Seven steps to simplify your life.

They say you should live together before you get married. (I don’t know if people actually say this or not, but it’s what I said after my boyfriend and I decided to move in together last Spring.) “You can’t marry someone before you live with them,” I said. “What if you find out you hate each other?!”

Like we would go from “til death do us part” to “til she-leaves-her-curling-iron-plugged-in-and-now-I-hate-her do us part”. 

“Living together is hard,” my friends tried to tell me, “Wait until one of you leaves their socks on their floor. Or you get in fight over who is going to do the dishes, or the laundry, or what you’re going to watch on Netflix.” 

These things seemed preposterous to me. And “preposterous” is not a word I use in every day life – but that’s how crazy it seemed that my friends thought Kyle and I would actually argue over something as stupid as “why are your socks on the floor?”. Granted – up until we moved in together, neither of us had ever lived with a significant other before… but we had both lived with humans before, and I’d never once seen someone get mad over a sock. 

“It’s going to be fine,” I said. 1) because I was moving in with my best friend, and how could that not be fine?, and 2) because who gets mad over a sock?

“We don’t even fight.” I said. “Like, seriously. We NEVER fight.” 

And we didn’t. I couldn’t “imagine” our first fight, but I always assumed it would be over something big. It would have to be, right? We never argued over anything, so it was hard to imagine us arguing at all. I’d assumed it would be over something that would really dig down deep and assault my character, or my family, or my well-being or something.

Our first fight was about a rug. 

Like, the large pieces of carpet that people put on the wood floors of their living room? Yea, those things. We argued about a piece of carpet. Our first argument EVER – after spending nearly a year together and getting on our high horses that we know how to compromise and communicate and “we never fight, like ever”. One stupid rug and it was all out the window.  

When my friends heard this story – they all decided to put on their therapist-hats and insist that “It wasn’t really about the rug, was it?” Like there was some hidden meaning behind the rug. Like the rug is supposed to be a symbol for something.

It’s not. This story has zero symbolism. One minute we’re fine, and the next we’re standing in the middle of a furniture store arguing about the color of a rug. That’s it.

(Well, okay. To be fair – that’s not really “it”, we weren’t really “fine” the minute before. We were cranky because we’d been in that store for over an hour already looking for “just the right shade of off-white” rug. “Not too white, but not too off-white? You know? Just, like, a cream color?”) 

Whatever. It took me three weeks to make a commitment on which color “accent” throw-pillows I should buy from Target. Do you really think I’m going to get all willy-nilly picking out a $600+ rug??

“What about this one?” Kyle would ask, pointing out rugs that were patterned with tones of whites and.. other random colors. To be honest – I don’t remember what they all looked like. I just knew they weren’t… well… 

Ugh. I hate being one of these women who says, “that’s not exactly what I’m looking for”, but they weren’t exactly what I was looking for. They didn’t match the pillows in our living room. They had weird textures or patterns. They weren’t the vision of a simple, classic white rug that I had in my head. 

I know. I hate women like me too. This is probably why Kyle hasn’t proposed yet, because he doesn’t want to see me end up on Bridezillas. 

“What about this one?” he pointed to a different one, and I was like “Ehhhh……”

“What’s wrong with it?” he asked. “It’s cream.”

“Is it…?” I asked. Which is apparently my way of pretending to consider it. By asking my boyfriend to defend his choice/vision/knowledge of colors. “It looks sort of… brown.” I said. “Don’t you think it looks brown? Maybe it’s the lighting.”

“You think it’s brown?”

“I mean, kind of. It just looks… I don’t know. It almost looks dirty, don’t you think?”

“How can you think that’s brown?” He asked. “It’s cream. It’s not brown.” 

“I know it’s cream. But it looks like a brownish-cream.”

“No, it doesn’t.” 

“Stand over here and look at it.” I suggested, pulling him toward my side of the rug. I don’t know why I thought this would make a difference. But, you know. Maybe the lighting is different on his side? “Do you see it?” I asked. “See how it looks dirty?” He looked at the rug, and then back at me, and then the rug, and then me. 

“What are you TALKING about?” He finally asked.

“You really don’t see that?” 

“See what?” Holy crap. “Jenn, this rug isn’t brown. It’s cream.”

“I’m not SAYING it’s brown. I’m saying it has brown TONES.”  

Ugh.

Eventually a sales associate noticed us wandering around this jungle of not-quite-cream-colored rugs and must have heard us bickering. “What are you looking for?” She asked. 

“A rug,” Kyle said. Meanwhile I was like – “But we’re looking for more of a cream colored rug? But not TOO cream. You know how cream colors can have that, like, brown tint or, like, more of a white tint? We need one with more of a white tint. But not TOO white. We don’t want a white rug, we want a cream rug. But, like, the right shade of cream? It needs to go with our couch.” 

“What color is your couch?” She asked. 

“Gray.” We both responded. (And of course I had to add, “But like, a dark gray? Not like a regular gray… you know?” I don’t know why I felt this was important. I wasn’t trying to get her to sell me a couch. But maybe if she understood the depth of gray that was the color of our couch – I could get her on my side for the whole “cream, not brown” debate.) 

“Well, this rug would go well in any room.” She said, referencing the dirty looking rug we were arguing about.

OF COURSE she said that. At first it caught me off guard – like I was expecting her to say, “Oh, no, this is not the rug for you. This one looks dirty and gross. Maybe you should check another furniture store!” Yea, right.

“My girlfriend thinks it looks brown.” Kyle told her. I don’t think he rolled his eyes – but I’m pretty sure he wanted to. 

“Oh, this isn’t brown.” She assured me. “You could put this next to your gray couch, and I’m sure it would look fine.” 

Oh sure, I thought. Take his side. 

“I don’t know.” I told her. “It’s just not what I’m looking for.” Did Kyle really not see the brown tint? Did he not think we could find a better rug? DID I EVEN KNOW HIM AT ALL? 

“Jenn, we need a rug.” He said. “What’s wrong with this one?” 

Well, for one, it’s brown. 

The woman who had come over to help was slowly starting to slink away. “Why don’t you both take some time to think it over?” she suggested. 

So that’s what we did. We parted ways (in the store). I went pouting in one direction, and he went storming off in another. (Okay, so I don’t remember if he necessarily ‘stormed off’ – but he definitely walked away thinking, “My girlfriend doesn’t know what the color ‘brown’ looks like.” He wouldn’t tell you he was thinking that, but I’m sure he was. Because I was thinking, “My boyfriend doesn’t know what the color ‘cream’ looks like.”) 

After pouting around the store for a few more minutes, we finally stumbled onto another rug. (Well, okay, I stumbled onto it and dragged Kyle over and he agreed – in his pouty, pissed off, ‘this is taking too long and I’m hungry’ voice – “Yea, I like this one. Let’s buy it and get out of here.” 

 So that’s what we did. 

Alright – so maybe the ending is a little anti-climactic, but the point of this story wasn’t about the rug. 

Basics that every fashion blogger owns.

My dad has a special name for UGG boots. He calls them “Ugg-ly” boots. “You can’t say UGG without saying ‘ugh’,” He says. “It’s part of the name!” #DadJokes

For the record, he wasn’t just wandering around the mall searching for UGH boots (ugh, now even I’m doing it) – UGG BOOTS, he passed by them while we were Christmas shopping in Macy’s two years ago and felt the need to comment when I told him that I needed a new pair. 

Yep. I’ve been saving that joke for two years, guys. 

Not really. But that memory popped into my head today while I was – once again – Christmas shopping in Macy’s and passed by the shoe section where they’re ALWAYS ON DISPLAY. “Should I get a pair of UGGs?”, I thought to myself. “Do I *need* a pair of UGGs? Am I too old to wear UGGs? WILL I wear them? Are they still trendy?”

Were they ever trendy? I mean, really? Because the only time I can remember it being socially acceptable to wear them was back in college when it was socially acceptable to wear them with leggings and a NorthFace jacket on your way to class. 

And – before you can say anything, I would just like to point out that – OF COURSE I was one of those girls in college who wore UGG boots, leggings, and a NorthFace jacket on her way to class. I mean, really – did you expect anything else? If you held any sort of notion that I wasn’t a 100% basic pumpkin-spice-latte-and-UGG-boots kind of girl in my early twenties…. then, I’m touched. I truly am. But you’re giving me wayyyy too much credit. 

I *wanted* to be basic in college. It was practically a compliment. 

I don’t know why. “Oh. You think I look like everyone else? Well – if everyone else is wearing it, then it must be okay! So, THANK YOU!” 

Sure. Thanks. I’m trying to fit in. Thank you for noticing and acknowledging the fact that I look like everyone else. Mission accomplished. Thank you. 

I’m going off on a tangent here. I should also point out that I started telling a nice story about Christmas shopping, and – whilst Christmas shopping – seeing some expensive boots that I wanted to buy…FOR MYSELF. Apparently I’ve mentally added “meeee!” to the Christmas list of people I have to buy for. 

Oh, stop. Like you guys don’t do it too. 

Maybe you don’t. Congratulations. You’re a better person than I am. 

I mean, I didn’t BUY the UGGs, so it’s not like you’re not THAT much better than I am. But I thought about it. Because they looked sooo comfy. And because they reminded me of a simpler time when I could wear sweatshirts and leggings every day of the week and spend Friday night cozied up under a blanket with my Marketing 101 book and Christmas movies playing in the background. 

Look. I’m not saying I want to go back to to college. As I write this – I’m cozied up under a blanket on the couch with the Chicago Bears game on in the background, so it’s not really THAT different. But still. UGGs, man. Whatever happened to UGGs? 

Whatever happened to UGGs? I don’t know, Jenn – whatever happened to being a college student who doesn’t wear real pants? 

I had the bar set HIGH for myself as a college student when I thought about my post-college style.  “Once I have a real job, I’ll look professional ALL. THE. TIME.” I thought. “I’ll be an adult. I’ll dress like an adult. It’ll be great!”

You guys, I literally thought I was going to dress like Olivia Pope every day of the week. 

Neutrals. Classic pieces. Polished looks. Clean cut. 

It turns out, my style ended up somewhere in the middle. Not quite college-senior-during-finals-week, but not yet Olivia Pope. I’m working it. I’ve come a long way from messy buns and leggings every day of the week, so I think I deserve SOME credit, okay?

It’s easy to get caught up in the trends – but the key to looking polished is working with the basics. A fashion blogger can build an entire outfit around something as simple as a basic black camisole. Invest in the basics and you’ll have a stylish outfit ready for any occasion! 

A Pinterest-inspired Friendsgiving!

It’s not that I “can’t” cook. Anyone can cook, right? All you need is, like, a pot. And a pan. And probably some running water. If you made it through a high school level science class – it’s safe to say that you can probably handle Mac & cheese.

It’s just following a recipe, right? “Annnnyone can follow a recipe,” I said. “It’s just reading the instructions and, like, doing those things.” The whole concept of “not” being able to do it seemed a little insulting. “Can I read what it says to do in Step One and then move on to Step Two? Yea, I managed to get through four years of college, I think I can handle a baked chicken recipe from the Martha Stewart Cookbook.”

I mean, really. You’d think so.

“Do you think I could use garlic powder instead of real garlic?”, “How am I supposed to whisk butter…? Do we even have a whisk? Can I use a spoon?”– These are real examples that demonstrate how closely I am NOT FOLLOWING THE RECIPE.

“I mean, whisking is essentially just a fancy term for ‘stirring’, right? Is it not? Can I really not use a spoon?”

The recipe says “whisk”, but sure. They probably meant spoon. You went to college, you know what you’re doing.

The whole “not knowing how to cook” thing used to be endearing, when I was in my early twenties. I tell the story of how I started a small kitchen fire trying to make Hamburger Helper using a Wok. I make everyone laugh when I tell the story of making dinner for my college boyfriend, and having to run out just to buy a pot so that I could boil water for spaghetti. I was an adorable bad chef.

But it’s not cute anymore. Now I’m just a twenty-seven year old adult woman who can’t follow a recipe. I search Pinterest for “easy” dinners that mostly involve chicken or some sort of pasta dish. I tell my friends that I’ll bring the macaroni and cheese to Friendsgiving and they say, “BAKED macaroni and cheese” like I’m going to show up with a box of Velveeta Instant Mac (I don’t know even know if this is a real thing, but you know what I mean).

Naturally I did what any woman in her late twenties would do who’s trying to impress her friends – turn to Pinterest. Start searching terms like “Best Baked Macaroni and Cheese” and “from scratch”.

(This can be an eye opener, by the way. When you tell your friends that you made “Macaroni and Cheese…from scratch”, they’re like, “What do you mean, from scratch?”…. and you have to explain to them: “You know. I MADE the cheese. I mean, I melted the cheese. Real cheese.”…. The alternative being fake cheese, which is essentially how all boxed Mac & Cheese comes. With the orange powder. Just add milk. Like the astronauts do.)

Melting the cheese was the easy part. The rest of the time, I was saying things like this: “Wait, how much chicken broth?”….. “How do I know when it’s ‘al dente’?”…. “Why is the flour so lumpy?”… “I bet this will taste good with garlic salt”… “Maybe I should sprinkle just a litttttttle more garlic salt”…. “Is that enough cheese? That doesn’t look like enough cheese.”… “MORE GARLIC SALT”… 

Seriously. The recipe was RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. And instead of just DOING WHAT IT SAID – I ended up stomping around the kitchen being cranky and grumbly and – overall, just a little ray of sunshine – until my boyfriend was finally like, “What’s wrong?”

“The cheese is lumpy.” I said. “The flour wouldn’t mix with the butter, because we don’t have a whisk, and now I have lumpy cheese.” 

“I’m sure it’s fine.” He said. 

“It’s not fine.”

“Did you follow the recipe?” 

No. I thought my way was better. OBVIOUSLY.

But no matter how badly it turns out, even if something’s on fire – I try to convince everyone that “I did everything it said!”. Like someone somehow published a faulty recipe out there. I don’t even know what I’m trying to cover up when I say this. Lying and saying that “I tried!” to follow a recipe when it turns out totally bad? – what am I trying to argue here? That I can’t read?

But, I mean, I did KIND OF TRY… it’s just that the directions didn’t say anything about garlic salt – and I was like, “This will make it better. I’m sure.” Same with the extra butter, and the cream cheese. I was just trying to make it taste better. I was trying to ‘make it my own’, as they say in the culinary world. (I don’t know why I suddenly think I’m Julia Child as soon as I get in front of a stove. It really doesn’t make any sense.)

“I’m sure it’s fine.” My boyfriend kept insisting, because he’s sweet. And because I’ve made him eat pumpkin flavored pasta before when I was feeling “festive” around Halloween time. Nothing can be worse than the pumpkin flavored pasta.

“No.” I argued. “None of this is fine. I’m thirty minutes late because I had to wait for the macaroni and cheese to come out of the oven – because I put it in late, because I was trying to get the clumps out of the flour – and now I’M going to be late, and the food’s going to be cold, and people are going to be eating lumpy macaroni and cheese.” 

Mmm. Mmm. Lumpy.

“What if someone bites into a lump of flour?” I asked, horrified, imagining someone making that face people do when they take a bite of something and realize there’s something in their mouth that shouldn’t be there – like a chicken bone, or a ball of flour. “I don’t even know if I should bring this. Maybe I should just bring wine.”

“I’m sure it’s delicious,” my hostess friend said. I tried to warn her when I got there. “It’s hard to screw up macaroni and cheese.” 

“Yea. I mean, I’m sure it’s fine,” I said. Because that seemed less embarrassing than saying, “I’ve already imagined someone choking on a ball of flour at the dinner table.” Nobody wants to win the argument that they’re the worst little cook.

So, people ate it. Nobody died. If anyone tasted a lump of flour in their mouth, they didn’t let on. Friendsgiving 2017 was a success – much to the guidance of our Pinterest pages and a mutual obsession to make everything “cute”. (You know what I mean. The table settings, the decor, the festive drinks, etc.)

If you’re going to do Friendsgiving – DO IT RIGHT. To help you out – I’ve created a handy dandy guide to everything that we pinned to help make YOUR Friendsgiving a SUCCESS!

Travel Diary: Las Vegas, NV.

I would love to be the kind of blogger who can start off a travel diary by saying, “Earlier this year, I booked a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas!” and make it sound totally normal. Like I’m the whimsical kind of girl who does this sort of thing all the time. “It was completely spur of the moment, tickets were cheap, and I thought – hey, why not! Let’s go to Vegas!”

 “Hey, why not! Let’s go to Vegas!” is not something I’ve ever said in my entire life. I was whimsical for like, twenty minutes. The twenty minutes that it took for some woman on the phone to convince me that Vegas was all the rage. “Oh, you haven’t been to Vegas?!” She asked in a tone that suggested ‘eeeeeveryone’s been to Vegas!’. But, like, in a nice way? I don’t know. It was weird.

The woman calling me worked for the hotel chain that I frequently use when traveling for business trips (therefore they assumed that I would have the money to, like, travel). “Now is a GREAT time to come out to Las Vegas.” She said – (as if she would have called me to say, ‘You know, now is not such a great time’) – “We just opened up a BRAND NEW hotel on the strip. It’s a FIVE STAR resort situated next to Miracle Mile – so you can go SHOPPING” – because that’s how I pick my vacation spots? “or you can lay out by the POOL…” appealing to her audience here “with a DRINK…” – all things I could easily do at home, fo’ free. “And don’t forget about the CASINOS!” She added. “Maybe you could win some MONEY! Wouldn’t that be fun?!” ‘Wouldn’t that be fun?’ – like I’m really going to say, ‘no – winning money? Geez, that sounds awful.’

“I’m not much of a gambler,” I told her. “Thanks for the offer, but I don’t think now is a good time.”

The end. Hang up. I studied Communications, I work in SALES management, I am a MASTER of persuasive strategy (I mean, not really, but I took a class on it once in college). I knew what this woman was doing. Trying to convince me to stay at her fancy hotel so that I could go SHOPPING and have a DRINK by the POOL. Please. She called the wrong loyalty program member.

“You don’t have to use it right now!” She said. “You can use it anytime. Six months, a year – It doesn’t matter!”

“I don’t have time for a vacation.”

“You’re saying you won’t have the time in a YEAR?”

 “I’m… busy.” 

Probably.   

Look – I’m not saying Vegas was at the BOTTOM of my bucket list, because it genuinely is some place that I’ve always wanted to see at least once –  but, like, not spontaneously because some strange woman on the phone acts like she wants to go shopping with me. “You know, we’ve got a lot of great stuff going on this year,” she said. “A lot of great shows. Criss Angel is in town, Celine Dion, Cirque du Soleil…”

Cirque du Soleil. She was trying to sell me Vegas on Cirque du Soleil. Not that it isn’t a great show, I’m sure it is… it’s just… I don’t know. I don’t think that people go to Vegas JUST to see Cirque du Soleil. 

“Britney Spears.” She said. She might have been grasping at straws, but whatever. “She’s still in town. Do you like Britney Spears?”

I bought a shirt once just because I saw Britney Spears wearing it in a Kohl’s advertisement. True story.

And I didn’t even really LIKE the shirt.  

Granted, I was like fifteen at the time, but still. Here we are, over ten years later, and all it takes to get to me book a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas is twenty minutes and the mention of Britney Spears’ name. Sold.

Reality set in later. Not too much later – about thirty minutes after I hung up the phone. What did I just do? VEGAS? Someone called me from a random number asking me if I wanted to go to VEGAS and I gave them my credit card information? If that clown in the movie “IT” told me that Britney Spears was down there hiding in the sewer, I’d probably just crawl on down there.

This is how people get their identities stolen.

Correction – this is how STUPID people get their identities stolen. Regular people just get them stolen from a sneaky scanner at a gas pump or something.

I did not get my identity stolen. But as a general public service announcement – don’t be stupid. If someone calls you from a random number, don’t give them your credit card information. K? K.

Anyway, the anxious, cautious part of me who can’t plan a trip without first making a Pinterest board began to panic about thirty minutes later. Assuming I didn’t get my identity stolen – I can’t just go to VEGAS…? BY MYSELF? What am I supposed to do out there? Just wander around searching for Britney Spears? So I called my mom, canceled my credit card, and spent the next three months trying to get out of it.

I told them I couldn’t go, I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t have the time. I wanted my money back. Please and thank you.

I tried to get out of it. For THREE MONTHS I tried to get out of it.

But they wouldn’t let me out of it. They told me I could cancel the trip, but I wouldn’t get my money back. So I called my boyfriend and said, “Heeeey, wanna go to Vegas?” And he was like, “sure, why not”.

 (It turns out, of the two of us, he is the more whimsical one. Who knew.)

My Blogging Goals | November 2017

There are two kinds of bloggers out there: the kind who have goals and a media kit – and the other kind, the kind who have to Google “what is a media kit?” when someone reaches out to them for a sponsored post and — well, actually, first they have to head on over to the blogging forum and ask, “Hey guys, how do I handle a sponsored post? So-and-so is reaching out to me and I don’t know what to do”, and someone says, “send them your media kit”. 

I still don’t really understand what a media kit is. But that’s okay, because it sounds a little more “professional” than what I am currently set up for. 

Around the middle of October, I was playing around with this new blogger site that I found called Canva (game changer, by the way) that allows you to make graphics and banners and all of the professional-looking-images that you see the professional-looking-bloggers have. 

I got really excited. I felt like I’d stumbled into “the big secret” that all of the professional bloggers already know. I found a fancy graphic site that is going to CHANGE EVERYTHING. 

“I’m going to be SO PROFESSIONAL,” I told my boyfriend. “My blog is going to BLOW. UP.” 

Yea. Those are the words that I used. “BLOW. UP”. Like I’m a 1940’s detective working on the “How to be a professional blogger” mystery. We’re about to blow this case WIIIIDE OPEN. 

“Okay,” he said. Because – really – what else are you supposed to say that? 

But I had big ideas. BIG ideas. “I’m going to plan out my posts for the month,” I told him. What a concept, right?  Actually planning out your blog posts. I bet no one has ever thought of that before. “And pictures!” I said. “I need to take more pictures! Will you help me take more pictures?!”

UGGGGHHHH. I bet that’s what he was thinking – “Sure. Let’s spend a Saturday afternoon  taking pictures of you in front of different buildings pretending to ‘look away’ while you yell at me that you ‘feel fat’. That sounds swell.” 

He didn’t say that, of course. Because he loves me and supports all of my weird hobbies.

So he agreed – and by agreed, I mean he said, “Uh.. suuure. We can do that. I guess.” which totally counts as agreeing, and we got down to business.

And by “got down to business” – I mean, I threw a giant pile of clothes into a laundry basket and said, “OKAY! LET’S GO! GET YOUR CAMERA!” and he was like, “Where are we going?” And I was like, “I DON’T KNOW. WHEREVER THERE ARE CUTE BRICK WALLS?”

That’s me, as a location scout – “wherever there are cute brick walls.”

10 things you don’t need in your closet.

My parents sent me a stun gun as part of a care package in college.

I figured I should open with that, so that when I say, “I found my stun gun in a shoe box in the back of my closet over the weekend” – ya’ll don’t think I’m the kind of girl who A) knows where to buy a stun gun, and B) keeps it in a shoe box in the back of her closet. Nestled next to a scarf and a pair of high heels. Because that’s where it was. Who knows why. Who packed THAT box when I was moving?

Me. I packed it. I packed all of my boxes. And when I ran across that stun gun, I was probably like, “Well, I don’t have a box marked ‘Weapons’ …. sooo let’s just put it in this shoe box. That should be fine.”

That makes about as much sense as me having a stun gun in the first place.

My parents sent it to me when I was a freshman in college as a… present? Warning? I don’t even know. (They aren’t crazy. They just, care. A lot.) I opened it in the lobby of our dorm building, assuming this was going to be… I don’t know, something normal. Like, a Tupperware container full of brownies. Or a sweatshirt. Or extra pens. Like I said, my parents aren’t crazy. They’d sent me presents before. But this was the first time they’d decided to send me a stun gun.

I didn’t even know what to do with it. I was afraid to touch it. I mean, it was in a box. And I don’t think it had batteries in it. But still. The box said, “high voltage”. Is that really something I should be carrying around in my purse? This little weapon of electricity? What if I shock someone on accident? What if I shock myself? Can I die from this?

“If you hold it up to someone for longer than seven seconds, it can stop their heart.” That’s what my mom said. After I called her to confirm that she did, in fact, mean to send me a stun gun. Part of me thought that this might have been an accident. A weird and unlikely accident, but still. My mother is the kind of mother who collects Tupperware and sent me boxes of mini-muffins in college. I didn’t know murder weapons were on her radar. Let alone that she knew where to buy one.

“Your dad bought it on eBay.” She said. Apparently you can buy them on eBay.

“What am I supposed to do with it?” I asked her. Maybe she thought if this college thing didn’t work out, I could be a gangster. Or a thug. Or someone who works the midnight shift at McDonalds.

“Carry it,” she said. “In your purse. Especially when you’re walking across campus at night.” Ohhh that’s what this was about. I had a night class that forced me to walk home in the evenings two nights a week. After the sun went down. Moms aren’t big fans of their daughters walking alone at night.

I didn’t carry it. I thought it was scary. I imagined scenarios where I would somehow electroshock myself on accident and fall to the ground twitching. I mean, it couldn’t DO anything unless someone pushed the button. BUT STILL. If anyone’s stun gun could accidentally shock them, from inside their purse, without pushing any buttons, I didn’t want it to be mine. BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW.

I didn’t see the stun gun again until last Christmas. (It lived out my college experience on a dark shelf in the back of my closet. Despite my mother asking – really casually, by the way – “Have you used your stun gun yet?”… like I’d forget to tell her if I tased someone on my way to class.)  It showed up in a bag – another one that my mother sent back with me to Chicago – shortly after Christmas. I guess she thought I could scare off a thug with a neck tattoo if I ever found myself in a rough neighborhood? I don’t know.

Regardless, I was inspired to write this post about “10 things you don’t need in your closet”. (There is no good transition here. I don’t want to be cheesy and say something like, “Realizing how much space my stun gun was taking up in my closet made me think about how much other space I could free up!”…. what space? It was in a shoe box, it was fine. But I already had the idea for this post, and the stun gun thing seemed like a funny anecdote.)

How to stop buying clothes you never wear.

I’m searching for a new purse, “for winter”. A black chainlink cross-body purse, to be exact. I don’t know what winter has to do with it – but I saw some girl in a movie wearing a grey peacoat with a black chainlink cross-body purse and black high-heel booties with big sunglasses and a long black and white scarf, and I was like “That’s it! THAT’S what I want to look like this winter!” 

I don’t know where this comes from. I don’t know why I see a random stranger in a made-for-tv movie and think that I have to change up my entire look for a season. It just happens. It happened with Peyton Sawyer on One Tree Hill when I suddenly decided I needed a leather jacket. It happened with Serena Van Der Woodsen on Gossip Girl when I decided that my “new style” should be “boho chic New Yorker-y”. It’s even happened with YouTubers. After watching two hours of Carly Cristman videos, I committed to only wearing neutral colors for a year. A WHOLE YEAR. 

My entire wardrobe has been decided by fictional characters and people that I’ve never met in real life. That’s probably normal, right? 

The worst part is that there is a tiny part of me (a TINY, tiny part of – the part that hears a noise in the middle of the night and is convinced there’s a murderer outside) truly believes that this new jacket or scarf or pair of tan suede boots is going to alter my identity. I mean – not totally, it’s not like I think I’m going to become a transformer just because I’m wearing new skinny jeans with fake pockets – but like… a little. 

“These jeans would make me look so skinny!” I think to myself. “I could wear with them with anything! People will see me on the street and think, ‘wow! look at that super skinny girl!…'” I don’t know why my thoughts consider other people looking at me and commenting that I’m skinny. This motivation doesn’t seem to work when I need to go to the gym – but spending $50 on jeans? Totally. “But I need new jeans anyway!,” I think to myself. ” I mean… sure I have jeans at home, that I CAN wear… ‘TECHNICALLY’… but they’re not THESE jeans. I don’t have THESE jeans at home. Therefore, I need new jeans.” 

Spoiler alert: Did NOT need new jeans. 

Decorating our place for Fall.

My mom used to have these Halloween-inspired window clings that she let me bust out every October. Stickers of ghosts, witches, pumpkins – I think one of them said Happy Halloween? Probably? Every October she’d pull them out of her “Holiday Decorations” bin and let me stick them onto the glass door leading out to the deck. I loved it. This – aside from the in-school Halloween parties where the teachers handed out candy and we got to play games all afternoon – was my favorite part of Halloween.

I mean, I was like seven. The majority of highlights at that age were: candy, that giant parachute thing they let us play with during gym class, and stickers. It’s the little things.

I told my mom I wanted to start hanging them in the giant full-story window in the front of the house. “There’s more space,” I said. “It’s going to look so pretty!” I said. And I’m pretty sure if I’d had a more pronounced vocabulary at that age, I would have said, “It’s going to be so festive! It’s FALL! Let’s decorate for FALL!!!!” 

So, for the record, that is who you’re taking advice from. Someone whose Fall decor once consisted of the desire to stick glass cling-ons of witches and pumpkins to the front of her house. Because she thought they were, like, “so pretty”.

Fortunately my decorating style has evolved since then. Our apartment doesn’t have any glass sticky cling-ons that say “Happy Halloween” or a stuffed black cat sitting around on the couch. Mostly because we don’t have room for holiday decorations. I like to pretend that I live in a lavish, luxurious apartment – but the truth is, it’s just that: an apartment. A one bedroom, small bathroom apartment. And, to top it all off, I’m on this “minimalism” kick – which basically means that I have all of our “stuff” stashed into the laundry closet and pretend it’s not there when people come over. I don’t think that’s what “minimalism” actually means, but I have a lot of stuff, okay? If I can fit it all into the closet – trust me, we’re off to a good start.

Minimalism is a journey, not a destination. I think.

To better accommodate my “minimalist lifestyle” (aka: space in my closet), here are some Fall home decor tips that I’ve found to make our home feel a little more cozy while still serving a purpose. This way you don’t have to run out and buy a bunch of “Happy Halloween” throw pillows.

Shopping for Fall trends!

If I had to define my personal style, I would call it: “Target Women’s Section”. Do you know what I mean? When you see a woman walking down the street and think to yourself, “She totally bought that at Target”.  

Yea, that’s me. I’m the woman. 2/3 of my closet is made up of the women’s section from the store. “Target clothes” are a style. Maybe it’s just because I shop there so often. I can’t walk into that store without looking at the clothes. I mean, they’re RIGHT THERE. In the front of the store. As soon as you walk in. 

Notice how the men’s section is always squeezed into a back corner? Not the women’s section. Oh, no. Let’s put that right next to the entrance, so that all of the women who think they’re only coming in here for groceries and toilet paper will walk by and say, “You know, it doesn’t hurt to LOOK at the clothes…” 

Men don’t get it. I’ve dragged my boyfriend in there when he was looking for a new button-down and said, “At least LOOK at the clothes”, thinking he would surely find SOMETHING. It’s Target. He took a quick lap through the graphic tees and plaid button-downs and said, “Yeeeea I don’t see anything I want, let’s go.” 

Seriously. Like he was in Walmart or something. 

Target’s men’s section is about 1/3 the size of the women’s section and usually blends into the shoe aisle. The women’s section, on the other hand, takes up an entire wall of the store and preys on weak women like myself who believe that a new $19 sweater is going to fix her entire life. 

Having a bad day? Go to Target. Feeling fat? Go to Target, buy some mid-rise jeans. Unmotivated to go to work on Monday? Buy a new pencil skirt, or some new shoes – or both! Hey, why not, it’s Target! For $80, you’ve got yourself a brand new outfit!

It’s a trap. It’s totally a trap. Who knows, maybe it’s a sickness – thinking that a new sweater is going to fix everything. Or that if I buy some new $15 fuzzy sweatpants, even though I have an entire drawer of fuzzy sweatpants at home, I’ll feel better about staying in and cleaning the house that evening. 

And the slippers. Don’t even get me started on the slippers. These fuzzy-wuzzy, cozy shoes meant to be worn in the house – even though I don’t wear shoes in the house and have said multiple times that slippers make my feet “too hot” (they don’t sweat, my toes just need to breathe, ya know?)… but put me in front of the robe and sweatpants and pajama aisle on a cold, Fall day and suddenly… “Those slippers are SO cute! I want those. Oh, they’re only $13? AND they have little fuzzy balls on the toes?! Adorable! I should buy those.” 

I have three pairs of slippers. That I never wear. But I just haaaaad to buy. Because they had little fuzzy balls on the toes. If that’s not a good enough reason to spend $13, then I don’t know what is. 

I mean, maybe to buy food. But, you know. 

Spanx. They aren’t just for Moms.

I wouldn’t say that I have “anxiety” about wearing Spanx (and honestly, no one SHOULD have anxiety about wearing a brand of sucky-in-y underwear – because that’s essentially all they are) but I HAVE noticed that when I’m wearing a tight dress, along with – what is essentially a modern day girdle – I feel, a little…. well, anxious. Stiff. Uncomfortable. There’s a tightness in my chest…/abdomen. 

I mean, most of that is the sucky-in-y part of the underwear that I paid $50 to literally wedge myself into so that I could look good in a dress for a few hours, but you know what I mean. I worry. The Spanx alter blood circulation to my brain (probably, I don’t know.  You’d think they’ve got to be cutting off some circulation around my torso. Otherwise, are they even doing their job?) My inner fat girl that needed the Spanx in the first place starts sending paranoid, worried signals to my brain. 

“What if people can tell?” I think. “Can people tell that I’m wearing a girdle?” 

I honestly do not know how anyone would ever be able to “tell”, unless they came over and lifted up my dress and said, “Hey I see you’re wearing some funny underwear under there.” And if someone ever does that to you, I can PROMISE you that the the highlight of that story will not be “I was wearing Spanx”, it will be “A stranger lifted up my dress. It was weird.”

Sometimes I worry that if I give someone a hug, they’ll be able to tell. Like they’ll feel it under my clothes and be like, “HEY WHAT’S THAT?” or worse – “Wow! Your core is ROCK SOLID! Have you been doing Pilates? Let’s see that six-pack!” 

Again. That would require me to lift up my dress. And the highlight of that story would be, “Someone asked me to lift up my dress in order to show them my super rock-hard abs. It was weird.” 

But what if they can FEEL it, I think. What if someone has their arms around me and feels the top of the Spanx? Or that little rod-stick thing that goes down the sides of some of them like a legit corset? I mean, I’m wearing this super tight dress. Surely they can FEEL that stuff.

In all of my years of hugging people – all of the people, including ones who are wearing tight clothes – I have never once embraced someone long enough to literally FEEL THEM UP. I have never tried to rub my hands along someone’s side while hugging them, unless I was, like, DATING that person. Because otherwise it’s super inappropriate – and the highlight of THAT story would be, “Someone tried to feel me up while they were hugging me. It was super inappropriate.” — not, “Someone tried to feel me up while they were hugging me and THEY COULD TELL I WAS WEARING A GIRDLE. IT WAS SO EMBARRASSING.”