The One Book You NEED to Read in Your Twenties

I have fallen far down the rabbit hole of self-help books, and I am not afraid to admit it. And so far, this one is my favorite.

Best Self Help Book for TwentySomethings | Candidly Kelsey

Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood

After seeing it in Ingrid Nilsen’s Snapchat, I bought it as a book to read while commuting; AKA, a few pages every time I sit down on public transit.  I expected it to last a few weeks.  Instead, I started it on the train at 9am, then finished it by 11pm that evening because I literally could not put it down.

“Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse” is basically a much more eloquent and hilarious account of every feeling of self-doubt, personal triumph, misunderstanding, and failed attempt at adulthood you’ve ever had. The brilliant author is Alida Nugent, who is also the mind behind the Tumblr “The Frenemy.”

The book is arranged in a series of essays.  In the beginning, it reads just as a comedy that has you nodding along.  Starting with wishing you hadn’t had the crazy idea of “following your dreams” or maybe you’d be employed by now, and ending with the graduation speech you wish you had heard when you left college, each essay has a heartfelt, but equally sassy revelation of young adulthood.

Each chapter gets more and more real, as Alida basically sums up every moment of confusion or terror you’ve ever had as a twenty-something, and then punctuates it with a lesson, or moral that has somehow makes you feel better about yourself.  I found myself shaking my head, or even tearing up (wine may have been involved with that one, truthfully) on more than one occasion.

Besides the obvious entertainment value of it all, this book hit several points that I think myself and all struggling post-graduates need to hear.  We’re repeatedly told we’re ALL in such a precarious position– “overeducated and underemployed” but are also horribly pressured to appear that we have It All together so often that it was a refreshing sigh of relief to read about a peer who is unapologetically a mess*.

But, you know, a mess with internet fame, and a published book, and who still manages to feed herself regularly.  The kind of mess we all strive to be, really.

Best Self Help Book for TwentySomethings | Candidly Kelsey

The idea that it’s totally okay to be slightly drowning in your twenties, but also expected to have everything together is something that I think we all struggle with, but very few like to get specific into the way that can make you feel. “Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse” is the perfect story of justification for how lost you feel, but somehow also gives you the encouragement that everything will end up okay.

Basically, if you have ever felt lost, or bad about yourself, or you are between the ages of 22 and 100, you should probably read this.  You won’t regret it, I swear.

(Sidenote: She also has a second book out, which is on my Amazon Wishlist.  If anyone has read it, tell me how it is!)

*Alida, I mean “mess” in the best way possible. Like a polished mess.  Amy Schumer/Jennifer Lawrence mess. It’s a compliment, I swear.

 

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5 Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Budget

I love food, but I also love saving a buck.  Which is why I also love budget grocery shopping.

Other than rent, and food is my #1 money pit.  Cooking is so much fun, and I can get bored with food very quickly if it doesn’t taste good.

But damn, food is expensive.

I’ve done a lot of research (see: Pinterest-ing) on budget grocery shopping, cheap meal plans for one, and all those life hacks.  As a single lady*, I am very much into the ease of cooking a large meal and living off of it for a few days.  Bonus points if that large meal is delicious, extra points if it’s cheap.

Some hits I’ve had are crockpot taco bowls, super easy chicken and dumplings, and beef and mushroom stroganoff.  These have been in continuous rotation, along with some side bar affairs with chicken, pizza, and ice-cream-for-dinner, but we don’t have to talk about those.  For the most part, these are all pretty easy to make on a low-budget, and are easily adaptable if they’re not made for a low budget.  As the kind hearted soul I am, I wanted to share some of the hacks I’ve picked up along the away for budget grocery shopping. AKA: keep your grocery bill low, but your stomach full.

5 Tips for Budget Grocery Shopping

1. Use fewer ingredients.

The more ingredients, the higher the grocery bill.  If a recipe calls for tomatoes, but also green chiles, combine them: buy a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles already in them.  Almost every recipe calls for parsley.  I skip it, and save a few bucks.

Pictured above: Balsamic asparagus tossed with leftover baked chicken (cooked in salt and pepper) and whole grain pasta with garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. Seven ingredients for a fully satisfying meal.

2. Shop your freezer and fridge.

If you have leftovers, alway stick them in the freezer; meals, ingredients, whatever. I had a bag of frozen peas left over when I first made the beef stroganoff.  I wanted to fluff up the recipe, so I added the bag of frozen peas. I also subbed the sour cream for milk, as I already had milk in the fridge.

Awhile back, I even read about grating carrots and keeping them in the freezer, then adding them to bulk up meals.  I’ve done this with my taco bowls.  You can’t even taste them, but it adds volume to the meal to make it go longer, plus extra vegetables!

3. Invest in better ingredients.

Budget Bytes talks about using “Better than Bouillon” concentrated stock instead of buying liquid stocks for food.  It’s a concentrated solid that you keep in a jar in the fridge, then add 1 teaspoon to 8oz of boiling water to make stock.  It was around $6 at my Walmart Fresh Grocer, and I’m pretty sure I’ll have them for the rest of my life.  Think about how much money I will save on buying liquid stock from now on!

 

5 Tips for Budget Grocery Shopping

Same with frozen vegetables, canned tomatoes, beans, spices, and more.  Watch for sales, and stock up when they’re cheap.

4. Bulk meals with pasta and rice.

This one may be controversial, because gluten/carbs/bread/grains/everything is the enemy, but it’s cost effective.

When pasta is cheap, I buy a few boxes; the same for bags of rice.  It’s really easy add some vegetables and protein to a pasta, or add rice to soups or other “pour over” meals.  They bulk up the meals, and keep you full longer.  To keep it healthier, just watch your vegetable : protein : pasta/rice ratio.  More vegetables and protein, keep the pasta as a filler as opposed to the star of the dish.

5. Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan!

Do not go shopping without a plan.  Visit a few different stores to get the best prices (no shame!), and don’t deviate from the list.  The easiest way to run up your grocery bill is to go shopping hungry, or without a plan.

I like to plan my meals for the foreseeable future (usually 1-2 weeks) and keep them similar to another so I can share ingredients.  Taco bowls, then stir fry.  Can use the rice for both, chicken for both, can buy frozen bell peppers (cheaper), and onions that will be used in both, so they don’t go to waste.  Pick recipes that compliment another to keep grocery bills low.

And if you really want to keep bills low, enter the chance to win free stuff! — See how I did that? Seamless transition, ya know?

There are only two days left to enter my The Body Shop 24 Happy Days Advent Calendar giveaway! It’s super easy, and the calendar is so adorable and has great stuff in it.

And that’s it! Got any more tips for budget grocery shopping? Let me know in the comments!

*You sang the song, didn’t you? Admit it.

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5 Tips for Working at Home

By some crazy accident, I’m managed to get jobs that have left me working from home for the last year.

First it was with the CSAC, where I interned from home (which is what prompted me to start this blog!) and then when they hired me on as a Director, I rotated between my couch, one of our schools, and the local Panera Bread as my work stations.

Now, at my new job in Chicago, we’re without an office space for a few months, so I’m back at working from home again.  Funny how that works out, huh?

Basically, I’ve become a master at working from “home”.  Other than the major perk being you can wear whatever you want, there are a few downsides.  And if you lack a specific home office— or even a desk—, that can be a huge problem. I’ve talked about how to stay productive at home before, but a whole year of experience has added some new hacks to the system.

Thankfully, for those of you struggling with (or without!) the home office, you have me to help you.  Allow me to share my vast experience in the world of working without an office:


1. Start your day like you would if you were heading to an office.

You wouldn’t head to a real office without brushing your teeth or putting on a bra, so you shouldn’t do that at home either.  Get up, eat breakfast, and get ready for the day as if you would be leaving the house.  I’m not saying put on a full face of make-up and your business casual, but the actual act of getting yourself ready for the day will help you trick your mind into getting into a productive headspace far better than if you just stayed in your pajamas.

2.  Plan your breaks and stick with them.

Keep your brain in “work mode” by planning your day like you would if you were working a typical job.  Work all the way until your designated lunch time, and don’t allow yourself to get distracted before then.  If you work from your couch, it can be super easy to forget that you’re working and just zone out in front of the TV, so make sure you plan for your “break time” and stick to those times.

3.  Don’t work where you play.

In Ohio, I worked specifically from the couch, or the kitchen table. Those were my designated “work spots” and my mind knew that.  Now, in my studio apartment, the only real sitting area is my bed (AKA, where I spend all my time) so I’ve designated my workspace as being the floor in front of my bed. Totally, glamorous, I know.  But the floor is way better than working on in the same position that I normally watch Netflix and cruise Pinterest.

If I ever feel distracted on the floor (or stir-crazy, because I never leave my apartment), I take my computer down to a local coffee shop, or anywhere with WIFI.   Sometimes the change of pace is good and you can re-focus yourself at this new space.  Wherever you choose to work, just make sure you associate it with only working to help keep yourself focused.

4.  “If you couldn’t do it at an office, you shouldn’t do it at home”

I used to constantly be watching TV when I worked from home in Ohio.  I would tell myself I’m sticking to only boring shows for background noise, but it was still super distracting.  Normal people probably can’t have Netflix playing in the background of their workday, so why should you?

It’s a major temptation, but totally worth it to keep the TV off while you work.  I used to be so bad at this, but since I’ve been actually making myself follow this rule, my productivity has increased so much.  You may think you can multi-task, but each time you stop what you’re doing, you’re losing your focus on your work.  So no painting nails, doing laundry, baking cookies, or cleaning the house while you should be working. Save those for your lunch break.

5.  Create your office atmosphere.

You won’t be productive if you are surrounded by chaos.  Especially chaos that is associated with your home life.   If you’re lucky enough to have a desk, set up to fit your working style.  If you don’t have a specific work space, make sure you have everything you’d need at arms reach, and you have secluded yourself as much as possible if there is chaos around you.  Move the basket of laundry that needs folded so it’s not reminding you of other things to do, and pick up all the cats toys so you won’t be tempted to finally teach her how to fetch.  Where ever you are, make sure it’s got a productive atmosphere with no distractions.

If you’re in a public space, I highly recommend getting headphones.  I love listening to Spotify EDM playlists when I work.  They are full of upbeat songs with very little lyrics to distract me, and the music keeps me awake and motivated. Time passes much quicker when I have Steve Aoki in the background.

And if all else fails, motivate yourself with good food.  Most offices have a pizza party at least once a year, right?  You’re your own boss at your home office, friend.  Pizza parties can be everyday. Or donut parties.  I highly recommend donut parties.

Got any working-at-home tips?  Share them in the comments!

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Totally Fool-Proof Guide to Living Alone

living alone, studio apartment, chicago

Hey, hi, howdy, hello and welcome to Kelsey’s Guide.  I’ll be your tour guide, Kelsey. Today we’re going to be talking about living alone.

Have you recently moved to a new city and are living by yourself?  Great! So am I! Allow me to share some of my wisdom with you:

Step 1: Adopt a cat.  Extra special bonus points if you came with a cat already with you.  So when all of your friends are busy and you have no reason to leave the apartment, you can cuddle your cat while looking out the window and crying as you watch all the people with social lives walking by.

Step 2: Never put on pants.  Remember, this is not just specific to living alone.  Pants at home should be optional all the time– especially when you forget that the cable guy is coming and you told the company it was okay to just come on in, as you probably won’t be home. This also doubles as a really great way to meet new people! If you want to really go for the gold, go braless as well.

Step 3: Only own 3 forks.  Because you live by yourself, duh.  Why would you ever need more than 3 forks?  You’ll obviously wash them immediately after each use, so why bother keeping any spares around?  You can totally eat your frozen lasagna with a spoon when you forget that all 3 of your forks are in the dishwasher.  Don’t forget to use your shirt as a napkin too.

Step 4: If you think you may need a third or fourth hand to do something, just forget it and try anyway!  Though it may have hurt like hell when your curtain rod fell on your head the other day while you were laying in bed, you should totally be able to put it back up by yourself with no help at all. Your cat can let you know if you’re hanging it straight.

Step 5: Never worry about your safety, like being home alone or letting anyone know where you are going.  Don’t worry about keeping any sort of safety measures in your apartment, like mace or a baseball bat by your bed– you can totally handle it all on your own if someone breaks in at night.  Going out? Got a date with at total stranger?  Perfect! Make sure not to tell anyone so that if he turns out to be a psycho, nobody has to know!

Step 6: Eat anything you want.  Because there’s nobody around you judge you.  And I’m being serious on this one.

Hope these tips helped!  Anyone else living alone?  What are your extra fun tips?  Let me know!

PS.  I’m kidding about #5 (but only #5– the rest were totally legit). You need to be safe. Seriously– Wasp and Hornet spray from any hardware store and keep it by your bed.  That sh*t sprays from super far away, so you can get someone as they come in your door.  Also, it makes like a super cute decoration next to your brand new bedspread!

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Cheers to New Adventures

Once upon a time there was a very frustrated and frizzy haired girl living in Ohio.  She worked 3 jobs, and watched a lot of Netflix.  She felt like her life was in a rut, so she wanted a new start, in a new place that would be challenging and scary and force her to turn off the endless Friends marathons and make something of her life.

Then suddenly, through the power of a major social networking site that rhymes with “ShmaceFook”, the deal of a lifetime came about for a modest city dwelling in exactly the place she dreamed of moving.

Bing, bang, boom.  Notices for jobs were given, home decor was planned on Pinterest, and almost zero tears were shed as the frizzy hair girl packed up her cat and coffee cups and moved to the big city.

Greetings, Chicago.  I’m here to stay (for at last 10-months, because that’s how long my sub-lease is for) and ready to play.

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