December DIYs for Days

I decided this December, it would be my mission to DIY til my hands could DIY no more. And I think I did a pretty good job of accomplishing that task! The best part? I was able to give away most of these DIYs as little bonus gifts to my sisters, girlfriends, and various loved ones.

Santa Letters
Made these for my younger sisters and their roommates. Quick and easy!

DIY 01What you need: wooden letters, red paint, white paint, red felt, black felt, white felt, cotton balls, cardboard, gold glitter, craft glue, ribbon, hot glue
Source: Pinterest

Winter Wonderland Shadowbox
By far my most challenging project, but it turned out better than I’d hoped. The Pinterest link had no information on what you needed or how to put anything together, but I managed on my own. Not bad!

DIY 02What you need: shadow box, silver paint, lots of white glitter, cotton balls, various sized bottle brush trees, copper wire battery-operated lights
Source: Pinterest

Peppermint Bark Brownies
Because I obviously couldn’t go through December without a little baking. I took this simple homemade brownie recipe and put my own twist on it. Instead of frosting: peppermint bark. I mean…

DIY 03What you need: brownies (see recipe), white chocolate, candy canes, a tiny bit of shortening, a sweet tooth
Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Tulle Santa Wreath
Just four basic materials and a lot of knotting.

DIY 04What you need: wreath form, lots of tulle, santa hat, hot glue
Source: Pinterest

Mason Jar Snow Globes
I feel like this might be the most popular winter craft on Pinterest, but I couldn’t resist a DIY with Mason Jars…

DIY 05What you need: various mason jars, bottle brush trees, ribbon, hot glue, white glitter
Source: Pinterest

Chevron + Glitter Canvas
Amanda and I browsed Pinterest for canvas ideas and saw this chevron pattern. We put our own twist on it by making it black and white and cutting out words in cardboard to use as the gold glitter pop.

DIY 06.1DIY 06.2What you need: canvas, black paint, gold paint, gold glitter, cardboard, so much patience
Source: Pinterest

Marbled Clay Ring Dish
When I saw these on A Beautiful Mess, I knew I had to make them for all of the leading ladies in my life as a little extra Christmas gift.

DIY 07.1DIY 07.2What you need: oven bake clay (lots), X-Acto knife, small oven-safe bowl, rolling pin, large can
Source: A Beautiful Mess

Mini Slow Globe Ornaments
Q: Is there anything cuter than an itty bitty tree with glitter as an ornament for your not so itty bitty tree? A: There is not.

DIY 08What you need: itty bitty bottle brush trees, white glitter, plastic light bulb ornaments, ribbon, hot glue
Source: Pinterest

Wrecking Ball Ornament
I don’t know anybody who loves Miley Cyrus as much as my younger sister does. When I saw this on Buzzfeed, I knew there’d be no turning back. Our Christmas tree will never be the same.

DIY 09
What you need: Miley printout, ornament, silver paint, some sort of chain/ribbon/wire, hot glue, Miley Cyrus as background music (obviously)
Source: Buzzfeed

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Now Playing: December 2014 Edition

We made it to the end of the year. And just think about how much great music we’ve been able to listen to all year. So this month is kind of a mish mash of things I’ve been really into. My favorite artist at the moment is Walk The Moon. I’m kicking myself for waiting this long to get into their music, but WOW am I glad I finally am. Their new album Talking Is Hard is incredible. Between their pop anthem, “Shut Up And Dance,” and their slower jams, like “Aquaman,” you’ll find something you love. If you’re not convinced, go see them live. I guarantee that’ll change your mind.

The best radio station in Chicago put on their second ever Christmas concert and the lineup this year was beyond even my wildest dream: Meg Myers, Vance Joy, KONGOS, and Walk The Moon. I mean. Really? You expect me to have a pulse at the end of that show? So you’ll find some of my favorite tracks by those artists scattered throughout this playlist too. Other than that, I’ve been jamming to “Uptown Funk” and “Moneygrabber” like its nobody’s business. And when I’m not listening to Walk The Moon, I’m listening to the few Christmas songs that don’t drive me crazy (you’ll find those in this list too).

I really can’t wait to see what next year has in store for us, music-wise. I mean, new Fall Out Boy, new All Time Low, new Marianas Trench, new Imagine Dragons??? The list goes on. And I’m just sitting here waiting as patiently as I can. I suggest you stay tuned.

Til then, Happy Christmas and Happy New Year!

Walk the Moon – Shut Up and Dance
Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk
Fitz and The Tantrums – MoneyGrabber
Walk the Moon – Jenny
Nick Jonas – Avalanche
Walk the Moon – Avalanche
Meg Myers – Heart Heart Head
Vance Joy – From Afar
Chris Cornell – Scream
Josh Ramsay – Baby Please Come Home
The Raveonettes – The Christmas Song
Andrew Belle – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
All Time Low – Merry Christmas, Kiss My Ass
Honeyhoney – Punk Kid
Weezer – Da Vinci
Nick Jonas – Jealous – Remix
Vance Joy – Georgia
Walk the Moon – Aquaman
Miley Cyrus – Drive
Taylor Swift – I Know Places
Ella Henderson – Ghost

 

Now Playing: November 2014 Edition

It’s that time of year where I begin daydreaming about summer nights. And that means this playlist is almost entirely country (oops?). The country station has been a frequent friend of mine while stuck in traffic lately, so it’s been great timing for so many artists to be hitting the airwaves. Between Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice, and Brad Paisley, I think I’ve got that genre covered for a while.

Now, this is groundbreaking news coming from me: I had a bit of a revelation that Taylor Swift is a pretty good songwriter. She even earned herself two spots below! (You’re welcome, TSwift) … so 1989 is a great album. I gotta give her that. I gave her a chance and I think she finally delivered with an album that everybody will get hooked on. Speaking of pop music, I sprinkled in some Kat Dahlia, Sara Bareilles, and Imagine Dragons, plus two awesome indie tracks (“Trainwreck 1979” and “Hymnals”). Recipe for a perfect pre-winter playlist.

Now, bring on the turkey so we can get back to sunshine and summer….

Eric Church – Talladega
Taylor Swift – Bad Blood
Death From Above 1979 – Trainwreck 1979
Florida Georgia Line – Dirt
HAERTS – Wings
Parmalee – Close Your Eyes
Kat Dahlia – Crazy
Brad Paisley – Perfect Storm
Bebe Rexha – I Can’t Stop Drinking About You
Lee Brice – Love Like Crazy
Sara Bareilles – Gonna Get over You
Thomas Rhett – Make Me Wanna
Imagine Dragons – I Bet My Life
Lorde – Yellow Flicker Beat
Taylor Swift – Style
Grizfolk – Hymnals

 

 

Now Playing: October 2014 Edition

I don’t know if there are many feelings I enjoy quite as much as the wet, golden chill of October. You know the one. It could be 1 in the afternoon, but the sky looks angry, the wind whips around you, and you can almost feel the green liveliness of the leaves slipping away. This is my favorite month to build a soundtrack to.

This playlist is full of swooping melodies, strings, and haunting voices. My favorite. But I also had to include a hefty amount of Yellowcard, since they released their album Lift A Sail on October 7th. These guys have been at it for a long time, but I’m convinced they can do no wrong. Between the Yellowcard, you’ll find a little indie pop (Bleachers’ “Rollercoaster”), a dash of eerie Meg Myers, a pinch of Andrew McMahon (“High Dive,” one of the most noteworthy tracks off his newly released album), a little Hozier and Neulore, and of course Bastille. I saw them play at Aragon Ballroom this month and they absolutely blew me away. Their songs, “Oblivion” and “Laughter Lines” have always been my favorite, but after hearing them played live, I love them even more. And they sound like October.

Happy Halloween and happy listening!

Yellowcard – Convocation
Bleachers – Rollercoaster
Meg Myers – The Morning After
Neulore – In The Orchard
Yellowcard – Transmission Home
Lily & Madeleine – Things I’ll Later Lose
Steve Aoki – Back to Earth
Yellowcard – Make Me So
Neulore – Shadow of a Man
Taylor Swift – Out of the Woods (yes, I know. I can’t believe I’m listening to her either.)
Yellowcard – Lift a Sail
Bastille – Oblivion
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – High Dive
Yellowcard – MSK
Maddie & Tae – Girl In A Country Song
Hozier – Like Real People Do
Nevertheless – When I’m Alone
Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were
Clean Bandit – Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)
Bastille – Laughter Lines

 

 

25 x 25 (The Bucket List)

25x25 graphic

This is my bucket list of 25 things to do before I turn 25. I wrote this in the months leading up to my birthday (this past July), but only just managed to finalize the list. Some are repeats from my “23” list, some are general goals, but all are things that will make me feel a little more accomplished by next year. As I complete things, I’ll probably post little blurbs/Instagram pictures as evidence!

1 –  Get my Chicago tattoo and/or writing-related tattoo
2 – Get into a yoga/running routine (and stick to it for at least 3 months)
3 – No longer be in debt
4 – Visit Lauren & Kaitlyn at SLU, Jaclynn in Ohio, IWU at least twice, see Jess once
5 – Give vlogging a chance
6 – Keep up with my current 365 project
7 – Learn to be less critical of myself/compare myself less to other girls/friends/bloggers etc.
8 – Make it to 5 concerts (at least three bands I haven’t seen before)
9 – Start writing poetry again
10 – Go out more often. Do things. (Kick the anxiety.)
11 – Drink more tea/water
12- Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)
13 – Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive way
14 – Take a drive to Nashville for a weekend
15 – Get a full-time job
16 – Make a stranger laugh
17 – Do/try something new. Anything. (i.e. wake boarding)
18 – Run a 5k (with few stops… maybe under 40 minutes?)
19 – Learn to cook/bake more
20 – Do something for myself
21 – Go to the planetarium, aquarium, and a Blackhawks game in Chicago
22 – Watch the sunset and the sunrise over the city
23 – Move out (esp. with Amanda)
24 – Learn something new
25 – Read 24 books

Now Playing: September 2014 Edition

September! How did it arrive and slip by so quickly? This month, I’ve been listening to Vance Joy’s new album, Dream Your Life Away, non-stop. Can you blame me? He is so much more than just “Riptide.” It seems like my mind was on Australia, because I found myself drawn to a band I’d never heard of before: Sheppard. This six-piece indie pop group is from Brisbane and they’ve got a sound that everybody needs to hear. Be sure to check out their single, “Geronimo.” And once you’re sold, check out the rest of their EP.

A few other notable discoveries include Scotland’s very own Twin Atlantic (is there anything better than a vocalist whose accent shines through?), Meg Myers (“Desire” is dark, sexy, and sure to get your heart racing), Hozier (“Take Me To Church” is going to haunt the radiowaves soon), and Ella Henderson (“Ghost” is a pop anthem with a chorus bound to get stuck in your head). Plus an honorable mention to Fall Out Boy for releasing their new single, “Centuries.” I’m positive FOB can do no wrong!

Enjoy this month’s playlist and let me know what you’re listening to!

Twin Atlantic – Hold On
Cobra Starship – Never Been In Love (feat. Icona Pop)
Fitz and The Tantrums – Fools Gold
Two Door Cinema Club – What You Know
Echosmith – Cool Kids
Lewis Watson – stay
Fall Out Boy – Centuries
Meg Myers – Desire
Meg Myers – Go
Vance Joy – From Afar
Vance Joy – Mess Is Mine
Hozier – Take Me To Church
Sheppard – Geronimo
Sheppard – Something’s Missing
Ella Henderson – Ghost
Ben Howard – End Of The Affair
Turin Brakes – Feeling Oblivion
Whitley – The Life I Keep

 

 

Now Playing: August 2014 Edition

Sweet August. Bittersweet August. The month of last-chances for the summer. The month that always manages to fly by, even when you try to savor every minute. This month was a slow one for music, but one of my favorite discoveries from 2014 released their album on the 5th– and thank goodness for that. The Wind And The Wave is a folky, alternative, gritty, country duo. In short: the perfect August band.

You’ll see quite a few of their tracks scattered throughout this playlist. Also keep an eye out for some classic summer jams (“Summer Hair = Forever Young” and “In This Diary”), some mellow tunes (“Live In The Bedroom” and “Welcome Home”), and the only country song I discovered this month (“American Kids”). And no playlist would be complete without a terribly catchy top 40 hit (“Bang Bang” is fun, that’s all there is to it).

Sit back, grab a beer (or, you know, your summer drink-of-choice), and listen to what the last month of summer sounds like. I know I’m not the only one clinging onto it!

The Griswolds – Beware the Dog
Twin Atlantic – Heart and Soul
The Dirty Heads – My Sweet Summer
The Wind and The Wave – My Mama Said Be Careful Where You Lay Your Head
Marianas Trench – Pop 101
Tim Moxam – Live in the Bedroom
Young Guns – I Want Out
Birdy – Skinny Love
The Academy Is… – Summer Hair = Forever Young
The All-American Rejects – I Wanna
The Wind and The Wave – Every Other Sunday Morning
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Cecilia And The Satellite
Kenny Chesney – American Kids
Jessie J – Bang Bang
Colony House – Silhouettes
The Ataris – In This Diary
The Wind and The Wave – Raising Hands Raising Hell Raise ’em High
Radical Face – Welcome Home, Son

 

Far-Away Friends

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 11.50.26 PM

This post came about mostly as a result of me realizing how many amazing “first meet” photos I’ve had friends/family take for me. That being said, I also think there’s something in the air that’s making me really nostalgic for the days I’ve spent with my friends who are far away from me. Maybe it’s because summer is wrapping up and fall is approaching. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen most of them in months (if not, years). Maybe it’s because they’re all part of my very own amazing support system.

These people are friends I can count on to take me in, listen to me cry at 5 AM, and tell me I deserve the better when they know I’m not receiving it. They cheer me on when I land a date or an interview. They send me fun packages for my birthday and holidays.

There’s one very specific thing they all have in common, besides location (far, far away): I met them all online. I find it funny that over time, “online” friends have become a staple to my generation. It’s something I’ve been proud of for years. This isn’t to say I trust everyone online. A girl’s gotta have some common sense. But when I know, I know. And while there are still so many friends I’ve met but have yet to meet, they’re all awesome as well (and I’m thinking of you all too).

Say the internet is ruining communication all you want, but these friends wouldn’t be in my life if it weren’t for the internet. They’re phenomenal people and we know how to communicate from far away.

The Friends

Sophie was my first real online friend. We met in 2008, did the whole “vlog” thing back and forth for a while, then eventually managed to skype. I officially met her in 2011, when I studied abroad in Melbourne. Of course, I didn’t get to see her enough, but we reunited again in 2014 when I traveled back to Australia for a solo adventure. She took me in, gave me a bed to sleep in, took me on adventures, cooked for me, and even came into the city to hang out with me. She’s the friend who will stay up with you til 3 AM, not realizing how late it is, just to catch up on life things. She’s the friend who will watch Twilight with you and secretly love it while turning it into a drinking game. She’s the first person who let me in and she’s really the reason I fell in love with Australia to begin with.

Then there’s Mitch. I technically met him through Sophie, but through the magic of the internet, we met over skype in 2009. I fell for the Aussie charm pretty quickly and we became a couple before I met him (with Sophie) in 2011. First loves are an interesting thing. I could probably talk about first loves for days. Mitch was mine and although I accepted that it wasn’t meant to last, we did get a second chance when he came to visit me in Chicago over Christmas in 2012. Again, wasn’t meant to be. But I did see him again this past spring and I realized something about our relationship: I can’t call him my “ex” because before anything else, he is one of my best friends. He has my back all the way across the world. He drops what he’s doing to go on adventures with me. He pushes me to be better and stronger. He cooks me meals that remind me of home when I’m homesick. And in the future, when I manage to live in Australia for longer than a two months, he’ll watch out for me. That is a best friend.

Jessica. My first tumblr best friend and most likely my twin-separated-at-birth. I cannot fully understand how alike we are (looks, personality, humor, hopes, dreams, everything) and I don’t think I ever will. We are perfectly aligned. I met Jess in NYC fresh into 2013 and I think I owe a lot of my happy moments that year to her. It was almost as if starting my year off with her set the universe’s positive vibes into motion. She’s a bundle of enthusiasm, wanderlust, and dreams. She is passionate, funny, and thoughtful. Her friends are like family and like me, her family is number one. I tear up a little whenever I see our first-meet photo (thank you, Eric).

And then, there’s Blake. My mysterious (yet totally predictable), charming best friend from Sydney. Another tumblr best friend, but with Blake, the connection always comes back to music. It’s some deep-rooted thing for both of us. Music being the answer to everything, the invisible thing that links us to memories, the one thing we will both always have. We kept in touch via social media for a while, then turned to texting and the occasional phone call (I’m not going to lie, I nearly melted into a puddle when I heard his accent the first time). Neither of us can really remember when or how we became friends, but the most exciting moment of my 2014 trip to Australia– hands down– was meeting Blake for the first time. After years of waiting, I was finally able to hang out with him in person (and with drinks!) in Sydney. We’re the black sheep. And I love this kid.

I miss all of these friends (and their friends and their cities), but it’s pretty damn amazing to know that wherever I travel, I’ll have a piece of home with me. These friends are my homes away from home. And I wouldn’t have them if it weren’t for the crazy little internet.