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Twenty Five

Why, yes, I did drive to an elementary school on a Sunday with a party hat in hand just to take birthday pictures in front of some colorful walls. That's what you do when you're 25, right? Adult things? Yep, I am indeed 25 today, and I do feel pretty great. I'm not doing too much to celebrate, but I'm fine with that. Jon and I are going to dinner with our best friend Adam tonight and watching Game of Thrones after, and tomorrow we're all getting together with a couple of our other friends to try a rolled ice cream (and ice cream taco!) place near my apartment. I definitely feel like I've outgrown throwing a party or doing something big, so just getting to see a few close friends over food sounds perfect to me. 

Just for fun, here are some differences between my once expectations vs. reality of being a quarter of a century:

  • I'm not "enjoying my 20s" the way I once I thought I would, but I'm definitely enjoying them. I've never been very adventurous or spontaneous, so when I was a teenager, I always thought I'd use my 20s as an excuse to go crazy and do stupid things. I've never felt like that was really me, so I feel pretty good about being happy in my quiet life.
  • On that note, I didn't expect to be settled down with a serious boyfriend. I always thought that I'd finally figure out how to date around and that I'd be casually dating while focusing on my career at 25. NOPE. I'm happily settled and living with Jon, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I was never going to enjoy casually dating, and thank goodness it didn't take me long to figure that out.
  • I AM finally feeling like I'm on the right track in my career like I was hoping I would at this age. I was so afraid that I'd still be in the job I was in a year ago, feeling stuck and behind in my career goals. Over a year later, I'm in a job that I love and just got promoted!
  • I definitely expected to be living outside of Orange County, and while I often do dream of finally moving elsewhere, I'm much more okay with it than I expected to be.
  • Probably the biggest difference is that I prioritize my relationships more that I always said I would. I used to be big on believing that I would be career focused at 25. I actually used to say that I figured that I would break some guy's heart by putting my career first. Yeah, I was dramatic. Fortunately, becoming an adult and being in an adult relationship has made me realize what's important and also how lucky I am to be with someone who supports me in career so that I can have both. I also thought that I would be living somewhere else because I wouldn't care about living far away from my family, but now they're probably the biggest reason why I'm still here, and I'm good with that. What's the point of traveling and living in a new place if I don't have anyone to share it with?
  • No, I am not a famous and successful blogger like I was once hoping to be at this age. I also don't want that anymore. Blogging has been my favorite hobby and I love the process of connecting with my community and growing my following, but I'm okay with not making it my job or being a big success. 
  • I still haven't learned how to use chopsticks. I'm actually pretty embarrassed about this one, but you'd think that I would learned that by now. One day...

If anything, being 25 is much more boring than I once thought it would be, but I think this was all one long way of saying that I like boring. But that's what adulthood is all about, right? Just being boring and being happy with it.

Orange Floral

I don't normally post two days in a row (although remember when I actually did have time to post every day on summer breaks during college??), but I took these photos on Sunday and I honestly couldn't wait. In yet another installment of "things I bought while telling myself that I would stop shopping," I scored this vintage dress on Whurl during Melissa Cripe's closet sale. I've been following Melissa on Instagram for a while now and have been such a huge fan of her style, so I was embarrassingly excited when I saw that she was selling some of her vintage collection. I always look forward to the special closet sales that Sam arranges on Whurl, but it was definitely a bummer that I didn't see anything that would fit in the last few. Luckily, I'm relatively the same size as most of the items Melissa was selling and before I knew what I was doing, this beauty was in my cart when I saw how affordable it was. Sure, it's a tad small and I definitely had to unzip it after eating some biscuits and gravy. But hey, it was worth it.

I also picked up this cute little purse while I was in Illinois. One of my favorite parts of going to college in the tiny town I lived in was the second hand shopping. There are a handful of thrift stores there, but there aren't many people who wear the same style I do, meaning there's little to no competition for the items I like. A vintage furniture and accessories store opened up since I had last been there, and I fell in love with this patent bag and the $10 price tag. I originally got it with the intention of selling it, but it's too good to part with. We all know it would end up in a pile in my room that I would never sell anyway. Might as well keep it and use it forever.

Artsy Gingham with TopCashback

I'll admit that before I had visited, I was definitely one of those Californians who thought Iowa sounded boring. Living on the west coast, we have a tendency to generalize all Midwest states, which is something I'm not proud of. After visiting my best friend Jenn in Iowa City for the second time last week, I can safely say that I am fully convinced that Iowa City is a seriously cool place to live. It was hard to choose just a few places for backdrops for these photos, and we honestly could have stopped at any number of spots while shopping downtown for these photos. 

It turned out to be the perfect day to bust out this gingham Asos dress. As if finding a cute summer gingham dress wasn't enough to be excited about, I purchased this one through TopCashback and almost immediately received 5% of what I spent back. Considering I have such a shopping addiction, it's a wonder I didn't start doing this sooner. TopCashback works directly over 4,000 brands and retailers to offer 100% of commission back on purchases made through the website. Most of my favorite sites are already on there, including Asos, Modcloth, J. Crew, and more, meaning that any time I shop, I can go through TopCashback and get money back. I'm always looking for ways to shop on a budget, but making money while shopping is even better. From now on, I'm just going to say that I'm earning a living by buying new things. It's technically true. 

As you all know, I do my best to only work with companies that I truly believe in, and I fully recommend using TopCashback. The process could not have been easier, as all I had to do was decide which website I wanted to shop with, go through the link on TopCashback, and shop as normal. Within a day, I had money back in my account from my purchase, and transferring it into my Paypal account is just as easy, especially since there is no minimum needed for a payout (one of the most annoying parts of working with similar websites). If you're planning on shopping (and let's be honest, you are), you can sign up for a free account through this link and start earning money too. 

Downtown Iowa City

Is there anything worse than vacation being over? I highly doubt it. I got back on Tuesday night, and I still feel exhausted, but it was worth it. As I mentioned, I spent the first half of last week in Illinois, where I stayed with my brother's family. I only get to see them once a year, so I tried to pack as much time with my nieces and nephews into the week. We had a blast going in the pool, watching Disney movies, and playing a ton of Barbies, Battleship, and Hi-Ho Cherry-o. Because I also went to college in the town where my brother lives, I took advantage of the time and forced all of my friends who live in the area to come visit. I say "forced," but I truly am floored with how far some of my friends drove to see me. I got to see one of my closest friends from my major and our old professor, and a big group of friends from the newspaper came in for a little reunion. I've been pretty sad about how difficult it is to make friends after college, so it was amazing getting to be back with a big group of friends again, especially at our old bar. I hadn't seen most of them in three years, but it felt like almost no time had passed.

On Sunday, I left with my best friend out there, Jenn, to stay with her near Iowa City for a few days. Jenn and I talk almost every day and Skype once a week, so it almost doesn't feel possible that I hadn't actually seen her in years. She just got engaged to one of my other close friends, and I am so excited that she asked me to be a bridesmaid when she took me to see the venue. We did a lot of wedding talk, browsed some bridesmaid dresses, and ate a LOT. She knows me well, so I fell in love with every place she took me. On Monday, we met up with Ali, who I've been talking with online for years and who is going to grad school in Iowa City. As you can imagine, Ali was everything I'd hoped she'd be in person, and we ended up spending a bulk of the afternoon with her shopping downtown. They definitely peer pressured me into getting a new vintage dress, but we all know I wasn't that hard of a sell. 

Guest Post: Patriotic Popsicles with Hanhgry

For my last guest post before I come from my trip, I've tapped one of favorite new blogging friends, Hanh. Not only is she semi-local, but I turn to her Instagram for style AND food inspiration. She has the best collection of colorful and pastel clothes, and she always tries the BEST looking dessert places in LA. Take a look at her 4th of July outfit below (wearing the same popsicle dress that I own!) and give her a follow over at her blog, Hanhgry.

I grew up outside of Washington, D.C., so field trips to historic sites and monuments were a fact of life for most of my K-12 education. We went to all the Smithsonian museums, toured the White House, the Washington Monument, visited the Lincoln AND Jefferson Memorials, and so on. I kind of took it for granted that I lived so close to these sites.

Despite being fairly close by, we never took any field trips to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, another city that is incredibly important to American history. After all, that’s where the Declaration of Independence was signed. And Betsy Ross’s house is there!

My husband Ross had a similar experience; he went on tons of field trips to all sorts of historic sites in Philadelphia, but didn’t see much of DC. So as part of celebrating our wedding anniversary, we went back East to see his family and also spend some time in Philly.

My original idea was to take photos at the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall but that idea was squashed when I saw the massive lines and we got to Independence Hall too late to go inside. Sigh. So I had to settle for some other historic-looking but not as historically important backdrops. Hence, the randomness of the photos here with gardens and murals and such. Philadelphia is such a beautiful city, with an abundance of historically restored homes that I wanted to live in! I’ll be doing a separate post about some of the delicious things I ate in Philadelphia.

The dress is an old one from ModCloth, and the shoes are from Bait Footwear. I thought the red, white and blue rocket pop print was a cute way to be patriotic without being over the top “‘MURRICA!” Plus, I loved rocket pops as a kid!

Guest Post: Professional Dressing in Style with The Adored Life

I'm so excited to have Alissa filling in for me today! The Adored Life is one of the few blogs of which I still make sure to read every new post, and it's because of a number of things. First is because her outfits are incredibly well put-together and easy to translate into real life, but the biggest is what a captivating writer she is. I desperately need to be her friend in real life, and I imagine everyone else agrees with me. Keep reading to get learn Alissa's tips on dressing for an office job (something I definitely help with).

Hi there! I'm Alissa and I blog over at The Adored Life! I've been blogging four about five years now and truthfully, I never even meant for people to read what I was writing. I started it as a way to look back during a hard time in college and well, I started and now I have a way to look back on some of the most formative years of my life. Blogging has been so much more than sharing photos, it's been about building a community and sharing thoughts so that maybe, just one other person doesn't feel alone. One of the hardest thing I've had to learn was dressing professionally for the office, especially a corporate office, while still showing my personality. There's nothing more sad in a professional sense than having to settle for a pair of black pants and a blazer to blend in. But on the other hand, sometimes you just have to do that! So how do I try and find a middle? read on!
The Blazer + Pants Situation
Rethink your blazer + slack outfit with a fun button down and statement accessory that doesn't feel so corporate! I wear this outfit at least once a month, regardless of the season because it perfectly balances casual with more traditionally formal items in my closet. I LOVE a good pusssybow blouse in a delicate print to break up a stodgy look.
And yes, I do look at my own blog for outfit inspiration, in case you were wondering.
Put a Bow on It
I will advocate for bows in any form, but especially in a pussybow form. I love that it adds so much femininity and a touch of play to ANY outfit! I used to worry that it make me look older, but I quickly got over that when I realized that a) sometimes I want to look older and work and b) life is short and if you want to wear a bow, wear a bow.  
Find Your Signature Print
Much like a signature perfume, I think that you should have a signature print. I love hearing my co-workers exclaiming that they thought of me because they saw polka dots. I've loved polka dots a lot so I had a lot of polka dotted items, but I made an active choice to make polka dots my signature print. It's fun, youthful but you can get away with wearing it many difference ways in the office.
I know it's not always easy to find a way to show your personality in work clothes, but I hope these tips help you! If you ever have any questions about how I try to dress for a corporate job in a fun way, email me! I'd be more than happy to chat!
Thank you Elana for letting me guest post!

Guest Post: The Soubrette Brunette's Favorite Summer Chapeaus

Today's guest post comes courtesy of one of my absolutely favorite people I've met through the Internet. Sammi is another friend from my old Flock Together days, and I've always been a tad obsessed with her style. I constantly find myself saving her vintage and vintage-inspired outfits for future inspiration, and she was the first person I went to when I was looking for help with buying a hat. Fortunately for you, Sammi is sharing her expertise on the subject so we can all wear hats together.

Hi everyone! For those who don't know me, I'm Sammi from The Soubrette Brunette. I'm super excited to be contributing a guest post here at Room 334 while Elana is away. Today's post was inspired by a conversation I had with Elana not too long ago, when she approached me for some recommendations on where she could find a good boater hat. Elana told me she had been intimidated by boaters in the past and thought she couldn't really wear them, but she ended up finding one she liked and found that she could, in fact, pull it off flawlessly. So I thought I'd like to share some of my favorite hat styles here today to inspire you to try something you may never have considered before!

I don't think every style of hat looks good on me – I have a rather large head and round face, so there are a lot of hats that don't work well on me. But through trial and error, I've found a few kinds that I really love and that really fit my needs and style. Below, you'll see some outfits I've paired with my favorite hats (and where you can find them!) that are perfect for any summertime activity.

Straw Boaters

My go-to summer hat is, without a doubt, the boater. It feels the most seasonal and looks great with everything from a 1950s dress to shorts and a t-shirt. Vintage boater hats tend to be quite expensive, but it's worth keeping an eye on Etsy and eBay for the occasional deal. I've purchased my boaters from both mainstream and niche retailers, but my main requirement is that the crown needs to be a bit bigger and that the brim should be flat and on the wide side. If you can find one with a cute ribbon, all the better, but it'd be pretty easy to attach one to any plain boater.

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Sun Hats

I'm not a huge fan of floppy hats, only because I don't think they look that great on me, but I'm going to try and embrace them this summer. I do, however, like colored straw hats that retain their shape a bit. And the wider the brim, the better. I actually kind of like those sun hats with the cutesy summer sayings on them, too. Right now, I have only a couple of wide-brimmed hats that aren't technically boaters, but I think I may need to remedy this in the near future. I've found that major department stores, specialty retailers, and Amazon are often good places to go for these kinds of hats.

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Vintage or Flowery Hats

When I want pretty over practical,  I'll usually opt for a darling vintage hat covered in flowers, fruit, or netting. These are hats I'll wear year-round, but they seem especially appropriate for spring and summer when I want to spend every waking moment frolicking in gardens. And while flower crowns aren't as popular as they used to be, I'll occasionally wear one when I want to get back to nature without getting too fancy. Etsy and eBay are definitely my first stops when I'm looking to add pieces like these to my collection. They may not get as much wear as the other kinds of hats I own, but they're essential for 1950s- and 1960s-style dresses!

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Do you have a favorite style of hat or summer accessory? What about a trend you've always wanted to try but aren't quite sure you can pull it off? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks so much to Elana for letting me share some of my favorite hats today! I hope you'll come visit me over at The Soubrette Brunette!  :)