5 Things I Would Tell My Adolescent Self

 

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18-year-old me (circa 2004)

In 2000, I started high school. A young, scared little 14-year-old entering the halls of a big, new world. I acclimated, just like every other person does at that stage in life – I mean really, what other options do you have? It seems like such a big deal when you’re a teenager…facing the pressures of fitting in while also discovering yourself and coming into your own. As time went on, I did just that. However, I was again, a teenager. I spent hours contemplating what I was going to wear to school the next day so I could “impress” my crush (gag). I would sit on the phone gossiping for hours with my girl friends (back in the day when we had land lines – now a thing of the past). My main concerns involved planning the most epic Spring Break ever, saving my allowance so I could get my acrylic nails filled in and arranging a time to gather at the local Taco Bell to then follow an entourage of peers to the biggest party that weekend. The days of of playing Something Corporate songs on repeat in my car, cutting class and curfews.

It’s hard to believe that I graduated high school almost 12 years ago when it seems like it was just yesterday. During those adolescent years, I was invincible. I never wanted to grow up and I thought 30 was old. Now, here I am… this is 30. Did that just happen? With all of that being said, there are times that I so badly wish I had known then what I know now. But that is the progression of life. You make mistakes and learn from them. All of these little moments throughout your life are stepping stones that ultimately mold you into the human you are today. So what would I tell my adolescent self? To put it lightly, a lot. But these would be the critical points:

1. Knowledge is power. In other words, take your education seriously. When I say it is everything, I mean, it is everything. It’s something that will not only allow you to grow as an individual, but it’s yours and only yours. No one can take it away from you. Read more. Take one-off classes. Further your education. Open your mind. You never stop learning.

2. Stop caring about what other people think. It was hard to break this. Sure, I could tell you that my confidence transcended from a young age to my adulthood…but I would be lying. I really cared what other people thought. I am naturally a people pleaser and even more, I wanted everyone to like me. But that’s not real life. Not everyone will be your biggest fan…and that’s okay. At the end of it all, you can only be true to yourself. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped using up my energy on the people who do not support me and started focusing on the ones that do.

3. Love yourself. This is a big one. How can you possibly give your love to anyone or expect them to love you in return when you do not love yourself first? You are your own worst enemy. Self loathing is not a good look. It’s okay to have insecurities, in fact, it’s perfectly normal. But do not let it consume you. Be proud of yourself and embrace who you are. From the wise words of Sex & The City: “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.”

4. Put your dreams into motion and make them a reality. Call it cliche’. However, anyone can sit back and dream (and of course, do not lose sight of that vision), but turn that passion into drive. Make goals – both short term and long term. If you want to achieve something, you are the only one that can make it happen. Just do it. It’s really that simple. Stop making excuses and go after that dream. Make it yours. Make it real.

5. Love with everything you have. We’ve all experienced heartbreak at least once in our lives. But do not let it hinder you. Do not allow the bad experiences you may have encountered in your past to negatively impact your future. There were many times I thought I would never love again, particularly when I was young.  People are going to hurt and disappoint you – that’s just life. However, that excess baggage cannot be strapped on to your back through your lifelong journey. Leave it all behind and allow yourself to be vulnerable. You will be amazed at what magically presents itself when you least expect it. There is no need to fear rejection. Do not be afraid to express your emotions. Say I love you…life is way too short. More importantly, be in the moment and concentrate on those you care about the most (family, significant others, friends, fur babies, peers, etc.).

On a much more serious note – I’m so glad I decided to lay off the blonde highlights. Hey – teenage Jess: that was not a good look!

You Are My Sunshine | Baby Gift Guide

Hello, lovelies!

Now, don’t get it twisted — this is by no means a pregnancy announcement. But I decided to do a special post for the little ones because many people I know are starting families or adding on. In fact, one of my very best friends since high school, Sarah, is expecting baby #2 and will be welcoming a sweet little boy into the world this summer. I could not be more ecstatic for her and her family!

For those of you who are attending an upcoming baby shower, below is a fun little gift guide full of products that I find ridiculously precious and have already picked out for my favorite mommies out there…and perhaps my hypothetical child. This is beyond any other gift guide you may find, rather, something a little more unique. Enjoy!

You Are My Sunshine

1. Tiny Cottons Big Camper Tee, $34 {from Milk + Bots}  2. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, $12.69 {from Barnes & Noble}  3. Acorn Clip On Bow Ties, $5.50/each {from Lennon and Co Etsy Shop}  4. North Carolina Baby Teether, $12 {from Little Sapling Toys}  5. Quilted Chambray Bear One-piece, $39.95 {from Baby Gap}  6. B is for Bagel One-Piece Body Suit, $20 {from Garbella Etsy Shop}  7. Rose Gold Moccasins, $60 {from Freshly Picked}  8. Plush Sloth Friend, $46 {from Finkelsteins Etsy Shop}  9. Baby Shark Robe, $29.99 P {from PersonalizeItBABY Etsy Shop}  10. Popsicle & Donut Banners, $35/each {from Little O & Co} 11. Twinkle Twinkle Tee Pee, $199 {from Banana J Creations}

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2015 Trend Report | Home, Fashion, Beauty + All

Happy Friday!

Although this is the second week of January, I would like to pretend it’s the first real week of the year as many people were still in vacation/holiday mode last week. I am actually very excited for 2015 because it’s a great excuse to make a fresh start.

With a new year, comes a new you. Part of that happens internally but the other part can be external or what is on the surface. Sometimes people like to make a drastic hair change or try out a new style. Of course, what we choose is very personal but perhaps I can help get your wheels turning. Below are some of the big trends to watch in 2015 for every aspect of life. Enjoy!

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{ HOME } Eclectic Style. Pops of Color. Jewel Tones.

Think vintage, retro, mixing patterns and textures, personal touches, rich colors.

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ECLECTIC STYLE – The Rundown: This is probably my favorite trend for 2015, mostly because I feel like the style encompasses me as a person: incredibly eclectic. The mix of new and old, everything is random yet it somehow seamlessly comes together…it’s amazing. If you’re looking to change up the look of your home this year, this is a great way to do it.

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POPS OF COLOR – The Rundown: Looking to make some subtle changes to your home decor? Adding pops of color will surely do the trick and it’s big in 2015. Pick up some colorful chairs, pull out your vibrant KitchenAid mixer, or even simply paint a door a different color like in the image above.

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JEWEL TONES – The Rundown: Deep, rich jewel tones are a heavy hitter this year. There is something sophisticated and tasteful about them. I’m loving this look in the office/study below.


{ FASHION } Wide-Legged Pants. 70s Retro. Boho. Lace Up. Gingham Print.

I honestly could not be more thrilled about these style trends for 2015. Mostly because they remind me of the vintage, sepia-toned photos of my parents from the 60s and 70s. It makes me smile.

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WIDE-LEGGED PANTS – The Rundown: Although I do not think skinny pants will completely disappear, I do think wide-legged pants will soon be ruling the world, and in my opinion, we are long overdue for a new silhouette.

70s RETRO – The Rundown: As mentioned above, the 70s style is back with a vengeance (and I cannot contain my excitement).

BOHO – The Rundown: The bohemian look is also making an impact on the runway for Spring/Summer 2015…so go ahead and channel your inner flower child.

LACE UP – The Rundown: Lace ties are also quite prominent for the new year – just check out the Louis Vuitton runway images alone.

GINGHAM PRINT – The Rundown: The gingham print (yes, it may also remind you of a picnic) was gaining traction in Fall 2014 but will be huge in 2015. It’s feminine mixed with classic mixed with chic and I love, love, love it!

{ Check out all of the runway images here }


{ BEAUTY } Minimal Makeup. Bold Brows. Dewy Skin. Statement Lips. Negative Space Manis.

We are now living in a time where less is more, beautiful skin is everything and making a statement on your lips and nails is a way of life.

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MINIMAL MAKEUP – The Rundown: A big trend this year is the minimal/nude makeup look. In 2015, less is more. We’re not saying absolutely no makeup, but a more natural look, nude shades and a “fresh face”.

BOLD BROWS – The Rundown: Remember being young and plucking your eyebrows to make them thin was cool? Well, times have certainly changed. Heavier brows are in. But not an unruly brow, a very structured, well groomed brow.

DEWY SKIN – The Rundown: This ties into the “fresh face” look mentioned in the Minimal Makeup Rundown. Bottom line: dewy skin is in. Looking clean and natural with a slight sheen is what you’ll be seeing a lot of this year.

{ Images can be found here —> Minimal Makeup, Bold Brows, Dewy Skin }

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STATEMENT LIPS – The Rundown: For Fall 2014, we saw a good bit of the wine stained/vampy lip. It will definitely translate to 2015, even in the Spring. But let’s be real, any statement lip is big this year. Whether you go for the newly popular orange-red, a classic red, or even a true pink – you’re in good hands.

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NEGATIVE SPACE MANIS – The Rundown: This look is all over the runway for 2015. Negative space nails are without a doubt, the next big thing.

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{ EVERYTHING } Marsala

If you missed my post on the 2015 Pantone Color of the Year, Marsala, you can read about it here. But to reiterate, Marsala will be huge this year. In every aspect of life – design, home decor, beauty, fashion…you name it! Below are some inspiration images of how you can implement the Pantone Color of the Year into your life!

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New Years Resolutions + Goals | 2015

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Deuces 2014, Hello 2015!

It’s been a wild year but a lot of good came from it. I launched my blog (which was my new years resolution last year), finished grad school, had my first wedding anniversary with the hubs, moved to a different part of town, developed new friendships, rekindled old ones, overcame obstacles, and grew in so many ways as an individual. At this juncture, I am in one of those places where deep reflection is necessary. It’s time to re-shift my focus and prepare for 2015 — many wonderful things on the horizon. Check out my personal and business resolutions + goals for 2015 below!

LIFE | PERSONAL.

1. I would like to dedicate more time to yoga. It’s something that keeps me centered through all of the chaos. I can honestly say that I love it, I really do.

2. Paint once a week. This is another thing that keeps my mind at ease while allowing my creative juices to flow. There is something about a blank canvas that is so invigorating.

3. Start a supper club. This was actually a new years resolution from last year that I just never got around to organizing. Given that I have a lot more time on my hands, I’ll be able to dedicate my efforts on this.

4. Saying “no” (more). This is probably my biggest issue in life. I am a “yes” person. But sometimes, you just have to say no. For your own sanity, to save money, to not overly commit, etc.

5. Travel, travel, travel. Traveling is one of my favorite past times and they say to do it while you’re young (which I am). Plus it’s one of my favorite things to blog about. I’m looking forward to the few trips we already have planned for 2015: Barcelona — Bryson City — Nashville — Asheville  — Charleston. Let’s do this.

6. Positivity. I want positivity in all aspects of life. Internally and externally. I want to be positive and only want to surround myself with positive people. Period.

7. Make more traditions, like Sunday breakfast. I love, love, love traditions. I also love breakfast. On Sundays. I want to listen to Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes” on a rainy Sunday morning in a large, comfy t-shirt and enjoy some of those banana pancakes on the couch with my husband. Is that weird? Oh well, if it is!

LIFE | BUSINESS.

1. Network with other marketing/creative professionals. I really need to do a better job of networking with the people in my industry. It’s always a good idea to build business relationships.

2. Network with other local bloggers. I recently joined a Facebook group for local, Charlotte bloggers and I intend on attending the various events they put on to connect with other people like me!

3. Put myself out there. I need to get out of my comfort zone, put myself out there and level the playing field. My goal is to become a new level of proactive and seek out new and exciting opportunities.

4. YouTube channel collaboration / blog extension. Yep, you read that right. Many exciting things happening for wander + bloom next year – including a YouTube Channel partnership with someone very special to be somewhat of a “product line extension” of the blog, for lack of a better term. Mind you, I am frightened to death of being on camera, but it will be rewarding. I would be doing you a disservice if I filled you in on all of the details, so bear with me and stay tuned!

And there you have it. My personal and business goals/resolutions for 2015. Let’s see what what I can make happen, I’m certainly up for the challenge! Wishing you all a beautiful and safe New Years Eve!

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A Very Merry Playlist | Happy Holidays

547efda456f0eMerry Christmas Eve, friends!

It’s such a beautiful time of year — so many hearts are filled with love and joy this season. This is one of my favorite times of the year because I’ve had so many wistful memories during the holidays. Growing up, my parents, brother and I would drive up to New York to visit our family as most of them lived there. Of course, we would frequent Rockefeller Center to gaze at the gigantic, gleaming Christmas tree, people watch those who were ice skating in Time Square, and pay a visit to F.A.O. Schwartz to pick out a toy with my Uncle Don.

Each annual visit to New York, we would stay at my late grandmother’s place in Queens. I can picture it like it was just yesterday – stomping around in mounds of snow outside of her apartment complex in Kew Gardens, her warm, cozy home, walking around barefoot on the plush carpet, sneaking those little jelly Sunkist Fruit Gems out of her candy dish before dinner, admiring her sparkling Swarovski crystal figurines she collected and of course, listening to Frank Sinatra on the retro radio.

As many of you already know, I am music’s biggest fan. Okay, maybe not biggest but I can say with the utmost certainty that music plays a vital role in my life. It’s amazing when you hear a song and it immediately takes you to a place you once were or brings back feelings you once had. It may be the closest thing we have to time travel – there’s just something nostalgic about it. With that said, I’ve cultivated a Christmas Playlist below that will surely put you in the holiday spirit. It may even compel you to begin setting up your playlist on Spotify or iTunes — and do not fret, you’ll see that Mr. Sinatra made the list too. Cheers!

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  1. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Michael Bublé (his spin on Mariah Carey’s classic)
  2. Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
  3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Sam Smith
  4. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
  5. Baby It’s Cold Outside – She & Him
  6. Peace – Norah Jones
  7. Sleigh Ride – Ella Fitzgerald
  8. O Tannenbaum – Andrea Bocelli
  9. White Christmas – Bing Crosby
  10. Little Drummer Boy – Johnny Cash
  11. Where Are You Christmas? – Faith Hill
  12. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Frank Sinatra
  13. Winter Wonderland / Don’t Worry Be Happy – Pentatonix
  14. Deck The Halls – Manheim Steamroller
  15. The Christmas Waltz – She & Him
  16. O Holy Night – Tracy Chapman
  17. Joy to the World – Nat King Cole
  18. Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Rod Stewart
  19. Merry Christmas Baby – B.B. King
  20. Silver Bells – Tony Bennett
  21. Do You Hear What I Hear? – Bob Dylan
  22. Let it Snow – Dean Martin
  23. Winter Song – The Head And The Heart
  24. Someday at Christmas – Jack Johnson
  25. 7 O’clock News / Silent Night – Simon & Garfunkel
  26. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes
  27. Christmas Lights – Coldplay
  28. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
  29. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Michael Bublé
  30. Ave Maria – Josh Groban
  31. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Harry Connick, Jr.
  32. This Christmas – Cee-Lo Green
  33. Christmas – Rogue Wave
  34. Wonderful Christmastime – The Shins
  35. Boots – The Killers
  36. Winter Wonderland – Jason Mraz
  37. Little Saint Nick – Beach Boys
  38. Winter Winds – Mumford & Sons
  39. Happy Christmas (War is Over) – Maroon 5
  40. I Thank God – The Avett Brothers

MBA…Check! | My Journey Through Grad School

It’s here. It’s finally here.

After four long years of taking one class a semester in conjunction with a full-time career, planning a wedding, participating in charitable organizations, moving, spending time with my husband, pups, family and friends, starting a blog all while “doing life” in between, I can finally say that I have completed graduate school with honors. It was certainly one of the more challenging things I’ve gone head-to-head with in life…particularly the nights I wanted to go out with friends but decided against it, when I had to force myself to take my laptop with me on practically every vacation, or when I literally thought I had hit my breaking point with extracurricular activities when I took on wedding planning and Blondes vs. Brunettes (*whew*, what a year that was).  But when you want something, I mean, really, really want something…perseverance sets in and you become an unstoppable force.

Yes, graduate school enriched my life and has allowed me to expand on the knowledge I’ve previously obtained, but this process has done much more for me than that. Who I was when I entered graduate school four years ago is not at all who I am now.

Here are a few things it has done for me:

1. It’s shown me strength I never knew I possessed. The countless hours of studying, paper writing, exams, discussion boards and projects. Knowing that I had to leave my 8+ hour work day to come to home to…guess what? More work. The times I so badly wanted to quit, but pushed through. I never knew I had any of this within me until I was tested. Sometimes that is what it’s about though, right? Getting back up after being kicked down? Proving to yourself that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to? Finding inner strength and fortitude? It’s amazing what we can actually achieve if we put in the effort it so merits.

2. It’s given me more confidence and self awareness. Let’s be real here, I’m the “nice” girl. I’ve been the “nice girl” my whole life. “You’re so cute”, “you’re so nice”, “I wouldn’t have let that happen, you’re way too nice”. These are things I have heard on a fairly regular basis. Call it being a pushover or call it being compassionate…I’m not actually sure how you would classify it. But what I do know is that I will never be a doormat again. Unfortunately, sometimes people will take advantage of others, mistake their kindness for weakness. Going through graduate school has given me a boost in confidence. Not because I was doing it to prove someone wrong, but because it made me value myself a little more. I will never stop being the “nice girl” because that is how I am programmed. I was raised to do well unto others and to treat people the way I would want to be treated. But this self awareness and new found confidence I now possess will never allow me to be walked all over again in any scenario.

3. It’s made me more resilient. I’ve always been an intuitive and emotional person. It’s taken many years to develop “thick skin” in both my personal and professional life. Graduate school has contributed to this immensely. I’ve listened to professors rip my work apart (and I’ve nearly been in tears over it), but it was all in the name of constructive criticism. In turn, it’s made me stronger and given me a degree of tenacity that I never knew existed.

Although my journey through the MBA process has come to an end, what it has given me is much more than a decorated degree. I now know just how important a support system is as I would have never survived school without the support of my husband, family and friends. I am also much more confident and strong-willed than ever before. I am a 29-year-old woman who believes hard work pays off. I enjoy a challenge and view every opportunity as a learning experience. I think change is inevitable and necessary for growth. I believe in being kind. I am comfortable in my own skin and a force to be reckoned with. I am excited for new adventures, new challenges, and the next chapter of life. But more importantly, I am ready for you, world!

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Music Muse | Tunes I’m Feeling Right Now

I’ve always been a music junkie — I literally grew up on classic rock and oldies. My parents (particularly my father), played a significant role in regard to what I was exposed to as a child in the way of tunes. Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Simon & Garfunkel, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, James Taylor, The Doors, Tom Petty, The Grateful Dead…you name it, I probably listened to it. Of course, as I got older, I was able to develop and form my own musical taste. I think of expanding your taste in music in relation to picking flowers from a wild, boundless garden. Each song or artist offers something very unique, just like an individual flower. You pick each stem that you fall in love with to ultimately add to your collection, which results in a radiant and robust bouquet. The compilation of my favorite artists and songs partially comprises who I am as a person – I truly believe that the kind of music someone listens to says a lot about them.

I have a very strong appreciation for all genres – even if it is not necessarily my favorite. However, I am almost always up for something new and will change what I am listening to as often as I change my Fantasy Football lineup (and if you know me, you know how frequent that is). Below are 5 artists I’m currently digging right now (and stay tuned – more music inspiration coming to the blog soon).

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1. Taylor Swift’s { 1989 Album }

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I know – it’s probably all you’ve heard about for the last couple of weeks (especially if you are friends with me). I’m not usually one to lean toward the Pop genre on a regular basis, but I’ve been a fan of Taylor Swift since her first album dropped in 2006 when she was singing Country music. I’ve remained loyal to her because “Tim McGraw”, “Teardrops on My Guitar” and “Cold As You” once gave my life deep meaning back when I would drive around in my car with the windows down and the music blasting, desperately trying to get over an ex-boyfriend (come on, ladies – I know we’ve all been there before). I have to admit, I was extremely uneasy when I heard she wanted to go a different route and leave Country music behind, however, after reading reviews and hearing some opinions, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase her new album. Let me just tell you, I am now feeling a little guilty for ever questioning her (sorry, T-Swift). But in all seriousness, the album is fantastic! My favorite songs right now are: “Wildest Dreams”, “Blank Space”, “Wonderland”, “Clean”, and “Style”.

 

2. The Head and the Heart

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Aside from classic rock, I’d say my favorite genre of music is Folk and Indie Folk. This is where my love for The Head and the Heart comes into play. I discovered this band from Seattle, Washington while listening to the Mumford & Sons Pandora station at work…and my oh my is it amazing. If you enjoy this type of music, I would highly recommend giving them a listen. My absolute favorite song by them is “Down in the Valley”.

 

3. Gregory Alan Isakov 

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I heard about this singer/songwriter from my dear friend, Ashley (who has excellent taste in music, might I add). Gregory Alan Isakov has a very soothing sound. His music is quite mellow and will put your chaotic life at ease. Try listening to “The Stable Song” first, and see how much you enjoy him. I am really feeling his vibe!

 

4. Paolo Nutini

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Okay, I’ve been listening to him for a couple of years now – but it’s an artist I do not feel gains enough traction and attention that he so deserves. Looking at him, you would never expect the ridiculous voice that comes out – very Ray LaMontagne-esque. He’s a Scottish singer/songwriter and has one of the most soulful voices I’ve ever heard. I’ve enjoyed him so much, I put one of his songs on our CD wedding favor (“Growing Up Beside You”) – which in itself, was a tough decision to make because we were so limited with song selection. Some of my other favorites of his are “Last Request”, “New Shoes”, “Rewind”, “Jenny Don’t Be Hasty”, “These Streets” and “Coming Up Easy”. Oh and you’re welcome.

 

5. The Dirty Heads

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Oh my goodness do I love this band! I’ve been fortunate enough to see them live twice and they sound just like they do in the studio. The Dirty Heads are from Huntington Beach, California and definitely bring that west coast feeling to the table. They are a blend of Reggae, Hip Hop and Rock – a very uncommon combination. If I had to compare them to other artists, I would say they have some Sublime and Matisyahu influences. I really enjoyed their Cabin By The Sea album but the newest one that was released in July, Sound of Change, offers something very different – very acoustic. Absolutely loving this one!