October 24, 2014

Halloween Style: Wednesday Addams

Like every slightly odd, all-black-wearing, goth wannabe child of the 90s, I've always idolized Wednesday Addams (tbh, she's one of the better role models). And I've always wanted to be her for Halloween, but somehow I never got around to it until now.

It was an incredibly simple costume to put together, actually. I happened to find the perfect black dress on this vintage website called Nifty Thrifty for $9. And then I already had the tights and shoes. I added a white felt collar to the dress, slapped some pale stage makeup on my face, and borrowed a creepy teddy bear from my roommate and voila!

Also, this was the easiest photoshoot ever, all I had to do was scowl into the camera. I'm in love with my costume and I can't wait to wear it - tomorrow night to Rocky Horror, and then again on Halloween!


What are your Halloween plans?


October 22, 2014

Bookshelf: 3 Life Lessons from "Not That Kind of Girl"

Have you ever been reading a book and had to stop for a moment and think, "Wow. This book is going to be very important to me, I can already tell"? This is one of those books.

I've loved many books in my lifetime, but I've felt this sort of kinship with a relatively small amount of them at first glance.

I've been a casual fan of Girls, and of Lena Dunham, for a couple years now. I think that the show is brilliant, especially Dunham's writing, but I can only watch so many episodes before I get in a bad frame of mind and feel thoroughly disgusted. Kind of like American Horror Story. So, when I heard that the 20-something powerhouse was releasing a book of personal essays this year, I figured it was going to be good.

Dunham writes about everything from her struggles with mental illness, her experiences with therapy, and her childhood to her college experience, her boyfriends, and her career with dark humor and shocking revelations. Sometimes funny, sometimes sobering, always irreverent, she tackles even the most difficult of topics with her trademark sort of awkward grace.

Needless to say, I'm in love, and I feel like I've found a kindred spirit in Lena Dunham - more so than I realized before. And Ms. Dunham offered no pretenses, stating in the book's introduction, "No, I am not a sexpert, a psychologist, or a dietitian. I am not a mother of three or the owner of a successful hosiery franchise. But I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle." However, in spite of herself, she manages to offer a plethora of advice for today's 20-something girl. 

1. If you don't like where you are in life, leave.

At the end of her essay "Platonic Bed Sharing" Dunham states:
"Here's who it's not okay to share a bed with: Anyone who makes you feel like you're invading their space. Anyone who tells you that they "just can't be alone right now." Anyone who doesn't make you feel like sharing a bed is the coziest and most sensual activity they could possibly be undertaking [...] Now, look over at the person beside you. Do they meet these criteria? If not, remove them or remove yourself. You're better off alone."
It's so easy to feel like you're stuck where you are in life, especially in your twenties. But it's important to remember that you are not stuck anywhere you don't want to be. If you don't like where you live, who you spend time with, where you work, or who you are as a person, then make a change. If not now, when? Waiting only works for so long - eventually you have to go out and make an effort to make your life how you want it.

2. If you're hurting, let yourself hurt.

When recounting life advice that her mother had offered her after her first breakup:
"I am crippled by what feels like sadness but what I will later diagnose as embarrassment. She tells me this is a great excuse: to take time for myself, to cry a bunch, to eat only carbohydrates slathered in cheese. 'You will find,' she says, 'that there's a certain grace to having your heart broken.' I will use this line many times in the years to come, giving it as a gift to anyone who needs it."
 Another important thing to remember in your twenties: if you're sad, let yourself be sad. If you're angry, get angry. If you're happy, then be really, really happy. Emotions are not something to be ashamed of; they are what makes us human. 

3. Stop and look around once in a while.

Dunham reminisces on her college experience, and regrets that she wasn't more present:
"If I had known how much I would miss these sensations I might have experienced them differently, recognized their shabby glamour, respected the ticking clock that defined this entire experience. I would have put aside my resentment, dropped my defenses. I might have a basic understanding of European history or economics. More abstractly, I might feel I had truly been somewhere, open and porous and hungry to learn."
This chapter really hit me hard, as it's something I'd been struggling with lately. I think that many college students, myself included, are so focused on what comes after graduation, so focused on getting through that 8 am chemistry exam or getting through the semester, that they forget to stop and look around and marvel at this completely unique and amazing experience they're having. 

Nowhere else can you wear yoga pants everyday for a week, or have a schedule that doesn't start til 1 pm. College is the perfect messy in between time to learn what it means to be an adult, and then routinely ignore the definition. Where you can talk about philosophy and politics with some of the smartest people you'll ever meet, or you can skip a history lecture to take a spontaneous road trip to the coast. 

It's a time so full of enchantment and possibility and, as Dunham said, "shabby glamour" and people need to stop focusing on surviving midterms for one second and take a mental snapshot of sledding down a hill on a stolen cafeteria tray during the first snow or remembering how they felt the first time they met their freshman year dorm mates.

Needless to say, I highly recommend this book to everyone. Literally everyone. It has so many incredibly pearls of wisdom and it is so beautifully written that there were several times I had to stop and catch my breath.

October 20, 2014

6 Tips for Throwing the Perfect Halloween Party

Ah, Halloween. The one night a year where everyone can be exactly what they want to be. You can go all out, be a kid again, eat candy for dinner, and watch scary movies until your throat hurts from screaming. What's not to love?! 

For those of you who are throwing parties in celebration of All Hallow's Eve, here are some tips to make it the most spook-tacular shindig this century.

>> Find the perfect tunes. While the generic dollar store "spooky sounds" cd is always a way  to go, consider something a little more upbeat - Spotify has a great Halloween playlist that mixes old classics (Monster Mash, anyone?) with some less cliche tracks for the perfect party mix.

>> Make it interesting. While many people enjoy dressing up on Halloween (I prefer it to every other day of the year) some others might need a bit more coaxing. Have a costume contest with different categories - Spookiest, Most Realistic, Most Obscure, etc. - and don't forget to get prizes for the winners. Candy, gift cards, you name it. Have people vote for each one at some point during the night, or elect a panel of judges.

>> Go all out. Seriously, what's a Halloween party without decorations? I'm talking plastic bats on the ceiling, cotton spiderwebs as far as the eye can see, foam gravestones, grim reapers, and caution tape. Go big or go home.

>> Try a theme. If you don't want just a generic Halloween party, try having a theme, and decorating accordingly. I've thrown two - yes, two - pretty kicking Harry Potter Halloween parties in my time. Other really on topic ideas could be American Horror Story themed (now that would be freaky) or superhero themed (they are everywhere).

>> Don't forget the food - it's basically the most important part! There's the usual Halloween cookies (you know, the kind from the supermarket that are frosted and sickeningly sweet and amazing). Cupcakes are always a must, as well as chips and soda, and of course a giant bowl of candy. If you feel like getting more creative, check out Pinterest for ideas to make every creepy crawly goody imaginable.

>> Don't forget the party essentials, such as cups, napkins, plates, and more. This is where Yellow Pinwheels has you covered. An adorable start up, they offer different party packages for any kind of party theme! They have adorable Halloween packages available right now.

They offer their party packages straight up:

Or with a twist:

How cute are these?! They come with  everything you need to throw a killer Halloween party this year, no fuss, no muss. 

All the packages come with supplies and settings for 20 people, so invite everybody! And if you need more, they have a la carte items available as well.

And through the end of October, they're offering free ground shipping on Halloween items with the code HALLOWEEN14. They also offer free ground shipping year round on their party packages with the code FREESHIPYPPKG.

Lindsay and Kim, the two proprietors, are absolutely adorable, and how they started their company is definitely worth a read here (spoiler alert: it involves an ill-fated amateur production of A Christmas Carol).

What are your must haves for the perfect Halloween party?

Note: This post was sponsored by Yellow Pinwheels and compensation was provided. However, as usual, all thoughts are my own!


October 16, 2014

Ultimate Cash Giveaway with Oh My Gosh Beck

Ultimate Cash Giveaway - October.jpg

My blogger friends and I have teamed up to bring you one of our biggest giveaways ever! One lucky winner will win a $750 cash prize (via Paypal) and it just might be you!

If you want a chance to be the lucky winner, here’s what you need to do - bookmark this page and come back every day to enter and earn bonus entries by sharing the giveaway with your friends on social media. Good luck!


Prize: $750 cash (via Paypal)
Organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Besides the mandatory blog comment entry, all other entries are optional. Giveaway ends 11/13 and is open worldwide.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

Image via Unsplash

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 13, 2014

5 Books to Read This Fall

There are a ton of absolutely dynamite books coming out this fall, so here's my guide to what should be on everyone's shelf to get them through the rainy days and blustery winds of autumn this year.

1. Yes, Please - Amy Poehler

If you're not looking forward to the memoir from this hilarious lady, you need to check yourself. After the wildly huge success that was Bossypants, Tina Fey's memoir (aka, Amy's bff) the entire world is waiting impatiently to see what hilarious and slightly off color pearls of wisdom the actress, writer, and comedian is going to share.

The book will be released on October 28th, but is available for pre-order now.

2. Not That Kind of Girl - Lena Dunham

Another amazing funny lady, her new book of personal essays and narratives is taking the world by storm. Sometimes humorous, sometimes sobering, always poignant, Dunham's book paints the portrait of a young woman in today's society - she's like the Judy Blume for Generation Y. 

I recently purchased the book, and after devouring the first half of it within a few hours, I can attest to the fact that it's one of the best books that I've read in a long time. Her wit and unabashed candor is absolutely phenomenal - but I'm sure there will be more (much more) on this later. 

You can buy it now on Amazon (and wherever else you can get books).

3. How to Build a Girl - Caitlin Moran

Last year I read Moran's memoir entitled How to Be a Woman and was blown away - I highly recommend it. It covered topics such as growing up, first jobs, college, love, and feminism brilliantly with lots of humorous wit and anecdotes to spare.

She has recently come out with her first novel, titled How to Build a Girl, which is all about self invention, growing up, and becoming who you want to be (whether or not that's a good thing). 

From the book description: "Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all? Imagine The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease. How to Build a Girl is a funny, poignant, and heartbreakingly evocative story of self-discovery and invention, as only Caitlin Moran could tell it."

I'm so excited to get my hands on it - you can check it out on Amazon.

4. Girl Online - Zoe Sugg

One of my all time favorite Youtubers, Zoe Sugg aka Zoella, is coming out with her first novel! I cannot wait to read it, as it speaks really incredibly to my life - its all about a blogger who is trying to balance real life and blog life, on top of the anxiety issues that she's struggled with all her life. Though it is a novel, I can tell that a lot of this is being pulled from Zoe's own experiences as well, as she's often spoken out publicly in her videos and on her blog about her anxiety, depression, and panic attacks that make things hard for her sometimes, which is one of the huge reasons I love her.

Her book is being released on November 25th, and you can preorder it now.

5. Grace's Guide - Grace Helbig

Another of my favorite Youtubers and funny ladies is writing a pseudo-guide to being an adult! Part memoir, part field guide, part activity book, it looks like this is going to have it all - plus it's full color too! Grace is absolutely hilarious, so I know this book is going to be a riot. I'm still not 100% sure what to expect, but I know it's going to be good.

Grace's Guide will be released on October 21, but you can preorder it on Amazon.

What's on your book list for this fall?