require some dramamine. Aside from the crazy rides, the corndogs were a highlight, and I have a feeling I may be stopping at Sonic for the next 50-cent corndog day.

Allison's one mission was to find deep-fried Oreos, which became all of our mission. She was nice enough to share once we found them! They paired perfectly with a jug of root beer.

You may have gathered this already, but if you can fry it, they will at the Ozark Empire Fair. Between the five of us, we tried corn dogs, XXL corn dogs, fried Twinkies, fried Oreos, fried green tomatoes (I ordered these and I was not disappointed), and a giant turkey leg which we all tried a bite of!

That's all! A quick trip, but it was certainly worth it.

Outfit details: Gifted scrunchie (similar here), Anthropologie top (Previous season, similar here), Vintage jeans (similar fit here), Anthropologie bag sold out (similar version)

Monday, July 30, 2018

How I, an Extrovert, Work From Home

When I first took the leap into full-time freelancing, I envisioned a dreamy setup where I’d casually roll out of bed onto my yoga mat at 6:00 a.m., make some avocado toast, and be ready to hit the inbox by 7:15. What this self-employment fantasy of mine failed to neglect was, ahem, one small thing: my personality.

The problem with my thinking wasn’t necessarily the early rising (I don’t crave waking up before the birds, but I can if I need to), but rather the solitude of it all. I love me some solitude, but I’d rather have that quiet, meditative time at the end of my day instead of the beginning. Enter: the definition of “extrovert”.

There’s lots online about introversion vs. extraversion, but I hear people misusing the terms a lot, too. For instance, being an extrovert doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t value alone time, and being an introvert doesn’t always mean you’re shy. It’s more about how you gain energy and what motivates you. So, a simplified guide is extraversion = gains energy around others, and introversion = recharges alone. Here are some links to helpful pages explaining the two: Wikipedia, Changing Minds, Meyers Briggs.

I loved working from home for about… two days, and then I realized it was a little lonely. Since I gain energy from being around other people, I was feeling drained in a way where I’d given everything I had to the project I was tackling, but never felt the “nailed it!” factor I was accustomed to aiming for in work. I would finish my workdays feeling like I’d just run a marathon, and possibly (probably) had forgotten to eat lunch. Over the last year, I’ve tried a few different approaches to switching up my work-from-home routine, and here are some successes I’ve found.

Keeping the House Clean
To me, a cluttered workspace or desk is a huge distraction. And when you’re working from home, sometimes the dishes are in view of your “office”! My desk at home literally faces a wall, which isn’t the most glamorous view, but it helps me to focus in on what’s in front of me when I’m working there. It’s just my computer and that brick wall, really, so I’m less likely to get distracted by my housecleaning chores.

Run an Errand/Phone a Friend
Often, if I have an errand to run that fits in with my work day, I like to do it first thing in the morning. This motivates me to get up and out of the house, seeing other people gives me energy, and I can come home and get to work on my project with more vigor. If it’s not an “errand day”, but I know my energy is low, sometimes I’ll call my mom or another friend just to say hi. It’s like the morning chit-chat you have with coworkers, kind of! For a while, I Skyped with my friend Hallie who also owns her own business, and that was a good motivation to get out of bed and get dressed, too.

Set a Timer
I don’t always use this trick, but I pull it out of my arsenal when I find I’m hitting a wall with my productivity. I’ll set a timer and say to myself, “I’m going to work on this project for 40 minutes”. The timer isn’t always set to 40 minutes, sometimes I vary it depending on the project at hand or how much time I’m trying to save. A set amount of time that I’ve committed to being free from distractions — no Pinterest, no phone, etc. will always help me get going on a goal, and 9 times out of 10 I finish it faster than I would have without the timer. It kind of feels like I’m participating in a race on a game show. How fast can this freelancer edit her photos without compromising quality?? Stay tuned to next week’s episode, airing at 9/8 Central! The same magic somehow works when I light a candle. I can't explain it!

Listen to Podcasts
Pretty sure “listen to podcasts” is a tangible step in every element of bettering your life. It feels that way sometimes! There’s such a variety of great content being produced on this platform; I’m putting it out there — we are officially in the golden age of podcasting. Anyway, I can’t always listen to podcasts while I’m working because a lot of my job is writing, but sometimes I turn ‘em on while I’m doing photography projects, and I always smile when I do.

Don’t Actually Work from Home
So, this may sound like cheating, but most of my success “working from home” is really just working from a coffee shop. I’ll go to quiet places where there are people around — coffee shops, sometimes my parents’ house… I’ve even been known to work from a restaurant or two. I find that I gain energy by being in the same room as other people, and knowing others are working in the same capacity helps me to stay on task. The key to being an extrovert is that I don’t have to talk to every single person in the coffee shop. Sometimes just seeing others, maybe eavesdropping in on their conversations 😉, and knowing I’m not alone in the world does the trick.

It’s been a journey, but now that I’ve been at this freelance thing for over a year, I feel like I’m getting more into the swing of things! Cheers to waking up (semi) early and chasing your dreams, however that looks for you.

P.S. If you’re new here and are thinking, so what exactly do you do for a living?, here’s a link to my portfolio site.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Fresh Summer Salad I Actually Wanted to Eat

I think I've admitted it on the blog before: I don't love eating salads. And when I say I don't "love" salads, I mean, I will ward them off with a 9-foot pole unless you somehow convince me it's not really a salad. If you needed further proof, I bought some green juice yesterday, hoping I can get my greens in without having to suffer through chewing them up.

But this salad is one I was able to convince myself isn't really a salad. Premium toppings help, like the kind you'd be up-charged $1.25 for if you added them to your salad at a restaurant. For me, the premium topping is always, always goat cheese. If Fear Factor gets revived for a third time and I'm somehow forced to compete, I think I could eat a cockroach if I'm allowed to cover it in goat cheese.

But, really, eating lettuce is definitely more appealing than eating a cockroach...

Goat cheese helps.

- Mixed greens (I got ours from our CSA membership)
- Pickled radishes (recipe here)
- 4-5 mini peppers
- Goat cheese
- Dressing of choice (I used an oil and vinegar dressing from Newman's Own)

The night before (or the morning before you want to eat this for dinner), pickle your radishes. These are great for this recipe, but they can also be tossed in tacos and other yummy meals. When you're ready to eat, rinse the lettuce, chop the peppers, throw in a handful of pickled radishes and top generously with goat cheese. Finish with your dressing of choice.

Ta da! I guess eating salads isn't so bad after all.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

How to Celebrate the Fourth When You're Not Exactly 'Proud to Be an American'

Typically, the Fourth of July signifies a day off of work and a fireworks show. But when the classic lyrics to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” don’t come out quite as easily as they would have a handful of years ago, how should we celebrate the Fourth of July? “I’m proud to be an American / where at least I know I’m free” may ring true for me personally, but this year especially, it calls to mind the privileges I’ve had that some others haven’t been awarded.

While immigrants are being taken from their families at the border, I begin to question why our American policy would oppress others’ human rights. Looking inward to how America treats its own can be painful, too, when we recognize the unfair treatment of minorities by police, the education system and other institutions. I want to celebrate our country and its progress, and at the same time, we need a reckoning, calling to light the progress that still needs to happen. But the Fourth of July is going to arrive with a flurry of red, white and blue whether or not we’re looking forward to the occasion. Here are a few ideas for celebrating your Fourth of July when you don’t necessarily feel 100% proud to be an American.

Start Small
We live in a climate where political opinions are like a line in the sand — it feels heavy to walk to the other side and have a conversation with a friend or even an acquaintance who may think differently than we do. Start small, by sharing your voice with these individuals. Sure, it’s more comfortable to avoid certain conversations, but it is so necessary to call out intolerant ideas when we see them in people we know. Make the conversation about values, not political parties, and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Call or Write a Representative
You can text Resistbot to write a letter to your representatives in two minutes or less. If you have more time, consider calling and leaving a message with the representative’s office. When there are city or state elections, vote to make your voice heard. Throughout the year, keep up with local and national news, and contact your elected officials when you see something you disagree with.

Thank Government Workers
When the news feels heavy, look to the things that are going correctly. For example, USPS employees are federal workers who do necessary, often overlooked, work to help our world keep turning. A simple “thank you” goes a long way, or you can leave your mail person a cold bottle of water during these hot summer months. Think outside the box to find a government worker who improves your daily life, and show them your appreciation.

Spend Time with Your People
Lots of Americans do have the Fourth of July off as a national holiday. If you’re one of these people, soak it up and spend time with your community. Hang out, talk about how we can improve America, or talk about the latest wellness craze. Integrating our opinions into conversation is a must to engage in real relationships with the people we call friends and family. This rings true no matter the day.

Fireworks! 💥
On the Fourth of July, fireworks have been set off since 1777. It’s an Independence Day tradition, symbolizing “the rocket’s red glare” that indicated our separation from Great Britain in 1776. While we still have a way to go, choose to do your part to ignite change, and then focus on the positive. If you have the opportunity, buy fireworks from a local stand to support small business, have a popsicle, and consider the progress we’ve made. As Americans, we have the privilege to take actionable steps to make a difference, and that is something to take advantage of — and celebrate.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Meet the Products That Changed My 15-Year Skincare Routine

Ok, ok.. So it may not look like it from the photo, but I consider my skincare routine to be pretty basic. Especially when I see some bloggers posting about $80+ oils where the bottle is .02 ounces... There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't have a line-item budget just for skincare, so until I do, I'll be sticking with these products that keep my face clean & blemish-free and keep my wallet (relatively) happy. 😉

Part of my skincare story incorporates habit, which is a necessity to ensure you're treating your skin the same day-in and day-out, but as we all know, habits are hard to break! Back in my teens, my mom took me to a Bloomingdale's when we were in New York visiting my grandma and bought me my first set of Clinique products. It felt like a rite of passage into having a special set of facial products, and I've used various cleansers, toners and moisturizers from the Clinique line ever since. In fact, the habit has been so hard to break (and I'm not really trying to "break" it), that when my friend Courtney at Good Skin Day introduced me to (spoiler alert!) Indie Lee, I kept my Clinique, too.

Part of the reason I've used Clinique for so long is I consider their line to be very versatile, and it's allergy tested and fragrance free. Back in the day when I had, ahem, teenager skin, I used their Acne Solutions liquid makeup, and while it's not technically skincare, I would consider it a product that nicely blends the line between skincare and makeup. All that to say, it was a good fit for me!

AND, I can't talk about Clinique without the three magic words: gift with purchase. If you time out when you buy Clinique correctly, you can spend a certain amount and receive a makeup bag with tiny samples of product they sell. Typically, you fall in love with those products and it's a trick of marketing genius that I'm not even mad about. So, it worked on me, and now I've come to crave the three-step process they recommend. Here's my skincare routine broken up by morning and evening.


So, as we've covered, old habits die hard. I start each morning with liquid facial soap from Clinique, wet a cotton ball with the number 2 Clarifying Lotion, which acts like a toner, so the name can be a little misleading. In their clarifying lotion, Clinique has numbers 1-4 depending on your skin type, and 2 is for dry combination. They also have options for very dry, oily combination, very oil and dry, sensitive skin. Then I use about 2 pumps of the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel all over my face and neck area. It's such a light moisturizer that this is my favorite part. Also, before BB cream existed (typing that makes me feel old..), I would sometimes mix a little of this with my foundation to give a lighter look.

Then if I'm still feeling a little dry, I'll use the Mario Badescu facial spray with aloe, herbs and rosewater. Sometimes I use this product mid-day, too, for a little pick-me-up. My sister-in-law introduced me to this product as a Christmas gift, and I've been loving it ever since!

Here's where I just did the same routine with my Clinique products forever until (drumroll please) I found out about Indie Lee. Courtney Dunlop, who I mentioned earlier, owns a boutique skincare company in my hometown of Springfield, MO, and she let me try a little sample of Indie Lee. I tried it like a good sample-receiver, and I kid you not, after the first use my skin was glowing. I figured maybe it was just in my head or the sweet smell of the rosehip cleaner, but then I got compliments on my skin, so I knew it was a thing. My dad even noticed the glow!

So, I bought it and I've been using it in the evenings since. I'll be honest and say sometimes I'm lazy and just use a Neutrogena makeup wipe and forget the rest, but any skincare expert would tell you (and me) that's bad, so... oops! Usually though, when I go to bed at a reasonable hour, I'll go through with the full routine. Indie Lee is an affordable, high-quality, all-natural skincare line, and for that reason, it has a lot of fangirls. Consider me one.

I start off with a makeup wipe, or if I'm not wearing much makeup, sometimes I'll take mascara off using Clinique's Take the Day Off (which I think is an adorable name). Then I use Indie Lee's Rosehip Cleanser, which is so gentle and smells good! I follow this with the CoQ-10 Toner, which doesn't come in a spray bottle, but I like to put it in one because I think it makes it disperse more evenly. Then, I finish with the Squalane Facial Oil. I'll put 2-3 drops on my face and massage, focusing most on my cheeks because that's where I tend to be the most dry. If I'm feeling more dry, similar to my morning "bonus step", I'll use Mario Badescu's facial spray with aloe, chamomile and lavender. I looooove the way this one smells.

If you're in Springfield, go to Good Skin Day for a local way to snag Indie Lee! I've been looking for a good eye cream because I'm closer to 30 than 20... but that's a different post for a different day. Ha! Any recommendations for a budget-friendly eye cream I should know about?