This past weekend I got to celebrate my 23rd birthday with some of my closest friends, and I still can't help but smile when I think about the day.
I've been wanting to throw a party for awhile now, and have been collecting DIY ideas for months, so when Studio Pep contacted me to collaborate for my birthday I was so excited! I've been follow them on Instagram and was totally in love with their confetti and balloons - having some for my own party was a dream come true. Not to mention the fact that the colors matched Target's party line perfectly! It was exactly the jumping off point I needed to plan the rest of my decor, while still staying on budget.
After finding out the lounge in my apartment building doesn't allow you to hang decorations, I had to change my plans a bit. My mom's new home was the best option, because there is plenty of space and white exposed-brick that seemed like an obvious choice for a photo booth.
As for the treats, baking has never been my forte, but I've recently started trying out recipes on the weekends in order to get better. I'm lucky to that my stepmom Alexis is an excellent baker and agreed to help me with some of the desserts I wasn't brave enough to try before. She definitely did most of the heavy lifting, but I can claim some of the more lopsided macarons as my work. I'm also pretty proud of the naked funfetti cake, which I decorated!
In case you're interested in making any of these goodies yourself, here are the recipes we used:
I also made the llama piñata (inspired by this Oh Happy Day post) , which is probably the thing I'm most proud of. There were tons of questions on how I did it, so expect a tutorial post soon!
Ultimately though, it wasn't just decor and snacks that made this day so great. I am so grateful for all of my friends who drove out of their way to celebrate with me, and who are always so supportive of this blog and my creative endeavors.
I got so lucky with each of you, there is no one else I would rather play Catch Phrase with on a Sunday afternoon. I guess Blink 182 was wrong - someone does like me when I'm 23.
One of my favorite feelings has always been that of finishing a really good book. Every time it's bittersweet: on one hand I love when storyline is perfectly wrapped up, but on the other hand I'm always wanting more of the world I was immersed in.
Each year I set a goal for myself to read a certain number of books (usually around 20 or so), and I thought that it would be fun to share my favorites. Keep in mind that most of these were not published in 2017. I have shelves upon shelves of books, many of which I buy in bulk from the Goodwill and then forget about for several years. In 2017 I wanted to start making a dent in my bargain books, so that I can continue buying more without guilt. However, a few of these are more recent because I can never resist a trip to the Amazon book store after someone recommends something to me.
In no particular order, here are my favorite books that I read last year:
Let me know if you end up reading or have read any of these books, I would love to know what you think - I'd also love recommendations for what to add to my list for 2018!
One of the things I've gotten into the habit of doing, is noticing places that would be good backdrops for photoshoots when I'm exploring the city. I first discovered this gorgeous mural about a year ago, and have been wanting to shoot in front of it ever since. Unfortunately it's a temporary installment while the city builds a new lightrail station, so when I found this turtleneck that matched the wall perfectly I knew it was finally time.
Every year the week after Christmas, I like to scour the sales at my favorite stores to try to find the things that weren't checked off my list. This turtleneck wasn't originally something I was looking for, but I immediately fell in love with the purple and pink knit. It was really unlike anything else I had (which is saying something considering just how many sweaters I happen to own). It's also super comfortable and warm - a huge plus since my desk at work is right beneath the AC.
To the office I pair this chunky knit with a pair of dark wash jeans and my pink vans, but I also love styling it for a night out. This dark blue corduroy skirt went so well, and was still laid back enough to wear to our favorite Chinese restaurant.
As for my shoes, I had been looking for the right pair of neutral over the knee boots for quite some time when I found this pair on sale from the GAP. Like the sweater, they also look great with a comfy pair of dark wash jeans and match almost everything in my closet. You'll be seeing more of them for sure!
Earrings: Forever 21
If you've been on social media this past year then you've probably seen videos of people using activated charcoal as a natural alternative to whitening products. There are several different brands of charcoal paste, each promising to brighten your smile without causing the sensitivity normally associated with whitening. Having white teeth is important to me, so I decided to partner with Bianco Smile in order to try activated charcoal for myself.
When I was a toddler I had a febrile seizure, which resulted in poor development of my adult teeth. Several teeth came in yellowed, and most have weak enamel that allows for frequent cavities. Because of this, I take dental care pretty seriously. I'm always looking for ways to achieve a whiter smile, but my teeth are really prone to the tingling sensation from products like Crest White Strips. When I first heard of activated charcoal I was really excited that there might be a product that could work for me, but I don't like to jump into fads without knowing more.
I immediately began researching the pros and cons to make sure it would be safe. Some of the things I found out during my research:
Bianco Smile recommends using the product 8-10 times in order to see the full effects. Since I like using fluoride pastes, I've been brushing with the powder each night before following with my usual toothpaste. My teeth feel super clean after, and using in combination with a minty paste helps get rid of the charcoal flavor. While Bianco Smile has a bit of minty flavor as well, you still do taste some of the charcoal. The first time I used the powder I really struggled with the mineral taste, but quickly got used to it and am able to finish brushing with no problem!
As for incorporating the powder into your current routine, it's super simple with only 3 quick steps:
The only immediate downside that I could see is that using a charcoal powder is a lot messier than a typical white toothpaste. Since the powder is obviously black and can make your sink look dirty after. As a result you will probably want a washcloth on hand. However, I use a charcoal face cleanser so I just wipe everything down when I am completely done with my nightly routine. I wouldn't recommend that you allow wet/loose powder to sit on your counter or in your sink overnight as it gets more difficult to clean once it dries.
If you're interested in trying activated charcoal for yourself, visit Bianco Smile and use code ALYSSA_20 for 20% off your purchase.
Thank you to Bianco Smile for collaborating on this post! The activated charcoal was provided at no cost, in exchange for my review. However all opinions expressed are my own.
I'm sure that I'm not alone in being glad to put 2017 behind me. This year I experienced several major life changes, including graduating college and hunting for a new job. A lot was uncertain and the political unrest certainly didn't help. But when I really look at the specifics of the past year, I realize that there was quite a bit of good that happened. Focusing on all of these positive things makes me thankful for all of the experiences (good and bad).
In no particular order here are just a few of the little things that made me happy in 2017:
Looking back on all of this (and more) has made me really excited for 2018.
22 | Seattle, Wa