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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Taking on Traffic

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(While this picture wasn’t taken in LA and it isn’t me driving…. It is still my car and I took it!)

Well… I’m not an Iowa any morethat’s for sure. When you come to visit or move to LA if the palm trees and sunshine aren’t enough to immediately tell you you’re in a new place then it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself stuck in traffic on the 101 freeway and the message reads loud and clear.  Traffic here really does suck.

There are a lot of rumors that surround Los Angeles and transportation (but there are a lot of truths about them too).  In just a short time of living in LA spread out over a few years, I’ve experienced it all from using public transportation, trying out all the rideshare services, and even driving!

Everyone says that the public transportation systems suck in LA and well if you’re someone whose use to living in New York or Chicago then you’d agree. Los Angeles is a different kind of city because it’s so spread out compared to cities that have skyscrapers and believe in building up into the sky.  When I first lived in Los Angeles for a summer internship, I was testing it all out.  I lucked out rented an apartment that happened to be less than a block away from a metro stop. For me to get from my apartment in North Hollywood/Studio City all the way to Universal City for work, I walked one block, got on a metro bus for one stop, transferred to a metro subway for one stop then got off and walked across the street to work. Easy Peasy! All this took about 45 mins each way and cost about $5 round trip.  Sounds great, right? Well since moving back it’s my understanding that that was a pretty rare and unique experience that I’ll probably never find again.

Unless you find yourself in a similar situation where you live in close proximity to a stop, it can be very challenging.  There’s not very much parking at the metro stops and stations so you have to walk or Uber to catch a metro ride. The metro lines aren’t as well connected as in other cities either. You could find yourself in a situation where you have to go all the way downtown to make your connection train and then back track on a different line to get to the neighborhood you work in! But none the less public transportation does exist if you’re willing to make it work.  I also think that most of us are too stuck in our ways and tailored to this idea that “we have to drive” to even find a route or see if there’s a public transportation option available to us. Not as many people are willing to trade in their road rage for sitting next to strangers, but if you’re the kind of person that can actually get your morning started by either answering emails, reading a book, or even taking a little snooze in public—then it could definitely be worth checking out! Yes, it might take you a little longer, but you have more of an opportunity to make that time worth it and be productive.

One morning during my internship, I woke up a little later than usual and knew I wasn’t going to make it on time if I took the subway.  I decided to Uber instead and actually learned that going to work in the mornings was cheaper and quicker by Ubering rather than public transportation. The Uber ride would take 15 minutes and cost about $1.75… purely amazing and life changing (I now had an extra 15 minutes to get ready every morning or get to work even that much earlier which for me is a big deal!)

 

When I lived in LA the first time Uber and Lyft were still pretty new concepts to me, but before long they became my life line.  When my mom and I arrived at LAX we had plans to immediately rent a car for the weekend, but that idea quickly turned into a nightmare. Long story short, I’m just going to let you know that I will never try renting a car from a rental place close to LAX ever again.  If you’re here for a short period of time, trust me it’s not worth the stress, waiting, and money!  Just download a rideshare app instead- I swear! I convinced my mom right then and there we were going to just Uber all weekend and 12 minutes later our driver was coming to pick us up and saved us from all the struggles.

Uber has been a life saver in many different moments. It made getting around in Los Angeles easy, “quicker,” and was pretty affordable considering the alternatives. My mom and I both loved getting to meet different drivers and hearing their advice and life stories while we also got to sit back, relax, and not worry about directions, parking, or which exit to take. People often get in the discussion of whether Uber or Lyft is better, and everyone has a different response. Some drivers drive for both services and will tell you different things. For me, they’re both about equal. I’ve had great luck with both and some frustrating moments with both. Most importantly I’ve always felt safe on both and when there were times I ran into issues both customer services responded quickly and were very helpful! If I have time and am not in a hurry I usually check the rate with both and then pick which ever one will be cheaper. Usually though, they’re pretty close so I pick whichever one can have a driver there the quickest.

My favorite thing to do in LA (in terms of traveling and traffic that is) is to take Uber pool. Uber pools or Lyft Lines are ride options offered in the app (they’re usually only offered in your major metropolitan areas though). They allow parties of 1-2 riders to share their ride with another rider usually for ½ the price of the original ride. Generally speaking it only adds an additional 15-30 mins onto your trip.  I’ve seen some of the neatest areas and neighborhoods and met some amazing people all because of Uber pool. For example, one Saturday I was going to Manhattan Beach and we stopped and picked up another girl in her mid-twenties who was also headed to that beach. Neither of us were meeting anyone until later that afternoon so we decided we’d just go to the beach together and hangout. We spent the entire afternoon discussing our lives back and forth with a complete stranger and then at the end of the day we both went our separate ways- but it was a really great time.

While that was an amazing experience, you do have to be careful and smart about it. Although I haven’t had any bad experiences, I do choose not to pool later in the evening or when I’m closer to certain areas of town. Also, as often as you meet some neat people you’ll also get passengers who do not want talk or even look at you (we all have those days). If you’re in a hurry and crunched for time, don’t rely on pool just because it’s cheaper.  It’s not always a guarantee that they’ll get you there on time especially with traffic. Do everyone a favor and pay the few dollars more just to take your own ride in those situations.

When I moved back to LA a month ago I had decided not to bring my car and planned on ridesharing everywhere. I wanted to get reacquainted with the area once again and I wanted to see if I really needed truly needed a car… Almost immediately I regretted that decision. Uber prices had definitely gone up and I was living in a less central area compared to North Hollywood (now I’m in the San Fernando Valley). My expenses were rapidly adding up and it took too much time to plan ahead to rideshare.  So, I needed my car but now that I had a new job and I couldn’t go back to Iowa to get it. I had looked into shipping it and that was going to cost about $2,000 which did not seem worth it.  On to plan b… My boyfriend, being as great as he is, agreed to drive it out to me. I’ve had a car now for two weeks, which I know doesn’t seem like a long time, but it’s made all the difference. I was beyond nervous to drive at first… I had no idea of how to really get anywhere and I had never drove in traffic like this before. But now, I’m thinking to myself, what was I so nervous for. Right now, I live and work in the valley which is no different than driving in town in places like Iowa City or Ankeny, Iowa. Yes, the freeways are a little different though especially during rush-hour. I’ll tell you what though, I’d rather drive in LA than Chicago because at least people here are lucky to be moving 10 miles an hour where in Chicago everyone’s flying down the interstate at 85 miles per hour. The biggest thing you have to pay attention for is people cutting you off and swerving in and out of lanes usually without using turn signals. Motorcycles are also terrifying because they can weave in and out of traffic going 60 miles an hour even if you’re stopped. If you stay alert and pay attention though, you’ll be fine! Just stay focused on your lane and the lanes next to you, be greedy when you need to be, don’t be a jerk, and take turns when you can!

 

There’s another key difference when driving in LA (typically the guys you’re with will notice it first). If you’re anything like my boyfriend, Dad, or Uncle the first thing you realize is that you’re always surrounded by fancy cars. The people here drive a lot of different cars than you might be used to. My dream Mercedes G-Wagons are everywhere, and Tesla’s might as well be the new Prius in LA County (even cars like a Rolls-Royce aren’t that uncommon). Make sure to keep your eyes on the road though so that you don’t accidently fender-bender a Lamborghini.

(And then there’s cars in Cali like these…good thing though, people would see me coming from a mile away.)

 

If you’ve ever lived in Iowa City, you know parking there sucks so naturally I was worried what it’d be like in LA but honestly, it’s not that bad in most neighborhoods. There’s a lot more street parking then you’d think (but you better be ready to parallel park), parking garages are actually pretty cheap especially with store validation, and you can valet at almost every restaurant for like $8-10 plus tip if you’re really in a hurry to meet someone.

Overall the rumors are pretty accurate. While living in LA without a car isn’t impossible, it certainly makes life more difficult if you’re living here long term or commuting to work every day. I’ll leave you with a few more tips to take into consideration if you’re planning to visit or make a move. Don’t pay attention to how many miles something is away. That number means nothing here and will actually make you more frustrated. When plugging an address or location into Google Maps just look at the time of how long it’s going to take you to get there. Next tip is to then plan accordingly. Always give yourself at least 15-30 minutes more than it says you need to get there whether you’re driving or ridesharing. Accidents do happen frequently which is usually why the freeways can get backed up at any time of the day. Most importantly just keep an open mind. Expect traffic so then when you hit a rare patch of no traffic it’ll feel like a winning situation. Last but not least, if you do find yourself getting behind the wheel use your GPS, stay focused, keep a spare phone charger in your car, and just go for it. If I can find my way around and maneuver the traffic being the most defensive Midwest driver there is, you’ll be fine!

Working Woman

 

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Wow, ya know what?! It’s been almost exactly one year since I graduated from the University of Iowa and I must say all things considering I’ve been beyond fortunate this past year.

I believe this was one of the toughest years of my life (and I’ve heard that my fellow classmates can relate) because for the first time my next step wasn’t already pre-determined. When we grow up our parents are making all of our decisions for us–what to eat, what to do today, where to go to school, yada yada yada.  Then once we start to think we’re gaining our independence in middle school, we start to do what society tells us to (or in some cases the exact opposite.)

Next, we go to high school, then college, and then a few prolong the inevitable and go to more college BUT THEN when you do graduate or call it quits on school you find out you’re all on your own. “Go find a job” (if only it really was that simple) and then for the first time you’ve truly got to figure it out on your own, but at the same time it’s not really even up to you.  Now your fate is in a complete stranger’s hand.

When applying to jobs, getting jobs, and working jobs all we can do is our very best and try to exceed their expectations every step of the way. Coming out of college I was very lucky to have had over a year’s experience working in my field of study, graphic design. I had worked as an assistant graphic designer at Hancher Auditorium (the best 😉 performing arts venue in the Midwest) and had an internship with NBCUniversal (where I fell in love with LA.) Plus years of student organization leadership experience and other miscellaneous jobs.

About a week before college graduation I received my first full time job offer.  After a lot of thinking, I decided to accept the position of Senior Graphic Designer at Mittera Creative Agency in Des Moines, Iowa (thus prolonging my dream of moving west for a little longer.) At Mittera I worked alongside a great group of talented individuals and an amazing core group of inspiring women. I learned so much by working with clients like Hy-Vee, Schnucks, and even a little Theisen’s.  While agency life was exhausting and easy to complain about, I’m beyond grateful. The friends I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned about design, working, business, people, and myself made the entire experience worth it.  After 9 months of working there, it’s true Mittera made a lot of decisions for me when they let me, and half the team go but they pushed me to stop waiting and to go after my dreams.

 

 

From January to March I’d been applying to jobs like crazy all over the world.  I traveled to New York to visit a friend and see what I thought of the city, but even after all that contemplating I knew LA still had my heart. I got in contact with a few talent/recruiting agencies here in LA and in the end ended up enrolling in four different companies’ systems. (I’ll save that for another topic one day.)  Once I moved out here, the different agencies had already helped me set up a number of interviews.  After a week I had already been offered a job. I took the temporary freelance position with Roberts Beauty’s skincare line Florapy Beauty.  Here I am currently providing creative and art direction for the brand as well as creating content and developing their digital engagement. (make sure to follow @florapybeauty on Instagram to see exactly what I’m doing) So far, it’s so great. I’m really enjoying the brand, the creative freedom, and again another strong, smart group of women to work with.

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Cinco de Mayo Party @ Robert’s Cosmetics

I’m not sure what will happen next but I’m enjoying the moment and promise to keep you posted. So far all of these experiences have taught me that you can make any career happen if you want it enough and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. Of course, the flipside of that is also knowing your worth as an employee and as a talented and skilled person. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and your abilities and don’t settle for less. Only you can hold yourself back!