Planning the Ultimate Vacation

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Hey guys! It is officially the Christmas season and we all know that means everyone is planning vacations either for the holidays or the upcoming new year. I decided to go ahead and create a blog that would share some tips on ways to save time, money, and you sanity when planning your next holiday excursion. I’ll try to keep things general since I know some people may be planning a family vacation while others are looking for some tips to save some cash on their honeymoon. So buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride!

Book Ahead

I can’t stress booking ahead enough. The closer you get to your planned travel dates, the chances of not finding what you a looking become a greater risk. I suggest traveling to your destination in the off-season (what is the off-season in the destination you are traveling to? Google it!) if you want to not risk putting out money months ahead of time or rolling out the big bucks if you book a month or two ahead of time.

Here is a recent example where Andrew and I have learned the hard way about booking ahead: St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Andrew and I want to go to Ireland so bad! I have some Irish blood in me and my birthday falls on March 17th (yes, it’s the best), so naturally we really wanted to travel to Dublin during my birthday weekend. After looking at Airbnb 6 months in advance and seeing that most places were already booked or outrageously expensive, we have decided to more than likely delay our trip till some time in April. You live and you learn.

Sometimes you can swing a good deal during peak season, though. Andrew and I managed to snag a cozy apartment in Prague that is a twenty minute walk from Old Town Square during the week of Christmas. Was it stressful? Yes. Was it a hassle? Yes. Did we get the place we originally wanted? No. Are we going to still enjoy our trip? Yes ma’am we are. So consider your dates that you are traveling, what type of experiences you want to have at your destination, and if you are willing to be flexible to save some cash in the long run. These three simple steps will help you every time you plan a trip!

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Check Yo Self (and Prices)

Possibly one of my favorite tips. Why? Simply because so many people overpay for travel, lodging, experiences, and whatever else because they failed to do some simple Google searches. Please don’t be this person! One of my favorite things to do when planning a trip is to make a list with four categories: travel, lodging, experiences, and food. I will then add places (or modes of travel) to each category as well as an estimate of how much it will cost.

Why do I do this? Let me give you an example: Andrew and I are staying a twenty minute walk from Old Town Square when we travel to Prague. Why not just stay at the apartments that were still available five minutes from Old Town? Well, those were $50 more a night and smaller. Andrew and I have a public transit stop steps from our front door at the place we are staying. Public transit is very affordable in Prague. When you crunch the numbers, it just made more sense to me to stay at the apartment we booked instead of paying way more money to be fifteen minutes closer.

Make sure you crunch you number multiple times, overestimate how much you think you’ll spend, and weigh out your options. I can personally say that I will recalculate numbers a few times to ensure that I have the correct total so then that way there are no surprises. This is also why I tend to overestimate how much we will spend on vacation instead of underestimate. We always walk away from a vacation with money left over and that is completely fine! Lastly, be honest with yourself and what you are willing to do on your vacation. Maybe you would rather pay more for an Airbnb because you hate public transportation. That’s perfectly fine! It is is you vacation. Plan in how you want.

Plan, Plan, Plan

This should go without saying, but based off of some travel stories I’ve heard recently…I think some people may need a quick refresh on planning for a vacation. The one thing you need to plan for is the weather! I can’t count on one hand how many times people have posted on social media that they are taking a spontaneous trip to the beach, only to get there in the middle of a thunderstorm or hurricane. So be smart and check the weather for your destination at least a week ahead of time! You may have to be like Andrew and I and invest in a good winter coat. Make these purchases a soon as possible so you don’t have any surprise last minute expenses before your big trip!

Another important thing to plan for are accidents. Hopefully no one gets hurt on your vacation, but life happens. Check ahead and see where the closest hospital or urgent care is located from your destination. Also jot down the numbers for local law enforcement and emergency services. If you are traveling to a different country, this is an important step because their emergency services numbers are more than likely different than those of your home country.

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Pack Light

Now that you have your placed booked, requested off work, and set up for a dog sitter to come by, it’s time to pack your stuff and head out on the road! Honestly, when packing my bags I tend to over pack. It has been the hardest habit for me to break. Your girl likes to have multiple cute outfits, you know? Anyways, it is important to not over stuff your bag so you can avoid extra baggage fees, have room for goodies to bring home from you vacation, and to not absolutely kill yourself dragging that luggage up the stairs to your Airbnb/hotel. Fun fact: elevators are not as common in Europe as they are in the states. So dragging bags through the streets and then up many flights of stairs is exhausting.

Don’t pack three extra outfits. You probably won’t wear them. I would say it is safe to pack one back up outfit, just in case of an emergency.

Set a Budget

This one is pretty simple: don’t blow your life savings while on your vacation. Andrew and I are very particular about what we are willingly to drop money on while visiting another area of Europe. We skip the t-shirts, key chains, and souvenirs. We prefer to pay for experiences like visiting museums, local shops, and restaurants. Honestly though, you can do whatever you want. Am I saying not to buy a $15 t-shirt and instead buy a $15 cup of coffee? Nope. I am simply saying that we avoid buying the touristy things because usually they aren’t locally made and tend to be overpriced.

Be Safe

Finally, please be safe. One thing Andrew and I do is google common scams that occur in our vacation destination before we go. Is this going to prepare you for every single type of scam out there? Nope. Although, it will probably help you spot some in the long run. Andrew and I have had people borderline harass us to donate money to their “charity” and I have heard people buying “train tickets” from people with appear to look legit and then they find out the tickets aren’t valid.

Recently we found out while traveling to a certain city, we needed to avoid the taxis in the main square because they tend to charge more than they are suppose to. Guys, I can’t stress this enough: if you get a bad vibe then follow your gut. You don’t have to be rude, but simply tell them, “No thank you,” and walk away. Always stay with your group or if you are traveling alone, make sure you send a general itinerary to a person you trust!

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Alright guys, that’s it for this blog. I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any tip you want to share, please feel free to drop them in the comment section! I am working on my day trips from Ramstein blog and hope to have it completed soon. Let me know what else you want to see from me! 🙂

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Transitioning Into Military Spouse Life

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Andrew and I just celebrated one year anniversary, so I decided to give you guys some tips that will help military spouses (or anyone considering becoming a military spouse) ease into the lifestyle a little easier. Now just a disclaimer: I am not an expert. This is purely just based on the experience I had becoming a military spouse. In this blog I’ll cover what it’s like being the significant other versus a spouse of a active duty member, PCS-ing tips, new base tips, and just in general advice that I wish I would have known earlier! So saddle up and get ready because its going to get complicated.

S.O. vs. M.S.

So you are a S.O. (significant other) to an active duty military member? Wonderful! Dating is fun. Dating an active duty military member is like a new, complicated level of fun. If you are dating, your member probably lives on base. Depending on the base, you can either get on very easily or pretty much have to jump through so many hoops that you can’t see straight. When Andrew and I first started dating, he was on one of the smallest Air Force bases in the United States. Thankfully, they were super chill about me coming on base and leaving my car in the visitor parking lot for a few hours. Andrew then TDY (temporary duty station) to a larger base and next thing I know I am basically having to prove I am not a terrorist and didn’t steal my car that I’ve owned for 5 years (not say this is a bad thing, but I was surprised at the change) every time I came to his base.

Overall, being a S.O. isn’t a bad thing at all. Just know that to the military, you pretty much don’t exist. So even though Andrew and I took turns seeing each other each weekend and I was pretty much the closest (geographically) person to him that could help him in an emergency, I would not be contacted if anything happened to him. I couldn’t just go onto base to see Andrew whenever I wanted. He would have to come off base to get me from the visitors office, leave my car there, and then drive me through the gate. He also had to go with me everywhere I went on base (S.O. don’t have I.D. cards, so you can’t be out running around base). Even though its not ideal, you get use to it. That is until something big happens, like your significant other gets orders to go overseas. Once your member PCS (Permanent Change of Station), you can’t “come” with them. By golly you can move to the same area that your significant other moved to, but you’ll just go through the same things you went through at the previous base (depending on how strict they are), unless you get married.

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So you are a M.S. (military spouse) now. Congrats! You finally get a little more freedom. You need to go to DEERS and get your I.D. card ASAP. Also, if your member is PCSing soon then you need to get added to their orders ASAP. After you do all this, you usually get checklists that tell you how your life will unfold in the next coming months. Be sure to ask questions if you are unsure about something and always carry you I.D. card with you. Now that you are a M.S. you can access the commissary, exchange, and other services on base. You can also drive on base. Overall, you are pretty much allowed to go where ever you want on base without your member ( besides restricted areas of course).

PCS-ing Soon?

My first PCS was without my husband present and we were going overseas. So my experience may be wildly different from others, but overall I was surprised by how painless the process was. First things first: get your household goods pickup scheduled. I had the initial meeting in February, but didn’t schedule our pickup until May (because I was living in my apartment until then even though Andrew left in January). Afterwards, everything scheduling wise was done over the phone. I packed everything myself and moved all of our boxes into the common area (you don’t have to do this, but I will give you a few reasons why here in a minute). The only thing left for the moving crew to pack up was our furniture and bed frame. I personally would advise you to do your own packing because:

1. When we received our shipment in Germany we only had one mug broken (which obviously is a blessing when your hear other PCS horror stories).

2. I packed pretty much every box with a purpose and labelled them appropriately (the moving company listed every box as “clothes” on their paperwork, which I get probably doesn’t matter but I wanted to know to what I had packed).

3. It makes unpacking way easier because you know which boxes have important things that need to be assessed first and which ones can wait till the end.

I had been advised by other military spouses to treat my moving crew to pizza or have drinks on hand. Since I had the crew coming first thing in the morning, I ran to Krispy Kreme and grabbed a dozen doughnuts. Then I stopped at the store and picked up a six pack of Gatorade. I had coffee at the house I could brew, if the crew wanted any. Why do all of this? The crew really appreciated the gesture and said that not many people did that. Do I think they would of treated me any differently if I hadn’t of done that? Nope. Will I do it again? Yup. I just look at it as temporary insurance on our household goods.

Overall, the household goods portion was time consuming, but we were satisfied with the condition our things arrived in. So I can’t complain. The next big part of a PCS is the part where you travel to your new base. My assigned travel advisor worked with me over the phone to schedule flights that work best with my schedule. Next thing I knew I was packing my bags. On that note: check how much your baggage weighs before showing up to the airport. I saw people having to put on clothes over their clothes, in the heat of summer, just so their baggage met the weight for the airline.

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Usually you have to stay the night In Baltimore before you catch a military flight overseas, but I actually flew through the night. I liked this option better because I flew from Birmingham to Atlanta and then Baltimore. I chilled in Baltimore for close to six hours and then at eleven o’clock at night boarded my plane to Germany. The best part: I fell asleep on the flight close to 1 a.m. and woke up in Germany at 12 in the afternoon. So my body wasn’t super confused at that point. Fun fact: after picking me up from the airport, Andrew took me home and then I almost slept two days straight.

New Base, Who Dis?

Alright so the biggest transition that most military families make is moving to a new base. While I went on the bases in Columbus and Montgomery, I was never formally associated with the base. Ramstein is the first base that I have ever been affiliated with. So what exactly should you do if you are new on base? First thing I would do is just simply find your way around your base. While Andrew and I were sharing his car, I would drive around after dropping him off at work. It helps you get familiar with your surroundings and save the Google Map directions for emergency situations. After doing some driving around, visit a shop or two!

One of my favorite things to do if I am on base is to drop by the thrift store. First off you get some amazing deals and secondly you also just meet some friendly people. The thrift store or the Airman’s Attic can lead to volunteering opportunities and getting involved in the Enlisted/Officers Spouses Association (if that’s your thing). Lastly, the one thing that I have done to keep in the loop about stuff on base is just to check Facebook events, join Facebook groups, or read the signs posted outside of buildings. The BX and Commissary usually have events posted outside of front doors or throughout the building.

My last suggestion would be to go with your spouse to office cookouts and parties. I was so nervous my first cookout, but Andrew’s coworkers are the sweetest people ever and I go to basically every office function I am invited to now. By attending these parties, you not only get out of the house and meet new people, but you might find out about job connections or social groups. I actually found out that Andrew’s office has a spouses’ group while at a office function. I joined the group and have met wonderful people! So don’t be shy or afraid to get out there.

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Alright guys, that’s gonna wrap it up for this blog. If you guys have any suggestions or advice for spouses or family members transitioning into the military lifestyle, be sure to leave them in the comments below! Also, what blog do you guys want to see next? I’ll have another Netherlands blog coming soon and maybe a blog about planning trips (including tips and tricks that we use). So let me know down in the comments what you want to see next!

Dating Stories: I Can’t Make This Stuff Up

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We are officially moving into the holiday season! It’s a really exciting time because you get to surround yourself with good people, food, and make some memories. I know some people aren’t super crazy about this time of the year (which is a valid feeling to have) and it sometimes has to do with the fact that your great aunt Karen will not get off your butt about when you are going to start dating again, have a kid, or some other life changing decision (if you are a “great aunt Karen” and you’re reading this blog, then take a seat and chill out). So what do you do? Well, let me offer advice, stories that will hopefully make you laugh, and some encouragement.

“You do you.”

Y’all if my third graders that I tutored could tell you my favorite thing to say, it would probably be, “Minding your own business is a full time job.” My mom taught me that saying at a young age and honestly, it still rings true. Maybe if we spent a little less time worrying about what everyone is doing and just worried about ourselves, life may be a little easier. Now me saying that to a tattling third grader is one thing, but I don’t like the idea of saying that to someone who is struggling with relationships. Instead of saying that, I prefer to say “You do you.”

Why should you worry about yourself? Well sometimes when you are all wrapped in the idea of how you can find the next “the one” you are missing some pretty big opportunities. I won’t lie, I spent way too much time chasing after men who were not “the one,” shoot they weren’t even “the two” or “the three.” So my big advice is enjoy your alone time, find you a great group of people to surround yourself with, and make sure you are living your best life. When you start living for you instead of other people, you’ll be surprised who you will meet!

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Stories and Other Things

Alright, so now for the part of the blog you are really here for: the dating stories. On a serious note, I am not going to reveal any names or anything. So pour you a drink, buckle up, and get ready to get all the details.

The Ghost

I have been ghosted a grand total of five times (if you are unsure what ghosted means, a quick google search with reveal the answer), not by the same person, but equally embarrassing each time. Anyways, this next story I am about to share is the very first time it happened.

I matched online with a guy that attended the same university as me. We messaged for a few days and then he asked for my number. I was pretty pumped because he seemed like a complete sweetheart. So after a few days of texting, he asked me to coffee. Of course, I accepted. We made plans to meet up the following Thursday at the Starbucks on campus. Thursday rolls around and I text him confirming our meet up time. He texts back that he is excited and I even got a winking emoji.

So I show to Starbucks (looking cute, but not too cute) and tell him I arrived and got us a table. 10 minutes go by, no response. 30 minutes go by, no response. I thought it was odd that he hadn’t texted back since he had been so quick to text back earlier, but chalked it up to his class be held over or trouble with parking. I start browsing social media and see that I have a new friend request from the guy I suppose to be meeting. I accept it cause you know, why not? 45 minutes goes by, still no response. I then wonder if something is happened to this poor guy. I text him, “Hey, Starbucks on campus right?” Nothing. It’s approaching an hour now and my patience is running a little thin since I have class at 8 a.m. the next morning. So I get on Facebook again and then I saw that he had recently updated his status. I. Was. Livid. He was obviously near some type of device and is well enough to update a Facebook status, but I can’t get a texted back? Childish. I gather my stuff and text him, “I have an 8 a.m. tomorrow, heading home.”

In my ten minute drive home, he blocked me on social media and never answered me. I guess great minds think alike because you best believe I was going to remove him from my social media, thankfully he finally saved me some time after wasting over an hour of mine. Lesson learned here: please, please, PLEASE don’t waste your time on these people. Also if you are this type of person: grow up and tell people you aren’t interested anymore.

 

The Overshare 

So I match with this guy online and we message for a few days. He seemed pretty nice, but I had some reservations about him. He just gave me a weird vibe, so I didn’t give him my number at first when he asked. Well after a few days of talking through the app we matched on, he asked me to dinner. I accepted because he appeared to be an intelligent, kind guy who seemed pretty interested in getting to know me. I brushed off my previous reservations as just me being over dramatic.

Fast forward to our date. I drive my car there because I am weird about getting into cars with men on the first date. I arrived at the pizza place we agreed on and he arrived a few minutes later. We entered the restaurant and I paid for my food and he paid for his. He did offer to pay for mine, but I insisted. We began small talk from outside the restaurant and it continued while we waited for a table to clear. I thought this was going to be a pretty smooth sailing date. Then we sat down. Next thing I know, this guy just starts spilling personal business that I would not share with someone even on the third date. I thought he was probably just nervous and maybe just word vomited a little bit. NOPE. He spends the next 30 minutes telling me things I DID NOT WANT TO KNOW. I tried to drop nonverbal cues that I was uncomfortable, but lets just say he was not picking up what I was putting down.

Finally, our meal comes out. I ordered a calzone and consider dropping food on myself or something to get me out of this situation, but sadly I was wearing an outfit I liked a little too much to sacrifice. I said a silent prayer that this guy would just stop talking and we could eat in peace. Nope. If you guessed that he then continued to overshare very personal business that I seriously didn’t want to hear while chewing food in his mouth, then you guessed correctly.

By this point, I’m done. I didn’t want to eat my food I paid for. I didn’t want to sit in this booth any longer. I have sat in silence for another 20 minutes as this guy has bragged about his business and trashed things that I had openly told him I supported. I really thought I was on prank show or something at this point. Finally the meal is over and I am thankful that I can leave. This dude then tries to get me to come to his workplace (Best Buy) and hangout with work buddies. A stroll through the flat screens sounds real romantic, right? I respectfully declined and told him I had other plans. We went our separate ways and he texted me that he wanted to meet up again the next night. I told him I appreciated the offer, but that I wasn’t interested in pursuing a relationship him anymore. He then proceeded to call me a bunch of names and said he couldn’t stand the thought of spending another minute with me.

Lesson learned: Y’all, don’t stay in an uncomfortable situation! I had an easy out, but stayed around when I should of just left. Always text a friend or two before a date and tell them who you are meeting and where you are meeting them. Even consider having a code word you can send to a friend so they can call or know to come get you if the situation is really bad! I had ample opportunity to leave, but was trying to be “nice.”

 

The Blame Passer

The last dating story I’ll include in this blog is probably one of the ones I will NEVER forget. I had recently started dating this guy in high school. Soon after dating, I invited him to have dinner at my house and to meet my family. He agreed. Fast forward to my boyfriend coming to the house. He arrives, I introduce him to everyone, and all is fine and dandy. My mom and I were in the kitchen making my favorite, spaghetti, while my boyfriend made small with us as he sat at the counter.

Once we were finished cooking, we all sat down to eat. My mother, my sister, my baby nephew, my boyfriend, and I were all seated around our old, round kitchen table. I sat beside my boyfriend and sister, while my nephew and mother were seated across from us. We began passing the bowls of food around the table and continuing our small talk from earlier. As we begin eating, I noticed my boyfriend grew quiet. I figured he was just nervous. Everyone was eating, so naturally the conversation died down. A few moments of silence pass and then suddenly I hear the loudest noise. Yes, my boyfriend has just passed gas at the table. No one says anything, but then my boyfriend blamed my baby nephew for passing gas at the table.

Everyone just sat there in silence. I think more than anything, we were surprised he blamed it on the baby when it was obviously him. Someone interjected and brought up a random topic. We carried on with dinner like nothing had happened. Later on when he was leaving the house I mentioned it to him that pretty much everyone knew he was the gas passer, but he just played it off like it wasn’t him. When I came back in the house, I walked into the living room where everyone was sitting and my sister said, “Did he really blame his gas on my baby?”

If you guys take anything away from this story, I would hope it would be not to pass the blame because most of the time it will always come back around and bite you in the butt. Haha.

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Photo by Chelsi Peter on Pexels.com

Your Time Will Come

Alright guys, I have a few other dating stories, but I think I will save those for another blog post. So I will leave you with this: as someone who has gone on horrible dates, great dates, and just okay dates, the one thing I have learned is that dating takes time. You probably won’t find “the one” on your first try.

Make sure you aren’t settling. After some of these dates, it made me question myself and my worth. Would I find a man that valued me enough to send me a, “Hey, I won’t make it tonight,” text? Would I find a man that would respect me enough to give time to share my interests during a dinner date? Eventually, I would. If you hold off and make yourself available to the “right” man, you both will flourish in ways you never thought possible. You both will grow, learn, and love. If you make yourself available to “right now” man, you will still learn things about yourself, but could miss out on so many opportunities and even end up regressing in your journey. Honey, worry about finding a better version of you and then you’ll more than likely find a good man along the way.

 

That’s it for this blog, guys! I really hoped you learned something or laughed while reading it. I love talking about love, relationships, and dating. Want me to blog about something else in one the topic of love? Comment down below! Also if you have any questions or want to leave some advice/dating story of your own, leave it down in the comments.

 

P.S. We officially booked our Airbnb for Prague! So I will be sure to take plenty of pictures for my Prague blog that will probably be up at the beginning of the new year! I am so excited!

How I Dye My Hair Red

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Long hair, don’t care vibes

What’s up guys? It is time for another beauty blog. I am pretty pumped for this one because I am going to finally explain how I dye my hair. I surprisingly get asked frequently about my hair and what formulas I use to dye it, so I decided it was time to sit down and write it out. Let me go ahead and get this disclaimer out there: I am not a trained beautician. I have been dying my hair by myself for almost 7 years now. I learned through trial and error and by watching quite a few YouTube videos. So please know that I am not a professional and that I have completely screwed up my hair a few times. Anyways, enough of that. Let’s move on to the good stuff! 🙂

Another disclaimer: Our bathroom lighting is not great, so I naturally decided to make sassy faces to make up for it. You’re welcome.

Supplies

So for my hair I use the following products that I would usually get from Sally Beauty:

  • Gloves
  • Dye bowl
  • Dye brush
  • Hair clips (I prefer alligator)
  • Brush
  • 20 vol. Developer (you may need a higher vol. though)
  • Winter time colors – Ion creme 7RR, 7IR, Hot Red Permanent Color Intensifier
  • Summer time colors – Ion creme 6R, 7RR, 7RC
  • Old shirt
  • Old towel
  • Mirror
  • Timer
  • Deep conditioner (optional but recommended)
  • Shower cap (optional but recommended)
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My supplies

Note on personal choices: My roots are strawberry blonde so that’s why I use 20 vol. developer. So if you have black hair hair, I don’t think you are going to be able to use the same formula as me. Also, you don’t have to blend three different colors. You can seriously only use one, but I third the creme ratio so it is still 1:1 with my developer. I use three colors because I simply like the tricolor combination better. I use different shades of red during the winter time and summer times because I tend to like to go darker in the winter time. This is a personal choice and not required. Lastly you can use Ion liquid, but I prefer creme because I feel like it is thicker and easier for a person to apply to their own head.

Note on dye difference: As most of you know, I recently moved to Germany. I haven’t been able to find Ion here so instead I use Lome Paris 20 vol. developer and Lome Paris dye shades 6.64 and 7.45. These products are pretty close to what I use in the states.

Process

First, make sure you are in a well ventilated room. When you start mixing the chemicals together, the smell can be slightly strong. Next I put on my old shirt and lay down an old towel. This is simply a precautionary measure because you think you aren’t getting hair dye everywhere…until you look around and your bathroom looks like a murder scene. After you get suited up with your dye shirt and gloves on, go ahead and gather up all your supplies and have them laying nearby. You don’t want to be halfway through dying your hair and then have to run around the house looking for something ( I have totally done this before).  Once you have everything laid out, go ahead and brush through your hair with a regular brush. Make sure you brush it a couple of times to ensure all tangles have been removed. Now that you are prepped and ready to party, lets get to mad scientist portion of this shindig.

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Safety first!

Now let me be clear: read the instructions your dye comes with! This is super important because I am unsure about your hair type, so what I tell you I do might not be the best option for you. Anyways, I use about 2 oz of each dye creme and then 6 oz of developer (double check your ratio in the instructions, but they are usually 1:1.) My hair reaches to the middle of my back so you may not need as much creme and developer as me if you have shorter hair. Next, then I squeeze my measurements into the bowl. Then I stir everything together with the pointy end of my dye brush. Once everything is stirred together, you will notice the color of the mixture gradually change. This is the chemicals in the developer and the dye reacting to one another and essentially making the mixture potent.

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My mixture right after stirring the developer and dye together.

I then sit the mixture aside and part my hair straight down the middle. I have pretty thin hair, so two sections is enough for me to work comfortably, but you can then split those sections in half if you want to work with less hair at one time. I unclip one of the sides and then grab my dye brush and swirl it in the dye bowl mixture. I begin applying the mixture to my roots like I am painting a canvas. I focus only on the roots and work my way from the middle of my scalp to my ear. I use the tip of dye brush to create smaller sections for me to apply the mixture to and then move finished sections to the other side of my head. I repeat this same process on the other side and back of my head. Be sure to do this in front of a mirror or have a friend come in and coach you through the sections you miss.

Next I move on to the main shaft and tips of my hair. I simply gather the hair to one side and gradually paint the remaining dye mixture on the hair with the dye brush. In between adding my dye to my hair shaft, I run my fingers through my hair to help evenly disrupt the dye. I repeat this process until my hair is fully saturated. Now that my hair completely covered in the dye, I grab my shower cap and gather all of my hair into it. I leave my hair in the shower cap for around twenty or thirty minutes and do not apply heat. Make sure you set a timer so you don’t leave the dye on for too long. While my hair is processing, I usually clean up my dye bowl and brush.

Aftercare

Yay! Time for the big reveal. After my timer goes off, I go into bathroom and rinse my hair with the coldest water I can take. This helps close the hair follicle and protects your color. After the water runs almost clear (heads up your shower water is probably going to be pink for the next few showers) I shampoo my hair like I normally would and then apply a deep conditioner. I just follow the directions on the deep conditioner packet. After I am done with the deep conditioner, I get out and blow dry my hair to confirm that I got the hair color I desired. That’s it! Not too bad right?

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My hair color in more florescent light.

 

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My hair color in more of a golden light.

Tips

I am going to leave you guys with just some quick tips and tricks that I have learned from dying my hair over the past few years. Be sure to check them out, even if you aren’t a red head!

  • Avoid hot tools (these fade your color quicker)
  • Cold showers right after dying your hair = longer lasting results
  • Hair oil is your friend
  • Red fades quickly, so I initially dye my hair slightly darker than what I want my long term color to be
  • Don’t dye your hair too often, it could damage your hair beyond repair
  • Reuse the same shirt and towel during your dye processes
  • When in doubt, just go see a professional

Alright guys! That’s it for this blog. Did I forget to mention anything? Comment down below and help a sister out! Also, tell me what color you would love to dye your hair! I personally really want violet hair, but I don’t want to go platinum blonde for it, so alas it will have to wait. 🙂

Links to products mentioned

Sally Beauty homepage – https://www.sallybeauty.com/

People With Disabilities Aren’t Your Show Ponies

Hey guys! I wanted to share in this blog something that has been on my mind a lot lately. October is National Disability Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month, so this seems like a fitting time to write this blog.

Let me start this blog off by stating that I don’t have a disability, but I’ve spent the past few years of my life diving deep into the world of individuals with disabilities because my father suffered a traumatic brain injury when I was 14 years old. He is also a double amputee. Now, I say that only to say I am familiar with the hardships that accompany a disability, but in no way am I saying that I know first hand what it is like to have a disability.

Anyways, the point of this blog is not to trash people who have made an honest mistake, but rather to raise awareness and educate people who may just simply be unsure on how to handle a certain situation with an individual with a disability.

Conversations

Honestly, it’s shocking to me how many people use inappropriate language when around individuals with disabilities. By this I don’t mean cussing or anything of that nature, I simply mean how you refer to the individual. I have heard college students volunteering at events with individuals with disabilities say, “Yeah I love these kids!” or “Hey, kids, come over here.” Oh wait…did I forget to mention these are grown adults with disabilities who are sometimes twice the age of the college students? Not. Cool. This is completely disrespectful.

It’s not just college students though, I have actually called out a news outlet for referring to a picture of individuals that I worked with as “disabled kids.” They are adults, but yet the news site referred to them as “…disabled kids having fun at a dance.” I respectfully wrote in their comment section about the importance of People First Language (I’ll dive further into this later) and how they needed to review the picture because it was obvious that the individuals pictured were in fact not “kids” but rather adults. Thankfully, they updated the article with the proper description of the picture.

So you’re probably like, “Okay, but what do I say?” Just talk to them like anyone else. I mean they are human. Unless someone informs you that they are hard of hearing or prefer that you speak slower, there is no reason to yell or talk extremely slow. Ask them how their day is. Ask them what they are doing this weekend. Ask them if they like a certain sport. Heck, ask them questions you would ask your friends. They probably want to ask you questions too, so don’t be afraid to strike up random conversations.

Now this should go without saying, but just drop the use of the “r-word” from your vocabulary. It’s a lame word and honestly it’s just hurtful. I have actually seen people use that word in front of individuals with disabilities and then were immediately called out on it, as they should be. One important thing to note though is the use of people first language. You can refer to the handy chart below for some examples, but the main rule of thumb is to refer to the individual before their disability.

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Overall, I am ashamed that I am even having to write this piece of the blog. I never thought I would have to remind others how to talk to someone who may be a little different. It’s honestly ridiculous, but alas here we are. Now, you’re probably wondering where you may have the prime opportunity to have a good conversation like the ones mentioned above. Well, you might be lucky enough to work for a cool company that hires individuals with disabilities or (more likely) you’ll end up volunteering with someone with a disability.

Volunteering

Let’s say you have the awesome chance to volunteer with a group or an individual with a disability. Woo! Enjoy it! Not everyone gets that chance and honestly you could be the highlight of someone’s day. The main point of volunteering is for you to help others and hopefully everyone gains from the experience. This piece of advice should go for any volunteer experience you have, but don’t be on your phone. Not only is it incredibly rude, but your also getting nothing out the opportunity and the person your working with probably feels the same way. So turn your phone on silent (or off) and make sure you are paying attention, because you never know what can happen.

One more thing, if you show up to Miracle League (a baseball team for individuals with disabilities) or Best Buddies (a program that pairs volunteers with an individual with a disability) and decide that is going to be your only appearance or you’re going to be shady Susie that only shows up every blue moon, that’s completely fine as long as you have not entered into a contract with either organization and don’t hype anyone up that you are going to “see them next time.” Don’t make false promises. I would much rather see volunteers be honest and say, “Hey, I had fun today, but I am not sure if I’ll come back,” then be Flaky Fannie who always hypes up the whole team that she’s bringing doughnuts for everyone next week and then we don’t see her ever again. Don’t be a Flaky Fannie.

I know you don’t want to come off as a jerk or uncaring, but it’s honestly worse when I have the same individual asking me or someone else every week if I have seen you or know when you are coming back. I saw people do this time and time again. Just be honest! Everyone (including the individuals with disabilities) values that way more than someone we aren’t sure we can count on.

Social Media

Lastly, and probably the most important point, is social media. Honestly, social media is what inspired this blog! I follow quite a few disability rights activist on social media and I try to let the positives out weigh the negatives, but gosh darn it sometimes I just want to scream when I see what people share or post on their social media about an individual with a disability.

I get it. Some news outlet has posted some inspirational story about an individual with a disability getting elected prom king, getting a job, going on a date, etc. I use to share those articles myself, until one day I just sat back and said, “Wait, why do we make such a big deal?” Honestly. Does everyone who gets a job have their picture scroll across the five o’clock news? Nope. So why would we do that for an individual with a disability?  Well, probably because to some people think this is some new profound idea (sad, but yes) and because others find these stories inspirational. I like to look at it this way: it’s a wonderful thing. I am not stating that we should take anything away from those who have rightful earned their prom king title or paycheck; I am simply stating that we should normalize the situation and treat them as we would treat anyone else without a disability.

Lastly, I think it is an important conversation to have with young adults about the appropriate times to take photographs or video and posting things to social media. I had a job where I worked with individuals with disabilities in a mentoring position.  Best. Job. Ever. Anyways, when I was hired on, we had conversations about social media. Basically we were instructed that we could take pictures and videos with the students if we had their consent. We also had to ask their consent to post the pictures on our social media. Same rules applied with the students as well. If they wanted to take a picture or video with us and post it on their social media, they had to ask us.

I underlined “if we had their consent” in the previous paragraph because time and time again I see videos or pictures of individuals with disabilities that were clearly taken without their approval. I saw girls, who were hosting a dance party for some of the students I worked with, videoing the students dancing and the girls were laughing. These girls didn’t know the students’ names or who they were. They were immediately informed to delete the videos and stop filming unless they had permission from the students. A good rule of thumb for most things in life: ask first.

I hope you found this blog beneficial. I don’t want to come off as a know it all or that everyone must be well versed in People First Language, but I do want to reinforce the importance of educating yourself and considering the impact your actions have on others. So next time before you share that video or article, consider if that person even knew they were being videoed or if they even want to be your inspirational Facebook video share of the day.

My heart is so full to see the push for having conversations about making spaces more inclusive and raising awareness about issues that sometimes get swept under the rug. So, I’ll leave you with two simply questions. What are you fighting for? What do you want to see changed? Leave me a comment below!

Links

People First Language overview – http://bit.ly/PepFL

People First homepage -https://www.peoplefirst.org/

Best Buddies – https://www.bestbuddies.org/

Miracle League homepage – http://www.themiracleleague.net/

Girls’ Trip to Nashville, Tennessee

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So I decided to take a quick break from reviewing our trips in Europe and instead tell you guys about one of my favorite places in the South: Nashville! I have said it for years now, but I still 100% support the idea of moving to Nashville and living on the outskirts of town. Andrew was pretty impressed when he visited Nashville for an LP concert, but we’ll see where we land next. Anyways, this blog is going to be a little different because this was a girls’ trip! So if you are thinking about taking a weekend trip with a group of your favorite girls or celebrating a Bachelorette weekend (which Nashville is apparently one of the top places to do that), then keep reading to get all the details on where to go and what to eat!

Quick Tips

Alright, before you gas up the car and head out, let me suggest a few things to make your trip a little less stressful:

  • Download a payment app (Venmo/Cash App)
    • It just makes life way easier if one person pays for the Uber/Lyft or gas and then everyone just Venmo/Cash App their share to the person who paid.
  • At least two people need to have the Uber/Lyft app
    • Phones die sometimes. So just make sure you guys have a backup plan! Also Uber/Lyft can get expensive, so maybe let two or three people pay for the Ubers/Lyfts throughout the trip and then everyone pay their share at the end of the trip!
  • Book early
    • We calculated it and our Airbnb was a cheaper option than a hotel for us, but book early! We looked at Airbnbs months in advance and we had limited options since we had a group of six and wanted to be semi-close to the city.
  • Make a game plan
    • Our friend Hannah had the great idea of creating a Google Doc and everyone wrote down one restaurant/bar and one entertainment option. That way everyone would at least get a chance to go somewhere they wanted to go or see an attraction they picked. This also avoids the “I don’t know where to eat/go, where do you want to go?,” conversation.

Friday

Our drive was pretty successful because we all managed to get our luggage and ourselves in A.K.’s car and rock out Hannah’s playlist that featured everyone’s favorite type of music. Once we got to our Airbnb, we unpacked and then got ready for our first stop: dinner at Eastland Cafe. Y’all this place was such a treat and honestly I have suggested it to so many people when they say they are heading to Nashville. We sat out on the patio and enjoyed the happy hour specials until it was time for dinner. I sipped on the Sunset and Eastland Crusier while A.K. and I shared our potstickers.  Once our food arrived, we all raved about how we were impressed with what we ordered. I had the E.C. Burger, which featured tomato jam and jalapeno bacon, and fries. I would give anything to have one right now. If you find yourself in East Nashville, you need to at least stop in for the warm hospitality and happy hour at Eastland Cafe, but I bet you’ll end up staying for dinner.

After our dinner, we called an Uber and hit the town! Old Glory was our first stop and it did not disappoint. It is a speakeasy with a modern flair. Something to keep in mind: this is a place where they respect the art of mixology. So your cocktail will be a little more expensive, but it’s worth it.

Pro tip: They change their menu pretty often (my drink isn’t on the menu anymore and we visited about 6 months ago) and they only use the finest ingredients.

Another thing to note: you may have to wait a second to get into the bar. This is not a club where you get up and dance. They only allow enough people in the bar that they have seats for. You will not be served if you are standing up, so sit down and wait for the waitresses to come to you. Once we were served, everyone gushed about how much they enjoyed their cocktail. After everyone finished their drink, we got another Uber and ended up on Broadway. If you are looking for bars to just go and dance at then hit up Honky Tonk Central, Acme Feed & Seed, or Crazy Town. These places weren’t super crazy (you have to go to the fourth floor of Honky Tonk Central to get away from most of the crowds), but also had good energy. If you want to avoid country music, Crazy Town is probably a better pick for you because the other two places pretty much played country. After we finished up at Crazy Town, we decided to Uber home because we knew we had a busy day tomorrow.

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Dancing on the Crazy Town rooftop

Saturday

Before we knew it, it was time to rise and shine. We got our coffee and a quick bite from Barista Parlor in East Nashville. It’s a place that makes your hipster senses tingle and your taste buds go wild. After we grabbed our caffeine to go, we drove to Marathon Village. Its nestled right outside The Gultch. This little jewel is chalk full of a little treasures. American Pickers has one of their stores located inside the Marathon Village, but you can also get a tattoo or pick up some Jack Daniels merchandise. We explored the different shops and some of us even picked up some new necklaces and knick knacks.  After spending a few hours in stores, we did a mini photo shoot on the second floor (it had some bomb natural lighting) and then made our way to find some grub.

Pro tip: Everyone craving something different? Try going to Five Points! There is literally a taco shop, a hot dog place, and pizza parlor all at one intersection.

We decided to head back to East Nashville (specifically the Five Points Area) and grab pizza at Five Points Pizza while Hannah got the Pimento Cheese Dog at Hot Diggity Dog. If you want some a tasty slice of pizza or a unique hot dog for a quick buck, check out these two spots! They are right around the coroner from each other and a you get quite the bang for your buck. After lunch, it was time to hit up the downtown area and grab those skyline pictures that everyone loves to get when they come to Nashville. After crossing the pedestrian bridge, we explored Broadway a little more and then headed to happy hour at the dualing piano bar, The Big Bang.

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Crossing the Pedestrian Bridge

 

 

Pro tip: If it is your first time going to a piano bar (like it was for me), then don’t be afraid to Google popular piano bar song requests. Also, tip your pianist! 

Not many people were at The Big Bang (we also were the first ones in the door when they opened), but I also enjoyed that aspect of the bar. Our pianist played pretty much any song we requested and also chatted with us between songs. The Big Bang has a patio with a more laid-back vibe, which is where we sat, and also a indoor seating area that was more refined. After singing along with some of the greatest show tunes and classic rock anthems, we decided to make our way back to the car and head home to get cleaned up for dinner and a night on the town.

We decided to drive over to 12 South and browse the shops, murals, and sights while we waited for a table to open up a Bartaco. This area of Nashville is one where you need to park the car in one place and then walk around or else you may miss a few gems. My personal favorite is the flower mural located on the side of Green Pea Salon. Seriously, if you aren’t looking for it you will probably drive right by this floral explosion. Some of the other girls found a few places that sparked their interests in crafting and ferns. Anyways, after exploring 12 South and waiting for almost an hour we finally got to a spot inside.

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Exploring 12 South

Pro tip: If at all possible, reserve a table ahead of time at Bartaco! I think we opted to not reserve a table because we were heading to dinner pretty early, but it turns out that they pretty busy most of the time.

Once inside, we were hungry and ready to eat. We all shared guacamole and most of the table ordered tacos. I had the chicken pastor tacos with a side of grilled corn. Y’all I won’t even lie the tacos are tiny, but pack a punch of flavor. My tacos were corn tortillas topped with grilled chicken marinated in achiote, freshly seared pineapple, and tajin. My favorite part had to be the corn though. It was grilled to perfection and honestly would have been tasty on its own, but it was also topped with cotija cheese and cayenne pepper. I requested my corn cut off the cob, but you can also keep it on the cob. After dinner, we were ready to go out on the town. We drove back to the Airbnb and got an Uber. We made our first stop of the night at The Patterson House, a speakeasy that will literally snatch you up and drop you back into the 1920s. Prepare yourself though because this place is worth every minute you wait. We arrived around nine o’clock, but there was already a wait list. Seating is limited in the waiting area, but we didn’t have to wait long. The Patterson House isn’t like every other bar though, there is actually a list of rules you must follow. Here is a brief overview:

  • Don’t use your phone for anything other than texting in the bar area.
  • No standing.
  • No fighting.
  • No one underage.
  • Be patient! This is a place that respects the art of mixology, if you want a drink made in under a minute, you are probably in the wrong neck of woods here.
  • You must be seated to order a drink.
  • Men must refrain from introducing themselves to women, unless invited or introduced by a friendly party.

If you think I’m joking, I’m not. They have the rules posted in the waiting area and I am pretty sure they stick to them. Now to the good part: the cocktails! Everyone was quite pleased with their cocktails, but keep in mind this is another place where you will spend ~$15 a drink. So choose wisely. The menu is extensive, but I started with the Freudian Slip and then finished with Penguin Suit #6 (I think this was the name of the last drink and sadly I can’t confirm anything due to The Patterson House menu not being readily available online). Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with anything on the menu as long as you order a drink made with a liquor you prefer!

After we finished our cocktails, we made our way down the street to the more “lively” bars. We first stopped in Winners and then made our way to Losers. Both of these places are usually packed out and more your speed if you want to just drink a beer and listen to country music. We made our way to the deck of Losers and enjoyed the Nashville night sky. We decided we wanted to go somewhere we could dance. Luckily right down the street was Kung Fu Saloon. This place is like Panda Express, Dave and Buster’s, and a club had a baby…but like a cool baby.

When we first got inside the saloon, it was packed! People are play games, everyone is dancing, and some man behind the bar is hitting a giant Chinese gong every 10 minutes. After we grabbed a drink, we found a spot right next to the skee ball machines and people watched at first. After a couple of minutes, the DJ began playing music again and the place went wild. He played anything from modern songs to 90s music. All six of us danced until just before last call. Afterwards, we called an Uber and made our way back to the Airbnb.

Sunday

After sleeping in for a few hours, we packed the car with our bags and headed to brunch at Urban Cowboy Bed and Breakfast in East Nashville. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect since there wasn’t any information available about the brunch selection, but we did our research and found out that you need to get there early if you want to get a spot because seating is limited. After jumping out of the car and securing a spot as a the first group to grab a spot once the door opened, we were delighted to have first pick of our seats. We sat on a rustic bench that was draped with southwestern blankets. We ordered our drinks and then glanced over the menu. The selection was limited, but I can attest to the fact that the angel biscuits with strawberry jam are heavenly.

Pro tip: The menu changes daily because the kitchen prefers to use fresh, seasonal items, but I think some items make reappearances occasionally.

The other girls got am array of angel biscuits, smoked ham, and quiche. Everyone was quite impressed with their meal. Once we finished our food, we decided to head out and hit some spots in Nashville that we didn’t get to see the other two days. Our first stop was The Gulch to grab a few more murals pictures. After snapping a few pictures, we headed back to 12 South.

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We were gifted lovely “#NASH” balloons by another girl gang, but we liked our #sixinthecity better.

We parked the car and then made our way to the one store everyone had been waiting to visit: Draper James. Personally, I just wanted to drink the free sweet tea and maybe run into Reese Witherspoon, but looking at the cute clothing was also a treat. After everyone browsed the store and Rebecca bought a dress that I still swoon over, we decided it was time for a treat. Hannah and Dana headed to Frothy Monkey for coffee, while Rebecca, Britni, A.K. and I headed to Jeni’s for ice cream. Hannah had already given us the heads up that the Lavender ice cream was the best, but they were already sold out by noon. I enjoyed my German chocolate flavor though. After everyone finished their treats, the girls headed to a nursery and bought a few ferns while I brought the car over. We then began our journey back home.

WHEW! Looking back I don’t remember it being that jammed pack full of stuff, but hey go big or home. Anyways, Nashville is one of my favorite cities and honestly I can’t wait to go back again. So, have you been to Nashville? If so, what is your favorite restaurant and attraction?  My family and I would love to go during Christmas time and stay at the Gaylord at Opryland (they give discounts for military, educators, etc. so you should see if you can get discount) and watch a show at Opryland or go to ICE! If you haven’t been to Nashville, have you ever considered going? Leave a comment down below!

 

Links to places mentioned

Eastland Cafe homepage – http://eastlandcafe.com/

Old Glory homepage- https://oldglorynashville.com/

Honky Tonk Central homepage – https://www.honkytonkcentral.com/

Acme Feed and Seed homepage – http://theacmenashville.com/

Crazy Town homepage – http://crazytownnashville.com/

Barista Parlor homepage – https://baristaparlor.com/

Marathon Village homepage – https://www.marathonvillage.net/#thescoop

Five Points Pizza homepage – https://fivepointspizza.com/

Hot Diggity Dog homepage – https://www.hotdiggitydogstn.com/

The Big Bang homepage – https://www.thebigbangbar.com/

Bartaco homepage – https://bartaco.com/

The Patterson House homepage – https://www.thepattersonnashville.com/

Winners homepage – https://winnersbarnashville.com/

Losers homepage – https://losersbarnashville.com/

Kung Fu Saloon homepage – http://kungfusaloon.com/locations/nashville/

Urban Cowboy homepage – https://www.urbancowboy.com/nashville/public-house/

Darper James homepage – https://www.draperjames.com/

Jeni’s homepage – https://jenis.com/

Frothy Monkey homepage – https://frothymonkey.com/

All opinions are mine own and I was not paid or promised free things in exchange for my review of these places!

Fat People Wear Clothes?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It is finally Fall and I can break out the sweaters, boots, and flaunt my incredibly dark wardrobe while feeling no shame. Y’all already know my dark lipsticks are ready to come out of hibernation. Anyways, let’s address the elephant in the room: shopping while plus size is a battle.

I love fashion, but hate shopping. It is the same story every time: I go in a store and find clothes that are incredibly gorgeous only to find that they don’t carry above a Large (which low key could pass a Medium, but whatever). So I drag myself to the “Women’s” or “Plus size” section and try to keep my eyeballs from rolling out of my head because everything tends to be baggy, have weird patterns, or looks dated. It is disheartening. Why do I have to sacrifice my sense of fashion just because I am larger?

Fun fact: The average woman in American wears a size 16/18. 

Good news: I don’t. In the past 5 years, plus size fashion has gotten a face lift and things look promising. So I am going to share with you guys a few stores that range from affordable to a little more expensive. I’ll also give you guys some tips that tricks that I use to set up my fashion game. Let’s get to it!

Target ($)

I miss Target so much. I literally had one right down the road from me during my last 3 years of college and now I don’t have one at all (ladies y’all better appreciate your Cartwheel app while you can). Anyways, Target has recently overhauled its plus size fashion! I use to just rely on Target for picking up some fashion basics (cardigans, v-neck shirts, black pants, etc.) but I y’all I found some cute outfits here! I was able to snag some cute, professional tops for teaching internship and also just some pieces that I couldn’t live without (like the dress with major flower child vibes pictured below).

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Top from Target

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid of color in that wardrobe! I use to hate the idea of rocking anything but black or dark earth tones, but now I dress like a big ole sunshine and WORK it. 

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Dress from Target (photo credit to Tracy Awino)

I haven’t done much online shopping since moving overseas, but I do plan on continuing to browse Target’s online clothing section because I can’t pass up the price point, quality, and style of the clothes. I honestly can’t recall anything that I have purchased from Target that was poor quality (which is something that I really look for because cute stuff doesn’t matter when it gets a hole in it in no time). So if you are in need of some affordable basics for work or just trendy pieces, Target should be on your radar!

Forever21+ ($$)

Okay so now lets talk about one of the stores that I have shopped at for YEARS! I love Forever21+ and honestly wouldn’t have some of my more “fashionable” pieces without them. I usually find all my jeans, cute blouses, and dress from Forever21+! If you are looking for trendy clothing, this store is your jam. Overall, I feel as if their clothes are pretty high quality. I don’t recall an item that I have purchased from them falling apart.  My favorite item to purchase from Forever21+ is hands down dresses! I have found cute such a range of dress from them (think cute sundresses to dresses that make you feel like a queen). Honey if you think of it, they probably have a dress for it.

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Dress from Forever21+

Pro tip: Get your patterns, girl. We all know that one person that tells you not to wear horizontal stripes, right?  Tell them to take a seat and get ready for you to work these stripes in ANY direction you want them to be in. 

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This entire outfit it Forever21+ (also don’t come for me on the filter haha, I was young).

 

I highly suggest you go to your nearest Forever21+ (you can usually look online and see if your Forever21 includes the plus size section) and try on a few articles of clothing before dying deep into the online store (which I prefer to shopping in store). I personally have purchased a few items that I misjudged the length on or how fitted they were and ended up returning them. I suggest just going in the store at first just so you know what you feel comfortable in (or heck just roll the dice and hope your stuff fits)!

Charlotte Russe ($$)

Last, but not least, one of my newest loves in the plus size clothing world: Charlotte Russe! Okay, so I use to come in this store with my sister and I would get sad vibes because they would have the CUTEST clothes, but they didn’t carry above a XL. Finally, a few years ago, they released their plus size clothing line and y’all they aren’t playing! This store is my go to when I want a cute outfit for going out on the town. Sometimes they surprise me though! I actually got a classy dress (pictured below) that I have worn to weddings and even in my graduation photos. Anytime I rock that dress, everyone compliments me! It is one of my favorite pieces in my closet.

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Romper from Charlotte Russe (it’s actually long sleeve, but I tied the sleeves behind my neck and made it a halter because Nashville was HOT).

Pro tip: Be comfortable. I use to hate showing my arms and showing my tummy was out of the question. I would sweat in the south because I thought maybe I could hide my arm fat by wearing jackets. SURPRISE! It was still there. So now I just roll with it and let my arms and tummy show, especially if it is hot. 

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Dress from Charlotte Russe (photo credit to Tracy Awino)

Here is the great part of this store: y’all they have sales ALL the time! You have to watch for them or else you might miss out. I have snagged dresses for as low as $15 when they were originally $40. Anyways, I have picked up a few blouses and t-shirts from Charlotte Russe as well. Overall, I was pretty impressed with the quality of the items I purchased and have never had to return an item. I think this will become one of the stores that I will shop at for years to come.

Honorable Mentions ($-$$$)

Cato ($) – Y’all I use to not like going into Cato, but in the past few years they have really stepped up their fashion game! I have snagged a few gems for super cheap. Always check out their clearance section (especially in stores) because I have picked up sweaters and shorts for as low as $5. This store is great for professional wear also!

Thrift stores ($) – I know I have said it before that thrifting is passion of mine (check out my blog Adulting on a Budget under “Life Advice” for more details) but I will just leave you guys with an update on my last thrifting find: I got two fabulous H&M sweaters for $10.

ASOS ($$) – I have only purchased jeans from them, but overall I was pretty impressed with the fit and style of the jeans for the price.

Torrid ($$$) – Great clothes, just a little too pricey for me to shop there frequently. I was satisfied with the items I received from them though!

 

Thanks for reading my post! I love sharing my knowledge on plus size fashion because I can remember searching for hours for cute, affordable clothing that would actually fit me. It was difficult and honestly disheartening. Now the market seems to finally be taking off and women finally have multiple options. My hopes are that the industry continues to grow! We deserve to wear what we want and slay an outfit like anyone else. If you are struggling with self confidence, feel free to check out my blog Journey to Self Love under my “Body and Beauty” tab.

Did I leave out a store that you love to shop at? Let me know! Comment down below and let me know what store I should check out next. Also I would love to know what you guys love the most about Fall! Andrew and I have some plans, but I would love to hear what you guys are doing. Halloween costume ideas? Hayrides? Haunted houses? Comment and let me know!

Links to Companies Mentioned

Awino Visual Arts  – https://www.tracyawino.com/

Target homepage – Target.com

Forever21+ homepage – https://bit.ly/2NwMHni

Charlotte Russe homepage – https://www.charlotterusse.com/plus-sizes/

Cato homepage – https://www.catofashions.com/plus-sizes

ASOS homepage – https://bit.ly/2Cz1Bsj

Torrid homepage – https://www.torrid.com/

Disclaimer : All opinions are mine and I was not paid to promote any of the brands mentioned in this blog post.