when the going gets tough the tough stop blogging

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Sorry for the absence of life on this blog this past week (and the use of very old photos to fill out this post)

It’s been an interesting past 7 days, though not necessarily filled with any exceptionally interesting events. I’m at the point where I want to be able to give a big happy update on life, but don’t really have the updates to give yet, though I hope to soon.

So, all that to say, nothing much has been happening in our family recently, but  hope to be able to have an actual update soon!

How’s that for a thrilling new blog post? ;)

Blogger Autobiographies | Michaela Jean

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I only just recently came across Michaela’s blog, Michaela Jean Blog, but was instantly struck by how sweet, yet straight forward and honest, she seemed!! As a newcomer to her blog myself I am excited to follow along with her new posts and to also look back into the archives of her blog to get to know her style and blog better as well! I was so pleased she was willing to be a part of this project and am excited to introduce her to you today! :)

1) When/Why did you first start blogging? After college in Fall of 2011. My best friend had read a couple fashion blogs and thought it would be fun to create one together! After we dabbled in fashion blogging for a year or two I officially began blogging on my own in October of 2013. Clearly I am hooked.

2) Why did you choose your blog name? Well my blog is narcissistically named… However, no one actually calls me Michaela Jean except my mother on a rare occasion. I chose to keep my blog name simple and straight forward because I didn’t want the name to restrict or limit my content. I wanted my blog to be truly my own virtual space, and so I put my name on it.

3) What is the core story or purpose behind your blog? My blog is ultimately a creative outlet. I couldn’t say it documents a story (other than my own personal experiences), or that it has a true purpose. The reason it exists is because I enjoy a melange of creative hobbies: writing, painting, fashion, design, photography, etc. and my blog allows my to explore and highlight them all!

4) What do you hope your blog will become and continue to be? I hope that it will evolve into more of a lifestyle blog that emphasizes art and costal living. I really think those two subjects are a core part of who I am and I would love for my blog to better represent that truth.

5) What would be different in your life if blogs didn’t exist? Well for one I would lose a large chunk of my favorite internet browsing. But I think most importantly I think I would lose quite a bit of my personal story. In a way my blog is a very censored memoir and one of my favorite parts about its existence is being able to look back at older posts and see what I’ve done, where I’ve been and how I saw my life then versus now.

| for more Blogger Autobiography archives and information on the project go HERE |

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IMG_5626Last summer on Justin and I’s honeymoon I made the decision to bleach every bit of my hair. I hadn’t done anything with my hair since putting in some blonde highlights a year before and then some brown low lights around Christmas time 2012 and I was feeling antsy to change it up again.

So, I went for it.

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Because I did it myself I ended up missing a few root sections and even had to do the bleaching process two times before it all was almost the same bleach blonde shade…after it was all done I almost immediately regretted it. For my wedding day my hair was the perfect balance of natural color and dyed color, and was also longest I had grown my hair since I was 6 years old, and I so regret putting all of my hair through the trauma of a full bleach…from then on my hair was thoroughly processed and I was distraught. I got roots almost immediately and by the middle of summer I knew I needed to put a different color over the bleach. So, I dyed all my hair a medium shade of blonde in an attempt to revive my long damaged locks.

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To no avail though, no matter what conditioners or lack of hot tools that I used my hair, especially the ends, was just damaged and dead. So I decided to at least cut my hair to get rid of some of the damaged sections.

1149639_10201898638006562_621289673_oAfter the cut I was on a hair change roll so less then 4 months after going bleach blonde with my long hair, I got a pixie cut and dyed it dark, dark brown.

775621_10202282694407732_1935040770_oAfter that hair change I kind of fell apart. I felt like I had ruined everything and wished I could just go back to before I had bleached it all and tell myself that it just wouldn’t be a good idea to jump back onto the hair dye bandwagon.

I came to a few personal conclusions and made a commitment not to dye my hair for a full year. The bleach blonde had been a snap decision that I had made too quickly and all the subsequent color and cuts were in an attempt to remedy the first poor decision. But by the end of it I had just cut off all my hair and dyed it a color that was WAY too dark on me and made it so I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror, not a great end for a girl who already had problems with keeping her identity and focus straight. :)

Well, for about 3 months I kept my commitment to no hair dye, but then I started to look like a raccoon and realized that I was going to have to help my hair out a bit to get it to a place where it could even grow out naturally. Enter the orange phase.

IMG_9536 copyI have lifted dark color out of my hair three times in my life and each time I dread the ‘orange phase’, that time when the bleach can only lift so much and gets stuck at an odd orangy blonde phase, but if you want to save your hair at all you have to let it sit for a while before bleaching again…well, I lived with the orange phase for a few months and then bleached my hair again to try to lighten it more, I was only doing bleach via highlights, I had learned my lesson about bleaching hair all over and was trying to preserve as much hair health as possible, after that I waited a month or two more and bleached it one last time with a combination of low lights as well to bring in some color dimension.

I thoroughly acknowledged my lack of sticking with my promise, but also knew I had finally gotten to the point where growing out my hair could actually look normal, though no matter how hard you try the color ‘dirty blonde’ is one of the HARDEST colors to attempt to match so I still ended up with visible roots pretty quickly. Thankfully though I looked less like a raccoon ;)

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These days, now about 6 months since I finished the last step of lifting my color from the dark brown, I am so pleased with knowing how much natural color is a top my head, it makes me breathe easy knowing that I don’t have to worry about hair color maintenance or not recognizing myself in the mirror… I used to love the reinvention of myself through hair color, but those days were most certainly best lived in high school and really have no place in my life today, and it only took 1 bad bleach job, 1 full medium blonde dye, 2 hair cuts, 1 dark blonde dye, 2 highlight bleaches, 1 more highlight bleach, 1 more highlight bleach combined with a 1 low light color deposit and 1 final haircut for me to realize that. :D

Blogger Autobiographies | Along Abbey Road

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To kick off this new Blogger Autobiographies series I introduce to you the lovely Abbey from Along Abbey Road. I have been following Abbey’s blog for a few years now and have seen her go from brunette to blonde, from mother of one to mother of two and lots of big and little adventures and transitions in between! Abbey blogs about family, food, fashion and more and I am always so struck by how genuine and sincere her posts are! I have found inspiration too many times to count from her blog and I am so happy to introduce her to so many of you today for the first time!! :)

When/Why did you first start blogging? Four years ago I worked for a major fashion retailer as a manager and merchandiser, and thought to myself, “Hey, I wear all of these cute clothes everyday! I should start a fashion blog!” The idea was inspired by the French bombshell, Le Blog de Betty, after reading about her in a fashion magazine. I thought it was such a dreamy and cool concept, and I wanted to do it, too. Although, looking back on my first few years makes me cringe a little, but it is fun to see how far it has come!

2) Why did you choose your blog name? I wanted something that felt “me” and didn’t necessarily tie me down to one topic. Despite the fact that my blog started out solely as a fashion and beauty blog, I figured it could grow into something else simply about my life journey, therefore Along Abbey Road was born! Obviously I am very much a fan of The Beatles, and have been since I was a tween, so when I said it out loud for the first time it just felt right. A lot of bloggers end up rebranding themselves, but I am still very happy about my blog name. It suits my blog perfectly, especially since it has morphed into a lifestyle blog.

3) What is the core story or purpose behind your blog? Inspiration. Both inward and outward. It is a place for me to spout off my ideas, thoughts, creative interests, emotions… the list goes on and on. Whatever I am thinking or feeling at that period in time, it appears on my blog. (That’s what is so great about having a “lifestyle” blog! The possibilities are endless for people such as myself that have ten million varying interests!) I love sharing the things that inspire me, and I hope that somehow, even if it is in the tiniest of ways, that my blog can inspire others or make them laugh. Truly, even if it only makes a difference to one person, I feel like I have succeeded in helping others out. I love seeing the beauty in the world, but I also hope that I come across as relatable and a friend, because those relationships and people are what matter at the end of the day.

4) What do you hope your blog will become and continue to be? Honestly, I feel like I am finally hitting that sweet spot with my blog where it has grown into everything I ever wanted it to become, without getting too out of control or unmanageable. The feel and aesthetic of it are finally at a place I am proud to share and promote, and it has also provided me some amazing opportunities to work with other creative people and brands. From this point, I only hope it will continue to grow and that people want to come visit my blog because it gives them that warm, happy feeling. I just recently read a quote that said, “When you do things from your soul, other people really dig that shit.” That is exactly what I want for Along Abbey Road! And maybe to land a sweet deal with a publisher, since it is my pipe dream to be a novelist ;)

5) What would be different in your life if blogs didn’t exist? Well, if blogs didn’t exist, Pinterest probably wouldn’t exist, and my house would look very dull… and we would eat cereal for every meal. But, seriously, all joking aside, I would be sad if they didn’t exist. I look to other blogs for parenting advice, fashion advice, cooking ideas, and all of that junk. I am sure I would just have another hobby in place of my blogging hobby now — maybe I would be a professional golfer? Who knows. I am tremendously grateful for the experiences blogging has made available to me. It’s not always easy, and a lot of times I want to sack it all, but when I look at the big picture, it has helped me grow into the person I always wanted to be and the woman I aim to be.

| for more Blogger Autobiography archives and information on the project go HERE |

$20 Date of Firsts

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It’s been no secret on this blog that this summer funds have been tight at the Henry household.

At the start of June I had big plans for the summer months, but as the story of this summer began to unfold it became clear that all of my plans involved money, money that we didn’t have.

I was a little disappointed, I wanted to have been able to have done so many new things by this point, but we have not been able to, and then yesterday came about!

Justin has begun his student worker schedule which means he only worked from 8-10am yesterday morning and then had the rest of the day free! We really wanted to try to do a last ‘hurrah’ before summer officially ended so, we decided to go to the beach!

I’m not sure what it is about not being able to do the big adventures that makes us forget how many little adventures are still fully available to us!

The real trick to dating on a budget is working with what you already have!

 Justin and I already had to eat lunch yesterday, so why not pack it up and eat it at the beach! We already had free time, so why not spend that free time walking around downtown!

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We spent a grand total of $20 to make the date happen and it was full of firsts for us without us even realizing!!

Justin and I had never gone to the beach just the two of us before! It was so fun putting a lunch together and then on our way out stopping to grab some snacks ($7 of treats), setting up our little spot on the beach complete with a styrofoam cooler and shade supplied by an available tree ($3 a car to get onto the beach) and then afterwards going downtown for a cool treat from Paradise Ice a new place that makes artisan sorbets and frozen custards ($10 and worth every penny of it!), before getting our frozen treats we walked around the Mast General store downtown as well, for the first time, and I just have to say, that store is full of all kinds of magic!! We found so many things from our childhood and so many random things that were just simply brilliant in and of themselves, the best hats we’ve ever had the pleasure of trying on, the cutest owls and hedgehogs carved out of stone, a bright red bread box that I am SO going back to get when I have the funds, games upon games from our childhood, vintage signs and sodas, barrels of candy brimming with sweet treats, and certain things that inspired us to plan out a possible future in a state far from here!! ;)

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We were shocked at the end of the date at how much fun we had even though we had traveled almost no distance and had spent no more than twenty dollars! (Though if we had bought everything we wanted from the Mast General store the title of this post would have been more like ‘$200 date of firsts’ ;) )

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I think we were truly inspired by the simplicity of the adventure and how it was accomplished without breaking the bank, it took a bit of planning, but it was completely worth every minute of it!

A Young Blogger’s Frustration

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The following post is a bit of ranting, questions, and resolutions all wrapped up together on a topic that has been on my mind a lot recently, read on with that awareness.  

Recently I have been putting a lot of time into the production and up keep of my blog.

After watching American Blogger I felt like my blog could have so much potential and I was excited to become more intentional about becoming a part of the ‘blogger community’ that was talked about so much throughout the film.

I thought through my blog history and really gained a clearer vision of the purpose of my blog, and then decided to begin a project by connecting with other bloggers and telling some of their stories on my own blog in an effort to become a part of a wider community.

I sent out email after email after email to bloggers all across the world, some that I had been following for years now and others that I just recently became aware of thanks to American Blogger.

So far the response has been mixed, but mostly nonexistent.

To be honest, I am a bit disappointed; here I was after watching a film that boasted of the community that is so readily available via blogs, but even in an attempt to connect with other bloggers I find myself no closer to really becoming a part of the blogging world.

I know it isn’t intentional, people are busy and blogs are just a taste of the world that the women behind them are a part of….but it just made me wonder what I was missing…was there something about my blog that wasn’t good enough to catch their attention? Was I too far from their stage of life to be worth interacting with? Too few followers? Not looking to pay for a feature post? Too young?

Maybe they really are just too busy, but I can’t help but wonder if my blog had a following or if I was older if time would have been made for the project.

…who can know.

What I do know however, is that the blogging community is very unique. It can either be an amazing place of connections and support or it can be a fairly lonely occupation if approached with a certain mentality.

I would certainly say that I falter on the side of insecurity many times; I can take things personally sometimes that were not at all meant to hurt me and this type of personality mixes with the blogging world in a difficult way sometimes. My intentions are so hopeful and strong at the start, but it doesn’t take much to make me second guess the worthiness of my blog by the interaction, or lack-there-of, with other bloggers. Blogging is a whole other realm that I need to remember my identity as I interact with it.

This whole process had made me think on the stage of life I am in, and how rarely I find bloggers whose lives are similar to my own, personalities of bloggers perhaps, but almost every single blog I come across seems to tell a story of a husband, wife, and their children, a fashion blogger, a business owner, or a combination of the three. Maybe other 21 year olds just aren’t into blogging, maybe there are just too few of us who have stories to tell via blogs or maybe I just have not come across them. Whatever the case, it is an isolating place to be sometimes.

I don’t write this post to complain, but rather I write in reflection and even to ask any readers of this little space if you know of any young bloggers who maybe relate to this feeling? Maybe the truest of a blogging community can’t be found until I become a mother, maybe I have the wrong idea of what a blogging community really is, again, I’m not sure. Right now though, perhaps I should expect to strike out a lot in my attempt to connect with fellow bloggers across the world…perhaps my attempts are too premature…it makes me a little sad, I don’t like feeling like I’m missing out on connecting with people or that I’m stuck on the outside because I can’t do anything to change where I am in life.

I want to remember not to blame my fellow bloggers for their lack of attention to attempts at connection, I want to always give the benefit of the doubt and not feel forgotten or not good enough to be acknowledged, because in the end, I remember that I don’t blog for them or for gaining followers or to be noticed, I blog for my own story.

You’d think I would remember that far more than I do :D

I also don’t want to feel discouraged, blogs are not meant to and should never have that kind of control over my emotions, I want to continue reading other blogs, learning from women in other stages of life and writing positive comments to let them know that I may only be one little person, but I am listening and following along with their story, and they might not know me at all or have any kind of investment in me, but because of their blog I have a small investment in their lives.

I was never a big fan person, it always felt strange to me to love someone so much only to realize at some point they don’t know you at all or maybe even worse they don’t ever even want to know you…this ‘fan’ mentality is something that can very easily develop with blogs however, because the stories shared are so personal it’s so easy to think that because you are relating so well with the stories of other women then they must be able to relate to you as well and at least be willing to talk with you, but this leads very quickly to a point where you become spread too thin over the expanse of blogs you could interact with and the bloggers themselves don’t have the ability to reciprocate.

The truth is, most bloggers can’t invest in their readers, readers are like fans, a shout-out is given and the blogger really is grateful for their support, but interaction with them is controlled and somewhat minimal. And that’s alright!

I always struggle with mediocre relationships, relationships that don’t feel even in their effort, one sided relationships…I think that this is the one area that blogging irks me, the one sided relationship part. Maybe its an inevitability, bloggers at many points gain such a following that actual sincere interaction is impossible, I think due to wishful thinking I hoped it would be different.

That I wouldn’t feel out of the loop, the group, the core, the ‘blogging community’, even with my efforts to connect. I think I am just momentarily frustrated at how one sided it all feels many times.

Any thoughts, yourselves? Is the ‘blogging community’ an elusive goal for some bloggers? What exactly is a ‘blogging community’ anyway? Any thoughts on the difference between certain generations who are bloggers? Is the system of interaction between better known and lesser known bloggers faulty or just normal?

These are the ‘life changing’ things I ponder as I await hearing back about job applications ;)

A Blogging Autobiography

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Yesterday I watched American Blogger, a movie documenting the stories and lives behind blogs across the nation.

The movie, created by Christ Wiegand, husband to popular blogger Casey Wiegand, delved into the purpose and reason for blogging, a concept that is lost on many people who don’t blog and don’t understand the connection it can have with so many people.

Apart from being a technically excellent film, it was also incredibly astute at revealing, in an even more personal way, the people behind blogs through the nuances that only film can supply.

The film inspired me to create a short video of my own blogging history,

and also gave me the idea for ‘Blogger Autobiographies’

American Blogger helped even me, an avid blogger, gain a different perspective about the people behind blogs, it was so interesting to hear people talk about the names of their blog and the reason behind their blog. It got me curious to hear more of their stories and answers to certain questions!

The project ‘Blogger Autobiographies’ will feature different bloggers who will answer 5 questions,

1) When/Why did you first start blogging?

2) Why did you choose your blog name?

3) What is the core story or purpose behind your blog?

4) What do you hope your blog will become and continue to be?

5) What would be different in your life if blogs didn’t exist?

and by doing so, not only allow for more people to perhaps connect with their blogging experiences, but also allow bloggers to reflect on their own stories, and to allow readers to see the basics of their blogging history in a succinct and unique form!!

I know I am always looking out for new blogs to visit, but I have the hardest time coming across new ones that I can relate to because their are just so many!! I hope this project might also provide a place for readers to access and find out about new blogs as they read a little about each blogger’s personal beginning and blog purpose! Think of it as a blog library. :)

I am still working out the technical side of beginning the project, but I hope to begin featuring bloggers weekly and soon!!

Cheers!!

early august evening

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last night Justin and I took a walk on the back road our house is set on,

i had been doing the dinner dishes while Justin was playing guitar in the back room and at some point in the dish doing process I looked up to see an abundance of soft yellow sunlight bathing the back porch and yard.

in an instant I knew that I wanted to go on a walk, to stand in the gentle sunlight as it wished the day goodbye,

it sounds dramatic, but there is just something about the sun, in the morning and in the evening, that ministers to me so much.

it always seems so brave and confident, yet at the same time gentle and restful.

it not only beckons one to be fearless, but it also seems to promise that even when you can’t be it will still be there to revive you with the energy and warmth of its rays.

i’m not much of an outdoorsy person, too many bugs and unpredictable elements,

but nights like last night always make me feel like I could live outside forever.

the summer is coming to a close, things are finally about to settle down I believe,

the sun last night was almost a reassuring gesture saying, ‘you made it.

granted, I did with much less grace and poise then I hoped, but sometimes making it is just enough.

:)

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Abode

I have constantly struggled between my desire for color in a home and my minimalist tendencies.

For the longest time I thought minimalist meant neutral, that color could not be included in home essentials for fear of being too overpowering, but then my desire for color would kick in and I would begin to add art pieces and accessories to try to fulfill that love of cheerful decor!

I would feel satisfied with the color accessories for a while, but then I would begin to feel like my home was just cluttered again, so out went the colorful accessories leaving a minimalist neutral home behind, exactly what I wanted, or so I thought.

This cycle has repeated again and again and again, until today, I have FINALLY realized what my plan of action must be!!

I LOVE color in a home, but I also LOVE minimalist, uncluttered spaces,

SO, to solve the problem, I need to begin, slowly, replacing the core pieces of my house with colorful replacements!!
The solution is not to add a colorful pillow or lamp here or there, but to replace the neutral couch with a bright yellow one,

I have to go more basic and essential with my color additions!!

Living Room

For the living room I want to go with royal blue, dandelion yellow, and pine green, along with a wooden coffee table and dresser-like bureau-tv-stand-ish piece.

Dining Room

For the dining room I want to shift from the red we have now to shades of yellow, a wooden table and wooden wall art, also the light fixture in the bottom left would be a dream come true, though it may have to wait for awhile longer!

Kitchen

I also want to move my kitchen away from reds to greens and whites, I want it to become and feel more natural.

Master Bedroom

For the master bedroom I want to ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, keep bedding white, and incorporate color through throw pillows and wall art!! I also love wooden dressers with chubby handles, so that will be incorporated at some point as well!

Around the House

For around the house I want to start bringing more color into play in unique and simple ways, I’m still thinking through this a lot , but the pictures above are very inspiring and keep me thinking in the right direction!

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Lots of natural light is also one of my highest goals in a home, neutral or color, it always looks better with as much natural light as possible!!

So, kind of a random Monday blogpost, but it was just so great to finally gain a clear direction on how to begin to build my home decor in the best and most long term way!!

So what about you? How do you incorporate color and neutrals into your home?