“Is Summer Over Yet?” — A Guide For Fall Lovers

You like summer, but only for a little while, and you just can’t wait for cooler, cozier temperatures and everything that fall has to offer. You look forward to dark lipsticks, halloween and sweaters. People don’t understand you when you start talking about Fall and it’s still August. You post pictures of fall leaves and dream in sepia tones. Does this person sound familiar? IT’S YOU. You are a Fall fanatic and no one can stop you.

Don’t worry, no judgement here. I am a through and through fall fiend. The cool, crisp air   and the leaves falling bring me pure joy. I stock up on my fall candles way earlier then a person should. I refuse to buy clothes until the fall lines come out at stores. Believe me.. I get it.

If you’re slowly dying and wishing this summer season were over, here are some things you can do to prepare and ease the pain:

Start Making A Fall Playlist 

The best way to build a playlist is slowly, over time, and right now you have plenty of it. Throw some of your past favorites on it and start listening for new and unheard music that you would love to add. (I always go for an indie/alternative mix for Fall.) If you’re in a store and hear a track you need, just google the lyrics and BOOM.. added to the list. Spotify is a great place to make your playlist or choose from one they already offer. They have an endless supply of artists and songs to choose from (except for Taylor Swift) and it’s only $5-10 dollars a month for Premium (worth it).

Prepare.. The.. Wardrobe..

This can be a difficult task if you’re on a student budget like I am. But, do not fear, the sales are here. Check the sale section and current promotions of each store through their website. With a new season approaching, stores will be shoving deals down our throats so keep your eyes open. If you start getting a few things now, you can gradually build up the wardrobe until you have enough to get you through the cold. Don’t be afraid of too much denim this year, either. It is EVERYWHERE.

Rose, Plum and Ruby, too.

Fall is an amazing time for lip color. You can rock a bold, crazy lip and nobody can say anything because it makes sense. If you can afford the higher end lipsticks, Bite Beauty has some amazing matte lipsticks in the Frozen Berries collection which you should definitely check out. If you stick with drugstore brands, you can’t go wrong with NYX matte lip creams.

Warm Up Your Bedroom

Pull a few extra fuzzy blankets out of the closet. Locate your heater. Have everything on deck for those chilly nights that you just wanna cozy up and watch Netflix. Hang up some twinkle lights (christmas lights work too) and use those as your primary light source.

Countdown to…

Pumpkin Spice Latte, girl. We still have a little over a month til it arrives, but it’s not too early to get excited. Even if you need to grab a decaf, do it. These things are truly great and take you from August to September in one sip. Another great option if the caffeine is too much to bear: Chai Tea Latte.

It’s Never Too Early To Bake

That’s right.. FOOD. If you’re a fan of the pumpkin, apple or cinnamon flavors, the Fall possibilities are endless. Make some delicious muffins, cookies, cake… just whatever your heart desires, basically. It’s always okay to have a cheat day if you’re worried about your figure. Grab a friend or your love and have a baking party.

*I’LL HAVE SOME RECIPES ON THE BLOG SOON*

Bright Little Flicker

The absolute holy mecca of Fall to me is CANDLES. If you share in the excitement and joy for Fall scents, they are already available at White Barn and Bath and Body Works. I just picked up Sweater Weather (one of my favorites) and it is too good. Autumn is nothing without a candle, no matter where it’s from. Fill your home with a warm, welcoming scent ASAP.

Sign Up Now For Exercise

Even if you don’t have any goals when it comes to improving your body, exercise is always a great thing. Now is the time to pick a gym, or even a workout class you would be more interested in, and sign up. Try to recruit a friend to join with you so you can have an instant workout buddy to harass. Keep your blood flowin’ when you can’t get outside for a few months.

September is almost here, so stay strong and push these last few weeks. If you’re going back to school, Fall will hit you in the face before you know it. We must stick together Fall Lovers! It’s never too early.

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How I Stay Energized Without Coffee (From A Former Caffeine Addict)

    About a year ago, my daily routine included waking up and going for a Starbucks black iced coffee. I would go to class, get whatever else I needed to get done and then end up going for another cup. The typical routine for a college student (especially in the busy city). It was great for a while; I felt like a superhero able to do whatever I needed. I had extra energy to work out and stay up all night to finish homework.  I went to Starbucks so often that I had earned the privilege of the almighty GOLD CARD (a special gold, glittery card with your name on it which gives you a free drink after 12 purchased drinks).

I thought everything was great until I noticed that the stimulant had started stimulating.. but way too much. It triggered my anxiety disorder and had me shaking and in full-blown panic mode. I knew I had to kick it to the curb. Not only were my poor teeth suffering from the heavy staining of black coffee, but my nervous system just couldn’t take it anymore. I was pretty upset that I had to let it go; there is nothing I love more than a fresh brewed cup. But now, a full year later, I am doing completely fine without it.


Here are some ways that I keep energized WITHOUT coffee..

1. TEA

If there is one thing I could hype up to everyone.. it’s tea. Not only are a good amount of teas really healthy for you, but most of them taste really, really great. There are plenty of caffeinated options such as green tea and black tea that range from 25-70 mg which is plenty to give you a buzz to keep going; brewed coffee has 200 mg of caffeine (and if you’re anything like me.. beware). When I’m really not feeling caffeine at all, Rooibos tea is great caffeine-free option and they have the best flavors.

2. EXERCISE

It may sound backwards, “how can putting out more energy make me less tired?” But, believe it or not, working out is one of the best things you can do to feel more energized. Even if it’s as simple as a walk around the hood or a bike ride with your guy/gal (or even your dog if you have a basket) you are getting your heart pumping and body moving which is enough to make you feel better.

3. DIET

Nobody’s perfect: I can’t say this enough when it comes to eating. Especially if you’re from the Midwest like I am, you understand that we love food and no one can stop us. But if you substitute your deep dish and everything Portillo’s for some healthy alternatives you will notice a serious shift in your mood and energy levels. When the body is getting the nourishment it’s supposed to be, you will feel it from the inside. Start your morning with a healthy breakfast instead of a few donuts and notice the difference. It truly speaks for itself.

4. SLEEP MORE THAN 4 HOURS

I know.. so hard, right? If you live a busy life you know how hard it can be to get a good nights sleep. But, try your best to not put sleep on the back burner. Your body needs at least 6 hours to be able to function properly throughout the day (even though 8 is recommended). So, if you can, cut your night out on the town a few hours early (if the sun is coming up you’ve probably over done it) and get that needed sleep time. You will feel way more energized than you thought possible.

5. KEEP BUSY

If you have a full day agenda, you will keep moving and keep focused which in turn keeps you from sitting around and feeling sluggish. Start a hobby, join a club, make plans with friends you haven’t seen in a while and get going! There is a good chance you’re not as tired as you think you are.

If you guys can relate to the coffee blues, then try out some of these tips and you will no longer be reaching for that cup o’ joe. 

6 Struggles a Chicago Student Searching for an Apartment Knows Too Well..

The time has come to leave the dorm rooms behind and say hello to your own bedroom. You’re in your twenties and the thought process is like: “I’ll just find an apartment this year.. they’re everywhere”… and yes.. they are.. but, it is a little harder then that. With Fall quickly approaching, know what to remember and look for while on the hunt:

1. You Want the IKEA magazine apartment on a student loan budget

The easiest way to sum this struggle up is that you probably have exceptional taste and standards.. which is normally awesome. But, unfortunately your Logan Square apartment might not be exactly what you have envisioned. I mean come on, what do you expect for $700 a month. It’s all about how you decorate and hide the imperfections. Sorry, but unless you have the money you will not be living on the Gold Coast… and that is OKAY.. you are broke probably.

2. You Find the Perfect One! (or So You Thought)

“A 2-bedroom, 1 Bath place in the middle of Wicker Park for $900 a month? The pictures look sooo nice.” I think we have all been here. You have found a great deal and it looks like what you want (and there’s even exposed brick). You schedule a viewing, you walk in AND WHAT THE HELL IS THIS. It’s not hard to take make a place look okay through pictures. Just know that going in you may not see exactly what you’re expecting. Again, going back to #1, if you don’t have a lot of money.. don’t expect the best in Chicago.

3. UTILITIES

This pretty much speaks for itself. Water, gas, electric, cable, and internet: AND NO YOU CANNOT LIVE BY CANDLELIGHT AND BRUSH YOUR TEETH WITH BOTTLED WATER WHILE WATCHING NETFLIX OFF YOUR LAPTOP. I mean you can, but who really wants to do that. Just remember while looking for apartments you will want to factor in the extra $100-$150 bucks a month and don’t think just because you didn’t use any that the roommates will cover you… they will kill you.

4. Access To The CTA

Unless you are that one kid, you don’t have your car in the city (PARKING AND GAS DOWNTOWN ARE BOTH CRAZY OVERPRICED) and you rely heavily on the Chicago Transit buses and train lines. Most colleges now provide the Ventra Student Pass which allows unlimited usage for one low fee included in the tuition.. which is super nice. So, while looking for your new place, pay attention to where the closest transit is located. If you are on Craigslist and it says “close to transit” that could be BLOCKS away. Unless you want to waste your spending money on Uber rides.. plan ahead.

5. Know What Neighborhood You’d Like To Be In

Do not blindly go into apartment searching and wind up in Englewood (sorry Englewood). Do your research online and ask fellow students and Chicagoans where they live. Chicago can be a threatening place if you don’t know where to be. Places like Wicker Park, Logan Square, University Village and Lincoln Park are good spots to be if you can find a deal.

6. Finding The Right Place Could Take Weeks

Don’t just jump into the first place you look at (unless you waited til the very last minute). Try at least 3 places and make the decision then. Scrolling through Craigslist and other apartment searching websites can be super annoying and tedious, but if you want the apartment of your undergrad dreams then recruit your roommates and start a hunt.

Don’t get discouraged, keep looking and you will find a decent place to live. We are in this together, College Kids.

“I’m not a stick anymore, but I’m doing okay”

“Hey I didn’t know a whale was coming to the pool tonight,” said a little boy to me as I passed a group when I was 10 years old at our local swimming pool– the first person to ever make me feel self conscious.

To sum up some history before we begin…..A few years ago, I took a trip with my close friends Sam, Michele and Zack. We went on a lovely tropical vacation to Punta Cana and it will forever be one of the best memories I will have. I was fresh out of high school and excited for the future. But, one thing was still holding me back and causing me serious torment: the voice in my head telling me my body was wrong. I went on my trip, had a great time and came back home to look through the tons of pictures we took. There was only one thing I could focus on..my weight. I could barely stand to see myself in these pictures. I have always been a junk food queen because of my pickiness in foods that I actually like but I hadn’t realized how far I had let myself go. To others I was ‘normal’ weight but I couldn’t just be ‘normal’. I didn’t feel comfortable. So I started dieting and exercising. From October 2012 – June 2013 I lost a total of 36 pounds. To be quick.. I went to school in the city, stopped working out, drank a lot and ultimately stopped caring about my “fitness”.

My self-esteem quickly plummeted. I no longer felt confident in clothes, my skin wasn’t shining like it used to, but ultimately I felt okay. I was back in control of my life and there was no constant voice telling me to count calories and exercise.

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My first week at college

Fast forward to today, leaving those habits over two years in the past, and I’m doing okay. I still exercise now and then (not everyday) but not to the point of overexertion. I try to eat healthy but I’m human and also I have a chocolate addiction so I’ve gained a little weight. My arms aren’t the rock hard muscle machines that I made them anymore and my stomach has gained a little pudge leaving behind the toned tummy I once had. I can’t lie and say sometimes I don’t get discouraged and even upset about myself but I’ve learned to know my body and I know this will help me become who I want to be.

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Today (i’ve gained 10 pounds)

I’m not fat, nor do I think I’m fat. I’m a healthy weight. I still get called “tiny” and “small” and guess what? I don’t go to bed starving anymore.

To those who sometimes don’t feel comfortable in their skin.. this is my advice to you:

1. You Can Be Beautiful and Confident At Any Size

I know.. hard to believe this when media is shoving skinny and toned down your throat (and if you ARE skinny and toned good for you, girl!! that’s awesome) but..there are other body types aside from slim and tiny. I am a firm believer in shining from the inside out. If you get yourself in a good place mentally anything is possible physically.

2. Do NOT crash diet.. PLEASE. 

If you want to lose weight the healthy way, put yourself on a natural, whole food diet change. Replace the processed foods America loves for things from nature, or close to nature. I’m talking fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, and low fat dairy. If you stick with these foods and don’t overeat.. I can 100% guarantee you will see a difference in your reflection within a few weeks. ALL THOSE OTHER DIETS OFTEN END IN BINGE EATING AND GIVING UP.

3. Do Not Go To Tumblr and Instagram For Your ‘Thinspiration’

Especially under that hashtag. Most of those girls (and boys) are suffering from real, severe eating disorders and should not be administering diet advice. There is no reason you should eat a total of 200 calories a day (half of which are crackers and diet coke). The pictures you see are seriously ill people and should not be idolized.

4. Understand Your Body Type

Each body is constructed differently. Some girls can NEVER have a thigh gap, sticking out collar bones or that new asian thing where you wrap your arm all the way around your back to your waist to see if your skinny or not (if you don’t know what I’m talking about feel free to look it up). I’m sure there are other wacky ideas for what makes you ‘thin’ out there: Ignore them please and find your own ‘what makes me feel good’

5. Being Curvy is ‘Acceptable’

As sad as it is that we have to wait for something with our image to be ‘acceptable’ in modern society, guess what girls? Boobs, butt and thighs are in.. and bigger than ever (literally). Nicki, Beyonce, Kim and more have been flaunting their good goods and giving us the green light on saying yes to that bowl of pasta and maybe even a doughnut without tons of regret.

So no matter how you look, no matter what you’ve been through (or maybe if you’re going through something now), no matter what anyone has said to you..

  • Realize YOUR beautiful
  • Know your limits
  • Keep yourself healthy

Week in Boulder Junction, WI

So it was time that I, Emily, the city-dweller (and surrounding suburbs) venture out and expand my horizons to THE WILDERNESS OF AMERICA. Okay.. fine.. I wasn’t completely off-the-grid, but I did find myself all the way at the top of Wisconsin in the North Woods region with my boyfriend for a week.

I have to admit I was a little apprehensive going in. I have a hard time with all living bugs and insects.. specifically bees, wasps, spiders, mosquitos, ticks and everything else. I knew that these things were going to be there in SWARMS but I toughened up, packed my suitcase and hit the road.

Six hours later we arrived at a small, adorable cabin in Boulder Junction, WI that we rented which luckily ended up looking better then the pictures. It was right on a beautiful lake. I am still dealing with the separation anxiety of my sweet second home. Here’s a picture of the living area inside:

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I had my first-time fishing adventure and ended up catching several fish on my pink sparkly pole. We spent our nights out on the water and would boat around until the sunset.

I was hit with a bit of a culture shock when we started going to the restaurants in town. I had been out of town several times before and nothing was like here. The walls were covered in taxidermy animals (and for my animal activist self this was very hard to see) and the decor was like a 1970s grandma basement. Basically, there was no glitz or glamour but each place did have some charm and the views made up for what they lacked in style. As for the food, I was not overly impressed when dinner time came. When it comes to meat I only eat chicken and these places were only into cooking fish and red meat. However I SURVIVED just not happily.

On our third day, we drove into a nearby town called Minoqua for some shopping but on our way I noticed a small cabin coffee shop and demanded that we stop on our way back. I have to admit this was the best decision we made the whole trip. Little Creek Coffee Company in Arbor Vitae, WI deserves all the awards. Not only do they offer tons of coffee drinks and teas BUT THEY HAVE A BREAKFAST AND LUNCH MENU. We came here three total times during our 6 day stay. WE WERE OBSESSED. Their iced chai tea latte was to die for and I can’t stop thinking about their turkey and avocado sandwich and homemade soups HELP ME. We enjoyed sitting on their outdoor tables overlooking the lake and we even spotted some baby deers running around. It was magical. Bambi had come to life. The pics below are us hanging out there:

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There is no way I can go through this post without mentioning the most amazing ice cream place ever.. Mad Dog Jakes in Boulder Junction is super great. We went twice during our trip (WE ARE REPEATERS IF WE LIKE YOU). The first time I got the best super chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had and the second time I got blueberry cheesecake and wow it was out of bounds. FLAVOR TOWN LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. If you are ever in these parts you better stop there and get a scoop.. maybe even two.

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Halfway through our trip on a kind of gloomy day (or so we thought) we took a day-trip to Hayward, Wisconsin to the Wilderness Walk. This essentially was a mix between the coolest petting zoo ever and an exotic animal zoo. The 2-Hour drive was worth it even though it was painful after already driving 6 hours just a few days before.  I normally hate zoos but these animals were all saved from injury and could have died without their help. The admission fee was a little steep but once we walked in we knew it was worth it. The first thing I saw was a GIANT LOP BUNNY free to pet and love. I was obsessed with him. This is when I knew this place was great.

We continued on through the day petting various animals and letting them eat corn-filled ice cream cones.. even a giant camel. My favorites were the baby goats that were roaming free throughout the Walk and the baby fawns that stole my heart. It was amazing and I 10/10 recommend. Here we are having fun below:

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A few days later we went to a lumberjack show and watched some ripped guys chop wood.. it was torture I could barely watch wink wink wink wink. Tom kept thinking i was into them and I totally wasn’t. It was actually super interesting though and we witnessed them climb up a 60-ft tree stump and try to not die. I have to give some credit to the 40 year old male in the denim jacket who was in the audience for his hilarious commentary during the entire show. Also, some credit is due to the ENTIRE JOHNSON FAMILY REUNION for creating several obstacles in parking and getting into the show.. but your matching shirts were cool.

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After the show we went out to Eagle River, Wisconsin to visit Tremblay’s Sweet Shop for some delicious fudge because I am an addict to anything chocolate. 45-Minutes later we arrived to the rude employees of the shop who barely spoke 2 words to us and didn’t even respond to our simple hello. Despite their awful service we got some delicious fudge, pretzels and cashew clusters. We also adventured around the town for a few minutes and checked out some shops.

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The next few days were our last and we were filling up our time as much as we could. We decided a fun thing to do for our last day would be to rent some mountain bikes and go for a nice long ride. We embarked on our 3 mile ride to a nearby lake where we stayed and layed on the beach for a few hours. It was beautiful and peaceful. Somehow Tom didn’t burn even though he’s paler than paper. I went in the water but was quickly freaked out by crawfish swimming on the bottom on the lake. I don’t do well with bugs or bug-like things (i know its a fish or something shh). It was a little bit difficult to get ourselves back on the bikes after hours of being lazy but we did and battled the uphill trail all the way back to town.

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I had a great trip and this is just the highlights of what we did. There was so much more to remember and it was an amazing time for Tom and I. I would love to go back again sometime and explore other places as well. My travel bug has been fulfilled for now.

Artist Feature: Violiton – Suburban Rock Band on the Rise

         It’s around 4 o’clock on a  Sunday and five friends are getting together in their practice basement. I was welcomed by the sound of guitar shredding and interesting conversation (something about Indian Chai tea). Their instruments and amp’s stood proud amongst workout equipment and basement clutter; the typical set-up for a band on a budget.

Violition, which went by some different names in the past, has been together since 2011. It consists of Nolan Kiliszewski, Eli Martinez, Christian Bartell, Noah Jones and Josh Joray. The band started as a high school project, but they decided to keep it going. They’ve had some ups and downs along the way but the love of playing shows and creating music has kept them together.

They consider themselves Heavy Metal, but want people to decide genres for themselves.

“It’s all about personal preference and we don’t really care,” said drummer Josh Joray.

Their influences vary depending on the member, including Rise Against the Machine, Oceano and even 90’s Slipknot. If there’s one thing this band is not missing it’s personality and I believe their influences speak for that.

But don’t think these guys want to be like anyone else. They are creating music simply for their enjoyment, not to impress people. They have no plans of being signed to a label in the near future because of fear of losing their creative freedoms; a smart move especially with todays over-produced artists. Violition stands for freewill and personal choice and nothing will change their minds.

They’ve put out 4 singles as a band and 1 EP and have played shows as far away as Louisiana. They consider out-of-state shows their best yet, claiming that there’s not much of a local scene in the Suburban Chicago area.

They are currently in the process of writing new music for their next EP. They hope to get it done as soon as possible. Their goal as a band is to get people thinking and we can’t wait to hear what they have in store for us.

Check out the bands twitter page: @ViolitionBandIL for more updates as they come along.

Their brand new merchandise: volitionil.bigcartel.com/

Download or listen to their music at

I’m Alive?

Hello friendly followers and newcomers,

I thought I’d give a little update on my life since i’ve been completely MIA for weeks. First of all, I’ve been thinking of tons of new posts that I will have coming up that I am so excited about.. SO STAY TUNED. Secondly, I have been neglecting this precious page because of college. The last few weeks were insane but now the semester has finally come to a close and I am ready to enjoy the summer. I will be posting so MUCH because summer is my time to shine.

I am in the process of planning a summer road trip to Tybee Island, Georgia.. and honestly it’s harder than it sounds trying to get 4 college students with low-paying jobs to have a decent getaway. If it all comes together expect several posts about the trip (which should happen towards the end of July).

Also, something exciting happened a few days ago. My boyfriend got a NEW PUPPY. It’s a baby black lab and it’s the cutest damn thing to ever walk this earth. Her name is Daisy and I’m obsessed with her.

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So those are the new cool things happening in my life.

Sorry for abandoning you all,

XOXO EMILY.