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28 THINGS IVE LEARNED WHILE BEING 28


Today is my birthday. I'm turning the big 2-9 today. Not quite yet 30 but getting pretty darn close. To commemorate my 28th year, I pulled together 28 things I've learned while being 28.

I'm not going to lie, I went back and forth on if I should write up this list. First on my mind was if I could come up with 28 pieces of wisdom to share with you. I mean that's A LOT of things that I have learned. But I decided to go ahead with it because I think acknowledging things that you have accomplished can help you grow. It has been a pretty crazy and unexpected year. If you'll recall, I ushered in 28 unemployed but very actively interviewing for new jobs. Since then I have started my new job at Sephora corporate and been there for 10 months!

So here it is…28 Things I've Learned While Being 28 (in no particularly meaningful order, told by my Instagrams )


1. Things Will Work Themselves Out - Trying to find a new job is hard especially when you don't have an income and costs are adding up, but waiting to accept the right job is so important. Take a breath and remember things will sort themselves out. I interviewed for months with Sephora for multiple positions and that led me to my current job.


2. Experiences make really good gifts - my sister gave me the sweetest gift (literally) for Christmas. She gave me a cooking class to Sur La Table. It was such a fun experience that I decided to return the favor for her birthday and give her tickets whale watching. Although the gift might be a little more expensive, the memories you share together will stay in your mind for years to come.


3. Hustle - one of the things I'm most proud of from the last year was all of the work I did with fabulous partners on my blog. I had the opportunity to work with everyone from Serena and Lily to HP. I love blogging for opening the door to partnerships with so many amazing companies. It doesn't come easy though. Behind the scenes, I'm working hard to create great content for the blog and pick the right people to partner with. I'm happy that I have stuck with it and continued to push myself to create (hopefully) inspiring posts.


4. Be Smart - One of the hardest things to do when I was unemployed was cut back on my unnecessary expenses. I cut down manicures to once a month and did my own nails the other 3 weeks. I ordered drip coffee or tea instead of a latte. Believe me, I know that most of these things are #firstworldproblems but they are things that make me really happy. I didn't want to cut them out completely so I just tried to cut back a little more than usual. One thing I did allow myself was mini shopping trips to Daiso, the Japanese dollar store. I stocked up on cute bowls and plates, all for under $1.50 a pop. Now that's a cheap thrill.


5. A good lipstick is hard to find - at my new job I've tried on A LOT of lipsticks in the 10 months I've been there. And the perfect lipstick is harder to find than a unicorn. I'm telling you, it's not easy. So when I tried the Le Marc lipstick and it lasted throughout cocktails and appetizers, I was hooked. My favorites shades are Oh Miley!, Boy Gorgeous and Blow.


6. Stop and enjoy the moment - sometimes the light is hitting the buildings just right on your walk home, or you are poolside in Napa with the only sound being the rustling of trees and, in that moment, it's just perfect. Acknowledge those moments and appreciate them (it makes them even better than they are!)


7. Use It - As a child, I always saved my stickers for something special. I kept them stockpiled in a box for that one special time. Well I grew out of the sticker phase and they were never used. As an adult, I did the same with beauty products. I said, I need to save this special face mask for something important. But since I now have access to a seemingly endless supply (seriously, do you need something? come over to my house) of beauty products, I have been using them with nearly reckless abandon. And, you know what? I still have a lot left. You think that if you use something, it will be gone in the blink of an eye. Well actually it lasts quite long and you can always buy more of it. So go ahead, use up that gold sparkly eyeshadow. The time is now.


8. Blog friends make wonderful real friends - some of the friends that I have met while blogging have turned into "real" friends outside of the fun blogging events that we attend. I am constantly inspired by their creativity and appreciative of their camaraderie as we figure this whole blogging thing out.


9. Give yourself a break - Starting a new job is super tough. I was (and sometimes still am) so hard on myself when it comes to learning new things but you have to be kind to yourself. You have to give yourself the time you need to learn a new task. It will take time and you probably will make mistakes. The key is to be nice and keep moving forward.


10. Get Dirt on Your Shoes - One of my favorite things that I have started doing this year has been getting out of the city to go on hikes. Being in nature instantly calms me down and makes me less stressed about work. I am fortunate that we have so many amazing trails so close to home.


11. You can DIY something - For being an interior design-focused blogger, I dont do much around DIY for your home. I'll be honest, I'm not that into it because I dont have the space to be spray painting etc. But I saw this on the side of the road and knew I had to have it. I convinced my friend to help me load it into an Uber and take it up the stairs for me. It was all worth it. After I polished up the brass handles and re-coated it in shiny black spray paint, it looked as good as new.


12. If You Really Want Something Work for It - To me, photos are such an important part of blogging. I am such a visual person that photos are everything to me. So it didn't quite make sense that I was still using a little point-and-shoot to do all my blog posts for nearly half of last year. When November rolled around and I was firmly a month into my new job, I bought myself a "real" camera. I love my camera and can't imagine blogging without it. I put aside money for months to save enough to buy it. If you really want something, find a way to make it happen.


13. Take Care of Your Skin - Much to my dismay, wrinkles have started popping up around my eyes. It was a wakeup call to invest a little more into my skin. I have been making a point of it to be more dedicated to putting on eye cream, wearing a hat in the sun and drinking plenty of water.


14. Get Outta Town - This year, I took several amazing trips. One of my favorites was to Palm Springs with my girlfriends. You don't have to go far and it doesn't have to be expensive. There is something so magically restorative about spending a weekend away from home. It gives you perspective. I for one am going to be planning more mini-vacations in the future.


15. Great Co-workers Make All of the Difference - I really like the group of women that I work with. They are funny, collaborative and solutions-oriented. If something goes wrong, they all pitch in to help. They are also really great at celebrating successes and giving credit where it is due. It makes going into work a whole heck of a lot easier.


16. If you have a little routine and it makes you happy, it's worth it - Every morning, I love to stop by Blue Bottle Coffee for a drip coffee. My unemployed self would have scolded me for this seemingly frivolous activity. After all, I have coffee sitting in my refrigerator. But coffee at home rushing around isn't the same as sipping at my desk. It's a little routine I look forward to and it is worth paying a little more for.


17. Friends will have babies and that will be ok (great, actually) - A few years ago and continuing until now, my entire Facebook feed way a blur of weddings, bridesmaid dresses and bachelorette parties. I have been seeing those wedding pictures slowly be replaced with baby photos. It is a crazy transformation from early college drinking pics to baby pics detailing their first step. But it happens and, you know what? It isn't that bad. My old roommate had her baby this year and she is just the cutest thing ever. I feel fortunate to be in her life and am so happy for this next stage of my friend's lives.


18. Fresh flowers are a must - If it already wasn't painfully obvious, I love flowers. I love how they add color to my otherwise monochromatic apartment. They also give a sense of life. My favorite is to pick them up on walk home.


19. There is something magical about the water - This year I was fortunate to go to Hawaii with my family. I realized how magical being by the water is for me. My favorite feeling in the whole world is getting out of the water after an hour of snorkeling all pruney and salt-soaked. I learned that I am at my happiest when I'm by the ocean.


20. Family is important - Having my sister in San Francisco is such a nice comfort. We actually work in the same building so have been able to coordinate breakfast, walking home or grabbing a drink after work. I am so fortunate that she is here for me to go to when I need a little pick-me-up or someone to watch the latest Magic Mike movie with.


21. Don't underestimate the power of heels - Sometimes when I know I'm going to have a really busy day or it just feels a little overwhelming, I put on heels. For me, heels have this crazy ability to help me feel pulled together and ready to take on anything.


22. Keep moving - I've been making a point of it to walk home at least two times a week. It takes me about an hour but in that time, I can catch up with my parents and my grandma. It also makes me appreciate the city that I live in because everyone is out eating dinner, walking home from the gym or meeting up with someone for a drink. It helps bring a little life to the bus-work-home routine.


23. Macaroons are hard to make - This year I have really challenged myself with making difficult things like layer cakes, macaroons and bread. Yes, there have been quite a few kitchen disasters but you just scrap it and start over. There is nothing like the feeling of conquering a hard recipe and enjoying the end result.


24. Pamper yourself - sometimes you deserve something special: a manicure, a $12 green juice, a foot massage. I find that giving myself these little luxuries really pays off. It makes me feel like I did something good for myself.


25. There's no shame in a favorite place - sometimes it's ok to play favorites with a local spot. I can't get enough of the lox everything bagels at 20th Century Cafe. For a period of time, I was going there so much that I stopped taking pictures for fear of fatuing everyone else out. What can I say, if you find something good stick with it?


26. Learning something new will never be a waste of time - last summer I taught myself calligraphy. Admittedly I don't have as much time to keep it up these days but its a skill I'm glad I learned. It's always good to keep your brain working hard and thinking in different ways. Now what to learn for 29?


27. Keep your friends close - when things go awry, like they did when I got laid off, friends are so important. My friends and I have gone through a lot this year but I'm glad that we are there to support each other. I feel fortunate that they have been there to provide perspective, encouragement and sometimes just a hug.


28. There is still much ahead - I thought that I would wrap this up by saying that there is still much more to come. Many more lessons to be learned, people to meet and experiences to be had. Thank you for following along on this journey with me. All the people that support and read this blog mean so much to me.

Phew. That was hard. I hope that was insightful, a little funny and motivating. How am I going to come up with 29 things next year? I better start now ;-)


ELLIE TRAVELS (IN SF): NOB HILL SPA

YES YOU CAN MAKE: OCEAN-INSPIRED OMBRE FUNFETTI CAKE