The Perfect Summer Drink

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's 5 p.m., it's still 85 degrees outside, and it doesn't seem like it's going to cool off anytime soon. What do you do?

Grab a drink and embrace the heat. At least that's what I do. After all, it's only going to be a few months before it's coat season already. Now that's a scary thought... So let's stay with the good thoughts. The summer thoughts.

I've partnered with Alize Passion to share a delicious new summer drink with all of you.

It's super simple to make and it's the perfect combination of fruity citrus flavors for a light drink on a hot steamy night.

Simply put together:

1 ½ oz AlizĂ© Red Passion
1 oz. Gin
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Simple Syrup
Sparkling Wine
Pineapple garnish (or whatever fruit you can find in your fridge.)
See more recipes here.

Combine, pour over ice and enjoy!

It's always fun to try new summer cocktails and Alize has three different flavors, Gold Passion, Red Passion and Bleu Passion, to give you an abundance of cocktail choices.

This weekend is Lollapalooza in Chicago and I will be sipping on all three while we "pre-game" before the concerts to get me in the summer festival mood.

Stay cool, everyone! Today is a scorcher.

And a big thanks to Alize for introducing me to all of these awesome drinks!

*Comments have been turned off, head to an outdoor patio and relax!

My Relationship With Comedy

My timehop app reminded me that a year ago today our show, The Sneak Around Bunch, was premiering at The Second City.

For eight weeks we had a run on the ETC stage and we performed a newish show every Monday, trying out new material and polishing the old stuff. Even while it was happening I knew it was one of those times I would look back on with a smile on my face and think man, that was really cool. And I was right. I will always remember those eight weeks as a really great time in my life.

It's fun to be a with a group of like minded performers and artists, all fresh faced and full of optimism at the start of such an unknown career.

We'd joke about the famous Second City members who had come before us, their names scribbled on the wall, leaving behind terrible yet hilarious advice. "One of us has to make it. And this is where it all starts," we said one night before a show (or maybe every night before a show.) And I remember looking around and knowing it was true. Although our version of "making it" would be different for everyone.

Here I am backstage with Aidy Bryant's face on my face. Not creepy at all.

In one year since our run has been over I've seen my cast mates perform in solo shows, houseco shows, real Chicago theater productions, and jump on cruise ships to perform all over the world. It's pretty cool to say the least.

And I... well I'm still walking around with Aidy Bryant's face on my face. Jk jk. But in all honestly I have had a bit of a rocky relationship with comedy in the last year. But what comedian hasn't? That's what this world is all about. No one gets into comedy because they're stable.

I stepped away from improv because I needed a breather. And then I went to New York for a standup comedy festival and saw what my future could be and it made me question everything. Did I want to spend the next 10 + years hitting different clubs every single night? Because that's what they say; it takes every good comedian at least ten years. And that's if you're good. Then what? You go on tour and perform in random clubs and colleges staying night after night in a different hotel. Did I really want that life?

Honestly? No. Not one bit. I need my Harlow, Chris, and couch at least 3-4 times per week.

So I wanted to be done with it. What's the point of pursuing something you don't want to go after?

But I was hosting an open mic every week so I couldn't just walk away. I still had to write new material and get up on stage and interact with an audience. So I kept at it, just a little bit, but I was doing something.

And as it turns out, I needed that. I took a few weeks off around Christmas last year and I missed it. I missed the thrill of telling a new joke that hits. I missed being on stage. I missed the audience. I missed comedy.

So almost one year since my brief run at Second City I've found a good place with it all. It's a hobby to me now. I'm not actively pursuing it like I was a year ago, but I'm not ready to just let it go either. However that being said, I am actively pursuing about 100 other things in the comedy realm, but they're off the stage, more on pad and paper. For now...

And I also cracked and sent in a submission clip for the New York fest again. It's a long shot that I'll get in, but I couldn't help myself. New York in October is too much fun. And now to end with a photo of me with bangs and my stupid stage face.

Life is short, sometimes you just have to do what makes you happy and not care so much about where it leads. Even if that means wearing a shirt with jeweled cut-outs on the shoulders.

The Minnesota Dentist

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

To Whom It May Concern:

I'd like to apply for a hunting license and I'm not sure how to do it.

I have one specific game in mind and I'm willing to pay whatever it takes to obtain the right license. (I think I could crowd source this pretty easily.) I'm a good-intentioned hunter, so I'd like to do it legally of course.

The particular game I'm after is a "Generic Minnesota Dentist Who Likes To Pay Top Dollar To Kill Exotic Animals To Make Him Feel Like He's A Big Man And Can Take Whatever The Hell He Wants In This Life Because He Is A Garbage Person."

Have you heard of this breed?

I know he has young ones, so I'm not going to hurt him that bad. I'm not that big of a monster! I ran over a squirrel once and it still haunts me. I would just like to shoot him a few times with a bow and arrow. Maybe in the knee caps or something? He may feel some pain, but that's what happens in "sport." I know, I know, I'm sounding kind of cruel, but I'm just dying to get a great selfie next to him to hang up in my big game room.

My plan is to lure him out during the middle of night and then attack him when he least he expects it. I'll probably have a crew of people with me, so really he has no chance to fight back, but we'll be humane about it.

Like I said, I'll have a permit!

I'm not doing this because I'm a bad person. It's all for sport. It keeps me active, what can I say! I do this because I appreciate the breed. Minnesota dentists are so majestic I can't help myself.

And it's for Cecil.

Cecil the 13 year-old-lion who was known for being incredibly pleasant around people in Zimbabwe. Who attracted tourists from all over trying to catch a glimpse of such a beautiful and kind natured animal. Who had six cubs, all of which are basically guaranteed to die now.

Cecil the lion who minded his own business, in a "safe park" until he was lured away with bait one evening by the breed of a Minnesota Dentist. See what Cecil didn't realize is that he had a $55,000 price tag on his head.

That price tag almost makes me laugh in a sad demonic way when I foolishly feel proud of my efforts for donating $2,000 to help animals via the shirts I sell. $2000 is nothing compared to $55,000.

We live in a world where humans and animals alike are struggling to survive on a daily basis and yet we have Minnesota Dentists who spend hundreds of thousands to kill innocent creatures so they can take a selfie and hang a detached head in their man cave.

I just don't get it.

Some people say the internet is going "way too crazy" on said Minnesota man. He didn't know he was killing beloved Cecil after all! He meant to kill a different lion! A lion that wouldn't get him in so much trouble, just like all of the other animals he's killed over the years. C'mon, guys.

But we all know how the internet works, in about two days everyone will have moved on to something else. Which is interesting, because that's almost the exact amount of time Cecil suffered for. He was shot with a bow and arrow and managed to cling to life for forty more hours until the hunters found him and beheaded him. And then took a selfie of course.

So in two days everyone might be over this. But Cecil will still be dead.

All that being said, maybe we shouldn't be so hard on the Minnesota Dentist. He's killed exotic animals before and was never in this much shit for it. He's just doing what he loves.

(Photo above isn't Cecil, just another conquest is all.)

Questions About My Blog

Every week I get the same emails regarding questions my blog. Or questions about starting a blog, or making money on a blog, or working with advertisers, etc. So today I'm going to answer some of those questions, maybe it will help someone, or maybe it won't. I don't know, tell me what you want from me. TELL ME.

Enough chit chat, let's dive in.

Should I Start A Blog?

No, start an Instagram account. Especially if you don't like to write and are simply starting a blog for financial reasons/you want free stuff (no judgement, free stuff is awesome.) In this day and age Instagram has opened the gates for any Tom, Dick and Jenny to hit the ground the running. Do ten "loop giveaways" every day, spend hours liking random photos, and badda bing badda boom, you'll have 20k followers in no time and companies will be reaching out to you like crazy.

But if you like to write and actually want to stick around for a while, then yes, start a blog. Understand that all good things take time. Rome wasn't built on loop giveaways.

I want to have my own blog. How do I start?

Did you not read what I just said above? But if you insist... Here's my advice on how to start a blog, you just do. Stop over thinking it and jump it. It's going to be messy and awkward in the start, but feel it out and you'll find your niche.

Check out this post for more advice on what I wish I had known when I first started blogging.

How do I grow my blog?

There's two ways. You work at it, or you pay for it. I suggest a little of both.

When I say pay for it I mean buy ad spots on other blogs. I did this a lot when I first decided I wanted to get a bigger blog audience. I was on sidebars and doing guest posts at least once a week.

And when I say work at it I mean write good posts that people will share. Simple as that, yet so damn hard sometimes.

Talk to people who know what's going on and have been around the game for awhile. I suggest a blog sit-down/consultation with this girl. She understands the game of blogging better than anyone.

Also check out this post: 27 Quick Ways To Increase Blog Traffic.

How do I make money on blogging?

You work with networks who pay you to blog about their products. My favorite right now is IZEA. I also work with Blogher, but to be completely honest I haven't been loving that network as much lately. I also occasionally partner with One2One and Collectively.

Making money is tricky. I think there's a balance you have to find between writing posts you're getting paid to write and writing your own content. We've all seen bloggers fall down the sponsor hole where suddenly their entire blog is commercial content. What can you do though, mo money mo probs...

*I think I have some sponsor posts coming up shortly...But I promise you'll love ALL of them. 

And now for the other random emails I always get:

GREAT BLOG! We'd love for you to feature (enter any site/product name) on your blog and in exchange we'll share your post with all of our followers! Can't wait to see what you come up with!

Dear generic person reaching out,

Do you know how long it's taken me to get said followers? SIX YEARS. Six years of writing posts. Of editing photos. Of staring at my computer screen day after day hoping and praying the words will show up one more time. It's taken me six years to Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Pin, you name it, I've done it. And it's taken time. So much time.

So no, I am not going to feature your product. And yes, I understand I might sound like an asshole. But I think you're an asshole for undervaluing my site and my time.

Dear Sir or Madame, my husband is in prison and I need to wire you $100,000. Can we please discuss further opportunities? 

I'm listening...

And we'll wrap it up there. Was all of this blog talk helpful, or extremely boring? Did I leave anything out you want to know?

I've always secretly wanted to do one of those "ask me anything" posts but I've been hesitant for two reasons. 1. I'm scared no one will have anything to ask me. And 2. I don't know how to set up a survey.

K, thanks bye.

Murphy's Law

Monday, July 27, 2015

Murphy's law states that if something can go wrong, it will.

As of late, Chris has "jokingly" started calling me Murph. If there's a curb, I will trip on it. If there's a pitcher of water, I will spill it. And if I'm opening a small packet of ketchup I will manage to bust it open in a way that shoots the ketchup straight up onto my forehead and all over my face.

Let me go back a bit and explain.

Last weekend I bought Chris and I tickets to watch the Cubs game from a nearby rooftop. I surprised him with the purchase, very proud of myself for setting up such a fun Saturday. All you can eat and drink while watching a little baseball, what could be better?

For starters it might help if you could actually see the game. When I purchased the tickets I didn't realize I got the rooftop right behind the new big screen. Thanks, Groupon.

The first thing Chris asked when I told him about the game was, "I hope you didn't buy the one right behind the new screen."

Naturally I snapped back, "Of course I didn't! Give me more credit."

Classic, Murphy.

There was another floor where the game was actually visible, but we didn't get there in time to get seats on that floor. No, that floor was full of very tan people, in little-to-no clothing, who all appeared to have hit the gym in the morning, then the club, and then made it to the game an hour before every else. It was also the floor where the food was.

It was the third inning and I was on the food floor double fisting hotdogs in my jean overalls with the rest of the children when I approached the condiment table. The small ketchup packet was being particularly stubborn so I squeezed extra hard and suddenly the entire thing burst open, shooting the dollop of ketchup straight onto my face and under the bill of my hat. It was the kind of accident that you'd see in a movie and say, now how in the hell did the ketchup land there?

My face looked like a massacre. There was ketchup splattered on my eyelids and all over my eyebrows.

I searched the crowd trying to find someone to laugh with, but all I could see were pretty people in muscle tees and lace crop tops staring at the girl dressed like a toddler with food all over her face thinking, "Oh, I think she's here all alone. Maybe it's her special day or something..." The worst part was that they weren't even judging me, they were pitying me.

So I grabbed some napkins, and of course my hot dogs, and ran down to Chris. By the time I got to him I had taken off my hat and was trying to clean it off and he just looked at me and said,

"Why do you have ketchup in your hairline?"

"Because it exploded on me."

He shook his head knowing all too well I'd probably made a scene upstairs, "You better go to the bathroom and get yourself together."

And so I did. I went to the bathroom and cleaned ketchup out of my hair because that's the type of shit I have to do.

We left around the sixth inning. And because I felt like the food had been bad and we could barely see the game I grabbed a few bags of chips to take on the road.

I thought I was in the clear until I came barreling down the stairs, hands full of miniature sized Doritos, when I nearly ran into one of the tan pretty girls from the top floor. As I stumbled into her she just looked at me and gave me a sympathetic smile and I imagined her thinking, "Good for you ketchup, girl. Make this day great!"

I don't usually steal Doritos. I'm not that person. But I'd had a rough day so I thought it was okay...

Shortly after the Doritos heist I dropped my phone on the cement and this happened.

You're probably not going to believe me, but this is my 17th phone I've cracked. I'm not even lying. The people at the Fix-It store know me by name.

So if you received the "tipsy" snapchats on Saturday now you know why. It wasn't me, it was Murphy. Murphy does what Murphy wants.

Even Chris admits my Murphiness has been out of control lately. I still blame it on the concussion from the backflip incident on the trolley a few months ago... My hand-eye coordination isn't quite back to normal yet.

All things aside it was another great Chicago weekend. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches, you know?

The Mid Summer Panic

Friday, July 24, 2015

It happens to me every year at this time.

That first night I hear the song of the cicada bugs hissing in the trees just as the summer sun starts to set, panic sets in. Because everyone knows the cicada come around to warn us that summer is more than half way over. And I'm not ready. I never am. But more so this year than ever because summer just got to Chicago! Up until last weekend I've been in jeans every single day.

Where are all of those steamy mornings that lead into even steamier afternoons? And nights spent outside drinking beer on a patio under twinkle lights surrounded by friends where everyone is complaining about how warm it still is even at 11 p.m.? I'm yet to feel the sting of the summer heat.

And then I start to remember all of the ambition I had for myself back in May and I can't help but laugh. And also feel guilty like I always do when I never meet my own expectations.

I'm going to run every single morning!

Yoga by the lake at 6 a.m.!

Green smoothies for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

I'll shop at the farmers market every day, who cares if it's almost twice as expensive? It's FUN to pretend I'm a farmer's market kind of person.

And I'm going to write 100 books. 

The goals I make for myself are adorable.

That girl who lives inside my head must have no idea who lives outside of it. I am constantly disappointing her. But she means well.

Every time I step onto our little urban patio to write one of the thirty novels I'm working on I end up like this.

Magazine and wine. Or one of the ten books I'm currently reading. Can you tell I have trouble concentrating on one thing at a time?

So Cicada, while I love your song because you only come out during the dead of summer and you fill my ears with a gush of nostalgia; I think you're early this year. Chicago has at least two solid months left. At least. So try to be a little more quiet for the next few weeks, would you? Thanks.

The summer panic feeling is very real. Does anyone else suffer?

1 Year From Today

Thursday, July 23, 2015

And the countdown is on.

One year from today I'll be waking up in Steamboat, Colorado on my wedding day. As I sit here writing this I'm trying to envision what that will feel like and I can't help but get so excited.

Ideally, I'd like to start the day off with a Bloody Mary. Naturally.

Then gab a bit with my besties about how fun the rehearsal dinner was the night previous. I'm a big big fan of rehearsal dinners. I love the relaxed intimate moment of everyone getting together to celebrate the weekend that is about to unfold. And I also think the rehearsal dinner tends to get a little crazy. And knowing Chris's monster crew there's certain to be at least one guy who does something really stupid that we can all talk and laugh about the next day.

I know it's very girly of me, but I also love the part on wedding days when all of the girls sit around and get their hair and makeup done together. It reminds me of college when I lived with my best friends and we did that every night. I love that moment with the friends I only get to see about one or two times a year.

As for the hair and makeup, let's not talk about that right now. This is my daydream and I don't want to ruin it.

The getting ready part, putting on the dress, the last touches, it's all just fluff when I think that moment when I see my handsome groom for the first time. I'm not very traditional, so I prefer to be the one waiting with my back turned while Chris runs up to me all shy and full of giggles, then coyly taps my shoulder. And then I turn around and pick him up gushing how great he looks.

Sometimes I entertain myself far too much with the thoughts that go through my head. I just envisioned that scenario and I'll probably be getting a kick out of it all day.

But seriously. That whole "first reveal" is such a weirdly intimate moment to me for some reason; I'm not sure I want it photographed. It might make me super awkward and uncomfortable. Maybe that moment might be best if it just happens and the only two people who see it are the ones living it.

Talk to me next year at this time and I may have changed my mind...

The ceremony itself will be personal and pretty short. Harlow will be the ring bearer (obviously.) And then I'm hoping he'll sit like a little gentlemen next to Chris's groomsmen. What I hope for and what actually happens rarely seems to cross paths...

We're going to exchange our own vows. I've already written mine in my head 100 times over. I'm assuming I'll probably write Chris's too.

And that moment when we walk back down the aisle as husband and wife is probably the moment I am most excited about. I'm playing it in my head right now and I get a rush just thinking about it. That's the moment I want to live in for awhile.

And then it's time to let loose.

The reception. The champagne. The speeches. The band. The weird wedding dancing. These are my favorite things! I can't wait for this stuff. I get absolutely giddy when I think about being in a such a beautiful place surrounded by so many of our friends and family. It just doesn't get any better.

Only 365 days...

If there's anything I know about time, it's that it goes really fast.

So one year from today, it's wedding time. And also party time.