Monday, October 9, 2017

My Surprise Engagement


Typing the title to this post feels unreal. Are these really my words? Are these really my hands gracing the tops of the keyboard? My engaged hands!?

If you thought this post was going to be chill, you can pretty much forget that.

I'm a true romantic at heart, thanks to a childhood of Disney VHS and fantasy literature novels. So in true fairytale, star crossed lovers fashion, I'm going to tell you the tale of my engagement - and with MUSHY LOVEY DOVEY VIBES.

My friend and super talented photographer Danielle texted me about a month back. Initially it was a "hey, I miss you, let's hang out, life's nuts, it's been so long" text. You know the kind. You adore a person but try as you might, life just gets in the way. Schedules clash, work gets cray, you get the picture.

That initial text transformed into a conversation about a styled photo shoot. Danielle had this amazing vision, a moody beach shoot with a girl holding a cluster of flowers. I hadn't taken on a shoot in months, so I was eager to help make her vision come to life!




A few inspirational Pinterest photos later and we had our plan! With the help of Amazon Prime, (I'm obsessed, I practically furnished my entire home through Amazon) I purchased my outfit, consisting of a dusty blue tulle skirt and lace crop top. It arrived literally the next day.

I remember trying on the tulle skirt, rather bashfully, and walking around the condo. I swished my way to where my boyfriend Chris was seated and showed him the gown, half expecting a rather snarky remark (because let's be honest, the man doesn't exactly love poofy, feminine things).  

His response was kind, his gaze approving, but not overly complimentary. 

The days rolled by rather quickly and soon it was the day of the shoot! I enjoyed a slow morning to myself, drinking tea and donning moisturizing under eye pads. Closer to sunset I curled my hair and did my makeup. I added just a few extra coats of mascara and shimmer to my cheekbones. Looking in the toothpaste speckled bathroom mirror (thanks electric toothbrush), I felt pretty.

Danielle coordinated with her favorite florist Ruby Bloom to have a bouquet created. It came dripping in eucalyptus and creamy blossoms and tied all together with a white sash. 

I felt privileged just to hold it. 





I kissed Chris goodbye and Danielle, her husband Ricky, and I departed for the rocky beach location we had decided on. Ricky came along to do some behind the scenes videography for Danielle's new vlog (which is so cute and therapeutic by the way, and you should check it out).

Once we got to the beach, Ricky started rolling the camera! All the while Danielle and I waved, made funny faces at him, and intermittently paused to take a look at the shots she had captured on her camera so far. The lighting was gorgeous, bright like a halo when you stood with your back against the ocean. It already felt like a special day.

At one point I was standing with my back to a small cluster of rocks in the sand. Danielle was snapping away with her camera. She directed me to close my eyes softly for the shot and I obliged.

 Then all of the sudden I felt familiar arms circling around my waist. 

And in that moment I knew it was my Chris. And I knew it was my moment. The moment I had been waiting for since I read my first love story, since I watched my first prince and princess fall in love on the big screen. The moment I had imagined countless times in my head.

 




And here it was unfolding before me. My eyes still closed, I exhaled and let a grin form before opening them to see Chris standing there. 

There were already tears welling up in my eyes as I knew the magnitude of the moment. These tears only multiplied when I saw the water swimming in his eyes too. 

"Taylor I love you so much" he said. "I want to spend the rest of my life with you".

Simple words. They carried the weight of the world.

Then he knelt on one knee in the sand and presented me with a diamond ring. Through a million tears I said "yes!". 

Looking back, yes feels wimpy. 

Shouting "a thousand times, in every universe, in every lifetime, YES!" seems more fitting. But hey, we can't all be quick on our feet. 

The adrenaline after you say yes to marrying the love of your life is INSANE. I was shaking, crying, babbling incoherently. 

Thankfully plenty of hugs and kisses ensued and it didn't really matter that what I was saying didn't make any sense. I had my love.

We finished the photo shoot together, holding hands and kissing in the sunset.








“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.”
-Rumi

A tremendous thank you to Danielle and Ricky for capturing our special moment for us! These two are the kindest souls and were the perfect duo to help Chris and me embark on our journey to forever. 

Danielle is a professional wedding and lifestyle photographer located in San Diego, CA. 



Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sizzling Summer Recap


Hello lovely reader. I'm back! It's been a minute. 

Life has taken hold of me and we've run off together to do wild, wonderful things. I've also just felt truly fulfilled and I am enjoying each moment. 

But I'm here now, popping my little blogger head up above the noise and chaos of everything you read and experience. You've got A LOT coming at you in life don't you?

Between jobs, family, friends, laundry, bettering yourself, applying night creams and drinking enough water I'm sure most of you feel like me, a little tuckered out. Perhaps a little over-stimulated. 

That's why I'm excited to press PAUSE and be back in one place.

This Summer, so far, has included some WILDNESS. 

I actually just started forming a wickedly genuine grin thinking about everything that has transpired in the last two months. 

Isn't it pure magic when your own brain's thought can cause a physical reaction in you, like that of a smile? I love it. 


Anyway, these past two months have been one hot Summer. I traveled to Gold Coast, Australia for work. It's crazy because I found out I'd be going about a month before I departed. And several months before that, I precisely recall thinking to myself, you'll probably never make it to Australia in your lifetime. It's just too far and too expensive. How will you find the time off?

And then boom, wall-ah! Life takes me by the hand and opens the lid on the little box I was living in. 

Do you ever live in a little box? Your thoughts and dreams are confined in that box and you don't really dare to think of the what-ifs that could exist outside the box?

Maybe it's money or maybe it's your own lack of self-confidence. There are a lot of reasons we stay in that box.

I'm so grateful life decided to take the lid off what I thought could and couldn't be. And I'm so glad I had faith and BELIEVED in the goodness life has to offer. 

So yes, I traveled farther than I ever have before and worked my tail off and met a baby koala. 

Then I shot off to Milwaukee to visit one of my very best friends who is pregnant with her FIRST! 

I have this amazing group of women who I went through acne, prom, college, and all manner of life with. They're my tribe, my rocks in life (more like enchanted gems really, each uniquely radiant and powerful). 

They keep me straight. They keep me uplifted. They're the real deal.

We all gathered in the green soaked land of Milwaukee, just a quick walk from the lake (which really looks more like an ocean lapping at the shore.)

From Milwaukee I darted down to Fort Morgan, Alabama where the sand is white and the air thick and heavy as the accents that occupy the area. I love humidity. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's one thing I long for now that I live in San Diego.


I love strolling about in a sundress at 9pm and feeling like I'm waltzing through a warm bath. I love how much the humidity opens up your pores and (I swear) lets the sun in more and gives you that deep, vacation tan people comment on when you come back to the office. 

My aunt caught crab for us with her crab cage she had set out in the Atlantic and we carried them back and cooked them and ate them within the hour. 

(I actually did nothing of the sort, but did play spectator extraordinaire during the entire process. And yes, ate the crab)

Dinners were spent out on the deck, watching the pinks and purples of the sun's falling hands grace the sky and shadow the beautiful water before us, more and more until evening set in and the mosquitos came out and we were forced to take cover inside.   

After three days back in the office, I took off for Jersey for another work event. I had my head down and rarely had a meal outside of the hotel bar. 

I made new friends, loved on old ones, and contributed to an amazing human experience for over 12,000 people. 

I flew my little sister out to meet me and we took two days after my work was over to explore New York (just a train ride away from where we were in Jersey).

New YOOOOOORK.

New York is AMAZING. I'm sure you're rolling your eyes and saying, yea yea, if you're a local. But it truly is! You can literally get anything you want at any time of day or night. Every kind of food you can think of resides on that island. And every kind of human being too.

And the walkability is a treasure. 

San Diego traffic depletes me enough so it was an absolute treat to be able to walk everywhere. Our local grocery store was just across the street. Countless coffee shops, bars, and restaurants lined every corner of our little Lower East Side neighborhood. 

And I mean countless

Restaurants crammed in alleyways, candlelit bars shoved in basements, look-down-for-a-second-and-you'll-miss-it kind of countless. So. many. places.

The best part is that I spent the trip with my sister. We enjoyed languid conversations in the bright and airy studio Airbnb we rented and enjoyed slightly more enthused conversations over classy libations out on the town. 

We navigated the bowels of the city subway.

We got lost. 

We even traveled to the famed Ladurée bakery for their precious macarons. These macarons are available in two places in the world, Paris herself and New York. 

I have to tell you, strolling the bustling streets with chai lattes in hand and toting mint green Ladurée bags full of macarons seemed like something out of a movie. 

I felt like Holly Golightly and Blair Waldorf rolled into one fabulous woman-about-town! 

Too many plane rides and too many American Airlines cookies later and I'm back in my tiny condo in San Diego trying to recover from jet lag. I'm sipping mint tea and coconut water and I've hauled my salt rock lamp to the kitchen table where the light is best.


Recovery mode is ON.

It's been a sizzling Summer to say the least and it's not over yet! 

Where has your Summer taken you so far? Do you need to take the lid off of life for a bit and expand your horizons? 

I encourage you to get a little uncomfortable and more importantly, know that life is good and out there waiting for you to experience it. 

xoxo

Photography by Miles McCormack 

Swimsuit and hair wrap by Show Me Your Mumu

Beach tote by Target




Friday, June 2, 2017

Summer Watch Giveaway


Nothing says Summer like beaches, boardwalks, and boarding planes to exotic destinations!

With many of you dreaming of impending departures to sandier places, I know packing and Summer-style-must-haves are on your mind. (like, can I have every beach tote that Target has?)

To commend the start of what's sure to be a BREATHTAKING Summer and to help amp up your Summer style, I'm partnering with JORD Watches to give away one of their...

Super chic.

Perfect travel accessory. 

Handmade.

WOOD.
 (like, matching the beach boardwalk)

Watches!



I'm not making you do anything crazy or follow a zillion people on Instagram in order to win one of these killer watches. It's so easy to enter!

But first, let me brag on my watch. I have the Dark Sandalwood and Mint. That name just sizzles when you say it. 

The mint face is a super fun pop of color for any outfit (they have pink too!). These are very high quality watches, handmade in my hometown, St. Louis! They're a natural fit to wear in the office or professional settings. (I feel like a watch provides instant class and sophistication, even if all you had time to don was a messy bun). 

I have my JORD watch on now as I type and I feel extra bookish, wordsmith-ish. 


 On the flip side, the sandalwood makes dressing this watch down easy as pie for days spent in flip flops and a sarong. The wood gives off an earthly feel that truly radiates in any environment. I even rock it on the beach!


OK, so about this giveaway. It's not just for gals. Guys, they have some amazing men's watches for you too! Just check out their insta, it's droolworthy. You can select your preferred watch as part of the contest entry! The winner will receive $100 towards a cool men's or women's watch!

The cherry on top? Each contest entry will receive $25 off a watch! So even if you don't win the contest, you still WIN!

Enter the contest *here* 

Or go to my Instagram bio for the link!

Best of luck and happy trails this Summer!




Cool Watches

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Beautiful U Journey


I recently was asked to write a guest blog post. The theme was overcoming a personal struggle and having self-love.

Cue digging deep, getting personal. My armpits are tingling.

I ended up writing a piece that challenged our Instagram-oriented world in some key ways. 

I love the gram, the gram is like my fam. 

So don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on Instagram.

But, I am evaluating it with a healthy dose of intellect. In my blog post for Beautiful U Journey, a movement devoted to helping women have positive body image, I asked readers to say "buy-bye" to that old comparison game.

You know the game where you compare your face, body, and or life to that of another girl's. 

That girl who is a professional model with 10,000 hair and makeup artists, a personal trainer, top-notch nutritionists, and let's be honest, a heck of a lot of self-control when it comes to burgers and fries. 

Or maybe that girl who is killing it at some dream fashion PR firm in a perfectly Instagrammable New York office. 

Wow, her job looks so important.

Wow, her life looks so glam.

Wow, every damn coffee cup flat lay looks friggin' perfect on her big, fat, awesome desk.

Where were we?

Yea, that game is so old. So just don't play, OK?

Thank you.

So during my pre-typing-self-exploration of this topic of self-love I got to learn more about the Beautiful U Journey. 

It's a badass community that provides 365 days of tools and encouragement to stifle your inner critic, and find self-acceptance from within. DREAMY.

Cue the hallelujah chorus. Positive body image isn't just a fabled whisper among women! It CAN be attained. 

Let's be honest, between the film and TV industry and our own inner voices, we've got a lot of expectation coming at us as far as looks go.

Founder of Beautiful U Journey (and total babe), Heather Deranja is a licensed and registered dietitian. After years of coaching hundreds of clients on health and nutrition she kept coming back to the same theme; women lacked and longed for self-acceptance.


(see, total BABE, from the inside out)

All the greens in the world couldn't satisfy that craving. 

Not even the smallest waist or tightest abs could stifle this inherent need for self-love.

Heather discovered an important facet to the core of humans.

Positive body image is not correlated with our actual bodies, but with our hearts and minds. 

Ahhh, so that's why all this striving hasn't resulted in anything but the need to strive MORE. We're not feeding our souls with self-love.

Basically, I'm hooked on the inner beauty bit. It feels amazing and it actually transcends to my outer appearance. 

I'm glowing, no SPARKLING with inward beauty (most days).

Some days I'm toad status because of all of the negative shit swirling inside me.

But that's part of the journey. You've got to own ALL OF IT. Even the bad parts.

If you're looking to pump the breaks on that old comparison game and if you're yearning for that positive body image that doesn't have a damn thing to do with your how well you drew your winged eyeliner, Beautiful U Journey is the perfect daily roadmap.

Get tapped into a community of other women looking to harness positive body image and FEED YOUR SOUL.


Stay beautiful my friends, from the inside out.



Be social with Beautiful U Journey! You can find them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Glam Glow Non-Sponsored Face Mask Review


I have a face mask hardening against my skin as I type. 

It's a new mask that basically makes me look like a metallic woman. This mask has an amazing silver sheen to it! I applied the product with a small white tipped paintbrush that came with the package. 

It felt very elegant to paint my face in silver. Not having to use my fingers was a major plus.

For all of you Harry Potter fans it looks like unicorn blood. If you're not a HP fan then you are thoroughly creeped out by this reference. 

It's called Glam Glow and comes in a silver and purple 1.4 oz. jar. 

NOTE, this is not a sponsored post. 

I just saw this mask allll over the internet and had to try myself!

The really cool part? It hardens and PEELS off in one piece. How satisfying is that?

So yes, I'm typing as the mask hardens and by the end of this post I will get to pull the entire thing off to reveal...

I actually don't know what to expect. 



The packaging details that this mask will FIRM, LIFT, TIGHT, TONE, and SEXY CONTOUR your money maker. 

Sounds pretty ideal.

The price is a bit steeper than what I would normally pay for a mask, but I can already tell the quality is by far the best I've experienced. It's for sure a step up from the paper mask trend.

I found it on Amazon AND it's on Prime!

Glam Glow Gravity Mud Firming Treatment Masque

You can probably get about 5-6 uses out of this jar.


Side note: it smells like a Piña Colada 

OK, so I JUST peeled the mask off! At first I was worried I had gone too thin on my layer of product, but after pulling at the edges of one side of the mask, it began to lift with ease.

ZERO pain. Not like those crazy black pore masks that are also circulating the internet like wildfire. 

My face feels brighter, way smooth, and somehow lifted. I'm a fan!

And the peeling part is sooo satisfying. I'll post to Insta stories to show you guys that part ;)

Let me know if you lovely readers would like to see more quick beauty posts like this one!

XO

Monday, March 27, 2017

Spring Fashion


Wow, I haven't written a solely style blog post in some time. I love digging deeper than the typical blogger topics, BUT I also love the staples of girly bloggerdom, like makeup and fashion. 

We all need a little balance in our lives, right?

One of my favorite bloggers, The Skinny Confidential, puts it this way:

"Think kale in one hand and champagne in the other"

The idea of mixing self-reflective, encouraging blog posts with the more trivial topics seems like the perfect balance! To personalize the The Skinny Confidential's analogy, I'll say it's like me having my cold brew coffee with shitty fake drugstore creamer in one hand (you know, the ones with the labels with pictures of cinnamon rolls and other ridiculous sweets?), and my detox hot lemon water in the other. 

Hah.

So here's a spring style for you! I LOVED how this outfit turned out.





I must say, if you don't already own a wide-brimmed hat, invest in one! There's something about girls in hats, it totally takes any style to another level. Hats ooze confidence and a touch of playfulness. 

Definitely a spring wardrobe must that will carry over well into Summer as you spend your days by the pool or on the beach. 

Keeping the hat neutral allows for a ton of fun when it comes to the actual outfit. Bold colors and patterns are extra desirable around this time of year. Everyone feels like they're literally shedding their winter coats to don the budding foliage that is springing forth.

Pun intended. 



I went for a beach-stroll vibe and stuck to flats. One woman on the street actually verbalized aloud that she would have paired the outfit with wedges.

This was during a photography class I was helping with, mind you.

In front of like 8 students taking pictures of me...

I smiled and thanked her and her post-yoga self. What are you going to do? Everyone has an opinion. You sure as hell don't have to apply it.

The final touch to amp up this frolicky beach style was messy pigtails, tied up high around my chin and splayed out real funky (NOT neat at all!), and a bold retro-red lip.

I felt like I could be touring Hawaii on vacation in the 60's with my fabulous non-existent, rich husband!

It was one of those outfits that I truly felt comfortable in. The loose cropped jumpsuit cinched lightly at the waist, giving me just enough shape and leaving the rest for smooth and easy maneuvering throughout North Park's bustling streets. 

This gem of a jumpsuit is most likely long gone, but I've linked some similar ones that are sure to give you all the springy feels.




I hope you don some crazy fun patterns this Spring and truly enjoy the shifting of seasons. Good things to come my friends!

XO

Photos by Kortney Pham
Venue: Pigment




Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Podcasting With The Casual Creatives



My friends/fellow blogger boss babes Alyssa and Nancy of The Casual Creatives asked me to be on their brand new podcast!

AHHH, HOW COOL!? / do I have anything good to say? / What if I say "um" like 20,000 times. Or WORSE, what if I like, say "like" every other word.

Those were my initial thoughts.

Both Alyssa and Nancy have individual blogs and are KILLING it in the social media realm. They're hard working, coffee-at-midnight, creative-hearted, raven-haired hustlers.

Diva. Is. A. Female. Version. Of. A. Hustla.


They have a genuine friendship and support each other in pursuing their dreams of doing something beyond the ordinary. And they want to give the same support to others along the way.

Damn, they're generous. 

The Casual Creatives are all about getting real and raw and not hiding behind pretty Instagram pictures. 

(although, their Insta's are reallly pretty)

I really gravitated towards this new podcast revolving around community and support! So yes, I was pop-tart-popping-out-of-toaster excited to be on the show. Even with the nerves.

Are you ready to give this episode a listen? 

I would LOVE to hear your feedback! No really, specifically I want to know what you think about the part where I name my zombie apocalypse weapon of choice.

And perhaps what you think about the deep stuff too. WINK.


Follow The Casual Creatives: