15 Things To Focus On In 2017

Saturday, December 31, 2016

1. Care Less.
about things that don't matter and things that don't make you feel good.

2. Care more.
about things that do matter.

3. Change is good.
resist the natural urge to fight it. instead try to remember almost every great thing in your life started with an unexpected change you initially didn't want...

4. Surround yourself with good people who fill you with good vibes.
get away from those that don't.

5. Comparing yourself to others is as useless as it is exhausting.
someone else's story will never be your own.

6. Control what you can.
let go of what you can't.

7. No one has it all figured out.
some people are just better at faking it.

8. Ordinary people create awesome shit every day.
why not you?

9. Less excuses. More doing.
if you spent even half as much time working as you do complaining, you'd probably have nothing to complain about...

10. Listen to the nagging voice inside of you urging you to take that leap of faith.
its stuck around this long for a reason.

11. The Universe doesn't hoard success.
neither should you.

12. Hanging onto anger and jealousy is like walking around with hot coals in your hand.
by the time you find the person you want to throw them at, you're the only one who's been burnt. *can't remember where I originally read that, but it's always stuck with me.

13. People don't just "get their moment."
they work for it.

14. Kick ego to the curb.
it can hang out there with fear and doubt. they're all in the same annoying family, anyway.

15. Right now the biggest obstacle is yourself.
but it doesn't have to be.

Now go get shit done. Life is shorter than you think.

*originally posted last year, but worth focusing on once again in 2017 I thought!*

9 Habits That Were Game Changers For Me In 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016

1. Gratitude.
I practice this every day, but I'll be honest and admit it's an easy thing to do because I recognize and appreciate how lucky I am to live the life I do. I get to work from the comfort of my couch, doing something I enjoy, all while Harlow sleeps on my lap. How could I not be grateful?

But doing #2 makes being grateful extra simple.

2. Saying thank-you. For everything.
This was a tip from a book I read at some point, I don't recall when I actually started doing it but it's definitely become something that I do without even thinking. I thank my bed for comfort. My blankets for warmth. My fridge for keeping my food cold. My microwave for warming food up. I thank everything. And when you're done scoffing (I eye rolled hard at this myself in the beginning) give it a try. It's fun and starts to fill you with a gracious joy I can't quite explain.

And once you find yourself thanking your sox for keeping your feet warm it will dawn on you how lucky you are to have feet that let you walk! And legs that are strong enough to carry your body. And you're alive! And omg do you see how I fall down this rabbit hole of gratitude? But I have to admit, it's a good hole to fall into.

3. Anticipating the day ahead.
I wake up every morning and imagine/dream/plan how I'd like it to go. I say out loud "today is going to be a good day." But I don't just say it, I believe. As we all know, sometimes shit just happens and rotten days will come. There's no way around that. But going into a day armed with the confidence that it will be good always seems to help.

4. Mantras.
I have a lot of mantras. Some stick, some go, but all of them make me feel strong and happy just by thinking about them. One that I repeat daily, and write down weekly, (and have for several years now) is simply, "I live the life I want." That's it. But those words are always in my head.

That and "save the dogs."

5. Giving back.
Have you ever heard the secret to life is giving back? Who knew it's actually true. Here's a little info I've never shared about my animal donations; I tend to send them at specific moments, usually when I'm feeling extra blue or hopeless about something in particular (because yes, even with all of my "rituals" and stuff, these days still come) and so I wait until I'm at my lowest to send money to the shelters because it always picks me back up. Every single time.

Once you start giving you'll be amazed at what comes right back to you.

6. Doing Things With Intention.
I think this one started with pilates. The workout isn't just about going through motions, or making it through class. But it's doing things with a purpose and feeling your body react to it. What started in pilates has moved to other areas in my life. I'm constantly asking myself, "why are you doing this?" What is the purpose here?"

Asking questions like this also leads to...

7. Mindfullness.
Or being present. I really struggle with this, but am always working on it. I like to use my job (blogging, social media, shirts, blah blah blah) as a scapegoat. But we could all use jobs as our excuse, regardless of what area of your work you're in.

Being mindful is a constant work in progress.

8. Giving off the right vibrations. 
Feel, think, and give off good vibes and that's what you'll get back. Call it karma, being kind, good vibes, whatever you prefer. This doesn't always happen naturally for me, so again it goes back to being mindful and doing things with intent. I have to be very conscious about what I'm thinking and feeling to ensure the cynical, angry little voice in my head doesn't run the show.

9. Understanding that success is abundant. 
You don't have to hoard it, there is plenty to go around. I grew up very competitive, which often led me to situations where I felt super envious of anyone else succeeding at what I wanted to. I felt that anyone else gaining success had to mean it was being withheld from me.

But that's not the way it works. The Universe is abundant and there is enough for all of us. Don't believe me? Wish abundance and success for someone else and watch it come back to you.

I'm telling you guys, this hippy happy vibe stuff works.

All that said, I still have my daily mind battles. Moments of feeling like a total loser and failure. Times when I'm a complete asshole and I know I'm being an asshole, and yet I do it anyway.

I run hot-tempered by nature, my patience is low, and I get frustrated easily. I can be snappy, pissy, and go on the defense when it's not necessary. I'm human, (sometimes a very agitated human.) So everything I mentioned above simply helps to keep me in check. Helps me to move just a little bit closer to the person I'd like to be, to the person Harlow thinks I am...

Most importantly, I know the Universe is on my side. So I should be too.

Cheers to a new year, I really hope it's a good one for you.

*side note: My mom gets itchy when I talk so much about the Universe because she thinks it means I don't believe in God. That is not true. I believe in a lot of things. Is that "the way?" Probably not. But it helps me be a better person so I'm okay with it.

Reflection On 2016

Thursday, December 29, 2016

As I'm sitting here trying to recap 2016 I'm feeling nostalgic, reflective, and full of gratitude. It was the best year to date.  For obvious reasons; like my bachelorette! Ha. Ha. But seriously, that was a great trip. Marrying Chris in Steamboat was pretty great too. And our honeymoon. And buying a house in the fall. We did a lot in 2016.

And the thing is, when it started I knew it would be great. Several of my best friends were getting married (and also having bachelorettes) and we had fun trips to go on about every other weekend. So I went into 2016 knowing it would be an awesome year and a fast year. I was right about both.

It wasn't just the parties and weddings that made 2016 the most enjoyable year to date, it was a few other "practices" I picked up along the way, as well.

I've never been quiet about the fact that I love any type of self help. Books, podcasts, movies, specials on Netflix, I love it all! What I have been shy about, is how I've incorporated what I've learned into my life... I have a lot rituals, practices, ext that I do every day. Some I do several times a day (like saying thank you over and over to almost every object in our home... more on that later.) And I get that some people may think it's a little wacky, and perhaps it is. But at the root of it I don't really care because I know what a game changer it's been for me.

And so I've decided to share what some of those "game changer" rituals are. It's not mind blowing stuff and I'm not taking credit for any of it- it's simply the byproduct of my years of interest in the self help world.

Can you tell I'm pussyfooting around here at this point? For someone that overshares on the regular (on every medium possible) I'm hesitant to talk about this. I'm about to let you all into my creepy little world where I write my goals down 100 times a day and thank my coffee machine for making my coffee...

I think my fear in sharing some of this stuff is that someone may read it and think I'm being preachy or boastful. And that's not my intent. I'm just hoping that some of the things that have helped pull me out of funks may work for someone else. I realize we're all in very different life situations, and I'm lucky to find myself in a good one, but we all have our down days.

And oh my gosh am I RAMBLING.

I'm sorry. Let's just wrap this up and call it part one while I work on part two. *Part two is really coming. I know I say this a lot and it never comes, but for real this time because it's basically done at this point.

On Having Shingles

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 just won't quit. For the world and me personally.

Three weeks ago it was the flu, and then the shingles, and last week while I was trapped with a bat in my childhood room at my parents house I knew 2016 was really going out with a bang.

You don't know fear until you're locked in an enclosed space with a flying vampire bird, in the middle of the night no less.

Harlow and I trembled under my covers as we heard its leathery wings flapping above us, its squeaky little mouth smacking together, daring us to come out.

But more on this story later. I've had enough bat encounters in my life to fill an entire blog. The Daily Tay Bat Stories. I'll start a new site for that one. The first post will be called "That time I kept a bat in my laundry hamper for three days before telling anyone." As a kid I used to think bats looked like tiny puppies with wings. As an adult, I no longer think this.

But let's move on to a different subject; like shingles.

If you had to choose, would you prefer your skin constantly itch and sting so bad you couldn't keep your hands off it, or have your skin in such a firey state of hell it felt like it was covered in acid?

Welcome to shingles! The firey hell was a cause of the capsaicin cream the doctor suggested I put on. It fights the itch with even more pain. So that was a learning experience.

If you don't know anything about shingles, consider yourself lucky. Prior to getting the nasty virus I certainly didn't. I just knew it sounded gross and like something you'd get in the 1800s, not 2016. Then again, it makes sense 2016 was the year to do it to me.

After getting shingles the most common response I hear from people is, "are you 80?"

Yes, yes I am.

The shingles virus usually strikes the elderly. And it's painful. Very very painful.

It's slightly different for everyone, but this is how mine started. With itchies. All over my body. WTF is going on I wondered as it continued to happen night after night. It felt like I was being bit by something so I washed our sheets and our mattress cover three nights in a row. But it was clean as a whistle.

Dry skin? Sun burn? I'd just come back from Cabo, so both were possibilities. I continued to scratch my skin and didn't think it was worth seeing a doctor.

And then a little patch of bumps formed along my back on the lower right side. So I wasn't crazy! There was actually something there. I'm very lucky the bumps didn't spread, but unfortunately the pain did. Eventually it turned into shooting bursts of stinging pain that gave me goosebumps and made me curl over until it passed.

And still, I didn't see a doctor...

And then the flu came. Or so I thought? It's still up for the debate whether it was a stomach bug, the flu, or the shingles virus working its magic.

For five days after the long night of throwing up I continued to have a severe headache, random bursts of pain, and itching at night that was so bad I couldn't sleep - even with sleeping pills. (Lots of sleeping pills.) I decided to call a doctor after one day when I felt so faint in the middle of the afternoon I thought was going to... well faint.

As I sat in the waiting room I couldn't stop scratching. It was the height of the irritation. The bumps hadn't spread beyond the small spot on my back, yet the scratching and pain was all over my right side. It was unbearable.

The doctor confirmed it was shingles, and also that I was indeed an 88 year old woman, and sent me on my way with a lot of antibiotics.

The downfall was that I waited far too long to come in so it was up in the air whether the pills would work, at this point the virus would have to run its course. For some people that meant three weeks, for others three months... For some a year.

A YEAR. Shingles can cause permanent nerve damage if you don't treat it.

I was lucky and only had a few more days of pain to endure. I no longer feel the shooting bursts, the bumps are gone, and I rarely scratch. So all in all it lasted about three weeks.

And do you want to know who's to blame for all of this? Five year old me. The dirty little kid with the chicken pox.

If you've had chicken pox that means that the shingles virus is currently living inside of you already, just waiting to come out and ruin your life for a few weeks... How crazy is that?

It obviously doesn't strike everyone, stress and a low immune system can bring it out. And after you get it once, your chances of getting it again are more likely. HOW FUN!

Moral of the story, if you've ever got a case of the itchies and don't know why and it lasts for more than a night or two, RUN TO THE DOCTOR.

Or just get the shingles vaccine. Going forward, I'll plan to do both.

2017, please be kind to us. We could use a break.

The Lull Before New Years

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

This lull week after Christmas before New Years always confuses me. I can't quite explain it, but let's just say I've been staring at my computer screen for about two hours now with a blank expression on my face and zero thoughts in my head.

I feel extra lazy and seem to have this laissez-faire attitude about everything work related that needs to be done. For example tshirt orders, exchanges, customer emails... Good Lord, there are a lot customer emails. If you're one of them, you'll hear from me today I promise. Eventually.

I think the whole idea of winter break has just been engrained in me from school days so my mind and body still fully expects that I get to be in lounge mode until at least January 3rd. Maybe the 4th of 5th depending on school policy.

I really just want to lay on the couch all day eating cookies and chex mix, while watching 100 hours of TV. Right now I'm currently into Westworld. It's dark and twisted, but what can I say, that's what I'm enjoying at the moment.

But once I get my butt in gear and start doing things (cleaning the house, emails, ext...) I'm also attempting to plan out some blog posts for the week. *I never plan out blog posts, ever. But I can pretend.*

If you have any fun ideas, I'm all ears. Naturally, I was thinking my favorite self help books for 2017 (because I haven't written about this 100 times...) but this is a big week for dreamers/goal setters. I have about six hours set aside (every day until January 1st) to work on this. I get giddy just thinking about all the new notebooks I'm going to buy to ramble in.

And so I'm obviously going to write a post about my goals for 2017. Maybe a post about eating healthy/exercise? Blah. I know it sounds boring but after two solid weeks of eating shit I have to get back to smoothies and pilates. And I have a really big plan to start drinking more water. -said me every year.

I'm also contemplating sharing some fiction or essay-ish posts. But that sounds somewhat dumb and scary so that's still up in the air...

And of course I'll write a post about Harlow being back home and how I tell him no less than 100 times a day how happy he makes me and omg dogs are the best. They really are.

Okay this post was a ramble. I'm sorry. I blame it on the lull week.

Come back tomorrow to read an inspiring (ha!) post about goal setting, giving off the right vibrations, and being one with the Universe! Unless you hate Universe talk, then I suggest you stay away.

I'm done for today, bye.

My Psychic Reading For 2017

Friday, December 23, 2016

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

Have I mentioned before that I enjoy talking to psychics? I'm pretty sure I have. From time to time I just like to pop in on my future and see what's up.

My family actually has a pretty interesting history with psychics as it was a clairvoyant who told my great grandmother Grace back in the 1940s that she was adopted. She had no idea until someone she'd never met before broke the news to her. I heard this story my entire childhood so I've always been pretty into psychics.

Thanks to Keen, I just had a quick reading from the comfort of my couch. Full disclosure, I had never been on Keen before today, so I was a little hesitant. But I took some time getting to know the site and was pretty impressed with the catalog of psychics they have. It's like a dating site for people like you and I to find someone they're comfortable speaking with, ha! But seriously...

I found a woman with great reviews whom I got a good feeling about and decided to give her a call.

And within ten seconds I was speaking with a very friendly woman named Jess. You get to choose categories you'd like to speak about, so I chose "business" and "spiritual." When I talk to psychics it's not just to get my "future read" or whatever preconceived notion you may have, but I also like to get meditation and spiritual advice. I have no shame in the fact I could talk about the Universe and the vibrations we give off for hours and hours.

*Mom, this does not mean that I don't believe in God. I believe in a lot of things. God and the Universe. 


Jess gave me some great tools for meditation and breaking through writers block (which is always a big concern for me.) 2017 is my year, guys! I'm going to do it.

She sensed I've had some health issues lately (shingles... more on that later) but assured me I was on the up and up. Thank God. She also told me that I have a few fun trips coming up that I don't yet know about. WOO HOO!

After I felt I got some good direction about 2017, my business, and overcoming the creative obstacles I set for myself in my mind, I thanked Jess for her time and told her I was set. I was worried she'd push back and try to stay on the phone for longer, but she didn't at all. All in all, it was a good experience.

Whenever I talk to my friends about psychics so many of them tell me they'd like to visit one, but they're nervous. I feel like Keen is a great place for people to start who may also be in this boat given that it's from the comfort of your own home. Keen has created an Exclusive Holiday Offer for The Daily Tay readers: A 10-minute online psychic reading/session for $1.00.

So if you've ever wanted to talk to a psychic, now is your chance. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. Or check out the video below! Cheers to a bright 2017!

Visit Sponsors Site

The Christmas Card 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A holiday hello from me to you.

The theme of this year's card was OH WHAT FUN!

Have I mentioned before how much I loved our wedding day? I think this photo totally captures the essence of it all. I also love the idea that we were able to include so many of our favorite people in our card this year. When I think about the fun that was our wedding, I think about these people.

And now to follow up my holiday card with my annual Wolfe-Hillis Christmas letter. A letter written by a random "narrator" as Christmas letters usually are, full of nothing but humble brags in hopes my family comes across better than the family we're taped up next to on the fridge.

Without further ado.

To our dearest friends and family,

What a year it has been! From weddings, to honeymoons, and officially becoming homeowners in Chicago. 2016 is definitely a year for the books.

A few highlights include:

Harlow was recognized at the Cubs parade. (twice.)
Chris wore his lime green Chubbie swim trunks every day of the honeymoon.
Taylor learned how to take a mirror selfie.

Everyone has had so many blessings and many things to be thankful for, let's start with the head of the household; Harlow.

Harlow is maturing into a very fine young man. He's gotten a few more silver hairs around his chin which make him look quite distinguished. He was a bit hesitant about them when they first came in and Taylor caught him ordering hair dye off amazon, but she quickly nip that in the bud and simply deleted his Tinder profile.

He excelled in bone chewing, stick chewing, toy chewing, and his most favorite past time of all, eating garbage at the park. Harlow is loving the new neighborhood! He spends his days staring out the window at the other dogs across the street, also staring out their windows.

He's made some new friends, but mostly new enemies. For the first time in his life he's encountered "big devil squirrels," or better known as "cats" to you and I. The new neighborhood is full of them and Harlow is terrified. And also very angry.

On the professional side, Harlow's blogging career is still going well as he receives 5-6 packages a week and is currently working on his first memoir, "Through These Brown Eyes." It should be out in early 2018.

Chris has settled into his manager role at work just wonderfully. He constantly talks about his love for "his reps" and is always reading books about how to improve himself as a leader and role model. He watches Dangerous Minds on repeat and memorizes Michelle Pfeiffer's most inspiring monologues.

Although if we're being honest I think the highlight of 2016 for Chris was probably the best weekend of his life, also known as his bachelor party in Las Vegas. And by weekend I mean the five day trip he and 86 other boys from Fremont attended. No photos were taken over the weekend, but if I know those Fremonster boys, I'm sure it was all innocent fun.

And finally we have Taylor.

2016 started off strong for Taylor with an audition at a real life talent agency. This is my year, she thought to herself as she sat in the waiting room surrounded by head shots of actors she didn't recognize. The audition went great and the agent said she'd get back to Taylor! It has been ten months now, but Taylor is still confident that email is coming.

She had many comedy accomplishments including... And was cast on the improv team... And was asked to do standup at.... And finished several webseries about...


Her t-shirts are doing quite well! She is truly living the dream of a T-Shirt Lady! Every morning she gets up and thinks, could I put that on a t-shirt? She's made great strides in her anger management and no longer harasses every other store using ideas that she has created.

The book(s) she's been working on for over ten years now have once again been put on the back burner in order to concentrate on more important things such as, leg photos and coffee cup photos on Instagram. She's just certain attaining 50,000 followers will fill that void inside her for all of the unfinished creative work she's too fearful to tackle.

And her instavids and snaps bring her so much temporary joy she can tell she's on the right path and just about ready to break through. Just one more self help book and she'll be there!


So many blessings, dear friends.

I hope your year was just as beautiful as ours, same with your holiday card. (But ours was foil stamped, so like good luck.)

Our cards are from Minted and their quality and customer service is nothing short of exceptional. They are my go-to site for cards, photos, wall art, ext. And PS today they have 20% off!

The Flu Diaries

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The flu bug struck our house around 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

I guess it actually struck 12-48 hours earlier according to WebMd. Who gave it to me? I shall never know. But it latched on to me hard.

In hindsight, I'm glad it struck this past weekend rather than Christmas week as it usually does. Does this happen to anyone else's family? Every single year it seems... It's a nasty bug this time around as it's still hanging on a bit today in the form of stomach cramping and a headache that won't budge.

That's the thing, I always forget how terrible the flu is until I'm living it. I jokingly said to Chris just a weeks ago, "I wish I could get the flu or something so I could just lay in bed all day and not feel guilty about it. Ha ha."

Ha. Ha.  Wish granted, idiot.

My steps for coping with it are always the same. When I was first woken up in the middle of the night with that awful nauseous feeling the first thing that came to mind was denial.

It's all in my head. I'm not really sick. Go back to sleep.

But then I was running to the bathroom, hand held to mouth.

After the first round I told myself it was food poisoning.

You'll feel better now. Just go back to sleep.

Until round two.

Shit is this really the flu? No. No, it can't be. Why didn't I listen to Aiden on that damn Walgreens commercial about getting a flu shot?

I never get, or even think about flu shots, until I have the flu.

For the next 6-7 hours, almost every 40 minutes on the dot, you know what happened. The pain, the cramping, the fire in the throat, the hugging the toilet...

Denial officially became acceptance when I brought my pillow right outside the bathroom door and slept there, no longer able to walk the ten extra steps to the bed. That's when you know it's really bad. I would have slept in the bathroom but unfortunately our rug was in the dryer as I had decided to wash it earlier in the day. At the time it killed me, but in the big scheme of things, it was best our cream rug wasn't in there for what went down.

Until 4 p.m. the next day I tossed and turned in pure misery. Body on fire, then completely frozen. Back and forth. Back and forth. I felt like I was an old-timey child living on the prairie, fighting for my life as ma and pa and uncle Albert stood around my bedside wondering if I'd make it.

I made it, but barely.

I tried to shower around 6 p.m. but ended up back on the floor on the towel. It was just too much, too soon. And so instead I crawled downstairs, curled up on the couch, and tried to sip some 7-Up \.

The vomiting had officially worn off, but the stomach cramps had kicked in even harder. However I could still see a light at the end of the tunnel.

That is until Chris said, "I think I'm starting to feel a little sick myself..."


Why God why??????????

Part II of the Flu Diaries: When The Man Flu Hits.

The Dog Under The Bridge

Friday, December 9, 2016

There's a tent colony beneath an overpass that is a few blocks away from where we live that I happen to drive by almost every single day. I'm not sure what it's like in your city, but tent communities are pretty common in Chicago.

One tent dweller has a black lab that sits outside his owner's tent every morning.

The lab appears to be well fed, well taken care of, and overall pretty happy. He wears a collar, a harness vest, and in the winter a coat.

It tears at my heart when I see people asking for money who also have animals with them, for both the person and the animal. But whenever I see this specific dog's owner standing in the street with a cup in hand asking for change, his dog is usually off to the side, patiently waiting. So from my perspective, it seems he's never "using" his dog to get money.

Am I implying the other people do use their animals for money? No. Maybe. I have no idea. I'm not trying to cast judgment here. I'm simply saying it's hard to see both humans and animals living on the street, especially in a frozen city like Chicago. I have no idea why they're in this situation, but what a tough situation to be in.


Two days ago I was driving under the overpass, saw my favorite dog and his owner, and remembered I had a box full of dog food and treats in my car sent to diva Harlow, from an awesome company known as Petcurean.

Due to an address mix-up when we moved, Petcurean sent two boxes of goodies my way because the first got lost (until my old landlord called and said it was found.) Harlow-the-food-critic is supposed to review the treats and let the world know what he thinks.

Since Harlow is at camp I thought maybe the black lab could fill in?

And so I quickly pulled over in a spot I shouldn't have pulled over, grabbed the box from my trunk and proceeded to run toward the tent colony with a giant box in hand and no coat, and probably a crazed happy look on my face feeling very proud of myself for thinking of this wonderful idea!

Luckily, the man and dog I was running toward didn't turn and run the other way.

I learned the dog's name is Kirby. Per the usual, I didn't get the owner's name as I typically only know people in my neighborhood by their dog's name. But the guy was kind and very thankful when I handed him the box of dog treats.  And when I told him, "I see you almost every day with your dog and it seems like you take really good care of him," he smiled sweetly and said, "Kirby is my best friend in the world. We do everything together."

And now you probably think I'm romanticizing the moment here, but I swear to God Kirby the lab looked up at his owner in that moment with that look that dogs give, the look that is nothing but pure love.

Maybe I was fooled, but I got really good vibes from both of them.

When I checked back on them a few days later, I was told Kirby loved the treats. Wild Ocean being his favorite, which according to Petcurean contains: The single source fish protein in Wild Ocean is MSC certified fresh line-caught cod, pulled from the cold, clean waters off the coast of Alaska.

For those of you curious about Petcurean, their new line of pet food is GATHER- which is a new category of pet food crafted from certified, organic, non-GMO and sustainably produced ingredients.

Harlow is a picky eater (why wouldn't he be?) and he loves everything from Petcurean. *Also on that note, please no one tell Harlow that I gave away a box of "his" treats as he is super selfish about this kind of thing and would NOT be pleased. I don't know how I raised such a princess, but I did.

Thank you Petcurean for being super generous and sending an extra box that I was able to pass along to another pup who really appreciated it!

Have a good weekend, just two more weeks until Christmas!

The Best/Worst Christmas Ever

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The year was 1995 and my ego was through the roof. More so than usual. I had been cast as the LEAD in a Norfolk Community Theatre production and all of the fame had gone to my head. For the entirety of the show's running time (three weekends in December) I was a nightmare to be around, both at home and school. I'd carry my playbill with me everywhere and shout things like, "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?" And "I CAN'T HELP WITH DISHES TONIGHT, MY VOICE NEEDS TO LIE DOWN."

How am I supposed to practice cursive when I have a performance to think about?!?! Your cursive can go to hell, Mrs. Johnson!!!

It was a holiday production; I'm sure you're familiar as it was a pretty popular show making the rounds that year, the critically acclaimed "Super Gift From Heaven." I was cast as Amanda, the LEAD doll. Did I already mention that?

The auditions were held in October and I'm quite sure I won the judges over with my rendition of "Consider Yourself," from the musical "Oliver Twist." I used all of my greatest dance moves; the box step, the two step, and some maxi-fords, all whilst singing in my best British accent. I tear up just thinking about it.

When I got the call that I'd been cast I was over-joyed, but also couldn't help but feel just a little bad given that my sister was going for the same role. But mostly I was excited. There was no denying the role was written for me.

The costume budget was low so it was up to my mom and I to pick out my dress. My mother, being the wonderful stage mom that she is, allowed me to pick out the fanciest, prettiest, most expensive dress JC Penny had to offer and I had never known such luxury. It had a beautiful flap of lace set over a bold holiday floral print that cinched at the waist.

Looking back, I think it might have been the dress that set the alarms off in my head. The alarms that said, YOU ARE A BIG DEAL. LISTEN TO NO ONE.

*Makeup budget was low as well.

Never mind that I was missing a front tooth, and had a bottom tooth that was dark and grey and actually called "dead tooth" by my dentist, when I looked in the mirror during this time in my life I saw nothing but a Goddess. You can see it in my cold dark eyes.

Don't believe me? The proof is in a diary entry from '95. When asked who I would change places with, it only felt right to be honest and say "Julia Roberts" or "Kathy Ireland." Naturally.

*PS : I have been in four plays and they weren't school plays. I've modeled 3 times at the mall.

School plays were so beneath me.

Where was I?

Oh yes, for three weekends straight I stole the show. Singing my solo "What Is A Gift?" out of tune and with lisp so heavy my teachers occasionally referred to it as a "speech impediment." It didn't matter. The critics called it "endearing."

The show wrapped five days before Christmas and it wasn't until my last performance, when I was posing in my doll box waiting for the clowns to finish their number while also trying to subtly scratch myself because I've always had an issue with itchy tights, when it hit me: tonight was my last night as Amanda.

I wasn't sure how to go on as NOT Amanda. I'm sure anyone who has ever had a life changing role can relate. It's simply hard to go back to being a ... common folk.

One day I was ringing a bell outside the Sunset Plaza dressed as Amanda (the Mayor asked me to do it, it's NOT a big deal.) And the next day I was ringing a bell outside of a bank dressed as just me because my mom made me do it. And I was not happy about it.

It's true what they say, the fall from the top is lonely. Most of my family wasn't speaking to me that Christmas due to my "attitude." Or was it because of jealousy? I guess we'll never know.

I spent the majority of that Christmas Eve alone in my room, watching the VHS tape of my performance. Over and over. And over. While wearing my Amanda dress, drinking a dirty martini, extra dirty, like the true Hollywood starlet I was.

I was certain I'd never get over the pain of that show ending, my future as an actress so unknown.

But the next day Santa brought me a black farm cat named Snickers and I was happy again.

And that was the Christmas of 1995. What was yours like?

Spending The Holidays In Nebraska

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

In less than two weeks I'll be driving back to Nebraska with my mom and sister for holiday vacation. How can it possibly be that Christmas is already here?

Feels like just yesterday I made the trip back toVisit Nebraska for a little fall getaway. It was a weekend my niece and nephew met me in Omaha and we did everything and more within just two short days.

We had brunch at Wheatfields in the Old Market. (Always delicious and way too much food!)

A trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo.

And of course a stop at the biggest and best pumpkin patch in the world, Valas.

I've never been one to pass up old timey photos. They're just too fun. Also, I'm pretty sure Vala's gets bigger and better every time I visit. If you've never been before, definitely put this place on your list. It's more like an amusement park than a pumpkin patch these days.

But I have to say I think the kids' favorite part of the trip was staying at one of Omaha's newer hotels downtown, the Even Hotel. The rooms are equipped with exercise accessories (like medicine balls and jump ropes) which blew Knox and Lola's mind. And we can't forget the indoor pool which is as good as it gets when you're a kid.

When I head back in a couple of weeks we'll do all of our December traditions which includes ice skating at the Conagra rink, lights in the Old Market, and the holiday display tour in my hometown of Norfolk. I absolutely love driving back at holiday time and passing through all of the quaint downtowns with their wonderful Christmas decor on the way.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

To view a full list of things to do in Nebraska check out Nebraska Events.

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Holiday Greetings from 1998

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dear Diary,

Mom made us take Christmas card photos last night.

We're really into brands right now so we thought it would be neat if we all wore our favorite over-sized grey t-shirts with the brand name smacked across the front. Cool, huh?

I'm wearing Limited Too, DUH. Jade's wearing Gap, and Jordan is in Tommy Hilfiger. Did I mention we're really into name brands? Also you can't see them, but I'm totally wearing Dr. Martens.

All of our shirts have red, white, and blue on them so mom said it counted as "matching tops." Last year mom sent a photo from our Carnival Cruise vacation, so I think she knows there's just no point in even trying to top that, you know?

Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that's the only reason we went on a vacation last year- to get our Christmas card photo. I think she just needed to wash herself clean from the disaster that was the '96 Christmas Card. Also known as the year of pink eye.

And did you notice I'm wearing lipstick? Mom said I could. It draws attention to my beautiful teeth, I think. I might get braces next year, but I'm not sure I really need them.

These cards are really important to mom. She gets a little scary when it's time to take them and makes us pose all around the house like this is something we do normally. The stairs, the fireplace, the living room, we try everything. I'm really hoping there's at least one good pic in the bunch, but we won't know for another hour or so until she goes to pick them up at Wal Mart.

This year she settled on the pose in front of the "pencil tree." I'm not sure what a pencil tree is exactly, but mom just got it and is really excited about it.

Mom puts all of the Christmas cards she gets up on our giant chalkboard in the kitchen, out on display for everyone to see. I catch her staring at them a lot. She likes to say things like, "you remember the Pearsons, right? I went to college with Donna. Her daughter is your age, she was at your first birthday."

I never remember the Pearsons until I see their Christmas card photo every year. I've watched this stranger family get older year by year and have no idea who they are. But I know they have red hair and like to pose by haystacks.

Nobody wants to have the ugly photo on the board (not that the Pearsons do) but I guess that's why these are so important to mom, maybe?  She wants to make sure our family can compete with the family photo we're taped up next to. Luckily, I'm feeling really good about our coordinating grey t-shirts.

Well I g2g now because I'm going to put stars beads on my shoelaces like my older sister. Pretty rad, huh?

Tay #22

Holiday Home Tour 2016

Friday, December 2, 2016

We made it.

We made it to Friday! Has this been an exhausting week for anyone else? December has only been here for two days and it already feels like a whirlwind.

December's like that trainwreck college friend who comes to stay with you for a weekend. You're excited but also nervous because you just know it's going to be a shit show. Sure, it will be fun. But you're also going to spend a lot of money, eat too much, go out more than normal, sleep less than normal, and when it's all said and done you're left a little bloated and hungover, wondering how it all went by so fast?

Oh, how I love December.

There's just a fun festive energy in the air everywhere you go. My favorite thing to do is hit up Chicago's best hole-in-the-wall holiday bars. Someday when I'm feeling more ambitious I'll write a post about the most festive bars in the city. Or I guess I could just link this post...

My plan today was to do a "holiday home tour" but I quickly got tired of taking photos/putting up holiday decor so I pretty much only have one room to write about. So instead I'll show you that one room from a bunch of different angles, sound cool? Cool.

I'm feeling very smug about my work space right now. I told Chris I was saving us money by keeping the heat off and only keeping the fire on. But then he reminded me I'm using the gas option for the fire so our gas bill will probably be a little steep...

The Peace Wreath is by far my new favorite decoration. Although, I'll say right now it's staying up all year round. And my "tree skirt" is the product of me wrapping a bunch of ratty old white "blogger rugs" around each other. I think I pulled it off! What about you?

The theme this year was: minimal. Or lazy. Whatever you prefer.

How to achieve this look: buy live greenery from Trader Joes and string lights from amazon, put them together and there you have it! Done and done!

And that's a wrap on today's post. Have a great weekend! Do all the holiday things. It will be January before you know it...