It is HOT in the Chicago suburbs today. I’m talking 89 degrees (but my phone says it feels like 90 degrees and I agree), not a cloud in the sky kind of hot. So, what does a normal girl do? Heads to a new outdoor garden boutique in the smoldering heat.
It’s Memorial Day weekend and since the weather is so nice people are already out and about. I drove to Downtown Aurora and found my way to the most adorable garden boutique called Branch Gardens. It’s brand new, just opened May 1st and was basically a garden lover’s dream (me).
This space was revamped from it’s original glory. Downtown Aurora has some incredible historic buildings and architecture. It is the last stop on the BNSF railway, which takes you from Aurora to Chicago with intermediate stops. So, if you’re looking to get away from the city for a day, it’s easy to hop on and check out the new shops in downtown Aurora.
The shop was filled with adorable planters, plants, homemade soaps and little home decor items. The space itself gave me a Joanna-Gaines-started-a-garden-shop vibe, but in the absolute best way (I am a huge fan of everything Joanna does).
This place was honestly so worth checking out. I think Aurora has great potential to thrive as it once did and these shops coming in certainly gives it a head start in the right direction.
The owners are super great and will help you with anything you need. They both have a passion for horticulture and make it a wonderful experience for every visitor.
It was a great kick-off to my Memorial Day weekend, now off to see what else I can find.
My bedroom has been my greatest creative inspiration and space for the last few years. It went from being a pastel purple teenage disaster littered with emo band posters to my rose gold glowing sanctuary.
My bedroom doubles as my office right now, which means that I spend a lot of time in there. So, anywhere that I am spending a lot of time I want to be nice, inspirational and visually appealing.
My color scheme is very millennial approved. Everything works around my touches of copper, pink and white.
While I do love my space right now, I am always thinking and looking for ways to improve it even more. I have done a post on my room in the past (which you can check out here), and not too much has changed, but this post is more about where I hope to go with my future decorating.
I have worked on adding some more greenery to my space (definitely want much, much more soon). I tried having succulents in the past, but unfortunately didn’t care for them properly (or maybe overwatered) and they died. I now am the proud plant mother to 5 air plants and a trusty *bamboo* (I’ve heard the IKEA bamboo sticks aren’t really bamboo). I would love to try a bigger potted plant next.
I got very obsessed with making yarn wall hangings once I followed a DIY and kind of ran with it and made it my own a few years ago now. I have since made several for gifts and I think they are just adorable in any space. I have been huge on texture lately and these provide just that. They do get quite dusty though! So be sure to give them a good shake outside now and then.
One of my favorite new decor editions this year has been my rug that I found at a vintage shop locally. Just everything about it: the color, the texture, the handmade quality and the shaggy little ends. Obsessed. I’m not usually huge on carpet-on-carpet looks, but since this is the space I’m currently confined to I really wanted to still incorporate it.
And of course my trusty IKEA lamps have kept my room loyal to the rose-coppery look. These were such a great addition to my room. I have one on either side of the room and when they’re lit up with the Edison bulbs they illuminate a beautiful golden, copper glow that reflects beautifully off the pink accent wall.
Now for my inspiration for future room decoration plans:
First thing I’d love to change is my bed frame because it’s old, bulky and just doesn’t match. I found this one on West Elm and I am so in love with the simplistic, wire frame:
My bedroom currently doesn’t have a mirror which is something that I desperately need to change. This one from Anthropologie, although expensive, has given me some serious inspiration:
And just how cute is this little pink stool from Wayfair? I would love for this to be in reading corner.
Much more inspiration to come. I am always looking for things to renovate and improve my space! What are your favorite places to shop for unique and cute pieces? Let me know in the comments.
Last Wednesday I celebrated my 24th birthday which is still really crazy to me, not because I’m afraid to get older, but because I feel like I just turned 21. Either way, it’s here and honestly I’m excited for this year.
I was lucky enough to have a great dinner and celebration thanks to my amazing boyfriend Tom.
I’m going to commit to regularly posting on my blog and taking it more seriously because it is a passion project that I really do care about. I started this blog in Spring 2015 and now I have 72 published posts, almost 400 followers and I have had the chance to connect with and get to know some of you, which has been such a great experience for me.
There are some incredibly personal moments that have happened in my life over the last few years that I hope to share with you soon, because I really believe it can help someone else out there.
I can’t say how grateful I am to have this community and outlet… so thank you. I look forward to posting every single time because of your support and kind comments.
I am pretty active on Instagram, so follow me there! I try to keep up on my Instagram Stories pretty much daily.
Please let me know what you guys would like to see more of in future posts by commenting one or a few numbers below:
Through an odd series of connections and events over the last month and a half I have been working as a freelance reporter for a local community newspaper in my area. It has been absolutely wonderful getting to go out and report, write and take pictures to create articles that are being shared and read by many other people. To be honest, it’s a crazy feeling.
It all fell into place at exactly the right time. While I am very fortunate and genuinely enjoying this experience, I’m still definitely getting used to the idea of freelancing as a means of actually making money. It also has been a wild ride getting back into the swing of reporting and writing after taking a hiatus between graduation and this gig. I’m figuring it all out slowly, but for now I just have to see this as a side thing.
But, for a girl who dreamed her whole life to get paid for her writing, this has been a very uplifting and positive moment for me… especially when I saw my first check.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been really focused on the gun reform issue right now in America. I had a chance to speak with a few of the AMAZING high school students and a college student involved in planning March For Our Lives Chicago. I covered a local high school walkout on Wednesday, continually impressed and inspired by these young people.
It’s safe to say I’ve been having a pretty good time. I’m doing what I love, the thing I went to school for. I’m happy!
I hope that you all have a fantastic weekend and thank you for reading and encouraging me to keep pursuing my dreams. This is such a fantastic community online and I’m lucky to be a part of it.
This is not a post to sh*t on going to college, getting an education, etc. I loved college (2 out of 3 that I went to) and had some of my absolute best times (and some scary times, I’m looking at you Chicago 7-Eleven robbery), learned a lot and became a much better journalist than I could have ever imagined.
But, this has not been an easy transition from the glamour of college graduation, with it’s brilliant, big speeches about how we are going to be the best people in the entire world once we walk off that stage, to the real world: the reality of applying to jobs, getting interviews and, most of all, getting rejected. For those of you who have been there, you know how that hurts.
I am not trying to scare any of you, I am still extremely hopeful that I will land a position sometime soon. I think it’s all about your attitude. I have been very positive each time I have sent out an application, and more times than not I get a phone call, an interview. It’s just important to realize that these jobs might not happen RIGHT AWAY for some people, and I think colleges kind of do a bad job in providing false hope that when you graduate you will already be in your career.
I went to school for Journalism and from the beginning I heard how hard it would be after (I can hear all of you going “well, duh”), but I could not go for anything else. I have loved reporting and writing since I was a little girl and I had to follow my passion. But, I realize that passion does require major sacrifice (aka being poor for a while). For those of you out there who chose an artistic/unconventional major, you can probably understand this struggle between knowing it might be hard, but wanting more than anything to do what you love.
I can’t lie, there has been this overwhelming stress and depression surrounding the search for a job. That’s my experience, you may feel differently. I wake up in the morning shocked that I haven’t landed a position yet and it’s already almost 8 months after graduation, and it’s both discouraging and motivating at the same time. It’s a hard period for post-grads, in the wake of loan repayments hovering and a hope to be independent and out of our parents house, that I feel doesn’t get talked about enough.
I am here for anyone out there that is going through this transition period. You most certainly are not alone, we can create a little community in the comments and chat all about this if you’d like. I just wanted to keep it real with you all, because I think sometimes bloggers can be made out to be these overly happy, organized people with absolutely perfect lives.
Here is my best advice if you are still in high school/searching for a college:
-Do your research on how much you can afford or what your loan repayments will be after you get out of school.
-Pick an in-state school unless they are giving you absolutely great scholarships to go out-of-state.
-Know what your projected major will pay when you graduate (a general estimation).
For those who are about to graduate:
-Prep your resume early. Have a few professors you like help you with it or give some advice, or some knowledgable friends. Start sending it out about 6 months prior to graduation.
-Take internships that you will enjoy and will complement your major/minor (even if they are right after graduation). Try your absolute best to get paid for your internship, you deserve that.
-Don’t feel bad about moving back home or struggling for a little bit after you graduate. Don’t feel bad about taking a retail/food service job to pay your bills while searching for something you really want to be doing. It will get better.
For those who have already graduated:
-Indeed has been a great resource for me (they seem to have the best job postings). Send out those resumes like crazy and you will likely get at least a few responses.
-As stated in the last section, it’s okay to work in retail/food service in the meantime. It’s also okay to take a job that maybe wasn’t exactly what you were hoping for. Just because you take a job doesn’t mean that you have to be there forever (this is an idea I struggled with until recently).
-It will get better because it has to. Stay positive because it is so easy to fall into a dark place and it’s not so easy to crawl out of it.
Thank you to my lovely followers and those that are new for taking the time to read,
Winter is here again. The time that my skin decides to wreak absolute havoc and I am forced to stay indoors thanks to the chilly, snowy Chicagoland weather. Any other Midwesterners out there understand the pain right along with me?
I have to admit I have a horrible tendency to let my skin dry very badly, which isn’t the best idea for someone who has eczema, but to be honest it’s always the last thing on my mind. I finally started using many more natural, cruelty-free products to take care of my skin and my body, so I figured that I would tell you guys about a few of my favorites.
I recently purchased the Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream with Clary Sage and wow.. it has helped my face tremendously so far. Before I was using this my skin was actually cracking from lack of moisture. The packaging claims this product is 99% natural and not tested on animals, so it’s some good stuff. It does have a fragrance, which I would describe as kind of “earthy”. I personally like the smell, but I would say try to sniff it if you can before you buy. The price point isn’t bad either at only $7.59 on Amazon.
Sticking with Burt’s Bees, this is not sponsored at all…I’m just a fan, I have also been using their Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm with Kokum Butter. This is a 100% natural product and it has done wonders for my lips. If you have dry lips, try this out because you will be so relieved.
Over the last year or so, I’ve been really wanting to get away from “normal” deodorants that contain aluminum and I finally found one that I really love to use. The Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Deoderant (wild lavender scent) has been my go-to. I will say that if you are prone to sweating, are going to an event or stressful situation or just want more assurance that you won’t sweat through your clothes, this product probably isn’t one you want to use. It does not contain anti-persperant, so it’s just going to act as odor protection. I love the lavender scent, but if lavender isn’t for you, they have several other options to choose from.
Tom’s is one of my absolute favorite natural, sustainable and cruelty-free brands. I have been also using their toothpaste for the last 6 months or so and love it. It doesn’t have any of the sweeteners that most toothpaste brands contain, and they have a variety free of fluoride if you’re looking for that. I use the one containing fluoride. If you are looking for a better alternative to your current toothpaste I think this one is a great one to try.
Shea Moisture has the BEST conditioner that I have ever used, and that I’m convinced I ever WILL use, and it just so happens to be cruelty-free, organic, natural, fair-trade and family owned. It’s called the Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner and I could not recommend this enough, if you have to try one thing on this list this should win 100x over.
I am looking for more recommendations, specifically for body lotion, makeup products, etc. so let me know in the comments what you love.
Nothing like the first day of September to remind you that the warmer days will soon be behind us. I am a huge fan of fall, but I can’t help my mind from constantly thinking where I could be instead as the temperatures begin to drop.
For the last three years, my boyfriend and I have gone on one wonderful trip each year, which we always started planning in late fall. It has become our little tradition to go on one “big” trip a year, and with immense saving (i.e. barely spending money on anything else) we were able to pull it off.
But, now that I’ve graduated from college and I don’t have as much holding me back from doing things like short weekend trips, I can hopefully make room for a few more in my budget and schedule in the next few years.
I am very lucky to be going to Phoenix, Arizona in Mid-October with a couple of my best friends to go to the Lost Lake musical festival. I’ve never been in the southwest, so any recommendations on food, things to do, etc. are greatly appreciated.
But, without further ado, here are a few destinations I’d love to visit in 2018/2019 (I realize there are a lot of National Parks, but that’s just what I like):
The Hawaiian Islands
This one is a serious contender for my big trip for summer 2018. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii, but the price of airfare always pushed me away from going. It is still pretty dang expensive, but with enough planning I think anything is possible. I do worry about just how touristy the beaches are, but it still is so gorgeous that I can’t see that ruining my trip, even if it is.
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Banff has definitely gained some popularity in the last few years with bloggers and YouTubers, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this place is insanely beautiful (at least in photos). The only part of Canada I ever got the pleasure to see was Niagara Falls, not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s time to explore something else.
In 2016, I took a road trip to Bar Harbor, Maine from where I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and we got so close to Boston, but didn’t go. I still wish we did, so of course it had to make my list. I mean, who doesn’t want to do a dramatic reenactment of the Boston Tea Party?
Los Angeles, California
A few friends of mine who have been to LA swear by it, but I have always been slightly wary because food and things to do there seem so expensive. The good thing is that flying into LAX is usually fairly cheap from Chicago, so to make this one a decent weekend trip is probably completely doable.
Southern Italy + Croatia
This would be a big trip. The furthest from the United States I’ve ever been in the Dominican Republic, and honestly, I’m not great with flying. So, being in an airplane for over five hours kind of gives me the creeps, but I would stand it to be in a beautiful location like Southern Italy and the lovely coast of Croatia.
Glacier National Park, Montana
During my trip a few months ago, our Amtrak route took us right through Glacier National Park and I was absolutely struck with its beauty. It’s tough to look out at something, want to get out and explore it by foot, but you’re stuck on a train that has no plans to stop anytime soon. I will definitely be going back here for a real trip, hopefully soon.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone in the United States first national park, which is already reason enough for me to go. I have seen so many gorgeous photos of trips to Yellowstone that I am basically drooling at this point and need to go. To see one of those geysers in person would really be something.
Those are just a few places that I would really like to see in the next two years. It may seem a little bit crazy, and it probably is, but a girl can dream. It’s important to know that travel is also one of my top life priorities, so while some people go out and drink every weekend, I save that money and use it towards my travel fund.
I am excited to see where these feet take me over the next couple of years. If I have any advice, it’s to get out and see your country, wherever you may live. For years, the majority of travel I did was either extremely touristy within the U.S., or I went to all-inclusive vacation spots, so I never fully got to experience the beauty that we have within this country.
What places are you wishing to go to over the next few years?
This weekend I ventured over to a little town called Wheaton, IL to check out their Saturday French Market. I’m a sucker for the words “fresh”, “local”, “natural”, “non-GMO”, “better than the grocery store produce section”, and I was not let down with the beautiful choices of fruits, vegetables, honey and even homemade cheese.
There is something so special about knowing exactly where your food came from, and the people who run these stands are proud of their products. I was intrigued by one stand that had a giant British flag hanging off the back of it, and it turns out that there were some very British men selling sausages. Of course, I had to hear their accents so I asked them a few questions. They were a little insulted when I said that I don’t eat sausage, but they got over it.
The produce was gorgeous. I saw a poppin’ red pepper that looked like I could see my reflection in it. There was a head of romaine lettuce that looked out of this world. Don’t even get me started on the wonderful assortment of berries.
Aside from all the delicious food, including some donuts and crepes, there were beautiful fresh flower bouquets for a bargain price, handmade soaps and a super adorable home decor shop.
Not only are you getting a better product when visiting your local farmer’s market, but you are supporting a local small business which is oh-so-important to me. While the hot summer days are almost behind us, maybe it’s time you check out your own local market this weekend and pick up some great stuff to add to your meals.
I ended up leaving with some homemade, fantastic cheddar cheese, a whole bunch of fresh blackberries and a big jar of honey.
Have a great Monday everybody and keep eating local.
Back in February, after little deliberation, my boyfriend and I planned a trip to Washington state for June. I had one thing on my mind, and it was graduating college and immediately leaving for the trip the next day. It acted as my motivation for months. Turns out it wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had. The trip was great, the timing could have been better.
I am terrified of flying. I don’t have any reason to be, I’ve flown before with no issue, but in recent years the fear has escalated. So, I had to figure out a way to get to Washington (because I was not ready to face my fears) any way I could without flying in a plane. We chose to take the Amtrak Empire Builder from Chicago Union Station allllllll the way to Seattle, a 47-hour trip. This was not my boyfriend’s idea, he’s great for agreeing to it.
While planning, I thought of it as an adventure. NO. BIG. DEAL. We bought coach seats for around $300 roundtrip, about what we would have payed with roundtrip airfare, and, well, you can read my review of the train ride here.
We did survive the train ride. We had some awesome views to get us through it, but not until Montana. The food was overpriced and bad. Okay, I’m done.
The morning we finally arrived, Seattle graced us with its lovely grey glow and it was just what I imagined. We rushed to the rental car place to pick up what we thought was going to be a Hyundai Elantra, but ended up leaving with a CAMARO.. we weren’t complaining.
The first stop on our trip was Bellingham, WA, where we stayed in the best little Airbnb. Shoutout to Donna & Vincent for being so kind and helpful, letting us check in a little early. It was the perfect place for us and the BED WAS A 10/10… especially after “sleeping” in a coach seat for the previous two nights.
Bellingham is such a great town with adorable shops, amazing little food spots and of course, coffee shops. We are still raving about the crepes and coffee/tea from Magdalena’s Creperie. Fairhaven is right next to Bellingham and also has a great little downtown area, totally worth checking out. Mt. Baker is very close nearby to both these towns, so everywhere you look (when it isn’t cloudy) while driving around you are graced with gorgeous views.
We had three days in Bellingham, which was enough time for me to find Kombucha Town, a bar that served some delicious kombucha on tap. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t fully cooperate, but there were a few moments of sunshine. We went up to Mt. Baker wilderness and took a drive up until I started freaking out when we saw the ice capped mountains through the mist. It was truly beautiful though, I highly suggest going there at some point in your life.
As our time in Bellingham came to a close, we packed up the Camero, stopped at Whole Foods to grab some Kombucha Town cans and hit the road back towards downtown Seattle.
After such an amazing stay at our first Airbnb, we were a little bit disappointed with what awaited us at the Seattle place. It was fine, we can’t really complain for the price we payed per night, but it definitely could have been better. Each night I had to wonder whether there was a ghost standing next to me or not. Whenever we walked back in from outside, we were hit with the mixed odor of super old house and cat pee. It was fine, wouldn’t stay there again.
BUT WOW.. SEATTLE.. You’re great. It was such a great time getting to know the beautiful neighborhood of Wallingford, where the average home price seemed to be over a million dollars, and where we stayed. We took a nice stroll to Gas Works Park quite a few times during our trip, which is this awesome industrial park overlooking downtown Seattle.
We had to pack a lot into six days, so we didn’t get to do EVERYTHING in Seattle, but we did a decent amount. We walked all over Capitol Hill, stumbling upon a delicious Mexican restaurant called Fogón (where we definitely ate twice). We found our way to the Space Needle, but didn’t go up.. i.e. crippling fear of heights.
The historic Pikes Place Market really tickled my fancy with it’s gorgeous flower bouquets that were such a bargain. We saw the first Starbucks, but didn’t bother going in since it had about a mile long line. More on Starbucks soon.
We went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, located right near the Space Needle, which was a great experience. Who would have thought that colored glass could evoke so much emotion? There are people there would you will think are trying to take your picture so you buy it at the end, but really they are free professional photos and who doesn’t like free photos? Take advantage if you ever go. Also, be sure to stay for the little movie clips they play of Chihuly talking about his process.
If you want a cool way to spend 30 seconds, take the Seattle Monorail. It will take you up to the equivalent of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile where you’ll find some shops and food. I think every city should get a monorail.
The Seattle Art Museum was a good time, filled with a lot of beautiful art, including a lot of indigenous and Native American artwork and clothing. There is a wonderfully huge deconstructed tree hanging from the ceiling to greet you. Admission cost is just a donation, we gave $5 each and it was most definitely worth it.
As a former Starbucks gold card member, I felt a deep obligation to check out the Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, and oh am I glad I did! While we didn’t get into the original Starbucks, this was *in my opinion* much better.
It had the class you would expect in a higher end Starbucks, with copper and wood detailing, coffee extraordinaires carefully brewing up some expensive concoctions (like a nitro cold brew float) and the roasters themselves, making sure the tourists get quite the show as the roasted beans make their journey from toasting to the bag.
It’s tough to get a seat since the place is so busy (we went twice and couldn’t get a seat either time), but even if you sit on the staircase like we did, it’s worth the trip. According to one of the workers, Chicago is getting their own 4-story Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room pretty soon.
I’m dating a huge baseball fanatic, so we did check out one of the Seattle Mariners games while in town and I thoroughly enjoyed myself (even though I don’t really care for baseball). The stadium was really clean and we even got to see it’s convertible ceiling in use as it started to rain. The game was complete with an extremely drunk 21-year-old kid slurring and getting into a fight with his girlfriend and getting disowned by his friends.
We did not see Mount Rainier until the end of our trip, since the cloud cover was pretty serious, but when we did it was so breathtaking. We took an Uber up to Kerry Park to sit with our fellow tourists and take in the views.
To get a little bit closer to nature, we ended our trip with a beautiful hike called Rattlesnake Ridge, which was over 2,000 feet ascending to the top (more than us flatlanders are used to). With the encouragement of several peppy pups who ran up the trail with their owners, we made it to the top and took in the beautiful views. Thank god for a good pair of hiking boots and socks.
We packed a lot into a week and a half in Washington, but I’m so glad we had such an incredible experience. This trip was truly one I will never forget. I have so much respect for the Pacific Northwest and hope to be back soon. If you have any more questions about our trip, just leave a comment below.
I hope you are all having an absolutely lovely and wonderful Friday. I have been waiting for this weekend for what seems like forever. This week has been absolutely crazy for me. Since I am on term (trimester) scheduling, instead of semesters, we only have 10 weeks to make everything happen. It is an absolutely PACKED schedule of things to do and due dates.
Luckily, I am done in just two and a half more weeks after today and I really have never needed a break more. My birthday falls during spring break (March 21st) which is something to look forward to.
So let’s rewind a bit, since I haven’t filled you guys in on anything in a while.
Valentine’s Day was almost 2 weeks ago now, but it was a great day. I put a ton of time and effort into working on an element of Tom’s gift which was a book of things I love about him, I KNOW I’m a cheese ball, just leave me alone. But, it turned out really nice and I think I may have made him shed a tear, which is always my ultimate goal when I make sentimental gifts; tears of joy.
I also got some really cute gifts, like a DIY mug that says “you’re my cup of tea” and if you know anything about me, you know I love tea (check out my other blog ALL ABOUT TEA here). I also got a huge heart-shaped box of chocolates which disappeared rather quickly and some beautiful flowers.
Before our gift exchange, we went to dinner at this absolutely FANTASTIC restaurant that we are obsessed with. It is essentially the most stuck-up foodie place in our area, but the food is 100% worth it. We raved about how great our food was for probably a week straight after.
Tom bought a vintage polaroid camera off of Ebay that arrived literally just in time for Valentine’s Day, and we were very excited to put it to use. The film is around $22 for 8 pictures.. which is so ridiculous I can’t even stand it, but we figured if we take one picture every once in a while it would be worth it.
Aside from Valentine’s Day, we also celebrated Tom’s 22nd birthday just a few days later of February 18th. Let’s just say we ate way too much cake for a week. He now has been using the “excuse me, you’re younger than me” way too much, even though he is just over a month older than I am.
Aside from his birthday, not a whole lot has happened. I’ve been completely devoting every second of my life to school, which SUCKS, but it’s okay because the degree will be worth it.
I will be back soon with posts other than “what’s happening in my life”.
Thanks so much for reading and continuing to follow me even though the feed has been slow lately.
If you do care about my everyday life and what I’m doing, check out the links below to all my social medias where I’m much more active daily.