Gratitude: Blog Lovin’

Part of my New Year’s Resolution is to express more gratitude. I’m a perfectionist who has trouble living in the moment, so taking daily stock of the little things in life that make each day a little prettier and brighter helps me to stay grounded. I have so much to be grateful for! I’m even letting myself end the previous sentence with a preposition, because 2018 me is super #chill.

This week, I’m highlighting ten blogs that I follow, some religiously, some occasionally, that inspire me to use my voice.

A Beautiful Mess

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No surprises here, right? I’ve been following ABM almost daily for about 5 years. Their whimsical, colorful aesthetic has been a huge influence on how I’ve styled my own home. I’ve tried a ton of their recipes and DIYs (I’ll link a few below). ABM has inspired me to bring more life and color into my home.

These ladies are prolific! Check out their product line, their glasses collection, their e-courses, their cookbook, and their camera bag collab!

DIYs &c. I’ve tried:

Photo Ledge DIY, Vegetarian Tikka Masala, Eggplant Parm Meatballs, Cinnamon Spice Sugar Scrub, Macrame Room Divider, Creamy White Sauce, Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese, Veggie Soup, Face Oil, and so many more!

Follow if you love: recipes, home décor, DIYs, crafts, photography

The Band Wife

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This is the personal blog of Laura from A Beautiful Mess. Laura’s aesthetic and style in particular are closest to mine, and she’s a fellow cat mama, so when I discovered her blog, it became an instant bookmark. Her husband plays guitar for Mutemath and tours a ton, which is the impetus behind the blog name. My husband doesn’t tour, but being a musician’s wife is definitely…unique. Us band wives gotta stick together!

Bonus points for all the kitty and baby content!

Follow if you love: style, home décor, DIYs, babies, cats

The Larson House

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This is the personal blog of Elsie from A Beautiful Mess. It’s where she chronicled her heartbreakingly long adoption process and blogs about the joys of her new daughter, Nova. The Larsons’ adoption story has brought me to tears on more than a few occasions…adoption is one of the most beautiful and selfless things a person can do!

Follow if you love: personal posts

Almost Makes Perfect

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Minimalist aesthetic? Neutral tones? Excellent graphic design? Check, check, and check. Almost Makes Perfect is a destination for great DIYs, home decor, and gorgeous printables. I even have one of her rap lyric Valentines up as an art print in my house!

Follow if you love: home décor, minimalism, personal posts, DIYs

New Darlings

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I’ll admit it—I’m super jealous of Christina and Robert’s lives. They’re jet-setting bloggers based in Phoenix, AZ, who have the most gorgeous aesthetic and sweetest pup. Show me your ways!

Follow if you love: home décor, style, beauty, travel, photography

Man Repeller

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Technically, Man Repeller isn’t a blog anymore, although it started that way. It is a fully-fledged, awesome fashion, lifestyle, and beauty site that is #goals for any blogger. I mean, Leandra, the creator, goes to like, Paris Fashion Week. So aspirational. MR is one of my favorite sites on the whole wide internet, so much so that I actually just submitted a piece!

Follow if you love: fashion, beauty, humor writing, silly horoscopes

Sucré Style

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Stacy King (of Sucré, formerly of Eisley) barely ever posts, but the aesthetic when she does is marvelous. Fun fact, I went to a bar in Atlanta based solely on one of her gorgeous posts. Talk about an influencer! Her entire wardrobe is goals, and she has the cutest little fam.

Sucré (the band) released a single today, so go listen to it!

Visit her band’s website, and if you get a chance to see them live, DO IT.

Follow if you love: style, personal posts

Skunkboy

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Alright, fine. This is another blogger I discovered through ABM. Katie is (was?) one of the staff writers for ABM, and has a collab line with BonLook. Skunkboy Blog is where she chronicles the goings-on of her sweet fam, DIYs, and her adorable handmade “creatures.”

Follow if you love: personal posts, sewing, crafts, DIYs, vintage

dum doceo

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dum doceo is the personal blog of my dear friend Annie, a teacher and all-around badass. She’s debuting the blog at the end of the month—don’t miss it!

P.S. “Dum doceo” is Latin for “while I teach.” Annie is really freaking smart, and remembers way more about AP Latin than I do.

Follow if you love: education, personal posts, professional writing

Not Really Oxford Women

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And last but certainly not least, my own side project! My friend Annie (of dum doceo) and I recently applied to study abroad in Oxford this summer, and we’ve started a blog about the whole experience!

Follow if you love: travel, photography

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What blogs inspire you, dear reader?

xoxo,

c

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Dreams

My lifelong dream has been to work from home. As a child, that meant becoming an author. I loved to write and was praised often for my ability. But things change and interests fade; as I got older (and social media blew up), I began to prefer the straightforwardness of the “blog” style, which also allows for a wide breadth of topics to be discussed in a single medium. Also, there’s an instant gratification to social media that is absent from traditional publishing. Beyond this, I truly don’t know if I have an original work of fiction in me! I read a lot, and the amount of detail in most of the fiction I read must require exhaustive research! When it comes to research, I prefer hands-on experience (such as trying and failing at replicating recipes or making pieces of art), to the academic type of research which requires databases and journal articles.

Basically, blogging is my dream job. There are just a few problems with turning an obscure hobby into a real job.

  1. Successful blogs marry stunning visuals with substantive content. Well-designed websites are my kryptonite. As a millennial, I evaluate a company or individual’s worth by its visual presentation. When a company takes time to hire out artists and graphic designers, or a savvy blogger learns Photoshop and InDesign herself, it is an indication that her product or persona is important to her and worth the extra investment of time or money. Good web design makes the content of the blog or website more accessible (and therefore more useful) to the reader, contributing to the success of the site.
  2. It takes time, money, or both to create a site worthy of traffic. Confession: I don’t even own a camera. I desperately want one, as photography is a huge interest of mine, but committing to a purchase of upwards of $500 is terrifying to a student. I would spend $500 on new tires for my car because that contributes to my overall safety and well-being. But to spend big money on something I want rather than need is daunting. The cost of maintaining a website is reasonable (I’m already doing that), but the investment of time comes at a price. Not only does one have to learn (or hire out) great web design and provide engaging visuals, but one has to have the time to create the sites content. DIYs take time. Writing essays takes time. Researching topics of interest in order to successfully do those things takes time. Hell, even outfit photos take time! There’s the photography, photo editing, image uploading, posting of affiliate links, etc. It takes a full-time job to afford to create content, but it takes a whole lot of free time to actually create it.
  3. Sometimes you have to fail a few times in order to succeed. Nobody is perfect; even though the lives of bloggers may seem perfect, they are real people with real flaws. That food blogger might have ruined 3 casseroles before she found the perfect bake time and temperature. For the layperson who dreams of entry into the blogosphere, the idea of failing, and potentially wasting time and money as discussed above, is scary! Most of us don’t have the resources to accept failure. It takes a very determined person to persevere through that, and not all of us are programmed with such self-confidence.
  4. Committing to a life off the beaten path requires an enormous leap of faith. If you, like me, have a family that would never understand why you quit your job to run a blog full-time, then you understand the stranglehold that traditional values have upon most of us. I can only speak as an American (specifically a New Englander), but you’re supposed to perform well in high school, go on to a competitive college, make Dean’s List, graduate with mountains of debt, somehow immediately proceed into a lucrative career, get married, buy a house, and procreate. Almost no one actually does this, yet your individual failure to do so is met with disapproval at every turn. Personal example: I was encouraged to go into nursing when I was in high school. I hate being around sickness, I’m disgusted by blood, and I excelled in humanities rather than the sciences. I would be the world’s worst nurse. I would be absolutely miserable every day of my life. But nursing is practical, noble, reliable work, so despite the fact that I would basically want to kill myself every day, my family did their best to encourage this path. I was raised with the understanding that work is an unpleasant means to an end. You need to earn enough money to lead a normative life that wouldn’t be judged by other successful people. That…sucks. Faced with such opposition, you have to believe in yourself or your product to your core in order to shirk tradition and make your own rules.

It’s not all terrifying, though. The freedom to wear whatever I want every day is almost enough motivation for me to make the jump! Working from home, blogging, or other non-traditional jobs aren’t for the lazy: you have to hustle and work your ass off to make a living, but in truth, there’s no one I’d work harder for than myself and the little family I’m making.

So, how do I do it? I’ve scoured the internet for advice that all seems impossible and daunting. I’m barely managing a job, school, and a home as it is. But that desperate hope to make my dreams come true never leaves the back of my mind. When people ask me what I want to do with my life, I either lie or say nothing. How do you put into a simple sentence everything that I’ve said here? I guess the only way to put it is: “I want to work for myself.” I want to create my own future and establish my own standards. I want to succeed on my own terms. I have no desire to be rich. I’ve honestly even given up on dreams of world travel. I just want to go to bed every night knowing that I followed my heart.

I think that’s the new American dream.

Products I Love: ABM x Agendas!

So, like all 20-something girls with a pulse and a Pinterest, I’m obsessed with Elsie, Emma, and Laura over at A Beautiful Mess. I’ve made their recipes, done their DIYs, and gotten tons of inspiration from their books and site. My house is like a living tribute to ABM. It’s borderline sad.

Anyway, when they announced that their academic agendas were up for preorder, I had to jump on it! I’m going back to school full-time in a month (provided my financial aid comes through!) and I definitely need to stay on top of my game. Graduation is on the horizon. I’m tired of being the ancient lady-past-legal-drinking-age in the classroom.  Plus, I’ve got this whole “wedding” thing coming up that I might need to stay organized for…

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The planners ship in mid-August (hopefully it will arrive not long after my birthday on August 19). In true ABM fashion, they come with cool little extras, like these emoji stickers:

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So cute, right? I of course opted for the following cover option, because gold foil is life:

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This actually looks like my desk at any given moment.

I’m so excited to receive mine in the mail! When it arrives, I’ll probably do a product review. In the meantime, I’ll just have to keep writing myself notes on scrap paper and hoping for the best!

**all photos via ABM