Hurricane Harvey

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Last week we discovered we had water dripping in our utility closet. And Chris and I were both IRATE.

"Our wall has drips of water on it!" We shouted to no one but each other. "What on earth will we do????"

We soon learned it was because we left the rooftop hose running. The water stopped leaking shortly after we shut it off... But now we had a hole in our utility closet from where we had to punch in the drywall. What a travesty.

I keep thinking about this "incident" where I was soooo annoyed about a hole (in a closet no one sees but us) when I see clips of Texas and the damage Hurricane Harvey has done. And I feel disgustingly foolish.

Like a lot of people, I can't stop thinking about Texas.

I grasp onto every post, article, photo and video I come across. And yet I still can't wrap my mind around the devastation. I just can't fathom it, my brain or my heart won't let me. Everything is under water. How does a city even begin to recover from this?

I've seen photos of children sleeping on counters, clutching their stuffed animals. People trapped in their attics or on their roofs. Dogs left on chains in front yards as the water rose around them...

It's heartbreaking.

I think about the families that fled, many with babies and small children, and wonder what they're going to return to. What will their home be like? What happens if they don't have insurance? How do they rebuild what was taken from them so quickly? Thoughts like these have me writing blog posts at 11 p.m.

But then there's also the posts about everyday people stepping up from all over the country to help one another. The lines of trucks, trailers, and boats backed up on the highway for as long as the eye can see, heading straight into the floodwaters to provide assistance.

The people spending countless hours and putting their own lives at risk to save dogs, cats, birds, baby deer, horses (the list goes on) that are stuck in flood water, unable to save themselves.

There was a specific shelter in Hankamer where dogs were trapped in their kennels as the water continued to rise around them and they had no way out and no one to save them. The shelter owner put out a call for help on social media and within minutes people from all over the country were doing whatever they could to help. And eventually rescuers pulled up in airboats to save the dogs. They weren't able to get them all that night, but they did return the next day to get the others that weren't in immediate danger.

I could go on and on with these stories but I'm sure you already know most of them.

If you want to help but don't know where to start, click here, NPR has a great list of foundations. A lot of people need a lot of assistance right now, so rather than just thinking about doing something, take a few minutes and give whatever you can. Every little bit is needed right now!

And if you want to give to animals, Har and I started a fundraiser that gives funds back to Austin Pets Alive. Thanks to people like you, we've surpassed our goal of $1,000 and are currently at $3,600, our new goal is $5000.

The shelters need everything right now. Food, towels, medical care, everything you can think of really. In the past few days, already over-crowded shelters have taken in thousands of dogs trying to save every animal that was left behind when their owners fled. So if you're in the position to give, please do.

And if you know of any other good foundations that you'd like to mention let me know below.

Sending funds, prayers, and good vibes to all of the people in Texas.

That Summertime Sadness

Monday, August 28, 2017

At the start of summer I'm like a sixteen year old who just got my driver's license and is discovering freedom for the first time.

I make lists of all the things I'm going to see and do for the next three months. I wake up early and I stay up late. I'm overcome with immense guilt if I'm not doing everything in my power to soak up as much sunshine and outdoor air as possible. Time is wasting. Go. Go. Go.

Do all the things. Drink all the things. Patios. Boats. Rooftops. Festivals. Must. Keep. Going.

And then fast forward to the end of August. I still don't want to summer to end and I'm definitely going to mope about it, but that young sixteen year old in me is long gone. Now I feel more like an 80 year old woman with sore old bones, who asks to be wheeled near the window, "to feel the sun on my face. If only just for a moment."

I don't know how to process what I'm feeling right now, but I'm somewhere in between not wanting summer to end, but also being over the feeling of thinking I need to be outside for every single second. Couch is calling. So is my old pal, isolation.

I'm more social than ever in the summer (which means I leave the house during the day at least twice a week to have interact with friends) and the 80 year old hermit inside of me is starting to beckon me back to her. Our hermit season is coming, Taylor.... Get out those old grey sweatpants you love. You know the ones. No, not the fancy ones from Nordstrom you pretend to love, I'm talking about those oversized grey ones with panther paws on the butt. The ones only we see...

And yet there's that list I made so long ago, back when I was more youthful and so full of optimistic energy (in May.) When I look at my summer list and note the things I haven't done yet, that old guilt cloud moves in, and with it the age old questions of,

Where did this summer go? It went too fast. What did we do? Were we gone too much? Did we waste it? How did this happen?

And for me the answer is no, I didn't waste it. We had a great summer, I just didn't live it off a list. And some of the things I set out to do back in May, (when I'm really being honest with myself) I'm not really even sure I want to do, but I wrote them down because I think I should do them.

*Kayak down the river*

Really? The garbage infested river where huge tour boats might run you over or even worse, bros in battery operated boats wearing neon visors? You want to do that?

Maybe I don't.

And maybe I don't know where this post is going, either. Does anyone know what feeling I'm talking about here?

The changing of seasons always seems to mess with my head. It's like time is staring you straight in the face saying, we're ready to move on, are you? 

Time: "u up?"
Me:  ... (doesn't respond.)

Yes, I'm up. Now wheel me near the window. We've still got at least a month of nice weather ahead of us. So I guess I should probably make my "Things To Do In Fall" list now, because as it turns out, I never really learn.

First things first, kayak down the river! I heard it's supposed to be great in the fall!

What Your Cardigan Says About You: 7 Of My Fav Looks!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Like you, I'm a multi-faceted person. I care about a lot of things. Running a business, saving animals, home decor, Chicago, self help, politics, cardigans...  Did someone say cardigans? Yes, I did.

Thus today's post is called: What Your Cardigan Says About You: 7 Of My Fav Looks!

The Margo cardi.  (on sale for $29.)

She likes to keep things light and breezy. Lives on the West coast. Says things like, "does this have acai berries in it?" And, "can you add acai berries to this?" Margo is the type of person who brings fruit as a "snack" on a plane and no matter where she travels to, she always asks, "can you drink the water here?"

Yes Margo, you can drink the water in Omaha. Thanks for checking.

The Casey Cardi.

Casey wants to be Jenny-Blogger super bad. So she does things she thinks bloggers should do- like sit on stoops, wearing buffalo check loafers, holding a Starbucks cup, NOT looking at the camera. Her favorite hashtag is #thatsdarling. She has dreams of creating her own hashtag one day.

And someday when she's a wife and a mom she'll add "wifey" and "mommy" to her profile on Insta and she can't wait.

The Lynette Cardi.

Her idol is Reese Whitherspoon on Big Little Lies. She says things like, "Oh, I am such a Madeline!" She tells people she read the book, she actually didn't. But who can blame Lynette, she's busy running all over town, toting her kids to all of their activities! She has no time to read, but she'll still join your book club. And damn it, she's a good time at those book clubs!

Lyn LOVES to be the center of attention. *But she may have a slight alcohol problem, don't worry though, she's working on it. But dear Lord at 5:00 p.m. sometimes a woman just needs a glass of Pinot, is that a CRIME? No really, she's working on it.

The McFalley Twins Cardi.

They'll solve any crime by dinner time... But in reality, they're in treatment for their Olsen twin obsession. It got kind of bad back in 2002 and a restraining order was threatened. Luckily, it never happened and they left New York City, now they live with their parents in Ohio and just take identical selfies all day long, asking each other, "is this an Ashley look or a Mary Kate look?" Spoiler: it's always an Ashley! Might I also suggest the Ashley cardi found here. 

The Leonard Cardi.

Leonard lives alone with his Basset Hound, Leroy. They live a quiet life in Rhode Island, but it suits them. They have their morning coffee together, a walk by the water, and then settle into a book before some light afternoon writing.

Leonard has dreams of being a published author, but he's lacking the confidence. When his parents passed away in the late 70s they left him a good sum of money that allowed him to live life at his leisure, it's been a gift and also a curse. But maybe today is the today Leonard writes that novel? He aspires to write for the niche market of, "historical romantic fiction about basset hounds who served in WWII."

The Lexie James Cardi.

Don't even get me started on this girl. She is the worst. I'm not trying to bash other women or anything, but for real, I saw this girl at the airport once and it was cringe-worthy. The entire time she was bitching at her husband to, "take my pic!" "did you get my hat in it?" "what about my passport?"

I'm pretty sure I even saw her push a toddler down on the moving escalator because he got in the way of her pic! Can you imagine? She's a monster. It's like we get it, you think wool hats are super cool for traveling. But there's no reason to hurt kids because of it, you know?

The Fern Cardi.

Fern keeps to herself. She's pretty quiet, I guess. Has four cats, all are named Lauren. I know she does pretty well in the adult coloring book industry. I've heard there's a racier side to that industry that most people don't realize. But that's not really my place to talk about, you'd have to ask Fern. Let's just say... she's really cracked the code on that one, if you catch my drift.

Well this has been weird and fun for me. But I need to call it a day. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

And yes, I'm all of these people. Thank you for noticing.

*if some styles were sold out I linked similar*

9 Things I Wish I Had Told Known When I First Started To Work For Myself

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Five years ago I was about to be "let go" from my last "real job."

I don't know why I feel the need to add quotes to those words as I was truly laid off and it was in fact a "real job," for a fairly large corporation. (Who went under completely shortly after laying me off. No one lays me off and gets away with it...)

I was thinking about all of this as I was talking to Chloe yesterday. I just hired her to work on social media for my shop, and basically teach me how to do all of the "blog/style/pretty" things better because she's obviously nailing it. Kids these days! I tell ya what, they just get it.

She just officially left the corporate world to work full time in freelance and mentioned to me she's in that excited/scared/ "I feel like my life is one giant question mark," phase.

And I couldn't help but respond, "yeah, me too." What I've learned after five years, is that feeling doesn't go away. In fact as your business gets bigger, you build your following, and acquire more customers, there's even more on the line. More things to make you question your every move. The difference is you learn to work with, or harness that fear. (That's a self help line, can you tell?) I would quote where it came from but given that I've read no less than 3000 self help books in my life, I have no idea.

It goes right along with...  wait, before I say it, let me bullet point this out or I'm going to get too winded and lose all of you. Might as well give it a fancy title too, because I've heard people like that.

 9 Things I Wish I Had Told Known When I First Started To Work For Myself:

1. You should have done this sooner.
But how?

You just do. Stop waiting. There will never be a perfect time. If you don't have the means to do it, pick up a side hustle. If this is something you really want to do, you'll do whatever you have to do to make it happen.

2. Stop worrying about what other people think.
People get ... itchy... when they see others taking that leap of faith, or going after what they really want. There's a lot of opinions involved. Tell me again how you're going to make this work? They ask in that tone. That tone that leaks with skepticism and judgement. Let it go. You've got better shit to do. Let your success answer their questions.

3. You don't owe anyone an explanation for what you do.
To this day, I still have people who ask me if I have a job. Do I really work? Tell me again how you make money? I get this a lot. Which is odd to me, because I don't ask other people how they make their income. So I've stopped explaining myself, instead I just smile and say, "oh you know, I do nasty things online," and that seems to shut them up. Own your hustle, but don't feel the need to clarify it.

4. We're all just people behind a computer screen who were once in kindergarten. 
Hear me out on this one. It's something I've been thinking about a lot these past two weeks as I've been dealing with less than pleasant things with my business and less than pleasant emails. When I've been worried about getting that ONE SCARY EMAIL I think will make or break my business, it's helped me to simplify the problem by reminding myself that the big bad email stems from a person, a person who was once in kindergarten, just like me. This may not make sense to you, but it does to me so I'm putting it out there.

I use this same idea when it comes to reaching out to people, like when I'm scared to send an email, or establish a connection. If there's someone you want to network with, who may help your business, just reach out. What's the worse that can happen? It's just a person behind a computer. (Who probably went to kindergarten once, wearing saddle shoes, and carrying a lunch box.) See what I'm saying?! I swear it works.

5. Don't hide from the breakdowns.
Because they'll find you. They always do. And you're going to have them (frequently.) Because everyone does. It's called life. That person you idolize? They have them too. It's all about how you deal with them. For example I love to analyze the shit out of myself, even in the midst of a breakdown, I ask myself a million questions. Why do you feel so bad? What's going on? What are you scared of right now? Is there a small solution you can take now to end this nonsense?

And by asking all of this, I usually figure out what my next step is.

6. Diversify yourself.
I've had some setbacks lately. But luckily, I was prepared. More so than I would have been three years ago, anyway. I NEVER put all of my eggs in one basket. When I have to pull back in one area, I push in another. So what I'm saying is don't count on "that one thing" to get you where you want to be. Count on 100 things, then think of 100 more.

7. Trust your intuition.
If something doesn't feel right to you, don't do it.

On the flip side, if you can't stop thinking about it, DO IT. Do it now. The more you listen to yourself, the louder those messages will get. I get pretty hippydippy about this stuff and truly believe that voice you hear comes straight from your heart (which comes from God or the Universe or whatever it is you believe in) and tends to have your best intentions in mind.

If you're going to listen to all of the negative shit you hear/worry about yourself why on earth wouldn't you listen to that one voice that makes you feel good?

8. Be conscious of the choices you're making. 
Because every one of them, even the small ones, impact your future in some way. The choice to worry more than you work. To scroll Instagram more than you work... To watch dog vides more than you work...

Choose focus over distraction. This is something I have to remind myself of daily.
(I've watched five dog videos while writing this. Reunion vids get me every single time.)

9. Embrace the unknown. 

This one comes from The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success- my most recent read. How exciting it is that you get to live a life where each day is different than the next. You never know when something amazing is going to happen for you out of the blue. And isn't this why you became a freelancer, after all? Because you wanted to ditch the mundane, day-to-day bullshit of doing the exact same thing for someone else, on autopilot?

So rather than worry about tomorrow, be grateful you get to live today how you want. You get to hustle and grind and work your ass off to do that thing you've decided you want to do (in order to hang out with your dog all day.)

If you live in the past, you're depressed. If you live in the future, you have anxiety. But if you live in the present, in this moment right now, you're content.

Did You Do Damage To Your Eyes During The Eclipse? Things You Need To Look Out For!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Do Har and I regret not buying special eclipse glasses? Yes, yes we do.

I think I misunderstood what they were actually for. I was under the impression they were just for protection, I didn't realize they were more like 3D glasses, working to enhance the overall presentation.

As I mentioned last week, I was more than ready to welcome this special phenomena. My sign (taurus) needed it. My soul needed it. My overall mental stability needed it. More on that later... And no, there is nothing wrong with relying on the moon to strengthen your mental stability. Got it? Okay, good.

As I was saying about my stability, I prepared for the eclipse by washing all of my crystals, drying them with the energy of the Universe, and then recharging them with intentions. My plans were to sit on the couch with Harlow at 1:18 (the time Chicago was supposed to be "hit" with full moon power) and do some moon dances and chants or whatever it was we felt moved to do as the sun and moon did their thing. Harlow has gotten very into astrology this year and was just as excited as I was.

But around 12:30 p.m. Harlow informed he needed to go to the bathroom, at which point we walked outside, and saw there were already hoards of people standing around; in the park, sitting on their stoops, standing in the street, all looking toward the sky. Naturally, I looked toward the sky. It wasn't supposed to happen until 1:18 so I was safe. I THOUGHT.

I think I looked up for approximately half of a half of a second, but that's all it took. As soon as I realized the eclipse had actually started around 11:45, and I had indeed looked toward it at 12:30, I knew I was doomed.

You tell me not to look toward the sky and guess what I'm going to do? Look. And it's not like I meant to, I just couldn't control myself.

Which brings me to part two- will we all suffer eye damage from the eclipse?

Admit it, if you looked up yesterday without the magic 3D glasses, you've probably found yourself a little nervous wondering... what if...? Luckily, I've done a little research on the subject matter, and this is what I've learned.

How To Know If You've Suffered Eye Damage From The Eclipse:

As I'm sure we all know by now, your retinas can't actually feel pain. However there are a few other tell tale signs to be aware of-

You woke up and your eyes are bleeding.
*could also be stigmata.

You can't see at all.
*could also be that you're still sleeping.

You see spots.
*maybe you just got up too fast, maybe.

You have blurred vision.
*be honest though, how much wine have you had tonight?

You're experiencing headaches.
*be honest though, how much wine did you have last night?

Your eyelashes are growing inward.
*just me? Okay, never mind.

You have random new hair sprouting up all over your forehead.
*stop applying your lash boost serum at night when you've had too much wine.
*just me? Okay, never mind.

That's it for now. On a serious note, did you watch? Har and I seriously didn't, well not at 1:18 pm., anyway. And we're pretty okay with it.

What The Eclipse Means For Your Sign

Thursday, August 17, 2017

In my perfect world, I get to post here everyday. I honestly hate the days I don't get to come here and ramble. But I also don't enjoy posting when I'm feeling down, rather than writing mopey posts I prefer to post silly shit that gives me a chuckle (because as Chris will tell you, I am by far the biggest fan of all my "jokes.")

But for the past week I've been in the dumps. It's off and on, but mostly on. Mornings are typically my favorite part of the day, I get up and my mind is already going a million miles an hour thinking about everything I have to do and I jump right in.

Lately, I can barely drag myself out of bed and when I do everything is ten times harder. It's like my body is attached to a bag of bricks and every move I make requires me to lug this dusty bag of bricks right right along with me.

And oh my God that's so depressing to write/read. Luckily, I consider myself very self aware, so when I'm feeling like I'm Daria and SO MOODY and dramatic, I force myself to get to the bottom of it and won't just let it sit.

Dear self, why do you feel like a shit bag? I ask, usually after a glass of wine or two.

Well, I guess you could say the old tornado feeling is extra heavy this time, I respond. To myself.

The "tornado is coming" feeling is something I've been familiar with for a very long time. It's the same pit in my stomach I had as a kid when the storm sirens would go off in our town warning us a tornado was on the horizon. In today's world we call it "anxiety," I believe. It means it's time for me to grab my favorite Beanie Babies, Polly Pockets, rosary beads, herd the animals, and head to the basement.

Herding the animals meant bribing our Doberman Jagz, with deli meat, grabbing Kit Kat my Siamese, and searching under every bed for our other Siamese, Skittles (I named the cats) and praying to God I could find that snotty little cat before our house was wiped out. *I never bonded with Skittles like I had hoped.

And as I'm writing this, I can't help but wonder why no one else in my family would help me (a very young child) with such a huge task of getting the cats and dogs to the basement. They'd all be standing outside watching the clouds while I was running around like a maniac, tears streaming down my face, trying to save the animals. WON'T ANYONE THINK OF THE ANIMALS?! WE MUST SAVE THE ANIMALS.

As I was saying. I've been feeling unsettled and off balance for nearly a week now and can't shake it like I usually can. There's obviously some things going on I have to be vague and annoying about (nothing health and/or that serious in the big scheme of things) it just feels big to me right now.

And then I just happened to read a post about what the solar eclipse means for my astrology sign and it was so spot on I almost cried (like I said, it's been a hard week.)

At this point in the post, if you don't believe in astrology or vibes or crystals WHATEVER maybe just come back tomorrow, because right now it's all I'm holding onto.

Long story short, this battle I'm in was predicted. The moon knew about it all along. Luckily, it's almost over. Once that eclipse happens on Monday, I'm FREE. Not only am I free, I'm about to thrive.

The solar eclipse will cause a change in the earth and also within you. I've gathered a little information on what this means based on your specific sign. Read below if you're interested!

Aries: you're going to pet a dog soon. It will be great for both of you and will spark some sort of creative burst in you that you didn't realize you had, so don't miss this. Also, you're going to thrive.

Taurus: someone is going to buy you a free coffee, don't turn it down, as you'll need this extra caffeine because you're about to take over the damn world. But if someone offers you tea, turn it down. It's poison. Also, you're going to thrive.

Gemini: someone is going to piss you off while driving, but resist the urge to honk. They know they pissed you off, but they'll be so grateful you didn't honk back that they will then send you good vibes. Those vibes will make you about $230. I don't know how, but it's going to happen. Also, you're going to thrive.

Cancer: you're going to eat a bagel soon that is unlike any other bagel you've had. enjoy it. savor it. because as you do something big is happening. an idea? a love interest? I'm not sure. the answer is within that bagel. also, you're going to thrive.

Leo: Something crazy is going to happen while you're vacuuming. Or perhaps dusting? It may seem scary at first, but it's not. It's just what you've been needing. Go with it. Also, you're going to thrive.

Virgo: Go to the gas station, down the chip aisle, and look behind the Cheetos. The hot ones. You'll find what you've been seeking. And if you don't, buy the hot cheetos because those are pretty good too! Also, you're going to thrive.

Libra: Send an Instagram message to someone you've been thinking about. They need it. So do you. Then scroll the hashtag "dogsinbusinessattire." This will bring you great joy. Also, you're going to thrive.

Scorpio: Crimpers. Bring them back.  It will bring you great fortune. Also, you're going to thrive.

Sagittarius: This Saturday at 4:56 p.m. you will get a sign in the form of a bird that gives you a weird look. Don't ignore it. Look closely and you'll see you know this bird. He has either given you a weird look before, or is an old friend. Either way, hear the bird out. It will lead to some crazy shit. Also, you're going to thrive. So is the bird.

Capricorn: Get your nails done. A no-chip, don't go cheap. You'll run into an old school teacher, probably from the 2nd grade. They have news for you. However, it's probably not relevant. But listen to them because they're getting old and just want to talk. Maybe take them to coffee? No, that would be weird I guess. On second thought, you may want to avoid this teacher. Just do what is best for you in the moment. Also, you're going to thrive.

Aquarius: Enjoy this moon cycle as next year your sign will officially be renamed "Daryl." I know it seems odd, no one wants this to happen, but apparently some big institution owned the "common law" trademark for "Aquarius," and they got pretty aggressive, had big wig lawyers and sometimes you just can't fight it. Seems crazy they can own such a vague thing, but that's how the law works I guess? Idk. It's hard. You can do this though, you're a Daryl, after all! Also, you're going to thrive.

Pisces: Go buy a computer, you've been thinking about it forever and it's high time you own one already! The internet is here and its been waiting for you. Only good can come from this. Try online dating. You may just fall in love with a Daryl... Crazier things have happened. Also, you're going to be okay. We all are.

This just pulled me out of my funk, thank you. We're all going to make it.

Harlow Goes Camping

Monday, August 14, 2017

We went camping in Wisconsin about seven days ago and I've been trying to write this post ever since. Unfortunately, I seemed to encounter a few  "hiccups" last week that kept demanding my attention and thus here we are seven days later. As I'm sure you expected, all hiccups were t-shirt related. Imagine that. They were a little bigger than usual and much more annoying. And I hate to be that vague blogger who mentions something but doesn't go into detail, and yet that's what I have to do (for the time being.) Until I get the words I want to say just right, I have to stay mum for a bit.

Because I'm sure you're all just dying to know the T-Shirt drama, right? My life is sooooo interesting.

Anyway, let's talk about camping.

So we got to Wisconsin last week on Friday evening, pulled into our campsite, and the first thing I did was grab a brochure. And on that brochure was the photo of a black bear.

"Chris..." I said, "what's up with this?"

"What?" He asked, not looking at me.

At which point I shoved the brochure in his face, "BEARS. You said nothing about bears being here."

"There's not."

"This brochure begs to differ," I flipped through it and noticed not one, but three, THREE I tell you, photos of black bears.

 "They're way north of us, don't worry about it."

And for the rest of the weekend, I did the exact opposite.

I get that people camp in bear country all the time. However, that doesn't mean I understand it, nor was I prepared to do it. Would we have to throw our garbage in a tree? Or burn it? Or shout "HEY BEAR!" if we heard something rustling in the woods at night (we watch ALONE every week so I know what to shout.)

When we got to our actual tent spot, a beautiful place just twenty feet from a river, I noticed another tourist board informing campers of other wildlife in the area. Creatures such as wolves. Elk. And Fisher Cats (google them, they're terrifying.) I knew at that moment I was going to have to drink a lot of wine if I stood any chance of falling asleep that night.

We set up our tent (it's one of those where you just throw it in the air and it happens on its own) made a campfire, and bickered at each other like couples do on a camping vacation,

"can you please help with something?"
"like what? I don't know how to start a fire, you know that!"
"well get me some sticks."
"from where?"
"wal mart."
"No, Tay. C'mon. We're surrounded by sticks. Just grab some from over there."
"What? No way, it's dark! There's bears out there."
"fine, I'll get them. Since I have to do everything!"
"I set up the sleeping bags! And the air mattress."
"And I got the snacks out!"


"Do you want a beer?"

And then we were happy again.

Until I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and couldn't fall back asleep as I thought of all of the things just outside our thin green tent that were most likely about to kill me. Harlow felt my nervous energy because he couldn't sleep either. Instead he'd move from bottom of our sleeping bag, back to the top, to the bottom, to the middle, to the top, over and over again.

When the sun finally hit the sky I was happy to be alive and Harlow was happy it was play time again.

These two had a blast. Here they are crossing the lava bridge. If you look closely you'll see there's even a small troll hiding underneath. Luckily, we solved his riddles and were allowed to cross.

And if you're wondering why I'm in a flannel and thermal socks in August, it's because the temps were in the low 70s/high 60s (low 50s at night.)

We camped in Black River Forest, and other than the bear thing, I would really recommend it if camping is your thing. And just for the record, no one seemed to be scared of bears except me, so perhaps they were pretty far North of us, after all. But you never know!

And yes, Harlow had the time of his life. He acted like he was Bear Grylls during the day; catching fish in the river, eating leaves off the ground, making a canoe out of bark.

Yet when dusk moved in... he would hightail it for the tent and look at us like, "you guys, let's get inside! what are we a bunch of animals?!"

You can't see it, but under this fleece blanket he's also wearing fleece footie pajamas. He can't help it if his body temps always run cold!

I'm going to call it a day here because I think you get the picture. We camped, it was fun, I ate a lot of chips and beer. Chris is trying to book another trip for next weekend and I'm trying to convince him booking a cabin would be just as (if NOT) more fun...

Big week on the docket, guys. Friday I'm doing my first comedy show in my hometown (OH BOY.) And tomorrow I'm writing a post called, "oh shit I'm getting older, what kind of skin products should I use?" Like I said, BIG. WEEK.

What I've Learned After Running My Own Business For Three Years

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

My t-shirt shop is celebrating three years this week. I never thought I'd be a "T-Shirt Lady," yet here I am. But when I look back,  I have to admit it makes sense. The writing was always on the wall. I was the one who demanded to be in charge of making shirts for my friends in middle school, then my basketball team in high school, keg race shirts in college...

So like I said, I suppose it was always my destiny.

Three years ago when I printed my first shirt, my goal was to sell twenty. Then fifty. Then a hundred. I wanted to "ride this t-shirt thing out" for at least three months. Wouldn't that be fun, I remember thinking to myself. I could really be my own boss finally!

Never did I imagine it would carry me for this long. Second only to my blog (and being Harlow's dog walker) it's the longest I've held a job before... (I have authority problems, remember?)

I've learned over the years that a lot of people want to sell t-shirts. I say this because they tend to email me, asking how to do it. At least four times a week I get the email that says, "I've got this great idea for a shirt, but don't know where to start..."

So here's my advice. You just do. Go out on that limb and do it. We live in the days of the internet, so any info you want is available. Figure out a printing service (by googling.) Then figure out what kind of shirt you want to print on (by looking in your closet.) I looked at the soft cozy shirts I already owned and went from there. My advice is don't go cheap on the quality of shirts. I hate when I order online and the shirt comes in and it feels like a free shirt you'd get at a football game for signing up for a new credit card. Don't do that, stay away from the cheap shit.

click here for shirt.

When you know what brand of shirt you'd like to use, then you just have to pull the trigger and do it. My first order was for twenty shirts. I put all of them on my credit card because I couldn't afford to do it any other way. I was nervous as hell I'd end up with 20 shirts sitting in a box in my closet no one wanted to buy.

Luckily, that didn't happen. However three years later, I have far more than 20 shirts sitting in my closet...

Which brings me to some of the struggles of being a tshirt lady: INVENTORY. Managing inventory is so hard for me. Ordering it every Monday makes my stomach drop. Am I over-ordering? Under-ordering? It's never easy for me. Every time I think I have a system down something seems to pop up out of nowhere and throw me off completely. I am not an organized person and that does not bid well for this job.

Struggle number two, (the biggest struggle of all for me,) is the nature of the t-shirt business in general- which means people take whatever they want. I give myself a pat on the back about this one because I've really mellowed in this area. (Or have tried to at least.) I don't take things as personal, or go ape shit when I see something I created being used by someone who isn't me, I just know it's the business.

Simply because I choose to come up with my own designs, doesn't mean everyone else does. Of course I'd like them to... But sadly I don't get to make the rules for every single t-shirt business that exists. Bummer, I know.

*However I do go ape shit when people not only steal my ideas, but also my photos, that's too much for me.* Like for example the leg pic you see above, it's been used nearly 100 times on other sites to sell products that aren't mine. I stopped keeping track at 100. It got tiresome and filled me with too much negative energy. My only small victory is the fact that pic has a blatant stain on that specific shirt, which brings me a chuckle. (It's to the left of the AF.) So nice job stealing that pic, idiots.

I'm not bitter. I'm not bitter. I'm not bitter.

I simply know that when I release a new shirt and spend a lot of time and money to market the hell out of it, it will only be mine for a matter of weeks. (Sometimes days. Sometimes even just hours.) It's unfortunate, but it is what it is. My only solution is to constantly come up with new stuff and hope it takes.

Admittedly, I got really lucky being the first to slap "MARRIED AF"on a shirt. And yes, it hurts to look at my sales last year compared to this year for those specific tops since a million other stores sell it now, but what can you do. I can't rest on only having "that one great shirt," or my business would never survive.

*That said, please buy 100 Married AF tops for all of your friends getting married because it pains my heart.*

Moving right along...

Just like with blogging, or writing, really anything in life, there's no "secret to success," or "that one thing you have to do," to create your own business that lasts for three years rather three months. From what I've learned, there's a shit ton things you have to do. And you have to do them over and over and over.

You have to hustle. And grind. And handle the anxiety of the unknown and what-ifs. You have to stay up late, get up early, do your research, see what the others are doing and do it better. Spend money on ads and marketing and collabs. Watch tutorials. Read articles. Try new things. Don't be afraid of failure because it's going to happen a lot. (More than you want.) But after all of the failure will come the success.

I know that's not what most people want to hear when they ask me about my business, and maybe there is a better way or "that one thing you have to do," and I simply don't know it.

All I can tell you is what I've done. And keep in mind I never took a single business class in college, I didn't get any of my info from a "tshirt lady," I've simply figured it out as I've gone along. Trial and error. Lots of it.

And most importantly, I'm not ignorant to the fact 95% of the success I've found is because of this blog. Because of people like you, who choose to buy from me, when there's millions of other choices out there. So there's that. (And that's a big one.)

That's all I've got for today. Thank you for three years of support! Seriously, thank you! Which also means three years of shameless plugs on this site you've graciously allowed.

Like clear bags for game days, AMIRIGHT? The clear bag policy in stadiums this year is a big thing, but I've got you covered!

To read a more in-depth post about starting a tshirt business click here.

We're Getting Campy

Friday, August 4, 2017

We're going camping this weekend, leaving in about five hours in fact. I've packed nothing. Chris has packed the house. If you were to see our kitchen right now, you'd think we were actually moving into the wilderness forever, rather than just two days.

We have three huge green tubs full of everything campy out there. A "bag shower" to hang from a tree, camping dishes, a hammock, blow up mattresses, bag chairs (including one for Harlow, obvi,) camp string lights, the list goes on. Chris is clearly going through a phase right now and I support it, because I love camping too.

What I mean is I love the idea of camping, I should say. I like the idea of a cozy campfire, and snacks, and wine. But that lasts for about two hours and then I look around and think, okay what now?

Even though our camping air mattress is very comfortable, I never sleep well in a tent because I'm too worried about dying. How does one die while camping you may ask? Well the possibilities are endless. A crazy murderer who busts into our tent is usually number one on my mind. A bear comes next. Then a raccoon. Or a crazy murderer dressed as a bear traveling with a pack of raccoons. Like I said, the possibilities are really endless.

Last time we went camping we made "camp friends" with the man next to us who came over to say hello and drink our beer. We quickly found out his hobbies included frisbee golf, trains, and hating women. I was pretty growly with him until he made it known he had an axe in his car, at which point I hated women too, you know because I didn't want TO DIE.

"Yeah, women are the worst! Let's keep talking shit about half the population!"

Luckily, he drank too much and fell asleep and we got the hell out of there before he woke up the next morning. Camp friends, am I right?!

Just another reason why I don't like to talk to strangers. You never know.

I don't want to end on scary-camp-man, so instead let's talk about the fact Harlow and I share a sleeping bag. I could pretend I'm annoyed about this but I think we all know I love it. To give you an adorable visual, he starts out by burying himself down in the bottom of the bag, but then during the middle of the night he gets hot, so he army crawls back to the top, and positions his head on the pillow right next to mine.

But then unfortunately the second the sun starts to come up, literally the second it peeks out, Harlow is at the tent door going, "Can we get up now? Is it time? Can we play? Can we go? Now? How about now? Now? Play? Now? Now." He just loves camping so much he doesn't want to waste a second sleeping.

Well, time is ticking and I have to plan out all of my "look how cute and cozy I am camping" outfits. It's supposed to be low 50s at night.... I can't even wrap my head around that right now. So I'm packing flannels and vests and thermal socks.

On that note, I have to get packing. Have a good weekend! Hope everyone gets a little campy!!! Northern Wisconsin, here we come!


The One About Standup

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Once upon a time, about four years ago, I got the urge to do standup.

*bangs* jeweled shoulders* and a Fitbit on stage* so much to love about this pic*

Chris and I went to a comedy show one night, I had a few drinks, and I couldn't stop thinking about getting on stage myself. I was in the improv world, taking classes at Second City and iO, and for the first time in my life found myself in the circle of a lot stand-ups. These people actually existed. Before, they seemed like fictional characters I had only seen on TV or in movies. I know that sounds dumb, but Nebraska isn't exactly known for their standup community.

So I signed up for my first open mic, which was to be held in a classroom at the Second City, on a Saturday night at 9 p.m. Talk about a good room. (Jk.)

I had never been so scared in my life. I worked on my five minute set for nearly two weeks. And after having hosted an open mic for almost two years, it's very comical to me looking back at how prepared I was for that 9:00 p.m. Saturday mic, held in a classroom.

When I went before the room and had my five minutes to tell my jokes, it was one of those weird blackout/out-of-body experiences. My body took over while my mind floated away. I was hot and fidgety and nervous and euphoric all at once.

"You did good," Chris said when I floated back to my seat.

"I have no idea what just happened," I admitted, "but I need to do it again, asap."

And then I got a little bit obsessed. I started going to mics 2-3 times a week (which was a lot for me, but not for your normal comedian. Comedians grind harder than anyone else I know.)

I would go to a bar alone, write in my little comedian notebook, wait my two hours for my 4-5 minutes of stage time, then go home and work on more jokes.

I got into some festivals (where I never "moved on" but it was still a thrill for me to tell jokes in "cool New York comedy clubs,") booked a few bigger shows, told jokes to crowds who actually paid money to see me (which blew my mind) and relished in the fun of it all.

They say it takes a comedian at least ten years "to make it," (and this is if you're good.) So while I really enjoyed/still enjoy writing jokes and being on stage, I don't have the hustle in me to grind for ten years. And I know that sounds weak, or like I gave up, and perhaps I did, but when I was being honest with myself I know I'm too much of a homebody to live the stand up life- which entails a lot of late nights, bars, and being away from your dog and husband.

I love my couch. I love my quiet nights at home. And I love my early mornings (which I didn't see a lot of, being out past midnight.)

So I started to scale back. I figured out there are other ways I can get my comedy fix. Like making stupid Instagram vids. I know I put out a lot of silly content, but it keeps me writing and telling jokes, so why not? Creating is creating.

But every once in awhile, I still get that standup itch. And the good thing about having it be just a hobby is that I can jump back in whenever I want. So next week I'm hitting some mics with my friends and I'm really excited about it. It's been about six months since I've been on stage and I'm just jonesing for that uncomfortable "omg is anyone going to laugh" feeling.

And I need to spruce up my crowd work because in two weeks I'm doing what will probably be one of my biggest shows to date. Truth be told, I get butterflies just writing that sentence. My stomach starts to turn in the best way possible because I love that nervous high.

In two weeks, on Friday August 18th, I'll be doing a show in the town where I grew up (which is a scary thing on its own) and it will be for all of my former teachers and coaches (and anyone else who buys tickets to attend.)

A hometown crowd.... Oh boy. I've been told to expect around 150-200 people. So we shall see...

This makes me nervous and excited and nervous. It's a weird feeling to be in front of that many people, knowing they're all looking at you like, okay you gonna make us laugh or what? 

It's weird and it's wonderful. But when you manage to do it, when you know that you've got a crowd of people laughing at jokes you've written, there's not a better feeling out there.

Home Tour Update + 7 Of My Favorite Decorating Tips

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I asked Harlow to please smile nicely for the camera and this is what he gave me.

Turkey face. Thanks, Har.

Now before I get into this "home decor" post, if you will, let me be up front about the fact I don't claim to be an expert. Decorating does not come easy to me. Sometimes it's fun, but most of the time I find it kind of frustrating and slightly annoying. If I could afford it, I would most definitely hire someone to do it all. Unfortunately, I'm not a millionaire. Thus, it's been on Chris and I (and Harlow) to figure it out on our own.

So this is how we started...

1. Figure out your style.
How do you do this? I suggest Pinterest. Or do what we did and buy one specific piece you have to have then build your style around it... (Jk, don't do this.)

Chris bought this mid century console about two years ago (and it didn't go with anything in our home at the time) and said, "let's make our new place mid century AF." So I said, "sure why not" and the rest is history.

And that's how the pinning began. I started searching "mid century modern" decor pics day and night to find ideas for room styles that I liked.  I'm also lucky that we live about a mile away from two of my favorite stores, West Elm and Cb2. Which brings me to number two...

2. When in doubt, copy what the experts are doing.
By this I mean I would wander Cb2 and West Elm for hours on the weekends just taking in their floor layouts. What patterns were they using? How did they mix furniture? Rugs? Pillows. I literally just copied everything their stylists were doing. Often times I'd even bring in pics of our home, show an employee, and say "please help."

An Anthropologie employee basically designed our hutch. "You need to stack dishes, play with height, and bring in plants that will cascade over the top. And add books, books are always good." she told me as I showed her a photo of our then empty hutch. So to the best of my ability (and pocket book) I tried to do what she instructed.

3. Mix high and low.
To me this means mixing Anthropologie dishes, with Homegood vases. Chairs from West Elm, with an end table from Tj Maxx. Splurge on the pieces that you won't change up for awhile (like a couch or nice chair.)

Our leather swivel chair was a big splurge for me (and also the ONE chair Harlow can't be on in the house.) But nine months later I still love it just as much as I did the day I brought it home. And it also didn't hurt it was a floor sample...

Clover Coffee Table.

4. So when you can, buy floor samples.
A lot of the more expensive pieces in our home were purchased on discount thanks to the fact we live right by West Elm as I mentioned, and I'm able to shop all of their floor sample pieces as soon as they're put for their sale. It's my favorite trick because they still look brand new but are usually marked down 15-20% simply because they've been "touched, or sat in a few times" by customers while they were on display.

Wall Vases

Har's favorite red bench is also a good West Elm floor sample find!

5. Don't settle. 
I'm sure you've seen the white Moroccan inspired rug in almost every blogger's living room by now (pictured above). .. well there's a reason for it. It's a really easy rug to decorate with (in my opinion.) We tried out three other rugs in this room before we settled on the one you see in the photo.

And do you know how annoying it is to lug three 6 x 9 rugs up four flights of stairs, lay the rug out, decide it doesn't work, wrap it back up, and lug it back down the stairs? It's awful. But I refused to settle. I knew the others didn't work, and I wanted to get it right.

Buying stuff just to fill a home vs waiting for the right stuff, is a big part of what makes the vibe in this house so different from our past places. We've really taken our time and decorated with intention rather than with a sense of urgency. Buying pieces you're not 100% in love with ends up being a waste of time and money.

6. Plants are your friend.
Greenery is such an easy decorating tool. Mixing the indoors with the outdoors is a great way to add energy and vibrance to any room. (I read that on a decor site once and thought it sounded pretty fancy.)

Dining chairs are found here and I just saw they're on sale right now. And we go to Amazon for our plant stands. The taller white one is on Prime here.

And because some spots just don't get enough sun, we have some fake plants sprinkled in around the house, as well. HomeGoods always seems to have good fake finds!

7. As for rugs...
Our go-to for rug shopping is typically online (usually Hayneedle.) They're fair priced, fast delivery, and good quality.

And one more feet on rug photo if you don't mind...

This rug is found here. And for area rugs we had really good luck with Overstock. 

I love our bedding but unfortunately so does Harlow... I think it may have just one more month in it before we have to find something new. You can judge me because I know it's gross, but yes, I support Harlow sleeping in bed. We share a pillow most nights even. But this means I buy bedding knowing it's only going to be a year long commitment (and a year is good, this is the longest we've had a duvet hold up.)

Now just for fun, here's a few crappy photos from that first day/week we moved in.

We immediately ditched the brown blinds to allow more light in and it made such a difference. Soon the fireplace will be white tile and the track lights will be gone.

Harlow enjoying his new king bed...

Last month we gave the white chairs away to make room for the dining table. 
And finally, I like this kitchen pic to compare how we were totally misusing the cow hyde rug.

We thought it looked fine under the island, that is until we moved it under the breakfast nook. (Excuse the dark grainy pic.)

Okay, so maybe it's not that big of a difference.

I just felt like we completely lost the majority of the rug placing it under the island, as opposed to angling it out from the table like it is now. Humor me and pretend to see what I'm talking about here.

Well we're about to that point where my attention is weaning. I hope this has been useful as this post feels like it has taken me 100 hours to create. And if it hasn't been useful and you're certain I'm doing it all wrong, well that's okay too, everyone is entitled to their opinion. 

All I know is that it fits what Chris and I seem to like and we feel really happy and comfortable here. I guess there's not a lot more you could ask for. 

*but if I could ask for more, it would be a master bathroom remake. Notice zero bathroom pics were included....*

photo cred (for top photo) @alialistone