travel guide: santa fe

Here is the thing you need to know about Santa Fe: It is very empty and filled with old people. That's not a bad thing, but definitely sets the tone if you are under the age of...oh, 65. My mom and I spent three days eating tacos and looking at rocks, and it was a straight up good time.


3 Tips For Side Hustle Success

I get asked a lot about having a side hustle and being a solo operator in the content creation world. I don't know if it's because I work in ~the internet realms~ or just because I've been around a long time, but people seem to trust what I'm saying. I'll admit that I've had a lot of practice: I've been blogging/vlogging/posting to your local social platforms for almost nine years, and in that time have gotten my fair share of the #SponCon game. So when GoDaddy approached me about how I make it happen, I decided I  want to tell you my top three tips for making your internet dreams a reality.


mexico travel diary: playa del carmen & cancun

I wrote this months ago. Then finals hit, I burned out, and forgot that it existed. Today, on the first Monday of summer, I return. 

Jordan and I spent the last week getting fat and crispy on the Riviera Maya in Playa Del Carmen + Cancun. It is technically our spring break, but if you know me at all, you know better than to envision clubs and water raging on jet skis. Here's a day by day break down of how we got around:


mini view: retinol

Of all the things I have ever put on my face in the name of "skincare",  retinol is definitely the most mysterious. I am super suspicious of anything that promises to smooth without an exfoliant, and because my skin is already very sensitive, if something COMES with a "this is really strong" warning, I tend to hold off.  Then this nifty little cream showed up, and I'll admit, my brand loyalty to DE won me over. 

The first time I tried it, I was way too excited and not only squeezed the tube the wrong way (it's super sensitive and requires A Gentle Touch, which I have never possessed) but put way too much on. The peeling was swift and brutal. But after two days of gently exfoliating and apologizing profusely, I was GLOWING. A week passed before I felt brave enough to try it again, and this time I mixed a pea-sized amount into a few drops of my facial oil, and used that to spread it across my face. After a couple weeks of this, I could see a marked change in not just the texture of my skin, but in areas where I still have faint scarring from my cystic acne. 

With all that said, this is a VERY strong product, and I strongly advise against trying to rush its work. I heard from some people who said they had used it three times a week and were fine, but that seems like fake news to me. Skincare is a process, and quick results won't last. 

A-Passioni is a GREAT addition to the toolkit for anyone who has an established routine, and is looking to even out skin tone + texture. It is NOT a standalone product, you definitely need to hydrate your skin afterwards. As always, try it out and WAIT to see how your skin reacts, then adjust amount/usage rate, etc. 

Have you tried a retinol product? Have you tried this one? WHAT DID YOU THINK?!

x Justina 


so here we are

photos by bailey mingo //@bailey mingo

whewwww child that was a break, wasn't it? 

It's not you, it's me. It's always me. I'm the one signing up for too many classes, spending too much time watching Netflix, and running low on good reasons to write these posts. But I'm going to keep doing it anyway, because I like hanging out with you guys. Plus, unlike my Italian, I don't think I've completely lost the touch just yet. I do think I'll be going in a new direction with the blog - but let's be honest, there wasn't that much direction here to start with. I'm the creative equivalent of a preschool finger painting, multi-colored and with bits of cheerios stuck on. 

 Living in Los Angeles has been life changing - not just because I now add 2 hours to my estimated driving times, or because a smoothie can run you $15, but because for the first time ever my surroundings match my goals. It definitely isn't always easy, and sometimes it's laughably difficult, but I'm so proud of Jordan and I for making it work. It has definitely pushed me to be more aware of my actions, and how I spend my energy. I've become better at saying "no" to things I don't think will serve me, and saying "yes", even if there isn't a whole plan (that was honestly way harder for me). I do a lot of things that *marie kondo smiling peacefully* spark joy for me, and I've seen a massive improvement in how I engage with the world around me. 

Honestly, that's what brought me back to my couch tonight, logging into this blog for the first time in five months to write real words. Over the last eight years, this little piece of the internet has brought me so many good moments, and we aren't even close to the end yet. Moving forward, I'll still be wearing cute outfits, bright eyeshadows, and a loud mouth, but I'm also going to extend on my advice column, talk about pop culture (better than that one time I tried it in 2013), and let you guys in on the bigger parts of my life happening *points into the distance* out there. 

Stick around, this is going to be fun.

x Justina 

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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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