Tuesday, June 30, 2015

34 Life Lessons

Today is my birthday (insert party emojis here!) and I am turning 34.  Birthdays definitely aren't what they used to be - no sleepovers, parties at the waterpark or all night bar crawls anymore.  Birthdays have turned in to somewhat reflective days for me.  So today, I thought I'd share 34 lessons I've learned - one for each of my years.

1. Always order dessert.

2. Make time to call your parents.  Even if they have mastered texting, a phone call is much better.

3.  Written thank you notes are mandatory.

4.  Forgive.

5.  Never doubt yourself.

6.  Don't be afraid to fall in love.

7.  Buy the shoes.  You can't take money with you!

8.  Look people in the eye while saying "hello", even strangers.

9.  Make time for your friends.  They become family as time goes on.

10.  Always have a pet that you can cuddle.

11.  Use emojis when appropriate.

12.  Emojis are always appropriate.

13.  Have a glass of water in between drinks.  Or drink vodka/water/soda water with lots of limes.

14.  Send or give cards to the important people in your life randomly, just to brighten their day.

15.  Take at least one day a month without technology.  Turn it all off.

16.  Stop and listen when your children want to tell you a story.

17.  Never say no to cuddles - soon they won't want them.

18.  Save some of every paycheck - you just never know.

19.  Drink water every day.

20.  Remember where you came from.

21.  Don't underestimate the power of a good book, bubble bath and a glass of wine.

22.  Be grateful, even when it seems there is nothing to be grateful for.  (You are alive!)

23. Chocolate is it's own food group.

24.  Cheese makes anything better.

25.  Don't be ashamed of watching those trashy reality shows - everyone needs a little entertainment.

26.  Tell the people you love that you love them, and tell them often.

27.  Be yourself.  Every day.

28.  Splurge on yourself every once in awhile.

29.  Do nice things for other people - be charitable when you can.

30.  Only buy things on sale.  If it's not, wait a week or two.

31.  Learn how to cook a "signature meal".

32.  Try to see the other side of an argument, even if you don't agree with it.

33.  It's ok to say "no".

Lastly, and more importantly:

34.  Find something that makes you happy in every single day.  There is always something, even if you need to dig a little deeper some days!
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Monday, June 29, 2015

A Little Summer Fun

I don't normally post on Monday - as those are usually my days to get back in to the swing of normal every life - but I had to check in today to share with you a fun giveaway!

My sponsors from the last few months and I have teamed up to bring you $90 PayPal cash.  Perfect for summer trips, a little something for yourself, a night out with friends - you name it!

Follow the directions below and good luck!  If you want to be a part of the next giveaway, check out your options here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Blogger Love v.46

It's Friday and I couldn't be happier.  This week has been annoyingly busy, and although I'd like to say this weekend is going to slow down, it's not!  But, today makes one day closer to my month of crazy being over, and for that I am excited.

This week, I shared two fab bloggers and a giveaway, as well as how to use Bloglovin' to organize the blogs you follow.

But, most importantly, Big Brother started this week!  It's one of the highlights of every summer for me, seriously.  But I have to know, WHO IS THE TWIN?  I have some thoughts on this but who do you think?

And of course, as with every week, there were some special posts that I want to share with you all for Blogger Love!

"Twelve Months of Bliss - June Recap" by Ember Grey.  Are you participating in this great idea by Emily?  Follow along for a month of bliss each and every month.  I might be really late to June's party, but I'm catching up!

"Bloggers Give it 100!" by Kenji is Here, The Rambling Llama and Heart of Life.  Just the motivation I need, looking forward to this!

"Shaming" by Heart of Life.  Spot on.  If only we as a society could get over this!

Want to share the love?  Link up below and share at least one post by a blogger other than yourself.  Click around and find some new to you bloggers!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Blogging A-Z: B is for Bloglovin'

Back when I was brainstorming things for each letter, Bloglovin' was an obvious choice.  I love how you can customize how it is organized and log on to read all of your favorite blogs.  That is, unless, it has decided not to work properly.  More than often than not lately, some of my daily reads haven't been showing up in my feed.  With that said, however, when Bloglovin' works properly, it works wonderfully.

Not only do I like to use Bloglovin' to read new posts, but I like to use it to organize my sponsors from my daily reads, to all other blogs I follow.  I have three separate categories - "Sponsors", "Daily Reads", "Blogs I Follow".  Obviously Sponsors and Daily Reads get read before the others.  Today I'll show you how to do this.

First, go to your profile and select "Edit blogs you follow":

Once here, you can create new groups and change the group that each of the blogs you follow is in:

That's really it.  Then when you log in each morning (or whenever you do your reading!), you can start with whichever group you'd like.

Another way I use Bloglovin' is for Blogger Love, the weekly link up I host.  I keep track of the posts I like with the "favorite" button in Bloglovin', but also save other posts for various reasons - part of a giveaway, something to go back to at a later time, etc.  In Bloglovin, you can create different "favorite" groupings.

Under your profile, you can create a collection.  For now, I have two - "Saved" and "Favorites" - which is the one I use for Blogger Love.  Then, each Thursday I can quickly go to that collection and pick out the favorites from the week.

How do you use Bloglovin'?  Or, have you completely given up on it? 
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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Meet Some Friends + Giveaway!

Today is a fun day because I get to share with you two special ladies.  Not only that, but I have a fun giveaway for you to enter as well!

These two ladies are two of my favorites.  I have been big fans of theirs for a long time, and I am so happy to introduce you all to them!

The first up is Lindsay from Bourbon, Lipstick & Stilettos:
Her favorite posts: Leading Lady, Perfection, and I Have a Big Butt (and That's Okay!)
My favorite posts: Beauty A to Z: W is for Winged Liner, Important Lessons I Learned from My Favorite TV Shows, and Recovering From Blogger Burnout

Next up is Rachael from The Rachael Way!
Her favorite posts: The Hard Parts of Being an Expat, #ChinaLife - WTF Edition and I'd Be Friends with Me
My favorite posts: My Move From Blogger to Wordpress, The ULTIMATE Moving Abroad Packing List and The Year of Self Improvement

Be sure to check out these two fabulous ladies - you won't be disappointed!

Who couldn't use a shopping spree to Anthropologie right now? Luckily, I've teamed up with a wonderful group of gals to bring you a wonderful $75 Anthro giveaway.  Don't miss out, enter below.

Brought to you by: 
The Nashvillian | All The Joys | The Lady Lawyer
Mrs. Collier | Because I Said So | Hel on Heels | Alanna & Company

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond and claim their prize before a new winner will be selected. Entries will be verified, so please be honest. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Sorry, international friends!
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Friday, June 19, 2015

Blogger Love v.45 & Penning Hope

Happy Friday everyone!  We made it.  It's the weekend and I am so looking forward to it!  This week has been a little quiet around here, and I promise I have a few good reasons why.  I can't share all of them (yet) but I was also in Iowa this past week celebrating my Dad's retirement, as well as working on two projects for work that happen to be due three days apart.  I hope to share my other (and biggest time consumer) with you all soon!

This week, I want to introduce you to a new-to-you blogger, Hope from Penning Hope.  Hope is a southern blogger that writes about life in the south, full heartsher passion for helping others, and all things spiritual.

I think you'll agree that Hope is a blogger that you do not want to miss out on!  You can find more of her here:

Are you a new blog that would like a FREE sponsorship?  Check out "New Found Joy" here.

For Blogger Love this week, I have just a few, but very important posts to share:

Christine and Cassie's "Speak Up for Silence" series.  Even you don't suffer from a form of mental illness, these stories are incredibly brave.

"I'm Failing at this Working Mom Thing" by (Bee)utiful Blessings.  If you are a mother, you need to read this - if nothing else to know that what you feel is normal.  Every mom can relate, working or not!

"The Parts We Choose to Share" by Ember Grey.  Spot on.  The comparison game is awful!

Do you have any posts by others that you'd like to share?  Please link up below!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Stitch Fix #16 - June

I think that by now, we all know how Stitch Fix works, so I will quickly skip to the items that I received.  A quick note though - I have found that the more detailed note you leave your stylist, the more you will love your items!  And be sure to pin outfits that you like frequently.  I also follow Stitch Fix on Pinterest and pin directly from items they have in the warehouse.

On to the goods...

 Collective Concepts Rosco Floral Print Crochet Detail Tank - $58.  Love at first site - I love a good feminine top, and this was perfect.  I was really hoping it would fit - and it did!  Kept.

 Gilli Zuli Striped Maxi Dress - $74.  Stripes and too tight in all the wrong places.  I've said before that stripes are not my friend, and this dress reconfirmed it!  Returned.

 Collective Concepts Simpson Halter Blouse - $58.  Initially, I loved the look of this top, but unfortunately it was extremely boxy and too short on me.  Returned.

 Renee C Reyna Maxi Dress - $78.  This dress fit really well, and I ended up keeping it on for at least fifteen minutes while I debated about keeping it.  In the end, I decided I wouldn't wear it enough to justify $78 - I am on a budget these days - so it was Returned.  However, I sort of wish I had kept it and might request it again.

Mavi Kalie Bleached Denim Jacket - $98.  I had specifically asked for a lightweight, light wash fitted jean jacket.  And it was delivered!  Initially I was really upset about the price, but once I convinced myself that I could wear it three of our four seasons, I decided to Keep it.  Best decision ever - I've worn it at least four times since.

I gave my stylist a very detailed note for my next fix, so I'm excited to see what I get.  What do you think?  Should I request the maxi dress back?

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Blogger Love v.44 + Bigs & Littles

Here we are, at the end of the week, just waiting for the weekend to begin.  How do my weeks seem to get shorter and shorter?  It's finally sunny and hot outside so I would love for time to just slow down a bit.

In case you missed it, this week I shared my May shopping recap, $240 giveaway and a delicious summer drink!  I highly suggest you try the drink out this weekend.  

There were also a lot of posts by others that caught my attention this week.  I wanted to take a moment to share them with you for Blogger Love!

"Her Name Was Mia" by Ember Grey.  I am always captivated by Emily's writing.  This story and reflection is no different.  A must read! 

"Girly Things That I'm No Good With" by Alanna & Company.  I could relate to some of these, and others described my girly side perfectly!

"New Bloglovin Widgets, New Blogger Layout and How to Center Every Element on Your Blog's Sidebar" by Venus Trapped in Mars.  Quick, easy tutorials for Blogger = yes please and thank you!

"When Communities Give Back" by The Rambling Llama.  I love what this organization in Melissa's community is doing.  It's so important!

"5 Reasons Why Your Child Should Have a Job" by Love the Here and Now.  100 times yes.  We are teaching E the value in work now, and I fully support this!

Do you have some favorite posts by others you'd like to share?  Link up below!  Be sure to click around and find some new-to-you blogs!

I also wanted to introduce you to Ashley from Keeping Up with Ashley and Cody.  I was paired with her for the Bigs & Litttles Networks and have had a great time getting to know her better.  I've been reading her blog for awhile now, so it was fun to dig a little deeper and have email conversations.

Ashley writes about sponsoring, which can be a scary process but her reasons for doing so are spot on.  She also has a series Learning in the Kitchen, which is something I desperately need to do (and I'm secretly happy I'm not the only one that needs help here!)

Ashley is changing up her link up, which will now include prizes so be sure to check that out!

This was my first experience with this network, but won't be my last.  I love how we had an opportunity to learn from each other and am looking forward to many more conversations with Ashley.

All the Joys - Blogger Love
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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Perfect Summer Drink

Since giving up Diet Coke, I have grown to love tea.  I love iced tea, flavored tea, and if I'm feeling generous with my calories, sweet tea.  There is one thing that I have loved even longer (well, since age 21 of course), and that is vodka.  Recently, one of my besties and I stumbled upon the perfect summer drink that combines these two flavors so well!

We were tasked to getting snacks and drinks before our big night out a few weeks ago, and while excitedly browsing the liquor section, we saw this Strawberry Lemonade flavored vodka.  Intrigued, we started brainstorming what it would mixed well with, and sweet tea became the obvious choice.

Just two ingredients! Sweet tea (any brand will work), and Svedka Strawberry Lemonade.  Mix your perfect amounts together over ice and enjoy!

Think of it as a newer, more delicious John Daley (which is also an amazing summer drink!)  What's your favorite thing to sip on in the warmer weather?
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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

May Shopping Recap + Giveaway!

May was a bit of a spendy month for me.  I was fresh off my spending freeze and trying to figure out how much to budget for myself.  In the meantime, I shopped and ate and drank like I wasn't on a budget at all - partly because I wasn't, and partly because I knew I soon would be.  It probably wasn't the best course of action, but I got a lot of great things that I have been needing (and of course, some that I didn't!).

1 - Kate Spade "One in a Million" Necklace - M.  I used a Nordstrom note for this purchase - they are normally around $50.  I got it in silver and love it!

2 - Daniel Rainn - I snatched up three new tops.  I love how they are flowy with fun prints.  These were a Nordstrom Rack find, so about $20 each.  I will be buying more - I love how I can wear them to work with a jacket or sweater, or wear them on their own on weekends.

3 - Baby Lips.  I have a bit of an obsession with these.  I love how they make your lips so soft (the name doesn't lie!) but also give you a bit of color.  I might have at least six different shades.  They are cheap though - seriously just go pick up one to try!

4 - Kate Spade Watch.  This was my Mother's Day gift, so I'm not sure I should count it in my shopping recap, but it's definitely a favorite so I had to include it!

5 - Burt's Bees Brightening Even Skin Tone Moisturizing Cream.  This gem cost about $20, at Target, and I will probably never try another moisturizer.  Smells amazing, goes on smoothly and doesn't leave my face feeling greasy.  I've noticed a bit of a change in my skin tone and I feel like I look more "awake".  A new, and probably forever, favorite.

6 - Jack Rogers Sandals.  These were another Nordstrom Rack find - and a steal at that.  I spend just $26 on these beauties, and got them in that exact color.

7 - (I am bolding this because it is that important).  I finally have found my forever-fitting, love-them, loyal-customer brand of jeans.  Did you catch the Blogger Love post where I shared Sarah's post about medium sized girls not being able to find the perfect pants?  Well friends, here are mine.  Democracy brand.  They are all "curvy" and fit like a dream.  I tried one pair on and immediately bought all of the other styles they had.  Another Nordstrom Rack find.

8 - Kate Spade purse.  It was May 1, I could officially shop again, and there was a sale.  Enough said.  It's also the perfect summer color!

Of my shopping picks, there are a few obvious things to note - I should not be allowed in Nordstrom Rack without supervision.  I also should block myself from Kate Spade emails.  What do you think of my finds?  I like to keep it honest here, so don't expect much for my June spending - I'm a girl on a budget these days!

In case you have your eye on anything fun for June, I've teamed up with some lovely ladies to bring one of you $240 CASH.  Enter on!

Your June Blogiversary Host Ladies: Emelia, Kerri & Melissa

The Party People & Awesome Co-Hosts: 

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Blogging A-Z: About Me & Blogger Love v.43

Welcome to the first installment of Blogging A-Z.  Today, A is for "About Me".

When I find a new blog, whether it be from twitter, recommendations (like Blogger Love), or comments left on one of my posts, I like to first start at the About Me page.  It's the best way, in my opinion, to get to know the blogger in a few short minutes.

There are a few things that make an "About Me" page catch my attention.  

Pictures.  I like to see who you are, plain and simple.  Show me a picture of yourself!  Include one of your family or furbabies, if you blog about them frequently.  The one thing I don't like with pictures is if they are overwhelming.  A good rule of thumb is 2-4.  

Likes and Dislikes.  I have been known to follow a blogger just based on these facts.  It's a quick glimpse in to your personality!

Favorite/Most Popular Posts.  Show off your best content!  This is a great place to put your top posts, or posts you are particularly proud of.  It gives me insight on how you perceive your blog and what you like to write about.

Length.  Generally, I like a shorter, to the point "About Me" page.  If it is loaded with pictures or paragraphs, I generally skip most of it.

Here are a few examples of "About Me" pages that I admire:

Besides having gorgeous photos, I like how Erica tells us about each family member with pictures.  She also incorporates her favorite/most popular posts within the content of her "About Me".

It's safe to say that I love everything Nina puts on her blog - but this "About Me" is perfect in my opinion.  It's easy to read, concise, and has the perfect amount and size of pictures.  You really get a sense of who Nina is just by reading this!

What do you think?  What makes a great "About Me" page for you?  I know we all have different opinions, so I'd love to hear yours! 
Truth be told - I've had "redo my About Me page" on my blogging to-do list for months now.

This week for Blogger Love, I have two favorite posts I'd like to share with you!

"My Blog is Giving Me a Complex" by The Rachael Way.  I think we (bloggers) have all felt this way a time or two!

"On My List: Upcoming Fall TV" by Becoming Adorrable.  I always listen to Becca's suggestions - and have saved a few of these!

Do you have some posts by others that you'd like to give special attention to?  Link up below!

Thank you for the tips and tricks given for my new budget.  So far, so good (even though I realize we are only five days in!).  Also, the code of RIGHTSTUFF for 30% off any spot is still active - just a few more uses left if you are interested!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Budgeting Is.... Awesome?

Yes, friends, yes it is.  I haven't always felt this way - I thought it was too restrictive and wouldn't allow for those spontaneous shopping trips or weekend getaways.

For the month of April, I put myself on a spending freeze.  Overall, I surprised myself.  Not buying anything for myself all month worked, for the most part.  But at the end of the month I was left confused - how could I make myself a budget, and stick with it?

For the month of May, I tracked everything I spent on myself and the girls.  Clothes, makeup, food, drinks, basically anything that was just for me, or clothes/accessories/toys just for the girls.  Again, I was shocked.  But not in a "I-did-so-awesome!" kind of way.  More of a "omg-I-spent-WHAT" kind of way.  I did get some great things, which will be shared with you in the near future.  But my new things are a little over shadowed by the number that is glaring in my mind!
So, for June, I've come up with a plan.  I decided to go with a cash only system, and have given myself a certain amount to spend each month.  Some for me, some for the girls.  I will occasionally use credit cards - when it's double points day, or I have a coupon that can only be used with the card.  When that happens, I will take cash from my wallet and set it aside to pay our nanny each week.  I am so dedicated to this, that today over my lunch break I marched over to the bank and took out my monthly spending amount.  Systems work, friends!

In honor of my new-found commitment to budgets, I thought linking up with Anne for the Awesome List was a great idea!

Love the Here and Now

Budgets Are Awesome!

|| It will help me determine what I want, vs. what I need.  (A lesson I need to learn!)

|| Anything that I don't spend will be rolled over to the next month.  Maybe one month in the future I will have enough to make a large splurge!

|| I will be saving money for our upcoming move = new furniture, decor, and paint!

|| I can start to teach E and A about budgeting.  If there is a certain toy they want, they will need to choose wisely.

|| Someone has to offset my husbands spending.  Golf is not my friend!

|| Towards the end of the month, I have a feeling I will be forced to eat at home more often.  Saving money and saving calories.

Have you put yourself on a strict budget?  How does it work for you?  I welcome any and all tips!

Also, if you are on a budget but still want to sponsor someone - I am having a 30% off sale with code RIGHTSTUFF (yes, that is a nkotb reference).  Limited uses!
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