The Real World - Ain't It Fun?

Call it coincidence, call it fate.  However, I call it...reality.  On the way home from work after a long day, a song popped on the radio and boy did it really get it.  The song was Paramore's latest, Ain't It Fun.

Most of you are smart, so I don't want to spend an hour deciphering the lyrics of a song that pretty much describes itself.  However, for those of you who tend to turn off your thinkers on the weekends like me, here we go.  The song basically talks about how growing up isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Specifically, there is a great part of the song that yells, "Don't go crying, to your Momma, cause you're on your own in the real world."

I literally started laughing because boy oh boy is that the case.  It's not so much that I feel alone - far from that!  It's just that, this "adulthood" thing that I've been trying to figure out for approximately 6 years is something my mother has done for 39 years and my dad, 48.  In fact, my dad has been with the same company for 46 of those years.  So...I guess what I'm trying to say is don't expect a pity party.

It made me think of the interactions I have with high school and college kids on a daily basis.  My company employs many college kids as interns to gain experience in the field,  I advise the chapter of the sorority that I was a member of, and I have many friends and family members eager to emerge into this guise of freedom that is surely what everyone expects with adulthood.

And honestly, when someone from those groups comes up to me and tells me about how ready they are to move on all I want do is play a scene from one of my all time favorites, Billy Madison, and remind those kids how overrated growing up is.

It's not all bad, but let me just throw some caution to the wind.  Life is not cheap. 

My first job out of college was with a very large pharmaceutical company headquartered in Indianapolis.  When I saw how much I was making, I had basically already planned my first Nordstrom shopping spree in my head.  I had decided to live at home to "save money" and couldn't wait to get to spending.  However, about 6 months in my excitement started to falter.  

For one thing, while 8 hours a day is an expectation at most job, 10 hours is recommended and 12 hours is best.  This was no problem when you were interning right?  That's because you were being paid hourly.  In the real world, you make the same flat fee.  Now that really comes in handy when you're feeling ill and still get paid...but when you've got approximately 40 hours in by Wednesday, it gets less fun.  

After realizing that life as an intern was a complete 180 from life as a full timer, I had to come to come to terms with those two words that every college grad dreads: student loans.  Realizing that nearly a 1/4 of my salary would be immediately turned over to pay off of my undergraduate loans was depressing at best.  I soon saw my dreams of owning a Range Rover in 5 years dwindling away.  

Don't get me wrong, I made a few good decisions along the way, but I definitely still tried to live like a baller.  I ended up getting an apartment on Indy's north side for an "affordable" $1200/month, paid a car loan of $500/month and started to see why my parents were constantly complaining about wireless bills, cable bills, and all of the luxuries we Milennials have grown accustomed to.  

Now, I see that I was trying to live the life my parents were living immediately out of college.  Granted, as an engineer I was emerging college at a much better salary than many...but I still couldn't believe how much of my check was already spent before I got it.  And trust me, it doesn't get better.  I practically need a degree in Finance to understand how insurance companies determine your out of pocket expense and credit cards...don't get me started.  

And when I start to get down, I think back to when I was a mere undergraduate.  Driving my 1999 Pontiac Grand Am, my only concern being what my costume would be for the fraternity party of the week, and how many calories were in a 6 inch Subway sub.  

So...for those of you in the final countdown to adulthood - SLOW YOUR ROLL.  Try to live like a college kid for as long as you can.  There's no reason to try and grow up overnight.  Work hard so you can play hard...and at the end of the day, give yourself time to complain.  But fair warning...we're all in the same spot.  

Sisterhood: My Thoughts on Sororities

When I tell most people I'm in a sorority, they're not really surprised.  Most of them proceed with the question, "Is it anything like that book 'Pledged'?" or "One time, I saw this episode of Dr. Phil where these girls died because of a hazing incident..." and you know what?  I'm not going to say that it's never happened.  Even I've enjoyed a Lifetime movie or two surrounding the topic.  The fact is that my experience with sorority life has been far from anything horrific, in changed my college experience and my outlook on adult life...

I have two brothers, but I was only surrounded 24/7 by my younger brother, Paul.  For the first 5 years of his life it was easy to convince him to play dress up or Barbies, but once he realized that me doing his makeup wasn't what most boys his age considered "fun" the girl time halted. 

Growing up I always had lots of friends, but I never seemed to consistently stick with a group of girls.  My interests would change and we would grow apart...we never had something keeping us together. 

When I left for college, I was terrified.  Let's just say that my on campus visit to good old Rose-Hulman left me feeling like I was not going to be having my "Saved by the Bell: The College Years" experience I had always dreamed of.  After unpacking a carload of stuff and moving into my room, I clung to my parents for fear that when they returned I would be playing dungeon and dragons and watching significant amounts of anime.  While I had always been an intelligent gal, I still had interests in sports, fashion, and well...personal hygiene.  A few weeks into my first quarter I was ready to call it quits.  I knew I should have gone to Duke or Northwestern like I had wanted to...

But several weeks into school something happened - Rush.  I am so thankful I go to a school that does Rush in the fall...because I'm not sure I would have been giving good ole Rose a second chance come winter time.  Back in those days I was very good at convincing my mother that every social occasion required a new outfit, so the weekend before Rush she took me shopping back home in Indy where I meticulously put together several outfits for the impending parties.  I wanted to make a good impression and let these people know that I was definitely sorority material. 

After the first party it was evident which sorority I belonged in - Chi Omega.  It's funny, but I can still remember that party like it was yesterday.  One of those ladies ended up being my 'grandma' and two of them ended up being in my wedding party.  I was so afraid to get my hopes up...especially since I lived in a dorm where very few other freshman girls lived. 

I went to all of the parties, but had been feeling kind of crappy the last night of the Preference party.  That next morning, I went up to my RA, and promptly passed out on her floor.  There is nothing more embarrassing than being unconscious and waking up to large woman yelling your name.  I was transported to the hospital and ended up missing Bid Day.  At that point I knew that whatever sorority I had gotten in to must have revoked my membership after not showing up for Bid Day...but when I got to my door it was decorated with all sorts of red and yellow - the colors of Chi Omega.  The girls had made a sign for me to get better soon and plenty of people stopped by that day to check on me and tell me how excited they were to see me. 

It may sound funny, but that week was one of the best weeks of my life.  I firmly believe that my entire college experience changed from that one decision.  Never again did I have to worry about going to the Cafeteria alone, not knowing what to do on a Friday night, or not making friends.  For the first time in my life I had sisters, approximately 60 of them. 

I would be lying to you if I said it was all wonderful - there were definitely times when I want to settle an argument with those girls the old fashioned way just like my younger and brother and I would.  And I definitely have gone through some of the darkest moments of my life with some of these women.  I'm not best friends with all of them, but I can definitely count on them. 

The possibilities of sisterhood are endless - and it didn't just stop with my active sisters.  When I had my first job, there were plenty of sisters from my chapter whom I had never met before and got to know.  And when I moved to Memphis for a job I got involved with sisters from other chapters - and the best part was that it was so easy.  Knowing that we had both made the same commitment allowed us to instill instant trust and admiration for each other. 

I'm a firm believer that life is what you make it, and there have been times when I've learned that the hard way.  Even though I complain about Facebook sometimes, I'm so happy to get on there and see the lives of my sisters changing for the better.  I feel proud when they get a promotion or announce a pregnancy and I hurt for them when they are dealing with the loss of a loved one or are having a difficult time.  The fact is that these people are my family, and if I can help them I will. 

So before you imagine Tori Spelling as a young pledge who finds some murderous connection to the school dean because of her experience in sororities, realize that most women have a much different outlook on their time in sisterhood.  There are times when I need it more than others, but that sisterhood is something I can always depend on.  This year I get to go to the National Convention of Chi Omega with two actives that impress me every day and a wonderful friend that was in my pledge class.  It's a decision I'm happy I've made, and I wouldn't have it any other way! 

Fantastic Local Finds

One bandwagon that I am certainly okay with jumping on is the new "buy local" focus.  However, there are some common misconceptions about buying local. 

  1. It doesn't have to be food or other persishable items
  2. It's not always more expensive 
  3. Buying local doesn't make you a liberal, hippie, or makes you informed
Now that I can step down from my soap box, let's talk local finds in one of my favorite places on earth, Indianapolis, Indiana.  Even though I am not very happy with the recent "extended" winter, Nap Town has some of the best eateries, neighborhoods, and local businesses on the planet!

One of my favorite local brands that has been growing in popularity is Ambre Blends.  This natural beauty house offers a variety of products that smell great, are all natural, and wait for it...serve a purpose!

Take a look at one of my favorite products, ambre glow.  It's scented with the company's signature fragrance, Ambre Essence, is an amazing moisturizer, and gives a very natural shimmer.  A small amount goes a long way, and since it actually takes care of that balmy skin (thanks, winter!) it lasts forever!
The other item I swear by?  The organic lip remedy.  Wow has this concoction does the trick.  I put on a little bit at night, and wake up to moisturized, soft lips.  

I stumbled upon the next brand thanks to the company's lead makeup artist, Kiralee, doing a fabulous job on my makeup several years ago.  Eyemax Cosmetics has emerged as one of the most reputable cosmetic companies in the 317 area code.  Not only do they provide on site salon services, but they also carry their own beauty products, as well as some other lesser known but high quality brands.  

I personally love their line of make-up brushes...think Bobbi Brown quality at a much more reasonable price.  They also carry Elizabeth Bergman Organics, which has an amazing line of essential oils that will surely help keep your skin bright and nourished.  My favorite is the "calm" oil.  It's a great scent to help you prepare for a restful sleep while also giving you that glow in the morning that we thought only the rich and famous were known for.  

And if you know of any local places that are worth mentioning certainly give them a shout out in the comments section below.  The above brands all have sites (that accept paypal - the joys of simplicity) where shopping online is as easy as it gets!  Sometimes buying local may seem like you are spending more out of pocket, but with the improved quality of the'll end up buying less often and looking better!  It's definitely a win!   

It's Been Awhile...

That's right - I'm back.  For better or for worse, I just can't get away from blogging.  What can I say?  The people (i.e. a few friends) have spoken.

My first attempt at blogging was unrealistic, selfish, and led to a shopping habit that when halted, put the Nordstrom in Circle Centre out of business.  Still a bit narcissistic?  Well, let's just say when you shop like a Kardashian and don't have the seven figures to back it adds up over time.  While I did get a free hairdryer, the people at Cole Haan still haven't called, and DVF hasn't swooped me away to help her design her Spring 2015 collection.  Sigh.

So what's going to change?  Gone are the days of trying to keep up with more than one blog.  For one thing, my opinion on weddings has changed (table for one, please).  Don't get me wrong, marriage is great when you find the right's just not numero uno on my priority list.  This blog is going to be a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  I'll try to keep the schizophrenia to a minimum but no promises.

I want to share with you my great finds and the latest fashion trends (could patterned leggings at pants please stop?  Unless you are Gisele Bundchen on your way to have no excuse).  Trust me, when I need to be, I can be super savvy.  It's all about spending your hard earned dough on a few key pieces, buying your basics on the cheap, and not falling for that marketing hooplah.  It's depressing how many sales are in fact not sales.  Not to mention that looking "cute" at the gym is a total waste.  Your only excuse is when Charlie Hunnam is your spin instructor.  Than by all means, wear the low cut tank top and the tight pants.  Just make sure they are not printed.  See above.

And how can I not talk about the latest celebrity gossip and whose who of Hollywood?  It seems sort of like community service considering subscriptions of US Weekly are down.  (side note, just like them on facebook or twitter or get it in real time and you don't have to read 25 things about some D list celebrity and find out what's in the bag of the latest ABC Family you still use Lip Smackers!).  You know I fill that DVR up with everything Bravo.   And when you sign up for Reality TV, you basically are announcing to the world, "Please criticize me for telling my P.O. that going to the Kesha concert is critical to my sobriety and wellbeing."

Lastly, this will be a great way for you to live through all of the embarrassing challenges that are my life.  It's not glamorous, and surely not always fashionable...but it's a life that I'm so grateful that I have. Most of all, I'm thankful to you guys for reading and supporting me. Hopefully it will be a fun ride for everyone involved.


Lip Stains - Actual Long Lasting Color and Shine...Who Knew?

While some fashionable people might not admit it, a lot of the knowledge they have on fashion and beauty comes from those around them.  I will be the first person to say that I have always relied on the help of others to point me in the right direction.

If there's a void in beauty, it's definitely lip products.  No, I'm not talking about making them bigger (I think you're at the wrong place if you're looking for that) I'm not talking about finding the right color that shines and lasts for longer than 5 minutes.  My theory with make-up is that I want to apply it once and not have to worry about it all day...and in my experience you can't find that in lip products.

Enter my BFF and fellow fashonista Sarah.  Sarah is perhaps the one person I know who has more products than I do (she recently revealed to me she has 6 different shampoos in her shower...) and so I definitely trust her opinion when she lets me know about something she really likes.  This weekend she introduced me to YSL's latest creation, the Glossy Stain.  If you've been a long time reader you know that I've had a lot of success with YSL.  It's definitely a quality product (just look at the price) but well worth it!

Glossy Stain, $32,

While we were getting ready on Saturday, Sarah told me I had to use her new product before we went out.  Never one to pass up trying something new (especially from YSL) I obliged.  The stain goes on like a gloss, but here's the can't rub the stain in or smack your lips for approximately 30-60 seconds to let the stain seep in and dry.  I counterintuitive, but the results were proof that this product is exactly what I have been searching for.  Sarah had two shades - coral and berry - which I adored...really great colors for the fall.  And here's a secret that you may not realize...berries and violets that have blue in them actually give the illusion that your teeth are super white!  Kill two birds with one stone.

So thanks to Sarah I'm hoping to hit up Sephora this weekend in Indianapolis and pick a few up for myself.  I liked it better when I was making her buy new products...I'll be billing you later Sarah!

Fashionable, Fun, and Gadget Friendly Accessories - a MUST!

As I sit here in the library waiting for my student (I tutor in my "free time"; what can I say, I'm a person of many talents...and in need of shopping money) I'm concerned by the upcoming generation.  Seriously, I could not tell these kids apart if you asked me to.

Off to the corner sits the group of girls who are obviously "cool" but are trying to demonstrate that they are "too cool" to care if they are "too cool."  All of them are wearing your standard pair of hooker sweatpants...yeah you know, the glittery pair that says PINK all over the derrière and costs you an arm and a leg.  All I know is that in the 90s there were sponges, and puffy paint.  Just saying...

Any way, it made me consider how much I hate having the same stuff that everyone else has.  Granted, in Fort Wayne, Indiana it's not too difficult to stand out fashionably considering most wardrobes consist of your standard pair of Wrangler's and a NASCAR t-shirt but I simply hate when I get something new that I'm so excited about and then I see 3 people with the same thing - the nerve!  

Well, when it comes to gadget accessories I am always searching for something that makes me stand out as individual.  I'll pass on the bedazzled cases or the branded cases (in my opinion, you are wasting a lot of money to prove something whom, I'm not sure) or even the bulky cases that swear to protect your device until the end of eternity.  Yawn.  Give me something fun and enticing that most people won't have.  Your accessories should show off your personality, not demonstrate that you are a brand freak or like too much glitter.  

I currently am rocking this Petunia iPhone case and I love it so much.  It's simple and elegant and it goes with everything.  It's bold without being BOLD and to be honest, I think the case protects my phone just as well as many of those other cases (otterbox anyone?).  I mean, if I dropped $50 on an ugly case, why not drop $35 on a case I actually like! 

As you probably already realize, I'm also a big fan of anything Kate Spade.  She is so clever and comes up with some really fun and retro designs.  Here is one of my favorites from her line: 

Kate Spade Word Search Case, $40

Kate Spade Ipad Sleeve, $50 

A little steep for your budget?  Sign up for e-mails and as a new customer you get 15% off on your first purchase!  Stock up and save!  

Want to show off your alma mater or sorority without overdoing it?  Check out Lilly Pulitzer for some fresh takes on sororities with their new sorority patterns.  I'm a huge fan of the Chi Omega print (Go Chi-O!) and have been contemplating a purchase for several months now...

Lilly Pulitzer Chi Omega Case, $28

And if those don't make you happy try making your own!  Nothing says is as unique as a one-of-a-kind piece - maybe you'll make it a business.  I hear Etsy calling...

Blake Lively - Celebrity Fashionista of the Month

In honor of her recent nuptials (kudos to you, Mrs. Ryan Reynolds!) it's hard to believe that Blake Lively has not graced us with her presence on the blog.  Let's face it, when Karl Lagerfield and Christian Louboutin think you're the 21st century version of Grace run with it.

It's her striking appearance that has allowed her to grace the presence of every fashion house's campaigns and spring runway shows...however, it's her charm that has won over the hearts of everyone who matters - including little old me.

Blake has definitely been the breakout star of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Gossip Girls series, and it appears that she isn't going anywhere soon.  Ms. Lively (or Mrs. Reynolds...who knows what she is going by these days!) is gorgeous dressed up or dressed down...and her cellphone is definitely filled with the right contacts.  I definitely don't think we'll be seeing her on the Worst Dressed List any time soon...