Thursday, August 30, 2012

#42 A Tourist's Experience: Chicago

Over Spring Break last year, my boyfriend and I got to take a really fun vacation-- we spent half the time in Hocking Hills, Ohio in a little cabin (future entry) and the other half in Chicago (this entry)! My boyfriend currently lives in Germany, and feeling a little blue, I decided to perk up my spirits by reliving some of my favorite moments together during this trip, as April was the last time I saw him. I can't believe it's already been over 4 months now. I know I *just* posted about being in Chicago, but I realized I hadn't posted any pictures from our trip, and wanted to post some for you now!

Cherry trees in the park

Buckingham Fountain. Strangely empty on this cloudy day.

Casual outfit for the day, paired with my favorite tan platform sneakers from ALDO.

Ugliest sweater ever. I love it!

Beautiful bib necklace by ALDO. Dig the straight lines of the cut outs paired with the curve of the bib.

My satchel in my favorite color.

Incredible fields of tulips near S Lakeshore Drive.

Cloudy horizon on the waterfront.

No photoshop here! The water of Lake Michigan was actually this beautiful turquoise. Crazy!

It had to be done-- the bean!

We got a good deal on the Hilton on Michigan Avenue. The interior was really breathtaking-- very ornate and vintage looking.

We also went to the top of the Sears Tower. I refuse to call it Willis Tower-- lame! Look at that water!

We had to go to in the Skydeck boxes, of course.

Even though your rational brain knows it's quite safe, the experience is still somewhat terrifying! But so cool to look down and see the street below you.

Beautiful sunny skyline on our way to the Shedd Aquarium, which while expensive, is a must for any animal/ocean lover like me and was the highlight of my trip.

Beautiful blue poison dart frogs! One of my favorite animals. It took me forever to get this shot because there were so many frogs and they were hopping around so much!

Pretty insane looking spider crab.

Color-blocked shrimp :)

We paid extra for the jellyfish exhibit-- aren't they gorgeous?

Look at these cuties! Yet another of my favorite animals.

SWEATER Aztec Shawl Sweater, Forever 21+ | SHIRT White V-neck Tee, Forever 21+ | JEANS Dark skinnies, Eloquii | SHOES Tan Wedge Sneakers, ALDO | BAG Green Satchel, H&M | NECKLACE Geometric Black & Gold Bib Necklace, ALDO

Overall, although I had a blast, I was a bit unsatisfied with what I saw of Chicago. I feel like we did a lot of touristy things and the areas we visited seemed deserted. I wished we could have had more of a locals experience and see where hip Chicagoans hang out. We stayed pretty much in the touristy areas and the city seemed so large and spread out, it was difficult to decide where to go and explore in such a short time period. But I know next time, I'll do a lot more research. And for sure, go to the Field Museum. One of my favorite bloggers, Chaplin from Mini Penny (who also happens to be from my town in Ohio), LOVES Chicago and always has amazing posts about her experiences in Chicago, events she is invited to, amazing outfit photos, and lots of ideas about where to explore in the city. If you ever go there, I highly suggest you check out her blog!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

#41 The Versatile Blogger Award

Good evening, babely babes of the internet! I am really stoked and flattered to have received "The Versatile Blogger Award" from the lovely CL at Curvy Ladies Rule. Thanks CL! You are awesome!

Okay, here are the rules:
  1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you.
  2. Include a link to their site.
  3. Include the award image in your post.
  4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate other Bloggers for the award.
  6. When nominating, include a link to their site.
  7. Let other Bloggers know they have been nominated.

Seven Random Facts

I can play like 5 instruments pretty mediocrely.
However, I'm decent at guitar and I love to write songs.

I can pound down some sushi. It's my favorite food. Spicy tuna rolls are LOVE.

I have been to Berlin more times than I can count.
I have an awesome German boyfriend who hopefully will be moving to the US soon!

I am the silliest, goofiest, weirdest person on the planet.
I love making weird faces and doing funny voices to try to make people laugh.

Halloween is my FAVORITE FAVORITE holiday. Borderline obsessive.
My best costumes recently have been a Clockwork Orange lady, Poison Ivy, and Jessica Rabbit.

I used to dye my hair black. YIKES.

I love sharks but I'm absolutely terrified of deep water. And heights.

And the nominees are...

Minipenny - I have been following this girl for a long time way back when we both lived in a little place called Columbus, Ohio. This gorgeous gal with two-tone hair writes from Chicago, and her blog is filled with amazing outfit posts, cool fashion meets cinema features, and creative DIYs. I am so proud of her because her blog has brought her so much success and opportunities. She is all about body acceptance and she is sassy as hell! Love her!

They Like Me Better Blond - I just think this girl is downright beautiful. Her blond hair is absolutely perfect and her outfits are so bright and colorful. I think her style and mine have a lot in common.

Bonjour Gazel - Gazel has great style and she is a devoted blogger. So many outfit posts! I love that I can always check out her blog and see something new. She is a super outspoken member of the fat acceptance movement and I really admire and respect her. Not to mention she's one of the sweetest, cutest girls in the world!

Hippopotamuslee - She is just cute as pie and seriously one of most creative, talented, and artistic people I've followed online. I love her nail posts, her art, and her style!

Sticky Sweet Danish - A fellow curvaceous redhead, I love how many of her outfits combine cheerful and dark elements. She has such a great flair for both unique and classy style.

Allie McGevna - This girl's a bombshell. Enough said.

Monday, August 13, 2012

#40 - Love Is In The Air

Allow me to start off by saying that I have an awesome brother. He is super smart and stylish, not to mention that he makes me crack up laughing until I pretty much pee myself. He's definitely one of the funniest people I know. He's only about 2 years older than me, but he had a big influence on me growing up-- I was such a copycat and I wanted to be just like him! I was always stealing his cool vintage t-shirts that he got from thrift stores (to his dismay), I learned to played guitar soon after he bought his first, and I was constantly bugging him for new music to download and books to read. He just proposed to his girlfriend of several years and I couldn't be happier for him-- they are perfect for each other! So this weekend, our family headed up to Chicago to meet her family for the first time.

For an event like this, or really any event, I am just loving dresses by the amazing designer Adrianna Papell. Her straight sizes go up to a 16 and she also has a plus-sized line that is beautiful and goes up to a 24. I have found my favorite AP pieces at Nordstroms, but her line is also available at Dilliards. I think this bright and whimsical dress is 1) extremely reflective of my personality and 2) perfect for a gorgeous outdoor soiree in Chicago! My soon-to-be sister-in-law's family decorated the yard so perfectly-- it had DIY and Etsy and magic written all over it!

Love that parking lot shot!

I'm wearing Schiap (bright pink lipstick) by NARS which just adds to all the bright goodness.

Love my color-blocked bag by Aldo. I take it everywhere!

The beautiful bar decorated with handmade paper decorations!

All the drinks were served in mason jars. ETSY magic!

Beautiful table set up inside with flowers, pies, customized cookies and beautiful pictures of the lovely couple.

Gorgeous tablescape.

So much detail in every single part of the table.

Beautiful flowers.

A shot at the end of the evening. Such a romantic, beautiful night!

DRESS/BELT Cap Sleeve Striped Dress, Adrianna Papell via Nordstroms (sold out in plus size) | SHOES Black Faux Suede Wedges, Target | BAG Black & White Color Blocked Shoulder Bag, ALDO

I was impressed by every detail and the thought that went into planning this wonderful occasion. I sort of thought we would all just be sitting at a dining room inside, eating family style, and I was really blown away by the effort of my sister-in-law's family. They made quite an impression on me. Above all, each and every one of her family members were so lovely and made us feel so welcome. I know my brother was a little bit nervous, but clearly it was a successful meeting of two awesome families! Now on to plan what I'll wear for the wedding...!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

#39 - Amazing Coupon Codes for Fall!

I promise an outfit post is coming soon, but I couldn't let the weekend go without reminding you about an amazing deal from Eloquii you can get tonight. All new styles are 40% off (no code needed). There is also a code you can use when you check out (the code is "991") to get an ADDITIONAL 20% off. That's a total of 60% off Eloquii's new styles PLUS free shipping! But it all ends at midnight, so get your order in now! Here's a peak from my shopping cart below. I can't believe I just bought an amazing sheath dress originally priced for $109 for only $43.60! BOOYAH. As you can see, I'm pretty excited :)

Other codes you might want to use tonight:

Forever 21 - Code is "TZ6TQN" for 10% off and free shipping.

ASOS - Code is "New 20" for 20% off and free shipping.

Old Navy - Code is "ONSCHOOL" for 20% off and free shipping.

Happy shopping, ladies! And remember-- scouring the web for coupons means you never, EVER have to pay full retail :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

#38 - A Special Request: PRETTY PLEASE

As you may or may not know, education is REALLY, really important to me. The academic achievement gap in America has expanded to be mind-blowing large-- this ultimately meaning that American children in poverty, especially children of color, are performing much lower on standardized tests and other academic skills than their middle to upper class counterparts. This is not the fault of the children, but rather our infuriatingly inequitable educational system that does not properly serve the needs of children who live in poverty. Low expectations for these children creates low results. Fortunately, there are solutions.

For the past two years, I worked in a college prepatory charter school in Columbus, Ohio serving approximately 300 students with 85% of students living in high poverty. My school outperformed Columbus Public schools on most of the standardized tests in 5th-8th grade. It earned the EPIC Award which is a national teaching award for outstanding growth in one year, winning the school approximately $30,000. My school was the only effectively rated school in the Linden community in Columbus. It's an amazing school and is doing amazing things for that community.

Today, I ask you to please help my former employer, earn $10,000 from Target. IT ONLY TAKES 10 SECONDS OF YOUR TIME AND COSTS NO MONEY.

2. Allow the app to access your Facebook.
3. Vote for KIPP.
4. You can delete the app immediately (your vote will still count) by going to your Facebook, clicking Account Settings --> Apps --> and then delete the Target app.
5. Please leave a comment if you voted so I can give you a shout out on my next blog post and link back to your blog. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

#37 A Fresh Start

"Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down." - Ray Bradbury

This quote means a lot to me these days. My first official day of my new job (I'm a teacher at a school in Harlem) began this Wednesday and it has been a rollercoaster of a week. I've had this dream for so long to move to New York City and it's all finally coming together: the apartment, the neighborhood, the city, the job. But to be real, it hasn't all been sunshine and roses.

It's a hard transition moving across states where you are essentially alone, beginning a new job-- albeit, an amazing job-- and feeling like you're starting from scratch both professionally and personally. I am really glad I'm here, but my passion for New York and for teaching hasn't stopped this from being one of the most challenging things I've ever gone through. Ultimately, it's essential to take risks in life to feel like you're really living, and to give yourself a chance to experience something new. You feel fear, feel excitement, question EVERYTHING, miss stability yet appreciate a new world, experience the heartache of loss and loneliness, see things in a completely different light. And in New York you walk around with your jaw dragging on the sidewalk, in awe of everything and everyone all around you, your eyes ever-gazing upward. It's up and down and up and down and so on. I wouldn't change it for the world, but damn-- it's hard and it hurts sometimes.

A few pictures from my first day at work at our retreat at Long Beach, NJ. Bonfires and the ocean always make me very introspective.

As shallow as it may seem, in times where I feel insecure, I sometimes turn to fashion to help lift my spirits and give me confidence. Something about knowing I look my very best, especially when starting a new job, helps me feel like I can do this, I can conquer my fears and the world! Anyone who has ever worn towering high heels knows this feeling well. Retail therapy, indeed.

Today was a big day because not only did I get to meet the CEO and founder of our network of schools, but I also got to meet several hundred other teachers who teach at my school and our sister schools! Looking my best was key, especially with such an intelligent, youthful, talented, and intimidatingly fashionable group of educators! We were told to dress casual, but for me business casual or even professional is what helps me feel my best and I prefer to err on the side of overdressed rather than under.

Yes, shamefully in the bathroom. But I was feeling positive and loving my outfit.

After some inspiring speeches, feeling a renewed sense of positivity.

Not so fresh after a happy hour, walking in 90 degree heat, and 8 hours of profesh development.

Every teacher should have an apple necklace!

TOP Grey Cowl Neck Top, Banana Republic | SKIRT Textured Neon Yellow Pencil Skirt, Eloquii | NECKLACE Apple Pendant, H&M | SHOES Green Suede Flats, J Crew

I was honestly going to give away this top because it shrunk in the wash and looks ridiculous with pants, but I discovered this brand new outfit rushing to work this morning and threw it all together really fast. Has that ever happened to you? Somehow I feel impressed with myself for putting together a fierce outfit in record time.

Also, I had to comment on Eloquii's Holiday 2012 Lookbook that has been released on a few blogs in the past few weeks. WOW! Eloquii just keeps getting better and better, and it's such a great option for those of us who have to wear business professional every day, not to mention how impressed I've been with the quality of the clothing.

There are a ton of basics that I can add my own eclectic pieces and accessories to so that they are uniquely me, and also a ton of beautiful pieces that really stand out and work on their own. This collection is really making me drool, and also lament my four-figure rent in New York. Gold sequin skirts with blush blouses, new colored skinnies, and how about that gray dress with the leather look panels? I cannot wait to rock it all as soon as its released! I have preemptively purchased ramen in preparation of this dent in my bank account...