Holiday Gift Guide: The Girl in Her 20’s

Alright so- I wanted to get this post up before Black Friday hit so you can get alllllll the deals!

When I thought about what kind of gift guide I would write, I had a lot of different ideas. However, when I got to thinking, only one idea really made sense: a gift guide for girls in their 20’s. Why? Well, I’m a girl. In my 20’s… and so I guess you could say I’m kind of an expert on this.

These are all hand-picked items that I think most girls in their 20’s would love! They can be a tricky group to shop for, but I’m hoping these items will be pretty bullet-proof and well-loved by many. I hope you enjoy!

Gifts under $25

Air & Linen Mist ($9.50)
This is a surprisingly very useful product! Myself and many of my friends have it, and we LOVE it! It can be used to spritz into the air or onto any fabrics to freshen them up and give them a subtle, yet perfect scent. I chose the scent Northwoods Lodge, because it’s one of my favorites, but the Beverly + Third Candle Co. Etsy page has plenty of delicious scents to choose from… for only $9.50!
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Glossier “Boy Brow” ($16)
If there’s one thing that girls in their 20’s love, it’s Glossier. Glossier all day everyday. Their boy brow product is iconic, practical, and sure to be loved by that girl in your life. Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 10.54.22 AM.png

Sugar Lip Treatment- Tinted ($24)
When, might you ask, will I stop promoting this product? Literally never. It is the BEST lip product you will ever buy. It smells good, feels good, and looks good… Um, what could go wrong? This product is a lip balm that truly works to moisturize your lips, and is perfectly tinted to give your lips a nice color. I have the shade Honey, but all of the options are beautiful and subtle.

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Madewell Striped Tee ($25 + 25% off with code “DONTSTRESS”)
Madewell makes really high-quality, cute clothes. A striped t-shirt from Madewell will surely become a staple in any girl’s closet, as it is wearable in the summer, and in the colder months when paired with cardigans or a jean jacket. Super easy, and sure to be loved!

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Gigi Pip Pom Beanie ($20)
Who wouldn’t like a cozy knit pom beanie? Gigi Pip is one of my favorite shops ever, and their hats adorable! I picked out this Samantha beanie, but definitely browse the site because they’re all to die for! Feel free to pick a neutral color to match everything, or go for something fun and bold! Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 11.32.02 AM

Gap Plaid Scarf ($14.97 with code “BLKFRIDAY”)
These scarves are SO SOFT. I have two of them and I love them. A good plaid scarf is a perfectly adorable and useful gift for all of those northerners in your life. No risk here!Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 11.39.07 AM.png

Urban Outfitters Velvet Scrunchie Set ($12 + 20% off for UO Members)
Haven’t you heard the news? Scrunchies are BACK and better than ever! I’m seriously in love with this velvet set because it offers a lot of variety for only $12 and there are three color sets to choose from. For $12, this is the perfect little gift that your 20-something is sure to love. Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 12.35.28 PM

Gifts under $50

20 oz. S’Well Traveler Tumbler ($40)
Is it possible for a water bottle to be any prettier? No. S’Well bottles are really popular right now, and for good reason! They keep drinks cold for 24 hours and warm for 12 hours, making them an incredibly useful product! I chose this Calacatta Gold color, just because I think it’s the prettiest!
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BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfecter Pressed Highlighter ($38)
This highlighter is iconic honestly. I (& pretty much every other girl) want this. It’s so pigmented and gorgeous- who wouldn’t?! My favorite shade is “Opal”, but you should take your gift-reciever’s skin tone into consideration!Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 12.49.15 PM

“Bliss” Plus Throw ($39.99)
If a blanket has 5 stars after 441 reviews, it must be a kick-ass blanket. This throw from Nordstrom looks SO SOFT and it comes in 18 gorgeous colors! (Also I’d just like to throw out there that the tassels are adorable.) Another gift that really can’t go wrong. Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 6.10.06 PM.png

Gifts under $100

Madewell White Cableknit Pullover Sweater ($98 + 25% off with code “DONTSTRESS”)
This sweater is SO CUTE. So classic. So perfect! I think any girl in her 20’s would be all over this beauty!
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D+K Renewal Kilim Lumbar Pillow ($52)
If your gift-receiver has their own place, or even if they don’t, these D+K Renewal pillows are the perfect gift! They have so many beautiful patterns and colors. Throw pillows are a great gift because we LOVE them, but it’s hard to splurge and spend the money on them yourselves! I chose this “048” color as my personal favorite… If D+K Renewal decides to do a Black Friday deal, you can get this beauty for under $50! (There are also some other pillow sizes on the site that cost less as well!)Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 12.10.34 PM.png

Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana ($76 for 1.6 oz.)
Okay yep, I know. Perfume is risky. However, I know a LOT of women that use this perfume and they ALL love it! It’s a very crisp, clean scent and I’m obsessed with it. You always run the risk of the gift-receiver not liking the scent but just get a gift receipt and you’re good to go. If they do like the scent, this will make for the perfect luxurious gift! Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 6.41.24 PM

Gifts $100+

Olivia Burton Watch ($110)
I have always wanted an Olivia Burton watch… They’re SO. DAMN. PRETTY! For this gift, you’d have to know the receiver’s style a little bit more than the other gifts on this list. There are lots of options and designs, I am just featuring this marble floral option because it’s my personal favorite! Stay tuned- there may be a deal on these beauties for Black Friday!
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Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Fleece Pullover ($119)
My Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T is my lifeeee! I wear it all the damn time. Actually, I end up putting it on every night before I go to bed because it’s just so cozy! They have a ton of colors, but the plain cream color is one of my personal favorites! I wouldn’t be surprised if Patagonia put up a little Black Friday deal…Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 12.04.52 PM.png

Polaroid Mobile Printer ($104)
This device is so cool! It allows you to print little Polaroid versions of any photos in your phone camera roll instantly. Any girl would be sure to have a ton of fun with this! The printing quality is much better than that of an actual Polaroid camera, and you can retake the photo multiple times before printing it, making it an amazing device. If you gift this device to someone, remember to buy some film as well, or they won’t be able to use it right away- which would be major *sad face*.

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That’s all for now! If you have any questions or want to see more gift guides, feel free to reach out.

Happy trails to you,
Maria Helen


Color of the Season

For this blog posts, I partnered up with SheIn to demonstrate a couple ways to style one of my absolute favorite colors this season: red! Lately, I’ve been seeing bright red everywhere and honestly, I’m loving it.

I put together two looks for this blog post: one casual look and one look that’s a little more dressy. The casual look consists of a bright red mock-neck sweater, jeans, sneakers, and tassel earrings. This is a really good outfit for me because it’s the perfect way to look stylish while still being comfy. The next look includes this amazing faux-suede overall dress. I paired it with a turtleneck sweater, necklace, tights, and leather booties. This look gives me some Rachel-Green-in-Friends vibes and I’m totally cool with that.

Check out both of these fun red looks below:

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Red sweater: SheIn | Red jumper: SheIn

Happy trails to you,
Maria Helen

I Designed My Own Shoes

I recently had one of the most fun opportunities ever to design my own shoes! We’ve all wanted to tweak a thing or two about a pair of shoes to make them perfect, but starting from scratch and designing your very own pair is even better. Shoes of Prey provides a customer experience like no other!

For my shoes, I knew I definitely wanted suede because I absolutely love how it looks on shoes. I struggled decide if I wanted heels, booties, or sneakers, but ended up deciding on booties because I’d wear them the most often and get the most use out of them. I thought about if I wanted to create a really wild and unique pair, or if I wanted to create a quality basic pair that would match everything. Obviously, I chose the second option. I’ve always wanted a pair of chelsea boots so I crafted my perfect ideal design and I couldn’t be happier with them!

For the outfit featured in this post, I paired the booties with an emerald green corduroy skirt, cable-knit sweater, tights, and a hot chocolate (lol for real I froze my butt off for these photos). I think it’s a nice combination of the 70’s vibes I’ve been loving lately, has some wintery/holiday vibes, and is still casual enough to wear for an every day occasion!

If you’d like to design your very own shoes (which I know you do), check out Shoes of Prey! Go ahead and play around, there are so so so many options. …and I have a little treat. Use code {mariahelen} for a free custom inscription! You can inscribe anything you’d like into your shoes: your name, your favorite phrase, anything that’s meaningful to you. Let your imagination run wild!

Check out how I styled by Shoes of Prey booties below:


Photography by Autumn Wilson

Happy trails to you,
Maria Helen

Good Friends & a Jeep

What’s better than good friends, a cool car, fairly lights, flower crowns, & a cute cat?… basically nothing. Unless maybe we added pizza into the mix.

I had so much fun snapping some photos & hanging out with my friend, Madeline, & the photo queen, Elisabeth Eden! It was filled with giggles, dancing on the roof, & perfect golden light.

Check out the photos from our hangout sesh below:


All photos by: Elisabeth Eden | Cardigans: Lot2029 | Dresses: Onyx + Pearl | Flower Crowns: Love Always Floral

Happy trails to you,

Maria Helen


A Bit On: Working with Brands

Hey y’all! Okay so there’s a million things I could say about working with brands, so this post is going to be a bit on the longer side. It’s also going to be a bit on the raw side. I feel as though I need to be really truthful about this topic, which may come off as a little harsh but trust me, I’m trying to help …and by the way, there’s a big treat at the end of this blog post.

So here a few things to know when you want to start working with brands as a blogger:

If you started blogging purely for the free stuff, seriously just quit now.
I PROMISE YOU: If free stuff is the only reason that you started this, you will not have the passion to put in the work. If you’re going to be good at blogging and work with amazing brands, it’s a huge time investment! For example, I probably shoot about four times a week, write two blog posts a week, post on Instagram at least once a day, and email back and forth with brands all the time. If I did this just for the free stuff, I would’ve quit a long time ago. I started this because I have a genuine passion for fashion, social media strategies (I’m an advertising major- I can’t help it), photography, and creating content. I love it and it’s part of who I am. Free stuff doesn’t generate enough motivation to consistently create beautiful content, trust me.

Before you start reaching out, get your feed together.
This is huge. If you’re all over the place and you’re not sure what you want your vibes to be or what you stand for, brands won’t want to work with you. You need to work on establishing your style and posting consistently (at least once a day) before you should be reaching out to brands. If you need guidance on this, check out my recent blog post about creating a cohesive feed! To brands, sending you free stuff is an investment. They don’t want to invest in you if you don’t have enough photos/work to exemplify what your style is. They want to know what they’re getting into. I would say that you should post at least 30 photos that you feel truly exemplify your style before you start reaching out!

Be authentic and true to yourself.
Yet another HUGE thing to keep in mind when working with brands. If a brand reaches out to you and you don’t love their products, SAY NO! If you aren’t true to yourself and you show your followers stuff that you don’t love, why should they follow you? Why should they listen to you? I know it can be exciting when brands want to start working with you, but seriously: Wait until the right collaborations come along because it will be worth it.

Practice your photography.
When brands send you an item, there needs to be something in it for them. Period. If you don’t have a ton of followers to give them exposure, at least be able to provide them with quality photos. If you can provide brands with beautiful images, they can use them on their social channels and that saves time and money for them. It makes you much more appealing! I would suggest watching YouTube videos on photography, practicing, and maybe taking advice from a photographer if you’re friends with one!

Followers aren’t everything– engagement is more important.
So, before you start reaching out to brands you should probably have at least 1,000 followers. This isn’t a golden rule, but it’s pretty typical. However, even more important than followers is engagement. If your followers are engaging with you (liking, commenting, messaging), brands can see that your posts might generate sales for them! This is key. To gain engagement, I would suggest commenting often on other people’s posts- they’ll likely return the favor.

When reaching out, show & tell them what you got.
If you want to start reaching out to brands, you need to make yourself stand out. Just a simple email saying, “Hey I like you! Work with me!” (that was an exaggeration) isn’t going to work. They get reached out to all the time, so you need to tell them exactly why they should work with you specifically. I’m not going to tell you exactly what I do/say when I reach out to brands, but I will say this: I suggest you link to your social profiles and I suggest you show them some of your work and photos somehow. Also, send an email not a DM. It’s much more professional!

What do brands think?
As a treat for y’all, I asked actual brand owners and social media managers this question: “What is the number one thing you look for in an influencer when deciding if you want to collaborate with them or not?”

Here’s their answers: 

I look at the photo quality on their feed first and foremost when deciding if they would be a good fit. I like to see examples of how the influencer has represented other brands in past collaborations. When I see they take quality photos that display the product well, I’m much more likely to want to work with them!” -Naomi, owner of Made in Minny

What we look for when collaborating or partnering with a blogger or influencer is authenticity. The blogging world is a very saturated market. We want to know that the blogger and or influencer is true to themselves and their following. Once we are in communication with them and know that they stand behind what they represent not only as a brand themselves, but as an individual and brand representative, we can build that trust and know their followers and ours can as well. Duluth Pack is a heritage brand with an incredible background story. Duluth Pack is the oldest canvas and leather bag and pack maker in the USA. We proudly handcraft our items in Duluth, MN since 1882, offer a lifetime guarantee on craftsmanship and hardware and source as many materials from the USA as possible. We originally started in the canoeing industry, but have expanded our lines into lifestyle, business, hunting and travel. If we find a blogger who can convey that story and has has a similar aesthetic to us, we know it will be a great fit and a successful growing relationship.” –Andrea, PR and Social Media Analyst at Duluth Pack

Posting a photo on IG is great, but if you can offer more substantial content through a blog  post or taking over our IG story, I am always much more likely to work with you. If we are going got invest in fashion + lifestyle bloggers, it needs to have more legs than the life of a simple Facebook or Instagram post. And unfortunately, the market is becoming saturated with ‘influencers’ that are really just in it for the free stuff and aren’t providing much value.” –Kelly, co-owner of Kindred People

“We look for individuals who share what Lot2029 epitomizes in the eyes of fashion, and more importantly embody the lifestyle to motivate and inspire others. We really look for a cohesive feed that has a unique style as well as a strong social media presence.” -Brittany, manager of the brand ambassador program at Lot2029

Here’s what photographers said:

“The number one thing I look for in an influencer is someone who is passionate about truthfully promoting not only themselves but everyone else involved in the collaboration. I look for people who promote brands they BELIEVE and love them, not just to get free product, as well as respect and promote the rest of the vendors involved in the collaboration.” Sophie Syvtersen

“When influencers are passionate about what they promote, aren’t just looking for exposure, and genuinely care about your talents as a photographer, it makes life for both parties so much easier. Whether I am reaching out to them or they reach out to me, everyone should benefit from collaborating in some way. It’s an added bonus when you become friends!” Tawny Irwin

“I look to see if the influencer’s feed is cohesive and if they have a definite style. Furthermore, I look to see if that style meshes with mine. If our styles compliment or match each other, we’re much more likely to create stunning images together!” Elisabeth Eden

“Typically I look for consistency in someone’s brand, however I’ve had situations where I was just inspired by someone’s look and asked to shoot with them.” –Autumn Wilson 

I really hope this blog post helped and answered some questions! Stay tuned for A Bit On another topic soon!

Happy trails to you,
Maria Helen


L’Occitane + Rifle Paper Co.

Hello friends! I’m excited to be sharing with you a collaboration between two amazing brands: L’Occitane & Rifle Paper Co.! L’Occitane is a well-known luxury skincare brand and Rifle Paper Co. makes beautiful stationary; together they made the most gorgeous skincare products your eyes ever will see!

Personally, my favorite product from this collection is the Shea Butter! You can do a lot of things with it, but I myself love to use it as a lip balm. It seriously makes my lips SO SOFT and leaves a nice shine.

I also really enjoyed the hand creme. It made my hands really soft and smelled great. Its size is really convenient and I will be keeping one in my purse at all times- I am in a ceramics class and I suffer through North Dakota/Minnesota winters… My hands need moisturizing more than most.

Want this beautiful collection for yourself? If so, you’re in for a treat! You can get a free gift with any online L’Occitane purchase using the code {RIFLEPAPER17}! Read more about the details + see the free gift here.

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Happy trails to you,
Maria Helen

A Bit On: Instagram Envy

Okay, it’s so real.

Instagram envy is something that anyone who dabbles in the app probably experiences at one point or another. It’s the feeling you get when it seems as though everyone you follow is going on amazing trips, wearing slaying/expensive outfits, decorating their house perfectly and always keeping it clean, walking their cute af pet everyday, all while having the most sensitive, caring boyfriend on the planet… and you don’t.

Here’s a couple of things to keep in mind when you need to fight the Instagram envy:

The people with huge, amazing accounts… Yeah, that’s their JOB.
If you’re getting envious of people like Jaci Marie, Tezza, Zoe, etc., etc… That makes sense. Their whole job is to create the most beautiful, curated, inspiring, awe-worthy photos possible. They’re literally paid to do that. Being jealous of them is the same as being jealous of a Victoria’s Secret model’s body when they spend literally all day working out, eating right, and drinking fluids or whatever tf Victoria’s Secret models do. Influencers and big bloggers get paid to have beautiful Instagrams and they worked hard to do it. Just remember, they poop and pay taxes just like the rest of us.

We’re all at different times in our life and we all grow differently and that’s OKAY!
There are people at age 25 who just got married. There are people at age 25 who have a kid and a dog. There are people at 25 who just graduated their masters program and have no boyfriend and legit have no idea what they want to do right now. There are people at age 25 who run their own businesses. THERE ARE PEOPLE AT AGE 25 THAT ARE AT LITERALLY ALL STAGES OF LIFE. There is no normal, and you need to realize that just because someone is “ahead” of you in life stages, that doesn’t mean they’re better than you. Everyone does things in their own way at their own pace, and that’s the beauty of life. You can make it whatever you want it to be! Don’t compare your lives to someone else’s just because you’re the same age. 

Some of this crap just isn’t practical.
Let’s be honest here- there’s a lot of super cool stuff on Instagram that just isn’t practical in my life. The beret trend right now for example- I would look literally so dumb walking around North Dakota State University in a beret. I see them on other fashion bloggers and think they look cool, but it’s just not practical for me! There’s so many examples like this and we need to keep in mind that everyone’s lives are different and if something works for them, that doesn’t mean it has to work for you. Just because a blogger can afford a Gucci bag, doesn’t mean you as a college student should try to afford that. It’s just not practical for you at this time, and that’s something we shouldn’t be ashamed of.

Whatever they have, it probably didn’t come easy.
This is a big one for me. People say to me all the time, “Wow, brands send you stuff for free?! That’s so cool, you’re so lucky.” Okay yeah, it’s fun and I love it FOR SURE. But it did not come easy. It still doesn’t come easy. I work really hard to continue to create content and work with brands and it’s practically my part-time job. When you see people traveling the world and having the time of their lives, I can guarantee you that it didn’t come easy. They worked long hours and saved up and dreamt big. Don’t be discouraged- you’re only seeing the finished product instead of all the hard work it takes to get there.

Be inspired!
I would really love for everyone to be inspired instead of jealous. It’s something to work toward and it can be difficult, but it’s doable! I am currently in this frame of mind and it has been life-changing. When I see my favorite bloggers out there killing it, I am simply inspired. I think to myself, “Wow. I hope I can get to their point someday if I work hard.” Until then, I’ll continue to take inspiration from them and incorporate bits and pieces into my life right now. We all need to work on allowing others to be successful, without feeling as though we’re failing.

Thanks for reading folks! Soon, I’ll be posting A Bit On working with brands!

Happy trails to you,
Maria Helen