Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Songs I'm Loving Lately #8: Catchy Jams

Who doesn't love finding new music to listen to?! Hopefully you do because I have yet another installment of "Songs I'm Loving Lately" and this time I'm really excited about these songs. The majority of songs on this list are super catchy and you might have already caught them on the radio, but I'm here to share them anyway. 

Check them out below and let me know what songs you've been digging lately!

Love Me Like You Do - Ellie Goulding
I first heard this song while watching 50 Shades of Grey (yes, I saw it and yes, I enjoyed it) and immediately loved it. I'm usually a fan of Ellie's songs, so there was really no surprise, but this one might just be my favorite of hers. I didn't take note of the song until I started hearing it on the radio and jamming out to it but now it's pretty much on my playlist all the time! 

Talking Body - Tove Lo
Another catchy song that sounds a little bit like the song above! Apparently the lyrics on the radio are not the real lyrics... so depending on your mood you may like one version better than the other. Look up the lyrics on your own because I prefer to leave the real lyrics off my somewhat squeaky clean blog :)

Let It Go - James Bay
I had heard this song before and liked it but didn't get the name until it played on The Originals and I was able to Shazam it (oh how I love Shazam!) Apparently James Bay has more than one popular song out right now and with good reason - his voice and skills are pretty good. He reminds me of another artist so much but I can't seem to pin point it, so if you have any ideas PLEASE let me know! It's one of those things I'm dying to figure out.

FourFiveSeconds - Rihanna 
ft. Kanye West & Paul McCartney
So when I first heard that Rihanna had a song with Paul McCartney, I was just like... what. I wasn't one of those people who thought it was "cool" or anything along those lines; in fact I wanted to steer clear from it. Then, I heard the song on the radio and realized that Paul is only playing the guitar (which is an excellent part of the song, by the way) and only Rihanna and Kanye sing. I'm normally not a fan of either of them, but I'm really digging this song.

Ghost - Ella Henderson
Ah, this song. Can you believe Ella is only 19? Her voice is amazing. Ghost has been on my playlist for weeks now and I'm surprisingly not tired of it just yet. I'll admit I've passed the phase of belting out to it at the top of my lungs when it comes on, but the fact that I still listen to it proves how good of a song it is. I'm excited to hear more from her in the future!

Check out all my past installments of Songs I'm Loving Lately to find some new music!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (2012)

It's not often that I find a book I can read within just a couple of days, so when I do, I absolutely must share it with the world! By now you might have already heard about Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. It came out almost three years ago and I've been wanting to read it for almost as long, but always had a hard time finding a copy at the library. I had always heard great things about this book, but was also a little skeptical as I usually am when book's are given such raving reviews.

Basically, the reviews were right. I wouldn't give the book a 10 out of 10, but it's definitely one of those novels you can't seem to put down (and that's usually a very good thing). The story telling aspect is very unique and well-done. Maria Semple is able to tell a funny and captivating story that has a much darker root to it, in a way that gives you more than one side of the story. You're left wondering "Who's crazy? Who's not? Is anyone sane?!" But, alas, that is up to you to decide.

The only downside of Where'd You Go, Bernadette is that I wish it had gone a little more in depth with the character's stories and inner demons, so to speak. The book is meant to be funny, though, so we don't really get too into the backgrounds and feelings of each character and what has led them to be who they are at the present day. We get just enough information that it is up to the reader to form their opinions and thoughts on each character's background.

If you're looking for a book that you won't be able to stop reading until you've gotten to the end and find out what actually ends up happening, Where'd You Go, Bernadette is certainly the next book you should read! I also loved that the story gives us plenty of twists and surprises. More than one character ends up changing. 

Two of my favorite quotes from Where'd You Go, Bernadette:

"People like you must create. If you don't create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society."

"My heart started racing, not the bad kind of heart racing, like, I'm going to die. But the good kind of heart racing, like, Hello, can I help you with something? If not, please step aside because I'm about to kick the shit out of life."

Have you read Where'd You Go, Bernadette? What did you think of it?

P.S. Check out all my other book reviews!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Finding your blog's niche: Do you have to?

I honestly think lifestyle bloggers have it so tough (cue world's tiniest violin). We are the bloggers who don't necessarily have a "niche" and don't really fit into one category, so we're all kind of just grouped together. But lifestyle bloggers could not be any more different! Every single lifestyle blog I've encountered is unique and has something special to offer the world, but sometimes it's not really obvious at first glance. That's why if you want to become a "successful" blogger, people advise you to really find your niche and get as specific as possible.

BUT DO I HAVE TO?! I don't want to limit myself! I don't want to put boundaries on my creativity. I started my blog as a way to express myself and I have a million different thoughts and ideas running through my mind every day. There's no way I could stick to one specific thing and not get sick of it.

Then there are those times where I doubt myself and my blog and wonder if maybe I do need to get more specific if I want to take my blog to the next level. I guess it really just depends on each individual and their blog. Your blog, your choice. I'm just here to say- don't feel like you need to have a "niche" in order to be a successful blogger. Anything is possible, and you, my dear, could very well be the exception to this silly "rule."

HOWEVER, before you brush that off your shoulders and go posting whatever pops into that fabulous brain of yours, there are some things you definitely should do as a lifestyle blogger. These will in no way hinder your creativity or spontaneity, but simply act as a way to create some kind of unification on your blog.

  • Have a series (or several): This is probably THE most important thing you can do as a lifestyle blogger. Having a series, or several, that will keep readers coming back for more is super helpful if you want to build a following. You may not even have to go ahead and create a new series. Take a look at the posts you already have and see if you can group them together into one particular topic. If you want to spice things up on your blog, brainstorm a new series or two you can start that you think people would really be interested in. There's no need to continuously update your series, but as long as you have posts coming in often you should be good.
  • Make list posts often: One of the great things about being a lifestyle blogger is that you can literally post about anything. So when it comes time to writing your list posts, the Internet is your oyster. The reason you should write some posts as lists instead of just writing a normal post is that people are much more attracted to lists. Even better, include a number in your title. Examples: seven ways to blah blah blah, five of my favorite yadadada. People will want to know what you're talking about!
  • Always end your post with a question: Obviously this can be done by any blogger, and probably should, but as a lifestyle blogger it's so much more fun. Since your topics are so broad and unique, you get to be creative with the questions you ask your readers. This is an excellent way of engaging your audience and actually opening up some interesting discussion. Your comments won't always be "I love your shirt!" or "This looks delicious!" (Not that there's anything wrong with those sorts of comments!)
  • Don't just write about your life: Of course you'll want to post about your life and that sort of thing (and sometimes that's all you can really muster during those dreaded writer block moments) but don't JUST write about your life. If you do that, chances are your blog will resemble more of a diary and that's not everyone's cup of tea. Find ways to write about things that your readers can relate to or topics you know they'll find interesting/useful/etc. You absolutely can write about your life- but make sure you're doing it in a way that is more blog-friendly (make sense? I hope so!)
  • Know your target audience: Okay, this tip is borderline scary because it's so close to me saying "find a niche!!!" but I swear I'm not. However, just because your blog doesn't have a niche doesn't mean you won't have a specific audience that reads your blog. For example, I know that people who read my blog are typically twenty-something women. Not super specific, but still. You don't necessarily have to tailor your posts to your target audience, but knowing who is reading your blog and what their general interests are will definitely help you out.

As a lifestyle blogger, do you have a particular niche?
Do you think it's essential for a blog to have a niche in order to be "successful"?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hump Day Funnies: Cuteness Overload Edition

Warning: This post will make you go "aww." Usually my hump day posts are filled with stuff I've found on the internet that will make you crack up. This Wednesday I thought I'd change it up a bit and give you a cuteness overload! As long as I'm cracking a smile on your face to combat those hump day blues, mission accomplished.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Inspiration Monday: Focus on Yourself

It's been such a long time since I've written an Inspiration Monday post! As I was writing the draft for my first post on The Indie Chicks, part of my post got me thinking about something truly important I've learned in recent years (and am still learning). That lesson? Focusing on yourself and avoiding the temptation to compare yourself to others.

This is something I feel every single one of us has faced since a very young age, dating back to your Kindergarten days when you wanted the same big box of crayons the little girl next to you had, or when you were in high school and every day was filled with comparing yourself to your peers. As we age, we tend to step away from these bad habits, but sometimes they never really go away.

Since graduating college, I feel like I've been hit by a new wave of comparing my life to those around me. After graduating, everyone I knew branched off and headed in different directions. When we were still in school, we all seemed to be on the same path or dealing with similar situations. Afterwards, I couldn't help but notice that everyone was doing something that I wanted to do but wasn't able to or hadn't gotten around to yet. It was incredibly frustrating and disheartening.
Fast forward a year and a half and I've finally begun to accept the path that I'm on as my own and have actually become quite proud of myself, especially how far I've come. Of course, it wasn't easy. It never was. I know there will still come times when I take a look at someone else's life and wish mine resembled theirs. It's only natural to feel this way from time to time, but we cannot make a habit out of it.

As I've matured, I've learned that one of the most important things you can do in life is to focus on yourself, and just that. Don't look at where others are in life or what they have and you don't. That kind of comparison is negative and will only bring you harm. You need to focus on who you are as an individual and accept that your life will be completely different than anyone else's and that that is 100% okay.

As a twenty-something, this is something that's even more difficult to do because everyone you know will start making big changes in their life and not everyone will meet certain milestones at the same time. But that's okay. Everyone marches to the beat of their own drum. We can't all have the same life, the same goals, the same dreams. Just like you may want something that someone else has, someone may want something that you have but they don't. It's the circle of life!

So remember: focus on yourself and what you can do to bring yourself happiness.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Apartment Living: My Bedroom Staples (That I've Never Had Before)

I have always had a small bedroom and an insane amount of things to cram into it. I never have enough closet space and no matter how hard I try (cough cough) to keep things organized and tidy, it's pretty much impossible. Partially because I'm lazy, but also because I just don't have ROOM! The bedroom I'm currently living in is probably my favorite by far (some reasons why: I bought almost all of the furniture myself, I love the light gray walls, it's the most private spot in my parent's home). The other two bedrooms I have had have been roughly the same size, though, so I've never gotten the luxury of having certain things in my room because there just wasn't room for them. This is one of the reasons I'm excited to move out! I refuse to live in a small bedroom, especially if I will be paying for it with my own paycheck. So for this installment of Apartment Living, I'd like to share with you some of the items I hope I'll be able to add to my new bedroom.

1. A comfy armchair: This is probably the one thing I'm most excited to finally have and if I can only choose one from this list, it would absolutely be the armchair. I want a big comfy chair where I cuddle up and read a book or browse the web on, with my soft blanket thrown over me. I'm sure my cat, Leyla, will make the chair her own, but when you have a cat you know that everything is fair game for nap locations. It will probably also turn into a spot where I throw my clothes and coats, but I will try my best to treat this sacred spot with the upmost respect.
2. A big, roomy desk: I've always had a desk in my room, so I consider myself really lucky for that. Problem is my desks have always been on the small side because I can't fit a bigger desk. If you haven't gotten the hint yet, I have a lot of stuff. Also, as a blogger, a desk is super important and I frequently have an abundance of papers and notebooks and books thrown about. I also like being able to use my computer on my desk but also have space next to it for notepads, etc. Being able to have a bigger desk will definitely help me stay more organized and hopefully help my productivity level.
3. A bookshelf: A tall bookshelf would be SO awesome to have. I would most likely only use one shelf for actual books, though. The rest of the shelves would work as fabulous storage space, however, and that is something I certainly want in my new room. There's also something really cozy about bookshelves and if kept nice and tidy it can really add something special to your room.
4. A vanity cart: So I only recently thought of this one, but a vanity cart sounds like one of the best ideas out there. A place where I can keep all things beauty related (and preferably one with wheels!) would make my life easier (and neater...maybe). I've seen some really cool ideas on pinterest and can't wait to have this in my new room. It would definitely clear up room on my dresser top, which is currently jam-packed with all my beauty products.

What's something you've always wanted for your bedroom but weren't able to have?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Quiz!

Everyone loves filling out fun quizzes/surveys, amiright?! When I found out that one of my favorite bloggers, Two Thirds Hazel, does these fun quizzes with a link up I just had to join. I'm not really a fan of "Valentine's Day" simply because I've always thought it was a silly made up holiday for consumers to go crazy, BUT I have no problem sharing how I feel about dating/love/boys, as you probably well know by now. If you don't... well I recommend you check out some of my blog's tags at the bottom of this post! 

Agree with any of my answers? 
Have any funny stories to share about love/Valentine's Day?

P.S. I'm afraid to say that I think everything I've done "for love" can be deemed crazy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How did I go from being a lazy bum to a workaholic?

Never in a million years would I see myself as a "workaholic." An overachiever, a perfectionist, etc, etc. Suddenly, these words are starting to describe me pretty well, and to be honest, that scares me. I don't want to say that I've been a lazy bum my whole life... but in a way, I kind of have been. I've always been a creative soul and had grandiose ideas, but I never actually went through with anything. I never really found that motivation or that extra jolt to get me to the point where I was serious about any of this. I was perfectly fine binge watching Netflix, taking nap after nap, spending hours playing the Sims: the list goes on. I always did enough at school just to get by, sometimes really putting in that extra effort if it was something I truly cared about. Now I find myself at the point where I'm working a 9 to 5 job in which I'm trying hard to prove myself and train myself as fast as possible while also taking up my blogging/writing life up about 1000%. What the hell happened to me?!

I suddenly don't want to waste any time watching t.v. or even sleeping. If I'm not working on either my career or my blogI feel a sense of guilt and just general discontent. I still don't know if this is only a phase I'm going through (and I'm kind of hoping it isn't). I've been thinking about this personality change a lot lately and I'm worried for several reasons. Number one being that it is just a phase, as stated above, and that eventually I will burn out and be as useless as a deflated party balloon. Number two is worrying that if I keep headed down this path I might end up stressing myself out to an extreme level. Number three would be freaking out that I am legitimately turning into a workaholic and I will never be able to turn myself around. Number four is that I'm actually liking this change in myself. But I know I have to find some kind of balance.
I want to get so much done. In as little time as possible. Perhaps this is all coming from spending months of basically doing nothing with my life and now suddenly I'm doing ALL THE THINGS. I am very grateful to have something to do and I am glad that I am so motivated. I just don't want to see these changes in my life end up affecting my mental and physical well-being. For example, this week has been extremely exhausting but I haven't been able to sleep very well. Naturally, you'd think I'd be able to hit my pillow and instantly snooze, but that's not the case at all. I think it's because my mind is on over-drive. I am trying so hard to succeed after months of failure. Maybe that's what it really boils down to.

The key here is probably finding a work-life balance. I know I'm still pretty new to this whole full-time job real world thing so it may take some time for me to truly adjust. Lots of advice on this particular topic points to focusing on your hobbies more, but the problem is... blogging is my hobby. It's the one hobby in my entire 23 years of living that I've actually stuck with and found most satisfying. It also probably doesn't help that my new job is centered around marketing and social media—things that go hand in hand with blogging. I just feel that I don't have enough hours in the day. And the exhaustion? It's awful. I normally hate being exhausted, but with all this new found motivation and ambition, feeling exhausted is ten times worse.

So what's a gal to do? Have you ever faced similar issues? What did you do to get through it?

Monday, February 9, 2015

My Word of the Year: Empower

As I sit here with writer's block, yet again, I try to remind myself why I chose "empower" as my word of the year. This is actually the first year I have chosen a "word" and in a geeky way I'm kind of really excited about it. I wasn't planning to, but when I saw tweets from people saying what their word of the year was, the word "empower" suddenly came to mind. By definition, empower means "make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights." 

I've always felt that in many ways I'm strong and confident, but these past couple of years or so I've realized (or more so accepted) that really isn't the case. Or at least I'm not where I ideally want to be. This is the year I want to really focus on building my confidence and feeling stronger, especially when it comes to control. There are so many things in life you can't control, which I have learned plenty of times since graduating college, but you can control your attitude and your actions. I want to feel empowered. I want to empower myself to be the best I can be and continue working on my flaws, but also accepting that no one (and nothing in life) is ever perfect.

When I first thought of the word empower, I associated it with my work and career. I finally have a career-oriented job in a field that interests me and I want to really build my skills this year. I have failed plenty of times in the past, but I've never given up. Which is one of the reasons why I'm so happy and grateful to have finally found a job that I am happy with. Now the next step is to empower myself to succeed in this field. 

I also associate the word empower with my blog, because this is the year that I really want my blog to take off and spread its' wings, metaphorically speaking. While blogging is a hobby and passion of mine, I am also starting to view it as a second job. I want to succeed in the blogging world, too. This is something I've wanted for years now, before I had even chosen my major in college!

Lastly, I think the most important aspect of choosing empower as my word of the year is that it is something I want in my personal life. I want to feel more in control. I want to feel empowered when it comes to dating; when it comes time to becoming a fully independent adult; when it comes to my emotions and actions; even when it comes to my health and fitness. It really just relates to every single part of my life. Empower is my word of the year because I want to finally reflect the confidence I believe I should truly have. 

In the past I never really got why people chose words of the year. It never appealed to me. Now I feel that in terms of goal setting and personal improvement, it's an excellent way of staying on track.  Having a word you can focus on throughout the year is an awesome way of reminding yourself where you want to be, who you want to be, what you want to be doing, etc.

If you haven't chosen a "word of the year" yet but you'd like to, I recommend not dwelling too much on what the word should be. Most of the time the first word that comes to mind is exactly what it should be. You don't even have to define it or think about why it's your word of the year. You'll have plenty of time to reflect on it throughout the next few months!

Do you have a word of the year? If so, what is it? I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Five Blogs Every Millennial Woman Should Read

Naturally, as a blogger, I follow and read other blogs (TONS of other blogs). Sometimes it's actually too much to keep up with. There are several blogs, though, that I find really useful and relevant for where I'm at in life right now. I feel that these blogs are perfect for the millennial target audience, and more particularly for millennial women. Below I share the five blogs I believe every millennial woman should read (or at least check out!) and a brief summary of why I chose them.

This is one of my newest finds on this list and becoming one of my favorites because it really fits with who I am right now and where I'm at as a millennial woman. Most of it is work related tips, but a young professional twenty-something is sure to find these articles useful. I've also seen some posts that are similar to what I write about and not being quite sure what direction to take when it comes to your career.

This was one of the first sites I discovered when I was about to graduate college and a lot of their articles helped ease my anxiety about entering the work force! Of course, it took me 1.5 years to actually finally enter that said work force, but this site still has plenty of great tips and advice for the professional millennial woman.

I love this site because of their career profiles. They interview woman of all ages and career fields and it has given me SO much inspiration to be successful and follow my dreams. It's also a great way of realizing that not everyone comes from the same background or beginnings, but we all have the ability to really be successful and happy if we just put our mind to it and continue to work towards it. As you can see from the menu, there are tons of other topics they post about, too!

Of course a blog named "GenTwenty" would be part of this list! Most millennials are in their twenties and most of us face similar issues. GenTwenty is similar to Thought Catalog, but definitely has a more serious side (which I prefer). They also have a similar message and motivation behind their site to In-Between Life. Being a millennial is hard and GenTwenty finds ways to help you feel less alone and more connected with other people your age.

I have to admit that I'm a little bit iffy with Thought Catalog. Since a lot of it is based on submissions,  I don't always agree with some of the posts and I also find some of them silly and ridiculous (example shown above: 10 things you can do to make any ex jealous). What I do like about Thought Catalog is that it's written by millennials for millennials. There is a HUGE variety of posts so everyone is guaranteed to find something they like. There are often great motivational posts, too. 

Do you have a favorite site/blog that is targeted towards millennial women?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Treat Yo Self Giveaway: $100 PayPal Cash!

During this “month of love” it’s important that we don’t forget the most important person in your life- YOU! Whether you’re single, married, coupled up, dating around, dating Netflix- WHO CARES! What should matter most is how you treat yourself and how much you love yourself. That’s why I wanted to focus this giveaway on YOU and give a prize of $100 cash so you can go out and buy yourself whatever you want. Schedule yourself a day at the spa, go on a shopping spree, get your hair and nails done, buy a nice piece of jewelry, etc. Use this money to pamper yourself because you deserve it!

The giveaway will run from February 4th until February 18th. The winner will be announced on February 19th and contacted via email. If the winner does not respond within two days, another winner will be chosen. 

Thanks to the following bloggers for contributing to this giveaway:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dating in Your Twenties: Do you know what you want?

Dating is hard enough as it is, but it's even harder when you don't know what you want. Do you want something casual? Do you want to start a serious relationship? Are you looking for someone who can become your best friend? Or are you looking for someone who you can just go out with from time to time? There are ENDLESS possibilities and chances are that 99% of the people you meet (whether dating potential or not) are not looking for the same things you are.
Dating in your twenties changes rapidly as you grow older. You may go from a casual dater to a serious one looking for a long-term commitment. Bar hopping and scoping the crowds gets less and less appealing as you age. For many of you, graduating college means leaving behind a dating pool full of potential significant others. It can also mean leaving behind the one-night stands and the "casualness" that comes naturally while in college. This can be a serious breath of fresh air. However, don't expect the "games" to end just because you left college. For some reason, no matter what age, as long as you're in the dating fieldthere will always be games to deal with. 

Games and players and all that bull gets frustrating enough as it is while you're young, but as you get older and mature, it becomes a serious nuisance. Dating in your twenties can still be a roller coaster ride, even if you feel yourself maturing and wanting to settle down and get serious with someone. There's not much you can do in how others act or feel, but there are things you can do to make dating in your twenties easier (and less time-consuming).

Let's face ityou don't want to play the field and date someone for awhile only to discover that you were never looking for the same thing to begin with. You don't want to have to keep putting yourself out there only to come up empty handed each time (and sometimes with a broken heart). At least if you're anything like me, you don't want any of these things. For the past couple of years or so I've dealt with a lot of these problems and I've grown exhausted of wasting my time and energy on people who just don't deserve it.
Which is one of the reasons I've found it so important to figure out what it is exactly that you want out of a relationship and what you're looking for in a significant other. You don't have to get all Sex and the City and make a list of characteristics you want in a mate, but having a general idea of what you're looking for is good to have. Another HIGHLY important part of this is making sure you stick to it. Don't make exceptions. For anybody.

For example: You want a relationship. One that may start off casual but eventually get serious. You know in your heart that is what you want. You start seeing someone who seems like the perfect match and you get along great, but he or she is only looking for something casual right now. You may end up getting close and feeling that eventually if you spend enough time together, he/she will change their mind. Truth is the majority of the time that doesn't happen. People don't tend to change. We like to wish and hope they will, but it's a very rare occurrence. If you know right off the bat that they are not looking for the same kind of relationship that you areback away before it's too late, for your own sake.

These same rules can apply for lots of other things we look for in relationships. Maybe someone in their late twenties knows that eventually they want to get married and have kids but they start dating someone who knows they do not want kids. This person hopes that eventually they will change their mind. What happens after you're in that relationship for a couple years and you bring up the kid situation and they are still firm in their beliefs?

I'm not saying that any kind of dating or relationships you have that don't end up working out is a waste of your time. In fact, many times we end up learning valuable lessons from these people and experiences. It's just important to have a firm idea of what you're looking for when you're dating in your twenties, especially as you start getting older. Sometimes these things don't even have to be related to commitment level. They can be simple wants, such as someone who has the same sense of humor as you or someone who is willing to hang out with you every weekend. The better understanding you have of yourself and what YOU want, the easier it will be to date in your twenties (or just dating in general!)

What is the one thing for you that is non-negotiable when it comes to dating?