Wednesday, April 30, 2014

12 Signs You're Deeply Single

I'm the perpetually single friend. At this point, I'd say I'm pretty much an expert at the relationship-free life. With the exception of one long-term relationship, I have generally preferred being by myself. Besides, I haven't met anyone yet who can handle my unparalleled mix of melodrama and dry humor. I'll be the first person to tell you: being single can be really great if you embrace it. 

Whether you're single by choice or because you're having trouble finding Mr. Right, here's a few truths I've found to be self-evident in my many years of singledom. Viva la single life.

1. You will, at some point, get way too excited about the "meals for one" at the grocery store. So convenient!

2. Your best friends will probably become your pseudo-significant others. My date for both Valentine's Day and my sorority formal were my roommate.

3. You will maybe listen to a lot of One Direction and have your fair share of inappropriate thoughts about Harry Styles.

4. You'll scoff when you hear your friends complaining about their relationship troubles. Your mental boyfriend Harry Styles would never play you like that.

5. Whether you want a boyfriend or not, you'll probably try Tinder or OkCupid. It'll be really exciting for like a week, tops.

6. Binge-watching TV shows may become a full-blown hobby that you secretly love.

7. Wine will usually be involved in said binge watching sessions.

8. You start to resent the characters on those TV shows: in real life, you don't usually bump into cute, employed men in elevators or coffee shops. Thanks for lying to me, TV.
9. You start to convince yourself that an ex wasn't really so bad. (Pro tip: he was.)

10. You will listen to a lot of Taylor Swift.

11. You will wear really big sweatpants and a lot of top knots while you listen to Taylor Swift.

12. And if you're me, you eat a lot of calzones and form a serious relationship with the cast of Law and Order: SVU.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sponsored: BIC® 4-Color™

This post brought to you by BIC 4-Color pen. All opinions are 100% mine.
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Friday, April 25, 2014

Astrid Stars: Gone Girl

Hi, I’m Astrid from Astrid Stars and I’m so excited to be a guest blogger on Samantha’s blog today. Let me start of by saying that I’m a huge book nerd as well as a film one. So I love it when they make movie adaptations of books. While some have failed (um..hello Twilight) others have been almost, if not better, than the book.

Therefore there is no surprise that I was super excited when I first heard Gone Girl was going to be adapted to film. My boss and friends had recommended it to me before I heard of the news so when I finally had time last fall, and in anticipation of the movie adaptation, I finally decided to read it. And I’m glad I did.

If you have lived under a rock for the past year or so and have not yet heard of the book by Gillian Flynn, it is about a seemingly perfect couple, that is until their 5th wedding anniversary when wife Anne goes missing. Thus begins the investigation into whether or not Nick, the husband, had something to do with her disappearance or possibly murdered her. Throughout the investigation many of the marriage’s cracks begin to surface and darker secrets are discovered. There are many twists and turns that you don’t see coming. Now fast forward to April.

A trailer for the film, starring Ben Affleck (perfect casting IMHO) and Rosamund Pike has finally been released. I definitely squeed when I heard about the trailer. It gets me even more excited for the movie. See the trailer below.

The movie is set to be released October 3rd.
Will you be watching it?

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Weekend in Washington DC

I was lucky in enough to spend my Easter weekend on Capitol Hill, visiting my older sister Heather who lives and works there. I've been to DC a handful of times now, and each time I fall a little bit more in love with the atmosphere there. Unlike Chicago, it's not all skyscrapers and concrete (don't get me wrong- I adore Chicago). DC is a lot more quaint and historic: think brick paved roads and sidewalks, and neighborhoods that are quite literally colorful.
Row houses in Capitol Hill
I was able to spend Friday on the Mall, enjoying the view of the monuments and hitting up some of my favorite Smithsonian museums. I visited the American History museum, where I saw Dorothy's ruby slippers and a full-scale model of a retro CTA train car. I'll admit I geeked out a lot over the actual robes from the Harry Potter set that they had on display. Then at the museum of Air and Space, we checked out the Wright Brothers exhibit. It was a busy day of museum-ing, made quite a bit longer by the massive crowds of school field trips.

By far one of my favorite parts of this (and really any) trip was the food. We went to Cava Mezze on Friday, a Mediterranean tapas restaurant. I surprised myself- I usually hate shared plates situations. You know the episode of Friends where Joey refuses to share food with his date? Yeah, well Sam doesn't share food either. But the plus side to tapas when it came to Cava Mezze was that there were so many things on the menu I wanted, small plates allowed me to try all of it. That included some Saganaki (aka cheese on literal fire) and some amazing steak- my kind of meal.
Fresh flowers at Eastern Market
My sister always makes fun of me for my love of Eastern Market, most specifically, of the lunch counter there. Eastern Market is a giant indoor farmer's market type of situation, and I'm guilty of eating there every single time I visit. They have a crab cake sandwich that is, I do not exaggerate, one of my favorite things I have ever eaten. And I have eaten a lot of things. Needless to say I indulged my obsession yet again, plus we got to walk around through the outdoor vendors that sell everything from cute jewelry to furniture to art. I've been working up the nerve to rock a big floppy hat for a while now, and I finally bought one, so I'd say the day was a shopping success.
Turkish lanterns at Eastern Market
Floppy Hat Status
We wrapped up our sight-seeing with a river cruise on the Potomac. It was supposed to be a cherry blossom tour, but with the year's weather the blossoms were sadly nowhere to be found (although we did manage to see some in Capitol Hill!). In spite of the lack of cherry blossoms, the cruise was a beautiful way to see all the monuments out on the water- it made me feel like summer isn't quite so far away.
Managed to find some cherry blossoms!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Trend Alert Spring Summer '14

Hello lovely readers of SamanthaReads!
My name is Vanessa and I blog over at A City Girl's Guide to Life. I'd like to thank Samantha for having me guest post today and to share with you some of the best of this season's trends. When seasons change, it can sometimes be overwhelming to stay on the cutting edge of what's in or out during any given time of the year. But never fear, below I've highlighted five of my favorite trends and just how to wear them to make styling yourself simple and fun.
Keep reading to find out what's trending and how to rock the look!

The Fab Five of S/S 2014
The Fab Five of S/S 2014

Crop tops
The crop tops of today are not like the Britney belly-bearing tops of the late 00's. This generation of shirts understand that not everyone has a six-pack but that tops that dangle just above your waistline (or perhaps even a little higher) remind everyone of sunshine, music festivals and refreshing breezes on perfectly warm days.

When to comes to fashion, subtlety and sophistication are two of my favorite adjectives. Sheer is fantastic way to accomplish both of those things while looking utterly chic. Of course, not all sheer pieces are created equal so one should be cautious when selecting pieces with sheer paneling or cut-outs.

Fringe combines the best of both worlds I've already mentioned. It's peek-a-boo quality and whimsical details are fun and meant for after-hours adventures and weekend wanderings. Pair this look with high waisted pjeans, low rise linen pants, solid-colored mini skirts and and your favorite sandals.

Embellished Details
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm very much into monochrome. It's a habit that I need to break and embellishments seems to be making that process a bit easier. Plus, the only reason diamonds are a girl's best friend is because they sparkle and I've never been known to say no to a little sparkle.

'Tis the season to have a green thumb, or to at least pretend you can grow a wardrobe, with some colorful and patterned pieces. Big patterns, or those set in a geometric (see: symmetrical) fashion, can be tricky so if it's not an item you can try on, exercise caution in making the investment.

What do you think of these trends? Which is your favorite or least favorite? Check out more of my style and musings by subscribing to my blog, "liking" A City Girl's Guide To Life on Facebook and by following me on Twitter.
xo, Vanessa

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April Round-up: What I'm Loving This Month

The Mindy Project
I've been a huge fan of Mindy Kaling since I read her book a few years back, and her show does not disappoint. I expected Kaling to be funny, but the rest of the cast is hilarious and there's a steady stream of amazing guest stars (think Anders Holm and James Franco). The show is wrapping up it's second season now, but if you have Hulu Plus you can binge watch from the beginning–– what I've been doing in between studying for the past few weeks.

Iggy Azalea
Because who doesn't love a badass female rapper who references Clueless in her music videos? Iggy's got a new album dropping on the 18th, and if Fancy is any indication, it's going to be great. Aside from her music, I'm also a little obsessed with Azalea's style. She's also a model, and her Instagram is chock full of cool fashion and beauty inspiration.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I wrote a post a while back about how amazing I thought Adichie's essay in ELLE is. Just when I thought I couldn't love the Nigerian novelist any more than I already do, I watched her Ted Talk on feminism. If you've heard Beyonce's "Flawless," you've probably heard Adichie and didn't even know it–– her speech is sampled in the song. Adichie has empowering things to say about how we raise our children and why we should all be feminists. 

Prince George
If you know me, you know I normally don't care too much for little kids. I missed the line for the gene that makes you ooh and ahh over cute infants. In spite of that, though, I absolutely adore seeing pictures of the royal baby. He has the world's most expressive baby eyebrows, and something about his little overalls just gets me. 

Girl Powder
Nope, that's not a typo–– although, I mean, I definitely am all for girl power, too. Girl Powder is this magical hair product by Not Your Mother's Brand. My hair is incapable of holding a tease by normal methods, but sprinkle in a little bit of this baby-powder-like substance and all of a sudden I've got volume that lasts all night. After all, the higher the hair the closer to God, right?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

To My Fellow Seniors

Being a senior in college is truly an emotional roller coaster. There's the 2 AM freak outs when you realize you really shouldn't have put off that paper for so long, the near impossible wake up calls for your 8 AM class after you stayed out too late last night (because senior year YOLO), and the endless stream of job listings, cover letters, and lease agreements as you figure out what the hell it is you're going to do with your life.

And this point, depending on where you go to school, you're probably in the home stretch. I only have three weeks! So naturally, in between panicking about how to finish all these final projects, I've been getting crazy sentimental. It's easy to focus on all of your "lasts:" your last dollar beer night, your last final exam, your last days living on campus. So if like me and my friends, you're scrambling to fit in all those last college experiences, here's a handy list of everything to do in the next few weeks, while it's still socially acceptable to stay out until 3 on a Wednesday because you just had to go sing karaoke.
College has brought some beautiful, sunshiney people into my life
1. Eat on campus one more time. It'll bring back that freshman year dining hall nostalgia.

2. Relish the ability to wear yoga pants and a big t-shirt to class while you still can. The working world frowns upon that kind of stuff.

3. Refuse to answer questions about what your "plan" is. Try to enjoy just being for a little bit longer.

4. Don't go home when the bar closes at 2. (That's what 4 AM bars are made for.)

5. Conversely, leave the bar at 2. Proceed to go get Taco Bell.

6. Recreate the good old days of freshman year and stay in and just drink and hang with friends. Sure, the reason you did that at 18 was because you couldn't get into bars, but it's still fun to have chill nights every now and again.

7. Take ALL THE NAPS. Soon you'll be working during pretty much all daytime hours.

8. Thank your parents. Even if they didn't financially support you through school, they're some of the people who got you here.

9. Thank a professor who taught you something really meaningful. Do it not just because you need a letter of recommendation, but because you really mean it.

10. Visit somewhere beautiful on campus and really appreciate it. Whether it's the quad or just your favorite spot in the library, take advantage.

11. Apply to some jobs. It may be stressful, but it'll help stave off that feeling that you have no control over your future, and it'll prevent you from having to live with your parents when this month is up.

12. Appreciate your friendships. After college, a lot of people will probably scatter to different parts of the world to pursue their dreams. Make a point to keep in touch with the people you really care about.

13. Have fun. Don't stress. There are great things ahead of us. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Product Review: Redken

I recently went on a little bit of a shopping spree, dropping an ill-advised amount of cash on beauty products. I've always loved Redken's products, and since a few weeks ago I decided to go ombre with my hair, I knew it was time to invest in some good products to keep it from fading. Here's the low-down on three of the products I got from Redken.
Gettin my natural ombre on

Color Extend Shampoo, $16
I bought this on a tip from a friend who's also a hair stylist, because ombre-ing my hair meant dying the top half from it's natural blonde to a medium brown color. Without some sort of shampoo for color treated hair, the dye would fade faster than you can say ombre. So I made the investment in this shampoo, and I have to say I'm really happy with it. The first reaction I had was that it smells great, which is important to me in a hair product: it smells like you just stepped out of the salon. It promises all the strength and shine of normal Redken shampoo, with the added bonus of extending your dye job. I've definitely noticed my hair has started to fade and lighten, but I think that's more just because of the nature of dying blonde hair brown, not because the shampoo isn't doing it's job.

Color Extend Conditioner, $15
The natural pairing for the color extend shampoo, my thoughts on the conditioner are generally similar. It seems to work well, it smells great, and it doesn't leave my hair with that heavy feeling cheap conditioners tend to have. The only issue I have with the conditioner is that it may not be the best bang for your buck, unless you manage to find a great deal on one of the big bottles. I have long, thick hair, so the fact that this bottle is significantly smaller than the shampoo bottle just doesn't work for me. I probably over-condition a bit, but even so, this bottle won't last you very long to be as worthwhile for the price as it could be.

Pillow Proof Express Primer, $23

As I mentioned, I have a lot of hair. So much, in fact, that blow-drying tends to become a really long and tedious process. So when I was standing in the check-out line and saw Pillow Proof, I had to try it out. Essentially, you spray it on your wet hair before you blow dry, and Redken makes the claim that it will cut your blow dry time in half. Naturally, I was skeptical. But after trying it, it really works well. I don't know if it cut my time in half, exactly, but it definitely saved me at least 10-15 minutes, which can be crucial when you're getting ready in the morning. Added bonus, it makes your hair extra shiny and smooth.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The art of being "frivolous"

I like clothes. A lot. And television, and movies, and music, and almost anything else that could possibly put under the giant umbrella of "pop culture." I could talk about the artistic choices in last week's episode of "Girls" for way longer than is normal, and what I'm most looking forward to about getting my own place after graduation is that having a permanent address means I can finally subscribe to all the magazines I love.

Generally, all that stuff I listed above is seen by a lot of people as frivolous. And sure, I'll grant you: reading Harper's Bazaar isn't the same as reading classic literature or the New York Times business section. But here's where I think people get stuck: intellect and a love of the things society has deemed "frivolous" don't have to be mutually exclusive.

ELLE magazine recently published an essay by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie entitled "Why Can't A Smart Woman Love Fashion?" and I'm of the opinion that it should be required reading for anyone with a pulse. In it, Adichie talks about the years she spent dulling down her personal style in order to be taken more seriously. Sadly, I think that's something women, and people in general experience a lot, whether it's their sense of style or something else they hide to be perceived as more academic or intellectual.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
But why should Adichie have to pretend she doesn't love designer clothes in order for people to take her seriously? Where does the notion come from that this quality can't exist in someone who is also intelligent and professional? People are always going to have preconceived notions, but it's time we all stop feeding into the idea that being girly, or liking fashion magazines or Gossip Girl, in any way takes away from how your intelligence or skill should be perceived. Knowing what a statement nail is doesn't mean you can't also know the ins and outs of quantum physics.

As I have mentioned about a million times at this point, I think Mindy Kaling is a fantastic role model. She is killing it career-wise, and she also just seems like the kind of person who would be really fun to hang out with. And if you check out her Instagram, it also happens to be chock full of pictures of pretty dresses and celebrities. Does any of that take away from her professional success? No. If Kaling can be Ivy League educated and put those brains to work in the entertainment industry, more power to her. We need more smart, funny people contributing to what the public watches. Steve Carell put it best when he described Mindy:  

"Mindy is exceptionally smart, but is not afraid to talk about nail polish. And yet her love of nail polish does not take away from her smartness. In a perfect world, she would take my SATs for me, and then we would go to the mall together."

Mindy Kaling
I love writing about pretty much anything and everything, but I especially enjoy writing about pop culture. Whether it's a new movie that just came out or the Oscars best-dressed, that's where I have the most fun. Sometimes, I let other people's perceptions get me down. I'm constantly surrounded by English majors who aspire to write the next Great American Novel, or journalists who want to break the next big story. I'll think: if I were really a good writer, wouldn't I be talking about more serious issues? And sometimes I do talk about the serious stuff. But I also think we sometimes forget the importance of the so-called "frivolous" things. Sure, there may be more noble pursuits in life than comedy writing or beauty tips. But we can't all be doctors, or hard-hitting investigative journalists, and if I can write something that makes someone laugh, or makes their day a little better? It starts to seem a little less frivolous and a lot more meaningful to me.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Conceited. Cocky. Arrogant. Full of yourself.

Traditionally, we think of these as negative adjectives. But I'm here to make a case for why loving yourself doesn't have to be bad.

It seems like in society today, you can never win. If you're overly self deprecating with low self-esteem, you seem weak. If you talk up your skills and accomplishments, you're braggy. We want women to think they're beautiful, yet people make fun when someone posts a selfie. So what's a girl to do?

But I think it's possible to swap out the word conceited for "believing in oneself." After all, you aren't going to achieve much if you sit in interviews talking yourself down. You're going to be a part of some unhealthy relationships if you don't hold yourself to a high standard of how you should be treated. And self-doubt will eat you alive if you don't occasionally tell yourself you're the best at whatever it is you do.

So while you don't want to be that guy who's constantly talking about how awesome he is, it's encouraged to be that way in certain situations. Writing a cover letter? Go crazy talking yourself up. Meeting with a mentor? Let them know everything you've been up to lately. Even if you're just catching up with friends, don't feel like you need to dull your accomplishments. The people in your life should be happy for you.

First and foremost, though, it's important to believe you're the best in your own mind. If you don't think you can do it, no one else will either. So whether you want to be on Broadway or want to start your own company, recognize your skills and what makes you unique. It's okay to give yourself a pat on the back when you do something right.

So don't say "Oh, I'd like to start my own medical practice one day, but we'll see." Be bold with your goals, and share them. Find out who the best people in your industry are, and compare yourself to them. Work to get on the same level as those who are already "the best." With a lot of hard work and belief in yourself, you can get to where they are. So if someone calls you conceited, you really don't have to feel bad about it..