What’s in my September Ipsy Bag?

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Better late than never, right?  Let’s just say that I’ve been testing my Ipsy stuff extra hard this month.  I’ve got a handful of goodies that I can’t wait to share with you, so let’s go!

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Eau Thermale Avene

Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum

Wait, this is a hydrating serum?  I couldn’t tell because this stuff dried my face into a raisin.  My skin felt tight and flaky–definitely not the “zen relaxation” for my face that Ipsy promised.

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Dr. G.

Daily Safe BB

If the hydrating serum above was a disaster, this BB cream was a godsend.  I’ve been a huge fan of Supergoop’s BB for years, but I’m switching loyalties now.  Seriously, this stuff is amazing: my skin felt soothed, and the coverage is amazing.  I’m planning a trip to Super H Mart to see if I can get some more Dr. G. products!

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IT Cosmetics

Superhero Mascara in Super Black

This mascara is touted for its “proprietary elastic stretch technology.”  While I have no idea what that means, WOW did this do wonders for my eyelashes!  I swiped this on and magically all of my lashes were plumped and unclumped.  I’m in love.

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Pixie by Petra

Matteluster Lipstick in Rose Naturelle

When I first tried out this lipstick, I absolutely hated it.  Despite the nice way it made my lips feel, the color seemed far too dark for me.  When I put it on to take these pictures, though, I found that I actually really liked it!  I think it depends on what you’re wearing.  This color won’t be good for summer, but I think it’ll work nicely with my dark and muted fall duds.

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Living Proof

Perfect Hair Day (PhD) 5-in-1 Styling Treatment

I’ll be honest: I didn’t even try this stuff.  It said on the back that you should blow dry your hair after you massage in a little bit of this…and I never, ever blow dry my hair.  Because I bleach it, I take care not to do much damage to my tresses, which means I’ve given up curling wands, straighteners, and even hair dryers.  Oh well.

Dress: thrifted

Necklace: c/o Vinca

Outfit: Personal Training

dsc_0171Lately, I’ve been feeling so restless, and I can’t quite figure out why.  Maybe the turn of the seasons is somehow influencing me to change too.  Or perhaps I’ve settled into too much of a routine lately, with each weekday going about the same as every other.

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I’m trying to do something about it.  These days, I spend more time with my friends than I ever have, and I go out on dates just to meet new people.  For so long, I thought of myself as an introvert, but lately, I need to be around people in order to recharge.  Being alone with a book is no longer as refreshing as it used to be.  I constantly want something to do.

I’ve got plans to travel here and abroad to visit and be with friends, and yet I don’t think that will be enough.  I want something fundamental to change.  Maybe that means moving somewhere new or finding new work.  I don’t know.  In all probability, I’ll just end up changing my hairstyle or buying some new furniture.

Even my clothes feel boring, even though I’ve recently gotten a fair amount of new ones.  I feel like I keep wearing the same stuff over and over again, and I don’t feel very sartorially inspired.

I’m going to turn it over to you guys.  When you start feeling extra restless, what do you do to shake yourself out of a rut?

Dress: old, ModCloth

Sweater: c/o thredUP

Tights: Tabbisocks

Shoes: old, ModCloth

Clutch: old, ModCloth

Necklace: Pendant Emporium

Outfit: Never Been Better

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dsc_0288When I was in third grade, my teacher assigned us a journal prompt: “Something I can get better at.”  I was a very bright student and ahead of my class, so I wrote out this smug entry about how I was already doing very well, thank you very much, so I didn’t need to improve on anything.

(I know.  I was kind of an idiot when I was nine.)

Well, my teacher didn’t agree, and she wrote me a response that I’ll never forget.  She told me–not unkindly–that there was always something for me to work on.  I’m not perfect, but I would always have the capacity to grow and improve.  She told me to keep moving forward, always.

That stuck with me, almost twenty years later.

Whenever I’m feeling complacent, I remember what she said.  What’s the point of just getting comfortable with life?  Where’s the fun in that?  Where’s the life in that?

Always explore.  Always learn.  Always grow.

Top: thrifted

Skirt: c/o thredUP

Shoes: old, ModCloth

Bag: old, ModCloth

Belt: vintage

Ring: Foursided

Necklace: The Pendant Emporium

How to Scout the Perfect Spot for a Photo Shoot

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Scouting for locations has always been one of my favorite parts of blogging.  It usually means a weekly drive out to some new spot with Moxie in tow and discovering some really beautiful sites.  Of all the questions I get about my pictures, “How did you find that place?” is probably the most asked.  I’ve made up a short list of the things I always look out for when I’m hunting for the right spot and I hope you find it as useful as I do!

dsc_0043-2Have a theme in mind.  Think about your style and what types of settings work best to show it off.  I tend to wear a lot of vintage and vintage-inspired clothes, so I love to shoot at old mansions and estates.  I also tend to have a little bit of a fairytale flavor in my outfits, so I play that up by shooting in forests and meadows with lots of color and great lighting.  If vintage isn’t your thing, why not try shooting in the city?  Alleys and urban sidewalks could be great options.

mox and socks modcloth dog dress (4)Match your outfit to the setting.  Of course you don’t have to follow this rule exactly, but I almost always make sure that what I’m wearing makes sense with the location.  I seldom wear heels in a forest; instead, I like to visit mansions when I’m a little more dressed up.

mox and socks modcloth blue bird top pink gingham skirt gray sandals bag (2)Take time to visit beforehand.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of a place where I wanted to take pictures and just went there without planning it out first.  More often than not, I’m disappointed that the site is super busy or doesn’t have a good place for me to set up my tripod.  I’m not saying to never go where the spirit takes you, but it certainly helps to get an idea of your location first.

mox and socks thrift striped shirt modcloth denim shortsThink about the lighting.  If you’re planning on shooting at sunrise, but the spot you have in mind faces west, your pictures are going to be backlit–which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (see above!).  Make sure you’re always aware of the position of the sun.

DSC_0587Make lists. In my blogging notebook, I have two long lists: the first is of the places I really liked shooting at and the second is of all the ones I want to try out.  I’m always scanning the Forest Preserve of DuPage County’s directory and looking through nearby towns’ park district websites so I can always find someplace fresh to visit!

What about you guys?  How do you scout locations for your pictures?

Outfit: Getting Better All the Time

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Last week, I took a little break from blogging.  I do this every couple of months just to keep myself sane.  A lot of you guys are bloggers, too, and I’m sure you know how stressful it can be to keep up.  A break now and then is a great way to reevaluate and figure out what’s working and what’s not.

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For me, I was getting way too overwhelmed with Instagram.  I started spending too much time scrolling through my feed and commenting until my poor, tired fingers could no longer swipe.  I believe that the best way to build up a following is to get out there and reach out to as many people as possible by leaving comments, but when it dawned on me that I hadn’t washed my dishes in a week because I was too busy doing that, I knew I needed to cool it.

On the other hand, I really missed taking and editing pictures.  I felt like I was getting into a good groove with my photos lately, and it was hard to not go out and stage a shoot for a whole week.  More than anything else with this blog, I really love posing for the camera and then going back home to geek out in Lightroom.

What about you? Do you guys take breaks too?  If you do, have you learned something about your blog during your time off?

By the way, if you’re looking for a jacket like the one I’m wearing here, why don’t you mosey on over to thredUP?  When you use the code EAGLE50, you can get 50% your first-time purchase of American Eagle clothes!

Dress: thrifted

Jacket: c/o thredUP

Shoes: old, Seychelles

Bag: old, Gap

 

 

Outfit: Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town

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Here’s my other favorite post from last fall!  It’s funny how much I apparently hated these pictures when I originally wrote this post, because I think they actually turned out pretty cute.  Isn’t it strange how that happens sometimes?

Here are a few blogging tips from yours truly:

  1. Don’t take pictures fifteen minutes before sunset.  This should be obvious, but sometimes you might be feeling a little extra Type A and think you can do it.  Nope.  For one thing, you have to have a super slow shutter speed, which means unless you stand perfectly still like a dead Victorian, the photo will be blurry.  And I can’t stand still for the life of me.  Besides that, you’ll be so rushed that you can’t fine tune poses or camera angles, which means there won’t be such a great variety to work with.
  2. Don’t be tipsy.  The fact that I had one beer before I did these photos (shut up, I’m a lightweight) may have been a contributing factor for the mediocrity of these shots. (No pun intended.)

So why even post these pictures?  Well, apart from it being a particularly cute outfit, I think it’s important for me to document both the times when I’ve nailed a shoot and times when I’ve failed.  The pictures in this post are now documented for posterity and as a reminder to focus on quality.  I actually did some photos today that I spent a lot of time on and am much prouder of, so look forward to those on Thursday!

Sweater: thrifted

Dress (worn as a skirt): vintage

Collared top: old, Urban Outfitters

Tights: old, Urban Outfitters

Boots: vintage

Outfit: Hey, Little Hollywood

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I’m taking a little bit of a blogger break right now, but while I’m spending my free time eating chickpea cookie dough and napping with Moxie, I’m going to re-share some of my favorite blog posts from last fall.  If This American Life gets to air reruns, why can’t I? 

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I have such a deep love for fall, and I’m so despondent over its imminent end.  It’s simply tragic that it only really lasts for about six weeks–after that, the trees are bare and it’s only a matter of time before the outdoors become unbearable.  I suppose this is why I took pictures for this shoot until my camera battery died;  I had to capture as much of the season as possible.

These photos were taken at the Mayslake estate, which is one of my favorite locations.  I haven’t been here since I moved, but with the colors changing, I had to make a return trip.  There’s something so magical about the bright colors against both the lake and the old Tudor facade.  I don’t think I could ever tire of taking photos–it has so much to offer!

I’m wearing some of my favorite fall elements–a cozy sweater with a quirky collar underneath and a pair of thick knee socks.  Before I started this blog, I don’t think I would ever have worn something like this.  I seldom thought about the details–in years past, I probably would have worn the shorts with tights and the sweater by itself.  The socks and the collar make the whole thing.  That’s what I’ve noticed about some of the exceptionally good bloggers–they really pay attention to the details, and I’ve been trying hard to emulate that.  I want each piece to have something of interest and add a line or two to the outfit’s narrative.

So now, when I go shopping, I like to choose pieces that go beyond being practical, and I’m not just talking about statement pieces.  The next time I need to replace worn-out basics, I’m gunning for ones that have a little extra interest.

So what about you guys?  Has your philosophy on style changed in, say, the last year or so?

Hat: old, Urban Outfitters

Top: old, Urban Outfitters

Sweater: thrifted

Shorts: old, H&M

Socks: old, Urban Outfitters

Boots: old, Dolce Vita

Bag: old, ModCloth