It's A Hair Story.

The 18th of June marked my first anniversary with my husband. 
Happy Anniversary to Us!
Doesn't Hubs look adorkable in Ralph Lauren?
I felt pretty, oh-so pretty! in my Taylor Tonal Stripe Fit & Flare Dress (Nordstrom).
Clutch: Gucci (circa 2005).
Heels: American Eagle (circa 2012).

While getting ready for our dinner at Simon and Seafort's, a seafood restaurant that has won several "Best of Alaska" awards, I realized it has also been over a year since I cut off a good length of my hair.

Initially, I cut my hair because it made sense: without a car, I was walking in the Texas heat every day. My thick, long curls carried more weight, more sweat, and took longer to naturally dry (I have never liked using heat on my hair; I don't even own a blow dryer).
Long Hair, Don't Care at South By Southwest 2012:
wearing a pleated Lulu's dress, via Texas Style Council, & vintage Tony Lama boots.

I wasn't nervous or scared when I told the stylist to cut so much. She kept asking me "Are you sure? I don't want you to be mad at me!"

My short hair got a few responses from people at my place of work at the time; one of the television hosts I was working with told me that I was "very brave for such a drastic change."

I didn't feel brave. The only thing I felt after was surprised: my cut locks revealed hair that had not been damaged by the sun, wisps of hair that were much darker. 

Then, as I adjusted to having shorter hairstyle, I felt an appreciation for my natural curls. I had tiny tendrils I had never noticed before. I could style my hair without using a number of products, I could use a Shampoo Plus Conditioner, and I could just shower and go! It was amazing.
Natural curl, with an Instagram filter.

Now that my hair is longer, I may one day cut it short again. Right now my goal is to learn how to style my longer hair: I've never been great at braids or fancy hairstyles. I would like to be, though. Maybe, in another year, I'll be blogging about that accomplishment!
My hair has gotten so long in a year!
Wearing: Vince Camuto Cuff Ankle Pants (Nordstrom); Collective Concepts Eyelet Shirt (Nordstrom);
Michael Kors leather flats (Nordstrom; similar).

I wear these shoes (and these Vince Camuto pants) all the time at work! Both are ultra-comfy.
My favorite bracelet, from a gift shop in Borrego Springs. My sister gave it to me a few Christmases ago!
My necklace came from Blackbird Clothes & Curios, in Austin (now closed).

Readers, have you ever done anything drastic with your hair? 


I Spy: Summertime in Alaska!

I know Summer Solstice isn't for a few more weeks. However, after the longest winter on record in Anchorage, the warmer weather has been refreshing.
What Spring? While hiking around Chugach State Park two weeks ago.

Friends, you should note that with "warmer weather," I mean highs in the 60's. A lot of people have been asking how I've adjusted from the warm weather of Texas to the cooler Alaskan climate.

Let me tell you: this past winter season was my first in five years. Having grown up in Montana, I am not a stranger to snow. Despite that, I had forgotten how to live in a cold weather climate. Let's just say the past nine months have been an adjustment. I throw around the word "acclimating" a lot. The problem is, I haven't acclimated just yet. 
Biscuit has acclimated! She has also learned how to ride in the back of John's truck.

I guess the toughest part about adjusting to the weather has been changing my diet to ensure that I don't gain weight because of the cold. I have been a gluten-free vegetarian for almost five years. I chose this particular lifestyle for personal health reasons. After a lot of thinking, I recently reintroduced fish back into my diet. This now means I am a pescetarian; someone who abstains from eating all meat and animal flesh, with the exception of fish. The decision was not the easiest: while Hubs was deployed, I actually lived as a vegan. 
If I were vegan, I could not enjoy my homemade sundaes.
This particular one has chocolate syrup, strawberries, and vanilla bean ice-cream.
Glass from Nordstrom; Spoon from Anthropologie.

Three things came to me when I decided to start eating fish again: 

First, fish is a local product here in Alaska. By eating fish from the state of Alaska, I am helping the local economy. 

Second, economically speaking, it's easier for Hubs (who eats meat) and me to share a few more foods within our diets. Hubs doesn't have to be gluten-free, so we buy separate breads and cereals. He has started drinking almond milk, among other things, which I appreciate. Grocery shopping has become less of a hassle now that I've started eating fish again. 

Lastly, because I became a vegetarian for various health reasons, I can now say that the main reason I became vegetarian is now irrelevant. Last year, when I had to go through the process of being medically cleared to make the move to Alaska (the government considers Alaska military bases to be overseas, or OCONUS, so spouses and dependents need special medical clearance), I learned that the health problem that drew concern is now gone. I will never start eating red meat or fowl again, but it is a relief to know that my efforts to live healthy are paying off. 

Will I eat fish every day? No. Will I eat fish for the rest of my life? Probably not. For right now, though, it makes sense to do so.

Speaking of living healthy, I gained about 15 pounds last year when I moved to Alaska. I'm happy to say that, since the beginning of the year, I have shed that extra weight and then some. Hubs and I are going to visit my California family in July, so I recently made a few purchases just for the vacation. I was shocked to see how many inches I have lost. Words cannot describe the joy I felt trying on swimsuits, especially the little Badgley Mischka number I ended up with. I cannot wait for next month! 
A small preview of what I will wear on vacation:

Things are slowly starting to come together again in my life. It's taken a few months, and having Hubs deployed was not easy. I am lucky to have him home again. Since he's been home, we've been discussing whether or not I should get my Master's degree at University of Alaska-Anchorage. I keep going back and forth on whether to pursue my MBA, or receive a Master's in the Art of Teaching. It will be fun to figure out which path I should take.

Until then, I am going to enjoy my first Alaskan summer.
 The sun starts to make its presence known at 4:30 am.


Anchorage: A Recap of Epic Proportions.

First Friday may have been over a week ago, but a few things have kept me away from posting a recap:

  • I bought a gently-used desk, and was finally able to organize my home office.
The walls are still a little bare, but I love that my home office is organized!
On a boat! I saw humpback whales, a gray whale, porpoises, seals, sea lions, eagles, and a puffin.
Wearing:The North Face 'K' Rain Trench (Nordstrom), 
Zella 'Barely Flare Booty' Pants (Nordstrom), and Nike Kids' gloves (Burlington).
Barely shown: previously photographed green H&M sweater, circa 2012.
  • I baked gluten-free, honey & chocolate-chip drop cookies for Hubs.
My mother was a pastry chef, so I grew up baking from scratch.
  • I've been working on my fitness. I've lost 15+ pounds since the beginning of 2013. When Hubs gets home, we're going to the gym!
  • I've been getting crafty with paint & glitter.

I love buying wood crafts from Michael's & making them my own!
  • Blogger has been having issues with their image uploader. It's such a waste of time to try to write a post when the photos aren't uploading correctly.
All right, so as for Blush: I went to their First Friday event solo, as I got off from work at 7 and the event was ending at 8. When I arrived, I was barely greeted. I was only told of the 20% discount on the Splendid merchandise when I asked for a fitting room. There wasn't any music playing in the store, so while in the fitting room, I listened to the sales girls' gossip about, well, other girls.

The entire experience was strange, as I usually enjoy shopping at the boutique. Maybe I hit them up on an off-night.
One things I have to say about Splendid: their merchandise is always extremely soft!
Wearing: Splendid's Bellini Jacket, Vince Camuto Skinny Ankle Pants (JBER Military Exchange), 
and Audrey Hepburn/Breakfast at Tiffany's tee (Wet Seal, circa 2009).

The owner of the shop was very helpful, and I asked her what types of events the shop had coming up. In June, Blush is celebrating its store's anniversary, so I may post about that in the future.


First Friday: Splendid Trunk Show at Blush Boutique.

Since moving to Anchorage last fall, I haven't posted a lot about the on-goings in this northern city. Here's a little something to get the ball rolling:
Splendid Trunk Show, featuring the brand's S/S 2013 Collection.

Blush Boutique; 720 D Street, Suite C, Anchorage, AK 99501.

First Friday, May 3rd; 4:30-8 pm.

Other Info?
Enjoy Trunk Show Discounts.
Receive a Gift with Purchase (While Supplies Last).
Bubbly & Bites Provided by Ginger, a local Asian & Pacific Rim Cuisine Restaurant.

Need More Info?
Visit Blush Boutique on Facebook.

Image via Blush Boutique.


The Big 2-4.

Last week, two things happened:
I baked my own birthday cake, turned 24, and Hubs came home from his first deployment!

Okay, so maybe that was three things. 

To sum it up: it was an emotional week. Recent, national events reminded me to stop, enjoy life, and keep in touch with loved ones. 

Birthdays, to me, are what a New Year's Day is to others: it's a time to review the past year, evaluate my successes and failures, and outline what I would like to do before Earth completes another rotation around the sun. 

I'm not exactly sure what things I would like to accomplish before I turn 25. But I know when I read my previous reflection on turning 23,  I have to laugh. I had no idea what the entirety of the year had in store for me, and as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.

I hope that my 24th year has as many adventures as my 23rd, if not more.

Speaking of adventures, now that Hubs is home, I have someone to share outdoor excursions with. Here are some of the photos I took on my birthday while hiking on base.
The moose came out for my birthday.
 Hubs, during our hike around Knik Arm.
The tide was coming in, and I decided to stand on a frozen mound of mud.
I felt like The Little Mermaid.
Knik Arm.
 At Six Mile Creek.
I couldn't be happier to have Hubs home!

Find me on Instagram to keep in touch & share photos! 


I Spy...The First of Many Anchorage Editions!

I know I (still) haven't written as much as I used to, but I am working on remedying that. I (still) have a slight fear of outfit posts and, to be honest, the snow here makes me not want to do anything but cozy up with my furbabies and watch chick flicks. I also never realized that living in a 3-bedroom house would take up so much time to clean.

So I've been going through old posts, thinking of ways I could write and share my recent experiences with all of my readers. I came across my old "I Spy" posts, and figured one was long over-due.

Also: just so everyone knows, I am a Nordstrom employee. As such, I am in no way instructed by the company as to what to post in regards to what I purchase & choose to share with y'all.

Now that I have that off my chest--I hope y'all enjoy the photos, as well as the weekend. Please send sunshine thoughts to Alaska; it has snowed over a foot in the past week!

Housewarming Gifts From My Father.
Heart-Shaped & Gluten-Free Chocolate-Chip Cookies.
A Retweet From the Land Down Under.
Six-Mile Lake on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
A Lemon Drop at Glacier Brewhouse

A Moonrise.
Kate Spade Coaster (1 of 4), from Nordstrom.
A Simple List for Hubs.
Primping & Color-Blocking: 
Cap-Sleeve Turtleneck from Maurices, circa 2007. 
Pleated Skirt from Anthropologie, 2013.


Music Monday: Marina and the Diamonds.

Marina Diamandis is the brain behind Marina and the Diamonds, a new-wave pop confection that's come into its own over the past few years. Three years ago, the Welsh singer-songwriter released "The Family Jewels" to rave reviews but little airplay in the United States. Marina's vocal style set her apart from the rest of the pack, and she has since retooled her sound to make it more mainstream.

The result?

I have heard the following uptempo song on Top 40 radio, as well as stores I frequent, including H&M and American Eagle Outfitters.
"Primadonna," courtesy of Atlantic Records.

"Primadonna" is the lead single from her second album, Electra Heart. The album was released a year ago, and debuted number one in the UK and Ireland. It reached number thirty-one on the Billboard 200, and number two on the Dance/Electronic Chart in the United States. 

Marina said in a television interview that her inspirations for Electra Heart were Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, and Marie Antoinette. Marina, who says "the Diamonds" are her fans and not the band backing her, describes her style as "vintage, cheerleader, cartoon." 

Quite an interesting mix of words, but when you consider her lyrics, how could you expect anything less?


Louis Vuitton A/W 2013: Prostitution Chic?

Yesterday, I watched a short fashion film that I found to be a bit unsettling. Produced by Love Magazine's editor-in-chief Kate Grand and directed by James Lima, the film is meant to be a promotional video for Louis Vuitton's Autumn/Winter 2013-14 collection.

To say the film is "controversial" would be an understatement: the models are wearing the Louis Vuitton collection while they appear to be soliciting sex.

Since its release, Louis Vuitton has tried its best to distance itself from the video, according to French publication The Local. Since I first watched the clip on Huffington Post last night, Kate Grand has apologized for any offense the short vid may have caused in a statement to Fashionista.

I first wrote my response to the video last night, on a group board on Facebook, but I thought I would give you a chance to see for yourself what the controversy is about. Keep in mind that the fashion film is NSFW and contains brief nudity.

Here is my initial response:

This is the analogy I took away from the clip and its imagery:  The models, being paid to wear clothes and sell a brand, are prostitutes; Marc Jacobs, as the designer, is their pimp.

As a whole, whether it be through design or marketing, and other etc. whatnot, the fashion industry will always push boundaries. It will always make someone, somewhere feel uncomfortable. It would be silly to deny that sex sells. However, when I consider the devastating implications of human trafficking, I personally am disgusted by what the video implies. 

It seems as though Love, the magazine, is trying to make a point, but what is it exactly? That the industry is morally bankrupt on selling? I don't see a positive spin to the story portrayed.

What do you think of the video?

I can't help but wonder if the roles were reversed--if the designer was a woman and the models were men, would there still be outrage? Also, did Marc Jacobs have a part in the creation of the film? Despite Louis Vuitton's official stance, their creative director is not only featured--styling models backstage at the recent Louis Vuitton A/W 2013-14 runway show--but he is thanked at the end of the credits.

Film Credit: Love Magazine.


Music Monday: Lana Del Rey.

Lana Del Rey in a global fashion campaign for H&;M.

Lana Del Rey seems to be everywhere these days. Describing herself as a "gangsta Nancy Sinatra" and her music as "sadcore," the singer enchants with her seductive, Lolita-inspired lyrics. She's won awards, sung for worldwide fashion campaigns, and created music videos that feel more like full-blown cinematic experiences. Del Rey has already bounced back from harsh criticism, and has released two albums and three EPs. How did she start out, though? And is Lana Del Rey even her real name?
Del Rey in her music video for "Born To Die."

Sadly, the answer is no. Lana Del Rey is the stage name of Elizabeth Woolridge Grant (she has also recorded under Mary Jailer). After having previous recordings shelved, Lizzy Grant released her first full-length album in 2010, Lana Del Rey A.K.A. Lizzy Grant, to no one's anticipation.

It was a flop.

After a name change and image retooling, Lana Del Rey did something millions do: she posted a video onto YouTube. Weeks later, she was signed by Interscope. The song she posted, "Video Games," was named one of the Best Songs of 2011 by NME. However, a  bad performance on Saturday Night Live nearly ruined her ride to success. Her handlers canceled several shows in the wake of the appearance, even a gig at South By Southwest.  Still, within a month after her SNL mishap, Del Rey's Born To Die was released. The album went on to sell over 3.4 million copies, becoming the 5th best-selling album of 2012.
Born To Die album cover.

So what is Lizzy Grant, er, Lana Del Rey doing now? She was the spokesperson for H&M's 2012 campaign, and surprised critics by winning "International Female Solo Artist" at the 2013 BRIT Awards. Del Rey's most recent EP, Paradise, was released on November 12th of last year.
Promotion photo for Born To Die: The Paradise Edition.

Fans could either buy the EP as a part of the Born To Die: Paradise Edition, or by itself. The EP, made up of eight songs, featured more of Del Rey's smoky, lounge singer vocals over sleepy beats. Most saw the EP as an improvement from Born To Die. "Ride," released in September, was the lead single. 

What do you think of Lana Del Rey? Do you like her throwback, Americana style? 

Image Credit: Thanks to Lana Del Rey's official Facebook, Interscope Records, and H&M.


She's Crafty: Paint With Stickers Tutorial!

I don't know if many of you know this, but I love to paint! I'm not that great at creating portraits or landscapes, so I try to keep things fun with abstract projects. A year or two ago, I came across a little painting project on Pinterest that I am going to show you today.

All you need for this DIY creation is:
  • Canvas or paper suitable for painting. Be aware that there are different types of each, and what you use depends on your choice of paint.
  • Paint & Paintbrushes! I like to use acrylics in primary colors, as well as white. 
  • Alphabet Stickers. I bought my puffy stickers at Michael's

1. Come up with something snappy to put on your canvas! I chose a song lyric. Also, think of how you want to lay out your stickers before you stick them down completely. Do you want them to be straight, or do you want there to be movement between letters?

2. I suggest painting over the stickers first; I did this because I wanted my letters to have specific coloring. If you're using puffy letters like I did, you may need to hold them down to do this. Either way, make sure your stickers are thoroughly painted over, otherwise the final effect will not be as spectacular. 

3. Finish the rest of your painting.
4. Let the paint dry.
5. Remove your stickers! Because my stickers were puffy, they were easy to remove. If you're using flat stickers, keep an X-acto knife handy, as those tend to leave behind unwanted residue.

VoilĂ ! Lyrics from John Lennon's "Instant Karma."

An alternative to this process? Paint your canvas first, place stickers, then paint over your design in its entirety with a single color. Then peel stickers! The letters will then have a neat design on a plain-looking canvas.

What do you think, readers? Do you like to paint? What kind of DIY projects do you like to do? 


Music Monday: Sky Ferreira.

I'm stepping outside of my cozy fashion bubble. So here we are, on my first of many Music Mondays, starring the highly talented, and yet still slightly unknown, singer-songwriter Sky Ferreira.

Maybe you've seen her around; she's been featured in countless magazines and ad campaigns, including the current festival collection for Forever 21.

But have you heard her?
Sky Ferreira.

I first heard of Sky Ferreira in 2009, when reading a post on WGSN about up-and-coming musical acts. At the age of 16, the singer had recently been signed by Parlophone and was a YouTube sensation: on "Happy Dre," she sang The Beatles' "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" over beats from Dr. Dre's "Still D.R.E.". She recorded a stripped-down cover of "Animal," which was originally recorded as electro pop by Miike Snow. And she isn't just a singer: Ms. Ferreira made her film debut in 2010's Putty Hill.

Ferreira then released three singles: "17," a cautionary tale of an out-of-control teen; "Obsession," a catchy ditty detailing one girl's one-sided devotion; and "One," a poppy and unadulterated dance track. 
Ms. Ferreira on the set of her video "One". 

With her popularity rising, you would think by now there would have been an album release. For whatever reason, her record label decided to push back her debut LP, and opted to released two EPs, As If! and Ghost. As If! was originally released on iTunes in March of 2011. However, since Ghost's release in October of last year, all of the tracks on As If! and the EP itself have been removed. This is likely due to Sky Ferreira's ever-changing sound that appears on Ghost.
Ghost EP; cover shot by Hedi Slimane, creative director of Saint Laurent.

Ghost has received generally favorable reviews, particularly the single "Everything Is Embarrassing". Pitchfork named it one of the best new singles of 2012, and New York Magazine named it Song Of The Year for 2012. An 80's throwback to the extreme, the dreamy pop song has the singer lament over a failed relationship. 

Other singles from Ghost include "Red Lips" and "Lost In My Bedroom," a song that was featured in a recent episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Ferreira is currently touring in support of her upcoming LP I'm Not Alright. She will be at South By Southwest for the music portion of the festival in Austin, TX, March 12th-17th.

Needless to say, she is undoubtedly one to watch in the coming months.

Image Credit: All photos were sourced from Sky Ferreira's official Facebook page.


The Moment You Remember That You Have A Blog.

Something's been gnawing at me for the past couple weeks.

When someone tweets about SXSW, or I see a fashion magazine detailing Taylor Swift's style transformation, I feel a pang in my heart. 

I'm completely and absolutely forgetting something. I'm forgetting something big that I love. 

And the feeling hasn't disappeared. It follows me around the house, hangs over me at work, and invades my thoughts when I'm watching Downton Abbey.

What is it that's been bothering me?

I realized it this afternoon, while I was reading an e-mail from a friend.

It's my blog!

My blog has been neglected, to the point where I haven't updated in five months. Yes, five months.

What have I done in that five months?

I began working at a major department store. I work in kids' wear, so it's been an interesting change of pace, to say the least.

I've moved three times; John and I did our final move in December. 

I adopted a cat; her name is Sapphire.
Sapphire & Biscuit: sisters from different misters.

So much has happened. And yet, the blog remained to be not updated.

The truth is, there are not as many fashion events in Anchorage. There aren't as many events, period.

So I've been writing a few ideas down, some that have nothing to do with fashion. I hope you'll look forward to them because starting Monday, Bella Vogue will be back. For real this time. 
All content, unless written otherwise, is property of Chelsea Hands.
Use of author's personal photos is strictly forbidden.