ASK ALEX: "I'm in a Job Rut".

 
“Does this filter make me look wise??”

“Does this filter make me look wise??”

It’s been tough for me to write lately. I feel like every time I put pen to paper, something angry comes out. With the state of our nation, it’s been difficult to care about much else these days than the atrocities that are taking place at the hand of our own government. It feels like everything I have to say comes back to the fear and heartbreak I feel for our country.

Last month, I asked you guys on Instagram what kind of advice you were in need of. I got a multitude of answers, ranging from how to find the best sunglasses for your face shape, to help with getting rid of toxic people from your life. I’ve sat down a few times to start writing my answers, but every time I got sidetracked and ended up on more of a tangent than a talk. But last week- something shifted. After the El Paso & Dayton shootings, and the round-up of undocumented immigrants in Mississippi which left a dozen children without their parents, I felt a burning helplessness to do something. And I realized the quickest way to do something was to start spreading kindness, compassion and empathy. And I know I can do so with my words. I also bought a stranger a cookie last week- only to find out they “don’t EAT COOKIES”!! So, here I am, back on my computer!!

So, without further ado, here’s my first article with “Ask Alex” or “Advice from Alex” or “Talking Out of Her Ass, it’s Alex!”- whatever we want to call it- I’m answering your questions!

 

“I’m in a job rut. I’ve been with my current employer for a few years, and I really hate my job and want to look elsewhere. How did you end up finding a job you like?”

 

If you would have asked me a few years ago (hell, even a few months ago) to dish out job advice, I would have laughed and then gotten in my 2001 Saturn Station and popped in a Jonas Brothers CD. SIMPLER TIMES! But I didn’t start out very strong in the job-scene (does anyone?). My first job, I diverted away from fashion, which I had gone to college for. I took a job that paid well-enough and gave me experience and I was grateful- but I was miserable. It wasn’t for me. And I remember in that time, everything felt so final. I felt like I had chosen my course and I let my job dictate my moods and my life. I never shut the job off, I came home every night riled up and angry.

Eventually, I left that job and got back into fashion, working for Linda Dresner. Out of college, I had pretty much stalked Linda, emailing and calling her store until she agreed to meet with me. At that time, she didn’t have any work for me. But I offered to come in and help with sales and whatever else she needed, and we formed a relationship. Three years later- she called me and I left my job to work with her. I worked with Linda for almost three years- and it was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. Linda brought life back into my goals.

When we moved to Las Vegas, I was convinced I would never find a job in fashion here. I was applying for anything and everything, sitting in coffee shops almost everyday firing off my resume. After about 5 months of nothing, I took a seasonal job working in the Zappos Call Center. I had really wanted to work for Zappos, and I felt this could be a good foot in the door. The hours weren’t ideal, I sat 8 hours a day in a call center, fielding customer service calls. I surprisingly enjoyed it- but I think more-or-less I was just happy to be working again and talking to actual people, not just yelling wrong answers at Alex Trebeck.

Three weeks into the 8-week program, I got an email from Chloe Gosselin. I had actually applied for a job to work for her husband, when she came across my resume. She was also looking to hire someone for her business, and we met for coffee. I left the call center and starting working with Chloe two weeks later.

Here’s the thing- sometimes luck just has something to do with it. But it wasn’t without hard work. For five months, 4-5 days a week, I was actively applying for anything that sounded remotely interesting to me. I reached out to companies that didn’t even have job postings. This leads me to my best job-hunting practice:

You do not have to wait for a company to have an opening. Think of what you want to do. Is it marketing? Advertising? Tech? Research a company that you admire or are interested in and find someone who works in the related department-or, if it’s a super small company, reach out to the owner. Many times, I would just send a cold-email, ask if I could come in and meet with that person over coffee because I admired their company or wanted to learn more about it. You would be shocked with how generous people can be with their time. Don’t get me wrong- 8 times out of 10 I got no response. But the other two times, I made valuable connections and was on their radar if an opening did arise- that’s how I got the seasonal work with Zappos. I emailed a recruiter asking to have coffee and learn more about Zappos- a few weeks later, she emailed me about the Customer Service role. I immediately went to Whole Foods and bought a lunch box, I was back in business, baby!!

Never think that a job or task is beneath you. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve talked to, fresh out of college, who thinks they should be able to skip “entry-level”. It’s not what you see on Instagram. You have to work and be willing to do it all. Sometimes you take a new job and feel like you’re taking a small step back. But one step back, to ultimately take five forward? I was terrible at math in high school but sounds good to me!!

If you are currently in a job that sucks the soul out of you, you have to do everything you can to not bring it home with you. Leave work at work. I used to sit in my car for 15-minutes after a certain job I had, just to decompress and shake it off. I was letting the misery of the job take the joy out of the rest of my day, and I didn’t want to give it that power.

If you work with people who are intent on making you miserable, remember that flowers still grow among weeds. Or in simpler terms, don’t internalize the bullshit happening around you that stunts your growth. That was the hardest lesson for me to learn, and the hardest habit to kick.

In terms of applying for jobs- making my resume was truly the bane of my existence. I thought I had a killer resume- until I sent it to a few friends who kindly roasted it into oblivion. My experience was strong! But my resume might as well have been written in Comic Sans. It had a lot on there, but it said nothing. The best tip I ever received was that every sentence should have a result. So instead of:

“Responsible for all e-mail marketing initiatives”

It should be:

“Responsible for all e-mail marketing initiatives, leading to a 33% increase in active subscribers”.

And while we’re at it- delete your objective sentence. Delete it like your racist Uncle from Facebook. It takes up valuable property on your resume, and it tells the employer what they already know- that you want that job, CLEARLY!!!

It also helped me to buy a resume template off Etsy- it took the hard work out of designing my resume so I could focus on the content of it.

I think we’ve been fed a myth about the “Dream Job”- and we pressure ourselves to find it as fast as we can. We tell ourselves we’ll be happy when we have it. In those five months that I wasn’t working, I realized that I had associated my happiness with work, and the jobs I had. If my job sucked- I was miserable, even when I wasn’t there. I had gotten completely dependent on my job to dictate the other parts of life. I struggled to find things that could fill me with joy and purpose the way I had told myself a job should make me feel. In those five months, I had to learn that my happiness came from other outside factors. I had to focus on how to create a “Dream Life”, instead the illusive “Dream Job”. And it wasn’t this poetic, romanticized journey people sell- sorry but that’s only for people who don’t need MONEY!!! It was challenging and stressful as hell.

I’m not a job expert, I’m really fortunate to be in a position now where I enjoy going into work and feel respected and happy. What I want the takeaway to be is that while your job environment is extremely important to your well-being, it can’t be the sole factor of it. If you’re ready to be onto the next thing, start putting yourself out there, be willing to get a little uncomfortable. The amount of cringe-y emails I sent (I actually put “Hello, Is it Me You’re Looking For? as the subject of an application email. GOOD TIMES!) and unanswered calls discouraged me at times, but all it takes is one. Again- you might be in weeds, but you are a flower (one of those cool, Instagrammy ones) and growth requires action.

In Repair

 
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After a rough stretch of days, I officially declared myself in a “funk”. You know the feeling- you don’t quite feel like yourself, every emotion and feeling seems to be heightened. My first memory of this feeling was when Marissa Cooper died in The O.C….BUT THAT WAS DIFFERENT! A “faux funk”, if you will. A real, adult funk is hard to shake, surrounded by feelings of self-doubt, uncertainty and unworthiness.

I have very little reason to be anything less than ecstatic these days. We just closed on a house, we have a cute new puppy to love (and to chase around the house when he steals my underwear from the laundry and puts it on his head. MY GIFTED SON!), we just got back from a vacation, I’m healthy, and I actually like going to my job.

But for the past few days, I just haven’t been feeling it. I have felt removed from myself, my routines, my usual character. I’m not going to be too hard on myself here- these periods happen no matter what your life looks like in that moment. But I knew I had to take back my humanity. I’m not a runner, I don’t “find myself” with yoga, I can’t “sweat it out!!” with boxing. Over the last year or so, I’ve had to find activities and practices to put in my arsenal that bring me back to myself. My personal practices include:

-Going to the library and finding a new book (cookbooks are therapeutic to me, even if I never make anything from them.)

-Sipping my coffee in the morning at home, not from a to-go cup in my car (great news for my cup holders, which are usually espresso stained)

-Reading outside

- Going to Trader Joe’s and perusing every aisle, grabbing all the snacks that look good (and usually opening a box of something in the car to eat on the way home…maybe I should be taking better care of my car)

-Baking something (this week it was a cherry tart, which I overcooked but Michael said it’s the best tart he’s ever had. 1000 POINTS TO MICHAEL!)

-Buying flowers that I will most likely kill within 3 days but that first day…they are healing!

Even writing this right now, outside with a glass of wine (blame any errors on the Pinot), is a therapeutic action in repairing myself. I take these mundane, somewhat daily things and I put them on priority. Some may call it “self-care”, but it’s more than that. It’s the practice of reminding myself that I am worth caring for.

We all require healing. Maybe it’s once a month, or once a week. Maybe it’s massive work (I firmly believe therapy is the greatest gift you can give yourself), or just a tune-up. To heal is to be human.

In my favorite book, Heart Talk , Cleo Wade says “It does no good to think about running a marathon when you still have a broken foot”. Take the time you need, put priority on your practices, your “self-activators”. Find your way back and remember, you can never be truly lost if you know who you are.

dust

 
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Don’t worry- I’m not going to start this post with an “I’m back after a little hiatus!” bit. I’ve played it and it’s gotten old. The truth is, I just stopped writing. Not because I didn’t enjoy it or have anything to say, but simply because life got busy. Right after I published my last post in November, I finally got a job in Nevada. A job I love, and I decided early on I would give it my all. I put all my focus not just into my job, but also my marriage, which was finally back on the ground after a difficult move, and immersing myself in our new community. The last few months have flown by, and it’s almost a year-to-date that we found out we were leaving Detroit. And guess what? I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and it completely snuck up on me.

In all my contentment, I still I felt an itch to put pen to paper again (I write all my posts in a notebook before typing. Eat your heart out, Shakespeare!!!) Every day when I would walk into my closet, I would pass a framed copy of “The Nines” logo that my friendly so sweetly made me for my birthday one year. I would walk by it, think “I should write soon”, and then just go in my closet and get distracted by a sweater. But yesterday as I walked past it, I noticed all the dust that had accumulated around the frame, and it hit me. I was letting the dust collect around something I loved. I gave up on something that was supposed to be growing. And in true “Carrie Bradshaw” style (even though she is THE WORST, don’t get me started) , I had to wonder “When being content stunts your growth-is it really such a good thing?”.

No-one made me stop writing. It was actually the opposite. My husband would ask if there was anything new to read, my boss said she really enjoyed my writing. I feel supported by the people around me. But I used all the things going on in my life as a crutch to avoid doing something that was enjoyable, but required a lot of effort. I was so busy with life and happy with just-the-way-things-were that I forgot that growth requires doing. That in order to have a voice, you have to speak. I neglected the piece of me that loves to talk about women’s rights and skincare and how not needing a bra until 8th grade ruined my self esteem- we’ll get to that later, OH WILL WE EVER!

This post isn’t about “being back, guys!”. It’s meant to serve as a reminder that if you have let dust collect around something you love, something that makes you who you are-you can always clean it off and pick it back up. You can also hire a cleaning company. That has no double meaning- the dust was so alarming that we literally hired a cleaning company. Talk soon. xx

Earrings, Anklets & ...Arthur?


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I’ve never really been a “jewelry-girl” It all started when I was in second grade, and my dad took me to “Limited Too” to get my ears pierced- against my mom’s Explicit! Instructions! Not to! Fast forward two months, when my lobes were so severely infected, that I had to go to the doctor to get the earrings removed. I was intent on getting them re-pierced, until I saw that episode of “Arthur” where D.W.’s friend’s piercing gets infected and turns her bunny ears bright green. I was apparently so traumatized by the cartoon-horror of it all, that I didn’t get them pierced again until high school.

I did however, dive into necklaces in my teens, when I got the iconic Tiffany’s heart chain-pendant, which was essential to my Hardtails and Uggs look. But jewelry in general never quite stuck with me, I just wasn’t buying or wearing it- and I always felt like just a little something was missing from all my outfits.

In the past year, I started investing in some everyday pieces. I began with a simple gold initial “A” necklace, my mom gifted me a small gold vintage pendant, and Michael got me a beautiful gold necklace for our anniversary. Slowly but surely my collection started to grow, and expand with more earrings, anklets, even a toe ring I won’t talk about. I’ve found some perfect pieces to form a sort of “starter kit” for a recovering non-jewelry wearer.

Ank Studios Laurel Hoops-$45

Two years ago, I apparently had no guidance in my life because no-one cared to inform me that sleeping in earrings was really bad for you, and may or may not rip your ear lobe. My left-lobe is still in recovery, but I’ve finally been able to wear earrings again thanks to these stickers.

The first pair I reached for is these perfect gold hoops from Ank Studios. Hoops and huggies are having a big moment right now, but so many can look cheap, or cost more than a month’s worth of Thai takeout (in hindsight, we should have not moved within walking distance of a Thai restaurant). I found Ank Studios on Instagram, and they seem to be the perfect mix of cost-efficient, yet high quality. They’re light on my ears, and they look and feel expensive. I’ve been wearing them with everything from a cocktail dress, to a sweatshirt or t-shirt. There’s something so chic about wearing nicer jewelry with everyday basics.

 

Brinker and Eliza The Best Is Yet To Come Necklace -$88

I’ve longed for this necklace since seeing it on just about everyone at Paris Fashion Week. It’s the perfect mix of costume and chic. I’m currently wearing it with a t-shirt and jeans, but can’t wait to wear with sweaters and skirts all winter long. I’ve found that I prefer my jewelry to be a little more playful. Unless someone wants to get me a diamond necklace, then I can get serious REAL FAST.

 

Roxanne Assoulin Hip Hop But Not Earrings -$120

When my beloved ear lobe was healing, I strictly wore clip-on earrings. When I found these by Roxanne Assoulin, I felt like they were the essence of me- loud, colorful, and a little crazy. The mismatched pair was love at first sight, and I finally splurged on them before going to Europe last Fall. I’ve worn them with everything from sweatshirts to formal dresses. They’re eye-catching, playful, and can jazz up any outfit. Definitely an investment worth making. At least that’s what I told my financial planner. I’m sure he understood!!

A Cowrie Shell Anklet

Cowrie shells were all the rage in jewelry this summer, worn by just about about every influencer and your favorite 10-year-old coming back from summer camp. I really wanted a cowrie shell anklet, but wasn’t willing to pay the hefty price tag I kept seeing. Thank God for Etsy! For $7, I have the accessory of the season, and I can’t wait to take it into Fall. I plan to wear it over white athletic socks with sneakers, or with a skirt and heeled sandals (SANDALS YEAR ROUND IS NOW MY REALITY!!!). It puts a little Johnny Tsunami in my step and honestly, I think that’s something we could all use right now. Go big or go home!! (I will most definitely go home).

 

Vintage Jewelry

A lot of jewelry I’ve found has been from vintage or antique stores. Especially if you wear clip-ons, this is the way to go. I’ve shopped locally (if you’re in Michigan, “Crimson Rose Antiques” in Birmingham is my favorite), but have also seen great finds on Etsy and Instagram. Since vintage jewelry is a little worn, I usually just polish up with a cloth or take the item to get professionally polished at a jeweler. I found a beautiful, delicate rhinestone evening-watch a few months ago. It was far too big for my wrist, and badly needed a shining. I took it to my local jeweler, where they removed a few links and polished it up so it looked brand new. All in all, I think the watch + the maintenance cost me $30. Shout out to all the grandmas everywhere for making it possible to shop such chic vintage jewels, I will wear your clip ons with pride!!

 

Self-Care

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When I first looked into the phenomena known as “self-care”, I was pumped. Who doesn’t want a reasoning behind more bubble baths, a glass of wine after work, or a $60 candle? I quickly got carried away in the practice. Paying $150 for a Hydrafacial? SELF-CARE! Taking a yoga class where a sweaty man literally sat on my back and told me to breathe through my chakra? SELF-CARE (also kind of gross)! Brunch at 3pm on a Sunday and binging “The Office” for the rest of the day? SELF-CARE!

I found myself doing more things that I enjoyed, and I liked putting an emphasis on “me time”. But I was perplexed when I didn’t find myself feeling more valued, or more at peace with myself. I felt pretty much the same, but with better skin and more flexible limbs.

I was making a homemade clay-drink creation (if you value your insides, don’t do this) when I started thinking: maybe my self-care isn’t just outward action, but internal practices I had long left behind. I decided to carefully study myself over the next few days and observe my own internal thoughts and how they materialized in my life.

I was about four hours into this exercise when I couldn’t ignore what was happening. My negative self-talk was through the roof. Just about everything I did, I attached a personal, negative emotion to it. When I tried to get up from the couch and felt a little gimpy, I scolded myself for not working out more. When I checked Twitter for the 6th time that day, I mentally noted how lazy and unmotivated I was. When I got dressed, I frowned in the mirror, knowing I wouldn’t ever look like the long-legged girl I saw on Instagram that morning. Even when I was eating lunch, I thought “take smaller bites you animal!!!”. It’s like a judgey Italian Grandmother was living in my head, commenting on my every move.

I noticed over the next few days how prevalent negative self-talk was in my life. It hindered how my day went, how I felt about myself, how I interacted with others. I was the Regina George of my own brain. The way I spoke to myself was unkind, judgmental and showed no signs of gentleness. I realized no matter how much self-care I practiced, none of it mattered, because I didn’t really care about my inner self, and how it was being looked after.

Self-care is many things. It is laying down for a bit when you’re feeling anxious and tired. It’s choosing to stay in and put some clay on your face. It’s spending an afternoon at the library, with you and only you. It’s calling a friend for a good laugh. There are so many ways to slow down, and check in with yourself. But no mud-mask in the world can hide the effects of negative self-talk. Why do we allow our inner voice be so mean? Is it because we feel unworthy of the kindness we so willingly give to others? If another person spoke to me the way I spoke to myself, they would be gone faster than this $6 Lavender Blueberry scone I’m eating in the spirit of LOVING MYSELF.

It’s true that I never feel fresher than after I’ve spent a day at the spa, having my muscles pounded into the ground, lounging around guzzling cucumber water. I speak to myself like a damn goddess when my limbs are sprawled out on a daybed, taking another sip of my Oolong tea. I usually enter the week calmer, with more confidence. But what if I could mentally check myself into my spa-safe-haven every morning, choosing to speak to myself with kindness? For starters, I would save a ton of money. For the past few weeks, every time I went to negatively speak to myself, I refrained, and rephrased. Instead of “You didn’t get to the grocery store today, you’re so lazy”, I would check in and say “I did not make the grocery store a priority today. I did some other really productive things instead”. Or one of my brain’s classics: “you will never look as effortlessly gorgeous as that girl on Instagram”, I will take a second to remind myself “her beauty does not take away from my own.”

It’s been a real challenge to reshape the way I think, and it’s something I work on every day. Self-care can present itself in a multitude of ways. I love buying a luxe face mask I’ve been saving up for or lighting a new candle. But I will not allow companies to capitalize on my need to love myself, if I truly cannot achieve that on the inside. I’ve got a long way to go- and I know I can’t totally get rid of that Italian Grandma living in my head. But instead of a judgey one, I’m trading her in for one that always tells me I need to eat more, grabs my face and tells me how lovely I am.

Fall Fashion Finds

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Judging by the abundance of pumpkin spice lattes and apple-orchard-selfies on my Instagram timeline, fall has arrived. Temperatures have even gotten cooler here in Nevada. I went from having to wear a bathing suit for survival to t-shirt weather, a major upgrade. But living in the desert has not deterred me from dreaming about scrumptious sweaters and turtlenecks so bulky, that they hide my hormonal chin breakouts. It will be another month-or-so before I start stocking up on boots and just about everything made of wool (upper lip would be drowning at the moment), but I wanted to get a head-start and share the best fall fashion trends, and my personal favorite finds, with all of you!

 

J. Crew French Girl Blazer

Blazers really made a comeback last fall, and don’t seem to be going anywhere fast. Gone is the formal undertone of the blazer, replaced with oversized, menswear inspired styles meant to be worn with t-shirts and over slip dresses. What was once a serious, masculine piece of clothing is now the pinnacle of every good wardrobe.  

I love the look of this one from J. Crew. It’s double-breasted and unstructured, giving it the ultimate cool, French girl vibe (hence the blazer’s name- kudos J. Crew). I’ve will live in this over a t-shirt and jeans, but I also love it over a lightweight sweater and bike shorts. YES! Bike shorts and blazers. Free blog name up for grabs.

*I found this blazer to be true to size. It’s naturally a little boxy and oversized.

Zara glitter turtlenecks

I’m a sucker for a good turtleneck. I think they’re the epitome of chic and looking put together. Also when I don’t feel like doing my hair, I can tuck it into the turtleneck, and no one has to know I didn’t have time to wash it because I stayed up all night thinking about Peter Kavinsky ( Calm down-he’s over 18. I checked.).

This turtleneck from Zara is a great basic, and sparkle was all over the runways for the season. Wear alone with jeans, skirts, or under another sweater or sweatshirt. Maybe on the one day in January that it dips below 50 degrees, I’ll wear mine with heavy white jeans and boots. Marking my calendar!!

 

Novelty/Fisherman Sweaters

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A few weeks ago, “The Cut” mentioned that Harry from “When Harry Met Sally” would be their fall style icon, and I’ll never be the same. Meg Ryan definitely has peak 90’s style in the classic film, but it’s Harry who’s quietly serving me bulky sweater CHICNESS. Paired almost too-simply with just jeans and sneakers, it’s the fall uniform. This is a unisex look, ladies and gentlemen! Honestly there’s nothing hotter to me than a man in a big bulky sweater. I really never thought I would say that Billy Crystal is a style icon, let alone a sex symbol. 2018 is wild.

I tend to either buy my sweaters one size up, or even look around in the men’s department. A slightly over-sized fit is best for a cozier, cooler look.


WESTERN-INSPIRED BOOTIES

Listen- I get that no one wants to look like Jessie from “Toy Story”- I haven’t since I was 10-years-old at least. But cowboy boots are back and better than ever. Don’t take it so literally- we’re talking stylized versions of the Western-wear. Extreme pointed toes, ankle cuts, outlandish colors like bright white (my favorite) and red. They’re a perfect update for things already in your closet- jeans, dresses and mini skirts. “80’s Western” is big for the season, further proving that Pixar really was just LIGHTYEARS ahead (PUN! INTENDED!)

Rad Plaid

A few years ago, I really wanted to be Cher Horowitz from for Halloween. I couldn’t find a plaid yellow skirt to save my life. Fast-forward to today, and I can walk into any Target and make a “Clueless” look for any day of the week. Plaid is back in a big way. Larger, exaggerated prints, mixing plaids by color and material. Tartan trousers, oversized coats in fresh colors, plaid nylon totes- I feel like a Golf icon and I’m all in.

To keep it modern, try mixing different colors of plaid, like with a scarf and blazer. My personal favorite is to mix by material. Sleek Tartan pants with a wool buffalo-plaid scarf. Will you look like a fool? As if!!!

 

Animal Print as a Neutral

I live for animal print. I don’t wear fur, so it’s the closest I’ll ever get to feeling like a cool a$$ jungle cat. I was thrilled to see it all over the runways, mixing different leopards and cheetahs, chic zebra trench coats and sultry snakeskin boots.

My favorite version is in the form of skirts. Having an animal print skirt can be a wonderful neutral in your wardrobe. Pair a brown and black cheetah-print midi with a turtleneck, white blouse, even one of those chunky sweaters mentioned earlier. Mix two different animal prints if you’re really feeling wild.

 
This Fall, jump in some leaves for me. Enjoy some cider and overdose on doughnuts. Wake up early and take a walk in the crisp fall air. This will be the first time in my life I don’t experience a Michigan fall or winter. Right now I’m feeling nostalgic, but I know come December, I’ll be pretty pleased when the only ice I’m scraping is off my frozen margarita, poolside. PERSPECTIVE!

One Year.

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When were engaged, Michael and I heard from so many couples: “the first year of marriage is the best of your life!”. But what we rarely heard, was the honesty of all the changes that come with being a newly married couple. Instagram photos and tributes to our spouses can be deceiving, so today, on our first wedding anniversary, I wanted to write my version of a love letter to my husband.

One year ago, Michael and I got married. It truly was the happiest day of our lives. I didn’t think I could love him any more than in the moments we exchanged our personal vows. We went on our honeymoon in Hawaii, embraced in marital and tropical bliss. Our first Christmas together was magical, and I loved ringing in 2018 with a bottle of champagne from the comfort of our own couch. The marital rumors were true- I was happier than I had ever been.

In the Spring, Michael and I started to get restless. We had been living in our rented condo for almost two years at this point, and were looking ahead to the future in terms of our careers. We knew it was time to start making moves. We imagined staying in the area, buying a house, getting a dog, or FIVE! Or maybe we would move to a big city and live the life for a few years. It was on my lunch hour one day in March that Michael called me and said he was put up for a great new position in Las Vegas. Through the decision to take the job and move, our marital bliss slowly faded away. When faced with a big, life-changing decision- that’s when our marriage got real. By April, we packed up the condo and moved our things across the country. I moved in with my parents, and Michael commuted back and fourth between Detroit and Las Vegas. Tensions were high, the situation was less than ideal. Michael loved his new job, but I was weary of a new home and career uncertainty.

We finally made the full move in July, and while things have been exciting and new, some days have been a struggle. It isn’t this cinematic picture of marriage, romantically eating pizza on the floor surrounded by moving boxes. The image I had in my head of what marriage should look like wasn’t matching our reality. It made me wonder if we were failing in our first year.

Looking back on the past year, I now can see with full clarity, that my marriage is perfectly real. In the times that we struggled, that was when we decided how we will be as husband and wife. After every serious talk or disagreement, my husband showed me beautiful comfort and unconditional understanding. I gave him compassion and unwavering faith. I truly feel that we both emptied ourselves for one another in this year, in the most wonderful way possible. Here today, in a coffee shop on the other side of the country, I can honestly say that I love Michael more today than I did on our wedding day. There is no Instagram tribute or Facebook post that could explain how closely I will hold this year to my heart. I will look back on the days I came home crying (didn’t have to look back very far, as it was probably last week), losing faith in myself and my career, only to be laughing an hour later, feeling completely renewed by viewing myself through my husbands’ eyes. 

There is no perfect marriage. You’re going to argue, disagree, maybe even slam a door (I’m an Italian Aries, sorry!!!). Life is great when it’s moving smoothly and seamlessly. House, dog, steady job. But if you’re lucky, it’s in the moments of change, the moments of complete uncertainty and risk, that you really realize how wonderful love and marriage can be.  It was in the struggle that I truly saw how beautiful our life will be together. Not because we’re perfectly married. But because for the first time, I feel that we both gave each other absolutely everything we had. And in return? We made a life, together. When they say “the honeymoon is over!”, good. That’s when the good part really begins.

In our vows, I told Michael that he is my greatest gift. It’s never been truer than it is today. Happy first anniversary, Michael.

"Day to Night" is a Scam and I'm not Falling for It Anymore

 
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I was addicted to magazines when I was growing up. I would spend hours flipping through my “Teen Vogue”, “Vogue”, “Cosmopolitan”, “Teen People” (R.I.P.)- and a resounding theme was “Take your outfit from day to night!”. Every issue, every season, there were new ways to take my pencil skirt and blouse from desk to daquiris (even as a 15-year-old, this was important to me even though I had no job nor could drink?). I consistently see it in publications today, swapping out ballet flats for a funky block heel, or a pendant necklace for some gaudy beaded thing. I quickly realized that now in my adult working life, I never once worried about taking my outfit from day to night- so why are magazines still so obsessed with it?

Don’t get me wrong- I’m obviously here for pieces that can be worn for multiple occasions and events, but that never quite seems to be the clear narrative. Here’s my theory: back in the 90’s, early 00’s, women were dressing more formally for work. Fashion and clothing weren’t as accessible as they are now, with the birth of fast fashion and online shopping. We’ve gotten so much more creative and expressive with “professional dress”. Most work places don’t enforce a formal dress code of suits, pencil skirts or dresses. And even if they do, what’s the problem with wearing those things out after work? It’s martinis with your messy friends, not the Queen.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t think “Day to Night” is as crucial to working women, because most “nights” consist of going home, taking our pants off, throwing on a face mask that will fix EVERYTHING, and watching last night’s shows while simultaneously exploring every crevice of the internet. Oh, and fighting the patriarchy, but that goes without saying. AM I RIGHT LADIES?

Men never have to worry about owning extra accessories or stuffing “a great, sassy belt!” into their work bags if a date is on the after-work agenda. They show up in the exact same thing they put on that morning, maybe putting on a little extra deodorant or checking for boogers. Why is there such a strong narrative that the clothes that women wear to work, aren’t acceptable for a drink that we probably desperately deserve?

Most women I know aren’t remotely interested in “Day to night!” unless it involves tips on how to take off our bras off through our shirts before we get in the door. We’re just fine in what we’re wearing, thank you very much. It’s all a ploy to get us to buy more things, and convince us that we need more to be more. I’m not falling for it anymore, and I’ll show up to dinner in the same thing I worked in all day. Not all heroes wear capes…but we will wear the same pants all damn day.

We Need to Talk About Paul Manafort's Wardrobe

I often dream about having an unlimited budget for clothes. The beautiful things I would buy…I would essentially dress like a rich woman lounging in the Hamptons, year-round. Well one of America’s least favorite (do we have favorites??) con-men, Paul Manafort, thanks to off-shore bank accounts, DID have an unlimited clothing budget. For the cool cost of 1.3 million dollars, he decided to look like a dollar store drug dealer. A garbage gangster. Clothes that scream “I’M RICH WORLD, CAN’T YOU TELL?!”. Tacky plaid blazers that looked more like Danny DeVito in “Matilda” than Nick Wooster. Snakeskin overcoats- which in reality was very clever, considering he really IS a traitorous snake. I love a good theme.

In an attempt to cover up my constant anxiety over the state of our country and its lack of leadership, I thought I would dissect a few pieces of Cheatin’ Paul’s lavish wardrobe.  I use the word “lavish” very loosely, because I really do believe this is the only wardrobe in the world that looks like it is from a Men’s Warehouse outlet sale, but for the cost of a large home. BEEP BEEP, HERE COMES THE FASHION POLICE (followed by the real police- enjoy prison, Paul!!)

 

THE OSTRICH JACKET- $15,000

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When I first heard of this infamous ostrich jacket, I envisioned something grand, possibly with feathers and proper tails. What I didn’t expect, was the bomber jacket of 90% of taxi drivers- and even that’s offensive to hardworking taxi drivers everywhere. This man, who’s supposed to be the “best of the best”, was swindled into buying a coat that looked like every teenage “bad boy” in every movie, that hangs out behind the bleachers saying things like “do you always do what your parents tell you to?”. Honestly the sales associate that sold him this piece deserves our utmost respect, possibly even an award.

PYTHON COAT- $18,500 (LOL)

You know the saying “you look like a million bucks!”? This looks like a craigslist coat being advertised for an upcoming estate sale. I truly want to know where he intended to wear this, other than some underground speakeasy at 2am meeting with Ukrainians-actually this purchase totally makes sense now. Let’s carry on.

The Plaid Suits- $15,000

The boxy fit of these suits is a felony alone. You could fit four Jared Kushners in just one of these blazers. We could house a small family coming across the border under one of these, but honestly, they’ve already had it hard enough and shouldn’t have to endure any further trauma. Anyone who says that letting immigrants into the U.S. is horrific, hasn’t seen one of these suits. Next.

The Double Breasted Blazer- $$ unknown, but to be honest anything over $100 is too much for this

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Remember that episode of “The Office”, where Michael accidentally wears a women’s suit? It seems that Paul got lost on his way to "Alan Couture" and ended up at an "Ann Taylor". Hillary wore it better. So did Michael Scott.

THE CASUAL WEAR- $48,500+

Paul Manafort’s casual wear is that of a dad that never shows up to his kids soccer games when he says he will. Poor kids, but it’s even sadder for the lizard used to make a $48,00 jacket, that looks like I pulled it from a bin at Mr. Alan’s.

 

While this was a fun exercise in fashion-policing someone who was wanted by actual police, let it serve as a reminder that every.single.voice.matters. I understand that Paul Manafort wasn’t an elected official, but he had a hand in electing someone who is. We get to choose the type of people that represent us as a country, in Washington, and in our own states and cities. The people that really make a difference, are us, the people. Oh, it’s also a lesson that money can’t buy taste. But I think we established that back at “Python coat”.  

Here's What to Buy From the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: 2018 Edition!

 
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year- no, not when the Home Depot Hot Dog stand puts up summer hours, but the other most wonderful time, The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

As I wrote last year, this sale is one of my favorite shopping events of the year. It’s NEW fall merchandise, on sale before it hits stores at full price. This was my first year not living in Michigan for the sale, so I let a few tears pass as I scrolled by delicious, heavy winter coats and cozy sweaters. I had to adjust what I was buying due to my change in climate (did you know even your fingers can sweat? ME EITHER!). I may have let a sweatshirt or two slip in there, but I am only human and a change in scenery cannot change me!

My purchases were carefully curated, and I’m sharing what I got, plus a few. I’m still in my period of (F)unemployment, so I had to shop responsibly  (somewhere, my husband is smiling reading this. Hi, Mike!).

 

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ASTR The Label Button Front Midi Dress: $52.90 (After sale: $79)

 

This was the first item that caught my attention. The price was right, print is a perfect Fall-floral, and I love the vintage silhouette of it. It is a tad low cut, but I think the length and sleeve detail make it more Lady than Tramp (but if Tramp is your thing, I’m here for that too- women doing what they want 2018!!). The buttons from bust to hem make it possible to even wear this dress as a top. I wore it over jeans, unbuttoned from the hem to my waist and voila! Now you have a blouse and a dress! You’re welcome!

Transition this from summer to fall with sneakers or boots instead of sandals, or layered with a turtleneck or tee underneath.

NIKE Sportswear Rally Sweatshirt: $51.90 (After sale: $70)

The extent of my sweatshirt wearing now is slipping one on when Mike’s not home and I turn the AC down to 65. But this limited-time activity did not prevent me from adding this perfect pull-over to my collection.

The high-neckline allows this sweatshirt be a more refined, and less sloppy. If I didn’t live in the pits of hell, temperature-wise, I would pair with a midi skirt and sneakers come Fall. Until then, I’ll wear it in front of my freezer.

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ASTR The Label Twist Front Bodysuit: $35.90 (After sale: $55)

I live for bodysuits. They’re easy to throw on, comfy and great for layering. I’m always looking for ones I can wear for going out, as it’s a one-stop-shop to a great outfit (well, you’ll need pants or something. Hopefully.).

This one from ASTR is a rich, metallic silver-grey, and will look great with black high-waisted pants or baggy jeans. The front-twist detail is extremely slimming, and it DOES have a snap closure. Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than going to the bathroom and sitting naked in the stall, because you had to pull down your entire bodysuit. It's peak vulnerability. There is probably no other frequent-situation that makes me reevaluate my life and choices more. Snaps make this a sure purchase.

Rebecca Minkoff Koso Bootie: $99.90 (After sale: $149.95)

I have long been looking for a perfect white Western-inspired boot, but everything I found made me look like a Dollar-store version of Jessie from "Toy Story". They were either too tall or too pointy, and I looked more ready to two-step, not for two drinks.

These are the ideal heel-height for every day, a perfect shade of non-stark white. The low cut of this boot makes it much more accessible to wear with multiple pieces. White boots are a big-time accessory right now, and you can wear them with anything from flowy dresses, to mini skirts or jeans and an over-sized blazer. Just stay away from anything Fringe. You are Rodeo Drive honey, not a Rodeo Clown.

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VANS Old Skool Sneaker: $42.90 (After sale: $64.95)

I love that Vans became not-just for the skater crowd, but a true cool-girl staple for women and men. It’s like the modern version my pink "Etnies" from 6th grade, but without the Happy Bunny sketches on them. THANK GOD FOR PUBERTY!

I immediately took to this updated-version of the plain black Vans. The body of the shoe is linen, giving it a great textured look. It’s a fresh take on a white sneaker, which goes with just about everything already in your closet. The gold-logo detail dresses it up a bit, making me feel like the COOL girl at the skate park, not the one riding by on her bike on the way to the Aquatic Center, kick board in tow.

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Diptyque Mini Candle Set: $55 ($75 value)

This deal is the true reason I began stanning (linked that to the Urban Dictionary definition because there are sweet moms reading this) this sale in the first place. I put these in our bathroom, on my nightstand, just about anywhere in our apartment. They are small with a big impact, the scent will still fill any room. Don’t forget to de-wax them when you’re done! They make the perfect holders for Q-tips, earrings, or even a holder for dipping sauces, when everything else is in boxes and you’ve got sweet potato fries in the oven. SO I’VE HEARD!

They also make perfect gifts, but I’m feeling stingy this year so sorry friends! This one’s for me.

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Dior Addict Lip Glow Set: $75 ($90 value)

I am the laziest when it comes to lip product. Yes, lip balm is essentially attached to my right hand, but when it comes to lipstick, I’m lazier than 7-year-old me during "T.G.I.F". on ABC (Why hasn’t  “Sabrina the Teenage Witch gotten her reboot yet? For another time.). That doesn’t stop me from owning about 20 lip colors, however! Old habits die hard, or in my case, they don’t die at all because I’M STILL BUYING THEM!

Dior Lip glow is the one lip product I use up, every time. I own 4 shades, and each one holds a special place in my heart and purse. It’s the easiest and most non-committal way to wear lip color. It moisturizes and enhances your lips natural color, while giving you a natural flush of perfectly pouty shades.

They can be expensive on their own- $34 a pop. But in this set, you get your choice of Lip Glow in Coral (my favorite for summer) or Pink (the OG), PLUS, a lip lacquer (a very light-weight lipstick with mega-shine and high pigment) and a mini lip-plumping gloss. This set is your introduction into the addiction of Dior Lip products and I’m so sorry but also, you’re welcome.

 

And in a dark turn: Thank you to this sale for distracting me from the world essentially being on fire! At least I have my sweatshirt to keep me warm. Happy shopping!

"Thanks! It's Vintage!"

 
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I love vintage shopping. It gives me a such a high that sometimes I'm amazed it's legal. There's just something about finding that perfect piece that seems like it stuck around all these years just for you

But as someone old once said, "nothing worth having comes easy". The same can be said for vintage apparel. I have spent hours rifling through racks and racks of vintage clothes, with nothing to show for it but tired arms (clothes are heavy and I have chicken arms, ok?). I started vintage shopping when I was in high school, and over the years I have learned many lessons about what to look out for. And with the birth of online vintage shopping on sites like Etsy, my education has become even greater.  After having been burned by one-particular 60’s dress in 2010 (I’m not emotionally ready to explain that story yet), I have decided to share my tips with you all. Someone call Dua Lipa because here come the rules!!

1. SNIFF IT REAL GOOD

Vintage clothes can naturally have a musty smell. It's not your grandmas fault that she didn't know she had a “Reformation”-esque blouse sitting in her basement for 30 years. She was too busy handing you money under the table to care. Vintage clothing has that distinct scent, and sometimes it's fixable. However, sometimes it's not and LET ME TELL YOU FROM EXPERIENCE, you don't want to be the person at the party that smells like your Great Aunt Bertha’s attic. When you find a piece you like in-person, be sure to sniff it. Sniff it real good. If it has a faint scent, you can do the following:

  •  Send it to the dry cleaner and be sure to tell them it's a vintage piece. Most places will be able to use a deodorizer. If it's any kind of fur coat, take it to a furrier to deodorize, too. 
  • If you have a garage, hang it in there a for a few days. Sometimes if the piece is not that old (90's is apparently vintage now so that makes me 100 years old I guess), it just needs some fresh air.
  •  Activated Charcoal. VERY CAREFULLY put some in a bowl and put the bowl and your garment in a plastic tub or storage bin, any container that will seal. Again, be careful because if you spill the charcoal, well then I can't help you and you'll  use my name like Voldemort. Leave them in the bin together for up to 10 days, and the charcoal will help absorb the smell.
  •  Your freezer is your friend! The lowest shelf on our freezer is meant for meats. The other 3 shelves are all my clothes, it is my second closet. The coldness of the freezer can deodorize and sanitize your clothes. Seal your item up in a large Ziploc bag and let it sit there for a few days. One time, I forgot I put a vintage caftan in there and found it when I was taking out some burgers. Talk about mystery meat (please stay).

Be honest with yourself about the degree of the musty-scent. I bought a PERFECT 70's cocktail dress once, and I did notice that it was especially ~scented~. I tried everything to make it better, but every time I went to put it on, it made me smell like a 90-year-old chain smoker. Cigarette smells are nearly impossible to get out of clothes that have been sitting with it for years, so try to stay away. 

 

2. THE ROBERT MUELLER OF VINTAGE

When I find a vintage piece I love, I inspect that thing like the head of the F.B.I.. I go over every inch making sure there are no visible stains, marks, holes or rips. It's really a non-negotiable to me, there are so many pieces out there in great condition. Vintage doesn't have to mean dirty or sloppy, and brown spots or stains can take it there real fast. My only negotiable stain can be yellow spots on white articles of clothing, because I've found I can spot clean with Oxy Clean or Bleach. But honestly, I can barely remember to move my clothes from the washer to the dryer for 2 days so who has time for that? Make sure the clothes are clean and in excellent condition. Regardless, I always take whatever I buy right to the dry cleaner. Someone has worn these clothes before you! And it probably wasn't Audrey Hepburn, ok?

Some of my favorite vintage pieces! A mix from Lost & Found Vintage (Royal Oak), The Vintage Twin, and Etsy Stores:

My Soft Parade, Your Sweet Caroline, & Hungry Heart Vintage

 

3. VINTAGE IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM

Online Vintage is a whole new game. I do all of mine on Etsy and have found some incredible pieces. But since you can't touch, smell or try on your find first, you must be especially cautious 

  • All great vintage Etsy sellers will give you exact measurements. The tag might say it's a size 8! But a size 8 in the 1950's might as well have been a 0. Take your own measurements and compare them to what they have listed. 
  •  I always, always, always message the buyer to ask if the item has any smells or odors. I got a blouse once that I could smell through the packaging. Turns out they shared a space with a perfume factory, which made me smell like 10,000 flower arrangements dying. When you message the seller, you're safe for a refund if you get the item and it does in fact smell. It's just a security blanket, which I love because I still sleep with an actual security blanket. 27 YEARS YOUNG, BABY!
  • Look at the seller’s reviews. People will say if they received an item that wasn't as described, and you can see how the seller responds. 

Try to pin down exactly what you’re looking for, to make searching easier. My favorite key searches are:

  • Vintage white blouse
  • Vintage eyelet blouse/dress
  • Vintage 1960’s sundress/party Dress/cocktail dress
  • Vintage beaded handbag
  • Vintage circle skirt
  • Vintage slip dress

Once you’ve found a potential winner, be sure to check if the seller has listed any stains or damage, and don’t be afraid to message if you’re unsure! I usually also put a filter on for just sellers in the  United States. I’ve had some issues before with customs and shipping that just weren’t worth it. So sorry Russia!! You’ll have to hold onto some great vintage wiggle dress AND the Pee Tape (#RELEASEIT!!).

Vintage shopping can be incredibly rewarding. Not only are you finding something original and supporting small business, but it’s a huge help to the environment. So to my future children, you can thank mommy later for her vintage- shopping addiction. Because of me and my 8 eyelet blouses, you’ll be able to see a polar bear and trees and stuff. Happy shopping! 

 

CAKE, CARS AND CARDI B! All Our Wedding Details.

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Okay- so now that we have the sappiness out of the way, let’s get down to the planning portion of our wedding. I spent the last year planning the day, and while it was fun, it could be challenging. It was hard finding the right vendors to understand our vision, execute it properly, and for a fair price. Every second of research, phone calls and emails were worth it, not because our flowers were beautiful or the DJ played all the right songs. But because it was ours, it was exactly what we wanted and more, and we were surrounded by so much love and support. Also, I could eat pizza again. ADIOS, WEDDING DIET!

Our wedding day truly was the greatest day of my life thus far, and I know Michael feels the same way. We put a lot of thought into every element, but never taking it too seriously. We wanted a big party with all our friends and family, and that’s what we had. I wanted to share today all of our vendors (and a few tips!) for any other brides out there, or maybe someone who’s just looking ahead (I don’t judge!). I had a few hiccups, but ended up loving every single vendor I used- some even becoming my friend…not by choice. I told you, I made them.

 

THE VENUE: The Townsend Hotel

 

Since stepping foot in to the Townsend Hotel almost 20 years ago, I knew I would want to get married there someday. Or at least throw a Harry Potter Pajama Party or something (I was 7 sooo..). So when it was time to pick our venue, it was the first and only spot that we looked. We met with the events coordinator, Lizz, and hit it off right away. She understood our vision, and knew we wanted an elegant, classic affair, but with pizza and trap music. Over the next year, Lizz was my basically my best friend. She was on top of this wedding like Pitbull on a remix. She was organized, meticulous and made planning incredibly easy. The Townsend Hotel is very great-Gatsby-esque, and possesses a standard of elegance that was beyond anything we could have imagined for our wedding. We were treated like royalty, even at 2AM after the reception, when they delivered an extra pizza and two plates of mashed potatoes up to our room. Choosing the Townsend Hotel for our wedding was the best decision we made, besides getting married and committing to a lifetime together and stuff.

*The Townsend also catered the dinner and their bakery made the cake, both of which I still dream about on a weekly basis.

 

THE DRESS: Mira Couture, Chicago

I searched all over for a dress in Metro-Detroit, and was so disappointed when I couldn’t find a single thing I loved. Entrepreneurs listen up! There’s a major market here in Detroit for non-traditional wedding dresses. I didn’t want anything super sparkly or pouf-y, it’s just not my style. I wanted something bridal, but non-traditional. After striking out in Detroit, My mom, step-dad, sister and I spent a weekend in Chicago looking for the right one. We booked a 3 day trip, when in reality, all we needed was 3 hours. My first appointment was at Mira Couture, where I was greeted with immense kindness from Addie, my consultant. The dress that ultimately ended up being mine (designer was Daalarna), was the very first dress I tried on. I want to be very clear about this, I think the whole “Say Yes to The Dress, bawl your eyes out, find the meaning of life moment” is a little dramatic and unrealistic. When I showed my family the dress, they undoubtedly told me that this was my dress. It was me to-a-tee. And I LOVED it. But I didn’t cry, like I’ve been conditioned to believe that sobbing over a dress is the indicator- so we spend the next 48 hours going from shop-to-shop, trying on dress after dress, finding plenty of good, but realizing that no dress made me feel like that first one. We ordered the dress and veil as soon as we got back to Michigan, and over the next year, through emails and fittings, and more fittings, Mira delivered me a dress beyond anything I could have imagined. They treated me with respect, honesty and true kindness. They really cared about my happiness on our wedding day. Their selection was incredible, with instead of racks and racks filled with similar looking dresses, their selection was carefully curated and beautifully chosen, at all different price points.

*The guys tuxedos were from The Tux Shop in Birmingham. They were wonderful to work with and each guy had the perfect fit. Except our friend Paul- he split his pants getting too low to “Rake it Up”, so that was probably his own fault.

 

THE FLORIST: Jeffrey Floral Architecture

The flowers were really the only area of our wedding in which I really struggled. I know nothing about flowers, other than I can get carnations for $2.99 at Trader Joe’s. I knew what I liked, but needed someone to tell me how to do it. We actually booked one florist, which after our trial, left me drinking straight from a bottle of wine when we got home. It was clear we didn’t share the same vision, and that there would be no effort from their side to deliver something we loved. That’s when I found Jeffrey. I was at our venue for a meeting one day, when I looked around and noticed how beautiful and unique their flowers were around the lobby. They gave me Jeffrey’s info, and now I am his #1 fan/borderline stalker. We met and I knew I was in good hands. I showed him photos of what I liked, and within minutes, he told me he had this and just leave it up to him. I trusted him like an old Italian grandmother. He’s not a florist- he’s an artist. He creates the most unbelievable arrangements, full of creativity, originality and beauty. He created a perfect ambiance for the evening, and made me semi-obsessed with him in the process.

THE CANDLES: Detroit Rose

I’ve talked about Detroit Rose candles before- they’re my absolute favorite and I am a big fan of the creator, Dierdre. So when I had the idea of doing a custom candle to display on our tables, I knew exactly where to go. Deirdre and I emailed back and fourth, talking about the mood we wanted for the room, and how we could convey that through scent. She sent me a bunch of samples, and together we found the perfect mix: rose, amber, vetiver and cardamom. She even designed a beautiful custom label for us to bring it all together. Our custom candle filled the room with the sweet scent of rose and pure romance (as romantic as Cardi B & The Ying Yang twins blaring through the speakers allow for). It is one of my favorite things we did for the wedding, because now every time I light one in our home, I am reminded of the love and happiness of that day (and have the urge to belt out get low in my living room).

 

THE BEAUTY: Hair-Kevin Styles @ Luigi Bruni, Makeup- Katrina Malota @ Luigi Bruni

I have been seeing Kevin for my hair color for a few years now, and I knew it was love at first foil from the day we met. Kevin is truly an artist, and was one of the first people that truly made me feel beautiful- and that goes beyond hair. He is kind, funny, and unbelievably talented. My hair was the least stressful thing about our wedding, because I knew I could leave it in Kevin’s hands and he would create something beautiful- and he did! I truly think there is no one better in town not just with hair, but to have by your side as you get ready for your wedding. He brings a beautiful energy, and sees each woman as a beautiful individual-and he celebrates that through his work.

I usually hate having my makeup done. In the past, it’s usually just been a lot of bronzer and eyeliner so dark and thick I still look like I listen to Hawthorne Heights (NEVER FORGET!). So I was nervous when I knew I would need to get my makeup done for the big day. I had known Katrina through coming to the salon and working with her on a project for work, and we always just seemed to click. When I went to my makeup trial with her, I explained everything I never liked about having my makeup done, and when she told me that black eyeliner wouldn’t even get near my face, I knew I was in the right hands. Katrina, like Kevin, is an artist. She’s an icon, and she has the ability to take your features, and celebrate them through her mastery. She made each of my bridesmaids, my mother, and myself, feel so beautiful- while keeping each girl true to herself. She doesn’t use makeup as a disguise, but to an enhancer to what she already sees in you. Her glowing energy is contagious, and I will forever be grateful for how she made me feel on our wedding day. 

THE QUARTET: Rondo String Quartet

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I knew that when I walked down the aisle to Michael, I wanted doves to be released and Andrea Bocelli to come down from the ceiling just belting one out. Then I got a hold of a budget and decided a string quartet would be just as beautiful. I searched high and low, but it was the Quartet’s director, Lisa, that really sold me. She was incredibly organized, responsive and kind, especially in the last few weeks when I became a bit scattered. The quartet even learned “A Sky Full of Stars”, our favorite song, to walk down the aisle to. It’s also worth mentioning that Rondo played at my mom and Paul’s wedding, a few weeks after, and played the MSU and UofM fight song as the processional. Almost makes me wish I would have stuck with violin in middle school. ALMOST (I was last chair I had no choice, really).

 

THE DJ: Max Schuler

I love music and knew exactly what I wanted to dance to at our reception, so hiring a friend with DJ equipment seemed like a no-brainer for me. I’ve known Max since elementary school, when we used to wait at the bus stop together. He is sincerely one of the kindest people I’ve ever met- when some kid made fun of me on the bus (something about a Hollister denim skirt and my bird legs), I remember Max standing up for me and not joining in- so it was really special to have him provide the music and mood for our wedding. We met a few times and got the general vibe. We didn’t want anything cheesy or over the top (if I heard "Cupid Shuffle" there would be hell to pay), just romantic and fun. BOY did he deliver. . From Bodak Yellow to Celine Dion to Roll-Out (special request by my mom- seriously), Max kept the party going all night, and I am so thankful for his thoughtfulness in playing certain songs and keeping the vibe right. UNFORTUNATELY, I was Max’s last gig, so you can’t have him. I wanted to give him credit where credit it due, and make a point for picking your own playlist!

 

THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Sandra Floering, For The Love of It

I searched high and low for a wedding photographer, often discouraged when I stumbled upon cheesy-azz photos in their portfolio. I found Sandra & For The Love Of It on pure luck. I saw some wedding photos on Facebook, found the photographer and got in touch with him-only to find out he wasn’t available. But he recommended "For The Love of It" to me, and I will forever be grateful. One look at Sandra’s portfolio (free of any prom-esque portraits) and my search was over. We skyped a couple of times, but didn’t actually meet in person until the morning of the wedding. I can’t put into words the energy and talent that encompasses Sandra and her husband, Grant. It felt like we were hanging out with friends all day long-really talented, hard-working friends. Sandra & Grant made us feel comfortable, at ease, and most of the time we didn’t even notice they were snapping away.  They somehow perfectly captured the happiness and love that surrounded us, and gave us a gift that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. Sandra then did my mom’s wedding a few weeks later, and then one of my best friend’s a few weeks after that. By now, I consider Sandra and her husband like family, and I will think of her every time I get misty-eyed looking at a photo of my husband and I (or the one of me stuffing my face with donuts. THEY’RE ALL GREAT).

 

THE VIDEOGRAPHER: Bo Parker, Afterglow Film & Photo

We weren’t going to get a videographer. I researched and just found them too expensive for what you got. I didn’t just want a 5 minute trailer to remember the day, but more comprehensive footage because I knew most of the day would fly by me, and I wanted to be able to go back and remember. I enlisted the help of my Facebook friends ( which I did for a lot of things and you guys came THROUGH). Shout-out to Sara McNeill who lived in my dorm in college, for she mentioned a videographer who was also Central Michigan Alum! After chatting with Bo, the founder, we decided to go for it. His pricing was fair, his energy electric, and not only did he give us a trailer, but an hour-long feature that included quiet moments of the day I didn’t even know he was filming. When I watched our trailer for the first time with tears streaming down my face, I knew that hiring not just a videographer, but Bo specifically, was some of the best money I ever spent. Other than the time I paid for a wand at Olivander's at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and then got chosen BY Olivander to practice spells. But it's a close second.

 

THE DAY OF COORDINATOR: Andrea Solomon

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I was happy to plan our wedding- wedding planners are expensive and basically, I wanted to be the J-LO of this thing. But after hearing from multiple brides that a Day-Of-Coordinator was key to a smooth and seamless wedding day, I went on the hunt, finding Andrea Solomon. If I was J-LO, she was the beautifully pushy Italian father that got sh!t done (if you haven’t seen The Wedding Planner, you have some homework to do). We really wanted to be like guests at our wedding, and enjoy the day. We didn’t want to worry about if the tables would be set up correctly, or if the bus was going to be late, or if we left for pictures on time. Andrea handled every single thing on the day of our wedding. She got everyone to pictures on time, oversaw that the room was set up correctly, put out placecards, held my veil as I walked, even took all of the gifts and cards up to the room, along with a pizza for later. She allowed the both of us to just enjoy the day, and not worry about a thing other than trying all three flavors of the cake.

THE GETAWAY: Detroit Classic Car Rental

I knew from day one I wanted to ride away from the church in a classic car. I have a photo of my aunt and uncle, who have been married for over 50 years, on their wedding day, in the back of a classic car right after they said their “I do’s”. I looked on craigslist, but found some really sketchy offers (a 1986 Toyota is NOT classic guys). I eventually stumbled on Detroit Classic Car Rentals. We were able to go out and look at the car, a 1959 gold Bentley, and I was in love. It was the perfect  addition to our day, and I was so happy that Mike and I had a few quiet moments to ourselves after the ceremony to soak in the magnitude of the moment. Mike (not my Mike, a second Mike!), the owner, couldn’t have been any sweeter or easier to work with. He decorated the outside of the car with flowers and ribbon, making us feel like royalty. Do you think they would be willing to pick me up from work a few days a week? I DESERVE IT (I do not deserve it)!!

 

THE LITTLE THINGS:

Mike and I were trying to ball on a budget, which is very tough when you’re planning a wedding. Add the word “Wedding” to anything (Wedding place cards, wedding napkins, wedding socks) and I swear there is a 75% up-charge. I tried to find the craftiest way to do things, and then realized I am awful at crafts. This is where Etsy came in. On Etsy we found vendors to do our place cards, cocktail napkins, donut bags, itineraries, all of our signage, table numbers, even vintage maps of where we met and where we were getting married. I LOVED working with small businesses, they took such pride in their work and everything had so much thought and hard work put into it. Every detail felt so personal because we got to work on it with someone directly. Also it all saved me a lot of time, glue, and my sanity.

*A few of you asked where I did all my embroidery (my denim jackets, pajamas for bridesmaids, handkerchiefs, etc.) I did everything at StitchWorks Embroidery in Berkley.

 

A few things I learned along the way:

1)      If you don’t like something, speak up. I was about to use a floral vendor I ended up not liking, and having flowers that were less than great, all because I was too scared to speak up and tell them I didn’t like it. It wasn’t until my mom said something that I was willing to speak up and be honest. It's your day and your money- spend it wisely!

2)      Most things are completely negotiable. I was able to negotiate costs for just about everything, by making minor adjustments. Again, don’t be afraid to ask for a little wiggle room.

3)      Think about what you like in everyday life, and how you can interpret that into the day. For instance, we LOVE the cider mill (okay, I love the cider mill), so instead of a cocktail hour we did a cider and donut truck (Petey’s Donuts, the ULTIMATE!! They even gave us a few bags filled with donuts for our room later). It wasn’t traditional, but it was fun and very us, and our guests loved the sweet treat too.

4)      Don’t get caught up in the small stuff. I ordered a bunch of my favorite beauty things to have in the bathroom at the reception for people to enjoy. I spent hours ordering things and getting it all together. Well, a hotel guest came in and stole it ALL before the reception even started. It would have been nice to have, but I don’t think anyone being able to spray their face with Caudalie Grape Spray was a make-or-break it for the day.

5)      At first, I really kept Mike out of the planning (best wife ever!!!!). I thought there was no way he would want to be involved with flowers and quartet music. But when I asked him his thoughts, I realized he had quite a few, and wanted some specific things. Having his input made our wedding really feel like it was the things WE loved, not just me.

6)      It’s about the marriage, not the wedding. Never lose sight of that.

 

And there you have it! I really mean it when I say I loved and appreciated everyone of our vendors. It’s important to have people that love what they do, because that energy will pass on to you, making your day that much sweeter. It’s time consuming to do the research, but it’s worth it in the end. I would try to dedicate an hour or two every night to wedding things, and after that we would set it aside. It was important to not be totally consumed with it, so that we enjoyed the process. I won’t say I never got frustrated or discouraged- weddings can come with a lot of tension. But every time I started to get worked up, I reminded myself that if all of this were to go away, Michael would still be my husband at the end of the day. And I’m sure we could have found cake to eat, too.

Gift Guide GIVEAWAY!

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Didn't get what you wanted for Christmas (I don't know why socks get such a bad rap. I got two new pairs and I am PUMPED)? The Nines is here to help! To celebrate the end of the local gift giving series, here's one big, local loving giveaway!

 

What it includes:

1 Neroli candle from Detroit Rose

1 Citrus, 1 Hibiscus, and 1 Pineapple Jalapeno cocktail mixer from Wolf Moon Mixers

A laundry bundle from The Old White House, including linen spray, dryer sachets, laundry soap and a scoop!

 

How to Enter:

Head over to my Instagram, @alexandramauro, FOLLOW and TAG a friend in the comments of the most recent post (photo of a Neroli Candle)! By following/commenting, you will be automatically entered to win. Winner will be announced Thursday, 12/29. 

 

Regardless of the winner, I hope that this series inspired a few of you to start shopping local. I love to give, and giving local this holiday season made it that much sweeter. That, and the chocolate Santa overdose that took place.

Good Luck! 

 

Detroit Rose

WHO WE'RE GIFTING... Your Girlfriends or Sister.

(let's face it, you're going to want some too)

 

There's not much I enjoy more than beauty, skincare, candles, and Disney Channel Original Movies. When I stumbled upon Detroit Rose, and it checked three of those four boxes (the last one was out of their control)- I was instantly hooked. 

My love affair started with the candles. If I am home, I am burning a candle. I would have really thrived in the Pre-Edison days. I'm not ashamed to admit I've spent upwards of $70 on a single candle. I found Detroit Rose via Instagram, and one look at the gorgeous packaging, had me getting my credit card out faster than you could say "Shopaholics Anonymous". To my delight, these beautiful candles were only $24. AND they're made right here in Detroit? SOLD. 

But like any great candle, it needs a great scent. I can confidently say that Detroit Rose's scents are unparalleled. They fill the entire room and wrap you in comfort and peacefulness. They have somehow managed to take that perfect "Sunday morning, wrapped in a blanket, watching Harry Potter with absolutely nothing to do today" feeling, and give it life in a candle. There are so many delicious scents to choose from, but here's my favorites I have burning on repeat:

*I know it's hard to choose a candle without smelling it first. For this reason, I have associated each scent with a notable person, to make choosing easier. Or just more entertaining. 

Cinnamon & Chai:

It smells like wrapping your house in one giant, cozy blanket. A spicy but comforting scent of vanilla, cinnamon and clove. This is the candle that's going to get you through the winter.

Who would burn it: Rory Gilmore. Before the revival garbage. 

Bourbon Orange Spice:

This one is Michael's favorite. It's a rich, buttery scent, made with the zest of orange, clove and anise. It's like the candle equivalent of melted butter (the feeling, not the smell). Smooth, and so delicious.

Who would burn it: Brad Pitt. In the Jenn days.  

Fig Tree:

I light this one every morning in my "Diva Den" (this is what Michael calls the spare room we had to make into my "dressing room", because I have SO.MANY.CLOTHES.) while I'm getting ready. It's clean, simple and earthy. Instantly turns any room into an oasis.

Who would burn it: Charlotte York. While she rearranges her flowers and makes brunch plans with the girls. 

Bergamot: 

The best way to describe the scent of this candle is "bright" (no, not a candle pun). It has the most delicious citrus notes, sure to perk up any space. It's energizing and inspiring. I love to light one when I write or am getting work done around the house. Currently lit as I write this (the candle, not me. I am an old lady and boring AF).

Who would burn it: Ina Garten. I light this and fantasize that she's about to make me a Quiche. Then my timer goes off for my bagel bites. 

BONUS burner: Lin Manuel Miranda. Rumor is he had this going while writing "Hamilton". That rumor was started by me.

Neroli: 

With hints of sandalwood and musk, this is the candle to bring out your inner goddess. It's sensual, peaceful and intoxicating. Side effect is that you may never want to leave your house. It's that good. 

Who would burn it: Serena van der Woodsen. Also Blair approved (but NOT Jenny. Forget her.). 

Tobacco & Bay Leaf:

As I write this, Michael yells from the kitchen that THIS is his favorite now. It smells like we live in a Restoration Hardware catalog (aka, the DREAM). Herbal, with hints of musk and citrus, it makes me feel warm and cozy on the inside. Also makes me want a giant reclaimed-wood bookcase filled with Sylvia Plath's best works. 

Who would burn it: My idol, Emma Watson. HOW CAN ONE PERSON BE SO PERFECT.

There are multiple other scents as well: Lavender, Rosa, Moss, Mistletoe, Leather, just to name a few. Each candle is hand poured here in Detroit, made from all-natural, vegan soy wax and premium fragrance oils.

 

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! 

Detroit Rose has launched a "Ritual Line". A line of skincare products, all natural, organic and filler free. 

Rose & Coconut Milk Bath Soak ($26):

Up there with naps, baths are the most underrated childhood pastime. There is nothing like taking a bath to make you feel like you have your life together. Funny thing is- I usually take one when it seems like my life is falling apart. It is the perfect way to unwind, clear your head and get back on track. And now I know there is no better companion to bath time than this bath soak. I didn't know I needed to bathe with real rose buds UNTIL I DID. This scent of this soak alone is enough to send you into a spa-like bliss. But the coconut milk, melting into your skin is absolute nirvana. Just a few spoonfuls in the tub leaves skin impossibly soft. 

Bergamot & Lavender Oil ($28):

After taking my soul-saving bath, I thought my skin couldn't get any softer from the coconut milk. Then came this body oil. I usually can't get down with lotions- I think they're a hassle and sticky and never seem to absorb or moisturize. This oil made my skin hydrated and glowy on impact. It's easy to apply and quickly melts into skin.  And the scent....it's what I imagine Blake Lively to smell like naturally (no wonder Ryan Reynolds loves her so much, also why do I think about Blake Lively so much?). It's just a hint of sweet citrus and lavender that provides you just enough light fragrance. 

Find it! 

Let's be honest- you're ordering some for yourself. You'll get the best selection on their site, and won't have to stress about shipping times. 

Need it by Christmas? 

Lark & Co.: Birmingham

City Bird: Detroit

El Dorado General Store: Detroit

Farmers Hand: Detroit

SMPLFD: Detroit

Knot and Bow: Brooklyn, NY

Asrai Garden: Chicago

Lillstreet: Chicago

A full lists of stockists, here

 

If it wasn't already obvious, I am now a faithful follower of Detroit Rose. The entire brand is dedicated to channeling your inner goddess (Yaaasss queen, I'm in here!!!), loving and appreciating yourself, and finding peace in the shit storm of life. Whether it's a candle, body oil, face mask (next on my list to try) or a bath soak- we all could use a little something to help us find balance in the day-to-day. That, and something very chic for your bathroom shelves. 

Busted Bra Shop

WHO WE'RE GIFTING...YOU!

(this one is for the ladies...or men- it's 2016 and I'm not here to judge. YOU DO YOU.) 

 

It's no secret that I am a proud member of the itty-bitty-you-know-what-committee (keeping it G here, my future in-laws read this. Hi guys!!!). I kept waiting to grow, but eventually I realized this is as good as it's going to get. I'm not bummed about my size- after many years, I've learned to love and appreciate my body. But there was always one thing I couldn't get behind- or under, I suppose: bras. I was a Victoria's Secret, 32A, push-up ride or DIE. They measured me countless times- 32A, year after year. But if I was wearing the right size, why was I always so uncomfortable? I was constantly playing with the skin-grabbing straps, or adjusting the cups. I thought it was normal I could fit some snacks, my phone, lipstick and an ipad mini in there. I was uncomfortable, but at least I had storage, right? I accepted that bras suck, but they're a right of passage to being a woman. Then, I saw the light. 

On a bender to my favorite vintage store with a girlfriend, we were just about to leave when a trip to the ladies room ensued. Right next to it, was Busted Bra Shop. To this day, I don't know what made me go in there. It was most likely divine intervention (I really think God could be a woman sometimes, good looking out). 

Upon walking in, the first words I heard were "I bet you're wearing a 32A. And it's the wrong size". I was baffled! I wore the smallest size that existed, what's a concave girl like me supposed to be wearing? Sadly unknown to me, there is a whole other world of bras outside of the pink and white stripes. I let Lee, the owner, take me into a fitting room (my friend, waiting outside the bathroom wondering where I went, sorry girl). Less than 5 minutes later, I was standing in there, sans shirt, with my Miracle Bombshell Gorgeous Miraculous 32AAAAHHH bra in the trash. Let me tell you- you are never more vulnerable than when you are in a fitting room, girls out, having a full on conversation with a woman you just met. Trust level is at an all time high.  I think I told her things I had never told anyone- like how I used to ride my bike by my crushes house blasting Ashlee Simpson (okay, now everyone knows). BACK TO BRAS. 

Well folks, as it turns out, I am a certified 28B. A size I didn't even know existed. The second I put on my new, perfectly fitted bra, it was love at first hook. For the first time, I was comfortable- that really does something beautiful for your own body positivity. The right fit is everything, and it turns out that the majority of women do NOT fall within standard retail sizing. Busted has sizes AAA-N, and bands from 26-56. With that range of sizes, how can we honestly accept that MILLIONS of women fall within the standard FOUR sizes mass retailers carry? Secret's out- we deserve more. 

WHERE TO GO...

The Park Shelton Building- Midtown

15 East Kirby Street, suite A

Detroit, MI 48202

 

When you shop at Busted, you are not only getting top notch service, quality product and a life-changing experience, but you're supporting a locally owned, Detroit business. A bra that supports you AND the local economy? Truly, Busted Bra Shop is the gift that keeps on giving. 

 

 

*Photo credit: Man Repeller

 

Wolf Moon Mixers

WHO WE'RE GIFTING... Your Secret Santa 

You know the drill. You pull a name out of the Secret-Santa hat at work. You open it up , and see the name of a co-worker you know nothing about. What the heck are you supposed to get them? A book? What if they prefer Netflix? Socks and underwear? That's a lawsuit waiting to happen. Really, there's only one thing you need to know about them- make sure they enjoy an adult beverage, and proceed with Wolf Moon Mixers. 

At a party a few weeks ago, I observed a friend mixing a green juice with Vodka. Yes, kale, grapefruit, apple, celery, and vodka- I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. In no way, shape or form was it drinkable. My poor pal just wanted a somewhat healthy alternative to the usual Diet Coke or tonic water. I thought that there had to be something better than a vodka salad. Lo and behold, right in my own city, lived a company that thought the same thing. All natural mixers, made from fruits, vegetables, cane sugar and flowers- all designed to pair perfectly with your favorite spirits. 

Hibiscus ($15):

My absolute favorite. I'm a tequila girl (I can feel your judgement from here), and Hibiscus mixed with silver tequila, makes the most delicious, fresh margarita. It's like in college, when the weather would break, and everyone would be outside on a Wednesday afternoon having a drink-I mean, STUDYING, mom!!!- That happy, satisfying taste, bottled. 

Alternate recipe: Hibiscus mixer, vodka, a splash of club soda and some fresh blueberries, muddled. 

*Not only do these mixers taste incredibly delicious, but the 32oz, aesthetically pleasing bottles look almost too good to drink. BUT WHO ARE WE KIDDING. Pop that bottle! 

Citrus ($15): 

You know that feeling when you're on vacation, laying by the pool, drink in hand without a care in the world? Citrus is that feeling in a bottle, even though you're sitting under a dozen blankets with your long johns pulled up to your bra. My go-to is to mix with some champagne, and a squeeze of an orange slice. This is Beyonce of Mimosas.

Alternate recipe: Citrus mix, vodka, a splash of club soda, and a slice of grapefruit to garnish. 

Pineapple Jalapeño ($15) :

Spicing up your life has never been easier, or more fun. The perfect mix of spicy and sweet, this flavor is ideal to mix with some tequila, a little lime and a lotta false-self confidence. For me- this mix is the party pleaser. The taste is strangely familiar, but deliciously different. Scary and Ginger would be proud.

Alternate recipe: Pineapple Jalapeño mix, gin, club soda. GINNING (take away my writing privileges)!!

* Check out two bonus flavors on the WMM site!

 

I'm no mix master. Hell, 4 years ago I drank wine out of a box and thought Smirnoff was top shelf.  The good people at Wolf Moon Mixers sympathize with me, and offer a plethora of delicious recipes, available here. At a party with no wi-fi (are you also churning butter)? Fear not- recipes are also featured on the back of the bottle.

Find It!: 

City Market: Detroit

Our/Detroit: Detroit

ML Spirits: Birmingham

Beverage Warehouse: Beverly Hills

Heights Food Center: Ferndale

Market Square: West Bloomfield

                     ...Find a full list of retailers, or shop online, here!

 

These mixers are the fun, delicious gift that keeps on giving. Not only do Wolf Moon Mixers make the perfect gift for your secret santa, but for your close friends too (they can invite you over for a drink and you can mooch off of your own gift). This cool, perfectly curated present is sure to be the talk of the office-unless Barb gets too drunk at the holiday party again and busts out a freestyle to "Silent Night"- she's got you beat. 

 

The Old White House

 

WHO WE'RE GIFTING: Mom/Mother-in-law

(no, not because they do all the cleaning, but because moms are the bomb.com and deserve a great gift!)

A few years ago, a friend gifted me The Old White House's Lavender Linen Spray. I kept it on my nightstand for a while, never really reaching to use it. But after a horrendously bad day (I think it had something do to with work and Adam Brody getting married), I came home in desperate need of relaxation and calm. I spotted the chic glass-bottle on my nightstand and figured I would give it a whirl. From that day on, I refuse to sleep in anything other than a bed full of lavender goodness. After falling head-over-pillow for the spray, I ventured into the entire Old White House line. I love the idea of filling my home with all natural products, and I love even more that they're made right here in Michigan. 

Located between Grand Rapids and Lansing (okay, a tad out of Detroit, but still local!), The Old White House is dedicated to creating laundry and cleaning products, all natural, all infused with Lavender, and all obession-worthy. 

Here's a breakdown of my favorite products:

Lavender Linen and Room Spray ($12):

Like I mentioned above, this is the ultimate way to feel relaxed and clean- even if your room looks like a tornado of Zara came through. Not only do I use it nightly on my sheets, but I use it on blankets, drapes, even my shower curtain. A few spritzes on my pillow is an instant trip to relaxation nation.

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Natural Lavender Laundry Soap ($8):

I loathe washing my clothes in harsh chemicals (just like I hate when someone mixes the tofu with the falafel at the salad bar at Whole Foods. The NERVE). When I use this, my clothes turn out like I'm Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music", hanging my things in the crisp air while singing about deer or thread or something. Giving your mom a way to  get her clothes clean and fresh, all while using natural ingredients? You're now the favorite child. 

*Highly recommend the one that comes with the wooden scoop. It's $2...your mom is worth it. 

Lavender Kitchen and Bath Cleanser ($8):

I live with a man. I have clean our bathroom every other day (Okay..between my hair and makeup, the mess is probably mostly mine). I started to get worried that the bleach I was washing our shower with, was soaking up into the pores of my feet, and I would soon turn into something out of a Marvel movie. This stuff really cleans, leaves a fresh scent, AND I get to stay human. Sold.

I also use this in my kitchen, in the sink and on countertops. I do a lot of messy cooking, and this cleansers antibacterial properties leave me with a sparkling clean kitchen, sans risk of Salmonella. 

*For these products, a little goes a LONG way, I only use a small sprinkle on a sponge to get the job done. 

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Lavender Carpet Freshener ($12):

When you get older, you start to accumulate nice things, like Oriental Rugs. But you walk all over it in your boots, dirty sandals, etc., making your once-nice-rug look as tired as Donald Trump's hair piece (too soon?). Sprinkle this stuff on, let sit for 30 minutes and then vacuum it up. Carpet looks and smells like new! 

The Bundle ($45):

Can't decide what to get? The "Bundle of Natural Lavender Goodness" is the fool-proof way to go. It includes all of the above, and a Lavender dryer sachet! A small warning: your moms house is going to smell so good and be so clean, that you may want to move back in. Think that one through carefully. 

Find it!

Lark & Co. General Store: Birmingham, MI

Blumz: Detroit & Ferndale

Eastern Market, shed 4: Detroit

Out of D Box 313: Detroit

        ...and of course, online! 

(You don't have to live in Detroit to support it!)

WHY:

To me, products from The Old White House say you care. They're quality, heart-warming gifts that any person could use and appreciate. The fresh, clean scents are comforting and soothing- a nice change up from harsh chemical smells and harmful ingredients. There is something about the smell of fresh Lavender filling your home that calms the soul- until "Westworld" comes on. Then I'm at a loss. 

 

The Nines Local Gift Guide 2016

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It was the great Cher Horowitz that once said "Tis a far, far better thing doing stuff for other people". I’ve always felt this riveting sentiment to be true. Especially around the holidays, when I try to do something thoughtful for each person in my life- whether it’s bake their favorite cookies, or buy that thing they mentioned 6 months ago, but never got. The joy of giving a great gift, big or small, to someone you love is a far greater joy than receiving (unless it’s a car or $5,000 gift card to Sephora, come back to me then). As Christmas draws closer, I've started thinking about what to give this year. Yes, I will give my time to charities and other philanthropic causes, but I’m talking gifts here, people.

I began searching Amazon, department stores, Target, etc., but couldn’t seem to find anything quite special enough for the ones that are special to me. I racked my brain for the things I love, and I quickly realized something: the majority of the things that I cherish in my home (non-human/animal), come from a local business. Then it hit me- what if every dollar I spent this year on gifts, got put back into my own community? Bought a kid dance lessons, or braces? Paid the rent, or funded a vacation? Is there any greater gift than supporting your local economy (okay…again see Car/$5K Sephora gift card..I AM ONLY HUMAN)?

And here we are, with The Nines Local Gift Guide, all with “Made in Detroit” products. Throughout the week, I’ll feature something for everyone on your list: mothers, brothers, friends, even that weird guy from work you picked for Secret Santa. And best of all- your perfect present supports local business right here in Detroit. Follow along here this week for a new, thoughtful gift every day. And since I know my readers are on the "Nice List" this year (except my coworker Gabi. There’s always next year, girl), there will even be a giveaway at the end of the series! 

So, sorry in advance, Santa, but I prefer my gifts to be made right here- no trip to the North Pole necessary (also, reindeer terrify me).  

I Don't Love Hillary. But I'm Voting for Her.

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I've kept pretty quiet this election. I had always thought that my political affiliations and opinions should be private, and not displayed via memes on the internet. But with the decision of who our next President will be upon us, I feel this election is too important to keep quiet any longer. I'm not standing on a soapbox telling you to who vote for. I am expressing my concern as to the kind of country we are at risk of becoming. Also it's my site and I can do what I want.  

I was a Bernie Sanders supporter. I had been feeling frustrated with this country for so long, and his revolutionary ideas gave me hope for America and its people. When Bernie did not win the nomination, I was hesitant to support Hillary. To be honest- I wasn't a fan. I thought her to be untrustworthy, fake, and a product of the political machine. I left my support with Sanders, spitefully holding onto my vote. 

But as time went on, I invested myself more and more into debates, articles, and coverage. I didn't find myself loving Hillary Clinton, but I found myself feeling in danger by Donald Trump. 

Here's the thing: I don't have to like Hillary. But I have to vote for her, and I will, gladly. I think a lot of women can resonate with this feeling. When you are a powerful, smart, "hard" kind of woman, there's a good chance people in business may not like you personally. The world likes us warm, fuzzy and sweet- and when you're not, you're a bitch. Hillary Clinton is not a bitch. She is educated, serious and capable. I may not like Hillary, but at least she doesn't make me feel like my gender is in danger. 

Donald Trump is not a punch line. He is a sexist, racist, misogynistic, narcissistic, dangerous person- that mongers fear and brings out the worst in this country. As a woman, I have never felt true danger as a citizen of this country. I realized this, as I drove to work the other day behind a truck with the bumper sticker that read "Grab America by the Pussy". This is not a game, this is not a joke. This is rape culture. This is the endangerment of women, minorities, LGBT, cops, and yes, men too. When we normalize sexual assault, when we make it into a joke, we are no longer the country built on the hard work of those who came before us. We are a country beyond recognition.

I am not saying Hillary is the perfect candidate- and trust me, I want her to be. The first woman President is a big deal- a monumental, emotional moment in history. But before someone goes off my comments about her emails, tell me- why are you not outraged that during the Bush administration, 22 million emails were "lost", during one of the darkest times in our nation's history? Screw your emails. This is life and death ( and not in the way I used to describe getting a new Hollister sweatshirt when I was 14). So- emails, which have been investigated thoroughly (no, your Aunt's not an FBI authority. Her Facebook memes are not law), or the endangerment of minorities, women, servicemen, the disabled and of the future of this country?

Tomorrow, I will gladly vote for Hillary Clinton. But it's more than that. Regardless of the outcome of this election- it is up to us. WE are what forms the cloth of this country. We help an elderly neighbor shovel her sidewalk in the winter. We teach our children tolerance, and that differences are what make people beautiful. We line up in the masses to donate blood when 50 Americans are killed at a nightclub.  We do not discriminate against our fellow citizens based on empty fear. We don't let negotiate with terrorists- so why are we considering one for President?

When you go to the polls, think about the country you want in 10 years. The country you want for your children, even your grandchildren- that is what's at stake here. If that includes dehumanizing women, isolating minorities and dividing us by hate- you may be in the wrong country to begin with. 

Vote.