The Tailored Short

Happy Sunday world! Sunday night is always a bit of a let down. It's still the weekend so we are often tempted to continue the party, but it is also the night before work/school, so we can't get too rowdy. While we may want to continue to ignore our responsibilities, that simply cannot happen. This is especially true, at least for me, in the summer. I feel like I shouldn't have to go back to the real world on a Monday morning in July, it just shouldn't be allowed. Something that makes it even more difficult is when it is approximately 176° and you are required to wear business clothes. Why we can't wear swimsuits to work in the summer will always be a mystery to me, maybe it has something to do with modesty and appropriateness. That is why tailored shorts are probably some of the best things ever created. They are fashionable, cute, cool (temperature wise as well as fabulousness), and professional! They can be paired with almost any kind of top and dressed up or down. If you have a relaxed work environment you can wear them with bare legs (as long as you have shaved of course). I suggest though wearing them with nylons or maybe some fun colored tights, that is just my preference.

Tailored shorts can also be worn all year long, like in winter with some knit tights, a button up shirt under a sweater, and some boots. 

Have a great week everyone!
xoxo

Justice 

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To A Poet

 

"I'd rather be broken than empty, shattered than hollow, and by your side"

"You can't plan on the heart"

"Time, Time is a fickle thing. Let's see what it can bring"

"Will you look at me? Take a good look at me and tell me who it is that I am."

"I was born to endure this kind of weather"

"No matter how many times I tell myself I have to be sincere, I have a hard time standing up and facing those fears"

"I am nobody's baby, I'm everybody's girl, I'm the queen of nothing, I'm the king of the world"

"You sit and stare out at the rain, or bury yourself in books. Don't look at no strangers no, don't give them any looks"

"And how apparent it all becomes that you're not close, not even near."

"Sometimes I wish I could find my Rosemary Hill. I'd sit there and look at the deserted lakes and I'd sing. And every once in a while I'd sing a song for you."

"Well I guess sometimes I wish you were a little more predictable; that I could read you just like a book."

"And I hope for a trace to lead me back home from this place, but there is no sound–only me and my disgrace"

"It always takes me by surprise how dark it gets this time of year"

 

All the quotes are from songs by The First Aid kit, listen here 

All the photographs are the property of Mary Justice McNeil, owner of this blog. However, if you would like to pin them, please do!

xoxo

Justice

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Drink Some Sunshine

Know that obnoxious little saying, "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade"? Well as annoying and cliché as it is, there is a reason we hear it so often. That's because it's true. It's really easy to get bogged down by the negative things in our lives. Bad and sad things happen. Bad and sad things happen a lot. This morning I burned my toast, that made me very sad. The thing is though, we can't let burnt toast burn our mood. We have to stand up, shake off the dust, and keep going. We gotta "turn that frown upside down". We just have turn those sour life lemons into delicious, sweet lemonade. The only way to do this is to stay positive. I do this little thing where at the end of every day I make a list (usually mental) of everything good that happened that day. Even when nothing good seems to have happened, I try to find some little sliver of happiness. Even when the only good thing that happened was that I didn't die. By doing this I am continuously keeping my attitude sweet and sunshine-y. In some metaphorical way it's like I make a giant glass of lemonade every night, and I LOOOOVE lemonade. It is my favorite beverage. 

In order to encourage you to drink a giant glass of lemonade, both figuratively and literally, here are some of my most delicious and amazing homemade lemonade recipes. All have been tested and approved and are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. 

Plain Lemon-y Lemonade

lemon

1 3/4 c. sugar
8 c. water
2 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice 
(depending on lemon size, it's usually 9-10 lemons)

Combine all the ingredients in a large pitcher and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Refrigerate and serve in a glass, or mason jar, over ice. Place a lemon wedge in the glass to add a bit of class.

Lovely Lavender Lemonade

lavender.jpg

1/2 c. Dried Lavender buds
1 3/4 c. sugar
8 c. water
2 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice 
(depending on lemon size, it's usually 9-10 lemons)

Soak the dried lavender in the water for a couple of hours. Every hour or so taste the water to test the strength of the lavender, when it has reached the strength of your preference, pour the water through a strainer or cheese cloth. Another option would be to put the lavender into a reusable loose leaf tea bag. Once the water is done, mix the sugar and lemon juice into the water and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Refrigerate and serve over ice, this one is particularly nice when drunk from a wine glass. 

Rose Buds and Sunshine 

1/2 c. Dried rose buds
1 3/4 c. sugar
8 c. water
2 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice 
(depending on lemon size, it's usually 9-10 lemons)

Soak the rose buds in the water for a couple of hours. Every hour or so taste the water to test the strength of the rose, when it has reached the strength of your preference, pour the water through a strainer or cheese cloth.  Once the water is done, mix the sugar and lemon juice into the water and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Refrigerate and serve over ice. Smile and relax. It is best to be enjoyed while sitting in the garden reading a good book.

Strawberries, Lemons, and Happiness

strawberries

10 Large strawberries, halved
2 Tbsp sugar
8 c. water
1 c. sugar
2 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a blender, blend the strawberries, 2 Tbsp of sugar, and 1 c. of water until completely puréed. In a pitcher, mix the 1 c. sugar, remaining water, and lemon juice. Then pour in the strawberry mixture, stir together. Refrigerate and serve over ice. For added freshness, put a few leaves of mint in the glass. This delicious strawberry lemonade is best when sitting next to pool, wearing over large sunglasses, and flipping through a magazine.

Next time you feel the sad blues or angry reds nocking on your door with a handful of lemons to throw at your face, just take those lemons, squeeze the sourness right out and mix with a healthy dosage of sugar and smiles. 

xoxo

Justice

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What makes a home?


Whenever I enter someone else’s house I immediately assess whether or not the house is a home a simply a shelter. One can live in just about any sort of shelter. However, not every shelter is a home. It takes a certain amount of love and care for a house to be transformed into a home. It needn’t be especially large or fancy; it may be anything from a tent in the woods to a castle on the beach.
I have been in many “houses”, but only a few get that honorary word “home”. 

After all,

Home is the nicest word there is
— Laura Ingalls Wilder

Home may mean different things to different people, as only it should. I am certain that houses where I feel one hundred percent comfortable to be myself would make others cringe. For example, I can’t possibly feel at home when a house has been perfectly gridded out, everything is perfectly displayed, and there is an excessive amount of white. At the same time though, I get a similar feeling of discomfort when a house is too messy and smells of cat urine. For a house to be transformed into a home takes a certain touch of magic I believe. It has to have a look of cleanliness and order that proves the owner cares about the appearance. However it must also have evidence of life. A little bit of wear and tear. Maybe some books on a table, a blanket thrown on the couch, shoes tossed unceremoniously next to the door. It requires a lot of care and work, as well as a sense of belonging. Where does that belonging come from? That I cannot tell you, only that some places possess it and others do now. There are no obvious symptoms for this feeling of “belonging” in a home, but when it is there, it is ubiquitous.

As I am now approaching the seventh month of being away from my own home, I have been longing to find that sense of belonging once again. It came as a great surprise when, after an eight-hour bus ride and two-hour car ride, I arrived at my friend’s house in the beautiful land of San Diego. Even though it was midnight and I was exhausted I could tell right away that her house was a home. As soon as I walked in I could breath a great sigh of relief, I felt accepted, comfortable, and like I belonged. It was as if the arms of the small one floor beach cottage were wrapping me in a warm embrace. 


Do you believe your house is a home? If you answered no to this question, oh you invisible reader, what do you think you could do to make it one?

Please don’t forget to follow, subscribe, check out my other pages, send me requests, comments, questions, etc. I love hearing from all you beautiful people

xoxo

Justice

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The Call of the Wild

 
It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.
— Bilbo (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings)

You may have noticed, or maybe you didn't, but anyways, I have not written anything in about a month. This is not because I decided to give up my dream of being a writer and joined a circus, nor is it because I married a british lord and am now living in a castle, it isn't even because I got lazy and decided to spend a month sitting by the pool and eating marshmallows. Although those are all very appealing life choices, none of them apply to me, at the moment. No, for the past 25 days I have driven 4600 miles, been through five states, danced for 11 of those days, hiked numerous mountains, and swam in various lakes and streams. When finding ourselves in between leases my sister and I decided that it would be a better decision to be homeless in our Subaru and travel the pacific north west than to join the legion of San Francisco homeless. So we embarked on a transcendentalist adventure to find ourselves–one which I believe even Whitman and Thoreau would have been envious. 

5 June 2014: We awoke at 4 am and drove for thirteen hours, stopping once for food and a couple of times for gas, when necessary. Our favorite driving past times are reading out loud, memorizing poetry, making up stories about our fellow journeyers, and reading through the dictionary to find new and interesting words. Oh, and singing tonelessly at the top of our voices to musicals and disney music

6 June 2014: Awoke at 5 am (we got to sleep in!) and drove only ten hours in order to arrive right on time for the rehearsal dinner for Nan's friend from college. After staying the night at a KOA, we all awoke and helped prepare for a beautiful, home made, cowgirl wedding in the breathtaking Paradise valley (Montana).

paradise valley.jpg
Paradise valley

After the wedding in Paradise Valley we drove to the near by town of Livingston Montana. You know those old western movies where nothing is alive and there is like one shop/restaurant/bar where everyone hangs out? Well Livingston is kind of like that. We stopped at "Pinky's Coffee Shop" where everything was pink and had flamingos painted on it. There we got bottomless cups of coffee for 3 dollars in all. It was quite amazing.

livingston

Upon drinking approximately a gallon of coffee each, we drove a couple of ours farther east in Montana until we came to the "largest city in Montana", Billings. Now I don't know this for sure but I'm pretty positive that Billings is not much larger than the smallest city in California. They have about one tall building and a lot of vintage stores. Which was AMAZING, because it's Billings Montana and they don't realize that any where else they could sell these gorgeous antique dresses for a lot more than $20. They also have a great railroad museum and some good steak.

billings montana
Billings Montana

We spent two glorious days of rest in Billings and then drove west for Spokane, Washington. Near by Spokane is a state park called Bowl and Pitchers. Nan tried to tell me why it's called Bowl and Pitcher but it didn't really make sense to me. It had something to do with some big rocks and a river. Well anyways, we camped there and took a "bath" in the river and went for a hike and got wonderfully lost.

bowl and pitcher
bowl and pitcher

Our next stop was Seattle, that grey and rainy city to the north. If you drive about forty five minutes south of Seattle, you go through this very neighborhoodish neighborhood and then BAM! all of a sudden you're in a state park surrounded by trees and silence. It's amazing. We camped there for two nights and explored Seattle, where we saw a lot of fish, tourists, and coffee shops. 

seattle
seattle

On some date that I now do not remember we left Seattle and drove to Olympia. In the fine city of the gods we stayed with some old family friends for three days and drank a lot more coffee, had a bonfire, and got soaked by more rain. I decided I liked Olympia, they have a lot of gluten free food and a great book shop that my sis had to drag me out of kicking and screaming to prevent me spending all of our gas money. 

Olypmia
olypmia books

Because we missed the east side of Washington so much, we drove back over the Cascades (listening to the Hobbit soundtrack the whole time) and returned to Spokane. Spokane is another fabulous city in Washington, and not only because Nan went to college there. We visited the Davenport Hotel, where Bing Crosby often stayed, and got coffee at Atticus, where they have the entirety of To Kill a Mockingbird on a wall. We also went to the movie theatre there, joining the real world for a few short hours, and saw How to Train Your Dragon 2. Which is an amazing movie and Hiccup is an animated version of my perfect man. One day in Spokane we went to a diner in a train car (!) and had omelettes bigger than my head and then went to "Green Bluff". Green Bluff is a magical land of orchards and plant growing things where we got to pick our own strawberries. 

spokane.jpg
green bluff

On June 22 we picked up the rest of our family at the airport, along with the two mandolins, accordion, banjo, drums, and guitar. We piled into the car and drove to Coeur D'Alene Idaho for a week long Contra Dance camp. A week of delicious food, amazing music, heart racing music, hiking, lake swimming, canoeing, and good companionship. Essentially a week of pure heaven. 

lady of the lake

Sadly though, all good things, as well as all bad things, must come to an end and on Saturday (two days ago) it was time to head home. Nan and I packed up all our stuff, smells and all, and headed back south to California. We arrived in the bay area just in time for a dinner of BBQ Ribs and watermelon at Grandma's house. 

I'm gonna make this place your home

Taking a month off from life, from media, from technology, a sabbatical from stress and from responsibilities was probably the best thing I have ever done. On this trip Nan and I learned so much about ourselves, about each other, about people in general, and about the world. We had time to reflect on who we are and what we believe. We got to talk without fear of judgement and completely let go. Even if you can't take a month to explore the Pacific North West, I challenge you to take a step back from the world...who knows what you may discover. 

xoxo

Justice

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Call me a Hippy

Lately my sister has started accusing me of being a "hippy". I have no idea why this is. It may be because of the kombucha I make under my bed or because all of my facial products and lotions are made of coconut oil and tea-tree oil...or maybe it's because I do yoga while baking. Just to prove her wrong, I made her some homemade, all natural, good for you granola bars. Oh wait, that's not proving her wrong. Oh well, who cares. Maybe I am becoming a hippie, that's probably what happens to anyone who lives in Colorado and San Francisco for long enough. But you know what? I am perfectly happy. I feel healthier and happier than I ever have in my entire life. 
What you put in your body is extremely important–both physically and mentally. Healthy food is not only about taking care of your body, but also your mind and spirit. When we eat poorly, we don't get the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need. So then, a lot of our energy and focus has to go into making up for that. We feel lazy, unmotivated, or yucky. But when we eat well and get all of the nutrients we need, our bodies can perform how they are supposed to and we can focus on more important things, like playing with puppies and doing arts and crafts with glitter glue, or you know, work and family stuff. Sure we all crave ice cream every once in a while, and it is okay if occasionally we give into the delicious pint of creamy goodness, but for the majority of the time we should be putting into our body the things that it needs to be at tip-top performance. 

granola bars
granola bar recipe

Why did I choose these ingredients?

  • Almonds contain potassium and iron which are both essential in maintaining energy levels. Nuts in general are a healthy energy boost because they have protein and Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Quinoa is a funny word so thus should be consumed. It is also a "supergrain" which is super high in protein, has a lot of fiber, contains iron, lysine which is essential for tissue repair, and it is high in magnesium. It is also high in Riboflavin which is another funny word and is also really super duper important.
  • Flaxseed provides omega 3 and omega 6 which are fats necessary for tissue growth, cell renewal, and the proper metabolism of all body cells.
  • coconut oil and meat (flakes) are packed with nutrients and good fats that give our body increased energy.
  • Honey is, again, a natural energy boost. Not only that though but it helps our immune systems, can prevent cancer and heart disease because of flavonoids and antioxidants, it is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Plus it tastes yummy.

We are fantastic human beings, we can do amazing things, so we should really take care of ourselves. And if wanting to take care of myself by eating chia seeds in everything makes me a hippy, then give me a hemp necklace and call me Stardust. 
Have a happy and healthy week everyone :) and try eating some granola, your body will thank you.

xoxo Justice

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The Diamond in the Rough

 
lamp.jpg

"Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what outside, but what is inside that counts. This is no ordinary lamp. It once changed the course of a young man's life. A young man, who, like this lamp, was more than what he seemed. A diamond in the rough."–The Merchant guy, Aladdin

When taking a stroll through the streets of Vallejo, CA, the words of this short little man kept running through my mind over and over and over again. A few things about Vallejo: it's the biggest city in the county of Solano, it was the home of the Zodiac Killer, and on an average night you can hear at least 8 gun shots. Generally when you say that you're staying with your sister who lives in Vallejo, people's reactions are something like "don't get shot" or "why?". Despite the negative rap (there is an actual rap... by Mac Duna ft E40...you can look it up) there are some amazing things about the city. It's kind of like the thrift shop of cities, there are treasures hidden amongst the hole-y jeans. You just have to be willing to search and be open enough to see it for what it is. 

vallejo ca
vallejo ca
vallejo ca
vallejo
vallejo
beautiful door

I guess that's kind of like people. Like Aladdin. They may not seem like much, they may have some rougher edges, we just have to get to know them. Who knows? They may be the million dollar necklace at Goodwill or the rose amongst the thorns. Or the diamond in the rough that releases the Genie. I think we all need to be reminded of that sometimes

Have a fabulous week you beautiful peoples

xoxo Justice

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Sand, Sun, and Smiles

There are many benefits about growing up in Colorado. 1) mountains. 2) We naturally have more red blood cells than other Americans. 3) It's perfectly acceptable to wear shorts in the snow and no one questions your sanity. 4) We have good beer (so I've been told, I personally don't drink the liquid) and 5) Mountains. 
Something we don't have, though, are beaches. Kind of comes with being a landlocked state. No ocean, no beaches, no surfing, no sand (except the sand dunes), no ocean sunsets. Due to the location of my upbringing I was never really introduced to this weird thing called the Ocean, other than what I could gather from watching the Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo. On Summer vacation sometimes we would visit my aunt who lives near the beach in Santa Cruz, but this vast expanse of water terrified and confused me. As with most things we don't fully understand, it scared the bejeezes out of me. I decided that because it scared me, I didn't like it. I never exactly went into the water nor spent a great amount of time enjoying the company of sand and seashells, so this decision was a bit unjustified. However, upon moving to California people started to question my sanity when I said I didn't like the water. Apparently that is a crime here. In an effort to face my fears, I have been attempting to come to terms with my fear of being swept out into the endless waters and actually enjoy time spent on the beach. And you know what? I actually like it now! I can confidently say that not only am I a mountain girl but also a beach babe.
Yesterday, to celebrate my cousin finishing her last final, we took a day trip to Stinson beach in the Bay Area just off of Highway 1. 

highway 1

As I was enjoying the sand and forgetting to reapply sunscreen (which I now thoroughly regret) I realized that I had overcome something. I overcame my fear of the beach by learning to understand it. This may sound kind of silly and simplistic, but just by taking time to understand it, it no longer seemed scary. And I actually went in the water. I went INTO the ocean. That has never happened in my life before. And I didn't die. If I was able to overcome this fear, can not I overcome other fears? If we take the time to understand things that have scared us in the past, maybe they will no longer scare us in the future–this does not apply to spiders. If you are scared of spiders I recommend just staying away from them. They don't need to be understood. But other things, like going on spontaneous adventures, going camping, traveling, flying, eating strange foods, etc. maybe those kind of fears just need to be faced head on and pushed aside. 
Now if only I could apply this to my fear of driving...

xoxo Justice

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Memorial Mainbocher

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day everyone! I hope your day off brought many a hot dog, sunshine, American flags, and, hopefully, an observance of what this holiday signifies. Memorial day, originally Decoration day, began following the Civil War to commemorate the soldiers (both Union and Confederate) who died. I am sure you remember this all from American history class ;)

Today we take this federal holiday off from work every last Monday of May to remember all who have died serving our country. Of course, now many of us just use it as a day to sleep in and eat watermelon. But we should not let the deliciousness of picnics get in the way of remember how it is we have the freedom to have such picnics.

In memory of those who have fought and died to preserve this wonderful country, I offer a quick fashion history lesson.

So, in the first half of the twentieth century there was this really awesome designer named Mainbocher. We pronounce his name French-like (man-bo-shay) but he was actually American and his real name was Main Rousseau Bocher (pronounced Maine-Bocker). However, since most American designers weren’t accepted into the French couture world, he combined his name and made it sound French. So patriotic of him. Mainbocher designed incredibly expensive, beautifully elegant haute couture dresses for the elite of the elite. The “Roys Royce” of fashion designers, only the richest could afford his designs. He had a very select clientele and in order to be added to that list, you had to have references from someone else already on it, such as Princess Karam of Kapurthala or Diana Vreeland. One of his most significant customers was Wallis Simpson. He designed much of her wardrobe, named a color after her “Wallis Blue” (it’s rather an ugly shade of grey blue), and designed her wedding dress and trousseau. This iconic dress is considered the most recreated dress in history.

Main Bocher Wallis Simpson

He was a big fan of the corset and after the undefined silhouette of the thirties, redefined the fashion for the forties with a nipped-in waist. A pre-curser to Dior’s “New Look”.

Mainbocher corset

During the second world war, Mainbocher did something quite unexpected. He designed the uniforms for the WAVES. WAVES was a division of the U. S. navy that consisted entirely of women (yay!). It stood for “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service”, pointing out that the creation of such a division was due to the emergency circumstances of WWII. For more information on the WAVES, click here.

So imagine this, America declares war on Japan on 8 December 1941. 30 July 1942, WAVES is created and needs women to enlist. They have the TOP AMERICAN COUTURE designer designing their uniforms. Everyone who enlists get two (possible more) Mainbocher made garments. That would kind of be like joining the military today and getting two Chanel suits for free.

An advertisement from LIFE during WWII for the WAVES uniform, the man on the left is Mainbocher

An advertisement from LIFE during WWII for the WAVES uniform, the man on the left is Mainbocher

mainbocher uniform

Say what you will, but that is some excellent PR work if you ask me.

Have an excellent evening everyone! God bless our troops and God bless America!!!

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Grateful Grapefruit

I am immensely aware that there are a great number of things for which I should be grateful. I am incredibly blessed; I have a loving family, good education, clothes on my back, and a refrigerator full of deliciousness. Maybe it’s because I just drank a green juice or maybe because I just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars, but I am especially grateful for my health today. This past weekend I lay in bed for three days straight and slept for about a million hours. This is not because I thought I should catch up on some much-needed sleep after a tough semester, but because I was quite sick and my lungs had decided to, to quote Hazel Lancaster, “suck at being lungs”. As I am a restless person who doesn’t really believe in being still for longer than a few seconds and I always want to be doing something useful, I absolutely HATE being sick. I get this mind crippling fear thinking about being useless. If anyone ever wanted to destroy me, all they would have to do is force me to sit still and do nothing. It would be terrible. That is why I try to lead as healthy a lifestyle as I possibly can. By being healthy I can be useful and helpful. In the past people said “Carpe Diem”, today they say “YOLO”, but it is hard to do either while sitting in front of the television and doing nothing. And if you are sick, or even just lazy or bored (both of which I consider sickness of the brain), you cannot seize the day.

The first step to a healthy lifestyle is gratitude. Being grateful for the life you have and all of the blessings that have been poured down on you. Instead of wishing for something else, a better life, car, wardrobe, body, etc. you can focus on the one you have. Being ungrateful leads to unhappiness, unhappiness = sadness, sadness = unhealthy soul, unhealthy soul = unhealthy body, and you will never be able to do anything to improve your life with an unhealthy body! Gratitude = happiness, happiness = healthy soul, healthy soul = healthy body

Next step is sleep. As much as I hate admitting this, sleep is important. Sure, I would love it if we didn’t need to sleep, there would be so many more hours to do activities! But that is not the case. Around eight hours of sleep (although I generally get more like 6…) is necessary to stay healthy. It will help you prevent sickness as well as keep your mind clear for the day. Everything is brighter in the morning, and not only because the sun is up. Sleep means letting go of the day and a new one awaits, a new one full of new adventures.

Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?
— L. M. Montgomery

Vitamin D (and all the other letters in the alphabet). Vitamins are vital. You can read a lot of medically things about how vitamins are vital for your health, but I am not a doctor and quite frankly all their grandiose words make me sick. So I will just go off of experience, taking my gummy vitamins is not only delicious but also has kept me away from sickness for the entire year (that is, until the very last weekend…). Vitamin C is good for immunity, so definitely take that to stay healthy. Calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B12, etc. are also good. As for my FAVORITE, vitamin, D, that one is easy to get.* We get it in sunshine! Sunshine is magnificent. You should try to get at least half and hour of sunshine a day. The sun never stops shining, and by absorbing some of its rays, we absorb its glowing joy and happiness. As I have said above, happiness leads to healthiness That is a scientific fact ;)

http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/features/the-truth-about-vitamin-d-why-you-need-vitamin-d

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise! We all know that exercise is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. So I will just leave it to Elle Woods to hit it home:

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't.”

Garbage in, Garbage out. This applies to, first and foremost, what you eat. If you eat crap, you will feel like crap. Don’t believe me? Try eating a pint of ice cream and whole order of fries and tell me how you feel the next day. I guarantee you won’t feel like doing anything helpful or useful and will be a grumpy pants. Nobody like a grumpy pants. Eating well is a sure fire way to make you feel good about yourself and stay healthy. I suggest cutting all processed foods, sugar not from fruits and veggies, and wheat. Try that for a week and you will feel great; your energy will be up, your skin will glow, your tummy with be happy, your pants a little looser, and your happiness levels soaring. This also applies to what you read, watch, and listen to. If something you are watching or reading is making your grumpy, uncomfortable, or angry, it is not beneficial. It is not helping your happiness or health.

Finally, smile. Staying positive in all things is key is staying healthy. Even on days when the case of the grumpy pants is unavoidable, try smiling. Surround yourself with encouragement. Your day will go the way the corners of you mouth turn.


All of this simply goes to say that happiness and healthiness go hand in hand, like a symbiotic relationship they depend upon each other for survival.

Once we are healthy and happy we can focus on being a helpful, useful, and living to our full potential. I can bet you, that while working on health and happiness, the others will just fall into place. It’s YOLO in its most complete meaning.

It is a beautiful day, why not enjoy it? 

Life is Good

XOXO

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American Pie

pie.jpg

As Summer rapidly approaches it is time to heat up the grills and break out the picnic baskets. It is time for hot dogs and watermelon, lemonade and sunscreen. School is almost out and I can hardly wait. What am I excited for most? Laying in the sun for hours and reading a good book, the smell of banana boat sun screen, the stickiness of residual watermelon on hands, flip flop tans on callused feet, and the taste of a homemade berry pie. I have been making pies for quite a long time, they are a family favorite. My sister claims the prize for the best apple pie, I cannot deny that. But as far as berry pies go, mine has been reported to create the sensation of explosions of love on your tastebuds. I'm not lying. Don't believe me? You'll just have to try it

berry pie

And the secret ingredient is that you have to listen to and sing along with (at the top of your lungs) the all time classic American Pie by Don McLean

XOXO
Justice

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BFF

When it hasn't been your day, your week, or even your year, who will be there for you? If you're out in the road, feeling lonely and so cold, whose name will you call? Friends, best friends. Those people who will be there for you no matter what, through thick and thin. The race of people Anne Shirley calls "Bosom Friends"

A bosom friend—an intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul.
— Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Yesterday I left San Francisco after nine months of artsy scholarly study. I left behind an empty dorm room, piles of papers in the trash, and a boat load of memories. As well as some of the best friends I have ever had. As I walked down Sutter St, in my baseball cap and dragging a suitcase with a wonky wheel, looking the epitome of a tourist, I thought about all of the amazing friends that I have had. Even though I am no longer in contact with some of them, I remember them all. From the boy I shared toys with when I was an infant to my study buddies in high school. They have all shaped me to become who I am today, they stay with my "like a handprint on my heart" (musical lyrics are always relevant). It may have been the emotions caused by staying up for three days straight or the unnatural San Francisco heat, but I got quite sentimental on that long walk. San Francisco is chock full of, what we call, "techies". The creators of the beloved Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Yelp, etc. All of those apps and websites that have come to replace real, live friends. Walking down the street, sitting in a coffee shop, or studying in the library, I see more people looking at their phones rather than at the people surrounding them. It's like in the world of iClouds we all live on our own little clouds. All of the apps and technology we have to bring us closer to others, has only isolated us more. We count "likes" as more important than hugs. You may have over 1000 followers, but how many of them have you actually spent quality time with? Now, don't get me wrong, I love social media. I mean come on, I'm writing a blog. But a part of me longs for the time before all of these shiny tech things and instant friendship found in a pocket. I long for a time when people wrote letters, stopped by for tea in the afternoon, and sat down and talked for hours at a time. No distractions, just pure quality time. 

Why are friends important? Why are real, flesh and blood people with raw emotions and sass important? I am sure there are quite a few psychological studies about this. I am not a psychologist. I am just a person who has been blessed enough to have had a best friend. 

Why Best Friends Matter

  • Friends are fun! They spend time with you and make you realize that you are never alone (even when you want to be...) They are the ones who can make you smile even in sorrow and laugh until you pee your pants a little bit in any situation.
  • Instant comfort zone. True friends never judge you. Well they do judge, but not in the way strangers do. They may judge you, but constructively.  They always listen to you, even if your thoughts or opinions are ridiculous or wrong. They can calm you down and relax you in any situation. They're like the sweatpants of life.
  • They are honest. How many people can you trust to give an honest opinion without any prejudice or bias? Not many. But best friends always will be, even if you don't want to hear it.
  • They're like a human diary. You can tell them all of your secrets; personal problems, family problems, relationship problems, dietary issues, worries, fears, embarrassing antidotes, etc. anything and you never need worry about them spilling the beans. 
  • They hold you up. They support you unconditionally, even when it seems like the whole world is against you. 
  • They help you grow. Whether they are aware of it or not, they teach you lessons about life and yourself. They can always offer you a fresh perspective. More so though, they love you unconditionally and many times know more about yourself than you do. And by helping you to grow, you are helping them as well.

The bond of the best friend is more than just a label, it is a promise. A promise to always be there, through thick in thin. When it hasn't been your day, your week, or your year they are always there for you. 

friendship

I believe that this sacred promise is in peril of being lost. I am afraid that people are letting go of hands to pick up phones. This terrifies me. So let's make another promise, to keep the promise of friendship. Whether your best friend is next to you, a state away, across the country, or across the world, let them know how much you appreciate and love them. Call them up, text them, walk over to their house, tweet about it, facebook message it, carrier pigeon...what ever floats your boat

xoxo
Justice

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Pulitzer Prized

Have you ever noticed how every summer floral is in season. There has never been a summer where it wasn't acceptable to wear a floral dress. That would just be ridiculous, even nature is adorning herself with flowers, so why shouldn't we? However, it can get a bit tedious wearing the same cotton dresses printed with little pink and yellow flowers every year. Sometimes it is nice to mix it up a little bit. Maybe bigger flowers or different types of botanicals in some unnatural colors. One of my favorites for summer style is the designer Lilly Pulitzer. She does floral with a bright wacky flare while staying classic. Her fun colors and nontraditional prints on cute shorts, shift dresses, and pencil skirts make me think of summer in the Hamptons or Nantucket, probably owning a yacht, and playing golf–all things I have never done nor will probably ever do. I can pretend though. That's the great thing about clothes, they help you pretend. See, we haven't really changed from little girls playing dress up, a tutu could make us into a princess and a scalloped edged skirt can turn us into a yacht owning upper east sider. 

Lilly Pulitzer skirt from a thrift shop, Steve madden wedges, Frenchi T-Shirt and cardigan

Lilly Pulitzer skirt from a thrift shop, Steve madden wedges, Frenchi T-Shirt and cardigan

Here are some of my Lilly Pulitzer favorites (click on the image to see more!)

Have a Happy week everyone, enjoy the sun (unless you live somewhere, like Colorado, where it snowed two feet this weekend) and be bright! Both in the way you dress and when studying for finals

xoxo

What are your favorite summer styles? Post as a comment!

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Mommy Dearest

 
mother leading child

It is Mother's Day and I am far away from my mother. I miss her like crazy. She is my best friend, my number one fan, and personal chef. She gives the best hugs and is always willing to listen to my troubles. We laugh together, make fun of each other, and always have the best time. Whether it is shopping, driving, gardening, or doing spontaneous art projects that destroy the house. She makes the best soup in the world and always smells like coffee. She is my best supporter and harshest critic. She always is helping me to grow, even if it is painful. Sure I frequently want to yell at her, but I always know that she is my biggest advocate and wants me to succeed more than anything in the world. I know that she loves me no matter what. And that means the world to me. She has given me the world.
It is safe to say that mothers are probably some of the strongest people in the world. They are amazing in everything that they do. I don't think I'll ever comprehend their ability to make lunch, clean, get dressed, do laundry, give life advice, and talk on the phone all at the same time while staying level headed. There are a lot of things I could say about the love of a mother and how much we should appreciate them. But I think others, including Hallmark, have already done a pretty good job at that. There isn't much that I could say that someone who has had a mother doesn't already know. So I just want to share with you all one of my favorite poems about mothers:

Disobedience

by A. A. Milne

James James   
Morrison Morrison  
Weatherby George Dupree  
Took great   
Care of his Mother  
Though he was only three. 
James James   
Said to his Mother,  
"Mother," he said, said he; 
"You must never go down to the end of the town, if
you don't go down with me."  

James James   
Morrison's Mother  
Put on a golden gown,  
James James   
Morrison's Mother  
Drove to the end of the town. 
James James   
Morrison's Mother  
Said to herself, said she: 
"I can get right down to the end of the town and be
back in time for tea."   

King John   
Put up a notice,  
"LOST or STOLEN or STRAYED! 
JAMES JAMES   
MORRISON'S MOTHER  
SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN MISLAID. 
LAST SEEN   
WANDERING VAGUELY  
QUITE OF HER OWN ACCORD, 
SHE TRIED TO GET DOWN TO THE END OF
THE TOWN - FORTY SHILLINGS REWARD! 

James James   
Morrison Morrison  
(Commonly known as Jim)  
Told his   
Other relations   
Not to go blaming him.  
James James   
Said to his Mother,  
"Mother," he said, said he, 
"You must never go down to the end of the town with-
out consulting me."   

James James   
Morrison's Mother  
Hasn't been heard of since. 
King John   
Said he was sorry,  
So did the Queen and Prince. 
King John   
(Somebody told me)  
Said to a man he knew:  
"If people go down to the end of the town, well, what
can anyone do?"    

(Now then, very softly)  
J. J.    
M. M.    
W. G. du P.   
Took great   
C/o his M*****   
Though he was only 3.  
J. J.    
Said to his M*****  
"M*****," he said, said he: 
"You-must-never-go-down-to-the-end-of-the-town-if-
you-don't-go-down-with ME!"

 

Yes mothers are loving and supportive, but I am quite sure that they often want to be as, or probably more, disobedient as the children they care for. And that makes them even more amazing. I tip my hat to all you mothers out there. 

Happy Mothers Day all

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Pink Power

In the beginning of the 20th century designers such as Fortuny and Paul Poiret began to do something very daring–creating dresses that did not need to be worn with a, can you guess? that's right! A corset. After centuries of being confined in stiffened bodices and contracting corsets women suddenly had a whole new freedom. For one, they could actually be active and breathe. They could also begin to wear different kinds of clothes. This of course took some adjusting to, like what do you do for support without a boned thing keeping everything still? This drastic alteration to the wardrobe gave way to a land slide of change. Since that moment fashion has changed drastically almost every ten years. It also gave rise to the idea that fashion could empower women. The idea that what you wore could give you an upper hand and power. This could be in dressing like a flirtatious flapper (no they did not actually wear fringe dresses) to get into a party or wearing a boxy dress suit in the 40's to gain respect in the military. This concept gained major ground in the 70s when pants were completely acceptable as a daily uniform for a generation of "Charlie Girls". But it reached its peak in the 1980s with the world domination of the power suit. 

The power suit of the 80s had exaggerated shoulders, giving the woman a more aggressive and masculine silhouette. "The power suit made a woman look like she was somebody." Throughout the decade, power dressing become more of an ideal, rather than a particular suit. As Vogue said in January 1990, "The message of competence and confidence sent by the woman in a gray pin-striped suit has been received...it's time to move one". So in the 90s we lost the padded shoulders (thank goodness) and gained smaller jackets. Today we understand the idea of "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have" and we get the fact that clothing can be like a costume or armor. We have Armani and Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. But that doesn't mean that power dressing is gone. It's just more of an attitude now than a two-piece. 

To me power dressing is whatever I feel completely and totally confident in. It is the outfit I can put on and KNOW that when I walk down the street or stand in front of a group of people to give a presentation I will demand attention. For me, a power suit could include a pink dress with a lace slip underneath or a blouse, tailored trousers, and heels. 

We’ve come a long way. Power dressing now is designed to let the woman inside us come through.
— Donna Karan
Guess Blouse, Gap pants, Modcloth shoes, Kate Spade purse, and Anne Klein watch

Guess Blouse, Gap pants, Modcloth shoes, Kate Spade purse, and Anne Klein watch

We are so fortunate to live in a time wear we don't have to where corsets nor do we have to wear men's suits to be powerful. Whether you are in jeans and a T-shirt or a classic Chanel, you can still demand attention and respect as long as you walk with your head held high, know you look amazing, and have the confidence that even two inch shoulder pads could never give you. 

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Teacher Appreciation Week

It has come to my attention that this week is teacher appreciation week. Thinking back, I have had some amazing teachers. From my first grade teacher who wore overalls with bright pink nails to my senior year history teacher who taught we all about communist china and how not to get caught with a fake id. The teachers I have had have taught me, inspired me, and molded me to become the young woman I am today. However, there is one teacher in my life who has been particularly inspiring and influential. This is my sister, Nan. She graduation college last May and not long afterwards landed a job as 5th and 6th grade teacher here in the Bay area. She gets up everyday at 5, grades papers and plans out the day, teaches until 3, tutors every afternoon, coaches basketball for five year olds, and voluntarily leads a youth group of middle schoolers, and all while wearing 3 inch heels or higher. I am pretty sure that she is wonder woman. There was never any doubt that Nan would be a teacher. When we were younger she would force me to play “school”, where I spent the majority of the time in “detention”. But more than that she is a role model. She is one of those people that as soon as she walks in a door, everyone is drawn to her. Not only because she is 6’1” and absolutely stunning. She just draws attention everyone wants to be her friend, but she doesn’t let that get to her head and she has never used it to be the stereotypical “popular girl”. Instead she uses her power to benefit others. She has this amazing energy where she wants to be everyone’s friend, and she can get even the most shy person (ie. Me) to crack a smile. She sincerely cares about every person she meets, wants to help everybody, and can make anything into and adventure. She truly is a real life Mary Poppins and proves “just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”.

Besides her ability to turn everybody’s’ frowns upside down and being practically perfect in every way, something that I find so incredible about Nan is her style. Being 6’1”, it has always been hard to find clothes that fit her. She also has simply too much character for normal clothes. So in High School she began to make these crazy spinny skirts that used like a million yards of fabric—and she always chose the craziest of crazy fabrics, like bright pink cotton patterned with Elvis and Barbie. Now as a teacher she dresses as a mix of Ms. Frizzle, Mary Poppins, and Minnie Mouse. No matter what, she always looks classy and modest with a fun zany Nan twist and some fun heels.

Her entire style is a physical representation of her personality, and it is simply amazing.

So here is to you sis, my favorite teacher and role model…always.

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May Monster

may.jpg

May has arrived! In all its gloriousness including sunshine, flowers, and, of course, finals. For those of us lucky enough to still be in school, the next few weeks are guaranteed to be a tad stressful. Okay maybe more than a tad bit. I always hate it when people say “don’t stress, you’ll do fine”, that just makes me more freaked out. They don’t know my life! They don’t know what I’m going through! Okay maybe they do. Truth is most of us have been through some really stressful times, whether for school, work, buying a house, or just figuring out how to fit everything into 24 hours and still sleep.  Stress is perfectly natural. We all experience it in some shape or form. And want to know something funny? It will pass. Most of the time we survive. No matter what anxiety is looming over us, we always manage to get through it, relatively unharmed. Sleepy and a bit worn down, but alive.

Stress to me is a reminder that we don’t have control over everything and that is perfectly OK. It’s also a great motivator. As my wise sister says, “the deer runneth the fastest when in view of a gun”.
No matter what we do, in this life there will be stressful situations. So we have a decision: let it control us, or we can control it. Being the controlling person I am, I choose the latter.

5 Easy Tips to become the Master of the Stress Monster

1)   Make a List (or two, or five): Write out EVERYTHING you need to do and want to do in just one long stream of bullet points. Go through that list and separate the “Want to do”s from the “need to do”s.  Prioritize the need to dos, for example if you have a history exam tomorrow, you should probably put “study for history” at the top of the list.  Place your lists side by side.  Every time you complete a “need to do”, cross it out with a flash and a bang, some dancing always helps. After completing 3-5 “need to dos”, reward yourself with a “Want to do”, like painting your nails


2)   Reward yourself:  Everyone needs a little bit of encouragement, and sometimes that can come from yourself. If you can take a break every once in a while and pat yourself on the back, or take a break to go on Pinterest or paint your nails, you are sure to stay positive longer. Staying positive about the work you need to get done is a sure fire way to get it done faster and more efficiently (according to a study I made up in my mind because it has worked so many times for myself)

3)   Get exercise:  Whether this is going for a walk, a run, doing a happy dance, or some yoga, any kind of movement will stimulate your brain. It’s also good to get your blood moving after sitting hunched over piles of notes for so long, otherwise you start to lose feeling in your toes and the will to live.


4)   Snack Smart:  Whenever I am stressed I suddenly get a craving for French fries and ice cream. The desire for this delicious mixture of salty and sweet can overcome my mind and distract me from my work. So I immediately drink a huge glass of water, put together a plate of cheese, carrots, apple slices, some peanut butter, etc. (food I call “baby sitter food” as it is what my baby sitter would make me for lunch) and set it on my desk. That way the food is near me, so when I am hungry I don’t get tempted to go to the kitchen and therefore the freezer, and it is healthy food. I can tame the sugar monster in my belly and keep my brain focused on work.


5)   Wear Your Success Pants:   I have noticed a trend among students that whenever May comes around everyone starts wearing sweatpants and pajamas to school. It’s as if stress means we no longer have to wear real clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I love sweatpants. I just think that if you want to succeed you should dress for success. I wear sweatpants when I’m being lazy, watching Netflix marathons, or going to bed. So when I put them on, my lazy switch gets turned on. Why would I want my lazy switch turned on when I am about to take a test that will essentially decide my future? If I want to succeed I am going to put on my succeeding outfit. Something that makes me feel smart, confident, beautiful, powerful, and strong. For me that is a dress with heels, usually some pearls, and lipstick. If that is sweatpants for you, then so be it. Just know I will never understand you people.

With that I bid you adieu. I must stop procrastinating and get cracking on my final projects.
Happy May my lovelies and Good luck with all you do
Remember, don’t let the stress monster get a hold of you! You are strong!

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Crop Tops and Sun Block

As the temperature rises the amount of fabric we wear decreases. Let's be honest, no body wants to wear long pants and long sleeves on a beautiful sunny day. Not only is it way too hot, but it is simply not appropriate for a sunny day (style-wise). Wearing winter clothes in summer is the fashion equivalent of an author killing off your favorite character–pure party pooper-ness. However, this situation causes quite a dilemma. With shorts getting shorter, crop tops being back in, string bikinis still a thing, and it is supposedly acceptable to wear see through shirts, it's kind of hard to be modest without seeming matronly. How are we supposed to dress appropriately for the sun and for being a lady? Here's my solution: even it out. If you are going to show more skin at one place, cover up in other places. For example, if you are wearing short shorts, wear a shirt that covers your belly and cleavage (it is possible to find one of those believe it or not). Or, if you are wearing a crop top, try to match it with a long flowy skirt or pants. Either way you are still able to stay cool while being modest. 

Crop top by Free People, "Boyfriend" Jeans by Levi's, and Wedges by Bakers

Crop top by Free People, "Boyfriend" Jeans by Levi's, and Wedges by Bakers

And of course, any outfit goes well with sun screen! So don't forget to protect your skin because a sun burn (or worse) is never attractive, healthy, or happy. 

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Picture Perfect

 
makeup

I pull out my brushes and my palette, a towel and a cup of water. I am about to create a masterpiece. Emphasizing highlights and lowlights, playing with contours, and utilizing my knowledge of color theory. Now what to be by canvas? How about…my face
Yes, it is time to do my makeup
It makes me laugh sometimes the amount of crazy effort and work goes into covering up our faces and making ourselves “beautiful”. I don’t wear makeup everyday, but when I do it is quite an affair. First I put down the base layer, like the canvas primer, of foundation. That is set with a dusting of powder. Next I color in my thinning eye brows and highlight my cheeks with some pink blush. After that comes the eye shadow, eyeliner, and mascara. Finally, I cover my (huge) lips with a thick layer of red, pink, or peach colored wax, aka, lipstick.
We may no longer outline varicose veins with coal like the Egyptians or put powdered lead on our faces like Marie Antoinette, but regardless we are still part of the great womanly tradition of covering up our faces. Covering up our natural beauty.
on’t get me wrong, I don’t think makeup is a bad thing. In fact I think it is a very good thing. An excellent, marvelous, superb thing. All I think is that we must change its purpose. Instead of using it as something to cover up, I think we should use it to enhance. Something to highlight the blessings we were born with. In the same way that salt brings out flavor, makeup should be used to bring out our beauty.

I think happiness is a choice. If you feel yourself being happy and can settle in to the life choices you make, then it’s great. It’s really, really great. I swear to God, happiness is the best makeup.
— Drew Berrymore

This does not require changing how much or what kind of makeup we wear. All it requires is a change of mind. Like Drew Berrymore said, “Happiness is the best makeup”. All we have to do is be happy with what we have in the first place. I know, a lot easier said than done. But maybe, just maybe, if we start small, thinking things like “wow I have amazing lips” or “my skin tone is luminous”, slowly we can change our whole mindset. Then we can turn our makeup into salt instead of paint.  

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Tulips Red and Green

Snow is replaced with flowers, clouds give way to sunshine, and we hide the sweaters and pull out the tanks. It is a time for a turn over. No, not an apple turnover, though that would be lovely, a wardrobe turnover. During this tricky time between short shorts and puffy down jackets it’s hard to know what to wear. I always want to start wearing bright colors all at once. But apparently wearing an outfit of entirely neon colors on the first day of April looks a little crazy. So we have to introduce the summer colors slowly. Baby steps. My favorite way to do this is by starting with one or two muted or pastel colors and then while April and May progress I add a little more. That way when it gets to June and I want to wear an outfit of all bright pink, it looks a little more normal.
It’s kind of like flowers. They start small, just a few green buds here and there and then they bloom! And SHABAM!!! COLOR EVERYWHERE

Vintage dress from Ooh La Loft (similar here), Shoes from Gap, headband from H&M, pink pearls (similar here)

Vintage dress from Ooh La Loft (similar here), Shoes from Gap, headband from H&M, pink pearls (similar here)

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