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monthly roundup no. 2

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may link roundup

I can hardly believe how fast May went – it seems like just last week I was starting to collect my favorite links from around the web to share. Once again, I was bookmarking things in Pocket, and I’m doing a better job of going back through to read the articles and posts I save. This month, some more links to cheer you up and my favorite Twitter company to get tons of cool free stuff.

Fooji: A marketing company that partners with major brands, their philosophy is that fans should be rewarded for supporting companies. They deliver these rewards on behalf of the companies – and it’s not just free swag. I’ve gotten a super comfy Kris Bryant shirt from adidas, free pizza delivery, Baby Groot, bags of delicious popcorn, and most recently, a bag full of awesome adidas swag. I’ve also seen them deliver wine and desserts! Follow them on Twitter and get notified of their promotions – they even do weekly food giveaways every Friday, so you can participate even if you don’t live in a big city.

5 Days in Iceland Itinerary: Kathleen and I have been friends for almost ten years, and she is a travelling machine! She recently launched her travel blog, Wandering Kathleen, and this post on Iceland is a done-for-you itinerary to make the most of your trip there.

Don’t Focus on Your Situation, Focus on Your Trajectory: I’ve had a tough month. Personally, familially, for my friends – it’s been a rough one. I had vented to a friend about how I was beginning to feel very stuck in my life. That somehow I’m not doing enough, or that I’m not where I need to be. He sent this article over to me, and it made me feel a little better.

7 Ways Men Must Learn to do Emotional Labor in their Relationships: I learned about emotional labor from a friend a few months ago, and I think the men in my life wish I never had. Especially being at home, I’m realizing how much work the women in my life really do. Picking up prescriptions and coordinating medical care, coordinating entertainment and events in friend groups, making sure there are groceries in the house and cooking dinner, or even things as small as deciding when or how to get somewhere – it can all start to exhaust us. I think it’s important to be aware of and consider how men can pick up some of the slack.

Split Image: This is an older story, but it popped up on my Timehop this month, and I thought it was worth sharing again. I think it’s really important to take into account and realize that even if someone looks high functioning, they might not really have it all together.

Killing it with kindness: The tale of Jervis Cottonbelly: Last month, I came out as a wrestling fan. We basically just watch WWE (thank you Total Divas) but on Twitter, I follow a lot of people who tweet about “minor league” wrestling as well. Somehow I heard about this guy, Gentleman Jervis Cottonbelly, whose schtick is being a nice, happy, kind human. Rather than using aggression in his matches, he’ll even try to rock his opponents to sleep in order to win. Even if you think wrestling is ridiculous, Jervis might make you laugh! (It was an especially apt discovery as a few days prior, I found out about my grandmother’s terminal cancer.) It’s just nice to see someone whose whole gimmick is being nice, and it’s more infectious than I expected.

5 Reasons to Love Stationary RV Life: When I was young, my grandparents did a lot of traveling by camper, and I got to tag along often. My favorite trip was when, between fourth and fifth grades, they took me on a trip throughout the western states and then we came back to Michigan through Canada. (I point to that trip as the source of my love for Canada!) Ever since then, I’ve loved living small, even before tiny living became so popular. I’m really interested in full-time RVing, but the idea of new cities week after week doesn’t appeal so much to me – this post outlines so many of the reason I think I’d love this lifestyle.

Elyse Fox Opens Up About Sad Girls Club: There’s something empowering about connecting with other people who are struggling on social media, so I was excited to learn about Sad Girls Club from this article. It’s important work. (And she has the same name and spelling as my niece, go Elyses!)

May 26, 2017
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7 lessons from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

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This post contains affiliate links. I received an advance galley of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors – that’s no secret since I’ve raved about her over and over since discovering her about a year ago. Her next book, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, comes out this June on Atria Books. I’ll be honest: I was not excited about this book. After all these years I know that I shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but one of my favorite things about TJR’s books is the cover art. The minimalism and the symbolism are gorgeous (and they look beautiful on the bookshelf) so when EW debuted the cover, I was really disappointed. I was lucky enough to get a galley, and soon enough I was so sucked in that I had forgotten all about my cover woes. Instead of writing a traditional book review, I thought I’d instead share some of the different lessons the book’s characters taught me.

Potential spoilers are ahead, so if you want to read the book knowing nothing, bookmark this post and come back later!

  1. Poor Ernie Diaz: Career goals can tear relationships apart. There’s nothing wrong with Evelyn’s first husband – an unassuming electrician who helps her move across the country. But sometimes working for your own career goals can take a toll on your relationship (for more than one reason.)
  2. Goddamn Don Adler: What goes around comes around. Don Adler is not a good dude. At all. So even though their relationship looks absolutely perfect from the outside, it’s impossible for anyone to see what’s really happening. Rather than risking her status and outing him for who he is, she instead suffers a career loss, getting blackballed in Hollywood after leaving him. (He seems to get his in the end.)
  3. Gullible Mick RivaSometimes other people get caught in the crossfire when keeping yourself safe. One of the most relatable parts of the books to me was the reality of how the characters behave. Though it’s set on a Hollywood stage, Evelyn doesn’t really seem to make any different choices than many of the people around me (or even myself) would make. Mick Riva plays an integral part in protecting Evelyn and the love of her life and even though he doesn’t seem too hurt or guilty in the end, it’s a good study of how we sometimes have to use each other to stay safe. I especially liked this chapter because it has some second person language, which I always really enjoy.
  4. Clever Rex North: There’s power in pairs. Possibly one of the only other characters in the book with the same drive to succeed as Evelyn, Rex North is her co-star in a smash movie – such a successful movie that the studio orders several other movies starring the couple. To make themselves even more marketable, they marry with an understanding and just like their relationship, the breakup is staged just as well.
  5. Brilliant, Kind-Hearted, Tortured Harry Cameron: The best partnerships might not be what we expect. Potential spoiler alert, sorry! Harry is present throughout the novel as one of the first people Evelyn meets when she moves to Hollywood. From the first description, they don’t seem like they’d be a great match, but he is a great example that soulmates look different than we paint them in our heads.
  6. Disappointing Max Girard: Sometimes when you get what you want, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. Max was Evelyn’s director early in her career, casting her in a role that helped make her an international movie star. Throughout her entire life, they continued to be in contact here and there, and he had idealized her and put her on such a pedestal that he thought he was marrying the perfect Evelyn Hugo, not Evelyn, the person. He helps us learn that you can’t idealize everything – you’ll only be disappointed.
  7. Agreeable Robert Jamison: What’s meant to be will always find a way. Probably Evelyn’s most successful marriage (aside from that with Harry,) she and Robert are together until his death. They go through one of the worst tragedies possible together, and Taylor Jenkins Reid again introduces words for feelings I’ve had, but could never label: the devastating luxury of panic.

I loved the format of the book – some parts are Evelyn telling her story to Monique, some parts are her actual memoir – and I really liked the character of Evelyn (even though she says time and time again that she is not likable, and she knows it.) Vintage Hollywood isn’t usually interesting to me, but I really enjoyed this book a lot, and it never felt “old timey” since they stuck to her life story rather than her actual career. The most empowering point of the book for me was seeing a woman in charge, getting what she wanted, and protecting herself and the people she loves.

Usually, I’m very good at predicting twists but in this book, I didn’t see the major plot turn coming at all, which was fun. I read this book in one day, just walking around my house, staring intently at my Kindle app, stubbing my toes on doorframes and running into chairs. It’s not a traditional “beach read,” but it’s certainly one you must put on your list for this summer.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo comes out on Atria Books on June 13!

May 15, 2017
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19 gift ideas for high school and college graduates

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This post contains affiliate links.

gift guide for graduates

It’s that time of year again – every May, high school seniors and college graduates prepare to head off on their next great adventure, and the people who love them try to navigate the best gift ideas for them. I’m a little further away from my graduations than I’d like to admit, but I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of what “the youth” need 😉 here are some ideas for both high school and college grads!

Both

Packing up was always my least favorite part of college, whether it was packing to go to or leave from the dorm. Lighten your grad’s load with a virtual gift – Amazon Prime Student offers their Prime features plus special offers for students (and you can sign up for a free 30-day trial, just like regular Prime services) or gift an Audible subscription – whether they’re walking to class or driving to a new job, audiobooks are a great way to find time to read more.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had their phone die at the most inconvenient time. Whether the battery is draining while sitting in the library late at night or while exploring her new city, a Mophie phone case or external battery can be an absolute lifesaver.

Grammarly premium is a great gift idea for anyone (and it’s no secret that I love it). The free version corrects your spelling and grammar, but the premium version makes suggestions on formatting, word choice, and even more – it will make his writing much stronger, whether it’s in Freshman English or the boardroom!

A first aid kit is probably not on your grad’s list – which makes it an even better gift idea. I love this one from Amazon – it’s packed full of stuff and the fabric storage bag means it’s going to be durable no matter where it’s stored. It’s also great to toss in a car trunk or weekend bag.

You can never have too many throw pillows – the more whimsical, the better. I’m a huge fan of this one from Look Human (much to my roommate’s chagrin.) Get something playful for their dorm or new living room, or opt for something a little more discreet.

No matter if they’re leaving their parents house or the dorms, they’re sure to have walls that need decorating. Head over to Etsy and find some artwork inspired by their college to keep their days on campus close to their heart, or show their burgeoning pride!

I never thought that I would lust for a backpack as an adult, but here I am. Quality backpacks are pricey, but totally worth the investment. High school grads might like something whimsical by Vera Bradley, or consider a Tortuga backpack for college grads (perfect for travel or the daily city commute.)

High School

Subscription boxes are super fun, and there’s one that’s curated just for college students. Campuscube lets you send themed care packages – maybe he’s stressed about exams coming up, or her first birthday away from home is coming. Or maybe you just want to send an unthemed box her way – there are options for both boys and girls. (I’m especially into the Sunshine box for her – that Flamingo cup holder though!)

If your grad is anything like me, I just guzzled down coffee in college (so really, nothing different than a normal day now.) I love these “long distance” mugs, and they can be customized so no matter how far from home she is, she’ll always have a reminder.

Sunscreen is super important. Your grad might be spending more time outside than ever, especially living on campus and walking to classes and anywhere else. Gift her some SPF – it’s something most people out on their own for the first time might not think to put on their list. My favorite is Sun Bum (and not just because of the fun name and great packaging!)

Another thing that newly independent grads might overlook is toothbrush and toothpaste – help them out with a subscription service like BOKA, which will send a dental care package every few months!

Dorm rooms can feel so stale and institutional. Using cute lighting can help tint the walls to make them feel less dull, and introduce some warmth to the room. I’ve had a sea salt lamp for a few years and love the added health benefits they tout, but no first year dorm room is complete without twinkle lights.

Bullet journaling can be a great way to organize your life, but it can also be pricey to get started. Set her up with a notebook and some pens – or if she’s not the crafty type herself, the Passion Planner will help map out her classes and stay on track with homework and social activities.

College

It’s really easy to get down on yourself after graduation during the seemingly never-ending job hunt. You Are Doing a Freaking Great Job from Workman Publishing is something she can turn to on those days when she’s not feeling so optimistic.

Get a four-piece coffee pourover set: it includes everything your grad needs to make a great cup of coffee, like a coffee maker, grinder, kettle and matching travel mug!

Whether she’s working in an office setting, living the remote life, or even navigating the part-time world, a crossbody bag like this from Free People will carry all her essentials, whether it’s her laptop, change of clothes, or padfolios.

I love candles – they’re so calming, and they give off a great ambiance. No matter what kind of scent your grad likes, it’s easy to find something that fits (even if it’s a candle that gets tucked away in a dude’s bathroom. In that case, PLEASE HEED THIS GIFT SUGGESTION!)

In theory, graduating from college should also mean moving on from red solo cups, so upgrade their cocktail game with some fancy rocks glasses. Sisters of Los Angeles has the cutest stuff, and you can mix and match cities to pay homage to a hometown, college town, and brand new city!

Graduation should mean a skincare upgrade as well, and Glossier is a line I’d love to try splurging on. Their packaging is even so cute you won’t want to hide it away in a medicine cabinet, and the reviews are consistently great.

May 12, 2017
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monthly roundup no. 1

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link roundup

IT’S ALMOST SUMMER! We’ve had a few summery days here in Chicago, and the early sunrises are helping with my mood and my energy levels. Thank goodness. I really needed this drive to come back and get me motivated to get things back on track – I’m always squirreling away resources to help get organized, work on personal development, or whatever else. I’m a big fan of Pocket to do that, an app that lets you tuck away articles to read for later. Even though I’m a super fan, I don’t always excel at going back and revisiting things I’ve packed away. At the end of the month I’m going through my Pocket to empty it out, and I’m sharing the highlights with you in this new series (along with other useful things I find around the web!)

27 Ways To Stress Less: This is another roundup post, so it’s a bit of a cheat. But it pulls out the best quotes from different posts about managing stress and anxiety, which makes it perfect for those times you really need to chiiiiilllllll.

I’m Not Good With Money Anymore and I’m OK With That: I’ve long loved The Billfold – I used to spend hours in my Virginia office poring over each post. The relatable and cool tone of the website resonated with me a lot more than any personal finance blog ever did, and I’ve continued to read it over the years. When this post popped up a few days ago, it was almost like a relief. For a long time, I was Very Careful with my money. I was smart about how I spent it, how I saved it, and even helped friends make smart budgets and debt payoff plans. Over the last year, I’ve been much less smart about my own finances. It has really worn me down, but this post makes me feel like that will be okay.

How to Realistically Cut Back on Technology: Since I not only blog but also have a fully online job, I constantly feel like I’m staring at a screen. I’m trying a couple different techniques to combat that, like deleting time-sucking apps and making weekly trips to the library.

What to Tell Yourself When You Feel Behind in Life: There seems to be a trend in my favorite articles this month – most of them revolve around reducing stress or relaxing! I think I’m hitting that sort of midlife crisis. Being surrounded by people getting married, buying houses and having babies (even if those aren’t things I thought I’d want) is getting to me a bit – or maybe it’s the incessant HGTV I’ve been watching. Either way, I’ve been feeling “behind,” so sometimes I need the reminder that I’m really doing alright.

27 Stylish Bathing Suits You Can Get on Amazon: Good ol’ Buzzfeed. This post got me. I’m a sucker for bathing suits (I really hate clothes, I guess) and I’ve been working to reduce the number of suits I have around… but I ended up buying this bad boy. All banana leaf everything. (I’m tempted by the one-pieces too. JUST PUT ME ON A BEACH!)

Natalya on Making Their Way to the Ring with Lillian Garcia: So I’m kind of a closet WWE fan. I watched when I was little, then during a pretty severe depressive episode last year I would put it on for some background noise. That evolved into a Total Divas binge when I felt better and now here I am, a year later, with a few live events under my belt and more knowledge of wrestling than I ever intended to have. Podcasts as background noise is one of my favorite work soundtracks, and Nattie is one of my favorite wrestlers. This is a great interview, and she talks about her eating disorder and how working out helped her overcome it.

Ways to Avoid Blogger Burnout + Tips for Self-Care: Carmen has become one of my favorite bloggers, and this post was super timely. I love her focus on helping bloggers be successful, but after a few months of working really hard on two blogs – burnout hit me. During my scheduled blogging time, I was finding it really tough to hammer out even one sentence I was proud of.

Hope you have a great weekend planned! I’ll be soaking up the Chicago sun and working on some special mailing list opt-ins (think actionable worksheets and eBooks!), so be sure to sign up to get them as soon as they go live. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter too – I’d love to check out your weekends!

April 28, 2017
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19 unique Mother’s Day gift ideas

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This post contains affiliate links.

mother's day gift

Mother’s Day is coming soon! Though she deserves it (and I wish I could give it to her,) I’m not in a place yet that I can send her off to an all-inclusive spa resort somewhere warm. There are still plenty of ways to spoil your mom and make her feel like you splurged on her for a day.

When a lot of people think “mother’s day,” they think of the typical flowers and massage gift card, but there are tons of unique ideas the ladies in your life will find more useful. (But honestly, as long as you steer clear of something like a new vacuum, you’ll be in the clear.)

Letters to My Mom: This is a super creative, interactive gift that keeps giving. The book is made up of envelopes with prompts, as well as times for your mom to open each of the letters. I’ve been sitting on one of these for a few years and every time I sit down to write a letter, I get very emotional. You could even DIY this – gather up some envelopes and write specific dates on the front with times you want your mom to open that letter.

Tickets for an Event: Taking her out on a date is a great way to spend time with her and show her you pay attention to her interests. With the resurgence of a lot of “legacy” performers going out on tour, maybe her favorite is coming around – or pick a musical or play that’s more her speed. If she’s into sports, see if there’s a game near you. Minor league games are even really fun, and often have fun promotions. My family and I love going to dollar hot dog nights!

Greetabl: Dani sent me a Greetabl last year when I was going through a tough time, and not only was it so cute, the tea they packed was super good. They have a bunch of cute things to pick from, so there’s sure to be something there for all the ladies in your life.

Candles: My mama llama loves candles, but she doesn’t buy them too much anymore. Target has a really great selection, and TJ Maxx and Marshall’s are also typically pretty safe bets – or hit up Etsy to find something more specialized for her tastes!

Nisolo: When I think about fine leather goods, luxe leatherwear is near the top of the list. Nisolo is focusing on making fashion more sustainable, and their bags and shoes are super high quality (I could never pass their stand in the Green Hills Mall without taking a moment to feel the smooth leather.

Air Plants: These might be the only plants that I’ll be able to keep alive, but they’re also really cute and add some color to places you might not normally be able to stick a plant. I love these ones with the diamond and gold detailing, or opt for a terrarium instead.

Squarehue: My mom loves painting her nails and I would estimate that the amount of nail polish she has could line the walls of each room in her house. That makes it a super safe bet, though – Squarehue delivers two or three unique shades every month.

Aromatherapy Scarf: NP loves scarves, and her kids always steal them. This actually works out well for me, because I always know what to get her! I love that this one comes with aromatherapy for a little extra relaxation built in.

Maid for A Day: If there’s anything the women of this world need, it’s a day off. (Emotional labor is tiring, am I right?) Local websites like Thumbtack and Nextdoor make it easy to find and hire for all kinds of services, including maid and cleaning services. If she already keeps a spotless ship, think about getting her a private chef or butler.

Charging Purse: There’s nothing worse than being out and about and having your phone die. Sometimes outlets aren’t super available, so even carrying around a spare charger doesn’t help. This bag is cute and light but has enough room to pack the essentials, and it has a built-in charger for epic length shopping trips (the ladies in my family are notorious for these!)

Artwork: Etsy has all kinds of cute artwork you can personalize, from family trees to maps. You could also make it super custom and design something in Canva or Photoshop to print!

Corksicle Wine Chiller: Late spring is the perfect time for a chilled glass of wine on the patio, and there’s nothing worse than waiting for the wine to cool (or is that just me?) Pick up a Corksicle so she can plunge it into any wine – for extra points, pick up a bottle of her favorite for a perfect gift anytime.

Coffee Subscription: If the ladies in your life love coffee (and really, who doesn’t) a coffee subscription is a great way to help them try new blends and take something off their grocery list. Subscriptions from services like Rhetoric Coffee can be customized to the frequency and amount you want (plus it’s super good – check out our Rhetoric review here!)

Herb Garden: Fresh herbs can add a lot to a meal or ice water, and they’re relatively easy to care for. This cute little windowsill herb planter is even cute, and the clean lines would match any decor!

Pajamas: There’s something about a pair of matching pajamas that make me feel really fancy – maybe it’s because I typically throw on sweatpants and an old band shirt and call it a day. My mom loves pajamas too, so a pair of cozy pajamas are an easy and inexpensive gift.

Sleep: Your mom is not getting enough sleep. Trust me. I don’t care how old you are, she never caught up on sleep after you were born. Help her get back to sleep with a premium membership to Rain Rain, an app with tons of rain and white noise sounds. This Moon Beam device also helps relax and fall into a good sleep.

Robe: The best part of any hotel getaway is curling up in those super plush robes. If I can’t bring my mom to the robe, I can bring the robe to her! LL Bean has really luxe robes, and Amazon has a wide selection as well.

Fish Bowl: Gifts don’t always have to be functional – they can be fun as well. This little fishbowl is super cute and would be a great addition to a mantle or desk!

Books: In my family, everyone is a reader – my grandma was an elementary school librarian, and even now she continues to read voraciously. Subscription boxes like the Literary Box from Quarterly are fun for readers – it will introduce them to new authors, and even provide fun insight into the novels and other bookish gifts inside.

April 26, 2017
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