Local Day Out – Suburban Chicago Garden Boutique

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).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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It was a great kick-off to my Memorial Day weekend, now off to see what else I can find.

What are your favorite local places?


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Bedroom Decor Plans + Inspiration

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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.

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Hanging small terrarium from Amazon.

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.

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I love this terrarium that was gifted to me during Christmas.

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.

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Obsessed with this embroidery hoop by @earthologie (find her on Instagram)
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One of my DIY wall yarn hangings with a circle wire hoop.

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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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And just how cute is this little pink stool from Wayfair? I would love for this to be in reading corner.

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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.

As always,

Thank you so much for reading!

Emily


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My 24th Year

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.

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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:

  1. Travel Posts
  2. Health/Recipes
  3. DIY
  4. Mental Health/Self-Care

 

UNTIL NEXT TIME,

Emily

I’m Making Money Doing What I Love

Hello everyone and happy Friday (woohoo!).

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.

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One of the signs held by a supporter at the high school walkout I attended.

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.

Until next time,

Emily


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The Reality of College Graduation and Life After

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,

Emily

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Natural Products I’ve Been Loving

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Thank you so much for reading, as always,

Emily

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My Ultimate Travel Wishlist

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
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Hawaiian beach. Photo credit: Travel Channel

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
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Banff National Park. Photo credit: Travel Channel.

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.

  • Boston, Massachusetts 
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Beautiful Boston, MA. Photo credit: Thrillist.

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
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Overlooking Los Angeles. Photo credit: AARP 

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
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Naples, Italy. Photo credit: LT Travel Connection

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
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Glacier Nat’l Park. Photo credit: Roadtrippers

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
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Random woman overlooking Yellowstone. Photo credit: Travel 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?

Thanks for reading and happy unofficial fall,

Emily.