Better Quotes To Live By

March 31, 2014

if you've been on pinterest for any amount of time, you've surely seen all the "inspiring quotes" that keep getting pinned (and repinned.)  hey, whatever you need to get you motivated or feeling good, i guess, but they aren't my cup of tea.  i'm definitely not a follower of anyone's 'words' or 'inspiration' boards, but i am a follower of a lot of humor boards, so i have had some better quotes to live your life by come across me screen.  these just make more sense to me.

(probably my favorite)

 but mostly...

"Meet My Boyfriend... Pete..."

March 30, 2014

if you don't have tears welling in your eyes from laughing at this, i'm really not sure you even know what humor is.  there is no other introduction necessary here.

Hey girls hey! I'm Sarah (or Venus, or Sar, or bitch look where you're going you almost hit me with your car) and I blog over at Venus Trapped in Mars! I absolutely adore your girl Steph, and I just really hope that she will allow me to use capital letters on her blog today, because I'm not sure that I can physically stop myself from capitalizing. Or using exclamation points!!!!!! Or smileys :) !!!!!!!!!!

Today, I want to introduce you to someone very special to me, my boyfriend.

Sometimes his friend comes to my apartment and drops him off. I like to yell to an empty apartment "Pizza Is Here" because you never want your boyfriend's friends to think you're just sitting around alone, waiting on your boyfriend's arrival. You want your boyfriend's friend to know that he is being dropped off in good hands, with lots of people and a big party to greet him. Winning over the boyfriend's friends is half the battle, ya know?

Right up there with Romeo and Juliet, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, Frau and Dr. Evil (while it lasted), we really are one of the great love stories of all time. Sarah and her Pizza are without a doubt the greatest love story of our generation. I mean, stories have been written about us all over the internet, some clearly even aspire to find their own "pizza" so to speak.

So there you go. Now you've met the boy, the hubs, the big cheese in my life... Pizza! He is so adorable, I could just eat him right up...........

Note: As this went to press, Sarah is now recently single. She ate her hubs.

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10 Best // Simplify Your Life Right Now

March 27, 2014

if you aren't already using free apps and websites to make your life more efficient, you really need to start right now.  when you start to track all the little things you spend time on, you realize pretty quickly that someone has to have invented a better way to do things.  and they have.  so what are you waiting for?!  simplify your life in just a couple minutes with:  seriously.  i know i mentioned it on last friday's post, but if you haven't done this yet, get on it.  your inbox will thank you.

sidereel.  look, i've read your blogs and your twitter statuses.  so i know i am not the only one with a ridiculous line up of shows to keep track of.  i don't have a dvr and i don't need one because sidereel is my jam.  you can track all of your shows and it gives you a daily calendar of what's playing when.  it also reminds you when a new season of a previously tracked show starts up again.  and it tells you if/when/where free episodes are available to watch online.  i love this thing.  there's a phone app version too.

day zero project.  if you have any sort of bucket list (101 in 1001, 30 before 30, etc.) this is a great way to track it.  you input each goal and your timeline.  it lets you know how many days are left and what your percentage of goals completed is.  it's great to have the list all in one spot.

key ring.  scans all those pesky frequent shopper tags you carry on your keys with the bar codes. it keeps them all in the nifty app on your phone and then you don't have to carry them at all!  the store just scans your phone.  personally, i have walgreens, cvs, petsmart, petco, and i had one for the grocery before they did away with those.  it also shows what coupons are available at your stores as well as nearby.  i think redlaser is similar too.

ifttt.  if you're still manually updating your social media when you post new blog content, you're wasting time!  just use if this then that!  log in and you'll see all sorts of directions you can give it - like auto post to twitter when a new post goes up.  that's what i do.  you can also do things not related to blogging, like having your phone send a note if it's going to rain or auto syncing photos to evernote.  speaking of which...

evernote.  just get it and mess around, then start looking at all the tutorials that are out there (link it in the comments if you have a good one!) because evernote does everything.  i don't have a paper filing system at all any more because i scan everything into evernote.

lastpass.  track and save all those super complicated passwords securely on lastpass.  then let it do all the log in work for you.  it makes paying really easy too if you're an online shopper.  not that i'm encouraging or anything.

paperkarma.  simplify and also save the trees by cutting out junk mail with paperkarma.  just take a photo of the junk mail with your mailing address and the sender's address visible and the app will magically make it stop.

soundgecko.  takes any text and transforms it to audio.  so you can listen to my blog instead of reading it while you're trying to do other things like commute to work.  (because obviously it's my blog and not, like, the news or anything that you'd be listening to.)

waze.  get 'real-time help from other drivers' as waze says on their site.  yep, other commuters will kindly alert you to traffic, construction, potholes, and other driving pains.  and it tells you where the cheapest gas is.

and there you have it.  go forth and simplify.  you can thank me later.

April Wallet Watch - A Spending Freeze

March 26, 2014

i decided to jump on board with steph and marla's april spending challenge.  they've done many month-long spending freezes in the past but this time they're hosting a spending challenge.  you can take that to mean any challenge you want to complete for yourself, whether it be spending less at starbucks, tracking your grocery bill better or, like me, a total spending freeze.

yes, that's what i'm taking on this coming month - a spending freeze.  which is just a month of spending absolutely no money except for the things you deem essential.  i don't stockpile or really have a pantry at all, so essential for me is food.  some people could certainly live out of their pantries/freezers for a month, but i just don't cook that way.  and although i'm deeming once a week groceries as essential, i'm limiting my spending in that area as much as possible.  it also means no ordering in and no eating out unless it's a budgeted event i listed below.

why?  i think it's important to have an end goal, so you don't lose sight of why the 'extra' money is in your account.  my why is paying off the credit card - $1000 in doggie vet bills alone in one month.  woof.  woof, indeed.  then i can finally be totally debt free and check it off my 101 in 1001 list.

my rules:
1. spending freeze lasts from march 31 to april 30. (i'm better at things that start on a monday.)  the freeze obviously does not include monthly bills like rent and health insurance.
2. no outings that are not already budgeted for.  these are april 6, 17 (or 18), 19, and 26.  i have to stay within that amount budgeted.  i also have a little money set aside if a friend is able to get dinner this month.  that's it, no other impromptu lunches/dinners/coffees.
3. no shopping other than groceries.  there's nothing i need, i'm certain of that.  if essential shopping comes up, like a miscount and i run out of shampoo, that's acceptable. but certainly no clothes, magazines, candy, groupons, candles.
4. no ordering in food and calling it 'groceries;'
5. no taxis to or from the office; and
6. no coffee i haven't made at home.  i already know my weaknesses.
7. i'm totally not above presents.  so ya know, if someone wants to treat me to dinner, i'm all for it.  the use of giftcards is also acceptable.  free money, yo.
8. post my (honest!) results may 2.  the link up says may 6 but i'm a rule breaker.

steph and marla have both done these challenges before so if you're looking for more rules, ideas, tips, check them out.  i know i did.  so are you in?

My Secret Obsessions

March 25, 2014

do you ever find yourself completely and totally, but secretly, obsessed with things?  it's like all of the sudden you just fixate on something and you have to have it.  no, just me?  i do this a lot, i've found. and naturally i decided to share those obsessions with you because maybe if it's out there on the blog, i can let it go.  and i'll confess a couple other things while i'm at it.  thanks, kathy.

i confess...

...i'm obsessed with sleigh beds.  part of me always has been but i don't now, nor do i think i will ever, have the room for one.  they're big and decorative and a waste of space and honestly the antithesis of everything my my minimalist loving side stands for.  not to mention the perfect care i'd need to take making the bed.  but they're just so pretty, and i want to take a picture of hawkeye on one dressed as santa mushing some fake reindeers.  is that weird?

...i'm obsessed with owning a barn.  one day.  a super fancy one, like with brick floors, a high roof, and wrought iron doors on the stalls.  filled with retired ponies who need a home.  and a staff to clean it, of course - i'm obsessed, not crazy.  obviously, i need to win the lotto.

...i'm obsessed with writing down ideas for my next potential 101 list.  i haven't finished my current one and the date it ends isn't even until march 2016.  but sometimes i have some lofty goals occur to me, so i started tracking them on day zero project (you can follow me), just so i have enough ideas going for next time.  the list is currently over 101 ideas.

...i'm obsessed with the (new) betty crocker cookbook.  i just got it on amazon (because it was a full $15 more at my bookstore, wtf?) and even though i use pinterest/ my head/ my mom for most of my meal planning, i love the cookbook.  all i want to do is sit at home and read it and flag things with color coded sticky tabs while i practice perfect chocolate chip cookies.

and a couple other confessions:

...i get annoyed with myself.  i know i write a lot about pet peeves i have about other people, but let me tell you one about myself - i type 'cause' all the time instead of 'because.'  i go back and correct it as often as i catch it but sometimes i miss it. it's annoying enough that i say it in conversation but then to type it, too?  ugh.  it's two extra letters, stephanie, get it together. 'cuz' is not a freaking word.

...that time of the month isn't bad.  or really even noticeable.  apparently this opinion is an affront to women everywhere, but it's true.  it barely registers.  the only real sign is that chocolate seems much more appealing and i get irrationally annoyed at the cost of birth control pills and tampons because really, why am i being punished for my good decisions?

...i don't want a tax return.  i don't want to owe money, of course, but i don't want any back either.  getting money back means that somewhere along the way, i failed, and the government has been holding my money for a year, interest free, when i could have been saving it, investing it, spending it, doing literally anything else with it than have the government hold it for no reason and with no benefit.  i just want to be at $0, every year.

got any confessions?  or secret obsessions?  it can't be just me...

All Time Favorite Movie Characters

March 24, 2014

you have no idea how hard it was to narrow down to 5.  there are so many fantastic movie characters out there, i could hardly choose.  i did decide to go with all guys this time, since my tv characters ended up being all women.

you should be 0% surprised by this one - lucas from empire records.  he gave me my blog name after all.  why is he my favorite?

robert downey jr.  i could pick a character but have you ever noticed that rdj plays rdj in whatever movie he's in?  it's true.  from iron man to sherlock holmes to zodiac, he just bends every character to be exactly like what i assume he is in real life.  and i love him for it.  but if i had to pick just one rdj favorite, it's tony stark.

captain jack sparrow.

i feel your pain, captain jack.

carter from rush hour. (who only very slightly beat out mr. chow.) but rush hour just never stops being funny.  even if it is from 1998 and i've watched it approximately 172 times since then.

and finally, the one that's probably on mine and my best friend meredith's list and no one else's - proto zoa from zenon.  after all this time?  a disney channel original movie?  yes.  i'm a huge brink fan, but zenon was a close second back in the day.  and all because of protozoa.

you're welcome for the "zoom zoom zoom you make my heart go boom boom" that is now in your head.  ah the good old disney days.  so yes, my list is entirely comedic relief characters.  who ranks in your top 5 movie characters?

10 Best // Ways to Avoid People

March 20, 2014

netflix: always netflix, of course.  it's the number 1 way to spend time when you're avoiding people all weekend.  definitely watch orange is the new black if you haven't already, you want to be ready when season 2 comes out!  i'm currently watching one tree hill, because i never actually watched it when it aired.  crazy, i know.  tell me, fans: do you ever stop hating haley?  i'm on season 5 and there's no sign of my dislike for her coming to an end.

shopping: (online of course) for jewelry!  if anyone wants to send these earrings my way, i wouldn't be opposed.

march madness: yeah, i don't care either.  do i care that kentucky wins?  do i have them winning in my bracket?  absolutely.  but the rest is totally irrelevant, until.... sarah's march madness drinking game.  she always has the best ideas, doesn't she?

organize: your inbox. is my new favorite toy.  you just enter your email and it scans for all those pesky lists you're subscribed to.  with one click, you can unsubscribe from anything you don't want.  from there, you can 'roll up' anything you want to keep (professional groups, coupons from favorite stores) into one daily email.  your inbox is about to be beautiful.

rak: which stands for random acts of kindness, which kerry is the queen of.  (seriously, she has a thousand ideas on there!)  want to do one without leaving your home?  consider helping a pup!

declutter: thursday was  the first day of spring.  yeah.  if you're in spring cleaning mode, take these declutter tips from steph and spend the weekend getting your home in tip top shape!

laugh: i know, i've mentioned it 8000 times.  but she never stops being funny.

plan: your next girl's night.  just because you're avoiding them this weekend doesn't mean you will forever.  plan a recipe night!

save: on groceries with the favado app.  just input your stores and it tells you what the best deals are.  you can also input your usual groceries and favorite brands, and it'll tell you when those are on sale.  it's like keeping a couponing price book, but without all the work of actually making a price book.  win win.

happy weekend!

Chicago // My Favorite Famous Foods

March 19, 2014

you've probably heard about or tried chicago deep dish pizza at some point.  i definitely think that, and the hot dog, is something chicago is really known for.  and we should be!  it's the most delicious pizza you can get!  of course, there's always a million options to choose from in a city this big when it comes to our 'famous foods.'  here's my top 5 picks:

favorite deep dish pizza: lou malnatis.  there's honestly so many to choose from and i do like them all - i'll never complain about going to get deep dish pizza!  but lou's is from my hometown and it will always be my favorite.  it's this perfect buttery crust that's not too thick and chewy (especially on the end, the edge there) which is a problem i have with some other deep dish pizzas.

favorite chicago style hot dog: superdawg.  come on man, they have dancing hot dogs on the roof, how can they not win?  a chicago style dog is a hot dog with mustard, relish, onions, sport peppers, tomato slices, celery salt, and a pickle.  there is no ketchup and i truly despise people who eat hot dogs with ketchup, it makes me gag just to see it.  superdawg is definitely the best option out there, they use the bright neon green relish that (really!) taste better than anywhere else, plus the actual dog is pure beef, cooked perfectly, and delicious, served on a super fresh and soft poppy seed bun.

favorite chicago style popcorn: wells street popcorn.  first you should know that 'chicago style' popcorn means cheese and caramel mixed together.  anything else is simply wrong, like ketchup on hot dogs.  garrett's is iconic, for sure, and if you're visiting the downtown area you'll pass a whole bunch of them.  it's still delicious, albeit overpriced, popcorn.  because it was on 'oprah's favorite things' and that makes everyone want it.  but it's not the same as well's street popcorn, which i find to be fresher.

favorite italian beef: bari's.  al's beef is probably the most famous and the easiest to get your hands on once you're here.  and it's good, you will get a perfect idea of what chicago italian beef is if you eat at al's.  it consistently ranks high.  but i have to say my favorite is from an authentic italian deli called bari's.  i might be partial because it's directly down the street from my apartment, but i really do feel that the meat and bread is more fresh here than anywhere else.  and it's good bread too, it really holds up to the juices you get from the meat and the peppers.

favorite chocolates: frango mints.  it's not traditionally 'chicago' to be considering chocolates on the list, but there's actually a ton of places!  my mom would argue that margie's candies is the best but... no.  frangos.  frangos are iconic and delicious and now come in so many options.  they were a staple of marshall fields.  once that was bought out, macy's still kept the frangos around.  seriously, if you're shopping downtown in a macy's, get the frangos.  i know some people say they aren't as good as when they were marshall fields, but i don't think that's true.  oo and also, if you're on state street, you can eat in the cafe downstairs and get frango mint ice cream pie.  you're welcome.

what food is your hometown known for?

All Time Favorite TV Characters

March 17, 2014

most of the time, it's one single character that makes me love a tv show and i continue to tune in week after week just to see what my character to say.  regardless of whether the show itself is one of my favorites or not, i'll just keep watching!  while i was thinking about which characters made my list, it made me realize that i mostly love them because i want to be them.  and i like to think i'm well on my way.  my top 5 loves:

max from 2 broke girls.  you'd have to be crazy not to love max.  kat dennings plays her perfectly.

emily gilmore.  we can have the lorelai versus rory argument all day long but i'll tell you what's up - emily gilmore (followed closely by paris gellar of course.)

the dowager countess of grantham.  duh.

sadie from awkward.  i find myself speaking in her exact tone all the time.

karen walker.  my spirit animal.

so basically i want to be a crotchety rich woman (minus max for the rich part) who has no filter and is fluent in cocktails, judging people, and insults without repercussions.  is that so wrong?  my shows tell me that people will still love me, and after all...

check in next week for my all time favorite movie characters.  who's your favorite tv show character?

10 Best // Life Lately

March 13, 2014

1. valentine's day weekend.  flowers, cocktails, chocolate strawberries, and of course my favorite olympic event, curling.  team russia's pants.

2. i went to another dabble class (something that was on my 101 list after i went to a calligraphy class with mary.)  my mom and i went to a vegan cooking class taught by blogger jacqueline of barefoot essence.  mom's all about vegan, clean eating, healthy recipes, and, well, you know me - give me taco bell or give me death.  but i thought it might be a good idea to offset all my taco bell with clean eating for my other meals.  jacqueline's blog has a ton of info on vegan cooking, batch cooking, healthy recipes, shopping lists. seriously, check it out.

3. march is my 'no spend month.'  ha.  well, actually i'm doing better than i anticipated.  no shopping, no money on food (is it cheating that my mom has bought my groceries and cooked for me the last two weeks or just smart?), no unnecessary cabs or happy hours.  i'm pretty shocked at my will power.  also, the you need a budget program is a huge help, i don't know how i lived without it.

4. i miss tara.  i need her to move back from iowa.

5. i've been ridiculously slow and unmotivated and lazy this week.  i can't really even explain why, it just is what it is.  sorry about the slow pace in which i've been responding to comments but... it's been nice to just do nothing.

6. surprise mail!  a handmade apple bourbon candle, plus mascara and lipgloss from maddie.  i started ripping the box open before i even got in my front door.  thanks for making me feel so loved girl!!  oh and she was just featured on rachael ray, how cool is that?  warning: video clip makes you want pizza really, really bad.

7. 101 in 1001 list progress - i actually checked off 'watch 101 movies/tv shows.'  yes, in 8 months.  i wish i could say it was difficult, but i got there before i even noticed.  netflix addict, party of one.  (ha yeah right, netflix addict, party of every blogger ever.)  i also got everything to stock my bar cart and went the whole month without fast food.  those plus the vegan cooking class bring me up to 55/101.  my plan is to get to 65 by the end of the year!

8. my no reason flowers.  he's the best.

9. i got the sweetest e-mail on monday!  a long-time reader of my blog sent me a message.  she's a non-blogger and soon to be fellow lawyer and just wanted to reach out and say hey.  it was so great to talk to her.  so thank you lisa, for reading and for your e-mail!

10. hawkeye.  always hawkeye.  this is her helping me meal plan and blog.

Cocktail Cupcakes // Get Lucky

March 12, 2014

"it's the holiday of my people!"  "you're not irish?"  "binge drinkers." - how i met your mother

i'm a lover of all holidays, because i'll never miss an opportunity to dress, drink, and eat in theme, but i'd definitely consider st. patrick's day a favorite.  i usually make irish car bomb cupcakes.  always a crowd pleaser, trust me.  this year i wanted to try something a bit different but still (of course) in theme.

enter: lucky charms cupcakes.  this is an incredibly quick and easy recipe, because i'm sure you're celebrating this weekend like i am and need to get them done fast, right?

i used 1 box of white cake mix.  so much easier than making it from scratch, i have to say.  i just made it according to the directions on the box, but i added in 1 cup of crushed up lucky charms cereal.  it just makes the cupcakes a little crunchy/more fun.

but the real fun is in the marshmallow vodka frosting.  cream 1 cup room temperature butter until it's fluffy.  add in one 7 ounce jar of marshmallow creme (yes, the fluff of your childhood) and whip it for about 2 minutes.  slowly beat in 2 cups powdered sugar and once that's mixed in, add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3 tablespoons of marshmallow vodka.  add some green food coloring to really get in the holiday spirit and top with the marshmallows (colored sidewalk chalk?) in the box of lucky charms!  easy, fast, festive.  yes, i realize my frosting looks blue.  i assure you, it's green.  it's just that the lucky charms shamrock marshmallows from their special edition box are neon.

see? neon.

they're pretty sweet but also throughly delicious.  magically delicious.  whatever.  enjoy!  and check out more st. patrick's day goodies with kristin.

Get Organized // Spring Cleaning

March 11, 2014

you know what made me laugh this week?  so, my caribou coffee has a chalkboard.  they ask a question every week and people write their answers.  a couple weeks ago, the question was 'what will you do on the first day of spring?'  and the answers cracked me up because it said 'run in my underwear' and 'take off my coat' and 'dance in the grass.'  well i have news, folks.  the first day of spring?  it's march 20th.  9 days away.  and you live in chicago.  the first day of spring has never been weather in which you can remove your coat and dance in your underwear, because there's usually still snow on the ground.  and there will be this year, so settle down.

but anyway, the point is yes, it's almost here.  i'm not a big spring fan because i don't like pollen or bugs and my order of favorite seasons tends to be the exact opposite of everyone else.  winter, fall, spring, summer.  i'm a snow baby, what can i say?  but even though i don't love it, i embrace spring for one very important reason: spring cleaning.  just call me danny tanner because spring cleaning time is a highlight of my year.  (except for vacuuming.  death to vacuuming.)  i do clean and declutter all year long but i like spring cleaning because you can open the windows and do the deep cleaning jobs like washing the blinds and baseboards.  yep, that's a thing.  and yes, i do like doing it.  and then i like sealing up my house and letting no one in and touching nothing for a month just keep it so pristine...

alright you probably don't love it like i do.  i realize it's a little weird on my part.  but you probably are planning on doing it, right?  i know a lot of people are, because i've seen an influx of spring cleaning tips and tricks and checklists on pinterest.  which i've been re-pinning, of course.  i do a decent job of cleaning year round.  i keep it to a 15 to 30 minute task each day, with one day off (i.e. dusting on wednesdays, cleaning the bathroom on thursdays.)  but there's a lot of deep cleaning tasks that really only get done once or twice a year.  they're aren't the most enjoyable, but hey - it has to get done!  like cleaning the things you use for cleaning - the vacuum, the washing machine, the dishwasher.  it still makes no sense to me that you have to wash the things you use for keeping your other items clean, but it is what it is.

i just have a tiny apartment, so i can get it done in a weekend.  for a house, it would take a week.  i stock up on all my supplies like cleaners and trash bags, prepare a food plan (because i'm not cooking or worrying about food while i'm busy cleaning my kitchen!), and make a schedule so i'm sure i don't miss anything.  it's easier if you have a plan, i promise!  personally, i love free this checklist.  it's two pages and contains everything i could possibly need to do, and then some (because i don't have a garage or yard.)  if you need a lot of help, there's also an $8 kit that contains every single printable you could need, like schedulers and supply shopping lists.

obviously i'm a little busy this coming weekend what with st. patrick's day and all.  but i'll get my spring cleaning the weekend after that.  just in time for the first days of spring!  i'd show you before and after photos but you probably wouldn't even be able to tell a difference.  i tell ya, having less stuff is the way to go.  less to clean!

what about you?  are you spring cleaning this year?

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