Cultivating Creativity

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I’ve spent the last year in what some would call art school. I’ve taken drawing, painting, design and computer imaging classes with some of the most creative, innovative, inspiring people I have ever met. Throughout my life, i have always admired “creative” people and wished I could be like them. Those who could be inspired by their surroundings and create something. I thought I never had that potential. I was creative, but in a different way. I could never make art. Sure, I could write a very well-written, thought-provoking piece on a topic that deeply interested me, style pictures and outfits and maintain a blog, but creating art, no way. Spending this last year taking many visual studies classes, I learned that I too am truly capable and creative, and anyone can be.

We live in a world dictated by results, wanting to do things the right way and following formulas. We have a set idea of results we need and do our best to get there as efficiently as possible. Instead of rushing through life to achieve results, I learned that the best results often come from creative exploration. Some of my best works were those where I had the most opportunity to play and experiment. There are no SparkNotes or short cuts for creatives.

I was so frustrated with my professor for giving us a final project in which our only instructions were to create a twelve panel mixed media work that “explored the motion of time through space” using the various techniques and styles with which we had worked throughout the term. What the heck is the exploration of motion through time and space?! And how the heck was I supposed to write an essay describing what I painted?! But I figured it out, and my work had a purpose. And I got that A+. Why? Because I was given creative freedom. I was given multiple weeks to explore and play around with various techniques, styles and ideas before settling on the final piece. I worked with my fellow students, got their advice and also critiqued their work and got inspired from them. And the work of my peers was so different than mine, but equally beautiful. Seeing how everyone took this confusing, vague prompt and created something expressive, meaningful and well crafted was inspiring in and of itself!

So take some time to just explore. Whether that is going somewhere by yourself to get some clarity or just sitting down with some pen and paper, exploring and playing are good for the mind and the soul. If you want to learn to paint, go to Michael’s, buy some paint and paper and experiment. I am certain you will create something you never thought possible. It may even lead to a bigger, better idea. If I learned one thing in college this year, it is that the best things happen unexpectedly.

I have made it a priority in my life to take time to create and think, whether it is writing, drawing, collaging or painting in my sketchbook. Sometimes, that process means taking time to read, watch and admire others’ work. Everyone’s creative process is different, but that’s what makes it fun. Buy a cheap journal and just play. Collage, paint, draw, write, sew, doodle, finger paint… just create something for the sake of creating something. Step out of the mindset of following a specific plan for specific results. Take a step away to explore, experiment, discover and play and you too will be creative.

 

image via Tumblr

Cultivating Creativity

New Year’s Style Resolutions

With the New Year, there is so much talk about resolutions and how to use the next 365 days to make yourself a better you. I love the idea of the clean, fresh slate that a New Year brings. I always make a few resolutions or goals that I try to work on throughout the year. A few days after New Year’s Day, I was sitting at home starting to pack up to go back to school for my winter term when I realized literally all of my clothes are black, white, grey or occasionally blush or olive. While often times a muted or all black look can be super chic and trendy, it also gets a little boring. So, I decided to make a New Year’s style resolution… to bring some color back into my life! Here’s some of my inspiration:

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Do you have any style resolutions this year? Comment below!

New Year’s Style Resolutions

January Favorites

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It’s crazy that the first month of the year is almost over! I started the month in Puerto Rico, wrapped up my winter break, then started my second term of my freshman year. It’s going well so far, but definitely much busier than last term. But, to an extent, I thrive on being busy, so it’s going well so far. Thanks to Christmas gifts and finally giving in to buying some things I’ve been eyeing for a while, I’ve tried a lot of new products in the past month, so I put together a favorites post.

S’well Bottle: I got this white marble (medium) S’well bottle for Christmas and I could not be more obsessed. I have always been a big water drinker, but this bottle is game changing. The one thing I hated about carrying a water bottle everywhere was that either A) it “sweat” on everything if I put ice in it or B) the water got room temperature after an hour. S’well solves these problems and it seriously does keep cold drinks cool for 24 hours (it also keeps hot drinks warm for 12 hours!). I recommend a S’well to anyone whose New Year’s Resolution is to drink more water.

FitBit Alta: Also in the athleisure trend category, I got a FitBit for Christmas and have been loving it. As just a watch, I love how thin it is (compared to the Apple Watch) and that I get texts on the device. I also of course love the fact that I can count my steps and have been enjoying pushing myself to get 10k+ each day.

HelloKaty on YouTube: This has been a favorite of the past few months, but I’ve been loving Katy’s content lately. She hasn’t posted a ton, but everything she has posted has been really high quality. Also- her Instagrams are beautiful, especially the ones with the typography on them! If you don’t follow her, check out her YouTube and Instagram.

Mario Badescu Skincare Regimen: In the fall, about a month or two after moving to Philadelphia (for school), I noticed a lot more breakouts and overall much worse looking skin. I had been using Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser, but it just wasn’t enough to combat the high stress of college combined with the grimy city air. I switched to Mario Badescu, a skincare brand that I actually used in middle school when I had acne, and have been loving the results. I use the Acne Facial Cleanser, Special Cucumber Lotion (toner) and oil-free moisturizer in the morning and at night. At night, I also use the drying cream for any blemishes. Also, I should note that sometimes I use the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser in the shower to take off my makeup, in addition to the morning and nighttime MB routine. I couldn’t recommend this skincare routine more- please let me know if you’d like a more detailed post about it.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story: After reading 3 books in my 6 days in Puerto Rico, I decided one of the things I wanted to work on this year was to read more. I’ve been reading almost every night before bed instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media, and it has been amazing. I go to sleep so much easier and I really did miss reading. Right now, I’m about halfway through It’s Kind of a Funny Story and I am really enjoying it so far.

Five Year Journal: My mom got my sister and I these five year journals as one of our Christmas gifts and I just love the concept. Every day, there is a random prompt and a few lines for each year. So, each year on the same day, you answer the same question and over time, can see how your habits/ likes/ mindset etc. has grown! The questions range from “one thing I’m looking forward to is…” to “my favorite song on my playlist right now is…” and 364 more 😉

New planner (mine is white, not pink): By now, many of you guys know that I am obsessed with planners. I got this one for Christmas and have been loving the layout and colors of it. This isn’t my only 2017 planner, but there is something completely refreshing about filling in a blank planner and getting super organized at the beginning of the year (and at the beginning of the term!).

Sheet Masks: I bought a couple of these from Urban Outfitters, actually, and have been loving them. Especially living in a dorm with communal bathrooms, it can be inconvenient to do a “traditional” face mask, so I love how easy these sheet masks are. I love the moisturizing one, but I just bought a variety 10-pack on Amazon, so I can’t wait to try them all.

So, accidentally, a lot of these favorites ended up being things I got for Christmas, so I guess that means that my family and friends did well at picking out gifts that I would like 😉. What are your January favorites? Leave me a comment below– I always love finding new products! 

January Favorites

Puerto Rico 2016-17 Recap

As our Christmas gift from our parents, my sister, parents and I spent the week in Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico which was the absolute best way to relax and get ready for the new year. We’ve been doing this for the past 6 years, so it’s something of a tradition now, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the holidays and get ready for the new year. We always leave the morning after Christmas and come home after the new year.

My favorite way to relax, rejuvenate and prepare for the new year is by laying on a beach chair with some great playlists, books and magazines! This trip, I read three books and caught up on a few of my favorite magazines, Teen Vogue, PORTER and InStyle. I read two fiction books, An Abndance of Katherines by John Green and This is Where You Leave Me by Johnathan Tropper, and one non-fiction book, Tales From the Back Row by Amy Odell. I think TFTBR was my favorite. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the fashion industry, either as a career path or just as a side interest.

As for our vacation itinerary, we basically spent all day and every day on the beach. We’ve visited some other places in Puerto Rico in the past and done more tourist-y things, but we all look forward to this vacation for the relaxing beach time so we kept it pretty simple this year. Here are some pictures from our trip:

 

 

 

 

 

Puerto Rico 2016-17 Recap

2016 Recap & Favorites // Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!! Reflecting on 2016, I couldn’t be happier with how the year turned out. It was a year of so many milestones for me and despite the bad rap its getting, 2016 was hands down the best year yet. That’s not to say there weren’t major challenges, disappointments and low points of the year, because there absolutely were. But all in all, 2016 was amazing.

I turned 18 and celebrated in New York City with the most fabulous weekend ever, I met one of my favorite bloggers, I got to be an assistant buyer for the boutique I work for, I made some amazing friendships in my senior year, I graduated high school, I watched my cousin get married and was lucky enough to be in the wedding, I went on my dream vacation to London and Paris, I watched my host-sister win an Olympic gold medal, I moved to an incredible city to start college to study my passion, I travelled to so many new places and spent so much time with family and friends and so many more wonderful moments and memories.

Here are some photo highlights, and then I’ll be signing off until next year! 😉

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Here’s to an even better 2017!! Happy New Year! XO, Nicole

2016 Recap & Favorites // Happy New Year!

Christmastime in the City

Last weekend, my family went to New York City for a fun trip before the holidays. We always do a weekend in early December to do some fun holiday activities in the city and celebrate my dad’s birthday, which is in the beginning of the month. We’ve been spending a December weekend in New York City for probably 10 or so years now and it’s one of my favorite holiday traditions!

Some of our favorite things to do around the holidays in New York City include the Bryant Park Christmas Village, seeing the Rockefeller tree, dinner at Bobby Van’s steak house, brunch at The Standard Grill (their holiday decor is amazing!) and seeing the unbelievable windows at Bergdorf’s, Saks and Bendels. Here are some snaps from our weekend:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmastime in the City

Parents Weekend Recap

This past weekend was Parents Weekend at my school and it was so much fun! Just spending 24 hours with my parents and sister was exactly what I needed before gearing up for final presentations, projects and exams in two short weeks (eek!). We took a ton of pictures, so I thought it would be fun to share a little recap of what we did.

First, we had lunch at Distrito on UPenn’s campus with my roommate and her parents. We were so busy catching up, I forgot to take pictures of what we actually ate, but you can trust me on this one. The guac was amazing and unlike any other guac I’ve had before. I got a burrito which was also delicious. We snapped a few pictures after our meal because the restaurant was just so cute!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch, my family walked over to Magic Gardens on South Street. Unfortunately, they closed early for a private event, so we didn’t get to go in and walk around. But we did end up snapping some pictures outside! After that, we walked back to Rittenhouse and did some shopping. We spent most of the afternoon just walking around and catching up, which was so great. You really can’t compare a FaceTime convo to one in real life!
Then, we went back to University City to walk around campus and I showed my family some of my favorite places in the neighborhood, which of course included a stop at Insomnia Cookies… a place my friends and I find ourselves at more often then we’d like to admit 😉
For dinner, my family went to Pod, a trendy Asian restaurant on University of Pennsylvania’s campus (just a short walk from Drexel). It was insanely good. We ordered a ton of dim sum (literally almost every plate on the menu) which was a great way to try so many different things. We also brought one of my best friends whose family couldn’t make it that weekend, so it was so much fun to introduce my family to her!

 

On Sunday, I met my parents back in Rittenhouse Square for brunch at Parc. Going with the theme of the weekend, the food was unbelievable. I had an avocado chicken BLT with fries and this sandwich was so good, I could go back and eat it everyday. We also shared a bread/ breakfast pastry basket filled with muffins, pastries and croissants which was to die for. Having little sweet pastries and things for breakfast is my absolute favorite.
After brunch, I had a mile long to-do list to catch up on and my family headed back home. It was the perfect weekend. Spending time with my family (over good food) was exactly what I needed to get through the crazy busy few weeks before Thanksgiving break.
Parents Weekend Recap