My Journey to Blogging

I’ve been asked a lot recently to tell my blogging story – the why, the when, and all the reasons I added this crazy world of daily Instagram posting and writing to my life. As we enter a new year, and I have my feet under me a little… I want to start writing about more personal things so you can get to know me better, in addition to the fashion and beauty posts.

Well let’s start at the beginning. I didn’t really know blogging was a “thing” until a few years ago. I stumbled upon a couple bloggers named Alyson Hayley and Lauren Kay Sims… and through following them, I was opened up into the world of fashion and the LIKEtoKNOW.it app – and the way I shopped for clothes and beauty products completely changed. I waited for their posts daily and was not only getting advice on how to style clothes, I could shop the things I loved right off their Instagram posts. As soon as I liked the photo (now you have to screenshot), an email was sent to me with links to everything she was wearing. I found myself buying smarter pieces that I could style different ways, and also got new ideas on how to mix color and pattern, or use the clothes I already had to create a look Alyson and Lauren were wearing. So easy and helpful.

I’ve always loved style and fashion, but this blogger world was inspiring to me. These girls were making a living on their own by supporting brands they love and giving other women advice on how to dress for their body type, what skincare to use, workout tips, meal recipes, posting daily on what stores had the best sales… they literally were doing the work for me. I was buying everything! For the next year or two I followed probably 50+ bloggers who’s styles I loved and continued to shop and admire their photos. Mostly I admired how honestly convincing they were, and how someone I didn’t even know had such an impact on me and my purchasing decisions. I loved how I could watch in their stories how a product worked, or the fit of a top, or ask what size they were wearing for a reference – and they would answer! They gave honest opinions – good or bad – on products so we as an audience could make our own decision through their influence.

I started my blog in May of 2018… I wish I had started it earlier, however I wasn’t in a good headspace at the time. It may come as a shock to you but I don’t love taking photos of myself. Occasionally I see one of me and I think “oh I look really cute” but usually I would just look at a photo and dismiss everything I see. As women, I feel that is something we all do on a daily basis. I saw these bloggers as inspiring – but would also envy how beautiful they were, or their toned abs, or their gorgeous homes and think – OK I can’t do this till I start working out, or get a better apartment. They were posting twice a day sometimes three… and I could never fit that into my life with a full time job AND bar tending on the weekends. There’s also so many girls already doing this, so why would anyone want to follow me? Every excuse I could think of I threw at myself as a reason I wouldn’t be successful if I tried.

I also had a string of not so great relationships.. and when I say string I mean about 6 years of trying to make it work with not the right people. Not bad people per say, just a lot of time spent an energy exhausted where it shouldn’t have gone. Pair that with jobs that I was either struggling in, or felt like I didn’t quite fit. This all added up to a not so happy Kelly. I was anxious, I was reacting to situations in ways I shouldn’t have, and was holding onto a lot of anger. I started seeing a therapist, and after a lot of hard work week after week… I was starting to feel like my old happy self again. Not every day… but a vast improvement from where I was.

In January, I had a major hip surgery. I trained the entire 2017 for triathlons and torn the labrum in my right hip. Also had some bone damage due to that protective cartilage wall being broken through. I had this repaired, and had 8 weeks of downtime in a massive brace that didn’t allow me much freedom. If you all know me… downtime is not my jam, ha! I work full time, bar tend on the weekends, and bake cakes! Free time is not something I’m used to. I was kinda like, OK… now what? I watched way too much TV for a couple weeks and decided that… I’m gonna start a blog! I’ve never built a website… how hard can it be right? Turns out not super hard… but not super easy either. Now that I know what I’m doing it’s a breeze, but I’m glad I used those 6 weeks to build up my site, write some post, fill up the site with some photos… so I was ready to launch on May 1st.

I knew before the surgery that this was the year I was going to put all my energy into myself. Something I hadn’t done in a long time. I spent months researching blogging, reached out to TONS of bloggers I had been following forever, and waited for responses. Some answered, some didn’t, but overall I was able to gather up enough info to really figure out what I wanted to do, how I was going to accomplish this on my own, and work this into my already insane schedule. My bonus hit in March, I loaded up my closet, and started taking pictures with my mom, some friends, and eventually just started attacking the photo game on my own.

GIRL get yourself a tripod and remote blue tooth clicker! GAME CHANGER! Did you know I take all of my photos myself? YUP! You can’t tell (most of the time) but I’m holding a remote in every photo. It’s super small and I can hide it in my hand that holds my purse, behind a prop, in my hair…wherever and stand in front of my camera and click away. You can lower the tripod, raise it up, walk in front of it for an action shot, sit down in front of it… once you have no shame that someone passing by may think you’re a creep, just gets easier and easier! You’ll know the best ways to stand, how to tilt your head, what smile to use for each photo etc. I don’t have time to schedule big shoots with friends anymore. I’m also terrible at asking for help and don’t like to bother my friends… so this is just the best option for me. So I pack up one or two looks every couple days and head out on my lunch break, change in my car, and shot some looks in under half an hour in back alleys where I can find cool walls. In the summer I go after work since it’s still light out. Sometimes I snap a pic BEFORE work if I’m running early… just so much easier to squeeze it in on my own time and not worry about who can help me. Sunny days are the WORST for photos, while cloudy days are the best – no shadows! I’ve never watched the weather so much in my life!

I will tell you… this is NOT an easy thing to do. People may look at your photos daily and think “oh cute”, or that the outfit in the picture IS exactly what I’m wearing that day – yeah, not so much. I take anywhere from 2-8 looks at a time and they’re all different depending on what collabs I have coming up or sales I know are on the horizon. You have to keep up with sales, watch the clothes you’ve already got for when they get marked down, hope that what you bought doesn’t sell out by the time you can take a photo and post it. You have to make sure when you throw up a photo you have some way for followers to shop your look – whether that’s a blog post or LIKEtoKNOW.it app, or ShopStyle! Oh, and you don’t make money in the beginning! HOORAY all this work for no mula… ha. It takes a couple months of photos to be able to even to apply to RewardStyle or ShopStyle… and I think this is where most people give up. It’s not worth it. This is too hard. Why am I doing this?

Trust me… this isn’t the easiest and can be stressful… however, all that being said – oh how rewarding this whole experience is! The girls…omg they’re the best and so supportive. If you ever want to feel great or be uplifted… throw up a post and watch the comments flow in on how much they “love your look, THOSE SHOES GF, Omg you’re the cutest EVER, I love your style” it is literally blogger fuel that keeps you going. I’ve connected with some many amazing people who uplift me everyday and encourage me to keep going. You’ll get your first collaboration with a brand and it’s like THE BEST feeling. As you grow you can start charging for posts, you’ll make money when people shop your looks, and things just start to feel really positive. Maybe that takes a few months, maybe a year, maybe two years but you just have to keep going for YOU!

I picked affordable and versatile style because that’s what I buy on a regular basis. Classic and fun pieces that can be worn to work and out, and in multiple ways. I don’t make superstar money (yet) and need to stretch my budget as much as possible. I think other women have that same issue. We all stare at our closets and were like OMG I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR! Um yes you do girlfriend… you’re just defaulting to always pairing the same thing together every time. Rock that t-shirt dress with some booties and a denim jacket, tie a flannel around it with some sneakers and a ball cap, wear a chunky long sweater over it with knee high boots in the winter… these are all things I wanted to help others do, with clothes they already have, or show them… hey this dress is $50 but you can wear it all year round and to multiple occasions, and this is how. See below!

I stayed in this niche… and posted daily about sales, style this three ways, remember this top from last month? It’s now on sale… and I kept pushing this. Eventually I broke into some skincare… haircare… and some apartment decor. I think that’s what helped me do well. I didn’t take on too much in the beginning. I didn’t want people to be confused on why they were following me and drop off. You get enough drop off in this world as it is… so less confusion was better for me. Maybe you all want to see more? Ha, IDK?!?!

Growth is a journey in any business, and in this one… it can take off, it can be slow, it can go backwards and forwards at the same time. You wake up with 30 new followers and somehow your number stayed the same… DAMMMNIT people stop following, ha! One post gets 1000+ likes and the next one gets 258, ugh WUT? How is this happening? Instagram changes its algorithm all the time and makes it hard for us blogger babes to grow and be seen unless we spend 10 hours a day on the app. With two jobs I just don’t have that luxury, so I do the best I can. I go all in with anything I take on. Take pictures at 7 am, take photos on lunch, film stories at night that I wont be posting for a couple days out, plan my photos for the week on Sunday and get the lined up, take small breaks at work throughout the day to engage like crazy, make sure everything is linked in LIKEtoKNOW.it before so I’m ready to fire off looks whenever I need to, go to events to meet other bloggers, learn from their experiences, I still reach out and ask for help, and research every way possible to keep this journey going strong!

This year is a whole new year and I’m going to put a lot more on the table. Fashion, Hair, Beauty, Skincare, Fitness… and more personal posts like this one. I am going to try and bring you into my life a little bit more with stories – however I am kinda boring so don’t get too excited haha! This is something that makes me so happy. And if you’re thinking about doing this, and you’re not sure if you can, or if people will follow you or support you, or you are afraid of putting yourself out there… know that all of us feel that same way at times. I’m just now starting to feel comfortable in front of the camera and while it makes it easier, it still makes me nervous ever time I post.

While I want to paint a real picture for you, I also want you to know that if you’re a mom with kids, or work two jobs like I do, or just work one job, or volunteer, or you don’t have a ton of money, or you have a crap load of money but maybe are super self conscious… if this is something you think about, or want to do… DO IT! Nothing can stop you. Look at me… I’M NUTS! Haha literally everyday I’m tired and think “what did I get myself into?” but its like a high for me at the same time. Man do I love the pressure of being out of photos and wanting to post the next morning at 8 AM! Oh, it’s pouring? SHIIITTTT…. get that photo in the car, whip out a flatlay, or find somewhere inside that’s fun…. YOU CAN DO THIS! If I can you can… and I hope this gave you a little insight to what I do on a daily basis! Thank you for following and liking and commenting and keeping this dream alive – you ALL are the reason I keep going!

Stocking Stuffers for Him

For the men in your life!

Stocking Stuffers for Her

Stockings are one of my favorite things to make for my family every year! I feel a lot of people don’t do this anymore – but it’s one of my favorite traditions, and wether your stockings are just for decoration… you can still fill a cute bag for everyone and give them great mini items they will love!

Here are some of my favorite items to include for the women in your life!

Gifts for those who love to Entertain!

This gift guide reminds me so much of my family! We love to host parties and get togethers. Whether its with family, friends, out of town visitors… we love a good party that centers around food, drinks and good company! For any occasion you could think of too!

Whether you have a theme in mind, or just something more casual – having some great entertaining serving dishes, glasses, and bar accessories can make all the difference!

Below are some items for the people in your life who love to entertain! Most of these are on some great Black Friday Deals as well!

Black Friday Sales!

So many great sales going on and the good thing is… most of them have already started! This is such a great time to save on your favorite items for yourself, but also just in time for gift giving season!

I am going to just round up my favorite things from the stores that I love. There are TONS of good sales but it can be overwhelming to say the least – and if it’s not a place I normally shop, I wont spam you with it! Below I’ve rounded up my favorite stores – and the items I either have and love, or that are in my cart! I’ve also added the sizing I wear at each place for your reference!

Abercrombie – 50% off + Free Shipping!

I wear a XS in cami’s and a small in most of their tops and dresses. Depending on the fit of the Cardigan, I usually go with an XS or a small. They always tell you what size the model is wearing – which helps me decide if I’m unsure.

American Eagle & Aerie – 40% off + Free Shipping!

I wear a Small here religiously. I don’t love anything really tight, so if you do, go down a size! Jeans I wear a 2 regular!

Anthropologie – 30% off , early access for AthroPerk Members!

I wear an XS in everything here. Most of their things run a little large!

Express – 50% off + Free Shipping!

I wear an XS in most tops and sweaters here. Most of their items run a tad big!

Gap – 50% off with code BLKFRIDAY and extra 10% off code BESTEVER!

I wear an XS in all tops and sweaters – sometimes a small in basic tops if I want a more relaxed fit. Regular size in jeans!

H&M – 30% off + Free Shipping!

I wear a small in everything here! Or a 2-4 in their sizing!

Loft – 50% off your purchase with code INDULGE!

I wear an XS in most sweaters and tops – basic layers and tees I wear a small! In anything Lou&Grey I wear an XS.

Madewell – 30% off your purchase with code GIFTWELL!

I wear an XS in all sweaters, and small in basic tees and and sweatshirts! Jeans I go down one size from my normal!

Nordstrom – Up to 50% off, Spend $125 Get $25, Spend $250 Get $50, Spend $400 Get $100!

Sizing will vary depending on the brand, but usually a small at BP and for most brands. XS for cardigans and oversized fit sweaters.

Old Navy – 50% off + Free Shipping on orders over $50!

I wear and XS here in tops and sweaters, in pajamas I wear a small! They have the best for holidays!

Tula – 25% off site wide!

I personally love their day and night face lotion. It’s great – their sugar scrub is something I use three times a week, and the pressed oil is AMAZING if you have dry skin patches or areas similar to eczema! Not a huge fan of their toners for my skin – but the face wash is the BOMB!

Sephora – Select items up to 50% off through Dec 2nd! Some items are coming on certain days, so keep checking back!

Sorel – 25% off + Free Shipping!

I go up 1/2 a size in these boots to make sure thick socks fit, plus I feel they run a tad small!

Holiday Pajamas!

Is there anything better than pajamas in general? I think not! Being cozy is my favorite and when there is a mass amount of festive cozy – that’s even better! Below are some of my favorite pajamas in a lot of different price ranges! Some are sets, some are onesies, and some you can mix and match!

The Old Navy leggings are my favorite. Every year they bring back the classic patters in their thermal leggings – buffalo check, red and green stripe, red and white stripes… and then add tons of cute patterns! My family gets a pair each year and we get silly Christmas t-shirts to pair with them! Such an affordable way to make the Holiday’s fun and stylish. Also – EVERYTHING is 50% off on their site for Black Friday and it’s all starting early! All of the options below come in MULTIPLE colors and prints so make sure you click on them and check out all the options on the sites!

Cozy Gift Guide

Have a homebody in your life you need to get gifts for? That’s totally me, so I’ve rounded up some of my favorite things I have to stay warm, cozy, and smelling clean while staying home and relaxing!

From scarves and blankets, to candles and mugs, and tons of slippers… there’s something for everyone and most everything is really affordable!

Fall Boot Roundup 2019

My favorite time of year is just around the corner… FALL! I love fall for so many reasons, but mainly the crisp cool air and warm sun calls for cozy layers, light jackets, and booties!

I tend to always default to ankle booties – as they’re cute with shorts, skirts and dresses in transitional weather (like we’re in now), and go well with ankle length jeans and leggings in the colder months. They’re great for the office as well as a night out on the town. Here below is a catalog of last years looks. The same few pairs are styled so many different ways – and all of these I still have and will be rocking this year as well!

I’ve included the links for you below with the photos!

Lucky Brand Boots in Tan, Lucky Brand Boots in Black, Lucky Brand Zipper Booties, Vince Camuto Brown Boots, Marc Fisher Taupe Boots, Sam Edelman Leopard Boot, & Target Flat Boot Shoe (some are only available in certain colors currently).

Shoes can be dangerous for me, as I can always justify a splurge on a great classic pair that will wear a few years. Over the past few years I’ve done a great job with getting a classic shape bootie in neutral colors so I don’t have to get a new pair the next year. Typically the brands I love come out with either the exact same everyday boots year after year, or a version so close you can barely tell small differences. If you waterproof them and take care of them – you can save a little money and wear them over and over. Beige, mushroom grey, and tan are great colors to have in your collection that go with everything! Some of my favorites right now are below!

Buying classic booties to wear multiple seasons also gives you some room to get a fun pair that is a little more edgy and following the current fad. Like an animal print! Last year, leopard was everywhere and this year we’re seeing a variety of animal prints… and snakeskin is giving leopard a run for its money. I snagged a leopard pair last year, and a snakeskin this year and both will get tons of use. These prints are fun because they’re more neutral in their color pallet – browns, blacks, tan, grays and beiges mixed together – that go with all your neutral tones, but can also be worn with color to give you feet a little flare and pop of texture. Camel sweater, black jeans, and some leopard booties are a favorite combo of mine that never disappoints. Some great options are below for you at all different price points.

Also – if you live in the midwest you MUST invest in a good pair of weather proof boots! Rain, snow, ice, slush – does not make it easy to keep your regular shoes clean and wearable year after year, so I highly advise on getting some rain boots, or a good pair of winter boots that are waterproof. Keeps you feet dry and warm and your everyday shoes clean! It’s a must in Chicago winters! Some of my favorite brands are Sorel and Hunter – but I’ve linked some great options from Target that are similar at a better price point. I’ve also put my Blondo waterproof wedge sneakers here – so cute and are literally waterproof. I love them and they never stain even if you don’t spray them!

Last – knee high boots or over the knee! I’ll admit it took a while for me to come around to these, but so glad I did! The two pairs I have from Goodnight Macaroon are currently 40% off on their site and free shipping (Code LABOR19) – and they’re amazing! Run TTS. Comfortable to walk in and stay up on your leg! I have slimmer legs so this was a surprise for me. I’ve bought others that always fell down! I also got a Sam Edelman beige knee high last year when they went on sale, and they brought them back this year in the same color! They’re great with jeans and dresses! Links are below!

Tips on how to build a great boot collection:

  1. Spray them with shoe protector! This is really important for keeping them clean and to make sure they last year over year. Here is a great one!
  2. Buy a classic shape in a neutral color! A pointed toe beige or taupe color, black, or tan are best for this. Plain without a lot of detail are the best since they go with everything, but you can almost always expect they will be in style for a couple years.
  3. Add a pop of pattern! Animal print is my go to for this. Can pair them with so many colors and outfit options and give your feet some sass.
  4. If you kill your boots every season – I would shop at DSW or Target! Lots of great deals and savings! If you know you’re going to throw them out or destroy them, then splurging is probably not ideal for you. Get some great pairs that look similar to the top brands at a lower price!
  5. Get a weather proof pair of boots. Put your everyday shoes in your tote or leave them under your desk at work – and commute with weather proof shoes! I cannot even tell you how many shoes I’ve ruined because of snow and slush and dirty wet streets! Put on those waterproof boots, keep your feet warm, and save your everyday booties for indoors!

Hope you found some great options for this fall season!

In a RUT

Let’s first just start off that this RUT of mine took a while to realize I was even in one. For multiple reasons – most of them being small everyday things I was overlooking, but that’s also probably why I was ignoring them for so long. Overall they can feel minor at times, but when they continue to go on for too long – they become much more impact-full than you can even realize.

I’ve had a lot of changes coming into my life this year, some planned, some very unexpected… and some very positive. Turns out I wasn’t fully balancing everything well, and it forced me to take a big step back this weekend and evaluate what I was letting go, what I need to introduce back into my daily routine, and just overall better manage my time with my full time job, blogging, and self care.

Want to start with some changes that were really the jumpstart of my RUT. First major change was losing my job in February. This really came out of nowhere and clearly not part of my plan. I was miserably unhappy at my last employer – for many reasons that do not need to be shared – but this still completely gut punched me for many reasons. One – I live paycheck to paycheck. I am able to save a little each month, but one of the reasons why I bartend is because I need money for vacations, fun things, paying off some debt, supporting my blogging, etc. Losing my main source of income was SCARY to say the least. I was given severance, still received my bonus from the previous year – but I wanted to use that money for something other than supporting myself UNTIL I found something new. Second reason this rocked me was all the sudden I had ZERO schedule to follow. I didn’t have to be somewhere at 8 am, I had no work routine to follow, no projects to focus on, and my time was spent in front of a computer job hunting for 6-8 hours a day and blogging in between. It was rough. I am ALWAYS busy and going from one thing to another. When that was taken away I was a little lost. Third reason is I’m very creative and my job was also in a creative space. All of the sudden I didn’t feel like I was contributing to something important. I would think of all the unfinished projects I was a part of. Even though I wasn’t happy at my job, the work I was doing was important to me and I would get sad and angry knowing that I wasn’t able to finish projects I put my heart and soul into, I wouldn’t see them through, they would be taken over by someone else who didn’t have my passion and drive behind them.

To say I was overwhelmed with all of these emotions was as an understatement. I was also lonely. Even though I didn’t love my job, having people to talk to daily at the office, see daily, go to lunch with… that interaction was also taken away from me and while you’re at home worrying and stressing… your friends are all at their jobs, working, and don’t have all day to comfort you or be there when I needed or wanted to talk. Which is fine… I didn’t expect anything other than what they could give. It’s just still lonely. I’m was (am) also single. I love being on my own- but that also meant I didn’t have someone special there for me daily, and no one to fall back on if financially things went really south. I don’t expect anyone to take care of me, but during this time I really was missing every kind of human connection.

Second change, that I knew was coming, was my parents moving out of town. This was particularly hard for me because I’ve always lived in the same state as my mom and dad. I could go home whenever I wanted, my home base was only 45 minutes away, and I had that sort of “safe” feeling that was so comforting in the midst of everything else going on in my life. When I lost my job – all my energy went into finding a new one, and I quickly realized the time was approaching FAST that my parents were going to move. Not sure I really let it sink in because my focus was elsewhere – then all the sudden… they were gone. It was a weird feeling – not because I wasn’t happy for them because I definitely am, but because I felt like I didn’t give myself the time to appropriately say goodbye to the house I grew up in, or really grieve the impact of this change. It’s been a few months now – and it still hasn’t fully hit me, mainly because I haven’t gone back to my home town too much, or passed the house… but it’s been sad for me in different waves.

Let’s now talk about some positives that came from these changes! While it was rough – there is always some silver lining. One of them being I got to really focus on my blogging when I was unemployed. Did lots of stories, try ons, was able to take photos daily instead of jamming over a week’s worth into a Sunday afternoon, and got to connect with so many new bloggers by being more active in the app! It gave me a little taste of what it would be like to do this full time which was very cool.

My relationship with my sister got so MUCH STRONGER during this time. We’ve always been close – but we talked daily, weekly over the phone, and she constantly checked in on me, and I am so grateful for her and how she showed up for me during those two months. She’s also a powerhouse in the business world so not only was she helpful in just overall support – she guided me on interviews, my resume,and what I should really focus on when I’m looking for something new. There were so many things I knew I DIDN’T want in a new employer – but she really helped guide me on what she though I should look for and the type of manager I should be working for, based on how unhappy I was at the last employer. She gave me tough questions to ask people in interviews to make sure that what I was looking for , what was important to me… was actually important to them as managers, and that there was truly a support network behind the employer. Beyond grateful for her during this time – not sure I put that into words for her – so hopefully she is reading this now 🙂 Thank you Val, love you!

I’m so grateful that I had the bar. I worked extra shifts and picked up week nights and was able to make a lot more money than I usually do just working one night a weekend. Wasnt comparable to my normal income… so Getting my new job after two months and a week of being unemployed was like the AMEN Hallelujah I needed! It really took so much of my stress away that centered around my finances, routine, sense of contribution to society… and I started on a new adventure with an amazing company! This positive change however, has also been the reason I sunk into more a personal RUT… and here’s why.

My company is in the software industry – new to me and so much to learn. They’re very lax on when you show up, managing your time, and overall give you the autonomy to come and go as you please to get your work done. This is something new to me – so I decided to stick to my normal 8-5pm to get back into a regular routine. I also wanted to be in early to connect with our Berlin office (as most of our expertise is in Germany – and we only have a small window of time to connect due to the time change). I am beyond excited for this new role and all the opportunity at my new company – so I really wanted to have an open mind, learn as much as possible in the first few months, and really hit the ground running. I slowly realized my hours were turning into 8-6PM, then sometimes 7PM… then I got two new clients, both amazing – but demanding! I’m new – so things were taking longer to complete than what I expected and this caused a little extra stress. This increase in time at the office, and the overwhelming sense of “lack of experience” with what I was doing, … really started to weigh on me. This new stress carried over into my personal life in small ways that just piled up over time, and this past week I realized how bad of a RUT I was in.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about… I was working early and coming home late. I was tired. Exhausted. Mentally exhausted. Physically exhausted. Was trying to take photos in between for the blog, or on lunch – but I’m not driving to work anymore so I couldn’t just toss my tripod and change of clothes in the car – that was a new stress I wasn’t used to in managing my time. I was running out of photos and taking quick ones that I wasn’t happy with, but I was tired so it was better than no photo. I would come home and face dive into my couch. I would lay there and watch mindless TV, fall asleep on my couch, not wash my face, sometimes I wouldn’t even change out of my work clothes, wasn’t cooking myself healthy meals – or any meals really, was ordering pizza, getting take out, and just honestly not paying attention to anything related to self care. My blogging took a dive – constantly running out of photos, not doing stories, not making time to do the thing I love the most that has been my baby for the past year. My apt was always messy – things out of place, dishes piling up, wasn’t doing my normal weekly vacuum and dusting like I should have. I was staying up till 11PM or midnight (something I never do) and really just wasn’t doing anything productive because in my head I needed “rest”. Rest is definitely needed, but I was straight up being LAZY. Coming home to a disaster of a living space daily does not reduce stress – it makes it worse! I should know these things by now.

I’ve also gained weight. I’m not calling myself fat, but I’m not happy with how I look and I think everyone can relate to this. Regardless of your natural body type – there are times when we know we look good, we feel good, we’re mentally looking at ourselves in a positive way. I am not in this place right now. I’ve been making bad eating choices, neglecting the gym and making excuses for months, using my “bad hip” as a reason to be scared to go for a run again, and honestly not loving what I see in the mirror. Clothes can hide a lot – so before you judge me or think that I’m already skinny, I’m not where I want to be…and I really have no one to blame but myself. I wasn’t making healthy eating habits a priority – or going to the gym. This is something that has always been important for me not only for the physical appearance aspect, but also my mental well being. Working out relieves stress, balances hormones, makes you happy, and really just detoxes the day from your body with a good sweat.

My habits in general were awful. Not eating right, not cleaning, not going to bed at a decent hour, not doing anything productive when I got home, laying around, sleeping to much on the weekends, not writing, not taking good pictures… I had no routine for myself outside of work – and that’s no longer OK. At work – my calendar is packed, color coded, timed perfectly with deadlines… I am a MACHINE with prioritizing and getting my projects done. Master at multitasking… so when I look at work Kelly… and everyday Kelly – where was this huge disconnect coming from? I needed some work Kelly back in my personal life and FAST.

Here’s some small things I’m doing to get back on track…

  1. Healthy Habits & New Routines. It’s so important to establish a nightly routine. For me this is going to be gym time, eating a healthy meal, washing my face, sitting down to relax with an hour of TV or reading a night MAX, writing, and going to bed at 9:30-10PM every night. I also need to make better eating choices during the day – I’ve started ordering Freshly meals to help with this! They’re easy to order, already made – just heat and eat, and very affordable! This takes the prep work out of meals, they’re easy to bring to the office for lunch, and I won’t be wasting food because I’m too tired to cook and it all goes bad!
  2. Clean. You would think this is a no brainer – but it’s the first thing to go for me when I feel busy. Put my laundry away, clean my dishes as I go and right after I’m done eating, keep my place vacuumed and dusted weekly, and get rid of anything that’s piling up I don’t need. All of these tasks takes minutes at most – but when you let it go it takes FOREVER to get back to normal. Keep it clean daily and this does not become and added stress.
  3. Prioritize. What is important to me? Working out, spending quality time with friends, reading, writing blog posts, taking photos, catching up with family, relaxing in a proactive way… this needs to be part of my daily routine. Not everyday – but managing my week and fitting in the important things is going to help. I also need to make sure I don’t take on too much. Saying no is OK if it means you need time to focus on yourself. My work calendar has been implemented into my daily life calendar. Color coded, important things first, and tasks that I need to stay on top of are now in my personal calendar!
  4. Weekends. My weekends look a little different than most, due to my bar tending. Late and long hours that keep me up till early am the next day. This adds to my exhaustion and usually means I don’t get done what I plan to because I sleep in late or lay around all day before my next shift starts. Going forward I’m making a schedule for weekends to make sure I can grocery shop, catch up on errands, spend time with friends, and get most of my photos and posts ready for the coming week. More importantly I cannot lay around all day. This just makes me more tired and when I realize I got NOTHING done… I stress.
  5. Managing Stress & Sleep. I see a therapist every Monday to stay level headed, talk about work, relationships, and overall move towards a better version of myself. I was skipping a lot – and this definitely added to the stress I already had. Being able to vent, speak through my issues, and work towards change is something I need to make a regular thing. I also need to manage my sleep schedule better. Just sleeping to sleep, or resting all day, or not moving from the couch can actually make me MORE tired. I need to go to bed a decent hour so I’m refreshed in the morning and ready to go. The later I stay up – the worse I feel the next day, and I hit snooze. This makes me rush in the morning, makes me late, and starts your day off with stress. No bueno. Rest is important, but I was taking it to an unhealthy level.
  6. Self Care. Most important. Take quality time for you when you need it! Wash your face, do a mask, give yourself a hair treatment, read a book, go for a run, get a small workout in, splurge on some new makeup or hair tools, get a massage, get your nails done, have a cocktail with your bestie, group chat about your fav show… all these small things should not be a “treat” or something you do “if” you have time. Make time for you! Also – Multi Task! Want to do a face mask but also need to make dinner? Put on that mask and cook at the same time. Need to tackle 6 loads of laundry – but also need a bubble bath? Put that load in and soak yourself for 30 minutes during the wash cycle. Need to call your mom, sister, bestie? Chat for 30 minutes AND clean our your closet. Be productive while taking care of yourself.

I have gotten away from so many basic and small routines and honestly just needed to detox my life this weekend. Today starts a new healthier version of me and I hope you all hold me accountable. I hope this also helps you realize that life happens, and you can make simple choices to slowly turn everything around for yourself. Change happens, life happens, relationships happen… but you still need to focus on YOU first. I’ve let myself slip and it really does effect every aspect of my life in ways I didn’t realize until they piled up and exploded. This weekend I did all these things and got back on track, made a schedule for this week which included work, afterwork schedule, working out, healthy eating, and everyday minor reminders for tasks – and I already feel so much better. Long way to go – but I already feel like my RUT is on it’s way behind me.

What are things you do to manage healthy habits? I want to hear your ideas… Leave your comments!

#Nsale Picks 2019

Below is a huge round up of all my favorites – plus most of what I took home is below! I had so much fun shopping in store yesterday – never thought I would say that, but the early access for Ambassador and Icon card holders was amazing! Dressing rooms weren’t crowded and I had my own personal attendant that got me everything I was looking for an in the right sizes!

I was able to stay on budget this year and grabbed all my essentials rather than going crazy and getting EVERYTHING like I did last year. A lot of my favorite things from last year were back this year -which was so exciting because you know it’s that good! Madewell cardigans and jeans, tons of AG Jeans, Paige Jeans, the Spanx faux leather leggings, Leith cardigans, Halogen cardigans, TONS of booties and shoes… so good!

I’ve grouped everything below for you with the sizing on everything that I was wearing! Hover over each photo to see the price and start shopping, or making your wish lists! Some of the items pricing doesn’t reflect the sale price – but once you head to the site at 11:30 CST today it will show you the sale price vs the regular pricing. SO let’s start shopping…

All the shoes and booties!

Most of these run TTS… however def recommend going a half size down in the Treasure & Bond leopard flat (first photo, farthest to the right).

My favorite part of the sale… Sweaters!

Below are some of my favorites from my try on! I’ve linked a bunch of similar options below as well. The cardigans were similar to a lot they had last year – so I got a few staple colors and a some fun stripes and called it a day! Sizing info below!

Be still my heart! This is the same sweater just in two different prints. I’m wearing the small! Comes in about 8 colors, solids too, and is sooo SOFT!

These cardigans are my favorite and great prices! I’m wearing a small petite in the pink, x-small in the top two on the left (Leith Oatmeal & Madewell Grey/Navy), and a small in the Grey Bp Pocket sweater!

This first cozy blazer is only $38! The marbled sweater in the middle was one of my favorites! Super cozy and has so many fun colors in the stitching! The Jacket on the right will be linked in the jacket section of this post… but sooo cozy and cute and only $58 on the sale!

Tanks, tops, tees, and more…

So many great basics this year – and you know I’m gonna snag the new free people thermal! This one is SOOOO GOOOD! Comes in tons of colors. There’s tons of cami’s that are a great price that are the best layering piece not only for summer, but to layer under all those sweaters! Here are my favorites below! I wear an XS in all of the tops in the photo – except the yellow thermal is a Small… wanted you to see the size difference from the white to the yellow!

Jeans, pants, leggings…

Some of the best leggings are on sale again this year – including the Zella everyday leggings in different colors, as well as the Spanx faux leather leggings… they’re down to $68 from $100!!! Def grab those if you don’t have a pair yet! I also rounded up my favorite jeans! All of them run TTS – but I always go up one size in Frame jeans, they tend to run slightly small. I was not great at shooting pictures of just the jeans – but head to my stories you can see a few more pairs!

These Paige jeans came home withe me. I’ve been looking for a good black pair that’s SUPER dark and wont fade – and these are them! They have the perfect amount of distressing at the knee, and sit higher on the waist. Absolutely love them and they were a huge markdown! Wearing a 26 – my normal size.

These were one of the AG pairs I tried on… and I loved them. Decided on another pair, but these were a skinny – with a little more room at the bottom of the leg. Super soft and more of a relaxed skinny fit. Fit was more of a mid rise but held everything in! My smile says it all.

Not the best picture of these, you get a much better view in my stories on Instagram – but these were Frame and so dang cute! Distressing on one knee and a little up by the pocket on the right hip. It’s covered by my tank but they’re really comfy! Super soft and stretchy and great fit. Go up one size from your normal!

Jackets!

So many good ones and such great pricing too! I am still debating on the Northface jacket for winter because it was ridiculously soft! But I did get the little sherpa lined fleece jacket – $58! Comes in pink too but I just love the mushroom color for fall. See below! Also the first cozy long blazer is only $38 – def took that one home too. So cute for work and a perfect light layering piece for fall!

Dresses, skirts, bags and more…

Didn’t get any bags this year, but there are definitely some great totes and other backpacks that will be great for fall. The sole society weekender bag is also part of the sale and comes in a few colors! Wasn’t in love with the dresses this year but there are a couple classic ones I added below for you! Skirts though – ahhh so many cute ones.

Beauty, skincare, makeup…

Always a sucker for a good eyeshadow pallet and this year they’re so many good ones!

All Things Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2019

It’s the best time of year… the Nordstrom Anniversary sale! There is so much hype around this sale and for GOOD REASON! The #Nsale includes hundreds of brand new pieces for women, men, beauty, and home! There’s definitely A LOT to navigate – so let me be your guide this year so the stress is on me… not you! This will be my second year shopping the #Nsale this year as a blogger and I’m sharing all the secrets, tips & tricks, and things I will avoid this year that I didn’t last year!

When can you shop the sale?

I’ll be traveling on Friday afternoon – but don’t worry… I’ll be up super early at 2am when the sale goes live on the 12th, and getting to work for you. The KEY to this sale is definitely having the Nordstrom Card. Early access means you get to shop and entire week before the public. Last year a lot of the most popular items went fast… and there were not a lot of restocks. Does that mean you wont get anything good if you don’t have the card? Absolutely not… however it’s great to have for the sale so you can shop 1 whole week before everyone else! Click here to apply and get approved so you’re ready to shop! It’s simple to pay off – they have a credit card for store only, or through VISA. Right now you can get a $60 bonus for signing up through July 10th that you can use to shop the sale – hooray ! You also earn rewards and use your double points day during the sale!

Best Way to Shop the Sale?

I’m an online girl FOR SURE! Last year I grabbed my top items right away online, and also went in store to try on some other things I was unsure on for sizing! There are definitely items online that you won’t find in every store as well – and Nordstrom has free shipping and things usually come quickly. The stores can also get REALLY crowded and busy – and with everyone trying things on – items are not always put back in the right spot, making it difficult to track down the items you need. If you love trying things on in store – there’s always the option to buy online and pick up in store! This way all your items will be there for you ready to take home, but you can utilize this option to try on in the store while you’re there, and return or swap out what you don’t love!

What’s Included in the #NSale?

What’s not included is the question! Things are marked down up to 70% off with top brands such as Madewell, AG Jeans, Citizens of Humanity, Marc Fisher, Sam Edelman, Leith, Tory Burch, Topshop, Paige, Caslon, MAC Costmetics, Kiehls, and many more. There are all brands I love and no other store will price match or give these prices on brand new items. They’re also typically on the pricier side so when you can get most of your favorite jeans, sweaters, booties, and beauty items almost 50% off – you take advantage! Make sure to use your Nordstrom Card and double points days on all these items to earn rewards and more savings to shop the sale through August 4th!

Tips for Shopping the #NSale!

  1. Set a budget for yourself. Oh lordy this sale can make your wallet cry, ha! Don’t worry so much about buying EVERYTHING just because it’s discounted. I usually set aside more than my monthly budget for shopping for this sale – but it’s for good reason. These pieces will last into fall and winter and buying them now at a discount means I wont need to buy them later at full price.
  2. Prioritize your wish list. This is key and something I learned quickly last year! Boots, jeans, and cardigans are my first three items that I grab fast – because they sell out quick during early access. AG is one of my favorite brands and most of their items are less than $150 when they’re normally $225. That’s a HUGE savings. Shoes and booties you will wear all fall and winter are also key. I’m usually good with a neutral bone color bootie, a fun print, and a pair with a slight heel. This pretty much covers me for the entire cold season in Chicago! Cardigans and sweaters are my always at the top of my list. They’re such an essential layering piece for colder months and can easily transition from summer to fall to winter. Layer over tanks and tees and you’re good to go.
  3. Focus on the best deals. This is something I didn’t do so well with last year. I get so excited that everything is on sale – that I just grabbed it all without a thought process. As I mentioned above, my favorite jeans are discounted by $75… where as a few of the tops I loved were only marked down about $10. If the full price version was not going to break my bank – I’m personally going to move onto a better deal! Stretch that budget and get those big ticket items. A plain sweater or top is just what it is – and if its something you can find on amazon or a similar site for less, I personally won’t be worrying about $10 off. That’s not to say this should be your method – if you’re looking for more basic pieces and tops are at the top of your list, then go for it. This year I’m going to focus on my priority items and narrowing down the best deals for me with the biggest reward!
  4. Let me guide you. Yes, yes… let me help you! You all know I’m an affordable fasion/style blogger that loves a good deal and splurge here and there. This sale gets overwhelming fast – so I will sort through it all, and post all my favorites by category on Friday for you – pants, tops, sweaters, shoes, jackets, and beauty. Umm yeah… you’re welcome 🙂 All you have to do is click on my links and add to cart! I love doing this for you guys and brings me so much joy when you use my links to shop. The small commissions I make of your purchases help support me and my little business that I hope to make my full time career soon. Thank you for all the love and support and I cannot wait for this year’s #Nsale!

Just three more days… are you ready to shop till you drop?

Some of my favorite items from last year are below! Hoping the sale is even better this year!