How to go ‘back-to-school’ without actually having to go back to school

13249733_193929321001346_1531618941_n(1)I have always loved the transition period between summers and fall, as the leaves begin to change, the air gets cool and crisp in the morning, and all things #pumpkin flavoured start popping up everywhere.  I think I have always associated this time of year with back to school shopping, seeing friends after the summer hiatus, my extra-curricular activities starting up again – September has always felt like a fresh start with new classes, new teachers, and most importantly, new clothes.

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This September will be the first in 22 years that I haven’t been a student heading back to school. I already miss that feeling of shopping for a new batch of school supplies, finding out who my new teachers are, and what friends are going to be in my classes – a fresh start. Although my days of going back to school are over, no one says you still have to be a student to get that ‘fresh start’ feeling.

Here are 6 steps to take this September to get that ‘back-to-school’ feeling without actually having to study, write papers, attend group meetings, take notes, and stress about finals.

  1. Buy one outfit that makes you feel fabulous.

It might not be the new back-to-school wardrobe we got when we were younger but according to science, buying one outfit you feel great in will instantly boost your mood, make you feel empowered, and is a way of reminding you of what you want and what you deserve.

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  1. Stop hitting snooze.

I am the worst for this because nothing feels better than getting an extra 10, 20, or even 30 extra minutes of shut-eye but in reality,  hitting snooze leaves you feeling sleep deprived, foggy throughout the day, and your productivity takes a major dive. Maximize your productivity and squash your habit of procrastinating first thing in the morning by setting your alarm for the actual time you need to wake up, and actually GET THE F*$K UP.

  1. Give yourself a compliment.

While we were in school we got validation from everywhere and everyone – our teachers, friends, or coaches, through grades, compliments, or playing time. Now, let’s be honest, a lot of external validation comes in the form of a ‘like’ on social media or a right swipe on a dating app.  Take the time to give yourself a compliment, once a day, whether you killed it at the gym, look great in your new jeans, or penned a really awesome email at work.

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  1. Connect with friends.

We may be past the days of reuniting with friends for a gossip session at our gym lockers discussing who kissed who at summer camp but that doesn’t mean we can’t connect with friends we haven’t seen in a while. Call up a few friends and get together for coffee or a drink, and by coffee in September I obviously mean a #PumpkinSpicedLatte, and by a drink I mean an adult apple cider.

  1. Pack a lunch.

Long gone are the days of my mom packing my lunch in my pink Winnie-the-pooh lunch box that I had until I was like fifteen and to be honest I have totally fallen into a habit of buying my lunch every day from the convenient salad bar around the corner from my office.  Packing a lunch not only saves you time, money, and calories, but studies show that eating in the lunch room with co-workers can result in a happier work environment, and “happy people just don’t shoot their husbands” (Elle Woods).

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  1. Join a league.

When I was in school I participated in all sorts of extra-curricular activities from the volleyball team, to chess club (so I didn’t have to go outside for recess obviously), to the school band (I played the oboe and then was asked to switch to the clarinet when I was still sounding like a dying cow in November), and these team and activities are where I made most of my friends.  Joining an adult recreation league will reignite your passion for sport, is a great way to meet new people, learn a new skill, practice your teamwork and communication skills, and change-up your normal working routine.

Momma Knows Best: Lessons I’ve Learned from my Mother

Mother-daughter dynamics and relationships are funny; you spend the first few years of your life completely dependent on her for everything and the next few years thinking she’s trying to kill you with piano lessons, brussel sprouts, and a curfew.  When you get a bit older you realize that every bit of advice, every punishment, and every lesson she tried to get you to learn on your own was because she loves you and has done this all before. In honour of my mom’s birthday it is time to give credit where credit it due…

Here are the important life lessons I have learned from my mom:

There is such thing as a free lunch: Timing your Costco trips is an essential life skill.  The warehouse club has the most samples available during lunch time on the weekends, so you can pick up your lifetime supply of paper towel while also indulging in as many free samples of drinkable yogurt, cream cheese and crackers, frozen pizza, and fruit cups as your heart desires #itsbettertobeamember

Don’t dumb yourself down for attention: There’s nothing wrong with being smart, asking intelligent questions, admitting you like crossword puzzles, or read the Globe and Mail. At the same time there’s nothing wrong with discussing celebrity gossip and makeup or engaging in conversations about politics, business or world issues #realtalk

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It’s better to be misinformed than uninformed: this is basically her way of saying fake it ‘til you make it.  It all started when some 80 year old woman asked her how many hours it took to make a quilt when we were volunteering at a silent charity auction and my mom looked at her, and with conviction told her it took 162 hours. Not only does she have no idea how many hours it takes to sew a quilt, but my mom can barely sew on a button (she once stapled the hem of my pants before school).  The older woman, looking awestruck, proceeded to bid on the quilt, and helped raise money for the charity.  Now you’re probably thinking that was deceitful, but what I learned is that people just want to know if you know the answer.  Worst case scenario is you lie, go find the right answer, and go back and correct yourself.  You come across as someone who checks their facts and isn’t afraid to admit when they’re wrong #winning

Shop until you drop: You can literally shop until you drop (we have proved this several times) and you should because those shoes are on sale today only and some of the best memories are made from marathon mother-daughter shopping trips: from sing-alongs in the car, to stopping at every gas station in Michigan to ask for directions because you always get lost no matter how good your directions, to eating Kernels popcorn for lunch in the outlet mall food court.

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If you’re going to commit a crime, make it a big one: Now she isn’t saying to have a complete disregard for the law, but if you’re going to commit a crime, make it a big one. Don’t go to jail for shoplifting a two dollar candy bar, go to jail for stealing $50 million from the vault at the Bellagio Casino #gobigorgohome

The importance of giving back: My mom has run more food drives, organized more fundraisers, and donated more of her time to charitable causes than anyone I know.  She has also volunteered my time more than anyone I know.  But, she taught me the importance of giving back and I am thankful for all the great people I have met through charitable work and the opportunities that have come to me through volunteering.

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Nothing good ever came from taking shots: Or as my mom calls them “shooters”.  She’s right, the only thing that ever comes from taking shots of hard liquor is a smashed iPhone screen, puke in your hair and a fuzzy memory.

Get out of your comfort zone: You know I’m not even sure if my mom has a comfort zone.  You could literally put her in just about any situation and she would wind up making a friend, embarking on a new adventure, or at the very least getting a great story out of it.  She used to puts me in the most uncomfortable situations from sending me to a French triathlon camp in the heart of Quebec to speaking in front of hundreds of students, she has constantly forced me to step out of my comfort zone and I can’t thank her enough for it.

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What I Know For Sure

It seems like just yesterday that I started Chapter Three, as a salute to the sentiments that I was embarking on a new a third chapter of my life.  I had just graduated from University, moved to a new city, and at 22 it felt like I had everything figured out.  Well three years, another degree and a new career later, and just days away from turning 25, I can tell you I don’t have much figured out (other than how to pretend I’m an adult, the do’s and don’ts of Instagram, that tanned fat looks better than white fat, and that trends really do go out of style)  but I am learning valuable lessons along the way.

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Here is what I know now, that I didn’t know back then… let’s call this Chapter 25:

  1. I mean I’ve always known money doesn’t grow on trees (or magically appear in my account from the ‘Bank of D.A.D.’ anymore) but did you know you actually have to get up at 7am every day and go to work for 8 hours and earn it. Every single day. Five days a week. Then you only get two days off and have to do it all over again. Who came up with this schedule, Satan? I’m seriously one Monday morning away from packing up and moving to the Netherlands.

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  1. Surrounding yourself with great friends, especially girlfriends, is extremely important and only becomes more so as we get older and life becomes more and more complicated, but did you know you actually don’t have to be friends with people you don’t like? #shocking
  2. I’ve learned to accept my body and all its curves and imperfections by now, but at this age to even maintain this mediocracy takes a lot of work, a lot of spin classes, and a lot of kale and quinoa, and unfortunately, very few carbs.

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  1. Wrinkles are no joke and if you haven’t started using a Retinol cream by the time you cross the mid-twenties mark you’re pretty much screwed. If you’re like me, still getting teenage pimples and already getting adult wrinkles, well then basically you’re f#cked.
  2. It’s important to set standards for yourself and know what you deserve, whether it’s in terms of a relationship, career, or something more trivial, but then when you actually get that raise, land your dream job, or find an amazing boyfriend it’s okay to embrace it and not feel like you’re not good enough to deserve those great things.Snooki-crying-saying-I-dont-deserve-this-right-now-GIF.gif
  1. Investing in quality, timeless, and classic pieces for your home and your wardrobe instead of dropping cash on cheap, trendy items will save you money in the long run, but obviously you still need to swing by Forever21 for a cute new dress for a GNO.
  2. The value of our minds, bravery, senses of humour, courage, and kindness will always trump a thigh gap. Complement each other on things that actually matter, because beauty fades (see #4) but your brain and your character are forever.

Happy learning everyone!

xo Em

 

 

 

Listen Up Fellas: The 6 Types of Girls to Avoid

My guy friends are always coming to me for a female’s perspective when they need advice about dating texting.  I like to think it’s because they see me as a smart, level headed and self-aware woman, but maybe they just think crazy knows crazy #whoknows.  There are so many articles out there that warn girls about the kinds of guys to stay away from on the dating scene (aka Mr. Insecure, The Ladies Man, and Still Lives with His Parents Guy). As a gal with some great male friends I have decided to take it upon myself to identify the kinds of girls our dear friends should stay away from.

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Full disclosure: each of these “girls” were inspired by women my guy friends have dated, ladies I know, my own dating texting experience, and even some of my closest friends (you know who you are).

Gentlemen, you’ve been warned!

  1. The Desperate Housewife

This is the girl who is always willing to hangout and will change her plans at the drop of a hat for the possibility of making out hanging out with her crush.  She is always the one to initiate the conversation and hangouts, responds to every text in record time and is guilty of sending multiple, consecutively unanswered text messages #eek

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  1. The Sweetheart

This is the sweetheart who gives every guy a fair shot regardless of their opening line, physical appearance, career status, or Tinder profile pic.  She is a hopeless romantic, thinks there could be potential with anyone and everyone and is always looking for Mr. Right even if they are so, so wrong.   She believes the “sorry I passed out” text and is always the first to apologize.

  1. The Athlete

It’s all about games for this girl and she sure knows how to play them.  She plays hard to get, sends calls to voicemail then immediately sends a snapchat, instagrams photos with a new bro every weekend, and ignores texts for days only to respond with the perfect one liner.  She acts like she couldn’t care less which seems to make the boys care a whole lot more.  Think Kristin Cavallari circa Laguna Beach Season 2 with an iPhone.

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  1. The Wedding Planner

This girl is planning her wedding, naming babies and practicing her new signature after a first date.  She responds to every text with a short novel and has probably already updated her Facebook relationship status after a week of texting #runforthehills

  1. The Sexter

She puts out over text before actually putting out, makes dirty jokes and insinuates sex at every opportunity, The Sexter has been known to send sexually suggestive snapchats, instagram scantily clad mirror selfies and is the queen of the “sexy text”.

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  1. The Ice Queen

The Ice Queen never responds with more than one sentence, if she even responds at all.  She always seems annoyed, has no time for small talk and replies ‘K’ to 70 per cent of all text messages.

Happy Dating Texting Everyone!

HOW TO ACT LIKE AN ADULT WITHOUT ACTUALLY HAVING TO BECOME ONE

I’ve been having this conversation with my girlfriends a lot lately, about being in that weird post grad stage of life. When you’re no longer a college girl skipping dragging her butt out of bed for an afternoon class, planning themed parties, and making out with her gym crush at the campus bar, yet you’re also not looking to settle down, buy adopt a pet and have kids anytime soon. Sometimes it’s hard to act like an adult when you don’t have adult responsibilities (see: babies, mortgage, a husband/wife, RESP, etc.) but it’s time to put the days of wearing Juicy sweat suits to McDonald’s on Sunday mornings behind us.  tumblr_nlrahePKVG1qdsjzio1_500

Here are my 10 steps to acting like an adult, without actually having to become one.

1. Update your email signature and voicemail greeting. Add those letters you just spent four years earning (BBA, BSc, BA, etc.) after your name on your e-mail signature and include a link to your LinkedIn account. Record a professional sounding voicemail so even if you are sleeping in past noon, or six vodka sodas deep at a house party, you’ll sound like you missed their calls because you’re working late or at a very important business meeting.  I recently discovered mine was me yelling at a club on my 21st birthday while my high school BFF Abbey smoked cigarettes.  (Update: Abbey is now happily married with a beautiful daughter and another one on the way, and I just updated my voicemail greeting).  And I think this goes without saying, but if your email address is along the lines of cutie_patootie69@aol.com change that too  #duh

2. Tidy up your social media accounts. I just started a new job so I was trying to update my LinkedIn profile pic the other day when I realized that I was struggling to find a picture of myself where I wasn’t posing with a beer in hand or duck lips. (Note: a long stemmed glass of red wine à la Olivia Pope is totally acceptable. If you don’t get this reference, it means you don’t watch Scandal, which means I’m about to change your life, which mean you should drop everything you’re doing and go binge watch it right now on Netflix #you’rewelcome #teamFitz).  All that to say don’t post anything that’s inappropriate or contains profanity and  delete pictures of you and your friends taking shots in barely there dresses, any photo that was edited in Picnik with an “inspirational” quote, and last but certainly not least, any photo that was taken with a computer web cam circa 2005.

3. Get smart about your finances. Download the app Mint, open a savings account and order a checkbook.

4. Get your nails done. Have you ever noticed how the girl with the flawless, chip-free manicure is also the most confident one in the room?  It’s a fact.  According to Morgan Stewart’s mother, Susan, the chicest woman on the planet, having chipped nail polish is your way of telling the world that you probably also wear dirty underwear #barf.

5. Decorate. Invest in beautiful and unessential home décor accents like throw pillows, coffee table books, trays, and candles. Fill your home with fresh flowers and stop hanging art with sticky tack or masking tape.

6. Floss.

7. Have a go-to drink order. There is something so sexy grown up about a woman who knows exactly what she wants, even if it’s just knowing what to order at a bar (Pre-hangover: Gin and soda, two limes, Post-hangover: Caesar, spicy bean, no celery) but if you are one of those weirdos health conscious women who says no to alcohol, knowing your exact coffee order is almost just as sexy. PS. Nothing is more chic than ordering your coffee black.

8. Stay informed. Listen, read or watch the news and not just while you’re at the nail salon or waiting in line at the bank (see steps 3 &4). Subscribe to The Skimm, download a news app that you can listen to on your commute to work, or at the very least follow some news networks on Twitter.

9. Stop wearing sweatpants outside of the house. End of story.

10. Eat quinoa and kale. And talk about eating quinoa and kale; it’s just what adults do. But really these two super foods contain all the energy, vitamins, healthy fats, protein, iron, fibre, and calcium that you need to get through the day and do all the things that adults have to do (see steps 1-9).

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All that being said, the most important step to becoming an adult is discovering who you really are, what your beliefs are and what you stand for.  Your twenties is a time to figure out what’s most important to you, what you want to work towards and what the best version of yourself really looks like.  It is my firm belief that sparkly, monogrammed and animal print throw pillows will be essential on your road to self-discovery.  Happy Adulting everyone!

 

“Instaquette”: The Do’s and Please, Just Don’ts of Instagram

For anyone who follows me on social media, you know that I was on a whirlwind European vacation a couple weeks ago with two of my besties. If you did not already know this fun fact it means you have either been living in a hole or don’t follow me on Instagram (both of these thoughts are equally as troubling to me). If you are part of the latter group, do us both a favour and put down your iced coffee and go follow me (@emennett), I promise you won’t regret it.

What I learned on my travels, besides that I hate crowds and find all most museums incredibly dull, is that Instagram has become the most important an extremely important and integral part of our social lives. When you finally find a café and spend eight bucks on a miniature European cup of coffee to use the free Wi-Fi and have to choose between checking in with family and friends back home or instagramming the perfect selfie in London with Big Ben, Instagram wins. Every time.

As the go-to filter consultant, caption advisor and photo editor for my group of followers friends, I have taken it upon myself to help @laurmeis (adoptedbytheeastcoast.blogspot.ca) fight the battle against bad instagramming and break down the do’s and don’ts of Instagram etiquette, also known as “instaquette” (Oxford Dictonary’s Word of the Year for 2015? #justsayin).

The Do’s and Please, Just Don’ts of Instagram

Do: Socialize

I mean, it’s called social media for a reason. Follow friends, celebrities, brands, photographers, special interest groups – whatever inspires you. “Like” and comment on photos you enjoy and admire, and don’t be afraid to generate a conversation.  Some great partnerships, collaborations and even friendships have resulted from engaging on social media platforms.  Oh and if it’s funny or one of those “OMG that’s soooo true”posts, tag me!

Please, Just Don’t: Get Confrontational

Nothing scares me more about our society than the fact that there are people in this world who get in fights with other people on celebrity’s IG posts.  Also, just because it needs to be said, if you comment “first” on a Kardashian’s photo you are a loser and we can’t be friends.

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Do: Take High Quality Photos

Post high quality photos and don’t be afraid to edit or enhance them.  My favourite photo editing apps are Afterlight and Faded. Using a consistent filter makes it easier to maintain a consistent aesthetic and continuity throughout your feed, which according to this study will ultimately lead to more followers and more likes!

Please, Just Don’t: Be an Instagroupie

Don’t like every single photo you see while scrolling through your feed.  Likes have value and giving them away to blurry photos with a Hefe filter diminishes this value.  No one wants to be the skank of Instagram, or worse, an instagroupie.

Do: Be Authentic*

If you aren’t in Vegas don’t post a pic from last spring break and pretend that you are, that’s what #TBTs are for.  Imagine how awkward it would be if you ran into that bitchy girl from your psych class at the mall when you just posted a bikini shot of you on vacation #embarrassing.  Keep it real ladies (and lads)!

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*By all means fix red eye, blur annoying blemishes and up that saturation to fake a faux-glow but girls stop using apps that fake a thigh gap or make you look scary and fake like a porcelain doll.  Nobody is perfect (except Gigi Hadid of course) and our imperfections are what makes us beautiful and unique (so lame but it’s a #fact).

Please, Just Don’t: Flood the Feed

Don’t post multiple pictures in a row, wait at least three hours between posts and NEVER post more than three photos in one day. Don’t use more than three hashtags (10 MAX) and for the love of God, do not ask people to follow you back #desperate.

Hope you find these tips helpful, happy instagramming!