new orleans pt. I


My friend Caroline and I keep joking that, in the nebulous future, after we’re well-traveled and well-aged, we’re going to make a coffee table book.

And while I wish this was a publication announcement (it isn’t), and that we were celebrating our literary success with Sprinkles (we aren’t), and that we’d already been to the places we’re planning (we haven’t), I think it’s still an exciting concept worth sharing.

So here’s the backstory: We went to New Orleans a few weekends ago, and let me tell you, it was pretty fun. But while we were planning, we realized we had two options: do the photogenic things, or the ‘us’ things. The things Pinterest told us to do, and the things we wanted to do. Live it up on Bourbon Street vs. eat our weight in beignets. Get our palms read vs. do a bookstore hop. The glam way vs. the us way.

We chose the us way.

And we want to keep doing that. We want to go to pretty places and see pretty things, and to experience it the way we want, without worrying about how photogenic it is. Yes, I realize the irony of posting pictures and saying I don’t want to care about appearances. But we decided that we’d be experience based, and capture those, instead of focusing on capturing pictures, and squeezing in some actual fun on the side.

We’re calling this not-entirely-hypothetical book ‘Elastic‘. Because that’s what our waistbands will be.

Everyone says you should travel in your 20s. But I feel like there’s a very Instagram-approved way of seeing the world. It involves mimosas and flights around the globe and nights out and Jillian-Michaels-approved portion control. None of which are necessarily bad things, they’re just really really really not my cup of tea. Image isn’t something I talk about on here as much as I should, and I don’t know if I’m really in a position to be talking about it, so I won’t delve too deeply. I’ll just say this: if/when I see the four corners of the world, it’ll be in an elastic waistband, and the best moments will not be the ones I post on Insta, or even on this corner of the internet. They’ll be the deleted images of me spilling powdered sugar down my front, wearing less-than-flattering shoes because comfort sometimes trumps fashion, and ugly-laughing.

That’s what Elastic is.

It’s your style, your mentality, your smile. Going to lovely places, with lovely people, indulging in lovely things. And settling back into the in-between with grace, not just dreaming of the next plane ticket.

call me mason weaver

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A bookish look to compliment a bookish week.

At work, we play a concoction of rain recordings and white noise over the loud speakers. It’s the subtle drone, to encourage conversation and keep content those inclined to no music. Which leaves those of us who like music, to our own devices with our headphones.

I have a ridiculous amount of playlists pulled up on spotify—from Ben Rector to Ed Sheeran to Rosemary Clooney to Ward Thomas—but this week I realized audio books are a thing, and have been happily listening to my favorites: The Count of Monte Cristo and The Scarlet Pimpernel. What can I say, I’m a nerd for classic literature.

There’s something soothing about hearing these stories again.

For whatever reason, I don’t like rewatching many movies. I know the parts, I know the climax, I know the expressions, even the inflections. But books, books I can revisit again and again. Especially ones written to long ago and with such elegance.

There’s just always something to discover, and stepping into a story really is like opening a doorway to your imagination.

You know when Gene Wilder sings (in a tragic misuse of technicolor) to come along to a world of pure imagination? That’s what reading is. You’re no longer in an office, you’re in the Day Dream skimming along the coast of Calais with Percival Blakeny and co. You’re crouched in a cell in Château d’If, or visiting the infamous hideout of Luigi Vampa with the former Edmond Dantes. You’re taking tea with the Bennet sisters or learning society in Satis House with Pip.

I’m not one of those people that insists that all great literature was written in the 19th century.

But a lot of it was.

And it’s fun to dip back in time to revisit them.

What a rabbit trail, right? Maybe it’s these old loafers that had me feeling nostalgic. Or the glasses, or the high waisted shorts, but something about this feels very retro.Zoologist meets jungle photographer, something like that? I’ll take it.

(p.s. if you got the title reference, A+ to you. Did I go see this movie because (1) Brie Larson is my hero and (2) to see Tom Hiddleston in a role where he wasn’t overshadowed by a wig or aggressive sexuality? Yes and yes).

Lancôme Paris + Influenster VoxBox Review

There are quite a few things in my life that give me emotions. Musicals, bloodhounds, Anthropologie, hockey, when people say ‘the 75’ and I know they’re from SoCal… makeup is not usually on that list.

For me, makeup is something that’s always been a means to an end. I have scars or breakouts; cover them with foundation. My face looks bloated; throw some bronzer and blush on. Feeling average and unremarkable; break out a red lip. And it’s good in that capacity—in improving my self-image, in helping me overcome my insecurities, in making me confident when I’m not sure how to.

But it’s not been something that I get excited about.

So, when Influenster and Lancôme Paris sent me a complimentary box of products, I was excited, but not ecstatic. I was flattered to receive the products, in exchange for my honest opinion about them and hey, maybe I’d find a new concealer out of the deal.

And then I got them, and y’all, I now can add an addendum to that list of emotion-causing topics.

That’s what I get for underestimating a company named after a forest in La Brenne.

Okay okay, before I get into it, a bit of a disclaimer: I’ve built this blog for over a year, right? Spent a good long time developing exactly the tone I wanted to convey, and the brand I wanted to represent, right? Now would I throw that away for a free highlighter? Absolutely not. So, while these products were sent to me as a complimentary gift, my review and opinion are entirely my own, as honest and unbiased as can be.

Alright, that settled, let’s get into it.

Teint Idol Ultra Wear Foundation
Oh. My. Goodness. This is, without a doubt, the best product I received in this voxbox. With my background in outdoor sports + California sun + acne-prone skin,  extra protection is always something I’m on the lookout for in a foundation, and the SPF 15 checks that box. It applies smoothly and flawlessly, gently correcting any unevenness in color or complexion. I was so impressed by this foundations’ staying power: it promises a long-lasting finish, and I wore it from 9am to 1am one day, and it was still matte when I took it off! The color was a bit dark for me (see below), but that’s a flaw in my vanity—I always forget that my face and neck and several shades lighter than my arms!! Like I said, this product was a definite winner, and I do believe I’ll be repurchasing once I run out.

Teint Idole Ultra Wear Camouflage Concealer
To be fair, this product had a hard act to follow. And so it’s not surprising that I wasn’t terribly impressed with it. As far as concealers go, it was a pretty solid one: covered any blemishes, and a little went a long way. But, after applying the Teint Idole Ultra Wear foundation, I honestly felt like I didn’t need it! For what it was supposed to do, A+. For impressing me, and keeping up with the Foundation, a solid B. Nothing to complain about, but also nothing to write home (or, you know, on a blog) about.

Click & Glow Illuminating Skin Highlighter 
Confession: prior to receiving this product I’d never used a highlighter since my state capitol memorization days (lol puns). So I am far from an expert on this particular beauty regimen. BUT I will say that I loved a/pplying this! It was shimmery and smooth, and the application with the fun click pen was a fun feature. I was a little concerned that the color would be too light for me, but it wasn’t at all! I’ve played around with it with a few other foundations, and I’m pretty impressed with its versatility. I don’t know if I’m sold on the concept of a highlighter, but it was definitely a fun addition to my beauty routine!

Le Matallique (in Mirrored Nude) Lipgloss
So here’s the thing with lip gloss. I have a bit of a darker skin color, so something that’s meant to be neutral or baby pink ends up looking like some sort of ridiculous shade of white on me. I’m not opposed to nude colors, but I usually go for more brown tones for the ‘neutral’ effect. So I was pleasantly surprised with this gloss. It’s definitely lighter than the shades I’d usually reach for, but it wasn’t cartoonish or ridiculous at all. Definitely for day-wear. But it was light, went on smoothly, didn’t feel sticky, and lasted for a while. Nothing to complain about here!

So there’s my review of these products! A huge thank you to Lancôme Paris and Influenster for these complimentary products!

 

Alright so a bit of a sad story for y’all: I worked really hard on filming a video for this post. I’d never done any sort of product review and thought it’d be a fun kind of chatty makeup vid…and I filmed it and it was and I had SO much fun doing it! BUT, the audio was completely wack, and I couldn’t use any of it. I’m so bummed, because I had way more fun that expected, and spent a  lit of time on it! I guess I’ll have to channel that kind of energy into future endeavors.

Is that something that y’all would be interested in? A couple of CC videos? Let me know!! In the meantime, happy Tuesday, y’all!

15 desk essentials

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Almost as soon as I’d signed my job offer, I hopped over to Pinterest for the top cubicle-decorating tips. I searched for copper paper clips and succulents that thrive indoors (with essentially zero natural light), and was all prepared for decorating that space…Then I realized that was all exterior. What actually went in my desk? What would be useful, not just pretty? This is hardly a definitive list, but it’s my standard, and it’s all the things that I think make your desk/workspace an enjoyable environment. And these aren’t exclusively for a workplace environment either! A lot of the things listed below are things that I kept stocked in my desk at college.

  1. Pens, pencils, notepad
    The essentials. And yes, you do need both pens and pencils, because you’ll have a meeting when you need to rework, erase, rework, erase something, and you’ll have notes you need to last. Hit up the dollar section in Target for some seriously cute personality pens, but keep the notepad simple. For me, that meant gel pens, but countered with a white legal pad (which I’d always wanted because they seemed v. business professional).
  2. Tea and coffee
    Because sometimes the communal keurig will be out. Keep your favorites stocked in your desk so that when you make the trip to the break room late Friday afternoon, you can still get your Starbs fix.
  3. Mug
    There are a couple of great reasons for this one. First, easy spot of color/personality. Mugs are SO cheap, and such a fun way to brighten your desk (How cute is this Anthro one? To date, one of my all-time favorites!). I’m also someone who hates drinking out of paper cups, because of the amount of lipstick I wear, so having a ceramic mug is just much prettier to look at. Also, if you drink as much tea as I do, you can blow through disposable cups pretty quickly, so it’s a good way to be economical. Full disclosure though: I feel so much put together with my fingers wrapped around a mug. That little boost of confidence is great for a meeting!
  4. Blanket
    Centrally controlled temperatures are a necessary evil for office buildings. In order to keep offices from burning up, larger spaces are kept cool…for which us mortals suffer. I drop this IKEA throw over the back of my chair, and it’s perfect to drape over my legs when a pencil skirt can’t protect me from the elements. And by elements, I mean AC. *shudders of dismay*
  5. Scissors
    You’re probably not cutting out paper dolls at work, but you’ll have a loose thread on your favorite cardigan, or someone will need help opening a package. You might not use them more than a couple of times, but always good to have handy, just in case.
  6. Tissues
    For unexpected sneezes and for when you spill coffee. Better to have and not need, than need and not have.
  7. Hot Sauce
    For me, it’s Cholula, but for you it could be something else. Keeping a bottle in a drawer instantly ups your lunch, and saves you from having to stash hot sauce packets.
  8. Disposable cutlery
    Because there’s nothing worse than running to chipotle on your 15 minute break, barely making it back to your desk, and realizing you have to go back to the breakroom and open a set of pre-wrapped cutlery, just for a fork for your burrito bowl. Or needing a spoon for your peanut butter (which isn’t on the list because, in my opinion, everyone should ALWAYS have access to some crunchy pb, so it’s redundant). Or realizing you should’ve cut your pasta before you left home. Just keep ’em stocked.
  9. Lotion
    Industrial soap in the restrooms + recycled air = dry dry dry hands. Keep a neutral scent (this is my go-to), so your coworkers don’t start sniffing the air suspiciously.
  10. Water
    You’re sitting for 8 hours a day; the inactivity is not the best for your waistline. Drinking water not only keeps you hydrated and more energized, it will get you up on your feet for quick trips to the restroom. Win win!
  11. Heating pad
    Obvious reason aside, it is SO nice to have one of these on hand for the day when the office feels like the North Pole. See no. 4 for reference.
  12. Headphones
    As much as I wish the rest of my office appreciated the perfection that is Ed Sheeran’s new album, or the boost of motovation that comes from working to the Hamilton soundtrack, or the soothing qualities of Le Carnaval des Animaux…they do not. Headphones are the happy solution. I usually just keep one headphone in, so I can keep an ear on the conversations around me, and be attentive if I need to be.
  13. Granola
    It’s going to happen: 2:30pm. Lunch was 3 hours ago, dinner is 3 from now, and water isn’t cutting it. You have to snack. So at least try to keep some sort of healthy alternative in your desk. Otherwise you’ll have cheetos dust on your fingers and keyboard and regrets. So many regrets… These are my favorites to keep on hand!
  14. Fairy lights
    For that special touch of whimsical. Esp. if you’re in a male dominated office environment (*cough* software dev *cough*), fairy lights are just such a nice touch. Most desks will have some sort of light, so these are a great alternative. Plus you can grab some battery powered ones, to keep your boss happy. And they’re just so pretty.
  15. Chocolate
    Yes, yes, I know I just said to keep a healthy snack. But these are for your desktop: they go in a pretty bowl (again, hey hey @Target dollar section), and, in addition to giving you a mid-afternoon sugar boost, they might just win you a few friends.

Hope you enjoyed poking around in my desk! Did I leave any office essentials out? What are some things you keep on hand?

as the deer 

I was not expecting Cameron Park when I moved to Waco. I’ve posted about it before (here!), but this past Saturday I went on a walk with my sister and I was just reminded again of  special way in which nature can point you back to the Creator.

When I was much much younger, one of the first songs for which I learned harmony from the 80s, called ‘As the Deer’. It’s based off of Psalm 42:1-2, and the lyrics are so simply beautiful:

“As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after Thee. You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship Thee. You alone are my strength, my shield. To you alone may my spirit yield. You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship Thee. You’re my friend and You are my brother, even though You are a king. I love you more than any other, so much more than anything.”

The man who wrote it (story here) never intended to share the simple melody, just wrote down his prayer for a strong strong relationship with Jesus. It’s a prayer that so many people resonate with; I’ve even written about this concept before, of finding your everything in Christ, and finding your expectation in Him. But I think this goes beyond that.

Is your heart’s desire for God?

Not in what He can do for you, or what you can do for Him (guilty). Not in the strong sense of community you experience in your small group, or the warm feeling from serving in kids ministry (guilty and guilty). Not in a particularly convicting message, or an immediately answered prayer.

What if instead of longing for disciplines or sacraments, we longed for communion?

See, those of us who have walked with Jesus for a while, we know what to do. When we feel spiritually starved, we open our Bible; when thirsty, we pray. We pull out devotionals and call friends asking for prayer. We become vulnerable and open with our struggles, we share with people who we know will support us. We switch our radios over and only listen to K-Love for a week or so, until it passes.

But what if we never let ourselves thirst.

What if we were so hydrated, so saturated in the Word of God, in the goodness of His character, the depths of His mercy, the boundless bounty of His love? What if we didn’t reach for our Bibles as the result of trial, but we longed for the heart of God before trials.

We know how to arm ourselves for spiritual warfare, but we sometimes wind up in battles that we needn’t have wandered into.

Say you have a houseplant. You stick it in an open window, spritz it with some water. Time goes on. You notice it’s not doing so well, so you dunk it in water, and nervously wait to see if it’ll pull through. And it usually will. But that’s not the life Christians are called to.

Consider, instead, a tree by a river. It doesn’t go through these periods of neglect and drought, but instead sips steadily from the stream. It doesn’t deal with extremes—sometimes watered, sometimes dry—it just constantly draws life from the water. Yes, both plants will flower. Both will grow and both will mature. But which would you rather be?

If you let me anthropomorphize that tree, just for a moment, by the river. It’s not waking up one day thinking ‘I need water, I need water, I need water, lest I die’. It draws from the river without thinking. It knows its strength isn’t in its boughs, but in the water that brings it life.

What if we ran to Jesus not in times of trial, not in temptations, not in heartache, what if we ran to Him for life. If every day, every moment, every action was so marked by the presence of God. If nearness to our Savior was so instinctual that separation brought instant longing.

And you know what blows my mind?

That He wants that with me. My Savior, my Creator, my Protection, My Jesus, He wants that closeness. Just let that sink it for a moment.

Psalm 42 does not end on as hopeful a note as it starts on. The Psalmist is well aware that he is surrounded by enemies who revile him and doubt his God. His closing prayer is just as beautiful though: “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”

We don’t just seek Him in praise; we don’t just seek Him in petition. We seek Him in life.