Saturday Takeover- Heart My Backpack

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Introducing Silvia from Heart My Backpack. 


1. Tell us a little about the story behind your blog.

I’m a little obsessed with fashion blogs (especially from Scandinavia) and would love to have one myself, but I’ve been essentially living out of a backpack for the past two years so I wouldn’t have much to blog about after wearing all five of my outfits. So instead I’m writing about my travels!

2. What has inspired you to live the adventurous life that you do?

After finishing college I moved to Japan to teach English, mostly because I had (foolishly) majored in philosophy and figured there was no way I was getting a decent job in the U.S. with that degree. I ended up living on a remote island in southern Japan and pretty much hating it (it’s hard to fit in in Asia when you’re a foot taller than most people and have yellow hair).

After two years there I had saved about $45,000 so I decided to leave, but I guess because I had struggled so much while making that money it somehow felt tainted, like I could only spend it on something that made those struggles really worth it. For me that thing turned out to be seeing the world!

Lake Baikal, Russia

3. What was it like traveling through Iran alone?

Terrifying. Haha no, actually I loved it!

It’s funny that my blog has gotten the most attention from my posts about Iran - I think probably because Americans aren’t technically allowed to travel in Iran independently (I have dual citizenship and was there on my Norwegian passport) so hearing about an American woman’s time there without a tour is rare - but it was one of my smoothest, easiest trips.

Iranians are unbelievably hospitable, so complete strangers were constantly inviting me to their homes, showing me around, and making sure I was enjoying myself. In fact, I only stayed at a hotel for two nights during my two weeks in the country. It was really heartwarming, especially considering how wary I had initially been about going there alone as an American.

4. What misconceptions would you like to break down in regards to what most Americans think about the "less touristy" places you visit?

This sounds so counterintuitive, but I generally feel much safer in less touristy places. Like, I happily hopped on a plane for Iran and hitchhiked through the Stans, but traveling around Thailand made me nervous! I think it’s because in touristy places the local economy often depends on money from tourists and there are a lot of existing scams or resentments against “rowdy backpackers," whereas in “non-touristy” places visitors are simply treated as guests.

5. Out of the 60 countries you've visited, what has been your favorite?

Nepal. Germany? Egypt!

That’s a really hard question to answer! One of my recent favorites was Tajikistan, because it has breathtaking scenery and the locals are so hospitable, but also because I had initially been unsure about whether or not it was a safe country to travel to and it ended up being one of the places that I’ve felt the safest. I love when visiting a new place shatters preconceptions like that!

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Just Do You

Friday, February 27, 2015

I've finally started reading the Artist's Way. So many of my actor pals have read it and loved it and then I read this post last week by Christy and it pushed me over the edge to start it.

The book is supposed to help artists who feel "artistically blocked" release their inner creative power... or something like that. Two of the main components the author, Julia Cameron, suggests you do are handwrite three pages of unfiltered thoughts every single morning and go on an artist date with yourself once a week.

The "Morning Pages" as she calls them, can be about anything. They just have to be handwritten and done shortly after you wake up.  Turns out this task is actually kind of hard. I already screwed up and missed today. I accidentally had one too many drinks last night while celebrating a friend's acceptance into USC's elite writing for film and television masters program. I am very happy for this talented friend of mine, but also VERY jealous. I would give anything to go to grad school. Anything except more money I don't have... I'm still swimming in undergrad student loan debt. But we'll save those complaints for another post. I've told Sarah I'd just like a copy of all of her notes and assignments and I'll pretend to go to USC through her. While I'm at it, I'll also pretend that I'm Monica and I get to play basketball at USC as well. Love & Basketball FOREVER.

Where were we? Oh yes, The Artist's Way. I was supposed to go on an artist date with myself yesterday but I missed that as well. I stood my artist up. She might still be waiting at that coffee house for all I know. She's probably super mad but my afternoon got a little crazy yesterday and there was also a blizzard going on outside...

I'm not very good at carving out just "the me" time. Sure, I'm alone all day, but I'm always working on a 100 different things. And of course there's Harlow by my side at all times demanding attention.

I've partnered with Skinny Cow to help spread the movement about making more "me time" in our everyday busy lives. So many women that I know go about 500 miles per hour every day and rarely do anything for themselves, especially the hardworking moms out there taking care of everyone else.

Skinny Cow's new line of ice coffee, chocolates, and ice cream aims to remind women to take a moment every day and savor life's little indulgences.

Take a moment and do something just for you. Read a book, watch a movie, do whatever makes you happy. Even if it's just a 20 minute break out of your normally busy day to eat an ice-cream bar and pretend it's summer outside.

And that's all I've got for today. We are almost to March, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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How Not To Plan A Wedding

Thursday, February 26, 2015

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Groupon Getaways for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

The other day I sat down at my computer, bride magazines in my lap, a full cup of coffee in hand and I was determined to start planning a wedding. 

It all started off pretty good. For the first five minutes or so I was super focused. And then like a child distracted by a shiny light I happened to glance at a photo on my desk from the time Chris and I were in Paris like 100 years ago and I suddenly got the urge to take a trip somewhere. We haven't gone on a vacation, just the two of us, in forever I realized. I feel like everyone says travel when you're young and not tied down, well we're both of those things right now so why not?

This photo is slightly blurry because it was taken in the 80s. But look at little baby Chris. All clean shaven and everything. 

I started daydreaming about where we should go. Maybe back to Europe? Or to an island somewhere? Pretty much anywhere but dreary Chicago sounded good to me. 

I started casually looking at trip prices online. We've had some friends book vacations through Groupon Getaways and they had a great experience so I decided to start searching there. I clicked on the Europe, Asia and Africa tab first and let my little travel-dreaming heart go nuts.  These were the first packages that caught my eye:

A ten day trip to Greece- Greece! I have heard nothing but great things about this place and have always wanted to go there. 

Then there was the ten day safari in Africa. Um, can you just imagine for a second how awesome that would be?  I know I'm sounding a little outlandish with these destinations, but these are actual affordable packages on Groupon Getaways. I was shocked, as well.

Or an eight day getaway to London and Dublin. Castles and pubs? Yes please. Or perhaps a trip back to Venice to cruise the canals? I could definitely wrap my head around that.

And of course there were a bunch of amazing island vacations that were super tempting as well, but I'm not in swimsuit shape right now so I'd prefer to keep my pants on.

Chris is a bit more "realistic" than I am, so I figured before I tell him we need to jet off to Europe for a few weeks because I need a vacation I should suggest a few closer vacation spots, as well. So I clicked on the Midwest tab on Groupon and picked out some great spa resorts in Wisconsin, a dog friendly cabin in Michigan and a cool hotel in Nashville. Regardless of where we go, a vacation is a vacation, you know? I'll enjoy myself anywhere. There were so many choices within driving distance to where we live so they all seemed very accessible. 

And so within the next day or two, I am going to kindly suggest to Chris that we plan this vacation of ours and high tale it out of a Chicago for a week or two. I've got the travel bug and it's not going away. What do you think? Which vacation would you choose for your #MyGrouponGetaway?
And more importantly what did we learn from this? Planning a vacation is way more fun than planning a wedding. 

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The Best Blog Post Ever

I'm having one of those moments where I'd really like to write an amazing post (error free) that changes the world and makes everyone see how truly witty and wonderful I am and that goes viral in five seconds and lands me a job writing for a sitcom. And also wins me the Powerball.

Instead I've been staring at my screen for the past thirty minutes and looking at my coffee thinking about how I'm almost 28 and I've never had one of those artistic cups of Jo with a leaf drawn in the middle or an image of Mother Mary. What am I missing here?

Alas, today we'll do a good old fashioned, what's in my head/what I'm up to right now post. It might be so good it will go viral anyway.

I was supposed to take Harlow to Nebraska yesterday to stay at camp Fremont for awhile because we have a few trips coming up but the snow trapped us in Chicago. He is devastated. I am too. I love my sidekick, but we both have cabin fever pretty bad right now. We bicker at each other like siblings lately.

Last night I read the screenplay for Whiplash and now I am dying to see the movie. The guy who wrote the film is two years older than me. TWO. I feel like such a loser... says the girl who couldn't even come up with a blog topic today.

I need to get my ass moving. Less dreaming, more doing. I always forget that part.

So next week I'm embarking on an eight week screenwriting course. I do good in classes, they give me direction and keep me in line. Step 1: write screenplay. Step 2: sell screenplay. Step 3: win an Oscar. It's that easy, right? I think so.

On to other breaking news...

The swimsuit section is officially out at Target. Fewer things in life bring me more joy than seeing that section out in February. Not even kidding.

Speaking of joy, I officially joined the old lady club and started hanging my coffee mugs on the wall.

Would you look at that lovely wall decor? Nothing says I like to party more than coffee mugs hung on bird shaped door hooks.

Also I've been reading all of Nadine's posts about wedding planning and it makes me slightly nervous I still haven't done anything. Teach me your ways, Nadine.

And let's finish up with this photo of Harlow showing off his muscles like the meat head he is. I told him he needs to lay off the creatine powder, he's getting way too big for a Vizsla. But he just walks around the house in muscle-t's all day long, flexing and looking at himself in the mirror. It's so annoying.

Chewy sends Harlow a box of treats each month and he goes nuts each time a new one arrives. I never thought my dog would receive more mail than I do. But such is life.

Enjoy this last Thursday of February. March is just around the corner.

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18 Things I Do When I Get My Hair Done

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

There are two places in this world where I feel insecure: Platos Closet and the hair salon. Because I no longer feel like I'm good enough to give clothes to Platos, let's talk about the hair salon today.

1. I walk inside and immediately feel judged by the receptionist.
Am I too late? Too early? Too ugly? Why is she glaring at me? Why does she make me feel like I'm bothering her?

2. I panic when I'm offered a beverage.
Because I'm cheap and I know I'm already going to walk out with a $200 bill and I'm not sure if the "soda or wine" they've offered me is free.

3. I immediately regret not taking that soda or wine when the girl after me accepts it and I realize it is indeed free. Damn it!

4. I wonder if I can go back to devil receptionist girl and say "on second thought, I'll take that soda."
But it's too late. She'll see right through me.

5. When receptionist girl #2 hands me a robe I suddenly act like I've never seen something so crazy before and I don't know how to work something so complex.
"Um it goes on like this," she says as she helps me into it like I am 90 year old woman. And I mumble, "oh yea, that's the, how the ....okay."

6. The minute I sit down in the stylist's chair I suddenly feel the urge to blurt out 100 different excuses why my hair looks so bad.

7. None of them matter. She's going to look at my hair like I've been living in a dumpster and make a comment along the lines of "so like how long has it been since your last cut and color?" anyway.

8. And then she's probably going to make a comment about "whoever did your hair last really cut it unevenly..." I know my hair looks bad, that's why I'm here. No need to shit on the Groupon inspired stylist who came before you.

9. When she asks me what I want done I show her a photo of a beautiful celebrity, usually Reese Whitherspoon or Kate Hudson, and say I'd like to look exactly like her. Good luck.

10. The minute the stylist walks away into her magic closet to get foils and hair dye I try not to look in the mirror. I'm not sure if it's the lighting at salons, or the fact I'm already feeling insecure, but when I look in a salon mirror I see every terrible blemish, line, and dark spot on my face I don't want to see.

11. But I can't resist the urge with a mirror that big and proceed to take a "I'm pretty" selfie anyway.

11. When the stylist comes back she starts to make small talk and I play along. And then when the small talks ends soon after it started, I feel awkward for about the next five minutes wondering if I should try to continue it. I never do. She doesn't either, and I think we're both okay with it.

12. One hour in I start to lose it and I remember why I only get my hair done once (twice if I'm feeling super crazy) per year. I hate sitting for that long. I absolutely hate it. It's not relaxing for me, it's stressful.

13. When I'm told to sit under the dryer I get excited just because I know it's only a matter of time before someone rinses me. Having another person wash your hair is one of life's finer luxuries. Most times I have to restrain myself from actually saying, "Get it, girl. That's right, you know how I like it," out loud...

14. The rinsing feels great until it doesn't. And then my head gets stiff from lying at an awkward angle on a cold porcelain sink and I begin to wonder why I didn't just box color at home. A bleachy orange 'do never hurt anyone.

15. By the time the blow drying and trimming begins I am so ready to leave I have to remind myself I'm not a toddler and I need to settle down. The stylist can give me a bowl cut for all I care. I just want to be done.

16. I try not to look at myself until it's completely finished. I like to save the excitement/disappointment for the very end.

17. And when it's finally done and I get to check out the cut and color, I'm always meh about it. Don't get me wrong, the hair is fine. I'm just usually disappointed my face still looks like mine and not like Reese's or Kate's.

18. I pay my bill, which somehow always turns out more than expected, fret about how much to tip, and walk out thinking I better go have a drink tonight. Because new hair, whether you like it or not, always calls for a drink.

This post has been brought to you by my hair and beauty insecurities!

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An Apology Letter

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dear readers,

I am very sorry that I don't know how to proofread. Honestly, I am. I know that my errors have been out of control lately- even more so than usual and I need to apologize. You deserve better than this. I promise you I try to check things over, just not good enough obviously.  Hitting publish right when I'm done is just so damn tempting. But going forward, I'm going to try harder. I'll git bedder, just weight and see!

Dear Harlow,

I'm sorry we've only been going on 2 walks per day as opposed to your normal 18. I know this makes you very angry because you actually slap me in the face with your paw, or you slap my computer, or phone, or anything you don't want in my procession. I know you're frustrated with winter. I am too. But hang in there buddy, it's going to get nicer eventually. Like in June probably.

Dear wonderful animal-loving people who purchased "I Just Want To Hang With My Dog" shirts,

You have blown my mind with your generosity. Harlow has donated more than $300 to Felines and Canines in under a month, and last week he sent dog food, flee medicine, and cleaning supplies to a shelter in New Jersey that so badly needed it. And yes, Harlow is totally bragging about this right now because he feels awesome thanks to you.

That being said, I am really sorry some of you haven't received your shirts yet, although it does say 1-2 weeks for shipping time on my site I always hope to mail a shirt the day I get an order. But I was under prepared for the amount of sales to come in + my new inventory was delayed three days due to bad weather, so for some of you it's been more than a week now and I really do apologize. A new shipment is arriving today and I will be shipping everything by the end of the day. Thank you so much for your patience!

Dear cuticles,

I'm sorry for what I did to you over the weekend. It's just so dry outside and picking you to death sounded like such a good idea (for both of us.) But it wasn't. You look disgusting and very sad. I'll leave you along for at least a few weeks, I promise.

Dear woman in the Trader Joes parking lot driving a white Mercedes,

I'm sorry that you were so upset it took me a little longer than normal to pull out of my parking spot yesterday. I really hope I didn't make you late to your manicure or your private pilates class or whatever it was you were in a very big hurry for. I'm sure it was extremely important and I will forever be haunted by the fact I kept you an extra ten seconds. #prayers

Dear Chicago,

I'm sorry for what I said last night. I didn't really mean it when I said "you're ugly and disgusting and I want to leave you forever because it's so damn cold I'm losing my mind." Nobody looks good in the winter, you know?  We'll bounce back. We're more of a summer couple anyway.

Dear Man at the open mic last night who got upset I called him out,

I'm sorry it bothered you that I embarrassed you after your set. As a host, I try to support every comic and think it's bad taste to call someone out for bad jokes. However as a woman, if a comedian begins his set by saying "I'm going to jack off to you after this," I am most definitely going to call you out. Because you can't talk to women like that. And because you're disgusting. If you don't have respect for me, I'm sure as hell not going to have it for you. You would never say anything like that to a male host because you're a coward and you think it's funny to degrade women. Guess what? It's not. Men might out number women in standup by a long shot, but for those of us women that are involved, well we're a bunch of bad bitches who don't take shit from guys like you. So get off the stage and get out of my open mic.

Dear readers,

Sorry for that rant. Last night was actually a super fun night at the open mic. It was a full house with a great crowd. And if I missed anyone I owe an apology right now- I apologize.

If you have any apologies of your own, feel free to add them below. Let it all out.

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The Best and the Worst of the Oscars 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

Graham Moore's speech: The best.
The very best. Immediately after it was over I rewound it and watched it again.

I kind of love our "bring on the weird" culture right now. And I love that young kids are being told more than ever that they should feel free to be who they want to be. And maybe Moore's speech is also applicable to those who aren't technically "kids" anymore. Maybe adults can still feel weird and not know exactly where they fit but they're going to be okay... And perhaps someday win an Oscar.

The best: Patricia Arquette's speech about wage inequality.
You guys, it is 2015. The fact that this is still an issue is mind boggling to me. But it is.

And the fact that some people don't think this is an issue at all is the absolute worst.

The best: Meryl and J Lo reacting to Arquette's speech. Is Meryl screaming "F yeah!" I think she might be. Pretty sure J Lo is just screaming "Wahhhhhhhhhhhh."

The worst: thinking about how much money Meryl and J Lo have between the two of them. I'm kidding, it's actually pretty awesome. I used to be a J Lo hater (because I was jealous obvi!) but I've come to accept her and the fact she is an ageless beautiful robot. Selena y los dinos forever!

The worst: John Travolta.
This bit was dead before it even started.

Look at poor Idina, she is terrified. Let's hope this moment never ever happens again.

The worst: Leaving out Joan Rivers and Harold Ramis in the memorial montage.

Some people argued Rivers wasn't invovled with film, (she did write one movie) and not to mention she basically invented the Red Carpet so I'm not really buying the bullshit excuse. But if that is the excuse, what about comedic icon Ramis then? Why wasn't he involved?

The worst: No Jennifer Lawrence appearance.

Was she there? Was she hiding? Did I miss her?  An award show doesn't feel right without her tripping up the stairs or making comments about taking too many shots. Jennifer is my spirit animal. We're going to be best friends one day. Just wait.

Neal Patrick Harris- the best or the worst?

I'm a big NPH fan. I admire everything he's done and think he's extremely talented. So last night I really wanted him to kill it. I hoped he'd be declared the best host ever. But it didn't hit for me. And I feel bad saying that because everyone always tears apart the Oscars host,  but something just wasn't right. I felt like everything he said was delivered with a side of snark and arrogance and it made me like him a little less.

Snarky and arrogance sometimes works, but if you choose that route you better make sure your jokes back you up. And his didn't. They were so bad. I almost thought for a second they were so bad on purpose, like that was the joke. The bad joke was the joke. And if that's the case, then Neal actually did pretty good. But if that's not the case, his writing team needs to go.

Neal, if you're reading my blog I want you know I still support you. I host an open mic at a theater here in Chicago, so I basically know exactly what you're going through. Just shake it off and get back on the horse tomorrow. The Oscars gig is a tough job. So kudos to you just for taking it. And also please call Octavia today and apologize profusely for making her participate in that terrible bit that lasted four hours too long.

Did you watch last night? What were your thoughts?

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Nacho Average Bar Crawl

Sunday, February 22, 2015

It all started with an email chain from one of Chris's friends. We'll call him Uncle Mike.

Uncle Mike said, "Hey, want to go on a nacho bar crawl?"

I wrote back, "Am I dreaming?"

He said "No, this is real." And just like that the NachoAverageBarCrawl 2015 was born. For the next few weeks Uncle Mike put in countless hours of hard work and research trying to find the best spots in Lincoln Park to accommodate our nacho crawl. His selection process was extremely competitive. I think he had more than 500 applicants in the beginning but in the end he cut it down to just five top spots.

The week leading up to the crawl I knew I needed to get in the right mindset and condition so I prepared myself by making a plate of homemade nachos every single day. The night before the crawl I was so excited I could barely sleep. So I made a plate of nachos at 1:00 a.m. to calm my nerves.

The day finally arrived and we started our crawl at 1:00 p.m. at The Crossing. We toasted to the event with beers and Fireball shots and then watched as this beauty was placed in front of us.

Usually when nachos are set in front of me I begin attacking them like a ravenous wolf so it was slightly difficult for me to pace myself in the beginning.

It's clear The Crossing set the bar pretty damn high right from the start. Their nachos were oven baked, extremely generous on the chicken, and covered in a mix of "nacho appropriate" vegetables. There wasn't a bare chip on the plate which is always a hard task to achieve during nacho preparation. I usually prefer shredded cheese as opposed to the cheese you see above, but they were still delicious and I really couldn't complain. In fact I thought I'd be nacho hungover today but after looking at this photo I could eat them again right now.

Stop 2: Racine Plumbing.

It's been said before that nachos are like snowflakes, no two are alike and if you look closely enough at their true beauty you'll see a family of Who's setting up a Christmas tree right before you eat them.

When these were set on our table at Racine we all kind of gasped. Uncle Mike had to look away because he teared up. He said it was dust, but we all knew.

The authentic shredded chicken, the real cheese, the heaving piles of refried beans (you can't see them, but they were there) it was all so good. These are the kind of nachos that require a fork and another notch on the old belt.

We left Racine knowing these would be hard to top.

Stop 3: Matisse Tavern.

Matisse calls their nachos "gourmet nachos." They're like the fancy skinny cousin of the nachos you see above who lives in New York and wears all black and pronounces "human" like "uman." Less is more for Matisse. Some people are really into this I imagine. Like people not from Nebraska probably.

On a regular old day I would love these nachos. But in all honestly they were in a little over their head trying to compete with The Crossing and Racine. Bless their heart for trying.

Stop 4: D S Tequila. 

By the time we got here it was probably 6:30 p.m. We'd been eating and drinking for more than five hours. Our spirits were high and our tummies were full. When our waiter set these down we all just went "oh shit." Just look at this mountain of nachos. Have you ever seen something so amazing?

Ground beef and beans and cheese oh my! It was truly like a magical plate of nachos that never ended. Was there a gnome living in the middle of it all raising a family of unicorns? Would we have to solve a riddle in order to get to the next layer? What did all of this mean? We just kept eating hoping we would find out.

Two hours later the nachos were gone and we were playing beer pong and ski ball, declaring "This is the best day ever!" Or perhaps that was just me. We had a fifth stop planned, but I made a judgement call and knew none of us had a clear enough mind to give a new plate of nachos the proper respect they deserved. So we called it a night after D S Tequila. 

Am I food hungover today? Yes, yes I am. I woke up this morning smacking my dry lips together like I'd gone to bed eating sawdust. But it was so very worth it.

I suppose some of you might want me to choose the best out of all four. But I can't do it. That would be like choosing between my children that I don't have. Every nacho was special in its own way and presented me with a moment of happiness and heartburn I'll never forget.

So the Nacho Average Bar Crawl 2015 was a huge success. Next up: Tommy Want Wingy Bar Crawl coming March 2015. If you'd like to join, let me know.

It's a good thing this is my 27th year not getting invited to the Oscars, I'd hate to have to put on a tight dress tonight. But next year man, I'll be ready.

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Saturday Takeover- Hel On Heels

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Introducing Helen from Hel On Heels.


What made you decide to start blogging?

I had a blog in college, but I didn't keep up with it--posted once every few months and never really knew what blogging was about. I started again after I was asked to come speak to college seniors about finding a job and what to expect when you have one. I wrote a post to accompany my talk, remembered how much I liked blogging and decided to start again. I’m new to the professional world, living on my own for the first time, and taking life one day at a time. I blog about the things I figure out along the way.

How is life in Atlanta?

It's wonderful! I lived in the Atlanta area growing up, but I went to college in a teeny-tiny little town. Seriously, it is miniature. BONUS: Honey Boo Boo lives there and photobombed my senior pictures. Needless to say, after four years of small town life, I couldn't wait to get back to the hustle and bustle. Atlanta is such a fun city and we have great restaurants. There is always something exciting going on here. I even saw Ben Affleck filming a movie at the laundromat near my house the other day. I wasn't actually at the laundromat since I have a washer/dryer in my apartment...but when I heard he was filming, I decided to make a detour.


What is your favorite thing about working for a non-profit?

I wear so many different hats working at a non-profit, which is a great way to gain experiences in a lot of different areas quickly. Plus, I work with kids, so that's always entertaining. I get a lot of laughs from the hilarious things they say.

How would you describe your blog in three words?

Food, Fashion, Fitness, and Finesse. Ok, I cheated and used four, but those are the words I use to describe my blog to other people. Finesse is anything that doesn't fit into the first three categories, but I liked the alliteration.

What is a favorite post you've written recently? I think my favorite post I've written recently is "Having a Hard Last Name." My last name is really complicated to pronounce and actually means "little yellow weed." I wrote this post exploring the pros and cons of having a difficult last name.

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

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What It's Like At An Improv Audition

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Let me tell you a little bit about what an improv audition is like. I happened to have one yesterday at Second City. And thanks to all of the awesome comments you left on this post, I went in there feeling confident and relaxed. I wasn't necessarily confident I was going to nail it, I was confident I was going to have fun and just be excited I'm in a place where I get to do what I do. I may bitch about comedy a lot, but that's only because I love it so much.

Right when I got there I saw a lot of faces I recognized. I wasn't sure if I actually knew them, or just knew them from watching them perform somewhere, or was it just from Facebook? I had no idea. The improv world is a small world. You'll cross paths with everyone at least twice. And if you're single you'll probably cross more than paths... (That's according to my young single gal pals) Says the old engaged lady.

Anyway, there's two types of improv people- the loud ones who seem to be best friends with everyone and take it upon themselves to intimate a game of Zip, Zap, Zop. And then there's the quiet ones who seek out a safe corner to silently access the situation. I fall into the latter.

When it's time to start the audition you're brought on stage all at once. The lights are pretty bright, but if you look hard enough you can see the eyes of the people sitting in the audience who hold your future in their notebooks.

We say our names and are told to say "something interesting" about ourself. This first part is crucial. You don't want to try to say something funny, they can smell that a mile away. But you are in a comedy audition, so you have to be a little funny. But not too funny. But funny. But shit did I already ruin this audition before it even started?!? And that's a little glimpse inside my head at auditions.

After the intros, it's quick two person scenes. When your name is called you step out and one other person who wants to join you steps out as well. Then you start. You jump into a scene about whatever you want. And then you have about thirty seconds to apply every tool you've ever learned about improv to show your chops.

Listen. Yes and. Be real. Be honest.  Do scene work. Don't be a talking head. Make it count. Show emotion. Say a name. State a relationship. Don't say too much. Don't say too little. Be a good actor. But don't act too much. Be a good scene partner. Don't deny. Play smart. Put down the broom. AND GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD.

About halfway through doing a scene in front of a stage full of talented people, where I get tongue tied and don't always have the best responses, I ask myself why I didn't just get into good old fashioned acting. You know, so I could have auditions with scripts. Wouldn't that be a lot easier? Yes, yes it would. But here I am in a scene trying to tell my husband I'm scared to have our twin baby girls because I think one is going to eat the other. Girls can be very nasty in the womb, I've heard. Carry on.

We then go on to do longer two person scenes and the time on stage while all eyes are on you can feel like a second or two hours. It's all an illusion. Time isn't real on stage.

When it's all said and done I have my usual post audition feeling. I wouldn't say it's a good feeling per say. It's more like a why didn't I do what I planned/hoped/prayed I would do kind of feeling.

This video might better sum up how I was feeling yesterday immediately after.

And that's what it's like to go through an improv audition. I'm going to be fine. We all are.

If you're a talent agent, please sign me.

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10 Things You Should Give Up For Lent

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Following Kendall Jenner on Instagram. 
No good can come from this. Her life is an illusion. A very very beautiful and rich and young and has everything kind of illusion. Unfollow now.

Trying to find the perfect bathroom rug that doesn't look dirty after one shower and also doesn't get stuck under the door.
It doesn't exist. Stop looking.

Complaining about your friends who post photos on social media of their children going to the bathroom.
While I don't understand this trend, I'm going to stop fighting it. Instead, every time I see a photo like this I'm going to counter it by posting a photo of myself going to the bathroom.

Trying to understand why people you don't know endorse you on Linkedin.
They just do. Take the random "compliment" and move on.

Asking your significant other to always turn off lights.
One person in a relationship is a light turner-offer and one is not. It's as simple as that.

Having a clean microwave.
Just let it go. Microwaves are going to get a little dirty, they're okay with it. You should be too.

Trying to perfect that perfect posed Instagram photo.
You either have it or you don't. And by "it" I mean the white board you bring out to stage photos. Can we me move on to a new Insta trend already please?

Saying you're going to change your internet password one day.
You're not. It's going to be hj78965jinex445lok23ew forever.

Trying to understand why you still love the Blank Space song by Taylor Swift so much.
You guys, I am OBSESSED with this song. I don't know why, but I am. I feel like I'm in her video every time I listen to it. Like if her music video took place in a small apartment in Chicago and the hot man in it was actually a dog. Just like that.

Ariana Grande.
It's time to give her up. Her mouse babies underground need her back.

*Honorable mention goes to Madison County Exchange. You know who you are. We're better than that, Northeast Nebraska. 

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Putting It All Out There Today

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It's 1994 and I'm seven years old. I've stayed up way past my bedtime on another Saturday evening so I could watch Saturday Night Live. I need to see the Matt Foley sketch. I'm dying to perfect my impression of it for school on Monday. I want to pull up my pants just right and lick my lips in that disgustingly hilarious way exactly how Chris Farley does because it is everything to me.

"I live in a van down by the river" was my lunchtime routine. Because when you're a kid you don't care how stupid you look or if anyone actually thinks you're funny. (Trust me I didn't, no one ever laughed but that didn't stop me.) Trying my hardest to reenact that sketch made me so happy so what could be wrong with that? How many times have you heard a kid tell the same joke ten times over even though it's an awful joke but they get such a thrill out of telling it? They're relentless. And also very annoying.

I wasn't going to watch the SNL 40th anniversary special on Sunday because I was going through a bit of a breakup with that show. For the first time in my life I've turned my back on it and turned my nose in the air declaring I don't think it's funny anymore. I'm over it.

But that's bullshit. I'm just bitter and sad I'm not there yet.

I watched it. And I loved it.

Before I moved to Chicago the thought of actually working toward something like SNL seemed like such a pipe dream. Everybody talks about it but no one actually does it.  But once I immersed myself in the comedy community here and I started to see or hear about people around me getting "chosen" it kind of blew my mind. I started to think, so this really happens for people? 

And so my silly childhood dream I'd tucked away for a while came back out in full force. And those first few years of classes were great. I was on the right track. When I would perform with my sketch teams we'd all joke about "Lorne in the audience." But we were careful just to joke, it's faux pas to actually talk about SNL in this world. It sounds arrogant or greedy. Even as I write this post I'm hoping my comedy friends won't read it because it embarrasses me. It embarrasses adult-me to admit I'm still chasing something so huge. But kid-me says hell ya.

But then the classes ended and some of my peers were getting plucked for better things and I wasn't. So many of them were moving forward and it felt like I was at a stand-still. I could recognize I just didn't have what so many of them did. That immediate funny factor on stage without actually saying or doing anything. And recognizing I lacked that really sucked.

So I tucked the silly dream away again. Who cares about a dumb show like SNL anyway? It's stupid. You're stupid. I'm stupid. Everything's stupid.

I was pretty blue in January. I blamed it on winter and Chicago and just a bunch of other poor-me stuff. But then I realized I was sad because I'd let go of the joy of dreaming, of working toward something so crazy unattainable that most people think I'm unrealistic for even attempting. And I am, but whatever. That's what keeps me going.

I once asked Chris when we were watching the Masters Golf Tournament if he ever dreamed of playing in it when he was a little boy and he said, "No, I always knew I wasn't talented enough." Yet when I was a kid, I did. And women don't often play in that tournament. Especially women who can't golf. And that's the difference between him and I. He's a realist and I'm out of touch with reality a dreamer.

I can't help it, it's just who I am. I started reading self-help books when I was five. I used to fall asleep listening to Tony Robbins "Unleash Your Inner Power" cassette tapes in middle school. By high school my entire room was full of vision boards... Because I'm scary.

Am I living on a cloud? Yes, probably. But my cloud gives me a reason to get up in the morning and it keeps me ticking so I guess I better stay on it.

Two days ago I read a quote by Bob Odenkirk, the writer of the Matt Foley sketch, talking about Farley's physical presence on stage and his own lack thereof.

"When you walk out onstage, you smile right away because there’s just a funny physical presence, and I never had that. The only thing I thought was that if anybody ever gave me a chance to do drama, I might sit there better than I do in sketch comedy."

There's always going to be someone funnier or better on stage than me and I'm okay with that. Odenkirk found another way in, maybe I can too. At the end of the day, there's a million ways to get where I want to be. I just need to find the one that works for me.

I'd rather be 65 years old and still chasing a dream than 27 and already have given up.

And yes, this post has been fueled by one too many cups of coffee. Thank you for reading and thank you for keeping your eye-rolls to a minimum. Now get out there and make something of yourself.

I'm Paul Harvey,
good day.

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My Home Gym

Monday, February 16, 2015

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Soffe for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

I've been doing home workouts for about a week now. This is a new record for me (it was previously one day.) Surprisingly, I actually kind of enjoy it now and don't dread getting up every morning to exercise- as for today anyway, that could all change tomorrow...

I don't mean to be boastful or anything, but I'll show you a few photos of my glamorous home gym.

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As you can see the yoga studio is in the living room, close to the bar cart and an arm's reach away from the firewood.

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Coincidentally, the weight room also happens to be in the yoga studio. And the living room.

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So is the cardio room. Is a cardio room even a thing? It is in my home gym.

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So I might not have the best workout area. It's okay. At least when I work out from home that gives me a good excuse to stay in fun workout clothes all day. I just got my new Soffe gear and I am so in love with it. I've been a Soffe fan since middle school, not even kidding. Does anyone remember their awesome line of colorful shorts that every cheer/dance girl wore in the early 2000s? I lived in mine.

Soffe's new line is the same great quality that I used to know and love, but with a newer updated look. This brand has always been such a cool powerful brand for women and their strength and I love that about that about it.

To see more of Soffe's cute gear follow them Soffe’s Instagram or at Soffe’s Facebook.

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