Destination Denver

We are already in September… How is that even possible? Not only are the days just continuing to fly by, but so is the time to accomplish all the goals you’ve been working on this year.

*Hint* Maybe now’s a good time to check in with where you’re at? *Hint*

(with your goals that is)

One of the goals I shared in February Fresh was that I wanted to visit and explore a new state. I always love to travel and go on trips, but thinking realistically, I knew I wasn’t going to have the funds or time to plans some huge worldly vacation, so instead I kept it simple and had a tremendous experience crossing Denver, Colorado off the list. 

I know we just celebrated Labor day but here I am still daydreaming about my trip over the Fourth of July to Denver. For years I’ve been hearing people express their love for the state of Colorado, but me being one who doesn’t participate in Winter Sports and has never really experienced the mountain life was skeptical that I’d enjoy a trip like that. Now I can proudly say, I was so wrong and the only though I left with was, “Why didn’t I come to Denver sooner.”

Have you been to Colorado before? If so leave me a comment of your favorite city or activity to do in Colorado! I just might have to plan another trip back! 

So how did I decided to finally commit to going and seeing this state I thought I had no business being in? Simple, one of my best friends from college moved there after we graduated and to visit a friend is worth it no matter where the destination. My group of college gal pals decided we’d all plan a trip together so that we could catch up and see what’s going on in one another lives. It’s an interesting experience making friends in college, knowing nothing about one another but before you know it you spend every day of the next four years living together. Then you graduate and all go your separate ways and start on the next chapter of your life. 

For me, it’s been a challenging adjustment seeing us all go separate directions and into different time zones. At the same time though, I always look forward to our next phone call filling one another in and as we learned in Denver, it’s really fun having a good excuse to go and visit somewhere. 

So, we booked it—a trip to Denver over Fourth of July weekend. Honestly when we were thinking about doing it over a holiday weekend obviously there’s a perk of having extra free days off from work, however I thought the flight would be crazy expensive. Denver’s airport is a huge hub though for a lot of connections making it actually pretty affordable. Also having a place to stay is always nice and helps cut down on the budget as well. If you don’t have someone to stay with, I always recommend checking out Air BnB’s because you can find some unique places and amazing deals like this one.

Plan Your Own Long Weekend Getaway:

With this itinerary inspired by our Summer trip to Denver

Day 1:

Day 2: 

  • Grab brunch at Snooze in Denver’s Union Station Downtown (Don’t forget to make a reservation beforehand!) 
  • Drive out to Idaho Springs, Colorado and hike St. Mary’s Glacier! (Work off all that breakfast you just ate.) 
  • Catch a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater

Day 3: 

  • Drive up to Boulder, Colorado and walk around downtown.
  • Hike and explore the Flatirons
  • Treat yourself to some Sweet Cow ice cream (dairy-free options available!) 
  • Catch a Rockies game at Coors Field

Here’s the breakdown of our trip!

Day 1:

Our first day all together (July 4th) we explored the West Highlands neighborhood where our friend lives. It turns out that Denver is a big fan of observing the Fourth of July because a lot of businesses including restaurants and breweries were all closed for the day. We ended up at a local barbeque restaurant for lunch and followed by going to the Great Divide Barrel Bar and other breweries the rest of the night. Denver is known for their craft beer scene, and other than a lot of them being closed there was still plenty to go around. Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or not (which I’m not) you’re sure to find at least one you’ll like. Knowing we had Day ahead of us we called it a night after having dinner with a few fireworks, and it was a good thing we did because is stormed the rest of the night. 

Day 2: 

We started off the day heading to downtown to Denver’s Union Station which is a must-see place when visiting. It’s the most beautiful train station I’ve ever been to and that’s saying a lot since I’ve been to NYC’s Grand Central Station. It’s surrounded by so many unique and adorable shops and restaurants. Our Brunch club reconvened at Snooze, an a.m. eatery and it wouldn’t be brunch without a Bloody Mary and a coloring page! 

After our morning fuel we made our way up into the mountains where we did the famous Saint Mary’s hike just outside of Denver. One thing to keep in mind when taking on this hike, the parking lot was ridiculous! Of course, it was extra packed considering it was a holiday weekend but it’s also extremely rocky and you’re going to need a bigger car! While our SUV made it work it would have been preferable to have something a little bigger. The hike itself was perfect! A moderate uphill (or should I say mountain) It’s about a mile and a half hike round trip and features a few views that are worth climbing for. Once we got to the top, we were greeted by a beautiful glacier fed lake and a mountain top full of snow even though it was a warm 60-some degrees. On the way back down, we took a little detour to see the waterfall—what a rush that was. 

The day was still far from being done. We headed bag to get ready and transition into our big event of the trip—a Red Rocks concert. That night we went to see the Avett brother play at Red Rock Amphitheater. I can promise you, it’s an experience I’ll never forget! First things first, if anyone ever tells you it doesn’t rain/storm/hail in Denver, they’d be wrong! However, sometimes the unexpected can somehow make something that much more special. As we’re waiting in line to get into the concert, it starts to downpour. Before long the rain turns to thunder, lighting, and eventually hail. After the storm clears and the weather delay was over. We were left with a double rainbow and a stunning sunset. Seeing a concert in the Red Rocks is unlike any concert I’ve ever been too. The sound quality is outstanding, and the view is even better. As the concert went on, we laugh, we sang along, we made so many memories, and we got pounded with more and more rain. Ponchos quickly became our new best friends and the best money ever spent. 

Day 3:

The previous day was so jam packed, we all agreed we needed to take it easy. We walked to the Cozy Cottage, a little house with a beautiful patio that has been converted into a café. I’ve got to say; it was so nice being in an area and community that it so walkable again. That’s one of my least favorite things about LA and the area I live in specifically is you can’t really walk anywhere. 

After brunch we drove to Boulder to visit another friend from college’s stopping grounds. We explored their downtown ped-mall area and checked out another brewery, Oskar Blues, of course!  (The Boozy Sparkling Waters are delicious and dare I say better than a White Claw.) 

Day 4:

It was an early morning check out for all of us as we all headed to the airport to go back to our respective cities. The trip was full of scenic views, fresh air, delicious food, tasty beer, and best of all—reminiscing with friends. We’re all making arrangements to visit one another throughout the next year so stay tuned for another LA weekend and Chicago land visit. It also didn’t take me long to make it back out to Denver for a second time—more on that coming soon! 

Lessons from the trip:

  • Staying in touch with friends (especially across the country) is hard but extremely worth it. Make sure to make an effort to keep the people that matter most in your life actively in your life no matter the distance. And yes, that means sometimes that means just booking a plane ticket.
  • Denver is an incredible city. Although I don’t necessarily see myself living there, it surprised me in every way. It has a little something for everyone and while that little something is most likely being outside or drinking beer—what’s not to love? 
  • I’m inspired and might even…maybe…be considering…. thinking about… learning to ski. There I said it and now I can’t take it back. 

Again, share with me your favorite places in Colorado or anything that should be added to my to-do list for the next trip. I’d love to hear about any memories you have from any of your trips! Comment below!

May is for Moms

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(FREE card download below)

May is the month that belongs to Moms not just because of the amazing alliteration and yes, Mother’s Day might have something to do with it, but also May happens to be my own Mother’s birthday month as well! I’d like to not only dedicate this post but this whole month to Moms everywhere!  (To be honest, though,  if your mom is anything like mine, she deserves a heck of a lot more than just a month!)

This year, I’m not able to spend Mother’s Day with my mom and I’ll have to settle for constant phone calls back and forth for now.  I still wanted to do something special for her to let her know I still love and appreciate her even from 1,000 miles away! It just so happens that I found the perfect way to do just that, but I also managed to turn it into a personal date! Double Whammy! (My mom let me know today that she already received her gift in the mail—ahead of the game I know—so I’m all set to share my ideas with you!)

This past weekend I attended an amazing little event hosted by one of my favorite LA based Businesses The Social Type and another really neat brand, Orly Nail Polish. Orly Nail Polish recently opened a pop-up promotional shop called Orly Color Labs where you can go in and create your own custom nail color! They ask you a series of questions and then you create a mood board which winds up turning into your new custom color! Next you head to the mixology station and watch the magic happen! You even get name your custom color and seal the deal. 😘

Check out my Custom Colors: What Moms are Made Of (for none other than my mom) and Day of Jae…. How fitting right?! Not will you walk away with a custom nail polish to take home or send to a friend, every Saturday you can also get a FREE manicure with your purchase. Absolutely amazing!

The nail bar is the first of its kind and is currently only available in Los Angeles. You can visit the pop-up shop at 7621 Beverly Blvd., L.A., 90036; Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. So YES, there’s still time to head in and make one for your mom!

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If you make it in before Sunday, you can also snag a card from The Social Type! I’ve been following this stationary & gifts shop on social media for a few years now (turns out we actually have some mutual friends and a lot in common!) I have always been inspired by their products and everything they do! I’ve been fortunate enough to meet the ladies in charge a few times now and they’re beyond wonderful! Always looking to go above to provide memorable opportunities for their customers! While they’re also located in Los Angeles, near Silver Lake to be exact, you can still shop their collections online at https://thesocialtype.com.

Seriously, look how cute!

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Now let’s say you’re not in LA and still need something for your mom that’s a little speedier because you waited until last minute! Or maybe you want to spoil your Grandma or Mother-in-law? Maybe your best friend just became a new mom??? Whoever the mom is in your life—I have the perfect gift option for you—Florapy Beauty Sheet Masks! The entire sheet mask collection is now available on Amazon and you can even get two day or next day deliver via Amazon Prime depending on your location! Give her the gift of flowers that won’t wilt but instead will keep her skin hydrated and radiant for time to come!

Running too late for even that??? I’ve got you! Download one of these printable cards (created by yours truly)  print them out (or screen shot and send if you’d rather), write out a message and boom— your mom will love it just because it came from you. 💜

FREE CARD DOWNLOAD: 20182019_MothersDayCards

Up on the Update

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Long time and no post, I know… but the hiatus is finally over. It’s a new year (which is so hard to believe but I hope it’s going well for you!) There has been so much going on that I gave myself a little break to focus on spending time getting a lot of things accomplished in my professional life and enjoying relationships in my personal life. I’ve been challenging myself to be more present in the moment (one of my main goals for the new year which you’ll hear about in a later post) especially over the holidays during my two-week trip back home.


Since so much has been going on, I wanted to take a moment to share with you what I’ve been up to, what’s been keeping me busy, and the reason as to why you haven’t heard from me sooner. You last heard from me way back in October (one of my favorite months) and well that came and went and flew by even faster. I was fortunate enough to get to go back home for Thanksgiving and then before I knew it, it was time to start getting ready Christmas!

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Most people who know me, tend to know that when it comes to the holidays-I tend to go a little overboard and Christmas is certainly no different. Every year I have an Elf friend come and visit me and cause so much mischief I have to stay on my toes. If you have not met Herrick, you can learn more about him— he’d love to meet you!

 


I also got to celebrate my first ever work Holiday party. I’m not sure why, but I have always been so excited and have looked forward to work parties. I think it’s always a special moment when you find opportunities to bond with you co-workers outside of work-related conversations. After all I spend more time with my coworkers these days than with any of my friends or family. Our party was at an LA favorite, the Odyssey and if you couldn’t tell why-well check out that view.

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No Holiday season is complete without a party though… and your favorite hostess with the most-est had to get creative since I only have a studio apartment that’d be lucky to fit a handful of friends. Instead I hosted an event at a piano bar called Howl at the Moon! (Check to see if there’s a location at a city near you because seriously it’s the most fun ever!) The event was a great way to introduce friends to one another and just have a really great time!

Finally, it was time to get to go back home and although a cold tried to slow me down, my time in Boone was all speed ahead! I had the most wonderful time celebrating the Holidays with my family! We had a great time keeping up with life-long traditions and even starting some new ones.


From there I just kept the party going… Of course, no trip home is completely complete without a trip to my second home- Iowa City. And no Winter trip to Iowa City is complete without going to an Iowa Basketball game! I had such a blast getting to take Emory to his first ever Iowa Basketball game — and I even convinced him to root for the Hawkeyes. Plus, I got to catch up with one of my dearest friends, celebrate her birthday (although a little early) and visit one of my all-time favorite brunch places- Blue Bird Diner.


Next, we kept driving down i-80 until we ran into some familiar faces in the great city of Chicago. Emory and I got to spend New Year’s enjoying the company of some loved ones and friends that we hadn’t seen in waaaaay too long. We also took some time to explore the Chicago Art Institute and Millennium Park. What better way to ring in the new year??? Although the trip seemed waaaaay too short we were both ready to get back home (because the party was still not over, in fact it was really just beginning.)


Here just a few days later after returning from Chicago, I got to witness and be a part of one of my greatest-friend-ever’s big wedding day! It was the first wedding I’ve had the pleasure to be in and I was honored to have been a part of such a beautiful day! She was the most beautiful bride and the whole event from the rehearsal dinner, to getting ready, to the ceremony, and dance party- it was all perfect! Love was definitely in the air. Again, I was trying to live in the moment and didn’t get near enough pictures, but I can’t wait to see the moments the photographer was able to capture and can’t wait to share more with you.

So, phew… see I have been busy. Not to mention Emory was in LA with me all last week and getting back to real life has been a hard reality to face. I’ve decided the my “New Year” is going to start on February this year! I still need some time to reflect on 2018 and plan and prepare for the new goals and ideas I have for 2019 so I hope you can bear with me and wait just a little while longer while I give myself the time to figure things out!

Party Planning

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Party Planning has always been one of my favorite hobbies and I seem to have a knack for it. I love everything that goes into the process of planning a big event from deciding the theme to organizing even the smallest of details. Party planning really plays well with my OCD. I like to have some control, think out of the box, organize things, make decorations, but most importantly create an experience and memories for others!

“There’s nothing that makes me happier than a social event that brings people together.”

Needless to say, that when one of my greatest friends asked me to plan her bachelorette party, I was beyond excited and ready for the challenge.  It was going to be a new experience for me having never been to a bachelorette party let alone never having planned one.  It’s also the first event I’ve ever planned remotely here’s how I got started…

Party Planning for Bachelorette Babes

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1.) Research

The first step of planning a Bachelorette party (or any party really) is doing your research. I made sure to ask the bride-to-be all about what she’s interested in and how she’d like to celebrate. It’s really important when planning a Bachelorette party to keep the bride’s personality in mind. You want to plan an event where everyone will have a great time but also be comfortable with one another (not everyone is excited about having a male stripper show up to their home, and I don’t blame them…)

Although it can be awkward, it’s important to have a conversation about budget and realistically what you can contribute as well as the bride (and in some cases, what you’re asking of the attendees.) They’re your close friends, they’re going to understand one way or another! Making sure all of that is transparent from the beginning will make the rest of the process go a lot smoother.

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2.) Location

Picking out a location can be a fun and exciting trip. While it may be tempting to road-trip it to Nashville or book a flight to Vegas, keep in mind that that can be a pretty big ask of people and a pretty expensive weekend.  A mini-weekend getaway or even an overnight somewhere nearby can be a great compromise.

For Rachel’s party, she knew she wanted to have it in Des Moines. It’s where she lives and is the city she loves. It’s also pretty centrally located for all of the friends and family she was planning to invite. BUT also, it was realistic for everyone’s time and budgets!

Knowing the party was going to be in Des Moines, we also had more resources available to us and most of the guests were somewhat familiar with the area. We had her apartment available, tons of bars, restaurants, and other activities easily accessible, AND Rachel’s apartment was nearby and a perfect solution for a cost-effective venue!

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3.) Theme

The foundation of a great party usually stems from an awesome theme or event. When comes to picking activities and themes, it doesn’t hurt to look around and see what other people have done. Of course, Pinterest is an excellent source and a great place to get started.  It was my personal goal to plan a party that would not only be a great time, but I also wanted it to be memorable. I wanted to get everyone out of their comfort zones a little bit and do something that they wouldn’t do on and regular basis.

I started brainstorming with the bride ideas of what she thought would be fun. We talked about all the things Rachel loves to do in Des Moines and in general and came up with a list that included minor league baseball games, tailgating sporting events, going to breweries—you name it!  One of Rachel’s favorite things though, is the Des Moines Farmers market…

I think she knew I laughed a little when she first suggested that… I mean come on, Farmers Markets don’t usually scream “Party” let alone a Bachelorette Party. But it’s her day and it’s what she wanted to do, and it was now up to me to make a Farmers Market into a party-worthy activity (also… I love a good challenge.)

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4.) Help & Delegating

Being over 1,000 miles away, there’s only so much I could do.  I knew I’d have to fly in for the event which was not only and expense on my end but also meant what I could bring with me was very limited.  Luckily so many of Rachel’s friends stepped up and offered to help! Since I love the whole process of planning things… It can be hard for me to let go of responsibility sometimes—it’s hard to give up control (but I’m getting better at it.) Delegating out the tasks though was THE MOST IMPORTANT step. I couldn’t have done it without the help of the other ladies, they pulled through to help make it happen!

So, I planned out the itinerary and then asked the other girls to pick a portion of the day that they’d lead and take care of the background stuff. We divided and conquered:

  • Bringing Snacks
  • Making Party Favors
  • Decorations
  • Hotel Reservations
  • Planning Games & Activities
  • Dinner Reservations

5.) Itinerary

After we decided on the date, I moved forward with planning the Itinerary around the Des Moines Farmers Market!

10:00 am         Arrive at Rachel’s Apartment for Brunch and Ice Breakers

11:00 am         Farmer’s Market Scavenger Hunt

12:30 pm         Return to Rachel’s Apartment & Go over scavenger hunt findings

1:00 pm           Lunch at Apartment and Games

3:30 pm           Check into Hotel: Get ready, games, gifts

5:30 pm           Special Surprise

7:00 pm           Dinner

9:30 pm           Going Out

Itineraries are a great game plan, but they shouldn’t be set in stone. Keep the schedule flexible! It’s always a good idea to have some back up ideas and filler ideas in case things take longer or shorter than you expected. If something doesn’t work out, stay calm and keep moving on and try not to rush anything. As someone who is never on time to anything… I knew I couldn’t jam pack the day because I always under estimate how long things will take. This day was about me and I knew it needed to run smoothly for the sake of my friend. I always had a game plan but tried to go with the flow as much as possible!

The Big Day

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Arrive at Rachel’s Apartment for Brunch and Ice Breakers

Since the Farmers Market ends at 12:00 we had to get the party started early!!!  I always feel better about waking up early when I know there’s going to be breakfast involved.  We had a breakfast buffet complete with a mimosa bar in Rachel’s apartment. It worked out so well because everything could be bought directly form the store or easily prepared ahead of time and warmed up on the spot!

Bachelorette parties can be challenging because usually you have guests from all different parts of the Brides Life. Our party was no different, there were women she’d grown up with, friends from college, friends from graduate school, and family members. Many of us didn’t know one another so it was a little daunting to be social with strangers that early in the morning. I knew we’d need a little ice breaker to get everyone started wile ate our breakfast.

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I ordered a Wedding’s Mad Libs book off Amazon and it was just the perfect solution.  First off, it’s very affordable and required no additional planning or materials. It’s a good activity to get everyone involved in coming up funny words to create some silly stories. The Mad Libs in the book were also still pretty PG (maybe PG-13 after we added to them) so everyone was comfortable and participated.

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Farmer’s Market Scavenger Hunt

So, the morning of the big event—typical Iowa weather, it was storming all morning and they canceled the Des Moines Farmers market. My initial reaction was— oh-crap! (but I always have a backup plan!) I originally designed the scavenger hunt to incorporate a little bit of all of Court Avenue. Court Ave. in Des Moines is where Rachel’s apartment is located as well as the Farmers Market, so everything is walking distance. There’re tons of shops, restaurants, bars, and even a grocery store. We went ahead and did the scavenger hunt any way, we just all had to get a little more creative about how/where to complete the tasks.

 

We split up into four teams of three. I gave each team a bag with a pen and they’re scavenger hunt card and the option to either take a photo of the things for 1 point OR bring back the item for 3 points. We all had so much fun with it.  It was challenging, sometimes awkward, and funny as can be. By-standers got so excited about it too, coming up and asking us what we were doing and how they could help! It was a hit.

Go over scavenger hunt findings & Prizes

Afterwards we met back at her apartment and went over what we had found!  The pictures we comical!  One group went around the grocery store and asked for a sample of almost everything and the store agreed and gave it to them!!! One group made a lot of new friends and found a dog with an impressive mullet, and I somehow wound up taking a shot of Fireball with a lady at 11:30 in the morning… too much fun.

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Lunch at Apartment and Games

Afterwards we had lunch. One girl brought these croissant sandwiches from Costco… they were beyond amazing, and I now crave them all the time. If you have a party, I’d highly recommend them! Another girl planned out a game where she asked the groom-to-be 20 questions about Rachel and their relationship and she had to tell us the right answers, what she thought he might say, and then we revealed what he actually said. Man, this couple is meant to be because he was spot on for everything! It was great, simple, and provided a lot of heart felt laughs.

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Check into Hotel: Get ready, games, gifts

The hotel we were staying at, the Hyatt Place in Down Town Des Moines. It was beautiful. We got two double queen rooms with pullout couches that were next door to one another and they were perfect!!! We all freshened up and got ready for the rest of the evening and changed into our party clothes.

We “signed in” by signing a picture frame matt and kissing it to leave our lip-print. One of the girls made goodie bags for everyone that had lipstick (for the kissing frame) nail polish, band-aids, Advil, shout wipes, gum, a hair tie, and a Florapy facemask. AKA everything you could need to survive a bachelorette party out! We opened gifts and even played a “drop your panties” game where everyone anonymously brings a pair of new panties for the bride, and she has to guess who brought which ones—this game was not so easy, but still fun!

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Special Surprise

I wanted to do something special for the bride and have a surprise that she wouldn’t know about. Something to look forward to and of course something to hold over her head and make her guess a little bit. All week she was texting me begging that it wasn’t going to be a stripper but of course I had to tease her a little bit. The surprise however, was a photographer.

I hired a talented photographer friend of mine, Meursault Photography, to meet us down town Des Moines to meet us and take some cute, sorority-ish pictures of the whole group as well as individual shots with each girl and the bride. I knew it’d be great to have the photos for all the memories as well as content for everyone’s Instagram. Also, who doesn’t get excited about a photoshoot and being all dressed up, with a fun group of girls having their pictures taken. I brought a few fun props to try including some balloons but then really let the photographer go for it.

We lucked out and had the perfect window of no rain to get some great pictures (it was steamy and as humid as could be though.) It was also nice knowing we got some great pictures early on and could relax a little more the rest of the night and not worry about it!

IMG_8307-4I’m so thankful to Meursault Photography for capturing these moments and couldn’t be more impressed! If anyone needs photos for any event or even just because you’re in the mood to have your photo taken, I’d highly recommend (especially if your located in Des Moines OR Eastern Iowa.)

Dinner

For dinner we went to one of Rachel’s favorites, Malo. It’s a trendy Mexican restaurant close to the hotel and the bars. Mexican food was great because it’s a lot of carbs before drinking but also because some of us weren’t that hungry and just got a few street tacos. One thing to keep in mind when you have a large group is to definitely call and make a reservation a week or two in advance!  We also addressed the check situation when we made the reservation too. We knew everyone was going to want to be on a separate ticket, so we requested that ahead of time. That way the restaurant and wait staff were prepared. They had 2 people to handle our table of 20 and they automatically added in gratuity for us as well! They were amazing and did such a great job, and no one was un-happy because they got stuck picking up a 20-person tab only to have no one pay them back!

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Going Out

After dinner, it started raining! A lot of us were a mess, but since we already too photos we decided to go back to the hotel, take a moment and a few of us changed out of our cute shoes for more comfortable options (it was the best idea I ever made!)

We then headed to Hello Marjorie, craft cocktail lounge that is super trendy (because of this adorable sign) as well as the amazing atmosphere and delicious cocktails. It never hurts to start a long night out with a good-quality cocktail! From there, I didn’t really plan it out. I knew we’d head to the area of Court that’s lined with bars, but I didn’t want a strict plan (remember my itinerary comment.) We went where ever the night took us and as long as we had a good time! We stopped and got Fong’s pizza just before bar close and headed back to the hotel where we talked for a while and tried to recover. Then we all went to sleep, woke up, at free hotel breakfast and went on to our other weekend activities.

I think everyone would say it was just the right amount of everything. Everything was relatively affordable (nothing out of the realm of a normal dinner and night out) everything was pretty walkable, so we didn’t have to coordinate too many Ubers back and forth. Everyone got to go where they wanted!
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I had such a blast celebrating my friend and her engagement and upcoming wedding. I was so happy to be a part of it and so glad to see everything work out. I hope you were able to come up with some ideas of your own after reading this for whatever the next party is that you’re planning OR if you need help planning an upcoming party—let me know and I’d love to help!

Finding Friends

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From when I first decided to move across the country, I knew it was going to be hard! I knew it was going to be a challenge in every aspect of my life but one that had enough potential to outweigh the fears. As much as I tried to prepare myself (mentally, financially, emotionally, etc.) nothing can prepare you for moving away from your loved ones. As an outgoing, social person—family, friends, my social life all meant the world to me. I knew that it was going to be hard to leave them. I knew it was going to be hard to miss out on events, friends’ life milestones, and even lazy Sundays at my parents… but the potential of the opportunities I outweighed all these fears.

“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

– Frank Sinatra

Just like in NYC, making the move to the big city (although the most important step) it isn’t enough to “make it.” Being a transplant resident, it takes more to survive in these cities than just committing to the idea. Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve started to see it-see why people don’t always survive.

I learned that leaving my close social circle was so much harder than I could have imagined. The phone, Facetime, even quick weekend trips back-don’t do it justice. While I know I’ll never be able to “replace” those relationships, I still have to find ways to fill the time and people to share experiences with. I am fortunate to have a few really great friends already in Los Angeles, but it’s not fair of me to want to monopolize every second of their time. While I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people, finding new friends, building relationships… there’s an art to it and I’m finding I have to get even more creative.

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It’s not the easiest city to make new friends. Angelinos have a lot of quirks, some you get used to some that will always surprise me (I always wonder how long it’ll be before I start taking on some of those qualities and there are some I hope I never do.)  Almost everyone you meet, is trying to make it in “the industry” (that being entertainment… and I can’t judge, I’m right there with them.) Whether it be acting, music, modeling you name it… Everyone’s trying to follow their passions and make a name for themselves. This is both the best and worst thing about living here. Yes, you never know who you’re going to meet, or who will be able to help you… and then the other side of things is… your only as helpful until you’re not. Angelinos love to meet people, offer their help, and have an amazing conversation… but I’ve learned not to expect a follow up. Everyone is here chasing their dreams, trying to hustle, and EVERYONE has to be picky and choosey with how they spend their time.

I think when people move here their first instinct is to fill all of their time with work and making a living-which I think works great for some people. I’ve been very fortunate to have found a job that allows me to live a substantial part of my life away from work, which in turn leaves me with a lot of time to fill.

“Having free time in LA and deciding HOW and with WHO you’re going to spend it—that’s what I believe is the key to making it here!”

Like I said, I’ve had to get creative with how to make friends and how to fill my free time, thankfully I live in a large city with all the opportunities to do so.

How to Make New Friends

While I don’t have the perfect recipe to lay out for all of you, I have some strategies that have been working and ones I’m excited to try. Making new friends as an adult though is sooooo hard, but we can’t give up on it. I’ve come to accept that everyone else around me is just as busy and in their minds they’re 10x as busy as everyone around them… moral of the story, we’re all busy. With that in mind, if someone cancels plans (while that sucks) I can’t take it personal. I also make a constant effort to not allow myself to cancel plans. If I commit to doing something or meeting someone, I’m going to do whatever it takes to see it through.

Getting Involved:

When I moved, I immediately began to think about the things that make me feel at home. That give me a sense of a community away from my hometown. My grandpa’s only piece of advice and wish for me was to find a church to attend. He was right. Although I honestly don’t make it every Sunday or as regularly as he had intended, I try to go as long as I don’t have other people inviting me to other plans. (Now I know that’s not a good enough reason to really miss mass, but the point of this is I’m trying to make friend and when friends call, you have to take them up on the opportunities.) It’s a goal of mine however, to continue making it more! Apart from the reasons people go to church, it’s also nice in just how familiar it is.

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The next outlet that immediately came to mind is the Moose Lodge (I’ll add that to the list of upcoming blog topics for those of you who don’t know about my involvement with the lodge-so if you’re wondering WTH… just wait and I’ll fill you in!) Moose Lodges are practically everywhere and easy to find, but also I’m well past due for joining (you have to be 21.) While, I can predict that the community will be different from the groups most of my peers associate with, it’s still an amazing community to be a part of and a great way to get to know people that live around you from many different walks of life. I’ve reached out to a few different chapters to investigate which one to join.

Anytime you move somewhere new, reflect on the causes and things that matter most to you. Find an outlet and a group of people you can make a difference with and It’ll make a difference in you. While the people I meet at these outlets might not be the group willing to go to a nightclub with me on a Friday night, they help to feel a sense of belonging.

Work stuff:

Naturally, people meet each other at work! Starting a new job somewhere, can be challenging socially at first too, but I just try to stay positive and slowly try to make an effort to connect with people. I’ve often been frustrated at how this doesn’t seem to happen overnight, but very rarely anything ever does.  Finding moments to help people enjoy the work day a little more is always nice.  Whether you have the means to organize a work outing or a happy hour or even something as simple as leaving a co-worker a note telling them to have a great day… Its these little moments that will eventually turn into friendships!

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Finding a club or organization that is associated with your industry or passions is an amazing way to meet like-minded individuals that you know you already have something in common with. The nicest part of these groups is that when you’re a member, generally someone else is planning all the events for you and inviting you to them. Then you can fill your social calendar with as many or as little as you’d like (although I’m a huge believe in go to as many as possible or at least every now and again!) I’m a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and through it I’ve met so many other professionals working in my industry. The group includes a wide range of students to professionals who have been doing this their entire lives. It is also a national organization so not only has it helped me get acquainted in LA, but it was also amazing when I was in Des Moines. They’re events are also great for professional development and making me a better designer, creator, and person.

Things Happening:

When living in a city, there’s always so much going on every single night of the week. You can find shows to go to, free lectures, art gallery openings. You name it! While you can’t go to all of them, it’s great to find a variety and know they exist. I sign up for a few different email services that let me know about things that are happening in the area. Ticket services, organizations you’re interested, groups you love are all amazing to sign up for.

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Networking events are also huuuuuuge around here. I know networking is one of those things that people cringe at and I feel like that can be because a lot of people put a lot of pressure on themselves at these types of events. But the key to success at these events is to forget about all those stigmas and ideas around it and go into them with an open mind. Again, it’s about pushing your comfort zone. Wednesday morning, I received an email promoting an event that sounded awesome. Even though it started close to work, I knew I had to go! I live in the land of opportunity and to miss out on opportunities like this, for me, just feels like a waste. Although I had to drive all the way to Venice Beach, it was amazing!!!! The event was called #IMakeALiving and it was a panel discussion and networking event for people who own or are interested in starting their own business or brand. First off, the concept of the event was cool, the content was amazing, but I truly met some amazing people and left the event feeling so inspired. Not to mention I got some free food out of it and even a free glass of wine. It’s been my experience with these events that I’ve never regretted going. Even yesterday as I was getting ready to drive to the event I had a moment of uncertainty, but I forced myself and went for it and I’m so happy I did.

Gal Pals:

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a strong community and enjoy meeting new colleagues, but a strong group of friends my own age is incredibly important, and I’ve been finding I need more. I’m not a homebody—never have been! Every now and then, sure I like to have a lazy day, but more often than not, I’m up to go do something. Finding girlfriends has been the struggle.

When I moved out here, I had so much fun meeting potential roommates, and while none of those situations worked out, it was so great meeting them and I’m hoping we’ll have the chance to get together again sometime. It gave me an idea though… and I’ve heard of other people having success with it too. Using “dating apps” to make new friends. Many of the popular “dating aps” have offered versions of their apps aimed at helping people make friends. I figure, WTH, I’m fine with meeting and getting to know new people and let’s face it, if it could help me find a boyfriend. It’s got to be that much easier to make some girlfriends. So, don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted on how that works out!!!

All and all, I’m still so happy. I don’t often find myself feeling too lonely, but I think that’s also because I make such a conscious effort to fill my time wisely. Even when no one else is available to hang out, I’ll find something for just myself to go do. Often times that consists on going to a movie, going for a run, spending the afternoon by the pool, or crossing something off on my Things To-Do list. I truly believe that a strong social circle is the key to finding stability and comfort in a new place and while I know it’s frustrating it doesn’t all just fall into place over night, the journey and struggle is what makes it special!

Happy Homemaking?

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IMG_3364_03.jpgLaying out the welcome mat not only to welcome you back, but because I officially have my own place! However, the real reason that I haven’t had time to write  isn’t because of the unpacking, the screwing together cheap furniture, or the extra freelancing gigs, but instead it’s because of the amount of time I’ve spent on hold customer service hotlines these past few weeks…

Some people might say that I have finally reached adulthood since I that moved away from home, found a fulltime job, rented an apartment, and now have a stack of bills that need paid, BUT those were all things I’ve prepared for. After jumping these hurdles… I now have a new outlook on life. Adulthood is less about “adulting” and more about the amount of patience you have when it comes to dealing with strangers over the phone.

You might be a little confused but I’m here to explain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m supper happy with my new place and am finally getting settled.  But ever since I began this journey one thing after another continues to go wrong.

I started my apartment search looking everywhere from Craigslist (which was sometimes legit and other times as sketchy as it sounds) to sites like Apartments.com and Westside Rentals.  At first these services seem really great… but beware they may not always be up-to-date! The pricing could change, and they could jack it up on you when you go to a showing.  My advice would be to always screen shot the listing ,so when they tell you a price that’s much higher, you can prove what you saw in the ad! Something else to keep in mind is that some places only list apartment units that are available immediately. For example, if you find a complex you love, and they say they only have one-bedrooms right now (but you want a studio) call and see if they have any that will be coming available in the next month!

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Once I started touring locations, I quickly began to notice a few trends: places aren’t as pet friendly as you’d think, 1 bedrooms are way over priced (you’re almost better off getting a two bedroom) parking can sometimes be a luxury, and oh yeah… they don’t always come with refrigerators so be prepared to buy/move/rent/deliver the biggest and one of the most expensive things in your entire apartment.

IMG_0708_02After looking at a ton of places though, I finally found the one that felt like home!  I found a lovely little JR 1-Bedroom apartment (basically a one bedroom but it’s not completely separated from the other living spaces.)  The apartment sits across the street from a beautiful park and lake. I have a nice little balcony and view of the pool! Life seems pretty great but like I had mentioned it was a bumpy road.

It all started a few weeks ago when I was  ½ through signing my paper work for the apartment when the main office calls and lets the property manager know the price she told me was incorrect and it was going to be slightly more expensive than previously stated. While we got that figured out I was already facing my next challenge—trying to get the money together to pay for the apartment. If you find yourself moving away from your small-town bank, I suggest you open a new account at your new location ASAP. Make sure you fully research and check with both banks about your transfer options and give yourself plenty of time to move the funds. Even with all the challenges though and a week’s worth of stress, confusion, and frustration later I had a new apartment.

I dodged the whole no fridge bullet by purchasing one off of good-faith from some lady on Craigslist, but it actually worked out great! I also looked into shipping my furniture from Iowa via a POD or U-Haul and that was waaaaaaay not worth it!  Next priority was that I needed a bed (something I definitely wasn’t going to buy off Craigslist.) I ended up taking a friend’s suggestion and ordered one of those roll up mattresses that they mail you in a compressed in a  box. He swore by it and it was less than $300 so I thought I’d give it a try. This mattress will be the death of me I swear.  First obstacle, when you order online don’t forget to update your credit card mailing address when you change your account address because they’ll catch it and cancel your order.  Take number two of ordering the mattress- I get it in the mail, unroll it and wait the 48 hours for it to reach maximum fluff like you’re supposed to ONLY to find out that it’s the worst mattress ever. It’s so stiff that I woke up in the middle of the night and went back to sleep on the air mattress.

I called to return it to the company like the paper work that came with it says, and they said I needed to go through Amazon. So, I called Amazon and they said they’re going to fix it. They scheduled a mail company to pick it up the next day at no cost and tell me that I don’t have to do a thing. UPS will bring the label and take it as it. Great, all I had to do was work from home the whole day and wait for them to arrive anytime between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm. All morning I’m working away and before I know it it’s 12:00 (still no word from them.) I then swear I hear a knock at more door, run to it, and no one’s there but there’s a tag from UPS on the door. I look everywhere—no mailman to be seen. Turns out the knocking was at a neighbor a few doors down and UPS quietly showed up sometime earlier. So, I called UPS back and explained what had happed and then had to pay out of my own pocket to have a driver come back.  3 hours later, UPS shows up at my building, comes up to my apartment, see’s the mattress and refused to take it because it’s not in a box. It’s a mattress. Where do you get a box for a mattress? So, I called Amazon back, get transferred three times but in the end, they told me to keep the mattress and they’d give me a full refund.  Let me just tell you, even though it ended up being free it’s still the worst and I’m stuck with dealing with it. Don’t worry though, I now have a very, very comfortable mattress and am getting a great night’s sleep.

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Last but not least is the weirdest event of them all. So, I found a couch I loved at Home Goods and they use a delivery service called Lugg. Lugg is like the Uber equivalent for moving services. You download the app, select a pick-up truck, moving van, or truck, type in the pick-up location and the drop off location and you’re good to go.  Seems great right…. until the movers show up at your place with two couches and insist they’re both yours. Yes, my first reaction was like “great, a free couch” and then I remembered I have a tiny apartment and the free couch is bigger than the one I picked out. It wasn’t going to work, so one of the movers said he’d just take it home with him. All was fine till I got the bill and learned it was twice as expensive due to the second couch I didn’t even want in the first place!  Again, I got it worked out after about 7 emails and phone calls.

Now these are all the major events I’ve experienced so far, but there were so many minor events in-between from emergency maintenence calls to hour long return lines at Walmart and Target, but at the end of the day, all of it has been worth it!  It feels great to be making things happen and figure it all out on my own. I’m excited to keep decorating my space and make it feel more like a home.  Once I get things in better shape and stop using cardboard boxes as furniture, I’ll be sure to show you the space and share some of my favorite design and furniture tips and tricks in a later post—stay tuned! Until then stay up to date by following @dayofjae on Instagram!

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Family Function

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The hardest factor in making the decision to move to Los Angeles was coming to realize that meant moving far away from my family.

It’s not the first time that I’ve been a plane ride away from them, but it is the first time that I’ve moved without having a deadline attached. (Before I’d moved for at most a summer at a time, once to LA for the internship and once to Italy to study abroad.)

This past year I lived at home with my parents for the first time in four years, and I have a lot to say about it. Let me start by saying I never in a million years thought I’d move back home again. While at college, I couldn’t imagine giving up my lifestyle to move back to Boone again.

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Here’s a little background about my family—it’s very small. I have my parents, my brother, my grandpa, and one uncle that all live in the town I grew up in. I have an aunt, two cousins, and an uncle all within a 30-minute drive from Boone.  Then I have three aunts, three uncles, and two cousins that all live either a long drive or flight away (I don’t get to see them that often but when I do, it’s a party!)  So, for me, it feels very small but for a lot of us, it’s allowed us to form a closer relationship because we’re so small.

Although I’ve always gotten along really well with my family and have great relationships with them, When I left for college I had no intentions of ever going back again (well, not for a long period of time I mean). But after graduating, I had no money and I was starting a job in Des Moines, so it just made the most sense to move back in with them.  Yes, it was also the smartest decision financially.  I was able to save up some money that would eventually allow me to make the move to California.  I also had a roof over my head, a refrigerator that was fully stocked, and roommates that loved me very much.

The situation at first didn’t sound ideal. A lot of my friends were moving away, starting big careers, getting cool apartments, meeting new people, and at first, I felt stuck and disappointed that all I had to look forward to was moving back home. I quickly realized however, that moving home was exactly what I needed. I needed that time to be back in Boone and close to my friends and family again for many reasons.

It was nice having both my parents so close again.  I got to go back to some of my favorite old routines like taking a Sunday afternoon nap while golf or football played in the background and take the dogs for walks over to my grandpa’s house with my mom.  I really got to focus on family again and formed even greater relationships with my parents that I’ll forever be grateful for.  Moving back home, I finally got to be a part of events that I’d been missing out on the past four years like birthday celebrations, family card games, and my brother and cousin’s athletic events.

I got to watch my brother leave for college and start his experience at my alma mater. I got to spend quality time with my Boone Goon friends and reconnect with them on a deeper level rather than just brief visits here and there. My grandpa’s house was within walking distance again and I could just pop over there whenever I needed someone to talk to, needed something to do, or needed to win a game of Cribbage.

Moving home was crucial to my transition from college to adult life.  Leaving behind the life I had created in Iowa City, the friends, the routines, and the structure of being a student was very hard.  I needed the familiarity of a home for a while before I was able to make a bigger change and start somewhere totally new. When it comes to family and relationships it was one of the best decision I have ever made and I’m so thankful for that time I got to share with everyone, BUT yes it seemed to make my decision to move that much harder!

Ultimately I knew I’d miss my family and miss out on a lot of milestones for the people I love. I also knew though, that I needed to start focusing on building my own life and a career that would give me as much joy as possible. I needed to get out of the comfort zone and try something new.

Another big transition that came along with my move is that my parents also decided to move to a new home as well (same town but new neighborhood & house). I thought the idea of leaving my childhood home would be a lot harder and don’t get me wrong there were times in my life that I would have been devastated to have to say goodbye to my tiki hut room.  But after spending that extra year living there, I found peace with the idea of my parent moving and that house no longer being ours.

When they were debating on moving, I knew that I was also moving and this time with the intentions of starting my own life and not planning to live in Iowa again any time soon. I began to realize that I didn’t need the space as much as I knew I needed the people (and dogs) in it and the town that surrounds it.

When my parents told me they bought a house, I was so happy for them. It’s a new adventure and chapter in their lives as well. It’ll be weird at first to visit and go to a different neighborhood and sleep in a different room, but a little change is good. Sometimes, getting too comfortable can hold people back and stop them from chasing their dreams (it almost did me!)

If you find yourself in the middle of a big transition, try your best to embrace the period of change and think about all the positive outcomes that can come out of it. If you’re worried about moving back home because it seems like a failure or step back—it isn’t, it’s smart! I promise you’ll never regret that time with your loved ones or regret the money you saved.  Use the time to enjoy the people around you as much as you can for as long as you’re there.

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