I Checked Off a Secret Goal // Link Up

October 31, 2013

i love making 101 list progress.  so this month i officially checked off 10 more things.  i'm really trying to get to 50 by new years, but man i know those 'travel' and 'finance' goals are going to be tough.  i  know i have 800 and something more days to finish this, but the list keeps me motivated to do stuff i should be doing anyway (cleaning, budgeting) so even though i've already checked off 38 things in 4 months, it was a lot of work!  and i'm preparing for the fact that, especially with the travel goals (heyyy $$$) there will be months that 1 or even none will get crossed off.  i really want to finish this list and not have 20 tough things left with only a month to go.

get the apartment on a realistic cleaning schedule - as long as i remember to vacuum on sundays, the apartment has been staying in great shape!  i have a good system for dusting and cleaning counters, and i've kept it all very nice since i started this 101 list.  i feel like i can check this off!

completely declutter my parent's house - got the garage and front room completely done.  baby steps.  this is one goal that will take me the entire time frame and probably more.  my mom doesn't like to let go of things.

watch 101 popular movies/tv series (25/101) - i am keeping a running list on my phone.  it's a heck of a lot of tv series, but in my defense, i just leave them running on netflix while i do things like laundry, meal prep, cleaning.  so it's not a total waste of time!

try 5 popular/famous chicago restaurants (3/5 - geja's, shanghai terrace, tanta) - i tried geja's when sarah was in town, shanghai terrace for my dad's birthday, and tanta with kelli randomly after an oktoberfest street fest.  food was great at all of them, service sucked at tanta but i'll give them a break cause they're new.

make glitter cupcakes - oh yes, i put a healthy dose of edible glitter on this month's cocktail cupcakes.  check them out here.

figure out a skincare routine - take a look at this post for my routine.

make my own mini happiness project - i did the everyday happy e-course with melyssa and erika, which i loved.  i also did little things for the last four months, most of which were suggestions from gretchen rubin's book.  it included things like 'resisting happiness leeches' (the one that's probably made the biggest difference in my overall happiness level), taking time for projects, and getting the blog on a schedule, all of which have been very successful in making me feel a little happier each day!

watch a day of football with dad - it was football sunday/garage cleaning day.  all around good day except the bears lost to the redskins so that was lame.

start and maintain a complete address book and birthday list - i've got everyone in there now, it's an address book from may designs.  it has a back page for birthdays, so it's all in one spot.  since i got my holiday cards all done and ready to be mailed (yep, you read that right, and if you want one, send me your address!) i was able to double check that everyone was in there! 

tour a brewery - what better way then celebrating tara's birthday?  vimbly chicago was so kind as to send us on a brewery tour at lake effect brewing.  read all about it here.

make every drink on my cocktail hour pinterest board - i'm now at 8 out of 22 after making these four this month: classic red sangria, mango bellinis, champagne floats, french martini, and of course for miss tara, the happy birthday-tini

dye the tips of my hair a fun color, like pink, just once - i did pink for halloween!

make awesome matching halloween costumes with tara - technically, we did make them - see yesterday's post.  it counts!

secret goals
be in another winner's circle photo with our horse (september 2013) - ok this got checked off at the tail end of september, but it was after my september goals post went up.  the last saturday in september, our horse won her race!  i have 3 secret goals on my list.  i didn't want to list them because i'm superstitious like that, and this was one of them.  i really wanted to be in another winner's circle photo with her, and she came through like a champ!

your turn!  what have you checked off on your goals list?  or have you just started one of your own?  prepping for new years resolutions yet?  i want to hear about it!

How Many Costumes Can You Wear In One Weekend?

October 30, 2013

happy halloween!

yes, tara and i made matching pinata costumes, as per our 101 list.  we always buy super cute costumes, but this year we decided to be matching and we decided to make our own pinata costumes.  we used fabric glue to attach streamers to dresses.  but ultimately we failed.

they were impossible to get on and off without ripping shreds of streamers off.  if we had worn them out, they wouldn't have even made it to the bar.  in hindsight, maybe we should have found zip up dresses to glue the streamers to!  so we wore them in the apartment for pictures (i will forever be cleaning up pieces of costume), and then we gave up and wore other homemade costumes.  but we're still checking it off the 101 list.

so friday i was ke$ha and tara was a devil.  this is not my first year as ke$ha, because it's an easy costume and i happen to think i make a great ke$ha.

our friend ryan was clark kent.

for some reason i don't have photos of our friend james who was also out with us.  james is a writer (like, actual books) and he's going to start a blog by the end of this year to promote said books and also write entertaining stories.  apparently starting a blog during bar exam prep is the thing to do.  not a lifestyle blog, although he does have some fantastic stories based on his life stored up.  i'll let you guys know when he starts his blog up so you can say hi.  (or say hi in the comments, he reads here.  because i demand all my friends read my blog.)

anyway.  saturday with my poor scarred for life door lady.  bob the builder (billy claims construction worker, but we said bob the builder), devil (no idea where my horns are in this photo i think i forgot them), witch, clark kent.

and of course, hawkeye as an iowa hawkeyes football player at her day care's halloween party.  tara and i wore hawkeye clothes too, it was game day after all.

what was your halloween costume?!  did you wear more than one?

What Can't You Get Organized?

October 29, 2013

i love organization.  for me, having my things and my time sorted out in an orderly fashion has a calming effect.  i don't think i'm the only one.  i guess i do know some people, usually the very creative types, who enjoy mood boards, collages, displays of tchotchkes, and a general 'i know where every thing is!' kind of 'artistic collection' of their belongings.  all i see in that is a giant pile of mess.  and i immediately get a strong urge to throw it out.  because in some (most) ways, i'm an organizing queen:

+ my apartment is very decluttered and my (few) belongings are very organized.  everything has a place and i don't even own tchotchkes.  i have 3 dvds and 1 picture frame.  i'm not a collector of things (besides candles, i hoard those suckers but i have one lit at all times so it's fine.)  i know where everything is, down to the 5 bobby pins tara requested this past weekend, and can locate it for you in under 30 seconds.
+ my closet is impeccable.  it's not overstuffed, i only have 1 shoe rack, everything is color coordinated.  it all fits, i like and wear everything.  even my underwear drawer looks like a victoria's secret display.
+ i only buy my favorite makeup and bath products, so the bathroom also looks like a display.
+ everything on my computer is sorted by date, by topic, is easy to find, is in playlists, etc etc.  i guess my phone is the same.  even my netflix queue has a method.  and the cords and chargers to everything are meticulously labelled with my label maker.
+ my inbox is always under control.  i deal with an e-mail immediately and most things are deleted within 10 minutes.
+ hawkeye.  gets monthly meds on time, never runs out of food or treats, gets groomed every 6 weeks, goes to the vet every 6 months.  (in comparison, i get my hair done once a year...)
+ my blog schedule, of course.  since i love order and routine, i have a 4 week rotating schedule of what to post about each day.  my posts are actually done for the rest of the year (minus photos that i haven't taken yet of course.)
+ my schedule in general.  i am not late to things.  i do not forget appointments or dinners or birthdays.  my planner is well-loved and beautiful.

and yet, even with all that, there are some things i just cannot get organized to save my life:

- menu planning.  why can i not get this?!  i'm great at breakfast, because i eat the same thing every morning that i prep on sundays.  lunch i'm ok at, i was doing good for a couple weeks then i forgot to prep last week and now this week.  what are some healthy and easy lunch ideas i can make on sundays for the whole week?  besides salad, i'm just over salad.  ugh and dinner is just a lost cause i guess.  i don't even think about it until i get home and then i'm hungry and eat whatever crappy thing is the easiest to make or even pick up.  it's called fast food for a reason.  i tried my planner, different printables, different recipes but i just cannot make myself get my meal planning/prep in order.
- finances.  i downloaded an app called learnvest that's been helping but i've only had it for 2 weeks.  not long enough to offset years of being terrible at keeping track of finances.  my motto has always been that if i don't check my online banking, it's like it doesn't exist at all.  that's how that works, right?  i throw out receipts, i don't check monthly statements, my checkbook register isn't even in my apartment, i have no idea what bills get paid when and most of my annual or bi-annual notices get sent to my dad's office since that's where the credit card gets billed to and since i move every year, that's a solid permanent address.  which means i'm almost 29 and my mommy still tells me when i need to pay my health insurance premium.
- exercising.  i don't know if i need to 'organize' this so much as i just need to do it.  but i function better if i have a plan.  i should make a workout schedule.  but when it's something i have no desire to do and have actually actively avoided in the past, it makes it even harder to find a plan to stick with.

those are obviously three huge ones.  any tips for me?!  what do you struggle to get or keep organized?

(on monday, my november sponsors and i will be giving away a 2014 whitney english day designer like my fabulous one up there but in black and white stripe.  keep that in mind if one of your goals is getting more organized.)

7 Awesome Things About Halloween Time

October 28, 2013

true.  but there's certainly a lot of other reasons to love this holiday.

the excuse to watch hocus pocus on repeat.  amuck amuck amuck amuck.  it never gets old and despite the fact that that movie came out in 1993, yeah, 20 years ago when i was 8, it's relevant year after year. don't even try to tell me you don't still watch it constantly.  and i happen to much prefer halloween music to christmas music.  i love both, but halloween music is actual songs from real bands, not just one hit wonders or jingles that have been around for years.

the spiders are fake and not real, extra large hairy things hanging out in your window.  although fake spiderwebs are just as gross to walk into.

leftover halloween candy doesn't have calories.  moms, take note.  also, jen and i used to charge 'big sister tax' when we took her sisters trick-or-treating.  free, fun sized candy doesn't count as calories.  it's science or something.  (you can even use whatever you have left to make into cupcakes with vodka.)

this is also the perfect time to eat candy at every opportunity.  candy for breakfast!  only acceptable on halloween and easter.

it's easy and enjoyable.  i'm all for easy holidays.  there's no stress about the perfect gift for halloween.  candy, you give them candy.  you can hang up a creepy jason mask or a friendly casper and make the holiday whatever you want.  no perfect christmas tree pressure.  no perfect turkey or ham or side dishes.  just candy, pizza decorated like candy corn, maybe a hot dog wrapped like a mummy in some bread sticks.  there's also no demands for your time - none of your family expects to see you on halloween like they do for thanksgiving.

post halloween sales.  pumpkin shaped reese's and orange paper plates work just as well on november 1, thank you very much.

costumes let you do what you want.  a couple halloweens ago, and maaaybe again this past friday, it was totally fine for me to drink a lot and not be able able to walk in my shoes and have runs in my fishnets.  because i was ke$ha.  when i was a child and it rained during trick or treating, i demanded my mom drive me from door to door.  it was fine, i was a princess.  or a maybe a devil.  either way, just plan your night and pick a costume so you can behave accordingly without repercussions*.

*unless you're going to act really terribly, in which case wear a kick ass costume and call me, because i love watching the front of the police station on halloween.  seriously, it ranks in my top 10 favorite activities.

there's a reason it's my favorite holiday!  happy halloween!

Just Don't Bother: Let's All Stay In!

October 24, 2013

i'll be honest, i'm going out this weekend.  there's a halloween party in wrigleyville.  i adore halloween, it's my favorite holiday plus tara is in town to debut our matching kick ass pinata costumes.

but sometimes, you just want to avoid people.  i completely understand that and even more completely support and encourage it.  if you work a long week and your co-workers are particularly inept, your husband/kids are driving you up a wall, you're just too tired to get all dressed up for a night on the town - those are the times when you just spend the weekend in the cocoon that is your home and hope you deal with no one but the occasional pizza delivery guy.  those personality tests say i'm an extrovert but even i need one weekend a month to do nothing and see no one.

besides the sleep you need to catch up on, what should you do to entertain yourself?

netflix: always with the netflix, right?  i've been watching the new 90210, which is on netflix in its entirely now.  next up on my queue is arrow, which i'd actually never even heard of until netflix put it on my 'recommended for you' list.  thanks guys.  we've developed a real relationship, ya know?  i appreciate it, you make me feel so loved for $8 a month.  i'm also looking at once upon a time, which i haven't seen either, and the expendables 2 as far as movies.  any other recommendations?  yes i know, i know, one tree hill. obviously one day i'll get to it, i swear.

cooking: try your hand at cocktail cupcakes. booze and dessert and no one demanding you share it.  want to know how to make just one or two cupcakes instead of 18+?  just ask, i'll fill you in.  less mess and really no reason to share.

apps: staying in and avoiding human contact doesn't have to mean being totally unproductive.  i've been playing around with a new app (new to me) called learnvest.  according to my 101 list and my mother, i need to learn to budget, and she read somewhere about this app (which you can also just edit online, i do both.)  you sync all your accounts and it monitors your spending, and you categorize your payments into little folders to see where your money goes.  why hello there shopping and restaurants and bars categories.  almost didn't see you there with your verging on quadruple digit numbers.  i tried mint before, for some reason that didn't stick.  somehow learnvest seems easier to navigate, at least for me.  i liked the way it's organized and it pops up to categorize a spending charge as soon as i log in (if it didn't do it automatically, some it knows like groceries.)  plus you can make goals, budgets, talk to someone for free about growing your money.  it's nice.  oh and free, of course.

reading: apparently people do this regularly, but for me, those days are few and far between now.  but i'm working on it.  for some reason i'm jumping on to this whole trilogy bandwagon and have bookmarked the divergent series and the matched series.  i like to read things before the become movies.  i guess because i like being ultimately disappointed in the movies?  except harry potter, those were all awesome.  back to the books - have you read either series?  have you liked them?

shopping: online, of course, can't risk going out and seeing people.  so shop to your heart's content from the comfort of your couch in your pjs.  and then show me your purchases so i can live vicariously through you while i pay off the last bit of debt (besides student loans) by the end of this month.  which means nothing on the credit card - waaah.  i want this:

i don't need it, by any means, but it's so pretty.  i also want drawer organizers, a handheld mini vacuum, lots of things from victoria's secret, and muji drawers so i can organize my makeup like steph even though i need none of these things and everything is organized just fine right now.  i just like to shop, i like new stuff.  oh and i found out pajama jeans now makes them in black and in a skinny, i'm probably going to break the spending freeze for those.  priorities.

what do you do when you stay in for the weekend?

Haunted Chicago

October 23, 2013

you know i love all things halloween.  and i absolutely believe in ghosts, because i think i had a ghost friend as a child.  my mom said i would tell her that a girl would visit me and play with me at night, but only at night and she'd come through my closet.  i wasn't afraid of her, and i wasn't one for making up imaginary friends.  so, we're pretty sure this was a ghost.  my mom also swears she's seen the ghost of the son of the previous owners of our house.  (which just makes me sad, because he died on a boat in lake michigan and i bet he was just looking for his family.)

anyway, halloween makes me want to visit all the haunted places in chicago.  not that they aren't haunted all year round, it's just something about the chill of the october season that makes me want to encounter a ghost.  freaky, but fun.  and in true stephanie fashion, i want to share with you the best haunted locations to check out - haunted bars.

like you'd expect anything else from me.

castle nightclub, formerly excalibur.  apparently this place is haunted for multiple reasons.  (i couldn't pick a photo they're all so ... classy.  so just go look for yourself.)  first, apparently it was considered fireproof but that was a lie, so when people ran here during the great chicago fire they actually died and have haunted it ever since.  second, like many old buildings around the river, it was used as a temporary morgue for some of the 844 victims of the eastland disaster, and most places that housed those bodies are said to be haunted (including harpo studios, where oprah was filmed).  but excalibur/castle?  i've been here, and i think the 19 year olds that frequent this place with their questionable fashion choices and their even more questionable little white pills are scarier than any potential ghosts.  it's a cold, huge, and creepy place for sure, especially in the basement, but i'm certain the creepy feeling is from the guy in the corner in the floor length fur pimp coat staring you down.  i'm just not buying the haunted status of this one.  but someone else feel free to test it out for me.  bring your sunglasses and your shame.

the hangge uppe.  ohhh the hanggy uppy.  what a gem of a place.  it's exactly what you'd expect from a place that's open 'til 5 am, plays 80s music in the basement, serves shots in plastic tubes, has no doors on the bathrooms, and has at least 7 bachelorettes there on a given saturday night.  well the rumor is that it's a ghost of a girl who died here in the 20s that's turning on sinks and flooding the bathrooms and turning on the beer taps to spill all over.  surrrre it is, place that never wants to clean their floors.  sure it is.  but the bar used to be a speakeasy (which explains, i suppose, why all my favorite bars have stairs you have to go down.  i hate stairs.) and hosted many mob meetings so i think i can believe that someone was killed here at that time.  and a well dressed woman from the 60s has been spotted a few times, mostly by staff before the late night customers start filing in.  it's ok, ghost.  the bachelorettes here scare me too.  i'll give this one a maybe.  i'd check it out and search for ghosts.  during the day time of course, i don't go to the hangge uppe at night because i'm no longer of the age where i need a fake id to get in some place.

tonic room.  this is one i actually think is haunted.  this building is very old, so it's been home to many different things before the tonic room moved in, including a brothel and an irish gang hang out.  once it switched over to the tonic room, the renovations revealed egyptian symbols and pentagrams painted all over so there was probably some secret society meeting there (and a woman claims to have seen someone ritually murdered there back in the 30s.)  i imagine it being all da vinci code creepy.  i've never seen ghosts here like some people claim, but i get a creepy cold feeling every time i go there.  i won't go to the bathroom alone any more because i always feel like something is in there with me!  but that won't keep me from $3 'mystery beer' on saturday nights.  nice try, ghosts, but i watch supernatural, i know what i'm doing.

so.... who's going drinking with me?!

want to know more about haunted chicago?  you're in luck - this post is a two parter!  betsy also wrote a post today on some more historically haunted sites in chicago, so check it out and have a thoroughly spooky halloween.

They Like You, They Really Like You

October 22, 2013

there's a lot of anticipation that comes with meeting new people.  especially when they need to like you.  what to wear, what to bring, what to talk about.  no it's usually not make or break anything if they don't like you the first time around, but you do feel instantly at ease once you get that stamp of approval.

so that brings us to saturday.  oh saturday.  the oktoberfest family party at my boyfriend's house also known as the weekend i was anticipating for awhile and hooray - success.  (well i know you're not shocked, who doesn't love stephanie?!)

now keep in mind, i've known john and his family for 13 years as i went to high school with his sister and we used to be friends.  so this was not the first time meeting the giant family, though it was the first time meeting them as 'john's girlfriend' and not 'julie's friend from school'.  and the first time seeing any of them besides john, his brother, and julie (who was at the same bridal shower as me a few weeks ago) in about 8 years.   we've only been dating for 7 months, apparently we both like to procrastinate despite the fact that our families live 15 minutes away.

but his mom wanted me at this party so how could i say no?  and even though john was 10 times more nervous than i was, it went great and even julie was nice to me in the 40 minutes she was even there.  and luckily his cousin carolyn, the other blonde in the photo, was also in attendance.  we're the same age and she was friends in high school with my bff meredith.  so when i arrived and she handed me wine and john's dad handed me beer, i was pretty confident it was going to be a good day.  of course, i knew his parents would be awesome - i recall hanging out there after freshman year of college and his dad said about my then-boyfriend "if that doesn't work out, john'll marry you" - touche, fortune teller.  but john was worried about the grandparents because his grandma likes to find something about everyone ("he has weird feet") but she loved me.  i got "she's a cutie."  thanks grandma.  what can i say?  i give good parent.  and the next day john texted me "if i get told one more time how beautiful you are and 'what's she doing with you' i'm going to flip out."  winning all around cause i love to hear i'm pretty.  i'm a little vain and i'm perfectly fine with that.  i liked them too, even though john wanted me to blog about this as the most awkward/ridiculous family party ever.  it wasn't.

also i should note, i made white chocolate covered pretzel sticks with sprinkles.  when it doubt, always bring the chocolate covered pretzels.  (a) easy and (b) crowd pleaser.

my family is much easier.  it's mom and dad, plus an aunt and uncle and their 3 kids.  and my not actually related uncle carmie and aunt nancy.  that's it, 9 names to remember.  after spending hours at this party with 40+ family members, which was only maybe half the family, i realized how much i like my small family.  everything we do is quiet and casual (not to mention short lived because my cousins, dan and dave, and i are always ready to escape the boring suburbs back to the safety of our downtown apartments.)  so next up it's john's turn to meet them.  you'd think, as an only child, it'd be scary to meet my parents, but it's not.  john drinks, eats meat, is employed, and likes dogs, so that's pretty much all you need to get a 'pass' in my family.  oh and he's tall and strong so he can get our christmas tree out of our attic.  which is all you need to get a 'pass' from my mother.  she's got her priorities in order.

Things You Say That Make Me Want To Stab You

October 21, 2013

i probably could have thought of a nicer title for that, but it's just one of those days.  you know how tuesdays make me crazy.  and i've been feeling sick-like.  not full on sick, but comes and goes, it might get worse kind of sick.  and lord help the world if i'm sick for halloween, someone will get a beat down.  good thing alcohol kills germs.  anyway:

1. "are you okay?"

do not even start that with me.  i absolutely hate when people ask me if i'm okay and i will shut that shit down faster than the u.s. government.  sometimes it's just an attempt to be nosy because if i wanted you to know something, i'd tell you.  i don't beat around the bush or sigh dramatically until someone pays attention to me.  if i'm in a mood, i demand attention, trust me.  and everyone knows this about me.  it's not my finest quality, but it's there it is.  so stop trying to get information that isn't yours.  

and the only other time people ask this is when i'm mad at them. do not antagonize me.  if i'm ignoring you and giving you one word answers, move on.  i'm doing you a favor by not snapping on you.  if i didn't yell at you in the first place, it means i'm processing and i'll drop it eventually and i just want time away from you.  but if you want me to snap and make you cry, by all means, keep asking me if i'm "okay."

2. "me and megan went to the bar.  we took seperate cabs.  we should of gone together."

tara and i went to the bar.
megan went to the bar with tara and me (or 'myself').

me and tara went to the bar.
megan went to the bar with tara and i.

separate.  for the love of god, it's sepArate.  if you want the long drawn out story on how to remember it, google it.  but here's the gist (yes, that's with a g, not a j) - a little old lady saw a rat when she was with her husband, septimus.  she screamed "sep! a rat! e!"  and that's how you remember to correctly spell separate.  also, spell check.  even blogger has spell check.  no excuses.  i don't know why this one word bothers me more than any other, but it really, really does.

should have.  it may sound like 'of' when you say should've really fast, but it is, in fact, 'have' - 'should have, could have, would have' not 'should of, could of, would of.'  of doesn't even make sense.

i don't know why the standard complete inability to grasp the basics of the english language is bugging me more than usual lately, but it is.

3.  "oh you'll change your mind"  in response to "i am never having children."

i'm almost 29, when exactly do you think my ever-growing hatred of children, especially babies, is going to go away?  that's like telling people who are afraid of dogs that eventually they'll own 8 rottweilers.  or someone who's allergic to peanuts that the cure is a snickers bar.  it's part of who i am, i hate children and i will never have them.  deal with it.  just because i'm a woman does not mean i automatically have maternal instinct.  and ya know what?  i've seen a lot of parents out there who really should have thought twice before going down that road.  not everyone is ideally suited to be a parent.  you don't have to, you know that right?

4. "i don't care" but really, you do.

if you don't want to make decisions, that's totally fine by me.  i love making decisions.  i'll decide where to go, what to do, when to leave, what to eat.  i'll cruise direct entire weekends or vacations, i'm great at that.  but don't tell me you "don't care" what we do or where we go to dinner only to say "i don't like that, i don't want to go there, nope not there either, nope nope nope."  obviously, you care.  if you have an idea, spit it out.  i'm not playing a guessing game here.  if there's a reason you don't like something, tell me.  if you hate mexican, i can suggest an italian place instead.  if you hate rollercoasters, we can skip it for paintball.  but you have to tell me that.  i don't read minds.  oh and also, you're no longer 8.

ok i'm stopping at 4.  otherwise this post will be 20 bullet points long and i'll spend even more time finding perfect gifs on the internet.  what about you?  what's the most annoying thing people say to you?

A Pretty Perfect List

October 20, 2013

remember last week when i mentioned how people named stephanie are awesome?  i fully stand by that.  i've never met a stephanie i didn't get along with.  i'm even fairly certain i seek out other bloggers named stephanie and maybe a little stalk all of them.  i have one of my favorites here today, i think i've been following her since i started blogging.  and she didn't want to bore you, so she wrote out a fabulous get to know her list.  you know i love lists, and this one legitimately reads like i wrote it.  perfect dog?  check.  planner obsessed?  check.  so if you like me, you're going to like this steph too!  (steph is with me next month as well and we're giving away a whitney english day designer in two weeks, so if you check her out now you'll be ahead of the game!)


Hi, I'm Steph of Life According to Steph. In addition to sharing an awesome name that means crowned ruler, Steph and I have a lot of other things in common. Since Steph was nice enough to let me guest post today and since I think in list form, I'm going to give you a 10 things you should know about me.

1. I live in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation. I'm married. I'm not perfect, my husband is not perfect, our life is not perfect, but our dogs? They are perfect. They are Maisel, Geege and Gus.
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2. My Instagram feed is full of the shoes I'm wearing, the coffee or booze I'm drinking, the sky at which I'm looking, the dinner I'm making, the blogs I'm writing, the dogs I'm fawning over, and the streets of Philadelphia. Repeat. Follow me here.

3. I function best within a routine and rely heavily on my paper planner to run my life.

4. I am an organizational dork.

5. I love to cook. I pin what I make on this pinterest board and I've started sharing recipes on Tuesdays.
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6. I'm real. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and I've never cared if people like me - they do or they don't, me caring about it isn't going to change it either way.

7. I'm a doer. I get things done. I'm also strong, bossy, organized, impatient, punctual, efficient, reliable, mean as a snake when provoked, feminist, liberal, and loyal.

8. Hates: Tuesdays, poor grammar, talking on the phone, having to clean up dog puke, weak people, heels, passive aggressiveness, people who feel entitled to anything, drama, and waiting

9. Loves: reading (real books, not e-readers), a clean house, nail polish, creative curse words, lipstick, steak, fresh sheets, Dirty Dancing, being beside the sea, laughing raucously, the benevolent and karmic nature of the universe, flip flops, flats, and sneakers.

10. Fears: clowns, slugs, scary movies, hoarding, and claustrophobic situations.

Follow me at Life According to Steph, like my facebook page, hit me up on Twitter. Let's get acquainted, shall we?


agreed completely.  go find steph.  you're going to love her as much 

Life Lately

October 17, 2013

well it's not exactly highlights of the week nor a weekend recap, since it's everything over the past month.  so life lately.  that's fitting, right?  anyway, what i've been up to:

1. surprise flowers delivered from john.  "are they hawkeye yellow?  i requested hawkeye yellow."  and little chocolates which i may or may not have eaten before i even got the flowers in the vase, and then photographed an empty box.  priorities.

2. got my origami owl locket, i love it and wear it all the time.  (as seen in the photos from the brew tour.)  it's the large rose gold with the 32 inch rose gold chain.  inside i have the paw print, the horseshoe and the snowflake - all my favorite things!  i'm going to add more charms as soon as i decide what.  (i don't know much about ordering, lindsey hosted a party and that's how i got mine, direct any questions to her if you want more info!)

3. my holiday cards are all addressed and decorated!  and stamped.  yes.  mid october.  (jealous?) would you also like hawkeye's smiling face in your mailbox promptly on december 1?  let me know, i'll send you one!

4. she just climbed right into the tub and stared at me.  what is this?  demanding bath time?  did she somehow get dirty?!  someone is taking the 'hrh princess' in front of her name pretty seriously.

(if you didn't already see these, that means you don't follow me on instagram.  you should, it's like the hawkeye channel.)

date night!  yes, that's a selfie.  but that selfie becomes infinitely more acceptable after you see the photos of beers and shots, right?  we pretty much made the browns-bills game a drinking game (cause for real, how the heck did that get to be a thursday night primetime game?!)  i made it to work the next morning.  he did not.  not sure who the winner is.

i took a minute to truly appreciate just how much i enjoy texting my best friends.

celebrating tara's birthday!  (i keep linking her because she reads here every day and i assume one day i'll shame her into updating her damn blog since she has to get to 105 posts and judgmental zebras don't count, bitch)  'birthday-tini' martinis topped with that gold glitter you saw on the cupcakes yesterday, champagne, balloons and crowns - but someone got a bit exhausted after her auntie tara left.

dog, beers, boyfriend, friends.  i'm not complaining.

Butterscotch Cocktail Cupcakes

October 16, 2013

and today i bring you cake vodka cupcakes with white chocolate and butterscotch schnapps frosting.  topped with edible gold glitter.  with extra large photos to make you want them right meow.

cake vodka cupcakes - to make about 12 cupcakes beat together 4 ounces softened butter, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder (which is different than baking soda, it matters how it reacts to the vodka), 2 eggs, and 2 tablespoons of cake vodka.  i went with smirnoff iced cake.  if it seems too thick, you can add a bit more vodka.  put the batter into your lined cupcake tin and bake at 350 degrees for around 20 minutes.

white chocolate butterscotch schnapps frosting - cream one stick of room temperature butter with a mixer until it's fluffy.  slowly add in 2.5 cups of powdered sugar (add a half cup at a time, with the mixer on low speed, i'm not responsible for what happens if you ignore this advice, and i'm not helping you clean your kitchen.) then 4 ounces of melted white chocolate.  once that's all mixed, add in your butterscotch schnapps.  start with a tablespoon or two, adding more schnapps for thinner frosting, more powdered sugar for thicker frosting.  mine is about 4 tablespoons of schnapps.  like you'd expect anything less from me.

frost your cakes and then top them with edible glitter, because hello, why would you not?!  and now i can check "make glitter cupcakes" off my 101 in 1001 list.

edible glitter is pretty easy to find, by the way, just search for it on etsy for quite literally every color you could desire!  glitter can fix a myriad of mistakes.  the cupcakes look so adorable that you probably didn't even notice that i was too lazy to pipe frosting on and instead smeared it with a butter knife.



October 15, 2013

i like my name.  stephanies are absolutely awesome.  it's like a rule you must follow before you're allowed to have that name.  anyway, i'm linking up with kelli and today is about where this particular stephanie came from.

as you may or may not know (you probably do, i mention it often), i'm adopted.  not that i don't look identical to these two folks, amiright?

what's up 1989?

the family that jello shots together, stays together. 

my dad worked at the hospital that i was brought into once i was born (cause my birth mom had me at home or something crazy) as the head of the pediatric unit.  when someone told him that i belonged to nobody, i was just brought in, he says "god told me this was my baby."  i think i was probably just really pretty.  anyway, he checked me out and decided that i was his and he called my mom to let her know that they now had a baby.  how's that for joint marital decision making?  she came and saw me and decided that, actually, i was ugly and "are you sure you want this one?"  thanks mom.  apparently i had that beat up 'just born' look, but she swears when she came back the next day, i was all clean and so pretty that she didn't recognize me.  then she wanted me too.

so they adopted me through catholic charities and i'm guessing that meant they had a few days to debate on a name for my angelic little face.

my mom wanted kimberly, so she could call me kimmy.  (kimmy gibbler flashbacks anyone?) and my dad wanted samantha.  samantha samuel?  no doubt he wanted to call me sam sam.  obviously no offense to anyone with either of those names - i, in fact, get called 'sam' a lot - but neither of those would have been a good fit for me!  despite my love of full house and the flinstones, i am neither a kimmy nor a sam sam.  i'm so glad they went with stephanie.

obviously this 'stephanie' name was the compromise, and they technically got the name from actress stefanie powers.  feel free to scroll her wiki page, because i wouldn't know who she was either if i wasn't named after her.  i was a little too young, as in ya know, just born, to have known what hart to hart was.  i'm not really sure why my parents were big fans of hers.  maybe because they thought my mom looked like her.  regardless, that's the name they settled on.

oh and my middle name is after my grandmother on my mom's side but i hate the name and we all hate her, so i pretend i don't have a middle name at all.  really glad i'm not a southern girl, i refuse to have anything with my monogram on it.  for awhile, during my full house phase, my dad told me i could change my middle name.  i already had the stephanie tanner thing going, so i decided michelle obviously was the best fit.  and now my mom has a collection of children's books with 'property of stephanie michelle' written in the covers in my adorable, almost illegible 10 year old scrawl.

and that, my friends, is my very drawn out story of how i got my name.  because 'heyyy i'm named after an 80s actress' does not a blog post make.  and i also really like to post childhood photos of me.  because those bangs are fab.

where'd your name come from?  link up!

A Brewery, Birthday Style

October 14, 2013

vimbly contacted me about testing out their service, which they recently expanded into chicago (it also exists in new york and seattle).  the website is seriously great for finding all types of things to do in chicago, both for tourists and for the folks that live here year round.  using vimbly, you can search either by activity or by what's offered a certain day as well as by price.  their website has an extensive list of things to try out, and it's constantly growing.  there's food tours, cooking classes, martial arts class and more, including - brewery tour.  obviously i jumped at the chance to try the brewery tour, because touring a brewery is something that was on my 101 in 1001 list!  and i scheduled it while tara was in town --- for her birthday!!  what a great way to start of the birthday celebrating, with a mid-day brewery tour complete with sampling for the birthday girl.

so i hopped on vimbly, searched my options, found the brew tour and scheduled us.  (and you pay by credit card or paypal, but vimbly was so kind as to send me a coupon code.)  it was just that easy, took about 5 minutes.  then i was emailed a confirmation and we headed to the brewery, who already had our names so we didn't have to print tickets or anything.  and even though the money has already gone to the vendor, if you have a terrible experience, vimbly will refund you.

there was no way we'd have a terrible experience at lake effect brewing though.  clint and lynn, owners of this small brewery that's been open almost 1 year, gave us a great tour.  although tara understood more things than i did.  her parents are engineers so she's all science-y smart, i'm just like 'hey what are we tasting next?'  it was fun to see everything though, and you really get to be up close, see everything, hear the tour guide, and ask lots of questions (unlike going to tour some giant place up in wisconsin.)

uhhh yes, of course she wore her birthday sash.  and a shirt that says 'drinks well with others,' why wouldn't she?  (that's one of the owners, clint, behind her.)

of course my favorite was bitchin' blonde.  probably the name influenced me but it was still delicious.  out of these beers (which they sell locally to bars and to some stores) we also tried the falcon dive and the signature lake effect snow, as well as a limited edition one brewed with hops grow locally - as in, right from the neighborhood around the brewery, called 45th ward harvest ale.

mine and tara's favorite part (besides the samples) was the chickens!  the brewery has a chicken coop in the back and instead of tossing all of the grains used in the brewing process, the chickens get to eat them.  and if you're looking at this picture and thinking 'uh steph, there's a turkey in there.  and a duck.'  you'd be right, because the coop doesn't discriminate.

they do barrel-aged beers too!

she may have that bright red hair, but the birthday girl is actually mostly german.  so she was extra excited to see the german malt.  the birthday girl is probably going to post a review/photos of her own, so be sure to check soon.

and if you're in the chicago area, they are having a one year celebration party this saturday!  go see it, you'll have fun.  if you're visiting chicago soon, check out vimbly to book a tour here like tara and i did, which they have every saturday, and also look at all of vimbly's other options for you.

Web Roundup

October 10, 2013

you know, i could update you on my life lately... but those highlights are better suited to only once a month because i can't imagine that you care all that much.  so let's be honest about my real life lately.

i know you're right there with me.  so for your reading pleasure this weekend:

stop making excuses:  i am so damn proud of this girl.  she's my inspiration any time i've felt like quitting something.

new chicago find:  vimbly has come to chicago.  it used to be just in new york, but now they added chicago.  they have tours, classes, live music, basically any time you're looking for an idea of something to do, you can register for something through vimbly.  they even gave me a ticket to test out a brewery tour, which i'm doing saturday with tara for her birthday - and it's something i can check off my 101 in 1001 list!  i'll let you know how it goes.  (and i'm sure i'll instagram 10 photos of beer tasting...)

pin crazy:  oh pinterest.  you get me.

perfect recipe:  i want soup, hawkeye gets meatballs.  everyone wins.

favorite twitter:  bones on fox's response to my tweet.  they got some jokesters over there, i like it.

helpful series:  there's a 31 days of blogging idea going round the web, where you blog about one topic for the 31 days of october.  well in true organizing junkie fashion, she's doing 31 days of organized closets.  and i'm such a nerd, i've loved every post so far.  clean closets for everyone!

getting married?:  try this smart idea to get your bridesmaids the perfect gift.

and of course - get your entries in to win an emily ley simplfied binder system!  i'll be picking a winner on sunday.

Throwback Thursday: I Miss 90s Halloween

October 9, 2013

oh yes, i'm almost totally ready for this year's halloween.  but...i miss 90s halloween.  i think it's a mixture of not being a kid any more as well as how the halloween rules have changed since those quality 90s days.  who says i'm too old for trick or treating?  there's an age limit for a deep appreciation of free candy?  and why can't my work have a costume parade?  i call shenanigans.  i miss the 90s in general, but halloween especially.  as do most people i think, since 90s characters are popular costumes each and every year (i see ninja turtles and power rangers every halloween.)

but my personal top three reasons i want to turn every halloween into 90s halloween:

1. can 90s candy make a comeback?  because i miss getting wonder balls, warheads, push pops, ring pops, bubble tape - pretty sure we even got a few squeeze-its in there.  i love chocolate as much as the next girl but no one puts any effort into candy for their trick or treaters any more.  it's just bags and bags of fun size snickers bars.  at least my mom still gives out individually packages taffy apples.

i want to buy this entire box.  also, i need to find some fruit stripe gum.

2. my costumes were fantastic.  i recall 50s poodle skirts, princess outfits, devils, witches, a jester one year (i loved those bell shoes.  mom did not.), little red riding hood and alice in wonderland.  the college years were kind of a pain costume-wise.  you know, all those skanky costumes - it's october.  in iowa.  there is absolutely zero enjoyment in miniskirts and sleeveless cleavage-bearing tops in october in iowa.  at least as i've gotten older i've added more length and layers back to my costumes.  this year i'll be a pinata and my dress absolutely has sleeves.  still though, look at this magic - tights, socks, sneakers, jessica even has sleeves and leggings, and you can bet we had coats on too:

and then add 20 years and take off 5 layers:

i am never too old for matching costumes though, tara is being a pinata with me this year.

3. quality halloween movies.  yeah i'm wussy so scary movies aren't my thing.  but you know hocus pocus is infinitely better than saw eleventy billion.  guess how old hocus pocus is this year?  20.  yes, it came out in 1993 and yes, i have watched it every halloween since.  and i bet you have too.  it's a classic, and they just don't make classic halloween movies any more - even 'kid' ones, which i'd totally embrace.

and if i wanted to be scared, i watched are you afraid of the dark.  yes nickelodeon, if i wasn't before i certainly am now.

maybe next year i'll host a 90s halloween party.  all 90s candy, 90s costumes, hocus pocus playing on repeat and we can eat popcorn balls and taffy apples.  and then read short stories from scary stories to tell in the dark.  who's coming?

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