Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Taking time to be thankful

You know how there are some people who seem to just win all the time? Like if someone gives them five scratch-off lottery tickets, they'll always win at least $5. Or if they enter a raffle with 500 other people, their name gets pulled. You know that person, right? I was never that person. I never won anything, and I'd almost come to the point where I took pride in it, because I was practically the winner at losing. (Talk about a Monica moment, am I right?)

But then one day, I did win something. And it wasn't just a dollar from a scratch-off ticket or an iPod in a raffle drawing. I won a car. That beautiful shiny red car in the photo, to be exact. That's right: I won this very car that I drive every day at my senior after-prom party in high school. For several years, an auto salvage in my hometown would donate a used car they had fixed up, and everyone in the senior class had one chance to win it. I didn't even pretend to hope that my name might be the one pulled out of that bucket, but it was.

I've been driving this car for the last four years — through high school graduation, college, road trips to Kansas City and Ohio, college graduation, and now my first job in a new city. When I think about my car, I think about the wonderful people who spent their time and money to repair it and then turned around and donated it, for no other reason than they hoped to help out some high school kid who might be in need of a car.

This car is a constant reminder for me to be thankful for what I have, because it's easy to get caught up in thinking about everything I don't have. Sometimes it feels like a constant struggle between these two feelings, but I try to remember how the generosity of others led to such a substantial gift in my life and how truly blessed I am. So the next time you think about what you wish you had in your life, take a minute to pause and be thankful for everything you do have. You might be surprised just how powerful it is to give thanks.

What are you most thankful for?

P.S. Thoughts from a college graduate and how to fight successfully

Monday, March 30, 2015

The perfect Easter dress + a special discount!

Asos dress / clutch (old, similar here and here) / Nessi and Co. bracelet c/o (use code EU10 for 10% off)

I'm so excited to share one of my favorite new outfits with you today! It's finally dress weather, and if you've been reading my blog lately, you know I could not be happier about the spike in temperatures. I bought this dress a few weeks ago to wear for weddings this summer, but it would also be the perfect dress for Easter! I paired it with nude and silver accessories to keep it classy and simple, but I think the pop of pink on my lips adds just enough color to keep it interesting. Oh, and the purple sunnies ;)

The powder blue color of this dress and the shape of the neckline are just beautiful. I think it would also look great with a white blazer to make the silver jewelry stand out even more. I specifically want to point out this gorgeous Nessi and Co. bracelet. I've been trying to stock up on more bracelets, and I really like the style and detail of this one. Nessi and Co. is a new company that sells affordable and high-quality silver jewelry. I love that each piece is less than $20, and right now you can get 10% off using the code EU10!  

This past weekend I attended a photography class to learn some of the fundamentals of taking and staging photos, and it was such a great time. It got me really excited to start taking more photos and doing more photo shoots, so get ready to see a few more outfit posts thrown in the mix of my usual content! I hope your week is off to a great start :)

P.S. The brights are back, not your average dress and spring-time shopping favorites

Friday, March 27, 2015

Wandering the Web: Have a beautiful weekend

Happy Friday, lovelies! It's beautiful and sunny in Des Moines today (even though it's still chilly in the 40s) and I'm very excited for the weekend because I signed up for a photography class on Saturday and Sunday! I have no training whatsoever in photography, so I've been looking forward to learning some new tricks and skills (like how to actually use my DSLR camera...) to put to use on my blog.

As you can see, my links seem to (unintentionally) revolve around fun pinks because I still can't get over my current obsession with spring colors. It's supposed to get up to the 60s and 70s next week, so I can't wait to break out the skirts and dresses again! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, friends!

1. Even basketball players enjoy giving spelling tests. (Time)

2. J.K. Rowling has the perfect response to a fan commenting on Dumbledore's sexuality. (The Independent)

3. The cutest DIY tic-tac-toe board. (A Beautiful Mess)

4. Mumford & Sons on their switch from banjos to synthesizers. (Rolling Stone)

5. This made me laugh. (A Cup of Jo)

6. How to de-clutter your wardrobe. (Glitter Guide)

7. Wouldn't this be perfect for summer? (Asos)

8. Can't wait to get my hands on a couple of these gorgeous lipsticks. (Sweet Electric)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lunch in the East Village

Adam and I rarely get the chance to have lunch together during the week since our offices are 20 minutes apart, but last week we were able to make it work one day and he took me to the cutest bakery/sandwich shop called the Scenic Route Bakery.

It had the most delicious paninis and the best chai latte. But my favorite part was how beautiful it was. The floor-to-ceiling windows let in so much natural light (even though it was cloudy the day we went) and it had modern elements mixed with vintage pieces to give it a cozy, eclectic feel. Adam was spot on when he said I would love it. Even the outside looked adorable — I'm especially happy I caught the little kid running down the sidewalk by accident :)

If you're in the Des Moines area, I definitely recommend making a stop here! And if you're from Des Moines, what are your favorite lunch spots? I love trying out new places so I love to hear about all the hidden gems around here!

P.S. Eatery A and RoCA

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The brights are back

I know I'm normally in the "black, white, gray, repeat" group when it comes to fashion, but now that spring weather has started to hit I am ALL about color. Especially this week, because it's the first time the weather has dipped back into the 30s since we had gorgeous sunny and 60-degree days the last couple weeks. The last couple days have been rainy and gray, and it only made my craving for brights and neons that much worse!

Right now I'm already embracing neon nails and bright lipsticks to cheer up the dreary days, but I can't wait to incorporate more colors with fun outfits like this leopard print shift dress and these bright yellow pumps. I know what you're thinking: The gold jewelry doesn't count as a bright...but I've been crushing on these pieces for SO LONG — and I may or may not have (but definitely did) order the ring set last week during Baublebar's big sale...

Does sunny weather have you making bright changes to your wardrobe, too? What trends are you loving right now? 

P.S. spring-time shopping, playing it by ear and the new Express collection

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Date Night Des Moines: board games for two

Adam and I got into Settlers of Catan last year while we were both still in college. His roommates played it and taught us, and then it became a growing thing in our friend group — like to the point where we would have plans to go out and then end up staying in just to play it! Have you ever played before? It's such a fun game!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bedroom update: Tackling the closet

Progress has been slow on my bedroom project due to time/money constraints that I didn't expect this year (life — amirite?), but I'm (verrry) slowly getting adjustments made! A couple weeks ago I decided to tackle my dress/closet situation PLUS bringing the rest of my belongings back from my sister's place. It was a big project, but I've been very happy with the end result.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Wandering the Web: First day of spring!

It's. Finally. Spring. Yay! Even though it's been a bit colder here this week (like 40s and 50s), I've still been wearing spring clothes and sandals because I just can't go back to sweaters and boots! Anyone else know the feeling?

What do you all have planned for the weekend? I'll definitely be getting outside for a walk today (it's supposed to be in the 60s!) and then we're kind of just going with the flow the rest of the weekend. The past couple weeks have been kind of hectic with work, so I'm excited to have the weekend fairly open to catch up on everything else. Except basketball, that is... Adam actually got me to fill out an NCAA bracket for the first time ever and then Iowa State lost in a huge upset in the first round yesterday. We've all been pretty bummed since then (yes, even me!)... Hopefully your teams are doing better than mine! Have a great weekend, and here are some links from this week:

1. Why five women changed their religion when they got married. (Refinery 29)

2. Another win for treadmill dance choreographers. (Health)

3. What does your name say about you? Mine was weirdly accurate... (via A Cup of Jo)

4. Rejoice! Scientists are working to create wine that doesn't leave you with a hangover. (the Kitchn)

5. Is coffee going out of style? (Esquire)

6. Are you on board with the tassel trend? I can't decide... (Southern Curls and Pearls)

7. Real-life beauty secrets from a Sephora pro. (Refinery 29)

8. Because sometimes we all just need a good coloring book break. (Buzzfeed)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Quinoa with shrimp and veggies

Last night Adam came over for a quiet date night at my apartment, and since we've both been trying to be healthier I decided to make quinoa for dinner. I haven't used quinoa for a year, and I'd forgotten how easy it is to make. I used a recipe that I sort of made up last year when I wanted quinoa and didn't want to go to the store, so I threw together a bunch of ingredients I already had in my kitchen.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A trick for removing dark nail polish stains

lemon juice to clean dark stains from fingernails
I recently read about an awesome French trick for cleaning the dark nail polish stains off of your fingernails. All you do is hold your nails in a dish of lemon juice mixed with a bit of water for a few minutes and the stains fade instantly. Cool, right?

I was a little skeptical that it would work, but when I tried it myself after using my darkest polishes several weeks in a row, it really did help! Lemon juice is apparently good for both whitening nails and strengthening them when used in an olive oil mixture.

lemon juice to clean dark stains from fingernails

This is a really helpful tip to learn going into spring because I like to transition from my dark shades to lighter, more pastel hues, and the light colors can a little dirty with dark stains behind them.

Have you ever tried this trick before? What beauty tricks do you swear by? 

P.S. Favorite winter nail colors and how to get wrinkles out in less than 5 minutes

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Liebster Award

Last week I was nominated by the sweet Midwest In Style for the Liebster Award, which is an award given to new bloggers by fellow bloggers. It's a nice way to get to know new blogs and share them with your own readership, while also helping those blogs (and the hard workers behind them) get a little recognition for all they've done. That being said, a huge thank you to Midwest In Style for nominating me, and if you haven't checked out her site go see it now!

In the short time that' I've been blogging, I've found that the community is very supportive and encouraging. No one really treats anyone else like competition because everyone is working so hard to do their own thing. And most bloggers are eager to work with and help others, so it really makes it a great experience for all of us.

Now, the rules of the Liebster Award are like this: You get nominated, you share with your readers who nominated you and answer a serious of questions asked by the blogger before you (or you can throw in some new ones). And then you nominate several other new bloggers for the award and let them know. So here we go!

1. How did you get into blogging?

I had been reading a few blogs for about a year before I decided to start mine. I'm a journalist by day, so I love to write and I wanted a place to share my thoughts on any topics I chose, and a blog was the perfect way to do that. That's also how I chose the name for my blog, because I knew I couldn't restrict myself to just one category or theme. Plus, like I said before, the blogging community is just a really great one, and I wanted to be a part of it.

2. If you could have anyone's closet, whose would you chose?

Celebrity: Emma Stone / Fellow blogger: Caitlin of Southern Curls and Pearls

3. Who's your celebrity crush?

I'd have to say Robert Downey Jr. (Swoon ;)

4. What is your favorite TV show?

I don't watch all that much TV anymore, but I'm currently getting through season 9 of Friends on Netflix. But the one show I do make time to watch in real time is Dancing With the Stars (which started again last night! Did you watch?!)

5. Silver or gold?

This has actually changed several times through the years, but right now I'll say gold for sure!

6. What is your favorite meal?

I really love charcuterie, so a nice tray of different meats, cheeses, olives and bread with a glass of wine is my absolute favorite!

7. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I really want to explore all of Europe, but if I had to narrow it down I'd pick Italy and Greece.

8. What is the one beauty product you can't live without?

My Clarisonic cleansing brush was my savior back in college, and I still use it almost every day. Other than that, I never leave the house without using my eyebrow pencil and mascara.

9. What are your favorite fashion trends right now?

This is a tough one because everyone is starting to transition to spring styles... I loved the oversized sweater look last winter, but now I'm starting to get into bright-colored accessories and patterned dresses.

10. What is your favorite way to relax and unwind?

Between working full-time, blogging and making time for my boyfriend and friends, it seems like there's not a lot of "me time." But when I do get the chance, I like to kick back with some classic rom-coms, a bowl of popcorn and a glass of red wine.

11. Where are your favorite places to shop?

Asos and Baublebar have been showing up in my mailbox constantly in the last couple months! But if I'm sticking with a local trip to the mall, you'll probably find me in Express or Forever 21.

And now I'd like to nominate a few other (very talented) bloggers for the Liebster Award!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Wandering the Web: TGIF

It's Friday! (Pretend I'm yell-singing that in a weird high-low pitch because I am THAT happy for the weekend!) This week has been a little crazy at work, and I am definitely ready for a break. We had some friends from Minnesota stop through last night on their way to the college basketball tournament in Kansas City this weekend, so we had a great time catching up with them.

And I even had a sort-of fun time watching Iowa State's win against Texas (they won by two points on the very last shot!) to make it to the NCAA tournament. As you can probably tell, Adam is trying his hardest to make me a basketball fan. It's probably not going to happen, but I'm still happy for my school! ;) Do you have anything fun planned this weekend? I hope you have a great one, and here are a few things from this week...

1. Fictional Humans of New York made me laugh. (College Humor)

2. Can't wait to try this one-ingredient ice cream. (A Cup of Jo)

3. Julie Andrews is still perfect. (Time)

4. I can't say I'm looking forward to another Zoolander, but this was definitely the coolest way to announce it. (Esquire)

5. 10 tips for mastering Instagram. (Covering the Bases)

6. Which costs more: American Girl furniture or real-life furniture. (Buzzfeed)

7. Your favorite adult card game just went mobile. (Refinery 29)

8. Colorful workout gear is always a great motivator to get that booty in the gym! (Bows and Sequins)

Bonus: Your favorite animated movie is getting a sequel!

P.S. I used to LOVE American Girl dolls, and now I understand why my parents never bought the furniture! That quiz made me laugh :)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How to get rid of wrinkles in clothes in less than 5 minutes

I think most of us would agree that ironing is not our favorite thing to do. It's not so much difficult as it is time-consuming, and I often end up creating at least one crease where I didn't mean to. And if you've ever tried to un-crease a crease you've made, you know it's nearly impossible to get it smoothed out completely.

And then there are the fabrics that are just too delicate to be ironed. I have several of this kind of light-weight, silky or chiffon type shirt, and they can get wrinkled from being stuffed into my full closet, being dried in a weird way or even from being folded in a bag for too long if I'm traveling.

Lucky for me, my mom introduced me to the Conair ExtremeSteam Professional Handheld Garment Steamer and my life has been forever changed (maybe a slight exaggeration?). The steamer only takes about half a cup of water and less than two minutes to heat up. Then you just hold it up to your shirt and steam until the wrinkles come out, which takes just a couple minutes depending on the material and how bad the wrinkles are. It's such an easy fix when you want to wear something right away but notice it's got a few major wrinkles. Like I said: total game changer!

Do you iron or steam your clothes? Or do you have another method that you recommend? I'd love to hear!

P.S. No-closet storage solutions and the key to healthy lips

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


I know I'm a little late to the party on reading this book — what else is new, right? But I'm finally reading it, and even though I'm not quite halfway through it yet, I have to talk about how amazing it is! Have any of you read it yet?

At just 30 years old, Sophia Amoruso is the founder and CEO of fashion retailer Nasty Gal. She writes about her journey from a job-jumping petty thief to a hard-working, kickass #GIRLBOSS. Her story is so real and relatable, and she offers so much great advice from her experiences. It's really inspiring (not to mention incredibly encouraging) to see how far she's come just in the last 10 years.

Amoruso didn't get to be a CEO by going to college and working her way up the corporate ladder. She recognized her strengths (a great work ethic when she actually cared about what she was doing) and her weaknesses (school), and used them to her advantage to create an empire.

This book has been a great motivator for me so far, especially when I consider my work as a blogger and my goals for my blog. Amoruso talks about all the hard time, the good times and everything in between. So if you're looking for an honest account of what it takes to become extremely successful, you'll find it in #GIRLBOSS. It makes me feel a huge relief to know it doesn't really matter what you start with, so long as you start and keep moving forward.

I know I can't *technically* give this book a rating yet since I haven't finished it, but I don't care and I'm giving it 5 stars. If you haven't read it, stop what you're doing and read it now! And if you have, share your thoughts in the comments below!

P.S. 'Reconstructing Amelia' and 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette'

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Instagram roundup No. 2

home decor bedroom decorating project nightstand

Since I spent all of Monday night organizing my bedroom and attempting to find space for all of the stuff I brought back from my sister's place (success!), I didn't feel quite ambitious enough to finish writing the post I had planned for today. Hence, a lovely Instagram roundup! The photo above is a new nightstand I brought from home and plan to paint. Any color suggestions?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Playing it by ear

Let's take a minute to talk about accessories today. When it comes to fashion, my favorite accessories tend to come in phases. Last year it was scarves, in the summer it was rings. Lately I've been really into earrings, and I think it's because there are so many different styles out right now than what I'd seen in previous years. Now there are ear jackets, crawlers and front and back studs. (A new one that I haven't tried yet: suspenders — would you wear them?)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Wandering the Web: Get your groove on

Happy Friday, friends! Adam and I will be getting our groove on at the Ed Sheeran concert this June, because I just ordered the tickets! We're so excited. It's been a long time since I've been to a big concert, so I really can't wait to see this one.

This weekend is going to be pretty low-key. I'm going to pack up the rest of my stuff from my sister's house (from when I lived with her in college) and hopefully get started on painting a dresser for my bedroom. The freezing February weather kind of put a stall on my bedroom project, so I'm excited to get it going again in March. What are your plans for the weekend?

1. Olivia Wilde makes one kickass editor. (Esquire)

2. Could Amazon print your order while it ships to you? (abc news)

3. Shania Twain announces a farewell tour, and the world gets emotional. (Refinery 29)

4. What kind of texter are you? I'm the classicist, surprise surprise ;) (A Cup of Jo)

5. "Love has no labels."(Ad Council via Upworthy)

6. This show just came out on Netflix. Will you watch it? I'm kind of intrigued... (Vulture)

7. Stock photos just got a whole lot more fun. (AdWeek)

8. We've never really been a dessert-after-dinner family. Are you? (The Kitchn)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Fool-proof baking (aka: no baking required)

The other day I got a craving for some peanut butter no-bake brownies. They used to serve them in our school lunches, and they were sooo good. My grandma always makes chocolate no-bakes (also delicious), but the few times I've attempted them myself they didn't turn out so well. So I found this new recipe for three-ingredient peanut butter no-bake bars. It seemed easy enough that even I couldn't mess it up!

All you need is peanut butter, honey and old-fashioned oats, all of which I usually have in my kitchen. I had just enough honey and peanut butter in the pantry to make it this time, but I did need to buy more oatmeal. I used just half a cup of honey (which was every last drop that we had), but I actually liked how they turned out because they weren't overly sweet. I also only used 2 1/2 cups of oatmeal in mine.

These three-ingredient no-bakes are definitely my kind of baking ;) They're a great sweet treat and packed with protein and fiber, so they're perfect for a mid-morning or post-workout snack.

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 to 1 cup honey
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

Heat the peanut butter and honey together in a sauce pan on low until thoroughly combined in a liquid consistency. Add in oats gradually and stir. Press into 9 x 9 pan (I used 13 x 9). Cover and set overnight. (I threw mine in the fridge for a couple hours to speed up the process.)

Have you made no-bakes before? Do you have any favorite recipes for them? I'd love to hear!

P.S. The best pasta you'll ever make, cosmopolitan cocktails and not-margarita pizza

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Date Night Des Moines: coffee, books and Lent

date night des moines, getting coffee and reading books together

So I already missed one Date Night Des Moines post since I announced the new series last month. We were traveling one weekend, and then Adam was sick, and I had a few work things going on...you know how it goes. But I'm back with the latest date, which is kind of a throwback to our college days. We found a cute little cafe we hadn't been to before, grabbed our books and spent an hour having our own little book club discussion. It's kind of fun to take a normal activity like this — one that could easily be done at one of our apartments — and get out of the house with it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Thoughts from a college graduate

I first read this article by Julie Ma about famous women on their college years when I was in the middle of my last semester at Iowa State, and it made me think: I wonder what I'll say when I look back at my college years?

Well, I've had that fancy little diploma for a little more than two months now, and what I think of most when I look back at my three-and-a-half short years in college is how much I really did learn there.

When I enrolled in the journalism program as a nervous 18-year-old, all I really knew about it was what I saw in movies and TV and what I'd assumed by reading books and magazines. I chose journalism because I loved writing, and it seemed like a safe option in terms of getting paid to write. That, and I really, really loved magazines.

And then I took my first classes and realized I had no idea what I had gotten myself into — but I loved it. My first year of college could probably be summed up as a realization of how little I actually knew, both about careers in journalism and life in general. I didn't know AP style, or systems operations, or how important it is to pay attention to the news every day. One of the most beneficial lessons I had in that first year was the weekly news tests we had to take in my first required journalism course. We had to read, watch and listen to multiple news sources and take a test to see how well we paid attention to current events from week to week. Up until that point, my version of getting the "news" was asking my mom what the weather was supposed to do that day.

In college, I learned there are infinite job opportunities for a journalism degree. I learned how to copyedit the work of my peers and, more importantly, my own. I learned how to write catchy headlines and attention-grabbing leads, informational news blurbs and feature-length stories. I learned that in order to become a copy editor at any national news source, you have to know current events from five years ago and a little bit of basic geography — I didn't.

I learned that when people find out you study journalism, there's an 80 percent chance they'll ask you when they're going to start seeing you on TV, anchoring the news — because does writing even exist anymore? And there's a 100 percent chance they will have something to say about the death of print journalism, and how do you expect to make a living? And I also learned that print journalism isn't going anywhere just yet. And if it does? I'll still be able to find a job. Because college taught me that opportunities come to those who seek them.

I think Madeleine L'Engle's quote from the article sums it up best:
"I left college and went to New York to earn my living with the assurance that all doors were of course open to me, and that's a good attitude to have. If you expect doors to be open, they're likely to be open. If you expect them to be closed, they're likely to slam in your face." 
In 10, 20, even 50 years from now, I hope I remember every one of these lessons, and dozens more that I'll learn between now and then. I hope I never forget how it feels to look at the world and see nothing but opportunities and open doors, because that is what I learned in college.

Monday, March 2, 2015

6 DIY projects to get you through winter

6 diy projects to get through cold winter months

If you're like me, you've been struggling just to get out of bed every day because you know it's more sweaters and freezing temperatures that awaits you. I am SO ready for summer, sun and skirts (try saying that five times fast)!

Anyway, during college I loved making DIY projects during the winter. I needed a fun project to work on while I was hiding away from the snow, and DIYs can be a great distraction — plus you get something cool for your house that you made yourself.

I love using spray paints when it's warm out, but with negative wind chills, that's just not happening. Plus, there's really not a good place to do that when you live in a public complex without a real yard. The good part is that there are tons of fun, easy and beautiful projects you can do in the comfort of your own home — without locking yourself up in an enclosed room filled with paint fumes (hello, dangerous!). So these are some of my favorite projects to do inside during the winter:

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