Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Takeover- Heart My Backpack

Introducing Silvia from Heart My Backpack. 


1. Tell us a little about the story behind your blog.

I’m a little obsessed with fashion blogs (especially from Scandinavia) and would love to have one myself, but I’ve been essentially living out of a backpack for the past two years so I wouldn’t have much to blog about after wearing all five of my outfits. So instead I’m writing about my travels!

2. What has inspired you to live the adventurous life that you do?

After finishing college I moved to Japan to teach English, mostly because I had (foolishly) majored in philosophy and figured there was no way I was getting a decent job in the U.S. with that degree. I ended up living on a remote island in southern Japan and pretty much hating it (it’s hard to fit in in Asia when you’re a foot taller than most people and have yellow hair).

After two years there I had saved about $45,000 so I decided to leave, but I guess because I had struggled so much while making that money it somehow felt tainted, like I could only spend it on something that made those struggles really worth it. For me that thing turned out to be seeing the world!

Lake Baikal, Russia

3. What was it like traveling through Iran alone?

Terrifying. Haha no, actually I loved it!

It’s funny that my blog has gotten the most attention from my posts about Iran - I think probably because Americans aren’t technically allowed to travel in Iran independently (I have dual citizenship and was there on my Norwegian passport) so hearing about an American woman’s time there without a tour is rare - but it was one of my smoothest, easiest trips.

Iranians are unbelievably hospitable, so complete strangers were constantly inviting me to their homes, showing me around, and making sure I was enjoying myself. In fact, I only stayed at a hotel for two nights during my two weeks in the country. It was really heartwarming, especially considering how wary I had initially been about going there alone as an American.

4. What misconceptions would you like to break down in regards to what most Americans think about the "less touristy" places you visit?

This sounds so counterintuitive, but I generally feel much safer in less touristy places. Like, I happily hopped on a plane for Iran and hitchhiked through the Stans, but traveling around Thailand made me nervous! I think it’s because in touristy places the local economy often depends on money from tourists and there are a lot of existing scams or resentments against “rowdy backpackers," whereas in “non-touristy” places visitors are simply treated as guests.

5. Out of the 60 countries you've visited, what has been your favorite?

Nepal. Germany? Egypt!

That’s a really hard question to answer! One of my recent favorites was Tajikistan, because it has breathtaking scenery and the locals are so hospitable, but also because I had initially been unsure about whether or not it was a safe country to travel to and it ended up being one of the places that I’ve felt the safest. I love when visiting a new place shatters preconceptions like that!

Comments have been turned off, to say hello to Silvia click here.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Just Do You

I've finally started reading the Artist's Way. So many of my actor pals have read it and loved it and then I read this post last week by Christy and it pushed me over the edge to start it.

The book is supposed to help artists who feel "artistically blocked" release their inner creative power... or something like that. Two of the main components the author, Julia Cameron, suggests you do are handwrite three pages of unfiltered thoughts every single morning and go on an artist date with yourself once a week.

The "Morning Pages" as she calls them, can be about anything. They just have to be handwritten and done shortly after you wake up.  Turns out this task is actually kind of hard. I already screwed up and missed today. I accidentally had one too many drinks last night while celebrating a friend's acceptance into USC's elite writing for film and television masters program. I am very happy for this talented friend of mine, but also VERY jealous. I would give anything to go to grad school. Anything except more money I don't have... I'm still swimming in undergrad student loan debt. But we'll save those complaints for another post. I've told Sarah I'd just like a copy of all of her notes and assignments and I'll pretend to go to USC through her. While I'm at it, I'll also pretend that I'm Monica and I get to play basketball at USC as well. Love & Basketball FOREVER.

Where were we? Oh yes, The Artist's Way. I was supposed to go on an artist date with myself yesterday but I missed that as well. I stood my artist up. She might still be waiting at that coffee house for all I know. She's probably super mad but my afternoon got a little crazy yesterday and there was also a blizzard going on outside...

I'm not very good at carving out just "the me" time. Sure, I'm alone all day, but I'm always working on a 100 different things. And of course there's Harlow by my side at all times demanding attention.

I've partnered with Skinny Cow to help spread the movement about making more "me time" in our everyday busy lives. So many women that I know go about 500 miles per hour every day and rarely do anything for themselves, especially the hardworking moms out there taking care of everyone else.

Skinny Cow's new line of ice coffee, chocolates, and ice cream aims to remind women to take a moment every day and savor life's little indulgences.

Take a moment and do something just for you. Read a book, watch a movie, do whatever makes you happy. Even if it's just a 20 minute break out of your normally busy day to eat an ice-cream bar and pretend it's summer outside.

And that's all I've got for today. We are almost to March, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

How Not To Plan A Wedding

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Groupon Getaways for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

The other day I sat down at my computer, bride magazines in my lap, a full cup of coffee in hand and I was determined to start planning a wedding. 

It all started off pretty good. For the first five minutes or so I was super focused. And then like a child distracted by a shiny light I happened to glance at a photo on my desk from the time Chris and I were in Paris like 100 years ago and I suddenly got the urge to take a trip somewhere. We haven't gone on a vacation, just the two of us, in forever I realized. I feel like everyone says travel when you're young and not tied down, well we're both of those things right now so why not?

This photo is slightly blurry because it was taken in the 80s. But look at little baby Chris. All clean shaven and everything. 

I started daydreaming about where we should go. Maybe back to Europe? Or to an island somewhere? Pretty much anywhere but dreary Chicago sounded good to me. 

I started casually looking at trip prices online. We've had some friends book vacations through Groupon Getaways and they had a great experience so I decided to start searching there. I clicked on the Europe, Asia and Africa tab first and let my little travel-dreaming heart go nuts.  These were the first packages that caught my eye:

A ten day trip to Greece- Greece! I have heard nothing but great things about this place and have always wanted to go there. 

Then there was the ten day safari in Africa. Um, can you just imagine for a second how awesome that would be?  I know I'm sounding a little outlandish with these destinations, but these are actual affordable packages on Groupon Getaways. I was shocked, as well.

Or an eight day getaway to London and Dublin. Castles and pubs? Yes please. Or perhaps a trip back to Venice to cruise the canals? I could definitely wrap my head around that.

And of course there were a bunch of amazing island vacations that were super tempting as well, but I'm not in swimsuit shape right now so I'd prefer to keep my pants on.

Chris is a bit more "realistic" than I am, so I figured before I tell him we need to jet off to Europe for a few weeks because I need a vacation I should suggest a few closer vacation spots, as well. So I clicked on the Midwest tab on Groupon and picked out some great spa resorts in Wisconsin, a dog friendly cabin in Michigan and a cool hotel in Nashville. Regardless of where we go, a vacation is a vacation, you know? I'll enjoy myself anywhere. There were so many choices within driving distance to where we live so they all seemed very accessible. 

And so within the next day or two, I am going to kindly suggest to Chris that we plan this vacation of ours and high tale it out of a Chicago for a week or two. I've got the travel bug and it's not going away. What do you think? Which vacation would you choose for your #MyGrouponGetaway?
And more importantly what did we learn from this? Planning a vacation is way more fun than planning a wedding. 

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The Best Blog Post Ever

I'm having one of those moments where I'd really like to write an amazing post (error free) that changes the world and makes everyone see how truly witty and wonderful I am and that goes viral in five seconds and lands me a job writing for a sitcom. And also wins me the Powerball.

Instead I've been staring at my screen for the past thirty minutes and looking at my coffee thinking about how I'm almost 28 and I've never had one of those artistic cups of Jo with a leaf drawn in the middle or an image of Mother Mary. What am I missing here?

Alas, today we'll do a good old fashioned, what's in my head/what I'm up to right now post. It might be so good it will go viral anyway.

I was supposed to take Harlow to Nebraska yesterday to stay at camp Fremont for awhile because we have a few trips coming up but the snow trapped us in Chicago. He is devastated. I am too. I love my sidekick, but we both have cabin fever pretty bad right now. We bicker at each other like siblings lately.

Last night I read the screenplay for Whiplash and now I am dying to see the movie. The guy who wrote the film is two years older than me. TWO. I feel like such a loser... says the girl who couldn't even come up with a blog topic today.

I need to get my ass moving. Less dreaming, more doing. I always forget that part.

So next week I'm embarking on an eight week screenwriting course. I do good in classes, they give me direction and keep me in line. Step 1: write screenplay. Step 2: sell screenplay. Step 3: win an Oscar. It's that easy, right? I think so.

On to other breaking news...

The swimsuit section is officially out at Target. Fewer things in life bring me more joy than seeing that section out in February. Not even kidding.

Speaking of joy, I officially joined the old lady club and started hanging my coffee mugs on the wall.

Would you look at that lovely wall decor? Nothing says I like to party more than coffee mugs hung on bird shaped door hooks.

Also I've been reading all of Nadine's posts about wedding planning and it makes me slightly nervous I still haven't done anything. Teach me your ways, Nadine.

And let's finish up with this photo of Harlow showing off his muscles like the meat head he is. I told him he needs to lay off the creatine powder, he's getting way too big for a Vizsla. But he just walks around the house in muscle-t's all day long, flexing and looking at himself in the mirror. It's so annoying.

Chewy sends Harlow a box of treats each month and he goes nuts each time a new one arrives. I never thought my dog would receive more mail than I do. But such is life.

Enjoy this last Thursday of February. March is just around the corner.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

18 Things I Do When I Get My Hair Done

There are two places in this world where I feel insecure: Platos Closet and the hair salon. Because I no longer feel like I'm good enough to give clothes to Platos, let's talk about the hair salon today.

1. I walk inside and immediately feel judged by the receptionist.
Am I too late? Too early? Too ugly? Why is she glaring at me? Why does she make me feel like I'm bothering her?

2. I panic when I'm offered a beverage.
Because I'm cheap and I know I'm already going to walk out with a $200 bill and I'm not sure if the "soda or wine" they've offered me is free.

3. I immediately regret not taking that soda or wine when the girl after me accepts it and I realize it is indeed free. Damn it!

4. I wonder if I can go back to devil receptionist girl and say "on second thought, I'll take that soda."
But it's too late. She'll see right through me.

5. When receptionist girl #2 hands me a robe I suddenly act like I've never seen something so crazy before and I don't know how to work something so complex.
"Um it goes on like this," she says as she helps me into it like I am 90 year old woman. And I mumble, "oh yea, that's the, how the ....okay."

6. The minute I sit down in the stylist's chair I suddenly feel the urge to blurt out 100 different excuses why my hair looks so bad.

7. None of them matter. She's going to look at my hair like I've been living in a dumpster and make a comment along the lines of "so like how long has it been since your last cut and color?" anyway.

8. And then she's probably going to make a comment about "whoever did your hair last really cut it unevenly..." I know my hair looks bad, that's why I'm here. No need to shit on the Groupon inspired stylist who came before you.

9. When she asks me what I want done I show her a photo of a beautiful celebrity, usually Reese Whitherspoon or Kate Hudson, and say I'd like to look exactly like her. Good luck.

10. The minute the stylist walks away into her magic closet to get foils and hair dye I try not to look in the mirror. I'm not sure if it's the lighting at salons, or the fact I'm already feeling insecure, but when I look in a salon mirror I see every terrible blemish, line, and dark spot on my face I don't want to see.

11. But I can't resist the urge with a mirror that big and proceed to take a "I'm pretty" selfie anyway.

11. When the stylist comes back she starts to make small talk and I play along. And then when the small talks ends soon after it started, I feel awkward for about the next five minutes wondering if I should try to continue it. I never do. She doesn't either, and I think we're both okay with it.

12. One hour in I start to lose it and I remember why I only get my hair done once (twice if I'm feeling super crazy) per year. I hate sitting for that long. I absolutely hate it. It's not relaxing for me, it's stressful.

13. When I'm told to sit under the dryer I get excited just because I know it's only a matter of time before someone rinses me. Having another person wash your hair is one of life's finer luxuries. Most times I have to restrain myself from actually saying, "Get it, girl. That's right, you know how I like it," out loud...

14. The rinsing feels great until it doesn't. And then my head gets stiff from lying at an awkward angle on a cold porcelain sink and I begin to wonder why I didn't just box color at home. A bleachy orange 'do never hurt anyone.

15. By the time the blow drying and trimming begins I am so ready to leave I have to remind myself I'm not a toddler and I need to settle down. The stylist can give me a bowl cut for all I care. I just want to be done.

16. I try not to look at myself until it's completely finished. I like to save the excitement/disappointment for the very end.

17. And when it's finally done and I get to check out the cut and color, I'm always meh about it. Don't get me wrong, the hair is fine. I'm just usually disappointed my face still looks like mine and not like Reese's or Kate's.

18. I pay my bill, which somehow always turns out more than expected, fret about how much to tip, and walk out thinking I better go have a drink tonight. Because new hair, whether you like it or not, always calls for a drink.

This post has been brought to you by my hair and beauty insecurities!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An Apology Letter

Dear readers,

I am very sorry that I don't know how to proofread. Honestly, I am. I know that my errors have been out of control lately- even more so than usual and I need to apologize. You deserve better than this. I promise you I try to check things over, just not good enough obviously.  Hitting publish right when I'm done is just so damn tempting. But going forward, I'm going to try harder. I'll git bedder, just weight and see!

Dear Harlow,

I'm sorry we've only been going on 2 walks per day as opposed to your normal 18. I know this makes you very angry because you actually slap me in the face with your paw, or you slap my computer, or phone, or anything you don't want in my procession. I know you're frustrated with winter. I am too. But hang in there buddy, it's going to get nicer eventually. Like in June probably.

Dear wonderful animal-loving people who purchased "I Just Want To Hang With My Dog" shirts,

You have blown my mind with your generosity. Harlow has donated more than $300 to Felines and Canines in under a month, and last week he sent dog food, flee medicine, and cleaning supplies to a shelter in New Jersey that so badly needed it. And yes, Harlow is totally bragging about this right now because he feels awesome thanks to you.

That being said, I am really sorry some of you haven't received your shirts yet, although it does say 1-2 weeks for shipping time on my site I always hope to mail a shirt the day I get an order. But I was under prepared for the amount of sales to come in + my new inventory was delayed three days due to bad weather, so for some of you it's been more than a week now and I really do apologize. A new shipment is arriving today and I will be shipping everything by the end of the day. Thank you so much for your patience!

Dear cuticles,

I'm sorry for what I did to you over the weekend. It's just so dry outside and picking you to death sounded like such a good idea (for both of us.) But it wasn't. You look disgusting and very sad. I'll leave you along for at least a few weeks, I promise.

Dear woman in the Trader Joes parking lot driving a white Mercedes,

I'm sorry that you were so upset it took me a little longer than normal to pull out of my parking spot yesterday. I really hope I didn't make you late to your manicure or your private pilates class or whatever it was you were in a very big hurry for. I'm sure it was extremely important and I will forever be haunted by the fact I kept you an extra ten seconds. #prayers

Dear Chicago,

I'm sorry for what I said last night. I didn't really mean it when I said "you're ugly and disgusting and I want to leave you forever because it's so damn cold I'm losing my mind." Nobody looks good in the winter, you know?  We'll bounce back. We're more of a summer couple anyway.

Dear Man at the open mic last night who got upset I called him out,

I'm sorry it bothered you that I embarrassed you after your set. As a host, I try to support every comic and think it's bad taste to call someone out for bad jokes. However as a woman, if a comedian begins his set by saying "I'm going to jack off to you after this," I am most definitely going to call you out. Because you can't talk to women like that. And because you're disgusting. If you don't have respect for me, I'm sure as hell not going to have it for you. You would never say anything like that to a male host because you're a coward and you think it's funny to degrade women. Guess what? It's not. Men might out number women in standup by a long shot, but for those of us women that are involved, well we're a bunch of bad bitches who don't take shit from guys like you. So get off the stage and get out of my open mic.

Dear readers,

Sorry for that rant. Last night was actually a super fun night at the open mic. It was a full house with a great crowd. And if I missed anyone I owe an apology right now- I apologize.

If you have any apologies of your own, feel free to add them below. Let it all out.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

The Best and the Worst of the Oscars 2015

Graham Moore's speech: The best.
The very best. Immediately after it was over I rewound it and watched it again.

I kind of love our "bring on the weird" culture right now. And I love that young kids are being told more than ever that they should feel free to be who they want to be. And maybe Moore's speech is also applicable to those who aren't technically "kids" anymore. Maybe adults can still feel weird and not know exactly where they fit but they're going to be okay... And perhaps someday win an Oscar.

The best: Patricia Arquette's speech about wage inequality.
You guys, it is 2015. The fact that this is still an issue is mind boggling to me. But it is.

And the fact that some people don't think this is an issue at all is the absolute worst.

The best: Meryl and J Lo reacting to Arquette's speech. Is Meryl screaming "F yeah!" I think she might be. Pretty sure J Lo is just screaming "Wahhhhhhhhhhhh."

The worst: thinking about how much money Meryl and J Lo have between the two of them. I'm kidding, it's actually pretty awesome. I used to be a J Lo hater (because I was jealous obvi!) but I've come to accept her and the fact she is an ageless beautiful robot. Selena y los dinos forever!

The worst: John Travolta.
This bit was dead before it even started.

Look at poor Idina, she is terrified. Let's hope this moment never ever happens again.

The worst: Leaving out Joan Rivers and Harold Ramis in the memorial montage.

Some people argued Rivers wasn't invovled with film, (she did write one movie) and not to mention she basically invented the Red Carpet so I'm not really buying the bullshit excuse. But if that is the excuse, what about comedic icon Ramis then? Why wasn't he involved?

The worst: No Jennifer Lawrence appearance.

Was she there? Was she hiding? Did I miss her?  An award show doesn't feel right without her tripping up the stairs or making comments about taking too many shots. Jennifer is my spirit animal. We're going to be best friends one day. Just wait.

Neal Patrick Harris- the best or the worst?

I'm a big NPH fan. I admire everything he's done and think he's extremely talented. So last night I really wanted him to kill it. I hoped he'd be declared the best host ever. But it didn't hit for me. And I feel bad saying that because everyone always tears apart the Oscars host,  but something just wasn't right. I felt like everything he said was delivered with a side of snark and arrogance and it made me like him a little less.

Snarky and arrogance sometimes works, but if you choose that route you better make sure your jokes back you up. And his didn't. They were so bad. I almost thought for a second they were so bad on purpose, like that was the joke. The bad joke was the joke. And if that's the case, then Neal actually did pretty good. But if that's not the case, his writing team needs to go.

Neal, if you're reading my blog I want you know I still support you. I host an open mic at a theater here in Chicago, so I basically know exactly what you're going through. Just shake it off and get back on the horse tomorrow. The Oscars gig is a tough job. So kudos to you just for taking it. And also please call Octavia today and apologize profusely for making her participate in that terrible bit that lasted four hours too long.

Did you watch last night? What were your thoughts?

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