I’m 30. 

It feels so surreal to even write that. 30 always felt far away and so terrifyingly adult. My twenties were difficult for the most part between family deaths, losing friendships and important relationships and cross-state moves, but also filled with some amazing things. I got to graduate college, start new career opportunities and meet the love of my life in my 20s – so it hasn’t been all bad.

Even more strange than turning 30 is turning 30 during a global pandemic. No party, no dinner reservations, no friends or family over. This week has been so full of worry and ever-present anxiety that it’s barely even registering that I should be celebrating. It’s a very scary time in the world – especially when you still have to go to work like I and so many others have to. Driving up nearly empty freeways with giant digital road signs that say “STAY HOME” feels dystopian. I’m trying my best to put on a brave face each day and not worry too much, but I’m starting to feel like Nausicaa from Valley of the Wind where the whole world outside her little village is full of poisonous air.

Me, sometime in the future

Even though things are uncertain right now, I’m trying to go into my 30th year with gratitude. I’m so grateful to be alive and have a home, to have a very mischievous dog to always keep me laughing, to have a boyfriend who I love and is the best teammate through tough times. I’m grateful for my family and friends that have stuck it out with me and for being healthy enough to work and keep my little world afloat. And I’m grateful for Breath of the Wild on the Switch, for my new dutch oven and homemade bread recipes and for all the little things that make every day worthwhile.

My birthday celebration consisted of takeout from Pastini – with a tiramisu included! Harry and I felt lucky they were even open, let alone making my favorite dessert for pickup. We had a nice dinner and hung out with Ada, and then I played Animal Crossing in bed, which Harry downloaded onto my Switch while I was at work. It was really low key but really nice.

Hang in there, friends.

Ada turned 1 in November and it has been the craziest year of our lives. Having a dog changes everything, but I think having a bull terrier especially flipped our world upside down. We've had some high highs and some low lows but we couldn't imagine life now without her. Here are a few things we learned from the first year:

Other people have a dog, we have a bull terrier

Initially, we compared our experiences to those of friends who also had puppies and asked advice from other dog owners that ultimately just made us feel crazy. The things that worked for other dog owners didn't work for us, and the issues we were having seemed confusing to our friends (what do you mean your dog doesn't obsessively chase her tail and crash into the walls over and over again???) . What we were going through with Ada was very different from the average dog experience and once we started comparing ourselves to other bull terrier owners (via friends/blogs/strangers/google) we figured out that most of her crazy behavior was normal for her breed.

You will have a different dog in a year

I remember crying early on in our dog journey because Ada never relaxed, and all I wanted was a dog that was going to cuddle on the couch with me sometimes. She literally would never lay down unless we made her go to bed in her kennel. Fast forward one year and she will now fall asleep on the couch on her own - something I thought would never happen! While we're still waiting to see if some things go away (she's destructive when she's bored which is always), we know she's changing all the time and won't be a crazy puppy forever.

Patience makes perfect

Ada is really smart, really dumb and really stubborn all at once. It's been a challenge to figure out what things she's actually not getting and what things she's willfully refusing to do. There were times when she wasn't learning something as fast as we thought she should be and we had to slow down and really break things down for her. There were also times when she would decide she didn't care to do something she had been doing well before. Learning the difference and being patient with her and with ourselves has really helped.

We love our grumpy, stubborn, goofy, funny, needy, crazy girl and can't wait to see what year 2 brings. 

Oscars Apathy

I have to confess, for the first time in awhile I am feeling a little apathetic about the Oscars this year. Usually the Oscars is MY THING every year, but I think this year the films on offer + some things going on in my personal life have left me uninspired. So below are my top picks this year, as well as some that I would skip. And there are still several movies I haven't watched yet (please don't make me watch 1917- I don't care if the cinematography is good, no more way movies pleeease) so if there's a fantastic movie I missed out on, please tell me! 

Can't Miss

(Dok. CJ Entertainment/Korean Film Council)

Parasite: This way by far my favorite movie of the Oscar noms. Original, interesting and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I'm so ready to see movies with new storylines that aren't predictable, so this one smashed it. 

Knives Out: This movie completely surprised me. I went in expecting a fun, Murder on the Orient Express type who-dun-it, and got so much more! The plot kept me engaged, Daniel Craig's accent was hilarious and the lead actress Ana de Armas was incredible. 

Little Women: Little Women was wonderful and beautiful and I cried through almost the whole film and I don't care what anyone else has to say on the matter. Flawless costume design and loved the way Greta Gerwig chose a non-chronological flow for the story. 

Joker: Ok, honestly this wasn't my favorite movie. Superhero movies just aren't my thing and overall this film was pretty depressing. BUT, there's no denying Joaquin Phoenix's performance carried the entire film and it's worth seeing for his acting prowess. And the film score and cinematography is lovely. 


Marriage Story: Am I the only one who hated this movie?? What a self-absorbed film. It so obviously mirrored the experience of the director which instead of creating a story that felt universal, it made it this niche film about the lives of some detestable upper-class snobs. Maybe this is too harsh, but I just didn't get the appeal. Please someone reach out and explain to me why they loved it, I want to know.

The Irishman: Just go watch Casino instead. 

Still on my list to see: Jojo Rabbit, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Bombshell, Judy, The Two Popes
No thanks: 1917, Ad Astra, Ford v. Ferrari

2020 is finally here!

Not going to lie, this year has been really rough. Between losing a job, losing friends, trying to raise the most stubborn puppy in the world and just a whole lotta change, I feel a little beat up honestly! I'm not sorry to see 2019 go, but I am hoping 2020 will provide the fresh start I'm looking for. The end of this year isn't just about "decade glowups" and "best nines" - it can be a great time to instead look forward at all the possibilities that lie ahead. So with that in mind, I have a couple New Year's resolutions - goals, really - that I'm going to focus on in 2020. I try not to set myself anything too big and daunting, just some fun projects to work on.

This year I have two "use it up goals":

Project Pan

There's a concept in the beauty world of "hitting pan" - aka getting to the bottom of an eyeshadow pan. Project Pan is a sort of challenge to use up your makeup products. There are a lot of ways you can go about this challenge (only using a specific makeup palette until you hit pan on all shadows, ordering what you use by when it expires, etc) but I am just going to take what I want from the project and do that! So for me, I'm going to try to use up any makeup, beauty, skincare, haircare products before I purchase a new one. Only once I've used it up can I buy a new one. So I can only buy new shampoo once I use all the shampoo I currently have. I have so many duplicate products (check out all my concealers below) and I want to actually use the things I have. 


The other thing I want to use up is my film collection. As a photographer, especially a film photographer, people tend to give you old film when they find out you'll use it. Which is awesome, but I have accumulated so much film! This year I want to shoot more in general, so I'm making it my goal to shoot through my film stash. I'll probably do a film collection post at some point and will do some updates on how I'm progressing. I hope this will push me to be adventurous with my photography and try some new things. 

So that's it! I do have a couple other more personal goals for the new year that I'm keeping to myself just in case they don't pan out, but I think these two projects will be interesting to try. I will post some updates on how I'm getting along throughout the year. Let me know what your resolutions are and if you want to join me in my challenges! 

It's our first Christmas in our new place! To be perfectly honest, this year we've been dealing with a lot of stressful things like Harry's college graduation and my job searching, so there wasn't a ton of motivation to get a tree, especially since we'll be visiting my Dad for Christmas. So...no tree this year. But I finally have a mantle, so I decided to go in on that! Here are some of the cute details:

Wreath and stocking holder: Target
Bells: Target dollar section
Glitter frame and part of my bottle brush tree collection

Magical lamp from IKEA

I'm in love with this mistletoe! It's from Target's Hearth and Hand line

Every year I try to get a new snow globe, and I chose a cabin in the woods for this year in honor of our first house together 

One thing I have seen a TON of this year at Costco, World Market, etc, is alcohol advent calendars. Some have mini bottles or full cans, but they all have one thing in common - they're EXPENSIVE! Especially when you seek out liquor advent calendars. Harry is a fan of whiskey, but all the whiskey advent calendars I found online were $200 + which was definitely out of my budget. So I went on a quest to make my own! And here's how easy it is:

Step 1: Buy this cardboard spirit advent calendar on Amazon for $20. Yes, this is a little pricy for an empty cardboard box, but you can reuse it for years and it's pretty cute.

Step 2: Go to your local liquor store/supermarket and pick out 12 mini bottles of whatever spirit you like! I picked out 12 mini whiskeys and it was a fun way to personalize it and pick out things that Harry hadn't tried before (honestly I totally guessed, I don't know anything about whiskey), but you could also do gin, rum, vodka etc or a combination!

And that's it! A fun, personalized alcohol advent calendar for waaaaay under $200.

I have a confession to make...

Over the past few months, I have become obsessed with discount makeup shopping. There's a lot of ways to go about this - from the Ulta clearance section to thrifting (if you're not afraid of used makeup like I am) - but I was all about Marshalls and TJ Maxx. I was on the hunt for high-end makeup at a discount. 

I started shopping at HomeGoods and TJ Maxx mostly for dog treats for Ada (shoutout to the Himalayan Pet cheese bones) but a perfect storm of being unemployed and sad, rediscovering my love of beauty videos on YouTube and already having a disposition towards "treasure hunting" all combined to drop me into the Marshalls' parking lot at 9:15 A.M. watching women line up at the doors waiting to sprint into the store at 9:30 A.M. Which I realize is totally insane. 

"Women are lining up at Marshalls and TJ Maxx for makeup??" you might ask. No. I don't think so anyways. All the women I encountered in my quest for high-end discount makeup were there for something called "Rae Dunn" - a pottery line with words written on it. No offense if you are into it, but I am still struggling to understand the appeal or why you'd need to sprint and elbow other women to find the exclusive pieces of it. But I can only imagine that's the final form of what I was diving into with my quest for makeup. 

On Instagram, there are tags like #marshallsfinds and #tjmaxxfinds where people show off what they've found/bought at those stores and if you follow them, you can see what new things people are finding. Some people were even finding Gucci! GUCCI, you guys! Here are a few examples of things that I was looking for:

It's really exciting when you see brands or products that you've avoided buying or trying because of the high cost, now at a discounted price. And the fact that some of the products are hard to find, or they only get one or two of those particular products, makes the hunt for them all the more appealing. So basically my cycle was browsing through Instagram, screenshoting things I wanted to find, and then going out to these stores multiple times a week looking for them. And what would inevitably happen is I would maybe find one of those things I was looking for, but I would also find a bunch of other things that looked "interesting" or brands I knew were expensive, so I would pick up several other products as well. Here's just a small snapshot of random stuff I impulse bought at TJ Maxx/Marshalls:

Basically, my thought process with buying some of this stuff is "Oh! Milk makeup is a good brand! I gotta snag this!" whether I need it or not or even like the color or not. Yikes. (Low key love that bear eye cream though.) 

I've also been a longtime consumer of beauty youtube videos, which I think have sort of poisoned my brain. I sometimes buy things to "try out" as if I too was someone who could write off these products on my taxes as a business expense. One of my most recent purchases was a foundation I was "curious" about and turned out to be wayyy too orange for me and I couldn't return it! What a waste!

Psychologically, this shopping addiction was giving me a few things. Since losing my job, I've been pretty depressed and lonely. Going out "makeup hunting" gave me somewhere to be and something to do every day and was a cheap way to spike some dopamine. And it allowed me to pretend for a little bit that I could make myself happy with material things. Which intellectually I know is not a long term solution but it did make me feel ok for a little bit. 

But seeing my orange face covered in discount "Fair" foundation woke something up in me. It made me ask myself "What am I doing???" and I am here to officially announce that I am QUITTING. It's over, I'm done with this nonsense. I have spent enough money that I could have bought the new plates and bowls that Harry and I want. Also I do not have enough money right now to throw it away on products I really don't need. 

I'm on the hunt now for a new hobby that will get me out of the house and feeling productive, so I don't have to wait at home refreshing my email waiting for interview opportunities. But it's going to be a hobby that will actually improve my life instead of just draining my wallet.