Tuesday, June 9, 2015

stress less

By nature, I'm an insanely anxious and stressed out gal. Every time I turn around, my mind is going a million miles an hour about one thing or another. That being said, I've had to find different ways to  relax in order to reduce my own anxiety and stress.

Lucky for me, my lovely roommates gifted me a little book called 101 Ways to Relax and Reduce Stress by Candy Paull. After flipping through it, I've decided that this "how to" guide will be a serious constant in my life from this moment forward.

However, I've decided that I can't be selfish and keep all of these secrets to myself -- especially considering this unfortunate fact of life: EVERYONE goes through times when the stress simply seems to take over. So, I think it's important that I share a few of my favorite recently discovered tricks to take it down a notch, a la Candy Paull's 101 Ways to Relax and Reduce Stress (with a couple of twists and tweaks, a la this gal.)

Check Your 'Tude - One thing that can make or break a situation is the way in which you approach it...aka your attitude. I've always had an attitude, but I haven't always been aware of it (just ask my parents). But, I've learned that acknowledging the way in which you go about life can actually have an effect on what you experience. Less 'tude, less stress, less anxiety.

Live Now - This seems simple enough: live in the present. However, I tend to find myself questioning something I did in the past or worrying about what might happen in the future. I've come to realize that these processes really take away from my present. Rather than allow your mind to be consumed by the stress of the past and future, take in the beauty of now.

Breathe - Do as your parents told you when you were a three year old throwing a temper tantrum in aisle 9 of the grocery store: take deep breaths. According to this book, adults rarely take natural breaths that fill their lungs completely. So, if you are particularly stressed or anxious, lay on your back and spend five or ten minutes focusing on your breathing rather than allowing yourself to focus on what's stressing you out.

Feel Floral - Apparently, lavender is a natural stress reliever. Place a drop or two of the essential oil on your temples or wrists and take notice of your calming nerves and reduced headache.

Clutter Be Gone - In my experience, I become even more stressed if my surroundings are unorganized. Rarely will you walk into my room, or house for that matter, and find it an utter disaster. I cannot think straight unless my surroundings are straightened. If you're sitting at your desk trying as you might to complete an assignment or task, try taking a break for a few minutes to organize your work space. Working at a newly de-cluttered desk can de-clutter your mind.

Let It Go - If you've done the best you can, let it go (and proceed to spin in circles and sing loudly while you pretend to turn things into ice). Holding on to something you have no control over will only increase your stress and anxiety levels. Instead, once you've finished the stress-inducing task, move onto something else, like planting a flower, going for a walk or meditating.

Cultivate Serenity - A stuffy environment results in stuffy thoughts and stuffy emotions. I find my stress and anxiety to lessen when I create a cozy and inviting space. I like to open windows, light candles or incense, and play soothing music when I'm stressed. A serene environment makes for a serene mind.

Now, before you think that I've gone super Boulder hippie on you, give one or a few of these a try. You'll be surprised at how effective these little solutions can be in reducing your stress and anxiety.

Monday, June 1, 2015

remembering your roots -- a DIY

No matter where you go or where you end up, it's always important to remember your roots. 


As most of you know, I was born and raised in Minnesota - where the accents are as thick as the snow pants you need six months out of the year. Oh, that doesn't sound appealing? Well to me, it's home, and it will always have a special place in my heart. 

While I don't plan on moving back anytime soon (I seem to have "misplaced" my snow pants), every now and then I'm reminded of the place I grew up, and a smile stretches across my face. 

One such reminder resulted in a desire to craft...surprise, surprise. So, after some soul searching on Pinterest, I decided to give one of the DIY pins a go. Here's a link to my pinspiration. While I put my own spin on this little project, this pin definitely got me started. 


So, here's what you'll need:

1) a picture frame, 2) white poster board, 3) patterned scrapbook paper, 4) scissors, 5) an x-acto knife and 6) a glue stick.

And here's what you've got to do: 

First: measure and cut the white poster board to fit your picture frame. **I used an 11in. x 14in. frame.

Second: outline your home state on your custom-sized poster board and cut it out using an x-acto knife. 

Third: cut strips of patterned scrapbook paper. **I used five different patterned papers that used a similar color scheme. 

Fourth: flip the poster board over so you're looking at the back.

Fifth: put glue on either end of the patterned strip of paper (the glue should go on the patterned side) and paste to the poster board, patterned side face-down.

Sixth: continue doing this until the entire state is covered. 

Seventh: flip the poster board over and frame it. You're finished!

Monday, May 25, 2015

7 Underrated Hollywood Hunks

Each year, typically around November or December, People Magazine publishes its highly anticipated feature, "The Sexiest Man Alive," complete with a jaw dropping, drool inducing cover and photo spread of Hollywood's hottest male celeb of the year. Merry Christmas to us.

However, the people at People (ha..ha...), tend to grant this coveted title to heavy hitters like George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey, Bradley Cooper and Ryan Reynolds. In other words, the expected. But what about the other equally handsome hunks in Hollywood? Sure, they may have less extensive repertoires, but what they lack in Oscar-winning experience, they make up for in their own sheer physical perfection. 

Here are - what I believe to be - seven underrated hunks of Hollywood. While they receive ogling praise every now and then, I think they deserve a little bit more lovin'. And after taking a peek at these pics, I'm pretty sure you'll agree. 

In no particular order...

1. Garrett Hedlund 

Hedlund has landed some pretty major roles in movies like TRON: Legacy, Country Strong and most recently, Unbroken. Soon, you'll get to see him as Hook in the newest adaptation of Peter Pan, Pan (2015). Hot man as the bad guy? I can dig it. 

2. Jensen Ackles

Ackles is mostly known for his roles in major television series like Supernatural, Days of Our Lives and Dawson's Creek. But he is so. much. more. If you look at him too long, you might actually melt.

3. Michael B. Jordan

While Jordan made appearances in movies and television series as early as 1999, his big break didn't come until his role as Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station. Jordan's upcoming projects include Fantastic Four (2015), Fantastic Four 2 (2017) and Creed (2015). Oofta, that smirk.

4. Taylor Kitsch

Kitsch is best known for his role on NBC's Friday Night Lights from 2006-2011. But, since his beginning on the small screen, he's starred in major motion pictures like John Carter, Savages and Lone Survivor. Plus, look at that man-bun material. 

5. Tom Hardy

With films like Inception, Lawless and The Dark Knight Rises under his belt, Hardy is making his way up the cinematic ranks. Up next? Hardy will appear in The Revenant (2015) alongside Leo Di Caprio. Talk about a hottie with a body. 

6. Sam Claflin

Claflin is probably best known for his role as Finnick Odair in the blockbuster series, The Hunger Games, but he's also had roles in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Snow White and the Huntsman. Soon, he'll reprise his role as William in The Huntsman, due out next year. Added bonus: he has a British accent.

7. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Like Hardy, Gordon-Levitt has also starred in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. But don't be fooled, Gordon-Levitt is more than just an action-film-kind-of-guy. He's also starred in films like 500 Days of Summer (a total chick flick) and Don Jon (a comedy/drama/romance kind of concoction). Coming up, he'll take on the leading role in Snowden, due out later this year. JoGo has got some seriously classic good looks going on. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before Leaving for College

On May 9, 2015, I finally graduated from the journalism program at the University of Colorado Boulder with my B.S. in News Editorial, an additional field of study in Communication and a minor in Women's Studies. It was a long ride. It was a fun ride. It was a trying ride. Still, getting my diploma was one of the most important life successes I've experienced thus far.

Even though my undergraduate career was incredibly fun (a time in my life I will truly never forget), there were moments in which I found myself questioning every decision I had ever made. That being said, here are five things I wish someone had told me before I left the comfort of home for the unfamiliar college experience that awaited me.

1. It's definitely hard to leave home...but it's not impossible.
When I was a junior in high school, my mom and I drove out to Colorado to tour my top two choices for college: Colorado State University and the University of Colorado Boulder. Deep down, I knew I would eventually end up in Colorado, but my 17-year-old self wasn't entirely sure about making the move a reality just yet. I mean...I'd lived in the same state, same town, same house my whole life!
After visiting CSU, I still wasn't entirely convinced I belonged there. Sure, the town and university campus was beautiful, but was it enough to sacrifice moving 1,000 miles away from all of my friends and family? After what felt like hours of thinking and talking it out with anyone that would listen, I realized that CSU wasn't the right fit.
My next visit was scheduled at CU Boulder. After touring the stunning campus, experiencing the college-town vibe "The Hill" and Pearl Street had to offer, and being swept off my feet by the natural beauty of the foothills, I knew I had found the perfect fit. Boulder is where I belonged.
But how was I supposed to tell my family and friends that I was leaving? How was I supposed to tell them that I was going to move to a place where I knew almost no one? How was I supposed to tell them that I had no idea when I was coming back? To be honest, figuring out how to answer those questions--and how to answer them in a way that proved I was positive that my decision was the right decision--was one of the more difficult tasks I had ever encountered. I was scared; I was terrified really. But I knew that if I didn't make the move now, it would be even more difficult to make it later on. In the end, making the decision to move to Colorado was hard, but it wasn't impossible.

2. In the same vein, it's perfectly acceptable to miss home once you've left. 
About four months after leaving home, I started to question my decision to move. I missed home. I missed my family. I missed my friends. Sure, I had met plenty of nice people and got to experience things I never would have back home. But at the same time, that didn't seem to offset the feelings I had about being so far away from everything and everyone I loved. And because I had told everyone back home that I was positive about the move, I didn't feel like I could express my feelings of negativity. I didn't want people to think I had failed. After talking with my brother, I realized that it was okay to miss home. It was natural to miss home. In fact, almost everyone experiences a time where they feel vulnerable and miss the comforts of home, and those feelings are perfectly acceptable.

3. Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone, but remember to stay true to yourself.
Before leaving for college, I never had to switch or transfer schools, so I never had to learn how to make new friends. In fact, the friends I made when I was a little kid were the same friends I had when I left for college. I learned quickly that if I wanted to meet new people out here in Colorado, I had to leave my comfort zone and take nearly every opportunity that came my way. I started conversations with mere strangers (something I rarely ever would have done in the comfort of my own home town), which lead to invitations to join clubs, go to parties, attend shows and just hang out. It was a weird experience, but I had to remember that everyone else was in the same position; everyone else was trying to make new friends as well. It is also important to keep in mind that you have to be your true self when opening up to knew things. If you don't like what you are experiencing, recognize that discomfort and try something else. Not everyone you will meet will be your best friend, in fact, some people won't want to be your friend at all, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't at least try.

4. It's okay to take a break from the "college life" and focus on yourself. 
College, as everyone knows, is a time to experience new things and meet new people, all while balancing school work and, for many, a part- or full-time job. College is hard. Balancing all of your different priorities is hard. Making sure you have enough time for your friends is hard. While most people tell you to do as much as you possibly can while you're in college (which I agree with...to a point), you can't forget about yourself, your own mental stability and your own health and well-being. It's important to take a bubble bath (if your run-down college house even has a bath..let alone one you are willing to lay in), drink a glass or two of wine, meditate, go to yoga, go to church or do whatever it is that gets you centered and rejuvenated. College is hard, but you shouldn't make it harder than it has to be.

5. But all that being said, cherish every minute of your college career: the good and the bad
Make decisions for yourself, but realize that you may question those decisions a time or two down the road. Live the college life, but don't forget to live your own life. There will always be good experiences and bad experiences, but once you find your balance, you will be able to cherish every last experience that got you to that point of serenity. My recommendation for anyone in college or about to head off: don't forget the friends you make, the risks you take, or the laws you break...because college is the best time of your life.

**To be clear, I do not advocate on behalf of breaking laws...usually.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

spring break ... the bank

The countdown has officially begun.

I have less than one month until spring break finally graces me with its wondrous pleasure. I usually don't do anything terribly extravagant or exciting for school breaks, BUT things have quite a different outlook this time around. In a few short weeks, my family and I will be on a plane headed to Hawaii. I have never been to the "Aloha State" before, so this trip will be a totally new and exciting experience for me. Just the thought of spending a week at the beach - drinking fruity drinks with tiny little umbrellas and working on a killer tan - gives me goosebumps.

All of my excitement turned into panic when I found myself wondering, "What am I going to wear? What am I going to pack?" If you know me at all, I'm sure you can imagine that it was at this point in the thought process that the online window shopping began...

Unfortunately, I'm the stereotypical super poor college student, and the likelihood of me getting the chance to buy all of the items I deem to be "vacay necessities" before I leave is pretty slim. Nevertheless, I spent a good hour and a half or so putting together the ultimate day-at-the-beach outfit. Here are my top 5 necessities for the beach!

1st necessity: a fun and exotic swim suit.
Darling Daisy Flutter Bikini, Forever21 - Top $10.80, Bottom $10.80

2nd necessity: a sun dress that can act as a suit cover up
Racerback maxi dress, alloy.com - $19.90

3rd necessity: trendy summer sandals
Sinicle Sandal, by Steve Madden - $49.95

4th necessity: a wide-brimmed sun hat. Because how often to you have a reason to wear one?
Weaved Sun Hat, Forever21 - $14.80

5th necessity: a beach bag to hold your towel, sunscreen, bottle of water and cell phone
Beach Tote, Target - $24.99

Breaking that bank...but a girl can dream.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Worst. Movies. Ever?

In the past couple of years, I've seen some pretty awful movies. So bad in fact, I often find myself thinking, "What are the worst movies I've ever seen?" Here are a couple film flops that I've recently had the misfortune of coming across.

The Campaign
I might be in the minority with this pick, but give me a second to explain. I love a good comedy just as much as the next person. Dry humor, classic comedy, you name it. BUT, when a movie gets completely spoiled by the trailer, what's the point in sitting through the entirety of it? All of the gut-wrenching punch lines were given away in the trailer weeks before the movie was even released!

The Bling Ring
This movie couldn't have been more anti-climactic. There was absolutely NO substance. Instead, it was a terribly bland re-telling of an equally bland story. In fact, this movie was so awful that it was pulled from most theaters within a couple of weeks. To make matters worse, Emma Watson's attempt at an American accent was just uncomfortable.

Cabin In The Wood
This movie starts out like any other scary movie made in the last few years. A group of friends decide to head out to a remote cabin for a few days of fun and relaxation. But, low and behold, there is something strange, something scary going on in the cabin. All of a sudden there are monsters and creatures coming out of no where. I completely missed the connection between the horror film genre and strangely placed sci-fi creatures.

That's My Boy
Adam Sandler has completely lost his touch. This terribly dreadful "comedy" seems to go on and on, with but a few laughable punch lines. Grown Ups, Jack & Jill, and now this? Maybe he should think about retiring?

Spring Breakers
I literally can't think of a worse movie. Spring Breakers had NO plot line, AWFUL acting, and IRRITATING characters. You can deduce all you need to know about the movie by looking at the poster. I will never get those 94 minutes back...

Which movies have totally killed your vibe?

Saturday, January 18, 2014


As some of you may know, the following topic of discussion is particularly near and dear to my heart ...

If you haven't seen or heard, yet ANOTHER photoshop scandal has made its way into headlines recently. This time, the controversy surrounds Vogue magazine's cover photo and spread of Lena Dunham.

For those who might be unaware, Dunham is both the producer and star of the HBO hit series, Girls. The show has received plenty of criticism and backlash about casting, story line, nudity, et cetera, but that has only helped to propel it further into the realm of extreme popularity. And, as expected, as the show becomes increasingly popular, so too do the stars - most notably, Dunham.

Just like her show, Dunham has been the focal point of unwarranted criticism. Her appearance - generally in relation to her weight - has been, and clearly continues to be, a topic of discussion amongst the media. Although Dunham always responds in a manner that suggests she is not only unfazed by the comments, but also that she is completely comfortable in her own skin, the criticism just doesn't seem to fizzle out.

It's no secret, Dunham doesn't have the body of a Victoria's Secret model, but then again, how many of us do? Instead, Dunahm rocks a body that is but a reflection of the norm in our society. She is not a stick. She is a woman with curves, and she is proud of it.

Now, a while back, Vogue made an international pledge to use "healthy" models within the pages of their magazines. Since, Beyonce (a self-proclaimed modern-day feminist), Michelle Obama (a health and fitness spokesperson), and Jennifer Lawrence (a voice for positive body image) have all graced the cover of the U.S. Vogue.

That being said, it isn't necessarily a shocker that Vogue chose Dunham for their next cover. However, you'd think that in putting Dunham (a curvy woman known to have positive body image) front and center, Vogue would be working toward cultivating a healthy body image for women. And it's true, having Dunham grace the cover is a step in the right direction as far as breaking hegemonic stereotypes is concerned. BUT, in my opinion, that one step forward is only followed by two steps backward once the photoshopping comes into play.

Recently, Dunham told Time that the controversy surrounding her shoot "confuses" her. According to the article, she said, "I don’t understand why, photoshop or no, having a woman who is different than the typical Vogue cover girl, could be a bad thing." (Time article)

Although I agree with her in that having an atypical woman on the cover of Vogue isn't a bad thing (in fact, I think it's a GREAT thing!), I disagree with her view on the use of photoshop.

I understand that the photoshop used on these photos isn't drastic, but I think it's the principle. Photoshopping someone who has come out as having a positive body image and that speaks in favor of being comfortable in one's own skin nearly defeats the entire purpose of placing Dunham on the cover. In essence, this is Vogue telling their readers that although Dunham is a great role model for embracing who she is inside and out, she still needs touching up in order to be accepted in our society. One step forward, two steps back.

**You can see more of the before and after photos from her shoot here.
The controversy surrounding models, photoshop, unrealistic ideals, and body image is not new. And unfortunately it doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. There are plenty of instances far worse than Dunham's, and I understand that. I just find it to be incredibly important for women AND men to know the difference between realism and idealism.

At this point in my life, I can't do much to make a difference one way or another, but I hope by educating myself (and hopefully others) and speaking out about it, changes will be made.

//Images courtesy of Google//