A Sassy Milwaukee Guide

A Sassy Milwaukee Guide

One of my best friends from high school (and study abroad!) lives in Milwaukee – or rather in a suburb of Milwaukee nowadays – but that meant I spent a lot of time visiting her and the adorable little city a lot over the last few years.

Last weekend, my friends and I went up for a night to go to Irish Fest. I think often Chicago gets this rap for being the best at street fests, but I argue that Milwaukee does it way better than we do! The Summerfest grounds aren’t just used for the two-week music festival (which is awesome btw – it’s like a much cleaner and less chaotic Lolla), it’s also then a site for multiple other festivals through the summer! Irish Fest takes place on the same festival grounds right on the lake and it’s a ton of family-filled fun. Tickets are only $20. It’s never too crowded. The food is great (curry chips!). And the music is amazing – and often the bands play multiple days while at the fest so if you can only go one day you’ll probably be able to see all the bands you want!

Below is the itinerary I followed on my recent trip this summer to Milwaukee. There is so much to see and do there and I will probably do a follow-up guide of some of my fave things to do for a whole weekend, but if you’re looking for just an overnight trip and want to see some cool things here is the guide for you:

Hotels

  • Saint Kate: For our latest trip to Milwaukee, we wanted a hotel that was closer to downtown and my friend had recently heard great things about this new art gallery/hotel called Saint Kate. I am so glad we stayed here because this place is gorgeous and so cool. The lobby and second floor are one part hotel one part art installation. So many cool pieces. To keep the artistic theme going, each room comes with a ukulele, a record player, and a roll of paper and coloring pencils so your artsy side can come alive. The rooms themselves are also very artsy! The tiles in the bathroom are art in themselves. The rooms have a very whimsical steampunk vibe and the beds are comfyyyyyy. We loved our stay here and highly recommend it.

Restaurants

  • Crossroad Collective: A food hall in Milwaukee’s East Side neighborhood. They have many food stalls, but our fave was the Egg & Flour Pasta Bar. Enough so that we took our leftovers back to the hotel with us! They make their pastas IN A WHEEL OF A CHEESE like they do in Italy so we were sold right away. I also tried the Falafel Guys’s hummus and falafel (some of the best falafel I’ve ever had), and my friends all got ice cream from Scratch which they all adored.
  • Toast: We went here for Brunch and sat outside on the patio. It’s a really cute, no frills place with straight forward good brunch food with a Mexican spin. I loved my breakfast sandwich. They make their own donuts in house. I have to say I wasn’t a fan, so skip those!
  • Giggly Champagne Bar: I mean if there is a champagne bar, you best believe I am gonna go there! This one happened to be in our hotel and they have an AWESOME happy hour until 7pm where glasses of wine are only $5, so def hit this up even if you aren’t staying at the hotel.

Shopping

  • Waxwing: This is such a cute little Midwestern local good shop. Lots of cute gifts that are specifically focused on the Midwest/Great Lakes area.
  • Beans & Barley: A specialty goods store and restaurant. Kind of reminds me of Treasure Island but with gifts and a little deli. We didn’t eat here, but I’ve heard good things.

Walls

  • Selena Mural: In the Walker’s Point neighborhood is an awesome mural of the Mexican-American Madonna, Selena Quintanilla by Marco Ramirez. I somehow managed to match it completely by accident! It’s across the street from Fuel Cafe for those trying to find it.
  • Black Cat Alley: An award-winning outdoor art gallery on the East Side (right by Crossroad Collective). There are 17 murals – an amazing opportunity for outfit shots!

The itinerary for this trip was created with the help of Visit Milwaukee. This was not a complimentary trip and all opinions are my own. 

Sisterhood of the Lane Bryant Flex Magic Waistband Jeans

Sisterhood of the Lane Bryant Flex Magic Waistband Jeans

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Lane Bryant. All opinions are 100% mine.

Since college ended I have worn dresses almost exclusively. If I show up to an event or party in anything but a dress my friends usually do a double-take, but that’s because I have a hard time finding jeans that fit my body well or that I don’t have to roll the cuffs up on or more importantly, are comfortable enough to wear all day.

A lot of companies seem to think that all plus-size bodies are the same. We are all tall. We all have larger bottoms. We all have thicker ankles. And that’s just not the truth. Just like straight sizes, we come in all shapes. And thankfully Lane Bryant has created a line of jeans that cater to all sorts of bodies and I have never felt sexier in denim than I have in the Flex Magic Waistband High-Rise Tighter Tummy jeans.

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Lane Bryant Magic Flex Waistband Tighter Tummy High Rise Jeans

They fit my body like a GLOVE. My butt is clearly defined and doesn’t look saggy like it does in some other jeans I own. The Tighter Tummy jeans stay up on my waist and don’t lose their structure throughout the day, but they still have some stretch in them. And they have a patented reinforced high-rise panel that helps slim your stomach and smooth your waist giving me definition in my body that makes me feel more confident.

 

And the most important thing for me is that the jeans fit me at the ankles. I have often found that jeans made for plus size women flare out at the bottom, but these mold to your ankle size. I went with the petite sizing since I am 5’2 so the regular size was a little too long for me and I would have had to cuff them.

Now, here’s the most fun part of this whole post. It’s the part where I tell you I’m hosting a denim event at Lane Bryant in Fullerton Plaza on Saturday, August 17th from 2-4pm. I will be there to help everyone try on their amazing Magic Flexband denim that comes not only in this Tighter Tummy style, but also Curvy Fit, their Signature Super Stretch, and the Deluxe Fit. Each of these fits is for a different body type – like if you’re fuller in the waist but smaller through the hips (Deluxe!) or if you have a small waist but curvier hips (Curvy!) – they have something for EVERYONE! So stop by so I can help you shop.

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When I went in last week to try on all the denim, I also was able to try a lot of other items (hopefully you saw my stories when I was in store doing a style session with myself!). I loved almost every top I tried on, but the overall winner was this Striped Off-the-Shoulder Poplin Top. I am wearing a size 16 cause I think this style runs a little big in the shoulders. It’s feminine and adds a pop of FUN to the outfit so it felt very me.

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Striped Off-the-Shoulder Poplin Top

And just in case you didn’t think this outfit was head to toe (except for the shoes sorry everyone!), you were WRONG. Underneath these jeans, I am wearing the Cacique No-Show Hipster Panty with Lace. They are currently having an amazing deal on their website – 5 panties for $35. Amazing deal! I know I needed some new undies and these feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all which I love.

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No-Show Hipster Panty with Lace

Chicagoans – don’t forget to come to try on these magical jeans with me this upcoming Saturday. It’ll be so fun and I wrangled Jim (aka my dad) to come too! You know he will want to style everyone so come out – it’ll be so fun!

 

The Anxiety of Traveling While Plus Size

The Anxiety of Traveling While Plus Size

Will the seatbelts on the flight be too small? Is the “Moderate Difficulty” description on the tour we picked accurate or will it be too hard for me? Do I need to wear shorts under my dresses the whole time so I don’t have chafed thighs my whole vacation?

These are just some of the things I think about before I travel as a plus-size woman.

I had never really given some of these things a second thought until I recently traveled to Peru. I think of myself as a relatively in shape person who can handle the moderate activity on a hike or other similar physical activity. On other trips, if there had been an activity that required a harness or suit, they had always had my size. I never felt like I couldn’t handle something or I was embarrassed by my lack of capabilities until I had to hike in Peru.

And let’s be clear, I wasn’t REALLY hiking. I was just walking around towns and walking up structures (aka Machu Picchu) in really thin air. And it was pretty brutal. All those people who had warned me that I should be training for the altitude and hiking had been correct. What I am getting at here though is that I came back to the US with a clear understanding of the anxiety of traveling as a plus-size woman.

Over the last few years, I gained some weight so this realization was a pretty big one for me to come to especially since I still really love to travel. And I like doing adventure type things. I’ve bungee jumped in New Zealand, sky-dived in Wisconsin, para-sailed in Key West, para-glided in Switzerland. I love doing it all, but when you are plus size there is always a risk of an apparatus being too small or having to pay extra because of your size.

For example, when I went sky-diving last fall with my dad and aunt, I had read somewhere you had to be under 220 pounds or you couldn’t fly and some places would let you but it cost extra. I was just slightly over 220 lbs when I had already booked and paid for skydiving and I was panicking. I was so nervous I would be humiliated if I walked in and was 5 lbs over and was turned away from this activity or was asked to put down an extra $75. Spoiler: it was all fine – turns out they had changed maximum recently to 240 lbs.

I recently went to Iceland on vacation and was a little anxious to go on more of an adventure vacation with my friends who are much skinnier and fitter than me because I hate holding people back when we are doing physical activities. And there was a reason I felt this way. Last year, we had gone on a vacation to LA and I had begged to do Runyon Canyon. It looked fun. I like outdoor activities that include maybe seeing a celebrity! Let’s do it, I thought. My friend who used to live there warned me numerous times it’s a very steep canyon, but I insisted. My two friends, who also went to Iceland with me, walked about half a mile ahead of me the whole time. I didn’t want to hold them back and I had the same fear I would in Iceland. (SIDE NOTE: I did hike the whole way up. I was dead, but I did it).

Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about. But that tickle of anxiety is always in the back of your head when you travel as a plus-size person. Am I going to have to deal with being embarrassed because my size isn’t being accommodated?

After Iceland, I started to see the issue a little differently. Sure, I could be embarrassed, or turned away, but do I want that to stop me from experiencing the things I want to experience? Do I want to wait until I get below 220 lbs to try skydiving? What if I NEVER get to 220 lbs and I miss the experience altogether?!

Sitting on the sidelines isn’t something we as plus size women should have to do. We are allowed to have the same experiences as other people when we are on vacation. The more we want to experience things, the more we will be accommodated by travel companies. The more we see other plus people doing these fun, physical activities the more people like us will want to experience them too!

I’d love if people would share their stories below of times they have felt anxious to do something physical whether it’s on vacation or in your day to day life and you did it and you’re proud to say you did it! The more we share, the more we convince ourselves we can do it.

Break-ups and Shake-ups

It’s been three weeks since we broke up and I was doing really well until the 4th of July.

The rational side of me knows that this is for the best. We didn’t want the same things for our futures. Our day-to-day lives were very different. Our mindsets were not on the same track so to speak.

But that doesn’t change the fact that we had a good time together. That he made me laugh. That I made him laugh. That we liked a lot of the same things. That we had plans for the summer. That we had a lot of fun memories from the last six months.

This past weekend was the first time I think I truly felt sad that our relationship being over. It was the first time I truly missed him. Sure, I had wanted to text him about Big Little Lies or the ending of Pauly D and Vinny’s shot at trying to find love for the last few weeks, but that was missing our friendship more than our relationship. 4th of July was the first time I missed having him there as a boyfriend.

I had a bad day on the 4th. It was just a big swirl of UGH. I don’t actually want to share too much of why it was so ugh, but it was. Even though I had been very rational about our break up, that then swirled in with the rest of the ugh and I started to let it all sink in. To say this weekend was very emotional for me is an understatement. Things that helped: baths, talks, pilates. But I know having him there would have helped a lot more than a bath.

Breaking up is really a form of mourning or grieving. You are grieving what was, what could have been, your hopes for your future. And that’s why I hadn’t dated in so long. Not dating was the ultimate guarding of my heart. I never wanted to grieve again after my mom passed, but I had finally let someone in. Unfortunately, he hadn’t let me in like I had let him in and that made our relationship shorter than both of us thought it would last.

And now here I am grieving.

And the grief this time is easier. It still hurts and stings and it will take me a little time to get over, but I am learning that it is OK to stop guarding my heart. My heart is resilient. It can be healed and I can try again. If nothing else, I am glad he taught me that lesson.

 

 

Why I Don’t Have a Niche

Being able to explain what your brand does is very important. It’s Marketing 101. And having a personal blog, an Instagram, or Twitter is having a brand.

But how do you market that brand when your brand is just simply…you?

Ever since I changed my Insta name to Sassy Confetti I’ve had a hard time figuring out what my “niche” is. For a while, it was food. And then I added in stuff I did around Chicago. And then when Instagram Stories came into the picture and people started asking me about my clothes, I thought why not also talk about fashion? Why not talk about travel? Why not include my family, friends, relationships? Why not just show everyone everything? Instagram is basically a scrapbook of my life anyway…why not just show it all? So, I did.

A lot of people along the way encouraged me to find a niche. “You can’t be everything to everyone,” someone once said to me. When I posted more fashion, food accounts would unfollow and when I posted food fashion accounts would unfollow. And I thought they were right, but I kept growing even though I was sharing whatever I wanted.

Somewhere along the way I stopped caring about having a niche and eventually, people in the blogging world started calling me Sassy instead of Alex because Sassy isn’t just an adjective. Sassy is Alex aka me. And somewhere along the way, I didn’t have a niche anymore because my niche was just being me. That’s what made me stand out. That I was just purely ME…Sassy.

People ask me a lot how I’ve been able to grow my Instagram because lifestyle and fashion accounts are a dime a dozen. It’s hard to grow them because there are just so many. The market is over saturated with people trying to sell you their niche, their brand, their style. So what was my secret sauce? How did I keep growing even though I didn’t have a niche?

A lot of growth is luck – let’s be honest – because not everyone started out on day one when Instagram just began. Some of us started just two or three years ago (or just months ago!) so they didn’t get a leg up. I was lucky enough to start doing this before the saturation had begun, but not when it was at its peak either. When the algorithms weren’t impossible to predict. The other half is hard work. Commenting, responding to DMs, cultivating TRUE relationships is how you really grow.

And then a tiny sliver of growth and success in the blogging world is being real. Being your true self. Showing everyone the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sure, you don’t see everything. I don’t always talk about all the bad things in my life, but I do let you in to see enough that you all know a good amount about me and the hardships I’ve dealt with. You also see me without makeup, without a bra, and you see my insecurities. I think growth is a lot about that. And it’s why brands want to work with people now because their audiences trust them when they are honest with them.

So when people ask me to describe my blog or explain what my niche is, I say simply, “My niche is me. It’s about fun and color and food and Chicago and travel and fashion and movies and books and podcasts and friends and family.” Because I am all those things. I’m not just one thing and I don’t want to talk about just one thing either.

And that’s ultimately the most important thing, right? What do you want to talk about? Is it just food? Is it just fashion? Awesome! Go for it! Is it fashion and food? Cool! Is it about all of the above and then some? That’s cool too.

Just be you whether that is having a niche or not.

Things To Do in Chicago During Spring (AKA when it’s still rainy or snowy cause Chicago)

Things To Do in Chicago During Spring (AKA when it’s still rainy or snowy cause Chicago)

If you follow my stories on Instagram, you probably already know that I love staying busy and I love trying new things, which can sometimes be hard in a city like Chicago where you can’t really go outside much during the winter/spring because it’s cold AF. A lot of the time new and fun just means leaving your house for two hours to try a new restaurant. But for me, eating out all the time as a past time gets old fast so below are some things I did this winter and spring that I would highly recommend as the weather is still figuring itself out.

Aura Readings by Revealing Soul 

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My friends and I actually heard about Cindy who runs Revealing Soul from my astrologer friend Lauren of Modern Astrologer. We had done an astrology reading private party the year prior and Lauren had mentioned that her friend was starting to do aura readings. Cindy sets up a special custom camera that takes pictures of your aura, which is the light around your person, and then translates what that means in a group setting. To do a group reading like we did in your own home, you have to have at least 5 people, but she also does private readings out of her own home! We had a great time and I will definitely be seeing her again since she’s a medium as well. More on that to come!

The Magic Penthouse

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This past month, I did a fun date night with my boyfriend to see some magic. But The Magic Penthouse isn’t a regular magic show. For one, they only put on their exclusive shows once a month. The name of the show got its name because they were doing small, private shows out of their friend’s penthouse apartment where a few magicians would come and do magic up close and personal in an intimate setting. It grew from there to where they now do the same thing but in a ballroom at a hotel. The dress is cocktail chic, you get champagne all night (it’s an open bar so really anything you want), and you see magic not just on a stage but while you roam around the room. That way you get to truly interact with each magician as you want. If you’re more interested in mind readers, you could spend the whole 2 hours with just him or if you want to see it all you can walk around and sample all the magic. We truly had the best time and I would highly recommend it. The next show is coming up soon on May 17th!

Vanderpump/Bachelor in Paradise Viewing Parties 

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The only part about Monday that I enjoy is the TV. Right now that means Vanderpump Rules and soon that means Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise! I personally love to go to viewing parties like I did just last night at Broken Barrel to watch the Vanderpump Rules finale. They do theme food specials (like goat cheese balls!) and Pumptini cocktails and set up the room to look like SUR! Ranalli’s also does fun specials during the Bachelor/Bachelorette with heart-shaped pizza and discounts on Bachelor wine (yes, this is a thing).

Face Masks at Scratch Goods 

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This is a super fun BYOB activity. Scratch Goods in the West Loop hosts face mask tutorial type classes all the time and you can do it as a group activity or just go with one or two friends. They walk you through how to make the mask and you get to apply all the product and walk out with a fresh face!

Trial Run: Organic Tampons

Trial Run: Organic Tampons

Let me start this post by saying I am in no way a clean/green natural product expert. I still use non-natural deodorant after a pretty gross rash occurred while using Kopari. I want to try to use more natural cleaning products in my house but haven’t started the transition yet. Clean beauty products are something I have but not exclusively.

However, I read somewhere recently that tampons come in direct contact with very sensitive, highly permeable internal tissue in our bodies (makes sense when you think about it!) and that vaginal tissue contains a very large number of blood vessels and mucous membranes which can carry chemicals and other materials to other parts of your body.

It’s worth noting that the research on the above is so varied. I read article after article while writing this post about if you need to use organic tampons or not and what are the side effects of traditional tampons and one doctor said glyphosate is the main factor for people turning to organic which exists in such trace amounts in tampons that “a lifetime of heavy tampon use doesn’t approach the amount allowed for one day of oral intake.”

So the toxins might not be a major concern, but the idea of organic tampons being biodegradable really spoke to me – especially a plant-based applicator because the less plastic we have that doesn’t disintegrate on this planet is fine by me. Some women also said they felt less hormonal issues (cramping, heavy bleeding) when using organic tampons which also spoke to me since I get really bad cramps during my period.

At which point I was like OK, sounds like I could probably be fine using conventional tampons for the rest of my life, but what is the harm in trying something more natural especially if it’s biodegradable and makes me feel like I’m doing something positive for the earth?

Ironically not long after that, O.B. Tampons reached out to me to see if I wanted to do a collaboration around their organic tampons as did the plant-based feminine care company Honeypot Co. This is what I like to call good old fashioned telling the universe what you want and then it lands right in your lap karma. I’ve also heard really good things about Lola, but I didn’t order any in time for my April period so I will have to add to this post once I receive them in the mail!

Last week, I had my period so I used both organic tampon products and here are my thoughts on organic tampons overall.

CONS: 

  • I felt like I had to switch these tampons out more than conventional tampons. For me, this was comparable to having to apply more natural deodorant throughout the day. It’s doable, but also annoying especially when you’re used to it being so convenient to NOT have to switch out your tampon so frequently. Organic tampons definitely aren’t as absorbent as conventional tampons and that’s what a lot of people usually put in the PRO list because that means it’s less likely for you to get toxic shock syndrome. I usually use Playtex tampons and they are known for being SUPER absorbent so I think the variance there was a big one for me since I’m used to using maybe only 2-3 tampons a day during a heavy day and with organic tampons I used probably more like 5-7.
  • That whole thing about feeling less hormonal? That was a definite NO for me. I had one of the worst bout of cramps I have had in a while this go around. Ones that had me laying on the floor cursing everyone and everything out. I’m not sure if the hormonal thing is something that comes with using the organic tampons more regularly or not, but for me in this instance no I still had heavy bleeding and cramps.
  • The tampons were really easy to insert, but sometimes when removing them it hurt a little bit more than conventional tampons seemed to. This isn’t a deterrent for me, it wasn’t enough pain to make me not want to use them, more of a like, “Oh, that isn’t what it normally feels like”.
  • Organic tampons are much more expensive. I could get a 36 pack of non-natural tampons for the same price as a box of 18 organic tampons.

PROS

  • For me, the fact that both products were biodegradable is a big draw for me and would overshadow a lot of the cons.
  • O.B. actually has applicators that are 92% plant-based which again makes me feel better about trashing them. Honeypot’s applicators are plastic just BPA free.
  • In general, just feel better about what I am putting in my body and what I am putting back in the earth.

Overall, I thought my experience with organic tampons was a positive one. I would 100% buy organic in the future and try different size tampons and companies to find the right one for me.

I wouldn’t say O.B. or Honeypot won over one another. They both had good products that did what they said they would. O.B. might have a bit of an edge because they have plastic-free applicators, but Honeypot was founded by women, donates their time and money to menstruation charities like Happy Period, and is a start-up so really both would keep me as customers moving forward.

If you want to read more on the subject of if organic tampons are right for you, I suggest this article which helped me a lot when I was doing my own research.