Friday, April 29, 2016

Wandering the Web: have a fun weekend!

Money advice, a sad pattern in advertising and things that annoy me while I'm PMSing.

Happy Fri-yay, everyone! Does anyone have any fun plans this weekend? Tonight I'm going with the fam to check out a new Italian restaurant that opened recently in Des Moines (can't wait!) and tomorrow we're heading to the Amana Colonies for the afternoon. I would be even more excited, but it's been rainy and cold here all week and it's not looking better for the weekend. Can it just be summer already?

1. Would you wear a neck scarf? (Le Fashion)

2. If you happen to be in New York, here's something fun to do tonight. (Cup of Jo)

3. Four bank accounts is better than one — surprisingly. (The Everygirl)

4. What millennial women think about the presidential race is fascinating. (Refinery 29)

5. The strange detail we've all been overlooking in movie posters. (Buzzfeed)

6. This is the next book on my reading list. (Amazon)

7. Things that annoy me while I'm PMSing — hilarious and true. (HelloGiggles)

8. YES. (Huffington Post)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

how I graduated with less than $14k in student loans

Six ways I saved and earned to avoid paying thousands in student loan debt

As graduation season creeps closer, I’ve been reading more and more articles on student loans and the growing burden of debt that comes with a college education. Debt and student loans are two concepts with which I am very familiar, thanks to being the youngest child of four to graduate college. It’s something my siblings would often talk to my parents about as they went through their own college and post-college journeys, and even though I was young, I absorbed bits and pieces and learned something myself along the way.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

wish list: dress fever

12 easy dresses to elevate your summer wardrobe

Happy Tuesday, babes! How's your week going so far? I'm incredibly excited because my mom's best friend is flying in from California tomorrow, and we always have so much fun when she's here! We're planning a girls night, dinner and drinks, a day trip, and lots of other fun stuff over the next few days.

In other news, my shopping lately has developed something of a pattern. When warm weather hits, it's almost impossible to find me wearing jeans because I am ALL about the dresses. Adam says I have dress fever, and I can't argue with that! I may or may not have purchased five of them in the last two weeks...oops! ;)

These are some styles I found and love, but the two styles I can't get enough of this year are shift and swing dresses. I typically lean more toward fitted cuts or A-line skirts, but for some reason I'm really loving the flirty feel of loose dresses. I just got this one in purple (and love it) and I'm considering ordering this one now, too. There's no such thing as too many dresses, right?

P.S. my spring wish list, a pretty linen dress and my favorite jacket for summer

Friday, April 22, 2016

Wandering the Web: have a wonderful weekend

Yard games to play this summer, an inspiring message about goals, and chocolate lasagna.

Happy Friday lovelies! It's been rainy all week here in Des Moines and today is the first day it's supposed to be dry and sunny, so you know I'm excited. This weekend Adam and I are headed to Iowa City for a 5k race (and by race I mean leisurely walk for me ;). I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and here are some links I liked this week...

1. Twenty-seven yard games to play this summer. Especially love #24! (Buzzfeed)

2. Loved this inspirational message from Jessi. (The Darling Detail)

3. Just bought this Bite Beauty lipstick in "Dragonfruit" and am completely obsessed. (Sephora)

4. I love the fun simplicity of tassel wall hangings. (Bloglovin)

5. Chocolate + lasagna? Yes please. (OMG Chocolate Desserts)

6. The most anticipated films of the summer. (Forbes)

7. These would certainly dazzle on a night out. (

8. And lastly, RIP Prince. (Vulture)

P.S. Thank you so much for your comments and kind words on this post. I know a lot of you are feeling or have felt the same way, and I'm so happy and appreciative to hear that my words resonated with you.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

white leather jacket

White leather is the perfect amount of edgy and fun

White leather is the perfect amount of edgy and fun
Snake skin heels for a chic going out look

Snake skin heels for a chic going out look

Snake skin heels for a chic going out look

Snake skin heels for a chic going out look

White leather is the perfect amount of edgy and fun

Snake skin heels for a chic going out look

Snake skin heels for a chic going out look

White leather is the perfect amount of edgy and fun

Happy Thursday babes! First, I want to thank all of you for letting me dive off an emotional cliff yesterday. It took me a while to take that post live, but it turned out to be incredibly therapeutic and I'm so happy I shared it with all of you.

Now let's get back to some regular content, shall we? This white (faux) leather jacket is the best purchase I've made lately. I've been wearing it nonstop because it goes with everything and it's the perfect edgy-but-girly jacket for summer. Don't get me wrong, I love a classic black leather jacket, but once spring hits, I'm all about bright colors and light shades — which makes a white moto jacket the perfect accessory.

I styled the jacket with a simple black wrap shirt and snake skin heels, a classic but casual outfit that's perfect for date night or just going out. I don't wear stilettos often, but every once in a while I love a good statement shoe like these. I'm a big believer that every girl should own at least one pair of pumps that make her feel like she's walking a runway every time she wears them, and these certainly do that. Pair them with this white leather, and I feel unstoppable.

P.S. the perfect linen dress, 8 wedges for summer and my favorite spring nail colors

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

it's OK to feel bad

Being vulnerable and honest don't make you weak, they make you normal.

It’s time for a little heart to heart. And I know that’s a little challenging considering the face-to-screen platform we’ve got going here, but bear with me. I am inviting you to open up and share whatever thoughts that come from this post in the comments below, because I want to talk about something that’s been weighing on me a lot lately, and I’m guessing weighs on many of you as well. So here goes.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Wandering the Web: Have a sunny weekend

Party essentials, the problem with superhero movies and pink lipsticks perfect for summer.

Happy Fridayyy! You know what? I can't even say I've been waiting for the weekend that much because we're finally feeling summer in the air here in Des Moines, and that makes me happy enough. Patio season, here I come! But really, because I will definitely be sitting on a patio and sipping some sort of cocktail tonight ;)

I hope you all have a great weekend, and enjoy the sunshine! Here are some links I liked this week...

1. Anyone else pumped for the new Suicide Squad movie coming out this year?! (Refinery 29)

2. Speaking's the problem with superhero movies. Interesting read. (NY Times)

3. Just added this dress to my cart. (Asos)

4. Have you seen Elizabeth Banks' new site, WhoHaha? Down the hilarious rabbit hole we go... (WhoHaha)

5. Party essentials for your next soiree. (Domino)

6. Have no fear pizza lovers, you can make your own pizza oven. That's right, oven. (Esquire)

7. Julianne Moore makes some interesting and enlightening points about gun control. (Lenny)

8. These pink lipsticks are so pretty and perfect for summer.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

book review: 'The Girl With No Past'

It's no "Gone Girl," but "The Girl With No Past" is a suspense-filled story worth the read.

Happy Thursday, friends! Back with another book review over here, and (surprise, surprise) it's a psychological thriller. Remember when I wrote about my recent woes in finding another thriller as good as Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl? (Because obviously Gone Girl is the bar by which all other psychological thrillers are now measured.) Well, drum roll please....

This isn't it.

Sorry, had to ;) Okay, enough with the (super hilarious) jokes. The Girl With No Past is written by Kathryn Croft, who's a good writer. I won't say great because I didn't feel it was anything special or noteworthy as far as the actual writing goes, but it definitely wasn't bad either. The story revolves around Leah Mills, a 30-something woman who lives a very solitary life. She lives alone, and the only places she goes is to the library where she works quietly every day, and to visit her mother (when she's guilted into it). The premise is that Leah has a huge secret from her past that she's been hiding from for years, for fear of what will happen if it ever gets out.

The description on Amazon says Leah lives the life of a fugitive, but that isn't true, as she's never been "on the run" and she's not actually wanted for a crime. She left her hometown and doesn't really talk to anyone, and that's about it. The majority of the first part of the book is Leah telling this side of her story, and it mostly comes off as her begging for pity without telling us why she deserves it. That part was annoying to me — however, it did leave me wondering what she could have possibly done that was so bad it forced a self-imposed shunning. With this book at least, I did feel that there was a good deal of suspense. Early on, Leah meets a man named Julian on a dating site who seems interested in her.

Naturally, she can't understand why in the world a man would like her, but the thought of "a normal life" is so appealing to her that she decides to break from her normal routine and start chatting with him. From there, Leah's quiet life is interrupted by a mysterious stalker, who sends her cryptic messages about The Event and does things to let her know that s/he is watching — all the time. The messages continue, and new characters pop up in her life that immediately struck me as suspicious, but not so much with Leah. The story flows seamlessly back and forth between the present and the months leading up to The Event, which gives us insight into Leah's personality from her teenage years. She's always been insecure and probably too trusting, and even what happened to her doesn't change that.

My problem with this novel was, again, the actual event. While it was a shock when we finally found out what happened to her at the end — and honestly disturbing enough that I still sometimes think back to it weeks later — I didn't think it warranted her solitude, or what follows with her stalker. The story did get my heart pumping, but I thought it fizzled out quickly and lost its momentum at the end. I would rate this one at 3.5 stars: much better than The Fever but nowhere near Gone Girl.

Have you read Girl With No Past? What did you think? I'd love to know your opinions!

P.S. reviews of Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl Alive

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Clinique Universal Face Primer

The makeup primer that does the impossible.

Isn't it funny how we can become such creatures of habit? I have been using the same makeup primer for years, and even though I've never loved it, it just never occurred to me to try something new. I kept buying the same one and kept having the same results — crazy, right?

I was in the market for a new primer last week. I did some research and decided I wanted to try out this version from Make Up For Ever when I came across an old sample I had of the Clinique universal face primer. (P.S. One of my favorite things about Nordstrom is that you get to choose three free beauty samples with your beauty purchase!)

Funnily enough, when I first put the Clinique primer on my face, my instant reaction was, "Oh, this feels awful, I hate this!" But as I rubbed it into my skin, the texture changed from a creamy lotion feel to a soft matte, smoothing out my skin and making it the softest it's ever been. I'm not kidding guys — since I've been wearing this, I can't stop touching my face!

The makeup primer that does the impossible.

*These photos were taken around 4 p.m., when my skin is typically shiny through my T-zone. (P.S. Wearing this Smashbox palette on my eyes and Too Faced Naked Dolly over MAC Subculture lip liner.)

I tested this Clinique primer in several ways. Now, I know that working out with makeup on is like a cardinal sin of beauty, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. So, I wore this through a cardio workout where I worked up a decent sweat. While I usually immediately wipe down my face with cleansing wipes after I exercise, this time I actually (coincidentally) forgot to do it — and in 20 minutes, my skin looked like I hadn't worked out at all! No grease, no shine — completely matte, soft and without any trace of redness. I was actually shocked.

But let's get to the best part. I have combination skin that always starts out dry and flaky in the mornings and turns shiny by mid-afternoon. There have been maybe two or three days in my adult life that my skin didn't have an oily sheen by the end of the day, and honestly, I might have only imagined them. I've never found a product that fully combats this problem or stops my skin from shining for more than a few hours, especially during the humid summer months. The Clinique primer actually keeps my skin looking matte all day. ALL DAY! Trust me, this is a real miracle for anyone with oily skin.

Suffice it to say, I will be recommending this makeup primer till the day I die.

P.S. My favorite nude lipsticks and Sephora sheet masks for better skin

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Favorite Spring Nail Colors Vol. 2

Five hues that will give you the perfect manicures for spring

Five hues that will give you the perfect manicures for spring

Five hues that will give you the perfect manicures for spring

If there's one accessory I don't think I could ever go without, it's nail polish. I love the look of clean, polished nails, especially when I get to use fun, bold hues. While I love a good dark nail, I am more than ready to trade navy for teal and red for pink. Even if you don't use a lot of color in your wardrobe, your nails are the perfect place to add a little rainbow effect. I've been gravitating toward blues and cool tones for my nails this spring, but here are five colors that are for sure going to be making repeat appearances this season.

Zoya lacquer in Jo. The metallic finish on this dusty blue gives it the perfect amount of shine for spring. It's pretty and light and girly, and it goes with just about every other color. I love it when I want something cool and unassuming. It's pretty without drawing too much attention, and I love the Zoya line for it's long-lasting formula.

CND Vinylux in Cream Puff. White will always be a staple in my manicure arsenal now, because it just looks so clean and modern. I like white when I want a minimal look for my nails, and it's always fun to play around with nail art. The CND polish coats well, while other white polishes can leave streaks or need three layers just to stand out.

OPI polish in Miami Beet. I love a good dark pink for spring and summer. Brights are fun, but I like the sophistication of going a little bit deeper with the classic hue. It seems to match everything, and it's never a bad choice for toes, either! Plus, it looks good on all skin tones — even before you've had a chance to work on that tan ;)

Essie mirror metallics in Penny Talk. This rose gold metallic polish is a classic, and it's so fun to use with other colors as an accent nail for an unexpected pop. The bronze finish even reminds me of an elevated take on the classic nude polish. It's a good choice for classic, simple look.

Julep nail color in Dianna. Since I love cool tones, this bluish-green has been a favorite lately. It's pretty and fun without being too "out there" for everyday wear. I love wearing it on my toes because it looks great with sandals; the color pops against both tan and black! And I love the Julep formula — it goes on thick but smooth and lasts for several days.

What are your favorite nail colors for spring? Any recommendations for me to try? I'd love to know!

P.S. Read all my past nail color posts here.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Wandering the Web: Have a fun weekend!

A beautiful idea for an art wall, a healthy snack to curb cravings, and the perfect makeup primer there ever was

Happy Friday, y'all! This week has been cold and dreary here in Iowa, and I am so happy it's finally over. This weekend Adam and I will be staying busy with birthdays, going away parties, shopping trips and probably some other things I've already forgotten. The next few days are going to fly by, but I'm excited for them nonetheless! What do all of you have planned for the weekend?

I hope you have a good one, and here are some links I liked this week...

1. Currently starving as I write this, so naturally I'm drooling over these buffalo chicken bowls. (Pretty Providence)

2. Just tried this makeup primer for the first time and LOVE it. I'll have a full blog post on it soon! (Nordstrom)

3. Have you heard the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. these days? Um, no thank you. (Who What Wear)

4. Loving this idea for a statement art wall. (A Beautiful Mess)

5. Think you're smarter than a teenager? Probably not. (Business Insider)

6. Makeup hacks for the lazy girls — aka, all of us. (The Everygirl)

7. This dress looks stunning, don't you think? (Cupcakes and Cashmere)

8. Ellen's monologue in response to the new "Religious Freedom Bill" in Mississippi was absolutely wonderful. (Refinery 29)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

5 things working in retail taught me

five things every person who's worked in retail knows to be true

When I took my first retail job last year, I came into it with a little background experience in waitressing, so I had an idea of what I was getting myself into when dealing with customers. And while the experience is going to be different at every store, I'd still have to say that serving is a much harder and more thankless job than retail. That being said, you're always going to find yourself dealing with the worst customers at some time or another. After a few months of working in this industry, here are a few things I've learned:

1. The customer is rarely right, but you still have to be nice. 

This saying is a favorite in the world of customer service, and rightfully so, as it usually pays off. But in the regular day to day activities of retail, it becomes evident very quickly that people really have no idea how things work. Customers will argue about prices until you can prove to them that, yes, the price marked on the item is, in fact, correct. They will share their dismay that you don't carry or ran out of their sizes. And you still have to smile and nod and thank them for shopping at your store.

2. That doesn't mean the customers will be nice back to you.

No matter how big your smile is or how sweet you sound when you tell a customer to "Have a great day!" or "Thank you for shopping with us!", there will always be people who just. don't. care. People who simply ignore you and walk out, people who look directly at you and walk away without saying a word, and people who respond with a glare or a snarl. You can spend five minutes trying to get a hat off a metal stand on the very top shelf for a customer who will then decide they don't actually want it — but instead of thanking you for getting it or apologizing for your trouble, they'll just hand it to you and ask someone else to get another item down for them. For those who preach about that Midwestern friendliness, work a few weeks in retail and you'll find out that even the nicest cities have some stunningly rude people.

3. The laziness is REAL. 

If I had a dollar for every time I picked up a pair of earrings sitting on a table right next to their display rack, or a hanger put on the rack backwards, I would never have to work again. You want to leave a pile of clothes in the dressing room? Fine. Ask me to put away some shirts you decided weren't so cute? Not a problem. But taking a piece of jewelry off its stand and dropping it there on the table? Here's a tip for shoppers: IT'S NOT. THAT. HARD.

4. Stupid questions do exist. And you'll answer a lot of them. 

Is this a shirt or a dress? This is a question I got last weekend, and at first I'll admit that it's not such a silly question; some shirts are long and dresses are short. But when you put it on and it goes down past your knees, it's a dress. Yes, I'm sure it's a dress. No, really — I promise, it's a dress.

5. Your responsibilities are more than your job description.

In the 9 months I've spent as a part-time sales associate, I have been a cashier, a visual merchandiser, a janitor and a personal shopper. I have unwrapped, hung and steamed countless garments, and I have seen too many middle-aged women in bras. I have followed needy customers around and carried piles of clothes for women who seem to think we have nothing else to do. I have climbed ladders and nearly dropped metal bars on my head. Working in retail is far more than selling clothes.

P.S. 7 mistakes you're making at a career fair, and what I learned from my first jobs

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Instagram Roundup No. 14

Guess wedges to start summer off on the right foot

Welcome back, friends! I'm jumping into April with an Instagram roundup to share some of the great stuff that happened in March. First up: buying the most perfect pair of Guess wedges there ever was! (Insert heart-eye emoji here.) I first stumbled upon these when I was writing this post, and when I found them in-store at DSW, it was love at first sight.
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