I’ve been playing around with how I envision my summer in Chicago to look. I’ve put a lot of thought into it, and it mostly involves Lake Michigan, rooftop cocktails, and preparing for my upcoming trip to Paris this fall. The first two things I can accomplish with my eyes closed (although I wouldn’t recommend it). But the last task—preparing for Paris, requires a little help from my friends from The Alliance Française de Chicago. And so begins what I’ve coined my “French Girl Summer”.
If you’re new here, I’m a Francophile, which means I have a love for things French. In short, the show Emily in Paris was made for hopeless romantic gals like myself—and I have no shame!
There’s a romance about France that I could ramble about forever, and it definitely started with Disney’s iconic interpretation of Beauty and the Beast.
So much so, that I actually studied French in college. My professor would heartily be disappointed in how much I’ve forgotten since the days of Monsieur Baudelaire and his epic poems, but I think he would be proud of my commitment to learning post-grad. Je suis desloée, professeur Lindeman!
Someone once told me that French was “the international language of business”. I don’t know where I heard that, or even if that person was remotely credible. But it fueled my fervor and as soon as I got to college I fell in love with each and every vowel-laden word.
And, as I left the honeymoon stage of language learning and entered the world of verb-conjugation, the reality started to sink in—French words are EVERYWHERE! And where languages spread, the culture follows.
Not exactly. Look, there are some things the French do very well. The passion for good food, long unhurried hours spent at cafés, and the devotion to the history and the arts speak to every part of who I am. And while I normally would buck stereotypes, the devotion to a long afternoon at a cafe sidewalk is very real.
I do own a few berets, but really it’s more than that. I want to immerse myself in it all. However, eventually that means going back to France and leaving Paris—which has a generous population of English-speakers—to learn about all the pieces of this delightful cultural puzzle.
When I made my first visit to Paris in 2019, I found the Parisians very kind about speaking English if I couldn’t understand their French. Stumbling through a sentence in a store is stressful, but I’m grateful to everyone who met me half-way.
This time around, I’d like to blend in a little more. I want to hop off the beaten path and discover a place I can call my own, away from the hustle and bustle. But to do that, I need to be more confident in my ability to, well, get back on the path to wherever my hotel is, ha!
So, to sharpen my skills and gain enough confidence to do something as simple as take the bus, I’ll be taking classes at the Alliance Française de Chicago this summer!
College was a long time ago, and while I love a good workbook (no seriously, I do), my biggest weakness is in actually speaking the language.
It seems wild, I know. But attempting an accent as distinct as the French one in front of a French person feels about as stressful as giving a spontaneous speech to all of your co-workers.
The Alliance Française (in general) is a non-profit, international organization that works to promote and educate the world about the Francophone (French-speaking) community. They have locations all over the world (even in Omaha!) and teach classes at all levels. They also hold interesting guest lectures, book clubs, film clubs, cooking classes, events (like the quickly approaching Bastille Day!), and offer tons of resources on a large variety of subjects.
The Chicago Alliance is a treat. It’s a beautiful space in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago. The space has a lovely courtyard, a library with everything from classical literature to current magazines, and even a classroom dedicated to cooking demonstrations!
There are classrooms, and quiet spaces for studying, and it’s convenient location means I’ll be spending many afternoons in the library with my new buddy, Teddy.
Like I said, the classes are held at every level, from beginner to proficient, and are offered both in-person (Zoom) and online. Because it isn’t a traditional school, classes are offered at a variety of times during the day, including the evening so you can learn after work.
Classes are held Monday through Saturday, with select classes on the weekends. My class will be held over Zoom on a weekday evening, which is perfect because I can practice in my pajamas, and start off my week learning something new!
The classes are 2-hours long and while that might sound like a long time, I promise you it goes by quickly! The courses are 8-weeks long, so they’ll carry you through the hottest days of summer!
One thing that was difficult about classes in college was the size of the class. I ask A LOT of questions (okay fine, and I’m chatty). But the classes are small enough where you can actually test your skills to make sure you really are learning the material.
Class sizes average 6 students but can vary based on the skill level.
The great thing about learning as an adult is that you are making the choice to take your course. Unlike college, where you took a credit just to fill a category (ahem Aerobics), you, along with your peers are actively choosing to be there. And there’s a nice amount of camaraderie that comes from learning with people who are learning, just like you!
Tuition for the courses will depend on whether or not you’re a member of The Alliance or not. Becoming a member is simple, you can sign up here! Classes are $355 for members and $400 for non-members. I’d highly recommend becoming a member, because aside from the discount on your class, you also get access to the library and members-only events!
The classes are taught by instructors around the world—even as far as New Zealand—and they’re incredibly skilled, knowledgeable individuals!
(Just to be perfectly clear, no, these are not the books for the class, haha!)
Fear not. You can purchase your books from The Alliance, and in doing so, support a non-profit! If you’re in a pinch, you can also order them online, but once you register, you’ll find plenty of info on where to get your materials!
I’m so glad you asked! Initiation classes start this Saturday, June 26th for some levels! Early registration ends on Thursday, June 24th and then prices increase! So if you’re leaning toward taking a class, save yourself some pennies (that you can put toward a really divine cheese and wine), and register soon!
Like I said, initiation classes start this Saturday. My class starts next week, so I’ve got one more weekend to practice my accent and brush up on some verbs, but if you’re not sure what level your high school level French puts you at, there are free trial classes tomorrow, Tuesday, June 22, and Wednesday, June 23rd!
You can pop in and the instructors will give an overview of what to expect from the course.
I did a placement test last week, and while that sounds stressful, it really wasn’t. I will admit I was nervous, but before I knew it, I was already [attempting] answers to questions in French, to a real French-speaking human!
We’ve all been cooped up for far too long, and if you’re like me, you’re ready to soak up everything this world has to offer. My adventures start at the Alliance Française de Chicago—where will yours begin?
This content is shared in partnership with the Alliance Française de Chicago, but of course all opinions are, bien sûr, my own.
Summer Plans I’ve been playing around with how I envision my summer in Chicago to look. I’ve put a lot of thought into it, and it mostly involves Lake Michigan, rooftop cocktails, and preparing for my upcoming trip to Paris this fall. The first two things I can accomplish with my eyes closed (although I […]
This spring has had some really lovely warm days. Whenever the season begins to beckon me to the great outdoors, I start to crave simple, fresh foods that won’t require me to stand in front of a hot oven. That means tacos make a frequent appearance on our dinner menu. And my personal favorite? Pork […]
We did all the research in the world before we got a puppy and we still couldn’t have anticipated all the lessons we’d learn in our first 6 months with the bestest girl. We’re, of course, obsessed with our dog, as most puppy parents are, but we definitely didn’t expect what happened after we brought […]
I LOVE to lounge at home. As an anxious person, it’s very difficult to truly relax. So when we got our first stay-at-home orders, I reveled in the ability to stay in without any guilt. But after a whole year at home, even this homebody is facing a looming pandemic wall. Here’s how I’m staying motivated and beating the blues.
Remember when we first quarantined and we didn’t know what to do with ourselves before our puzzles arrived? And all of our sleep schedules were totally disrupted because we felt like 11-year-olds at a slumber party for some reason? Yeah, same. But sleep is one of my biggest priorities for staying sane whether we’re in a pandemic or not.
If you don’t actively work on setting (and attempt to stick to) a sleep schedule, your whole day will definitely be hijacked. Thanks to our lovely Lemon, I was not-so-subtly-forced to accommodate early mornings. I still haven’t gotten her to consistently sleep through every night. But because she does regularly wake up early, we’ve adjusted our sleep schedules to go to bed at a time that actually makes sense for her sunrise-playtime.
This is tricky. Zoom is annoying, and we’re all so sick of our faces on those pixelated screens, but it’s important to do it anyway. I’ve been doing more impromptu Facetime calls with friends, and it’s sparked a lot of joy. We forget how fun it is to be surprised by someone, and hitting that little video camera icon (sidenote, does GenZ know that’s what that is? Do they understand the magic of a camcorder??) to see your bestie’s face is more fun than you think! The light at the end of the tunnel is coming, but don’t forget to nurture your relationships in the present, too!
Need a change of conversation? Find a new bestie on Bumble BFF. I shared my recent experience here.
Not everyone has a bathtub, so I get this is potentially impossible, but an extra-long, hot shower with some strategically placed aromatic shower bombs can also do the trick. I take a bath at least once a week if only to have some alone time. I, of course, love doing a hair mask, and listening to an audiobook, too, but it’s more about taking care of my mind than my body.
There’s something about being in a tub that instantly eases my mind in a way that even the coziest couch can’t match. And don’t forget the bath bombs! Aromatherapy is one of the most important elements of relaxing in our household, and the tub is no exception.
All the eucalyptus? Yes, please!
I’ve been using a UV lamp for a few months now and I have no idea if it’s really working. With all the other efforts I’m making, it’s hard to distinguish what’s having the most impact, but it certainly can’t hurt.
The dark, long days are starting to disappear, but I also set all of our smart lights to turn on early enough in the day so that it never gets too gloomy at home. And, if you follow along with my Instagram stories, you know how much I love our TV fireplace! Light has a real impact on our moods, and it’s easily taken for granted that we’re getting enough exposure to the elements. But in the winter (especially in the city), a little effort goes a long way!
I am notoriously messy. Being at home all the time means I never escape the constant accumulation of “things”. (Seriously, how is the dishwasher always full!?) And it makes life that much more difficult to function when I’m dancing around items that are in the way or subconsciously stressing me out. Take an hour and pick up a few rooms. I read the Marie Kondo book, and while I understand her ethos, it’s not completely my style. I do, however, believe in setting a goal of cleaning up an entire room all at once. It saves you time.
My favorite strategy for staying organized is having a ‘home’ for everything. I love a good set of baskets that house a certain type of thing. Currently, Lemon’s toys occupy at least 3 wicker baskets and it’s made cleaning up her trail of toys significantly easier! I love these baskets from The Container Store.
Pro-tip: Wear something with big pockets or set out a “clean-up basket”. Then, put all the things that need to go into another room in there as you go. This way, you won’t leave the room and get distracted by something else that needs to be picked up, and subsequently become overwhelmed. I usually wear overalls when I clean for this exact reason. Also, who doesn’t love a good pair of overalls!?
I bought a tie-dye sweatsuit. It was colorful and on sale and we all know I cannot resist a sale.
But, that being said, it’s important that I do get dressed at least once a week. It’s not a lot and sometimes it’s when I leave the house as opposed to for work. But I miss some of the creativity that comes with wearing a cute outfit. Don’t even get me started on my shoes. Those bad boys must think I’ve died! But making the effort to wear things out of my closet has brought a little bit of joy (and dare I say… pride?) to my appearance that’s been severely lacking in the last 365!
I’ve started doing ballet once a week. The class is within walking distance of my home, and it’s been an incredibly enjoyable way to move my body. It has nothing to do with fitness, and everything to do with wanting to dance and leave the house. I also happen to LOVE classical music so that’s an added bonus.
I’ve masked up, pulled on my slippers, and laughed at unbalanced pirouettes. But I enjoy every minute of it, including the short walk down the block. The movement doesn’t have to be a class or a workout, even a walk is something. And weather excuses are lame so pick something simple and start slow!
I get into moods where I want to change up everything in our apartment. Especially when we’re spending so much time at home these days. But instead of buying something new, I’ve started switching up our decorations more frequently. Before, I used to just move them around, but now, I completely stash away pieces in a tote that’s dedicated just to décor and change it up every few months.
In the same vein, I also move our furniture around a lot. My dad used to do this all the time when we were kids. And I always thought he was crazy, but it makes a big difference in your space. Something as simple as moving a lamp or end-table creates interest and always tempers my urges to raid TJ Maxx! (At least for a little while, ha).
This has been THE hardest part of the pandemic for me. As a foodie, I relish every part of the dining out experience. And being home for so long has tipped my ratio of cooking to dining out off-balance. Even take-out has lost some of its lusters (although the hospitality industry is still struggling, so we should still be supporting small businesses!).
I just re-subscribed to HelloFresh a few weeks ago, and it’s brought back some of the joy in cooking at home again. Having a recipe to follow with pre-portioned ingredients is much like a workout class instructor; there’s guidance but you can still go at your own pace. I choose from their menu to curate our deliveries, but I don’t have to be innovative in planning dinner. Which is a relief because there’s not much decompressing after the workday without my commute.
There are a lot of ways to bring more joy into your life right now. It’s difficult to get motivated when there’s no official “due date” for when we’ll shift back toward a normal rhythm. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start shaping our new normal now. These are a-typical days/months/weeks/years, and we’ll be forever changed no matter what our future holds. So instead of settling into a funk, try setting up a way to move forward that takes care of you, inside and out.
The light at the end of the tunnel is BRIGHT. After a year of hesitation, we’ve finally gotten to the stage where vaccines aren’t just a fantasy and it’s nearly impossible to believe. But despite vaccinations providing the beacon of hope we so desperately need, the road to “normal” still seems… long. And this has many of us wondering… are we there yet? The short answer is, no. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start looking forward to life post-pandemic.
I’m not in an essential role, and I don’t anticipate getting a COVID-19 vaccine anytime soon. I also am not in an age group or population that puts me at high risk should I contract the virus, either. However. You can bet your bottom dollar that I will absolutely be getting vaccinated. Anti-vaxxers–you can exit here.
Everyone else: be sure to check your local state guidelines for eligibility and resources! Quick links:
Moving to Chicago during the pandemic was a… weird decision. You can read about my initial thoughts here. We’ve had a peek into the city when she’s quiet. That basically never happens in a major metropolitan. So I’m happy we came when we did. I’ve developed a relationship with our silent streets that feels like a special moment only my neighbors and I get to share. We *know* what our city looks like when she’s not all gussied up. When her hair is down and her make-up is off, and she is still, in fact, beautiful.
But as many of us have found a way to adapt to this shift in pace, we’re changing gears with the assumption that we will (eventually) move back to a more typical speed. And maybe even like the metaphorical finish line is in sight. Yet, we may still be looking at another summer of social distancing and close monitoring for COVID spikes.
It can be hard to stay positive right now. Being *so close* [to spring, vaccinations, traveling, a sense of normalcy] and yet so far away is temptation at its finest. And for some reason, the song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels band vividly comes to mind.
I envision Johnny rosining up his bow while wearing medical scrubs. In preparation for a round against the Devil in the house of the rising sun (a.k.a, the ICU of any medical center). I’m not particularly religious so don’t worry, I won’t get all gospel-y. BUT in this case, “the Devil” happens to be this wily virus that likes to mutate and tempt us into thinking that our risk is non-existent.
I’ve slowly started re-entering the world, dining out with my bubble of friends, donning my mask, and investing in bougie hand sanitizer. Of my bubble, I’m actually the only person who remains to receive the vaccination. And while I eagerly await the ability to visit my family and travel without fear, I find that now, more than ever, I’m just as vigilant as I was while at say, the grocery store while at the height of the pandemic’s spikes.
There’s a case to be made for staying completely isolated. There’s also a case to be made for supporting the industries that were adversely affected by the shutdowns. There is not, however, a case to be made for getting reckless.
Hang in there, friends. We’re so close! And we’re still “in this together”. Mask up. Make good decisions, and remember… we’re not there yet, BUT I promise you’ll know when we are!
This one is for the Galentines. If after this Valentine’s Day, you found yourself lonely, you aren’t alone. Up until recently, I found myself increasingly sentimental about my network of girlfriends—missing them dearly and quite honestly, lonely for their company. So I took a leap. For people who don’t have a significant other or even those like myself that do, I’m here to tell you that you need to meet my new bestie: BumbleBFF. This is how I made friends during a pandemic.
When we made the decision to move to the windy city, it was before the pandemic hit. We had no idea that the dreams of romping around the city during summertime would be only during instances of protest or extremely rare runs to Trader Joe’s. The idea that we would have a few fabulous years in a major metropolitan with like-minded young professionals we’d meet while drinking wine on patios was in the end, a very distant fantasy.
Instead, we left a place that was familiar and abandoned our social support structure completely behind for months of quarantine with just the hubs and I to amuse each other. Luckily, we had plans to get Lemon in the late summer, so our lives felt full. But still, it would have been nice to talk to someone who wouldn’t bark back at you.
Over the years, I’ve watched my number of “close” friends become a handful whom I can dedicate time and energy. No matter what is happening in our lives, or where we are, we always manage to organically connect. For a few months, I merrily amused myself at home alone while the hubs went *quite* stir-crazy.
But eventually, I started to miss the companionship that only nearby friends can provide. And even FaceTime and Zoom began to stretch the distance between me and my besties. So, I did what any red-blooded millennial would do in the same situation… I turned to the apps.
Dating apps appeared on the scene much like Snapchat… well after my time when such tools would be the most useful. I find myself lucky that I didn’t have to search for love this way. Even so, I’ve heard some really amazing success stories. I figured it might be a great opportunity to find a pal who could commiserate with the local challenges my girlfriends from home can’t understand.
You set up a profile on Bumble BFF and it prompts you with questions to help you identify matches. Everything from shows you quote too much (Schitt’s Creek), to your drinking frequency (socially), to how far away you’d like to search all help filter through profiles. If you find someone you find interesting, you swipe right to connect. Then, you have 24 hours to start a conversation with them (or they with you), and hopefully magic ensues.
I’d heard of Bumble BFF and tried it once in Omaha, but the usage wasn’t as common. Essentially it’s a way to meet people interested only in friendship—although sometimes there are people hunting for roommates or creeps that sneak their way into the shuffle. Regardless, I gave it a shot when we moved here and my results were… interesting.
Like any other first date, there’s general etiquette that should be observed when meeting up with a stranger. For me, I struck out with a first “date” that was late, and overall seemed like she wasn’t a match. At this point, COVID cases had begun to spike and while socializing seemed fun, going out felt unwise. Although I had a decent time, I didn’t find the connection I was craving.
I took a break from the app for a few months but decided to bolster my profile by adding some key info. My intensity, level of busyness, and democratic ways are non-negotiable. I realized I must not be communicating myself well if I wasn’t matching with other people who I thought would be on my wave-length, so I made some tweaks and the results were shocking.
In January, I had a chilly outdoor 1:1 brunch with a lovely woman who, despite getting along well, we haven’t been able to connect again quite yet. It’s funny, because while I’m not actually “dating” any of these other women, I find myself experiencing a small amount of loss for the relationships that just don’t work out due to the ups and downs of everyday life. I’m sure in the coming months, we’ll meet again. And thanks to my profile updates, I found more matches with strong, independent women who also understand the scarcity of free time.
Merely a week later, I organized a last-minute outdoor brunch with a few different BFFs. I couldn’t have imagined what would happen next.
I invited a small group because 1:1 can be… awkward. For a brunch date, it’s easy to not know when to leave. Politeness requires that you don’t look too eager to bail if you like someone and want to hang out with them again. At the same time, it’s brunch (because when you’re in your 30s, the weekends are gems not to be fettered away with strangers unless you really, really like them), so theoretically you have the whole day at your disposal.
I figured with a group, the pressure would be more evenly distributed and the conversation wouldn’t be contingent on any one person speaking. And, in the worst-case scenario, if I wasn’t a match, but my companions were, I could leave them to their blossoming relationship, like the millionaire matchmaker I am.
My group brunch was, to say the least, an outrageous success. Bumble must be doing something right, because while I invited my 2 dates independently, they had actually happened to match with each other on their own, too!
One of the dates invited another friend (so we totaled 4), and she also matched with the other date. What are the odds? Pretty good according to these results, I guess!
I could wax poetic about the women I connected with, because in every way, we brought as much of our authentic-selves to the table and it resulted in magic. I sought out women who were strong, independent, busy, and funny. And at this stage in my life, I need people who are also confident (at least for the most part) in their identity.
I don’t presume to have “it all” figured out. But finding a group of people who are experiencing similar hurdles in their life, and want for-nothing besides mutual respect, and support has been a game-changer in how I feel about Chicago. It’s no longer a place we just ‘live’–it’s a place that’s beginning to feel like home.
The pandemic has been hell on everyone’s social life (at least it has if you’re doing it right). Chicago specifically has observed some pretty solid COVID restrictions. And while I won’t be going to the club anytime soon, I have found that outdoor dining in zero degrees is worth the emotional lift I’ve felt in the last few weeks.
I’ve created a bubble with people who reflect similar values regarding safety precautions. While it seems counterintuitive to go anywhere, it’s also important to remember that the hospitality industry is struggling right now. In ways that delivery or take-out options really can’t solve for, either. So I’ll gladly freeze my toes off and don my mask whenever an employee is at my table if it means bridging the gap for an industry that used to be my livelihood.
Yup. Sure is. It took me a long time to even want new friends. My friends are amazing. They get me, and our relationship is a well-traveled two-way street. As someone who also enjoys being at home taking a bath and listening to audiobooks like the introvert that I am, it took me a long time to realize that sometimes you need to find people who can meet you where you are.
There’s a reason people inherently form their own tribes and villages (literally or figuratively). Having a network of people who can match (if not understand) the challenges you’re facing in your life, presents a valuable opportunity to glean lessons from the community’s wisdom.
Having a blog, while working full-time, with a puppy, and a husband isn’t a combination that fits everyone’s emotional capacity. One of my new gal-pals has a new puppy, too. She and I can talk forever about the challenges we face and commiserate about our sleep deprivation. For my sister, who loves dogs, but doesn’t have a new puppy, it just feels like I’m taking up her time with complaints.
When in reality, it’s just that my pee-pad dramas are less relevant to her. It doesn’t mean she loves me any less, or that I don’t enjoy talking to her (seriously, she’s one of the funniest people I know), it’s just that she doesn’t get it as another new dog mom does. And that’s okay! That’s why I’ve built another network with people who can understand these trials and tribulations.
Hell to the no. Anyone who truly loves you, will love seeing you happy. Period. Finding
new more friends has been a gift. As someone who believes women should always empower other women, I’ve maintained a network of people where jealousy isn’t part of our manifesto.
I’m certainly not replacing anyone, and in fact, look forward to the day I can bring all my worlds together to collide again. I know with all my heart that I’ll look like a mom on Christmas Day watching you open the present she swore she wouldn’t get you when I’m able to facilitate one giant gathering.
Ultimately, I’ve found as I evolve as a woman, my relationships shift and change. My interests, needs, morals are essentially the same, but I find value in developing new relationships along the way, too. I learn from every person I spend time with. Sometimes it’s a blatant lesson, but other times it’s just a new perspective.
Other times, we outgrow relationships that were attached to pieces of ourselves that no longer fit. Or perhaps we’re rediscovering ourselves and don’t know how to allow anyone else on that journey with us. And because the people we surround ourselves with become a part of our identity, that can be a scary experience. And in some cases, it’s simply a matter of timing that makes finding common ground complicated.
But what I’ve come to realize is that the lasting relationships are the ones that naturally ebb and flow. It should be easy and uncomplicated to show your love and support. And in that kind of environment there’s no room for jealousy to flourish.
Nah. For now, I’ve found a group of babes with whom I’m comfortable spending my time. I still have plenty going on, and we’ve found a good rhythm for hanging out, communicating, and supporting each other. I’ve taken a pause on the app so I don’t overwhelm myself. Because there are SO MANY amazing people out there to be met, and it’s hard for me to not be interested in connecting with them!
It’s weird to suddenly stop talking to people. Because in truth, it’s just awkward to say, “Well this was a nice try but sorry… this conversation is boring”. Ghosting isn’t a new concept, but I feel like the natural flow of a conversation will lead to a good connection. That being said, when conversations fizzle, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve just disappeared (like a ghost, hence the term). So for now, to avoid becoming a legit Casper, I’m on pause.
Same, girl, same. But just a reminder that all things in life require nourishment, including your social life. And I wholly believe that spending time with friends is an important way to reaffirm your identity outside of your role as a child, significant other, parent, and employee (etc.). Making time to talk to friends (new or old!) can fill your cup, hopefully leaving you recharged, and inspired.
Today is the start of Women’s History Month. And I challenge you to consider expanding your social horizons by meeting someone new. Given the opportunity to flourish, I truly believe creating a tribe stacked with women who support each other, is one of the most beautiful assets we can acquire in our lives. As one section of society that’s been consistently oppressed, what better way to celebrate the history of the women who sacrificed and fought/fight for our freedoms than to continue lifting each other up so we may continue striving for greatness in our everyday lives?
In a season that can be incredibly lonely, building and maintaining relationships is challenging. Opening yourself up to someone (or something) new may seem counterintuitive, but I hope you’ll give it a try. Because now, more than ever, we could all use a friend.
Because I’m the human embodiment of the Cheshire cat, it means that I’m willing to try anything, especially if it makes my life easier. So when I stumbled upon the secret to a smooth visage, not once, but twice, I let my curiosity lead me to Botox.
I don’t like to do a lot of shopping posts because my shopping habits are—at best—considered unruly. My method is all madness consisting of abandoned carts across the interwebs. BUT I decided to do a 2020 Holiday Gift Guide because:
So, I whipped this up in rather a pinch and despite A LOT of technical difficulties, I think it was worth it. I hope you enjoy it!
Please note, that I think it’s important to be mindful about how you shop. A lot of businesses on here are small businesses, and every place that’s listed is somewhere I actually made a purchase from. This is not a sponsored post. Still, being mindful about spending is difficult this time of year, especially when it seems like EVERYTHING is on sale, and the pressure to “BUY NOW” is high.
At the end of the day, it’s not the things we have that make us happy, and it’s good to remember that balance. Nevertheless, I do adore shopping, and when I find something I love, I like to shout it from the rooftops. Or, at least, from my blog! So, shall we?
I can’t pretend like I don’t shop mainstream retail. I love to support small businesses, but a few key places snuck into my closet this year!
I’ll keep making updates over the next week to my 2020 holiday gift guide if the sales extend, too. And I’ll add on if I remember something that I find valuable to share. But off the top of my head, these are good buys for the long haul–not just for the foreseeable trend.
And although I’m tempted to buy a tye-dye loungewear set, I find it more important than ever to invest in things that will be meaningful outside the context of 2020. I love a good trend, but it’s just not part of my vibe right now. Then again, who knows what the future holds ? . Happy shopping!
Hopefully you’re safe and healthy and if you’re lucky enough to be in a position to shop, I would be shocked if you haven’t been hearing about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale for the last few weeks. I’ve never done a full style post before, so here goes nothing!
Registering to vote in my new state, supporting the USPS, and continuing to push for arrests of the men who murdered Breonna Taylor is still on my agenda, don’t worry! Shopping has always been cathartic to me. It’s not just finding a way to the coolest trend—for me, it’s planning for the future. When I shop, I’m not thinking about the past, I’m looking forward and building a framework for how I want to move through the next days/weeks/months of my life.
What’s more, is that I’ve found that when I discover a piece of clothing that really speaks to me, it can be a game-changer. For a long time, I struggled a lot with finding pieces that fit short, not-quite-but-a-little-bit-curvy gals that don’t have DDs, and as you can imagine, my Instagram ads don’t exactly hit the mark, ha!
In the last few years, brands have made adjustments to recognize that “Short” or “Petite” don’t always mean “skinny/stick figure/braless or flat-chested”, and styles have expanded so that we aren’t limited only to what the stores at the mall can give us access to. (Although brands like Abercrombie have a nice line of Curvy Jeans that I’ve been really into!) In fact, I truly believe the internet has forced brands across the spectrum into the spotlight and allowed for everyday fashion to become something to be appreciated even by pedestrian shoppers such as myself.
Plus, in the age of COVID, the return policies and processes these days are so smooth, that I feel pretty comfortable taking a gamble on a new size or brand.
This is all to say that I find real joy in buying clothes. It’s an opportunity for me to be creative daily. Where I’m conflicted about ethical sourcing, manufacturing practices, and closet space, I’m also coming to terms with the fact that this is a large part of my personality, and in times of pandemic and social paradigm shifts/great awakenings, my clothing on “the chair” is a pile of solace.
It’s a last name that loosely translates to “north river” in Swedish according to the inter-webs.
I haven’t been a “Nordy’s gal” for that long. My friend Natalie has great taste and turned me onto it a few years ago. She loves it so much that I think would move in a la Eloise if she could, and thanks to her (and every Instagram style blogger ever), it was only a matter of time before I found my way to this chic behemoth.
It’s not last season’s junk. I didn’t realize that the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale wasn’t just a bunch of old inventory on clearance. It’s actually new or rarely discounted items on sale. And you can imagine how finding the newest model of something you’ve been coveting at 40% off could be something to get giddy over—which explains why it’s such a hit!
It’s affordable. There’s also a wide range of price points at Nordstrom. Their algorithm for recommending similar items is wonderful. It makes suggestions all the way from top designer brands down to their store-brand. Don’t let the directionality (“down to”) fool ya—you don’t sacrifice quality when you choose a brand like BP. BP is one of Nordstrom’s in-house brands. It’s great for staples and trying trends without going completely overboard on cost. Stylistically, I’d compare it to the style section of Target, but with better endurance.
Money, Honey. All your IG bloggers are geeking out because the commissions are great when you swipe up. If you’re going to buy something anyway, why not do it and help ya girl get paid? Here’s an interesting interview if you’re curious about some of the nitty-gritty from Buzzfeed.
I know right? But 2 things:
Contrary to what my husband thinks, I don’t bring home huge hauls of clothes every week. Here’s the method to my madness when it comes to shopping:
Aw. I thought you’d never ask!
I love a good trend as much as the next gal—currently trying out puffy sleeves (my opinion is pretty much the same as Katie Sturino’s), and I’ve dabbled in tie-dye. But most importantly, it has to be easy. Remember ya’ll, I’m lazy! If it’s not versatile and comfortable, I’m not wearing it, no matter how good the brand or price!
Edit: My cart had a lot more items in it but they all sold out so forgive me for only sharing a few! I didn’t plan on writing this post so I’m late to the link-party!
Public shopping doesn’t open up until the 19th (I’m a newbie to the Nordy Club so that’s when I get to shop, too!), so who knows what will end up in my hands at the end of the day, but at least it brought a little bit of joy to me over these last few weeks, and that’s something to embrace–even in small, digital doses. I gave a little life update a few weeks ago and I’m starting to find my rhythm again, so that’s progress! I hope you’re all able to find something to bring a little bit of joy and normalcy to your lives right now. Happy hunting, friends!
It’s time for a life update! It’s no surprise that life has been absolutely weird the last 5 months. From the onset of COVID, to the paradigm shift in social justice, life has just been one major adjustment after the other. In the middle of all this, was the fact that the husband and I moved to Chicago. Which means that our plates have been incredibly full—and I’ve been particularly absent from the blog.
I’ve started writing so many posts about where my head and heart are at when it comes to the recent awakening in our social climate. And I’ve never quite completed them because it’s still just a lot to process. Aside from being a POC, I’m also working on my own anti-racism activity. And it’s been really draining to keep tabs on both fronts. To all the social justice warriors out there: You belong to the sainthood only allotted for teachers, nurses, and any other career that faces “the hard stuff”, all the time, by choice.
As a woman of color, I’ve found myself in a unique position to have a lot of opinions on the Black Lives Matter movement. (I fully support it, not least of which because we still don’t have #JusticeforBreonna, and it’s high time we #DefundthePolice). But I’ve also decided to work on my support for the movement through paced and consistent action. I’ve signed the protests. Sent the emails. I’m actively searching for (and finding–hello Oui the People Black-owned businesses to support (they’ve been overshadowed for too long!). And I am consuming as much information as I can handle before I hit the limit and become fully overwhelmed.
Still, in the weeks since the murder of George Floyd sparked the largest movement in American history, there’s a lot of work to do. AND while I’m not scared of standing on my soap box to challenge people, I’m making note that my pursuit of the true equality for men and women of all races might seem more subdued and intrinsic in the next few weeks or months.
The point of my saying that is this: If you haven’t worked on your steps toward anti-racism today/this week/this month because you think you “did enough” and things are “better now” and people aren’t shoving factoids about inequality in your face, then I’m here to remind you the work is not done, and your complacency reflects your privilege. Way harsh, Tai… I’m not the blog you come to when you want to be coddled babe, consider this a challenge. It’s very easy to get complacent if people aren’t challenging you to do more, but it’s nobody’s responsibility but your own to stay active during this movement. You’re welcome!
You’d have to be blind and deaf not to know by now that the hubs and I moved to Chicago, ha. We stepped into our apartment for the first time (we rented sight-unseen?) on June 2. Which means that we entered the city limits at the tail-end of the most violent riots the city has seen in decades.
That being said, it was a really powerful time to be in the city at the time. Now that I can breathe, I’ll be writing a separate blog post about how the move went and what it was like renting an apartment in the Age of Corona, as well as another about what it’s like living in Chicago right now. Stay tuned!
But let it suffice to say here that I’m so happy we made the move! The stress of moving was enough to make me question whether or not staying in Omaha was a better idea in the end, and I’m happy I trusted my gut and followed through with making the leap!
That being said, Omaha was our home for 4 years and that’s no small period of time, and there are plenty of things that I miss (friends & food). So I’m happy to share that I’ll be publishing my first Wild Bum travel guide to Omaha! It’s jam-packed with tons of bars and restaurants that I personally recommend plus some pro-tips on how to make the most out of each neighborhood and your time in the home of those fancy-pants steak boxes.
I’m really proud of this piece and how it came together because I only set out to write about a few of my favorite spots, and got so carried away that I had to break it out by neighborhood! I also stopped myself from going into anything outside of the well-defined neighborhoods because there are pockets of deliciousness scattered all throughout the city, but I thought a 10-page guide was probably plenty, right?
When domestic travel looks more like a packed sedan than a reclining seat in an exit row, Omaha is the kind of destination that can scratch a bit of your travel bug itch you can satisfy on a whim, no passport required. Road trip, anyone?
Don’t worry— I’ll seep you posted but it’s coming so so so soon!
When we moved, I planned on not working right away for 2 reasons: 1. Finding a new job amid a pandemic and on the cusp of a recession is so comical that I couldn’t possibly expect to find anything in my field or expertise right away. And 2. It was time for a break!
I was asked to stay on with my company through June, so I pushed my summer of leisure back to July. Since it’s currently July, it’s important I tell you that I was asked to stay on (again) until the end of this month. Since I can only handle a few changes in my grand scheme in such short periods of time, I’m compelled to take a more proactive approach to August.
I’ve found some positions with companies that have really sparked my interest, not just because of the work they do, but also because the vibe just seems right (You didn’t think I’d write this whole thing without any woo-woo, did you!?). I’ll keep you posted on how it all shakes out, but in any case, you can expect I’ll be making more time to nourish my creative energies this season!
I’ve been on a beauty-haul binge. Between our move and some logistical errors with some of the beauty subscriptions I receive, June ended up being the month where everyone “caught up” to what I should have received through most of the quarantine.
Plus, I stumbled on a few really key deals on my favorite brand Sunday Riley (check out my post here!) in the last few months (I always try to share them in my stories!), but some of them are new to me, so I’ll let you know my feedback when I’ve gotten through a few weeks of usage!
SO, I currently have an excess of products but I’ll be sure to let you know what I’m loving and leaving soon!
TBH, the hubs and I had a little COVID-scare. We had a few symptoms, got tested, and luckily tested negative. So we’ve been pretty much self-quarantined unless we have to leave the house for something, and if we do our masks are ON.
In general, while abiding by the CDC guidelines as things re-opened here in the city, we were comfortable moving about town all masked-up. However, with the increasing case numbers and even quarantine restrictions on visitors from hotspots in recent weeks, things are starting to get a little dicey.
I’m not making any distant plans anytime soon (seriously though, I miss my travel agent, Heidi?). I was hoping to hop out east to get my hands on a lobster roll, but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen this summer, either. I’ll be visiting family in the next few weeks but unfortunately, I don’t feel comfortable leaving the MN/WI/IL bubble until the curve starts to trend down again.
In fact, I’ve even discouraged friends from visiting because I don’t think the travel is worth the risk. I’m even a little uncomfortable going to restaurants knowing that COVID can linger in the air. But restaurants here have taken guidelines pretty seriously, and between the open air dining, and distanced seating, I might actually venture outside the house this week for something more than groceries! But that’s a really big ‘maybe’.
Instead, I’m going to be sharing some of the places I’ve visited over the years, and basking in the nostalgia of gate-area memories!
Wear a damn mask and wash your hands, people!
This is a hard topic for me because I swear I am the laziest shopper but I love an outfit that makes you feel good! I also could not tell you what my style is because it’s all over the map. For context, my husband told me I was dressed like a cartoon yesterday, and honestly, I don’t think he was wrong ?.
But when I find a style groove I stick with it, and I’ve found some awesome pieces I love in the last few weeks that make getting dressed to go nowhere simple, and comfortable. The best part is some of the pieces are on Amazon so you can really maximize your Prime Membership!
And that’s it (for now)! I’ve got my work cut out for me when it comes to posts and I’m in a good headspace that allows for words to flow from my fingertips (something a writer knows is a moment you do not let slip by!). And truthfully, it feels good to write again. I’ve missed it but it’s been too cloudy in the old head to move forward, but here we are!
Bonus: Oh and if you made it this far, we have one more surprise to share tomorrow–any guesses on what it is!?
If you need me, I’ll most likely be posted up on the balcony with a spritz in-hand, writing and pretending I’m in Italy.
April was HARD. I think we all started to get itchy to leave our homes but knowing that it’s better not to is the kind of self-induced guilt that can drive you crazy…
Today marks the beginning of my “Fox Faves” series as it relates to beauty! And that means I have to start with my ride or die: Sunday Riley, Good Genes.
Have you ever been to Las Vegas and tried to walk “Just across the street”? But then it turns out that even though it looks super close “It’s just over there, I can see it!”, it is in fact, at least a marathon of steps + 3-cross-walk-mob’s-worth of people away? It’s a weird optical illusion that I swear is a clever trick of the desert. And yet, somehow, that’s how April felt—so close and yet, so far away.
But I can’t believe April has finally arrived.
It’s so weird to be entering not only a new month but a completely new era within this new decade.
Talk about that new-new.
Well, here we are! In the middle of a global pandemic, shifting to the “new normal”. Are you tired of that phrase yet? I wonder if it’ll replace “aesthetic” in people’s vocabulary?
What’s strangest to me, is that we were already adjusting to a “new normal” when March arrived, so this just seemed to be par for the course.
Oh us? We’re moving to Chicago!
#TBT to 2014 when the hubs was living the high life in the city and I was visiting nearly every other weekend. Though I tried my damndest to make the move permanent it was tricky to job hunt from another city in secret. I was so junior in my career and exhausted after a year’s worth of attempts, that I finally threw in the towel.
In the end, we landed in St. Paul, Minnesota. And the time we spent in St. Paul was one of the happiest periods in my life. Once again, the Universe had its way of reminding me that everything works out for a reason. Typical.
“There’s so much potential for new opportunities…”
This time around we’re going back older and wiser. But somehow I can’t shake the nostalgia that keeps creeping in even though I know the city will be completely different than it was 7 years ago.
Truthfully, it’s not the memory of the city, but the memory of the anxiety around such a big move. There’s so much potential for new opportunities that the air is practically pregnant with anticipation of what’s to come. And that can be really overwhelming.
There’s been so much uncertainty in the world that I was quickly exhausted by decision fatigue and simultaneous information overload. So I gave myself a pause until April to start asking the questions that have been hovering over my head; Where will we live? Where will I work? How will I make friends? Sprinkle in all the tension around COVID-19 and you’ve got yourself a veritable ticking-time-bomb of emotion that’s just waiting to implode.
Like many of you, I’ve been trying to make the most of this experience. There’s a lot of self-reflection happening. A lot of humbling and gratitude and that’s been major in driving my perspective. We’ve been ULTRA privileged to be able to work from home, without having to traverse the frontlines, and most of our friends and family have luckily remained out of harm’s way.
As a former bartender, my heart goes out to everyone in the industries that are affected. Living paycheck-to-paycheck is stressful and even if you’re the savviest of savers, this sudden onslaught on our economy is genuinely unprecedented and having literally *everyone* sitting around looking at each other collectively wondering, “What’s coming next?” is unsettling to be sure.
I also constantly think of my medical brothers and sisters on the frontlines trying to take care of really, really sick people on top of everything else they’re normally tending to—it kills me not to be by their side providing care in any way I can. But I like to think this is just what the Universe intended (Lord knows that I tried to throw myself into the medical field for long enough ?). It’s made me feel helpless in a way that magnifies that set-back but I’m doing my best to support good causes and stay positive, regardless of my guilt.
I’ve been moderating the amount of news and social media I’ve taken in over the last couple of weeks so I’m not consumed by it all; “I should be out there helping.” is often on repeat in my head. Yet, ironically, the best thing I can do to help anyone is to stay home and not see anyone. These are indeed strange times.
Illinois is on a much more strict lockdown than Nebraska. We’ve been very mindful of social distancing and sheltering-in-place, which means a lot of surfing on the internet. But because the housing market could look much different with all the changes happening, we’ve also been waiting for April to search in earnest.
It’s a lot to try and process the emotions of a cross-country move or searching for a new job when they sit next to a global pandemic on your mental shelf.
Nevertheless, despite the desire to compartmentalize each of these things, they’re so tightly woven that it’s hard to separate one from the other. For example, all the apartment tours we do now are going to be virtual. Which is definitely fine but still weird (smell-o-vision would have been a really helpful invention right about now).
I’m also going to be dusting off the ol’ resumé. That bad boy hasn’t seen the light of day in a hot minute. I’ve been with my company for four years so it’ll be like I’m starting over. I’m sure there’s an old adage about ‘wisdom’ that suits this.
I’ve got a few consulting projects that’ll keep me busy over the next few weeks on top of my normal job that’s significantly slowed in pace along with the majority of the world. And I totally refreshed my website which was a welcome distraction.
I have a lot of virtual home tours to “go” on. I’ll also be mentally planning out how to pack for the move which gives me comfort because I love a good purge (donations are my jam, y’all.).
The half-marathon is on hold until the fall because training doesn’t make sense right now. Instead, I’m going to re-focus some efforts on my French language studies. Which (in theory) will be useful when the trip I had planned for May is re-scheduled.
April is a month of renewal and rebirth (#SPRING) and even though it seems like I’ve become a hermit (and loved it for 90% of the time), I’m feeling like I’ve just emerged from a waiting-game-induced haze, and that feels nice. And in times like these, “nice” is definitely good enough.
Last weekend I got to do something super fun with a local business I love…
Hungry for some serious ramen? *Caution* do not read when you’re hungry…