Moving on Up! Sort of…

Moving is fun. Aside from stressing about your credit, coming up with first and last months rent, how you’re going to deal with offsite laundry, how you’re going to persuade friends and family to be your movers, how you’re going to fit all of your clothes into your new tiny old century closet… the packing.. the unpacking (ahh!)… Okay- moving is a bit of a headache; but it is also a chance to start fresh! A chance to go through your things and get rid of what no longer suits you.. a chance to redecorate (if you can afford it after all that)… and a chance to try on new identities!

I’ve spent the past few days indulging in virtual tours of apartments that I probably can’t afford. It’s sort of like binge watching a show on Netflix… It’s totally addictive, you’re living in a fantasy, you feel guilty because you’ve been completely unproductive all day, but you have to watch one more!

I like to imagine my life in each apartment:

“I wonder what it would be like if I live downtown… sure there’s shootings every now and then but look at this quaint old building! The kitchen is tiny but how often do I cook really… and those hardwood floors.. they’re so Frank Lloyd right! My white fur rugs will look amazing on those floors.. Maybe I’ll just get rid of my car. Become one of those green Seattle people who bike and take the bus eveywhere?!”

“Ooh or maybe I want to live in this ultra modern luxury high rise with 1,000+ units! I’ll probably never find parking but everything is so updated.. so CLEAN… I think that’s cause it’s in a Gayborhood. Ooh I’ll buy all new stuff in only neutrals!! Minimalism is so on trend…” 

“Wait… but can’t you just picture me in this industrial building in the SODO district?! Exposed beams and brick walls! It looks like an artist lived there… I think that Instagram famous photographer did live here! Omg it’s so hipster chic… so Seattle.. so expensive.”

“Hmm.. well,  renting a room in a shared house is completely normal these days, right?! I mean, with Amazon adding 70,000 new employees every other day… rent is higher than Cheech & Chong here in Seattle! As long as there’s only girls in the house… what am I saying, that’s the equivalent of a sorority! I didn’t even want to live in one of those when I was in college… on second thought, maybe I’ll just get a second job! Then I can afford the luxury high rise… yeah.. there’s an idea”  

And on, and on, and on

So as you can tell it’s only the beginning of what will likely be a long and complicated apartment search but I’m excited. There’s nothing like having your own place… besides, it’s about time I started adulting.

P.S. If you haven’t already then you need to go follow me on Pinterest. I have boards a plenty!

How to Eat Barnacles

Gooseneck barnacles at the London Plane- Seattle, WA

Nobody tells you how to eat a barnacle… and unless you’re a Food Network regular you probably didn’t realize they were edible let alone considered a delicacy in many cultures.

No one told me how to eat a barnacle. A few drinks deep a waitress brings an overflowing bowl of something very prehistoric out… I’ve tried bone marrow, I’ve eaten turtle (sorry!) -aka I got this! I’m confident. I pick up one of the ugliest guys in the bowl and bite off everything but the shell. There was a pop of salt water followed by what tasted like the love child of Godzilla and a gooey duck… Or as I put it eloquently in my intoxicated state “that tastes like dinosaur dick”. It was leathery. It looked disturbing. It didn’t sit well. It turns out (as I discovered while researching the following morning in my regretful state) that you’re supposed to pinch the shell and peel off the leathery skin to reveal a sweet, pink, lobster-like flesh underneath- which is apparently quite delicious!

“…tasted like the love child of Godzilla and a gooey duck.”

As I carried on through my morning with the occasional barnacle burp I thought “this barnacle affair is very reminiscent of all life experiences”: They rarely come with instructions… they can be pretty scary.. sometimes you gotta just tear into them teeth first and hope for the best… And even when it goes awry you learn something valuable and grow from the experience.

I’ve been blessed to have many wonderful and life changing experiences this past year. I’ve traveled to new places, eaten spectacular meals, watched some of my dreams come true… (I watched Frodo Baggins DJ for goodness sake!!) You could say I’ve put myself out there, and I can say I have no regrets.

And since we’re on the topic of food I thought I’d take a look back at some of my favorite meals over the past couple of months… Looking at them makes me realize A.) I’m incredibly blessed and B.) Why I’ve gained 10lbs. I’ll tell you a secret though: so worth it!

***99% of these meals were courtesy of my truly incredible boyfriend

Why I Don’t Want to be a “Fashion Blogger”

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I used to be a “fashion blogger”. I used to beg my boyfriend to take me downtown to look for cool walls to shoot “outfit of the day” photos in front of. And I admit- these outfits were usually inspired by other fashion bloggers and completely lacking in originality… not only that but they were outfits I wouldn’t be wearing for more than the twenty minutes we’d spend getting the perfect shot. I’m not telling you this in order to “pull the curtain away” and expose the truth of fashion blogging (because let’s be honest- most of you already knew this); I’m telling you this because it never dawned on me that what I was doing might be wrong. That was until I saw this photo…

There she was- Miroslava Duma (center) posing smugly between two other fashionistas at New York Fashion week. I had written an article about this queen of style just a year and a half earlier- praising her talents and calling her amazing. At Duma’s feet sits a homeless man- his clothing torn and stained- his arms bruised and battered. It’s a shocking image epitomizing the gap between those who have everything and those who have nothing. It’s heartbreaking- and suddenly the narcissism and unethical realities of fashion blogging are too glaringly obvious to ignore.

 When I started my blog it was out of a desire to express my love of fashion and creativity. It had nothing to do with a desire to showcase my closet or an endless hoard of “ootd” selfies. In fact the first 100+ posts on my blog didn’t show any photos of myself. It wasn’t until I started getting deeper into the fashion blogging world that I discovered all that was expected in order to be “successful”. To be honest, anyone can be a fashion blogger; there’s a very simple algorithm. Choose an all white background and bold black text, insert basic cutesie blog name ex. “Cashmere & Lattes”, purchase Forever 21 / H&M knock-offs of whatever Aimee Song is wearing, and finally find someone to take professional looking photos of you (*one of these photos should include you sipping a latte and/or looking longingly down at the ground for an unknown reason). Do all of this correctly and in a years time you’ll be almost famous (on Instagram anyway) and have an onslaught of brands offering you free stuff in return for social media praises. Sounds great? I actually think it sounds a little self-serving and dishonest.

Most of the time these brands want to control exactly what you say about their products. How much creativity is involved in taking freebies from big name brands and companies that want you to do their free advertising? Would you actually have purchased that item? Would you have actually worn it? All of the fashion blogging clones out there aren’t proving anything besides the fact that they can buy things and push a brand’s agenda; while simultaneously pushing impressionable girls to feel that they have to join the endless trend buying cycle (and go broke in the process).

In essence- fashion blogging is flawed; most systems are because they’re made up of people and people are flawed. But with all the people who are suffering in this world- how does one justify the glorification of parading around in outfits one can’t afford? I don’t want to condemn or discredit all of the hard working bloggers that are truly passionate about fashion. The ones who actually aim to inspire others on a deeper level than “buy this” and “like my selfie”. I simply hope that the authentic, unique, and truly stylish bloggers will work to reclaim their platform before it’s completely exhausted of its’ creativity… I hope that everyone will be more honest and insightful in their content… and most of all, I hope that Miroslava Duma handed that homeless man some money, and a coat shortly after that photo was snapped… I’d like to believe she did.

15 Signs You’re a Basic B!@#$

Do you own a diverse collection of Bath & Body Works’ scented candles?… Is your favorite coffee house Starbucks?… Do you have a piece of artwork in your home that reads: “Live. Laugh. Love.”?

If you answered yes to these questions- then you’re at risk of being a basic b!@#$ What is a basic bitch you might ask? It can be difficult to pin point because unlike the “Bad Bitch” or the “Boss Bitch” this bitch has an indistinguishable blandness. It’s someone without a sense of self- they are main-stream and unaware. In other words they like what they believe they’re supposed to like. If you’re still not sure where you fall on the basic-ness scale, I’ve comprised a list that should help:

1. Your favorite thing about fall is the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) at Starbucks

2. Your apartment is full of words- picture frames that say “Friends”, pillows that say “Love”

3. You live in yoga pants- and you love them even more when paired with Ugg boots

4. You’re a huge Katy Perry fan- but let’s face it, you’re a fan of anyone on popular radio

5. Your celebrity crush is Channing Tatum

6. Your favorite movie is The Notebook

7. You regularly get your nails done- and insist on a full set with hot pink tips

8. Your drink of choice is a Skinny Girl cocktail

9. Your hashtags are, well… basic. #summer

10. You regularly post “inspirational” Marilyn Monroe quotes to your twitter feed

11. Exercise means Zumba and hot yoga

12. You own something that says “Keep Calm and ___”

13. Your favorite shows are Friends and Sex in the City

14. Lauren Conrad is your girl- and you never miss the Hills reruns

15. You love to bake. Cupcakes anyone?

If you reached the bottom of this list only to discover you’re in fact basic, don’t worry, you’re in the company of many. But let’s be honest- in order to go round the world needs some basic bitches.

Is the Makeup Industry Being Taken Down by One Woman?

The $55 billion dollar beauty industry should be afraid, very afraid.

Harvard business student Grace Choi has created an at-home 3D makeup printer- capable of printing out eyeshadows, creams, lipsticks, etc. How is this possible? Grace developed her product based off of one thought: “The makeup industry…charges a huge premium on something that tech provides for free. Color.

The 3D makeup printer called Mink, works just like a regular printer; Only this one prints makeup- and has the ability to copy exact pigments used by the big name beauty brands. Imagine being able to print your own YSL Midnight Blue eyeshadow at home and without the cost! As Grace puts it,

“The make-up industry makes a whole lot of money on a whole lot of b——-“.

Click here to watch Grace and her 3D printer in action!

Also- visit Seneca & Spruce to find more articles written by me like this one! :)

Stop Getting Fooled by Fast Fashion

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Fast Fashion– noun; a term used to describe cheap and affordable clothes which are the result of catwalk designs moving into stores in the fastest possible way in order to respond to the latest trends.

The fashion industry has had an overhaul in the last 15 years. Distinct buying seasons and a focus on quality have been replaced by a constant flow of “quick response” trends; clothing that is manufactured quickly and cheaply allowing mainstream consumers to buy the latest fashions at a low price. Is this shift however costing you more than the $15 you spent on your Forever 21 sweater?

H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 are the retailers best known for their quick response fashion but they are also known for their poor quality. With a focus on bulk manufacturing and a fast turn around, quality assurance falls to the wayside. In other words, that $10 top you buy for Saturday night will have fallen apart by Sunday morning– sound familiar?

What was once a stable three month process from the design conception to store distribution can now be done in an alarming two weeks. But who is leading this fashion industry revolution? An article published by Pacific Standard Magazine titled “The Secret World of Fast Fashion” takes a deeper look at this phenomenon. Their findings:

“The nerve center of fast fashion in America is a sprawling, 30 square-block neighborhood in downtown LA… today pretty much everyone who works there is either Korean or Mexican- little husband and wife teams working alongside their children.”

The article goes on to describe the history of these immigrants; how their entrepreneurial attitude, decades of garment making experience, combined with setting up shop in LA during the 1990′s- created the perfect conditions for a fashion industry re-haul.

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Positives? There’s an accessibility to current trends for the average consumer that didn’t exist before. Finally you can purchase those shoes your favorite style blogger was wearing in Paris- or at least their much less expensive counterparts. Negatives? Unethical working conditions, depletion of natural resources, a negative environmental impact, increased pressure on the fashion industry, etc… and to make matters worse, the poor quality products which are designed to last only a few wears may end up in Goodwill- but much more often, in a landfill.

But with so many people buying in, how do we back out? It’s important to realize that there’s a strong disconnect between garment and consumer. It’s like many other big industries in America- they often go unquestioned because the average consumer wants to believe they have our best interests at heart. But discovering your skinny jeans were mass manufactured in a warehouse endlessly pumping out poorly made clothes makes them feel a little less special- don’t you think? It’s time to end the tireless trend cycle and start caring about where our garments come from- because once you do and you discover the passion and stories behind beautiful, well designed, ethical clothes- you’ll realize why you loved fashion in the first place. Try opting for local boutiques, one of a kind shops and e-commerce sites that offer higher quality products- buy less, but buy better.

You can find more articles like this one written by me at www.senecaandspruce.com

5 Insanely Fashionable Women You Need to Be Following on Instagram

If you’re anything like me then you’re a little obsessed with Instagram! Let’s face it, photo stalking your favorite fashionistas has never been easier (or more fun!) Here’s my list of inspiring ladies that you should be following on Insta right now! Warning: jealousy may occur!

1.) Nicole Warne @garypeppergirl

This girls’ got talent- model, creative stylist, world traveler, fashion blogger- the list goes on! If you like vivid colors, whimsy, and to-die-for fashion then this is the girl for you!

2.) Solange Knowles @saintrecords

Solange may be known best as the sister to Queen B miss Beyonce, but this ultra chic woman has a voice of her own! Heavily influenced by 70′s funk- her Instagram is a montage of bright colors, bold prints, and a laid-back indie vibe. I love a woman that isn’t afraid to be herself!

3.) Leandra Medine @manrepeller

The quirky humorous and insanely fashionable Leandra of Man Repeller is a must! She says it best: “A humorous website for some serious fashion.” I love a girl who can laugh at herself and look amazing in the process!

4.) Aimee Song @songofstyle

As any aspiring fashion blogger would tell you- Aimee Song is simply the best. A genuine girl with a full heart- her Instagram is full of delicious food porn, travel photos, and plenty of fashion perfection! I absolutely love her!

5.) Amber Fillerup @amberfillerup

Fashion blogger, wife, and soon to be mom- Amber is the creator of the Barefoot Blonde. Besides the fact that Amber has the most gorgeous hairstyles I’ve ever seen- she’s a lady of sophistication and class living a picture perfect life; and for that I’m pretty envious!

Who are your Instagram favorites that didn’t make the list?! I’d love to hear!

Dressing for the Desert

What does one wear in the desert… A Free People Dress and some lattice heels obviously! We shot these photos in Joshua Tree- a beautiful and mystical place outside of the Palm Springs area where thousands go to rock climb, camp, and take photos. Could you imagine a more perfect setting for this boho inspired look?!

Dress- Free People, www.shopbop.com $85

Heels- Diba, www.dsw.com $50

Necklaces- NastyGal, www.nastygal.com $30