In Anticipation of Autumn Colors

Fall Colors OutfitFall Colors OutfitFall Colors OutfitFall Colors OutfitOnly a few more days until autumn, and I could not be more ready! Every night I’ve gotten off of work this week, I’ve been stunned by how perfect the weather is. Living in the Bay Area, I don’t have much of a summer vs. winter wardrobe, but I am very excited to incorporate more starves and boots into my outfits and finally pull out my favorite peacoat.

Pairing shorts with tights has always been one of my favorite combinations, and I’m frankly surprised it’s not more popular. I think it looks so unexpected while being chic and put together. Plus, I know I ranted in my Red Lipstick and Bows outfit post about how much I love these JCrew sweaters – now you get to see another way I’ve styled it! The Tippi Sweater with a scarf is really my “uniform” that I wear two or three times a week (no joke).

This week was full of great things. I finally got a very long awaited raise at work, and Reg and I celebrated with a sushi date at our favorite spot, Joshu-ya. On Thursday, my company had a scavenger hunt in the afternoon and afterward went out to drinks and appetizers. Ru and I went running with our friend Maxine and her dog Penny twice this week at 7am, which is truly an ungodly hour, but it was extremely beautiful out. Check out pictures from all of these adventures on my Instagram!

On another positive note, I’m hosting a giveaway for $50 to Modcloth over on Erin’s blog, Two Thirds Hazel. Go check it out here and enter for your chance to win!

How was your week? Are you as excited for autumn as I am?

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Camping Box Essentials

Build Your Own Camping Box

Reg and I really love camping. He grew up in the forests of Northern California and although I grew up in the San Francisco Bay, my family would take regular camping trips a few times every summer to Big Sur off of Highway One.

For those of you who don’t know, Big Sur is pretty much the most beautiful place in the world as far as I’m concerned: big cliffs jutting out over the Pacific Ocean, lush forests, white sand beaches, and pretty little creaks and streams. Reg and I actually kissed for the first time on a camping trip at Big Sur, tents set up illegally off the side of a dirt road when we were 18 years old, and we’ve gone up a few times since there.

Here’s some photos I took of friends in Big Sur when we were 19 (such babies!):

Big Sur Camping

Camping is a great activity for those who like to travel, but can’t afford all the expenses that come with hotels and restaurants. Sites are usually free or cheap and you make all of your own food that you bring out with you. The air feels fresh and clear, there are lakes and rivers to swim in, and campfires to drink around at night. I love living in the East Bay, but I deeply crave getting away from all the cars and people and noise.

For Reg’s 25th birthday last week, we went camping for a night up north just outside of Lassen Volcanic National Park. We met up with his family and some longtime friends who were able to get up there a few days before. Every time we go camping, we always borrow supplies from Reg’s folks, so this year for his birthday I decided to put together his own camping box, a big plastic tub with all of the essentials. Next time we’re ready to get out of town for a weekend, we can just toss sleeping bags, a tent, food (and beer, of course), and the camping box in the car and go.

Here are the things I consider to be camping box essentials:

      1. Lantern and flashlight
      2. Propane stove and propane
      3. Cooking pot
      4. Plates, cups, cutting board utensils (I purchased this REI kit, because it was very compact)
      5. A sharp cooking knife
      6. Dish soap and sponge
      7. First aid kit
      8. Local camping guide

Optional: tarp, rope, an outdoor/pocket knife, waterproof matches, hatchet

Do you like camping or are you not the outdoorsy type? Where are your favorite places to go?

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Thai Coconut Corn

Thai Coconut CornThai Coconut CornThai Coconut CornThai Coconut CornLast Friday night we held a barbecue and party in our backyard to celebrate Reg’s 25th birthday. My 25th birthday was only a few months earlier, and I think we both felt like this was a weirdly significant one. Once you’re officially out of your early 20s, suddenly it feels like you’re really, truly an adult. Reg and I now share an apartment (after only 5 years of dating), go to our big kid office jobs, hit the gym, occasionally spend $100 on a nice dinner… so I guess we are grown-up.

These photos really do not do justice to how mind-blowingly delicious this thai coconut corn recipe is. Unfortunately corn is not a very dynamic food to photograph, but this dish has truly decadent, rich flavor. It’s from the foodie mind of my friend Sarah, and it makes a regular appearance at our group barbecues because it’s easy to make and widely loved. Plus, with so many vegan and vegetarian friends, it’s a very safe option to serve.

Thai Coconut Corn

  • 8 ears of corn
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce
  • Juice from three limes
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of sriracha

Fire up the barbecue and if using coals, wait until the heat is medium and there are no longer large flames. In a bowl large enough to fit the corn in lengthwise, throughly mix together all of the ingredients except the corn. Dip each of the ears of corn into the coconut milk mixture and place on the grill. Let them cook for a few minutes, then brush each ear of corn all over with the leftover coconut milk mixture. Repeat several times until the corn is cooked through. Then enjoy!

What are your favorite barbecue foods and recipes?

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5 Minute Flawless Face Makeup Tutorial

5 Minute Flawless Face MakeupDespite the fact that I occasionally dispense makeup and skincare advice on this blog, I’m hardly what I would consider to be an expert. As I’m sure you know, there are women who have entire blogs devoted to the topic, and at the end of the day, their knowledge outweighs mine. The problem is many of those blogs have so MUCH information, it can be a lot to sift through. That’s why I try and be as simple and straightforward with my tips as possible – I aim to provide easy, non-fussy solutions for women who just want to look nice at the office or out on date night.

I do my makeup the same every morning, and I always do it within minutes. I’m not enough of a morning person to have the time or feel so inclined to put any further effort into it. At this point, my beauty routine is like a well-oiled machine: shower, apply face moisturizer, get dressed, apply primer, go to wet my BeautyBlender sponge, and have my skin and eyes done within five minutes. If this kind of quick and painless task sounds like the sort of beauty routine you want, check out the steps I follow:

1. Apply face moisturizer and then primer.

Moisturizer is one of the few products I cheap out on. I have been using the Aveeno Positively Radient one for years and always come back to it. I do, however, splurge on primer because the Hourglass Veil Mineral one is downright amazing. I really hate how many primers have an almost silicon feel to them, but this one applies almost like satin and it makes your makeup stay in place for hours. It’s expensive, but well worth the cost.

2. Wet BeautyBlender sponge and squeeze dry with a towel. Put some foundation on the back of your hand, pat the sponge into it, and blot around your face to create an even complexion.

I have tried over and over again to use brushes to apply wet foundation, but the BeautyBlender sponge blows all other tools out of the water. It’s great for makeup newbies and is easy to apply thinly or layer more thickly. As for foundation, I use the Lancome Teint Idole, which I found thanks to the Sephora Skincare ID tool – I cannot recommend this resource enough for finding foundation that exactly matches your coloring!

3. Apply concealer to dark spots and under eyes and buff in with a brush.

Personally, I don’t need under eye concealer so I skip that step, but I do apply the Make Up For Ever Full Cover concealer to any acne or dark marks that stand out after my foundation has been applied. I tend to use it sparingly, so this one tube has lasted me nearly a year. Once concealer has been applied, use circular motions with a brush to blend together the foundation and concealer and eliminate any obvious streaks.

4. Finish face with a setting powder by using circular motions.

I used to use a Bare Minerals powder for this step, until I realized that there was really no need for the powder to have any color at all if I was just using it to set a liquid foundation look. I’ve since switched to the Make Up For Ever HD powder and find it works marvelously. A little goes a long way, so just barely get some powder on the end of your brush, tap off any excess, and swirl it in circular motions around your face.

5. Remove clumps of mascara from the wand by brushing it on the back of your hand, then apply using a back-and-forth technique.

Mascara is one of those products that’s really easy to do once you have a few tricks figured out. One of my favorites is removing clumps from the wand before applying it by just scrubbing it lightly on the back of your hand. Then, instead of just doing an outward motion from your lid to the tips of your lashes, do a back-and-forth motion when you’re doing the outward motion as well so as to put a thicker coat on every lash. I’ve been using the Clinique High Impact mascara since I was about 15 years old, and it’s another product I always come back to. I’ve actually been asked multiple times if I dye them since it coats lashes so perfectly and naturally,!

6. Finish look with an eyebrow pencil by applying in short, gentle strokes following hairline.

How do I go so long without doing this step? Especially as a light-haired girl, adding definition to your brows brings your whole look together and draws more attention to your eyes. I use Benefit’s Instant Brow Pencil which looks so incredibly natural. I particularly love how a few brushes of the wand makes the whole thing blend in and remove any “errors” you might have drawn.

Do you wear makeup daily? What does your regular routine look like?

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Advice from a Social Media Marketer: Sponsored Posts

Blogging AdviceBlogging is incredibly time consuming. Unless you’re in the thick of it, most people don’t realize how much is involved in designing, creating posts, editing photos, sharing on social media, and marketing your blog. It makes sense you might become interested in learning how to monetize your blog and get some goodies by doing sponsored posts. I’ve been working at a social media marketing agency for over three years and a huge portion of that time has been spent coordinating sponsored posts with bloggers. Of course every agency and brand has different methods and ways they prefer to work, but here’s some things to consider as you start working with brands:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for compensation

Not long after you start blogging, you might begin to have companies reach out to you about things they’re interested in promoting. Many of these emails are obviously templates (they don’t even address you by name) and they almost never offer compensation up front. There typically isn’t much payoff for you to post about them pro bono (unless you genuinely love the product), so don’t be afraid to email them back and tell them your rate for sponsored posts or product review policy. They’ll get the message!

2. Use your “blogger network”

If you’re interested in working with brands, I strongly encourage you to be proactive about reaching out to them. That being said, just emailing random companies and agencies is extremely time consuming with little payoff. Instead, talk to your blogging friends and ask them for the contact information of brands that they’ve worked with (provided they’re comfortable sharing it) or have them connect you to the contact person in an email. Then, give the contact your “elevator pitch”: what your blog is about, who your typical readers are and any demographic information, the kind of posts you do, your monthly uniques, and your social media followers.

3. Share your intended social media amplification upfront

When emailing with a brand/agency contact, be very upfront in what is included in your “sponsored post package.” Share the exact number of tweets, Facebook shares, and other social media amplification you intend to do of the post, since this will absolutely illustrate the full value of the post. I’ve worked with bloggers who didn’t tell me they intended to share 10+ times on Twitter, and that absolutely would have made us more interested in working with them!

4. Social media followers and engagement matter

There’s no getting around the fact that your monthly uniques are a large part of your “worth” to brands and agencies, but they’re not the end-all-be-all. Assuming you intend to share the sponsored post on social media, the number of followers you have on social media will absolutely impact a brand’s decision to work with you. Additionally, a super engaged following is far more worth-while than a blogger who has large uniques, but no one ever comments. I’ve worked with “big bloggers” who never get any shares or comments on their posts and “small bloggers” that have an incredibly engaged community – guess who we work with again!

5. Now the good stuff – here’s how much you should be asking for

This is a stumper: what should your sponsored post rate be? A good ballpark is around $100 if you have a small blog (3k uniques a month or less) and intend to share on your social media channels. Larger blogs (30k uniques a month) often charge up to $500 for a sponsored post or more. You can also consider allowing sponsored “guests posts” on your blog – since you don’t need to actually spend time writing the content, you can charge far less.

Creating a media kit is a good idea, since it’s something the brand can keep on file and something you can hand out at blogging events, but it might allow for less flexibility. For example, you may consider charging more if the brand is specifically asking for lots of photos. Make it clear you are available for custom sponsored post packages, such as a series of three posts. Also, keep in mind that the brand/agency can always counter offer. If you ask for $100 and that’s more than they feel comfortable spending, it’s entirely possible they’ll suggest $75 instead. Moral of the story, don’t be afraid to ask for more and then accept less!

What are your thoughts on sponsored posts? Have you done sponsored posts before or are you interested in doing them in the future?

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