What I’m Into || April 2016

Gingham Marble Toile Lemon Balm TeaGuess what?

It’s time for another round of “What I’m Into”!

Last month, I started this monthly “What I’m Into” series so I’d have a recurring place to share some of the cool things I find along my journeys. The stuff I strongly suspect you’ll love just as much as I do.

Not the things I’ve been paid to tell you about, mind you. The things I’m ACTUALLY using behind-the-scenes (or behind-the-screens if you prefer *wink*). See lately I’ve been on a mission to create and highlight truly original editorial content for this blog — articles you won’t see other places.

Why?

Because lately there’s been quite a shift in the blogging field. Sponsored posts are everywhere! It’s not an organic, sometimes imperfect medium to share your hopes, dreams, and some cute outfits on anymore. It’s now ALL about running your blog like a well-oiled business with a marketing strategy focused on grabbing onto as many sponsored campaigns as possible.

And this shift in focus from creating YOUR OWN content is, quite honestly, heart-breaking.

Deep down I’m a creator. I truly believe my value lies in my ability to craft MY OWN content.

And I LOVE creating editorial pieces for this blog. I love crafting EVERY angle myself. I love working for myself and not having to defer to anyone when it comes to what I publish here. It’s so liberating! Being able to trust myself and my own intuition has been a frustrating but intensely rewarding experience. It’s helped me grow so much as a person, not just as a blogger.

And while I certainly don’t mind the idea of a paid sponsorship with a brand I truly love every now and then, I WANT to drive the content of my blog myself.

I NEED to in order to keep my passion for this vocation alive.

I don’t want to be shooting and writing FOR someone else. That’s why I freelance full-time. I want to shoot and write for me and the strong vision I have for this blog. If a brand pitch fits into that then great but I’ll be honest — 99% of the time it doesn’t. It’s easy to suddenly find yourself shooting for brand after brand (believe me, I’ve been there), running yourself into the ground, and having very little of YOUR OWN WORK to show for it. I made that mistake countless times last summer.

So today’s series was born from my desire to shift this blog’s focus to primarily original content and to share only things with you that I truly LOVE.

Be sure and leave a comment with your thoughts and recommendations below — I certainly would love to open a dialogue about the evolution of blogging and what you’d LIKE to see blogging become!

What I’m Into || April 2016
Gingham Marble Toile Lemon Balm Tea Ann Taylor Gingham Pumps (c/o)

There are four prints I wear religiously in spring — breton stripes, florals, polka dots, aaaaaaaaand gingham. But to be honest I hardly own anything in gingham because it’s such a hard print to find investments in. I’ve search for YEARS for some sort of gingham accessory I could integrate into my wardrobe but in vain. Everything I found either had the BIGGEST print proportions ever (i.e. ridiculously unflattering) or looked like something I should have sported on the elementary school playground.

Until I found these pumps two weeks ago.

This is my first pair of shoes from Ann Taylor — I didn’t even know they made shoes until recently. But I’ve been SERIOUSLY impressed ever since these arrived. They’re easily some of the most comfortable pumps I’ve ever worn. The cushioning is almost like air to walk on. And the gingham printing is so beautifully proportioned — classic but scaled in a way that feels modern too. EXACTLY my kind of pump.

I’ve been wearing them religiously since they arrived, though I’ve only showcased them once here so far. They work with just about everything and the heel height makes them ridiculously practical to walk around all day in. Well, practical if you’re like me and you almost never wear flats anyways. So expect to see these pumps frequently over the coming months — I’ve already planned my Memorial Day outfit around them!

P.s. they’re 40% off right now! And run true-to-size.
Gingham Marble Toile Lemon Balm Tea Harry Barker Toile Bone Dog Toy

I bought this adorable toy for the pups last month. They’d ripped through several of their absolute favorite toys and were getting bored with the few they hadn’t destroyed yet so I figured it was time to find a few more. I absolutely love this toy for 3 reasons: 1) it doesn’t have strings, tassels, eyes, tails or any other unnecessary accoutrements that my pugs will inevitably swallow 3 minutes into playtime, 2) it’s in a feminine toile print but one in such a classic design my two boy pugs don’t mind, and 3) because it’s held up REALLY well to consistent pug abuse.

My dogs are hard on their toys.

Actually that may be the understatement of the century. They DESTROY their toys in a way that makes me strongly convinced they have some sort of breed-specific vendetta against stuffed animals everywhere. Since they make my life better, I put up with it, but it gets exhausting cleaning up piles of fluff day in and day out after they’ve inevitably torn yet another $20 toy to shreds in a matter of minutes.

I’ve wasted SO MUCH money on dog toys! And it’s hard to find ones that actually feel well-made and chic at the same time. This toile bone is sturdy, attractive, and — so far — pug-resistent. I love it so much I’ve already bought a back-up in case we lose this one (which will inevitably happen since lately Johnny has felt the need to bring his toys on ALL his walks outside). Gingham Marble Toile Lemon Balm Tea Yves Saint Laurent ‘Pop Water’ Glossy Stain in No. 204 ‘Onde Rose’

I LOVE YSL lip products. I swear I haven’t met a formula or color of theirs I don’t like. And with the onset of spring, I’d been searching for a bright pink lipcolor that would be wearable AND impactful.

This silky glossy stain formula is just heavenly. It’s a light, non-sticky gloss that leaves a lovely rose-hued stain on your lips long after the gloss has worn off. And for a gloss this lasts quite a while too (most disappear within an hour on me!). I’ve worn this several times on the blog already (1 / 2) and plan to keep it in my regular lip rotation all spring. It’s one of the easiest ways to add a bold lip to your look. But since it’s a gloss it’s so much more versatile than a more traditional pink lipstick — it melts into your lips and your natural coloring in a flattering way that’s so EASY.

And it’s far simpler to apply than any of my beloved red lipsticks.Gingham Marble Toile Lemon Balm Tea Traditional Medicinals Lemon Balm Tea

I’ve already told you about my success curing some of my depressive insomnia with this delicious tea blend but I just had to share it again because it’s been such a GAME-CHANGER. It’s one of the best natural sleep-aids I’ve ever used — I drink at least one cup every night. And since I’ve started regularly using it my sleep cycles have slowly lengthened, my dark circles have begun to diminish, and I finally feel like I have energy to combat my own issues.

The flavor of this tea is light and herbal. I like it a lot better than chamomile and the effects begin almost instantly for me. Two gulps in and I already feel my eyes getting heavier. Couple this tea with a “don’t go on your screens for an hour before bed” rule and you’ll be amazed at how good you feel.

It’s been my secret weapon throughout these busy past few weeks!Gingham Marble Toile Lemon Balm Tea Nails Inc. Sweet Almonds Powered By Matcha Nail Polish in ‘Cornwall Gardens’

I love Nails Inc. polish (just look at how much I’ve tagged the brand here on Sed Bona). I have a lot of luck and success with the brand so I’m always trying out their newer formulas. This matcha-infused blend is one of their newest and already one of my absolute favorites.

I have dry, brittle nails genetically. My whole family does actually. And I’m a full-time photographer which means I’m bashing my nails against camera gear most days of the week. If my nails grow any length beyond itty-bitty stubs I dub it a small miracle.

So I’m always looking for nail colors that aren’t only chip-resistant and elegant but that offer me some sort of nail nourishment and protection too.

This new formula from Nails Inc. couldn’t be more perfectly suited! It’s a nail strengthener and protector all wrapped into a lovely selection of on-trend hues. My favorite has been this lilac-tinged gray hue called Cornwall Gardens. It reminds me of my beloved Chanel Frenzy (which is currently ridiculously hard to get ahold of) but actually lasts longer. Not only that, constant use of this nail color has actually helped my nails GROW. My nails have never been naturally longer (they get long when I do gel manicures of course but after I take the gel color off they break instantly).

Of all the purported “healthy” nail colors on the market right now, this one so far has WOWed me the most!Gingham Marble Toile Lemon Balm Tea Gingham Marble Toile Lemon Balm Tea Forever 21 Marble-Print Scarf (similar)

I’ve talked at length about the perils of a Midwestern spring. One moment it feels like summer, the next there’s frost on the ground. It’s infuriating (and probably something you’re tired of hearing me complain about! I don’t blame you, I’m tired of talking about it).

But one of the best purchases I made last month just so happened to be one of the cheapest and most practical too. I snagged this marble-print scarf at Forever 21 as a light layering piece I could throw into my bag to have on hand when the weather gets schizophrenic. And boy has it saved me a lot these past few weeks! I love the subtle print and light color palette — it’s an ideal layering piece for spring. It elevates most outfits (jeans and a tee or even a simple white dress) in a way that feels easy but elegant — which is basically all I look for when it comes to spring wardrobe investments. 
Gingham Marble Toile Lemon Balm TeaWhat have you been using and LOVING this April?

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