Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Flower Chef

One of the things I wanted to accomplish on my 20 By 20 list was to take a class just for fun. At UCLA, I'm taking of really interesting, challenging, and intense classes. Sometimes it's nice to learn a new thing just for the fun of it. If you follow me on snapchat (which you totally should!) you might remember a few weeks ago when my mom and I took a floral arranging class at Fleurish. It was so much fun and I would definitely recommend going there for a super fun, unique, and creative afternoon! During that class, I realized what an art form floral arranging really is. My mom used to be a florist, so her arrangement turned out beautifully. Mine on the other hand, was not quite as expertly done! I definitely needed a little help from the professionals... :)

When Carly sent me her new book, The Flower Chef, the timing couldn't have been more perfect! I had just taken that floral arranging class and wanted to improve! Her book basically has "recipes" for different arrangements. I love to bake, so this concept of following an exact recipe made so much sense to me! The "ingredients" are the different flowers you'll need, and she gives detailed, step by step instructions to create the arrangement.

I gave it a try, and have to say, I improved a lot! The arrangement was so fun to create, brightened up my dorm, and added a little more sunshine to my day!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Sunrise Hike to the Hollywood Sign

dress c/o (use code "Hannah30" for 30% off) // hat // necklace c/o // bracelet c/o // scarf c/o 

A few Saturdays ago, I spent a beautiful, quiet, and very early morning hiking up to the Hollywood Sign. Never before had I been excited to wake up at 4am. I rolled out of bed, did my makeup in the dark car as we cruised along the empty freeway, and then hiked up a pretty challenging trail. We made it to the top just as the brand new sunshine peaked over the Hollywood Hills. I wouldn't say I'm a morning person, but there is something so beautiful about the quite and stillness of a brand new day.

We started hiking when it was pitch black. The sky turned from black to dark navy to twilight blue, and then streams of sunshine began to break through the fog. The sun slowly crept onto the horizon until all of the sudden, it was day. Our sunrise hike reminded me that life is kind of the same way. You go through each moment of each day until you realize how much has changed in the time that's passed. I stood under the great big sky for the entire sunrise, yet didn't actually notice each moment of change. Though you don't always notice change, it is always amazing to look back and see just how much you've grown. Change can be scary, but that quiet, slow sunrise also reminded me how beautiful it is. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." And wow, creation is just beautiful. I'll be honest, when I think of LA, beauty isn't exactly the first thing to some to mind. I often think of traffic and smoggy pollution and fake people. But looking over that sleepy valley was peaceful and quiet and truly beautiful. If I could encourage you: wake up before the sun every once in a while and savor sweet moments with friends. I got to go on a beautiful hike, hang out with two great friends, enjoy a rare quite moment in LA, and even knock something off my 20 By 20 list! Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Questions for My Mom

My mom and I are so similar in almost every way. Growing up. people always called me her mini me and now that I'm older, we constantly get asked if we're sisters. I take that as the biggest compliment because my mom is seriously awesome! I will be more than happy if I can be half as smart, cool, and stunning as she is when I'm a mom. A few months ago,  I found a list of questions to ask your mother. I thought it would be fun if we both answered these questions and compared our answers! Because we are obviously so similar, I was interested to see what our answers to these questions would be! I feel like I learned so much more about my mom and about myself!

Favorite color
Hannah: Yellow like sunshine // Jennifer: Purple 

Favorite movie 
Hannah: Lizzie McGuire Movie // Jennifer: Grease 

Favorite book 
Hannah: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn // Jennifer: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Favorite food
Hannah: Risotto // Jennifer: Apple fritters 

Sweet or salty? 
Hannah: Sweet // Jennifer: Sweet

Beach or mountains? 
Hannah: Is both an option? // Jennifer: Beach 

How would your childhood friends describe you? 
Hannah: Excited, stubborn, and smart  // Jennifer: Bossy and shy 

Outside of family members, what person inspires you the most? 
Hannah: Malala Yousafzai for her boldness, intelligence, and compassion  // Jennifer: Ellen or The Pope for the same reason (to live for others)

What is better about the world today than when you were growing up?
Hannah: Advances in technology and no more 90's scrunchies // Jennifer: The understanding and knowledge of healthy lifestyle

If you could go back in time to any period in history, where would you go? 
Hannah: Either Paris in the 1920s or America in the late 1800s // Jennifer: The Roaring 20s because of the dancing and fashion and literature

What is the best gift you've ever received?
Hannah: The ability to travel and learn about other perspectives // Jennifer: My children and husband 

What question would you ask your mom? 
Hannah: How do you do it all? You somehow love immeasurably and give so unconditionally to others while still pursuing your own dreams and goals. The love, energy, and passion you posses seems to never run out and I'd like to know how that's even possible! // Jennifer: What is the one most important thing you would want me to know from your life experience? 
This past Sunday, my mom and I celebrated our very first Mother’s Day apart. Though we may have been separated by hundreds of miles, I still was thinking of her every second of the day. Mother's Day is such a special day, but it's definitely not the only time we should show the most important ladies in our lives just how much they mean to us. If you have the chance, answer these questions with your mom (or mother figure) and leave them in the comments below!

PS: Check out how I celebrated Mother’s Day a little early this year!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What Will You Radiate?

Authenticity, kindness, passion, and joy are a few words that come to mind when I think of Radiate Market and it's founders, Alyssa and Kiera. Radiate is an online marketplace dedicated to empowering artisans from regions of the developing world by selling their products to a wider market. Basically it's a shop with beautiful, handmade jewelry that is actually giving back to the artisans and their communities. Alyssa and Kiera started Radiate at just 19 years old, and have already made such an global impact. Their excitement, focus, and passion is so evident, and this is a project that I am so excited to have small part in.  

Practically Imperfect is all about capturing the beauty of imperfections and the joy of each day. I am all about empowering others through kindness, authenticity, and joy- which is exactly what the team at Radiate does! When I received my necklace from Radiate, I also received a question. It read, "What will you radiate?" I loved this question because it made me recognize and think about the values I hold to be most important. If I go through each day with those specific values in mind, they will reflect in my actions. There are so many incredible traits that I aim to radiate, but the word I kept returning to was joy. I think that when you choose to radiate joy, other traits like kindness, positivity, love, and light will also shine from within. And I think the world could use a whole lot more of those things! I'd love to know in the comments below, what do you aim to radiate? 

Great news: Radiate Market is offering free shipping with the code "PracticallyImperfect" if you're interesting in supporting this awesome cause and getting some really beautiful jewelry. I am so excited to be taking over Radiate's Instagram today too, so make sure to check out my posts and give them a follow! 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Miles Apart, Close at Heart

Today is a very special day because one of my very best friends turns 19! My and Mandy's friendship is so unique and special. We happened to meet a few summers ago during a trip to NYC and completely hit it off. Thanks to countless letters, calls, texts, and snapchats, we were able to build our friendship even while living across the country. Mandy and I are both so different, but really get each other. She has been a source of endless support and encouragement (and sass!) in my life, especially when it comes to blogging. We started our blogs around the same time and I can't even express how incredible it has been to be on this journey together! We've been there for each other to brainstorm new ideas, work through tough decisions, and celebrate exciting milestones.

Celebrating Mandy's birthday today has me missing her more than ever and reminiscing on when we spent a whole week together here in California. It was so fun to have this North Carolina girl visit me on the West Coast. We had the best time hanging out in my hometown, exploring San Francisco, and soaking up the sun in Lake Tahoe, but I think my very favorite moment of Mandy's trip was seeing Mandy try In N Out for the first time. It must have been 2am, she was delirious from the time change, and we were both just cracking up throughout the entire meal. It's always those funny little memories that end up being the most meaningful. Happy birthday to my joyful, passionate, and always quirky blogging bestie! Sending so much love today and everyday! We may be miles apart, but Mandy and I will always be close at heart! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Madz Design

Meet Maddie Nieman. She's the designer and creative director behind Madz Design, and is a girl boss in every sense of the word. Her witty stationary is what first caught my attention, but I soon realized what an incredible designer and entrepreneurs she is as well. Maddie is a college grad from Chicago who recently moved to LA to build her brand. It was so great to ask Maddie a few questions and get her insight into the world of design!

Where did the idea to start your own business come from?
The idea to start my own business came about in a bit of an unexpected way. After studying advertising and graphic design in college, I got my first design job at a marketing agency back home in Chicago. But, I wasn’t even a full year into it when I had the “Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like” freak out that many twenty-somethings have. It got me thinking about the things I enjoyed most and what made me the happiest. Graphic design was still at the top of that list. But I was surprised to realize that one of the things I longed for most was from my college years, and had absolutely nothing to do with my majors. My junior year, I decided to take on a challenge completely outside of my comfort zone, and was elected president of my sorority. All of a sudden my days were now filled with exec meetings, budget reports, PR ideas, and a million other little things. No day was ever the same, and I loved it. But because of the bad rap sororities can get sometimes, I was nervous about how this could help my future or how it would look on a resume. But it wasn’t until an exec meeting with the Dean of Students that this all really clicked for me. He compared what we were doing to running a small business. And he was completely right. Now flash forward two years to “adult Maddie”. I’m sitting at my desk in my 9 to 5 job, taking a third bathroom break to check my Instagram. I was unfulfilled and anxious for something different. When I started really thinking about it, it was so clear that combining the two things I loved seemed like a perfect fit. A few months later, I gave my two weeks notice and decided to start my own design business. Two years later, and I haven’t looked back since. 

Describe your daily routine.
Well the beauty of running your own business is that none of my days feel routine. Yes, I wake up, I get dressed, make some breakfast, maybe go workout (emphasis on maybe). But when it comes time to sit down at my desk and get to work, every day is different. My work is split into two parts. Somedays, I’m focusing purely on graphic design and working with clients on a variety of projects from web to print design. The other days, which happen to be my favorite, I’m focused solely on my store, Shop Madz. Depending on the time of year, I can be spending my days brainstorming new ideas for greeting cards, putting together a wholesale catalog, answering customers questions, and most importantly fulfilling all of my orders. Truly, no day is ever the same.

What keeps you inspired?
My immediate answer to this question would be, Instagram. I wish I had a more interesting answer, but it truly does inspire me on a daily basis. I’m constantly following new people that are doing such interesting and unique things. Another huge inspiration for my designs is music. I’ve grown up dancing, and music has played such a huge part in my life. So naturally, it shows up in a majority of my products. I have playlists on my Spotify for pretty much every possible mood/occasion. The right playlist can bring out some of my best ideas!

During the weekend, your favorite thing to do is…
Well I moved out to LA a little under a year ago. So as a newbie still, I love anything that involves the ocean, sunshine, or some awesome dance classes. Also, don’t judge me for this… but sometimes my favorite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon is work. But only on the fun stuff. Since I no longer feel the pressures of deadlines or traditional working hours, I spend that extra time just creating cool things I wouldn’t find time to otherwise.

What has been the biggest surprise since you’ve launched Madz Design?
The biggest surprise was the first time one of my cards was featured in a Huffington Post article. It was the “You’re the Blair to my Serena” card. When I created my first line of cards for Valentine’s Day, I almost didn’t include that one. I was unsure anyone else would relate to it the way that I did. Clearly I’m not the only crazy Gossip Girl fan out there. Little did I know that it would be my all time best selling card. Thanks to that, I’m much more trusting of my initial opinions of the cards I create. Always trust your gut. I know I’m my toughest critic when it comes to my shop. So anytime I get something featured in a big article there’s an element of surprise, but mostly excitement. It’s much needed validation to stay true to my brand, my ideas, and my vision. 

How would you describe your brand in 3 words?
Paper Meets Personality :)

I'm so glad Maddie could stop by to share her design, blogging, and business wisdom! Now what are you still doing on my blog?! Go check out Maddie's witty, pretty, and colorful shop!

PS: More awesome girl boss interviews about working for Seventeen Magazine and being a full time fashion blogger.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Around My Neighborhood

photos by Tia Liu 

I am all about the poncho trend that's been popular lately. Give me an excuse to basically wear a blanket and I'm as happy as can be! This poncho from Forever 21 is so cozy and cute. I am constantly impressed by Forever 21. So many of the pieces look high end, but don't have the super high end price. If you can get past how chaotic and intimidating the stores often are, you will definitely be able to find some gems hidden on the racks. Another trend I'm loving? Double backed earrings. This pair from The Peach Box is simple, classic, and adds a perfect sparkle to any look.  

Shop the post below: 

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