On the 12th Day of Christmas, Blogging Gave to Me

December 23, 2015

12 beauty gift guides

11 starbucks red cups

10 holiday lookbooks

9 of which are red lips

8 instagram tutorials

7 stichfix referral links

6 fake staged home tours

5 glitter DIYs

4 tirades on haters

3 blanket scarfs

2 bloglovin meltdowns

... and twitter rants about all of the above

merry christmas, stephanie out.  see you in 2016.

The After Photos: Fixing My Hair Thinning

December 10, 2015

if you recall, back in september i posted about having a meltdown over my hair thinning for no apparent reason whatsoever.  that post coincided with my starting the Women’s ROGAINE® Foam, which i posted about here.  i have a ton of information about the product in that post, definitely check it out if you're curious (i interviewed a stylist to the stars to get all the details.)  so at this point i've been using the foam since that last post and a bit before, so i'd say 3.5 months.  a lot of you mentioned that you were considering trying it, and i promised to update you with the progress come december.  so here i am!  

oh, hello there progress.

details you probably want to know: 

am i seeing results? yes, just keep scrolling for more photos! 

am i happy with the product? also a yes.  Women’s ROGAINE® Foam is very easy to use.  i'd just rub it onto my scalp after i showered and let my hair air dry a bit.  that's literally it.  it added no more than 1 minute to my post-shower routine.  i had no reaction or anything - there's no burning, itchy, redness, anything like that.  it was like putting in any other hair product.  it didn't interact with anything else i put into my hair, so i really liked that.  the only downside was washing a tad more often because i didn't want to use dry shampoo.  the foam is most effective when applied directly to your scalp, so if i had used dry shampoo in the morning and then put the foam on at night, i wasn't certain it was being as effective as possible.  so i mostly forgot the dry shampoo in that area and instead washed about every other day.

any weird effects? other than making the hair re-grow in that one spot and making it thicker (it's healthier, thicker hair that's growing in, for sure - look at the thickness at the root), i haven't noticed any other effects.  it hasn't changed the color of my hair or my scalp.  i tried keeping the photos the same as far as lighting, location, time of day, all that (and down to the shirt i'm wearing!), and the same  fresh out of the shower wet hair parted around the same trouble spot.

hooray giant photos of my head.

so yeah, i think that's good improvement for just under 4 months!  i'll definitely keep using it because it's obviously working.  there's that little bit in front that i don't think is totally fixed yet, but looking at old photos of me, i'm not sure it ever was!  but i do love the hair that is growing in, so i'm going to keep going (i can report back in another 4 months if you want!)

as a reminder, i get mine at walgreens but i've seen them all over and even online, so you can definitely find it easily.  it's pricey because you're like 'jeez, not a huge tube!' but each tube lasts 2 months.

i'm a Women’s ROGAINE® Foam believer.  oh and styled hair!  of course you want to see styled hair.  these photos are from the bears game this past weekend.  LOOK HOW FLUFFY.

is there a fluffy hair don't care hashtag?  because that's me right now.  all the volume!  thanks Women’s ROGAINE® Foam!

Products were provided by the Women's ROGAINE® Foam. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Confessions of a Lazy Blogger and a Giveaway

December 2, 2015

goodness, has life been hectic.  my law clerk is missing at my office, he's been on vacation since november 18 and it has been insane here.  all the work he normally does plus a really crazy case (with a client who, i'll say it, i hate.  hate.  physically cringe when i see his name on the caller id.  not enough money in the world, people.) has meant that i've been pulling very long hours.  well, 12 hour days which can be normal for some big firm lawyers but for me?  i'm used to 8 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m.  i'm exhausted and i can't wait for the clerk to be back tomorrow.

obviously that meant i didn't post since my birthday, almost 2 weeks ago.  not making any apologies for that - when you stare at a screen for 12 hours, the last thing you want to do is head home and log more screen time.  my eyes hurt.  i have been on twitter and instagram though, so if you miss me you can always check there!  that definitely makes me a lazy blogger, but i'm okay with it.  if you follow me, you probably know that by now already.

we going to blog today mom?  no?  oh okay.

other than working a lot, what have i been doing?

- pet sitting.  i stay at my parents house when they go out of town and watch their 2 dogs.  they've been making their instagram appearances.  and there will be more since i'll be watching them while my parents go to florida from december 13 until christmas eve.
- thanksgiving.  not a big holiday for my family, but i did go eat at an indian restaurant with my parents and one of my best friends, ida.  she's pretty much family.  she brought pie so it wasn't totally tradition-less, and we did get the christmas tree up!
- decluttering.  making room for the new things that will be coming in on christmas.  there's not many things since i don't like stuff and i request candles, but there are a couple things.  and new toys for hawkeye, so i have to get rid of the ones she doesn't play with but she won't let me.  girl is a hoarder.  also working on the cladwell capsule wardrobe thing, it's fun and it makes sense with how i think.  and it's only $10 for 3 months.  i think it'll help when i think i need a top (but i actually don't and have nothing to match it.)
- shopping.  online of course, in store is just nonsense.  and all the black friday sales were online so that's what i took advantage of.  they've actually been online since last monday and many are still going on, which is crazy.  but i love it.  all my gift shopping is done.
- buying healthy food.  want to do a diet bet with me and tara?  we're doing it in december, pretty sure.  to keep off the holiday pounds.  it's only $10, let me know if you want an invite.
- planning.  i planned and scheduled a ton of stuff for the blog for next year.  but not for the rest of this month.  how's that for priorities?  i have 365 tweets scheduled for 2016, yet not a post in sight for the rest of 2015.  balance?  what is balance?  i think i may do like 3 more posts for the rest of this year.  otherwise, i'm on hiatus til the new year.  i need down time.  those christmas and new year's breaks cannot come soon enough.

now, even though i encourage everyone to declutter, i am doing a giveaway.  you can win the lorac riesling romance eye shadow palette and the urban decay ammo eye shadow palette.  it's not really clutter if it's something you can use up, right?  in any event, i'd ship it to you well before christmas so you can gift it forward if you need a sister/bff gift.  and it true lazy blogger fashion, i'm not doing any sort of annoying entering process.  want the prize?  leave a comment below.  comment system not working for you?  tweet or e-mail or contact me some other way.  send a snapchat if you want (stephs1120); though i don't get snapchat at all i do know how to check what was sent to me.  random number generator will pick a winner.  i'll pick a winner soon, probably sunday so i can mail the palettes on monday or tuesday of next week.

happy entering, may the odds be ever in your favor.

30 Questionable Things I've Done in 30 Years

November 20, 2015

happy birthday to me!  indeed, november 20th, today is the day. 31 years.  that's totally crazy to me.  so while i'm off celebrating (read: getting a cavity fixed at the dentist, working 9 hours, and then going to see the hunger games, what's up adulthood), i decided to collect these gems for you - 30 questionable things i've done in 30 years.  i even got friends' input for this one.  unsurprisingly, very few are from childhood, and most are from college.  nope, nope - most are from law school.  it was a long 3 years guys.

 the year my best friend chris threw my 25th birthday.  and got me the crown.  he's good people.

1. became a cubs fan (#1 because it was the very first - it's a birthright and because it's a horrible disappointment every year and i'm over them.)

(after you check #30, you're going to wonder why i pose like this so often.  i wonder that too.)

2. chiditarod.

3. went to law school.  don't do that.

4. dated a guy from said law school.  don't do that either.  fish bowl.  (but he did have a dale jr. nascar blanket and i don't find that aspect of it questionable at all.)

5. ate m&ms out of a garbage can.  i was a solid... 10 years old.  maybe 11.

6. went to a foam party.

7. spent most of college buying clothes instead of doing laundry.

8. hung out at republic nightclub.  in tube tops no less.

9. tried to get a ride home from a guy driving a pink street sweeper at 3 am.  my friend jeff stopped me.  jeff is posh spice in the above photo, so we're all surprised he made a good decision.

10. played edward 40 hands.  repeatedly.  and after college.  and as a recently as the last time tara was in town.

11. joined a sorority.

12. made my college roommate, manager at burger king, throw me a burger king birthday when i turned 21 and get me all the stuff the little kids get. #chickenfries (p.s., this is the only photo i think i look incredibly young in. and also a little like jamie lynn spears circa zoey 101.)

13. had a shot contest with a frat boy with uv blue and bicardi o.  i still can't even drink orange juice.  (i won by a landslide, in case you're wondering.  and aced a final at 9 a.m. the next day.)

14. had an aol hometown pages webpage and a myspace.  i was born to blog.

15. dance class.

16. skipped summer school macroeconomics and hung out on the lake with cathy until boys we didn't know picked us up on their boat.

17. dressed for halloween as a sexy raccoon.  because that makes sense.  although, the story behind it was because i had wandered off one night and texted tara and that i was in an empty lot and found a cat.  it was probably a raccoon.

18. went snorkeling in the bahamas, like 2 feet from a jellyfish.

19. drove to the university of illinois from iowa, to tailgate with strangers.  i only know the girl to my left.

20. seriously befriended a girl for a summer who was on dr. phil for being a nympho.  she was a lot of fun though.  and had a lake house.  holler, kelly.

21. made 1000 jello shots one new year's eve.

22. and hosted tour de franzia.

23. said yes every time someone's asked me to be a bridesmaid.

24. wore a footed onesie to the tbox bar crawl.  because eventually you outgrow sexy costumes in the cold.  but never bar crawls.

25. tried to pet a opossum.

26. drank massive amounts of surge and then rode my bike with no hands.  scar on my chin will let you know how that one ended.

27. tapped ben wallace on the shoulder in a bar to ask if he played basketball.  (also told jay cutler to his face allll of the mean things i say about him online. #nofilter.)

28. fishbowls.  so many fishbowls. #cantstopwontstop

29. had 13 shots of jameson, that i know of, the day after the bar exam.

30. and everything that led to all of these photos of me, courtesy of betsy.

happy birthday to me indeed.  cheers to still being alive.

Quit Your Job to Blog: A Review

November 17, 2015

 photo courtesy of helene in between

you've heard of it by now, no?  the online course from the blogging guru helene of helene in between.  the e-course is titled 'Quit Your Job to Blog,' which is of course catchy but maybe (a) not true and (b) not for everyone.  those were absolutely my first thoughts so i wanted to review it from the standpoint of a semi-skeptic as well as someone who's been blogging for awhile and has already had months where they've made around $1,000 from blogging.  (and i don't even sell any products.)  not quit my job level by any means, but also not newbie level either.  could i benefit from the course or is it all basics?  the other thought i had was that i didn't want to quit my job.  i don't love being a lawyer every day but i also don't hate it and i know that under no circumstances do i have the self-discipline to work from home.  home = hawkeye play time, all day e'ry day.  work from home self-employment is simply not in my wheelhouse, and i can admit that.  so would i benefit from this course as someone who doesn't want to spend all my days blogging and taking pictures?  i substantially limit my online blogging time, especially compared to someone like helene who does this for a living, and i'm really not looking to increase the amount of time i spend.

so many thoughts, right?  maybe some of you have the same questions.  because it's not chump change.  it's an investment for most people, and you want to know if it's worth it to invest.  that's what i hope to tell you in the following pros and cons:

- about the instructor: helene is a really great speaker.  sometimes i just do not like a person's voice or find it hard to follow, but she has a very calm and easy to understand style.  she also actually has a background in this topic, which i like.  sometimes bloggers just got lucky or don't have info that applies to a wide range of blog topics.  at least helene has a degree in this and has worked many years in this area, for other clients besides just her own blog.  i want to learn from someone with a wide variety of knowledge to share.

- about the set up: it's set up on a website (teachable.)  it tracks where you are in the class, as you can see from my screen shot, so you can leave and come back (even mid video).  perfect for watching at your own pace.  it flows really nicely from one section to the next.  the steps actually make sense, which is good for newbies but also good for vets to skip over stuff they already know.  you can re-watch any thing, any time.  and you get life access, it's not like it's limited.  not like that course on instagram i took that i couldn't see any more after like a week.
- about the content: it is not just what you'd find other places.  some of it is, for sure.  you could search for some things on pinterest and get the answer.  but here, it's all in one place plus a great amount of the content is not intuitive or available elsewhere (personally, i've never found something that tells you specifically what you should charge based on views, twitter followers, etc.)  i think this is because the premise is that you don't need thousands of page views or a niche fashion blog to make money, which is different from the other schools of thought out there on successful blogging.  oh and the downloads!  so many good downloads.  she shares everything she uses so you can just copy and use it too.  like wording for e-mails to sponsors, lists of all her most helpful tools, business plan worksheets - it's a lot.  honestly, a good chunk of the price is worth it just for those.

- there are basics included in this class.  to anyone who's had a blog a year or less, i think this will be  a pro for you, but for me it's a con.  i already knew the info.  just my honest opinion!  but i'm not sure that's totally fair, since i don't think you could have the class at all without putting in some basics, since every person watching will be at a different skill level.
- you may have a little trouble on an older computer.  it was easier for me to access everything at home on my mac.  on my dinosaur work computer, i couldn't open the word documents.  they're in .docx version, which is the newer version of word, when my computer generally only works with .doc versions.  probably won't be an issue for anyone else but i thought i should mention it.  but you can contact helene for versions you can work with, she's very good about that.
- i don't think this is a con with the course but as someone really into finances and loving debt free life, you need to focus more on your income and needs/wants before you just quit your job.  helene is passionate about blogging and she does offer a section on the financial aspect and knowing when you can start blogging full time, but seriously, you need to do more.  that's bossy of me to say, but it's the truth.  do not just walk in next week and say i quit and think you're going to instantly make 5 grand a month from blogging.  that's not real life, and she doesn't tell you to do that anyway.  but just in case.  since this is a course on the blogging aspect, i think it does give you a good overview of the finances (what you can expect to make, how you can increase that number, etc etc) but i would go even further if you want to make that leap.  finances are really important, have a good handle on it.  get realistic about what you spend.  get realistic about how much time you're going to put into your blog.  use the blog business plan that's provided and then do more than what's recommended in the course.

with all that said, there is something i want to note: there are more offerings than just this particular e-course  if you follow helene and sign up for her newsletter, you'll get alerts when she releases something new.  she offers free webinars regularly and just put up a free e-course on how to build a successful blog.  this is a great way to get started if you're not sure you want to spend they money.  you'll get an idea of helene's teaching style and info that she offers, so you'll be able to better decide if you want to go the full course mode.

that was way longer than i anticipated.  hopefully you made it this far and found at least something here helpful!  if you have any particular questions, i can answer them for you.  but i can still sum up the main reason you're here: do i think the course is something useful and something i think you should spend your money on?  yes.  ask for it for christmas, buy it herei think it's info you can't find elsewhere, i think it's helpful downloads and worksheets, i think it's personalized advice and an instructor you can contact always, and i think it's a step by step guide to getting you more money.  i don't know that i'd ever put in the time like helene does and do this blog thing full time, but even as a seasoned blogger i found a lot of things i could implement to help this blog make more money without putting in a ton more time.

*she does offer an affiliate program.  if someone buys through your link, you get a part of the profit.  i did not use my affiliate link anywhere in this post.  i wanted to share my thoughts without there being any sort of bias, or anyone thinking i just shared because i want to make money.

101 in 1001 (Round 2)

November 16, 2015

i'm offically starting my next 101 in 1001 list.  well, starting it on january 1.  technically my first list isn't over until march, but the things left on it that i think will get crossed off are mostly just 'wait and see' so i decided to get started on my next list a bit early.  because i love goals, and i love crossing things off lists.  to see the list as a whole and the start and end dates, or keep updated on progress as i go, you can check here or the 101 in 1001 tab along the top at any time.

even though i have a page dedicated to the list, i did want to throw up a post about it as well.  sometimes people are curious about what you picked and i wanted a place to share some insight into a few of them.  not all, so if i missed something that isn't self-explanatory, ask me in the comments.

also as a side note, i got so busy the last few weeks that i never responded to comments on at least 3 posts.  sorry guys.  i thought about doing it today but.... i'm not going to.  i will resume with this post and the other 3 posts coming this week, promise!

001.  Pick which yearly party to host - it's a thing in john's family, having parties for every holiday.  he wants to take over hosting one of them.  as long as it's one that's more focused on the drinks than the food, i'm happy.
002.  Eat at a cajun restaurant for Mardi Gras
003.  Make Easter baskets for the dogs to find - oh yeah, i'm that person.  once we get our house, john's (family) dog thor is coming to live with us too.  and dogs hunting for easter baskets is freaking adorable.
004.  Make red, white, and blue jello shots
005.  Decorate our house for Halloween
006.  Go to a haunted house
007.  Go to Fright Fest at Six Flags
008.  Host Legends of the Hidden Temple Halloween - this is for sure happening for halloween 2016 in case you live in chicago and want to attend.  john and i are team silver snakes, and blue, green, and purple have been called as well.  orange and red are still up for grabs.  what?  you don't make your friends plan their holiday 11 months in advance?  well you're crazy.
009.  Decorate our house for Christmas
010.  Start a new Christmas tradition
011.  Pay for Christmas one year using only Swagbucks
012.  Start a New Year's tradition

013.  Go to the 4 main Chicago museums - i consider these to be the shedd aquarium, the planetarium, the field museum, and the museum of science and industry.  people argue that the art institute would be one, but i loathe it there.  i loathe standing around looking at art in general, to be honest.  i like to touch stuff.
014.  Spend a day at Northerly Island and stay for the fireworks
015.  See a stand up comedy sho
016.  Spend a day at Arlington Park
017.  Try 5 new Chicago breweries
018.  Get drinks at 95th - the john hancock building has a bar on the 95th floor, which i both love and am terrified of.  it's fun.
019.  Go to Lincoln Park Zoo (when the polar bears and penguins are back) - they were building a new habitat the last time we went, so we missed them and they're two of my favorite animals to see.
020.  Do a dive bar crawl around my current apartment
021.  Get drinks at the Trump with Mom
022.  Spend the day on/around Michigan Avenue shopping at Christmas time
023.  Visit the Botanical Gardens
024.  Visit the Brookfield Zoo

Food and Drinks
025.  Eat at SuperDawg
026.  Eat at Omega diner and get peppermint ice cream - i used to go here a lot in high school (with john actually, after his football games) and i swear they have the greatest peppermint ice cream in the world.  we have to go back!
027.  Try 101 different bars and restaurants - it seems ambitious now, but considering we'll spend a day in wrigleyville and hit 6 different bars without trying, it won't be that hard.
028.  Try 101 different beers - there's an app i can track this with.  untapped, i think.
029.  Make alcoholic granita
030.  Come up with a meal planning strategy
031.  Drink green tea daily for 1 month
032.  Be vegan for 1 month
033.  Do the full 6 weeks on the Eat to Live plan
034.  Make (or delete) every recipe on my Pinterest board
035.  Get grocery budget down to what it should be - $100 to $150 per person, per month.  people have said it's $150 now, but $300 a month for two people for groceries seems like a lot to me.
036.  Learn to make iced coffee I like

037.  Declutter everything before moving - i plan on going through each area and filming before and after videos for my youtube channel.
038.  Decorate our home
039.  Paint every room that needs it
040.  Get a new bed
041.  Set up a successful cleaning schedule
042.  Get a 'J' door wreath or hanging initial
043.  Create an organized solution for each area in the house
044.  Set up annual home maintenance calendar
045.  Build a pretty and functional laundry area
046.  Build a cute entryway and front yard
047.  Fence in the back yard
048.  Meet our neighbors

049.  Get parents' VHS tapes onto DVD - i can't even believe they still have some, but they do.  vhs tapes degrade over time so i don't know that they'll even still work, but if they do i'll make sure to get them on dvd.
050.  Go to the mall in Rosemont with Mom
051.  Watch Dad's favorite movies with him
052.  Have a planned date night at least once a week for a full year
053.  Go on a vacation with John
054.  Watch John's favorite TV show (The Shield) and top 5 movies
055.  Have a fun celebration for John's 30th birthday
056.  Have a yearly blog day with Betsy
057.  Film at least one vlog with Tara
058.  Get breakfast food at Ronnie's with Ida
059.  Find one really good present for John's dad
060.  Go to country night at a bar with Megan

061.  Get dog stairs for Hawkeye
062.  Buy a full length mirror
063.  Work a regular cleaning service into the budget
064.  Find my holy grail in each makeup item - i started working on this, just by sorting what i currently own and also testing new primers at sephora and this is going to be harder than i thought.  i don't have many i consider holy grail status!
065.  Find holy grail skincare and hair care products - this may be easier, as i'm really picky about my hair and skincare stuff.  i do already know what i like in a lot of products.
066.  Get Hawkeye's teeth cleaned - i asked my vet and it's like $400+ to get her teeth cleaned.  are you kidding me?  jesus.
067.  Get a treadmill
068.  Order blog business cards - erin designed me super pretty cards and i have yet to actually get on vistaprint or a similar site and order them.  i need to.
069.  Get a fall/winter purse
070.  Find sunglasses I actually like - why is this so hard?  where do you get yours?
071.  Buy a new vacuum
072.  Don't acquire anything new without discarding something in it's place for 1 year

Trying New Things
073.  Renew my passport - i have no idea when this expired, but the last time i left the country was for a cruise post-law school graduation (2010.)  and before that to india in 2005 and the bahamas in 2001.  i didn't get it updated in that time frame, so i assume it's expired by now.
074.  Hit 10,000 steps on 101 different days - as told by the health app on my iphone, because i don't have a fitbit or anything.
075.  Have a $10k untouchable emergency fund - we have a lot in savings, unlike apparently most americans (according to studies i read.)  but i feel like it's all earmarked for something, whether it's retirement or house updates.  i would feel better knowing there's an account with $10k in it, that will be used for nothing but a real emergency.
076.  Get my FOID card and go to the shooting range - firearm owners i.d. card.  i don't know if that's what it's called in other states too, but just so you know.
077.  Completely use up or otherwise get rid of 20 lipsticks - i would like to be at around 15 or so lipsticks and glosses.  which would require me getting rid of about 35.  yikes.
078.  Go one week without wearing a plain ponytail
079.  Go one month without using heat on my hair
080.  Perfect morning and night routines
081.  Try at least 5 money saving DIY projects from Pinterest
082.  Create and use blog and social media editorial calendar
083.  Learn my favorite phrase in 5 new languages - which is 'two beers please, my friend will pay.'  this was on my last list, and i can now say it in spanish, french, italian, german, and vietnamese.  i'd like to add polish, irish, urdu, and maybe greek and swedish.
084.  Work on the Rory Gilmore reading challenge - never heard of it?  check here.  i'd be happy checking off at least 3 new ones.

085.  Pete Wilt 5 crack machines
086.  Make a date night box or jar
087.  Go to a country concert (ideally Florida Georgia Line)
088.  Visit Wisconsin Dells
089.  Write 20 blog posts in 1 weekend
090.  Play glow in the dark mini golf 
091.  Tailgate in Iowa City
092.  Set up a new vanity area with makeup and jewelry storage
093.  Make Hawkeye paw print art
094.  Cull and organize my Pinterest boards
095.  Play trivia at Corner Bar
096.  Make homemade food for the dogs

The List
097.  Help Betsy complete one goal on her list
098.  Donate $1001 to animal shelters over the 1001 days 
099.  Photograph and blog/vlog about at least 50 completed goals
100.  Complete 90% of this list without editing any goals
101.  Celebrate completing the list and potentially make a 3rd

i think it's a good mix of harder and easier goals, cheaper and more expensive, shorter and long term, etc.  fingers crossed!  i'm not worried though, i did well the first time around.  what do you think?  anything i should change before the officially start date?  do you have a 101 list or some other sort of goals list?  link it in the comments i'd love to check it out!

Wait, What, It's Tuesday?

November 10, 2015

it's tuesday, november 10 and i have no idea how that happened.  i swear i just celebrated halloween on saturday, no?  somewhere, i lost like a week.  i blame daylight savings.  or something.  where did my time go?

i guess i have been productive, outside of this blog.  put up a post?  nope.  respond to comments?  nope.  plan my 2nd 101 in 1001 list to start january 1?  yes, almost ready.  get all my christmas shopping done and about half the presents wrapped?  you bet!  i have an odd sense of priorities, time-wise.  i'm good at planning things pretty far in the future, but planning the next two days seems to be outside of my wheelhouse.  i have no idea why this is.

[i also bought tickets to the hunger games movie next friday, anyone else?  which also happens to be my 31st birthday.  31, that's crazy.  i am currently working on a post for that day - '30 questionable things i've done in 30 years.'  you're welcome in advance.]

i have been updating instagram, so you can follow me there for your regular dose of hawkeye.  apparently i can't focus on more than 1 social media thing at once - it's either this blog, or instagram, or twitter, or pinterest, but never more than one at a time.  since they all tie together i think that makes me a bad blogger.  in real life i can multi-task, i swear.

although... not really during the fall.  the weather has gotten a bit cooler (a bit, chicago, it's still 50 degrees.  put away the winter coats and scarves, jeez), and when that happens i like to snuggle on the couch with the dog and sometimes john and watch netflix marathons.  i go out more in december and january when it snows and is cold, since i love winter, but fall... it's like spring, it makes my sinuses hurt and makes me tired.  so i guess that's where my nights have been going - get home from work, walk the dog, light a candle, sit on the couch with said dog (+ john if he's not working) and watch ncis.  yep, it's pretty good actually.  sorry online life.  you've been neglected.

Three on Thursday

November 5, 2015

welcome back to three on thursday, a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites.  

1. nars satin lip pencil in bansar.  my perfect fall color.  i think it would work for a lot of people though, so i think you should try it.  i get compliments and what is it where can i get it questions every single time i wear it.  all their satin lip pencils are great though, whatever color you choose.  they're creamy and long wearing, easy to touch up and wear off nicely (because we all know the lip ring look is not cute.)

2. crockpot lemon rice soupi always order this at greek restaurants, but then i found just how easy it is to make at home.  thanks pinterest.  make this!  so good for the colder weather.

3. voluspa maison candles at nordstroms.  they are pricey, but worth it.  on par with bath and body works, both price wise and in quality.  well, let's be honest - better quality because of the adorable tins and glasses and the burn time.  they burn longer than bath and body works candles, i've tested them.  they all smell amazing, filling the whole house with scent, and make adorable christmas gifts because they come in (at least?) 3 different sizes.  i love the trio to get the best deal, but nothing beats the crisp champagne scent or the laguna scent.

anyone else christmas shopping yet?  or even better, done already??  i'm getting close.  (i got that lip pencil for john's sister actually, since she liked it so much.)  hopefully you get some inspiration from this post.  december is creeping up quickly, friends.

Three on Thursday [Halloween Edition]

October 29, 2015

welcome back to three on thursday, a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites.  this week we're all about halloween of course!  it's my favorite holiday of the year, actually. 

1. hocus pocus drinking game.  i've mentioned this before, probably around this time last year.  but it is my mission to share it with the world.  let's be honest - you're going to watch this movie.  we all do it, every year.  it's a classic!  make it more entertaining with this themed drinking game.


2. halloween makeup tutorials.  there's so many good ones but i've been loving the series by shaaanxo. especially this mermaid one! though her creepy, gory ones really speak to my halloween loving heart, i'll be honest.

3. 2 halloween netflix movie picks - tucker and dale versus evil for the wusses out there.  it's hilarious and campy and terrible and great all at the same time.  and children of the corn for those looking to be scared.  an oldie but goodie.  and it was filmed in iowa.

happy halloween!  enjoy your weekend!

I Finished 25 Movies!

October 28, 2015

in case you don't remember this post, i decided this year to participate in jenn's movie challenge.  to watch 25 movies in the different categories she set, and i finished!  (i think i finished in 1st place actually...) the rate at which i finished these... was quick but not surprising, really.  john's pretty game for watching a movie every week night, rather than going out.  and if i'm alone and doing laundry or cleaning/organizing, i can easily knock out two at a time.  so here's my thoughts on what i finished:

one. any set in new york city. Shaft.  it's totally cheesy.  i thought it was a legit, serious cop movie, but it's so not.  it's more funny than anything.

two. any incorporating hot air balloons in the story. The Mummy 2 loved!  i had only ever seen the first one, so i marathoned it, plus this and the 3rd, and then the scorpion king.  they're so good.  scorpion king was awesome, but that might be my love of the rock talking.

three. any featuring a child as the main character. The Big Green.  typical disney movie of my childhood.  it was like little giants but with soccer instead of football.  it was cute though.

four. any disney film. The Sorcerer's Apprentice. i swear, nicolas cage just plays nicolas cage.  i think it's why i love him.  not my fave of his movies (or of disney movies) but it was good.  ending was a little off.  like... there was a lot of build up and the ending was just super quick or something.  i expected more.

five. any set in egypt OR have an egyptian character OR star an egyptian actor/actress. The Scorpion King. see #2

six. a close friend or family member's favorite film. Blazing Saddles - john's dad's pick.  john's pick is roadhouse.  we did both one movie night.  they're both totally terrible, but in a hilarious way of course.  though blazing saddles is worse.

seven. any with the word great in the title. The Great Gatsby.  it was what i thought.  i love leo, he's a phenomenal actor.  and the movie is visually beautiful.  but ugh that gatsby story line, i just hate it.  i thought they made daisy more likable in the movie, because i loathed her in the book.

eight. any starring harrison ford. Patriot Games.  i have no idea what i thought it was about, but it wasn't what i expected.  i think i got it confused with the mel gibson one.  the patriot?  regardless, it was good, i really liked this one!

nine. any featuring an idiot as the main character. Black Sheep. hilarious!  just like tommy boy, it's my kind of movie.  stupid funny.  john loved it too.

ten. any mentioned in levis strauss' list: denim in the oscars: a look at jeans in cinema. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.  again, i have no idea what i thought it was about, but it was not what i was expecting.  for some reason i thought it was a totally serious movie.  nope.  the ending was uggggh but the movie was really great.  i can see why it's my dad's fave.

eleven. a film about a knight. Braveheart. uggggh. hated it.  it was going ok and then they stabbed the horse and i was 1000% done.  too bad i still had 2 hours left to go.  and i knew, i just knew, there would be so much more horse stabbing and falling and hurt neighing and i just cannot.  hated this movie with every fiber of my being.  (i realize, i hope at least, that the horses weren't actually hurt.  and that the stunt horses were made of foam rubber. does not change my opinion.)  terrible rotten sucky movie and if i weren't so determined to finish this list, i would have shut it off after the first 20 minutes.  i don't like animal stunts in movies.  two horses died in flicka, you know.  even without all the horse issues though, it was an otherwise terrible movie.  why is this a classic?  why do people love it?  it sucks.

twelve. a love story. Top Gun.  no, i had never seen it.  it was fine.  probably could have been content never seeing it but meh, at least it's off the list and people can stop saying 'you've never seen top gun?!'

thirteen. a movie about something miraculous. Miracle.  i loved this one.  it was probably too slow for some people but i like hockey and i like this story and i thought it was an awesome movie.

fourteen. any starring an actor/actress with the same first name as yours. You're Not You.  definitely saw the story/ending coming from a mile away.  it was sweet, well-acted, all around a good movie just... not my type of movie.

fifteen. a film about the olympics. The Cutting Edge.  as good as everyone said, or better.  the lines are just hilarious.

sixteen. a film on time magazine's list: the top ten newspaper movies. Welcome to Sarajevo.  i liked it better than i thought i would.  i have literally nothing else to say about it.

seventeen. any with a question in the title. Are We There Yet? ice cube on kids: "they're like cockroaches, except you can't squish 'em."  i take back every negative thing i said about having to watch an ice cube movie.  i was super into this one, it was funny and he hated the kids up until the last 10 minutes of the movie, which i can definitely get on board with.

eighteen. any with a score of ninety percent or greater on rotten tomatoes. Snowpiercer.  the ending is strangely realistic, which i like.  spoiler alert - this is not a boy gets the girl (there is no girl, anyway) and defeats the villain and lives happily ever after movie.  and i think that's why i like it.  it's dark. 

nineteen. a film about a superhero. Hellboy.  i like this one.  apparently there's a second and i'm going to find it.  i'm not usually big on super hero movies that don't star robert downey jr, but this was an exception.

twenty. any with subtitles. Ragnarok - terrible disaster movies are my jam, this was no different.  it was like... anaconda, but in finland.  and i loved every terrible horribly-acted minute of it.

twenty-one. any incorporating unicorns in the story. Stardust.  didn't hate it, for not being a fan of love stories or claire danes.  it was really weird but also kind of cute.

twenty-two. a film about a personal victory. The Maze Runner.  really, really good.  i'm so excited to see scorch trials now.

twenty-three. a film with black or white in the title. Little Black Book.  fine, predictable, cute.  i miss brittany murphy.

twenty-four. any set in a country you would most like to visit. Scott Pilgrim vs The World. so freaking weird.  i knew that going into it (people warned me) but still... anna kendrick and all and i still couldn't love it.  it was just too weird and jumpy, and i don't smoke nearly enough pot to have enjoyed it. (i've never smoked pot in my life, for the record.)

twenty-five. a film set in a zoo. We Bought a Zoo.  adorable!  i can't believe it doesn't get better reviews, it's so stinking cute.  and so is matt damon.

so with all that said, here's what i learned - just because the world likes it, doesn't mean i will.  in fact, it likely means i won't.  oscar winner picker i am not.  braveheart ended up being my least favorite.  and the dumbass ice cube movie was pretty high on my 'liked it' list.  i'm a conundrum, what can i say?  now i'm currently working on the bonus round, but i'm not doing nearly as well.  i've only checked off 5 out of 15 since it started october 15.  you can see my list in the comments here, except entourage instead of the rage for a gary busey movie.

thanks for hosting, jenn.  i hope you do it again next year, i'm in!

Saving Money on Halloween (and After)

October 27, 2015

well, i'm past the days of buying store bought costumes.  partly because they're not creative enough, partly because they're too slutty and i'm at the age when i just want to be warm, but mostly because they're too expensive and really, you only wear it once.  i'm a cheapskate, we all know it.  so here's a couple other ways i wanted to share with you to save money this halloween - and after!


buy your trick or treater candy last minute.  i know you're thinking that you'll get a better deal price -wise if you shop early, and that may be true.  but here's the thing - you're going to eat it all and then need to buy more anyway.  don't even pretend like i'm not right.  just buy it last minute and therefore only buy it once.  you'll save money in the long run.

non-chocolate candy is cheaper than the chocolate stuff.

and you can get name brand candy at the dollar store.

if you can hold out and not eat it all, buy the discount candy strategically once it goes on sale on november 1.  things that are fall colored like orange and brown are totally fine for thanksgiving, as long as they don't blatantly say happy halloween on the individual packaging.  a lot of things, like sweet tarts baggies or mini packs of gummy bears, aren't in any sort of seasonal packaging once you get past the outer bag.  these work for stocking stuffers come christmas.

if you're still wanting pumpkins, they're cheaper at the grocery store.  particularly if you have kids who would want to go on hayrides or buy candy apples at a farm.  they're also cheaper the closer it is to halloween.

make your own costume from things you already have.  fill a clear garbage bag with balloons and go as a bag of jelly beans.  or do all purple balloons and go as grapes.  get a few mini boxes of cereal all beat up and fake bloody and tape them to you and go as a cereal killer.  it's pretty easy to find all these and more on pinterest and barely spend a dime.  or try one of the makeup tutorials i'll show you this coming thursday.

go out rather than host a party.  it's so expensive to host.  go to a friend's party or to a bar.  here in chicago, you should never pay full price for anything on halloween - every single bar has specials and wristband deals for a couple hours of open bar!

or just stay home watching scary movies on netflix, with the lights off, ignoring any doorbells.  nothin wrong with that, my friends.

but if you're handing out candy at home, embrace the creepy aspect and turn out the lights (besides any that let the trick or treaters know your house is open for business!)  light your decorations with glow sticks (like using toilet paper rolls with eyes cut out and a glow stick inside, hiding in your bushes.)  saving on your electric bill is still saving money.

everything is on massive sale the day after halloween, as is all seasonal merchandise after a holiday.  stock up on decor or costumes for next year.  halloween specialty stores desperately want to clear out their inventory.

any tips i missed?  share them in the comments!  and have a happy halloween!

Three on Thursday [Short Edition]

October 22, 2015

welcome back to three on thursday, a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites.  i titled it short edition this week, not because there's less than 3, but because i'm really swamped and didn't have time for photos or long descriptions!  but i think you'll get the jist of these week's favorites anyway.  check them out!

1. recyclebank this is a website where you do mini quizzes (5 questions, you can get them all wrong) or click through mini slide shows about recycling to earn points.  those points can be redeemed for many things, like movie tickets or store discounts, but i use my points towards magazine subscriptions.  actually, i use them towards subscriptions for my mom, which i always renew around this time so they arrive for christmas.  it takes almost no effort to get enough points for 2 year subscriptions of real simple, martha stewart, runner's world, shape, self - all things my mother loves.  just try it out, it's totally free.  you'll see what i mean when you're there.  very very simple, and hooray for free magazines!  also, it's a pretty awesome company; you can get points for recycling as well and they work with communities and donate to schools.

2. battleship online tara introduced me.  sometimes, you just need a mental break from the work day.

3. books by celebrities.  namely, melissa explains it all by melissa joan hart and down the rabbit hole by holly madison.  they're fluffy reads and i love that, but to be honest, i didn't read them - i listened to them on audible.  because they're narrated by their respective authors, which i find so fun.  if you know of any others that are similarly formatted, let me know in the comments because i'm loving listening to them while i walk to work.

happy thursday!

This Is Mostly Just to Show Off Hawkeye

October 20, 2015

i am, surprisingly, not hungover after my weekend with tara.  i did get insanely busy at work though, so while i haven't had time for post writing, i have had time for video editing.  well, not much editing.  basically us playing flip cup in an empty parking lot, and video of hawkeye in her favorite bar.  because i'm sure you're wondering how i spend my time and well, this is it.  happy fall!

you can also view it on my youtube channel, where you can give it a thumbs up and subscribe.

Three on Thursday

October 15, 2015

welcome back to three on thursday, a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites. 

1. pull on dress pants from ny and co yes that's right.  they look like typical work pants, but they're pull on like yoga pants - no buttons, no zippers, it basically feels like wearing yoga pants or sweat pants to work!  i practically live in these things in the colder months.  you're welcome.

2. the beginning of fall seems like a good time to remind everyone that snickerdoodle apple cobbler exists, and it's the easiest thing ever to make.  it's like, what, 6 ingredients and 5 steps?  you'll love it.  you won't love sharing it, but i don't think you have to anyway.  apples are good for you, or something.

3. this post from lauren, though i'm a couple months late in remembering to share it.  i'm definitely stealing it one day, because real life posts are fun.

happy thursday!

Chicago Blackhawks 2015 Banner Raising [New Video]

October 9, 2015

in case you didn't know, the blackhawks won the stanley cup a few months ago.  wednesday was opening day of the new season, so they had a whole ceremony thing for raising the banner up into the ceiling of the united center (with all our other champion banners, holla!)  john's brother ended up getting us all tickets (you'll see him and his girlfriend beth in the video as well.)  i filmed a ton of it, and ending up loving the awesome footage so i decided to add it to my youtube channel.  the video is about 4 minutes long.  i did fun edits and put pictures and music in, so hopefully you like it.  you still get the jist without the sound, for those of you watching at work.  but the sound is more fun.  my edits and photos start at about a minute 40, but the first part is really neat.  they had these light up wristbands at each seat that they lit up during the entire ceremony and game, in different patterns.  you'll see what i mean.  such a fun effect.

check it out on youtube and if you like it and want to see more videos, subscribe and give it a thumbs up.  that stuff helps out, analytics-wise.  i'm still not entirely sure how, i just know it does!

happy friday!

Three on Thursday

October 8, 2015

welcome back to three on thursday, a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites. 

1. scentbird.  scentbird is like a subscription box but better - you get sent a .25 oz spritzer of perfume each month for $15.  it's about 30 days worth of perfume.  and you get to pick the scent, so it's never a surprise.  if you use my link, you get a free month.  i think it's the second month, so you pay $15 for the first month then get the second month free.  then you could cancel if you wanted and essentially get 2 high end perfume spritzers for just $15.  which is a steal because, for example, they have prada candy and viktor and rolf flowerbomb, both of which are $30 at sephora for the exact same size.  i just got a givenchy one that i love and i have a cartier one coming next.  i highly recommend it!

2. ace pumpkin cider i dunno, it's like 70s here today so is it really fall yet?  i don't think so but it was colder over the weekend so we busted out the ace pumpkin cider.  you can get it at target.  i think it tastes like pumpkin pie but without the super sweetness.  there's a lot of pumpkin beers but they all tend to be very wheat-y, which triggers john's allergies.  all wheat beers do this, but pumpkin ones seem to be worse.  so we go with the cider version for a nice fall drink.  for one or two, and then i switch back to pbr, because i'm a lady.

3. PlanInColor etsy shopif you're a paper planner lover, get yourself some sticker's from erin's etsy shop.  her designs are great, but what i love is that she also has things in normal, neutral colors.  i love color of course, but i can't use crazy ass stickers in my planner at work and expect to be taken seriously.  and she has gameday stickers!  even though my fantasy team is 0-4, the bears are awful as always, at least my hawkeyes are undefeated so i can still appreciate a good football sticker.

i also hired erin awhile to make my blog business cards, so i know she does good work.  highly recommend her.

happy thursday!

Tips & Tricks: The Key to Thicker, Fuller Hair

October 6, 2015

even though my hair my hair was falling out like crazy for awhile there, it's stabilized now.  it's not shedding, so now i'm trying to get it back to the fluffy mane it used to be.  now, i'm not an expert.  i'm not even a beauty or hair blogger.  this is just what i found works for me after trial and error.  but i'm hoping something in this line up will work for you too.

step 1. apply Women’s ROGAINE® Foam daily.  Women’s ROGAINE® Foam is the first and only FDA-approved once daily treatment with 5% minoxidil proven to regrow hair.  it's easy to apply just once a day, morning or night (though i do it right before bed.)  the foam can be used on chemically processed or color treated hair (my hair is highlighted!) and with any of the styling products i mention below because it doesn't leave any greasy residue.  as i mentioned before, it's what my dermatologist recommended and i've been using it daily since.

when i posted a couple weeks ago about starting the Women’s ROGAINE® Foam, a few people expressed interest in trying it as well.  if that's something you're looking into, there's a coupon available here for you.  the rest of the steps i take on my hair all involve temporarily fluffing it up or using something that coats the strands, but the foam is the only thing that's actually going to the root of the problem.  root.  see what i did there?!  but really, it's the only part that will actually regrow thicker hair and stop the thinning problem.  the rest is just a cover up.  but it still works so on to the rest of the steps:

step 2. use a thickening shampoo and conditioner.  i find that big from lush gives me really good volume, and the mane 'n tail conditioner leaves my hair feeling soft and healthy.  i also use an apple cider vinegar shampoo once a week, just to get any build up off my scalp.

step 3. apply a root lifter, a leave in conditioner/detangler, and a blow dry spray.  i use unite 7seconds as a detangler - this way, i'm not breaking any hairs trying to yank knots out.  then i use a root lifter to put texture at the top of my head, and then a blow dry spray or lotion all over.  this makes your hair dry faster plus it protects your hair from the heat of the blow dryer.  heat is a bad habit for your hair, even just the blow dryer.

step 4. use combs that don't hurt your hair.  never use a regular hair brush on wet hair.  i use a wide tooth cricket comb until it's mostly dry, then finish with a paddle brush.

step 5. use a good blow dryer, with the diffuser attached, and dry your hair upside down.  i use the rusk speed freak, and i have found that it dries my hair faster and with less frizz than the last 2 hair dryers i've had.  it can be pricey, but i highly recommend it and you can usually find it on sale.  drying your hair upside down directs the roots the opposite way so they lift up off your scalp, giving the appearance of fluffier hair.

step 6. use a volumizing hair spray and don't mess with it too much during the day.

tips for thick hair

all of these styling tips and tricks are great but the only long term solution is Women’s ROGAINE® Foam so together you will achieve optimal results.  i had a few more questions after my initial research into the foam, so i turned to celebrity hairstylist Jill Crosby (who has many helpful youtube videos on this topic!)

1. how do you know if your hair loss is normal or if it's really a problem that needs to be addressed?
Jill: "A good test to see if you may be experiencing more than normal hair loss is to gently run your hand through your hair from root to end and see how many strands of hair come out in your hand. If its 6 or more, you may be losing excess hair."  indeed, my dermatologist did this test - i failed miserably.  6?  i had like 16-16 every time he touched my head!

2. what are some bad hair habits that can make thinning hair worse?
Jill: "Bad hair habits for any hair type, including thinning hair, are to over work your hair with too much heat, tension and chemicals."  i was right on this one!  put the curling iron down.  and the blow dryer.

3. what about my highlighted hair?  should i stop highlighting my hair while i use the foam?
Jill: "No, you can do both color and use the treatment, just space them a day apart and then continue your Women’s ROGAINE® Foam routine as usual."

4. what about salon care in general - should women with thinning hair stay away from colors and cuts until the problem improves?
Jill: "Cutting and coloring can actually be a benefit while using this product as long as (and this is important) she is working with a well trained colorist and stylist."  the right color and cut can hide the fact that you have thinning patches, but... it isn't a job for the newbies at the hair school.  find a good salon.

5. what if i don't wash my hair? how does the foam interact with dry shampoo?
Jill: "We recommend not going too many days in between washing especially if you also use hair products because the treatment is a scalp based application.  So to get right to the scalp and penetrate is the key to its efficacy."  okay, so it was good i asked this one.  i'm as guilty as the next girl of turning to the dry shampoo too often.  make sure the foam can get to the scalp!

there you have it!  my hair care routine for full, thick, fluffy, soft, non-frizzy hair.  i hope it helps you too. 

Women’s ROGAINE® Foam product was provided by the brand. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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