Life

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to hear from a ton of successful entrepreneurs at the Create & Cultivate Conference in Chicago. I walked in with high hopes, and walked out with high motivation.

I’ve gathered some of my favorite quotes from different speakers below!

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

 

According to Create & Cultivate’s website, they are “an online platform and offline conference for women looking to create & cultivate the career of their dreams.”

I couldn’t have said it better. The conference was packed with inspo from people who have turned their side hustle into a full-time job, creating the career of their dreams. Like the founder of Vital Proteins, Kurt Seidensticker who used to work at NASA. In my wildest dreams, I wouldn’t have imagined I would be in the same room as someone who worked at NASA. Kurt has always had the “entrepreneurial itch” (as he called it). One of his many projects included developing a collagen product that would help him with joint pain caused by running and biking. Eventually he realized the potential in the beauty industry, hired all the right people – and today Vital Proteins is one of the top beauty brands in the country.

The conference is divided into 2 tracks.

Track 1 was more entrepreneurial-themed, where Track 2 talked more about social media and creating your brand story. I was part of Track 1, learning about negotiations, management tips, what people learned when starting their own business, etc.

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

 

One of many speakers for Track 1 was Ben Silbermann (co-founder and CEO of Pinterest) talk about why he originally started Pinterest, and how his mother still calls him when the site goes down.

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Pinterest started out as a place where I would collect things. … it held my rock collection… I didn’t even think about women using it to plan their wedding.

– Ben Silbermann, Co-Founder & CEO of Pinterest

 

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Everything I do, I’m so passionate about, so it doesn’t feel like work

– Shay Mitchell, Actress, Influencer and Youtuber

 

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

As women, we tend to create our own glass ceilings. I wouldn’t raise my hand for the roles I wanted, so my manager never gave them to me.

– Gemma Lionello, Executive VP and General Merchandise Manager of Accessories at Home & Beauty at Nordstrom

 

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Think about where your customer is shopping. You’ll notice Summer Fridays mask is in a tube because we wanted it to be easy for social media flat lays.

– Marianna Hewitt, Influencer and Co-Founder of Summer Fridays Beauty Products

 

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

 

One of the Keynote Speakers was Allie Webb, Co-Founder of Drybar! She told us about how she came up with the idea for Drybar, and how every detail was intentional. It was great to hear how her company is structured, as well. She is the “hair stuff”, her brother is the “business / realty stuff”, and her husband is in charge of branding. For Valentine’s Day, she wanted to put pink roses in the stores (because it was Valentine’s Day) and her husband said “no… if you put roses in the stores, they have to be yellow”. (I love branding). You can listen to her Keynote Speech C&C with Jaclyn Johnson on Jaclyn’s new podcast, WorkParty.

 

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

I was sitting in a room full of men in suits who were like… ‘what’s a blow out?’

– Allie Webb, Founder of Drybar

 

C&C founder, Jaclyn Johnson said that she found a lot of the decor inspo for the conference on Pinterest.

I found a lot of decor inspo at this conference. Everything was branded and beautiful!

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Your success is such a testament to how important branding is.

– Allie Webb, Founder of Drybar

 

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

There’s no set formula for success. We get sidetracked by others’ perspective of what success is

– Jennifer Hudson, Actress, Singer, Badass

 

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

(I think I can call her JHud now. We shook hands so we’re pretty much BFF’s now.)

I love to people watch.

– JHud

 

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

“If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?” – Moderator
“Oh, I don’t know… let me think” – JHud
“Obama!” – Audience Member
“I did!” – JHud

 

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

My bucket list is that I gotta get a new bucket. I was blessed to have achieved everything I wanted to by 30.

– JHud

 

During the conference, small-business owners had an opportunity to pitch their business plan to McDonald’s.

At the end of the conference, McDonald’s was going to choose a winner to receive $5,000 to go toward their business. McDonald’s ended up so impressed with the ideas, that they gave out 2 $5,000 checks to 2 different businesses! One of the recipients was We Are Boss Mom, whom I had the opportunity to meet with the night before at the Cocktail Hour! So happy for her!

 

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Then, of course they had a surprise check for $10,000 toward Jennifer Hudson and her sister’s foundation! It was such an awesome moment.

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

The entire day was so amazing. It was everything I’d hoped for and more (three whole tote bags of goodies more!). If you ever have the opportunity to go to a Create & Cultivate Conference, DO IT. Their next conference is in Miami in December, and you can find more info on it here! Now, enjoy some more cute photos from the day, and pin your favorites!

 

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi (It was SO hot)

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

Highlights from Create & Cultivate Chicago 2018 | It's Megan | #blogging #entrepreneurs #createcultivate #createcultivatechi

 

Want some more girl boss inspo? Check out this interview with the co-founder of Lazy Ballerina Winery!

 

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Girl Power Wednesday: Meet Lauren, Co-Owner of Lazy Ballerina Winery

Lazy Ballerina Winery Interview with Co-Owner, Lauren | It's Megan Lifestyle Blog | #wine #swmich #womeninbiz #girlpower #wineries #empowerment

For this second post in a series of many, I interviewed co-owner and Boss B: Lauren, from Lazy Ballerina Winery in Southwest Michigan. If you ever find yourself in the area, I cannot recommend this place enough! It’s cute, the theme is fun, the wine is delicious, labels are gorgeous – and Lauren hand letters the chalkboard menu! Everyone who visits loves it, and for good reason. Read on to hear more from Lauren, and make sure you follow Lazy Ballerina to stay up-to-date with events and new releases!

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Lauren: I’m 27 and grew up in the small town of Coloma in the southwest corner of Michigan. I’m co-owner of Lazy Ballerina Winery, a winery in Saint Joseph, Michigan which I opened with my cousin, Melanie, in 2015. In 2017, we opened a second tasting room in Bridgman, Michigan. I’ve been working in the Michigan wine industry for over 11 years. I graduated from Western Michigan University in 2013 with a Sales and Business Marketing degree. When I’m not working, I love to go to concerts, go wine tasting (duh), travel to new places near or far, eat delicious food (especially chocolate anything) and do CrossFit to counterbalance my eating and drinking habits. I’m a fiercely independent person who is always looking for the next adventure in life and the only person who has made me settle down is my loving, loyal boyfriend, Kyle of 2.5 years.

Q: So, what (or who) got you into wine?

Lauren: Melanie and I tell a fun story about our grandma who used to make homemade wine from grapes grown on the family farm. She would give us small sips as kids so we say that’s where our love for wine started. But truthfully, I thought it tasted disgusting at the time. I didn’t really try wine again until I started working at a winery in my hometown in high school. While working there, I mentored under the owner and winemaker and soaked up all of wine knowledge I could learn to try to be an expert in the field. He taught me the basics of wine making, all about various grape varietals, wine tasting etiquette and characteristics of different wines.

Q: When did you know it was time to quit your 9-5? Can you explain the mental processes you had to go through in that moment?

Lauren: I knew a few months into my “9 to 5” (which was more like 7 to 6) that it wasn’t for me in the long run, but I stuck it out for nearly 2 years. I was waiting for a good excuse and a better opportunity to leave. I was also waiting to figure out what a “better opportunity” looked like for me. I knew I wanted to come back to the wine industry and had hopes of one day opening and running my own winery so in the early months of 2015, I started looking for managerial positions at wineries around southwest Michigan. I had discussed with Mel some of the positions I was considering and the next day she texted me something along the lines of, “F*ck that place. Let’s open our own place.” I never once doubted my desire to open my own winery. I knew it was what I wanted to do. However, there was a lot of uncertainty about the future, especially financially which made me hesitant about taking the plunge, but you don’t accomplish anything worth talking about without taking a risk. The company I was working for wasn’t thrilled after they learned I would be starting my own business and leaving them, but they let me stay until weeks before our opening date later that year, and I was very grateful for that.

“F*ck that place. Let’s open our own place.” I never once doubted my desire to open my own winery. I knew it was what I wanted to do… you don’t accomplish anything worth talking about without taking a risk.

Q: What advice do you have for girls reading this, wanting to start their own business?

Lauren: Just do it! Do not let fear dominate your decisions. Believe in yourself and have confidence in what you can achieve. Your goals and ambitions can seem overwhelming at first and you will have uncertainty if you can really pull it all off. I promise, you can! As women we tend to feel a lot more self-doubt and insecurity, but trust me, self-doubt will kill a dream before “failure” ever has the chance to. Don’t let it.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you face, having a female-owned company?

Lauren: The wine industry, like many other industries, is male-dominated so sometimes you feel like you have to work harder in order to prove yourself and to get other industry members to take you seriously. With me being as young as I am (at least 20 years younger than most male winery owners), that can be even more of a challenge. We also have a very feminine name and theme so that doesn’t help, and I’m sure many men struggle to even walk into our doors.

Q: What goals do you have for your business?

Lauren: We have grown a lot in the 3+ years we have been open, so our goal is to see continued growth in the coming years so maybe we can take a consistent paycheck. A current short-term goal we are working towards is building a larger production facility so we can expand our product line into more unique wine styles, ciders and, who knows, maybe even spirits one day.

Q: What’s your favorite type of wine?

Lauren: My favorite is different by the day! I am more of a dry red lover. I love a good Cabernet or Bordeaux style. Our Midnight Swan is my go-to. It’s a dry, oaky blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. This summer, I have been drinking ALL the dry rosés.

Lazy Ballerina Winery Interview with Co-Owner, Lauren | It's Megan Lifestyle Blog | #wine #swmich #womeninbiz #girlpower #wineries #empowerment

Q: What does a typical business day look like?

Lauren: There is no typical day, which I like. Every week our schedule varies. Many days I wake up and read/answer emails from home, then head into the winery to work on back office stuff or work the tasting room. We stay very busy with meetings, festivals, farmers markets, private events or craft nights in addition to the daily duties that we have to complete to keep our business running smoothly and successfully. It can be exhausting! But we have some fantastic employees!

Q: What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

Lauren: Hopefully still working for myself where I can drink wine on the job. And hopefully owning my own home.

Q: Are you currently taking any steps to direct your path that way? If so, what?

Lauren: Sure. Saving money and being smart with my funds which includes a lot less shopping and taking vacations that are less expensive.

Q: Do you have any other tips for young entrepreneurs?

Lauren: Don’t let anyone tell you that you are too young or that you don’t know enough. Don’t let other people’s negative opinions of you overshadow your positive opinion of yourself. Don’t let your age keep you from standing your ground.

Q: I love your branding! I think you and Mel do a great job with brand consistency and naming. What inspired the Lazy Ballerina name and branding?

Lauren: Lazy Ballerina is the name for a trellis system that a wine grapevine grows on. We fell in love the with femininity and quirkiness of the name and loved that it was also wine related. Many of our names are inspired by ballet terms and movements and most of our wine labels feature a ballerina in a vineyard designed by my cousin (Melanie’s sister) Kelsey. The one and only Megan designed our logo which everyone loves to have in the background of their photos!

Q: What does success look like for you right now?

Lauren: As cliché as it sounds, finding true happiness in what you do is success to me. Many people don’t love their jobs. Our work is such a large part of our lives and our lives are too short to not enjoy what we do. There are stressful, frustrating days in this business, but at the end of it, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else and that’s how I know I’ve found my passion. Of course, looking back at how far we’ve come in a short amount of time and seeing how much we’ve grown looks like success to me too. We have built something in our small community that people love, respect, want to be a part of and want to support and that makes me very proud.

Q: Who is your role model?

Lauren: My grandma (who we’ve commemorated with some of our wine names) has always been a role model in our business. She was strong, intelligent, extremely loving, but a take-no-shit kind of woman and I try to possess these qualities in my life and my business. My mother is also my role model. She’s probably the most selfless and thoughtful person I’ve ever known. She works in community development in our hometown, has raised three kids, takes care of her aging parents, her grandchildren – and well my father too, and she does happily without asking for anything in return. She shows genuine kindness to others even when they may not deserve it and that is hard thing for many of us to do.

Q: What “girl power” or empowering moment have you had recently, where you’ve just felt really proud of yourself?

Lauren: Earlier this year I started a women’s social/networking group called Women Among Women and I host monthly gatherings where women from our community get together to chat about some of our struggles we face as women and to inspire one another to achieve goals or overcome adversities. Just starting the group and getting people to attend was a proud moment because I tend to let ideas stay ideas thanks to whatever anxiety I let myself succumb to. I am very uncomfortable with speaking in front of others so this has been a learning and growing experience for me. It’s very empowering to be able to create a space where I see women connect with each other, and they aren’t afraid to let their voice be heard or share their personal struggles and successes in order to help other women. We leave feeling more positive and inspired.

Q: How would you say it’s been managing a staff? Any insights?

Lauren: We are blessed to have amazing employees, so they make it very easy. We hire a lot of part-time employees, so communication is very important especially when it comes to giving customers a quality and consistent experience every time they come in. Don’t assume your employees should know or care about something in your business just because you do. Communicate changes, expectations, and goals to your employees so they feel invested and they know how to deliver. Don’t forget to tell them when they did a good job at something. It’s easy to criticize, but we all need to be encouraged and need to know when we succeed at something. It’s no secret that employees won’t stick around if they don’t feel valued or appreciated.

It’s very empowering to be able to create a space where I see women connect with each other, and they aren’t afraid to let their voice be heard or share their personal struggles and successes in order to help other women.

Q: What are you watching on Netflix right now?

Lauren: I haven’t been watching a lot of Netflix. However, I just finished watching all 5 seasons of Younger on demand and have started over at season 1. Nico Tortorella is my current celebrity crush.

Q: I love Younger! I’m also #teamJosh. Have you discovered any miracle wine-hangover cures lol?

Lauren: No… lol. I don’t usually get bad hangovers from [just drinking] wine. My general hangover cure is a few ibuprofen, a gyro, lots of water and a nap… and then maybe a mimosa or two.

Q: You host a lot of events! What’s been your favorite, and why?

Lauren: I love hosting wine and food pairing events! Our winemaker, Jason, is also a chef so he can cook up some amazing food and EVERYONE gets geeked about delicious wine and delicious food. I also love hosting wine club events because our wine club members are some of our most loyal customers, so spending time with them is very valuable to me.

Q: Where can people follow you and Lazy Ballerina?

Lauren: You can find Lazy Ballerina on Facebook: lazyballerinawinerymi and Instagram: lazyballerinawinery or www.lazyballerinawinery.com You can follow me on Instagram at laurenakcake.

 

I want to say thank you to Lauren for taking the time to do this interview! I know the hustle never stops, so I’m appreciative of your time! If you guys are interested in other posts like this, make sure to read more here – and be sure to follow Lauren and Lazy Ballerina on all of their social channels, and sign up for their newsletter!

 

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My 28 Accomplishments by 28

My 28 Accomplishments by 28 | It's Megan Lifestyle Blog | #28yearsold #accomplishments #travel #bucketlist

Recently, I’ve started a list of “30 Under 30” – things that I want to accomplish between now and when I turn 30.

When I mentioned this to my husband, he laughed at me and asked why I would do that? Why wouldn’t I want to list 28 things I’ve already accomplished by 28? And you know what, I hadn’t really thought about it. I was thinking more along the lines of a “to-do” list than a “I-did” list. Then I read the chapter “I Should Be Further Along by Now” in Girl Wash Your Face and she talks about making a similar list. So, I took that as a sign, and here are my 28 Accomplishments by 28! This list has also made me reflect upon how much I really have accomplished, and just how important it is too look back and be proud of where I’ve been. I would highly recommend anyone reading this to make a list of your accomplishments, too! If you don’t want to publish it on social, just write it down, or even put them in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you’re proud of!

This is a list dedicated to accomplishments in my adult-life, so mostly my twenties.

  1. I married my best friend.

    We have been together for 12 years now, and it hasn’t always been easy. I put this as number one because it is what I’m most thankful for, and proud of!

  2. I graduated college.

    In 2012, I graduated from Michigan State University.

  3. I survived a 3 month, unpaid internship.

    My husband and I moved to Chicago for my unpaid internship. I worked in retail from 5am-noon, working the internship noon-(sometimes) 8pm.

  4. I got hired to do what I went to school for.

    That internship turned into my full-time “dream job”. I even have an office with a view!

  5. A package I helped design was awarded in the Top 3 Best Beverage Packages of 2013!

    I was one of the graphic designers on a package that was showcased in the magazine Beverage Industry. We were voted as one of the top three winners for Best Beverage Package of 2013!

  6. I have been promoted 3 times in 6 years.

    I now hold the title Senior Art Director.

  7. We have traveled to 8 countries.

    Hopefully we can add a few more to the list by 30 🙂

  8. I live in my dream apartment.

    I’ve wanted to live in Chicago since I was 12 years old. My idea of living in Chicago is living in a high rise downtown. It took us about 5 years, but we did it!

  9. We have a 401K.

    I really can’t take the credit for this as an accomplishment (this is completely thanks to my husband) BUT I am proud of it. So, I added it.

  10. I’ve paid off a student loan.

    This was such an empowering moment.

  11. I’ve actually paid off almost all of my debt, with just 1 student loan left.

    As you can imagine, moving to Chicago with no savings and a credit card isn’t the best.

  12. I have a great credit score.

    I am proud to have great credit at 28, I know some of my friends aren’t as fortunate, and I know I haven’t always been the best at my financials 🙂

  13. I’ve learned to cook.

    Honestly, this is a biggie. In college I wanted to surprise my husband with coffee and breakfast in bed. I literally called my mom to ask her how to make coffee.

  14. I know myself.

    This is something that really only comes with age and experience (and ancestry DNA tests). I am proud to know who I am and what I stand for now more than ever. And I’m sure that in 5 years I will have learned even more.

  15. I realize the importance of family.

    When you’re young, you just expect that your family will always be there, and that it’s fine for you to ditch them to go out with friends. These days, I realize that isn’t always the case, and you should appreciate every second with them.

  16. I have lost 30lbs.

    This is something I’m extremely proud of! It has been so. hard. When people visit us in Chicago and we walk around a lot, they always say “I would lose so much weight if I lived here!” and I’m like… “we are always literally walking to go eat food…” Cheers to 30 more!

  17. I’ve found a cause that I truly care about.

    It started when taking a “women’s studies” course in college. I had always heard about the inequality in the world, but being young I was sort of stuck in my own bubble until then. Now feeling empowered myself, I want every single women to feel empowered, too. Girls, get sassy! *snap *snap

  18. I have a solid support system.

    This is something that I know not everyone has, so I am extremely grateful for it.

  19. I read the Harry Potter series.

    Listen, I get it. Everyone else read it in middle school. Yes I am late to the party. But I’m kind of glad I read it as an adult, because I think I picked up on things that other people hadn’t.

  20. I read a lot more in general.

    In college, I used to say “I can’t wait to read a book because I want to, not because I have to”. Then I graduated and I don’t think I really picked a book up until 2016. Four years post-grad. So this year I’ve made it a goal to read as many books as I possibly can. Follow along here.

  21. I bought my first Michael Kors purse.

    This probably sounds vain, or it may sound trivial to some people. But when we first moved here, and I was seeing all of these well put-together women on the train, I wanted to look like them. I hadn’t figured out how to not look like a college student, and I thought that dressing like them would make people take me seriously. Spoiler alert: They all had Michael Kors purses. So when I received my first promotion, this was something I splurged on as a congratulatory gift to myself. I could never really afford that kind of thing until my mid-twenties, and I was so proud of myself, I think I even cried. Even though it is technically materialistic, I think everyone should have that “special prize” in their mind, and reward themselves for hitting a large goal! It’s okay to be proud of yourself!

  22. I won 2 fantasy football championships in 1 year.

    What can I say? I’m pretty proud of that one.

  23. I am 63 weeks into a workout program.

    If you haven’t read about my journey with BBG, let me tell ya: I tried and tried multiple times to complete ONE MONTH of the BBG workout by Kayla Itsines. The entire workout program is 12 weeks long, and there is an additional workout for beginners that you can do for 4 weeks prior to the 12 week program. I tried to complete the 4 week pre-training ..four? five times? before actually sticking to it! Now I’m 63 weeks in and I am so proud!

  24. I’m teaching myself new skills.

    I am trying to get more into handlettering, web development, video and photography.

  25. I’ve eaten some weird s***.

    In high school, I would literally only eat cheese quesadillas, chicken quesadillas, or tacos. In my twenties, I’ve eaten foie gras, escargot, ox tail, bone marrow, venison (I come from a family of hunters and would never eat their venison! Totally regretting that these days) – and I’m sure there have been more.

  26. I am proud of my country roots.

    Growing up, I used to take my childhood in the country for granted, because all I ever wanted to do was get out. I feel accomplished having experienced the best of both worlds, and can now appreciate the country life much more. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, and I actually feel pretty balanced.

  27. I’ve kept my turtle alive for about 8 years.

    Well, rather, my husband has kept her alive. But she’s alive.

  28. I started this blog!

    This has been something that has been on my heart since before our wedding. I DIY’ed everything (with the help of my amazing family and friends) and wanted to show how anyone could do it! I didn’t really put the dedication in, and eventually let the URL go. I’m so proud to have finally gotten into it – it’s such a great way to relieve some of my creative pressure.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about me, check out this post. Also, leave me a comment with what you’re most proud of!

 

My 28 Accomplishments by 28  |  It's Megan Lifestyle Blog  |  #28yearsold #accomplishments #travel #bucketlist

Basic Invite’s Wedding Invitations and the Best Free Wedding Websites!

Basic Invite and Wedding Website Wedding Sets

Planning a wedding can be so hard. One of my big struggles was, as a graphic designer I couldn’t settle on one design for my wedding invitations! I was so indecisive, and wanted to DIY which took a long time. I really wish I would have known about Basic Invite back then. Keep reading to learn more about the website with the best customizable invitation suites and best free wedding websites around!

Basic Invite and Wedding Website Color Options

1. Colors

Basic Invite offers almost unlimited colors, which means you can find the perfect match for your color scheme. These days everyone wants that Pinterest-worthy wedding, which means flawless color matching across the board, and Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options, and you can preview them online! When customizing the floral invite below, I was even able to change the color of each style of flower! You can create over 180 different color options. I love this because, as a graphic designer, every detail matters! This is such a unique feature that sets Basic Invite apart from other online stationary companies.

 

Basic Invite and Wedding Website Samples

2. Samples!

I love samples. Buying online is so stressful. You don’t want to invest in 200 wedding invites and have them show up looking cheap. With Basic Invite, you can choose to have a customized sample sent to you so you can ensure the paper is what you want, the colors print well, etc before placing your final order.

 

Basic Invite and Wedding Website Wedding Sets

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So. Many. Options. Each invitation is part of a whole set, so you can have matching Save the Dates, Wedding Invitations, Reply Cards, Accommodation Cards, Wedding Menus, Wedding Programs – you name it. They also have over 40 different colors to choose from for envelopes. Envelopes! And envelope liners! I love adding liners for that little extra detail. I think it elevates the whole invitation! Also, all of the envelopes are peel and seal, so you don’t have to get a paper cut on your tongue.

 

Basic Invite and Wedding Website Wedding Sets

4. Free Address Collection Service

They will print your guests’ addresses on the envelopes for you!! You can use their free service to request your addresses with their three simple steps: Share a link, collect address, and get the envelopes printer for FREE. That’s the best price in any wedding budget. This is such an awesome perk. You don’t have to create an assembly line of bridesmaids to help get this done, and they will be so thankful. Hand cramps are the worst.

 

Basic Invite and Wedding Website Wedding Sets

5. Free Wedding Website

Something that you want to have before printing your invitations, is a place for people to go and keep track of everything digitally, too. Basic Invite has free wedding websites, so you can even match your website to your invitations and keep the whole wedding branding cohesive (I love this)! Their all-new wedding websites are completely customizable, just like the invitations! The sites are mobile friendly (so important), and super easy to use. You can instantly upload all of your wedding details along with images and a map with directions which is super convenient for your guests. Choose from 180 custom colors!

 

Basic Invite and Wedding Website Foil

A few other cool things about Basic Invite: They have personalized Keepsake Guest Books which again, you can match to your invitation suite and website! The customizable guest books have a ring hidden inside which allows them to lay perfectly flat for a classy and convenient look. They have also just rolled out a new clear collection seal and send invitation line (see photos), they’ve added rose gold to their foil line, which is such a romantic color – and they have foil place cards!

 

Basic Invite and Wedding Website Wedding Sets

Make sure you check out Basic Invite to design your wedding invitations online now! Check them out on social media at @basicinvite!

 

Basic Invite and Wedding Website Wedding Sets

 

Want more wedding inspo? Check out how I DIY’ed my wedding flowers for less than $500!

 

Basic Invite and Wedding Website Wedding Sets

 

I received monetary compensation for writing this post.
As always, opinions and review are 100% my own and unbiased.

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Basic Invite Wedding Invitations and the Best Free Wedding Websites

Girl Power Wednesday: My Interview with a Flight Attendant

Let me introduce you to KayLeigh Kennedy – flight attendant extraordinaire. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like, or if you’ve dreamed of your own office being 30,000 feet in the air, this one’s for you! Any questions for KayLeigh? Ask her on her Instagram @misskaykennedy or in the comments below!

This post contains affiliate links with Amazon.com. If you purchase through any of the links below, I will make a small referral commission at no additional cost to you. My opinion of the product is unsolicited and all truly my own. I have not received any free products or payment for my opinion, just the referral commission if you purchase through a link!

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

KayLeigh:  I just turned 30 last year! I’ve been living in Chicago for the past 10 years and feel that I have just started living my best life. I’m 2 years into my new career of being a flight attendant after being in the bar/service industry for almost 15 years. I couldn’t be happier!

Q: What made you want to become a flight attendant? How long have you wanted to be a flight attendant?

KayLeigh: I have wanted to be a flight attendant since I was about 5. When I was little my mom and I lived in Southern California and my dad lived in Michigan, so every couple of months I would fly back and forth by myself. I remember the flight attendants being super nice, always happy, and made me feel really special. I knew that was what I wanted to be when I grew up!

Q: Which airline do you work for?

KayLeigh:  Southwest Airlines.

Q: What would you say sets Southwest apart from other airlines?

KayLeigh:  They are in the business of taking care of their employees first, in turn we feel valued and take care of our passengers. They give us the tools and freedom to use common sense and be ourselves to give our passengers a memorable experience to make them want to fly with us over and over.

Q: What are the basics of being a flight attendant?

KayLeigh:  First and foremost, you kinda have to be crazy (in a good way, ha). You have to be flexible and always on your toes. A typical schedule for us is 3 days on and 4 days off. Most trips are 3 days in length and on average will fly 3 flights a day, but it could be up to 5. You generally spend 18 hours on an overnight at a hotel that is provided by the company. Anything beyond this explanation looks like:

Flight Attendant Schedule

 

Q: Would you say that being a flight attendant is your dream job?

KayLeight:  Yes, absolutely.

Q: What’s your favorite city to visit while working?

A:  Anywhere I can get Jameson! More seriously, my favorite overnight so far has probably been New York City. It’s been on my bucket list and I was finally able to explore a little bit.

Q: Have you explored a city and found a unique statue/bar/restaurant/etc that people should check out?

KayLeigh:   This list could be endless, but off the top of my head…

In San Diego there is a restaurant called Mitch’s Seafood. Almost everything on the menu is caught locally and prepared that day. All I am going to say is: Halibut Tacos. It looks like one of the docks and is behind a tackle shop. It’s very unassuming and you most likely wouldn’t know it was there unless a local told you. For any Air Force enthusiasts, the Air Force Memorial is quite something in D.C. Also in the D.C./Dulles area – the Air and Space Museum. If you’re ever in San Francisco, the cable cars are really awesome to check out.

Q: What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

KayLeigh:   Traveling as much as possible. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a private pilot’s license.

Q: Are you currently taking any steps to direct your path that way? If so, what?

KayLeigh:  Well traveling is the easy part, usually once I pick a place I want to go, I am fixated until I go there. As for a private license, I have been asking questions of our own pilots, a lot of whom started out flying privately or know others that are private pilots to get an idea of what steps I need to take to get started.

Q: What tips do you have for young girls or boys who want to be a flight attendant?

KayLeigh: Airlines are hard to get hired with, so don’t give up if you don’t get hired on the first try. Some flight attendants applied a few times before being accepted. If you’re a redditor, join some flight attendant subs. There are also Facebook groups you can join for those that have applied to airlines. Next time you’re taking a flight, talk to a flight attendant about a typical day, find out if it’s right for you. It can sometimes be a mentally and physically exhausting job, it’s not for everyone. If you are a home-body or only like sleeping in your bed, or eating near a bathroom this may not be the career for you.

Q: Since you’re on the go constantly, what’s your favorite gadget that you use every day?

KayLeigh: Power bank, ha! And a book, always.

Q: What does success look like for you right now?

A: Success for me has always been about being happy and a productive member of society. I feel that the world defines success in absolute terms of order, ie graduating college, getting hired in your field, making money, buying a house, marriage, kids etc. But I feel that if you are happy regardless of what you’re doing, you have achieved ultimate success.

Q: Who is your role model?

KayLeigh: This is not specific to one person. I admire anyone who has the courage to stand up for others, whether they have a voice or not. These are the people who are humble, and don’t take life for granted.

Q: What “girl power” or “empowering” moment have you had recently, where you’ve just felt really proud of yourself?

KayLeigh: So I mentioned that I just turned 30. Well, I wasn’t like most you hear about who dread the inevitable and you find them sometime during the party in a corner crying. I was talking to a fellow flight attendant and she asked how old I was so I told her. Her follow up questions were standard, as we get a new crew to work with every trip. She asked if I was married/significant other, I said I have a boyfriend living in Germany. She asked if we had kids, I said no. Her questions continued as such (you know what I mean with the guilt trip, bio clock and all). I used to get defensive about my life and come up with reasons why I wasn’t married or had kids, etc. and I finally decided that it doesn’t matter, I don’t need those things to be happy or successful (see previous question, haha). I create my own happiness, not that other flight attendant or anyone else. Do you know how freeing it felt to be able to say that to her and mean it? I wasn’t rude to her or dismissed her opinion but a simple, “that’s not where my life is right now and I am okay with that.” It empowered me to come to that conclusion and I felt proud of how I got there. I had to do a lot for myself growing up and it made me who I am. A strong and independent woman who is trying to follow her dreams. (*snap snap*)

Q: What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen on a flight?

KayLeigh: I had a woman once come on the plane and she basically had a custom made “seat cover”. She wiped everything down with sanitizer first, her tray table, seat and window. Then she pulled out a seat cover and placed it over the seat to sit on and she put a plastic cover on the tray table. She also laid a small mat on the floor for her feet. All while wearing gloves and she brought her own glass to drink out of.

Q: What are you watching on Netflix right now?

KayLeigh: I just finished Newsroom (highly recommend). I am restarting Grimm and I just got into Suits.

Q: The constant change in air and weather has to affect your skin. What skincare products do you use?

KayLeigh: Oh my gosh, that is an understatement. Drink water, water and more water. And a consistent skin care regimen. Wash, pat dry, moisturize, repeat. And a damn good face mask at least once a month. Also, did I mention to drink water? Here is list of the products I use to keep a fresh, rested look even when I don’t feel that way. It’s important to have an SPF in your daily moisturizer as well. The mask I use is ahhhhmazing and you can channel your inner Iron Man while wearing it!

 

Wash:  Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme+Global Anti-Aging Instant Refinishing Facial

Repair/moisturize:

Morning: Estee Lauder DayWear Multi-Protection Anti-Oxidant 24H-Moisture Creme SPF 15

Night: Estee Lauder NightWear Plus Anti-Oxidant Night Detox Creme
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex

Masks:  Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask

And DRINK WATER!

Q: What is your favorite place you’ve ever visited? Even if it’s outside of work?

KayLeigh: Hands down, Ireland. Ireland was at the top of my bucket list ever since I could remember. I didn’t know a damn thing about it other than I needed to be there. It was everything that I imagined and more. The countryside is peacefully gorgeous (just like all the pictures you’ve ever seen). The cities are quaint, welcoming and rich with history. I cannot wait to go back.

Q: Where can people follow you on your travels?

KayLeigh: Instagram is where you can find me @misskaykennedy. I am newish to Intasgram so I am trying to post more of my travels, but I also incorporate a lot of my daily life too. Not only am I a flight attendant. I am a traveler, lover of whisky and a cat mom.

 

Make sure you follow KayLeigh to keep up with the flight attendant life! If you’re interested in more travel, she and I visited Belize this year – make sure you check it out!

 

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Interview with a Flight Attendant

Learning About My Ancestry

Learning About My Heritage Through Ancestry.com

Happy Fourth of July!

In the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to talk about heritage, and my recent obsession with ancestry.com! For my family, the Fourth has always coincided with our Family Reunion, so talking about my roots feels like a natural fit!

 

Over Christmas, I purchased the DNA kit from Ancestry for $69 (reg. $99. If you use this link, you can save 15%). I spit into a tube, mailed it back and it took roughly 4 weeks to receive my results! Via email, I found the following DNA Story:

30% Europe West

(Primarily located in: Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein)

25% Great Britain

(Primarily located in: England, Scotland, Wales)

24% Ireland

(Primarily located in: Ireland, Wales, Scotland)

11% Scandinavian

(Primarily located in: Sweden, Norway, Denmark)

6% Europe East

(Primarily located in: Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia)

 

According to Ancestry, my relatives were lower Midwest and Virginia settlers (which makes total sense because I still have family there).

 

After the DNA Test

Once you have your DNA results, you can start adding people to your family tree on the Ancestry website! This has gotten pretty addicting for me. My DNA was matched to tons of other people who have also taken the DNA test. It’s so crazy to see people on there that I actually know I am related to! It’s gotta be correct, then – right? The website organizes these people by 1st, 2nd, 3rd Cousins, etc. and shows the confidence level that ancestry.com has that you are related. From here, you can click on a name and a window expands to show you if that particular person has added a family tree (this is when you can gather the best info for your own tree!). It also shows you the shared DNA matches between the two of you. It’s really a rabbit hole from here.

 

Find a Starting Point

Once you have a skeleton of a tree started (by adding your immediate family, your grandparents, aunts and uncles) ancestry.com will show you hints for each  based on documents they have in their system. They search marriage licenses, census, newspaper clippings – everything! For relatives who travelled to America, you can see their name in the registration books, who they were with, where they came from, and sometimes how long the trip was! Typically I look for a document that has someone I am confident I am related to, look for their parents’ names and keep branching out from there! (Like I said, it can be very addicting).

 

I’ve traced one strand of my family tree all the way back to 14th century settlers! I’ve found out I’m related to this guy (he has his own Wiki page!) and I’m a descendant of the real McCoy Family from the Hatfield and McCoy Feud.

 

Want to learn about your own heritage?

If you’ve had any thoughts about getting the ancestry.com DNA test for yourself, you should! I personally want to know everything there is to know about myself, and that comes with knowing everything there is to know about my family. I find it interesting to learn about people I’m related to, then go back and ask my grandma if she’s heard of them. Typically she has stories about when she was younger that relate to that person! It’s something that I’d like to pass on to my children, and there’s really no time like the present to learn it all!

 

Have you taken a DNA test and found any interesting relatives?

 

 Learning About my Ancestry Through DNA

10 Books To Read Now, Volume 1

10 Books to Read Right Now, Volume 1

One of my New Years’ Resolutions was to read as many books in 2018 as I possibly can! At the pace I’m currently reading, I’m on track to read more books than I’ve ever read in a single year.

I am extremely proud of myself for keeping to this goal – although it’s been pretty easy with the books I’ve chosen to read on this journey. A few have taken me a bit of time to get into, and one I just quit altogether after about 150 pages, but the rest have just been so intriguing that I didn’t want to stop. If you’re looking for some new titles to add to your summer reading list, check out some of these:

This post contains affiliate links with Amazon.com. If you purchase through any of the links below, I will make a small referral commission at no additional cost to you. My opinion of the product is unsolicited and all truly my own. I have not received any free products or payment for my opinion, just the referral commission if you purchase through a link!

 

1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

I freaking adored everything about this book. When I was younger, and the teacher let us choose our own topic for a 5 paragraph essay – I always wrote about Marilyn Monroe. In college, I had Marilyn Monroe pictures all over my apartment. I have so many books and magazines about her life that I just don’t want to throw away. I have an empty wine bottle collection of Marilyn Merlots (thanks to my awesome wine-o friends!!). If you like glam queens like Marilyn, Aubrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Betty Grable, etc. then you’ll love this book!

Follow fictitious Hollywood Icon Evelyn Hugo down memory lane as she recites her past to unknown magazine reporter, Monique. (Sidenote: the Amazon link has a new cover for the book than what I bought! I love that they’re keeping things fresh).

 

2. You Are A Badass

If I’m being completely honest, I’m much more of a fiction reader. I’ve read a few non-fiction books, of course, but my preference is fiction. Having said that, I found this book extremely enlightening and helpful. I probably wouldn’t have even started a blog without having read this! Jen Sincero does a great job at giving examples and explaining how she’s seen people go after what they want to achieve. It makes you feel like you really can achieve your goals with confidence.

 

 

3. Lincoln in the Bardo

Okay, this is the one I stopped reading 150 pages in. I mean, I made it 150 pages and still wasn’t feeling it! BUT it has received so many accolades! It was named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year, by The Washington Post, USA Today, and Maureen Corrigan of NPR. It’s a #1 New York Times Best Seller, and winner of the Man Booker Prize. So, don’t let me deter you from reading it. I had a hard time following the story. It’s written in a conversational manner, with multiple people’s accounts of each scenario. At one point, the author goes to explain details of a scene (viewed by the different characters) and one line says something about ‘the moon was bright and full that night’ (paraphrasing) to the very next line ‘there was no moon that night’. I get it. Realistically people would have the same recollection, but I just couldn’t do it.

The story follows President Lincoln’s 11-year-old son’s soul on his way to heaven after he passes away, and his struggle of wanting to stay as a ghost versus moving on. I will probably attempt this one again in the future, but for now, I’m fine with leaving it half-read.

 

4. The Woman In Cabin 10

Apparently I am really into suspenseful novels. I found this book pretty interesting! Of course during the suspense of a book you draw your own conclusions whilst reading – and honestly I think I had a pretty good scenario worked out in my imagination. The end scenario wasn’t exactly what I expecting, but that’s never a bad thing! I’ve always wanted to be paid to travel, and after this book I’m kind of reconsidering that “dream job”.

A journalist is pretty sure she witnesses a murder while traveling on an exclusive cruise ship for work, but she can’t be certain. After inquiring with the staff about what she witnessed, weird things start to happen to her. With her cell phone and wifi both out of service, her friends and family start to get concerned. I won’t say anymore, just read it!

 

5. A Man Called Ove

I know, I know, this book has been out for a while. Part of my making this New Years’ Resolution was that there were a ton of books that I really wanted to read, but never just sat down and did it. It took a minute to get into this book (about 20 pages), but then the story at page 21 – geesh! The story took a turn and immediately kept me interested. Ove is such a cute old man. I kept thinking of him as the old man from UP. I cried at the end of the book! I’m a cryer though, so I can’t promise you’ll cry, too.

There’s also an Amazon Original movie based on this book. It’s in Swedish, but my husband even enjoyed it, and he didn’t read the book! The movie is fairly similar to the book, with only a few of my favorite parts left out. I’ve also read that Tom Hanks is producing an English-adaptation.

 

6. The Alchemist

This is another one of those that came out a few years ago. This is like, a fiction-version of “You are a Badass”. The story follows Santiago, a Shepard who changes his life’s path to follow his destiny. His journey is led by his spirituality and the universe sending signs. It’s a very quick read, and definitely worth picking up! Again, this book probably attributed a bit to my starting this blog! Follow your heart 🙂

 

 

7. A Quiet Life in the Country

I’m a Graphic Designer by day, so I am always drawn to good design. I loved the cover of this book, which is probably why I picked it up in the first place. It ended up being surprisingly fun, and part of a series I plan to finish in the future! A woman named Lady Hardcastle and her lady’s maid, Florence Armstrong, leave a busy life of escaping death and bad guys for a quiet life in the country. Of course their first day in their new house they come across a murder-mystery. It’s a very fun book, and I encourage you to read it! While I was reading it, I was imagining Lady Hardcastle as Meryl Streep (just sayin’, if anyone’s doing a movie/TV adaptation, she’d be perfect!). I have a few other books on my short list, but like I said, I definitely plan on reading the rest of the books in the series!

 

8. Little Fires Everywhere

This was one of those books that took me a little bit to get into. And even after I did, I still wasn’t entirely impressed. Everybody loves this book, and it’s on all of the “Top Books to Read This Year” and “Women Empowerment” lists. I would have had serious FOMO if I wouldn’t have read it, however the story was very slow in my opinion. Right off the bat, you’re introduced to conflict, and I started to think that it’s going to be like that the entire book – then about 5 pages in I was a little bored.

It’s a story that takes place when an artist with a past and her daughter move to a cookie-cutter suburb. They rent an apartment from a hoity-toity journalist, and events occur that intertwine members of each family. Both become involved in a high-profile case that has the town divided, and the journalist uncovers pieces of the artist’s past that could destroy her. It’s a pretty interesting read, but kind of slow.

 

9. The Wicked Deep

I really, really, really enjoyed this book! I read it in 3 days! It’s a darker version of Practical Magic meets Hocus Pocus meets Salem Witch Trials, with more sirens (the evil water people) and ghosts. I can honestly say I didn’t see a lot of the second half of the book coming. If you’re into any of the aforementioned topics, you should pick this up ASAP.

The story follows three sisters with a 200 year old curse, and a town that has created an economy around the tourism exploiting that curse. There’s love, friendship, death, tough decisions – the whole shebang. It’s kind of creepy, but mostly awesome. I rented this from the library, and I think I may even buy it because I know I’ll want to read it again to get in the Halloween Spirit.

 

10. Blog Inc.

If you’re even thinking about starting a blog, this is a must read! Blog, Inc was written by one of my favorite bloggers and Instagram Queens: Joy Cho of “Oh Joy!”. This book has helped me realize so many possibilities that blogging opens up. One of my favorite things about this book is that Joy interviews fellow blogging bosses to discuss how they got to where they are, and tips they have for aspiring bloggers. Reading this has altered my blogging strategy, and inspired me to try and find my own creative voice. Even if you’re not looking to start a blog, but instead another small business – I would still grab this book!

 

 

Have you read my post about Why You Need a Library Card? (Hint: because buying all of these books would be expensive!)

 

10 Books To Read Right Now, Volume 1

15 Father’s Day Gifts on Amazon Prime

Father's Day Amazon Gift Guide

Hi, It’s Megan! It’s time to start shopping for Father’s Day! I’ve gathered my top 15 Amazon Prime Gifts that your dad is going to love!

This post contains affiliate links with Amazon.com. If you purchase through the link below, I will make a small referral commission at no additional cost to you. My opinion of the product is unsolicited and all truly my own. I have not received any free products or payment for my opinion, just the referral commission!

 

1. Vacuum Sealing Food Saver

 

If your dad is like mine, he gardens, hunts, fishes, etc – which can rack up a lot of food that requires freezing for later. This particular vacuum sealer has Amazon’s seal as “Amazon’s Choice” and is a more reasonable price than some of the others on the market!

 

2. Digital Camcorder


Growing up, my dad was always the one with the camcorder at family events, and as a family – we enjoy watching those videos to this day. Cameras have changed so much in the last few years! It’s time to bring Dad back up to speed. I actually purchased this for my dad’s birthday last month!

 

3. Shower Radio + Spotify

Most of us pay the $9.99 every month for Spotify Premium – but did you know you can upgrade to Spotify Premium Family and have a total of 6 household members for $14.99/month? Each person you invite gets their own account, with their own playlists, etc! It’s a great gift option. Throw in a waterproof speaker and it’s like a gift basket of music 🙂

 

4. Digital Food Dehydrator

I’m not sure what the draw is, but it seems like every dad I know loves to make jerky. Grab your dad a food dehydrator so he can make some!

 

5. Yeti Cooler

This is a pricier option, but the Yeti Roadie Cooler is a great Father’s Day gift! Yeti has made a name for itself by being the best on the market. They claim to be “virtually indestructible”, made with pressure-injected commercial-grade polyurethane foam walls and lid so the inside stays very cold, and a sticky bottom so the cooler doesn’t slide around.

 

6. Capital Gaines Book

I couldn’t have Joanna Gaines’ Cookbook on my Mother’s Day List, and not put Chip’s book on my Father’s Day list. The title is literally “Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff”.

 

7. Golf Scope

Now, it’s not that I’m saying Dad’s game needs improvement, just that men love their toys and tools. So get him a Golf Scope, and if he gives you a look, just tell him it’s nothing personal! 😉

 

8. Echo Dot Enabled with Dad Jokes

“Alexa, tell me a Dad Joke”. Your dad and Alexa can go back and forth all day with Dad Jokes. Plus Alexa will tell him the weather, which is such a dad thing.

 

9. Tools ($25 and under)

This is a pretty broad category, but every dad uses different tools! Amazon has this whole section of $25 and under tools. See anything your dad would like?

 

10. Stainless Steel Coozie

This Coleman Coozie will keep Dad’s beer cold while he mans the grill! It’s much more impressive (and efficient) than those flimsy foam coozies.

 

11. Drone – First Timer

Amazon has this listed as a #1 Best Seller, with a 4.5 star rating and 4,474 reviewers. This is supposedly a better choice for Drone Training, which would be a good option for first-time drone dads (you know, for when they fly it into a tree).

 

12. Drone – Professional

$20 off Coupon right now (on the site)!
This drone has a camera built in, and great Amazon reviews as well.

 

13. Bluetooth Grill and Smoke Thermometer

This thing screams Father’s Day Gift. It’s a high-tech toy for the professional griller. This comes with 6 temperature probes, so you can keep the temp of 6 items at once, and it’s made with “space grade aluminum and a flame-proof grip”.

 

14. Smart Lightbulbs

You will never get in trouble for leaving the lights on again. Get your dad these lightbulbs and he can turn the lights off from any room in the house! Plus these are compatible with Alexa and Google Home.

 

15. Craft Beer Kit

Whether you’re shopping for your husband or your dad this Father’s Day, give him the power to make his own craft beer! All ingredients to this kit have been formulated by professional master brewers at Coopers Brewery, and it comes with reusable brewing equipment so you can buy refills for other holidays 🙂 the gift that keeps on giving!

 

What are you getting Dad for Father’s Day?

 

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How I DIY’ed My Wedding Flowers for Less Than $500

With my wedding anniversary coming up next week (3 years!), I wanted to share with you how I DIY’ed my wedding flowers and saved tons of money!

 

I have been a Pinterest-aholic since I was first placed on the waiting list for Pinterest years ago. So naturally, I wanted beautiful, Pinterest-worthy wedding flowers – but flowers are so expensive! Boutonnieres alone would have blown my budget. And you can’t even keep them forever. I really did not want to spend thousands of dollars on a florist, so I did a little bit of shopping around. Here’s how I was able to DIY our wedding flowers for less than $500! (Pinnable image at the end!)

 

1. Support System

Seriously, you can’t do this alone. You will need lots of hands, and lots of pizza as payment. A few nights before the wedding, all of my bridesmaids came to town, I invited my cousins, aunts, my future mother-in-law, the mother-in-laws of my bridesmaids – I literally cashed in on all of those “if you need any help at all, let me know!” offers. We grabbed a bunch of pizzas and wine and threw a flower party! It was really fun! It also helped me to enjoy the moment and get a little creative ahead of the big day.

 

Wedding Flower Centerpieces

 

2. Sam’s Club / Costco Membership

A lot of people don’t know that Sam’s Club and Costco both sell bulk fresh flowers! They have Eucalyptus, Hydrangeas, Roses, Baby’s Breath, Daisies, Carnations, Lilies… so. many. flowers. And so reasonably priced! You can get 36 stems of Garden Roses for $84 (and if you use Ebates, you can get 1.5% cash back). If you don’t have a membership card already, or know someone who does – I was able to get a cheap membership to Sam’s Club through Groupon! I know they run that promotion a couple of times a year, so just keep a look out! They even have pre-made bouquets you can purchase if that’s what you’re looking for.

 

The Sam’s Club website also offers a lot of information on how to care for your flowers, tips for arranging your flowers, etc. I was able to score free shipping, and choose what delivery date I wanted. Because I have a touch of anxiety, I ordered them to be delivered the day before the flower party, just to avoid any issues. This worked for me, however my hydrangeas didn’t exactly last (I’ll get more into that later). The flowers came boxed up with explicit instructions on how to unpack them, cut them and place them into vases with water to hydrate. You’ll probably want to let them hydrate over night because they’ll be very thirsty from the travel. All of my flowers were the right color, they were all alive, and I was very happy with my order!

 

Wedding Flowers in Buckets

3. Buckets

Because I had ordered a total of nearly 250 stems, vases weren’t going to cut it. We used 5 gallon buckets filled with water to hydrate the flowers before the flower party, and they worked perfectly!

 

Tall Wedding Flower Centerpieces

4. Tools

I had a concept in mind for centerpieces, and sketched out a few ways to create the final product. Luckily, my parents are awesome and helped me out a lot 🙂 I found wooden spindles at Home Depot that we spray painted gold, and nailed into wooden blocks so they’d stand on their own. My dad hammered a giant nail in the top of the spindle to hold the flower balls we would make at the Pizza Party. Obviously, this was just for my own centerpiece, but make sure you plan ahead for the tools you’ll want for your own centerpieces!

 

For the flower balls, I purchased these wet-foam balls and these trays to help keep the fresh flowers alive. If you do purchase the wet-foam balls, just make sure you order the right size for what you’re thinking! For our centerpieces, I punctured the tray so it would fit onto the nail at the top of the spindle, then used electrical tape to seal the tray to the nail. When you’re ready to arrange your flowers, follow the instructions to wet the foam ball, and stick it right on the nail.

Here are a few other tools I had available at the flower party: (pretty much every “station” should have some shears!) The spray bottle is to spray the flowers throughout the night and in the morning to keep them perky and fresh!


 

Bouquet

5. Wedding Party Flowers

If you are doing your wedding party’s flowers this way as well, just remember you’ll probably want some floral tape, floral wire, ribbons, etc depending on your vision for your bridal party! I asked my bridesmaids to make their own bouquets and I think that made it more fun and personal! I’m going to be completely honest – my amazing cousin and mom made the boutonnieres for me while my fiance/husband and I spent time with our bridal party. Have I mentioned how lucky I am?  Here are some floral tools so you don’t have to look around too much!


 

6. Things to Consider:

Because I’m not a florist, there were a few things I learned along the way that I need to share with you! Most importantly: hydrangeas need a LOT of water! I read this ahead of time and blew it off, thinking I’d be able to water them and keep them hydrated. This is the last thing you need to be worrying about ahead of your wedding! All of my hydrangeas died the night before the wedding. Lucky for me (again… so thankful, so lucky! Actually hashtag blessed) my dad has a hydrangea bush! My amazing cousin and mom came to the rescue, while my bridesmaids and I were enjoying our time at a hotel, these two swooped in and rescued the wedding flowers! They plucked the hydrangea bush clean to replace the dead ones!

 

So when you read that the flower you really want requires a LOT of water, maybe save those for the end and put them into your centerpieces the morning of the wedding! I don’t know what I would have done if those two lovely ladies wouldn’t have been available to help!

Another nugget of information, in the spirit of keeping flowers alive: if you can, put them in a cool, humid place! If you cannot, then make sure to spray them with water if they look droopy, and keep them out of direct sunlight so they don’t fry!

 

Are you doing your own wedding flowers? If you’ve done your own wedding flowers, do you have any tips to pass along?

 

This Weekend in Chicago – Derby Day Edition

Looking for something to do in Chicago this weekend?

With two of the biggest drinking holidays being this weekend, and the weather finally cooperating – there seems to be a lot going on! Here are my plans for the weekend, leave a comment if you’ll be attending any of the festivities!

Friday

Minus the Bear is playing at the House of Blues! The location is perfect for us, being right next to our apartment, and tickets were only $20! The House of Blues is such a great venue, even if there’s not an “official” show going on. They always have music on the first floor and Sundays they have Gospel Brunch (which I’ve been dying to try!).

Saturday-Day

From noon until 6p, Joe’s on Weed St. hosts a street festival for the Kentucky Derby! They put up a huge screen to stream the race, and it’s right next to an Off Track Betting where you can place your wagers on a horse. (Personally, I always go for the pink one, and the cutest name – great strategy). Bub City will be there serving food, and you can drink outside! The street festival is free, and if you want to venture into Joe’s on Weed St, it’s a $2 cover. With this year’s Derby Day falling on Cinco de Mayo, they are turning the upstairs of Joe’s into an El Jimador lounge where there will be El Jimador giveaways and Derby drinks, too.

This will be our fourth year attending the Derby Day Street Festival! Now the million dollar question: what to wear?? (still TBD) but I do know I will be busting out these adorable bad boys for the first time this weekend!
I would love to invest in the actual Free People version of these shoes, but that’s just not practical for me! Cute though, right?

Saturday-Night

Dr. Dog is playing at the Riv! If you’ve never heard of Dr. Dog, you can listen to my favorite album here! They are a very fun and energetic band to watch. Last time they were in town they came on St. Patrick’s Day, and this year it’s Cinco de Mayo, but maybe one day they will come on a lesser-drinking holiday 🙂

Between the Derby Street Party and the concert, I’m hoping to knock back a few margs and tacos to evenly-weight the holidays! I do love the street tacos they make under the bridge next to the Riv… (you should check them out). Anyone have other suggestions?

Runner Up

Reese Witherspoon’s clothing line Draper James has teamed up with Crate and Barrel for a collab of dinnerware and other hosting items. They are kicking off the launch with a party at the Crate and Barrel at 850 W North Ave (yes, a 3 minute walk from the Derby Party), between 1p and 3p, and they’re serving Sprinkles Cupcakes, so… may have to stop by.

What are your weekend plans?