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

follow A Bent Piece Of Wire on twitter|facebook|bloglovin

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



follow A Bent Piece Of Wire on twitter|facebook|bloglovin

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

follow A Bent Piece Of Wire on twitter|facebook|bloglovin

4.17.2018

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




follow A Bent Piece Of Wire on twitter|facebook|bloglovin

4.13.2018

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




follow A Bent Piece Of Wire on twitter|facebook|bloglovin

3.28.2018

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



follow A Bent Piece Of Wire on twitter|facebook|bloglovin

3.19.2018

(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



follow A Bent Piece Of Wire on twitter|facebook|bloglovin

3.12.2018

bonjour mon petit baguette


















except for the last one, all shot with a fujifilm x-t10

Here is the thing about Paris in the rain: 
In the movies, you can just skip around a puddle and jump in a taxi, and your baguettes and outfit stay nice and crisp. It's all very romantic and French and seems easily achievable with the right kind of hat. In reality, you get a bit damp and a bit frizzy and your outfit looks a bit limp. (But your baguette still tastes incredible. all three of them.)

 Paris was lovely. It looks exactly like you've always wanted to, and is filled with beautiful, silent, intimidatingly chic people who have made wearing monochromatic outfits and bread an art form. They walk impossibly fast, and drive like absolute crazy people (and I'm from California). The museums are huge, the coffee is strong, and the line of people trying to sell you souveniers are seemingly endless. We were there for three days over our anniversary last week, and it wasn't even close to enough time. Much like LA and London, Paris is the kind of city I'd need to go back to at least two or three more times to even wrap my brain around. With that said, there are certainly some things we did on this trip I never need to do again (*cough* Louvre *cough, sideways glance* Versailles). 

If you trust me on this, skip the Louvre and go to the Orangerie (tickets: $8.50 pp for students) instead. Honestly, the Mona Lisa is not that impressive, and having seen it printed on every other surface known to man, seeing it in the canvas was not that much different. Monet's Water Lilies exhibit in the Orangerie is a completely different experience. You literally have to sit down, then stand up, walk in a circle, walk back, get closer, and then go clear to the other side of the room and sit down again to take it all in. It's absolutely stunning, and no photo or recreation can do it any kind of justice.

Regarding food: TAKE EVERY SINGLE OPPORTUNITY PRESENTED TO BUY BREAD. I cannot over-state how good the baguettes are, and you can buy them for around one euro in any bakery you see. They're crunchy and soft and mmmmmm. For more "authentic" French food, get as far away from any restaurant with English subtitles as you can. After getting thoroughly lost on our anniversary (we walked nearly 10 miles around the city) Jordan and I settled on this little hole-in the wall in an alley because "it had character" (translation: we were starving) and I FINALLY got to try proper raclette. It's a dish involving melted cheese, which is all you really need to know. That, and you need to always take the grill pan out of the grill when it has little bits of cheese on it because it will set on fire. Not that I did that. Not at all.

The trip ended with us literally RUNNING across the city attempting to make our train back to Germany after the Metro stranded us somewhere deep underground. I nearly lost a lung and we missed our train, but hey, it was a good story.

I'm going to write a longer post with general sort of tips for traveling in Europe (Rick Steves, watch your job) but for Paris in particular, I would recommend this: if you're traveling just to see the city, and not for work or anything, forget about trying to out-dress everyone and just wear shoes you can walk in.* Taking a taxi or uber will spare your feet but not your wallet, and you'll miss out on a lot of the everyday stuff that makes this city so beautiful. I saw many a stylish American woman falling over themselves on the cobblestones this whole city is paved with, and a rolled ankle is not the sort of accessory you want to take home. 

x Justina


*Note: this is not an endorsement for ugly "walking shoes". Just wear your normal shoes. You're not climbing Everest.

pps. this wifi is suspicious af so pardon the incredible posting delays,
 this has taken nearly four hours to upload.






follow A Bent Piece Of Wire on twitter|facebook|bloglovin

2.22.2018

pack your bags kid





lil suitcase: delsey bastille lite
big suitcase: delsey bastille lite 29' spinner

It's no secret this time - we're going to Germany in a week, for a month. That's right, I'm packing up my brand new Delsey bags and hitting the skies again, headed for the land of pretzels and lederhosen. I'm really excited, and wildly underprepared. It's always like this with me - I make a plan, and lists, and schedules months in advance, and then about a week or so before, I abandon all of them. In this way, I almost ritualistically forget things. Important things. Like my-contacts-and-most-of-my-underwear things. 

But I'm trying to change my patterns - or at least pack a little earlier than the morning of.  Mainly because it's roughly 30 degrees everywhere in Europe, and my toes can't afford me leaving my socks at home. Also because I travel too much for this to keep happening, it's wildly embarrassing.  But (obviously) I need help. Packing tips? Send 'em. Techniques? Drop me a youtube link. 

Then all I have to do is make it on the plane.

x Justina


follow A Bent Piece Of Wire on twitter|facebook|bloglovin

1.31.2018

fresh kicks






I grew up in sartorial chaos.

 No one in my family dresses the same, as a rule. Trying to get ready for holiday photos was an absolute nightmare. No one agrees on patterns, aesthetics, or, god forbid, colors. But we always had Chucks. (Pink, black, bright red, and solid glitter, to be exact.) They were the one thing we all agreed on, probably because we could each have our own look. I can't say I was never in awe of the families who dressed like an LL Bean catalogue, but hey, it's what makes us unique. Years later, our chucks are still a wardrobe staple, and since he's part of the family now, we had to get Jordan his own pair. Don't worry, he's keeping the streak alive - he insisted on wearing floral print even though I was in plaid. 

But I guess that's what makes Chucks so iconic - you can wear them with whatever you want, 
and your girlfriend is still going to put you on her instagram feed. 

x Justina  

ps. how blinding are these? we need to put some miles on them.


follow A Bent Piece Of Wire on twitter|facebook|bloglovin