6.30.2019

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.

6.03.2019

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:

2.14.2019

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 


2.04.2019

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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10.15.2018

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."


Yee-haw.


x Justina 

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9.30.2018

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.

Long story short, THIS STUFF IS EXACTLY AS GOOD AS EVERYONE SAID.

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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9.25.2018

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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6.22.2018

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.

ANNNNNNNNNND TIME.

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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6.18.2018

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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5.29.2018

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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