The One Where Laura Goes to Japan

Konichiwa, friends!

It’s been a while since my last post, but I have an exciting update – I went to Japan in March, and I’m here to tell you all about it! HOORAY! I’m willing to overlook the fact that this post is about four months behind schedule if you are… Oh, you are? Awesome. Thanks for being so cool! So, how did I find myself halfway across the world? Glad you asked.

To be frank, 2017 didn’t exactly scream excitement for me – same house, same city, same long nights bingeing The Office. So when I had the opportunity to visit my Japanese friend, Chihiro, in her home country, I jumped at the opportunity. We stayed at her family home in Osaka during the first half of the trip and ended with a few nights in Tokyo. It was really wonderful to experience Japan through the eyes of a local family and also as a tourist in the big city.

Although I could write an entire novel about those eight days, in the interest of time (both yours and mine!) I’ll do my best to keep this post as brief as possible. Feel free to skip over sections that bore you and obviously do linger on the food segment. Whether you’re interested in visiting Japan yourself or you simply want to see what life is like on the other side of the world, fasten your seat belts because we’re about to takeoff! Too cheesy? That’s too cheesy, right?

*sigh* Here’s a recap of my time in Japan…

The Flight



The flight from LAX to Osaka’s Kinsai airport is roughly twelve hours. Most likely, your flight out of the U.S. will be operated by Japan Airlines, meaning English is the secondary language. Bring plenty of things to do, because chances are you won’t be passing notes with your seatmate unless you’re fluent in kanji. While this can be very unnerving for those of you visiting your first non-Western country (like me), especially alone, do your best to overcome that anxiety. If you have a mild panic attack while boarding the plane (also like me), do not consider jumping ship on your entire vacation at the last minute (like I almost did). Honestly, maybe grab a Xanax before you go. That’s my advice.

You’ll be served dinner and breakfast, so don’t overpack your bag with snacks (again, like me). Also, unless your gut is lined with steel, try to avoid alcohol on the flight as well because that turbulence is very real. Chances are it’s normal and you won’t die, but no promises. I’m not a pilot.

Summary: No one speaks English, don’t be alarmed.

The Food

You may be tempted to romanticize Japanese cuisine as bizarre and totally foreign (people keep asking me if I ate any insects?), but most dishes are simply a creative combination of rice, noodles, and protein. Pro tip: pack a fiber supplement. You’ll become closely acquainted with chicken, fish, pork, and beef – on occasion. Seaweed is in just about all food, and soy sauce doesn’t belong on steamed rice. Who knew?! The sushi is everything you dreamed of and more, but my favorite dish is guydon – sautéed beef tips served with steamed rice and raw egg. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Also, spoiler alert: matcha is king in Japan. You will see matcha in eeeeeeeverything.

Now, I like to consider myself an adventurous eater, but even I had a little trouble overcoming my Western instincts when faced with torisashi – sliced raw chicken. Yep, RAW CHICKEN. As a specialty dish offered by my host, I really didn’t have an opportunity to refuse – which I’m now grateful for. The texture is really similar to sashimi (sushi), and the sesame sauce overpowered the taste. Because chicken is prepared to be eaten raw in Japan through strict handling procedures, I am pleased to say no one got sick. If you get the opportunity to eat raw chicken IN JAPAN, I say go for it! When it Rome, right?

Summary: Ate raw chicken, did not eat bugs.

The Family


Having only stayed with one Japanese family, I cannot speak for all Japanese families – however, from what I observed, life in Japan isn’t so different from life in the U.S. Because the country is so mountainous, the cities are very dense – meaning houses are narrow, tall, and very space efficient. Residents rely heavily on public transportation, mainly buses and trains, and usually walk 10-15 minutes to the nearest station. It is not uncommon for families to own a car, but this is used primarily for short distances, inclement weather, or special occasions.

Due to long commutes on public transportation, families are not often at home together except for the late evening. Like many American homes, they enjoy kicking back after a long day with TV (see Takarazuka’s Exciter) and playing Candy Crush on their phones. Japanese people are very clean, which means no shoes in the house, bathroom slippers, and very intense toilets. Google it. The family unit is pretty important in Japan, so it’s not uncommon for kids to live at home through college and beyond – meaning households tend to be a little bigger. All in all, family is family in every country. In the words of Disney, “there’s so much that we share…it’s a small world after all.”

Summary: Hospitable, efficient, and very, very clean. Disney song.

The People


Before departure, I read that Japanese citizens are known for their courtesy and friendliness. This is absolutely true! Not only were my host and her family the definition of hospitality, but strangers were always willing to offer directions, make dining recommendations, or just apologize (repeatedly) for accidentally bumping into you on a crowded train. The Japanese are big on gifts, so if you plan on using a guide or host definitely consider purchasing presents beforehand.

Now, let’s talk safety. The entirety of the trip was two young women walking alone down dark alleys at night, and I did not feel unsafe one time. Not. Once. I’m usually a nervous Nancy, so that statement carries some weight. For those travelers who are still unsure, most trains offer a female-only car. You can also grab a cab anytime you feel anxious walking at night.

Summary: Probably safer than Oklahoma City.

The Attractions

There are so many things to do in Japan, you will inevitably run out of time. Plan on it. When organizing your trip, consider what’s most important to you: historical sites, religious shrines, or modern-day entertainment. Obviously you can do a combination of all three, which I did! Because public transportation is so efficient, you can easily hop between attractions on any given day though they may be cities apart. This is especially helpful when traveling outside of Tokyo.

I’m a history fan, so my favorite attractions were the Osaka Castle and the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrines in Kyoto. As a major Nintendo nerd, I also lOsT mY mInD at VR Zone, where I got an opportunity to play the world’s only virtual reality game of Mario Kart in Tokyo. Would HIGHLY recommend for gamers. Although I ran out of time, I’d also suggest visiting a karaoke lounge and catching a sumo wrestling match! For me, Disneyland and Disney Sea stole the show – but you already knew that! Disney Sea is a definite must (maybe even over Disneyland), but if you have the time definitely hit both parks. You won’t be sorry.

One last thing! If you get the chance to go clothes shopping or plan to bring home any fashion souvenirs, buy everything two sizes up. Never ever try on clothes in the dressing room because it will disappoint you when they don’t fit.

Summary: Religious shrines, Nintendo, and Disneyland. Don’t buy clothes.

The Cost


Listen up, folks. This is where it gets juicy. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not rich enough to be a globe-trotter or disciplined enough to save up thousands of dollars for airfare. I paid for my roundtrip flight using points from my AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. The catch? There isn’t one. Now I’m generally not too keen on credit cards, but I am a real evangelist for the perks they bring. After being approved for the card, you’ll need to make one purchase (of any value), then pay off the statement and annual fee. After that, you’ll be given 60,000 points. Bada bing, bada boom. So for the cost of one pack of gum and a $95 annual fee, you too can fly halfway around the world. Pretty crazy, right? With this card, you’ll also avoid paying a checked baggage fee AND receive preferred boarding.

Disclaimer: I am not a paid spokesperson for Mastercard but am totally free, should anyone ask.

IF you are planning on getting this card for yourself, please for the love of all things holy so I can go on (and write about) even more adventures in the future!

Summary: Get a credit card, use my referral code, give me all the points.

The Verdict


Japan is a fabulous country to visit, full of courteous people, ancient relics, and world-class entertainment. The food is simply to die for, and chances are you will never run out of things to do. If you’re looking to expand your travels beyond the non-Western world, Japan is an excellent stepping stone as it’s similar enough to keep your bearings but still plenty adventurous.  If you don’t speak Japanese, absolutely consider going with a tour group or hiring a guide. You cannot fumble your way around like you did that summer in France in college.

Heading overseas is always a big decision that requires a great deal of planning, financial consideration, and group buy-in – but YOLO, right? If you want to see the world, see the world. There’s never a great time to spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars, but if you’re going to travel be sure and add Japan to your ever-growing list.


And of course, I cannot conclude this post without the biggest thank-you to my incredible host, Chihiro. She was in the perfect tour guide in every way, and I will never forget my time with her in Japan.

Summary: Go to Japan.


Are you planning a trip to Japan? Curious about traveling abroad alone or with a pal? Want to know what life is like across the world? Drop your questions in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to help!

Thanks for reading! With any luck, I’ll have more adventures (and misadventures) to write about soon.




6 Life Lessons for Turning 26

Today is my FIRST day being 26 years old! How is that even possible? Pretty sure I’m still writing 2001 on my checks even though I wasn’t writing checks until 2010. Even though I am now solidly planted in my mid-twenties, I don’t feel particularly wiser, older, or more mature. Like, at all. I hardly feel qualified to offer life advice given that I’m still on my parent’s insurance and recently considered Fruit Loops a balanced dinner option. Despite my frequent misadventures, I have picked up a few lessons over the years that I hope will guide me into the next quarter-century of life, and I thought I’d share my favorite six with you as told by my personal icon, Leslie Knope.

Lesson #1 Hold on loosely

In my experience, planning the future is a fool’s errand. I’m a naturally anxious person, so I tend to white-knuckle life like Stevie Wonder on a Nascar course. Timelines and goals are dandy, but I’ve realized that fixating on what lies ahead can rob you of what’s happening now. Whether it’s friendships, jobs, family, or matters of the heart, be content to enjoy the present. When it comes to the future, just hold on loosely.

Lesson #2 Be nice to your mom

Moms are proof that God loves us. How long is chicken good outside of the fridge? What about in my hot car? Is it safe to take six Ibuprofen at once? Is plastic microwavable? How do I clean vomit off of a white couch? Is this rash normal? Why are all of my socks pink? What happens if I use an 80 watt bulb in a 40 watt lamp? If it weren’t for moms, I’m fairly certain the human life expectancy would be 22 at best.

Lesson #3 Never pack a Fiber One bar with your lunch.

I don’t think this lesson really needs explaining, nor do I think there’s ever really an opportune moment to eat a Fiber One bar. Honestly, this shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re over 70 or stealing free food from you mom’s house, like me. This is most definitely a mistake you only make once. Consider yourselves warned.

Lesson #4 You’re doing better than you realize

Are you an official member of the bloods and/or crips? Did you steal your grandmother’s wedding ring to buy heroin? Are you the antagonist of a super-popular true crime podcast? Do you wear flesh-colored leggings out in public? If you answered no to these questions, then CONGRATULATIONS! You’re actually doing a fab-tastic job. Keep up the good work.

Lesson #5 There is no right age

There is no right age to get married, have a baby, have another baby, buy a house, move out of state, get a dog, start college, go back to college, start a 401K, open a business, start a career, switch careers, learn a new skill, or backpack through Europe. STOP. THE. JUDGING.

Lesson #6 Little moments make big memories

When I think about the past 26 years, the first memories that come to mind are simply a string of little moments. Jamming out to Aaron Carter in my best friend’s garage, dancing with my dad at the middle school formal, skipping chemistry to watch Friends with my roommate, when my boyfriend said I love you for the first time in my apartment kitchen. Most often, it’s the little moments that leave the biggest impact.

If you’re looking for more “wisdom” (aka laughable nuggets) regarding your twenties, check out the 8 Stages of Your Twenties As Told by Friends.

Mondays As Told by Harry Potter

8 a.m.

*stares blankly at monitor* “And then she greeted death as an old friend, and went with him gladly.”


9 a.m.

“Yeah…wow…cool. Your 12-day trip to Greece sounds super awesome. Um, do you know if we’re out of donut-flavored K cups? Are we ordering more soon or what? I just really need some caffeine RN.”


10 a.m. Staff Meeting

Boss: “Unless you all have anything else, I think we’re finished!”

Coworker: “Actually, I have a few items I’d like to discuss.”


11 a.m.



12:00:01 p.m.

Boss: “Hey, before you guys head to lu-”


1 p.m.

When your colleague says, “Boy, the day’s really flying by!”


2 p.m.

*daydreaming about retirement*


3 p.m.

That moment when you realize there’s still TWO HOURS left.



4 p.m.

Why. Is. Time. Moving. So. Slowly.


5 p.m.

“LAURA HAS NO MASTER!” *pulls sock out of desk, sprints through door*


If you want to see more of life As Told by Harry Potter, check out The 6 Stages of Final Exams!

8 Stages of Your Twenties As Told by F•R•I•E•N•D•S

1. Blind Ignorance


Finally – my twenties! These are going to be the BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE. I’ll have a career, a fiancé, a swanky apartment, and my very own 401k. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna’ go stock up on $80 pencil skirts because #adulting.

2. Adorable Optimism


I didn’t plan on living at home this long – or, like, at all – but this is great. What a wonderful time to cherish kith and kin. Oh, Taylor’s getting married? Good for her! I’ll RSVP for two. A lot can happen in four months!

3. Quarter-Life Crisis


Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. I’m already in my mid-twenties. What?! Conner just bought a house, and Jessica has the nerve to get pregnant – on purpose. Time for a change. Something bold and drastic. Something that says, “Despite all appearances I’m totally in control.” I’M MOVING TO BELGIUM.

*Skips dinner (again), browses Zillow for six hours*

4. Complete Apathy


Belgium is a stupid country, anyway. Maybe I can just cash in my Beanie Babies. Didn’t Buzzfeed say the Princess Di bear was worth like $500? Next month’s rent: done.

5. When Netflix Keeps Asking If You’re “Still Watching”



6. Attainable Goals


Okay. So I wasn’t elected the youngest president of the United States at 24. Whatever. But maybe I could get a job working for a senator or something. Oh, that’s super competitive? Oooooooor maybe I’ll just start a political blog or something. Yeah, blogging sounds good.

7. Growing Up


JK. You might have some goals now, but you’re still a hot mess.

8. Secret Happiness


Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, and your love life’s DOA – but maybe it’s not so bad. You’ve got some pretty awesome friends, a paycheck, a new blog, and a lot of dreams left to dream. Looks like you’re doing alright after all, kid.


DIY Olenna Tyrell Costume for Under $20


tyrell.jpgYesterday, my best friend co-hosted a Game of Thrones season finale watch party, which frankly is everything you need to know about my friends. In addition to a life-size Iron Throne made of aluminum foil and a wall of remembrance for the deceased, there was HoDoritos, direwolf (puppy) chow, deviled dragon eggs, and iced Cer-tea.  Seriously, I have no Ygrittes. (See what I did there? Don’t worry. The puns only get worse…)

Lady Tyrell has long been my favorite character on the show. She’s sharp-tongued, fiercely loyal, and admirably apathetic to the plight of her enemies. Plus, she wears a wicked cool hat. When I heard the party was “costume optional” (whatever that means), I searched Varys sites for an easy costume DIY to no avail – meaning, I had to get a little crafty.

The costume is essentially two pieces: the body (skirt + blazer) and Olenna’s signature Maid Marian-esque hat. With a quick run to Hobby Lobby and Goodwill, I was able to whip up a no-fuss costume in under an hour for less than $20. Even if you know nothing (John Snow) about sewing, you’ll breeze through this project. No cutting, no sewing, no stress. With Halloween just around the corner and the season 8 premiere a short 18 months away (LOLOL), I thought I’d share my Lady Tyrell costume tutorial with you today.

So what Arya waiting for? Let’s get started!

What You’ll Need:

supplies 2.jpg

  • 1 yard of black chiffon
  • 1/2 yard of black spandex
  • 1 tube black acrylic paint
  • 1 circular Kraft box (small enough to sit on top of your head)
  • Scrapbook rhinestones
  • Hot glue gun
  • Medium-size sponge brush
  • Black, patterned blazer (I got mine at Goodwill for $3.99)
  • Floor-length chiffon or silk skirt (also Goodwill, $1.99)


1. Using the sponge brush, paint the Kraft box black using two coats of the acrylic paint. Note: You do not need to paint the lid, which can be discarded.

2. Once the box is dry, fold the yard of chiffon in half vertically (as if folding a blanket) to find the center. Place a small drop of hot glue on the inner wall of your box, and lightly stick the fabric in place.


3. Using a thin line of hot glue, adhere the fabric to the inside of the box until half of the circle is covered.


4. Stick the already-adhesive embellishment to the front of the hat, using hot glue if necessary to secure the hold.


5. Wrap the black spandex fabric around your face to cover your hair, using two hair pins to secure the wrap in place near the top of your face. Don’t worry about pinning the fabric together – the jacket will hold it in place! Wrap the excess fabric across your neck as you would a scarf, so the uncut ends hang down the back of your shoulders. (Sorry, I forgot to grab a photo of this step, but hopefully it’s pretty intuitive.)

6. For bonus point, give yourself some light wrinkles with a skin-colored eyeshadow. Trust me, you’ll look like a smoking hot Mandy Moore in This is Us.

old lady

7. Party like it’s 300 AL.

Once you finish your Lady Tyrell costume, drop a photo in the comments below. I’d love to see your finished work! If you have any questions or hiccups along the way, I’m always here to help. Until then, dothras chek (be cool).


The Girl With Two Names

Monogrammed backpack: ✓

Windbreaker for recess: ✓

Flower-shaped eraser: ✓

Stale peppermints Grandma gave me in the car: ✓✓✓


This was it, folks. My very first standardized test. Unaware that standardized tests are the kiddie version of the DMV, I was on the edge of my seat – literally. We’d spent weeks running drill after drill from our fearless leader, Mrs. Berkenbile (whom I will refer to as Mrs. B because Berkenbile sounds like a bad German caricature).

Tension was high. Our entire academic futures rested on this very moment. Okay, that’s a stretch, but we were seven. Cut us some slack! After hours of instruction from Mrs. B, the test administrator walked in, booklets in hand. The room fell silent, the pungent smell of the unknown looming over us like that time Brooke peed on the reading rug. (Fine, I peed on the reading rug. ONE TIME, guys!)

One by one, the administrator began calling out names as he passed around mystery papers. My pulse quickened with each name. Every second felt like forever.

“Laura,” the test administrator called. The other students searched the room in confusion. I chuckled to myself with a smug little grin. Idiot. we don’t have a Laura in our class. Where did they find this clown, Acme Falls? (I was big into Animaniacs.)

“Laura,” he repeated. “Laura Wilcox. Where is Laura Wilcox?”

I joined my peers in glancing around, waiting for this Laura character to stand up finally. How weird is it that we have the same last name?! Could we be related, you think? Mrs. B picked up the packet, walked over to my desk, and set the papers in front of me.

“Oh, no. My name is Ashlee,” I whispered, handing the papers back. I smiled nicely and wondered why my teacher hadn’t learned my name yet. It was May. Poor thing.

The test administrator just kept going, and I couldn’t hear over Mrs. B’s loud whispering.

“Right, but Laura is your first name. This is your test.”

Can’t she see I’m trying to listen for Ashlee?

“My name is Ashlee.”

“Yes, but it’s ALSO Laura.”

She left me alone with Laura’s test packet in my hands. Now, you wait a hot minute Mrs. B. You mean to say that my name is actually Laura?

*cue internal crisis*


This was fresh news, folks. After a day of tremendous turmoil, I called an emergency meeting with Debbie immediately after school in the kitchen. She had just started on dinner, and I was sitting cross-legged on the floor probably letting our cocker spaniel lick the inside of my mouth. I’ve always been a dog person.

“Mom, I learned something interesting at school today,” I announced like the coy little turd I was.

“What’s that?”

“That my real name is Laura.”

“Well, your first name is Laura, but your name is still Ashlee,” she said without looking up. “Lots of kids go by their middle name. It’s pretty common.”

I chewed on this news over a fresh pack of Fruit Gushers, the cool mystery flavor kind.

“Yeah, I don’t like Ashlee. There are four Ashley’s in my class, and one always has a red Kool-Aid mustache. I’m going to go by Laura now.”

This is a 100% real conversation, FYI.

“Okay,” Mom said, no doubt thinking it wouldn’t last – like the two days I refused to eat from anything other than a dog bowl. Again, dog person.

But my mind was made up.

At school the next day, when Mrs. B took attendance, I didn’t answer. I told her that I would be called Laura now, in a very matter-of-fact way. From that day forward, I acted deaf whenever Mrs. B or another student called me Ashlee. In hindsight, it is an absolute miracle I had even one friend in grade school. Shoutout to Lindsay for tolerating my presence.

Laura Lindsay

This photo of “Laura and Lindsay” was taken by Mrs. B at recess. We are still friends, FYI.

Much to my surprise, it stuck. Soon Mrs. B started calling me Laura, and eventually so did my friends. When I started at a new school the following year, I took every opportunity to introduce myself as Laura. It was in the second grade that my parents realized in full that their child had actually changed names and gotten away with it. Thankfully, the same cannot be said of the dog bowl.

And although I’m still Laura today, I’m Ashlee too.


A note my mom wrote yesterday.

Many people don’t realize that I went by Ashlee exclusively for the first seven years of my life. Honestly, I forget myself until someone new pops in for a family dinner. You know the saying “old habits die hard”? Well old names die even harder. Eighteen years later, and my family still calls me Ashlee. It is an extremely fun game to play with unsuspecting newcomers.

“Why is your family calling you Ashlee?”

“What? No, they’re not. My name is Laura.”


But in reality, having two names is actually super cool.

Over the years, I’ve been asked a lot of really weird questions about my name(s). Do you feel like you have two identities? Do you answer to both names in public? How do you sign cards? 1. No. That’s weird. 2. Somehow my brain knows when and where to answer to which name. Ask science. 3. Really hesitantly and usually with no consistency whatsoever.

I love that my family still calls me Ashlee, even though it’s bizarre. It’s like an adorable nickname that also happens to be on my birth certificate. I love that my friends only know me as Laura, because it makes me feel like I have (well, had) an ultra secretive covert alias. I love that my pen name (L. A.) somehow manages to capture all the parts of me, past and present. I even love when people smash them together, like I’m on The Beverly Hillbillies. I’m also glad my parents let a very willful child differentiate herself from the crowd.

But above all, I’m glad no one will confuse me with Kool-Aid Ashley ever again. That’s what life is all about.

Stitch Fix Review

First things first: I’m not a fashion blogger. I rarely cover fashion topics because A. My personal style is best described by the Target clearance rack and B. That’s a TOUGH market if you’re not a size 2 Mac consultant. That being said, several of my friends and coworkers have been talking about a site called Stitch Fix, which is an online stylizing service that sends personalized clothing to your door. I’d heard pretty mixed reviews, so I decided to investigate for myself.

The following is my honest and *regrettably* unpaid review. If you know someone who works for Stitch Fix, feel free to mention that I’m not above paid posts. Thanks in advance.


Stitch Fix is an online styling service and personalized shopping experience. First, you fill out an online Style Profile, and then a personal stylist will hand pick pieces to fit your tastes, needs, and budget. They get mailed directly to your door in a little box containing five items of clothing, shoes and/or accessories for you to try on at home. You have three days to decide what you like. You keep what you love and send the rest back in a prepaid USPS envelope. Shipping and returns are free—even for exchanges.

You can make specific requests of your stylist to customize each box. For instance, with my first box, I asked specifically for casual summer clothes because my collection of Disney T-shirts just aren’t cutting it. I also mentioned that I did not want any work clothes, which is why you won’t see any in this post.


Before you get your first box, you must complete a style profile. The first half is all about the fit. You will be asked to enter your height, weight, body shape, problem areas, shoe size, bra size, etc. The second half centers around your personal taste. You will rank four outfit collections, eliminate styles you hate (goodbye, bootcut), define your budget per item, and tell your stylist which areas of your body you like to hide/show off. I would say the entire profile takes roughly 15 minutes if you complete it thoroughly. My advice is to be as specific as you can. I noticed a lot of my comments were considered in this box.


After you complete your online style profile and fill out your budget parameters, you will schedule your first box for delivery. The delivery date signifies the date it ships from Stitch Fix, so anticipate an additional 2-3 days for your items to arrive. All five items arrived in a single box, which also includes a prepaid return mailing package, a style sheet with customized tips based around your box, and an itemized price sheet.


Underneath the descriptions, you’ll find photos of the five items from my Stitch Fix box, paired with items from my closet and staged (rather obviously) around my house. If you’re wondering why they all have Instagram filters, it’s because I’m not as good at photography as I initially thought. Spoiler alert.

Blush Shorts

A super cute pair of blush-colored shorts with a worn look. Extremely stretchy and VERY comfy. I also like that they’re a good length, cute and flirty without being inappropriate.

Status: Kept

Orange Dress

The fit was really flattering on my body type! It was a comfortable dress, and because it was petite there was no need to hem. Because I didn’t love the floral pattern, I decided to return the dress despite the good qualities.

Status: Returned

Gold Earrings

Although these look like standard fringe earrings, the fringe is actually connected to the earning back. It made for a super cool effect when you tried them on! It was a little too punk rock for my style, though, so I sent them back.

Status: Returned

White Top

I fell in love with this airy summer top instantly because it reminds me of Greece for some reason. Unfortunately, it was too short on the stomach and a little tight in the bust. For this reason, I had to return.

Status: Returned

Green Tank

The ornate neckline on this top grabbed me instantly! I also love how comfortable the loose fit is! Although it was a little more than I like to spend on tops, I simply couldn’t send it back.

Status: Kept


Once you determine which items you love and which you can live without, simply head to the website to pay for the clothes you intend to keep. When completing your return form, you will be asked for feedback on all of the items in your box. How was the fit? Did you agree with the price? Was this your style? It’s good to be as specific as possible because your stylist will consider your feedback when building your next box.

Once your payment is complete, just drop your returns into the pre-paid bag and deliver to any USPS store. Remember, you only have three days to make a decision! Otherwise you will be charged for all of the items. If you want to keep it all, there is a 20% discount that applies even if you need to exchange for a different size. This would be ideal if you had asked your stylist to build a complete outfit, say for a wedding or special event.


After getting my box, I wore both items I kept the very next day to meet up with a friend! I liked that they were extremely comfortable, perfect for summer, and fit just right. Because the items were priced a little higher than my typical wardrobe, I don’t plan on signing up for scheduled fixes—once a month, once a week, etc. HOWEVER, I definitely plan on scheduling another one-time delivery in the future.

In my opinion, Stitch Fix is a great way to shop for specialized items (like casual summer wear) or get yourself out a shopping rut, but it would likely be too expensive to replace your day-to-day wardrobe. I loved that all of the items were all things I couldn’t buy locally, and I got the opportunity to try on items I never would’ve picked for myself in-store—like the blush shorts! All in all, it’s a great way to treat yo’ self once in a while.

For those of you who have also tried Stitch Fix, what was your experience? Did you end up keeping any of your items, and did you ever order a second box? For those who have specific questions about the process or experience, feel free to ask in the comments below!

A Letter to My Working Mom


Before we begin, I’d like to say a few things about my mom. First, I adore her. I admire her, cherish her, and ultimately hope to be her. For those of you who have never had the privilege of meeting Debbie, she is kind, creative, brilliant, beautiful, wildly capable, and an absolute riot – in the good way. I think the world of her, but I don’t always get the impression that she feels the same way about herself.

After 25 years, I think she still feels guilty for being a working mom.

To be clear, Debbie is now retired and sailing the high seas as a Carnival junkie. So, I guess she is a former working mother if you want to get technical. Whether it’s a self-imposed burden or some strange, unspoken societal pressure I’ll never know, but I want to make one thing incredibly clear. I am who I am because of my working mother. Plain and simple.

I wouldn’t trade Debbie for five stay-at-home moms.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Stay-at-home moms have an indescribably important and undervalued job, but being a working mother offers its own set of unique experiences too. I think we forget that. Take sick days, for example.

As a kid, I got to go with my mom to work when I wasn’t feeling well. Maybe it’s rosy retrospection, but I remember loving it. I had my own tiny office connected to her, complete with a phone (used frequently to pester her), a Windows 98 computer freshly stocked with Disney PC games, and a hand-drawn name plate for my desk to match hers. Although this disappointedly does not involve Disney PC games (spoiler alert), I remember wanting a career because my mom had one.

I realized I could be a successful, professional woman because my mom was one.

Beyond the sheer capability, there was a passion. I think I noticed this for the first time when my mom spoke at my middle-school career fair. It was a lot of dads – firemen, salesman, etc. – with a few ladies mixed in. The exact words are lost on me, but I remember one thing above all. My mom loved her work, and that made me proud. She didn’t just work to pay the bills; she thrived in her field. She held her own with the best of them.

She took pride in her work, and I took pride in her.

**Note: For the record, my dad also had a cool job and attended his fair share of school functions. That’s a story for another day.**

Of course, it wasn’t always a bed of roses. There were times when I unknowingly and unnecessarily broke her heart with incessant phone calls, begging her to come home simply because my sitter wouldn’t bake me cookies for breakfast (which was a real conversation, FYI). And I’m sure I asked her to play hooky just because I missed her – and, honestly, who wouldn’t want to spend all day with Debbie?

But in the end, I’m really grateful for those caregivers and the time I spent with them. They are now my friends, my extended family so to speak. Somehow, every single one has stuck with me for 25 years. They’ve attended multiple graduations, band concerts, and I was even the flower girl (yes, flower girl) at one of my babysitter’s weddings in 2015. It takes a village, right?

Sitters aside, I never once felt short on time with my mom. Growing up, she used to curl my hair every day before school. She would play Barbie’s after a full day at the office, write napkins notes in my lunch, sew costumes for the school play (not just mine, literally every costume), and magically serve as a serial homeroom mother. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it. But now? It’s beyond my comprehension. Sometimes I can barely remember to feed my dog. At any given moment she had approximately two billion better things to do, and yet she chose me.

It’s beyond comprehension because it’s a love beyond comprehension.

As I wrote this post, I struggled with exactly what I wanted to say, what I hoped to accomplish with these words. Why even bother? It’s because I’m willing to bet a lot of working moms feel just like mine, and that breaks my heart. To all of the working mothers out there, but especially my own, I hope you get the opportunity to see yourself the way your kids see you. I hope you know that your kids don’t see the exhaustion because they’re busy having fun with you. They don’t mind the long hours, because they only feel your unconditional love.

Originally, my mom never expected to have children. She wanted to be a career-woman until she had me. I suppose she may have felt torn between two worlds, but I never viewed it this way. I hope she doesn’t either. To me, she will never be anything but perfect. I don’t resent my mom for being a working mother – I admire her for it.

I like to think she had it all because she deserves it all.

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Fixer Upper

It’s been a little over a year since I bought my first house, and what a whirlwind it has been! I’ve learned more about electrical wiring, grout removal, and interior paint than I ever dreamed possible. Although I haven’t fully finished my list of home improvement projects, I have made quite a dent – new countertops, fresh baseboards, and a retiled bathroom, among other things. It’s been an exhausting, expensive, and very rewarding ride, but I can honestly say fixer uppers are not for everyone.

For those of you seeking a new adventure, here are a few pros and cons to buying a fixer upper from a first-time home owner.


1. Lower Monthly Mortgage Payments

Unlike buying a starter home, fixer uppers obviously have a lower list price – which means lower monthly payments for you. This is more money you can put in your pocket or save towards your renovation list!

2. Complete Customization

In a way, fixer uppers are like building a house from scratch. You have the rare and beautiful opportunity to hand-craft your home from the ground up, and there is a lot to be said for ultimate creative freedom.

3. Work at Your Own Pace

Unlike buying a new home, you can work and pay for a fixer upper at your own pace. You determined when each improvement is done and how much it will cost, which  means you can tailor your home to fit your current lifestyle.


1. Choices Can Be Overwhelming

Do you want brushed nickel, bronze, silver, or black drawer pulls? Ogee, bevel, or demi bullnose on your countertops? You really don’t realize how many detailed decisions go into creating a cohesive home until you start calling the shots!

2. Require Lots (And Lots) of Time

Fixers uppers are extremely time-consuming. Even if you opt not to DIY the majority of your renovations, you’re looking at hours spent researching options and meeting with vendors. You’ll also be required to take PTO from work during any installations, which can last up to 4+ hours per project.

3. Older Homes = More Repairs

Buying a fixer upper means buying an older home, which comes with a fair share of challenges. Don’t be caught off guard if you encounter faulty plumbing, outdated electrical wiring, or random holes in the wall (don’t ask).

Have more questions about buying an older home? I’d love to offer any guidance I can, so feel free to ask away in the comments section below.

6 Songs When You Just Can’t Adult

No one told you life was gonna be this way. Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A. There is a time for ROTH IRAs and black coffee and tax wizards and sadness, and that time is 100% not today.

Turn your speakers up, kids. It’s time to grow down.

1. Stressed Out

Billing Address: Treehouse in Backyard 👌


2. 1985

Sorry to all the tax wizards out there ✌️

3. Grow Up

“I’m a princess, I don’t want to be the queen.” That sounds like a rib tattoo in the making.

4. Dancing Queen

Current Mood: Villager at 2:36

5. Here’s to Never Growing Up

Too much eyeliner ✔️ Teen angst ✔️ Unnecessary necktie ✔️

The gang’s all here.

6. I’ll Be There

I think we can all agree this hasn’t been our day, month, or even our year. #bye2016

If you don’t mind some vulgarity, check out Jenna Marbles’ hit single “I Hate Being a Grown-Up” for a stirring encore performance.