My favorite places to #ShopSmall

It’s #SmallBusinessSaturday! As you may have gathered from previous blog posts, I am all about supporting small businesses and I have an especially soft spot in my heart (and wallet) for Michigan creators/artists. In honor of today, I’ve rounded up all my favorite small businesses in Michigan and compiled them in one place.  Happy shopping!

Rebel Reclaimed 

My friend Andrea introduced me to this store about a year and a half ago and I have stopped in every time I have been in Grand Rapids since. I have brought my mom here, my boyfriend, and even dragged a coworker there on a recent work trip (I say drag, but he loved it so, win/win).

At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, there is something for everyone on your list at this store. From funny/witty to heartfelt and thoughtful this store could be your one stop shop, if you wanted it to be. Prayer candles with the Fab Five? Check. Ruth Bader Ginsburg merch? Yup. Witty cards? Loads of ‘em. Candles? Of course. Plants? Duh.

They recently moved into a much bigger space (yay for small businesses growing!) and in addition to being successful entrepreneurs Chip and Dan are also the cutest couple of all time.

Dime & Regal

In keeping with the West Michigan theme, I have to mention another great store—Dime & Regal.

By now you know all about my affinity for small business/local creators/artists. Dime & Regal was essentially made for people like me. Dime & Regal is a handmade goods store dedicated to showcasing local artists and Michigan made products—and they do so in a very sleek, chic way.

My absolutely favorite items are the handmade ceramic boob planters by Hillary Dragon Ceramics. I saw them on Instagram and knew that I had to have one in my home. I basically stalked Dime & Regal on IG to make sure they’d have them in stock when I was in town (they sell out fast!) and was thrilled when I got there and they had loads of them. 

Rock Paper Scissors

I first went to Rock, Paper Scissors with my mom during a day trip to Ann Arbor and it was love at first sight (shop?). The store is filled to the brim with things that you could purchase for other people as gifts but, let’s be real, you’ll probably want to keep for yourself.

My absolute favorite thing about Rock Paper Scissors is their card selection. If you know me, you know that I love buying cards. I don’t think that you need a special holiday to remind people that you love and care about them, and Rock Paper Scissors is my go-to for supplying those witty, thoughtful, sometimes inappropriate, but always hilarious, cards.

My other favorite thing about RPS (well, one of my favorites, if I listed them all we’d be here all day) is the amount of political inventory they have in their store. From RBG ornaments, to children’s books about activism and feminism, to things that make fun of Trump ( I bought my boss some Donald Trump Tiny Hand soap for his birthday) I absolutely love RPS’ selection.

I stop by this store every time I’m in Ann Arbor. I recently brought my boyfriend here and he had as much fun browsing the store as I did.

City Bird

My time in Detroit isn’t complete unless I’ve stopped at City Bird. We’ve already established that I love cards and City Bird has plenty of ‘em. I feel like most Michiganders have a special place in their heart of Detroit (or maybe it’s just me?) but I buy Detroit-themed merch every time I come here because it is the best place to buy it.

This is one of my go-to stores for stocking stuffers. Aside from Detroit-themed things, I love buying Michigan-themed things. I have purchased coasters, magnets, postcards, keychains, cups and more from City Bird that are emblazoned with Michigan specific imagery because, well, I can’t stop myself. I take them home and gift them to family, no matter what time is it.

In addition to Michigan stuff, I have also purchased some really great office stuff from there including a nameplate that says “Fucker in charge of all you fucks” on it that I gifted to a coworker. I bought one for myself that says “Nasty Woman.”

Nest

Ah, I am a sucker for Nest. Nest and City Bird are next door neighbors and I never visit one without immediately stopping next door. Nest is my go-to for all things plant-related. They have a huge assortment of plants and planters (and really cool brass misters).

This is a great store if you’re looking for small things for the home. In addition to all the plant stuff, they also have lots of things for the home. I am especially impartial to the kitchen items (and candles because, duh), and I can never walk into this store without walking out with something I probably didn’t need.

Vosenna

I have an entire blog post dedicated to Vosenna and how much I love the store, the owner and their business philosophy. If you love makeup, this store is an absolute must on your shopping list (if not for your loved ones, than for yourself). 

Walking into Vosenna is like walking into an indie makeup paradise where nothing is tested on animals, most things are vegan and (almost) everything is made in the United States. There is something at Vosenna for everyone, ranging from makeup to skincare to fragrance (yes, that’s right—even for men!).

Retail Therapy

Located in Lansing’s historic Old Town, Retail Therapy is a staple for clothing in #LoveLansing.  Retail Therapy has an eclectic mix of American, European, and Asian women’s fashion with an emphasis on sustainable, ethical, slow fashion labels.

From clothing, shoes and accessories there is definitely something for women of all ages at Retail Therapy. I recently picked up an adorable coat for my mom for Christmas (and gave it to her early because I’m horrible at giving gifts) and she loves it!

By the way #LoveLansing friends, Retail Therapy is having a Shop Small event today with sales and wine and cheese. The best way to shop is with wine and cheese.

Rail and Anchor

Walking into Rail and Anchor feels like home.  The store always smells amazing, there’s soft music playing and you’re always greeted with a fresh cup of tea. Talk about an ideal shopping experience. 

Rail and Anchor is full-to-the-brim with everything you could ever want or need. Some of my favorites are the candles they carry (I looove P.F. Candles), the jewelry (Machete earrings are my fav) and the keychains! Rail and Anchor also houses perhaps the coziest corner of plants in Michigan, and I’m tempted to buy them all every time I walk in the store.

They always have the funnest, most eclectic mix of inventory, I always end up doing multiple laps in an effort to take everything in.

Van Atta’s Greenhouse

Even if you and everyone you know has a black thumb, you’ll still want to put Van Atta’s on your Christmas shopping list. In addition to having an amazing selection of plants, they have loads of other goodies, including Michigan made products. From candles (shoutout to Kalamazoo Candle company!) to clothing, to a surprisingly large section of cards (including one of my favorite artists/creators Emily McDowell) I sometimes go to Van Atta’s just to look around.

If you are shopping for someone who loves plants, you’ve come to the right place. Van Atta’s has an amazing selection of plants, including tropicals. That means you can stop up on those cacti, succulents and air plants for the crazy plant lady in your life. Or also for me, if you’re feeling generous.

Elodie Boutique

I’ve blogged about Elodie Boutique before, but had to include it on this list because I love them. A little outside of my normal shopping radius, Elodie is located in Midland, Michigan and has tons and tons of adorable clothing, shoes and accessories for women.

I bought a brown hat there earlier this yet (pictured above) and I am still obsessed with it. It is seriously the cutest boutique full of so many good things. Jewelry, big floppy hats (my favorite) and cute clothes—all at very reasonable price points.

TL;DR

Did you know that there are more than 870,000 small businesses across Michigan? If you tend to shop at big box stores, I challenge you to visit local businesses first this holiday season. The crowds are smaller, the gifts are unique and you’re helping support a real person & their community.  After all, for every dollar spent at a small business, 67 cents of it goes back to the local community.

 

 

 

 

Sephora VIB Sale Recommendations: What I’m Buying

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! 🎶Nope, not the holidays. Sephora’s VIB sale.

Listen, we’re all balling on a budget but that’s not going to stop us (read: me) from spending exorbitant amounts of money on makeup and skincare.

This is the time that I buy products that I would not otherwise buy if they weren’t 20 percent off, and stock up on all the other expensive things I slather on my face and body on the reg.

Here’s my list 👇

 Huda Beauty Concealer: $30

I’m going to channel my inner Owen Wilson here because all I can say is: wow.

I have been using Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer religiously for years.  I had seen people online talking about this concealer but for some reason, I didn’t realize that it was available in store. When I saw it, I snatched it up right away. The coverage of this concealer is insane. It’s like using paint on your face, but because I am a Coverage Queen, I love it. If I’m being 100 percent honest, my absolute favorite thing about this concealer is the metal applicator. It feels amazing on tired eyes in the morning.

Shape Tape who

Summer Friday’s Jet Lag Mask $48

If you live in Michigan, or anywhere that gets cold in the winter, you need to stop what you’re doing and high tail it over to Sephora. For real. This mask will change your life. My skin has been feeling dry lately and so I bought this on a whim hoping it would help. It did.

I know that the package says to leave on for 10 minutes and wipe off, but that’s not how use it. I slather a thick white layer of this over my face a la Mrs. Doubtfire every night and wake up with baby smooth skin in the morning. Enjoy.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in the shade Pillow Talk: $34

Honestly, where do I even start with this product? The formula and shade are both impeccable. You know how when you wear liquid lipstick you can feel the moisture leaving first your lips and then your entire body? This lipstick isn’t like that. It’s long wearing, but comfortable. It’s the best “your lips but better” lipstick and shade on the market. Truly, it is the best nude lipstick I have ever used. (For some reason, that doesn’t stop me from buying every other nude lipstick that I come across, but just know, this is the best of the best.)

If you have a skin tone similar to mine, you won’t be disappointed.

Biossance Squalane + Glycolic Renewal Facial $68

I saw this on a display at Sephora and asked an employee if she had tried it/what she thought. Her response? “It’s like getting a new face.” Uh, take my money!

I’m not quite sure that it lived up to those claims, but it did make my face soft, cleared up some breakouts I was having and left my skin with a fresh, dewy glow. Pro tip: If you use the Jet Lag mask immediately after using this mask, it really will feel and look like you have a new face. You’re welcome.

Farsali Skintune Blur Perfecting Primer Serum $54

Some people don’t think that primers are worth using, but I am not one of those people. When I saw that this primer claimed to have a face blurring effect I was sold. I feel like every new cosmetic product that comes out instantaneously has a plethora of reviews on YouTube, so you can imagine my surprise when I went to do some research on this and saw it had barely been mentioned. Maybe Farsali didn’t have a big budget for this product launch? Anyway, there seemed to be a consensus among the reviews I did watch and that was that this product isn’t that great. I didn’t let that deter me, though. I decided to try it anyway and I love it. I think it does what it claims to: hydrates the skin, blurs pores and imperfections and creates a nice base for makeup application.

I have oily skin and this does a pretty good job of keeping me from looking like a greaseball, which is a plus. I will say that the packaging leaves a lot to be desired. It comes in a dropper like all other Farsali products, but because it’s so thick, getting the product out is difficult.

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm $34

I’ve been using the Clinique Melt the Day Away balm for probably 5 years, but decided to give this one a try and I actually like it more! Both products have the same premise—a solid makeup remover balm that liquifies once it’s on your skin. Personally, I think that this one works better. It also claims to have skincare benefits, which is a lofty claim since it sits on my face for approximately 30 seconds each day. Strangely enough, my problematic, acne-prone skin has been looking clearer lately so maybe there is something to that?

Laniege Lip Sleeping Mask $20

My lips have been extremely dry lately. So much so that I decided to Google it and was met with the suggestion of “extremely dry lips cancer.” This is why I shouldn’t use the internet.

This mask is kind of splurge. For starters, it’s not a run of the mill lip balm. It’s a sleeping mask, meaning you slather it on your lips at night in order to wake up with silky, smooth lips. The packaging is very luxe. It comes in a jar with a little spatula to apply it with (and the spatula even comes in it’s own little rubber envelope, which I thought was cute). 

My mom has been using a much cheaper “lip sleeping mask” called Vaseline for 30 years, and that works just fine. But if you’re in a treat yo self mood and want to splurge on a spa-like experience, this is a good place to start.

Bobbi Brown Face Base $60

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking “how many primers can one person own?” but the answer is a lot. I was drawn to this primer because 1) the packaging and 2) in addition to prepping your skin for makeup, it claims to have a lot of skincare benefits. I’ve been taking skincare a lot more seriously lately and I loved the idea of prepping my face with something that would actually be beneficial for my skin, rather than just beneficial for makeup application. So far, I’m loving this. It feels extremely luxurious, makes my makeup glide on effortlessly and stay put all day. The only downside is that it has a rather strong citrus scent but, for me, the benefits outweigh the smell.

Huda Beauty New Nude Eyeshadow Palette $65

Honestly, where do I start? This palette is gorgeous and unlike any other palette that is on the market right now. It comes with 18 intensely pigmented shades, including a cream concealer, which I think is genius. The price may sound steep at first, but broken down is $3.61 per shadow, which isn’t awful.

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There are matte shades, reflective duochrome shadows and two pressed glitters. Every shade that I have tried is insanely pigmented. Even the duochrome shadows and the pressed glitters impressed me. There was no fallout whatsoever and they stayed on my eyelids for 8+ hours.

This palette is so outside of my natural comfort zone. I normally go for warm-toned everything, but I thought this was so gorgeous I had to try it and i love it! You can create so many looks from very wearable everyday looks to something super over-the-top and glittery. This palette doesn’t disappoint.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation $42

This is the OG foundation. Back in the day, every YouTuber used/recommended this foundation and, naturally, I bought it. I used it religiously for years, but at some point I chose to stray and purchase something else. After many trials and errors with other subpar foundations, this prodigal son found her way back.

This foundation is very full coverage (without being cakey), dries to a satin matte finish and wears allllll day (and night) long. If you like light coverage, you’ll hate it. If you like full coverage, you’ll love it.

Bonus

Dolce and Gabanna Light Blue

Fragrance *never* goes on sale, so when it’s 20% you have to snatch some up. I used to wear Dole and Gabanna Light Blue years ago, and have started wearing it again lately and have gotten so many compliments on it. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a new, fresh bottle.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Josie Maran Argan Lip Sting Plumping Butter in Honey
  2. Huda Beauty Liquid Lipstick in Venus
  3. Makeup Forever Artist Color Pencil in Infinite Sand

THATS ALL, FOLKS

While it’s true that I’m going to drop a disgusting amount of money during this sale, I at least have to be strategic about it. This is the perfect time to purchase things you’ve had your eye on, but haven’t wanted to pay full price for. Fragrance

 

#WhyIApplied: A First Generation College Student Talks about Michigan College Month

As a first generation college student, college access is something that is near and dear to my heart. Navigating the college-going process was overwhelming to me. I had no idea how to apply to colleges, no idea how I was going to pay for college, and despite having not done it in years, the FAFSA remains the bane of my existence.

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Me and my brother being very cute during Michigan College Month, I mean October, circa 1995

 

The Michigan College Access Network understands that all of those things are barriers that keep kids—especially those who are the first in their families to go to college—from pursuing education beyond high school. That’s why they’ve designated October as Michigan College Month. Part of a larger, national initiative Michigan College Month encourages every graduating senior to submit at least one college application and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the end of the month. This year, more than 350 high schools across the state participated in #MICollegeMonth events.

I wish that College Month existed when I was a high school senior. Thankfully I had two very supportive parents and a few great teachers to lean on—some kids aren’t as fortunate and, not surprisingly, many don’t end up attending college.

#WhyIApplied:

When I first started high school, I didn’t see myself as college material or have any desire to go to college. I was a smart kid with lots of potential, but I knew what I wanted to do with my life (like every 15 year old, I knew everything there was to know about everything, if we’re being honest) and I knew that the profession of my dreams would require continued education, but not college. I wanted to be a cosmetologist.

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“I don’t want to go to college, Dad! I want to do hair!”

To give myself a little credit, cosmetology wasn’t just a half-baked pipe dream—I had a game plan for how I was going to become a cosmetologist. Rather than go to an expensive school like Douglas J, I was going to go to the Jackson Area Career Center. By attending the career center and high school at the same time, I would be a licensed cosmetologist by the time I graduated.

FAILED PLANS

My mom was supportive of my idea, but my dad was not. He always wanted me (and my brother) to go to college. When the time came to sign up career center, I learned that cosmetology classes were offered during the second half of the day—the same time AP classes were offered. My dad refused to sign the consent form, alleging that AP classes were more important than learning how to cut hair, and my 5 year plan was ruined.

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The Moxie Mountie journalism staff, circa 2011?

When cosmetology school didn’t work out, I decided that I would probably go to community college. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and my boyfriend of the time was going to go to community college and I didn’t want to go to school far away and leave him (brilliant, I know).

I was a smart kid, I got good grades (remarkably good given the amount of effort I was putting in, actually) and was involved in all kinds of extracurricular activities. I was involved in student government, I was an editor on the journalism staff, I was part of Link Crew, but I just didn’t see myself as college material. I would have never pursued higher education, especially anything other than community college, had it not been for my cousin Chad.

BIG APPLE, BIG DREAMS

When I was 15 years old, my parents let me travel alone to New York City to visit my cousin Chad and his wife Eileen. That trip changed my entire life.

All of a sudden I realized that there was a world outside of Jackson, Michigan. Up until that point, I had only known one reality and that was living in a small town full of people who never left. I realized that I had been setting the bar really low for myself. I was more concerned with the future of my relationship with my high school boyfriend than I was about my own future and my own happiness. (I’m sure you’ll be shocked to find out that we broke up).

I spent the week being the quintessential tourist—and a proverbial sponge. I was soaking in everything that I could. The sights, smells and sounds of the city. There were so many people in New York. I didn’t know any of them, and for the most part, they didn’t seem to know each other, either. That was a far cry from the small town I had just left, where you know virtually every person you bump into, and you very likely know their entire extended family, too.

I went to Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center, the Chrysler Building and Times Square. I rode the subway (and bought a Metrocard!), I rode in a taxi and I jaywalked across streets I had heard of but never imagined being on. I toured the set of Saturday Night Live and went on the Sex and the City bus tour. I bought knock-off Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses in Chinatown, ate a hotdog from Gray’s Papaya and had sushi for the first time. I had the time of my life.

COLLEGE MATERIAL

Every one of those experiences was magical to me, but they aren’t what changed my life. What changed my life were the conversations that we had while doing all those other things. Chad and Eileen asked me questions that no one else had asked me. What did I want to do when I graduated? What college did I want to go? What did I want to major in? What was I doing right now to make sure that I was an appealing candidate? Was I well-rounded enough? Was I getting good enough grades? The ACT—had I taken it? Was I studying for it? They had knowledge and insight that other people didn’t.

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Me and my freshman roommates at MSU. Fall 2012.

The last night I was in town, we went to dinner at the nicest restaurant I had ever been to. I remember talking to both Chad and Eileen over dinner about what my next steps would be when I got home. They were smart enough, and they cared enough, to not only have these conversations with me, but to give me action items that I would execute on my own—and they followed up, too.

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The quintessential college picture. Me sitting in my college dorm, wearing a Sparty On t-shirt, with a super tacky duct tape “S” on the wall.

Chad wanted me to apply to the University of Michigan, or as he referred to it, “the Harvard of the Midwest.” He knew that I loved writing, and he and Eileen talked to me about all the possible avenues that writing could take me down. For the first time in my life I felt like the world was my oyster. I felt like I could do anything or be anything that I wanted, as long as I worked hard enough.

GETTING TO WORK

I went to New York the summer I was going into my sophomore year of high school. That trip lit a fire under my ass and motivated me in a way that nothing else could have. When I started school that year I hit the books hard. I hadn’t necessarily done so hot in school my freshman year and I was not about to let laziness keep me from going to college.

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This is right after I told Max I originally didn’t plan on going to college.

I also found my passion that year in the form of a high school journalism class. I loved that class more than any other class I had ever taken and it laid the foundation for what would be my future career. My journalism teacher, Mr. Woodruff, was one of the greatest teachers and mentors I have ever had, and I would not be where I am today without his guidance and constructive criticism—it’s what helped me become a good writer. It turns out red ink isn’t always bad.

MAMA, I MADE IT

As confusing as the college application process was, I fumbled my way through it and applied to Michigan State University in the fall of 2011. I got my acceptance letter on February 18, 2012—my mom’s birthday.

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Selfie taken during my graduation ceremony.

I spent 4 years at MSU, changing my major the same number of times. I graduated in May of 2016 with a Bachelor of Art in Communications.

Nothing about college was easy—not the application process, not the courses, not the exams; nothing. But it was worth it, and that’s what matters.

Ultimately, I applied to college because I knew higher education was the path to becoming a more well-rounded person, creating a better life, having more opportunities and better wages. I’m so glad that I made the decision I did.

#COLLEGEBOUNDMI

The third annual Michigan College Month is coming to an end, but MCAN is doing so much more to ensure that high school students in Michigan know that they are college material and have the means to pursue higher education. For additional information on MCAN initiatives, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

 

A Fun-Filled Fall Day at Uncle John’s Cider Mill

As soon as the temperatures started to drop and the leaves even hinted at changing color, I turned into Buddy the Elf. What does that mean? It means I started making lists of all the fun fall things that I simply could not miss out on doing with Wajid. It went something like this: first, we’re going to ago apple picking, then we’re going to carve pumpkins, eat donuts and beer bong apple cider, then we’re going to go on a hay ride and hold hands and eat an entire package of Pillsbury pumpkin-shaped cookies and then we’ll snuggle.

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I’m kidding, partly.

FAILED PLANS

I really had my heart set on taking a trip up north to see the fall colors. It’s something that I’ve  always wanted to do, and since neither of us have done it before I thought it would be the perfect ~romantic~ weekend getaway. Unfortunately, life happens and between the short window of time the leaves are peaking (honestly why can’t nature just accommodate my personal timeline), the ever-changing weather and our busy schedules, we just can’t swing it.

Despite the likelihood of our trip becoming less and less likely with each passing day, I continued to cling onto the idea with blind optimism until Saturday night when Wajid finally told me it wouldn’t be possible. If I’m being honest, I was pretty bummed. I wasn’t upset with him, obviously, but I was upset with the situation and the fact that life isn’t fair and sometimes things just don’t work out. But, as Ross Gellar said, I’m fine!

PLAN B

Wajid knew that I was disappointed and on Sunday morning he shared a fall nature walk Facebook event with me. It wasn’t a trip to the U.P. but it was a sweet gesture and I appreciated that, even if we couldn’t take the trip, he was still putting effort into things he knew meant a lot to me.

I knew that I would much rather take a day trip to Uncle John’s Cider Mill than go on a nature walk—and to be fair, neither of us had ever been to Uncle John’s, so it was still a fall-themed first for both of us.

UNCLE JOHN’S

Having never been to Uncle John’s, I didn’t really have any expectations. I thought we would have a decent time, but I never anticipated that we would have so much fun.

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Oh, hello. My boyfriend is a model.

For starters, we honestly couldn’t have asked for better weather. I know that the internet would have you believe that fall is always crisp temps, sunny skies and pretty colors but as someone who has lived in Michigan for 25 years, I can tell you that, while there are a handful of those days, there are just as many that are rainy, gray and/or cold and not particularly the kind of weather you’d want to spend an afternoon at an apple orchard in.

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Calvin Klein, where ya at?

With that being said, we truly did have the weather of a quintessential fall day. It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold—it was the perfect crisp weather you imagine when you think of fall. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and there was a slight breeze as we strolled through apple orchards, wandered through corn fields and stopped at every chance to take pictures. The apples were red and ripe, the pumpkins were bright orange and the leaves were at the perfect point—enough of them had changed to be pretty and festive, but not too many to the point where the trees are naked and serving as a reminder of the impending winter.

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Wajid took so many photos of me and never once complained. Now if only he’d accept my marriage proposal so he can really be my Instagram husband.

CIDER AND DONUTS

We spent hours walking around the farm. Seriously, I think we were there for four hours. It was really nice just spending time together. We strolled through apple orchards, and corn fields, ate cider and donuts, saw cute dogs (and there was even a woman carrying her cat around!) and spent the entire day together just laughing and having a good time.

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I know that those boxes are for apples but they make excellent photo props.

With the exception of an episode of Curious George, I had never seen how apple cider is made. After buying our cider and donuts, we grabbed a table right in front of the fruit press and watched it smash up apples while we snacked on our festive treats.  It was fun to watch people crowd around to see how the cider is made and Wajid, always curious, had to get some up-close-and-personal shots to better understand the science and mechanics behind the process.

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That’s a genuine laugh. Squinty eyes and all.

As two grown-ass adults, I think riding on the rides in the children’s area would probably be frowned upon but it did look like a good time. (And given the chance, I think Wajid would have ridden the bear ride in a heartbeat).

I  thought that our visit to Uncle John’s would be much shorter-lived. Honestly, I definitely thought we would have enough time to go to Van Atta’s before they closed (I haven’t been there in months and I am having serious FOMO), but we left after 6 p.m. Having never been, I thought we would grab some cider and donuts, snap some pics and be on our merry way, but there was so much more to do. Plus, there is something kind of nice about just being able to roam around outside in the fresh air. (I can’t believe I’m saying that, I don’t even know who I am anymore). I kind of already want to go back?

TL;DR

At the risk of sounding like a shitty infomercial, there is truly something for everyone at Uncle John’s. If there is another nice fall day this season, grab your friends or your fam (and definitely your dog!) and take a trip to St. Johns for some cider (alcoholic or not) and donuts—and soak up a beautiful fall day while you still can.

Rock the Fox: Exploring Indie Makeup at Vosenna

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I am a makeup and skincare fiend. The amount of money that I spend on both combined is insane—like, enough to warrant entry into some kind of 12-step program.

I don’t really discriminate about where I buy my makeup from. I definitely frequent Sephora and Ulta the most, but Target, Meijer, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and even Kohls have a solid selection, respectively. When my friend Andrea of Blonde Bedhead told me about a new makeup store in Ann Arbor, I knew I had to check it out for myself.

DAY TRIP

Wajid and I recently made a day trip to Ann Arbor and, despite not really having a game-plan for our day, we knew that Vosenna was the one place we needed to go. I had told him that I wanted to blog about the store and so, even though he doesn’t care anything about makeup, he insisted that we couldn’t head home before stopping by. He’s the best and I could talk about him all day but I’ll spare you the mushy details.

VOSENNA

I’m super into makeup and skincare, but I my experience with natural products is essentially nonexistent. Furthermore, I had never been to an independent make up store! I honestly had no idea what to expect so, like a true millennial, I had to do some Facebook/Instagram investigating. If I’m being honest, no Instagram photo could have done the experience of shopping at Vosenna justice.

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First of all, walking into Vosenna is like walking into an indie makeup paradise where nothing is tested on animals, most things are vegan and (almost) everything is made in the United States. I was able to swatch products, test them out, feel them on my skin and smell them (which is important to me because I’m weirdly sensitive to smells). As much as I love online shopping, there is something to said about visiting a brick and mortar store. Nothing compares to being able to swatch products, see the color payoff for yourself, feel the formulas and experience makeup in real life. I left the store that day covered in glittery, glossy, pigmented swatches and couldn’t have been happier.

Another thing that made shopping at Vosenna such a great experience was Elizabeth, the owner. She was kind enough to give me a tour of the store and talk through each brand, and each product with me. I had so much fun learning about all the different lines she carries, why she loves them and which products are her favorites. I’ve never experienced customer service like that at any other cosmetic store, or any store of any kind for that matter!

BETTER-FOR-YOU PRODUCTS

If I’m being honest, I’ve never really given much thought about the ingredients that are in the products that I use, until it was brought to my attention. I guess I’ve always just assumed that if you can buy it in the store (and use it on your face, lips, eyes, etc.) it must be safe and regulated by the government. It turns out that isn’t necessarily the case. Yikes.

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To be fair, it is true in some cases. For example, the EU has banned 1,328 chemicals from being used in cosmetics and skincare. Do you know how many are banned in the U.S.? 30. Gotta love American capitalism. 

After high-profile lawsuits like the Johnson & Johnson case where talc in their products was linked to ovarian cancer, consumers are becoming increasingly cognizant about what we put on our bodies—and we should be!

If I’m being honest, I’ve been a little leery of natural beauty because a) I didn’t realize how many chemicals were in products and the potentical implications and b) brands like Goop have made me cynical. Of course I see the benefits of “natural” or “clean” beauty, but I don’t think everyone should run out and steam their vagina because Gwyneth Paltrow is peddling pseudo-science to the masses.

If you have the same jaded attitude I do, don’t let that steer you away from Vosenna. Yes, the store is full to the brim with natural, vegan, cruelty-free products, but it’s also free from Goop-esque BS—and the products are good

SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESS

If I love anything, it’s makeup and supporting local businesses. From farmers markets to Michigan-brewed beer, I prefer to put my money back into my local and state economy and I love that Vosenna allows me to do that.  

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One of my favorite things about Vosenna is the fact that it houses so many awesome indie brands in one place. I had heard people rave about Girlactik, Skindinavia and Fat and the Moon for a long time, but had never bothered purchasing anything from any of them because I didn’t know where to buy them and sometimes have reservations about buying makeup online (and also paying for shipping is the bane of my existence).

#GIRLGANG

I spent some time talking to Elizabeth and love her enthusiasm and passion for natural, better-for-you (and the earth!) products, and her entrepreneurial spirit.

Few things are more inspiring to me than people who have decided to just do something, no matter how big of a risk it might be. At the heart of Vosenna is a woman who loved better-for-you makeup and skincare so much that she went out on a limb and and opened a small business where she could share her love of those products, and her knowledge, with the world—and I think we can all agree that’s awesome.

WHAT I GOT

After mentioning to Elizabeth that I had tried natural deodorants in the past, but was always disappointed in their performance (read: I still stink) she gave me the Rustic Maka Natural Deodorant to try. I’ve been using it religiously since I got it and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well it works. It smells good, lasts all day and doesn’t have any nasty chemicals in it. I’m sold.

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Another thing that I bought and couldn’t wait to use was the Fat and the Moon Pimple Mud. As someone who has dealt with acne for the last 10+ years, I have tried just about everything under the sun to combat acne and oily skin. Let me tell you, this stuff is the truth. I ran home and used the mask they day I got it and have continued to use it multiple times per week since. My favorite thing about it is that it’s super versatile. Sometimes I’ll use it all over my face as a face mask and other days I’ll use it to spot treat active breakouts (which have been plentiful lately, FML). I’ll be honest—it doesn’t smell amazing, but it works and that’s all that matters. If I put this on a breakout before bed, by the time I wake up it will be be noticeably smaller and less red, or even gone completely. Go buy this, now!

The other thing I purchased was the Katherine Cosmetics highlighter. As Elizabeth showed me around the store, I zeroed in on the highlighter and knew I couldn’t leave the store without it in tow.

This highlighter is gluten free, paraben free and cruelty free and also blinding. I have tried every highlighter known to man and this one is incredible. It is buttery, blendable, buildable and all around stunning. I am obsessed with this. If you love a good highlight, I can’t recommend this enough.

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I can’t say enough good things about Vosenna and about Elizabeth. I can’t wait to stop back in the next time I’m in Ann Arbor to pick up more indie makeup.

TL;DR

Vosenna is a new(ish) indie makeup store in Ann Arbor full of good-for-you (and the planet!) makeup, skincare products and fragrance for men and women alike. I 100 percent recommend stopping by if you’re in Ann Arbor—or making a special trip to see it.

A Day Trip to Ann Arbor

Over the weekend, Wajid and I made a spontaneous day trip to Ann Arbor for the Michigan Cactus & Succulent Society’s Annual Show & Sale. Our trip turned out to be a little different than we anticipated but we still got to spend the day exploring Ann Arbor together (he’d never been!) so it’s a win in my book.

BEING SPONTANEOUS

On Friday night, Wajid asked me if I planned on going to the plant sale. Having marked myself “interested” in so many plant related events recently, I was confused as to which one he was talking about. I thought about all the upcoming plant festivities. The plant sale on campus was Friday and I missed it, and Van Attas plant sale wasn’t until this week—I was stumped. Somehow, I had totally forgotten about the annual plant sale at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, and we decided on the spot to take a trip to Ann Arbor the following day.

Despite the fact that Ann Arbor is home of my arch-rival (honestly, I’m mostly joking) we braced ourselves for game day traffic and decided to go anyway.

MAKING THE PILGRIMAGE

It turns out that we weren’t the only plant nerds to make the pilgrimage to the cactus and succulent sale because it was packed. We struggled to find a parking spot and, once we did, proceeded to wait in line for at least 30 minutes to get into the show. There was a room with various kinds of cacti and succulents on display and I held our place in line while Wajid went and checked it out. At one point I peeked in the room and saw him talking to an employee and, at the risk of sounding disgustingly cheesy, it melted my heart to see him talking to someone about plants. While we waited in line he told me all about the plants on the posters hanging in the hallways and I’m always impressed at how much he knows about plants (I mean, I know it’s literally his job, but still).

When we finally got to the plant room we learned that it was cash or check only, and being the high roller that I am, I had one whole dollar on me. I normally carry my checkbook with me (because I’m 100 years old) but had taken it out of my purse before going to a conference in Detroit earlier in the week. I was hot and hangry and might have had a mini meltdown but—while I was a grouchy asshole—Wajid was the sweetest and most understanding (per usual).

The plant sale wasn’t a total bust. I got to see some cool cacti and succulents, including ones that someone had arranged to look like genitalia, which cracked me up, even though I was sweating my ass off. And, let’s be real, it’s not like I need any more plants.

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HANGRY

After leaving the botanical gardens we headed downtown and got lunch. Driving through campus was, dare I say, fun? We checked out the buildings around Central Campus and despite being a MSU alumna, I must admit that U of M has a beautiful campus with some impressive architecture.

 

Our original plan was to go to Frita Banditos but, thanks to it being gameday in Ann Arbor, it was packed and we had to choose a different restaurant. We ended up going to Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, where we tried 8 different beers/ciders and shared pizza and a burger. The food and beer was okay, but nothing really to write home about. I know that Lansing isn’t the biggest or most glamorous city, but we do have some pretty kick-ass breweries. I guess that’s just another way that EL>Ann Arbor.

SHOP LOCAL

I insisted that we couldn’t leave Ann Arbor until we had been to Rock Paper Scissors, because it is one of my absolute favorite stores in Michigan. I was a little nervous that Waijd wouldn’t love RPS as much as I do, but we had so much fun going through store looking at all the cards and gifts, taking pictures of oven mitts and mugs emblazoned with witty and inappropriate sayings and laughing. I ended up buying a bunch of cards (that I didn’t need) and some other knick-knacky things that I also didn’t need but were definitely 100 percent worth it.

INDIE MAKEUP

We rounded out our day trip with a stop at Vosenna, a makeup store that exclusively carries indie, vegan, and made in America makeup brands (for the most part, there are a few exceptions). My friend and fellow blogger Andrea Kerbuski raved about the store and the store owner, and I knew I had to check it out.

The owner of the store, Elizabeth, was kind enough to give me a tour and break down all the brands that she carries, her favorite products from each line and why she is so passionate about better-for-you makeup and skin care products. I had only intended on shopping, but I actually ended up learning a lot about the ingredients in makeup and skincare and the regulations (or lack thereof) in the industry. Elizabeth was kind enough to gift me a natural deodorant from Rustic Maka and I ended up picking up a new highlighter from Katherine Cosmetics, as well as the Pimple Mud from Fat and the Moon. A more in-depth blog about Vosenna (and the products I picked up!) is coming soon.

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You would think that, having no interest in makeup, Wajid wouldn’t have wanted to stop at Vosenna—but it was actually the one place he insisted we go. I told him that I wanted to write a blog about the store and he told me that was the most important stop we would make that day. He is the best.

UNTIL NEXT TIME, ANN ARBOR

Having decided to go to Ann Arbor on such short notice meant that I didn’t really have any expectations for the trip. We might not have been able to buy any plants, and we didn’t get to eat at the Instagram-worthy restaurant, but honestly none of that mattered. I had so much fun wandering through Ann Arbor, trying new beer, buying things I didn’t need and exploring a new makeup store! We’re already planning our next trip back.

 

WHAT A TIME TO BE ALONE

Whenever I think about self-help books, I think about an episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte wants to buy a book called “Starting Over, Yet Again,” but when she goes to the bookstore, the self-help section is full of crying women. She gets embarrassed and pretends she’s looking for the travel section. Ultimately, she goes home and buys the book on Amazon.

WE SHOULD ALL BE MIRANDAS

I’m not like Charlotte. (Actually, I’m a Miranda if you were wondering.) I love self-help books and I own a lot of them. I don’t buy them with the intention that they’re going to magically change my life, but I do like the affirmation that I’m not the only person who needs some reassurance in this crazy world. Clearly, I’m not alone in this, since the self-help market grosses $11 million dollar each year.

WHAT A TIME TO BE ALONE

I recently read the book “What a Time To Be Alone” by Chidera Eggerue, more commonly known by her online moniker—the Slumflower.

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I’ve followed Chidera, the founder of the #SaggyBoobsMatter movement, on Instagram for over a year now and always love  her content. Despite not knowing her personally, she feels like a friend because of the vulnerability and intimacy she fosters with her audience. On a platform that centers around carefully curated images, Chidera’s authenticity feels borderline rebellious.

When I found out Chidera had written a book, I knew I had to read it. I knew that it would be chock-full of nuggets of wisdom, and I also love supporting fellow creatives when I’m able to. I patiently waited until the day it was released on Amazon and bought it the day it was available.

OWN YOUR STORY

I read “What a Time To Be Alone” in one sitting. It’s not a traditional non-fiction format. Rather than overwhelming reads with pages and pages of text, it’s broken down into easily-digestible insights. It features Igbo proverbs from her mother, original artwork from Chidera, and  bright colors and bold graphics that make it as aesthetically pleasing as it is emotionally stimulating.

My favorite thing about this book is that you can crack open any page, and find something inspiring on it. If you don’t have time to sit and read the whole thing, you can carve out 5 minutes of you day and end up feeling more motivated than you were beforehand.

CREATE YOUR OWN NARRATIVE

Chidera is the kind of friend everyone needs, but not everyone is lucky enough to have—the one that has no problem calling you out on your bullshit. Sure, the overarching theme is an inspiring, uplifting message of reclaiming your time and loving yourself, but in order to get to a place where you are able to do so you have to stop lying to yourself, making excuses and playing the victim. Chidera doesn’t sugar coat it, and sprinkled throughout are some hard-hitting, hard-to-swallow truths like: “your victim mentality is why you are stagnant.”

This book made me take a critical look at myself, step back and acknowledge that sometimes, I am the problem.

THE RADICALISM OF SELF-LOVE

Chidera’s entire book centers around the idea that in order to reclaim our identity, or to fall in love with ourselves, we need to face our fears and spend some time alone. Like most things in life, It sounds incredibly straightforward but is much harder in practice.

I think it’s important that in addition to advocating for women to love themselves, she also made a point of discussing the importance influence that external sources have on self-worth, but did so in a way that doesn’t demonize other people for their (presumably) poor behavior.

There are a number of pages in the book that that I dog-eared, because this book is full of good reminders and generally good advice. I think the content of this book would resonate with just about anyone, but especially so for people who are trying to grow into a healthier space and leave bad habits and negative mindsets behind.

GOOD ADVICE

I will admit that most of what is in Chidera’s book is not novel advice—and I know these things from having learned them the hard way. Had I read this book 5 years ago, I think I would have taken a more critical look at myself, my priorities and my relationships and realized that I deserved so much more than what I was getting. Unfortunately, this book wasn’t available 5 years ago and instead I had to realize my value and worth on my own. That isn’t a bad thing—it’s something that I’m actually really grateful for. But, hey, having a reminder doesn’t hurt.

What A Time to Be Alone is available on Amazon.

August favorites

I have a confession to make—I’m a super nosy person. To be fair, I prefer to say I’m a super curious person, but either way, I feel weirdly invested in knowing what makes other people tick. I love learning details about other peoples lives, no matter how mundane or uninteresting they may seem. In the sea of available toothpastes, which one do you choose? What’s your favorite song right now? What’s the last show you binge watched? Why does this interest me? I don’t know, but here we are.

In the spirit of curiosity, I decided to put together a list of the things that I loved in August. Here they are, in no particular order:

Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee

I found this while I was strolling through Target one Sunday morning and bought it on a whim. I would much rather drink cold coffee than hot coffee, and I was intrigued when I saw this. It says that it’s “concentrated” coffee and that you should mix it with water. According to their website, “Chameleon Cold-Brew results in a more caffeinated coffee per ounce versus the average cup of hot coffee.”

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Photo via @studiohopfit

Because I’m not man enough to drink black coffee, I decided to mix mine with both milk and coffee creamer. I am obsessed with it. It might be placebo, but I feel like it really put a pep in my step.

I would swear on just about anything that I paid $4.99 for this at Target in Jackson. But everywhere else it’s $9.99. So maybe I just wasn’t paying close enough attention. I love this stuff and have been singing its praises, but that’s pretty damn expensive for a jar of coffee that I have to add shit to, so it’s getting dinged a little and it’s 10/10 score has been downgraded.

8/10 would recommend

TED Talks

This one might seem totally out of left field, but I’ve been making a point of watching/listening to TED Talks lately. I feel like I consume so much media and so much of it is just a total waste of time. One Sunday morning I caught a snippet of a TED Talk on Facebook about creativity and I actually felt inspired. Imagine that, I found something on the internet that filled me with hope instead of existential dread.

Very much in the same way that I’m curious about what other people enjoy eating, drinking, listening to, watching, reading and using, I am so curious to hear other people’s thoughts, ideas and experiences. We get so consumed with our own lives that it’s easy to forget that everyone else is living their own life, full of nuances and complexities. We often think of other people—coworkers, friends, strangers—as extras in our own movie, but we fail to realize that there are so many things that we all experience universally— happiness, sadness, love, loss, failure, success—there are so many. We may experience the same things, but approach them entirely differently. That’s the magic of sharing your story with someone—perspective is everything.

Without fail, every time I watch a TED Talk, I leave thinking about something differently, having questions answered or realizing new ones, feeling inspired to do things I’ve been putting off or been afraid to try or just feeling more curious in general.

10/10 would recommend

Oui Volume Spray

I was skeptical about this because I had previously purchased the Ouai Wave Spray and hated everything about it. But, against Andrea Kerbuski’s advice, I went ahead and bought it and I’m so glad I did!

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Photo via: @theouai

I have super long hair, but it’s also super fine. It tends to look kind of lifeless and flat, and I’m always looking for something that will give it a little volume and fullness. When I first started using this, I just sprayed it into my hair and blow dried it like normal. It added volume to my limp, sad hair and I was happy, but I was also wondering just how much mileage I could get out of this product so I decided to round brush my hair. Loads of volume. Also smells amazing.

My favorite part about this product is that it doesn’t leave my hair feeling gross. It gives me volume and lift with just the right amount of tackiness, but without feeling sticky.

10/10 would recommend.

Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer

I love watching beauty influencers on YouTube—it’s my guilty pleasure. I have seen YouTubers raving about this bronzer for years, but was always skeptical because 1) I am a makeup snob and 2) everything about it just seemed really underwhelming to me. I hit pan on the bronzer that I was using, and decided that I should try something a little more budget friendly.

I had very low expectations. I thought it looked too light for my skin (which, like, let’s all LOL about because I am pale af) and I thought I would hate it. I love it! It blends so well, looks amazing on my skin—aka  never leaves me looking like Paris Hilton circa the early 2000’s— and as an added bonus it smells amazing.

Being entirely honest this bronzer is just as good, if not better than, any high-end bronzer that I’ve ever used. I don’t plan on shelling out big bucks for a luxury bronzer any time soon.

Side note: I’ve actually been using a lot of drugstore makeup lately and I’m planning on making a list of my favorites sometime soon!

Elodie Boutique

I love supporting local businesses and cute boutiques are my favorite. Andrea Kerbuski hosted a styling event at Elodie Boutique in Midland and asked me if I wanted to tag along—uh, of course!

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It is seriously the cutest boutique full of so many good things. Jewelry, big floppy hats (my favorite) and cute clothes—all at very reasonable price points. Bonus points that they carry plus sized clothes! Boutiques can often feel kind of exclusionary because they typically just carry straight sizes, but I was pleasantly surprised to find an entire rack of cute plus size pieces. In addition to the adorable brown hat I bought, I also stepped outside of my comfort zone of all black everything and bought a cute red and white striped shirt.

I’m not in Midland very often (two times in 25 years!) but I could see myself making a day trip north just to visit Elodie (and Loch Coffee).

If you’re not in the area, they ship! Check out their website. Christina, the owner, and her mom are both so sweet and kind. I honestly can’t say enough good things.

Megababe Bust Dust

Of all the characters in all the books/stories/fables, I relate to Goldie Locks the most. That bitch knew exactly how she liked things, and I do too. I don’t like to be hot, and I don’t like to be cold. I like the temperature to be juuuust right. And let’s be honest—August in Michigan was hot af.

Remember two minutes ago when I talked about universal human experiences? Here’s another one: boob sweat.

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Photo via: @megababe

The thing about hot, humid weather and big boobs is that they just don’t mix. I step outside for five minutes and I have a veritable swamp happening inside my shirt.

I used to put deodorant under my boobs to prevent boob sweat, but then I learned that this is actually really dangerous and can cause cancer thanks to the talc found in most deodorants (including the one I was using). Hard pass.

Katie Sturino solved one of life’s biggest problems when she created Bust Dust. First of all, I could gush about Katie for hours, because she’s one of my favorite influencers ever—and so are her dogs (and yes, her dogs are influencers too, go ahead and @ me). I truly love that she uses her platform to talk about things that we all experience but don’t talk about openly. She’s created products that combat issues that all women (or all people, really) deal with, but don’t really talk about. Boob sweat? Cured. Chafed thighs? A thing of the past. Stinky armpits? Now they smell like roses. (Side note: I’ve been trying to get my hands on Rosy Pits for what feels like forever, but it’s always out of stock!)

I picked up Bust Dust at my local Ulta and decided to give it a go. It’s not a messy shake-top bottle like old school baby powder, it’s in a simple, easy-to-use pump. Spray some directly on your chest or in your bra and you’re ready to take on the day sans boob sweat.

It feels like velvet on your skin, and keeps your smelling good and feeling dry all.day.long.

At $16, it’s not the most affordable product in the world, especially if you’re used to paying $5 for deodorant, but you get what you pay for.

10/10 would recommend

What are some of your favorite things right now? Let me know!

Shit happens: getting through bad days and tough times

When I was in high school I had a teacher who would (lovingly) refer to me as Murphy thanks to my really bad luck. I hadn’t thought of that nickname in years—until last month that is—when it felt like everytime I turned around some new bad thing was happening.

Seriously. It was one. thing. after. another.

Don’t get me wrong. July started out as an exciting month full of hope and new beginnings, but in the midst of celebrating moving into a new apartment and, seemingly, making strides in life, things started slowly going to hell which totally derailed all those warm fuzzy feelings I was experiencing and instead made me want to go jump off a goddamn cliff.

First, I got a letter in the mail letting me know that my taxes from 2014 were messed up and I owe the State of Michigan over $300. I took the taxes thing in stride. Unfortunate? Yes. But I could get over it. About a week after getting the letter, I got into a car accident. I got a ticket, my insurance is going to skyrocket, my car needs to be fixed and I feel like a total moron that it even happened in the first place. I spent some time wallowing in my sadness/dumbass decision making/own stupidity and—as I was finally feeling on the upswing—I ended up with a double ear infection/sinus infection combo. After spending nearly $100 and two hours at urgent care, I returned home where I accidentally spilled my antibiotic all over the place and, as I was picking the pills up, my eardrum burst. I ended up sitting on my kitchen floor crying and feeling sorry for myself.

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While I was wallowing in my misery, I realized how I rarely, if ever, see people open up about their hard times online. We use social media as a virtual highlight reel. We put a lot of time and effort in sharing stylized photos of the good parts, but don’t put much energy into being candid about how life isn’t always “Instagram worthy.”

Pretending that life is always perfect and great does a huge disservice to us all because, frankly, it’s bullshit. Instead of cloaking our bad days in secrecy, I think we should be honest when we’re having a hard time—so I decided to put together a list that highlights how I deal with hard times and I how I get through shitty situations.

SHIT HAPPENS

Here’s the deal: shit happens—and typically when we least expect it.  Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control and sometimes we make really stupid, preventable mistakes. Whether you’ve experienced a minor inconvenience or a life-changing event—what’s done is done. Take some time to come to terms with it, but don’t dwell on it or beat yourself up over it. There is nothing productive about continuing to obsess about something that went wrong. (I know, because I say this as someone who does exactly that.)

Afford yourself the same grace, kindness and understanding that you would a friend. Acknowledge that, despite whatever plans and intentions you have, life is really just one plot twist after another. Buckle up for the ride, sister.

GET IT ALL OUT

When things go wrong, I have a tendency to turn into a total recluse and cut myself off from everyone and everything. I don’t want to talk about what happened, I don’t want to talk about my feelings, I want to be left alone and wallow in my self-pity.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that that behavior is super unhealthy and I ultimately feel a million times better after venting to someone. I’m super fortunate in that I have a network of supportive friends and family who are always by my side—on the good days and the bad.

If this hasn’t been your day/week/month/year (see what I did there?) give your closest friend a call and tell them about it. Ideally, you’ll have people check in on you, but sometimes you have to be the one to take the initiative no matter how weird it might feel to you. You’ll feel better in the long run!

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Nothing to see here, just me pondering my existence. 

TAKE A STEP BACK

Now that we’ve accepted the fact that shit happens and bitched to our friends/family/cat about it, it helps to take a step back and put things in perspective.

For me the most upsetting thing that happened in July was getting in a car accident. One second life was on the upswing, and 10 seconds later I was sitting in a Quality Dairy parking lot waiting on the cops to get there to file a police report. It’s an unplanned expense, filing an insurance claim, increased premiums and deductibles and just feeling like a dumbass in general, but it could have been so much worse. No one was hurt or killed, thank God. Neither car was totaled. In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor set back.

Sometimes taking a step way back and getting a little existential is what helps us put things in perspective. I’m not sure what that looks like for you. Maybe it’s religion, maybe it’s self-help books, or astrology or doing LSD. Whatever floats your boat. But the fact that you’re here, that you’re alive at this point in time leads me to believe that you’re here for a reason and that you’re stronger than a bad day/week/month/year.

NOW WHAT?

A few months ago I called my friend Parker panicking that I had a life-threatening terminal illness thanks to WebMD. I had scheduled an appointment with my doctor, but in the meantime, I was spending my days (and nights) dwelling on what I believed would be an impending diagnosis. He was much more calm (and rational) than I was. He told me something that stuck with me. Let’s say that you do have this disease. So what? “It happened, get over it.”

At first, I thought I had just heard the most callous advice of my life. Get over it? If I go to the doctor and have a life threatening disease, you think I’m just going to get over it? But after my initial shock wore off, I realized that he was right. What’s done is done. What matters now is how you react to what has happened and what you’re going to do moving forward.

In this case I’m going to a) hire a professional to do my taxes b) pay better attention while driving (and wear my glasses and seatbelt)  and c) start taking a multivitamin.

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I went to a farmers market in between dealing with my insurance company and where I’m having my car fixed. I was having a bad day, but still gotta post those Instagrams, amirite?

REAL LIFE VS. ONLINE

I love social media. I love a stylized Insta, a witty Tweet,  or a silly Snap. (Admittedly, I kind of hate Facebook). Just as much as that, I love seeing people be real and open about the fact that, despite whatever their life looks like online, life isn’t always perfect lighting, gorgeous backdrops and cute props. Life is messy. It can be hard and it can feel really shitty to compare your bad day to someones highly curated online persona. At the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat.

 

Saying goodbye to my old apartment

Despite the fact that I’ve been singing the theme song from the Jeffersons while moving things into my new apartment, I’m still feeling weirdly sentimental about leaving my old place. If you know anything about my old apartment, you’ll know that it wasn’t the greatest place. It was small—just one bedroom. The kitchen was tiny and the appliances were outdated. The oven didn’t bake things evenly. The fridge randomly stopped working. The bathtub was always clogged and the toilet had it’s fair share of issues, too. In terms of security, it wasn’t the safest. I watched people break into cars one night the first year I lived there, and earlier this year someone tried to break in while I was home. Maintenance was a giant pain in the ass, from being told that in order to fix my cabinet they’d have to renovate the entire kitchen (costing me an extra $25 bucks a month) to failing to fix my ceiling when it started leaking.

So yeah, the place had myriad issues. But it was my home for the past three years. It was the first place I ever lived on my own, and that was a big step for me and I was really proud of that. It was my college apartment, and later my bachelor(ette) pad. It was the place that Max came to stay the night with me at and the place I brought Kramer home to the day I adopted him. I have a lot of great memories in that apartment, and a lot of really fucking bad ones, too. To be honest, I lived there during, arguably, the worst period of my life—but at the end of the day it was always the place I came home to.

Before I said goodbye for the last time (and moved into my gorgeous natural-light filled two bedroom apartment with a fully renovated kitchen and new appliances) I wanted to share pictures of the tiny little one bedroom apartment I called home for so many years.

THE KITCHEN

 

Arguably my least favorite room in the entire (lol) apartment, this kitchen has been the bane of my existence. There were plenty of cupboards, but the lack of counter space drove me insane. There was literally no room to do anything! Do you see the messed up cabinet? When I asked if they would fix it or replace that specific cupboard they told me they couldn’t and the only solution was to renovate the entire kitchen which would, in turn, hike up my rent. 

DINING ROOM

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I loved this dining room. I never used it, but I was adamant that I wanted one. My last apartment, that I shared with a roommate, didn’t have a dining room, just shitty bar seating. You know how Carrie Bradshaw stores sweaters in her oven? Well, I used my dining room table as an abosolute catch-all. Bills? Throw them on the table. Clothes? On the table. This photo was 100 percent staged. (And please note the BeautyBlender my asshole cat stole from me sitting next to the chair.)

LIVING ROOM

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I liked this living room. I was a little overzealous when buying furniture and bought two couches, one that blocked the door to my patio meaning I never used it. It didn’t really matter though, because that door would come off the track whenever you tried to open it. Luxury living!

BATHROOM

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Despite all its technical flaws (as in this plumbing will ruin your life, like the time my toilet overflowed and flooded my bathroom) this bathroom wasn’t awful aesthetically. It had a large linen closet, which was super convenient. 7/10.

BEDROOM

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I’m not going to lie. I loved this bedroom and I think I will miss it. It’s huge. It’s 13×14. I had so much stuff in it and there is still plenty of room to move around. It went through multiple iterations, first decorated very femininely with purple and floral accents, then, about a year and a half ago, transitioned into an edgier, more grown-up vibe with abstract art and neutral colors and, most importantly, it became my plant sanctuary.  Also that comforter is from Target and, while I love it, it gets SO wrinkly. If you know how to keep this from happening, please let me know.

I’m still in the process of unpacking all my shit and settling into my new place. Once it’s done and everything is the way I want it, I’ll do an updated tour!