Holiday Entertainment

Sometimes holidays are the best time to do quality things like binge watch TV and movies in between holiday dramas. This year, I traveled for work in mid-December and picked up bronchitis making myself pretty immobile yet prime for holiday entertainment.

I’m finally on the mend thanks to antibiotics and Joe not smothering me in my sleep, so here are the hits and misses:

Making A Murder: If you haven’t heard about this one you’ve been living under a rock. Netflix’s latest docu-series tells the story of Steven Avery – a man who served 18 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit. DNA evidence proved his innocence. He’d later sue the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department for essentially pinning the rape on him without a real investigation. But the real story begins there. If you have a brain and even half a conscious you come to understand that the Sheriff’s department planted evidence against him in a new murder, coerced his nephew into a confession and sent his ass to jail for life. Okay really 12 jurors with no brain did the last part. I still feel sick about the injustice here and I don’t know what average people like us can do other than boycott Wisconsin. I’m still remembering details from each episode and thinking, “oh my god, that’s so messed up!”

Joy: If I had paid to watch this in a theater I’d be annoyed that I spent my money on it. I love me some J. Law and her standing up for equal pay and all, but her playing a woman in her mid-30s misses the mark and pisses me off. Are there no award-winning blonde women closer to Joy’s actual age? Also this movie is so choppy and lacking a structured storyline. I wanted more about her family, more about what happens after she’s rich. I’m too smart for this mediocrity.

Concussion: First, my hat goes off to Will and Jada. They are the real MVPs lately. Have you seen this interview with Jada? She gives me hope about life (with kids?)! But back to the movie. Will is my Beyoncé of cinema. He kills it every time. And this time he keeps me entertained on a topic I’ve only just begun to care about because I’m paid to–football. Watch your sons on the field, concussions are scary!

Narcos: If you liked Blow (the movie with Johnny Depp) for the history of it all, you’ll like Narcos. If you still haven’t seen Blow, don’t talk to me until you do.

The Big Short: Admittedly, when the housing market went to shit in 2008, I was preoccupied being a college student and don’t remember any of what happened. Flash forward to 2015 and being a homeowner has opened my eyes to the realities of government, taxes and banks! This is a great cast telling an important story. It even has fun celebrity appearances by Selena Gomez, Anthony Bourdain and Margot Robbie who explain just how the hell this all happened in layman’s terms.

I’ve got a stack of books on my nightstand coming up soon, so let me know what your reading and watching because there isn’t anything good on until mid-January. Just kidding, I’m secretly watching The Bachelor tomorrow.


Last night I choked up talking about how much I love my parents in a movie theater bar.

Karen and I have occasional shitty rom-com movie dates at River East. This time it was Julia Roberts’ Secrets in Their Eyes (rent it) which also stars Dean Norris (always great) and Chiwetel Ejiofor who’s starting to really grow on me after Z for Zacharaiah (illegally download it). In case you haven’t seen that one, the moral of that story is never turn a girl down when she wants sex. EVER!

Anyway, dates with Karen are good for my soul. We catch up about the old job, friends and life. Her positivity and great attitude toward life are one of the best traits about her and why, even when I’m tired, I make time to grab dinner and a movie with her.

She asked me about wedding planning–which I promise to blog more about later. I’m still very much in a stage where I’m planning thinking I genuinely want everyone to enjoy it. However, we’re mixing cultures, religions, generations, etc. and that makes me feel like no one will 100% enjoy every aspect of it. Eventually, I will stop giving a fuck, but for now it’s stressful.

Being honest with her, I admitted the people I want to please most are my parents. And that’s where all of the feelings came out.

I love my parents more than I can possibly tell them or show them. In the last year, they’ve helped Joe and I move into a new home, get settled and now they’re being really cool about wedding planning. No list of demands or attendees they want us to have. I’ve even gently killed their dream of a full Mexican band without any arguments involved.

The underlying layer to all of this is immigrant child guilt. If you’ve watched the “Parents” episode of Master of None, Aziz does a fantastic job of getting down to the nitty gritty of this feeling. I know some people will say, “everyone feels this way about their parents,” but I think it’s different when your parents are immigrants. Granted, there’s no award for who loves their parents more and it’s not about whose parents did more for them. This is about carrying a weight on your shoulders because of what they went through. It’s about a level of success you’re always trying to achieve to somehow match the tremendous amount of work and sacrifice they made for themselves and ultimately for you. You’ll always want to live up to them. You’ll never feel like you can repay them. You’ll wish you could.

The older I get, the more I appreciate that they were strict and wouldn’t let me go to school dances. The older I get, the more I appreciate them being at work even if it meant I wasn’t chauffeured to dance class or sports. The older I get, the more they show their love and support in ways that Karen reminded me not everyone knows. And that was a turning point in our conversation for me. She was right. 

Instead of worrying so much, I’m gonna try telling my parents how much I love them and focus on gratitude instead.

Happy (early) Thanksgiving all!

My Chicago Beauty Week

Cheers to the weekend! As if this last week wasn’t already jam packed with work and outings, it somehow turned out to be quite the beauty adventure and it all started with a haircut!

Epoch Studio Salon (1147 W. Ohio St.)

After extensive research on ombre color specialists and hours reading Yelp, I found Beth Stock of Epoch last December and couldn’t be happier. More on my first visit to Epoch here, but I kicked off my beauty week with a haircut with Beth. As I’m getting back to longer length, I did the logical thing–cut some off. Layers help me feel better about my lazy hair routine of washing/drying at night and touching up with a flat iron in the morning. When I have layers, everything just looks a little more “done.” In advance of this appointment, Epoch let me know they were in temporary space at Golden Girl Chicago. Lucky for me this meant they were offering a complimentary airbrush tan (more on that below)! As always, Epoch was in touch before my appointment and the blowdry I got from Beth lasted days (without hairspray, mind you). You just can’t top going to a professional like her!

Epoch Details:

  • First timers receive a discount on their services (10% off)
  • If you refer someone they get a discount ($20/women, $10/men) on their services and you receive 20% off your next service.

Benefit Brow Bar (Macy’s, 111 N. State St.)

While I live near a Benefit boutique (which I highly recommend for their waxing), I’ve never tried their brow services. This week, I got to tag along (read: provide moral support) for a co-worker who was going to get her eyebrows tinted for the first time. She was a brow “virgin” if you will, never having used powders, pencils or tints to fill in her brows. When she told me she was interested in trying it, I jumped at the chance to be a “brow ambassador.” As some of you already know, brows are everything.

Benefit Details:

  • This brow bar location does not take appointments.
  • When we got there, they said it was a 30-40 minute wait. We agreed to wait and they pulled out a sign-in sheet to take our info and call when they were ready. The sheet looked a lot like an appointment book to me.
  • The tech was friendly and patiently let us grill her with newbie questions.
  • Unlike past trips to Benefit, there were no hard sells on purchasing makeup.

Goldplaited (2803 N. Sheffield)

If I haven’t already mentioned it here, I LOVE Dabble. Back in November, I was looking for something fun for Joe and I to do on our anniversary and soon learned they have all kinds of activities to try for dates, girls nights or just self improvement. I was randomly browsing and saw Goldplaited was holding hair and beauty how-to classes. As blowdry or “finishing salons” are popping up all over Chicago right now, it’s been nice to see a range of prices and services suitable for any budget. Goldplaited’s Gal on the Go: Hair & Makeup Timesavers class was $20 and included a few glasses of champagne and a lipstick bar. THIS GIRL IN LIPSTICK? Yes, I know it’s shocking. Take a good look cause you won’t see red lips often!


Goldplaited Details:

  • The location is super accessible (right off the Diversey Brown Line stop).
  • The salon is owned by two sisters who were both involved with the class and getting to know everyone. Something about an entrepreneurial sister duo made me happy to give them my business.
  • The make-up tips were great for beginners (BB cream, brows, etc.), but I did learn a trick or two from their hair style lessons.
  • They have plenty of other classes you can try here.

Golden Girl Chicago (160 N. Halsted)

Who turns down a free airbrush tan? Not me. When Epoch offered a complimentary service with Golden Girl, I immediately started my research. Spray tan preparation is no joke. Exfoliation is key, but I soon learned my trusty Dove soap could mess with the coloring so out I went to purchase a mild body wash and lotion. The experience itself was interesting. I think Brazilian waxes really are the most “naked” you can feel in front of an esthetician, so this didn’t feel that uncomfortable except for the BRISK air on your chest. The results were good–I’m tan without any hint of orange. Since I use bronzer everyday, I’m not afraid of a little color and could have been okay with another coat on my face and feet, but otherwise very pleased with the results.

Golden Girl Details:

  • My appointment was with Lola who really made me feel comfortable and confident in what could be an awkward 20 minutes. Would definitely book with her again!
  • Golden Girl will soon be launching nail and blowdry services too so check them out! A big thanks to Jenn, the owner, who gave Dani and I a complimentary preview on Friday!

Have you had any beauty services lately? I’m always looking for something new to try!

Book I Loved: MWF Seeking BFF

When was the last time you read a book that changed your life? Okay, not completely altered it, but you know, made you change something significant in the way you think, act or speak? I picked up a few books before our trip to London last month and I’m still thinking about one of them weeks later.

MWF Seeking BFF is for any girl at the stage in her life where making new friends doesn’t come easy and keeping the old ones gets tricky. For some of us, it’s not until our mid-late twenties, but I really think the idea applies to women of all ages. At multiple points in the book I found myself thinking of my mom, sister and the friendships I’ve seen come and go in their life.

For me, it really boiled down to this. I’m at a stage where I’m stable in some areas of my life – love life and career – but friendships are difficult to maintain. We are traveling, moving, nesting and a few are hundreds of miles away. Sometimes we’re simply too “busy.” It was easy to maintain friendships when we were all on the same trajectory of life – college – but five years out, it’s not that simple. The biggest takeaway from the book (the one that still is keeping me up at night) is this–friendships are like any other relationship, they take work! And, as normal relationships go, you realize or learn the hard way that some don’t last forever. Other times you get tired of giving more than you’re getting out. Most importantly, it made me stop and appreciate the good friendships in my life no matter how old or new they are.

Following my #BFF high, I’ve started planning a big reunion with old friends in Iowa City whom I haven’t seen in a while and had some much needed phone dates. I even said some goodbyes to a guy friend who’ll be gone for a year. Normally, I’d be bummed, but instead I’m excited to make a visit to Brazil to see him in the next year and have an #OriginalInterns rager.

Has anyone else read the book? Curious to hear your thoughts. Next on my list is The Fault in Our Stars.

MWF Seeking BFF The official synopsis is below:

When Rachel Bertsche first moves to Chicago, she’s thrilled to finally share a zip code, let alone an apartment, with her boyfriend. But shortly after getting married, Bertsche realizes her new life is missing one thing: friends. Sure, she has plenty of BFFs—in New York and San Francisco and Boston and Washington DC. Yet in her adopted hometown, there’s no one to call at the last minute for girl-talk over brunch or a reality TV marathon over a bottle of wine. Taking matters into her own hands, Bertsche develops a plan: she’ll go on fifty-two friend-dates, one per week for a year, in hopes of meeting her new Best Friend Forever.

In her thought-provoking, uproarious memoir, Bertsche blends the story of her girl-dates (who she meets everywhere from improv class to friend-rental websites) with the latest in social research to examine how difficult—and hilariously awkward—it is to make new friends as an adult. She asks why women will happily announce they need a man but are embarrassed to admit they need a BFF. And she uncovers the reality that no matter how great your love life, you’ve gotta have friends.

Things Chicago Winters Have Taught Me

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, so while I’ve experienced the temperatures we’re getting during this polar vortex before, I didn’t feel winter the way I do now. I took for granted the brisk walk from the front door to a freezing car that eventually warmed up and became hot. I came to expect that all sidewalks were shoveled and usually salted. The worst thing I could complain about were bad drivers on the road.

Moving to Iowa was the first time I realized people don’t salt the road before it snows (or at all). They put sand on most roads and cars in the ditch along I-80 were common. Then came city living. Chicago has taught me a number of lessons, but the winters with their “wintry mixes” and “thundersnow” have taught me:

1. The best gifts in life are practical. My winter coat and various boots have all been gifts from family and Joe. I cherish them more than any piece of jewelry, nice dinner or trip. My coat is the the barrier between myself and frost bite. My boots come from multiple varieties, all with a very important purpose.


  • Sorel – For the coldest days, shoveling snow or walking in wet snow.
  • Tretorn – The best all-around boot. It’s good for everything from rainy days to the messy sidewalks of the city after a snowfall. Best of all it’s furry inside for warmth.
  • Ugg – Ugly, warm and comfortable. These are one of two pairs of shoes I’m taking to Europe. Lord help me.

2. Mind the gap. Err just don’t stand so close to the curb unless you want to risk disgusting street water being splashed up so high it hits your face. On a particularly rainy day, I was so hypnotized by my phone that a CTA bus hit a pot hole full of slush in front of me and it splashed all over my hair, face and white shirt. Side note: if you ever see this happen to someone, don’t be an asshole–offer them a tissue/napkin.

3. Invest in a good ice scraper and shovel. Anyone who keeps a car in the city understands there are certain truths you must accept. Your car will get covered in salt. You will clean off your car again and again. You will get stuck sometimes unless you’re driving a tank. This winter I’ve burnt plenty of rubber trying to get the Celica out of iced grooves in the street and curb. Every little bit of tool helps, even the kitty litter.

Anything you can’t live without this winter?

Where Has The Time Gone?

Really it’s more like where is my time going? It’s been a little over two years since my last post. Seems like so much longer.

Rather than try to remember and recap everything that’s changed in my life since then, I want to start writing down all of my goals for 2014. Yes, the New Year ‘s Resolution bandwagon. Statistically, 40% of people make resolutions but only 8% achieve them. So here goes nothing:

  • KIT. Remember what this meant in the pages of your yearbook? We have every form of communication at our fingertips, but keeping in touch seems overwhelming and has not been a priority. I want to change that. It’s my own fault if people that are important to me seem distant and news on their lives comes from Facebook. I have to do a better job of reaching out, and my first step will be email. I’m often missing calls and occasionally ignoring others knowing I don’t have enough time to give to the person on the other end as much as I’d like. So rather than try to schedule it, I’d rather do it in my own time via email with the hopes the other person will be cool with this method. At least it’s start right?
  • Health. In the last two years I’ve: visited a dermatologist for the first time and finally got a skin problem diagnosed, had my first root canal, had all four wisdom teeth removed and had my eyes checked so many times I was finally prescribed medicated drops. We’re gettin older and with each passing year more and more health problems pop up. I’m determined to be more “preventative” in my healthcare. That means, continuing dental visits regularly, because what more can they possibly pull out now?, finding a new  gyno in the city, getting physicals and speaking up when the doctor asks, “Is there anything you want to ask about?” On the weight front–I am at my “scary” weight. By that I mean the weight I never thought I’d reach personally and it scares me. The number itself isn’t scary, it’s not that weighing this is wrong or bad, it’s how quickly I got here. Seems like every season now I’m squeezing into clothes that just fit a year ago and I’m fed up. I got a gym membership at the beginning of 2013 and have actually been going more regularly than my last attempt in 2011 (2x week minimum). I will continue even though my pants are discouraging.

And on the list of things on my mind, with no real resolution to make except to keep on moving:

  • Life Planning. All around me life plans are coming to fruition. It’s exciting, surreal, and yes, a bit overwhelming though aren’t even my own. My friends are moving into new phases of our post-college lives, and they range all across the board–babies, dogs, homes and relocating. My life plan for a very long time included graduating, moving to Chicago and starting a career. Well, I’m here. I have a lingering question mark hanging over me that shines, “What’s next?” Joe and I moved in together in February (officially) in our own place. It’s been such a learning experience. When he was overseas, I prayed and tried to imagine the day when this would finally happen. No more long distance, no more short distance, no more one weekend a month trips, just him and I together. And here we are. Moving in with someone was in many ways what people said it would be –same as before–and in some ways different. On good days, I am so beyond grateful to wake up next to him, to have help with everything, to have someone to come home to on shitty days. On rough days, I miss some independence, control over the TV and my ability to avoid fast foods and snack cakes. With Joe recently going back to school, I’m excited for his future. It’s been a rough year and half for him, but I know he’s one of the most hard working people I know (talking to you future employers) and we will get through this phase like we have all the rest.

“One forgives to the degree that one loves” — Francois de la Rochefoucald

Because the last five days have been filled with entirely too much sadness, anger and bitterness (that even snickering at losers on Facebook can’t numb), I need to focus on some positives in my life.

  • I went to the 20SB Summit a week ago and met Molly Ford of Smart, Pretty and Awkward. She was a sweetheart and I fell in love with the simple but insightful premise of her blog. Today, I found her post title especially suiting so I stole it.
  • Work is good. I really hope I don’t jinx that by admitting it, but I have to say that it really has been going well lately. And I’m not just referring to the work that I’m doing or the opportunities that I think may be coming my way, but the people. I work with some great people. Some of them have been there in the trenches for the last two years. And, in the last year, I’ve grown closer to a few more. Aside from knowing I can count on them at work, I’ve learned that I can also count on them outside of work too. Thanks guys.
  •  Joe is back. He’s safe. In Iowa with just one last year in school to go. 2011 has been really tough on the two of us and while our relationship is a little more on the “it’s complicated” side than either of us would like, him being home is something I’m really grateful for. Now I just have to figure out where I go from here.
  • Books. I read two books this weekend and I’m craving more. Started The Hunger Games trilogy and finished the last of the Pretty Little Liars books (don’t judge me, I can’t get enough of the show). Admittedly, this has me excited for the VMAs tonight so I can see part of The Hunger Games movie trailer.
Now if only I can keep positive thoughts through the week I’ll make it to labor day weekend. I have a wedding to go to–oh joy.