Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Do Something Dope"

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cross country

My younger brother, Eamon, has a category of apps on his phone labeled "do something dope". In this category are some travel apps, map apps, and other activity-oriented apps - stuff you'd look at if you were, in fact, going to do something dope.

I learned about this category while Eamon and I drove cross country last week - all the way from Richmond, VA to Portland, OR. In my 2000 Jeep Cherokee. Loaded down with the majority of the crap I've accumulated throughout college. Needless to say, we were really a sight to behold.

We left Richmond in the morning on Saturday and made it to PDX at around dinnertime on Wednesday, making the trip a 4-night 5-day adventure that spanned across the U.S. - a bucket list type thing for me, and an excuse to connect with some awesome people. I feel like if you're the type to welcome two college kids driving cross country into your home no questions asked, you're probably a pretty sweet human being. It takes a special type of hospitable and chill to be about that type of last-minute overnight visit.

This trip was a reminder for me to get out of my comfort zone and reconnect with the world around me, with places like the Flatirons or Utah Salt Flats or the rolling farmland in western Iowa. With people like the sweet family we stayed with in Omaha who fed us bratwurst and fruit salad, our cousins who took us to an Oregon-themed Chicago bar, a mutual friend in Boulder who sent us off with a handmade dream catcher, and a gal in Salt Lake who gave us a dusk walking tour of the city. They were all sweet and welcoming and awesome in their own ways and were intentional in their hospitality and in giving us a taste of their beloved homes.

After all the amazing scenery, fabulous human beings, creepy roadside stops, soggy sandwiches, repetitive Spotify playlists, and wrong turns, I can confidently say that we did something dope.
Don't let it stop here - don't just chill in your comfort zone - Go do something dope. 

(thanks for the inspiration and road companionship, E)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Wait, what?

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This is coming out of nowhere, or so it may seem. What is coming out of nowhere? This post - the fact that I actually opened up Blogger and started to type. Somehow,we went from hitting around 400 views per day this summer to a whopping 50 (on a good day) right now, nearly a year later. Strange how these things work - how life starts to change, how you let go and hope that one day you might regain control of something so seemingly insignificant as the lifestyle blog you began almost a year and a half ago in hopes of one day becoming the next Carly Cardellino (if you know, you know) and curating or publishing content at a big shot magazine.

So what's the deal? Does this (The PDX Belle) not matter anymore - all the time and effort, photoshoots, relationships created, and candid words?

Not the case.

This year has been one for the books. If you've been around long enough, you know that I spent the past fall semester studying abroad in Austria - and if you paid attention, you would know that this little semester (so tiny in the scheme of things) had a bit of an impact on my general outlook.

The eating and exercise habits that had me dreaming about competing in IFBB bikini competitions last year (this is a little-known fact if there ever was one) stemmed from a breakup in January 2015 and resulted in me missing out on the vast majority of activities with my friends - tracking every single calorie that went into my body didn't allow for alcohol or late-night Sheetz runs, and working out after closing retail shifts every weeknight (including Fridays) didn't allow for spending much time with the girls. It took spending four months in Salzburg to kick these habits and learn how to love myself (something I still struggle with) with an extra five pounds or a new dress size. Disclaimer - if you love yourself first, there's nothing wrong with working out and counting your macros. That's the key.

So getting to now - breaking up with your best friend of 3 years isn't easy. Watching your family experience some nasty, heartbreaking structural shifts isn't easy. And facing the "real world" after a series of setbacks and quarter life crises hasn't been easy, either. The photo above is from a year ago, and it isn't representative of the way I look now. Getting in front of a camera and smiling to model an adorable boutique's newest dress doesn't sound fun right now, because I know I would look at the photos and dislike what I see. I'm in transition between home (Portland) and Richmond, hoping to find a job sometime soon, and wondering what the next step will be. My suitcases aren't unpacked just yet, and they may not be for a while.

But until then, The PDX Belle (the blog, not me) is going to need a little inspiration and revamping. If you stuck with this post long enough, maybe you have some ideas - maybe you knew The PDX Belle before Austria and before senior spring - and you can help us get back to a happy, healthy place.

Cheers - and thanks for your support!


Monday, February 29, 2016

Product Review: OZ Naturals Ocean Mineral Facial Cleanser

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Facewash, for some reason, is something I've never really paid attention to. I usually snag whatever's on sale or just use a bar of soap (this is bad, I know) - so finding something I actually like and would purchase again is a pretty big deal.

Enter OZ Naturals Ocean Mineral Facial Cleanser. It goes on almost like a cleansing oil, super smooth, and washes off easily. The whole process feels like you're using a cleansing oil but without the actual oily feeling (that really freaks me out about potentially using one). My skin gets super dry in the winter, and it felt pretty moisturized after using this wash in the shower or before bed for a week or so. I would recommend, especially since it's affordable and you can get it on Amazon without even leaving your bed (hi, quick shipping).

Have a favorite facewash that I've overlooked, or a skincare tip I'm totally missing? Chime in (please) and let me know!

I was sent product free of charge by OZ Naturals to provide an honest review. 
All opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Yes, You Can: Figure it Out As You Go Along

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Welcome back, readers! I've got another little motivational piece for ya - I've connected with another really cool creative gal, this time Britt from BTL Shoppe. She went about things a little differently than some of my other #GirlBoss features - she bought her business after dabbling in blogging and other creative outlets for quite some time. It's a cool story and she has some great insight -- follow along below!

We also have an Instagram GIVEAWAY running until Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 4 PM EST. Enter here

1. What is your history as a "maker"? What is your creative background?

For as long as I can remember, I've loved to write creatively. I always assumed my career would involve writing, yet I ended up going in a completely different direction. In 2010 I started a fashion and lifestyle blog called Try It On Me. I believe having a hobby or some creative outlet is essential in maintaining sanity! Blogging brought so many incredible opportunities to me over the years, one of which being my involvement with BTL Shoppe. After years of blogging on and off, I decided to take a break and look for something different. BTL Shoppe literally fell into my lap, and it was another creative endeavor that I was excited to explore! 

2. What is the biggest business risk you have ever taken? Did it pay off?

The biggest business risk I've taken was when I acquired BTL Shoppe. Aside from what I learned watching Shark Tank, I knew NOTHING about small business ownership. I'm an educator by day, so my background hasn't involved any business training. When the opportunity to purchase the business was presented to me, I scrounged up the funds to buy the business, in the midst of a holiday season. From day one of ownership, holiday orders were flowing in and I had no clue what I was doing! I'm 100% learning as I go, which is part exhilarating, and part terrifying! 

3. Why "BTL" or "Between the Lines"? Is there significance behind your shop's name?

To be honest, that's the name the business had when I bought it. I'm still deciding if I want to keep it, but I like it! 

4. Who is the greatest inspiration in your life? What impact have they had on your career?

The #GirlBoss movement in recent years has been a major inspiration. I read Sophia Amoruso's book a couple summer's ago, and immediately felt so inspired. love women that aren't afraid to speak their mind and make it happen! But if I had to pick a few favorites, I'd say BeyoncĂ©, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, and Taylor Swift are my girl crushes and muses of the moment. In my real life, my fiancĂ©, friends, and family have served as constant support and inspiration. 

5. If you could give advice to your 21-year old self, what would you say?

Jeez, I think about this question weekly! How much time do you have?! If I had to give advice to my 21- year old self I would tell her to say yes to (almost) everything. A couple years ago I read a quote from Tina Fey that said "Say yes and you'll figure it out afterward." As a historically "no" kind of person, I decided to start saying yes to nearly every opportunity that was thrown my way. And I'm so glad I have. I've been pushed out of my comfort zone time and time again, and met great people and had some amazing experiences, none of which would have been possible if I had been too afraid to say yes. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Five: The Best Ways to Celebrate Galentines' Day (+giveaway!)

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"Valentines' Day" is a short phrase that may hold a lot of meaning for you - and that meaning can vary between all of us. If you're in a committed relationship, it may mean roses and dinner out (or gifts - click here for a VDay Gift Guide!). If you're only kind of "talking" to someone (or whatever we call it these days), it could mean a hell of a lot of confusion and mixed signals. If you're single and free as a bird, it could mean that you and the gals are getting together to celebrate each other. All these options have their own perks - there's no reason to be salty towards people who love to celebrate Valentines' Day, and there's also no reason to feel a need to celebrate at all.

If you find yourself hanging with the girls this weekend, here are a few fun ways to celebrate:

1. Put together an adorable gift box for your bestie. I love all the little items from BTL Shoppe (stands for Between the Lines) - throw in some sassy notecards, a coffee mug for your favorite caffeine fiend, and maybe a motivational print, too. Throw it all in a tote with some colorful tissue, and you've got the perfect package to show your girls how much you appreciate them. (PS: you can win all of this for yourself over on my Instagram!)

2. Host a potluck! Assign each of the gals a different dish - appetizers, main dish, salad, bread, dessert... The list goes on. Check out this Pinterest page for ideas!

3. Have a girls-only cocktail party, complete with signature drinks. Everyone divides into pairs and comes up with a drink recipe to share - again, get some inspo from Pinterest. And don't forget to be responsible - here's a code for a free ride on Lyft.

4. Host a grade-school style Valentines' party. Everyone decorates a shoebox mailbox and either makes or buys sweet little cards for all the gals - pass them out together and enjoy themed drinks or candy!

5. Skip the fanfare, throw on a Sex and the City marathon, and pour the wine. No fuss, no big deal.

comment below and tell me how you're showing people you love them this weekend!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Valentines' Gift Guide (for any guy!)

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Valentines' Day. Whether you're all about it or it's your least favorite day of the year, I think it's a good excuse to spoil the ones you love - even if those people happen to be your family members or your best girlfriends. I can remember growing up that Valentines' Day meant a card from my grandma, a sweet party in my grade school class, and my freshman year in college my dad even sent me a box of chocolates. We love an excuse to celebrate anything, right? Spoil your man (or your dad or brothers!) with some of these gifts - perfect for any taste or interest :)

The Traveler
The Businessman

 The Athlete
 The Outdoorsman

Friday, January 15, 2016

4 Tips to Handle Dry, Coarse Hair

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My hair has been a challenge from day one. I was born with super curly, frizzy, light-blonde hair and pretty much resembled a Q-Tip for most of my early years. I started to get my hair relaxed at the beginning of high school, and struggled to find salons that were comfortable working with my unique texture and color. Light blonde, even when it's natural (like mine), is prone to breakage - making relaxers and other straightening techniques extremely damaging. In December, I cut my hair into a "lob" and realized quickly that I would have to straighten it daily in order to get it into a bun or ponytail. Before the big cut, French braids and messy buns were my go-to for natural hair days - now, it's been tough to wrangle my strands into a little rat tail at the nape of my neck. 

Need some tips on how to let your mane recover? So do I - 
it's a work in progress, but here's what I've got: 

1. Stop washing your hair with shampoo so much. 

Especially if you have curly or textured hair, you can get away with just one or two washings per week. Shampoo typically dries out my hair, but I recently found an oil-based product by L'Oreal that does the job without creating a ton of unnecessary dryness. I also love shampoo from Hask - another oil-based, sulfate free system that hasn't been as harsh on my strands and scalp. For more information on different washing and drying methods, click here.

2. Lay off the heat. 

"We all know that heat is horrible for our hair, but sometimes it is a necessity to tame it. I try to only dry my hair on the weekends when I will actually be seen at events." -Hayley Taylor, Styled and Taylored. Hayley has a good point - if you're only going to class or working as a nanny (hi) during the week, your hair doesn't have to be perfectly coiffed.

3. Deep condition.

I seriously have tried all the deep conditioners in the book (I think) and lately am super into Shea Moisture products (like this one) for a really deep treatment.  Jordyn over at Fairy Princess Diaries also has a DIY hair mask you can make yourself. 

I recently discovered Hask Macadamia Oil hair products - they're oil-based, sulfate-free shampoos, conditioners, deep conditioners, and leave-in oils. I LOVE them - and using the entire system (shampoo/conditioner/deep conditioner/oil) left my dry, coarse, and over-processed hair feeling smooth and healthy. I'm doubly excited because I just saw Hask in my local Walgreen's - they had deep conditioner pouches and leave-in oils for under $3 each. Perfect size (and price) to test out!

4. Find protective products that work for you.

I personally like to use protective products made of natural ingredients and LOVE this blowout cream by Shea Moisture - only a coin-sized amount in my hand spread through my hair will make it easier to brush, dry quicker, and give me a super smooth and hydrated feel. I usually pair that with a tiny bit of oil from Hask to make sure I'm protecting my hair in the healthiest, most natural way I can - I just feel better about knowing what exactly is going in my hair as much as possible. HERE is another blog post about great hair products!

Know what it's like to struggle with dry, damaged hair? 

Chime in and let me know your favorite tips! 

I was sent product free of charge by Hask Hair Products to provide an honest review. 
All opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own.