6 Skin Care Products For Your Late 20s

Friday, March 31, 2017

I read a post earlier this week about how waking up early every day is a real game changer and can significantly improve your life. This isn't a surprise to me given that for the past ten years I've been planning to implement this "life change" and yet every morning when that alarm goes off I think, nah I'm good.

Except for today.

I actually did it! And by "early" I mean I got up at 6:45 a.m.. You can laugh, it's fine. My normal time is 7:20. So what did I do with this extra 35 minutes you might wonder? I drank a LOT of coffee. And now I can barely type this post because I have so much caffeine surging through me. That afternoon crash is sure to be EXTRA fun today.

Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.

Where was I?

Oh yes, trying to write a blog post.  Once upon a time I used to boast about how "low maintenance" my skin care routine was.

"Skin care routine? What does that even mean?" I'd say. So young and so stupid.

As I've learned, it's easy to be low maintenance with your skin when you're 21. Late 20s... not so much.

It all started with a sun spot on my right cheek. For the past 6-7 years I've stayed out of the sun and have been super careful with wearing sunscreen every day. Unfortunately for the first 20 years of my life I worshipped the sun. I was a life guard, worked outside every day in the summer, and worst of all... I can barely get myself to type this.... But I used to lay in... in... I used to spend my time in a TANNING BED.

It's disgusting, I know.

Long story short, I'm desperately trying to make up for lost time now and am always seeking out new skin care products to prevent damage/maybe even take away some.

First things first, let's talk about dark circles. Where did these come from? And why do they just come and go at random? I don't know the science behind these nasty things, but I have found a good way to treat them.

When my eyes are looking extra dark, or if I have something the next day I'd like to look awake and chipper for, I've started sleeping with little oxygen masks under my eyes. They're kind of like puffy bandaids you wear to bed, except they're not sticky and they actually feel like cool little pieces of heaven under your tired eyes. I love THEM. And they work!

I use the VII code found here. (I wear them to bed almost every Sunday evening, or nights after long days of travel.)

And since we're talking about eyes, this Bye Bye Makeup cleansing balm is the best for removing eye makeup. This is the first balm I've used before and I'm wondering why it took me so long. It's said to be a makeup remover AND an anti-aging serum, I like it because it feels so soft on my face and takes the makeup off quickly. (And I'm very lazy when it comes to taking off my eye makeup, or I used to be anyway!)

For those dark spots... Sun or not sun related. I have quite a few little spots on my chin that aren't because of sun, but have more to do with my touching and scratching at certain "imperfections" on my face that I shouldn't. They're gross and I'm embarrassed of them because every dermatologist I've ever seen has always said to me, "don't touch your zits!" But did I listen? No. So now I'm on a journey to correct this mess.

Derma e scar gel. You put it on twice a day under your moisturizer. I just started using it so I'm not sure if it's working, but all of the reviews were great and I've got nothing to lose. I'll do a follow-up post in 3 months.

In an attempt to even out my skin (and also dull the sun spots that have popped up everywhere) I've also started using this vitamin C serum. I found this serum and the scar gel mentioned above by simply doing a little research on google and ordered both off amazon for pretty cheap.

I use the serum on my face and neck, and according to reviews it helps with both spots and wrinkles! Dare I say this is a miracle serum? Time will tell...

And then we have a Microdermabrasion Scrub. Just like the last two, I found this on Amazon and the reviews are amazing. So I've got VERY high expectations for this one. Apparently it's supposed to diminishe the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and acne scars, and absorbs excess skin oils.

If it can really do all of that I will be blown away. If anyone has used this one before, let me know.

And I can't write a skincare post without mentioning my very favorite tinted sunscreen by Elta. This stuff is awesome! I've been using it for 2+ years now and I will never ever stop. I first bought it at my dermatologist's office after the doctor suggested it, but then I got smart and found it on amazon for much cheaper and order it by the bulk now.

If you only take away one thing from this post let it be this sunscreen! You can find it here. Also, my friend who is married to a dermatologist uses it, so I basically try to do whatever she does because her skin is awesome and her husband knows what he's talking about.

And those are six products I'm currently using. Curious to know what you use? (Most specifically for dark circles/dark spots since those are my number one nemesis.)

How To Be a Fun Aunt

Thursday, March 30, 2017

My brother and his wife had their baby this week, a little boy named Hudson Jay. I officially have two nephews, one niece, and three dog niece/nephews.

When I was little I remember my aunts and uncles as adults. Of course I loved being around them, but they were grown-ups to me, not fellow children. For some reason I seemed to have missed that boat with Knox and Lola. I am clearly their equal. I'm going to do better with Hudson.

But then again maybe I'm not? When I think about the things I've taught my niece and nephew, it becomes easier to understand why they think of me as a large woman-child. I teach them things their parents probably wouldn't. (And probably don't want me to) but that's the job of a fun aunt, what can I say.

Things such as:

What the middle finger means. Hey, they're going to find out anyway!

How to turn your hands into a church full of people.

"Fun" songs they should know:

When you're sliding in first and you feel a little burst...

Miss Suzy had a tugboat, her tug boat had a bell, Miss Suzy went to heaven, her tugboat went to...

Arty Farty Had a Party... 

Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat the more you toot...

And of course the remixes to all Christmas songs.

When singing the "name song" (Anna anna fo fanna be bi bo banna) use fun names like "Chuck" or "Art" or "Ruby." The fun never ends with this one.

Sleepover pointers:

Dipping the first kid to fall asleep hands' in water - a classic!
(That was a very hard phrase to write grammatically speaking, I'm sure I got it wrong.)

Also, never fall asleep first.

Always pack your own bag of Doritos. (Blue or red.)

And an extra pair of undies (in case you're the first to fall asleep, I usually was.)

Ghost story classics like:

The girl with the scarf around her neck because her head will FALL OFF otherwise.

The dog licking the babysitter's hand but turns out it's the burglar!

The car flashing their brights every time the man in the backseat tried to kill the driver.
^^^ That one still gets me. ^^^

Fun time-wasters:

How to draw a 3D box.

How to turn the word BOY into a face.

The fancy "S."

And how to draw a star.

Honestly, this list could go on and on because I'm a library of childhood must-knows. What did I leave out? More importantly, what do you teach your niece and nephew?

How I Started My Business + The Secret To Success (it's clickbait)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tax man called. He wants his money.

Once upon time, pre Chicago, pre working for myself, I had a job where I actually enjoyed tax season. I got money back! What a thrill that was for me. I went right out and bought a new Kate Spade purse if I remember correctly. Oh to be 23 with no responsibilities or no other mouth to feed!

*Harlow is my only other mouth to feed, but he's got expensive taste and won't eat his dry dog food unless it's covered in an expensive (organic non GMO) meat log he makes me buy for him.

As I've mentioned in a few other posts recently, March is a weird reflection kind-of-month for me. It's a time when I can't help but remember getting fired from a job, and then one year after that (there was a lay-off in there too) I remember filing my taxes and seeing that I owed $500 (for the random 1099 jobs I had that year) and I broke down crying.

I didn't have $500 in my bank account and so I had to pay my taxes that year on my credit card. It was a really low moment for me and I swore to myself I'd never be in that place again. I think it was extra hard for me because just two years previous I was in a pretty good place financially, thanks to that job I snagged right after college (recruiting for a culinary school) and so it felt like a real kick to the gut going backward.

And let the record state (someone's keeping a record of this, right?) that I take full responsibility for being in that position. Yes I was laid off and fired, but after I was laid off in December I refused to take a "real job" in pursuit of getting this blog going. So yes, that led to being very broke for awhile.

I used all of my free time to turn this blog into my job, to be honest though that meant something different four years ago than it means today. This was pre Instagram! Did you know that time even existed? The good news is that I almost get giddy these days thinking about all of the ways a small business owner can grow their business, it's literally at our fingertips.

But a few years ago I didn't know this and my blog barely sustained me. I felt like I was constantly struggling to keep my head above water. I was still putting everything on my credit card at this time (which I pay off in full every month now, don't worry mom.)

However in hindsight, paying $2500 for comedy classes at both Second City and iO probably wasn't the best idea during this point in my life... But you know what? I don't regret those classes either. I bought friends (#gumps!) and I'm pretty sure both of those wacky institutions are what kept me sane and happy at this time in my life.

But now I'm getting sidetracked reminiscing on the years I spent learning how to play make believe on stage with some of the funniest people I've ever met.

As I was saying... about taxes. blah blah blah.

As a small business owner I pay quarterly, but I underestimated a wee bit this year, so I'm having to send in a little more. And last week when I figured out what I owed my initial reaction was oh shit (as usual) but then I couldn't help but feel super grateful, as well. I've felt this way every year since the credit card year. Of course it sucks to owe a lot, but I can tell you from experience it's a helluva lot better than the opposite. It feels good to grow something.

Truthfully, I consider this blog a part time job now. My tshirts are the full time job. But I also know that the tshirts are a full time job thanks 100% to this blog. Thanks to you. I know that the only reason I sold my first 20 shirts was because you came here and saw them.

Man, did someone put some warm fuzzies in my coffee this morning or what? I'm telling you guys, March messes with my head. But in a good way. A grateful way.

Long story short, if there's anything I've learned over the past five tax seasons, it's that there's no "secret to success," there's no "one thing you should do" to find financial gain.

You have to do everything you can. And keep going until it works. That's what I did, anyway. And when it stops working I'll find a new thing and hustle the hell out of that. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'll do whatever I have to do to keep me out of that cubicle.

And now if you'll excuse me this post has once again struck a little fear into me and I need to get back to work before someone comes along and pulls this rug out from under me.

Tony Robbins

I Got This Is Us'd

Monday, March 27, 2017

Twas a cold spring day two weeks ago when I needed something to have on in the background while I worked on a few emails. Almost everyone I know watches a show called "This Is Us," so I figured what the hell, I'd give it a shot.

I was reluctant because I don't watch a lot of primetime TV, I'm more of a Netflix and Amazon girl because I like to binge watch. Also I'll be honest, the show gave off very cheesy vibes. But like I said, my plan was to watch it as a "background show."

After episode one I was mildly entertained. I liked the twist at the end and bragged to myself that I picked up on it about 30 seconds before everyone else, having seen some of the cues planted earlier in the episode. Most of all, I assured myself I was correct in thinking it was a very cheesy show.

After the second episode I told myself I was done. The show was just a little much for me. Far too predictable, too cliche, too much of everything I don't love about primetime tv shows.

Fast forward to me 5 or 6 episodes in crying like a baby at every critical moment.

"Are you okay?" Chris asked when he walked in on me sobbing on the couch. "I thought you said this show is stupid."

"It is, it's so dumb," I said between cry hiccups. "I hate it." And then I pressed play on the next episode.

I got This Is Us'd and I don't even know how. I watched almost all of season one on Saturday and finally admitted to my sister that I "enjoy the show." It's time to stop pretending. I am embracing the cheesiness of it all and would now like to discuss it with you.

First of all, I love the nostalgia. I'm going to make a bold statement here based on zero facts, but I have to believe that's a huge part of its appeal. Everyone loves a show about the good ol days. It's why I lived for the Wonder Years as a child, watch Now and Then at least once a month, and was devastated when Mad Men ended. All of these shows give us a peak back to when life felt more simple; a time I never lived in, yet somehow feels so familiar to me.

I'll admit I even occasionally fast forward through the present parts, at least I did when I first started watching. All I want to see is Jack and Rebecca as they once were. Because Jack, what a guy! When he did pushups with Randall on his back I lost it. Of course I'm a big fan of Rebecca and think she is an amazing mother, but I'm simply smitten with Jack.

I have only one episode left and I already know that we get to zero resolution as to what happens to Jack. But I'm okay with that, because I don't want to know. I don't want Jack to die! Never! I want life to stay exactly as it was when we first brought the triplets home back in 1980 and everything was so unknown and new, but also so perfect!

See what I did there? That's me getting This Is Us'd. I confuse their reality with my own.

Beyond my crush on Jack, I'm a big fan of Beth, Randall's wife. When she got her postcard in the mail I broke down; she needed that. We all did.

Basically the entire Memphis episode had me in tears. It could have been the three glasses of wine I had, who knows. I just thought it was beautifully written and directed and the perfect trip I needed for closure with sweet William. When he got the chance to play the piano on stage with his old bandmates I knew right then and there I had made the right decision to go to Memphis. Of course it didn't fit in well with all the stress I'd been under at the commodity firm, but it was right for my soul.

Oh Randall. What a sensitive human he is. It breaks my heart when he's a kid, I want to punch Kevin and scream "stop being so mean to your brother!" Good thing he has Kate. I really like her character, but have to say her fiance Toby drives me nuts. He was funny at first, but now I get so annoyed with everything he says and just want to tell him to shut up. Yes, he provides comic relief, but he also provides comic annoyance because it NEVER STOPS.

Also, I know this may not be a popular opinion,  but I think he treats Kate like shit. Does anyone else notice this? If she doesn't fall head over heels for his "grand gestures" he immediately turns it back on him like, "what about me? where's my grand gesture?" He's the mean nice guy and I can't stand him. If you ask me, Kate's too good for him. There, I said it.

Last thing I'm going to say about Toby (I have a lot of built up aggression toward him I'm realizing) he consistently tries to sabotage Kate's weight loss journey. He appears supportive, but in my opinion, he is the opposite. When he interrupted her pound/workout class at her weight loss retreat and made a complete mockery of it I. Was. Livid.

And that's my take. Do you watch the show? What do you think? Who is your favorite?

Spring Fashion Favs

Sunday, March 26, 2017

In less than two hours on Friday the weather in Chicago went from 78 degrees to 46 degrees. One second Chris, Harlow, and I were sitting on a patio basking in the sunshine, (I was wearing a new spring shirt feeling super fancy) and the next second I was freezing (and feeling like a huge idiot in my "new spring shirt.")

This is said "spring shirt." Perfect for that 77 degree day, not so much for a 45 degree day.

The weather forecast for the next ten days reads, "don't even bother, it's basically going to rain forever." And so today Harlow and I are hunkered on the couch, getting some work done, while watching reruns of Big Little Lies. Are you watching this series? I'm kind of obsessed with it. Whether you watch it or not, do yourself a favor and listen to their playlist on Spotify- it's equally as good.

In hopes that warm weather will return some day, I'm going all in with a quick "spring fashion" post. All selfie pics you're about to see were shot with love from my "blogger bedroom mirror." And I really hope you notice that I tried extra hard to mix up my poses from "knee pop" to "not knee pop." Can't wait to see what you think!

This one is what I call the "darling cupcake" top. Very feminine and fun, not typically my style but I'm keeping it for those times I want to feel extra ... feminine and fun.

This next top feels like the evil twin sister of the top above. Little more edgy, little more knee pop! Summer nights, here I come!

The striped bell sleeve blouse. Perfect for tea at the country club? Perhaps a good work shirt? Verdict is still out on this one. It looked a lot cuter on the model, then again she ironed it and paired it with cute jean shorts so perhaps that's all it needs?

In similar fashion, I'm a big fan of this gingham off the shoulder top as well.

The mules. Found on Amazon here! They're super comfortable and have a heel height perfect for lots of warm weather walking.

I also suggest you check out all of the new spring items from Alice & Wonder. And as I just clicked to her site I realized there is a rather large photo of me on her homepage, which is just a little too large for comfort. Ha! But also, eek.

I had the pleasure of getting a first look at all of her items and they are awesome! PS she has 15% off right now but it's ending soon!

And that concludes my bi-yearly fashion post. I hope you enjoyed the knee pops! What warmer weather styles are you loving?

Wicker Park Chic

Friday, March 24, 2017

Grab a margarita, everyone. We made it to Friday.

After yesterday's post I feel the need to lighten it up around here. I try to keep my "animal worry" in check or it can really affect my mood. This past week I didn't do a great job and spent a good chunk of time dwelling and feeling sad about things I can't control.

Not today though. It's 75 degrees and sunny and I'm listening to the Beach Boys while I write from our rooftop. Yes, I like the Beach Boys, you can judge me, it's fine. I can tell my very hip Wicker Park neighbors (who are also sitting on their rooftop right now drinking very hip cocktails) are throwing some major side-eyes my way. Just wait until I put on some Jimmy Buffet. Just kidding! But...  *Okay, sometimes in secret I do occasionally like Jimmy Buffet but if you ask me about this in public I will deny it forever.

It's hard keeping up in this neighborhood, everyone is effortlessly cool. The kids, the teens, the parents, they all look like they just stepped out of American Apparel's spring mag. I was telling Chris this last week and he said, "oh really? You mean they don't go out wearing jeans under their sweatpants with slipper booties?" 

One time! I did it one time and he won't let me live it down. In my defense, it was the day it snowed far too much for a March day and I was just admitting defeat.

In an attempt to keep up with the hip Jones' next door I've been buying a lot more bodysuits and Levis lately.  I'm told it's what all the kids are into these days. (I told you I was going to keep this light and airy today so indulge me as I spend six paragraphs talking about ruffled bodysuits and high rise denim.)

Just kidding, I won't. But I will say this bodysuit is less than $40 and it doesn't hurt (if you've worn tight bodysuits then you know what hurt I'm talking about) and it's not impossible to put on. Win/win.

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned the $29 Sam Edelman espadrilles I've been wearing all the time lately (comfy for wide feet- always a must for me) the color I have on are sold out, but these peach ones are also very cute!

And that concludes my clothing talk. I may go all in and do a full "SPRING MUST HAVES!" post over the weekend (or something equally as cliche) I'm not really sure yet. It will depend on how much I eat at brunch.  Outdoor brunching season is almost here, I can feel it.

On that note, I need to get Harlow to the 606 and enjoy this amazing day. I'll leave you with some yogi words I heard years ago from an instructor that randomly popped in my head last week- I have no idea why I suddenly remembered them, but I'm glad I did.

"Our only true thoughts are the ones we choose to believe."

Happy Weekending!

Killing Bear Cubs and Wolf Pups

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Today will be a short post, and probably a pretty unpleasant one because I'm mad. And I don't trust myself to write when I'm this upset.

When I dabble into political-inspired topics I try my best to remain level-headed and open a conversation that allows me to see both sides, but today I'm having a really really hard time seeing the "other side" of this one.

Thanks to the U.S. Senate, hunters and trappers are now allowed to shoot mama bears and their cubs, while hibernating in their dens. Same goes for Wolf moms and their pups. And thanks to this overturn, "hunters" are allowed to kill these animals in some extremely inhumane ways- gassing wolf pups, baiting bears however they please and then shooting them in the back. How is this hunting? Seems more like slaughter to me.

"Before the vote, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) said the bill contained "some of the most cruel and inhumane savage killing of animals."

Other "hunting" options that will be available include:

Shooting bears from airplanes.
Using Steel-jawed leghold traps.
Setting up wire snares.

When caught in a steel trap, wolves and coyotes are often known for chewing off their own legs in desperation to get back to their young, because if they don't, their pups will freeze or starve to death.

Well done, humans.

And guess where this is happening? "Wildlife refugees" in Alaska.

"What the House did today should shock the conscience of every animal lover in America," Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said on Thursday. "If the Senate and President concur, we'll see wolf families killed in their dens, bears chased down by planes or suffering for hours in barbaric steel-jawed traps or snares."

As always, I'm not ignorant to the fact a lot of what I read may be one-sided, so in attempt to figure out why the hell this is happening I started googling things like,

"why we should kill bears" or "benefits of overturning FWS regulations" or "why it's okay for humans to be awful and take whatever they'd like."

I'm not getting any answers. In fact, when I googled "benefits of overturning FWS regulations" the only website to pop up urging senators to vote "yes" on H.J. 69 was from "ammoland.com."

I've debated closing comments today simply because I don't think I could properly engage without becoming a "crazy internet person" because I'm so sick about this entire thing. However, I've decided I'm going to keep it open just in case there's someone out there who can better explain to me why our government is allowing this to happen.

You can read more about this here. At the end, the article suggests you write the White House or tweet President Trump. This is the first year I've started writing senators about issues I feel strongly about and I don't plan to stop. I actually thought about tweeting Trump but when I went to his account today his last tweet was,

And I was quickly reminded his main agenda on Twitter is usually talking about "Fake News" or simply throwing insults at random celebrities or TV shows.

"The lives of animals living on 76 million acres of federal wildlife refuges in Alaska is now in President Donald Trump's hands. " 

Let's hope he does what's best them for them.

If you're as sick about this as I am, I encourage you to make a donation to your local animal shelter today, it's the only resolve I've found that helps when I'm feeling hopeless about the world and the way we treat the animals who live here with us.

Adventures of Newlyweds - Installing A Light Fixture

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Q: How many spouses does it take to install a new light fixture?

A: No one really knows because they stop half way through to argue and ultimately say "FORGET IT" so they never actually finish.

Thus today's post is a new one from my "Adventures of Newlyweds" series. Given that Chris and I dated for ten years, and were engaged for nearly two, I've decided we get to be newlyweds for at least 2-3 years (if not only for the sake of this series I literally just now decided to start.)

So here's the premise, last week we received the gorgeous new pendant light I ordered from Hayneedle. I hated the light that was previously in our kitchen and could not wait to get this new one in. My crappy photo does not do it justice, but it's a rose gold, mid century, pendant globe style light, and I AM IN LOVE.

Full disclosure: Hayneedle is not paying me to write this post, BUT, they were super generous and gave me the opportunity to go onto their site and pick out a few things for our home. And then I spent about 10 straight hours in their mid century selection and outdoor selection going absolutely nuts.

But back to the installation of the light.

What took us nearly two hours, and two trips to Lowes, could have probably taken an electrician less than five minutes. But where is the fun in that? It was a Monday night and Chris and I were just getting along too well, so we thought we'd mix it up and create a situation where we had no other choice but to bark at each other. Attempting to rewire a new light seemed like the perfect scenario!

Did I mention we didn't have the instructions? They were "misplaced," but let's not talk about that part. And it was really too bad, because according to the reviews online, they seem to have been really helpful instructions.

So it was 6: 00 p.m. on a Monday night, we had the electricity turned off, and we were losing daylight fast.

Here's the situation:

Chris is on the ladder trying to twist wires together like he's Bruce Willis, I'm standing on the bench nearby holding a flashlight for him like I'm Bruce Willis's assistant, and Harlow's barking at cats in the alley.

"Tay! Hold the flashlight where I'm working! Do you see where my hands are?" 

"I AM!" I snap back. But if I'm being honest I probably wasn't because I was actually looking at Harlow. And in my defense, holding a flashlight is a lot harder than it sounds.

"Do I put the white wire with the black, or the purple? I can't remember!" he asks, because obviously I would know.

"Definitely the purple," I lie. "Is our house going to blow up if you get it wrong?"


"Then stop! I'll call an electrician."

"It's fine."

"NO! Just stop, I'll call someone."

This goes on until it's completely dark in our kitchen except for the light of the flashlight I was holding incorrectly.

Once the wiring was done it was time to set up the light fixture, and if you look closely you'll see four rose gold bars that have to go inside of the globe to make the bulb stay.

"How the hell do we get these inside here?" Chris says, looking at his gorilla hands knowing there was no way they'd fit in globe.

"Allow me, this isn't my first ship in a bottle," I say, pretty proud of my terrible joke.

Chris didn't laugh. He never appreciates my humor when it's most needed, if you ask me.

It took a few tries, but my baby hands were able to screw in the pegs, while inside of the globe. We did it! And then we noticed we left a huge sticker on the bulb....

"Let's leave it," Chris says.

"No, I want it right."

"No one will notice a sticker."

Cue the Curb Your Enthusiasm music because as it turns out, the people who owned our condo before us had a sticker on their light fixture (the one I hated) and I always thought, why the hell didn't they take that sticker off?

So I insisted it come off.

Reluctantly, Chris removed the light fixture so he could "make it right" for me. And in attempting to take out the bulb, to remove a small sticker I did not like, he cracked the top of the globe and chipped glass fell inside.

Cue the Curb music again.

Neither of us said a word to each other for about ten minutes.

Long story short, the fixture is hung (we love it) and the chip is only visible to the smiling photos of Chris, myself, and Harlow in the background.

I feel like the moral here is that when you're installing a new light fixture you should either a. call an electrician. or b. ask the light company to email new instructions.

We ended the night by laying in bed, listening to the sweet hum of our police scanner, a guilty pleasure we picked up back when we lived in Topeker, Kansas. What cay I say? You're only newlyweds once.

Five Workout Classes I've Left Halfway In

Monday, March 20, 2017


In honor of the first day of spring, let's do a workout post.

How To Get Swimsuit Season Ready- I believe it was my friend Claire who famously gave this tip in response: "you put on a swimsuit, there you are ready."

I'm probably paraphrasing just slightly, but you get the idea. I'm not here to tell you how to get "swimsuit ready" because a. what does that even mean and b. it's obviously different for everyone. For example for me, in 2017 I'm trying to figure out how to wear a high waist bikini and/or one piece and feel comfortable/not constantly pull at it. What's going on with those? I'm yet to try one on where I don't feel the need to wear a sarong around my waist because there's just a little too much going on on the backside, or perhaps I mean a little too less?

I know it's a me-thing, but just a little more fabric would be nice. So if you've found some good one-pieces (or cute high-waisters), do share below!

That being said, I made Chris take pics of me next to a brick wall before pilates so damn it a "workout-ish" post is going to happen. Sidenote: we had exactly 35 seconds for this photo shoot. How did we do?

Number one: Me side-eyeing our creepy neighbor like, please stop watching this you, creepy SOB.

Number two: Me flexing super hard while I pretend to fix my hair in hopes Chris will take it before I stop flexing.

Number three. The point where I was saying, "screw it, let's go inside."

I've already mentioned my love for pilates here, it's literally the only class I've stuck with in my life. You get to lay on a board for 55 minutes and come out feeling stronger and happier, what's not to love?

Instead, let's talk about classes I don't love. Thus I present to you "Five Classes I've Left Halfway In." Call me a class-quitter, a giver-upper, I don't care, life's too short to stay in a workout class you hate, watching the clock slowly tick backward.

1. Spin class.
I just can't do it, it hurts my butt too much. And not like a muscle-hurt, but like a "why did someone punch me in the butt" kind of hurt. Also, I can never get the soccer cleat bike shoes to stick into the pedals and once I finally do, I panic I'll never get them out and will tip my bike over and I'll be the person stuck in my bike, lying on the floor. Tell me someone else has had this nightmare?

This is what happened when I tried a Soul Cycle class once, I'll never forget it.

2. Any type of Flirty Girl fitness thing.
Maybe it's because I'm not in fact a "flirty girl," but I just couldn't handle this place. A studio opened by my house and I was sent a free week, I'm not one to turn down free stuff so I went. I walked inside and was given a pink boa, a name tag that read "I'm a flirty girl named _______ " and a pink sweatband, and I walked right back out.

3. Zumba.

4. Bootcamp. 
Again, I only went to this because it was a free try and it was happening at a park near my house. The "leader" was quite rude and I didn't appreciate his tone (what was with all the yelling?!) When I walked away ten minutes in the guy screamed after me, "you just gonna quit on me?" And I responded, "Yup, see ya!" and walked to Juice Stop. It was actually a pretty good morning now that I think about it.

5. Stroller Class.
This was just an all around mistake on my part. Harlow wouldn't stay in the stroller, he kept trying to eat the other babies' cheerios, and all the Lincoln Park moms were just getting super pissed at me. Really didn't go over well.

What's the worst workout class you've ever taken? Also, yay spring! It's 40 and rainy here today, summer is coming!

*I buy almost all of my Lulu pants (like the ones seen above) from their discount site found here. Next on my wish list are these crops and these running shorts

*I also love all Zella jackets  and tank tops for cute workout gear.

And That Time I Got Laid Off

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Let's just turn this into a series about me getting fired + what happened next, shall we?

Because less than nine months after I was fired from a job I hated, I was "laid off" from a job I tolerated. I'll touch on that second job just briefly because I only had it "just briefly" before the company officially went under.

2012 was a tough year, anyone else remember companies tanking left and right?

Let me paint you a picture of what I did every day.

Imagine me in an elementary gymnasium somewhere, probably Kenosha, Wisconsin (that was my territory, even though when I was hired I was told it was Chicago) I'm standing on stage and holding a microphone. I'm probably dressed in a basic "work outfit" (gross fitting black pants and an equally gross fitting button up sweater from Target) I more or less wore the same thing every day. However if I'm feeling extra "go-getter" I may have added an extra piece of flare. Silly ears? Gigantic glasses? Anything to make the kids laugh!

*Or to make me feel invisible*

Because I'm about to blast Pump Up The Jam over the gymnasium speakers as I run around "raising the roof" in an attempt to turn seven year olds into door-to-door salesmen.

Really sit on that image for awhile, because that was my life. And I embraced it. I would float out of my body and watch this lunatic dance like she was a DJ at a wedding, while throwing yo-yos and erasers into crowds of kids shouting things like "WHO WANTS TO SELL SOME COOKIE DOUGH?! and "DO YOU LOVE YOUR SCHOOL?"

And I'd chuckle to myself, thinking I was watching a weird indie movie about a mid twenty year old who had gotten very off course.

It was my job to encourage kids to sell cookie dough and coupon books to raise money for their school (and also for my shady company.) Just a good rule of thumb: don't trust a company who's foundation is built on salesmen under the age of 11.

Also coupon books? What is this 1998?

My one and only coworker was a woman named ... well let's call her Cathy because that was her name. She was basically Cathy from the comicstrip and she'd been in the biz since the 80s. Cathy was not my boss, but she was pretty sure she was. On our first meeting at a Panera in Schaumburg, IL she actually said to me, "do you do email?"

Do I DO email? Yes Cathy, that's something I do. DO YOU?

No, only when she HAD to. See, Cathy preferred letters in the mail. This is true x 100. Rather than emailing schools she would write them a letter, or flyers, whatever. And then she'd jump on her horse and deliver it herself whilst crossing the Oregon Trail.

Cathy also didn't know how to hang up her phone. When she'd call me, which was like 20 times a day, we would end our convo but she'd never hang up. If I wanted to, I could listen to Cathy order food from Dunkin Donuts, mutter to herself about her grocery list, or start singing songs from the Chicago soundtrack in an opera like voice.

Cathy was insane. I can still hear her voice as I write this. She sounded like a cartoon character, but I'm not sure which one. Next time you see me ask me to do "my Cathy" and I will.

The day I got laid off I had a "BMX kick off" in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I didn't go to it, I probably should have. I know a "good employee" would have. But do you know what happens at BMX kick-offs? Kids throw up. Because they're always after lunch and kids are all hyped up on sugar and excitement and they're supposed to get up and dance and next thing you know they're spinning in circles and vomit is everywhere. Everywhere. The walls, the floor, the BMX ramps. Everywhere.

If I had a dollar for every time I've seen a kindergartner throw up at random I'd have $7.

I feel like that's a good place to end.

I've had a lot of weird jobs in my life. The one mentioned above is in the top three. It's after traveling with the lottery alongside the carnies in BFE Nebraska for three months, but before dressing like Top Chef and cooking food for high school classes.

And now I can't stop thinking about Cathy and what she is up to today. If I had to guess, I bet she works for a company where she calls people everyday and tells them they've won a free cruise vacation.

When My Blog Became My Job

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Weather update: it snowed even more.

So as I sit here on my couch, trapped in my living room unable to leave because the wind is blowing icy snow everywhere and it's roughly 20 degrees, let's take a walk down memory lane.

Let's go back five years ago when it was 80 degrees on St. Patrick's Day. This really happened and to this day, no one in Chicago can get over it. It's still brought up every single year.

But I'm not going to talk about the weather, what I want to talk about is the job I had at this time. Or better yet, the job I was about to get fired from (the first and last time that ever happened.) I worked for a staffing agency and my job was to call on businesses and ask them if they could use staffing.

I worked in a small room, an arm's length away from my fellow female coworkers. It's worth noting that all of my coworkers were in fact women and under the age of 30- except for the male boss. I won't get into the details of the work environment too much, but let's just say it was odd. I knew at the wee age of 24 it probably wasn't the most normal thing to go out to lunch with your boss and coworkers and get hammered and then return to work, but five years later I look back on that time and am like NO. NOT OKAY.

Even worse, you know that outsider you have at the office who no one really likes? That was me. And I never could figure out why. It was my first time being on the outside and it felt terrible. It was also my first time working in such close quarters with other people, every single day, for eight hours a day. I think this was the first job that really made me realize I was a introvert. I didn't talk much, rarely chimed in on anything, but when I would decide to speak up my "humor" wasn't received well. So as I type this, it's making more and more sense to me why I was the "weird one" of the office...

Sure it was terrible at the time, but being in the position of "outsider" gave me good perspective and taught me to be less of an asshole going forward.

This was my first year living in Chicago and it was the hardest year I had; 99% because of this job. Having a job you hate makes it hard to love anything else.

And it wasn't just the social stuff that made this job terrible for me, it was the job itself. I hated cold-calling, sending blind-emails, doing the same thing, day after day after day. I'd had boring jobs before, but something about this one was different. I could just feel deep down it wasn't right. It was sucking my soul out of me, I went into work everyday feeling like I was a caged animal. I know that sounds dramatic, but I was really so unhappy that's how I felt.

I had breakdowns frequently when I would think, is this my life? Do I really have to go to this job I hate every single day forever? A job where I'm barely making enough to pay rent?

I know this is the story for a lot of people, but I wasn't going to let it be mine. I'm sure some would just label me a "whiny millennial" and that's probably true, but I also know that at this time in my life I could barely get out of bed in the morning, went to bed every night with an intense feeling of dread for the day ahead, and I just knew life could be better.

And don't even get me started on Harlow. Leaving him every day from 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. broke my heart. He'd spent his first year by my side and then we moved to Chicago and I forced him into this new schedule of being alone all day. I paid a dog walker to come over twice a day but I knew that still wasn't cutting it.

So five years ago, during the middle of March, when I was fired from a job I hated on a random Tuesday, I cried tears of relief. I felt like I had been on the edge of a cliff and someone just pushed me over. And yes, I was going to hit some major low points on the way down, but eventually I'd stop falling and find something so much better to climb back up on.

Excuse my Hallmark moment there, I just let my words go and that came out. I guess you could say I get a little emotional when I think about that old job and how grateful I feel to be on my couch today, stuck in a snowstorm with Harlow on my lap.

As I rode the train home that day after getting fired in a Starbucks I took my notebook out and immediately started writing down goals and mantras.

This is the last time I'll let someone fire me. 
I WILL live the life I want. 
I will be my own boss.
I will make my own job.
I choose how I live my life.

Those are actual things I wrote that day (and every day) until they came true.

When I was forced into unemployment I had no other choice but to make this blog my job, something I'd been wanting to do for years, but was too scared/uncertain how to do. The next year would be hell as I worked odd jobs/scraped by with no money trying to get this thing going, and I'll talk more about that in post two, but eventually it happened.

I'm not trying to be Mary Motivational here because I know we're all in different situations and I can only speak for mine, but if you're currently in that job I mentioned above, know that I feel for you. And my unsolicited advice is that if you have any chance at all to get out, do it. Do whatever the hell you have to do, take whatever "odd/side job" you have to in the meantime to work toward that thing you can't stop thinking about, you owe it to yourself.

"Why spend your entire life working on a painting you don't want to look at?" -Warren Buffet

And now I have to go because writing a post like this motivates me, but also strikes just a little fear back into me reminding myself there's no room for slack. I can't go back to that cubicle life so I have no choice but to push harder today than I did yesterday.

The Time Change

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dear Blog,

My productivity levels have been at an bit low today. Scary-low, if I'm being honest. I just can't seem to focus. For example I began this post at 11:30 a.m. today, it's currently 8:15 p.m.

It all started when I woke up and saw a pile of snow on the sky window in our bedroom. Btw, have I mentioned before we have sky-windows all over our new place? Pretty schnazy, right? Me from 1996 is totally proud of myself.

"You know what this house needs? A window. But on the ceiling!"

"I love it," says the other person,"what do we call it? A ceiling window?"

"No," the first person says with a glimmer in their eye as they move their hand dramatically in the air, "a skyyyyyy window."

Other person faints from pure excitement. 

Did I mention I'm having trouble focusing? I literally just glanced up and got distracted for 30 minutes thinking about sky windows.

Where was I? Oh yes, the snow.

Oh no! I thought. We didn't just lose an hour when we messed with the clocks, we accidentally went all the way back to January. In 2016! (Because Chicago just doesn't do snow in 2017.) 

Once I stumbled out of my morning haziness and realized it was in fact still March of 2017, a sudden wave of dread set over me.

A March snowstorm. What have we done to deserve something so awful? I had all but put away my winter boots, gloves, and hats simply out of protest. I'm over the layers. OVER IT. And yet there I was, digging out snow boots for me, and snow boots for Harlow.

And it's no easy task putting those orange booties on an overly excited-Harlow. However it's obvious Chicago hasn't used their salt rations this year as they clearly went to town with it today. It's everywhere! And so to protect his little paws, Har has to wear the booties. Between putting on the booties, his winter coat, his earmuffs, his mittens, his snowboard pants, and his chapstick; it's a 20 minute process.

The things we do for the people we love.

For whatever reason, today has been one of those days where even the most mundane email is taking me double the amount of time it usually does. When forced to make any decision I find myself staring at it for hours as if it's life or death! It took me nearly three hours to order my inventory for the week- a task that can usually be done in about 30 minutes.

And don't get me started on choosing which cereal to buy at the grocery store this morning. That was a meltdown in itself.

It's the time change, right? Or maybe the snow? Or the fact it's Monday?

Could changing the clocks just one simple hour really throw everyone off so much? Yes, yes it could. And my theory is that it's because we were all walking around with a weird, flustered energy today and it was contagious.

Well everyone, except Harlow. He was just fine.

Does the church look blurry or crooked to anyone else? If you're thinking it's a photoshop error you're giving my "editing skills" far too much credit. The furthest I go when it comes to editing is switching my phone into airplane mode and using good ol Instagram.

I'm telling you, things were off today... Tomorrow will be better. Who's with me?

Keeping a Clean Home With a Dog

Thursday, March 9, 2017

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

Do you remember when you were a kid and your cousins would come over and you'd go absolutely nuts tearing the house apart, having the most fun of your life?

That is what Harlow does when Timber comes to town. She's a 1.5 year old lab pup who matches (I mean exceeds) Harlow's energy. She just visited last month it was constant playtime. It's wrestling, rope-pulling, bone stealing, couch jumping, sliding-on-the-wood floor playtime. It's fun. And also slightly exhausting because with all of that Vizsla/Lab energy comes a few messes... Have you seen their tails? Nothing is safe from being knocked after.

We've all heard the saying, a dog makes a house a home.  Well, it also makes it very dirty. Of course I take full blame for this as I clearly have no boundaries for Harlow. He sits on the couch, sleeps in the bed, eats at the dinner table (jk. maybe not...) He's a family member, why wouldn't he?

However just because our house is dog-friendly, doesn't necessarily mean that we want it to look or smell that way. Thus we go through cleaning supplies quite frequently. We recently tried Skout’s Honor products and were very impressed.

When looking for cleaning supplies there's a few things that are really important to me-

*They have to work! Sounds simple, but so many that we have used simply don't. Skout's Honor takes care of the mess and the smell.

*It's eco-friendly. All of their products are natural, non-toxic, plant-derived, earth-friendly, biodegradable, cruelty-free and safe to use around your pets, family and home.

*They give back! Skout's Honor donates back a day’s worth of food to a shelter animal with every product sold! I LOVE companies who do stuff like this.

The other thing I love about Skout's Honor is that even though it's technically called a pet cleaner, I basically use it for an all purpose cleaner and it does the job. We don't have a lot of storage in Chicago so I can't keep 100 different products on hand, not to mention I'm also pretty lazy and like to use thing as many ways as possible. The Stain and Odor remover isn't just for pet marks. I used it for for coffee spills, wine, pasta, you name it and I've probably spilled it. Of course Harlow was partial to blame for all situations so.... so I guess it could still be considered a "pet mess."

We all know as pet owners that our four-legged friends occasionally make life a little dirtier than we sometimes like it to be. But look at that face, I couldn't imagine it any other way!
For more information about where to buy Skout's Honor products for pups click the link.
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