Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Let's Save The Dogs

It always just starts with one article.

I'll see a post on Facebook or Twitter with a pic of a sad pup or a terrible sounding headline and even though I know I shouldn't click on it, I do. I always do. And then I find another article. And another. And before I know it I'm about ten sad dog articles in, feeling like absolute hell thinking I'm completely help less.

Facebook dog groups do it to me, as well. My feed is now just a big stream of shelters across the country trying to find homes for dogs. Do you follow Susie's Senior Dogs? You should. I could spend all day reading about her success stories... And then there's this Nebraska group I follow from the town I grew up in. It's usually quite amusing, it's full of people giving away "normal" stuff like old underwear, half used lotion, and glitter jeans, you know the regular. But then there's also a new dog on there every day someone is trying to pawn off. And that shit drives me insane. "We just can't keep him anymore...He needs to go." No maam, you need to go. Who are these people who just think of their animals as disposable items? You might not consider your dog a family member but sadly that's most definitely how he thinks of you. How can you just decide "he needs to go?" I could rant about this for days.

Like I said, I might have a problem.

The other day I was with Harlow at Home Depot (he's a bit of a carpenter so he loves this place) and I spotted another woman with a dog that I thought I recognized. As she walked closer it dawned on me how I knew her, I watched her dog get hit by a car last summer and drove both of them to the hospital as he lie in her lap dying in my passenger side. But he didn't die! Here he was at Home Depot bouncing around like any other healthy black lab. I'm embarrassed to admit how excited I was to see him doing okay because I never really knew.

As soon as the owner saw me she rushed over and introduced herself and told me it was a long recovery for her dog and he almost didn't make it, but he did. And he's as happy and healthy as ever. She was too.

I liked the feeling of thinking that I actually helped a dog, rather than just self loathing and simply feeling sorry for dogs. So a few weeks ago I told Chris that I'm going to do something different this year. Instead of just being sorry for dogs, which in all honesty does no good, I'm going to do something about it. Albeit, something small, but hopefully it will help never the less.

So I've partnered with I'd Rather Be With My Dog to bring you this shirt. 

For every shirt sold, 20% goes to an animal shelter here in Chicago. And if cats are more your thing make sure to check out this shirt. I have a limited quantity available of these specific shirts, but more have already been ordered with the same style and look I created, just with a different dog related phrase.

You can place your order by clicking here

I say for 2015 we see more success stories about dogs than sad stories, what do you think?

Thanks for listening to another one of my crazy dog lady posts, you know there's always more where this came from.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

How To Handle Taxes

It's that of year again when 1099s come knocking on the door. If you're like me and make money off of your blog, or from a "small business" you still consider a hobby but the government considers a business because you did technically make money, well then this time of year can be a bit stressful and confusing. It's full of questions like what do I have to turn in? Why is this company sending me a 1099? Can I write this off? What does "writing something off" even mean? Why can't my mom just do my taxes? Will I ever get over the fact Jamie Lynn Spears got pregnant at age 16?

If you have any of these thoughts, don't worry. You're not alone and I'm here to help.

I'm going to share with you a few simple tactics to help tackle your taxes this year. I'm not a "legal" CPA by any means, but who is you know?

So let's strap on our green visors and light up a cig, it's time for tax season!

For some of us, this time of year is quite wonderful. It symbolizes a month when we're rewarded for all of our hard work from the previous year by getting back what seems like free money.

For the rest of us, it's a very scary time. It's a time when we know we owe money, we just have no idea how much. I suggest you speculate about what you owe for many months beforehand. This provides for a lot of fun anxiety and unnecessary worry!

Then when your first 1099 arrives in the mail, say from like your Etsy shop or something, don't panic! Simply put the envelope in a place where you don't have to look at it for a few weeks. I suggest a desk drawer or any other place you like to hide "scary mail" you're not ready to open.

The longer you wait to open it, the better. Just let it sizzle for a few weeks.

Out of sight, out of mind right? Wrong! Not if you're neurotic like me. Sure it's out of sight, but it's always on your mind. The fun part is it's really never that big of a deal, but the longer you avoid it the more your mind taunts you about it.

When you finally open it, look right to the box that tells you how much you owe. Not sure where that box is? Me neither! Just assume the biggest number you see, is what you owe back. Then take a minute or two to dwell on this.

After you've collected all of your 1099s, this is a good time to start thinking about everything you can write off. What does this mean you might ask? Well I'm not sure, I've just always heard others say it, so I too have started saying it. I believe it means something different for everyone.

For me, it's a time when I like to make a list of everything I don't think I should have to pay for (mailing supplies, gas, t-shirt costs, wine, scarves, Harlow's food, ext) and I write it all out. After I'm done writing such an extensive list, I like to sleep it off. Write then sleep it off. A write off, if you will.

And remember all of those recipes you kept from last year because someone told you that you should? ....

Anyway, when it's finally time to "do" your taxes, wait a few more weeks.

Then a few more.

And then when you truly only have one weekend to get it done I suggest you do 1 of 3 things: get on Turbo Tax, call your mom, or go to a real accountant. I've done 2 out of the 3 I suggested.

Turbo Tax is great if you're okay with not knowing what you're doing it, but just want to get it done. Is there a chance you're answering questions incorrectly? Of course. Is that illegal? Probably. Do you care? A little. But it's an internet company after all, of course they're trustworthy! Turbo Tax is here to help, not make money.

Once you've decided you don't want to pay Turbo Tax and feel cheated they're asking you to pay that much, calling your mom is a great next step. Yell at her for things you don't understand because you don't know who else to yell at. Moms love this.

And if that fails, take your three bags full or receipts from the past year and go knock on the door of H & R Block. I think they even set up camp at Walmart, so you can kill two birds with one stone! Because who wouldn't want to trust their taxes to be done by the person manning the folding table temporarily setup outside of the Walmart hair salon? They're professionals, you guys. They know what they're doing.

Seriously. I just made an appointment at H&R Block. I'll keep you updated.

Have some other tax advice to add? Let me know! Any feedback is good feedback.

And if this post helped you feel free to pin it and share it with others!

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Thing About Vacations

Vacations, man. They mess with my head.

I get so excited to go on them. And then I'm so excited right when I get there. But then about half way through I already start worrying about going home and worrying that I'm not making the most of it. And worrying about anything on vacation is not in fact "making the most of it," in my opinion.

Granted this was a super short trip to Cabo, but it felt like one minute I was walking into the resort getting into my swimsuit as fast as possible, and the next minute I was already back at the airport on a plane to Chicago. So the vacation was obviously super quick, yet when I got home it felt like I'd been gone for two weeks with everything I had to catch up on.

Like I said, vacations screw with my head. But that doesn't mean I don't love going on them.

And now let's recap more Cabo photos than you probably want to see.

Day 1: Fresh off the plane and ready to get my Mexico on.

Views like this make me wonder why I live in Chicago. I need to get near the coast asap.

Pina coladas on the beach. I should also note here that by the end of the trip between my mom, sister, and myself we had collectively purchased at least 10 new straw hats from the vendors selling them on the beach. Why? We have no idea.

My family is a good time.

I've pretty much just accepted the fact that I'll never be as fun as my parents.  

Speaking of fun, I finally tried paddle boarding for the first time. And I loved it! I would do it every day if I could. It counts as a workout, right?

My summer 2015 goal is to get Harlow on a paddle board with me.

And another Cabo sunset photo. It's a good thing I don't live in a place where I can regularly see the sun set, because if I did my Instagram would just be one constant cliche stream of them.

Last day. Looking a little haggard.

Spoiler alert, it's not coffee in my cup. It's Pepto-Bismol. Per the usual, my diet for the last two days of vacation consisted of Pepto, Tums, and Imodium. Gotta love those Mexican stomach "aches."

And one more sunset photo because why not?

Thanks for another great trip, Cabo. See you in November.

Now to tackle Monday... And the last week of January. Spring is getting closer, one chilly Chicago day at a time.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday Takeover- Sensibly Sharp

Introducing Cynthia from Sensibly Sharp. 

Hey Y'all! My name is Cynthia and I blog over at Sensibly Sharp! Today's Saturday Takeover is coming to you from the sweet bless-your-heart South!

1. How did you choose the name Sensibly Sharp?

I unfortunately wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth but an unweilding desire to always look nice and fashionable on a budget! I also work 9-5 in the Finance world and I (unlike PR girls) can't get away with wearing leggings and tunics to work and I know there are others like me out there with the same problem! So I try to pick out Sensible items of clothing that are timeless and classy but yet sharp enough to turn heads and keep your colleagues talking (in a good way) about how you command a presence in the office! Also could sharp be for Sharp cheese? YEAH (it's a stretch) because I also lifestyle blog and take you on trips around Atlanta to restaurant openings and other fun projects coming up this year, that are still sorta a secret-- so I can't reveal them now!

2. How is life in Atlanta?

It's HOT. I think I'm over this whole living in the South thing. I've lived here basically my whole life, but I don't think I'll ever get used to 70 degree winters and the humidity during the summer is enough to drive one MAD! Other than the climate I love it! Outside of the horrid traffic, Atlanta has a lot of growing restaurant scenes (which I love because I'm a lifestyle blog) and up and coming shopping centers; basically just a whole bunch of "cool" things that make it attractive to residents and not tourists. I would say Atlanta is not very tourist friendly and I kind of like that because it doesn't make our city busier than it already is! That and you can't get anywhere without driving, and most tourists hate having rental cars! HA!

3. Where is your favorite place to eat in Atlanta?

Ah this is a tough questions. If you count Roswell as Atlanta (which most don't but I do) then I would say Table & Main, but if I had to pick ONE Atlanta restaurant it would be Murphy's in the Virgina Highlands. I can't get enough of their brunches! And their lobster cobb salads are to-die-for and reasonably priced for how much lobster you get!

4. How would you describe your blog in three words?

Functional Fashionable Foodie.

5. What is a favorite post you've recently written?

My favorite post might be this one. I work outside of Atlanta in a suburb called Alpharetta, and every Thursday during the summer they have this event called Food Truck Alley and it's actually really fun! They close down one of the streets in downtown and a bunch of popular Food Trucks from Atlanta come up and it's just a smorgasbord of amazing street food vendors without the immense crowds like you'll find downtown. My favorites are Fry Guy and the Mobile Marley. I've had Fish N' Chips in England and in expensive Irish and English inspired pubs in Georgia, but OMG this guys food truck knocks those pricey dishes in the dust, his Fish N' Chips are unbelievable. I think they have a restaurant in Decatur, but I haven't been yet, but I can only imagine how authentic and delicious it would be!

*Comments have been turned off, to say hello to Cynthia click here.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

12 Things To Know About Cabo Before You Go There

Corona is easier to come by than water. Embrace it.

I should also note it's completely safe to drink the water. Just know that you're probably going to have terrible digestive problems regardless. Embrace it.

Beware of jellyfish. If you go snorkeling there's a good chance you will run into a big pack of them. If this happens, just do what I do- jump on your snorkeling partner's back and panic irrationally while he tries to get you off of him as he sinks lower and lower into the jellyfish. Chris loves when I do this.

Banana boats aren't as fun as they look. They hurt your inner thighs and it's terrifying when you fall off and suddenly remember you're in a big ocean and most likely surrounded by jellyfish.

Seals aren't dogs.

If you'd like to spend a day at Lover's Beach, good luck getting off the "water taxi." A water taxi is any tiny boat owned by a local. The driver of the boat will try to help you, but there's a good chance you're just going to fall off as the waves crash wildly around you. It's scary yet thrilling. *Don't bring your camera or phone with you to Lover's Beach as it will fall in the ocean. Just bring beer.

If you'd like to swim near the rocks there's an amazing little keyhole you can peak through and if the tide is low you can wander back into a thin cave. However if the tide is not low, you will almost die and get slammed against the rocks. Thank God Chris always has my back in Cabo. I've almost died more than a few times there.

The sun is intense. Put on SPF 60 and a beach hat. Wrinkles and sun spots aren't souvenirs you want to take home.

While you're on the beach or by a pool, it's only natural that you're going to want to eat and drink a lot. This is totally okay. Just realize you're going to be in a weird drunkish state by 3:00 p.m. and then will most likely eat way too much, take a little nap, and then wake up around 5:30 or 6:00 feeling hungover. Good luck going out at this point.

Squid Roe is a terribly cheesy bar downtown. Chances are you'll have the best or worst time of your life here. Probably both.

Skip the touristy restaurants, they're over priced and not worth the hype. Go into the small corner spots you just happen to stumble upon. The only exception to this might be The Office.

It's Cabo, you can't have a bad time. It's not allowed.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Checking In..

Right now I am ... in Cabo!

But right right now I'm attempting to do something very unlike me and that's write a few posts ahead of time. If you're a blogger do you this? I'm a sit down and write kinda gal so I'm not sure how I feel about this method. But it's worth a try.

Reading: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. I've been on this one for awhile, but that doesn't mean I don't love it. If you're into the whole Fitzgerald/Hemingway time in history I would suggest it. Next: Wild.

Watched:Bird Man. I was disappointed. I typically love weird movies like this but this one just didn't do it for me. Have you seen it? What did you think? When I think of weird wonderful movies I think of Beasts of the Southern Wild- this is still one of my all time favorites.

Drinking: Chris and I are still drinking our green smoothies every morning. We love the taste and both swear we have more energy, but we haven't exactly gotten super skinny or developed a six pack. It should be noted that besides drinking smoothies in the morning we've changed literally nothing about our diet or exercise (we don't exercise.) So that might have something to do with the lack of weight loss as well. Wedding diet starts next year.

Writing: nothing. Just staring at my writing and hating it. This always happens to me at the 10k word mark. How do I get past this? Just complain about it daily and hope it goes away? Okay great, I can do that.

Thinking about: How much fun I had performing with the sketch group I'm a part of, White Cougar Passion, at Sketchfest last Sunday.I feel so lucky to get to perform with the talented funny people that I do.

Listening to: any self help podcast I can get my hands on. I do this every January. My first two weeks are always awesome and I'm ready to tackle the year with my 1000s of resolutions and then bam I wake up and it's week three and I realize I'm still just me and I slowly fall into a big negative slump.

What I like to do when I'm self loathing: google anyone and everyone who is doing way better at life than me. This can include celebs as well as people I just vaguely know on Facebook or Instagram. The more things they're doing in life that I'd like to do but don't know how to do or where to start, the better.  It's a great game, you should try it!

Wondering: if this post is totally lame? It is, isn't? Sorry, I'm trying my best.

I should probably just go. Bless your heart for stopping by today.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

19 Reasons To Go To Cabo

A couple of weeks ago I booked a last minute trip to Cabo.  My parents are already down there, I found a really cheap flight, and then I found this cute swimsuit at Target so I figured I might as well go.

But before I pressed "confirm" on my flight the list of reasons why I shouldn't go was just swirling in my head, so I decided I should probably make a list of why I should go.

1. Because the winter blues are real. And I've got them.

2. It's a cold dirty mess here right now. And that's just inside my house.

3. I need vitamin D that doesn't come in pill form.

4. I'm out of K-cups.

5. Southwest Airlines just sent me a free in-flight movie. And it expires in February! I can't just waste it.

6. I just got a new razor.

7. My palest of pale winter makeup is too dark for me right now.

8. I've worn long underwear under my jeans for three solid weeks now. No underwear should have the word "long" in front of them.

9. My nose hasn't stopped running since November.

10. It takes 30 minutes just to get layered enough to go outside.

11. I've worn the same ski socks for six days in a row.

12. My cabin fever is getting out of control. I wrote an entire two person play last week. For myself and Harlow to star in.

13. I laid down in the park last week because the sun was actually out and I thought it felt nice. It was only 23 degrees. And that felt nice to me. (That's not right.)

14. I miss this view.

15. I was invited. Well kind of. Technically I invited myself on my parents Cabo trip but whatever.

16. Did I mention I have the winter blues? I've just been so cranky/sad lately and I can't snap out of it.

17. I watched the entire season of Transparent yesterday and cried in every episode. What is wrong with me?

18. Life is short.

19. When you get a chance to go to Cabo with your family for a few days you should take it.

And on that note, I'm off. You'll know I've arrived as soon a I start posting super annoying photos on Instagram of my feet in the sand or holding a Corona with an obnoxious caption like "This sure beats a Tuesday in Chicago."

I'd like to apologize ahead of time for all of my asshole photos that are about to happen. Just know it's a quick trip, I'll be back in the arctic by Friday.

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