Thursday, August 14, 2014

Saying Goodbye

It's a new season of life

Dear Friend,

It's time for me to let go.

July held some big goodbyes for me. Goodbye to an apartment I loved. Goodbye to a person I loved. And after three years, I finally said goodbye to a dress I loved.

My wedding dress.

It was exactly what I wanted. Sparkly. Elegant. Feminine. Princessy. On clearance. (You know how I love a good deal) After losing 20 pounds during my engagement, I went through several rounds of alterations to give it the perfect fit. I loved that dress. I felt like the most beautiful bride in the world.

Photo by Fleur de Lis Photography
I wish I could say the beautiful dress was the beginning of a beautiful happily-ever-after marriage. But I let go of that too. (read more here)

When packing up my apartment to move in with new friends in a new part of the city, I decided it was time to let go of the dress and all it represented. It was time for me to embrace the closure. I couldn't justify continuing to carry it around with me from place to place anymore when all it did was remind me of broken promises and dead dreams. So, I pulled it out of the closet and set it with the other items I was leaving behind. But not before wearing it one last time. I couldn't believe it still fit -- a little too tight perhaps, or maybe it was just my heart inside my chest that was tight. I donated it to Goodwill the next day, which ironically would have been my third wedding anniversary.

The love of a dress

My best friend recently told me that getting to know yourself when you're alone after you say these kind of goodbyes is a beautiful thing. I'm finally starting to see that. I'm starting to look at myself differently than before. What I want has changed. And what I want is to stop blogging.

I started blogging for reasons that are no longer relevant. I work days and more hours per week than before. I make less money but dress better than before. I still want to explore the city but not through the screen of my phone as I snap pictures and think of how to share them through social media to maximize clicks. I still want to explore my creative side but only for myself like I used to when I journaled and wrote poems and songs and other random things.

What I'm saying, I suppose, is I want to live my life for me right now in a different way than before and to do that I need to say goodbye to you.

Thank you for reading, commenting and supporting me. I'll still be on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter but I'm closing the book now on this blog and this chapter of my life.

Love, love.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Get up, get down

Musical Mondays

Enjoying sunshine, music and friends at The Capitol Hill Block Party with these gorgeous gals!

Maybe it's because Saturday night I was riding on my friend's shoulders waving my arms in the air during a Chromeo concert at The Capitol Hill Block Party, but music has consumed my mind for the last two days. I can't get enough of it.

Today, the song in my head is "Coffee" by Sylvan Esso. It's got a chill, slow-driving beat and I love her simple, strong voice. Check it out below!

What are you listening to today? Share it in the comments below or join our link-up party!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Creating strength

I did it.

My most recent hike

Every day last week I woke up around 5:30 a.m., grabbed water, a towel and a yoga mat and drove to Belltown to get my butt kicked by Jenn at For The Glow. The week-long bootcamp was challenging, painful and extremely rewarding.

With a mix of strong Glow Flow workouts and two days of intense Epic Cardio, every muscle in my body was sore at one point or another. The highlight for me was actually the most difficult. I woke up on Thursday dreading the Epic Cardio workout I knew would involve lots of running, which isn't something I do. Running makes me feel like I'm dying. My chest hurts, I can barely breathe and it's just all-around awful. Then I arrived at the Sculpture Park where we were meeting that day and saw this beautiful view.

The Sculpture Park in Seattle
Before the class, I emailed Jenn and told her how I was pretty much the worst runner in the world and was nervous about the workout. She gave me tips on how to get an effective workout without pushing myself to a bad point. I felt prepared. When the group had to jog around the park, I followed right alongside them. When we had to run for a minute and sprint for 20 seconds, I did that too and interspersed a couple short breaks. The last part was the hardest: Sprints followed by Frog Jumps up a set of long stairs. Oh my gosh you guys. Frog Jumps are the worst. Ouch. I finished two sets and my legs said, "Nope." I took a rest then completed one more. Boom.

I really enjoyed my time with the Glow group. The women were of all ages, sizes and different levels of athleticism. It was a very fun and encouraging environment -- oh and the soundtracks to the Glow Flow workouts were amazing! I'd highly recommend For The Glow if you're a woman in the Seattle area looking for not just a great and different workout routine but also an embracing community that will help you reach your goals.

My goal was simply to finish the bootcamp. Every morning I woke up and thought about skipping, but I wanted to be stronger than that. Strength doesn't just happen, you have to work at it. You have to create it. Finishing the boot camp was a good start for me.

On to the next one.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Getting my Glow on

Going for it

Have you ever done a fitness boot camp?

I never thought I could handle one until now. A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet from Jenn at For The Glow inviting Seattle bloggers to participate in a week-long Blogger Boot Camp July 14-18. After spending many evenings and weekend mornings at the gym over the last three months, I decided I am ready. I am going for it, you guys. I'll report back at the end of the week.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Birchbox June 2014

Away We Go! June Birchbox

Loving the lipstain

Cynthia Rowley Beauty - Creamy Lip Stain "Valentine"
Upon realizing my July Birchbox will arrive in one week, I thought I should probably catch you all up on what goodies I received in June! The theme was "Away We Go"with samples of items you would want to take with you on your summer getaway. Here are my thoughts on what was included:
  • Cynthia Rowley Beauty - Creamy Lip Stain "Valentine." Remember the silver eyeliner I loved in April's Birchbox? This month I got a sample of their long-wearing lipstain. I never heard of Cynthia Rowley Beauty before Birchbox and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite lines. The lipstain is shiny like a gloss without being sticky and lightly (or darkly depending on how heavy your application) colors your lips. My favorite item this month!
  • The Aloe Source - Vitamin C Antioxidant Creme. The best thing about this antioxidant-rich hydrating creme is the yummy smell of oranges and aloe. My skin felt smooth and happy after application -- especially after a day in the sun.
Antica Farmacista body wash, Evologie face cleanser, Phylo hair serum
  • Antica Farmacista - Bermagot & Ocean Aria Body Wash. I took the body wash with me on my most recent trip home to see my family. It is made with sweet almond oil. I wish I could say it smelled great or was super moisturizing; but this body wash was not a standout in any way. Pass.
  • Evologie - Stay Clear Cleanser. I enjoyed using this nondrying, blemish-fighting face wash. It lathered well, rinsed easily and left my face feeling clean, not slick or tight.
  • Phyto - Phytolisse Ultra-Glossing Finishing Serum. This silky serum is great for taming flyaways, boosting shine and calming frizz. I put it in my hair after towel-drying and it helped my hair stay smooth and manageable all day. My favorite thing about the serum is it didn't weigh down my hair or make it feel greasy. Great product!
Do you subscribe to Birchbox? Tell me what you thought about your products!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sun in Seattle

Colors and prints

Thanks for the photo LH!
This outfit is a product of practicality. Last week was so hot, yes hot, and I'm the only girl in the world without a maxi dress so I opted for a fun print bodycon skirt (hand-me-down from N) and a ruffled tank top I bought at F21 years and years ago.

Problem: The building I work in is cold. Solution: A bright-colored shrug.

Boom. I love when I can pull together a cute outfit with things I've had forever.

For accessories, I wore a belt from a shirt I bought at JC Penny a long time ago but never wear anymore, a Simply Vera by Vera Wang necklace via Kohl's, and three special bracelets.

Little bit of bling

Let me tell you about my bracelets. The first, the snake one, I bought at Buffalo Exchange in Ballard two weekends ago. It broke not long after I took this picture. One of the snake heads popped right off. What the heck, Buffalo Exchange?

In the middle is a "strength" bracelet given to me by one of my dearest friends. I wore it while testifying at a trial, when I was secretly terrified but refused to let the defense attorney see any sign of weakness. I wore it to a job interview. I wore it to my first day at work. In general, I tend to wear it when I need a little reminder that I'm strong.

The third is in memory of a friend of mine who passed away during heart surgery two days before my birthday in 2012. It says, "Friendship is the thread that ties us together." Sometimes it's nice to see the bracelet on my wrist and think of her, her infectious smile, fun-loving personality and tenaciousness.

It looks like today will be another day of sunshine! I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

10 songs stuck in my head

Wanna get inside my head?

My musical taste is on the random side. For example, first thing this morning I was singing the theme song from "Saved by the Bell" and quickly switched over to Sesame Street songs (I'm currently hanging out with my 1-year-old niece). I haven't written about it much here, aside from professing my love of Kate Nash, so I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what plays in my head throughout the day. 

Here are 10 songs that were stuck in my head on Wednesday:

*warning: song contains potentially offensive lyrics so listen with adult ears only

1. Dark Horse by Katy Perry

Stuck in my head while I brush my teeth

2. Just Askin' by Iggy Azalea

Stuck in my head while I walk to the bus stop and wait for my bus to arrive*

3. They Want You by Lissie

Stuck in my head while I plug things into a spreadsheet at work

4. West Coast by Lana Del Ray

Stuck in my head while I eat strawberries at my desk

5. Uptown Anthem by Naughty by Nature

Stuck in my head while I write a report (p.s. this is one of my favorite songs ever)*

6. Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar

Stuck in my head while I read emails

7. Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Stuck in my head while I ride the bus home

8. I Wanna Be Bad by Willa Ford

Stuck in my head while I get ready to head out to Woodsky's to watch the Mariners game

9. Talk Dirty to Me by Jason Derulo

Stuck in my head while I sit at Woodsky's watching basketball after the M's game ended*

10. Foundations by Kate Nash

Stuck in my head while I play around on my phone before going to bed

What's stuck in your head?

Linking up for Musical Mondays!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mother's Day Gift Guide

Looking local

If you're like me, this Mother's Day snuck up on you and you may be looking to find a gift that feels special -- maybe even exotic or luxurious -- but can be found close to home and at a great price. Go no further! Below are some great Mother's Day gift ideas you can find right here in Seattle.

(P.S. Mom, Your present isn't included on this list. Didn't want to spoil the surprise!)

Photo credit: JJ Caprices
First up, Kirkland-based online boutique JJ Caprices. Jennifer Jedda, of JJ Caprices, traveled to more than 35 countries and launched the online boutique to showcase the work of the amazing artists she met during her journey. JJ Caprices features jewelry like the gorgeous earrings to the left, accessories, fragrances and home accents from countries including Israel, France, Costa Rica, India and Italy. In a fun twist, Jennifer shares the backstory of how she discovered each piece as part of the product description on the website. My favorite feature of the website is the ability to shop by country.

Prices range from $25 - $495 so there is something for every budget and from now until May 11, get $25 off a purchase of $100 using promo code LOVEMOM.
Photo credit: JoeyBra
My sister is a new mom who always lived an active lifestyle. I can see this next gift idea being a great one for her as she juggles being a working mom and finding time to exercise and focus on herself. The $39.99 JoeyBra is an essential for moms on the go with dual zip pockets large enough to store keys, ID cards, mp3 players and more. Leave the diaper bag behind and only carry what you need when you head to the gym or out on a run. 

This Friday, May 9, JoeyBra will be on-site at the Queen Anne Dispatch Friends and Family Event from 6 - 10 p.m. giving a 20 percent discount with everyone in attendance. You can also buy the JoeyBra at West Seattle Runner.
Photo credit: Luxury on Demand

You all know how much I love finding high quality items at great prices. That's why I'm excited to share Luxury on Demand with you. If your mother has high-end taste, you can find consigned designer items by brands including Prada, Versace, Miu Miu and Jimmy Choo online or in the showroom by appointment at Luxury on Demand. Jessica Milton helps women in Seattle reduce, reuse and restyle the designer apparel and accessories through consignment.

Prices vary by designer. Also, Luxury on Demand is running a giveaway for these Prada sunglasses on that ends June 5 so enter now here.
Photo credit: Mere Basics

Based in Seattle, Mere Basics is a gorgeous collection of light weight cashmere pieces perfect for layering without adding bulk. Living in the Pacific Northwest, layering and comfort are key to our wacky weather and with Mere Basics, mom doesn't have to sacrifice style for some extra warmth. The line features multiple colors and styles so there is something to fit every mother's personal style.

Prices run from $188-$298. For Mother's Day, Mere Basics is offering a special gift set featuring an essential cashmere top and matching shorts for $298. Shop online here!
Photo credit: SEE Eyewear

OK, this next line has the best slogan ever, "Hip without the rip." SEE Eyewear is full of stylish sunglasses for $99. With the sunshine we've had lately and all the time that passed in between, there's a good chance mom misplaced her sunglasses or could simply use another pair. The frames are fresh, fun and the selection diverse. To shop, go to the SEE Eyewear store at 1429 Fifth Avenue in Seattle or online.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Birchbox April 2014

Rainy Days?

The theme for this month's Birchbox is "Rainy Days," but Seattle has actually had some incredible weather lately! As I write this, it's only partly cloudy and the temperature is hovering in the upper-50's. I am loving it!

One of the items in the box is a tip card with a Bright Idea for a Rainy Day. I got tip #15: "We love museums on rainy days -- and so does everyone else. Avoid crowds by going early, then leave for an indulgent brunch at the peak noontime hour." It's a nice addition, but not really a value-add in my opinion. 

Here's what I thought of the other items in this month's Birchbox:
  • Color Club - Gala's Gems Collection, Heirloom Pearls. This white nail polish was created with style blogger Gala Gonzalez. The color goes on beautifully, smooth and has the nicest shimmer.
Gala's Gems Collection - Heirloom Pearls
  • Cynthia Rowley Beauty - Silver Eyeliner. I'll be honest, when I first saw they sent me silver eyeliner I thought, what the heck? Silver eyeliner isn't something I had ever tried or wanted to try. But...I love it! Just one line above my eyelid makes my eyes pop! It's so fun, too. This is exactly why I wanted to subscribe to Birchbox -- so I could be introduced so sample-size items I probably wouldn't normally buy and through that find new favorites.
Cynthia Rowley Beauty - Silver Eyeliner
  • theBalm Cosmetics - How 'Bout Them Apples? Cheek & Lip Cream. The packaging on this dual-purpose, creamy stain for cheeks and lips is super cute. I have it on in the picture above so you can see it is a peachy-pink color with a hint of shimmer. While I think it's pretty, the taste and smell remind me of Crayola crayons. It's a little off-putting.

theBalm Cosmetics - How 'Bout Them Apples? Cheek & Lip Cream
theBalm Cosmetics - How 'Bout Them Apples? Cheek & Lip Cream
  • Fekkai - Technician Color Care Shampoo. This hydrating shampoo is just what my recently-bleached hair needs. I only wish I could pair it with it's proper conditioner to get the full effect.
  • KIND Snacks - Healthy Grains Bar, Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt. Ohmygosh. This is the best sweet/salty, just-crunchy-enough, mashup of yumminess I've ever had in a snack bar. I will buy a box as soon as possible.
The winner for this month is the nail polish by Color Club and Gala Gonzalez! There is a set of four available on Birchbox for $13! When my April shopping ban is over, I may just start here. :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mariners Makeup

Happy Felix Friday!

Before the Seattle Mariners' home opener on Tuesday, I stopped by the MAC counter at Nordstrom to get a little help taking my look to the next level. It's not easy to dress up a pair of blue jeans and a sports shirt so I wanted to do something different with my makeup.

Bold color: Steamy and Deep Truth frost shadows

The makeup artist chose two bold eyeshadow colors that were close to the Mariners' team colors: Steamy and Deep Truth. Both had the frost finish. To make the color deeper and last longer, she used a flat brush to press the shadow into my eyelid instead of using the normal painting motion I do everyday. It was a great tip! I loved both colors and was impressed with how well they blended!

Love the green and blue!
I'm excited for tonight's game and watching Felix Hernandez pitch! If you want to see pictures of the game (and probably a look at what I'm wearing), follow me on Instagram: @alittlefierce

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

26 Things About Me

This is where I share all my secrets

Or not. Rather, in honor of my 26th birthday coming right around the corner, I decided to share 26 things about me for my readers. It's always fun for me to learn more about the bloggers I follow and I love when they mix up the pretty pictures and beauty reviews with more candid conversations. Hopefully you can appreciate the same!

Here goes!

1. I approach thrift shopping/antiquing as an epic treasure hunt.
2. My favorite breakfast food is waffles with peanut butter and bacon on top with maple syrup. YUM.
3. Even though I retired my journalism career more than a year ago, I'm still a newshound at heart and can't help but do my own investigating when I get a hankering.
4. I'm a morning person and trying to get back to an early-morning schedule. Wish me luck.
5. My favorite TV shows right now are Game of Thrones, Parks and Rec and Portlandia.
6. I can't stop listening to Kate Nash.

7. My favorite candy bar is Butterfinger.
8. I am on my third career and think this might be "the one."
9. I don't have a high school diploma. *gasp*
10. When I was six years old I desperately wanted to be called Christina at Sunday School because there were so many Amandas. Today, I go by my last name at work cause there are so many Amandas.
11. Nothing makes me crazier than waiting on a man. You know, when you're sitting at home ready to go and they aren't showing up or answering your texts so you just have to WAIT? Gahhhhhhh. It's the worst, I tell you.
12. My goal for the month of April is to not buy any items beyond the basics.
13. I tend to go back and forth between over-sharing and not really saying anything at all.

Pause for a pretty picture.

OK back to business.

14. The first time I handled a motorcycle on my own I popped a wheelie then continued forward like a boss.
15. The Little Mermaid and Frozen are my two favorite Disney animated movies.
16. I still have my wedding dress and I don't know what to do with it.
17. If I had five million dollars, I would relocate my whole family to the Seattle area and pay for their education/continuing education. This is partially so I wouldn't have to keep going to my hometown to visit.
18. Speaking of my hometown, for a brief period of time I was one of those kids who hung out in the grocery store parking lot.
19. I have experienced pepper spray/tear gas twice and it's nasty stuff.
20. My purse always contains a pocket knife, hair ties, bobby pins and lipstick.
21. Someday I want to go on a river boat.
22. I love cheese.
23. I am lactose intolerant.
24. Springtime always makes me restless.
25. My favorite movie of all time is Gone with the Wind.
26. Being near the salt water is the most healing thing in the world to me.

Another pretty picture just outside of Portland, Oregon

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring at the beach

and the impromptu photo shoot

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I took a little trip to Seaside, Oregon. We stayed at the historic Gilbert Inn, which I would highly recommend if you have a healthy appreciation for history and nostalgia as I do. The house was built in 1892 and is in incredible shape. The interior is gorgeous, with antique furnishings and charming decor that make you feel as if you are stepping back in time.

We walked up and down the streets checking out the shops, eating delicious food and spent nearly all of Saturday in an arcade. On the walk back to the Inn, I asked him to take a few pictures of me. This was the result.

T-Shirt: Lucky Brand via Macys, Pants: American Eagle

Sandals: "Reno" by Me Too via Nordstrom (clearance!)
Sunglasses: Ellen Tracy via Ross, Necklace: Gift via Macys 

Things started getting a little less scripted

Approaching the camera

Trying to grab the camera back
My ear.
"Are you serious?!"
So this is what happened: I was posing nicely for pictures then decided to have fun and jump around and be silly. Then, when I was done and going to retrieve my camera from my boyfriend he decided to have some fun of his own. He continued taking picture after picture of me trying to get my camera back from him (he is a full foot taller than I am). The result was playful protests and lots of laughter from me, as you can see above. :)

Thanks for the fun and the photos, T.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Birchbox March 2014

Beauty in a box!

I finally did it! I signed up for Birchbox and eagerly awaited its arrival this month. For those who don't know, Birthbox is a subscription service with more than 400,000 members who pay $10 per month to receive a box of beauty product samples each month. Why join? If you're like me, you buy a lot of products because you were wandering around aimlessly looking for something but having no clue which "something" you would actually like and use.

This results in bottle after bottle of hair gel thrice used collecting dust on a shelf, lipstick that you immediately hate and regret buying and other products that have no hope of being used. This is a waste of your money and results in clutter and garbage.

What I like about Birchbox is that they ask you questions when they sign up to help them pick which samples would be best for you. They send a variety of health and beauty items including snacks, cosmetics, hair products and perfumes. Every now and then they throw in something fun -- like a dark chocolate from Ghirardelli that I ate before I even took a picture of the other items. It was called "Cherry Tango Square" and was delicious! The almonds inside gave it a great crunch.

Beauty Protector "Protect and Detangle," Tea Forte minteas, COOLA tinted matte SPF 30 for face, Harvey Prince "Cherie Blossom" and Gilchrist & Soames "London Collection Body Lotion"
Here is a short description of each item in the box and what I think of them so far:

  • Beauty Protector "Protect and Detangle" spray for hair locks in color, protects from heat damage and adds silkiness. It works great for detangling and smells amazing! A little like cotton candy; but not so sickly sweet.
  • Tea Forte minteas are sugar-free all-natural mints made of green tea and herbs. They taste good but I wouldn't buy them because I'm just not a mint person.
  • COOLA Tinted Matte SPT 30 for Face is an organic tinted moisturizer I have only used once so far. I plan to use it when the sun is actually out. I'm neutral on it, for now.
  • Harvey Prince "Cherie Blossom" perfume is so yummy. I love it! I'm not much of a perfume person and have only bought a couple bottles in my entire life. I tend to get bored of scents quickly, though, so it isn't likely I will buy this in full size.
  • Gillchrist & Soames "London Collection Body Lotion" is a fast-absorbing hydrating lotion for your body with a light, earthy scent. I will be honest: I thought it looked like cheap hotel lotion and was very skeptical about using it. The packaging could use some help but the lotion itself is top-notch! Very silky smooth, happy skin. :)
Out of all the products included in the March 2014 Birchbox, the one I am in love with and most likely to buy in full size is....

Beauty Protector "Protect and Detangle"
Beauty Protector "Protect and Detangle" wins! Even the next day my hair feels soft and luscious. After going from brown to blond as I recently did, my strands could really use the help!

Have you heard of Birchbox? I can't wait to see what comes next month. Hopefully something fun like a bright-colored lipstick sample!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Setting my intention

Sweatin' it out

Sunset at Alki
On Monday, I tried hot yoga for the first time thanks to an awesome Groupon. The teacher kept talking about "setting your intention" so as I had my head on the floor, curled up in child's pose, I thought to myself, "my intention is to stay in this room unless I feel like I will definitely throw up or pass out." 

Fortunately, I didn't do either of those things. I also completely misunderstood what the teacher meant by "setting your intention."

The phrase popped into my head tonight as I walked home from work, right as a woman stepped into oncoming traffic. I thought I was going to see someone die right in front of me; but by some miracle of anti-lock brakes the car stopped and the woman continued across the street. I was in a panic. She was fine.

"Set your intention."

No idea why it came into my head at that moment. I started to think about it, though, and googled it when I came home just like any curious twenty-something would do. This blog post explained it well. To set your intention is basically to focus on something of value to you in the moment and direct it to a future outcome. It's a way to guide yourself and filter out things that get in the way of having balance in life.

My life has had very little balance since March. My life has had very little focus since March. It has  been full speed ahead toward a blurry future. I'm ready for some focus -- especially on the things of value to me right now that I need to bring to my life more:

My intentions