Las Vegas 2015

on a scale of 1 to kylie jenner's lips, how much do you not want to hear about a vacation recap?  yeah, i hear you.  i did go to vegas, i am back, and i am going to post pictures but i am not doing a recap or review or any of that.  except maybe some money saving tips, next week if i feel like it.

so let's just sum it up real quick and get to the part where i post pictures i look pretty in: we booked a trip to vegas for our 2 year anniversary (aw cute), included john's brother eric and his girlfriend beth, stayed at caesars palace on the strip (for free, thanks to my dad's frequent gambler credits), walked 21,000 steps in one day (yup), drank a lot, bet a lot, ate a lot, went to downtown vegas plus about 10 hotels/casinos on the strip, came home having broken even.  didn't see shows because i've been to vegas 20 times and i've seen them all and didn't do clubs because i hate clubbing.  and crowds.  and 21 year olds.  laid out by the pool to try to recover, but i still need another vacation.

any questions?  cool, here's photos.

Some Things I Just Don't Pay For

Hello friends of Stephanie. I'm Holly and I blog over at Cat Hair and Glitter.  I am so excited to be guest posting today. I have been stalker of her blog, sometimes even drunk commenting, from the very beginning.  When Stephanie offered me a chance to guest post I was ready to jump at the chance, but, I had no clue what to talk about. So I asked all my closest friends. They had no clue either, because they don't have blogs and didn't understand what I was talking about.

I can't even tell you what I usually write about, because it varies. I have five cats and two crazy Shih Tzu's. They are all rescues. You can read more about them here and here. I also sometimes talk about my kids and the house I bought just last fall. I'm doing it all on my own, because I am pretty terrible at relationships. People ask me all the time how I do it all on my own. I am crediting it all to how I handle money.

Stephanie is the most disciplined person I know when it comes to money management. No way could I do a "Spending Frost" like hers. I can't even make a spending freeze last two days. But one thing I am good at is cutting costs in other areas. There are just some things I will not pay for.

  • Services I think I can do myself. I fixed the belt on my dryer and when I broke the door trying to figure out how to get to the belt, I fixed that too. What did we ever do before Youtube videos? I have also built a deck rail and changed the head lights on my car. You would never believe that when I was married, I would beg him to hang shelves for me because I didn't know how to do anything. I don't try to do everything myself, though. This winter was brutal on my new house. My gutters fell off and my pipes burst. I hired someone to fix those, and when my HVAC died last week I called a repair person for that too. I know my limitations and electric and plumbing are where I have to draw the line.
  • Photos. I just can't see spending the money for the portraits the schools offer... especially when the pictures all look like mug shots. I am by no means a professional, but I do think I beat what we have to offer around here. This is a picture I took of my daughter before prom. 
 photo IMG_9778_zpsy8g2qwz3.jpg
  • Painting my house. I once got suckered into spending $600 to paint a very small living room. If the quality wasn't so bad I may not have complained so much but for $600 I don't expect to see the original layer bleed through because they assumed a coat was enough. I am not so picky that I care if there is a spot on the ceiling, but I better not see another color peeking through at me. I am in the process of ridding my house of  its all brown walls. So far I have painted my kitchen and bathroom. It's a lot slower process than you'd think.
  • Cable or Satellite.  I just paid Direct TV off from when I lived with someone. He agreed to pay half of the bill if I left it on. That wasn't the case toward the end of the contract. I am content to have my Hulu and Netflix. Who needs a $200 cable bill. Television just isn't worth that to me. Hell, I still haven't upgraded to a flat screen TV because I can't justify getting rid of televisions that still work.
  • Full price. I can't get everything on sale, but I sure do try. I never could grasp regular coupons, also because Newspapers are something I would never waste my money on. But, thanks to apps, I can find sales, get discounts, or even get cash back. My favorites are Retail Me Not, (It gives me codes and online coupons) Hobby Lobby which tells me what that weeks sales are and gives me a 30% off code, and Walmart. I don't live anywhere near a target or really any other department store. My Walmart app has a savings catcher. I scan the receipt and the app does all the work. If they find a cheaper price in my area I get the difference. Since late February I have banked $10.
What are some things you refuse to pay for?

The Best iPhone Apps

 Hey there, Not Entirely Perfect readers!  My name is Rachael, and I blog over at The Rachael Way!  I write about my life living abroad in China (!!!), blogging, travel, and posts from the heart.
just chilling on the great wall! ah!
 Living abroad means that I need to feel connected to my friends and family at home even MORE than I feel I need to when living at home!  (Living 12 hours ahead presents plenty of problems on its own).  As embarrassing as it is to admit, it's totally true that my iPhone keeps me connected and in touch with what is happening.  Today, I'd love to share some apps that make my little world go round!

Instagram & Afterlight
Let's be real here, who isn't addicted to Instagram?  It's seriously awesome!  I love that I can share quick snippets of my day to day life in China (there's some weird things that happen over here, just saying.)

Even though Afterlight costs 99cents (boo!), it's worth it.  Don't you hate it when you take a picture and the lighting is just a little off?  Afterlight can fix that for ya (among many other cool features that I have never taken the time or effort to figure out, #justbeinghonest).

I spend a big part of my day reading articles, whether for work or for leisure.  Whenever I find an article I want to reference later, I will store it in my Pocket!  This syncs with my computer and phone, and then pulls the articles into the app seamlessly for offline reading.  Great if you need to reference a recipe when you are offline.

Yes! Daily
Yes! Daily has become my favorite way to start the day.  The app costs 99cents, but is worth it.  Everyday, there is a different reminder for something you should say yes too, whether that is forgiveness or cheese.  It helps me set the mantra for the day.  Into it.

Whoops, I kind of cheated because this app automatically comes on your iPhone, but I'm super into podcasts lately!  Here are four you need to download.

Okay NEP readers, we all love Steph because she's an organized BOSS.  I tell ya, this app keeps my personal, professional, and blog life organized.  It's basically a digital notebook with different sections that syncs with your phone and computer.  I posted about it here, but I have a notebook for all things blog, all things work and all things travel.  It's awesome!

Trip It!
If you're a frequent traveler, I can not recommend this app more!  Every time you get emailed itineraries for flights or hotels, you simply forward them to, and it will go into the app!  It's great to use if you don't have wifi and need to remember your flight number or address of your hotel.

If by the off chance you ever visit Shanghai, China, you NEED to download SmartShanghai!  You can find the address (in Chinese) to any restaurant or activity you could imagine in the city, as well as including ratings, the metro map, and more.

Now tell me, what are your favorite apps?  Be sure to say hi on twitter or visit the blog! xo

The Best Bands You've Never Heard Of

Hello Not Entirely Perfect Readers! I am Alanna from over at Alanna & Company blog. Today, I'll be sharing some of my favorite bands that you've probably never heard, although you should!

Number one// All time favorite is MuteMath. I first started listening to them in 2006, and the first song I ever heard from them is Typical. They are an alternative rock band that started in New Orleans. Probably one of my favorite songs from them is The Nerve off their 2009 album Armistice. But this is Spotlight, which you might recognize if you watched the Twilight movies.

Number two// Lindsey Stirling. Okay, she technically isn't a band, but she's a violinist, dancer, performance artist, and composer. She has been named by Forbes, was in America's Got Talent and nominated on Billboard. So I'm always shocked when people say they've never heard of her. 

Number three// Phantogram. It's a duo self-described as electric rock. I think I heard of them just this past summer when I spontaneously heard one of their songs on the radio, but my favorite is Howl at the Moon.

Number four// Punch Brothers. So I mentioned them previously; they are a bluegrass band, but wikipedia says that they are described as "bluegrass instrumentation and spontaneity in the strictures of modern classical" whatever the hell that means...I don't like all of their songs because some of them get a bit too twangy for me, but my favorite is Movement and Location and I'm obsessed with it. 

Number five// Animal Collective. Beware! They are a bit trippy. I guess I would describle them as psychedelic electronica? If you watch the music video you'll totally understand. They have some really neat music and are always a go-to for my roadtrips.

Have you heard of any of these bands? Or do you have a favorite band that no one has heard of?

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'If I Had Money' Wish List

hello hello not entirely perfect readers!! i'm lauren, and i blog over at lot 48! at my blog, you can find incredibly random things, from who would play me in a movie to posts filled with kardashian gifs to make fun of them because i kind of love them because they are so ridiculous and are so out of touch with reality.  you will not find recipes (well, rarely) DIY projects, fitness crap, or fashion posts.  not my jam.  i just like to have fun and write about things that will hopefully make you smile. 

i am so happy to take over steph's blog today! i'm so excited that she is in vegas! i was just there! you can read about my weekend here! it was so much fun! 

today i wanted to talk about my wish list for what i would do if i had money.  money is nice.  and having a lot of it would be even nicer.  there are so many things that i want to do and see, but you can only do it if you have money! 

the #1 thing i would want to do if i had money is travel to these places. the thing about me and traveling though, is that it is verrry exhausting.  so i like to go slow.  i would want a lot of time in each of these places so i could relax and see everything.  i went to san francisco a few months ago, and when i woke up on the last day to get on the plane to go home, i nearly started to cry because i was soooo exhausted. we had packed so much into so little time, i didn't remember being so exhausted ever.  so if in the future, i would want a good chunk of time in each place so i wouldn't be cranky from exhaustion. 

each of these places are just so gorgeous and appealing and i have always wanted to go!! what are some places on your bucket list that you want to go to? 

a house. my husband and i live in a tiny little 600 square foot apartment right now and i am aching for a house.  we are a few years away from getting a house, but i really can't wait until we get one.  we go to the parade of homes every year so i can fantasize and drool over all the gorgeous million dollar homes and pretend for just a second that i live there. 

i would throw dinner parties! once when i was living with roommates in a house, i rented nice dinnerware and a big table and hosted a dinner party with my friends and it was so much fun! i love to entertain, but there is just no room in the apartment to have anyone over.  and hosting is pricy.  when i hosted that dinner party, i had to pinch pennies to pay rent the next month.  do you like entertaining? 

i would buy out the entire store of charming charlie.  this is my favorite store and i work in the management office of a mall that has charming charlie and i walk buy it every day and i have to exercise such self control! i love how they have necklaces, earrings, purses, bracelets for each color! and everything is so bright and fun! it is such a fun store! 

what would you do if you had money?

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10 Best // Avoid People

1. netflix: i'm still catching up on friends.  i'm almost to the end of season 5, i've never seen an episode before this, and no, i do not like it one bit.  at this point i'm just determined to finish, but when i can't take their whiny-ness and inability to be actual adults despite the fact that they're supposed to be my age, i switch to sons of anarchy.  if you're looking for more binge watching ideas, check jenn's list.  i agree with all of them.

2. bake: lemon cookies!  i have to do this, my dad would love them.

3. make: homemade dog treats.  how cute is the pb & fruit ice?

4. listen: podcasts.  i still haven't done the whole serial thing.  i know, i know.  but i do love gretchen rubin so i think i'll start there on rachael's podcast picks.

5. create: your own city map.  it's kind of genius, particularly for traveling to a city you've never been to.  just map everything you want to see plus where you're staying and you'll be able to take the quickest routes and prevent re-tracing your steps all over the place.

6. laugh: (and also don't do these things) "you might be an annoying customer if..."

7. blog: alanna has two tips for you for using picmonkey - drop shadow text and watermarks, and text masks and sparkle text.  get workin' on those images.

8. learn: car buying. i've held out this long (30 years old and never had a car) so i'm hoping i can hold out forever.  but in case i can't, at least holly has tips on getting a good deal.

9. watch: 4 steps to stress-free homemaking.  the first free video is available now, it's about laundry.  yup, yup, i need that.

10. earn money: if you're not doing anything else this weekend, might as well earn those swagbucks.  i have a few tutorials (search swagbucks in the search bar over to the right) on how to earn money.  i earn at least $100 a month.  they also started a new thing where your first $25 (2,500 swagbucks) gift card of the month is only $22 (2,200 swagbucks.)  i like saving even more money, particularly when it's free to start with.

My Love for the 101 in 1001 List

as of today, i've crossed 86 things off my current 101 in 1001 list, and i'm quite close on a couple more (like that brazilian wax on thursday that i'm willing myself not to skip.)  so, i'm almost done.  not almost done with the time frame - i actually have until the end of next march to complete my 1001 day time frame.  but almost done with the things on the list.  i'm willing to accept that there's at least 3 things that i definitely won't accomplish.  which really isn't that bad when you consider that i started with 101.  i think that's closer than a lot of people get.  plus, i should be finishing what i realistically think i can accomplish by this fall, and since july marks the 2 year mark i'd say that's pretty darn good.

in case you're somehow blissfully unaware of all the goal related posts on here, let me take this moment to inform you that i love making goals and i love making lists.  it's two adult-like skills that i mastered at a young age - some kids watched cartoons, i made to-do lists and systematically checked off each color-coordinated task.  [i actually did have friends, believe it or not, and they stuck around through today.  ida, sorry i made you take 'baking class' which was really just us in a kitchen with my mom while i made sure all the candy roses lined up exactly on the tips of the perfectly portioned chocolate spoons, always in the same order.]

anyway, the idea of a 101 in 1001 list seemed like a natural fit so i dove right in and got Betsy on board.  [and made her start a blog so apparently i'm bossy as well as ocd.]  and indeed, i have found that i like it much better than other types of goal setting, be it resolutions or seasonal goals, or an unending bucket list.  i assume it's because of the time frame imposed - less than a bucket list but more than just 1 year, which is what always stumps me on resolutions.

plus the tracking.  always the tracking.  that's why i put it online (multiple places even); so i can visually track my progress by checking things off and also feel the slight pressure to perform since everyone can see it and will know when i don't finish something.  i work better under pressure.  i know that makes it sound like the list is some big scary thing that i don't want to do and that's why i need you to keep me accountable.  but it's just the opposite (because how many of you, besides Betsy, actually notice when i do or don't do something on the list?)  i like mostly every thing i added to the list, that's why i put it there.  plus a few things i don't like at all but really needed to do, like completing a fitness challenge.  i already hated jillian michaels, so that worked out.  and though i loved the list and working towards completing it, i didn't spend as long thinking up my goals when i first made it.  i definitely tweaked a lot of them as my life shifted.

which brings me to my 2nd 101 in 1001 list, because i'm definitely doing it again.  i love the feeling that i accomplished so much and hey, look at that online diary of all the productive ways i spent my time.  and i can't believe how many i finished early on that i've already forgotten about.  in an effort to make this list much more 'me' and productive as well as fun, round 2 is going to look quite a bit different, at least in terms of the categories and types of goals i want to accomplish.

seeing what i tweaked and struggled with in the last 2 years made me much more mindful of what to put on this second list.  2.75 years seems like awhile, but it goes by surprisingly quickly, so it's best not to put a ton of big, expensive ideas on there.  for myself in particular, i just had to be logical and not make travel it's own category this time - i. hate. travel.  i just do.  i don't like being away from my dog and my home and i hate flying.  so i limited anything travel related this time.  just because other people love it doesn't mean i have to. 

although the ideas aren't set in stone, you can check out my preliminary list here.  i'll still be editing quite a bit before the start date, and i have plenty of time!  if i wait it out until the end of my current list, it'll be 1 year until i start this next one.  but i'm terribly impatient, so i'll probably start it january 1, or even this winter when i'm sure i can't complete anything else on the current list.

what about you?  101 lists, goals lists?  i'm always looking for more ideas.

On Blogging, Almost Three Years Later

it's true - almost 3 years here in this little space.  you'll see in the archives that my first post is from june 2012, but it was actually may.  i deleted it.  it was about clothes i think.  (probably a wish list like 'hey mom, i need this dress' because if your mother won't read your blog, who will?  p.s. hi mom.)  and there's been many, many posts since.  on a variety of topics, sometimes even 5 days a week.

not that all those posts are marvelous little writing gems, but you'd still think i'd run out of things to say in 3 years.  some days, it does feel that way.  but most days, i can find it in me to ramble.  ramble in ways people actually want to pay attention to, not always, but ramble nonetheless.  to quote my friend eleni, who doesn't trust quiet people, in response to my claim 'but i'm quiet,' told me "okay, but.... no."

apparently, she's not wrong.

even so, 5 days a week is definitely not happening around here anymore, in case you haven't noticed.  even if i have enough to say, i just can't keep up the pace consistently.  more work responsibilities, more life responsibilities, it's tough.  tough to give my of-course-always-totally-hilarious post ideas the attention they deserve.  so i've definitely cut back a lot.  now don't start thinking that i want to cut back completely - i don't.  i just want to change it up a little.  yes, yes, i know, i hate change.  but it won't be a monumental change.  just going to attempt some longer posts just a little less often.  say one or two (maybe 3 but let's not get crazy) posts per week.  i figure if i can't keep up with reading someone else's blog 4 or 5 days a week, certainly no one can keep up with mine either.

i'll still talk about all my favorite topics (generally summed up as 'the laughably absurd tasks of adulting'; you know, organizing, finances, relationships, general nonsense and the occasional cupcake made out of booze.)  you'll just notice some changes to the menu bar up top and some longer posts, and my name in your reader popping up less often.

all this to say, i have no plans on going anywhere and hopefully you don't either.  just going to try to change up the format a little.  longer posts, more substance, less often.  and an infinite number of hawkeye photos, because,

Choose Your Own Adventure [Link Up]

it's that time again - link up day is here.  how did you fare in march?  remember the prompt for march was 'relationships.'

how i did:
(1) more walks for hawkeye.  check.  when the weather cooperated, we went to the park and the corner bar.  what?  she loves the bar, she gets a stool and everything.
(2) get my friends out for their birthdays that were missed in february.  check.  i actually got them both out on the same day, lunch and dinner!
(3) continue helping mom declutter.  negative.  some things came up at my dad's office so i had to help over there for 2 weekends.  hopefully we can weed more things out this month and if not, well i'm watching the dogs again over memorial day and i'll just start tossing things.  they won't miss what they don't even know is there.
(4) something nice for john.  check.  made him homemade pasta, meatballs and marinara sauce (his favorite.)  but i did not send another care package because he had weekends off and... drum roll... as of yesterday.... he's home!  the job out there isn't finished but since he worked so hard they rewarded him when a job opened close to home.  no more 2 hours away, no more rented apartment out there.  woo!

the theme for april is 'finances.'  just in time for tax season, oh joy.  my goals?
1. continue on my spending frost, at least until vegas.
2. try to keep a cap on the vegas spending.  i'm going to generally sketch out each day and guesstimate, and try to stick with that number.
3. cut down more on vegas costs by being frugal with the stuff that doesn't matter.  like bringing my own brita water bottle and snacks.
4. try not to go too crazy on april 27 - hawkeye's 6th birthday!  no promises though.  this is, like, an almost unattainable goal.  taco bell fiesta with toys and treats and everything her royal highness loves?  bound to be pricey.

so tell me all about how you did and what you're planning for april.

general guidelines:
1) if you want, follow your hosts not entirely perfect, life according to steph, and keeping up with ashley and cody.  (i like twitter, that way i can follow you back and tweet you encouragement throughout the challenge.)
2) link up your post about your results below for the month - we want to hear all about what you did, how you fared, what resources you used, what you'd recommend to others, etc.
3) please link to your actual post about your results.  links not having to do with the challenge will be deleted.
4) feel free to use this button, created by the lovely sarah at venus trapped in mars.

Not Entirely Perfect