a love affair: HomeGoods

Like every other basic bitch in the world, I adore HomeGoods. Every time I pass, it pains me not to stop in and look around. They simply have the cutest and best of everything, from pet stuff to pillows and chairs… and it’s all relatively cheap.

I have purchased most of my abode’s decor finds from there, and I keep going back for the selection. I’m not waiting around for the season’s collection to clear out if I don’t like something, as inventory shifts pretty much weekly. Here are the best things to buy at HomeGoods, instantblonde style:

  1. Throw & Decorative Pillows: Oh.My.God. The selection always rotates, but you can always guarantee finding cute ones. I usually see a lot of fabrics, from velvet to cotton, and they’re all organized by color and size. I’ve never seen  a pillow there priced over $25, and they often come in bundles of 2. The only issue can sometimes be finding more than 1 or 2, so don’t be afraid to ask or have them call another store.
  2. Gifts & Cute Gift Wrap: Need something for your mom? Your boss? Your (imaginary) boyfriend’s parents? This is the destination. I have found many a last minute bday or hostess gift here, and they don’t disappoint. Think cute note pads and pens, soap sets, jewelry boxes, bar accessories, journals, ring dishes, candies, etc. Also, you can get the whole gift done here- I always find cute gift bags, wrapping paper (which you can frame or put in as drawer liners, too!), bows, and labels here.
  3. Throw Blankets/Baby Blankets: Not only do I have several for myself, but I have also given them as gifts or given them to people that have just had babies or are sick. A soft yet inexpensive blanket + a monogram = a great gift. I also find myself draping them over the ends of my bed or the back of a chair/couch, and this is a good spot for those.
  4. Any Organizational Items: Boxes, drawer organizers, jewelry racks, shoe hangers, baskets, you name it, it’s here. Don’t waste money online for anything acrylic or velvet-lined, either. I can guarantee they have some at HomeGoods, the holy grail for de-cluttering spaces. Also: makeup lovers, I see a ton of acrylic lipstick organizers come through.
  5. Seasonal Decorations: Halloween and Christmas at HomeGoods is a gift from God. They have adorable stuff, and it’s nice to know it’s not the same lights/signs/garlands/wreaths/lanterns/whatever you’re into from Target or the supermarket. Find it after the holiday and it’ll be super cheap.
  6. Fun Plates & Accent Dishware: If you entertain a lot, or like to set a nice table like I do, this is a great place to visit. I’ve found everything from chinoiserie items to gold chargers to themed party plates here, and it’s all inexpensive. If you’re off to college, I would stock up on a few plastic plates, cups and mugs. My mother also hung plates around the house as art, and if you’re into that, I’ve found some contenders here too.
  7. Sheets: While I am not an insane ‘sheet snob’ that can tell 300 count from 400 count with a swipe of my finger, I do enjoy nice sheets. But, I am hard on them, between stains, washing, and general wear and tear. I often find beautiful Egyptian cotton sets at HomeGoods, and for around $30-$40. I was raised to change sheet sets by season, and I found a perfect coral starfish pattern for $27 there this summer. This is also a good spot for flannel or fleece sheets.
  8. Mirrors: I didn’t realize how expensive mirrors were till I actually looked. I’ll be damned if I’m paying that much for glass, and I find a lot of mirrors of a good size at HomeGoods for under $100. I like a lot of vintage mirrors, but find they often have stains/marks and weren’t taken care of. Just make sure the HG ones are well made and sturdy before buying.
  9. Frames: If you’re making a gallery wall like every other human being on the planet, look here. I always see cute frames priced anywhere from $3.99 and up.
  10. Random Shit You Never Knew You Needed: This is HomeGoods’ specialty, and will cause the one time you went in for salt shakers and came out with $250 worth of items.

Damn you, HomeGoods.

homegoodsim

[image via secondcitystyle.com]

xx

instantblonde

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straight hair

Naturally, I have really wavy, thick hair with a few spiral curls thrown in. I can get away with wearing it sans heat styling, which is a blessing, if I take care of it. I also can touch up the messy parts with a curling iron, which takes 5 minutes max. But, sometimes, I find curls a little too youthful or flowy to go with certain clothes. #firstworldproblems

So that brings me to straightening and the good old flatiron. I love nothing more than sleek, straight hair and I don’t mind the actual process of straightening, though I have a ton of hair and it takes a while. I feel like straight hair is more professional and a lot cleaner looking, and that it makes me look taller and skinnier. I also have a round-ish baby face, so I like looking older.

I only flatiron my hair about once a week, if that, and, for the most part, I’ve gotten the routine down pat. Here’s what I do:

  1. John Frieda FrizzEase Heat Defeat: My hairstylist recommended this to me as a cheap alternative to fancy heat protectants, saying that they all do the same thing and work pretty well. I spray this all over my hair and then run a brush through it all.
  2. Section hair off: At this point, I take a smaller brush or comb and draw a line from the middle of my ears to the back of my head, dividing it in two big sections. From there, I separate it left and right sides and clip them up with jaw clips.
  3. More Heat Defeat: Before flatironing any of the divided sections, I lightly spray the one I’ll be working on to ensure it’s all protected. This step requires precision, because too little and your ends will be fried and too much and your hair will feel noticeably wet, which is not okay to apply heat to.
  4. MoroccanOil/Argan Oil: Depending on what I have, if any of the two, I drop one or two drops of an oil into my palms, rub it in a little, and then run my hands gently over my ends. I have chronic split ends, and I find that heat only exasperates them, so this is an important step for me.
  5. Straighten: If you don’t know how to straighten hair at this point and operate a flatiron without burning yourself or the house down, then you probably shouldn’t be here.
  6. Clean Up: When I’m done, I hold my makeup mirror up behind my floor length so I can see any spots in the back I might’ve missed. I also like to turn my head upside down and do a few pieces that way to ensure I get it all. I run a brush through it one last time and then wrap up my iron.

Usually, the whole process takes me about 30 minutes from start to finish, which, considering the length and thickness of my hair, really isn’t bad. I have one problem, though: since my hair is naturally wavy/curly, I find that after a few hours, even, my hair starts to wave up again. By the end of the day, it definitely is not completely straight anymore. What can I do to combat this? Hairspray? Finishing spray? A better iron (I use the fake CHI from SallyBeauty, which I have heard is an exact dupe. Link: http://www.sallybeauty.com/black-flat-iron/SBS-264849,default,pd.html)?

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[gif via teen.com. And also, why is she so damn perfect?]

Advice needed.

xx

instantblonde

glamorizing change

Everyone says change is good. In my opinion, it’s a smoke and mirrors thing- a trick, if you will. Getting there, looking back, and then realizing you’ve changed is good. But getting there, the actual change, is so damn hard.

Not only am I a creature of immense habit, but I also tend to naturally struggle with change. As the youngest in my family, change seemed foreign for most of my childhood. I had never been presented a new baby and told they’d be there forever- I was the new baby. The world kind of sprouted up around me, with me. It seemed natural and normal to go off to Kindergarten or pick a college, because I never had to be the first one to dive into that world. Like many parents, mine, by the time I came around, were established in their careers, knew how to parent (somewhat, ha), and had already moved into their forever home. My childhood, while a bit rough towards my teenage years, was painfully stable. I’m also organized, type A,  and thrive on routine-based activity. As a result, I often find myself justifying pushing off impending change with the fact that I’m doing well plugging away habitually.

I am a firm believer that change is glamorized in our world. Think about it: decorative signs, Pinterest graphics, and even T-shirts are plastered with sayings like ‘change is good’ and ‘change is for the better’. We look back on our lives and tweet ‘so glad I changed #blessed’ and think of anything from past relationships or hair colors to how we used to drink on  Tuesdays. And that’s all fine and good.

But I think what no one really talks about is the way there, and how truly hard it can be. The first day of a new school, a new job. Walking into a room where no one, not a single soul, knows you. Moving to a different city, coast, or country. Waking up for the first time in six months, a year, maybe two, alone. Getting sick and realizing that one person you’d ask for tissues or Gatorade is way more than a plane ride away.

Then one day, you’ll look up and realize you did it- you made it, whether you’d want to do it again or not. Either way, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief and feel proud of yourself. You should. Change is hard, and no one that posts those inspirational quotes or says they’re craving change isn’t lost on the way home for the fourth time that week, stuck in an event full of unfamiliar faces, on a new career or educational path, facing the realities of reaching a new age or stage in life, or moving on from a relationship (of any sort). Something turning upside down on you

So if you’re like me and not one of those people that shouts, “CHANGE IS GOOD, EVERYONE” and freely encourages people to chop all their hair off or move to a new continent, don’t feel bad. Feel empowered, because you know the truth: change is good, but it’s so damn hard. Because everyone’s saying it’s good, but you feel like this:

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And if all else fails, there is young Leo.

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[gifs via giphy.com, hexjam.com]

xx

instantblonde

on getting older

After my last birthday, which was kind of a big one, I found myself in tears at how old I was. Seriously. I moped about it for a day or two, thinking I would die (soon), alone and unhappy. I felt like there was more to do with my life, and the fact that I wasn’t getting any younger really caught up with me.

Then, I came to an epiphany: Am I really one of those women that’s so insecure about my age that I need to cry, and, hell, even lie about it?

Growing up, my mother told me to tell anyone that asked (which is rude, by the way, so no one really did) that she was 3 years younger than she actually was. I knew a ton of other moms and women that did this too.

Had I really stooped this low? I’m not, in the grand scheme of things, old at all, really. And yet I had wasted an entire day whining about a stupid number that is only important on paperwork.

If you still feel bad about your age, take care of yourself. Find a good Botox doctor. Have a Martini. Go out with your friends. Book a trip somewhere fun.

I’m tired of letting our age define us as people. Embrace it if you want, or if you want to brush it under the rug and just be, that’s okay too.

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[gif via experian.com]

xx

instantblonde

weather

A good friend of mine from high school, whom we call DJ, told me once, “I’m such an old person. I love saying, ‘it’s going to just pour today’, and being that powerful person that knows the weather.” I laughed, but it really is true. People are always wanting to know the weather- so much so that it is now ingrained in every smartphone, included in fancy watches, and has been a topic of small talk forever.

Where I spent most of my childhood, it snowed close to 5 months a year, and, one year, I had six snow days in a month. (For those of you wondering, my mother grew up in the Deep South and, in a way, so did I. More for another day.) I also spent a lot of time in Alabama, where my mother has family and my older brother lived, and now reside in the South, so I am also familiar with the excruciating heat and humidity.

Between the snowy winters and the sticky summers, I would pick the sticky summers any day of the week. I am always cold and I need sunshine to function. As a kid, I remember not seeing the sun for days on end, and grass was only present from late April to late October.

That being said, though, I also love storms. Growing up, we would pile into the back of my parents’ SUV and watch them roll in over our neighborhood. Today, I find myself doing the same thing, even waking up sometimes at night to watch thunder and lightning.

So, in short: I’m a summertime kind of girl, but I love a good storm. Except when I’m traveling. Fuck weather delays, and fuck driving in the snow (and the rain.) I will constantly be fascinated by weather, and, actually, I briefly considered being a meteorologist, until I realized TV hours are shitty and being ripped on by a small town audience would suck.

bsweatherim

[image via rottenecards.com]

xx

instantblonde

the insanity of family vacations

On a trip home recently, my mother convinced me to attend our sort-of annual family vacation to a lake in Canada. She really wanted me to go, and since she was paying and because I’m not a total scumbag, I agreed. One day in, I kind of regretted my decision, already succumbing to the chaos that is large family vacations. As much as I love my family, and the beach, for that matter, some shit went down.

I started taking a long shower every day, sometimes twice, not for hygiene, but to get some peace and quiet. And I am normally a loud person, so noise really does not affect me. That little shower in the loft with the sea-themed curtain was my sanctuary, y’all.

Often, I also found myself plagued by starvation. If your family is anything like mine, they all want to eat dinner together (understandable, I get it), but the killer is the fact that they take 2+ hours to decide on a restaurant over cocktails, and then Aunt So and So isn’t done curling her hair, so we all wait.

There is also the dreaded discomfort of boozing around older family members. Even if you are of age (and have been for a while!), it gets a little weird to knock back a Corona or a vodka slushy with someone who literally changed your diapers. Also, it was concerning that Uncle Bill was down for the count every.single.night after a mere 2 glasses of merlot.

I had to come to terms with the inevitable fact that I ate like shit on my family vacation. Not only is my grandmother INSANE and will force whatever baked good she is shilling down my throat (they are really good though. no shame), but my family, as I’m sure many of yours do, also has a ton of traditions, most of which revolve around food. I gain at least 2 pounds every holiday and trip, and I am not that tall. This is a major issue.

Weird conversations have long been a cornerstone of family vacations. If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “So, L, are you seeing anyone? It’s been a while!” or, “L, what are you doing nowadays? Still working? God, I remember when you learned to walk!” I would be rich enough to skip family vacays to yacht in St. Barths. Don’t get me wrong, they mean well, and it’s nice to know people care. But after a certain point in conversation, you will find yourself searching for an out or a nearby bar to down your emotions in.

xx

instantblonde

when your friend’s relationship needs intervention

For almost three years now, I have been watching a horror film play out in front of my eyes. You see, a friend of mine (not a best friend, but good enough that we see each other a lot and have a ton of mutuals) has been dating the sweetest boy alive on and off forever. In my current stage of life, no one is really settled down yet, so it’s pretty rare to see relationships last longer than six months to a year, if that.

First, a little background. She is a party girl (we all are, but she is the consistent driver of the hot mess express), a crazy fun friend, and is generally shady. He has a heart of gold and would literally throw himself in front of a bus to save someone he didn’t know. She has been toying with his heart for two plus years. Along the way, they have broken up and gotten back together too many times to count, and she has cheated with seven guys- that I know of. There are probably more. Also, she treats him like shit, frankly. Examples? When we go out, she whines constantly about him being there, because she feels that he ‘weighs her down’ and is ‘such a buzzkill’. But then once she has more than one drink, she is crying for him and texting him 24/7.

It’s kind of an unspoken rule in our group of friends: no one tells him, no one confronts her. In fact, their relationship is usually an off-limits topic.

About six months ago during one of their many ‘rough patches’ during which she had broken up with him, at a party/charity event, he approached me. We were both drunk, obviously, and I was thrilled to see him. And, as is kind of inevitable, I’ve grown to become good friends with him from our various get-togethers over the years, not to mention the fact that he is just a sweet guy. Please note, this all went down after she had been forcefully removed (!!) by security, due to being flat out too drunk and belligerent. Yes, this is sometimes how my friend group rolls. I’m sorry. We started dancing together, talking, and then he kissed me. Not a deep, making-out-like-teenagers kiss, but just a light one that you could tell he expected back. I was shocked. Even through my drunkenness, I knew it was wrong, and I immediately pulled away and said, “What about her?” “Fuck her,” he said confidently, though through slurred words. Since that night, I have only told my best friend, and, from my sources, know he hasn’t told anyone. Hell, I don’t even think he remembers it.

After that, I struggled with seeing him, though we both acted like nothing was wrong. Even having to say hi to him when I stopped by her house was hard and weird. But after getting away from both of them, I realized a few things: 1) if he keeps letting her treat him like this, he probably has a ton of issues too 2) she is probably going to be in rehab eventually, and is a general shit show and 3) anything I felt for him, that one twinge I felt when he first approached me at that charity party, though him trying to kiss me ruined it, was just driven by pity. I simply felt bad for him, and since I’d been in a slump, my insane instincts mixed pity with the rationale that he is a gem who treats women right. Since then, about eight months ago, they have broken up and gotten back together twice, and she has hooked up with 2 more randoms in between. Honestly, I just feel bad for him. I wish I could tell him what she’s up to, and why he’s crazy to stay with her, but it’s not like we haven’t tried. A few girls and a lot of guys have talked to him, but he just won’t listen. I feel like owe him a wake up call, anything, to get him to stop wasting his time on her, as much as I like her as a friend.

So what did I do about it? Nothing. Because I’ve realized that I’ll never be able to change the pedestal he puts her on, nor will I get her to be a better person. I’ve tried, cried over it, and stressed, but it is simply not going to work. I also value her friendship, and would never want him, as perfect as he is, to get in the way. The best way, I’ve figured out, to combat this drama is to simply live and let live. One day, someone will come along and prescribe him a big dose of reality, hopefully before we all start settling down, and he’ll realize. Though it seems crazy, I’ve simply realized that that someone is not me. And that’s okay.

liveandletliveim

[image via etsy.com TypePosters shop]

xx

instantblonde