Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why Moving Out Of The City Was The Right Decision For Me

source: thisisbossi
Towards the beginning of the year, I started to really think about the next couple of years. Where I wanted to be? What I needed to do? What goals I wanted to accomplish? Everything that I want to do seemed to be hindered by one not so small thing...my college loans. Most people graduating today have over $35k worth of loans to pay off. My generation is the first to have to deal with such grossly high tuition and interest rates. Add the terrible job market and we're basically being set up for failure. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky ones to make it through college with lots of grants and scholarships. I'm not comfortable yet to share my number on the internet but I will say, it's low compared to today's standards. However, it's still there.

I never wanted my life to be led by debt. I mean, who does? I'm sure everyone does what they can to get out of this situation but with where I wanted my life to be, I knew that I needed to do more. I've followed all the advice I've been given: get an income based repayment plan, budget, don't spend on what you don't need, la dee da. My number still wasn't going down. Even with a full-time job and salary, my number wouldn't budge. 

source: Chris Smith
I was trying to think of what else I could cut out that would make a difference. Since food wasn't a logical option, I started to add up my bills. I love Chicago. I love living in the city and I love the freedom of having my own place. But let's get real. I was paying anywhere from $1100 to $1500 a month in rent, utilities and other bills. I rarely went out, my social life had been withered down to nothing, I never saw my family and to put it simply, I was miserable. So I did the only thing I felt was left, I asked my family if I could move back home.

People ask me constantly: how are the suburbs? Do you miss the city? What's it like living at home again? Are your cousins driving you crazy? How do you handle your commute? Some people look at me with pity like, "You're moving in with your parents? That must be terrible." Some people are inspired by my reasoning and like my attitude. But here's what everyone doesn't understand:

I see these guys every day
1) I'm not living with my parents. I'm living with my aunt and two cousins in their extra bedroom. They have their lives, I have mine. Sometimes we want to kill each other, sometimes we laugh so hard it hurts.
2) I'm not living off of my family. I pay rent. I buy groceries. I pay my Noni for insurance. I pay my cell phone bill. I make my own way. No one is cutting me any breaks.
3) I don't particularly enjoy getting up earlier to take the train into work but I also now have almost 2 hours of reading time each day. I call that a deal.
4) Living by yourself is great but when you are used to having people around you, it gets really lonely. 
5) My social life now consists of friends, family and pets. Three things I barely had anymore a few months ago because I didn't have time, money or energy to contribute.

I did not move home because I'm lazy. 
I did not move home because I can't handle the real world and real life responsibilities. 
I did not move home because I'm not ready for it. 
I moved home because it was the right decision for me. 
I moved home because I know where I want to be in five years and debt cannot be part of the plan. 
I moved home because I know that I cannot afford to live in the city AND pay my loans off at an exponential rate. I'm a realist, not a dreamer.

source: Sweet Cheeks Tumblr
I want my loans to be completely gone by July 2016. That gives me two years. When that time comes, I'll be ready to share with the world what my plans are. But for now, I just want people to stop coming to conclusions without considering my reasoning. This wasn't meant to be a rant but a way to show people that doubt decisions like this that sometimes it really is the right thing to do. Taking a step back doesn't always mean you're holding yourself back. You have to take a step back in order to make a leap. That's all I'm doing, preparing to leap.

I know that I'm not the only recent graduate out there in the midst of making tough decisions. I'm hoping that this posts bring comfort to some of you so that one day, if you're faced with a similar decision to mine, you'll make the right choice for you. We live in a society that worries too much about what other people think? Well, instead of thinking about them, ask your five year old self if you'd be proud of the person you grew up to be. If you say yes, great for you. If you say no, make a change. That little girl or that little boy is the only opinion that matters. That little kid is the only one who really knows if you're happy with the life you've made for yourself. Don't ignore it. You only get one life. Embrace it. 

On another note, I'd like you guys to meet one of my lovely sponsors! Her name is Lisa and she blogs over at Adventures of a Dream Catcher.
Make sure you follow Lisa on Facebook, Bloglovin, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Literary Junkies August Link Up

Pink Heels Pink Truck 

Happy Tuesday!! It's time for our monthly Literary Junkies link up. Tonight we're having our Twitter chat at 7pm CST to discuss Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult. This was an incredibly emotional book that is sure to result in a great discussion. We'd love for you to join us whether you read the book or not. It will be a great discussion for everyone to participate in. Our September read is The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon. We'd love for you to read with us and join us for our September Twitter Chat on September 17th at 7:30pm CST because Ariel will be joining us for the discussion!! We're really excited to have this opportunity and can't wait to hear what you guys think of the book.

LITERARY JUNKIES HOSTED BY LIFE WITH A SIDE OF COFFEE AND PINK HEELS PINK TRUCK

YOUR AUGUST CO-HOST: JULIE FROM GIRL ON THE MOVE

And now for this week's questions!

1. What are you reading? Tell us about it!
Right now, I'm reading The Chocolate Money by Ashley Prentice Norton. Here's the Goodreads description:

via Goodreads
Set in 1980s Chicago and on the East Coast, this electric debut chronicles the relationship between an impossibly rich chocolate heiress, Babs Ballentyne, and her sensitive and bookish young daughter, Bettina. Babs plays by no one’s rules: naked Christmas cards, lavish theme parties with lewd installations at her Lake Shore Drive penthouse, nocturnal visits from her married lover, who “admires her centerfold” while his wife sleeps at their nearby home.

Bettina wants nothing more than to win her mother’s affection and approval, both of which prove elusive. When she escapes to an elite New Hampshire prep school, Bettina finds that her unorthodox upbringing makes it difficult to fit in with her peers, one of whom happens to be the son of Babs’s lover. As she struggles to forge an identity apart from her mother, Bettina walks a fine line between self-preservation and self-destruction.

As funny as it is scandalous, The Chocolate Money is Mommie Dearest,  Prep and 50 Shades of Gray all rolled into one compulsively readable book.

2. Do you read one book at a time, or read multiple books at once?
I can only handle one book at a time. I used to read a few at a time when I was in high school but I'm much more productive in my reading if I just do one at a time. It also lets me get completely involved in a book. When you're reading a few at a time, I feel like it's hard to really feel the story rather than just read the words.

via Amazon
3. What is the first book that made you fall in love with reading?
This is a tough question. I think I've been asked this is a few link ups before and my answer is never the same. I loved the Boxcar Children when I was a kid and Dr. Seuss books. I have The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh that I absolutely loved when I was a kid. It was one of my favorites. That might have been the one for me.

4. Do you prefer a physical copy of the book or an electronic version?
I'm all about hard copies. I rarely read books electronically. Only if there's a review I'm doing for someone and it's my only option. I also get terrible headaches when I'm reading a screen for too long so that's a huge negative when it comes to electronic versions.

5. What are three books currently on your To Be Read list?
Only three!!! I have way more than three but the next few I'd like to read not including the upcoming books for Literary Junkies are A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire, The Forgotton Garden by Kate Morton and Paris, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down by Rosencrans Baldwin. I'm also working on the Temperance Brennan Series by Kathy Reichs that the TV show Bones was based off of. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bachelor In Paradise A Waste Of Time Or Mindless Entertainment...

I am a bachelor nation fan. It's no secret. I've been watching every season with the exception of Brad part two for years. I stuck through the Bentley fiasco on Ashley's season, the Courtney situation on Ben's season, Andi's awful decision to keep Nick around till the end of her season and the most annoying ever...Vienna and Kasey on Bachelor Pad. I've had patience while seemingly intelligent people made terrible decisions and cringed through the most awkward of moments. Bachelor in Paradise, while entertaining, has left me wondering for the first time why I'm wasting my time. Yet, I cannot force myself away from the television. I can't seem to not want to watch this show even though I'm still wondering what the prize is because there's clearly no competition like Bachelor Pad. Is it really just for people to find love? I mean, that's great but this is a show notorious for setting up relationships that are A) doomed for failure or B) strictly for entertainment purposes. Regardless, I'll go through my favorite and least favorite couples as well as what I think so far.
via Google Images
So far our cast has been...
AshLee Frazier - hello crazy
Ben Scott  - left week 2...still a d-bag in my opinion
Chris Bukowski - please kill me
Clare Crawley - her laugh makes my ears bleed
Daniella McBride - left week 1...sadly she was one of the normal ones
Dylan Petit - left week 2...thank god
Elise Mosca - girl, get a grip
Graham Bunn - I will always love him
Lacy Faddoul - I haven't heard her speak more than five words at a time
Marcus Grodd - I say it's too soon since Andi
Marquel Martin - love him but telling someone they drink too much...no thank you
Michelle Kujawa - left week 1 still crazy
Michelle Money - love her always
Robert Graham - will someone please give this poor guy a break. I'll date you Robert!
Sarah Herron - one of the nicest, most down to earth people
Zack Kalter - who?

And the couples so far...
AshLee and Graham - bound for failure. She seems way more interested in him than he does in her. He also needs a down to earth and normal girl. AshLee is a bit on the unhinged side

via Google Images
Elise and Dylan - she was ready to walk down the aisle. He was ready to run for the hills. She was very unrealistic with her view of their relationships. He couldn't have been more clear with her to move on and meet other people

Elise and Chris - this was very brief but is going to continue tonight. I'm pretty sure Chris is going to pull a dick move and really hurt her feelings. On the bright side, maybe Elise will go home and meet a nice boy ready to be her knight in shining armor. On the down side, we still have to deal with Chris for another week

Clare and Zack - really, who is this guy? Apparently they know each other and have some hot chemistry. I'm pretty sure Zack was on Desiree's season for five minutes which is pretty much the amount of screen time he's had on Bachelor in Paradise so far

Dylan and Sarah - lasted for about five minutes with him hoping for more. The only one in the house with brains though, Sarah knew not to get too close to that situation. Elise was one crazy lady when it came to Dylan

Lacy and Robert - seemed like Ken and Barbie. I thought this was a perfect match but apparently Lacy did not. Now I'm rooting for Robert and Sarah

Lacy and Marcus - do not seem like they are right for each other by any means but people can surprise you. I honestly just think Marcus is physically attracted to her because although I loved Lacy before, she has not spoken a full sentence on the show so far. Also, fix your posture girl. You'll end up with a hunchback by forty
via Google Images
Robert and Sarah  - love the idea of them together. I really want the best for Sarah. She's one of my favorite people from the franchise and though I don't remember Robert I like him too

Marquel and Michelle - I could have a lot of fun with their names right now but I choose not to. I think Marquel would be an awesome stepdad to Michelle's daughter but I really don't like what he said about her drinking. He's known her like a day and these are very special circumstances. In real life, people don't sit on the beach all day drinking margaritas...only in the world of bachelor nation

My predictions...
via Google Images
1) Michelle and Graham are going to end up together. I know they have history and seem to just be friends for the time being, but I really think there is something there. I want the best for these two also because they always have the best intentions on these shows. They want love and they are good people. They just haven't had the best of luck

2) Elise goes home tonight. She's too much of an emotional wreck to last any longer. Second, Chris is a flat out jerk. He's a player and he's a creep. I guarantee you that if he screws Elise over tonight, he won't make it past the next week

3) I think Robert and Sarah will find love. Even if it's not with each other, I think that they will find other normal people that they'll end up happy with. On the flip side, I oddly think that Lacy and Marcus will work out. It doesn't make sense to me but something just seems right with them

4) We still have some people to come to the show. I honestly think that it's going to get messy which is usually when things start getting interesting. There are some people I'm excited for like Cody and Jesse Kovachs but we have some crazies on the way too. Things are bound to pick up soon

What do you think? Have you been watching Bachelor in Paradise? What are your initial thoughts?

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton: A Review

One thing about commuting that I actually enjoy is the time I get to read on my way to and from work. It's got me flying through books like I used to in high school. Well, two so far but it's only been three weeks so I call that a success. Our book for July in Literary Junkies was The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. I've wanted to read a few books by Kate for a while and I was thrilled when this ended up being a pick of the month. Check it out...

During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

What I Say
The Secret Keeper is a tale of regret and a deep need to identify with your past. Laurel Nicolson witnesses her mother kill a man when she's a teenager and as much as she tries to forget it, that moment haunts her for the rest of her life. So when her mother is on her deathbed, Laurel decides that it's time to finally figure out what happened that day. This search takes us into the lives of three people in the late '30s and early '40s: Dolly, Jimmy and Vivian. 

Dolly is a dreamer who wanted to create her own life. She wanted to break away from the mold her family was content with setting her in and make something of herself. She wanted to be somebody and she would do anything to get it, even if that meant losing people she loved. The more we get to know Dolly, we realize that she is delusional and creates these stories that even she begins to believe. It took almost the entire novel for me to figure out which of her accounts were true and which were laced with fabrication. 

Jimmy loves Dolly. It's that simple. He's a really good man who takes care of a father with dementia and works as hard as possible in order to build a life for him and Dolly. He stands up for people when he feels it's the right thing to do and he supports those who need help, even if there isn't much he can offer. Jimmy bends over backwards for Dolly time and time again but I don't believe she ever treats him as good as he deserves. 

Vivian is a shy woman who lost her parents in a tragic accident as a child. She was unwanted for a long period of time and she had this guilt around her family's death she couldn't be rid of. She entered into a marriage with a man who by all appearances seemed perfect and she helped out in the war as much as she could while secretly volunteering at an orphan's hospital. 

Dolly, Jimmy and Vivian end up in a very dangerous situation with love triangles, jealousy and desperation involved. Someone dies, someone lives and someone reinvents who they are. The story shows you what people are capable of when they're desperate. It shows you what they're capable when they're in love too deep and it shows you what they're capable of when they have nothing to live for. There are twists and turns and as soon as you think you know what the mystery is, you realize you're wrong. Each piece of the puzzle brings new questions until the climactic ending that will leave you speechless.

The Secret Keeper is one of my favorite books. It drags on for a bit in the fist half making it a slower read than necessary but if you stick with it, the story is unforgettable. You will pick a side and stick to it. You will sympathize with characters and then detest them and then love them again. It's an emotional roller coaster that will leave you curious about your own family history. I know I am and instead of waiting around like Laurel did, I'm going to start learning about mine now.

And now I'd like to introduce you to one of my lovely sponsors. Her name is Holly and she's from Sweet, Sassy Southern Belle
Make sure to follow Holly on Bloglovin, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summertime Beauty with Bobbi Brown

Disclaimer: There are Shop at Home affialate links in this post
Summer is more than halfway over thank God, but something I will always miss is the beauty. Summer looks are fresh and easy. I find ways to use my summer looks year-round but it's nice to just swipe on a shimmery shadow, some mascara and call it a day. Wouldn't you say? I'm seriously lusting for these products from Bobbi Brown. My birthday may be over but that doesn't mean I can't treat myself to a special something once in a while...does it?




What's on your beauty wish list? 

Get 8% cash back when you shop Bobbi Brown through Shop at Home and get free shipping plus a free gift

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Influenster Surf's Up Vox Box Review

Disclaimer: I received all of these products complimentary of Influenster for testing purposes
Well hello there! Today I have a review of my Surf's Up Vox Box courtesy of Influenster. I received all of these products free for review and I enjoyed every single one of them. This has been my favorite Influester box so far and it makes me excited for the next one. Did you guys get the Surf's Up Vox Box? What did you think? If you didn't get the box, have you ever tried any of these products? Also, scroll all the way to the bottom to see my initial thoughts in my unboxing video. I'm still getting used to the whole vlog thing so bare with the boring background. I've got some ideas for my next one.

Jamba Juice Smoothie Kits $2.99 - $3.49
What Influenster Says: Now you can enjoy your favorite Jamba smoothie anytime, anywhere. Just add juice and blend! Loaded with delicious fruits and yogurt, our fat-free, gluten-free smoothie kits include a healthy antioxidant boost, one full serving of fruit and 100% daily value of Vitamin C. Try our new dairy free Fruit & Veggie Smoothies. #JambaJuice

What I Say: I already had been a huge fan of Jamba Juice before I received a free coupon to try their smoothie kit. Now that I've moved to the suburbs, the closest Jamba is a twenty minute drive away so these at home kits are the perfect solution. Another plus, they're a hit with the kids in the house. My cousins loved them so we will definitely be getting more of these. I need to find the dairy free ones too.

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun 2oz/$2.99, 8oz/$8.99
What Inflenster Says: Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun is the first and only after sun product that combines ribbons of gel and lotion to leave your skin feeling luxurious and refreshed. Features & Benefits: 24 hours of luxurious moisturization with refreshing hydrating ribbons; Lightweight feel, Coconut papaya fragrance, Refreshes sun-tired skin with soothing aloe gel. #EscapewithHT

What I Say: Hawaiian Tropic is one of my favorite brands for anything sun and summer. I've been a fan for years so I was excited to receive this product I have yet to try in my box. It smells amazing and it has a great effect on tanned skin. I used it after a long day outside for the Bears Family Fest and it turned slightly burned skin tan in no time.

First Aid Shot Therapy $2.99
What Influenster Says: First Aid Shot Therapy "FAST" is an FDA compliant liquid pain relief (drinkable) shot. Common uses for FAST are headache/migraine, sore muscles, back pain and hangover headache. #FASTRelief @firstaidshot

What I Say: I've had terrible back pain and headaches in the last few weeks so this was a welcome newcomer. I wasn't expecting to enjoy the taste of this because, let's be honest, I've never liked any kind of liquid medicine. I gagged most of the time it was going down but after a while, this kicked in and got rid of my headache and back pain. The back pain was the first to go, almost immediately. The headache took a little longer to soothe.

SinfulColors Professional Nail Polish $1.99
What Influenster Says: Bold, Vibrant, Sexy, Unexpected Color! SinfulColors professional formula is formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP free and is never animal tested. #SinfulColors @SinfulColors_NP

What I Say: Nail polish for this cheap...yes please. Let me tell you something. I was a HUGE skeptic when I got this nail polish. I was ready for it to be messy and easily chipped. No. It was so easy to apply, the color was amazing and it lasted for almost a week. I'm sure it would have lasted longer if I didn't mess with it. 

Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Shampoo & Conditioner $3/travel size, $6/full size
What Influenster Says: Wash the experience of the beach into your hair with Beach Babe Texturizing Shampoo & Conditioner - infused with coconut oil and sea kelp extract, this cleansing and hydrating duo will have you thinking sun-filled thoughts without stepping a toe in the sand! #NYMBeachBabe @NYMBrands

What I Say: This is potentially the best smelling shampoo and conditioner I've ever used. It was a great influence on my hair by keeping my curls tame which is a challenge all it's own. I honestly thought this was only available in special stores but I've seen it in quite a few stores since I've been introduced by Influenster.



And now, meet one of my lovely sponsors. I had the opportunity to get to know Kesha a while back so I was thrilled when she decided to sponsor me again. She blogs over at Delabelle's Beauty Blog so make sure to say hi!

Make sure to follow her on Bloglovin, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Let's Be Friends Blog Hop

Welcome to the Let's Be Friends Blog Hop!
A blog hop is a set time frame for current or aspiring bloggers to find new blogs and quality content. It is a great way to make new friends and find inspiration! It is also a fabulous way to promote your own blog and posts.

Dear Friends,

What a day to celebrate! This is the 78th week of the Let's Be Friends blog hop! Thanks for joining us on this special day. Chelsee and Tiffany are extremely delighted to see the way this hop has grown and love to see your faces each week! 

Join us every Tuesday at 7am (MST). This blog hop focuses on content. LINK UP YOUR FAVORITE POST from last week in this fun content-sharing blog hop! I love the idea of blog hopping, but I love the idea of reading posts and quality content on new blogs I've never been to even more. Instead of simply linking up your blog button, you are now able to link up your favorite post you recently wrote. Have a delicious recipe to share, DIY tutorial, or heartfelt post? Share it with us! All hosts and co-hosts put up some unique and fun content from the past week. Make sure to check them out. P.S.- you may still link up your blog button and blog name, but it is encouraged to link up your favorite post instead. You will get more page views and interest if you do so! Some of the most successful blog hops I have participate in focus on content rather than just exchanging follows. You never know who will become a loyal follower or pin that delicious new recipe you posted!

The BEST part of this blog hop? Each week there will be a WINNER! That's right, each week we will choose one lucky blog to feature from the previous week's hop. This hop receives thousands of page views every week, so your blog will have the chance to be center stage for free. You must follow all the hosts and co-hosts in order to win. Only those who link up a specific post are eligible to be featured! *You must follow all the hosts and co-hosts in order to win.

The last exciting change is that the co-host spots will now be available to all sponsors of  The Dwelling Tree or Southern Beauty Guide. If you are interested in co-hosting the blog hop, email Tiffany or Chelsee about sponsorship opportunities and how to co-host the weekly hop!

There are a couple of great giveaways going on right now at Southern Beauty Guide and The Dwelling Tree. Go check them out! :)

Let's Be Friend's Blog Hop Guidelines
1. Link up your favorite post from your week.
2. Follow your hosts and co-hosts.
3. Grab the button and post it on your blog so we can share the love.
4. Visit 3 other blogs and follow them along!
5. Tweet about this blog hop, using #letsbefriends
6. Pin the button on pinterest so we can spread the news! 




***Once a week, one blog will be chosen to be the featured blogger from the previous blog hop. 

Meet your hosts: 

The Dwelling Tree: Blog, Bloglovin'

Southern Beauty Guide: Blog, Bloglovin'
&
The co-hosts:
Ashley @ A Faithful Passion
Jillian @ Hi! It's Jilly
Emily @ Emmy Mom

***This weeks featured post from last week's hop:


Hi everyone! This is Tiffany today. Thank you all once again for continually linking up at our blog hop. It is such a fun time and I am so impressed each week with all the amazing posts. Please continue to link up an actual post instead of your blog. We want to keep reading your content and it makes it more fun to pick a winner! 

... onto the winner! 

Ugh. You guys are all posting so much good content I can hardly choose a winner! After reading about fifteen posts right now, and definitely going over my time limit to blog today, I decided to choose this post by Life with Amberly and Joe. I love Amberly and her blog, and recently saw her amazing Pinterest board. Have you seen it? She puts me to shame! 

Anyways, she has fantastic advice for old or new bloggers on how to better your blog brand. Good read for everyone involved. She pretty much rocks, so if you do not follow her blog, do it. You will thank me later! 

Now, all of you, have a splendid week and keep doing what you do so well. You all make such an impact on us. Thank you for joining our blog hop! 


Keep posting awesome content! You make it so fun for us to read all your posts! If you can, please link up a specific post. It makes it easier for us to come and visit! 

*Remember YOU can be next weeks winner! :)


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