Friday, July 29, 2011

bad date hall of fame

I was watching an episode of Parks & Rec, one of my favorite shows, last night. In it, Leslie Knope {the main character} was talking about all the bad dates she has ever been on. This spurred my idea to share with y'all one of my worst first dates. Enjoy!

Let me preface this by saying I don't typically recommend going on a date with someone you know nothing about. It usually does not end well. But I was in college and willing to try anything once. Sorry mom!

It all started at a party {isn't that how it all starts??} one Saturday night. I met this boy who was cute and seemed nice enough. We talked for a while at the party--but didn't really get to know each other that well. We had no mutual friends, and I don't even think he went to my school, but since he seemed like a nice guy, I agreed to go on a date with him anyways--again, willing to try anything once.

We made plans to meet at a diner in Chicago the following weekend. When I arrived for our date, it was clear he had been at the restaurant for a little while, as he already had food in front of him. In fact he was finishing up his meal as I walked in. RED FLAG. Weird, because like most dates, I had assumed we would be eating together since it was dinnertime and we were meeting at a restaurant. But okay, I let it slide. Instead of staying at the restaurant and letting me order food, he said he wanted to go for a walk. Hmm... okay, I went along with it.

So we walked out to the lakefront in Chicago and took in the beautiful scenery. While we were talking and chatting he happened to mention that he had just gotten out of rehab (for a harder drug that I won't mention). BIG RED FLAG. I guess I'm just not that into recovering addicts. And talk about awkward conversation topic! Should you even bring that up on a first date with a girl you barely know? Probably not. Leave that conversation when you're more serious and she's too invested to run for the hills.

After that I was pretty turned off, but not one to be rude, I stuck around a while longer. He mentioned that he lived around the corner and asked if I wanted to see his apartment. RED FLAG. If a guy asks if you want to see his apartment, he wants other things. Just sayin’. And because I clearly wasn’t feeling it, but didn’t know how to get out of it, I agreed to go, but said I wouldn’t be able to stick around much longer--classic line to say I'm not interested. Well we get to his apartment, only to find out he was still living with his parents. RED FLAG. Yes, he was trying to make moves on me in his parents house--not okay. Needless to say, I didn't stick around long enough to meet his parents or make plans for another date. Sadly, that was the last I saw of him.

Definitely one of the weirder dates of my life. Don’t get me wrong, he seemed like a nice enough guy and I hope he’s found someone who makes him very happy—but that just wasn’t going to be me.

On another note, it's my lovely co-blogger Jena's birthday tomorrow. So be sure to wish her a great 24th birthday. We'll be celebrating by floating down a river... can't wait! Hope you have a great weekend friends!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

breaking barriers

via pinterest

"Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone."

Interesting words by Robert Allen, some smart millionaire with a book about his money-making secrets. While I know nothing about Robert Allen nor have I read his book, I find his words to be a reminder that it is always the time to try new things and push your limits.

I recently tried my hand at a little runway at a small event for the boutique I work at. Something I normally would never do. Wasn't so bad. It was even a little fun to strut my stuff. Just realizing I can do it, regardless of how good I am, kicked my confidence up a notch.

Way more bold than walking in front of people (seems so simple when you put it that way), my boyfriend is busy coming up with a stand-up routine. I'm nervous for him being that I am the only person on the planet who finds him funny (kidding, dear). But really, just thinking about it makes me nervous. I could never, ever do it. Since I'm the funny one out of the two of us (kidding again. kind of.) I've been giving him some great material, but actually saying it in front of people? Now that is a crazy idea. What if they thought it was awful. What if they didn't laugh?

This is one of those moments where I answer my own perplexing question. Who gives a damn if they don't laugh, Jena. Don't take yourself so seriously.

Well, I most certainly haven't convinced myself to do stand-up at this point, and I may never. But I am ready to take baby steps outside of my comfort zone. Here are a few on my "YOU CAN DO IT!" list.

1. Go to a movie alone.
2. Eat dinner alone.
3. Host a dinner party. And even cook the dinner.
4. Sing karaoke. (This is a BIG fear.)
5. Take a weekend trip alone to a place where I know no one.

What's outside of your comfort zone? Give yourself a pep talk and get to it people.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

thinking about ink

(clockwise from top left 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Let’s talk about tats ladies.

There’s a little bit of a tattoo frenzy going on lately, at least in my neck of the woods. People getting them, wanting them, wishing they had them.

My thoughts on tattoos are as follows:

As long as they are not cheesy, from a drunken escapade, a tramp stamp, or just too much—I don’t mind them. I think it’s cool if you get something that means a lot to you, that you know you’ll love forever inked on you.

Men with tattoos, is a case by case basis. Random tribal tattoos I just can’t dig. But sleeves, àla John Mayer, I can definitely get down with. Much more than a sleeve? Probably not for me.

I don’t understand couples getting tattoos. That’s like strapping a ticking time bomb to your chest to me. It just ain’t gonna work out good in the end. And all you’re left with is some other guy's name tattooed on your body as a daily reminder. Not cute.

I was thisclose to getting a tattoo while I was studying abroad in Florence in college. I knew what I wanted, but at the last minute chickened out. Part of me wishes I would have gotten it, because what a great memory! But part of me is glad that I didn’t—which I think is the ultimate sign.

Have you ever craved a little ink? Wanted something penned on yourself to remember it forever? I wanna hear what you think!

Friday, July 22, 2011

friday friday friday

Hey guys, it’s Friday. Tell me that’s not the best news you’ve received all week. I think I will drink a large diet coke from Sonic and take a nap this afternoon in celebration. This week has been weird, with my brain not functioning 90 percent of the time, so you’ll have to forgive me and accept this random post.

**This weekend, we’re celebrating my brother’s birthday. Do you have a brother? They’re pretty great. Mine just happens to have a birthday this Sunday, which is even greater. I think we’ll celebrate by eating steak at some ritzy restaurant that my parents only take us to when we have something to celebrate.

**Other things I plan on doing this weekend include reading more of The Help. Have you read it? I’m five chapters in and hooked. If you haven’t read it, you should. Can’t wait to see the movie with Emma Stone, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses.

**I think I will also make cheesecake filled strawberries. And you should too. They’re delicious, super easy, and everyone loves them. See the directions here.

**Have you heard of Spotify? I got an invite earlier this week and have been hooked. It’s like iTunes and Pandora got together and had a child, which they named Spotify. It’s like you have a gigantic iTunes library of any songs and artists you want right at your fingertip, except unless you have a premium account there are a few commercials like Pandora. I definitely think it will change the way I listen to music.

**One more thing to share… I tried this no heat curling method this week. Consider this my official recommendation. Perfect for those mornings you just want to sleep in an extra 20 minutes instead of curling your hair. Which… I have those a lot—lazy or resourceful, you tell me.

That’s all I got today. I hope your weekends are lovely. I promise we’ll be back better than ever on Monday.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

pretty things

It’s Thursday, but I keep thinking it’s Wednesday and wishing it was Friday. The mind boggles. So instead of over-thinking anything else today, here are a few pretty things that are getting me through my week….

pretty ladylike

pretty mermaid nail

pretty dusty book

pretty crazy jump

Click the captions to see the sources. See more pretty things here. Have anything pretty to share?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

dating do or don't: dating in the 21st century


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, dating in today’s day and age is the most complicated, confusing thing. No other generation has had to deal with all the forms of communication we have—in fact, when my parents were dating, they had one phone line for the entire floor in their dorms {unheard of!}. Today, we have our cell phones (texting and calls), Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. And it seems not all of us know how to properly communicate with all of these tools. Here are a few of my guidelines for dating in these technological times:

  • Do be timely. If you’re going to add someone on Facebook and/or Twitter, do it right after you’ve met them. If you got someone’s number and you want to text them or call them, wait a day or two. But don’t call me after it’s been a week and expect me to still be interested, to me that means you aren’t that interested in me to begin with.
  • Don’t over-communicate. Leave some conversation for your first date or whenever you will see each other next. Hint: Holding onto a little mystery keeps me interested.
  • Don’t be afraid to take the next step. There is a time and a place for introducing yourself to someone on the Internet, or via telephone. But if you ever want a chance at a sustainable relationship, we’re going to have to see each other in real life.
  • Don’t over-share. I can spot an over-sharer from a mile away and nothing turns me off more. I don’t want to hear about every mundane detail of your life. Just saying.
  • Do be sober. I am definitely guilty of not following this little rule, so I can tell you from experience it's not a good idea. Drinking and texting never leads to anything good. Save yourself the embarrassment and trust me on this one.
  • Do creep. I’m sorry, but one advantage of living in the 21st century is that I get to see your ex-girlfriend’s picture on Facebook. Everyone does it. Don’t be ashamed. But please don’t hold any incriminating pictures you may find against me.
  • Don’t send x-rated pictures. Okay, do it. But if they end up on the Internet forever, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • Do your research. If you’re going on a date with someone, check out their Facebook profile to find out what they’re interested in. Easy conversation starters—just maybe don’t mention that you stalked them on the web. For example, you saw some pictures of a family trip to Italy. Date convo: “Have you ever traveled to Europe? Oh, Italy? Awesome! Tell me about it…”
  • Don’t badmouth your ex on the Internet. I’m not impressed that you’re saying mean things about them. Because more than likely, I’ll be next.

And finally….

  • Do not troll the Internet for dates, people. I cannot be held responsible for your impending abduction. Be responsible, the Internet is a scary place.

Monday, July 18, 2011

girl power


Thanks to the Spice Girls and growing up predominately in the late ’90s and early ’00s—I grew up in the throws of the girl power movement. Over the weekend, thanks to a team of hardcore soccer playing ladies, I had a total flashback girl power moment. Watching the World Cup Finals took me right back to 1999, when I was a wild 11-year-old and watching another team of amazing women win the World Cup trophy for our nation. I think you may recognize this picture—a poster size of it hung in my room for years after that moment.

Seeing another group of women from our country dominate during the tournament this year—playing a sport that doesn’t necessarily excite me otherwise, I was taken back to my 11-year-old self, cheering on a group of women I barely knew. I found myself wondering where all the girl power has gone.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but today men are the leaders we look to in almost every aspect of our lives—in politics, at church, in our homes, and even in sports. It’s easy to forget that we have entire generations of women who have come before us to offer up excellent examples of how to be independent and thriving leaders, too. And as they say, behind every great man there’s a great woman.

To think that each of those ladies playing their hearts out in the World Cup Finals have worked their whole lives leading up to that day on that field in Germany. It didn’t matter how old they were, it didn’t matter that one of them had been diagnosed with Lyme disease last December, or even that they weren’t even supposed to make it past their first round—they gave it their all and fought for what they wanted.

And that, is what girl power is all about.

What ladies do you look up to? I always think of Oprah, Princess Diana, Michelle Obama and my grandma when I need a little inspiration.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Makeup Magic

When it comes to beauty products, marketers love me. I am anything but brand loyal, and I am always a sucker for the "latest and greatest" in makeup, face wash, face lotion, you name it, even though nothing is ever that different from the one I tried before.

However, this time, being a sucker has finally paid off. With combination skin like you've never seen it, makeup in my t-zone melts off my face while my forehead and nose have makeup flakes from dryness. Woe is me, right? Well, this makeup primer really does work. Usually I have to re-apply makeup or at least powder at some point in the day. Now I don't. My makeup stays on...ALL DAY and looks even and smooth, even in my dry zones.

So really, try this. It works.

That's the only beauty secret I have for now. As I keep blowing money on other new beauty products, you have my word I'll keep you in the loop when I find another good one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

do something fun

Hi all! Better late than never, right? I'm currently capping off a very long day by baking a little something. I love to spend time in the kitchen, but admittedly I'm not always good at it... so let's cross our fingers that tonight's results are edible. If you've ever eaten at Mimi's Cafe and had their Carrot Raisin Muffins {which are to die for}, I'm currently attempting to replicate them thanks to this recipe. So far, they smell delicious so I'm thinking that they'll be a hit.

I decided to bake tonight, because I was inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Mighty Girl, who has kicked off 30 days of fun--a project to do one fun thing each day. Coincidentally, a couple weeks ago, I decided I would start my own little project of trying to do different things after work... not necessarily big things, but just little activities to give me something to do after 5 p.m. besides sitting on the couch--which is often where you can find me most weeknights. {Something about sitting at a desk all day really takes it out of me.}

Thanks to a little push from Miss Maggie Mason, I've gotten excited again about doing something, anything post workday. Last night, I went to dinner and walked around the mall a little bit . . . retail therapy is always a good place to start in my book. And tomorrow, I will be one of the nerds camped out at the movie theatre to see Harry Potter at midnight. I've long had a love affair with the boy who lived under the stairs, and I'm very sad to part ways tomorrow night. So, yes, I will be camped out with millions of fans from around the country to bid my favorite Potterheads a fond farewell. Sounds fun, right?

Let's all pledge to be more fun and enjoy life for the next 30 days, shall we?

I see brighter smiles and sunnier days in your future. And it sure looks good you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Roaring Twenties

via pinterest

With my 24th birthday just around the corner, I can relate to Annye's friend feeling anxiety about her big 2-4. It's not so much that I'm turning 24 though. It's that I'm almost 25. Which, for some reason, sounds more scary to me than 30. Twenty five brings me some self-induced pressure to have life figured out. Mainly because that is when everyone else starts figuring it out. Damn peer pressure. By thirty though, no one gives a crap. Your married friends are married and your single friends are still whining about being single. At 30, I'll have accepted my lot in life. It will mark that period in my life where I'll know who I am and what I believe.  I'll either be engaged and annoying, or embarrassing Aunt Jena who eats all the time and has way too many dogs. (Who are we kidding...I'll be fabulous Aunt Jena with the killer wardrobe and fully-stamped passport.) Regardless, as a neurotic individual I can't wait for that time in my life where my mind will just stop.

Being that my magical age is a good six years away, I have made it a goal of mine to make sure my twenties do not suck. I've heard various friends of mine in their 30s talk about their 20s as a travesty. How lost they were. How they made such bad decisions. How they'd never do them over. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I'm going to have to look back on this decade with a lot of self-forgiveness, but you can bet your ass I'm going to look back on it with a lot of fondness too.

When I try to freak out about the unknown, I reign myself back in and look at it this way. This may be the only time in my life I may not know what's next. Once I have a husband, or kids, that is my life. For the rest of my life. I'm going to bask in the glory of the unknown right now. To know that I could move to Colorado, or become a flight attendant, or sit on Facebook for hours on end every night when I get off work. Enjoy the fact that the only person I am responsible for is indeed, me.

But because I am only responsible for moi, I am trying to use this time in my life to do a little more than eat ungodly amounts of chips in my underwear. I want to make a difference. I want to make a change before my energy and my heart belong to a family of my own.

That is why I decided to become a CASA volunteer. Quick lesson on what exactly that is. It stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. What it means is when a child is taken into the custody of The Department of Human Services, a judge may appoint me to their case to get to know the child, the family, and any other people involved. At the end of it all, I share with the court the information I gather and what I find to be in the best interest of the child--whether it be to return home or be adopted.

After a lot of hours of training, tomorrow I will be sworn in as an advocate. I am nervous, excited and extremely honored to be a part of something that makes a difference.

So this post is to remind my fellow 20 somethings to do something to make this decade count. Make your twenties roar. (Sorry, I couldn't help it.) Do something you are proud of. Use this time in your life to give back, try a new hobby or take that epic road trip. Take advantage of this chance to explore both the world around you and yourself. Test your limits. See what you can do -- you may surprise yourself!

Monday, July 11, 2011

another year


Why are we afraid of getting a year older?
Why do 365 days signify a fear deep inside of us that we are suddenly un-cool, out of touch and out of date?
Why can’t we equate those 365 days to more life experience, opportunities to grow and be a better person?

Sure, it sucks that we’re no longer young enough to not have to worry about grey hairs or even wrinkles {boo}. But it doesn’t suck that we don’t have to worry about teenage acne, embarrassing parents or college boys {woo}.

I have a lovely, beautiful and talented friend who is afraid that she’s another year older—and therefore has nothing to be excited about anymore. To her I say: you are even more lovely, beautiful and talented today than you were last year! Embrace it! Because my dear, you ain’t getting any younger. {I’m a fan of tough love, can’t you tell?}

10 years ago, you didn’t know how to drive {whhhaa?}, how to live without your mama, tease that gorgeous mane of yours, or even how flirt with boys seamlessly.
5 years ago, you didn’t know how to cure those dreadful hangovers, write a totally banging resume, score a wicked date, or even how to masterfully pick out the perfect bottle of wine.
Image what you’ll learn in the next 5 or 10 years! You’ll practically be a genius!

I for one, wouldn’t go back and wouldn’t change a thing given the choice. To that I say: Been there, done that. What’s next?
Ps. Totally not kidding about the grey hairs... I detected my first ones {!!} about a year ago. And it seems they keep sprouting up at alarming rates. Major reality check for this girl.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

the unexpected


So I read an insane amount of blogs, I’m not afraid to admit it. And from these blogs, I often stumble upon other blogs and articles and interesting things from the Internet. Some, good. Some, not so good. Occasionally I get the urge to tweet about said good things. But occasionally, I get the urge to say more than 140 characters will allow.Which is when I take to my personal blog to share my personal thoughts… handy how that works out.

But yesterday I read an article that I wanted to share on S&E, because I thought it was fitting and I just liked it that much. So indulge me, please.

Now if that’s not a good headline, I don’t know what is. I’m immediately hooked. Are you? No? Then let’s go a little further, shall we?
"Five years after you graduate, life won't look anything like you would have imagined. You'll be single when you thought you'd be married. You'll have kids when you thought you'd be in the Peace Corps. That trip to Laos will get delayed because you've got to say home and take care of grandmother. Laos will be there. You're grandmother won't always."  ..... "When you thought you'd be baking pie and living behind your very own white picket fence you'll find yourself doing something entirely different you couldn't have even imagined it a year before. There will be moments when you'll look around and not even recognize your a good way."
I don’t know about you… but this is exactly what I needed to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it.Because, I don’t know about you, but my life is not turning out the way I thought it would, thus far.

Four years ago, I was in college, pursuing a journalism degree in Chicago. Imagining that in four years I would be living in Chicago, dating the same boy I was dating, eating at my favorite sushi restaurant every other week, enjoying a fabulous job in the journalism industry of Chicago. The joke was apparently on me. (ha ha)

I may not be living in Chicago and working at my fabulous job. But I am living some other place I really do love, working a job that I enjoy and brings me new challenges every day. The point of the article written by Kate Moller, was to say that things are never going to turn out how we expect them too, but that’s not to say that we can’t enjoy the cards we are dealt. Embrace what you are given and learn to keep on your unique path until you are happy with where you stand. Because after all, It's not going to turn out the way you thought it would. It will be better.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What to Wear Wednesday - crochet crazy

Call me a hippie, I definitely channel their lack of hygiene (as you all know) and fun fashion sense, but I love crochet. It's a great summer staple that will transition well into our warm fall. It adds texture and allows you to layer. Not to mention it is uber sexy. Here are some of my faves and tips on how to wear it.

Available at Maude Boutique.
Layer, layer, layer. Stick a crochet top like the one above over your favorite maxi for a fresh look. Belt it if you feel it looks too bulky. You can also stick something like this over a plain tank to add some excitement and pair with your favorite jeans.
Available at

 This dress from lulu's is hot! It obviously doesn't show any skin, but it definitely has that illusion. It's the perfect mix of sweet and sexy.
Available at Maude Boutique.

This dress I adore for a transition to fall. All you need under it is a tank dress and you are good to go. It is really effortless and more importantly looks that way. Again, it is unbelievably sexy. It shows that perfect amount of skin.

Available at Maude Boutique. 
Yes, that is me. Stop laughing. Oh, my awful job, right? Making me model gorgeous clothes. This dress is one I love because the back is so fun, and we all know I LOVE a killer back. One, I find it to be one of the most beautiful parts of a woman's body. Two, and more importantly, an interesting back on a top or dress means I get to wear my hair up. Score.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

the auntie brigade

how precious is she? i'm in love.

As Jena said, I’m now a proud member of the Auntie Brigade—a term borrowed from the incomparable Elizabeth Gilbert (yes, it’s safe to say that both Jena and I are obsessed with her). The Auntie Brigade is comprised of women who either choose not to have children, or don’t have children yet—women who get to spoil their biological nieces and nephews or even children who aren’t related, with gifts and treasures that their parents cannot.

In her book Committed, Elizabeth talks a lot about the pressure for women to get married and have children. Yet, she says, “If you look across human populations of all varieties, in every culture and on every continent, you will find that there is a consistent 10 percent of women within any population who never have children at all. The percentage never gets any lower than that, in any population whatsoever. In fact, the percentage of women who never reproduce in most societies is usually much higher than 10 percent—and that’s not just today in the developed Western world, where childless rates among women tend to hover around 50 percent.”

If this is the case, why do women who choose not to have children often get criticized and accused of being “unnatural?” It’s certainly not a new trend; the Auntie Brigade has been around for some time. I think it’s sad that women who don’t yearn for offspring are often looked at in disbelief. The beauty of being a woman is the choice. And being part of the Auntie Brigade ain’t so bad in the end.
I have fond memories from my childhood of a friend of my mom’s who was childless and who spoiled my siblings and me rotten. And not just with gifts. She would bake for us, send us cards on every mundane holiday, and dote on us like we were her own children. At the end of the day, she got the benefits of having children to love and be loved in return, without the actual hard work and long hours that comes along with being a parent. A pretty nice trade I do believe.

I do hope to one day have children, but I see it as a pretty great benefit that for now I get to just be an aunt. I’m young, single and childless—making me fairly carefree, and giving me the benefit of having a child to spoil and send home to mommy and daddy to do the dirty work ;). Whether or not I have children in the future, I will always have this little munchkin to take care of when her parents need a break. And for that I am thankful.

P.S. I hope you aren’t sick of Jena and I talking about Committed quite yet. I’ve literally been studying this book for the past month--studying. It's that good. You should read it if you have not already. It presents the history of marriage and a sort of sociological study on marriage in our society. A great read for anyone who is married, might get married one day or will never be married.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Baby Alert!

No, it's not my baby. Or Annye's. And thank the Lord for that. Our dearest Annye is now an Aunt.

In the words of Jane Austen, Miss Annye, "You are now a person of some consequence."

I wrote a blog post on my personal blog a while back about the importance of aunts in the greater scheme of things. I never thought this way about them til I read that book I keep talking about, Committed. (Hey, maybe you should read it.) Gilbert talks about how aunts are important members of families and society. While we may lack children, we have the time, energy and finances to come in when parents meet a rough patch. I believe this to be true and take my 'Aunt Dena' duties very seriously, as you all know. (i.e., that ridiculous birthday party I helped throw my niece).

I want to be a fun aunt. I want to be the one she knows she can tell anything to. I want to be the aunt she admires and looks up to. The aunt whose closet she wants to raid, even when I am old and she is young. I want to help her pick out her prom dress and write her college essays. When she's having a bad week in school, I want to take her out for a fun day doing whatever she loves most in the world at that time.

Being an aunt has been one of the most fun jobs in the world, and I feel blessed every day to get to be an aunt to that little angel.

As Annye meets her little angel Presley this weekend, it's safe to say she too will find immense joy in her new job.

Congratulations Aunt Annye. You are going to be the best aunt ever.

PS- I speak for all the Smith & Emmie's when I say this...Post some damn pictures of your adorable niece already, okay? :)