Friday, October 31, 2014

Wandering the web: Happy Halloween!

Do you have any plans for Halloween weekend? Adam has been sick this week, and I'm starting to feel a tickle in my throat, so we might just spend the night at home drinking lots of tea... (at least that sounds good to me ;)

What do you like to do on Halloween? Dress up and go out? Stay in and hand out candy? I'd love to know... Here are a few links I found interesting this week:

1. A new TV show based on Cosmopolitan is in the works, and it sounds amazing. (The Cut)

2. Lazy-girl tricks to get the wrinkles out of your clothes without ironing. (WhoWhatWear)

3. How to learn a foreign language as an adult. (Time)

4. I would love a set of these vintage tumblers to add some flair in the kitchen. (the catalog)

5. Need a last minute costume idea for the little ones? (Or yourself?) These felt masks look adorable and simple to make. (A Beautiful Mess)

6. This new game from a photographer and his dog is better than Where's Waldo. (Feature Shoot)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My weekend in Kansas City

This week has been pretty hectic, but I wanted to share a few highlights from my trip to Kansas City over the weekend. My friends Felicia and Kenz and I decided to get away for a couple days and drive a few hours south.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The new (80) million-dollar view in NYC

This is what I imagined living in New York City would be like at age 12. Gorgeous views of the New York skyline, a beautiful penthouse 96 stories high with fabulous designer furnishings. That's what I get for letting movies guide my judgments.

Of course, now I know that views like this one are only for the very (very, very) rich. I don't think I'll be living there anytime soon, but it's still fun to imagine. What would it be like to walk out of your bedroom in the morning to see the sun rise over the Empire State Building?

Maybe someday I'll know, but for now, I'll just enjoy my coffee from the third-floor balcony, with a beautiful view of the sun rising over Wal-Mart.

(Photo via Daily Mail)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Coffee table books

Before I got my Kindle, I hated Kindles. Not just Kindles; all e-readers. I love traditional books: the smell, the texture, the feeling of having something "real" in your hands. 

But then, one night, I wanted a new book, and I didn't want to wait. So I downloaded the Kindle app to my phone and then the book. A minute later, I was reading it. Hello, game-changer! I read it on the bus and before class, without having to add any extra weight to my already-sagging backpack. I loved it.

A year later, I still love e-books and all their convenience, but I love love LOVE the idea of decorative (and interesting) coffee table books. I'm not sure I'd like to house shelves full of books because they are such a pain when you're moving, but I think I can handle a small set of them...

Someday, when I finally have the time and budget to decorate exactly the way I want, a beautiful coffee table to decorate with quirky odds and ends is first on my list. Right now I'd display Humans of New York, Yes Please, The Great Gatsby, The Extraordinary Book of Useless Information and #Girlboss.   

What books would you (or do you) have on your coffee table? 

(Photo via The Every Girl)

Monday, October 27, 2014

About strong women

In the last year, I started to recognize that there is one key element that will likely determine whether or not I like a book, and it is the Strong Female Lead.

There are two types of Female Leads: those who make the changes, and those who wait for changes.

I admired the Strong Female Leads who could get through a bad situation on their own, and I was annoyed with the women who let work, men, life or other women destroy them (both in fiction and non-fiction).

And I didn't just feel this way about books; I looked for the same characteristics in the women I watched in movies and TV shows, and in real life. I realized I couldn't stand the women who just sit down and take the crap dished out to them, the women who have no fight in them and little ambition.

That's why I was annoyed for most of the beginning of Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It's a memoir about how she let her life fall apart after the death of her mother and then set out on an 1,100-mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail to figure it out. She had basically given up — and I wanted to do the same with the book. But I wouldn't let myself, and I'm happy I didn't because by the end of the book, she had become an incredibly strong woman. It was her real-life journey from a fragile woman to a Strong Female Lead.

Now that I've figured it out, the way I select books has changed as much as the way I read them. That's why I finally joined the party and bought Tina Fey's Bossypants. I'm a huge Tina Fey fan, and it's easy to see she's the type of person who makes things happen for herself (she did create her own award-winning sitcom), which is why I wanted to read about her life from her perspective. It's a short, easy read and not what I expected, but it's funny and honest and definitely makes you think.

And I can't wait to read Amy Poehler's new book, Yes Please, which comes out tomorrow(!). Much like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler is hilarious and awesome, and she clearly doesn't let anyone or anything stand in the way of her own success. I'm excited to learn about Poehler from her own perspective.

(Image via Word and Film)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wandering the web: a new series

What are your plans for the weekend? I'm heading out for a girls' trip to Kansas City with a couple of my wonderful friends. We're renting a small place on airbnb, and we'll probably do a little shopping, sight seeing and lounging. It'll be so nice to get away for a few days. Hope you enjoy your weekend, and here a few of my favorite things from around the web:

1. Birdman, starring Michael Keaton, Emma Stone and Zach Galifianakis, came out last weekend and I really want to see it. But, sadly, so far there are no showings in Iowa. (Vulture)

2. These "punny" flower bouquets would be an adorable gift. As well as the DIY book that features them. (A Cup of Jo)

3. I adore these black peep toe booties. So perfect for fall. (Somewhere, Lately)

4. Gold playing cards would be an adorable coffee table accessory, and they'd be a perfect stocking-stuffer for Christmas! (Anthropologie)

5. How cute are these high-fashion pumpkins? Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington are my favorites. (Domaine)

6. I took this Ben Affleck butt-chin quiz the other day and my results were embarrassingly good. But I don't get tired of looking at him. (Vulture)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Family pumpkin patch!

Last weekend Adam and I visited my favorite place in the world: my uncle's farm and pumpkin patch. The farm has been in my family for longer than I even know, and I grew up visiting during harvest season and picking pumpkins. I always make at least one trip back every fall to get some pumpkins and see the family. Get ready for lots of photos.

Dad and Grandma had a great time taking rides on the ancient golf cart... Until it broke down.

But the guys took a loot and got it working again. Hooray for manly men ;)

My grandma was happy to see my grandpa's old tractor looking as beautiful as the day he bought it. The best part about visiting the farm is all the family memories there.

And making new memories.

And taking a million pictures.

And a little outfit of the day action. Did I mention fall is my favorite?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Decorative pillows

I've never been much for extra pillows, because it seems like more work to make the bed, which I already don't take enough time to do. But I'm loving the look of one or two decorative pillows with bold prints and patterns. These are a few of my current favorites: 

As you probably noticed, they're all neutral colors. Like much of my wardrobe. Stay true to you, right?

What do you think? Do you decorate with pillows? What are some of your favorites? I'd love to hear!

(Photos via Sugar and Cloth, Joss & Main, Luvocracy, Anthropologie and Etsy)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why "basic" needs to stop

Urban Dictionary has become more relevant than Webster's in our world of text lingo and verbal shorthand. There are millions of beautiful words in the English language, yet we use terms like "totes," "ratchet" and "bae." (I think our all-time low as a society happened when people started saying "legit-ly." It's "LEGITIMATELY.")

"Basic" (and "basic bitch") is one that's really annoyed me since the first time I heard it. To call someone "basic," especially women, who face enough problems with self-image, is calling them unoriginal. Predictable. Not special. Undesirable.

An article by Noreen Malone on The Cut called "What Do You Really Mean When You Say 'Basic Bitch'?" described the term this way:
"Basic, according to the BuzzFeed quizzes and CollegeHumor videos that wrested the term from the hip-hop world and brought it into the realm of white-girl-on-white-girl insults, means someone who owns things like Uggs and North Face and leggings. She likes yogurt and fears carbs (there is an exception for brunch), and loves her friends, unless and until she secretly hates them. She finds peplum flattering and long (or at least shoulder-grazing) hair reliably attractive. She exercises in various non-bulk-building ways, some of which have inspired her to purchase special socks for the experience. She bought the Us Weekly with Lauren Conrad's wedding on the cover. She Pins. She runs her gel-manicured hands up and down the spine of female-centric popular culture of the last 15 years, and is satisfied with what she feels. She doesn't, apparently, long for more."
By that conflicting and incongruous definition, don't we all fit into the category in some way or another?

Yes, I like pumpkin spice lattes, but I hate Uggs. Am I basic?
I use Pinterest, but I couldn't care less about Lauren Conrad's wedding or Us Weekly. Am I basic?
I don't get gel manicures, but my hair does, in fact, graze my shoulders. Am I basic?
I like yogurt, but I loooove carbs. Am I basic?

Malone goes on to say this:
"And so the woman who calls another woman basic ends up implicitly endorsing two things she probably wouldn't sign up for if they were spelled out for her: a male hierarchy of culture, and the belief that the self is an essentially surface-level formation."
Is this the direction we want to take our society? We like to say we're all for equality, and feminism has become one of the most prominent issues in pop culture, but we're okay with calling out a girl because her interests aren't interesting enough?

"Basic" needs to stop. Because liking "predictably trendy" things doesn't make you predictable, boring, undesirable. Because everyone — woman or man — is original, in one way or a hundred. You are special. We are all special. And we are all better than this word.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Statement necklaces

I've been looking for a clear-stoned statement necklace for a while, but haven't been able to find anything I really loved. Until I saw this one. I was immediately drawn to it — it has just the right amount of sparkle without being super-huge and costume-y. Isn't it beautiful?

I love the gold rings and details between the stones. And... Francesca's just happened to be having a buy-one-get-one half-off sale that day, so...

I had to get this one too. I love cobalt blue, and the yellow/green details make it so fun. I've already worn them both and received big compliments.

Fashion bonus: The clear stones look great with a red lip and a chambray, and a bright pink lip made the colorful neons even more fun with a simple black top.

Neither of these were on the website, but this one is similar to the clear stone, and this one is a pretty blue alternative. And here's a pretty one with flowers and an elegant red option.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Not-margarita pizza

Guess who found her way back to the kitchen? I don't cook nearly as much as I should. Case in point: my original plan was to make beef and broccoli, but when I was planning it out with my mom I told her I'd never cooked with beef (outside of hamburgers) or made rice before. Her response: "But you're 22 now."

Yeah, Mom. I know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Iowa is actually pretty cool

Iowa is an underrated state. I know this may come as a shock to some people, but it's not all corn and soybeans here. Granted, there is a lot of farmland...but it's beautiful farmland.

We may not have the tallest buildings or the most movies filmed here, but we do have our merits. As Ashton Kutcher recently said, Iowa is full of hardworking, get-it-done, good people.

And did you know Alfonso Ribeiro's wife is from Iowa? They come back to visit our lovely state "a few times a year" (no big deal). Iowa has even made Buzzfeed's radar with this viral video of a father/daughter dance-off in the heart of downtown Des Moines. (See...Iowa does have some swag.)

I used to think Iowa was awful and couldn't wait until I was old enough to leave. But now...I can't really imagine leaving. At least not permanently.

(Photo via Wikiality)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vests are having a moment

First, let me say I have a terrible fear of vests thanks to my tragic middle school years when one of my favorite outfits was a T-shirt under a red fleece vest. (Pause for cringing and laugh-induced choking.) I know, I've had some regrettable fashion choices in my time.

Needless to say, I've stayed far, far away from vests in the years since. But they are back in a big way. I saw girls on campus wearing them daily, and this blog post is dedicated to them.

Some of them look so great — but I'm just not sure I can pull it off myself. Especially with the Red Vest Incident of 2004 still haunting me...

What do you think? Would you (or have you already) tried the vest trend? Or do you have your own bad vest stories? I'd love to hear...

(Image via all things katie marie)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Better responses to "How are you?"

How was your weekend? 

Was "so busy" the first response to pop into your head? I found this on the web the other day and was struck by how accurate it is. Far too often, when I ask people this question their answer is something similar — and I'm often guilty of the same thing. 

That dialogue gets repetitive, and it often leads to a string of negativity when talking about endless to-do lists and hectic schedules. Sure, we all have them, but why not be more creative (and positive)? Even the last one is a better way to describe a long, crazy day.

I'm going to try to start answering this question with anything other than the predictable "so busy." It's an easy way to make a conversation longer and more engaging between both people. 

So. How are you? :)

(Image via Jenn Gietzen)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Gone Girl

Have you seen Gone Girl yet? Or read the book? I read it last spring and was utterly impressed with Gillian Flynn's talents. Typically I don't read thrillers, but Flynn is such an incredible talent; the details and thought put into the storyline is astounding.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

New scarves

I have a slight obsession with scarves, and I've been looking all over for new styles and prints to add to my collection. Neutral colors are a big part of my personal stylebook this year. Adam likes to make fun of the fact that every time I buy something new it's usually black, white or gray. But they just look so classic! And they go with everything, so I can add statement earrings, bold lipstick or fun shoes for a pop of color.

But for scarves, I want more neutral blacks and whites to wear with my green military jacket and lipsticks. I can't help it — winter just seems like a time for neutral color palettes. So I did a little online browsing the other day and found a few beautiful options.

From Forever 21: green plaid | blue paisley | gray stripes

Even though I chose regular long scarves here, I should also say that infinity scarves are my absolute favorite because of their convenience and effortless wearability. I have this snake print scarf from Express in a tan and gold print and love it, and this coral scarf with gold flakes from Francesca's is also pretty.

Where do you shop for scarves?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dancing with the Stars

Do any of you watch Dancing with the Stars at all? Did you see last night's Most Memorable Year episode? If not, stop what you're doing and go watch it now.

It. Was. Beautiful.

Jonathan Bennett (aka Aaron Samuels) paid a tribute to Mean Girls and dedicated it to his parents, who both passed away within the last two years. Betsey Johnson (the adorable and sweeter-than-sugar fashion designer) talked about her daughter. Tommy Chong (remember Leo from That's 70s Show?) even talked about the year he went to prison.

But one that really hit me was when Bethany Mota (of YouTube fame) performed to Colbie Caillat's "Try" and told the story of how she was bullied as a young teen. Most of the stories were very emotional, but this one seemed to be extremely relevant to society right now. Colbie Caillat sang live and the Bethany and Derek performed in front of a backdrop of hurtful and then inspirational words to tell the story. It was just beautiful.

The whole episode was an emotional roller coaster. The most exciting part for me (although I'm pretty sure most of America would agree) was Alfonso Ribeiro —finally — bringing back The Carlton. I've been waiting since his name was announced on the cast list, and I thought I'd have to wait for the freestyle portion of the finals to see it. But he knows what the fans want. Honestly, he could probably win the whole show if he just sneaks that into every routine.

Oh, and Sadie Robertson did a stellar duck-themed performance (feathers included) involving her family and the cast of Duck Dynasty — and lots of fake beards.

(Photo via ABC7)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Charcuterie for dinner

Last year my mom and sister and I started getting together for simple dinners where we'd have plates of different meats, cheeses, olives, bread and wine. There's no cooking involved, which is my favorite part, and there are some really great places to find delicious locally made bread and cheese in Des Moines. (My favorite was the merlot cheese on the far right.)

I've been craving a girls night like that again lately, so we finally found a date that worked with everyone's schedules and gathered at my sister's new house. We were even joined by one of my best friends, Felicia.

We talked about work, life, dating and TV. Then once the wine really got flowing, we started talking about family and my sister Amber brought out some of her old photo albums. It was so much fun! I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. 

They're all still getting used to me taking pictures of them and everything else for the blog, but I don't think they minded too much :)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fall reading list

Fall and winter are the best time for reading, don't you think? Summer reading outside in the sun is great, but when it's cold all I want to do is curl up in a big sweatshirt, drink green tea and read all the books I can find. (And that's usually not hard because my sister is an English teacher.)

Right now I'm having a hard time fitting in any time for fun reading between work and classes, but I just started Tina Fey's Bossypants (wonderful so far), and I have several more to read on my Kindle.

The Goldfinch has been on my list for a while, but I think it will be a great one for Thanksgiving break. I started reading the first couple chapters at the beginning of the semester, but I just couldn't concentrate, and I can tell it's a book worth focusing on. (I mean, it did win a Pulitzer.)

Also on my list is Madame Bovary for a little historical drama, and Eleanor and Park because my sister raved about it.

Are you reading any good books right now?

(Photo via Buzzfeed)
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