30 reasons i loved 30

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since dedicating this space to chronicle my style journey rather than strictly my personal one, my personal monologues are fewer and far between. thanks to the S & S wedding series, you’ve been able to catch a glimpse of a more intimate time in my life (which i’m super happy to share), but very rarely anymore do i use this space as a personal diary of sorts. but being the emotional being that i am, sometimes it’s nice to write a little love note to myself after a year of life-changing milestones. and boy was the first year of my 3rd decade that for me. so in the grand tradition (three years strong!) of ending the year with the same number of beloved memories as there were candles on my cake, here’s the highlight reel of my 30th year. because tomorrow, i turn 31!

in my 30th year, i…(in no particular order)

one || got engaged to the love of my life. no ifs, and’s, or’s or but’s about it, april 23rd, 2016 was the best day of my life. the man of my dreams asked me to be his forever and i cannot wait to spend my 31st year (and all the years to proceed it) as his wife.


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two || made the decision to convert shawna leeann from a personal blog to one more focused on personal style and fashion. by now, you probably know the story (and if you don’t, here’s a refresher), but essentially, after years of toying with the idea, i finally decided to put into action my dream of becoming a full-time fashion blogger. though i still have a long way to go, over the course of the last eight months i have already experienced tangible growth, had the opportunity to work with bloggers and brands i admire, and most importantly, the new venture has brought S and i even closer as he’s pretty much exclusively the talent behind the lens.




three || celebrated one year with S. someone told me once that you should be with your significant other for at least a year before getting engaged so you can see them in all four seasons. despite the fact that we don’t really get traditional “seasons” in san diego, from personal experience i understand why someone might offer that counsel; navigating thanksgiving and christmas alone is a fete, as are birthdays, family celebrations, and even a hallmark holiday or two. for as much as i knew pretty confidently that S was “the one” after oh, about date #2, i’m so grateful for the time we had to be just “boyfriend and girlfriend,” relishing in the nuances of a new, committed, and healthy relationship before i got the bling.


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four || was published on darlingi was lucky enough to share my thoughts on turning 30 in 2015 by writing an article entitled “no (really) this is 30” for darling online. in case you missed it, here’s an excerpt:

Fast forward a dozen years to my 30th birthday, which I just celebrated in June. While some may dread the milestone, I was grateful for a new decade and a clean slate on which to rewrite the disenchantment of my 20s. But, much like what I imagine high school to be like in the midst of social media’s reign, turning 30 in 2015 was hard. While I might have evaded the constant measuring up of my life to those I saw online when I was in high school, it’s not as easy to escape it now.


Instead of being jealous of someone’s brand new car, a present on their 16th birthday or how they were able to afford a designer gown for their senior prom, I’m faced with posts of engagement rings, baby sonograms, and announcements of new jobs. While I’m very satisfied with my life as it is – unmarried (but in a wonderful relationship), without a baby, and working for the same company I have for the past eight years — it’s hard not to stay focused on the fact that my life at 30 looks very different from the lives of my peers who have reached the same milestone.


But, if I’ve learned anything in these past four months, it’s that having different definitions for year 30 is absolutely okay. We tend to want to measure our progress in the marathon of life against that of our friends, but the truth is, no two races are alike. Instead of getting discouraged or insecure by how we haven’t yet reached a specific life stage as compared to our peers, we must remember that the pace at which our life is progressing is perfectly catered to us. Take heart that we’re exactly where we need to be.




five || wine tasted in napa with my best friends. carrie bradshaw once said, “you take a nap-a, you don’t move to napa.” however, i’m not so certain carrie ever visited the magical wine country. a month into my 30th year, S and i traveled to the bay to visit my friend of 18 years (!), her husband, and their french bulldog. we spent the weekend eating authentic mexican food from in the mission, indian-fusion cuisine in sausalito, and brunched at the infamous plow. and then we washed everything down with philz coffee and some wine. weekend itineraries planned almost exclusively around where to eat and drink are some of my favorite kind of weekends. as are the ones spent with your bestie of nearly two decades and your favorite bearded men.




six || watched one of my best friends get married. a little unexpected rain couldn’t put a damper on B & M’s perfect day. S and i traveled to nashville for the october nuptials and not only did i have a wonderful time celebrating the bride and groom’s love, i loved introducing S to a city that has captured my heart time and time again.




seven || discovered the curling wand and my hair routine has never been the same. after years of straight hair, baby got her curl back and i finally have those mermaid waves i’ve always wanted. 




eight || traveled to the windy city for an engagementmoon (because that’s a thing?). truthfully we had the trip planned before we got engaged, but i’ll admit it was pretty fun to have a getaway planned just days after becoming fianced. despite the frigid weather, we had an absolute blast exploring the windy city.

you know, with a half dozen trips under our belts (dallas, vancouver/seattle, santa barbara, san francisco, nashville & la quinta), i truly feel we’ve fallen into a rhythm that makes traveling together a breeze (great honeymoon prep!). things we know: life starts after coffee, hanger is real so plan accordingly, always bring an extra layer, set two alarms, do your research ahead of time, when in doubt, consult google maps, and finally, have a plan but leave room for spontaneity. turns out one of the best things of life is having the opportunity to travel with your best friend for life. three cheers to many more adventures by land, air, and sea.




nine || learned that R & R is actually a thing (and i should try it once in a while). as a belated valentine’s day celebration, S and i jaunted out to the desert for a long weekend at the la quinta resort & spa. there we forwent alarms, schedules, and for the most part proper nutrition. we enjoyed long walks around the golf course, afternoon naps, and a day at the spa. it was the perfect mid-winter boost we needed and one i hope to recreate annually (S?).




speaking of the desert,

ten || brought S into a family tradition. i’ve made mention here my family’s love for the game of tennis. after years of attending the bnp baribas open in indian wells as a family of three, i was ecstatic to include S in our family tradition. this trip -like most double dates we’ve done with my parents -solidified how lucky i am to have a man that fits so seamlessly into my family dynamic. growing up as an only child (for the most part), my parents and i have established a very “three muskateers” relationship over the years, which to any newcomer could be perceived as intimidating. but despite our idiosyncrasies, S has embraced our little clan as his own, and it should go as no surprise that my parents are pretty darn smitten with him as well.




eleven || joined snapchat (and felt really old doing it). after resisting for months, i finally caved. i will say that my life is by FAR more interesting while traveling, but it has been a fun vehicle to share less “carefully crafted” glimpses at my everyday life -especially in the midst of wedding planning. come join the party (username: iamshawnaleeann).

twelve || caught baby fever (with the arrival of my second nephew). our family’s second little miracle baby joined our ranks on october 1, 2015, at just 24 weeks. fast-forward eight months and he’s healthy as can be and another tangible reminder of the beauty of God’s grace and providence.




thirteen || hosted two madewell insider events. by now we’re all well-aware of my deep-running affections for madewell, so i was grateful for the opportunity to help host not one but TWO insider styling events with the store. the first one, held in late october last year, was a smaller affair for primarily close friends and family. but with this last one, just recently held in may, i was able to open partner with beaming and studio barre and open it up to the public, not only allowing for greater exposure for both businesses, but also for myself as a budding stylist and blogger promoting my own personal brand.




fourteen || said yes to the dress. appropriately enough, on may 21st, 2016 -exactly eight months until my wedding day -i said “yes!” to THE dress of my dreams at elle bridal boutique. the experience was everything i had ever hoped it to be (and more).




fifteen || collaborated with my first brand. the saying continues to ring true –“you’ll never know unless you ask.” after ordering one of her signature swaddle blankets for my nephew last fall, i casually mentioned to joy kelley of howjoyful shop that i would be interested in partnering with her for a featured post. before i knew it, a beautiful package arrived on my doorstep with a variety of merchandise from her online store. it was one of those pinnacle moments in my fashion blogging career thus far that i started to believe this venture was not entirely a fruitless pursuit. now that i’m engaged, i’m excited to partner up with joy once again to feature some of her whimsical wedding-related designs. in the meantime, check out how i styled this sweatshirt (which i wear almost nightly) and this sassy tee from her signature apparel collection.




sixteen || discovered the perfect photography backdrop literally in my backyard. despite living in my humble abode for coming up on eight years (this month!), it wasn’t until a couple months ago that S and i happened upon the perfect woodsy setting for photographs just steps away from my front door. we proceeded to capitalize on the golden hour lighting with this coachella-themed shoot and will no doubt venture back this summer.




seventeen || embarked on the search for the perfect white tee. i teamed up with instagram and periscope personality, @lizzyloveshealth to showcase each of our quests to find the perfect white t-shirt. not only was our project a perfect opportunity to partner with someone i admire in the social media community, in all seriousness it really did help me find my holy grail of white tees (spoiler alert: it’s from madewell).




eighteen || found my new favorite coffee drink. let’s be honest, i’m never giving up the green mermaid, but whenever possible, i try my best to visit local coffee shops, especially since there are so many great ones around town. one said shop is better buzz coffee, with locations in encinitas, point loma, and pacific beach (to name a few). i’ve visited the encinitas store a couple times with girlfriends and i must say, i don’t know what i love more -the instagram-worthy decor or the sweet taste of one of their popular beverages appropriately called “the best drink ever” (a classic americano with their signature creamy vanilla, which i prefer iced). i’m sure it’s loaded with sugar and has 134513592843 calories but man oh man is it the perfect treat for a saturday afternoon.




nineteen || found stowaway cosmetics. finding a new and more natural beauty routine might be one of my favorite things that happened in my 30th year. after hearing its praises sung by some of my real and internet friends, i ordered a few stowaway products for myself. a lover of the concept of their pint-sized packaging and their overall philosophy on beauty, after one use of their radiant complexion beauty balm, creaseless concealer, and creme lipsticks, i was also a convert. i’ve been using their products daily ever since! even more exciting was after i posted a review of their products, stowaway featured me on their website!

p.s. on a somewhat related note, this year i also discovered the magic of eyelash primer. if stowaway made one, i’d probably use it but since they don’t, i’ve settled for e.l.f’s versionit’s $3 at target and it literally makes you look like you’re wearing falsies. just swipe it on and let it dry before you apply mascara. voila, you’re welcome.




twenty || jumped on the flare jean train (choo choo!). a slave to my beloved high-riser skinny jeans, i branched out of my denim comfort zone and added a pair of flares to my collection. given the fact that i grew up during the peak of boot-cut mania, i was a little hesitant to embrace the return of the non-tapered jean. but after trying them on at madewell (of course), i saw how flattering they could be when styled correctly. here’s a look back on the various ways i styled them (with cashmere, with chambray & sparkle, and with a message tee).


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twenty-one || started a brunch club with my barre babes. besides a tighter bod and more money in my bank account, the BEST thing studio barre has given me are amazing friendships with sweet, selfless, fun-loving women. oh and because of two of them in this photo, i now have a fiance, so you could really say studio barre has completely changed my life. because of schedules and commitments, etc. our “fab five” doesn’t always get to see each other as often as we’d like. so instead of chatting during plank or for a few minutes before or after class, we decided to plan a brunch date once a month so we could carve out specific time to reconnect and catch-up. fun fact: we had our monthly brunch date the very morning S and i got engaged! it is truly a blessing to get to do life alongside such wonderful humans.




twenty-two || learned S is not only a good secret keeper but a really thoughtful gift-giver, too. so clearly S is a good secret keeper seeing as he had my engagement ring for three+ weeks before popping the question, but before he got down on one knee, he blew me away with both his sneakiness and thoughtfulness by presenting me with two of the best gifts i’ve ever received. for valentine’s day, he not only bought me the magnolia wreath i had been eyeing from chip & jojo’s shop for months, but he also purchased an original jimmy don metal sign with the quote, “we were together, i forget the rest” (walt whitman). the crazy thing is, i had already contracted a friend to make us a sign with the SAME quote as a future birthday or anniversary gift. when they say that couples start to share a brain after a while, they weren’t kidding. at any rate, the thoughtfulness of S’s gifts was enough to send me to tears. just when i think i’ve got him figured out, S does something to surprise me. his ability to keep me on my toes is one of my favorite things about him and for that reason, i know life will always be fun.




twenty-three || bought all the gingham. some fashion trends i politely let pass on by, others i embrace with both arms. this season’s gingham craze was one trend that caused me to do that latter. there’s just something so happy about checks! check out (pun intended!) my slight obsession with posts featuring it here, here, and here.




twenty-four || naturalized my skincare routine. similar to my beauty routine, i feel like year 30 was as good of a time as any to get serious about skincare. i became religious about daily sunscreen application (in spf 40) and swapped out all name brand products for those found at my health food store. i’m now a proud user of exclusively acure organics products and i think my skin has never looked better. of note is this brightening facial scrub (don’t be alarmed of its deep green color!) -i apply it as a mask at least twice a week and leave it to set for about 20 minutes. when i wash it off, i am always blown away by how soft and rejuvenated my skin feels.




twenty-five || modeled for roic + bru. another standout moment from the past year was having the opportunity to model for an up-and-coming fitness apparel line called roic + bru. being sought out specifically for my presence in both the blogging and fitness worlds was crazy flattering and i had a blast sporting their futuristic designs for an afternoon.




twenty-six || bribed S to join me in another couples photoshoot. if you recall, the last time S joined me on the other side of the camera, it was march 2015 and it was the first time i revealed his dimpled mug on the blog. fast forward almost a year exactly and i drug him back out from behind the lens to join me in a valentine’s day-inspired style feature. with two photo couple shoots under our belts, no doubt our our engagement pictures scheduled for mid-july will be a breeze 😉




twenty-seven || shared my road to fashion blogging on my story is beautiful. i was honored to have my own story listed amongst the beautiful tales featured on my story is beautiful. you can read it again here.


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twenty-eight || discovered podcasts and my morning/afternoon commutes have never been the same. seriously, for someone who spends on average an hour and a half commuting to and from work everyday, podcasts have single-handedly revolutionized my driving experience. currently on heavy rotation are: bitch sesh (my #1), the lady gang, juicy scoop with heather mcdonald, jalen & jacoby, and jam session

twenty-nine || redesigned my bathrooms (with the help of S, of course). after plotting and planning and pinning, S and i finally got to work on revamping the two and a half bathrooms in my condo. we pulled mirrors off the walls, repainted, and completely changed the color scheme. in the end, we created stunning spaces that make me excited to get ready every morning.




and finally,

thirty || started an S & S wedding series on the blog to capture every aspect of the planning of our big day. the last few weeks as a 30-year-old have been filled with some of the most exciting times of my entire life. getting to solidify the details of a day i’ve dreamt about my entire life has been the greatest way to close out one incredible year.




so thanks for everything, 30. you were a year for growth, for travel, and taking chances. i entered with you with a boyfriend and will leave you with a fiance. and for that fact alone, you were the best year of my life to date.

p.s. see recaps from my 28th & 29th years.

  • Mom
    June 3, 2016

    Happy, happy almost birthday my beautiful daughter. And yes, we are quite smitten with S. Love you both. Xo

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