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4.30.2014

Throwing A Dog Birthday Party


what, just me?  am i the only crazy out there who has dog birthday parties?  i doubt it.  but yes, hrh princess hawkeye turned 5 this past weekend!  we celebrated by going to a hotel here in chicago, the hotel palomar which is part of the kimpton line.  i knew we had to do something fun for 5 years old, and two of her favorite things in the world are (1) staying in hotels and (2) ordering room service.  yes, they're some of my favorite things too, but trust me, she goes bonkers in hotel rooms.  running all over everything, unmaking the bed, smelling all the new smells, trying to ride the room service food cart back down to the magical land the food came from.

so book a hotel i did, specifically a corner unit with city views and floor to ceiling windows.  thanks for really delivering on that one, hotel palomar, hawkeye enjoyed the small dog appropriate height of the windows.  she likes to people watch.

yes i have her in a shirt that says 'i'm the birthday girl!'

the kimpton line of hotels is super dog friendly.  like, they offer in room dog massages kind of friendly.  like, they might like pets more than people kind of friendly.  my kind of people.  my dog was even invited to the free happy hour they have in hotel bar.  they also brought her a bed and bowls, even though she slept in the human bed all night.  of course.  on top of 4 pillows.


but then the real kicker, look at all the things she got.  from kimpton, none of this is from me or john.  oh yes, a bone the size of her, travelling poop bags and a collapsible water bowl, and milkbone treats.  oh, and not pictured - her own bottle of water.  spoiled is an understatement.


so we played with all her new stuff, ordered room service burgers and ice cream, and then ate them in bed, cause, why not?


oh and i also made her a cake from taco bell.  best birthday ever.



and now of course, john's dog thor* wants his own birthday party.  at a kimpton hotel, naturally.

"i can haz party?"

*we did not name our dogs after the avengers.  well, john did.  my princess is named after the best school/mascot/football team, the iowa hawkeyes.

4.28.2014

Pet Gifts That Really Exist

and now kicks off a week of pet posts - because sunday was hawkeye's 5th birthday and we celebrated in kind.


don't worry, of course we'll tell you all about it.  hawkeye loves to be the star of the show after all.  but first, pet gifts.  because it all started with 'what do you get the dog who has everything including her own water bed?'  when the toys are boring and she already has all the treats, what do you do?  turn to the outrageous of course.  so yes, these pet gifts really are available for purchase.  don't think i didn't seriously consider them.

hawkeye's top pick - a dog stroller.  she gets two blocks and jumps up so i'll carry her the rest of the way.  she wants a stroller really bad, but i told her walking works off all that taco bell.


if i pushed her everywhere, she'd need a doggie treadmill.  hrh princess hawkeye would not be pleased.
technically, there's no furniture hawkeye hasn't been on.  but must my whole apartment go to the dogs?  she thinks so, she'd like these end tables.


but we can both agree on petchatz.  it's a video camera that goes on the wall so you can see you pet and talk to them while you're away.  it can also dispense treats.  don't worry, i'm on the waiting list.


which one would you pick?!

4.23.2014

Chicago // 4 Quirky Things To Do

big cities are known for their tourist traps.  those places that all tourists go to but you just wind up spending a lot and chicago is no different.  there's some that are really worth it (like the ledge at the sears tower if you're into that sort of thing) and there's other that are... boring.  bean, anyone?  but there's so much more to do here!  for those of you who are looking for the same kind of fun that the locals like to have, here's 5 quirky things for you to check out.

1. find the tamale guy.  he hangs out in the wicker park area selling the best tamales ever.  by the bars, obviously, he's no dummy.  you have to find the original guy though, that's what matters.  him and his red cooler.  that's why you can hunt him down on twitter, he's that important.

2. santa train!  if you're here during december, find the holiday train.  the schedule gets posted on the cta website, but it's more fun to just randomly happen to catch it.  the cta workers dress like elves (and they apply for this position, they love to do it!) and they hand out candy canes.  the cars are all decked out, inside and out, with lights and decor and the train plays christmas music.  one car is removed and replaced with santa's sleigh, with a live santa!  and yes, meredith and i find it every year, ride it to the end, and push little children out of the way so we can take photos with santa.  no shame.


3. if you're willing to travel to the north side of chicago, there's a bar that has turtle racing.  learn it, love it.  you will not be disappointed.  seriously.  turtle. racing.

4. there's a ton of famous concert spots in chicago, like grant park (lollapalooza) and the house of blues.  but for a different experience, try the concerts at northerly island.  which is a peninsula, not an island, but whatever.  take a look here, it's actually really cool with great views.  they have a wide range of concerts coming up!

there's plenty more of course, like an all you can eat chocolate bar and a wizard of oz themed public park, but i guess you'll just have to come visit me if you want to know about it!  what quirky things does your town offer?

4.21.2014

Signs My Dog Is More Important Than You

i throw her birthday parties.  not you.  just her.


if you're in 'her' spot on the couch, i'll make you move.


she also gets an entire side of a queen sized bed.

even though she was a water bed that weighs 40 pounds.


i spend more money on her at christmas than any single person.  probably more than all persons combined.

my instagram and twitter photos are 95% hawkeye.

i have 100+ adorable nicknames for hawkeye.  i have 1 for john.

hawkeye gets the front seat.  if you don't want her on your lap, sit in the back.

i make her homemade chicken soup.  if you're sick, you get soup in a can.

my dog is my christmas card.


yes, she'll always be better than you.  deal with it.

4.20.2014

What I've Been Up To

as you might have noticed - or not, that's fine too, i think i'm much cooler than i actually am - i took a nice break last week.  besides friday's post and even there, i didn't allow comments.  that's not to say i was just sitting around.  my office was busy, the weather was slightly improved which meant more outings, my friend just started a job in the building right across the street which means more meet ups, hawkeye's 5th birthday party is next weekend so i had to plan.  oh yeah, and celebrating 1 year with this handsome guy.


there's one other thing i've been working on that i should mention - i'm 100% completely and totally debt free.  i wrote about the fact that i paid off my student loans, but now, thanks to a successful no spend month, i also paid off my credit card.  debt free.  it's awesome.  no i don't own a house or a car so that makes things easier, but i also learned enough in my few months of really being organized and nailing down my finances that i will never take out a loan or a mortgage.  cash only, baby.  so i have a lot of saving to do and i've been very thrifty lately.  no, this won't turn into a frugal living blog.  not as long as the container store exists.  but i might mention here or there some ways that i save or earn extra money.

among my current savings goals, now that i'm debt free, is christmas.  frugal christmas, of course, since those 7 years of catholic school told me it's all about baby jesus, not presents.  (happy jesus is a zombie day, by the way.)  (kidding. ish.)  which brings me to my final point, one last thing i've been setting up during my break.  i mentioned on friday that i've been having great success with swagbucks.  i'm up to $45 for amazon in about 10 days.  and not 'earned it and waiting for my cards to arrive' but actually cashed in, code received, $45 sitting in my amazon account, itching to be spent.  that's my plan for a debt free but still really awesome christmas - one that's paid for totally in swagbucks earnings.

you should know, you probably do, that i don't just throw up any old thing on here to get money.  i'm not part of any ad networks, i'm not an affiliate of anything, i don't make any money when i tell you about things i found on amazon or iphone apps that help me organize.  because guess who'd rather just not do it than figure out the tax implications?  this girl.  and legally, according to the ftc, i must tell you that a post includes any links which i might make money off of before you have an opportunity to click them.  not some hidden tiny text at the bottom of a post, but big letters you can actually read (if you're guilty of the tiny letters at the bottom, you should stop that, it's illegal!) before you get to a link.  so here's your disclosure - the swagbucks links that follow this are referral links.  i make more points if you sign up using my referral link, but hey, so do you!  and then you can refer your own friends, and make your own extra points if you want.  got it?  cool.  and thus you should know that i'm doing it cause i actually love it, not like some blogs that 'love' something new every day.  moving on.

i did some calculations and my goal for christmas is $350 in gift cards earned using swagbucks.  yes, $350 in free money.  and i think i can exceed that.  i did so well in my first week that i decided to contact them about sharing it on my blog.  so they set me up with a blogger's dashboard and that way i can not only offer you more points when you sign up, but i can also tell you asap when there's special promotions and even host giveaways here.  i mentioned friday how quickly and easily i earn points each day, but i plan on offering more tips along the way.  and you can sign up using the promo code NotPerfect and get 70 bonus points, plus 30 more after you fill out your profile.  and just 450 points is $5 to amazon.

so sign up, earn free money, don't go into debt this holiday season.  or ignore me completely, that's fine too and why i wrote this on an 'off' day.  sorry, that was a long post but yes.  that's what i've been up to.

4.17.2014

10 Best // Ways To Avoid People


netflix:  i just love low budget so horrible they're good sci-fi movies.  thankfully, netflix has a lot of these.  i made john watch tucker and dale versus evil, but he hated it.  he's wrong.  as always, i also highly recommend strippers versus werewolves.

laugh:  laugh, commiserate, nod in agreement, just don't be one of these people.

blogging:  i saw jess blog and use mean girls gifs, so i blogged and used mean girls gifs.


reading:  are you really as introspective as you think you are?

shopping:  i think everyone has their personal store, the one they turn to for most of their wardrobe.  or at least the first place you check when you're shopping because you know it's your style.  personally, mine is the loft.  it probably helps that everything is constantly on sale.  currently it sits at 40% off and it's making my spending freeze month tough!!  what's 'your' store?

cooking:  get prepped for the week or even further ahead by making freezer meals.

declutter:  easter is on sunday, if you celebrate that sort of thing.  i do, my mom still gives me an easter basket.  she always puts a toothbrush in it (a good reminder that i don't change my toothbrush often enough) and it means i can get rid of the old one.  she also likes to include other non-candy type treats so if you know some of that stuff is coming your way or you have kids getting new toys, declutter and make room for the new stuff.

diy:  speaking of easter, if you're still getting a basket together, why not make one for the guy in your life?  because this is an awesome idea.  heck, i want it.  make it for me.

pinterest:  what have you been pinning lately?  i've been on my celebrate board, which incorporates all things holiday.  like the easter basket and yes, already pinning things related to christmas, because...

my personal favorite, swagbucks:  i'm on a mission to pay for christmas solely in swagbucks dollars.  obviously you need to weigh how much your time is worth, but all i've done is play through some videos on my computer and phone, and i got $35 to amazon in 1 week.  i'm also using them as my new search engine.  easy peasy.  if you're staying in anyway, might as well make some money.  (the links are my referral links, use the code NotPerfect to get an extra 70 points when you sign up.)  a little idea on how easy it is - you can get 150 points for videos on the computer and 50 on your phone per day.  200 points a day.  450 points is a $5 amazon gift card.  whatcha waiting for?


*you might have noticed that i haven't been around this week.  well, jess was, on monday.  but i've just been in a really unmotivated mood lately, about everything.  and even though i had the posts mostly done, i didn't even feel like editing them nor addressing comments so i just skipped posting this week.  i don't really feel like addressing comments today either, so they're turned off.  just enjoy the weekend and your time away from people!

4.13.2014

5 Most Embarrassing Things Your Parents Did To You

well jess really has a treat for you today - embarrassing childhood photos!  you're going to love every single one of them.

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Hey guys! I'm Jess and I blog over at Pleas(e) and Carrots. I blog about pretty much everything, like peeling skin off strangers, ghosts, my daily routine, setting off alarms in McDonalds, and big black hairy pigs, so when Steph told me I could do a guest post on her blog, I was so excited and immediately began pondering what the heck I was going to write about. I've noticed that Steph sometimes posts cute childhood pictures of herself (like in this post) and also that she likes lists... so I decided to combine the two and bring you:


1. They made you take a family picture no matter what mood you were in. Case in point, the below picture. It was apparently my party, and I decided to take literally that I could cry if I want to (I'm wearing the crown). Also, Savanna wasn't in much better a mood, judging by her screaming, and Kaylee was digging for treasure. Thanks Mom and Dad (and Dad, that tank top is styling by the way).


2. They made you sit on the Easter Bunny's lap, no matter how terrifying he was. Seriously with that rabbit guys?


3. They invited Barney to your birthday party. It was the coolest thing ever at the time (and to me it still is!), but my brother Cory, whose birthday party Barney attended, doesn't find it amusing now, especially since we post this picture on his Facebook wall every couple of months.


4. They made you do chores. Ugh, how dare they set us up for what real life is like?! Man, if I knew back then what I know now, I'd enjoy the minimal chores my parents gave me, like unloading the dishwasher. Now I have to clean the whole house myself? That's crap!


5. They made you wear huge Dad-like glasses that covered half your face. My sister Kaylee below (aka Froggy from The Little Rascals bahahaha) and my brother Cory were forced to wear these. I, fortunately, did not need glasses until I was almost 16.


Okay, so really this was an excuse to show off super embarrassing pictures of my siblings. I actually had a pretty awesome childhood if I do say so myself. If you want to see what I look like now, or tell me embarrassing things your parents did to you as a kid, come visit me at Pleas(e) and Carrots!
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4.10.2014

10 Best // Life Lately

1. first and foremost, the most exciting thing to happen to me - i won my bracket.  and not only just won, but won by a landslide by correctly predicting the final two teams, #8 seed kentucky and #7 uconn.  if you don't know basketball, this is a huge upset and pretty much unheard of so i'm either just really lucky, or really good at picking college basketball.  if you want to see just how rare it is (0.016% of people) that i actually called this correctly, read this.  espn, you can hire me.



2. st. patrick's day.  green beer is a better idea in theory than it actually is in practice, but it was a good time!  see below, the sunshine and the light layers?  yeah, somewhere there's a photo of megan and i less than 12 hours later, outside getting soaked in the swiftly falling snow.  gotta love chicago weather.


3. spending freeze.  i half did one in march (i watched my spending, tracked my issues, tried to keep it way down) and i did well so i decided to join in with steph and marla for a full spending freeze this month.  i'm doing awesome.  i know it's only 10 days in, but it's 2 weeks now of not buying coffee at caribou or taking cabs to work.  and john even said "i married the cheapest woman alive" (no, we're not married) and i'm certain that getting teased for your cheap lifestyle is a sure sign you're on the right path!  he teased me, but then also put me in charge of all finances, so i win.

4. from kerry!  tastes exactly like girl scout cookies.  i just left a joking 'send me some' comment on her post and she got my address and did.  she really is the kindest person, just add this to her list of good deeds.


5. meal prep with my mom.  we've been making food on sundays for the whole week.  and by we, i mean she makes me everything.  like buys my groceries and then chops veggies and cooks all sorts of things for me while i play with her dogs and sort her photos.  she's a saint.

6. date night.  well, kind of.  we went to an auction fundraiser for his grade school, where his mom is still super involved.  iron horse performed (they were on america's got talent) so that was fun to watch them live.  i did not bid on anything.  i know it's a tax write off but... debt free first.  then charity.


7. but we did have actual date nights too.  and yes, one of those included watching wrestlemania on pay per view.  no shame.  in fact, i even watched nascar first.  best day ever.


8. 101 in 1001 list progress - well, win a march madness bracket was a secret goal, so done.  and done with style.  i successfully completed a fitness challenge, the 30 day shred.  i also hired a cleaning service for my apartment.  worth every penny.  every penny that was budgeted first, because hell yes i'm successfully checking off #70, 'figure out how to budget.'  i read the dave ramsey book, used a couple apps and printables, attempted a spreadsheet (ha, yeah right) and then finally settled on ynab (you need a budget - yes, you have to buy the software, if you want my full review on whether or not to do it, just ask.  for a discount, use this.) which is an awesome program and i've been using it successfully ever since.  so, i'm at 59/101!  with just under 2 years to go and 3 more in the works to be finished by the end of the month.

hawkeye's learning too.  we'll be totally debt free by the end of the month!

9. blogging date with natalie.  we have fun things coming, but it might take awhile and it's a secret, but it's pretty fun to work on blog things together.

10. hawkeye.  sticking her tongue out.  i dare you to find a cuter photo!

4.08.2014

Get Organized // A Cleaning Schedule

surprisingly, there's been a few nice days lately in chicago.  actual able to open the windows for a few hours type of days.  which of course means - i got my spring cleaning done.  there's just something so satisfying about having a perfectly clean living space, if even just for a day.  because who can maintain a perfectly clean and sanitized house at all times?  not me.  certainly not hawkeye.

but, you can do things to keep it close to that way.  maybe not in a state of constant deep clean, but at least in a state where you wouldn't have to rush around shoving things into closets and closing bedroom doors because someone called to say they'll be stopping by in 20 minutes.  yes, it's true!  your home can always be at an 'acceptable to visitors' level.  i realize that might be a foreign concept to some people, lord knows it was to me for awhile.  because even though i'm great at keeping away the clutter, i never really cared about regularly wiping down mirrors or vacuuming.  i would only do those things before someone was coming over to stay, and that only made me hate the tasks more because obviously vacuuming is a way more time consuming process if you only do it once a month as opposed to every few days.  let's be honest here - i went about 3 months before i'd vacuum.  fine, judge me, but it's my most hated chore.

now i'm off that path of pre-guest cleaning panic.  while i still need to spring clean and fall clean, a twice a year deep clean is enough because i do small cleaning tasks each day.  that's the trick to staying on top of things.  don't let it all pile up for sundays because it's just too much.  and anything you miss will just keep getting pushed back to the next weekend and then the weekend after that and then you're back to the place where you don't want anyone to come over.  it's better to do daily maintenance.  if you need to, get a groupon for a cleaning service to kick start your clean space - it's easier to maintain than it is to deep clean yourself in one day.  but whether you hire out or spring clean yourself, schedule daily cleaning sessions to maintain your newly prettied space.  here's my little scheduler:


i usually do the same tasks on each day of the week, but occasionally something comes up so i keep it flexible.  i spend one day each on: decluttering, dusting and mopping floors, vacuuming, the bathroom, the kitchen, and sunday is laundry day including linens.  i also tidy up the bedroom and living room on sundays, but in my small apartment this is easy.  you'll notice this is only 6 days.  always take a day off because you're going to have a rough day or something will come up.  my off day is tuesdays.  if i get things done, great.  if not, whatever!  i also have the some day category (as opposed to 'someday' which is a distant day in the future and never actually arrives), some day means some single day this week, it'll happen.  i either transfer tasks from another day i missed or i schedule things that don't need to be done every single week, like window washing or oven cleaning.

there's lots of different ways to make a cleaning schedule.  maybe you do the laundry daily and prefer this schedule.  maybe you have way more rooms than i do.  whatever your situation is, you can find a cleaning schedule to fit it.  i promise that once you get into the routine you'll find it's much easier and less stressful than the pre-guest panic!

4.07.2014

Happy Rex Manning Day!









4.06.2014

Giveaway // Pamper Yourself

happy monday again!  giveaway monday of course.  this time?  3 bath bombs from lush, aveda lotions, and this extendable caddy by umbra for your bathtub.  it's the same one i have, it holds a book and your wine glass - i love it.



edited to add: some have asked where to find the bath caddy, it's on amazon, here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

4.03.2014

10 Best // Party Apps for Your Phone


8tracks.  i really like country, but when i have people over who don't, i play party playlists off 8tracks.  you pick the type of music and then the mood and select from a bunch of stations.  like county + summer.  or getting ready + pregame.  free.

party hour.  i can remember exactly the last time i played power hour.  because we did it with boone's farm and in my opinion it was a wonderful decision.  anyway, this app will shorten your playlists for you.  in case you don't know power hour - you play 1 minute of 60 songs.  when the song changes, you take a shot of beer.  yes, 60 shots of beer in 1 hour and this app does the song work for you.  $.99

drinkowl.  lists the drink specials, happy hours, and coupons in your city.  totally free.  i use this all the time, it even tells me where i can go play trivia.

phrase party.  if you've ever played electronic catch phrase, this is the phone app version.  there's also a free version for android, but even a $2 app is cheaper than buying catch phrase.  $1.99.

head's up.  by ellen degeneres.  so funny.  it costs $.99 but it's a good time.  you hold your screen to your head so everyone can see but you.  they give clues, you guess what it says.  similar to reverse charades, which is free.

brewgene.  great app for beer lovers.  rate beers, find new ones, track what you've tried, get recommendations, make a list of what you want to try next.  all free!

hello vino.  helps you pick a wine!  it's really easy to follow and it has a ton of ways to search for the perfect bottle.  you can see popular brands, scan a label to see info (and someone is watching in real time, so if the label isn't recognized, a live person gets back to you in a few seconds), plus you can track what you liked and didn't like.  again, all free.

mixology.  thousands of drink recipes to browse.  and it allows you to enter what ingredients you have and it'll tell you what drinks you can make.  the free version has ads. $.99 version does not.

yokee.  free karaoke on your phone.  it's hilarious.  just get it!

and the one i know you really want...
evil apples.  ever played cards against humanity?  wish you could bring the whole game to the bar with you?  evil apples is the free iphone version of the game.  you're welcome.

4.02.2014

Dance Diva

mostly this post is an excuse to show you this.

sometimes parents suck.  and trust me, not the worst of my costumes.

yes ma'am, i participated in dance class as a child.  ballet, tap, and jazz, all of which required recitals with costumes like those.  for far too many years, in my opinion.  and not because i hated it all that much - i didn't.  but because i sucked.  i'm not being modest, you know that's not my style.  there's certain areas i'm talented in and excelled at.  dance class was never, ever one of them.  if i could show you the videos from said recital, i would.  thankfully they're all on vhs in my mother's basement or, when i get really lucky, my dad has taped over them with horse racing.  because you'd laugh your head off, since every single video shows the distinct moments where melissa and i stare at each other with 'wtf comes next' faces and totally freeze on stage.

melissa was my best friend all those years ago.  she lives in vegas now and she's a performer, but a singer more than a dancer.  (she actually recently won a singing competition and bought a car with her winnings.  jealous.)  neither of us have done anything with our decade in dance class because we didn't retain any of it.  if we even learned it in the first place.  you see, we simply never paid attention.  really.  we did our warm ups because what's better than a freestyle dance party to ace of base?  (this was 1995 folks.)  and then we spent the next hour or so fake paying attention while we plied and talked about boys.

then we'd wait for her grandparents to pick us up and take us to the diner next door for food.  if the weather was nice, we'd get dairy queen.  and that's what i remember from dance class.  the food, the ace of base songs, and how much i liked tap shoes.  oh and on recital days (all day events) my mom would take us down to the toy store and get us some entertainment.  i always picked balloon animals - yes, i can make you a balloon poodle.  nothing else though.  just poodles.  that's what i did instead of, oh say.... practicing.  i made balloon animals and then got on stage and completely forgot whatever dance it was i supposedly spent months learning.

cheers to you miss lynette.  you put up with a lot from us and loved us anyway.  but those costumes were evil.

4.01.2014

Hawkeye's Confessions

this is not an april fool's!  i'm linking up with kathy for two weeks in a row.  it was actually my 'annoyed' post that was going to go up today but after monday (holy negativity in blog land!) i decided to just stick with light and fluffy today.  very, very, very fluffy.


and thus i leave you with.... hawkeye's confessions.  as told by hawkeye.  you're welcome.

i confess:

... i steal john's socks.  and sometimes his hat.  i like to hide them because then he can't leave, and if he does leave, he has to come back to retrieve them.  i steal something every time.


...chicken makes me itchy but i want to eat it anyway.

...but not as much as i want to eat used tissues.


...i can unwrap my own tacos and unbox my own sliders.

...i poop by the door when i'm mad about someone leaving.  usually john.  i don't care when mommy leaves, she has to go to work and earn my tacos.

...i don't like toys.  i prefer chapsticks.

...i know when it's not bacon.

...i'm scared to wake mommy in the morning because she's really mean so i mess with anyone else who stays over instead.  but i claim mommy's pillow as soon as she moves.


...and i won't come by her when she wears her glasses.

...i don't know what it means to 'not be allowed on the furniture.'


...and mostly, i really just want to make out.

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