Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Current Obsessions

Often times, I find a product, song, food, anything really and become fixated on it.  Like, I can't get enough.  I often focus so much on any given thing that the fascination wears out and I've moved on to the next thing.  Today I thought I'd share some of these things with you - no judging please :)

- Covet App.  Clothes, shoes, accessories, hairstyles, makeup!  In this game you enter "events" and dress your avatar accordingly with real life designers.  Others judge your outfit and you can win more clothes, shoes, etc.  I'm sort of obsessed - it's fun to dress someone else with items I wish I had myself.

- (This one is going to embarrass me) "Adore You" by Miley Cyrus.  I know that Miley is a hot mess, but I love this song!  I listen to it in the car and belt it out.  I first heard it while driving home after my Dad had an accident - not sure if it stuck with me because of that, but I still love it.

- Daily Burn.  I've recently jumped on the working out bandwagon.  It's almost swimsuit time (even though it doesn't feel like it in Chicago).  I love this program - $10/month, and they are all online workouts that you can do at home.  You pick your program, pace, length of workout and they do the rest.  So far I've been sore every day so I'm taking that as a good sign.  PS - first month is free!

- My Reef leopard print sandals.  Paired with a fresh pedicure, wearing these makes me feel like it could be summer soon.

- Shameless.  The title says it all, this show is shameless.  The scenerios that the Gallagher's get themselves in to are ridiculous - but we cant stop watching.  We just finished Season 2 on Netflix and can't wait for Season 3.

- Making lists.  I make one for things to do at work, home, ideas for gifts, blog posts, I could go on and on and on.  I love crossing items off!

- Last but not least, my trip to Vegas, which is THURSDAY!  It seriously snuck up on me but I cannot wait to sit by the pool, see Britney and catch up with some old friends.  Girls weekends are the best.

What are you current obsessions?  Anyone else listening to Miley?!

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Time to Celebrate

Today I am linking up with Emily from ember grey for Grateful Heart Monday.  I am so thankful to have spent the weekend celebrating my little girl's special day.

E had her party on Saturday with her little friends at a local children's museum.  When they weren't busy running around, playing in water and making ginormous bubbles, time was spent eating way too much sugar in the forms of cake, juice and cake pops.  (Sorry moms and dads!)

As mentioned in my Letter to E, she is obsessed with all animals, but especially puppies.  So naturally, that was the theme of the party!  We went with orange, pink and yellow and I might have gone a little crazy with the customization of it all.  Etsy is my best friend!

original pin, centerpiece, cake pops "adopt me" favor originally seen on greenwaylifeandhome.blogspot.com

The kids loved picking out their own puppy to "adopt" and take home.  E is obsessed with her centerpiece and insisted that it be displayed in her room (so of course it is front and center on the dresser).  And the cake pops!  How adorable are these?  If you are looking for custom pops, please contact Tina at OhPopCakeShop on Etsy.  She was great to work with and very available and willing to help when my not so pleasant post office couldn't find my package.  (turns out they just weren't looking hard enough!)  The kids loved these, even more than the cake, and E thought they were the best things ever.

She had a great time and we are incredibly blessed to have so many people that love her and spend the day with us.  I'm so grateful for the little things - her joy in blowing bubbles, the way she lights up when I say "yes" to one more cake pop (truth, she had three!), the fun she has with her little friends.  Sometimes just watching her find the joy in what she is doing reminds me again to enjoy the little moments, they are gone too soon.

Fun fact- she HATES when people sing the birthday song to her.  She has the most unpleasant look on her face and tells people to stop.  Every year!  This year I had the best video of the moment... only to find out that I actually had stopped recording when I thought I had started.  No video.  My wonderful friends got some really great pictures though, so not all memories were lost. (thanks bffs!)

Do you remember your birthday parties from when you were little?  What are some of your favorite memories?

Ember Grey.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Subscription Sunday - April Treatsie

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw that I gave up sweets for Lent.  This was huge for me - as I see dessert, chocolate, basically any kind of sugar as a must in each day.  During the long 40 days, I found Treatsie, which is a monthly box full of artisan sweets that you wouldn't normally find unless you stumbled upon the sweet shop that they curate from, for $15 a month.  It might have been my crazy longing for sugar, but I immediately signed up.  My first box was delivered on Good Friday, which was perfect timing.  Sunday morning was a-ma-zing.  Check it out:

1.  I don't even remember eating these peanut butter chocolate bites.  They were seriously that good.  Sort of like a butterfinger, but not as sweet.  Perfect amount of sweet and salty.  I opened the package and all of a sudden they were gone!

2.  You guys... this was like a ding dong!  But filled with chocolate cream and covered in dark chocolate.  It was so, so good. 

3.  These lemon sugar cookies were ok.  I usually choose chocolate over other sweets, but had to try these too.  They were really really sugary.  E loved them - she doesn't like chocolate (how is she mine?!).

4.  I loved this idea - bricks of different types of chocolate and a card showing what kind of wine to pair it with.  It reminded me of my wine country weekend a few weeks ago.  (you can read about that here).  I didnt wait to pair them with wine however, and they were delish on their own.

Overall, it was all really good, and totally worth the $15 in my opinion.  It could have just been the lack of sugar taking over, but each thing I tried was nothing like anything I had ate before.  If you are a sugar-aholic or box-aholic like me, check this out!  (If you want to be a sweetheart and use my referral code, here it is)

(This is not a sponsored post - these are all of my opinions)

Do you subscribe to any boxes?  I love hearing about new ones, let me know!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Letter to E

E at about 1 hour old

Four years ago today you were born at one in the afternoon.  That moment changed my life forever.  Each year has proven to be better than the last, if that is at all possible.  This past year was no different.

This year you started preschool.  Your first day of school was bittersweet for me.  How did I have a child in school already?  You wore the outfit I picked out for you, posed on the front step for pictures and went in to your classroom like a big girl.  You made new friends and learned so, so much.  You can write your name, daddy's, sissy's, Charlie's and my name all by yourself.  The random facts you tell us over dinner surprise me on a regular basis.  ("frogs eat flies, not fish", and "bats are nocturnal", among so many more.)  Even with all of your growing up, you still ask me to sing songs to you at bedtime.  I cherish those last few minutes of the day, and will continue to sing as long as you'll let me.

Each new experience proved to be nervewracking for you, but nothing made me more proud than to watch you be brave and go in to new things with an open heart.  You started dance class and I often catch you doing pirouettes and grand jete's around the house.  You are my little blond haired ballerina!

Your love for animals is so inspiring.  From the day we brought you home you were intrigued by Charlie, and your love for him has just grown over the years.  We often have to remind you to ask before petting "stranger dogs" because your instinct is to run up and love all over them.  I still think you will be a veternarian someday.

The biggest thing for you this year was the day you become a big sister.  And what an amazing sister you are.  A adores the way you talk to her and shake your head just to see her laugh.  You always have a gentle hug and kind words - "It's ok sissy" and "I still love you" when she's crying and crabby.  I hope that bond lasts forever.

This day four years ago is one your Daddy and I anticipated for nine months (plus a few weeks!) but nothing could prepare us for what was to come.  The day you were born changed us forever.  You made us "Momma" and "Daddy" and will always be our little girl. 


Some of your favorites:
puppies, cats, powdered sugar donuts, ballet, headbands, My Little Pony, spaghetti and meatballs, riding your scooter, coloring and bubbles

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

He Blogs!

I recently found Amanda's blog, Notes from a Newlywed.  One of the first posts I read was an interview that she did with her husband.  I laughed the whole way through and thought two things - 1) this is a great idea, and 2) no way I could get my husband to do this.  Well friends... he caved.  I used some of Amanda's questions and added some others.  Enjoy :)

Me: What is the name of my blog?
Him: (long pause) All the Joys

Me: What do I typically write about?
Him: free shit people send you, and other blogs

Me: What’s a popular fashion item for women right now?
Him: (laughs) What are you typing?  I haven't said anything.  Accessory?  Hmmm... Tory Burch flats - is that an accessory?

Me: Why do women go to out for Girls Night?
Him: to complain about their husbands.  Can you get me a beer?

Me: What are you thoughts on Pinterest?
Him:  Sometimes strikes, sometimes gutters.

Me: If you could have any job what would it be?
Him: Bullpen catcher

Me: What’s the best gift to give a woman?
Him: flowers, jewelry, a baby.

Me: What does YOLO stand for?
Him: YOLO? (confused look) Y-O-L-O?  I have no idea.

Me: What is our favorite thing to do together?
Him:  Travel

Me: What do I do when I’m home alone?
Him: (smiles) Sleep I guess

Me: And what do you do when you’re home alone?
Him: Uhh watch tv.

Me: What is my favorite activity?
Him: Blogging.

Me: What do women keep in their purse?
Him: What kind of woman? Everything. Anything that will fit.  So you can't find anything that you need.  My beer is empty.

Me: What’s my favorite accessory?
Him: Not jewelry. Your scarf that you wear all the time.  That one scarf.

Me: What’s an acceptable amount to spend on a pair of shoes?
Him: Depends how often you are going to wear them.  Couple hundred bucks?

Me: What is your favorite trait about me, not physical?
Him: How good you are with the girls.  So, caring. 

Me: What’s my favorite TV show?
Him: Your favorite tv show?  Bachelor.  Or do you want one that's on now?  Real Housewives of anywhere.

Me: Who is a current celebrity “it” couple?
Him: Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. Lucky!

Me: What celebrity would play you in a movie?
Him: (smiles) Seth Rogan

Me: Whats your favorite memory of our relationship?
Him: Hmmmm... That's a long time.  Seeing you hold our babies for the first time.

Me: Anything else you’d like to say?
Him: My beer is still empty.

So there you have it.  Also, it's pretty clear that I might have bribed him with beer. YOLO!

Our wedding day - still makes me laugh 7 years later!

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Believe

I Believe...

... cheese can make any meal complete.

... written thank you letters are always a must.

... sometimes you just have to eat dessert first.

... the trashier the reality show, the more entertaining.

... finding out that something is on sale that you were already going to buy is an instant mood lifter.

... dogs really are mans (and womans!) best friends.

... everything happens for a reason, although not always apparent at first.

... chocolate is its own food group.

... sparkles, bling, pink or leopard print pulls any outfit together.

... just being with girlfriends can turn any day around.

... there is no one like you - be yourself always. 

And lastly,

... miracles do happen - I have witnessed them and am so thankful.

What do you believe in?

I would also like to give a big thank you to the award nominations I got this weekend!  The Kay Times and A Different D for the Liebster award nominations!  I was nominated a few weeks ago and already did the questions but I really appreciate the love!  Also, Notes from a Newlywed nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award!  Lots of love this weekend, thank you ladies :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Finding the Good

It's easy for me to become overwhelmed when something isnt going the "right" way - which basically just means it isn't going how I expected it to.  I can quickly become tied up in the negatives in my life.  Last year, while talking with a friend that was going through some struggles, I told her that she needed to focus on "one good thing every day".  It's like someone else was speaking, as I don't even know where that advice came from, but it stuck with me.  When things start to take a turn for the worse, I remember those words and find something to bring me back up. (Hence the tagline and name for this blog!)

Lately, I have been finding myself needing to focus on one good thing each day more than I'd like to.  Sure, I could write a post about how E and aren't getting along lately (I mean really, how hard is it to get along with a 4 year old?  Turns out it can be difficult), or why we've decided to not put our house on the market, or really shitty things that my friends are going through right now, but instead I've decided to focus on all of the good in my life. 

The people I have met so far through blogging are awesome, and very encouraging.

My pup Charlie cuddled with me all night, didn't leave my side.

Hubby has the day off tomorrow and we are spending Easter Sunday with family.

The sun is shining today!

I got the biggest smile from A this morning when I went to get her up.

Along with these, I've decided to hop on the 101 in 1001 train.  If you haven't heard of this, it's a challenge to do 101 new things in 1001 days.  I love this idea because it will push me to do things that I've always wanted to do, help others in the process, and help myself become a better person.  I also discovered that the end date is after my 35th birthday. (35, really?!)  Check out my list here - and let me know if you have one too!

So, what is the good in your day today?

I am linking up with ember grey and The Grits Blog for Little Friday Link Up!  Check out other great posts here.

The Grits Blog

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

When the Seasons Change

This is not another post about how annoying it was that we had three seasons in a matter of four days here in Chicago - that could be a whole segment with multiple parts.  I generally feel very lucky to live in a place that experiences all four seasons, although some last a little longer than others.  I do wish we had a fifth season (shout out to my hometown, Cedar Rapids, Iowa!  If you are wondering what the fifth season is, here you go.)

Every time the seasons change I have an overwhelming desire to change something in my life.  Each season brings the same feelings for me, it's a cycle that I can't seem to snap out of.

In the Fall I want to cozy up, get new blankets, sweaters, boots.  I find recipes and recipes of soups and crock pot creations that never get made to try.  I start thinking about Christmas and brainstorming all of the awesome gifts I am going to get for my loved ones.

Then Winter comes, and sometime in January/February I get the itch to plan vacations.  Probably because I'm stuck inside watching my husband shovel for the 20th time.  Or because my children are going crazy and I'm running out of activities to keep them entertained.  I dream big - Bali, Thailand, Fiji.  Then I settle on a weekend away, driving distance, because hey - at least we're doing something.

Spring.  Spring is generally my most disliked season.  I like extreme temperatures and the back and forth between 40-70 degrees drives me crazy.  I don't know how to dress, I never know what each day is going to be like.

This is unfortunately accurate

I also get an overwhelming sense of needing to change something about myself.  My hair, my makeup, clothing, body, house.  Case in point - I just got a haircut (after 10 months, oops).  I also dropped a pretty penny on Rodan+Fields products because I just knew my face needed them.  I am watching what I eat and trying to move at least once a day just because Spring makes me feel alive again.  And maybe because I know swimsuit season is right around the corner... (PS If you use MyFitnessPal, let's connect, I need the motivation!)  I want to redecorate and find myself browsing Redfin for new homes. 

Then Summer finally gets here - which is my favorite season of all.  I find myself wishing that each day won't end because I love the sun, watching my kids play outside and sitting by a fire after the sun goes down.  Summer makes me want to do more, see more, enjoy more.  I wish I could make Summer last forever, but before I know it, Fall is here again and I'm back in the cycle of seasons.

I think I speak for everyone in the Midwest when I say we are ready for summer.  Until, that is, we are complaining that it's too hot :)

What's your favorite season and why?  I'd love to hear a new perspective!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grateful Heart Monday

Today I am linking up with Emily at ember grey for Grateful Heart Monday.  I like this idea because it gives me a reason to stop and think about all of the things that I am grateful for.  I could write a post on this topic every day, and it resonates with me because I try to find the good in each day, even if some days I feel that the best thing that happened was having Chipotle for lunch.  But, there really are blessings in every single day.

Today I am going to share with you why I started this blog.  A few months ago, I was at work killing some time before I could leave for the day.  As I often did (and do!), I was looking around on blogs.  One click here, another there, somehow I stumbled upon this article on A Dose of Paige, written by Beverly.  She talks about why, very simply, "you should start a blog".  This got me thinking.  I've always wanted to write a blog but thought that there were way too many other blogs out there, why add one more?  Her post made me realize that I should do this for me, and there really wasn't any reason not to start.

 On a whim, I emailed Beverly and told her that her post inspired me and I was just going to go for it.  The response I got from her was, in one word, amazing.  She encouraged me, guided me, gave me tips and pointers, and even included me on her giveaway.  I've also met some other great bloggers through her!

So today I am grateful for Beverly and extremely thankful for all of the help she has given me over the last couple of months.  Not only has she been a great mentor, but I love reading what she has to say as well. 

Thank You Beverly!! 

Ember Grey.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Favorite Money Saving Apps

Let's just start this off by saying that I am no expert when it comes to this kind of thing.  I love coupons, saving money, getting a great deal - but you will never find me on an episode of "Extreme Couponing" on TLC.  (Although I do love watching that show, and anything on TLC, let's be honest).  I don't need to always use a coupon, I certainly don't need fifty bottles of ketchup, and I will buy things without a coupon.  But the thrill of getting something free or almost free can't be beat!  It's almost as good as remembering that chocolate bar you tried to hide from youself. (Jess!  True story - my friend used to do this and would legit be excited when she found it again!)

With that being said, I'm sharing with you my favorite money-saving apps:

Target Cartwheel: What's better than Target?  Saving money at Target!  I love this app because you can easily use the scan feature to see if there is a discount on anything in your cart.  Using this, paired with Target coupons (from their website), manufacturer coupons (from the paper or online) and your Target redcard (I use the debit), I often get items very close to free.  I haven't paid full price for toiletries in years.  The more you save, the more spots open up for offers.  It does take a little planning before going to the store, and 5% here and there doesn't seem like a lot, but I've saved $172 in just 6 months.

Retail Me Not:  Picture yourself in the checkout line with a great pair of boots.  You love them, even if they cost more than you'd like to admit, and may or may not be hidden in the closet from your husband. (Guilty).  Don't worry - check your Retail Me Not app and more than likely you will find a coupon that can be scanned by the cashier!  I love it because you can search by "stores close to me", predetermined favorites, or you can type in a new store.  Always check this app before checking out!

CardStar:  Remember all of the plastic "savings/member/club" cards you have?  Yea, me either because they never stay in my wallet.  Enter CardStar.  In this app, you can scan all of your reward cards.  Not only that but any card with a barcode can be uploaded, like your library card.  Most stores are preloaded, but if you are using local cards you can enter them yourself.  The app also gives you deals offered at each store.  I love it because I never lose an opportunity to collect rewards anymore.  (Might help with those boots mentioned above!)

I have lots of sites I use while shopping online too, but we'll save that for another day.  I love hearing about new ways to save money and new apps - what are some of your faves?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Reader Appreciation Giveaway!

I am so excited to be a part of this giveaway, hosted by Beverly at Halfway to Fearless.  I've teamed up with some amazing bloggers to give one our readers the best prize package I've seen.  (Seriously, I wish I could enter myself!)  We all appreciate you, our readers, and wanted to show that by giving away this awesome package of goodies!

Target?  Erin Condren??  Tory Burch???  Apple????  YES PLEASE.

This is all brought to you by these lovely ladies - if you already follow them, good choice! If not, be sure to check them out and see what they have to say. It will be worth it!

Erin @ Two Thirds Hazel 
Holly @ Hey, Hollywood

Stesha @ Classic & Bubbly

Tausha @ Taush O.

Anne @ Love The Here And Now

Enter using the form below.  Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Liebster Award

Picture this - last night, about to fall asleep, I am going through emails.  I see an email from Anne that she nominated me for the Liebster Award.  And then this morning I see an email from Beverly saying that she nominated me for the Liebster Award as well.  The what??!!  After reading their posts, I learned that this award is given to new bloggers, nominated by bloggers.  What a great idea - every blog was once small, and this is a great way to show other bloggers that you appreciate and are interested in what they have to say. 

The rules - share 11 facts about yourself, answer the 11 questions from the blogger that nominated you, and nominate 11 bloggers.  Easy peasy!

11 Facts About Me

1.  I have studied abroad twice - once in Japan during high school, and once in London during college.  Japan really opened my eyes to the world, London was really fun (cider at each meal? Ok!)  I wish I could still speak Japanese as well as I did then. (it was my major for a few years too!)

2.  I have lived in Minnesota and Illinois, but my heart will always be in Iowa.  If I could figure out a way to convince my husband to move back, I'd be there already.  I'm a Midwest girl and Hawkeye for life!

3.   I hate coffee, including the smell.

4.  I have an overwhelming sense of needing to help every animal I see.  Can't go in to shelters, can't watch the commercials, help me if I see a stray.  I try to help when I can through donations to our local shelter, but it kills me that its "not enough".

5.  For six months during our first year of marriage, the hubby and I lived apart.  I got a job in Chicago quicker than expected, he stayed in Minnesota until his company closed.  Probably the worst six months ever.

6.  I have two sisters - one older and one younger.  My younger sister is technically my "step" sister, but I feel like she's been there my whole life.

7.  I know that my dog, Charlie, understands me better than some people.  His cuddles can cheer me up in an instant.

8.  Becoming a mother is one of the most rewarding experiences ever.  Most days it is challenging, but when E hugs me after a long day and says "I just love you, mama", it makes it all worth it.

9.  I have never broken a bone.

10.  I used to sew my own Barbie clothes in elementary school.

11.  It's amazing that I write all day at work, then choose to write more for my blog.  I've always loved writing.

Here are Anne's questions for me: (I went with Anne's questions because she sent them first!)

1.  Why did you start blogging?  I have always read blogs.  Mom blogs, style blogs, celeb blogs.  I always wanted to share what was on my mind too.  I saw a post by Beverly about starting a blog, and thought to just go for it.  So glad I did! 

2.  If you could have coffee with any blogger, who would it be?  Probably Shannon from Life after I Dew.  I feel like we have a lot in common, and I love her sense of humor.

3.  What's your favorite season and why?  Summer, hands down.  Pools, sunshine, late nights on the patio with a cold beer, it can't be beat.

4.  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  Hopefully still in Chicago, maybe a new neighborhood in a house with more room.  Maybe with a few more puppies :)

5.  What's the best vacation you ever went on?  Tough one.  If studying abroad doesn't count, I'll go with St. Thomas two years ago.  It was our first trip without the kids and we went with our best couple friend.  A week of the beach, drinks, a private boat for one day - pure bliss.

6.  You have a free night.  Do you go out or stay in?  Depends on the night.  If the girls are with their grandparents overnight, we'll go out (so we don't have to wake up in the morning!).  I do love lounging at home watching movies with the hubby as well.

7.  What was the last book you read?  So sad I don't even know!  I think it was Harry Potter?

8.  What's the first piece of advice you would give to a new blogger?  Just go for it!  Reach out to bloggers that inspire you and soak it all in.  Write what you want, not what you think others want.  Be yourself.

9.  Cat or dog?  I think we've established that the answer is dog!

10.  What's your favorite food?  Tough one.  Mexican or pizza.

11.  What is your best childhood memory?  Luckily, I have a lot.  I was blessed with a happy childhood.  One thing I will always remember is the summer we got a Nintendo.  My older sister and I would race downstairs in the morning because the first person there could be Mario.  We'd play for about an hour, then disappear for the day playing in the neighborhood.  We'd come home for change for the ice cream truck, eat dinner, go to bed and do the same thing the next day.  Ahhh to be young and carefree again!

11 Questions for my Nominees:
1.  What is your favorite color?
2.  What's the last thing you do before falling asleep?
3.  What is your dream vacation?
4.  Do you ever wish you had a different name? What is it and why?
5.  What is your biggest fear?
6.  What are you most grateful for?
7.  If you could redo one day in your life, which day would it be?
8.  What is the hardest part about blogging?
9.  What is your favorite tv show?
10.  Word Association - what comes to mind with the word "comfort"?
11.  What is your life-long dream?
And my nominees are....
Anne at Love the Here and Now (Thanks for the nomination!)
Beverly at Halfway to Fearless (Thanks for the nomination!)
Shannon at Life After I Dew
(Jaimen - this spot is reserved for you - start that blog already!!)
A BIG Thank You to Anne and Beverly for the nominations!  Be sure to check out these blogs as well!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Wine Country Weekend

Oh, you thought I meant California?  I wish - that one is still on my bucket list.  This weekend my husband and I went away with four other couples to New Buffalo, in southern Michigan.  It's about an hour away from Chicago, far enough but also close enough in case we needed to come back for some reason.  It was our first weekend away since A was born - nine months ago - and much needed.  Saturday we hired a driver to take us to four wineries and a brewery. I had fun at each, but one winery stands out as the winner of the weekend - Gravity.

The location itself was beautiful - on a hill, nice views, quiet.  For once the weather in the Midwest cooperated and we hit 50 degrees and a full day of sun!  We were greeted by Ollie, the "winery dog", so of course I instantly fell in love and began thinking of ways to take him on the bus home with us.  (Don't worry - he stayed at Gravity.)

Their tasting set up was great.  For $10, we each chose four wines to try that came with a pairing - either cheese or chocolate.  Honestly, I would have paid the $10 just the cheese or chocolate, but the wine was an added bonus.  I ended up buying a bottle of Ollie's White (and no, not just because it was named after my newest puppy love).  I'm no wine expert by any means, I just know what I like, and this was fruity and crisp and just perfect for a summer day. 

The hubby and I


 We had a great weekend pretending we were in college again, and will probably be paying for that all week, but it was worth it!  I'm always looking for places to go for quick weekends - what are your favorite spots in the Midwest?

Thursday, April 3, 2014


We've all been there.  You look in the mirror and see things about yourself that you don't like, almost immediately.  If you haven't, I am seriously jealous and proud of you at the same time.  It's easy to see our "flaws", or what society tells us are flaws.  Skin, hair, body shape, the list goes on and on and on.

Recently, Lorde posted on her Twitter this picture, with the caption "I find this curious - two photos from today, one edited so my skin is perfect and one real.  Remember flaws are ok".

This got me thinking.  My first thought was "Yes! I love it when celebrities show that they are normal people too!"  Then I started thinking about what my edited photo would look like, and what would be "fixed".  It made me think that yes, flaws are ok, and they tell a story about who you are.  Raising girls makes this issue even more important to me, as I never want them to grow up disliking something about themselves, but to have love for who they are and how they were made.

So I challenge you to look at your "flaws" and come up with a reason why, in fact, they can be a positive thing.  I'll go first.

The dark circles under my eyes show that I might not get a lot of sleep these days.  But that's because I have two littles that sometimes keep me up, and I am thankful for the fact that they make me a mommy.

My skin tone is uneven, I have sun spots and permanent freckles.  These show that when I was younger, I really didn't have a care in the world and could spend my summers by the pool lounging with my friends.

I have a popped capillary on my left cheek that is permanently red.  This happened while giving birth to my oldest, E.  Every day I see it can remind me of the day I become a mother.

My body shape... well... that's not in the best shape it's ever been in.  I'm a little lumpy and definitely saggy, but I was chosen to carry two babies, and with that comes extra body weight.  While I might not like the way it looks these days I am thankful that my body was able to do that.

I've always thought that my eyes were too deep set, and wearing a lot of eye makeup makes me look like I have a black eyes.  I inherited these from my father, and I love seeing pictures of his parents (whom I've never met) and love seeing that I look like them.  It's a piece of his family history that will be with me always.

So, I challenge you to begin looking at yourself in a more positive light and remember that if you look a little further, you can learn to #loveyourflaws.  Share yours with me on twitter !

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

FabFitFun Box - Spring 2014

I think I have a problem.  I've recently rediscovered subscription boxes, and I'm obsessed.  Years ago, my sister got me a Birchbox subscription as a gift.  I liked it - but honestly, sort of forgot about it once the gift ran out.  That is until a few months ago.  I thought to myself "remember when you used to get makeup sent to your house to try out?  That was fun".  Then I thought "Let's do it again!" And that's when my shopping spree of subscription boxes happened. (PS I promise that I don't talk to myself like that, unless maybe I've had too many glasses of wine)

The first box to arrive was Giuliana Rancic's FabFitFun Spring box.  To say I was excited would be an understatement... I couldn't wait to open it!  Here's the breakdown, and my honest thoughts on each product (I was not paid for this, these are my opinions. Believe me, if I had been paid I would have started blogging a long time ago!) -

1.  Merrithew Zenga DVD (paired with #3) retail $28.94.
     As far as yoga goes, the moves aren't too difficult.  I do wish that the dvd was a bit more engaging and entertaining, and that the workout was quicker.  Thanks to the littles, I usually only have about 30 minutes to do anything - including eating, showering and cleaning up.

2.  Cult Gaia Turband, retail $48
     This is not my style what-so-ever.  I can think of a lot of other things to spend $48 on.  Going in the "up for grabs" box.  (More on that later!)

3.  Merrithew Stability Ball (paired with #1)
     I made this separate because I feel like the ball is so small it is going to pop every time I use it.  I know that the point is to have it be small, but if you are like me with not much muscle tone, this ball is anything but stable feeling.

4.  The Better Chip Spinach and Kale with Sea Salt, retail $1.99
     I'm not going to lie, upon first glance and sniff, I was not excited about these chips.  But for the sake of this review, I ate one.  Then I ate the whole bag.  They were so good!  Crunchy, salty, didn't taste like kale, so so good.

5.  Level Naturals Shower Bombs, retail $7.99
    Theses were nice.  They gave off a nice scent (tea tree oil and eucalyptus) and made my bathroom smell amazing.  For a second I actually thought I was somewhere other than hiding from the littles trying to take a quick shower.  I'm happy to have three left!

6.  Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo Invisible Spray, retail $25
     I was pretty bummed to see this.  I tried a sample size of this about a year ago and was not impressed.  I guess I could try it again, but most likely this will be given away too.

7.  Dermasuri Deep Exfoliating Mitt, retail $19.99
     I would never pay $20 on my own for this.  Who has time to put on a mitt and actually exfoliate your entire body?  I'll keep this around in case I ever get a bad spray tan, but it won't make the daily shower routine.

8.  Kai Perfume Oil, retail $48
     This made the whole box for me, I love the smell.  It reminded me of the old school Bath and Body Works scents, my favorite was gardenia.  I loved that smell and was so angry when it was discontinued.  This is just as good, if not better.  And I love how it's small and can easily be taken with me.

9.  (Not pictured) Cover FX SPF 30 Protection Primer, retail $38
     Another winner!  So much so that it didn't even make the picture, but had already found a permanent spot in my makeup organizer.  It goes on smooth, isn't oily, and really keeps my foundation in place allll day, which is no easy feat with a baby that loves to cuddle.  The SPF is just a nice little bonus.

Bottom Line - Overall I loved two products, liked a few and only really disliked the headwrap and dry shampoo.  I'll wait for the next box, due out in Summer.  Everything deserves three chances right? 

Up next is Ipsy and Stich Fix!