Here’s the update: The book’s not done. It’s close. I’m getting there. I still have high hopes of finishing before November so I can start on my next idea. Book is still NUMBER ONE PRIORITY MOST IMPORTANT. But I need my blog back. I NEED IT.
We’re just over 365 days away from our wedding. I HAVE SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT. And I’ll have more. PLANNING. SO MUCH PLANNING.
I have stories. I have book reviews. I’m not gonna hit 25 books but HEY I READ SOME so that’s a win.
I’ve got some new projects out there. Damon and I have a website I’ll talk more about later, and Claire and I have a sweet craft project I’ll describe more in-depth later, as well.
Anyway, I’m gonna be around again. Nothing consistent. Maybe when the book is done.
ALLOW THIS TO SERVE AS NOTICE THAT I’M BACK. And not just to update my WP plugins. See you soon. Good things coming.
Hello to all my faithful (5, including my mom) readers!
I wanted to post an update, as I’m planning to put the blog on hiatus until my novel is complete. As it stands, I can see the finish line, and am very focused on getting it done. On the one hand, it’s a fantastic feeling. On the other, it means that I need to reduce the number of things I’m working on so that I can concentrate. Blogging is a blast, but it also saps my writing energy.
So, I’ll still be around on social media, and will likely be publishing a book review or wedding planning update or sharing a fantastic sale here or there — but won’t be making any regular or scheduled posts. Damon and I are also spinning up a new project together, so I’ll be letting you guys know about that once it’s ready to go.
I can’t wait to come back and let all five of you know that my book is done. I’m READY!
See ya soon,
P.S. If you wanna hang on social media, click on any of the links up in the top right-hand corner of the page. I’ll continue posting there regularly because I just can’t help myself.
This weekend, Damon and I went out with our wedding planner Lori (from Lola Event Productions) to finish up viewing some potential wedding venues. This was our first real foray in to planning, so I was a bit nervous that it might be stressful. But, it ended up being super easy and fun!
We had told our wedding planner that we were looking for a raw space, were hoping to have views of the city, and are planning on having around 100-125 people at the wedding. Damon and I wanted something more industrial-looking. She sent us a huge list of about 30 places which we narrowed down quickly, and then she scheduled us appointments at 5 different locations.
Look at all these skylights and windows! Top left: Ravenswood Event Center, Top Right: Ovation, Bottom Left: The Joinery, Bottom Right: Cityview Lofts
Every place that she took us to was beautiful in a different way. We first visited Ravenswood Event Center on Monday and immediately loved it. There’s an atrium on the top floor with enormous windows that’s also connected to some outdoor space. It would be a fantastic place for a ceremony, especially as the sun sets. There’s a view of both the Metra and the El out of the North side windows. There’s also a smaller cocktail area downstairs that would be useful while the space was flipped for the reception.
We both really liked this space and its location, and it was an immediate frontrunner.
For our first appointment Saturday, we headed over to The Joinery. This place is closer to our apartment, and we liked the location of it, too. There’s a lot of construction going on in the area, but since we’re not getting married until 2018, we assume the majority of it will be done by then. There’s also a lot of construction going on at the actual space itself. They’re renovating for the first couple of months this year while it’s cold out.
This space is really cool. It’s dominated by an enormous skylight in the middle of the room. The skylight is in the process of getting new lighting. There’s also a small outdoor space with a little c-box for cocktails, and they’re putting in a two bedroom apartment as well as a speakeasy upstairs. They are also working on getting permits for a roof deck, which would hopefully be completed before our event as well.
Damon and I both left this space completely enthralled, and it was easily starting to edge out Ravenswood.
Next up we went over to Ovation. This is a pretty cool space, and the rental for an event is all-inclusive with a DJ and even a Rolls Royce for a short drive! This space is very open, all one room. No outdoor areas, but some kind of cool techy features.
We liked it, but felt like it might be too big for us. The room was pretty massive. It seemed like a better place for a big party than a more intimate space for a wedding.
After Ovation, we went to the Lacuna Artist Lofts. We’d looked at this place because of their gorgeous rooftop deck. And the view was as great as we hoped. Everywhere you turn in this place there’s a new art piece, and they’re all fantastic. I couldn’t stop snapping photos…not of the event space, but of the surprises around every corner.
This space also felt really big to us. And although the art was amazing, we also felt like it might take away from our event. The same with the rooftop deck — it was too big, too open. Everything was a little too busy. The building is in the process of getting functional elevators, too, so we climbed a lot of stairs. That wasn’t very appealing, either, especially when we have guests who might not be able to do all that.
Last but not least, we visited the Cityview Lofts. This is actually owned by the same company as Lacuna. This space has a large, cathedral-ceilinged room for a ceremony/cocktail hour, and then a second-floor reception space. But, the kicker here is that there are amazing views of the city skyline out the windows.
This is actually the only place where Damon and I disagreed on the space. I liked it, he didn’t. I think I may have been a little swept up in the fact that there was an adorable pergola and wedding set up for that evening. But what I did like about it didn’t outweigh our favorites, anyway.
Ultimately, Damon and I decided on The Joinery! Fingers crossed we’re able to get a good price and solid contract, and then we’ll have a date set! We’re so excited. Both of us can really picture ourselves getting married in that space.
Also — I am so, so, SO glad we hired our wedding planner. She’s already doing an amazing job and we just started with her. I’m really thrilled with how knowledgeable she is and how much she’s done for us thus far. I highly recommend getting a good planner. As of now…wedding stress levels are nonexistent!
Damon and I with our party horns and headbands! Hi 2017!
I can’t believe it, it’s finally 2017! That means my blog has been up and running for a full year. I’ve made 80 posts over the last 12 months! That averages out to a little more than 6 posts a month. I’m really proud of that — it’s not a ton, but it means I wrote a lot last year. And that was my main goal in starting the blog — getting myself in better habits for writing. So, I definitely feel like I accomplished that!
Another thing I was just starting around this time last year was the KonMari cleaning method. I’ve spent a long time sorting through items and trying to pare down. And — I think I’ve actually done it. Over the last couple of days Damon and I made a few trips to the Salvation Army. We got rid of a storage unit we’d had for a little over a year and some other items that were hanging around the house. And I’m starting to really get a sense that I might be done. Getting rid of things, that is. I mean, that’s not to say that I’ll never have to go through my closet again and get rid of old clothes, but for now — things are starting to settle in. I can’t wait to finish getting everything completely organized and put away so I can share some pictures! It’s taken me many years — one full year of KonMari — and I finally feel like this chapter of my life is about to close, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Last night we had a fantastic time. We bought a small bottle of champagne for a toast, grabbed a cute little package of New Year’s goodies from Target (headbands, horns and poppers) and settled in to watch TV and chill together.
Look at that adorable beast! Also — you know how they always say Instagram photos are staged, and you shouldn’t compare yourself to the ‘grammers? Well…she hated that headband. She’s being coerced with treats here. Just trynna be honest with you guys. Keepin’ it real.
Also, in the interest of keepin’ it real, we have watched the shit out of Star Trek: The Next Generation over the past two days. (Assuming I’ve mentioned this before…but TNG is the best. The best Star Trek, and also just the best. Data 4 LYFE.) Around 12:30 AM to wind down we flipped on an episode I couldn’t remember having seen before (it was from the late 80’s, so I was like 3 or so) that featured the battle bridge. Magnifique.
Today I’ve just been pondering some goals for next year. I don’t want to get too formal with them, because I feel like they can very quickly become frustrating instead of fun. By that I mean — you tell yourself you’re going to read 52 books next year, then the next thing you know you’ve missed two weeks because you were busy with work and the whole thing is thrown off and you’re trying to cram in reading 4 books in a week just to get back on schedule and the whole thing is making you crazy. That’s not my idea of a good New Year’s resolution.
But here are some things that are, and things I’d like to do in 2017:
As a writer, I know I need to spend time writing. But what I think sometimes escapes me is the need to read. The last time I really spent with my head down in a book was a couple of years ago when I started reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series. And I’ve missed that feeling. I read about 10 or so books in 2016, many on audiobook via Audible. I added a few titles there but haven’t started on it yet. In 2017, I’m really counting on Book of the Month (This is an affiliate link, but the offer available is 3-months Membership For $9.99 Per Month + Free BOTM Tote — which is how I started out my subscription; a recommendation from someone else. I also got that rockin’ tote, because…tote bags.). Would love to know if any of you guys decide to subscribe, and if so what books you choose so we can chat about it. I already did another two add-ons to my January box, which should give me 6 unread books just rarin’ to go.
If I had to pick a number, I’d like to try for around 24 books this year. Maybe 25 if I’m being OCD and wanted the number to sound round-er. I plan to review the books I read here on the blog!
Do all the writing.
All of it.
Really, though — I want to spend time writing every single day. Whether it’s working on my novel, the blog, a short story, a movie script — anything, really. Every day is a tough goal, but I need to write. If I miss a day, I’m not going to give myself a hard time. But I wanna get right back on that wagon and keep going.
I want my novel done. This is probably the toughest goal I’ll give myself. I’ve been working on it for over three years, though not consistently. Word count is currently hovering around 110,000. It probably won’t get too much bigger than that, but it needs editing. I’m ready to finish it. In 2017. I’ve got a million other stories that need writing, and I’m ready to put a button on this one.
Get in better shape. Eat healthier.
Woof. Aching knees, plantar fasciitis…2016 had me feeling like it was 2085. I’ve got orthotics now (yes, really) that are already helping the feet — but I’ve got to stretch more (or so says the massage therapist that I’m pretty sure was on the verge of ripping me limb from limb last week). Honestly, though, I’m really getting sick of feeling like I’m falling apart. I’M 31 YEARS OLD, DAMMIT.
I’m starting the year off with 30 days of yoga with Yoga With Adriene. Damon’s in on this too, and I’m proud to report that we’ve already done our session for today. It’s free. It’s on YouTube. And she’s great. After the 30 days I’m hoping to go down to 3 or so sessions a week. I should be able to handle this. I can do this at home. Also, Adriene is hilarious and really cool. I highly recommend this (after one session…will report back on day 30).
Also, I ate some green things today. Lettuce. Okay, one green thing. But there were like, multiple pieces of lettuce. So there.
Have more fun. Skr8 chill.
I need to chill more. Do things, or not do things. Check out a museum we haven’t seen before. Or alternatively, sit and stare out the window. Make some me time. Take some down time. Not think about projects.
Sticking with my theme of keeping it real, of course I have additional goals and projects I’m hoping to start this year. But these are my main themes. Read, write, exercise, relax. Repeat.
What are you proudest of in 2016, and what are you looking forward to in 2017?
Santa and his reindeer want to wish you and your family a very happy holiday season!
Damon and I have had a lovely day hanging out together. We had delicious cinnamon rolls for breakfast and are now chilling on the couch playing Uncharted 4 on our new PS4. Hope your day was just as great!
Today’s 12 Days of Blogmas theme is music, so I’m sharing my favorite stuff to listen to during the holidays. (Big ups to mah girl Kaleigh over at klghdaily for the 12 Days of Blogmas inspiration!) Basically all my favorite Christmas music is stuff I listened to when I was a kid. First up, a Harry Connick, Jr. Album.
Harry Connick, Jr. has got a number of Christmas albums out, but “When My Heart Finds Christmas” is my favorite. To be completely fair, I haven’t spent nearly as much time listening to the others, and would probably like them just as much. However, this is the one I grew up with, so it means the most to me. I just realized this came out in 1993 and am feeling suuuuuper old right now. 8 year old me was probably listening to this and watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Speaking of which, my next favorite thing to listen to isn’t music, but an audio recording of a play. It’s A Christmas Carol performed by Patrick Stewart (aka Jean-Luc Picard). He’s fantastic. Patrick Stewart reads the entirety of the play and does every character. Grab yourself a mug of hot chocolate, curl up on the couch, and prepare yourself for some solid listenin’.
My final favorite album is the “Home Alone” soundtrack. This just feels like Christmas to me. Also, the score was done by John Williams (Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Titanic, JAWS…). What’s not to like?
We bought the vinyl earlier this year from Mondo and it’s fantastic. The sleeve is the McCallister house. I got the records that are “cheese pizza” colored. I can’t wait to listen to it again. I love it.
In general I love most Christmas music, but these are my top three. What’s your favorite Christmas song?
It’s National Cocoa Day! I know, I know — there’s some kind of national something-or-other-day for all 365 days of the year…but it’s cold AF in Chicago right now and only getting colder, so it seemed like a good time. Also, I’m taking the lead of Kaleigh over at klghdaily and following along with her 12 days of Blogmas posts. Day 1’s topic is drinks, so this seems preeeeetty relevant.
I got a lil hot chocolate from Starbucks today. Lookin’ festive here with my USB Christmas tree.
I actually went to Starbucks today in celebration. There are two things I like at Starbucks: Hot chocolate and iced black tea/lemonade. Coffee is too bitter for me, and caffeine puts me to sleep. Seriously. I’m that weirdo. (It’s genetic, too, apparently — I did one of those genetic test things after getting my DNA test from Ancestry.com and it legit recommends right in the analysis that I should drink caffeine to combat anxiety.)
Anyhoo, seeing as it’s cold out and today is NCD (already giving this day abbreviations), I picked me up one of these little guys. I also got the opportunity to hear someone order a “grand-ay” sized drink and watch a dude eye his “green tea latte” suspiciously upon delivery for a full minute like it didn’t belong to him. Your name’s on it, dawg. All good. (I then crossed paths with him a second time near the elevators in the building, holding the cup up and looking at it in the same way. He ultimately decided to head back in the direction of Starbucks.)
As delicious as this hot chocky is, though, I wish I could get a little afternoon pick me up. I’m about ready to get one of these ostrich nap pillows right now (#giftguide?):
Ostrich pillow. (I’m an Amazon affiliate, so if you buy this, I might get a little cash money. Dolla dolla bills, anyone?)
Honestly, could anyone get away with this at work? Or is this some kind of home office? Actually that doesn’t make sense. If you were working from home you could just turn the damn lights out and nap in your bed. So set the scene — just flat out, face down, head and arms in a pillow on your desk. Post-it on the back of your head that says “I’M ON LUNCH”. Can someone get one of these and let me know how it goes over at the office, please? Thank you.
Back to National Cocoa Day. Let’s talk. Hot chocolate drinker? Mallows, or no? Coffee? What kind of insane Starbucks drink have you concocted for yourself with a non-fat flat steamed chocolate white latte cream foam? Also, have any of you tried those new flavored Starbucks hot chocolates? I saw they had a snickerdoodle one but chickened out when I got to the counter. Are they any good? Hit me up in the comments/on social media.
Let’s be honest — the majority of us do a ton of shopping online these days. You can buy pretty much anything you want online without ever having to leave the comfort of your best sweatpants. And to top it off, the mail carrier brings you a package you get to open, like a present to you from you. It’s kind of the best.
Being the coupon-obsessed person that I am, I’m constantly looking for ways to save money. And after years of perusing the web for the best money-saving techniques, I’ve put together a short list of the best and easiest to use. With just a few clicks of a button — you’ll be saving cash in no time!
Ebates is probably my favorite of all the sites listed here. I’ve used it the longest and made the most money from it. They give you cash back on purchases — all you have to do is click through Ebates’ link to get to the store you’d like to shop at. Clicking through their link opens up a “Shopping Trip” to that site. Once your purchase is complete, Ebates records it. Then, once a quarter, you’ll get a PayPal payment for the cash back that you earn. (You can also have a physical check mailed to your address if you prefer.)
As you can see in the photo above, they regularly have special deals of double cash back, so it’s always a good idea to check here first! They also often have a list of available coupon codes for the shopping site.
In addition, I highly recommend installing the browser extensions they offer. I use Google Chrome, but they also offer them for Firefox and Safari.
If you’re searching Google for a store, the browser extension will show if Ebates currently has a cash back offer available.
Or, if you head straight to a store’s site without going to Ebates first, you’ll get a little drop-down in the top right-hand corner of your window.
Oh, hai cash back!
All you have to do from here is hit the big red button. The little “E” icon for the extension will get a green box around it showing the Shopping Trip is opened, and you’re good to go!
Note: If you’re a tab shopper like me (i.e., you tab out items that you want to look at), you’ll want to be certain when you do check out that the tab you’re on is active for cash back (this is another place where the extension comes in handy). Also — if for some reason your Shopping Trip doesn’t show up in your account on the site within a few days, you can send a request to Ebates. Just go to the site and click the big green “Help” button in the bottom right. Then choose the “Where’s my cash back?” link. From there, find your open shopping session, and they’ll have you paste the contents of your purchase confirmation email. Then Ebates will add your cash in right away, no questions asked.
Honey is a bit newer onto the scene. As you can see, Honey is dominated by coupon codes. If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent a ton of time Googling “(insert store name here) coupon codes” when shopping just to make sure you’re not missing anything. Honey will do that for you.
To use Honey, you can either search their site, or install their browser extension (do this). Check out this video — it explains the concept far more simply than I could!
With just one click of a button, Honey runs on its own once you get ready to check out. You don’t have to do anything other than click the button, and it scans all available coupon codes for a site. A lot of these are user entered, so if you have one, share it with the community!
This takes so little effort and really does work. And of course, you can use this in combination with Ebates. Set up your cash back through Ebates first, then once you’re at the checkout page, hit your Honey extension and let it get to work.
Paribus works a bit differently than the other two sites — it relies on your credit cards’ price protection agreements. You have to register for Paribus through your email address, and then Paribus scans your email for purchase receipts. It doesn’t work for every single retailer, but does work for a lot of major ones — and they’re continuing to expand. (These are mine — shoes for my Eleven costume, a book I’m checking out, a new dog bed for Honey and a good ol’ probiotic. Gut health FTW, y’all.)
In order for Paribus to make sure that your cards offer price protection, you have to log your cards in through the site. It’s secure, though. All good. Then, as you can see on the right hand side — Paribus tracks prices for 30 days (the length of most price protection programs) to see if the price goes up or down. (Check out those Chucks on Amazon!) If the price goes down, Paribus (no work needed by you) will reach out to your credit card company to get a reimbursement for you. Then, the money goes straight back to your card.
Basically, once you’ve signed up, there’s nothing further to do here. All you need to do is make sure you keep your credit cards and email address updated. Then, just sit back and wait for the dough to roll in.
These are my three favorite ways to save money when shopping online. They all require very little action on your part — if you install the browser extensions for Ebates and Honey, they’ll prompt you when savings are available. And Paribus just works in the background. So you can shop like normal, but save tons of money.
So…since I helped you find these — when you get your Scrooge McDuck-style vault of gold coins set up, can I go for a swim?
Phew, what a week! I spent the first four days in a training in the Carr Workplaces on the 51st floor of the Aon Center (amazing views!) to get a certification for some software for work. It was fun to have a little break and be in a class again — it’s been a while. I’m a mega nerd so I asked a million questions, but I also learned a lot. I get my test scores back Monday but am sure I passed, and I’ll get a fun little certificate to hang up at my desk.
When I got back to the office today I had some mail to pick up, and lo and behold, my new HOVR had arrived! I ordered this thing months ago off of Indiegogo when I went through a phase of pre-ordering a bunch of cool techy things, and had kind of forgotten about it until today.
Here it is in its new home under my desk. Those are cardboard Jon Snow’s feet in the background.
So far, I’m loving this thing. Being short (and being someone who is on the long torso/short legs side of the spectrum), my feet don’t touch the ground under my chair at the office. Now, it’s true, I could lower my chair, but then my arms would be too low for the keyboard. Ergonomics, yo! Most average work desks are not designed for people of my height. So, firstly — this is working wonders on my lower back, because I’m not stuck trying to get my feet onto the wheels of the chair for comfort.
Secondly, it has exercises with it to help you burn calories throughout the day. Fan-freaking-tastic. Now I don’t have to feel quite so bad about the fact that I spend the majority of my workday firmly planted on my rear-end. I’m currently sitting at my desk, feet a swingin’, and loving every minute of it.
I’m really pleasantly surprised that this turned out well. This is the first time I’ve ordered anything from Indiegogo, or Kickstarter or the like. As I mentioned before — I went on kind of a spree earlier this year and have a few things on order I’m pretty excited to receive — I’ll follow up about them once they’re here. I even have another item I ordered from Indiegogo that arrives this month, the Wristocat. I’m going to have the most comfortable desk ever very soon.
Have you ever bought anything from Indiegogo or Kickstarter? How’d it turn out, good or bad? Let me know in the comments.
Well…it’s over. After what feels like two long years of reading the news, the r/politics sub, and watching coverage for hours, it’s all over. The United States has finally chosen the person who will be its President for the next four years.
And that person is…Donald Trump.
Yeah, this guy. (image from BusinessInsider)
The guy that no one thought would win. The guy that no one thought could win. And yet — here we are.
I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m not particularly pleased about the results of Tuesday’s election. And to be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure it’s set in. Perhaps it will on inauguration day. Or perhaps I’ll spend the next four years kind of floating through my days in disbelief. Who knows.
Early last summer, I had chosen the person that I wanted to vote for for President, and that person was Bernie Sanders. I think, in some ways, I felt a much greater sense of loss earlier this summer when he ended his campaign. I felt far more connected to him, far more invigorated by and excited about his campaign. I never had that same love for Hillary Clinton. But I hoped, at least, that his platform would make it to the White House, giving Bernie something to work with from his senate seat.
Heart eyes. (image from YouTube)
Not so. By far, though, the most devastating remnant of this election isn’t just the policies for the economy that I disagree with, or the climate change denial — no, it is the pure, unadulterated fear I see in the eyes of many of my POC, LGBTQ, Muslim and Jewish friends. They fear for their lives and their safety, and they have every right to because of things like this. The US is supposed to be a country founded on freedom. They deserve to live freely and without fear.
It is that, more than anything else, that leaves me nauseated and upset. Frustrated and disappointed. Disgusted and distraught.
Even as a writer, it’s difficult to fully put my thoughts in to words, or to organize them in any way that feels like it make sense. I feel like I’m rambling even now, trying to put paragraphs together that don’t seem to fit.
What I can say though, is — I’m not over it, and I won’t be. I will donate and take action for organizations like the ones listed here. I will continue to fight for human rights. I will stand up for people who are oppressed or mistreated. I will stand by your side in the streets. I will be a shoulder for you to cry on. I will hold your hand and we can cry together. I will use my privilege that I know exists as a white woman. I will speak up when I see racism. When I see sexism. When I see bigotry. And in two years, I’ll fight like hell to put progressives in to congress. And in four years, I’ll fight like hell to see a progressive in the White House. The fight isn’t over. And I won’t give up.