Cross Country

Well the leaves are starting to change, the temperature is starting to drop (it may still be 79 degrees but that’s a drop) and that can only mean that Summer is coming to an end. Although the change in LA isn’t near as dramatic as Fall back home in Iowa, it still brings a new energy that I find inspiring and fuels me to start something new. In preparation for that change, I have one final chapter to my Summer Scroll Through and the granddaddy story of them all Emory and I’s big cross country adventure. 

When it comes to traveling, I must admit I’m one who prefers to jump on a plane and be at my destination in a fraction of the time.  However, a cross country road trip adventure has always just sounded so romantic and exciting. Emory is not stranger from driving from Iowa to LA usually making the trip all on his own.  I knew I couldn’t make him drive back again by himself. Plus, I had never really seen much of what’s between California and Iowa. Both of these factors inspired me to tag along for the ride, but I had a few ground rules of course! 

  1. I wasn’t willing to sleep in the car (Air BnB please!)
  2. I didn’t want to drive straight there. 

So, we decided to make a vacation out of it—five and a half days’ worth of driving and exploring from Los Angeles to Iowa. Knowing we would be traveling in the middle of August (the hottest month) we decided to forego Emory’s typical route through all the National Parks and head North then cut over.

Half Day: 

We left after work and headed up the coast towards the Bay Area. We decided to take the scenic route (about 7 hours) and drive up the coast and the PCH and recreate our earlier Summer adventure. The drive was beautiful as always and traffic could have been a lot worse. Taking this route did add and additional 1-2 hours than the inland trip would have but we would argue it was worth it. If you find yourself making the drive DON’T stop for gas in Santa Barbra (take our word for it) and DO stop for food in San Luis Obispo (we stopped at Mo’s Barbecue this time.) We finally got to San Francisco late and completely exhausted. We stayed in a boutique hotel we rented via Air BNB called The Bartlett. It was super cute and trendy, however not the cleanest nor friendliest staff. All things considered though when you take into account, we were staying in one of the most expensive cities, we weren’t complaining. 

Day One: 

We headed out about 9:00 am the next morning on a journey to squeeze as much of San Francisco in in a day as we could. Emory had already been, but it was my first time. We headed down to Fisherman’s Warf and grabbed beignets and cappuccinos for breakfast at Frankie’s at Pier 43. Oh my goodness though, people were eating fish and chips that early in the morning, but it actually looked and smelled incredible. So much in fact we went back to Frankie’s for lunch! Not only was it affordable but they claim to have the best fish and they’re right. I have a feeling this place will be a staple anytime I find myself in SF! 

After breakfast we caught a street performer act and walked through the Musse Mecanique, the antique penny arcade. Grandma predicted my fortune, we walked down Pier 39, got a great view of Alcatraz (which I didn’t realize was so close by the way) as well as a great view looking back at the city. After watching the seals, we decided it was time to go find the main attraction, the Golden Gate Bridge, at Crissy Field. 

Immediately as we got close to the bridge the most perfect sunny day transitioned to foggy, misty, and overcast like magic! We pulled over, snapped a few pictures and continued on our way.  Before leaving the bay area, we checked out Muir Woods, which was even foggier and cloudier! After a close run in with poison oak we decided we didn’t have time for a hike and instead just enjoyed the view. Look what we found?! Another Hawkeye fan with a Subaru… What are the chances?!

Back in the car for the next leg of the journey! We left around 3:30 in the afternoon driving from Muir Woods to Lake Tahoe.  Four hours’ drive through winding mountains, an incredibly bad traffic jam at the worst placed stoplight, and a pit stop at the Eldorado National Forest later and we arrived at our second destination, Lake Tahoe.  

Day 2:

Finally, a day with no driving and a chance to relax. Funny and sad how excited I was to just enjoy a day with no driving considering all the driving we had done thus far hadn’t gotten us any closer to our final destination. We were also excited because neither of us had been to Lake Tahoe. We started our day where any adventure tends to begin, Starbucks. I must admit though, it was more out of necessity for wifi access than anything! Next we started driving around the lake and made our way to the Eagle Falls trailhead. FYI there’s a Lower Falls (that is right off the road and no hike required) and the upper falls. It’s a very mellow and short hike to the upper falls but then the keeps going for a great look out of Emerald Bay and eventually opens to a beautiful lake view. 

After the hike we had a picnic lunch at the Camp Richardson General Store and a scoop of sorbet at the Ice Cream shop! I felt like we had traveled back in time to summer camp in Parent Trap or Wet Hot American Summer

After freshening up we had plans for a sunset boat cruise tour of Emerald Bay complete with wine tasting and a charcuterie board! We had an amazing time being out on a boat, watching the sun go down, and meeting another incredible young couple that were visiting from the Bay Area. After attempting to find real food on a Sunday night, we headed back to the apartment and rested up for a big day of driving. 

Day 3:

Back on the road and ready to make our way through the desert. Leaving Tahoe, we quickly drove through Reno, Nevada and then cut across the state to Utah (another 7-8-hour drive.) We took a much-needed detour and stopped at the Bonville Salt Flats. After a few attempts at some doughnuts in the Subaru, watching a U-Haul haul down the speedway, and tasting the salt it was back on the road again. Along the way I of course made us stop at the first Jimmy Johns I could find for lunch and before long we made it all the way to Salt Lake City.

Once we got to the cutest Air BnB I’ve ever seen we headed to downtown Salt Lake which was beautiful and incredibly charming. We walked around Temple Square and then scootered to The Green Pig Pub for dinner with a view of the of the city-county building. 

Day 4:

Although this would be the second longest day of driving on the whole trip—it was worth it to see some familiar faces. We started with breakfast at Earnie’s Sports Deli in Orem with a college friend before another 8-hour drive. We made a few stops off the side of the road like the site of an old mine explosion, to see the Colorado River at the No Name exit, and the Colorado Sign just to name a few! 

Being ahead of schedule we did decide to stop in Grand Junction, Colorado for lunch at Rockslide Brewery and to check out a few antique shops while we walked off our beer. Before long we made it to Denver! Finally! This leg of the road we were fortunate to get to stay with friends. The same friends I stayed with in July mentioned in my Destination Denver post. Now after two years of not seeing each other we were fortunate to see each other twice in less than two months! We went out for dinner at Blue Moon Brewery at which we ran into another friend unexpectedly AND had the most amazing beer flights and pickle burgers. Now, I’m not much of a beer person but with beer flavors like Mexican hot chocolate, cold brew coffee, and a mango wheat (which you can buy at stores and I highly recommend) how could you not enjoy them! 

Day 5: 

Sadly, it was time to leave and time to get home. Day five’s motto was all drive and no play because a ten-hour drive through mostly Nebraska is not something to get excited about. However, with home being the final destination it was enough to keep us moving forward. Emory was a champ at this point, doing most of the driving and soon enough we were back in our great state of Iowa. 

To wrap up one of the most amazing trips and 37 hours of being in a car, I had a weekend at home with my friends, family and love ones. As well as a chance to relax, golf, drive through Ledges State Park, and eat at Jimmy B’s of course (my favorite barbecue place EVER in Boone, Iowa.) 

The trip flew by and dragged on all at the same time but overall, I couldn’t be happier with the experience. It gave Emory and I a much-needed adventure before going back to long distance. It was filled with many firsts in cities that will always hold special memories. Most of all though, the trip couldn’t have happened without its primary sponsor, Dramamine. (Ok it wasn’t really sponsored by Dramamine, but it should have been because it’s seriously the only thing that kept me alive!!!) 

Now Summer is officially over and we’re headed into my favorite time of the year. This Fall I still have a few more goals to accomplish before a New Year’s deadline! I’ll also be very busy with some exciting projects at work and I’m looking forward to a girls’ get away trip, a visit from my parents, and ALL things Halloween. 

Stay Tuned! What are you most looking forward to this Fall? 

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

Me, Myself & My

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Since I first mentioned in February Fresh my whole idea of “Personal Dates” and different version of “me time” I’ve had a few people ask me what I meant by that and I’m so excited to share!  For me a “Personal Date” is basically when I take my self out on a date, alone! (I know what you’re thinking…. I need a better name for this—open to suggestions! No other friends, no significant others, just me going out of my way to leave my house and doing something with me, myself, and my time.

Once I decided to get my own apartment, I knew I was going to have more time than ever spent alone. I’ve always known that I’m the complete opposite of a homebody. When I was growing up, I’d do anything to get out of the house and do something with friends or family!  Now that I’m living on my own, I’m realizing the the amount of discomfort I have when I’m alone.

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Autophobia is the fear of being alone. I wouldn’t say what I have is necessarily a fear though… more a moment of anxiety because I’m not afraid of the idea of being alone. I love to plan in personal days but then when that day and moment actually comes, I tend to freak out. I feel incredibly stressed like there’s 100 other things I should be doing, and then it takes me a loooooot of pep talking (to myself) and sometimes a phone call with a friend or family member to call me down… So you see, I’m not great at being alone, but that’s why I need to practice! If you’re reading and realize you can relate… stay tuned I have a solution!

“I wouldn’t say what I have is necessarily a fear though… more a moment of anxiety”

But the idea for my Personal Dates actually started well before the move even happened and actually started for another reason entirely (it just so happened they came in handy out here too.) When I first came up with the idea it was after doing my goal planning for 2018. At that time, I wasn’t really happy with my relationship status. All of my friends were going on dates and getting engaged and some even married! I was annoyed seeing everyone going out with their significant on these lavish dates. If this sounds like you… here we go!

Rather than bum myself out more about not having a person in my life to do those things with, I figured stop wasting time waiting for someone else when I could do all of those things right now! So, I made a promise to myself that each month I’d treat myself to a special date. Not by treating myself to pulling the trigger on the thing that’s sat in my online cart for forever…but by actually leave the house and going out to do something.

Examples Please:

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I started off very strong! The first month, February 2018, I booked a trip to New York and although I was going to visit I friend, I still knew I was going to have a significant chunk of time alone. From museums to tours to stores—I did it all! Obviously being in a new city with a large bucket list made it easier than being home on a Sunday… but it was a start!

Sometimes I make plans to 100% go alone, but then friends will reach out and ask what’s going on and although it’s supposed to be me time, I try to also never turn down friends when they reach out. Plus, I prefer the company! I think it’s important to find the balance until it feels comfortable in your routine. The second month, March, I went to a comedy show with a friend!

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Later in the year I got Movie Pass and that became my go to activity to do alone! Although I no longer have Movie Pass and switched to AMC A-List (which I highly, highly recommend) I still go to movies ALLLL the time, so much that I no longer allow myself to count movies as a Personal Date. (Keep up with all my movie reviews on Instagram Highlights & Stories)

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Another activity that I actually love to do alone is go to Flea Markets. There’s so many in LA that any weekend, I can find one going on. I prefer to go alone when there’s something I’m specifically keeping an eye out for because I’ll walk the whole pace 2-3 times to make sure I’m getting the best deal!

Some other activities include going to various networking event like #imakealiving and AIGA events or going to art museums (another activity that I might spend more time at than the average person.)

Just this weekend, I went to the Japanese Gardens near my house. I had been with Emory before, but this time everything was in bloom.

For these Personal Dates I try not to plan ahead and let them happen more spontaneously. Most of the activities I’ll still invite friends to go, but if no one can make it then I decide to do it any way! Or things like special exhibits that I know I’m interested in more than most people, I’ll save that for a day when I need something to do!

 

Trust me, this is a harder habit than you’d think to get into! The last thing I want though is another thing stressing me out so if at the end of the month I reflect and I’m like… wow I forgot to do anything. Who cares? That must mean I had a pretty full and busy month and that’s the real goal! It moments where I start to feel the anxiety creep back in that I try to push myself to find something to do. Sometimes it’s even as simple as let’s go run an errand or take a walk around the block. Not only have they helped me feel more comfortable being alone, but it’s also introduced me to some new activities that I otherwise may not have found!

Let me know if you give it a shot or if you think this will help you! What activities do you like to do alone that I should try? I’m always open to suggestions!

 

Here’s a list I’ve brainstormed to get you started with some ideas!

  • see a movie on opening night— it’ll be packed with strangers, so you won’t really even feel alone
  • go to the new restaurant you’ve been dying to try and order a 3-course meal. Pretend you’re there to write a review (don’t tell them that… just in your head)
  • go to a museum, take a sketchbook, and pretend like you know what you’re doing—you might surprise yourself
  • go to the dog park and make a new friend — even if you don’t have a dog
  • explore a neighboring town that you’ve never actually been to… maybe they have a great boutique or the best BBQ… you won’t know till you try
  • Go for a hike (but put your safety first & be smart about where and when!)
  • Try a new work out class that you’d normally never do, maybe even indoor rock climbing?
  • Grab a book, go to a coffee shop or a beach or somewhere not your house and just start reading (especially if you don’t really like to read!)

 

February Fresh

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And just like that, January (what always feels like the longest month ever) is finally over. Besides being 31 days, January always feels longer than normal maybe it’s the weather… Although I traded in -60 temperatures for 60 and sunny with a chance of rain. This month was just jam packed! (Read about it in Up on the Update.) January was so busy in fact, that I didn’t have the chance to reflect on 2018 and prepare for the new year. Which is why I decided that February would be my fresh start and a chance to really get it right.

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Those of you that have been with me since the very beginning (and those of you who weren’t can read the post here) remember that at the start of 2018 I wasn’t in a great place. I admit I was being a little over the top, but it was a time in my life where I really wasn’t sure what to do next and where to go. It’s also the time I realized how important goal setting is and how having things to work towards can really change how effectively you use your time.

One year ago I was e-introduced to Hilary Rushford the founder of Dean Street Society (no I don’t actually know her personally, but I totally wish!) She’s a young and very inspiring woman who lives in NYC and has built an incredible business from the ground up! She put together a FREE online webinar called Elegant Excellence talking about how to make your dreams come true. Sounds crazy I know, but this little self-journey she encouraged me to go on made all the difference. I knew I had to go through it again this year and that I had to share it with all of you!

Download Here: ElEx-Jan-2018-Workbook-Completed

In case you don’t remember, just one year ago I had just been laid off from my first real full-time job. I had also found out that I was turned down from not just one, but TWO of my dream jobs (of which I had my heart set on and even had my bags packed and ready to move to Waco, TX … LOL). At the time it was easy to feel down on myself and like my career wasn’t going anywhere. Something I was also struggling with was, although I was surrounded by all my closest loved ones, I still felt incredibly lonely.  Now, I think it was because I wasn’t challenging myself to get better or pushing myself out of my comfort zone. For the first time in my life I didn’t have a plan set in stone, things weren’t working out, and I was frustrated with my lack of progress.

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Just a year later though, I look back on that period of time and I’m so incredibly thankful! I was so fortunate to have so much quality time to spend with my family and being laid off from that job gave me the time and fight to focus on pursuing my next step in life.

After going through this process and really sitting down to think about all of these questions, I prepared a list of goals for my 2018:

  • Move out of my parent’s house
  • Take myself out for a “Personal Date” each month(I have more info about this queued up for an upcoming post!)
  • Book at least 5 Freelance jobs
  • Travel somewhere new
  • Read a book
  • Save money & create a budget
  • Make more of an effort to watch the news
  • Give nice guys a chance
  • Make/create something for ME each month
  • Run a 5k

Looking at that crazy list, I couldn’t be prouder to say that in at least some way I have checked off everything that was on my list! I moved out of my parent’s house and actually took it one step farther and moved all the way to California. I took the time to enjoy being by myself and being my own person (including getting my own 1-bedroom place.) I’m happy to say I booked well over 5 freelance projects and it’s continuing to grow. I traveled all over the place in LA but the most noteworthy trip being to Lake Arrowhead. I read Chip and Joanna Gaines book, The Magnolia Story,  and loved it even if it took me most of the year to get through it. I made a budget and did my best to stick with it but hey- at least all my bills are getting paid! Although I still hate to watch the news, I signed up for The Skimm and at least I feel like I always have a big picture idea what’s going on in the world. I met Emory (completely on a fluke and unexpectedly) and have had the healthiest and happiest relationship even from over 1,000 miles away. Although I didn’t create something like I had in mind EACH month I started this blog and have pushed myself to find different creative outlets. I also didn’t actually run an organized 5k, but I’ve kept up with running and continue to work towards that goal.

I learned life lessons like work is not my pride and joy in life, so why was I always allowing it to be my number one priority and control my life? I now have a job I absolutely love yet, if I had the choice, I’d still pick a day hanging with my friends and family every time. So why would I ruin other aspects of my life just to get where I “think” I need to be in my career? I learned that getting worked up over little things isn’t always worth it (honestly, it really never is but that doesn’t make it any easier) I learned it’s not fair to always hold myself to my standard of doing things because “I’m supposed to” or because it’s what I think others expect of me.  I “won” in my 2018 because I challenged myself to take risks and I put in the work to make them work out. I learned how truly amazing my family and friends really are and how much I’ve taken them for granted in the past.

Phew, that was a lot! When I made my 2018 goal list initially, I would have been happy just crossing a few of the thing off the list. Now I know this process worked and that I as a person am capable of so much more. I made goals for myself that both challenged me while still being fully attainable and I couldn’t be happier with my progress. This process may be tedious but trust me it works! Hilary’s exercises really challenge you to take a look at yourself and sort through what you’re really looking for (both big picture/long term but also what you want just 6 months from now.)

Download Here: ElEx-Jan-2018-Workbook-Completed

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Moving forward I have even more goals set! Here are some of the stand outs:

  • Create successful morning/evening routines & habits
  • Launch a creative Passion Project(one that hopefully brings in some supplemental income)
  • Run a 5k (This time it’s actually going to happen)
  • Visit a new State/Country
  • Book 5 more Freelance Clients/projects
  • Payoff at least ½ of my remaining student loans
  • Read a book (I never read books so even one is a lofty goal)
  • Organize and sort through all of my old files(eeek I’ve been putting this off for forever)
  • Visit home at least 3 times
  • Try something new/learn a new skill

The important thing about setting goals, is they need to be achievable. For many reasons you need to set goals that you actually have control over and that have a physical outcome that allows you to be like “yes, I did it. I accomplished it.” For example, this year I’m also challenging myself to be more in the moment, but that’s really vague as a goal and there’s not really anything that’d allow me to 100% say I succeeded at that mission a year from now. Another thing is I hope I can continue to grow my relationship, while I’m extremely hopeful and optimistic, it wouldn’t have been fair to me to have the goal last year “find a boy friend” you can’t force that upon anyone including yourself. However, you can find ways to inspire that outcome. For example, challenge yourself to go on more dates by using online dating or something like that. And keep in mind you’re looking at your goals for just one year at a time. Think of all the baby steps you need to accomplish before you get to your ultimate end goal. You’re never going to be able to solve every single world and life problem in just 365 days so allow yourself to be realistic. By writing your goals in a way that you understand the outcome you’re really looking for, you’ll feel even better when you can confidently say you achieved it.

You might ask, why am I sharing all of this personal stuff with you and why I think you care about my goals…? Well, selfishly putting this out there for me helps hold myself accountable. It publishes my goals out into the world and in some way holds me even more accountable. With that being said, if you need someone to help hold you accountable, PLEASE feel free to share it with me! I’d love to be your cheerleader celebrating your victories with you and encouraging you through the rough patches (because trust me it’s not all going to come easy!) Be patient, stay focused and believe in yourself. Moving forward, this blog also gives me the outlet to share my progress working towards these goals throughout the year. By sharing my journey, I hope you can find ways to relate and together we’ll figure out some of these life questions and more ways to find our own meanings of success and happiness.

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So, whether you’re feeling a little lost or unsure about what your next step is- seriously take some time to work through this work book. Grab a glass of wine or whiskey, shut your phone off, get out a journal or notebook and take the time to answer and fill in all of these questions. If you get stuck, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification on help IK it can be tricky without her actual webinar! If you find it helpful, I recommend checking out Hilary Rushford’s other webinars about anything from fashion advice, to info about how to start your own business, and even about Instagram. Please let me know if you get as much use out of it as I did and a year from now, I can’t wait for you to look back and see how far you’ve come!

Download Workbook: ElEx-Jan-2018-Workbook-Completed

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!

Take a Tour

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I have received a lot of questions recently asking to see my apartment and how it’s come along since first moving into my new place. Even though I’ve been in my apartment for four months, I’m still adjusting to the space and realizing that I’ve made this my new home. The decorating is still far from being over, but it’s come a loooooong ways from the air mattress and the suitcase I started with. I invite you to take a little tour but to keep in mind, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Just a reminder on the space. It’s technically a JR. one bed room unit. It has a dividing built in which doesn’t qualify it as a studio but no door, so I guess it’s not a true 1 bedroom either. My apartment overlooks the pool area (which they’re completely re-doing the next few months) and my balcony has a view of Lake Balboa Park.

Living Room

Furnishing an apartment from scratch is a daunting experience but also an extremely exciting and rewarding challenge as well. I started with making too many trips to TJ MAXX and Target for the necessities: kitchen utensils, towels, cleaning supplies, and the air mattress. From there, I made a goal every week to check another thing off the list. At first, I was conflicted to just buy it all so that I could be done with it, but the other half of me wanted to take my time to find pieces that could make this feel more like my home.

This space is truly my first space. I’m solely in charge and it only has to work for me at this point. I’ve embraced that and started to explore my style and try new things. Color has always been my favorite way to make a room pop, but in this small space, I’m learning how important practicality and functionality can be. For example, my Rattan chair from Target was the least practical decision I’ve made, AND it was the first piece of furniture I purchased. I went from using a card board box as a dinner table to sitting on this (it is more comfortable than it looks, but still) Yet this chair is still one of my favorite pieces in my apartment.

Bedroom

My apartment should really be a walking advertisement for HomeGoods and Target. I fell in love with Target’s Summer Opal House collection! They made it so easy to start designing because of the wide variety of products available for bed, living, kitchen, and bath in a variety of coordinating patterns, prints, and colors. Then I rely on HomeGoods to help fill in the gaps. They’re always my go to stop for finding finishing touches that are both practical, unique, and eccentric. You never know what you’re going to find but you also know it’ll always be a steal! Some of my favorite HomeGoods finds include my couch, my wooden end table, and my variety of picture frames that showcase my loved ones and help remind me I’m not alone!

Kitchen

There’s nothing like scavenging through a flea market though, and the Los Angeles area has sooooooooo many to choose from. Although it would have been my choice to source all my furniture and décor from flea markets, having a small car and no moving buddies is not ideal (most of my large furniture I ordered online so I wouldn’t have to deal with this issue) Instead I use flea markets as a hobby never knowing what I’m looking for and just to find things with a little character. My kitchen is small. It’s fine when cooking for a party of one but I knew moving in that I’d need some extended counter space. It came from one of my favorite and largest flea markets I’ve ever been to in Long Beach.

Bedroom

Then I tried a re-sale app called Offer Up which introduced me to this local store the Little French Flea Market where I purchased my vanity desk, mirror, and chair. And then a few weekends ago I attended the Melrose Trading Post for the first time and found this great print of Audrey Hepburn.

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Sometimes I get lucky and don’t even need to look to find great pieces to bring home, sometimes they find me. The best part about being in a nice residential community is that people are constantly throwing out things that are beautiful and in great condition in our back-alley. If only I had the car to collect all the furniture and the space to re-do it, I could have my own flea market by now! (Dreams… maybe one day soon.) I found this beautiful frame and wait to create some are to go in it and one night I even found a box of little buddhas by the dumpster!

Now that all my furniture is in place (other than a kitchen table but with it just being me I have some time) my next apartment goal is to source some artwork. As much as I’d love to create it all from scratch, I don’t always have the time and don’t want to force anything. I also believe in supporting local artists and enjoy showcasing their stories as much as my own. Here are some of the spaces I’m shopping to fill! At the Melrose Flea Market, I was introduced to two amazing artists Cody Suzanne Clifford and Marz Jr. I’m still looking and am open to your suggestions. Please let me know if you have any favorite websites you use to find prints OR if you know of any local shops or artists. I also plan to check out the Social Type again in Silver Lake and take a visit to the Arts District!

Design Tip: Coasters

I’ve recently been inspired by LA friends that collect coasters from different bars and restaurants that they visit that guests can turn around and use. Every coaster tells a story and at the same time they can be great conversation starters and highlights of artwork. To jump start my collection I found a pack of whiskey and spirits coasters at HomeGoods and now I’m adding to it as I come across new designs.

My favorite attraction about my apartment is still Lake Balboa across the street! I’m always looking forward to runs and walks around the lake‑ they make it feel like home and it’s a little escape form the busy city life. Right now, all the birds are migrating and there’s so many different kinds of ducks, geese, cranes, swans, pelicans, and seagulls.

Bathroom

PS: I’m now accepting reservations for any friends and family to come visit whenever they please as mentioned they are re-doing our pool for the next 3 months, BUT I also have 3 mattresses for you to choose from for your visit: pillow top, a memory foam, and an air mattress. It’s a long story but pick your poison and see you soon!

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Plant Possibilities

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This past year, I have gotten pretty into plants… and while I somehow manage to keep myself alive, I’ve never been great at keeping my green friends thriving. While plants are such an important part of decorating a space, I never really had an interest in them until I visited the store Moss in Iowa City. Full disclaimer here: I was totally one of the people that made fun of the store when they first opened because I thought there was no way that they’d be able to create a sustainable business selling moss, succulents, pots, and other small gifts! There was no way!!! But, I must say, after my first time ever visiting the store… it wasn’t long before I was a regular customer.

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I became obsessed with the way cacti and succulents looked and the way that a little greenery could brighten your whole mood in a room. Anytime I saw a plant on sale- I snatched it up and started looking for creative ways to give it a new home. Although I had a new passion of indoor gardening, it didn’t mean I was good at it. I’d try propagating (taking leaves from plants to grow a new plant) clippings co-workers would give me. Everyone else’s would grow 3 times as fast, most of mine would shrivel out, and even when one started to grow it took FOREVER. I began to think that maybe plants weren’t the thing for me.

 

 

When I moved to LA, I had to say buh-bye to the plants I’d cared for so much in the past year and left them in the care of my mom. (The plants actually seem to be thriving, but I have no idea how because she’s not great with plants either.) I’m surrounded by green-thumbs though (which only seems to frustrate me more at my lack of ability.) Before moving I helped my Uncle (who has basically converted half of his house into a greenhouse) plant seeds in preparation for the Summer. He had the whole set up including proper lighting, watering techniques, potting materials, you name it! Then there’s my boyfriend who can find a seed or leaf on the ground and three days later it’s over growing its pot.

I wasn’t ready to give up. Now that I’m finally starting to get settled in my apartment and making it look like a home (the reveal will be soon I swear just waiting on a few final touches like plants, pictures, and artwork) I could see that I was missing something—plants. I also need something to “take care of” and I’m nowhere near ready for the responsibility of a dog so plants it is.

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In California there are soooo many floral shops, nurseries, and gardens BUT plants can be really expensive. This weekend I went with a friend of mine to the Los Angeles Flower District. Basically, is about 4 square blocks of nothing but floral and plant shops. They’re these warehouse buildings that have all different kinds of flower venders selling fresh cut flowers, house plants, outdoor plants, pots, and plant accessories. Whether interested in buying plants or not it’s quite the experience! It will overwhelm your senses with bright and beautiful colors and everywhere you go it sells so amazing. The absolute best part though, is that it’s incredibly cheap. Tiny baby succulents for $1 each and taller house plants for $20 -$90 depending on the size of the plant.

 

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So here’s what all I walked away with: 1 tall tree thing, 1 small standard house plant, 1 standard vine plant, 1 bigger succulent grouping, 6 baby succulents, and 5 pots all for about $60-$70! What a steal!!! I wanted so much more but thought this was a good place to start. Obviously I don’t know any of the technical names being new to this plant thing and having done no research. None of them were really labeled at the store so if you know what they are or what they’re called, please let me know.

 

 

Logistics: The flower district is located downtown LA close to the fashion district. There’s plenty of parking available in the area, most of it was $5-10 depending on how long you’ll be there. The parking lots are very close so if you need to make a few trips like we did it’s super easy to do!  The market is during the morning and I believe it ends at 2:00 pm so plan accordingly. We met there at 11:00 and made a lap around to all the shops and scoped things out for about an hour then went back through and made our purchases. To go into the original LA Flower Market we had to pay $1. Although its cheap and you think that it’s going to be worth it, we actually had better luck at all the surrounding shops.

 

Since it’s down town there are soooo many ways to make a day out of it if you’re already making the drive. The arts district (which I still need to check out) and the ROW DTLA are close by (driving distance though.) We drove a little way to go to lunch at Bottega Louie —so good but there are also sooooo many options to stop and eat at just be prepared you’ll have to pay for parking again. I had an event later that day that was also down town at the LA Center for Digital Art, so I went and parked again in that area and walked around until I found a coffee shop where I could sit and write this blog post! I found the neatest little space with this tiny, all glass coffee shop in the middle of all these apartment buildings called Tilt Coffee. It was just what I needed. It’s the best kind of treat yourself and your apartment kind of day!

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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Home to Hollywood

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Hollywood: the entertainment capital of the world and the main reason I’ve day dreamed about Los Angeles since I was nine years old. It’s the home to America’s most beloved movies and television shows and everywhere you go in this city, you’re surrounded by the industry!

 

If you love to watch a screen (whether big or small) it comes to life right before your eyes. Everywhere you look, you can almost guarantee it’s served as a backdrop in one film or another (even the Buca de Beppo around the corner).  All of the major production studios are scattered around the city and many of them even find unique ways to open their doors and let you in. Whether you want to grab a cup of joe with an old Friend at the Central Perk Café at Warner Bros or travel the back lots at NBCUniversal Studios where you’ll find The Voice, Amity Island, and even Whoville. There’s something fun about interacting and seeing firsthand how and where some of your favorite movies are made.

IMG_6404You don’t have to take a tour or be on set to see where the magic happens. Like I said everywhere you go has played a role somewhere. Of course, it’s hard to miss some of Hollywood’s favorite backdrops like the iconic Hollywood Sign and don’t forget to take a trip on Mulholland Drive! While traveling through the city you will also probably pass or cross over the LA River, (not much of a river) home to one of my all-time favorite movie, the drag race scene in Grease (Go Grease Lightning go!)

When you’re here, there’s also always the excitement of you never know who you’ll run into (literally). Twice on my recent evening jogs in a quiet residential neighborhood I’ve passed a filming session for Julia Robert’s new TV Show, Homecoming (before you ask, no-I didn’t see her or any of her co-stars, but I did see the lighting guy, and he’s just as cool). As far as other sightings, I’ve seen countless Bachelor/Bachelorette stars, multiple E-personalities (even though I didn’t really know who they were), and a few of my favorites like Aaron Paul and Tyra Banks!

doj_instagram_17The key to seeing celebrities is mostly being able to be aware of your surroundings and knowing where and when to pay attention (something I’m not great at, but I am super good with faces!)  You could see someone at dinner, while out shopping, or even walking down a street (all places and real-life situations I’ve seen someone.)  When you do see someone, just keep it cool and gage the situation!  But come on we all know those few people that’d we’d freak out if we ever walked into a room and saw them, that one person standing right in front of us. I’ve gotten into convos where I try to think about who that person would be for me… sure, a few years ago it would have been Adam Levine, but I’ve seen him and we’re not getting married anytime soon so I’m over that. My inner middle schooler though, would still probably lose it though if I saw Zac Efron or Robert Pattinson though! I have been known to get more excited over the fact I actually spotted and recognized someone than the fact of their celebrity status or who they are. I mean when it comes down to it, they are normal people just out trying to live their everyday lives, but you bet if I run into Ellen, I’m going to ask her to take a selfie with me! I’d love to hear who you’d freak out over meeting! Send or message me your fav celebs and I’ll keep you posted if I ever run into them!

The most important way to experience the movies though, is still by actually going to a movie theater to watch a movie.  In LA there’s no exception, even when on vacation it’d recommend going to see a movie because it can be a unique experience you can’t get anywhere else and it plays a huge part in this city’s history and future. To get a unique LA movie theater experience, you can purchase tickets to sit where the stars sit for movie premieres at the Chinese Theater or see Disney’s latest hit at the El Capitan theater.

I love seeing a movie at the actual theater for many reasons that aren’t just butter covered popcorn. I think it’s so special to sit down next to your loved ones or sometimes even complete strangers to sit and experience a movie together.  The feeling of sharing a laugh with a room full of people during the latest Melissa McCarthy movie or jumping so high out of your seat during a trailer for an upcoming horror movie that it leaves the whole room laughing afterwards-that’s movie magic. It’s less about what you’re actually watching and more about experiencing it together and sharing that memory.

Movies literally bring people together in so many ways!  In LA there are some very unique ways to experience a movie especially a classic. Why sit where the stars sit, when you can sit right next to one of the greatest stars of all times (and by sit next to I mean set on top of…)  One of the greatest traditions in LA is to go see a favorite movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  You’ll actually be surrounded by some of the greatest entertainers that ever lived while you watch some of the most praised and loved movies of all time. With theaters the way they are nowadays, the comfort of your own bed is no longer an excuse. You can find theaters that are even better and comfier than your couch at home.  At iPic for example, you can sit in a recliner (big enough for two) that goes all way back. They’ll give you a pillow, a blanket, and free popcorn. You will also then have the chance to order things like sushi, steak, dessert and other delicious meals and they’ll bring it out for you. Now I don’t know about you but that sounds way better than what I’ve got at home.

Look, I know how expensive movies are getting, especially if you want to enjoy an experience like iPic, but trust me… I have a secret.  (It’s not much of a secret any more but it’s still so new to me that it feels like a secret.) If you love going to the movies, listen up this one is for you, finish reading my blog then before you go do whatever else you’re going to go do, you’re going to download Movie PassMovie Pass is the answer to your prayers and is exactly what it sounds like. It’s not a scam and it’s not too good to be true, but it is the greatest thing ever! It is a service that you subscribe to (just like Netflix) and for $10 a month you can see as many movies in theaters as you want (well up to one per day and you can’t see the same one twice-but still! That up to 31 movies a month for $10 total).

This is how it works… You sign up online or through the app, they they’re going to mail you a Movie Pass Card (it looks like a “credit card”). Once you’ve activated your card, you can go to select theaters in your area (in LA they’re everywhere, in Boone and Ames, don’t worry you can use Movie Pass at Movies 12 AND North Grand Cinema I already checked!) Once you have your card ready and you’re at the theater you select the movie and showtime you’d like to see and then click check-in. Next, you’ll go purchase your tickets, when you get to the counter to pay you simply swipe your Movie Pass card and then they take care of the rest. Some select theaters will even let you reserve your seat and ticket online, so you don’t have to show up extra early but check in with your local theater. The first time I ever used movie pass I would have paid $14 for a ticket at that location, but with Movie Pass all I paid was my $10 earlier that month and it had already paid for itself. Just keep in mind that this is a heck of a great deal and please don’t try to scam the system and ruin it for the rest of us. You can’t use your movie pass on other people or multiple tickets AND you can’t use it in combination with concession stand purchases.  Just take your “free” ticket and enjoy the show.

Now you have NO excuses not to go see the latest and greatest movies. If you just go to one movie a month, it’ll pay for itself. Since being out here, I’ve used my Movie Pass to see Life of the Party, Oceans 8, and Tag (all movies I’d highly recommend for very different reasons!) Next on the list is Incredibles 2, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom (supposed to be awesome) Gotti (supposed to be horrible) and Hereditary (if I can find any friends brave enough to go with me).

Bonus: When I went to see Tag I also saw the trailer for Bad Times at the El Royale and it was the most beautiful, terrifying, magical, and creepy trailer I’ve ever seen. If you’re confused how all those adjectives fit together, check it out right now.

***Credits start rolling***

Don’t get up and leave your seats just yet! This city is known for making movies and a lot of people work in this industry. People appreciate every roll and all the effort that goes into make a great film.  With that being said, don’t be surprised if people stick around so that they can cheer and clap when their friend’s name scrolls across the screen! It’s worth the wait to see the joy!

This week my advice is to go to the movies and share an experience with other people. Whether the movie truly speaks to you or is the worst thing you’ve ever seen, there’s nothing like crying, laughing, and sometimes screaming all together.

Share with me what movies you’re excited to see or what your thoughts were on ones you’ve seen recently! Comment below, email dayofjae@gmail.com, or DM on Instagram!  Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for all the latest updates >>^^