In transition from moving from the North side to the West, I have been without the Internet at home for the past two and a half weeks.

Quite prehistoric, I know.

But it's actually been a bit of a blessing in disguise. Not for keeping up with my blog posts or working on any of the redesign that I'm trying to do on the site, but for making memories, finding inspiration and taking a break from the constantly connected world that we live in, no Internet has been a godsend.

This is what I've done instead of staring at my computer for hours on end...
  • Started learning how to play my guitar. I've been trying to dive into it all summer, but the lure of a TV show I missed or a blog post I needed to write always seemed to get in the way. Finally, I have started to make a dent and can play a pretty mean Ode to Joy... 
  • Stopped caring what people think so much. It's so easy to get caught up in your online persona--always making sure you have the deepest status update, wittiest tweet or coolest photo on Instagram. While my iPhone has still kept me pretty connected through social media, the lack of Internet has allowed me to take a step back and realize the people directly around me, in real, day-to-day life, are actually pretty darn good at offering "likes" without a computer screen in-between. 
  • Made an abundance of delicious, homemade meals. Funny when you stop spending hour after hour on Pinterest, you actutally have the time to make some of the recipes... 
  • Got to genuinely know an old and new friend. Last night, my friend Rissi who has been staying with me since my former roomie moved out looked at me and said, "I think I finally got to know Amanda Boleman." I looked at her a little quizzically as we've known each other for 4 years, but then it dawned on me that without all sorts of technology getting in the way, we really had time to sit down and actually talk. We didn't talk about what the latest hot celebrity just tweeted or share funny videos on YouTube--we simply sat and spoke about our lives day in and day out without the option of the Internet or TV dragging us in and zoning us out. Even when we had the choice to stay over at her friend (and now mine!) Josh's place with working Internet (okay, admittedly we did that ONCE after an evening of playing guitar and cooking dinner at mine), Josh would usually come over and join our no-Internet/Cable party instead and now I have an awesome new friend to show for it. 
Now, Candice and I are settling into our great new place and will have working Internet again by the end of the week. I'm excited to have technology back for the sake of getting the little things done, but I won't forget what these last couple of weeks have taught me and encourage everyone to disconnect for at least an evening each week.

Image via 1


Island Escape: Short Story

I came across this short story I wrote back in high school when I was at home a few weeks ago and was inspired by the detail and honesty my writing used to have.

Sometimes I feel like studying journalism has sucked out a lot of my creativity, always focusing on the who, what, where, when and why and leaving out the flair and pizzazz saved for descriptive writing. This piece was not only a blast from the past that brought me back to a place that I absolutely loved, but it was also a reminder that I do have the ability to write in different forms and I definitely want to start exploring that side again...

Island Escape

The Island, our extraordinary refuge, appeared in our lives just when the storm was becoming almost too much to handle.
In the awkward girl-to-woman transition, the too-young-to-drive-so-you-bike- everywhere, braces-wearing and pimple-popping summer between middle school and high school, I never thought I would find inner serenity in such an odd place.

On the days that our parents wouldn't take us to the beach or drive us to the mall no matter how hard we begged, my best friend and I would jump on our trusty mountain bikes and hit the open sidewalk. Trips around the lake and to our favorite picnic destinations were frequent pastimes, but after we found The Island, it became the only place our little legs would pedal to.

"Just get out!" her mom screamed as I watched my usually collected and strong best friend break down before my eyes. I knew that we needed to get out of there--quick. Before I could change my mind, I hastily grabbed her and marched out of the house. Climbing on top of our bikes, we started to speed away. Without looking back, we burned holes in the pavement with our psychotically swift, cycling legs, and made the cars look like snails in comparison to our increasing momentum. We didn't know where we were going, but wherever it was, we wanted to get there fast.

Arriving at our regularly traveled bike trail, we decided to give our exhausted limbs a rest. We plummeted down the monstrous hill leading through a woodsy path with nothing but the sun on our faces and the brisk air blowing our hair in the breeze. When we reached the bottom of the seemingly endless drop-off, we plopped down on the wildly-growing grass and she wiped away the last tear escaping down her pink, wind-blown cheek. After observing the area that we had grown so familiar with, we noticed a stomped-down pathway of grass through the trees and plants. My friend's once painfully sad eyes sparkled up at me, as if we were French explorers discovering uncharted land. With our curiosity and adventurous minds going to work, we embarked on a journey deep into the woods to find where the unknown path would lead us.

As we pushed through the jungle of branches, shrubs poked out in every direction, putting baby scratches all over our scantily-clad legs, and swarms of Minnesota-summer mosquitoes circled our heads, leaving their signature mark of itchy red bumps. We could hear rushing water in the creek that ran parallel to the path, making the trail feel damp and moist. Just when we got fed up and groaned in unison, "Let's go back," the path suddenly opened up to reveal what would become our secret haven--The Island.

Abruptly, Rice Creek came into view, and the rampant water whooshed by at an incalculable rate. My eyes were drawn to a colossal tree that had fallen across the creek and managed to wedge itself between trees on the opposite side of the rapids. Creating a natural bridge to an adjacent sand dune, the tree seemed purposefully placed to create a secluded island in the middle of the woods. The rich green leaves of the broken tree and the clear, raging stream formed the most beautiful disaster I had ever seen. 

From that day on, we visited The Island as often as we could. This special spot enabled us to be anything that we wanted to be--researchers doing experiments in the wild, washed up boat passengers stranded on a desert island, or just huge-hearted fifteen year-old girls who needed a place to call their very own. No matter how bad the family situation, or how much it hurt to watch a gangly crush clumsily tongue another girl, The Island remained an escape from the harsh realities that we were forced to deal with day after day. For that entire summer, I had a sanctuary to share that could put me at peace with anything, but especially with myself.

After high school began, the friendship I once knew slowly became a distant memory of days wasted away splashing around in the creek, lying on the sand and talking about our big dreams. I went back to The Island the following summer with a new group of girlfriends, only to find that the sturdy bridge was now nothing but a log being shoved out with the current as if it had never been there at all. A traitor to its own land, the water that provided not only beauty but also endless hours of entertainment and recklessness seemed to have swallowed The Island whole. This left the sand bar as nothing but a thin line of dirt and shells with carlessly thrown trash and beer bottles polluting the once immaculate earth that had served as a prime spot for laying out and working on my summer glow.

To this day, I still believe the loss of that friendship caused a tiny piece of The Island to die, and without that piece, it could never be the same again. Although The Island's reassuring environment and peaceful nature could only be enjoyed for that sole summer, I will never forget the tranquility it brought me, or the friendship that died by its side.

Image via 1


Color Me...Cerulean Blue

Color Me...Cerulean Blue

Color Me...Cerulean Blue by amanda-boleman 

Whether I was striving to match my eyes or my briefly-colored blue bangs, I certainly couldn't get enough of this vibrant hue in my life this summer! 

The Cerulean crayon was always my go-to if I wanted to give any coloring page a bright pop and I still love how the purity of the color looks against my white blonde hair and makes my eyes shine a deeper shade of blue than usual. 

shop: steven madden pumps / chan luu ring / free people iphone case / stella mccartney for adidas bag (no longer available) / great gatsby t-shirt / lulu in the sky headband //


Crazy Good Summer

If I've learned anything about the real world since graduation, it would be that you need to go out and ask for what you want. Figure out what your goals and ambitions are and make them known. People can't help you if they don't know what you want.

This is how I got to interview Boys Like Girls, Carly Rae Jepsen and Austin Mahone last Thursday at the Kellogg's Pop-Tarts' Crazy Good Summer concert event.

Since I had no idea I would be doing the interviews until after I got to work, I felt a little overwhelmed running around between an intern meeting and summer fashion photo shoot while also trying to get my other work done and prepare for the evening all at the same time.

But wow. As if I thought multi-tasking was difficult in the office... Filming, taking photos and interviewing the performers was a whole different ball game. Surprisingly though, the craziness of it all kept me from being super nervous and I was able to keep the interviews pretty conversational.

Especially after hanging out with Boys Like Girls and talking to the members I met way back in Melbourne. It's a small world after all.

About half-way through, Rissi was able to come out and help me with photos and filming and we had a great time jamming along with all the teeny-boppers in the crowd. We continued the fun after the show and met up with John and Morgan at the House of Blues and partied like rock stars (with rock stars!) until the wee hours of the morning.

Check out my full-length interview with Carly here.
For more behind-the-scenes footage, click here or take a peek at the RedEye photo gallery of the event.


Dying to Go Destinations: Morocco


It breaks my heart that I had already-purchased plane tickets to this sumptuous slice of North African paradise, but was unable to go when a bomb blew up in the tourist district of Marrakech a few weeks before we were scheduled to head out.

While it meant going to Istanbul instead (which I have absolutely NO complaints about!), I was disappointed because it would have marked 5 continents in one year (okay, not like 4 is anything to complain about either...) and it would have introduced me to a culture unlike anything I have experienced in my travels to date.

One day I hope to have the chance to actually go and explore this magical part of the Maghreb, preferably by camel-back! Sipping on mint tea and strolling through the souqs, I would treat this as an ultimate relaxation vacation with some must-see cultural stops along the way.

Particularly the blue city of Chefchaouen up in the Rif mountains. The blue-rinsed buildings look unreal in the photos I've seen and I can only imagine how serene I would feel walking along a gold-lined street with the various shades of my favorite color cooling down the hot afternoon sun.

Images via 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


Babies & Bridal Showers

                                                                       {Ring Pops for all to be engaged for the day}

While I still find it weird to get excited over mixing bowls and feel uncomfortable standing in the baby aisle at the store, I was so glad I was able to make it back to Minnesota for Jennie's baby shower and Alison's bridal shower.

{Outstanding in orange with the beautiful bride to be in-between}

The weekend was full of catching up with the girls and reminiscing about the days when things were more simple than diapers and diamond rings. And indulging in delicious treats, of course...

 {Rock candy in wedding colors}
{Bacon-wrapped dates}
 {To-die-for cake pops}

Tears filled my eyes when it was time to say goodbye, especially when I realized that I probably won't make it home again until Alison's actual wedding on the 14th of September.

Time at home is always too short, but weekends like these remind me that no matter what huge events take place in our lives or how much time we spend apart, we will always be the girls who knew each other from the start & who love each other just as much now as we did back then. 

Photos by mother-of-the-bride Sara Fischer


Tower on the Tongue: Travel Photo of the Day

Pisa, Italy

Despite stuffing my face full of pizza, pasta and gelato at least three times a day in Italy, I was apparently still hungry enough for a taste of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.


Chicago Apartment Hunting

As we get further into July, I find myself starting to wonder whether or not I'm going to be homeless come August 1st.

This is not because I have an expensive crack addiction that has drained me of all my money.
Nor is it because I haven't taken the time to look for a new place.
And it's ESPECIALLY not because I'm being nit-picky and refuse to live anywhere outside of the bubble that is Lincoln Park.

Rather, the dismal truth is that the renting market in Chicago (everywhere...) has fallen with the rest of the economy and rent prices have skyrocketed while vacancies are down. Horrible combination.

Apartments are literally being snatched up in mere hours after being listed and decent apartments now have good apartment prices attached...usually with no utilities included.

RedEye recently ran a story about this issue, offering suggestions for alternate neighborhoods to try out beyond the ever-popular Lincoln Park/Lakeview/Wicker Park areas, but even still my struggle continues.

I don't think what I'm asking for is too out there! A 2-bedroom apartment; max-rent: $1,700; no pets; non-smokers; near the El so we can get downtown to work/school.



Shedd Aquarium + Jellies Exhibit

It's always fun when my family comes to visit because it gives me the excuse to do all the touristy things around the city that I wouldn't usually do. When my mom, grandpa, little brother and sister came down for graduation, we decided to take a trip to the Shedd Aquarium and check out the highly publicized Jellies exhibit.

We had such a blast walking through the aquarium and seeing underwater creatures from across the globe. My sister nicknamed these goofy looking guys "Snooki" fish for the poof on the top of their heads. 

I'm so glad we decided to add the Jellies exhibit to our entry; I completely understand why people have been raving about it for the past few months! We saw at least 15 different types of jelly fish (who knew there were so many!?) and were enthralled with watching them slink their way through the tanks. 

My absolute favorite were the blue blubber (otherwise known as cannonball) jellies with their short tentacles and glowing heads. They moved so differently than any of the long-tentacled species and I couldn't help but laugh at their short, staccato strides. 

After four years living in Chicago, I can't believe this was only my second time at the Shedd! Definitely a great place for family fun.

The Jellies exhibit has been extended to run at the Shedd Aquarium through 2013.


Quaint & Quiet in Queenstown: Travel Photo of the Day

Queenstown, New Zealand

When I look at this picture, I can hardly find the words to explain the impeccable beauty of this faraway island. Each and every day, Samantha, Allison and I would walk by this same little harbor and stare out in awe of the snow-capped mountains and still, clear water that looks like something straight out of a postcard.

Through the periwinkle hue of dusk and clouds settling over the water, you can just make out The Remarkables in the distance, covered in snow even in the middle of a New Zealand summer (aka November!).

 Never before had I seen a country with such a colorful landscape. The greens were so green; the blues so blue--it was like the whole town had the Saturation editing tool on high so all the colors would come through as vividly as possible. Or maybe the Kiwi's just actually know how to take care of the environment...


Wavefront Music Festival

So I didn't quite bare it all, but instead added high-waisted shorts for a little smaller sliver of skin that definitely gave me the extra boost of confidence to work it all out on the dance floor. 

Crazily enough, I recognized this girl from my fashion post on Spring Awakening and went up to ask if it was her in the hippie chic outfit on my camera. Small worlds collide (some may even call it serendipity!) & in fact, it was her AND she was sharing my style with a cropped-up tank and high-waisted denim cut-offs. 

Unfortunately, the fashion at Wavefront wasn't all that notable minus a few cuties sporting summer's hottest trends like those neon pink skinnies and the adorable bralet with a high-waisted skirt. Otherwise, it was just bikini tops and tutus as far as the eye could see.

Well and the hybird Lady Gaga-Princess Gwenevere-esque, space creature that could be found twirling around above the crowd here and there. 

And some sexy guys to turn up the heat in true Americana fashion.


All in all, I think the best part of the day was watching the sun set over the city with sand in my toes and dancing my life away with my loved ones around me.