Pretty Awesome

Last night, I wrote a mini essay for a scholarship contest for Seventeen Magazine. The topic of the little "Essay" was to write about why I'm "pretty awesome." Specifically, it wanted to know why you were "pretty awesome" and creative. I'm the girl that has no problem with creativity. I quickly dove in and started writing about everything I've accomplished and everything I'm about to tackle this summer. I'm clearly a crazy girl.

Howdy, I’m Laura and I’m a do-it-all. At the age of seventeen, I had my first full-length book, The Assassin, voted for and read by HarperCollins publishing as a part of their inkpop website. Flash forward two and a half years later and I’m still writing. On top of writing murder mysteries, I run a successful lifestyle blog called Howdy Girl, I do freelance blog designing, I’m an intern at an advertising agency, a freshman in college, and I’m launching two businesses this summer – a photography company with my best friend called Maple Bluebonnet Studios, and I’m also starting my own Mary Kay Cosmetics business. While I’m not the typical “artist” when it comes to drawing with a pen and paper, I live a life looking for creativity wherever I go. I’m the kind of girl that won’t stop until she gets exactly what she wants and I’m looking for any and everyway possible to quench my thirst for creativity and that’s what makes me pretty awesome. 

Crazy? Oh, yes, indeed. But that's what makes me pretty awesome.


Cover Reveal - Adorned

When seventeen-year-old Anya finds out she’s actually an angel being trained to protect humanity, she discovers that becoming an angel has nothing to do with wings and haloes. For Anya, becoming an angel has to do with death—her death.
Micah, the angelic soldier ordered to protect her until she transitions from human to angel, promises her death will be a glorious experience as long as she follows his rules. But getting Anya through this life and to the next isn’t as simple as Micah expects. His job becomes even more difficult after he unwittingly performs a miracle that exposes Anya’s hidden angelic light. 
With her secret out, Hell’s legions begin targeting her. Unfortunately, Hell’s minions are the least of Micah’s worries. He’s more concerned about the forbidden human emotions he’s developed toward Anya.  Even more troubling, is she seems to love him too. And giving in to those feelings, could mean dire consequences for them both.

 Release day: November 4, 2013

Georgeann Swiger earned her degree in journalism from West Virginia University, and then spent five years as an anchor/reporter at WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, WV.  After having children, she left television news to be a stay at home mom. During that time, she discovered creative writing was more fun than writing about real life tragedy.  Imagining interesting characters and having them come to life on the page is now her passion. When she’s not writing, she works as a substitute teacher.  She lives in Reedsville, West Virginia with her husband, two kids, a beagle dog and a temperamental cat who tries to rule the house.


College Apartment • Purple + Gold Chevron

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7

This year, my dorm room is black and white with pink. My comforter is called "Passport" from Bed, Bath & Beyond. It's okay. I picked pink because I didn't want purple when purple is the enemy color here. Then I quickly realized that I didn't actually care if purple was the enemy color. I love the color purple. It's fun and feminine, but not over used for girls like pink is. 

I am glad that I had pink, black & white this past year, because I got to take a really cool design class and I spent months pouring over pinterest, looking at pretty pictures of color. A few months ago, I discovered So Shay. Shay is a bearkat (eat 'em up, kats!) and a full-time photographer living in Austin. Her blog is pink and gold and I remember the first time I saw it, I had design crush. The graphics just seem to totally pop on her blog. I love everything about it.

But, alas, pink is not my color, though I tried to make it. I'm a purple girl through and through. Next blog design will have purple in it. Then maybe I'll keep it up for a few months. Gold and Purple is officially my color crush. In fact, last weekend when I went to College Station with my aunt and mom, we went to The Home Depot and I picked up purple paint sample pages and Gold glitter paint. 

I am going to have so much fun this summer. 

Honestly, I can't wait to be able to make a lot of this and put it all together in August. 

I've got another theme that I'll be tying into it (one of those pictures is kind of a giveaway! Any ideas what it may be?) that I'll talk about next week, but for now, here's my inspiration for gold and purple! 

What are your favorite color combinations? 


Unromantic Romance

Last week, I alluded that I personally think that faces like this are at least part of the reason I am still single. While I'm perfectly fine being single, it's led to one tiny problem as a writer.


I've been in one relationship and well, romance didn't really happen in that relationship (just being honest!). 

With a total lack of romance in my life, writing the romance is a bit of a challenge. One that I can't seem  to conquer. I have no problem reading romance at all, but writing it? Yeah, I feel like a total fake. And I feel like it shows. 

I can write everything leading up to the romance. The flirting, the stupid little comments, oh yeah, I have a blast writing those. But when it comes time for the characters to actually get romantically involved?

Yeah, you can watch me running for the hills screaming. 

Hopefully, someday, I'll have an amazing man who will fix this problem. But for now, I'm just the awkward writer trying to get her characters to have normal flowing romance. 

Anyone else have this horrible problem? 


Totally Gnarly

I'm Ashley from The Gnarly Whale - an all vegan, eco-friendly minimal-ingredient bath and body shop. Today Laura was gracious enough to let me share our story about our company and our dream and I am SO excited to do so. This business is what I do - day in and day out - and to be able to share something I'm so passionate about is truly a privilege for me. The Gnarly Whale launched in October 2012 from a dream that I was unsure I would ever fulfill. I approached my husband about starting it as a hobby, needing something else to focus on while I was designing and consulting. By the end of the year, we both realized it was never meant to be a hobby. It was never meant to be a small side project. Instead, it was meant to change our lives and restructure our dreams. And that was exactly why I'm here today, sharing our story and even asking for your help after you get to know us. 

About Us 

We're a husband and wife team doing what we love to do and hoping that some day, doing what we love will be enough to financially support our entire family. Our dream is to someday relocate ourselves and our business to Florida to open up a shop oceanside. We know that this dream will become our reality as soon as we can afford the cost of relocation and the cost of doing business in Florida where there are much stricter guidelines for cosmetic type businesses. Until then, we're focusing on growing our brand awareness and our current product lines. 

About Our Brand
Laura's favorite product

All of our products are 100% vegan and cruelty free. We’re tree huggers ourselves so we made sure that all of the ingredients used in our products are completely vegan and have not been tested on animals. Final product testing was also done on humans. Most of our printed materials (business cards, postcards, etc) come from recycled paper. We also use reusable packaging when we mail out our orders whenever possible. Our hope is to leave the Earth a little better than when we found it and provide our customers with a way to do the same. 

In the almost seven months we have been open, we already have plans to work with an international retailer to carry our products and will be featured in two celebrity gifting suites this year: The Primetime Emmy's and The Cannes Film Festival. Our current product line includes: hair detangler, beach waves, body and face scrub, body spray, shampoo, and lip balm. In the future, we have plans to include a child product line, a pet product line, soap, skin care, and various other hair and body products in the future. 

And here is how you can help us make all of this a reality. 

We've asked Intuit to grant our small business wish and we're hoping we can get enough votes to win the money to expand our product line, purchase better equipment to speed up our manufacturing, and to put towards the cost of relocation. All you have to do is take a couple of seconds, click the link, and vote once a day. And if you really think our story is worth it, share it with you friends. With your readers. With your family. With your neighbors or co-workers. Shout it from the rooftops if you like us that much. 

 Anything you do to help is appreciated. No matter how big or small of gesture, we're grateful for you even taking the time to get to know us and our dream. And if you'd like to connect with us further, we'd love to hear from you! Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. Send us an email and say hello. Or even stop by our shop. Thank you in advance for anything that you do! - Ashley and Nathan

Ashley has been a blogging friend for a little more than a year now. She's the wonderful lady who I did Things I'm Grateful For every week last summer. She's an inspiration for anyone who wants to run their own business, including myself. 

While I'm not a vegan at all (I love my barbecue too much!), I love Ashley's approach. A lot of people feel that vegans and vegetarians kind of shove it down people's throats. Ashley's created a fun idea to share her views and visions, but it's something everyone can enjoy! 


Tuesday Tune-Up #2

Weight (Sunday night): 188.4 pounds

Lost more weight than I was expecting. Always nice to lose more than I was expecting. It was a tough week, and I only went to the gym three times. And I ate like a pig (I feel like I always say that). I'm ready to be home and have healthy food.

I've only got two and a half more weeks, and then I can eat something besides pizza.

For next week, I hope to be about 186 pounds.

Short post, but I'm in the writing mood. I'm on a roll!



It's been a tragic week, personally and for the nation.

Everyone knows about Boston. My hearts go out to them, it really does. I don't know what else I can say.

Everyone now knows about West. My heart goes out to them even more.

West, Texas is a little town on I-35, the highway that runs between Dallas and Austin. My grandparents live in Austin, so West is a town I pass every time I go to visit them. It's home to the world famous Czech Stop. The people there are so nice and it really is a true Texas town.

You've probably seen the videos and the pictures.

I've been there enough times to name so many of those locations in the pictures and the videos.

It's amazing how much a tragedy effects you when you have even just the slightest connection to it. Even if it's the countless times I've driven through the town.

Even if it's just because West is in Texas.

Whatever the reason is, what's happened this week was tragic. For Boston and West.

I don't know what's going on in the world (All week long CNN  has been blowing up my phone), but I sincerely hope it stops.


Thrifty Girl

I am so excited to be able to guest post for Laura today! We actually went to elementary school together and we even share the same birthday. We always joke with each other about being twins, which we kinda are in some weird way :)
Well, I guess I should introduce myself: Hi, I'm Amber and I and over at my blog you'd find just about anything, but I mostly blog about my life as a college student, what little I know about fashion and beauty, and sometimes my latest DIY projects. 
However, what I love the most is thrift shopping.
AKA: Thrifting
Yes, I know. It's become all the rage, especially with a notable song that's became popular.
So, here's what I have to say to Mr. Macklemore: 
It's sad how true this is.
But I'm here today to tell you that shopping at thrift shops is not just for the needy
and it's not just filled with your grandmas hand-knitted sweaters and parachute pants from the 80's.
It's for us girls (& boys!) who love a good deal
and it's filled with fashion gold.
Here are a just few outfits I've put together that are all 100% thrifted:

Yes, m'am. Everything down to the shoes and jewelry cam from Goodwill.
So, if your're interested in thrift shopping but not quite sure how, here are my top five tips for shopping secondhand to score some seriously awesome deals!


1. Timing: Go Early and Go Long

my local GW
~Since there is always new merchandise being brought in and out, it's key to go early. You wouldn't want to walk in and see that brand new with tags GAP dress in the hands of someone else, would you?
I generally go earlier in the day within about an hour of them opening. I have to admit though, that usually, I am one of those crazies that is waiting at the door three minutes before they open.
~I also recommend going early in the week. Tuesdays are my days since they've had a chance to restock from the weekend and have also processed any new donations they may have received. 

~Another tip is to never just "pop in." I hardly ever go to my local Goodwill unless I have at least an hour of time to devote to looking, because it does take time to scour the racks.
Which leads me to tip number two...

2. Know Where to Look

Like I said, the merchandise is constantly changing. At my Goodwill, they bring out new racks of clothes every thirty minutes.
Like this one below:

These racks are where those gems are hidden. 
Since no one has really had the chance to pick them through like the regular racks of clothes, you can probably find more items.
Yes, there will be plenty of outdated, and just plain ugly stuff
Like this:
but in between those things, are the occasional treasure. 

I also look at the rack in front of the changing/dressing room. I'm always surprised at how many things I've found from someone who has similar style to me that obviously didn't work for them.

3. Know Sales and Coupons

A lot of thrift shops will have certain color tags on sale. For example, this past week it was yellow.
It's important to keep in mind because it can save you a lot on your loot. 
Countless times I forget what color is on sale, and deem a shirt 'overpriced' only to then realize it was really half off that. 
Just because you wouldn't ay $7.99 for a stained dress doesn't mean you wouldn't  at half off, right?

~Even if your items not on sale, and you think it's overpriced, talk to a manager! More often than not, they would be happy to consider any offer, and you may just get it for the price you want!

~Also, keep an eye out for coupons. My local Goodwill puts out 50% off one item coupons in the Greensheet Paper. Another bonus is that you can use as many as you want!
I hardly ever pay the price the tag says because I collect multiple coupons.
I also know of orhwe family-owned thrift shops where if you sign up for their newsletter, they email you coupons. Score!

4. Never be afraid to try on clothes

In the aisles, barefoot. 
My mom (above) and I do this all the time.
okay, maybe not barefoot, but you get the idea.

I never look at the size the tag says because everything fits differently.
Instead, if I find something I like, I throw it in my cart and try it on.
It may be too big, too small, but it also may fit perfect.
but you'd never know until you try it on!
Also note that Goodwill does have fitting rooms, but in the words of Sweet Brown: "Ain't nobody got time fo that. "

and finally, 

5. Know An Item's Value

Even if you find a super cute pair of shoes that are 4 sizes to small for you, or an adorable sundress that has a ginormous rip, don't buy it! It has no value to you if you can use it or wear it. 
Only buy things either
a. you know you can fix
b. you know you can give to someone else

I've come across several clothing items that may be super cute, but can never be worn due to stains/rips/size differences. 
(this is also why it's important to try things on!)
So, determine if you can easily stitch the rip up, or if you can clorox the stain.
If you can, great, buy it!
but if you can't, don't!
easy enough, right?

Contrary to popular belief, thrifting is easy. It just takes time to get used to.
You may go one day and find absolutely nothing, and other times youare carrying 4 shopping bags out the door.
and that's perfectly okay. 
It's just the breaks of the game. 

Say thrift shopping's just not for you. Maybe it takes too much time or you never seem to find anything..
Don't worry sister, I've got you covered!
Check out My Ebay where I sell my secondhand finds and make it easy for you to score a few of my greatest thrifting treasures. No digging through ugly sweaters and stripper clothes required!

and if you like what you read, feel free to follow my blog:
and you can like My facebook page!
 if you want even more of me, you can also follow me on instagram, I'm Achammer!
Thanks Laura for letting me visit!


Tuesday Tune-Up #1

Weight (as of Monday Night): 192.8 pounds

I'm on the move to get my body back. About a month ago, I wrote a post about getting it back. And you know what? For once, I actually listened to what I said and started going. A few days after that post, Allie came down to visit for her spring break. We went shopping and I had a break down in a dressing room because I was frustrated that nothing looked good on me because I was too fat. 

That afternoon, after Allie left, I went to the gym. And I've been pretty much every day since. I've missed a few days from injuries and travels, but seriously, out of the past month, I've probably missed four days.

At first, the weight fell off quickly, but then Lent ended, and I kind of indulged in all the things that I gave up for Lent. It was super depressing last week to step up on the scale and see the number go off. So, it was nice to see it go back down last night.

My first goal is to be under 190 next week. I'm getting back into a pattern that allows me to enjoy food I love, but only in moderation. 

I wanted to start Tuesday Tune-Ups as a way to keep myself in check - to make sure that I really stay on track and get to my long-term goal of being about 150 pounds. It'll be a long road, but checking up and putting these embarrassing numbers on the blog will be just the way to do that.  


Single Girl

Sometimes, I'm pretty sure it's the faces I make that make me single. Like that one up there. Where I've got my face scrunched up and I'm throwing a sideways peace sign. 

Or maybe this one. The infamous duck face pose. Except for me, I can not be serious while making the duck face. I just feel so ridiculous doing it, I have to go all out and make a fool out of myself, you know? 

Lately, I've been into making funny faces. I used to be such a hard ass about the pictures that showed up on the internet. I'm not sure what it is, maybe it's the fact that I'm finally making improvements to my body, or maybe it's that I'm becoming more comfortable in front of the camera, but Saturday night when I did a little shoot with my friend, David, I was full of goofy faces. 

I've noticed lately that it seems like everyone is going on dates or finding a significant other.

And I'm just sitting here like "I've got this cool camera lens mug, wanna see?"

It's been two years (oh my goodness, I can't believe it's been that long), but it's been two years since I was in my only relationship. Crazy how you realize those things at the randomest moments (like while you're singing in the elevator), right?

Sometimes, I think I'm ready for a relationship. Ready to feel that rush of joy again when you first meet someone, when you go on your first date, those special moments when your heart gets all giddy. 

Then I see friends go through drama and heartbreak and I remember how my first heartbreak was. It was not pretty. And I'm one of those people that can empathize with someone in a split second if I've been there, so whenever my poor friends talk about their heartbreak, I can go back to mine like it was yesterday.

On top of that, I cry at everything. I cry at sad songs, when I'm angry. Hell, I cried at the Hannah Montana Movie. So, I always want to cry with my friends when I see them sad. Even when they don't cry.

Moments like those and I think, there's no way I'll ever be ready for a relationship. And maybe that's true. Maybe I'm destined to be the single girl trotting around city streets taking pictures of signs because no one understands why I do it.

Maybe I'll marry a wonderful man and we'll have lots of kids. 

I don't know. But for now, as I live in the moment, I'll just enjoy being a single girl. 


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I found this post at Chasing Texas, which was in turned inspired by this post at Two Thirds Hazel. And I felt like it was a great idea, so I had to jump on.

Photo Credit

The Good

1. I'm making a better choice about going to the gym. I go every single day now.
2. I'm working on some really good plans for the summer that I believe will help me set up some financial stability.
3. I've got a good sense of humor.
4. I believe that even when I don't agree with someone, I can usually see their side of the argument. Not a lot of people can do that.
5. I try to be nice to people and compliment them as much as I can.

The Bad

1. Despite my best efforts to make better lifestyle choices, I still have way too much pizza.
2. My cussing has gone off the charts in the past few years. Back when I was living at home, I had to try and keep a curb on it, but now, it's really bad.
3. I'm a super picky eater. I just don't really like food (the texture and whatnot). And it really ticks me off when people judge me for what I don't eat.
4. I'm really bad about the dishes. My roommate and I don't use dishes on a regular enough basis, so sometimes a few cups will sit there for a week before I justify that there's a big enough load to wash.
5. I suck at managing my time.

The Ugly

1. I absolutely hate toothpaste. I still use it, just not as many times a day as I'm supposed to.
2. Can we say acne anyone? I wash my face many times a day and it will not go away.
3. Long before I developed my distaste for toothpaste, I had yellow teeth. They just came in that way. I'm super subconscious about it, I always whiten them when I edit photos. I've even talked to my mom several times about whitening treatments.
4. I bite my nails constantly. I'm trying to break the habit, but I just can't kick it.
5. If I don't wash my hair every day, it gets super greasy.

There's the good, the bad, and the ugly. Nice to remind myself that I'm only human.

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