dusty days

 jacket: american eagle
shirt: wrangler

I love the desert. I always have - something about the wide open space and how resolutely old everything is. Joshua Tree is one of those rare places where we can get as close as possible to earth untouched by humans, and it's a good place to just chill out and recenter. On Sunday we packed up some pastries and hit the road to Pioneertown, an abandoned film set that looks exactly like many of the abandoned actual towns dotted over more northern areas in California (you know - where there's water sometimes). The town itself is very cute - I 10/10 fully recommend the petting the goats (Mitzi, Topanga, and Sam) on the porch of the fiber shop and playing with Emma the Pitbull who lives in the Pioneertown General Store.  There's also loads of photo ops, so put on your boots.

It was nice to get out of the city, breathe in large quantities of naturally produced dirt, and look at some prolific cacti. I think sometimes it becomes very difficult to slow down, especially when you're in college and working and trying to maintain the facade of being a functional human being. Lately "self-care" has become this thing that we're really comfortable talking about, but I don't think we always have the ability to implement the practices we wish we could. We try shortcuts - meditation apps, "soundscape" podcasts, lights that change color and change your mood - but there's no replacement for just rolling down your window and looking at some really old mountains that don't care if you met your deadline, or if you bought some shoes you shouldn't have, or that someone from highschool is moving to the same city as you. It's a calm that can't be replicated, and really doesn't need to be. 

In the immortal words of Ron Swanson: "I think it's pointless for a human to paint scenes of nature when they can go outside and stand in it."


x Justina 

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skincare sunday: drunk in love

all product was a gift from drunk elephant (inspector drunk kit, $88) but I actually put it on my face

If you dig back far enough into the internet, you'll easily find photos of 16 year old Justina, whose cystic acne had reached Pro-Activ commercial levels of damage. It wasn't great for my self-esteem, but it was the catalyst for my obsession with skincare. After years and years of talking about literally anything else, I've decided it's time to pursue my true goal: 
making my skin look half as good as Rihanna's.

Until that happens, I'm just going to keep trying out new skincare products and routines, and because I am categorically unable to keep anything to myself, I'm going to document it right here. 
Welcome to *distant airhorn* SKINCARE SUNDAY.

A few weeks ago, Drunk Elephant very generously sent me their Inspector Drunk holiday kit to explore. I'd heard about the brand a lot, all good things, and will admit I was suspicious. As a naturally cynical person, I am obviously disinclined to believe in anything that has 100% positive reviews from people I love and trust. So it was with my doubts close in mind that I first slathered the night serum across my face and drifted to sleep.


After a few days of using the cleansing jelly, intensive hydrating serum, and the night serum, 
my skin is *snaps in Jonathan Van Ness*  
hydrated, glowing, and beING ITS BEST SELF.  
I live in LA now, so it's not that easy anymore.

I am not a dermatologist, so I cannot explain exactly why all of these products work, but I can testify to seeing an overall improvement in the texture and look of my face.  I would definitely recommend this kit for anyone wanting to give their skin a nice, glowy boost without doing anything too intense. Plus, it comes with a super fun magnifying glass so you can read all the ingredients 
(or, if you're me, inspect your pores.)

Skincare Sunday Rating: Rihanna at the Met Gala in 2015.

May you go forth and glow up.

xx Justina 

                                        ps. my 21st birthday is in two days WHAT
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hey what's up hello

Well, that was it, my biennial drop off the face of this blog. It's crazy, because so many blog-gable things happened, but by the time I processed they were over. Now's the moment thought, we're back on air. Here's what happened on the previous episode of "Justina's Life":

1. I GOT A TATTOO. It's a lil 4-H clover. No matter where I go in this world, I'll have grown up in that program and it seemed fitting to me that it would be permanently represented on the outside the way it is on the inside.

2. I QUIT MY JOB. It was absolutely devastating. I know most people aren't attached to their jobs, but the women (and men) I worked with at LUSH taught me so much, not just about soap and bathbombs, but about being a grown-up person, and I will forever love them for that.

3. I MOVED TO LA. I know, I know, I finally did it.  (If you want to see my apartment, click here.) The confetti has settled, but I still wake up every day and am shook that we actually did it. I transferred to Cal State Fullerton and got a new job, and am now on a deep dive in LA blogger + influencer culture. (But that's a whole other blog post.)

There are other little things - I bought a cow skin rug, went back to Austin again, changed my major, got a Disneyland Annual Pass - but that's all you really needed to know to get caught up.

In a week, I'll be 21. In two months, this blog will be 8 years old. It's incredible to think that what started as a (okay, I'll admit it now) minute rebellion by my 13 year old self ended up shaping my entire life path. Almost as incredible as the fact that you're still reading it. Thanks for that.

It's good to be back.

x Justina 

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a few short hours in austin

First of all, a MASSIVE thank you to my main (Texan) man Trent, who picked me up at the airport and was the most excellent tour guide, even though I was sticky and mildly sleep deprived. 

Picture it: two days before camp, in the middle of the busiest summer of my life, I get on a plane to Austin for a trip that will last about 27 hours. Great, you're caught up on my reality. I'm here for the spring meeting of the ONA Board, eating tacos and discussing structural frameworks. Ahead of an all-day meeting, I had a couple of precious hours to explore, and Trent made sure they didn't go wasted. Here's what we did:

1. Get a (cold) drink at Fleet: This cute lil industrial-style coffee shop probably fits like 25 people max, and makes a mean vanilla iced coffee. Very photogenic, and I would definitely recommend trying some of the non-tea items.

2. Drive dirrrrectly to Torchy's: TACOS. TEXAS. TORCHY'S. Is it a coincidence that all of these start with the letter "T"? Probably not.  I had a Wrangler and a Trailer Park (Trashy style) with chips and queso and a Mexican cola. 11/10 would recommend.

3. Wander around South Congress: We walked down the street, peeking in the artsy little stores and hijacking their air conditioning. Highlights included Russell's Boots, the "I love you so much" wall, and the self-identified homeless man selling macrame bracelets to benefit his dog. (I bought one. It's great.)

4.  Get (another) cold drink at Patika: A bigger spot than our first stop, it's a community gathering area, and serves lots of fresh local foods. I had a vanilla Italian soda with LOTS of ice, met Trent's mom, and the barista looked a bit like Jon Snow, so a fantastic use of time all around. 

5. Sit down to dinner at Lenoir: *FULL DISCLOSURE* I did not have to pay for this eye watering-ly expensive dinner, but it was so beautiful that I felt like it deserved to be here. Special mention: the wagyu steak I had that was perfectly, perfectly seared exactly the way I like it.


That's how I passed six hours in Austin,
gained approx. 573995 pounds,
and sweated out every ounce of liquid in my body.

xx Justina

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let's enjoy this

Life is stressful. And sometimes, even if you're doing things you really want to do, you burn out. Your to-do list is terrifying, you don't want to talk to anyone, and staying in bed bingeing on Brooklyn 99 seems like the most reasonable way to pass your day. Or summer. Whatever. 

It used to hit me for weeks at a time, and I was really doing things I love. When you're looking for help pulling yourself out of your slump, it seems like every mommy-blogger and "fitspo" model is telling you all you need to do is pray, juice a lot of raw vegetables, and buy a SUV full of Lululemon and your whole existence will turn around. As someone with neither the inclination or the budget to do any of that, I sort of just bumped around and crashed into a lot of self-help books. Then, writing my advice column, I started to get a lot of questions from people on how just be ...better. I'll be honest: I don't always feel qualified to answer this, but I do believe strongly in leaning into your desire to better yourself. I make myself lists all the time, so here's one for you on how to make everything just a lil more joyous:

1. Fix the outside: Look, in the immortal words of my hero Tan France, "You'll feel much better when the outside matches the inside." I love overalls, sparkly makeup, and my wild curly hair, and I embrace that every day with the way that I dress and present myself. My aesthetic is fun, but can get serious really quick. I have a nose ring, and will probably eventually accumulate some tattoos, and that may affect future opportunities. Whatever judgements people may pass on me as a result of the way I look is on them, and while we're both going to have to live with that, it's an easy price for me to pay to unleash my personality.  Allow yourself to express the person you are, and you'll feel a lot more confident and comfortable in your day-to-day. It won't always be easy - budgets, judgement, and a host of other outside influences may discourage you. Ultimately, you need to make that call though, because you're the one walking around every day as yourself. 

2. Plan it out: I know, I know, this is a worn out soap box, but everyone needs to get their **** together and in order to do that, you need a schedule. Start light - write down when you need to go to work, what time you want to wake up, stuff like that. Then start adding in time for studying, family time, or date nights. Eventually, you'll be down to when you want to do laundry and the dinner reservation you made for your next anniversary. I used to be a MASSIVE procrastinator, because I knew the last minute was always there for me. Now, I like a two week lead on everything. Routine is SUCH a huge component of organizing my life and not only making sure that I stay on top of stuff, but that I know what I'm looking forward to when it gets done. You'll also start to see it in other parts of your life, whether it's what you do before breakfast every day, or how you budget yourself. As you become more naturally organized, you'll start to feel like you have more time - because you will. Go do something fun with it. 

3. Build a tribe: I will be the first to admit that I am a serial friend-maker. I am extremely interested in people, and will genuinely encourage you to tell me your entire life story. With that said, I realized about two years ago that while I was launching a lot of relationships, I wasn't cultivating them, and so I was essentially investing my time in dead stock. I had to take a serious look at a lot of my friendships and ask "How are either of us benefitting from this relationship? Do I genuinely enjoy spending time with you?" Too often when spending time with some people I would catch myself spacing out, checking my phone for the 4578238x time, or listening for an opportunity to speak. I became more comfortable with the idea that it wasn't selfish to bow out of those relationships, because neither of us were truly happy. As I began to thin the ranks, some people truly began to shine, and I could truly invest in them. I find myself today with a smaller, but much more solid front line of humans I am delighted to call family. 

These three things are the building blocks I've used to improve not just myself, but my life. I still get easily anxious, procrastinate, and find myself tearing through my closet because "nothing looks good", but it's less frequent now. I feel, well, not peaceful per se, because I'm pretty much always over-caffinated and under-slept, but happy. I hope that by sharing this, you get a little piece of that too. If we all do it together, maybe we can take over the entire planet and get rid of all the "juice bars" which are definitely just traps for people who go places solely to take Instagram photos.

Just checking to make sure you were paying attention. 

x Justina 

ps. if you read this and want to chat about it, email me: justina (at) abentpieceofwire (dot) com

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click click

Some of these probably look familiar to you. They're the most popular photos of me or taken by me over the last three months. But they have something else in common: they were all shot with a Fujifilm x-t10. 

Right before we left for Germany, Fujifilm reached out and offered me a bloggers dream for a European trip - a new camera to document the whole thing with. There's plenty of reviews for it all over the internet from people who understand the inner workings of a camera better than I do, but here's the lowdown on things I think are important.

I've never been a fancy operation, and honestly we shoot a lot on an iPhone, so this was a serious upgrade. The Fujifilm x-t10 is a little more sophisticated than I'm used to working with, and I was definitely a little skeptical of all its bells and whistles but man oh man have I fallen in love with this camera. It has the ease of use of my point-and-shoot cameras but the quality of image is beyond. I also found that it was really simple to adjust to whatever we were shooting. People? Done. Massive historical landmarks? Simple. Really low light? Covered. It's also wi-fi equipped which was perfect for when we're traveling, and is the one feature that truly kept my Instagram ALIVE. Jordan would also like it noted that it's not as bulky and heavy as most DSLRs, and is a lot easier to carry around all day than bigger cameras. (It's like I made him carry the backpack all month or something. heh.)

Overally, the x-t10 was the PERFECT camera for what we do: shoot fun photos of our adventures, overalls, and occasionally, our friends. It made everything look fantastic, and caught details I swear I can barely see with my eyes.

Overall score: 10/10 Justina Points.

(If I could go higher I would, 
but I don't make the rules around here)

x Justina

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outta pocket

sweater: primark
overalls: h&m
shoes: converse

Okay so unlike basically everyone else on earth, I didn't go to Coachella this year. But in my defense, I dress like this every day. 

All jokes aside, for the last couple of weeks I was so busy that I definitely started to slack off in the outfit department. I definitely have a ~uniform~ and it makes it really easy for me to get dressed quickly, without thinking about how my clothes make me feel. Noooooot the healthiest form of self-care. In an effort to reverse it before I got in too deep, I've started actually checking the weather and trying to at least lay out clothes the night before like a Responsible Adult™. I mean, true, the short dress I had planned for today didn't work out with the whole "surprise hail storm" thing, but I ADAPTED okay

 I've literally been in overalls since the day this blog was born, and I don't anticipate changing my ways anytime soon.

You really can't beat the pouch pocket
(or all the things you can fit in it, thus reducing the need to carry a purse)

x Justina

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girls girls girls

Okay I am the least domestic person I know, but I was proud of this.

When I was in Germany, I started watching a lot of Parks and Rec, and it made me miss my girl friends, as Leslie Knope does. So I sent out a spontaneous e-vite to my friends (and then texted them all about it) for a girls night in...and promptly forgot about it. In all the excitement of coming home, it became just another sticker on a day that seemed pretty far away, as far as my schedule was concerned. But then it was two days away, and I needed a Party Plan, stat. As most desperate women do, I turned to Pinterest. After a lot of harried pinning, I HAD A LIST. In an effort to save you my panic attack, here's how it went down:

1. A craft is KEY. We made floral letters like these, and all the supplies only cost me around $15 with a nifty Michaels coupon and a raid on the floral section at Dollar Tree. 

2. I have a tendency to overfeed people, (see: the Super Bowl Mac n Cheese fiasco of 2018) and since there were just four of us, wanted to keep the menu small. I set up a popcorn bar, made some cupcakes, and also (not pictured, because my camera died) made some virgin gorgeous mai-tais

3. Basic elementary school knowledge tells you that you must have a movie, so we watched this mini-doc on Bella Thorne, and then The Princess Diaries 2 (clearly the superior one).

4. If you know me, you know there was a dress code. I told everyone to come in their comfy clothes, be it pyjamas or leggings or whatever.  This is where the guest list comes in, because you need to have a ~safe space~. You've got to really trust a woman to wear pyjamas in her house.

Needless to say, we had a laugh. As you get older, there's a lot less opportunities to just hang out in someones house without boys or drinking or whatever. The social pressure to go out is very real, and honestly, it's exhausting. I think we can all agree that it's much more fun to sit on your couch. Or maybe not, I don't know, I've never sat on your couch.

If you need a party in a pinch, here's a link to my board. 

May you go forth and party with your girls.

x Justina

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think pink

top: primark
jeans: topshop
clogs: troentorp

look who's back in the sunshine

25 hours and an aggressive case of jet lag later, I'm hoooooome. I've spent the last two days tearing around town in my Jeep, enjoying the 75 degree blue skies, and clopping about in my new Troentorp clogs. I never remember how much I hate leaving my house until I do for, you know, a week or four. 

This top is the last thing I bought at my beloved Primark before we left Europe. It's part of my effort to wear ~real shirts~ every once in a while, instead of my usual graphic tee or massive sweater. I wasn't sure how I felt about the pattern,  but am pleasantly surprised by the ice cream man vibes it give me. Plus it's got massive sleeves, which is pretty nifty for hiding the massive amount of hair bands I wear looped around my wrists like a 6th grader during the silly bandz era. 

x Justina

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(amster)dam good time

I can't believe I've never been to Amsterdam. 

First of all, the entire city smells like warm waffles. (and another, more controlled substance that I've grown used to in California) Secondly, it's adorable. Almost every building I saw was tilted at a frightening angle, but everyone else seemed cool with it, so I think that's just what they're like. And last, but best of all, are the people. Everywhere you look, there are very tall, friendly, happy Dutch people celebrating living in an incredibly diverse and expensive city filled with sidewalks and efficient public transport.

Even though the entire city is filled with tourists, it never feels ~touristy~ in the way many other cities in Europe do. They museums are small, but excellently set up to control crowds, and are all centrally located so it's convenient to visit them all in one day. Which we definitely did. The Van Gogh museum was a stunning testament to just how important family can be, no matter how talented an individual. The MOCA had this wild Roy Lichtenstein/Banksy exhibit that takes over every corner of a gorgeous old house (bonus points for a student discount on tickets!!). The Rijksmuseum is definitely the largest and most overwhelming museum I've ever been in, but has an unrivaled Old Masters collection that I geeked out over. Basically, 10/10 for all.

A word (or several) must be said about the food. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of the "munchie" variety, but there is also a massive variety of ethnic cuisines to choose from, especially as you get out of tourist areas. We ate a 17 course Indonesian rijsttafel at Aneka Rasa, and lived to tell a very delicious tale. I also ate, and dripped, a lot of waffles with Nutella all over the city, and it was worth it every time.

Last but definitely most important: DO NOT WALK IN FRONT OF THE BIKES. They will not stop, not even when they run you over in the street. A child might attempt to veer off, but the adults will not even lean on their brakes. If you insist on crossing in front of them, you do so at your own risk. Personally, I like the way I look without tire tracks across my face.

x Justina

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