Five Reasons To Replace Blogger’s Built-in Comment System With Disqus

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It hit me like a brick wall one morning as I sipped my coffee and went through my reader: I had to change my comment system. It was an improvement that I’d been considering for a while and just hadn’t gotten around to, but as I sat and waited for a pop-up comment window to load I realized I was annoyed. Of course, I can acknowledge that I’m impatient, so I took another sip of coffee and told myself to relax. But when I closed my browser only to see that the comment hadn’t been published because of the word verification, it occurred to me that leaving a comment is often more frustrating than it should be. It shouldn’t be frustrating at all. In fact, it should be easy, and it should feel like a conversation. Enter: Disqus, the system I recently installed here on Style by Santina.

Five Reasons To Replace Blogger’s Built-in Comment System With Disqus:
5. It’s painless! Disqus not only makes installation easy but also allows you to import all existing comments with just a few mouse clicks.


Tip: It can take up to twenty-four hours for all existing comments to be imported, so don’t stress if all your comments aren’t immediately visible. How would you know if something went astray? Just compare the count of comments in Blogger to the number imported by Disqus, and remember: comments marked as Spam will not be imported.

Also, all the comments are imported exactly as they appear. Like many others, I have often attempted to reply to a comment by posting one myself with an @username. Eventually, I want to go back and clean things up by reposting them as actual replies.

4. Moderate comments by replying to email notifications of comments. I have to admit, I am constantly checking my inbox for new comments, and most of the time I do so using my iPhone. Sure, moderating Blogger comments with email is possible, but it’s cumbersome and requires clicking through a link that redirects you to Blogger. Not logged into Blogger? One more step. I don’t like steps; I like easy.

With Disqus, you simply reply to the email with “Approve”, “Delete”, or “Spam”. That’s it.


Tip: Be sure you don’t misspell your command. Anything other than those three words will not only approve the comment but also post the content as a reply to it. I once responded with “Approved” and only realized it as I was replying to comments and saw that one comment already had a response…from me…saying “Approved”. Oops.

3. Two words: Whitelist/Blacklist. Comment moderation is made even easier with these tools. I’m fortunate to have some loyal commenters, like Ashley, whose comments I know to approve before I even read them. Thanks to the Disqus, I can finally approve them once and for all, so that their comments are posted immediately.


2. There’s an explicit link between a comment and a reply. This was one of the biggest motivators in my move to Disqus. I wanted to reply to reader’s specific comments but in a public way. Sure, the @username approach is a workaround albeit a crude one, but who wants to wade through comments searching for a reply? Not me, so why would I expect anyone else to? Replying to a comment also generates an email notification, as long as the commenter’s Disqus account allows notifications.


Tip: Find a test buddy. Be sure to test that notifications are not only being successfully sent but also directed to the commenter’s inbox. Thanks to Morgan, I recently realized that some people aren’t receiving notifications of my replies to their comments. I’m working with Disqus to get to the bottom of the issue, but here are a few tips:
• Ensure your account allows notifications (instructions can be found here)
• Check your spam filter
• Add *@disqus.com and *@disqus.net to your email’s whitelist
• Still no luck? Let the blog owner know!

1. More comments! More conversation! While it’s impossible for me to definitively say that installing Disqus has resulted in more comments, I have observed an increase. I should note that my replies to comments are included in the count and I’m replying via comments almost exclusively now. Despite the quantity, I definitely feel like the quality of conversation has improved since installing Disqus. And, after my last post, I think I can safely say that’s what most of us hope for!

Okay, it's confession time: I started this post more than a week ago but didn’t finish it until now. I questioned whether there would be interest in hearing the benefits of moving from Blogger’s built-in comment system to Disqus, but after quite a bit of Twitter buzz, I decided it was time. (Besides, I hate leaving something unfinished!) I acknowledge that my last few posts have diverged from the normal topics included here on Style by Santina, and I’d love your feedback. Are you interested in posts aimed at better blogging?

Comments: Let's Interact, Baby.

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If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know that I’ve been thinking about comments recently and from a different perspective than I usually do (as in the “I want more!” perspective). It all started as I was leaving a comment on one of my favorite blogs. I realized that for quite some time I have commented on nearly every single post by this particular blogger and yet I had no real reason to believe they had actually been read (never mind appreciated). Not once did I receive any sort of response, be it a reply to my comment, an email, or a comment on my blog. Nothing. Nada. I have to admit that I took pause before ultimately deciding to submit the comment. I mean, the outfit rocked and the post made me smile, so why not say as much?

As the morning went on, I couldn’t stop wondering: should I allow a lack of response discourage me from commenting? So, I took to Twitter for a quick poll:



The responses ranged from understanding a blogger’s busy schedule to complete disengagement from unresponsive bloggers, but there was a definite general consensus: everyone wants a response!

Hey, we’re all busy! Most of us understand that you’re a busy blogger bee, but if I find the time to let you know what I liked about your post, I think you can take a minute to say “thank you”. Something a little more personal – an email or a comment on my blog – would be even better. Personally, I reply to almost every single comment I receive. Granted, the volume of comments here on Style by Santina is a mere fraction of those on so many other blogs, but there’s no excuse. There are plenty of bloggers out there who get the kind of volume I can only hope to one day achieve and still manage to show their gratitude. Say hello to Kristina, Vahni, or Taylor (just to name a few) – I bet she’ll say hi back!

Doesn’t it make your day to see that someone commented on your recent post? Yeah, me too. When it comes to comments from other bloggers, please check out their blogs and show some support over there with a comment. While I understand that someone liking your blog doesn’t guarantee you’ll like his or hers, but I’m confident you could find at least one post that resonates enough with you to comment. What do you have to lose? Fifteen minutes? You’ll brighten someone’s day, and who knows? Maybe you’ll even find a new blog that you really like!

You might not only discourage comments, but you might be losing readers. There was a fair share of responses from people who admitted to visiting a blog less frequently or stopping altogether because of a lack of interaction. These readers expect and look forward to a back and forth generated from comments, feeling that the resulting relationships are what blogging is all about.


It goes beyond responding to comments. While my Twitter poll focused on blog comments, it was noted that it’s not just unresponsiveness to comments that turn off readers, but ignoring Twitter mentions and direct emails could also impact readership.

So, fellow bloggers, what can we learn here?
  • Replying to comments keeps readers engaged and coming back for more. 
  • No one expects a response to every comment, but show some love every now and again.
  • Don’t ignore tweets, mentions or emails!
And, fellow commenters, make it easy to get a response!
  • Leave meaningful comments or questions to encourage an interaction. If you stop by only to say “check out my blog”, there’s nowhere to really go from there.
  • If commenting via Disqus, be sure your profile allows notifications of replies to your comments. I know that since I moved to Disqus, I reply almost exclusively through a reply to a comment; it feels more like a conversation that way but not if you don't receive the reply!
  • If commenting in Blogger, be sure you’re not a no-reply commenter. Otherwise, how can one get in touch with you? Sure, a reply could be left in another comment, but there’s no explicit link between comments (one of the main reasons why I moved to Disqus) so you’d have to scroll through all the comments to see if you were mentioned.


I was surprised at the response my little Twitter poll generated, and I’d love to hear from you here, as well. Are you a blogger? How do you reply to comments and at what frequency? Does knowing that you might be losing readers encourage you to respond to more comments? What about commenters? Do you leave a comment hoping for some level of interaction or do you just want to put your opinion out there regardless of a response?

You Asked, I Answered: Part 1

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What was the turning point/last straw/kicker that made you and your boyfriend seriously sit down and go, “OK let's do this”?

There were several motivators in our move to Mexico. First of all, after six years in Portland, I was over it. Waaaaaay over it. I enjoyed living there, but my time to go had come (actually it came about a year before I left) and a move was certain. I also absolutely abhorred my job, and as anyone with a full time job knows, being miserable forty hours a week is simply no way to live. The job market in Portland seemed perpetually grim, but more than that, I just didn’t want to be in Portland anymore. Now, I understand that many people would have started looking for a job in San Francisco, secured one, given two weeks notice, packed up, found an apartment and lived happily ever after…or at least until it was time to go somewhere new (I’m not really the “settling” kind). Rather than doing that, my boyfriend and I decided to take a break…from everything. After all, we had been working non-stop with the exception of a vacation here and there, one of which brought us to Sayulita. Like so many others who visit here, we fell in love with this small beach town and laidback vibe, and by the end of our two-week vacation we had already fallen into a happy routine. We returned to rainy Portland and office life in a cubicle, and it just occurred to us: we wanted more and we didn’t want to wait until a fabled retirement to get it. As clichĂ© as it sounds, all we have is the moment, and I just didn’t want to waste it. We started saving, visited Sayulita one more time (during the high season) to see if we still felt the same about living here, and then made it happen.

I was so happy on my last day of work, I twirled my way to happy hour!


Did you set a time limit for yourself?

We didn’t set a time limit for ourselves as much as we planned to go for as long as the money lasted and we were happy. This was never going to be a permanent move, and the money has lasted pretty much as long as expected.

Were you scared of leaving your life in Portland and of getting left behind by those whom you left?

As much as I was over Portland, I was still sad to leave. Six years is longer than I ever thought I’d stay in one place, so I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my life in Portland and I have many amazing memories of my time there. But it wasn’t my goodbye to Portland that broke my heart; it was all the goodbyes to friends that did it. I’ve never been the girl who has a million friends; I much prefer to have a close-knit group of friends. It seems I attract similar types, so the friendships I have are strong and loyal, and luckily for me, those aren’t the types that are easily broken by something as small as the 2500 miles between us! No, my friends are the kinds who say, “Sweet, you’re moving to Mexico? When can I visit?” (But only after assuring me that Portland could never be the same without me.)

It was so much fun showing friends like Kate , Erin and Leana around town!


What did you do with all your things? Did you put them in storage or bring most of it with you?

I packed away 99.99% of my belongings in Door to Door storage units, which are now in a safe, temperature controlled environment. Door to Door was an appealing option because I already knew I wouldn’t be returning to Portland, and moving services are offered. Having the containers waiting for me in San Francisco when I arrive sounds so much better than flying to Portland, unloading the containers, loading everything into a U-Haul and driving it all down. I absolutely hate moving and am all for making it easier! Now who wants to come help me unpack?

Funny story: When the pods were delivered to our house in Portland, my boyfriend was totally convinced that we could pack everything into just one of them. Granted, we did sell almost all of our furniture and other large household items, but one container? That was just crazy talk, and as soon as we started loading my handbag and shoe collection, it was more than clear that two were definitely necessary!

How did your cat feel about the move?

I love that I received a question about Marley! Thanks, Emily! Marley flew to Mexico in the cabin of the plane with us and was his usual sweet self on both flights. (Much like his mama, he slept most of the way.) We landed expecting to get in a cab and be in Sayulita in less than hour, but getting here proved to be much more difficult. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while now may recall that this area was hit with floods  in September. The bridge that would normally take us from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita was submerged in water, leaving it completely impassable. Once we got out of the airport, we took a cab to a boat, a boat to another cab, and then a cab to another cab…all in oppressive heat. Marley’s patience started to wear thin on the boat, and he really wanted out of his carrier. I couldn’t blame him, so I leashed him up and took him out. A kitty with blue eyes caused quite the stir on the boat, and Marley enjoyed all the attention until he was splashed with a bit of water. At that point he just buried his head into me and stayed there until we got to solid ground. Poor little guy!

Since then, Marley has been quite happy with his life in Mexico. We get to spend so much more time together, and he gets a healthy dose of sun everyday when sitting out on our patio. The warmer weather has also improved his health. Marley is epileptic and while our feline neurologist insists the notion is crazy (“the brain is a black box”, blah, blah) Marley’s frequency of seizures has historically increased in winter, particularly during times of sudden drops in temperature. This winter Marley has held steady at the frequency typically observed in summer. So, I’d say Marley is both happier and healthier than he was in Portland. (Aren’t we all?)


Have a question for me? Please leave a comment and let me know. I’ll continue this series until I get through them all! Thanks to everyone who has already submitted questions! 

Sole Mates: Plum Perfection

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I spied these shoes a few weeks back while putting together my post on adding a pop of color, and I just can’t get them out of my head. I love them. And, what’s not to love? The tassels, stitching, and, of course, amazing color make my masculine-meets-feminine-style-loving heart go pitter-patter. To build a look around these shoes, I’d pair them with more color and boyish (yet girly) separates: bright blue pants in a slim cut, a classic shirt with a feminine twist (it’s silk) and a structured bag in a bright yellow hue.

Copycat

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March 19, 2011

Jacket: UO (Urban Outfitters)
Dress: Forever 21
Sunglasses: Ray Ban (Saks)
Shoes: Vans (a gift)

I can’t take credit for this one. I saw this picture of Diane Kruger and decided to wear my own version of her casual cool look.  Let’s be honest, no one can deny that the girl oozes style and when she’s not decked out in Chanel (swoon), she’s often seen in effortlessly chic looks that we can all recreate. Taking a cue from her, I reached for my well-loved military jacket, a new striped tank dress, and my checkerboard Vans. While I’m definitely looking forward to a return to a less casual style, I can definitely see myself wearing another version of this military jacket/tank dress/sneakers combination after I return to the States. Just add about a hundred pounds of accessories and an oversized bag, and I’d be ready for a long day of shopping.

Style How-To: Add a Pop of Color!

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From monochromatic looks begging for an extra somethin’ somethin’ to looks already drenched in color but ready for more, I’m not one to shy away from adding a pop of color. My tendency to add color to nearly any look has been noted over and over again in comments (thanks, I love hearing what you think!) since the start of Style by Santina, so when Elle from Elle Sees sent out a call for guest posts highlighting fashion or beauty tips, I thought I’d share how to easily add color to a look with as little as one item from your closet. (And, of course I had to share it with all of you over here, too!) A quick dissection of my style would reveal three main ways I add color to my looks: bags, shoes and scarves. 

Bags!
In my opinion, nothing adds instant style to a look better than a fabulous bag. While I have my fair share of what most consider everyday bags (think: a black patent bag in a classic shape), those aren’t the ones I reach for most. I much prefer poppy, blue, and every color in between…extra points for bold patterns. There’s just something about a basic outfit paired with an attention-grabbing bag that’s so chic to me.

Bags by: H&M // Coach // Marc by Marc Jacobs

Craving some colorful arm candy? Feast your eyes on these beauties:

Bags by (click to shop): Coach // Marc by Marc Jacobs // ModCloth

Shoes!
There’s no denying my shoe addiction. Sometimes I really can’t control myself: I see ‘em, I love ‘em, I buy ‘em. Of course, my love for color doesn’t mean that I don’t have more pairs of black heels than I’d like to admit, but I don’t discriminate. There is no color unwelcome in my closet…well maybe except for brown, but you’ll even find a bit of that in there. Heels, wedges, ballet flats, oxfords – any style in a bold color will brighten up your look (and your day, if you’re anything like me)!

Shoes by: Pour la Victoire // Coach // Marc by Marc Jacobs

Pining for some playful footwear? These should tickle your fancy:

Shoes (click to shop): Nine West // Dolce Vita // Hunter

Scarves!
The inclusion of scarves in my wardrobe happened without much thought. I didn’t set out one day to buy scarves, but I’d be lying if I said my collection hasn’t steadily grown. I find a casual elegance in draping scarves around my neck, and there’s something so irresistibly effortless about tying one around a favorite bag. Despite how I wear them, scarves are definitely an easy way to inject some color into any look, any time of year.

Scarves by: BCBG Max Azria, Zac Posen for Target, H&M

Scouring for scarves? Slip one of these around your neck (or waist...or bag):

Scarves by (click to shop): Asos // Madewell // Marc by Marc Jacobs

Now that I’ve shared a few secrets to my color-loving style, tell me: how do you add vibrant hues to your wardrobe?

Week in Photos: March 11 - March 18

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Thanks, St. Patty...and Thank You!

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March 17, 2011

Tank: Ella Moss (Anthropologie)
Skirt: Forever 21
Belt: Gap
Shoes: Mossimo Supply Co. (Target)
Sunglasses: Forever 21

Confession: I actually put this look together the last time I wore this tank, but in the end my heart longed for stripes (shocking, I know) so I tucked this skirt back into my closet, knowing I’d pull this look out at some point. After all, I don’t have that many options. While St. Patrick’s Day was completely overlooked in this beach town, I decided to wear a little green and once I did, I knew exactly what to wear.

I’ve worn this skirt quite a few times but have never strayed too far from its color palette when it came to tops. Perhaps I should thank St. Patty for the pairing of this vibrant green with all the purple, pinks and blues of the watercolor-like floral pattern because I love it. With March came the return of hot weather, so a knotted belt, some stripy shoes (why didn’t I think of that last time), and my new favorite sunglasses finished off this look. I have to say that I felt somewhat liberated after shedding all the layers I’ve been wearing, and I’d be lying if I said that the incredibly kind and encouraging comments I’ve received recently weren’t partially to thank for my newfound confidence. Thank you, friends, for not being like the rather rude man who approached me on the beach to ask what was wrong with my skin. I appreciate it!

And, don’t forget that you can still submit questions about my time in Mexico via comments on this post!

In a Sliver Of Sun

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March 14, 2011

Shirt: H&M (borrowed from the boyfriend)
Shorts: Gap
Belt: Forever 21
Shoes: Merona (Target)
Bag: H&M (San Francisco)
Sunglasses: Ray Ban (borrowed from the boyfriend)

I had every intention of snapping outfit photos during an afternoon outing for lunch, but those plans were slightly foiled when I realized I had forgotten the camera. Funny thing is that since moving to the beach, I rarely wear a purse, but I actually wore this one to carry the camera in. Without the camera, it was quite empty…so empty, one might think I would have realized that something was missing. By the time I got back to the house, a food coma was quickly approaching and I knew that if the photos didn’t happen immediately, they weren’t going to, so I snapped a few just outside my house right before the shade engulfed what little yard was left in sunshine.

Truth be told, I’m still struggling with a skin issue and still feeling self-conscious about showing too much skin. That being said, March has brought much warmer temperatures, and I’ve grown tired of hiding behind layers of clothes while everyone else in town is in barely there outfits. That combined with a new realization that I am not the only person in town afflicted with this skin issue (welcome to life in the tropics!) gave me a sense of empowerment. If all these other people didn’t care about putting their imperfections on display, why did I? I boldly pulled out this pair of shorts and threw them on with confidence, which wavered slightly when I glanced in the mirror. Not quite ready to accept defeat and reach for my boyfriend jeans, I tried unrolling these normally cuffed shorts and surprisingly felt more comfortable with an inch or two more of coverage. The boyish fit of the shorts inspired me to borrow from my favorite man, and the colors of this shirt were a perfect match. The boxy shape of the shirt paired with the baggy shorts created an unflattering silhouette, but it was nothing a belt couldn’t fix. After cinching my waist with this blue one, I couldn’t resist adding more blue with teal shoes and, of course, this rather empty bag.

If you haven’t already, please check out this post and submit a question via a comment. This is your chance to ask me absolutely anything about moving to and living in a small Mexican beach town. Answers will be posted next week! 

All Good Things Must Come to an End

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Hello friends! Please excuse this interruption in the normally fashion focused programming but it felt like time for an update. Those of you who have read Style by Santina for a while may remember that when I decided to leave Portland for a sunnier life here in Mexico, I knew it wouldn’t be a permanent move. Finding the thought of another rainy winter absolutely unbearable, leaving Portland was imminent but instead of packing up and heading to a new city and plugging into another 9-to-5, I opted to take advantage of the transition. Seven months (can you believe it’s been that long?) of sunshine later and the end is in sight. I will be back in the States by the end of May.

So, what’s next? When I finally say “hasta luego” to Mexico, the boyfriend, cats and I will make our way to San Francisco. Having wanted to move there for quite some time, I can’t say that I’m not looking forward to it, even if it means giving up the lazy beach life I know and love. I’m slowly starting to look for jobs, and if one should present itself before May, then my remaining time here will be cut a little short. “And what about the blog”, you ask? Well, I have big plans for Style by Santina, but I’m not ready to share those just yet. What I can say is that you will definitely witness a joyful reunion between me and my closet, as well as an enthusiastic return to my city style (if you’re a new reader, please click through my archives for a peek of what that looks like)!

Setting an end date has had an interesting effect on me. I find myself reflecting on my time here and what I’ve learned, and more than ever I’m savoring every moment as it’ll be over before I know it. Throughout this adventure, a few of you have expressed curiosity about my life in Mexico although exclusively through email, and I thought it might be fun to gather up some questions and share my responses in a subsequent post. What do you think? Any questions you’ve been dying to ask me? Why did I choose Mexico? How many bikinis did I pack? Anything at all – I’m ready! If you don’t feel comfortable posing a question publicly via a comment on this post, please do not hesitate to email me at: stylebysantina(at)gmail(dot)com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy birthday...to me!

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Yup, that’s right. It’s my birthday. Never one to plan too much, I have no idea how I’ll spend my day though I’m sure when all is said and done, it will have involved more tequila than I’d like. And, as it should, I suppose. Who knows if I’ll ever spend another birthday in Mexico?

It’s such a shame that Style by Santina wasn’t around last March to capture my birthday outfit. I’m a big believer in wearing something playfully ridiculous on my birthday, and last year’s look included polka dots, tulle, and bright pink tights. It was amazing, if I don’t say so myself. I looked through some pics from the night, hoping to find a blog appropriate gem hidden among the blurry shots, but alas I had no luck. Instead I decided to show you the birthday donut that kicked off my day last year (as captured on my iPhone). Because this picture lacks perspective, it doesn't accurately convey the enormity of this donut but according to Voodoo Doughnut it is equal to six in size! Hey, don't judge...it was my birthday.

Week in Photos: March 3 - March 10

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Imposter

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March 7, 2011

Cardigan: H&M
Shirt: Vintage (Mo Vintage)
Pants: Gap
Belt: Gap 
Sunglasses: Forever 21

I’m not sure what got into me when I pulled this look together. Despite some signature stripes, this outfit just does not scream “SANTINA!!!!” to me, and that makes me like it even more. I don't know who this imposter is, but I like her style. But you know what I like even more than this clash of pastel prints? The sunglasses. After my house was broken into back in September, I was left with only my Ray Bans, and I was craving some variety. I picked up two pairs of sunglasses during my trip to Portland, but this pair is definitely my favorite of the two. I absolutely adore the shape and color, especially since I’ve really been missing my white Chanel sunglasses, which I was wise enough to safely tuck away in storage. I hope you like them as much as I do, because I have the feeling you’ll be seeing a lot of them.

These pants are really old; I can only vaguely remember when I used to wear them. I found them while packing everything up before the move, and while the cut wasn’t my favorite I was kind of into the idea of bringing along something seersucker. After ignoring them for six months, I put them on and decided to make it work. The print and colors of the pants are so subtle that I decided to add another print with this vintage shirt I scored when I won that giveaway on Clyde’s Rebirth. The longer cardigan anchored the look, and my new favorite sunglasses finished it off.

It's a Stripe Off: Snowy Pixie vs. Sunny Pixie

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March 4, 2011


Dress: Forever 21
Necklace: J. Crew
Shoes: Sperry Top-Sider (Nordstrom Rack)
Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs (Nordstrom Rack)
Sunglasses: Ray Ban (borrowed from my boyfriend)

That’s right, amigos, more stripes. More stripes, but this time with purpose. It all started with a bit of hair love affair with Emily from Tomorrow Never Knows. It sounds something like this: “Your hair looks amazing. I love it!” “No, your hair looks amazing!” When we realized that we were both about to shed a few inches of what little hair we had left, we decided to coordinate a post showing off our new ‘do’s while wearing, you guessed it, stripes. We playfully dubbed it a “stripe off”; except when Emily sent me her picture it was obvious the she wasn’t playing. I mean, just look at how she’s staring me down…did someone say "Blue Steel"?


Be sure to head over to Tomorrow Never Knows and check out the rest of Emily’s post (and her impossibly adorable hair).

Because of an ongoing skin issue, I’m unable to spend time in the sun and I’m feeling a bit self-conscious about my skin. As a result, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the house. When I finally decided it was time to take off the sweatpants and actually get dressed, I knew I had to wear something that made me happy…like a new dress. A new, striped dress. You see, after six months of abstinence, I thought I could indulge in a bit of shopping while in Portland. I set a budget for myself and made a mental list of shopping guidelines, one of which was to not buy anything striped…I failed. I accepted my fate the minute I walked into Forever 21 and saw a sea of stripes, and I’d be lying if I said this was the only striped piece I left with.

This carefree nautical look had a calming effect on me, and as I spent the afternoon munching on tasty snacks and strolling around with my boyfriend, I couldn’t help but appreciate the simple things…like homemade ice cream and a friendly kitty I met along the way.

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