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Sweet & Spicy Chobani Ranch

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

When I think of tailgating, I think of delicious, fatty foods that I hate myself for eating the minute halftime hits. Seriously. Don't sit me down in front of anything I can put on a potato chip. It's a disaster. So, the Seahawks went to the Superbowl for two years, and every single week, we had a party that always featured our favorite tailgating foods. It was a crazy couple of seasons, and we won some NAILBITERS... and guess what my bad habit is when I'm nervous? EATING. So, I needed to think of something fulfilling that wouldn't leave me regretting the day entirely.

I created this recipe back when I first started on the 21 Day Fix, and found that it was the perfect addition to our football parties, because no one believed me when I said it wasn't real ranch. I'm just gonna give myself a huge pat on the back here, but my "Chobani ranch" is so much better than any other ranch I've had. I love the kick that Greek yogurt gives it, and it just has so much more depth than I thought it would.

So, this recipe is for my Sweet & Spicy Chobani Ranch, which is a perfect accompaniment for MANY things: your favorite spicy wings, veggie sticks (like carrots or celery), slathered on some homemade street tacos (my husband's fave), on your burger, or wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla with fresh tomato and turkey bacon for a healthy BLT - which is my vehicle of choice for this stuff. However, if your husband is going to look at you like a crazy person if you try to feed him a BLT on gameday, just give him his sticky buffalo wings and a bowl of this Chobani ranch.

Or, you know, grab some baked potato chips or homemade sweet potato fries and just dig in.

Man. I might have to finish this post later... I'm starving.
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • Fresh-chopped herbs: parsley, dill, chives are my favorites
  • A dash of whole grain mustard
  • A swirl of honey for some sweetness
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, finely chopped - and then chopped some more. No one wants to eat a chunk of chipotle pepper... unless you also want to wash it down with an entire jug of water. Holy spicy. 
  • Finally, a splash of your favorite vinegar for balance. I like apple cider or balsamic in my ranch!
Here's the fun part. There aren't really specific measurements that I stick to. For those of you that like specifics... yeah, sorry 'bout this. I taste as I go (super fun) and add to it slowly. The best part is, you're starting with such a healthy base, there isn't really a chance to take this the wrong way. Just don't start throwing things like cane sugar and marshmallow fluff in, mmmk?

To make it spicy, it really comes down to personal preference. Chipotle can be a little much if you're not really a spice-lover like me. A little cayenne would be great, or a squeeze of your favorite hot sauce does the trick, too.

Happy Tailgating, friends! LET ME KNOW how you like the Sweet & Spicy Chobani Ranch! Since we always have plain Greek yogurt on hand, I visit Chobani's recipe page a lot - tons of delicious, inspired ideas for your next meal.

Roller Coaster Inspiration

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The day faded into night, and Paul and I were like the only two people in the world.

I get it now - how people warn you not to "lose yourself" when you become a mom.

I was always so much fun. People knew me back then (ok, they probably still do) as loud and a little obnoxious. I never fell asleep first, always down for anything. I loved to have fun and make people laugh, and those were pretty much my only two missions on a daily basis.

Now, with two littles and trying to figure out this whole motherhood thing on a daily basis, that Corianne has changed... evolved... so much. I'm far more worried about health and safety and how often my kids have bowel movements (I mean...) than I am about happy hours and being social and people liking me. I'm much more serious, and a lot less spontaneous, and that made me a little sad. I thought about it on this night, as I realized how much I missed... me.

I was crazily aware of this contrast as we sprinted/danced through the fairgrounds, under the sparkling lights, trying to decide if we wanted to make ourselves throw up on El Nino, or just go classic fun and do the old white roller coaster... we chose both. The coaster was amazing - I drive by it every day, and I had forgotten about how free you feel when you're in the front of the cart and diving through the darkness with perfect strangers behind you. I thought about how years have weighed me down, and they shouldn't. Why do we let them? I felt like the roller coaster helped to throw off some of that weight that I'd been holding onto so carefully. Is that silly?

I got in trouble for swinging on the swings last night, just like I did in sixth grade, and it felt so good. I thought about Porter, and how he would probably LOVE this mommy... the fun, giggling, rulebreaking mom that was very much present and living in the moment. I thought about Paul, whose hand I was holding, and how he fell in love and proposed marriage to that girl. Now, I'm not saying he doesn't love every phase of me, but I think he really loved remembering who I was at the core, and that I'm still very much the obnoxious, silly, spontaneous girl that drew him in. You know, aside from all the anxious worrying and Googling flu symptoms (really, why do I do that - I was never a worrier before I became a mom).

Life is all about balance. I admit, I'm not very good at that part yet. I need to find a better balance between being a responsible and graceful mom and a fun-loving spontaneous wife and friend. I can be responsible and spontaneous. I can be organized and fun loving.

Now that I'm keenly aware of this, I can work toward becoming the best version of myself.

How do you find balance? How has being a mom changed you?

Pin All The Things

Monday, September 28, 2015

I know it's old news, but I'm on a Pinterest kick right now. Every once in a while, I go remember why Pinterest is so amazing.

An award-winning grilled cheese with 18 different kinds of cheese? OF COURSE.
A snowy merry-go-round in Paris? Don't even know exactly where it is, but IT JUST GOT ADDED TO MY BUCKET LIST.
Ways to clean my bathroom with just water and fairy dust? Yep.

Other times, my Grinchy heart deflates ten sizes, I delete the app, and move on with my life. So, before that time comes again, allow me to share with you a few of my favorite recent [fall inspired] pins. I also get a weird rush off reorganizing and renaming my boards, so I'm sorry if you visit often and get lost. Grilled cheese sandwiches aren't in "Let's Do Lunch" anymore. They are in a new [favorite] board called "Grilled Cheese, Please"... Because ain't nobody got time to hunt through my lunch board for a melty, cheesy, crispy, sweet-n-savory grilled cheese masterpiece.
  1. My S'mores Board, appropriately named "Gimme S'More". Just... enjoy.
  2. My Mantra
  3. My Uniform (can we also talk about Cara Loren? Ugh. She's perfection.)
  4. Tacos, because if you're going to call them "the best homemade tacos ever", they better be just that.
  5. My Happiness Board - because all of these things make my heart dance!
Let's talk about Pinterest! What do you love/hate/loathe/spend all the days pinning?

Pajama Party

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Let's talk about more obsessions. Specifically, Target-fueled obsessions.

I cannot go to Target without buying a new haul of pajamas. The LAST thing my boys need are pajamas. I have drawers (plural) dedicated to pajamas. Onesies, cute sets of long sleeved shirts and pants, shorts and tank tops for summer... Paw Patrol, aliens, Minions, football, Star Wars, sailboats, camo, cowboy... you name it, we have it. There is something so cute about a little kid in adorable pajamas. When they start wearing raggedy t-shirts and basketball shorts to sleep, I'll cry.

And, I can't throw any away. Well, except for a pair I got at Nordstrom when Porter was a baby, I tossed those with no problem. Designer pajamas are not my thing. They're too serious, and kids need FUN pajamas. I need the cheap packs that come in sets of 2... with the cheesy designs and characters. Get outta here with those color-blocks, Tucker & Tate.

Paul has started to bargain with me: throw out a piece of clothing, or an old set of pajamas, for every new one you bring home. I agreed, but truth-be-told: I just started a new drawer and make sure I'm the one to dress the boys for bed each night. Sawry.

What can't you stop buying - from Target, or elsewhere? 

Current status:

dropping everything to run out and buy these, because Porter is loving Spiderman lately... and I have NOT seen these yet in my local Target.

Weekly Roundup: All The Fall

Friday, September 25, 2015

Here we go! Our first Weekly Roundup, and it's all about FALL. Basics, unite!

Monica: Fall favorites? Everything! Running through the leaves (like, actual running on fallen leaves on the sidewalk). It reminds me of my old cross country days! I also love the fact that I can now wear scarves, burn candles, have a salted caramel mocha (I'm the one anti-PSL white girl), wear sweaters, Crockpot cooking, boots, slightly less-sweaty workouts, wearing leggings for legitimate reasons... basic girl-ing so hard right now.
Kjerstine, of Loftus Lane:
Behind our home is a walking path, and I've grown to love taking photos of myself and my son there -  especially because of the gorgeous trees and how they change with each season. The vibrant warm hues during the fall are the most romantic to me. Speaking of which, I should probably get out there soon for a quick photo shoot before the leaves disappear! Cheers to fall and all its glory!

Lisa: I am so excited that fall is FINALLY here. Fall is my favorite time of year because it means cooler weather, warm drinks, cozy knit scarves & vibrant fall colored trees! Since moving to Virginia, our favorite place to go in the fall is Colonial Williamsburg. The trees and overall history draws us in & not to mention it is beautiful! Here is a link of last years post when we drove up to Williamsburg for the day!

Colleen: I love all things fall. Food, clothes, makeup, candles, temperatures. But if I had to choose one true favorite, it would be Leavenworth, WA. It represents all things I love about the season. When you drive into town, the foliage takes your breath away. It literally looks like a patchwork quilt of reds, oranges, yellows and greens! Then, upon arrival into town, you have amazing beer, authentic German food and great music! It's so cozy! Make sure to head just out of town about 5 minutes to Peshastin to do a wine tasting at Icicle Ridge Winery, which overlooks the river and the valley. They decorate it SO CUTE for Fall.

Courtney (@wonderfully_wolf on IG): When it comes to fall, I have MANY favorites. The first is - of course - college football! As a former collegiate cheerleader and wife of a former college quarterback (Go Campbell Camels!), football quickly became the staple of my favorite season. There is simply nothing better than cheering on your favorite team on a Saturday Game Day in the south. :) A more recent fall favorite of mine is the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino. Living in Florida, the weather hasn’t quite gotten the memo that it’s fall yet... so this version of the beloved PSL is essential to get in the spirit.
Aly: As cliche as it might sound, I love ALL things fall related. I love that I can bundle up and drink hot tea without sweating beads. I love making my home feel cozy with the aroma of cinnamon baked goods and pots of homemade soup. Everything about fall screams home and comfort... and that is what I love about this season!
Julie: While I'm not a crazed PSL fan, I still LOVE the idea of Fall. I say idea because it's still 100 degrees here in Southern CaliforniaOne of my favorite fall traditions is collecting leaves with my son to make a festive fall wreath! I cut the wreath from cardboard and he gets to glue to his heart's desire. It's a fun, cheap, and easy project we look forward to doing every Fall!

Shaun: The anticipation of fall for me is up there with Christmas and my birthday. The crisp air, the freshly fallen leaves. It's amazing. I live in New Hampshire where we are known for Fall. The colors of the trees, apple picking, corn mazes, pumpkin patches... did I mention our amazing foliage? I'm ready to bust open the comfy leggings, the boots, and cardigans. I'm ready for drives up North to immerse myself in colors my mind dreams of. And a hot apple cider along the way certainly doesn't hurt ;) (BLOG:

Thanks, ladies, for participating in my first Roundup! Loved your responses; you just made me even more excited for this beautiful season. To close out, I'm just gonna leave this here. This is my new favorite fall anything: Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Product Testing: Tubby Todd, and Muchison-Hume

Thursday, September 24, 2015

COMING SOON: Murchison-Hume (Natural Cleaning Products), and Tubby Todd. I can't wait to post my reviews. I have heard nothing but amazing things about both of these companies and products, and have orders in to both companies to try them out.

I ordered:

All-Purpose Cleaner in Original Fig

I am trying hard to slowly transition my family into all-natural bath, cleaning and beauty products. It's so much harder than it seems. EVERYTHING has something terrible in it, so I'm doing research and just finding one thing to change each month. Right now, we use Honest bath products - and if I'm being honest (ha), I don't love the smell of the ones available in our area. I'm a sucker for the Johnson & Johnson lavender bath, which sucks - because ALL THE CHEMICALS. Yuck. However, my nose hasn't caught up with my mind yet, and it's missing the strong, sweet, soothing aroma of those poisonous products. Haha. I've heard Tubby Todd smells great, and lathers even better. So, I'll see what we think :)

I've also read some new articles about Honest being "not so natural" in some of their products (dang it, Jessica Alba) and that doesn't thrill me. I don't know if it's true, entirely, but... why not use this time to start "shopping small"? The products are the same price, and I love the heart behind Tubby Todd. Andrea is a real mama who pursued a passion and is making it happen. And Murchison-Hume was developed when a mother's son developed allergies and sensitivities to standard household cleaning products, and she made it her mission to make something safe and natural that worked. It's so inspiring, and reminds me that instead of complaining, we can be apart of the solution. These women are all about the solution, and I'm happy to support that.

STAY TUNED! Reviews coming soon.

Fair Daze

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What do I love about the fair?

I think the easier question is: what DON'T I love about the fair (people. The answer is people. People in massive, ignorant crowds wearing stuff they shouldn't be wearing, smoking cigarette where they shouldn't be smoking them, and being otherwise oblivious to the world around them). But THE FAIR in general is everything. It's the mark of the end of summer, and the pending transition to fall - my favorite transition of all. It's temperatures dipping into "sweater weather", and rain boots being dusted off. It's the smell of hay and sawdust and bright, colorful lights. It's people selling Vitamixes, massage chairs, lotion made from magical fairy dusty, and homemade wooden signs in the Expo Hall. It's disgusting foods like deep-fries Twinkies (I definitely refuse to order. Even I have limits), weird foods like turkey legs, and classic foods like corn on the cob (but smothered in hot sauce and dusted with parmesan cheese) It's the only place you can order ice cream, and then walk through a booth that shows you how germ-filled your hands are. I MEAN. Education.

Close to number one on the list of LOVE, for me, are Krusty Pups. There is something about a fresh fair corn dog that is SO nostalgic. As you can see, I'm still working on Porter. He took a few bites, but he turned up his cute little nose at my offer to dip it in mustard (I know, who's kid is this?) and requested ketchup with french fries, instead.

The breading is sweet, and the best part about the whole thing is the crispy, burnt bottom that you have to bite off the stick. SOME OF YOU KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. And some of you are clicking off my page and increasing my bounce rate. Whatever. You're probably the same monsters that turn up your nose at burnt cheese.

ANYWAY. We went on opening day this year, and I'm hoping to go back one more time before it heads out of town. Porter and his buddy Lincoln rode all the rides and were in heaven. It was hotter than hades, and Simon was miserable in the Ergo - but Porter fell in love.

I totally get Sillyville now. It's the kids area at our state fair that I used to avoid like the plague because EW KIDS. But now? It's totally magical when you have kids of your own. Within minutes, they are a cowboy riding a pony, a pilot flying a helicopter, a train conductor, and a bird sailing down the huge slide faster than they've ever gone before. Their little imaginations run wild, and for only the lofty price of a few tickets.

These are my favorite times, for sure. What are your favorite fair memories?

Quick + Easy Lunch: Sweet & Savory Turkey Sandwich

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I just made this quick and healthy lunch on a whim last week, and it was so delicious I had to write it down. You just need a few things in your fridge, all of which have become staples for our family.

1. Daves Killer Bread - White Done Right
This bread is THE BEST. It's soft and fluffy, and made with 5 grains and no bleached flour or high-fructose corn syrup. It's our new favorite for lunchtime sandwiches, especially kid-friendly ones.

2. Oven-roasted turkey or chicken breast
I keep a half-pound or so in the fridge at all times - I usually spring for the pricier stuff if I can... you know, the stuff with the ingredients I can pronounce and not a bunch of added salt or sugar or preservatives. In a pinch, I like Applegate brand a lot, and they have some at my local Target. I throw some on a grilled cheese sandwich or quesedilla so Porter is getting some protein without really knowing it. The kid is PICKY lately.

3. Strawberry Chia "Jam" from World of Chia
I love that this only uses four ingredients, all of which I can pronounce and list here without first looking it up, haha: strawberries, lemon juice, chia seeds, and agave syrup. Granted, agave is still sugar... but I'm just happy that it doesn't have cane sugar or corn syrup or anything that I find in every other jam out there.

4. Swiss cheese, or a cheese of your choice. White cheddar or Provolone or even cream cheese would be great, too.

5. A mustard or mayo spread of some sort - Dijon mustard, homemade mayo, garlic aioli... I have this maple-bacon aioli that we get from the butcher that is just DELICIOUS. And I only use a small smear... and oh goodness. It's amazing.

TA DA! Simple sandwich with just the right balance of sweet & savory. Porter and I split a sandwich normally, and it's the perfect light lunch.

Let me know if you like it - or, what is your go-to sandwich of choice? Also, why are sandwiches SO MUCH BETTER when other people make them for you (have you noticed that)?

I'm So Basic.

Monday, September 21, 2015

I have what one may call an obsessive personality; everything is my favorite. Here is a short-but-running list of some of those things that I've been obsessing over, lately. Most of these things are what "the internets" are calling "basic", as in "basic white girl", but I'm 30 freaking years old. I liked these things before the cute little beauty bloggers decided it was cool.

Let's start with s'mores. Before they bombed your Instagram feed, I was obsessed. Mainly because of toasted mashmallow. I will get, buy, smell, taste ALL THE THINGS that are toasted marshmallow flavored/scented. But the idea of s'mores just makes me happy. It's so summer, and SO early fall. Which - forget you, Caitlyn Jenner - THAT is my favorite transition in the world.

And on that same note: cotton candy flavored anything - but not actual cotton candy. That just feels like I'm eating hair, and who likes to eat hair?

Hair. I was dying to cut it. Now that I did, I hate how stupid it looks when I pull it back into a ponytail (like a stub sticking off the back of my head), so now I'm dying to grow it out. I'm also looking for a new color/style of color... so, yeah, obsessed would cover it.

Family Feud. Specifically, the ones with Steve Harvey hosting. It's on Game Show Network all the time, and we can't get enough.

All of the lights. I will string twinkling lights on my toilet and love it. 

Speaking of lights: I love highlighter. Not like the pens, like the makeup. I think it's called strobing? Or whatever those fancy YouTubers call it these days. Anyway, my favorite highlighter is Jaclyn Hill's collab with BECCA Cosmetics - Champagne Pop. Yasssssss, gimme all the strobing. I look like a beaming ray of sunlight and I love it so much.

Hot sauce. On everything.

Socality Barbie. Just... yes.

Grapefruit La Croix. I finally said goodbye to soda, and my body thanks me.

Vans. I never understood the power of a plain white pair of Vans, but I do now and I can't get enough.

Planners. I'll never use one, but I want to be that girl SO BAD. So I buy them and fill them out once as far out as I can, and then never open them again. Same with journals. I'm really trying with journals, though.

What are some of your favorite things as of late?

Jay & Hay's One Big Day

Saturday, September 19, 2015

I really love weddings. I love love. I love the celebration of a couple choosing to be together, happily ever after. I love the commitment, the statement, and the excitement of a wedding day. I love seeing the personality of the bride and groom come out in all the little details. I love wedding gowns. The hair. The makeup. The choice of dress in which you force all of your girlfriends to wear as they stand by your side to support you on the biggest day of your life (the bride either loves or secretly loathes all of her maids and matrons, and it's hilarious. Haley loved hers, for sure - the cutest dresses, the formal introductions and the dancing entrance!? SO wonderful). I love the photos: memories for a lifetime, that a granddaughter will someday pull out of a box and show everyone how beautiful the women in her family are.

However, the more weddings I go to, the more I realize how much it's about so much more than the little details that you spend weeks and months pouring over. It's the anticipation in the air as a thousand of your friends and family watch a slideshow of two people they truly, honestly adore. It's the admiration for a couple that held strong to their beliefs, loving God above all else, pouring out every ounce of themselves in acts of service to other people day in and day out finally standing together to be united as one. It's about childhood sweetheart exchanging heartfelt vows to continue to take on the world together. It's about moments and people and relationship. I've never been more moved than I was last night - one small supporter in a sea of a thousand, just happy to be in the room as a wonderful couple became husband and wife.

Jon and Haley are those people. They are the head of student ministries at my church. They are younger than me, crazier than me... and I respect and love these guys so much. They're the first ones to the church and the last ones to leave. They love people, they exude joy, they are cheerleaders and hard workers and adventurers and they always have happy, positive things to say. Haley is the first to run up and give me a huge hug and tell me how much she loves me - and I haven't seen or talked to her in weeks. She's just that girl, and Jon is just that guy. They are impacting the world in a big, big way.

What a great wedding last night, Mr. & Mrs. Yadon! You are truly wonderful people and it was an honor to celebrate you. If you're on Instagram, check out #jayandhaysonebigday... so many photos and videos of the festivities. You can feel the love, respect and admiration in every post.

You two rock at life.

A Boring Girl's Guide To Vegas

Friday, September 18, 2015

We recently returned from a weeklong trip to Vegas. Some of you might be thinking: Oy. A week? Way too long, Corianne. Way too long.

But it's really not, not when you do Vegas like we do Vegas. The only reason it might be too long is because our wallets couldn't possibly handle another meal (or our waists, for that matter) or another trip to Sephora.

Yes, Sephora. Did you think I was going to say the club?

First of all, we went to Vegas with our best friends Davey & Jess. They have the same goals as we do when we go on vacation: good food and drinks. Good pool. Good sleep. And that's about it.

The Official Boring Girl's Guide To Vegas

1) Yelp
Jess and I were on Yelp from the minute we stepped off the plane. We started out trying to find new places to eat, and we ended up trying to beat each other by attaining new badges checking into places we never actually stepped foot in. Oh, you actually thought I went to Hakkasaan, the night club? HAHA. No. We walked by on our way to the room at 9pm, checked-in, and got the "First To The Club" badge. Who's the loser now, Yelp? It's a great way for your friends and social media following to think you're cooler than you actually are.

2) Selfie Sticks
You guys. EVERYONE has them in Vegas. Like, everyone. They sell them at the ABC Store, for goodness sake. When they started coming about a couple years ago, I was so embarrassed for the people that whipped them out, but now you're actually a loser if you DON'T have a Selfie Stick. So, we bought one in Vegas and used that bad boy until we got on the plane to head home.

You know how amazing the hotels smell in Vegas? We found the spot to really BASK in the glory that is "hotel perfume" (it's a thing, guys, look it up). When we stepped off the elevator and into the hallway to head to our room, there was a particular air-conditioning vent that pumped out the scent so strongly... It may or may not have been the single source for the monstrosity that is the MGM Grand. And we may or may not have stood there like idiots, just breathing in the smell and trying to memorize it. Go to the 4th floor of the MGM, and take an immediate left down the hallway for room 414. You'll know when you're there. That glorious smell hits you like a brick wall.

4) Coffee, Breakfast, Pre-Lunch, Lunch, Snack, Pre-Dinner, Dinner, Post-Dinner, Late Night Snack. This was the meal schedule each day, and y'all... We learned how to do it right. He's a sample of our daily menu. And we walked it off each day, so - no guilt. (We probably should have had some guilt, but you know... Vacation).

Coffee: Grande iced coffee from Starbucks on the way to the pool
Breakfast: Fries
Pre-Lunch: Sushi on the way back to the room
Lunch: A salad or a sandwich or pizza, usually once BACK at the room
Snack: More fries
Pre-Dinner: Lobster Rolls from Todd English PUB
Dinner: Brisket Nachos from Guy Fieri's
Post-Dinner: Cupcake from Sprinkles or a burger from Shake Shack
Late Night Snack: Sushi, again

5) Buffet
This one is self-explanatory. But do your research... Only rookies go to the first buffet they come across, or the one at their hotel by default.

6) Solicitors
Have some fun. You know those people that try to sell you on a "free show", and you only need to sign over a promissory note to give them your first born? Try telling them you're not interested because you have IBS and can't sit through a full show. Or that you have Tourettes and are currently banned from the theatre at the MGM because of the last time you went. It's fun - the more inappropriate you get, the more exciting it is. One lady literally stopped her pitch to say: "EW!" to Jessica. I can't even repeat what Jessica's excuse was, but it was gross and that lady literally turned away from us and onto her next prey. We got snubbed by a Vegas solicitor.

7) Sephora
Ladies, go buy a new lipstick or 10. Because it's Vegas, and everyone needs to try colors they probably couldn't pull off at home when they're on vacation.

8) Midnight Sushi
Wash off your makeup, put on sweats, leave your husbands in the room watching Sportscenter, and run across the strip to the only sushi join open at that hour. Make friends with the Sushimaster (?) and the bartender, eat your Spider Roll after the Sushimaster shows your Asian friend how to use chopsticks, and talk about the Seahawks (because evvvvvveryone in Vegas wants to talk about the Seahawks when you're also wearing a Seattle hat).

9) Penny Slots
Take $20 and GO TO TOWN. Jess and I found that the candy, jewel, and Superwoman-themed machines did the best. Don't do the Ellen Degeneres machines, they are terrible. And don't get mad when a little old lady runs over and yells at you for taking her machine when there is literally nothing of hers on said machine. Just move to the machine next to her, win the jackpot, and gloat silently.

10) Get To Know Your Cab Drivers
Unless they try to kill you coming home from Old Town, taking corners at 70 MPH and tailgating all the cars on the freeway. Then you should probably report them.


11) The Laundry Room
In Old Town, there is a bar named Commonwealth that is way too young for us. I'm talking loud rap music and omg the headache. But we went there because someone told us about a super-secret hidden spot called The Laundry Room that is only available by physical request... you ask the bartender at Commonwealth, and they give you a clothespin with a phone number on it, without saying a word. You're to text the number and if they have a spot, they will get you in. You wait in a designated area, and they come out to get you. If not, you're out of luck. The phone number changes all the time, and if you are lucky enough to get a reservation, don't you dare be late. We got in, and it was amazing. They read you the rules before you enter (no photos, no phone calls, no loud conversations). It's a prohibition-style speakeasy, and it's fun and glam and SO different from what you'd expect out of Vegas. I soaked it in, and then made a vow to blog about it... so, go visit. And have some of the jalapeno popcorn for me.

Working From Home: Too Good To Be True?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

My eyes were swollen from crying. It was official: I hated my job.

It was thankless; I spent my days talking to people being denied insurance coverage all day long. People that had just received horrible news about their health or the health of their spouse, people that were faced with insurmountable bills and coverage denials... My heart hurts. I was so depressed. I spent hours commuting, I never saw my new husband, and when I did, I was tired and sad and dreading the next morning. It was a vicious, unhealthy cycle.

My husband was tired of seeing me so broken down. He told me that there was no time like the present to pursue my passion. I needed to do something I enjoyed, because life was too short to be miserable. He asked me what would make me happy. Besides having babies, I realized I wanted to write. Emails, blogs, reports, website content... I loved writing.

So, I grabbed some chocolate and sat down in front of his desktop computer just a few short months after we had moved into the basement of his parent's house to save some money, and I clicked onto Craigslist to look for my probably nonexistent dream job.

I searched.
Edit from home.
Work from home.
Write from home.
Customer service at home.

So many people ask me how I got hooked-up with my job, where they should start, and how I knew it wasn't just a ploy to get me to give them my credit card information. I get it - it's a scary world out there. I'm here to tell you that the opportunities you're looking for are out there. I found myself reading all about all the telecommuting/work-from-home opportunities that I had no idea really existed. My heart was pounding from the excitement. I could totally make this happen.

I didn't apply for many companies, but the first position I applied for had the title "Customer Service For Happy People". The company was based in NYC and San Francisco, and was a fully-virtual office. I had reservations, but I tweaked my cover letter and submitted my resume anyway. I remember deciding to be real and fun-loving in my cover letter, so they could see I was truly the happy person they were looking for... I had it in me, right? My current job hadn't totally broken me. Yet.

Here are some practical tips and tricks (and warnings) for finding your dream work-from-home job on the internet. Let's be real: there are so many scams and hoaxes and many of them are very well-disguised. But if I'm being totally honest: they're not that well disguised, people. Use common sense. Be practical. And do your research.
    Ironically, the company I work for is a marketing company, and Google is our love-language. So, it's fitting that I tell you: the information you're looking for is out there. When you apply, or even BEFORE you apply... find out the name of the company and Google them. Do they have a website? What's the CEO's name? Google him or her, too. Find all the info you can, and if anything seems fishy, write it down. You can ask them about it on your interview, do more research, or ask for a third-party opinion.
  2. BE SMART.
    If on your interview call you are hired on the spot and they ask you for your social security number or banking info for your direct deposit paycheck, it's probably not legit. Sorry. Ask them for their employee handbook, for the contract they are offering you. Ask for paperwork so you can pour over that, next.
    If you're talking to the CEO and his email is a Hotmail or Yahoo account, maybe ask some questions. In general, be sure that the company has company email. I feel like it's just a good rule of thumb.
    I looked up our CEO on social media... found his blog, and his Twitter account - which had thousands and thousands of real people following and interacting with him. He posted often, but it wasn't spammy... it was genuine conversation, and that made me feel great. I also looked up my supervisor and found her LinkedIn. Some people have social media locked down, but sometimes, you can strike gold - and honestly, it's 2015. A majority of companies have some sort of social media presence, be it Facebook or Twitter or an Instagram. It's rare that a company will be completely missing from social media.
Of course, always proceed with caution - and there are some really, really good scammers out there... but there are also some incredible opportunities. I am living proof. But you're never going to find something if you don't LOOK, so just start searching and asking around.

Back To Center

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Last night was a small but much-needed mommy night out. I forget how well I do with just a few hours to recharge. I met a friend, Colleen, and we got pretty fall manicures, and then went around the corner to a local bar for some food and drinks... Because when don't I need to bring food and drinks into the mix?
So many jewel tones, not enough time. I went with #92 - Down To Earth.
It's a beautiful camo-green!
It's a lot, working from home and raising two babies. I find it hard to separate the two sometimes. Too often, I treat my babies like tasks, or only give them my very divided attention - and it leaves me feeling completely sad, and like I've failed as a mom and employee. Is this what working from home is supposed to accomplish?

Simon Pierce - 8 months old & Porter Alan - 2.5 years old
No. Working from home gives me the chance to be there for moments like this... When they're crawling around together and laughing and exploring and just being brothers. Moments like this make the "sharpie on the carpet/nap strikes/food strikes/must have apple juice NOW" moments far less important.

But, the crazy moments also remind me quickly that I'm human... I'm an adult human. I'm not the kid that runs away from her problems anymore, I have to face them head on. When I'm feeling deflated and tired and just worn down, I have to deal with that like an adult. And since I've made the decision to not deal with my problems by acting out (partying, drinking, drugs, anger), I have to discover new ways to face and conquer the challenges in my life, in the moment. Because let's be honest: mommy nights out can't happen every night. Ha.
  • Perspective. That's my biggest tool. Remembering those fleeting moments when Simon was two months old and we thought he was blind, or worse, that his body was filled with disease. Those were big issues. The fact that he wants me to hold him all day? Not an issue. An inconvenience, I guess, but not an issue. I see so many posts these days about accidents, and disease, and families truly facing the worst possible heartache... so my perspective shifts. I remember how blessed we are, and that I need to not act like my life is falling apart because Porter wants to drum his heart out while I'm on a phone call for work. God forbid, we could face some true challenges someday - but we're not. And I am so grateful and appreciative of the His hand on our lives.
  • Prayer. I don't really have much to say about this, except for that I'm constantly trying to give it to God. I'm waiting for Him to throw up His hands like "Girl, no", but it hasn't happened yet. Hallelujah. My God is great.
  • Mommy time-outs. Those are moments that I just lock myself in the laundry room for a minute to regain my composure so I don't say or do something I shouldn't. This works sometimes, too.
  • IPads. Those have been my saving grace these days, when I'm not riddled with guilt for shoving an electronic in my son's hands and allowing him to zone out on Kid's YouTube. But when I have to get something done, necessity trumps all else, and he gets to watch creepy tutorials of grown adults opening eggs and talking in Disney voices.
  • Reality Checks. For example: my husband is not the enemy because he has a job outside the home. I could go back to work outside the home, too, so I have to remind myself not to be a brat because I've made the decision not to. I'm guilty of making him feel like less of a parent because he "doesn't have to hear it all day long" as Porter rages about not being able to eat chili for breakfast. It doesn't make it any less annoying for Paul when he's home in the mornings, does it?

What are ways that you bring yourself back to center,
so you have the focus and energy to conquer your day?


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