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12.27.2016

What You Can Expect (Here) in 2017

I know this is all out of order; here I am talking about 2017 when I haven't written anything that sums up 2016 yet.  The thing is, 2016 was complicated.  I haven't exactly finished my thoughts there yet.  We had some sad events, like the passing of John's grandma, and the world is in turmoil on so many levels, and yes I count Alan Thicke and George Michael in that.  People are very ready to put 2016 behind them.  But I didn't completely hate this past year because we had so many good things happen too.  Not the least of which being buying and moving into our house and John starting his dream job with the Chicago fire department.  Those are major happy life events that cannot be ignored, no matter how badly everyone else feels about how their years went.  So, I think my thoughts on 2016 post is going to get pushed back yet again.

In the meantime, I do know what you can expect from me in 2017.  Not that I can predict the future or anything, but I can pretty reasonably predict my own behavior since I'm a creature of habit and have been extremely predictable since I was 2.

12.20.2016

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the 'net
Bloggers were stirring, they're not done just yet.
The stockings were hung with monogrammed flair,
In hopes that all of Sephora rests inside there.

Target decor adorned all the beds,
While slouchy white beanies sat on their heads;
Add Starbucks in red cups, and berry red lips,
The perfect selfie is ready, just like a script.

The fake rug is out (since white space is better),
If only the dog would sit still in his sweater.
Set up the twinkle lights and tie on a bow,
Instagram husband is ready, now on with the show!

"Should we pose by the window?  Can you see the snow?
Or in front of a fire?  It has a nice glow.
Let's take one outside, it's not all that cold,
In front of the wreath, spray painted in gold.

It matches the dress, after all, it's the season.
But if you can't see the shoes, there isn't a reason.
How about the nails?  Can you see all the glitter?
Take a good close up, it's better for Twitter."

Yes, blogging takes effort, but hardly a lot;
Only 89 tries for that one perfect shot.
With filters applied and hashtags just perfect,
The likes and the comments make it all worth it.

Zoomed in a bit, and brightened a ton,
They upload the photo, pleased it's finally done.
But they tell all their fans, while still merry and bright,
"HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!"



Stephanie out, Merry Christmas!  See you next week.

P.S. 2015, if you missed it.


Thanks so much for stopping by.  You can also join me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  In addition to minimalism and organizing, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #notentirelyperfect on social media so I can see your beautifully unstaged life.  Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe via e-mail to be alerted to each new post.

12.16.2016

On the First Day of Winter

On the first day of winter ... I gave myself 10 new seasonal goals.  Okay that's a lie, it's not exactly the first day of winter, but we're getting there.  Its actually next Wednesday, the 21st, if you're curious.  However, the link up with Steph and Sara is today, so today is when I shall post.  They host a goals link up at the start of each season, in case you're new to this.  Join in any time and make your seasonal goals!  Gives you 3 months to work on them, way better than monthly goals if you ask me.

So let's check in on how I did on fall and what I'm planning for winter.

12.12.2016

Doggie Gift Bags for the Holidays



As usual, I have as many dogs as people to get gifts for this Christmas.  And I don't just mean Hawkeye 12 times over, as much as she would like that to be the case.  But I never leave dogs out of the holidays - they're family!!  This year, I decided to get gifts for my parents' dogs, Joey and Brody, John's parents' dog, Thor, and his sister's dog, Penny.  Hawkeye is probably the biggest dog out of all of them so I knew a perfect gift would be homemade little doggie goody bags, and they turned out adorable if I do say so myself.

12.08.2016

Three on Thursday

Welcome back to three on Thursday.  In case you don't have any idea what this is, you can read past posts here, but it's just a quick listing of my top 3 loves at the moment.  Top 3 anything, really, from candles, to beer, to tv shows, to a new app you have to try.  There are no rules, usually, although this week I kept them all Christmas themed.  One week into December and I'm in full on Christmas mode, I tell you.  Halloween may be my favorite holiday, but the Christmas/New Year season is a close second.  I love all the lights and decorations, even the music.  (Although I did hear 12 Days of Christmas set to Toto's 'Rains Down in Africa' while out shopping and that was a wtf moment for me.  No thanks.)  This season is certainly keeping me busy though, however much I may enjoy the activities.  Even when I try to simplify my life and my holidays, this one is a tough one to pare down.  So rather than tell you about more things to add to your Christmas list (I think I did that enough last week, making everyone want their own robot vacuum), I have a couple of recommendations that don't involve buying a darn thing.

1. Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt Date Night.  I think this is the cutest thing ever, plus it's a totally free and fun way to enjoy the holiday decorations.  John and I are going to do a version of it tomorrow with our friends, because we're heading to Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo.  (Which is free, Chicagoans, and they serve alcohol.  And all the indoor exhibits are open so you don't freeze.)

http://www.thedatingdivas.com/christmas-light-scavenger-hunt-date-night/

I'm super competitive.  I plan on winning.

12.01.2016

Three on Thursday

This post may contain affiliate links.

Well this post is going up slightly later in the day than usual.  Want to know why? Because for the first 4.5 hours of my day, I was 100% certain that it was Wednesday.  So that was a nice surprise, getting to the office and being reminded that I need to get my picks in for tonight's football game and set my fantasy line up.  The weekend is closer than I imagined!  Anyway, welcome back to three on Thursday.  In case you don't have any idea what this is, you can read past posts here, but it's just a quick listing of my top 3 loves at the moment.  Top 3 anything, really, from candles, to beer, to tv shows, to a new app you have to try.  There are no rules, so here we go.

1. Robot Vacuums Vacuuming has been my most hated task since I started having my own apartment with carpet when I was a junior in college (my parents never had carpet and floor is way easier to clean!)  I've been asking for a robot vacuum every single birthday and Christmas since I turned 21 - since I've always had a Dyson and then a Miele, I never felt that I could fork out my own money for a robot vacuum.  It only took 11 years but John got me one for my birthday 2 weeks ago and I. Am. Obsessed.  His name is Ferdinand and he's my new best friend, after Hawkeye of course.  I have no idea why the Roomba brand ones are $400+ more than this little guy, but whatever it is I clearly don't need because my Ferdi works great.
http://amzn.to/2gPucuJ
2. Gift wrap at Marshalls.  I don't have a picture of everything I got, but you can see a little bit of the gold wrapped gifts here.  The bags are from the Target dollar spot.  But Marshalls is amazing for wrapping paper and ribbons!  I don't always have luck finding things in the Marshalls by me, as far as home decor or clothes, yet the Christmas section is never a let down.  Of course, I try to shop for wrapping paper after Christmas when it's all dirt cheap, but if I run out of my own supply and need to pick up options before the holidays, Marshalls is where to go.  It's so inexpensive and the wrapping paper is good quality.  I hate super thin paper that rips when you try to fold it over box corners, drives me nuts.  So if you need options right now, stop there first!

3. Home Alone themed clothes on Etsy.  If you don't think you need a sweatshirt that says 'Merry Christmas ya filthy animal' or 'Buzz, your girlfriend, woof!' ... you're wrong.  I mean, you can find quotes from any holiday movie you like on Etsy, but Home Alone has always been my favorite.  I have a firefighter version of the first one, they run small so size up 1 or 2 sizes, but they're so soft and cozy!



Thanks so much for stopping by.  You can also join me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  In addition to minimalism and organizing, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #notentirelyperfect on social media so I can see your beautifully unstaged life.  Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe via e-mail to be alerted to each new post.

11.28.2016

Ways to Stay Productive and Focused on Busy Days

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyWayToVeg #CollectiveBias

Is anyone else totally struggling with the fact that it's pitch black outside by 5:15 p.m.?!  I love winter, but the lack of sunlight is hard to deal with for sure.  With the hours of actual daylight getting shorter, I always find my energy levels draining throughout the day, earlier than they do in the summer.  As I mentioned before, I wake up at 4:30 a.m. every day to get John off to work and then I do chores around the house until I leave for work at a law firm downtown at 7:15 a.m. and I work until 5 p.m.  I have to stay motivated and productive if I don't want to crash midday so I do everything I can to stay energized and healthy.  Here's my top 5 strategies for getting through my busy days:


11.22.2016

My Year Round Capsule Wardrobe

I've posted about my wardrobe before, specifically about how few pieces I have, but I've never given an overview of exactly how many and how I wear them.  I figured I would show why it's so easy for me to get dressed in the morning now that I've limited my options so much.  As someone who wore a uniform to school most of her life, I've never enjoyed buying clothes or picking out outfits.  Since I can't have a personal stylist come dress me each day, creating a year round very condensed capsule wardrobe was definitely the way to go.


11.19.2016

Team Challenge: Swag Day Parade

 This post may contain affiliate links. 


Who doesn't love a good challenge? Especially when you can get points to redeem towards free gift cards!


Join the Swag Day Parade team challenge hosted by Swagbucks, a website where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online. It starts on Monday, November 21st at 8am PST and goes through Friday so you have a whole week to contribute points to your assigned team. It's so much fun to see which team you are placed on, and discover all the ways you can earn SB while you contribute to your team's goal! How will you contribute? Watching videos, completing surveys, shopping online? These activities and more will help your team get ahead. If you've never used Swagbucks before, now is a great time to join, especially if you participate in the Team Challenge because it's an opportunity to win an extra bonus for trying out the site.

All members who participate and contribute at least 400 SB to their team’s total will receive an SB bonus in the form of a rebate on their next gift card! I can’t wait to help my team come in 1st place for that 50 SB rebate.

The challenge lasts until November 25th so log in or make a free account! Pre-registration is open now!


Thanks so much for stopping by.  You can also join me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  In addition to minimalism and organizing, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #notentirelyperfect on social media so I can see your beautifully unstaged life.  Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe via e-mail to be alerted to each new post.

11.18.2016

Holy Grail Products: An Update

Do you have a holy grail makeup or skin care product that you'd never give up?  How about one in each category?  Because that's my goal.  I hate wasting money, so one of my goals on my 101 in 1001 list was to find my 'holy grail' status products in each makeup category as well as for skin care and hair care.  Personally, when I find something I really enjoy, I stick with it and don't feel the need to buy more things to try, thus saving me money.  Eyebrow pomade, for example.  I found one I love and now I never look at eyebrow products when I'm in a store.  Foundation, however, is something I keep trying and buying in the hopes that something better is out there.  It's been quite a process trying to figure it out and I'm still working on it.  But I thought it was about time for an update, and see if you have any recommendations for me in the remaining categories!


11.17.2016

What's Your Favorite High School Memory?



hello not entirely perfect readers! i'm lauren!  i blog at lot 48 where i write mostly about tv and movies or any random topics that i think of that i find amusing.  i plan to be a tv writer and hasve opinions about every tv show out there, but i try to keep sharing that to a minimum.  i like to give guidance on the best and worst tv shows this fall and share stories from LA of how i accidentally "stole" a producer's credit card.

but today i am going to tell you a story that i swore i would never tell.  i literally had to take a vow that i would never tell.  but its such a good story i just have to share.  and it has been a long time since that vow so its okay to share it now, right?

i spent my young adult life as a performer.  in high school, i was in each show until i graduated and  then continued to perform well into college.  it is still a passion i have and something i still do when i have time.  i am performing at the dickens festival in december which is like our Christmas festival here in salt lake city!  i will sing a full half hour set and i haven't done that in about 8 years so i am pretty rusty!  but excited. 

in high school, there was a tradition that was very sacred and was held with the highest honor.  or more like obligation.  the picture above shows me (i circled my face) in little women. this show was done during my senior year, the last show of my high school career.  this very special tradition was to be done after the final show.  all female cast and crew members were to go up to the roof  of the school and strip down to our underwear and bras and run around the roof screaming.  

it was so much fun. we had to get a special key, which i don't really know how we got, and since it was february, it was cold.  some girls were self conscious and left their shirts on but i went all in.  i stripped down to my underwear and bra and ran across the roof screaming joyfully.  i remember how tiny all the little cars looked, even though our high school was only about four stories.  i remember how the gravel of the roof felt on my feet and how it hurt.  i remember thinking this was my favorite moment in all of high school and i would be bonded with these girls forever.  i remember wondering if anyone on the street could see us.  some girls really wanted to be seen so they went to the edge and started dancing and yelling "woo hoo!" we were up there for about 20 minutes until it got too cold and we went back inside.

we returned to our dressing rooms afterwards and all the guys knew what we just did and were looking at us like "how was it? you were all naked?" i'm sure they would have loved to have been included in the tradition. 

it was an experience i will never forget and one that i still treasure.  i hope they still do it to this day.  

what is your best high school memory?

thanks for allowing me to take over not entirely perfect today!  feel free to stalk me on snapchat, instagram, bloglovinfacebook, pinterest, twitter or of course, my blog





Thanks so much for stopping by.  You can also join me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  In addition to minimalism and organizing, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #notentirelyperfect on social media so I can see your beautifully unstaged life.  Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe via e-mail to be alerted to each new post.

11.16.2016

5 Things I Do At Night To Make Mornings Easier




I have never in my life been a morning person.  Like, I wouldn't even get up on Christmas morning (I'm an only child, not like everything wasn't for me anyway!), my mom had to drag me out of bed.  I didn't wake up early to watch cartoons, I got to school at the last minute, and when I started college I made sure to schedule all afternoon classes.  In fact, the only times I would actually get up early were to tailgate.  Mornings just weren't my thing.  Until this year.  Because now, and for the past 6 months, I get up at 4:30 a.m.  Yes, you read that right.  4:30 a.m.  It's when my alarm goes off and I'm out of bed at 4:31 - there's still a tiny struggle, I admit.  But there's no time for snoozing when I have to get up, let the dog out, make John breakfast, make his lunch while he eats breakfast, and help him get out the door just before 5:00 so he makes it to work on time.

11.15.2016

A Simple Winter 'Toolkit'

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WinOverWinter #CollectiveBias  I have received information and materials from Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc., McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post.


Winter is particularly rough in this house, and particularly this year.  As you know, John is training at the fire academy and the physical training they put them through is both intense and not optional.  He has come home aching every day but needs to just push through the week, every week.  On top of that, a lot of what they do is outdoors!  Even in the cold.  We know he's overextending himself but there is no other option but to get through the pain.  And the sniffles.

11.10.2016

Three on Thursday

This post may contain affiliate links.

Back to Thursday, back to business as usual.  Let me be clear, this blog is business as usual.  Life is most certainly not.  But I don't talk politics on this blog, I did vote (I'm super embarrassed for anyone who proudly 'doesn't vote'), I didn't vote for Trump or Clinton, and so many other bloggers have posted many thoughts on the topic, eloquently enough that I don't feel the need to personally add to that narrative.  And although I do post about the times I get nervous in real life and emotional meltdowns over my hair, the serious(ish) posts are few and far between and instead you come to this blog for lightheartedness, simplicity, and a tiny bit of organization in a chaotic world (at least I hope you do), and that's what we're doing today.

So welcome back to a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you've missed any prior weeks and want to catch up, just check here.  

11.05.2016

Get great deals when shopping for home decor!

This post may contain affiliate links. 


Now that the holidays are in full gear, a lot of people are already getting started on decorating their homes for the season. If you're in that same boat, you can get great deals and cash back for shopping through Swagbucks! Just go here and see all of the great cash back you can get from some of your favorite stores.

Here's how it works:
1. Click here to see the stores offering deals and cash back.
2. Click through to the store(s) of your choice and do some shopping!
3. Get cash back in the form of points (called SB) that you can redeem for free gift cards so you can stretch your holiday (and decorating) budget even further!

As an extra bonus, if you're not a Swagbucks member and join through my link (or you've joined through my link this month), you'll get an one time 200 SB bonus when you spend $25 or more in any of the Swagbucks Shop stores before December 1st! Swagbucks is a great site where you earn SB points for doing every day things online like shopping, discovering deals, taking surveys, watching videos, searching the web, and more. The SB you earn, the more gift cards you can get, which are a HUGE help this time of year.  

Thanks so much for stopping by.  You can also join me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  In addition to minimalism and organizing, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #notentirelyperfect on social media so I can see your beautifully unstaged life.  Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe via e-mail to be alerted to each new post.

11.01.2016

The Thing I'm Most Terrified Of (and Proud Of)

November 1st.  It brings the end of Halloween season (my favorite holiday) but it also brings my birthday month, so I usually get into celebration mode about now.  Might as well celebrate the entire month, right?  Treat yo self.  This particular November 1st is entirely different though - it brings the halfway point of John's 6 months in the fire academy.  This morning he took the national EMT test and he's officially done with that side of things.  Tomorrow he moves over to the 'fire side' where they break you down with massive amounts of PT, but also teach you the things you'll be doing the rest of your life, like, you know, running into burning buildings.  This is, on a not totally unrelated note, also the time I begin to freak out.

But let's back up a minute, in case you're totally confused.  I mentioned awhile back that John had officially started at the training academy for the Chicago Fire Department.  I might as well answer a few questions here about how that came to be, since he formerly worked for a union as a pipe insulator.  While he can go back to being a pipe insulator after his 9 month probationary period with the fire department, he knew it was never a full time career, so he had been taking police and fire tests for a few years, all around the north side of Chicago - but of course always hoping actual Chicago would open up soon.  A couple of years ago, it did.  Here's how the hiring process works: anyone can register and show up for the test.  It's just a basic knowledge test, think SAT but arguably easier.  Thousands and thousands show up for this.  20,000 in fact, back in December of 2014.  Once you pass (and let's be clear, almost everyone does.  2,000 failed out of 20,000) your name is added to a list, in random lottery order.  You get a letter telling you what your number is, so you can get a feel if it might be coming soon or if you need to find other employment - like the guys who got numbers like 10,872 or 17,102.  This is the first hiring Chicago has done for firefighters in many years.  For various political, financial, and legal reasons they were still calling guys off the last list, which was from 2006.  So John took that test in December and they started dolling out numbers in the spring of 2015.  From there, they called (I believe) 1 class in 2015, another early this year and then, as you know, John started in August.

Because John's number?  299.  Out of 18,000.  If that isn't a sign that he's supposed to be doing this, I don't know what is.  This is his dream job so we were very excited to get that letter.  It's also how we knew Chicago was the only option when house hunting, because city employees must have a Chicago address.  There were quite a few steps involved in getting from the test to the academy, like passing a background check and 'candidate physical ability test,' which took a few months, but he passed everything and waited for the call to start, which he got in late July (they're not big on notice.)  Since he's started, he's been learning EMT things, because firefighters are required to know how to perform basic life support until the paramedics arrive.

And now that's over.  No more tests and homework and books and studying, the things I've been familiar with all my life; now onto physical exhaustion and learning to squash basic human survival instincts to run into fires and save people you don't know.  You can probably tell that I don't understand the mentality behind this at all - if it's not an animal in danger, there's no way I'd jump in and save anyone from anything.  My flight or fight reflex is firmly in the flight camp (unless I'm drinking, then I'm feisty AF #letsbehonest.)

I may not understand it, but I'm still very, very proud of him.  The whole sexy firefighter thing aside, he is so good at this job.  He has no fears about this, he's at the top of the class in all the physical challenges, he's spending ride along days at firehouses getting tours from the chiefs - he's impressing a lot of people and should have his pick of houses after graduation (if he's top of the class, he can pick whatever house in Chicago he wants to go to.  He's determined to be #1 and I very much think he will be.)  I'm proud of how hard he's working and how easily it's coming to him.  I'm proud of how much he wants it and how he's willing to do whatever it takes.  And mostly, I'm very proud to be dating someone who will risk his life to save others, because that's a special kind of brave.

Regardless, I'm definitely starting to panic a bit now.  It gets more real as the training gets more intense, and I'll probably panic even more once graduation day comes in February and he actually starts working at a firehouse.  John is, of course, totally loving every minute of it and cracking jokes about how it'll be so easy to cremate him when he dies because he'll probably be halfway burnt to a crisp in a fire anyway, which, as you can imagine, is exactly 0.0% humorous at the moment.  (If you laughed, I'd normally applaud your morbid sense of humor but not right now, damnit.)

So that's my life currently - a daily mental battle between so proud I could burst and so terrified I could cry.


Also, he has to be clean shaven at all times because otherwise the mask won't properly seal.  So he looks 12 and keeps getting carded.  At least that part is funny.

As a side note to anyone who found this post because they were searching for details about the Chicago fire hiring process or what happens in the academy etc etc, please feel free to e-mail me.  I know lots of things now.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  You can also join me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  In addition to minimalism and organizing, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #notentirelyperfect on social media so I can see your beautifully unstaged life.  Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe via e-mail to be alerted to each new post.

10.24.2016

Routine for Your Healthiest Smile (DIY Toothpaste Recipe)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BrushingEvolvedBBB #CollectiveBias


Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected Sonic Electric Toothbrush 


I think we all know how important healthy teeth are, so let's talk for a minute about how to get there.  A healthy smile is going to start with your toothbrush.  I've switched to using the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected Sonic Electric Toothbrush.  I've always known electric toothbrushes are better than manual toothbrushes when it comes to dental health, and if you're going to get an electric toothbrush, you might as well get the best, right?  I picked mine up at Bed, Bath & Beyond, it's the in personal care section with other bath products like loofahs and pedicure kits. 

10.22.2016

Team Challenge: Popcorn Factory

This post may contain affiliate links.

Who doesn't love a good challenge? Especially when you can get points to redeem towards free gift cards!

 

Swagbucks, a website where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online is hosting a Halloween Team Challenge. It starts on Monday, October 24th at 8am PST and goes through Friday so you have a whole week to contribute points to your assigned team. How will you contribute? Watching videos, completing surveys, shopping online? These activities and more will help your team get ahead. If you've never used Swagbucks before, now is a great time to join, especially if you participate in the Team Challenge because it's an opportunity to win an extra bonus for trying out the site.

All members who participate and contribute at least 400 SB to their team’s total will receive an SB bonus in the form of a rebate on their next gift card! I can’t wait to help my team come in 1st place for that 50 SB rebate.

The challenge lasts until October 28th so log in or make a free account! Pre-registration is open now!

Thanks so much for stopping by.  You can also join me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  In addition to minimalism and organizing, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #notentirelyperfect on social media so I can see your beautifully unstaged life.  Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe via e-mail to be alerted to each new post.

10.18.2016

5 Things I Do Well

Two weeks ago I posted about the things that I'm not so great at, because this is real life and you can't be good at everything.  But I also think you should embrace and celebrate the things you are great at - give yourself a break once in awhile!  Since I'm normally my own harshest critic, I decided to flip the switch and tell you some things I think I do really well.  Besides decluttering and organizing, of course.

Giving Compliments.  I work on the 36th floor and not a single elevator ride goes by without me complimenting the other person in the elevator with me (unless I'm in the elevator alone, of course.)  It's habit at this point, and a good one I think.  I tell women I like something about their outfit, about their hair, their nails, pretty much anything.  I also do this any time I think it.  I have no filter about a lot of things, but this one is a plus.  If I think someone has a great purse or their perfume smells nice, I tell them.  Once Tara and I were walking to the liquor store in our sweats and we passed a girl coming out of her house to her cab, all dolled up, heels and everything.  She looked so nice and I told her so.  I hope that gave her confidence for her date or wherever she was heading.  Regardless, I can always tell by the look on people's face that they appreciate it and it takes me no effort at all.  Try it some time.

Details.  When it comes to anything, really, I'm a details person versus big picture person.  I think if you're going to do something, you might as well do it right the first time.  So when I clean, I'll get floss or a toothbrush out to get the edges of the bathroom sink faucet.  When I host a party, everything from the kitchen towels to the food to the silverware matches the theme.  When I pack for vacation, I write out an itinerary and exactly what I plan on wearing every minute of the day so I don't over-pack.  I enjoy getting the details right, and I'm good at it.

Applying False Eyelashes.  To myself and to other people, I am great at applying falsies.  I mean, if they're halfsies, I could get them on in a minute, and that includes 30 seconds of glue drying time.  Full length falsies I can do in probably 2 minutes.  It's a skill, I like to think.

Inbox Zero.  I loathe e-mails.  I use unroll.me (which is free) to get subscriptions under control and then I make sure that my blog, personal, and work e-mail accounts are at 0 before I leave the office at 5.  (Then I don't check e-mail again until the morning.  Another thing I do extremely well - unplugging.  I honestly don't know why I waste money on a smart phone.)

Responding to Blog Comments.  I make note that I probably won't respond to comments on posts that go up while I'm on vacation, but since I rarely take vacation, I respond to 99% of comments people leave.  If you took the time to read my posts and leave a comment, the very least I can do is acknowledge that in some way.  Unless you're getting hundreds of comments on your post, I don't know an acceptable reason not to respond.  Sometimes I won't even hit publish because I know I won't have time to respond to comments at that point, so I hold the post for when I have more time, it's that important to me.  Except for the one last week, because I can't quite bring myself to respond to those yet, but I did read and appreciate them all.

So toot your own horn and tell me - what do you do well?


Thanks so much for stopping by.  You can also join me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  In addition to minimalism and organizing, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #notentirelyperfect on social media so I can see your beautifully unstaged life.  Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe via e-mail to be alerted to each new post.

10.12.2016

Rebounding From a Rough Weekend

Posting is tough this week.  I generally keep the content light and fluffy around here and the more serious and sad things stay offline.  But it's been hard to get the two posts published that I have scheduled (my capsule wardrobe and our house to home tour video) because it's just not a happy time right now.

John's grandma passed away on Friday afternoon, so it was all around a very long, sad weekend.  She was a very loved woman, hundreds of people came to the wake and the church was full for Monday's funeral.  To be honest, I'm not good at being sad.  I'm a generally pretty unemotional person - not much of a crier, but I don't get overly excited either.  Just very even keel.  But I'm sad about grandma.  I liked her a lot, she was hilarious and kind.  And I'm really sad for John, because out of 14 grand kids, it's no secret among anyone that John had the best relationship with her.  He's trying to be strong because grandma was 89 and in pain, so she's in a better place, but if he cries, I cry.  It very much makes me not want to work on the blog.  Or be online at all, to be honest.

Here's hoping next week is better.  Maybe I'll even get my capsule wardrobe post up by Friday!  #dreams

10.08.2016

Swago: Rake Up The Bonuses

This post may contain affiliate links.

Fall is in full swing, and Swagbucks is getting into the autumn spirit with Swago: Rake up the Bonuses! What is SWAGO you ask? It's a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. When you complete a task, watch that square change colors like the leaves of Fall. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards. If you've never used Swagbucks, participating in SWAGO is a great introduction to the site.
Here’s what you need to know to get your 300 SB Bonus:
  • Swago will begin on Monday, October 10th at 12pm PDT/3pm EDT, make sure you hit “Join” otherwise you won’t get credit for completing the action items. Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete.
  • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
  • You have a limited amount of time to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
  • Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value.
  • Once you’ve achieved a pattern the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.
  • The game ends Monday, October 17th at 12pm PDT/3pm EDT. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus.

10.06.2016

Three on Thursday

This post may contain affiliate links.

Hey look at that, a three on Thursday.  On an actual Thursday.  Certainly been awhile since I managed that one.  In case you don't have any idea what this is, or forgot, I don't blame you and you can read past posts here, but it's just a quick listing of my top 3 loves at the moment.  Top 3 anything, really, from candles, to beer, to tv shows, to a new app you have to try.  There are no rules, though I usually do tie them into the season.  Speaking of which - I may not always have my shit together, guys, but the one thing I can always manage to do is get the Halloween decor up on October 1.  Halloween is my favorite holiday; I think I'd start putting decor up in August if the neighbors wouldn't complain.  But I certainly never fail to get it up on October 1.  It's not all done because I do want to decorate the inside more for our Halloween party, but the outside is looking fantastic.  I've started posting photos on Instagram and I think I'll end up doing a video tour when it's all finished inside too.  Apparently my minimalism does not apply to Halloween decor.

1. Target Throw Blankets.  I keep blankets on my couch year round, let's be honest, but fall always reminds me to pull out seasonally appropriate throws.  Since we have a new couch in our living room upstairs and no blankets to go on it, I knew wanted something that would be cozy and in a fabric and pattern that would work well with fall and potentially into Christmas (because my minimalism certainly does apply to the idea of having a blanket for every month, that's crazy talk.)  I went straight to Target with the intention of getting the same one that I have in grey in the basement, because it's massive and so soft and warm, but then the plaid print one caught my eye and I'm obsessed with it.  Insert a hashtag about being basic here, or whatever.  But I don't care, it's perfect, and for only $30 I definitely felt the need to share it, thus the basis of me getting my act together for a 3 on Thursday post.  It's super soft and warm without being too heavy (I was weirdly concerned about a blanket looking too 'chunky' because the couch has a slimline feel to it - I think I'm going crazy), not itchy, it looks fantastic against the grey couch and against the dark wood, I washed it when Hawkeye ate her moist food dinner on it and it held up great, it's just a lot of good things.  Plus Target throws are apparently on sale until the end of today, I found out when I went looking for the link - an extra 10% off with the code HOMESALE.  There's winning all around happening here.

2. Blue Moon Cinnamon Horchata Ale.  It tastes like fall, there's really nothing else I can tell you.  It's glorious.  It's not overpowering on any of the flavors, so you don't feel like you're just drinking horchata - you can tell you're drinking beer.  It just has lovely hints of cinnamon and the sweet caramel-ness of horchata.  Without the burn of drinking Rumchata, because I'm strictly a beer girl.  If you've never had horchata, this will remind you of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.  It's pretty light and not really sweet so I could easily do 2 or 3, but probably not an entire 6 pack in a row.  So if you're decorating for Halloween soon or handing out candy to trick or treaters, this would be a fun drink to pair with that.


3. This post from Kari.  If you're a Halloween junkie like we are, you need this - she made calendars, which she's continually updating, that list when every single Halloween related movie will be on television.  From family friendly to truly spooky, she has everything.  If you just think about how much time that would take someone, there's no way you can't appreciate what she did.  Kari, we are forever in your debt.

I hope you're in the fall spirit as much as I am or it's about to be a long 3 months for you.  Happy Thursday!

9.28.2016

But I'm Pretty Good at Drinkin Beer

This post brought to you by laziness and listening to Billy Currington on repeat.  And by the fact that today, September 28, is National Drink a Beer Day!  Who's celebrating with me?

Before we get started on drinking beers today, let me tell you about all the things I do not excel at:

I've never finished an entire mascara before (a) getting bored or (b) it drying out beyond saving.  I HAVE finished chapsticks, which I think a lot of people can't say, but never a darn mascara.

I get easily distracted so if I'm working on a task I don't really care about, it'll likely never get done because I'll find 10,000 other things to work on.

9.23.2016

My Healthiest Fluff Nugget (Without the Guessing Game)

 


On Wednesday Hawkeye and I went on an adventure.  While we go on walks every day, we don't often hop in the car and drive somewhere other than my parents' house to visit their dogs.  So I decided we were going over to Kriser's Natural Pet Store to pick out treats and toys, because that's what you do during mid-week slumps.  And we both loved it.

yeah, this one, mom

One of my very favorite things about this store, to be perfectly honest, is that it doesn't smell.  Not like animals, not like food.  You know how much I appreciate impeccably clean spaces, so I had to mention it.  It made me want to stay all night, which is about how long I would need to check out all the toys.

9.16.2016

Since Summer is Actually Ending Now

It's that time again, seasonal goals time.  You know, since the season of summer is actually ending in a couple of days - not when everyone acts like it did on September 1.  Anyway.  Back when it was spring I was dreading the goals recap post because I did so terribly.  I mean, I subsequently felt better reading other people's posts because everyone did terrible in the spring, but still.  I hate not meeting the goals I set for myself.  Important or not in the grand scheme of things, they're still things I wanted to accomplish so I get mad when I don't do it.  Because it's generally no one's fault but my own.  Summer goals, however, was a totally different story - thank goodness.

Life According to Steph

9.14.2016

My Meal Planning Process

When I first mentioned what my schedule and routine is like lately, I said that I could do a separate post on my meal planning process if that seemed interesting.  And I got feedback that people actually wanted to hear about this so here we are.  Man, sometimes my posts just get out of control.  Maybe that's why I've been a lazy blogger lately and the posts have been fewer and further between - every topic I want to blog about ends up being so damn long!  This is particularly detailed but I didn't want to leave anything out, so if you're still curious how I go about meal planning, read on:

9.12.2016

Do I Need a 2017 Planner?

That particular question has been on my mind lately.  Usually, by this point, I've already picked out exactly what I want for the next year.  Possibly even ordered it already.  This is the time for new year planners, after all.  The rush to get academic year planners is over, so now it's time for the new year ones.  Since I'm many years removed from school (I graduated law school in 2010 and have no intentions of going back to school for anything ever again), I like to get the planners that run January - December.  And although I have my top pick in mind if I were going to get one for 2017, the fact remains that I haven't ordered it yet because I don't think I need it.  Say what now? Yep, you heard me.


9.10.2016

Swagbucks Team Challenge: Midway



What's your favorite part about county fairs? Is it the rides, the food, the games? I love it all!

Starting Monday, September 12th, Swagbucks invites you to participate in their Midway Team Challenge. Pre-registration starts today! How will you contribute? Watching videos, completing surveys, shopping online? 

These activities and more will help your team get ahead. If you've never used Swagbucks before, it's a site where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online. Now is a great time to join, especially if you participate in the Team Challenge because it's an opportunity to win an extra bonus for trying out the site. 
All members who participate and contribute at least 400 SB to their team’s total will receive an SB bonus in the form of a rebate on their next gift card! I can’t wait to help my team come in 1st place for that 50 SB rebate. 
The challenge lasts until September 16th so log on or make a free account! Pre-registration is open now!

9.08.2016

Routines Make Me Happy

I very much live by my routine.  I'll throw it off sometimes, like when I go to a mid-week dinner with a friend, but in generally I believe that my routine makes my life easier and everyone happier.  I'm able to get a lot done in a day!  So here's my lineup.  It's just what works for me, right now at least.  Oh and I feel like I need to start out by saying - don't let the time frame fool you.  I may wake up at 4:30 a.m., but I go to sleep at 8 p.m.  I get my 8 hours, trust me.

9.06.2016

Alaskan Cruise on the Norwegian Pearl 2016

This post is incredibly freaking long.  I didn't feel like splitting it up, because you either want to know about it and you'll read the whole thing anyway, or you don't and you'll skip the whole thing.  So what's the point of making two posts, right?  In case you missed it, during the first week of August, I went on an Alaskan cruise with my parents on the Norwegian Pearl.  I loved every minute of it.  If you've been thinking that it's on your bucket list, I highly encourage you to do it.


I listed it out by itinerary, hopefully that's helpful.


9.01.2016

On Blogging and Life

The amount of times I post in a month always ebbs and flows, and right now we're definitely in 'ebbs' mode.  A lot of bloggers feel that way during summer and I'm thinking I'll move over the slump as we head into fall too, but mostly because I'm a winter person.  If you look at my archives since I've been blogging regularly (2013), I always post heavier in fall and winter and then it trickles through spring and summer.  You'd think it was because I was outside doing more things and away from the computer but no, it's just that I hate spring and summer and have no motivation to do anything, let alone post.  I loathe being hot, it's the worst feeling.  I thrive in winter so it makes sense that I post more often then.  And I tolerate fall because it has Halloween, my favorite holiday, and it gets me to winter.  Hashtag I need to move to Alaska but John and Hawkeye don't want to join me.  Also I feel like I'm less busy at work during the holiday season, because people don't get divorced during the holidays.  Leaves me more time to blog.

8.31.2016

My 3 Least Favorite Bars in Chicago

You know you have it - the one place that's a hard no when someone suggests it on a Saturday night.  Generally, I'm a bar lover.  Dive bars being my favorite, naturally.  But even if it isn't a total dive with no crowd and a crack machine, I can tolerate a lot - heck, my best friend used to drag me clubbing and I survived (RIP Republic, you weren't so bad.)  I'll even willingly go to a lot of other bars that regularly make 'Chicago's worst bars' lists, like John Barleycorn, Carols, and Mothers.  I happen to love Mothers.  But there's a couple that get a resounding no from me, every time (and see, I have photos of myself at each place besides #2, I'm not basing this on nothing):

Deuces and Diamonds.  A lot of places in Wrigleyville can be douchey, because it's where frat boys and overgrown frat boys hang out.  But Deuces is the lead float in the douche bar parade, which is really saying something in this neighborhood.  If you actually choose to go here, I probably hate you and we have nothing in common.  It's the Clark street capital of salmon colored shorts, popped colors, entitlement, and sunglasses at night.  It's one long 'My New Haircut' video.  (Which is hilarious to watch online for 3 minutes, but not in reality for 3 hours.)  The fact that their outdoor area has a chlorinated mini fountain they encourage you to wade in?  I just can't.

(Hopefully you've seen enough photos of me to know when my smile is fake.  Like here.)

8.21.2016

Swago Olympic Rings

Have the summer games ignited a competitive fire within you? Take that inspired feeling and channel it towards completing your Olympic Rings Swago board next week!

Swago is a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards. If you've never used Swagbucks, participating in Swago is a great introduction to the site because you can get extra bonuses for trying out all the activities as you complete your board.
If you didn’t participate in the last round of Swago, here’s what you need to know to get your 300 SB Bonus:
  • Starting Friday, August 19th head to your Swago Board and hit “Join” to pre-register. If you don’t hit “Join” you won’t get credit for completing the action items.
  • Swago will begin on Monday, August 22nd at 12:01am PDT/3:01am EDT, so sit tight and get ready.
  • Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete. They can be anything from getting a search win, earning SB in Surveys, or earning SB in nCrave.
  • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
  • You have a limited amount of time to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
  • Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value.
  • Once you’ve achieved a pattern the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.
  • The game ends Monday, August 29th at 12pm PDT/3pm EDT. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus.

8.10.2016

Playing Catch Up

Nothing like the end of a vacation to bring the real world crashing down on your head.  Well no, it's not that dramatic.  I'm just still playing catch up on my entire life since getting back from Alaska, and of course the blog takes last place.  Whoops!  Thanks for reading and commenting while I was gone, I promise to respond to comments even though it'll be 2 weeks late; I just didn't feel like responding from my phone the couple of times I got reception.  Can you blame me?


Surprisingly, work was the easiest to catch up on - I hardly had anything piled up waiting and only 42 messages in my e-mail inbox, which was way under what I had mentally estimated.  Home is harder.  Since I just packed a little carry on, I'm already unpacked and all the laundry (mine and John's) is done; that was easy.  Cleaning the actual house is proving to be tougher.  I was gone for a full 10 days and I generally clean on the weekends and do a quick clean up of one area each week day.  That's not to say that John never helps - the outside area is his domain and he did mow the yard.  However, he started his new job last Monday, August 1, so he didn't have time to do anything around the house.  And then over the weekend he got sick (and is still sick.)  Basically means it's like 2 weeks worth of vacuuming up crumbs and dog hair that I need to attend to.

Luckily, Tara is coming into town on Friday.  While most of you are thinking 'ah why have company when you just got back,' let me just explain how (a) nothing pressures you to get the cleaning done like impending guests and (b) it's Market Days and we never miss Market Days.  So the house will be perfectly clean by tomorrow night and then I'll feel much more settled since cleaning is currently 80% of my to do list.  Which means next week, I can get back to blog things, si?

In the meantime, here's some housekeeping things that I need your input on:

(1) I plan on having a full recap of the Alaskan cruise next week.  Generally just going to share some photos and a couple of details and tips but if there's anything specific that you're wondering about, ask me and I'll be sure to address it!

(2) Just for fun (even though I'm definitely already a minimalist) I'm doing the Rachel Aust 60 Day Minimalism Challenge, since it addresses so many more areas than 'get rid of physical stuff.'  Betsy and I are starting on Monday, though I don't plan on having any posts about it (she might, I don't know.)  I'm mainly mentioning it because I'll be posting some photos of my progress to Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtag.  If you want to start it with us let me know.  Always fun to have people in the same boat, cheering each other on.

(3) John's job!  I mentioned in previous posts that I didn't want to share until it was solid, but now he has officially started and I feel like it's okay to talk about - he is training at the fire academy and in 6 months (hence the 6 month pay cut I talked about), he'll be a real life Chicago firefighter.  Yes, like the show Chicago Fire except I've never watched it and never will, just like I won't watch any other fire related TV shows and movies.  So that is the big news!  It's his dream job so we're very excited.  I'm still in the excited phase, I probably won't move on to 'constantly nervous' until he's assigned to a firehouse and actually starts working.  Anything you want to hear about related to this?  How he got the job, what the whole process is, how we handle the scheduling (24 hours 'on', meaning at the firehouse, 48 hours off)?  I'm still learning as we go but if you're interested, I'm happy to share what I've got so far.

And that's it for now.  See you next week!

8.02.2016

10 Things That Feel Like Home

As you're reading this, I am on my Alaskan cruise!  Today, we're in Juneau, which I hope means I get some cell service for picture posting.  Regardless, I didn't want to leave you this week without any posts.  Even though a small room on a cruise ship will never really be 'home' for a week, I recognize that there are ways I could make it feel like home.  I couldn't get every one of these into my carry on suitcase, but in general, when I'm away or even when I'm home but feeling sad, these are the top 10 things that are my greatest comforts.

(People and pets make a house a home, that's for sure.  If we were including those, my biggest comforts would be Hawkeye and John.  And my parents.  But short of that.)

1. Snowy Bear.  In case you haven't yet read that post from my archives.  I have never been without Snowy.  As of the writing of this post, I'm not sure if Snowy is coming on the cruise. He has never been to Alaska so I think he has to come, but I am doing just a carry on so he has to fit.  Comfortably.  Never squish the bear.


7.28.2016

I'm a Piano Player, What's Your Passion?

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.
#passiondefinedremyrefined #CollectiveBias

What are you passionate about? If someone asked you that today (and I just did, so tell me!), what would your answer be? I hope music is among them, in some form! Rémy Martin is hosting a sweepstakes and giving entrants the opportunity to not only share their passions but also enter to win the opportunity to have a mentor in that field to help guide them. Pretty sweet deal, I think, which is why I really wanted to share it with you.


I thought the best way to share this would be to tell you something I'm passionate about. I don't believe someone can be defined by any one thing that they do. You are not defined by your job or the fact that you enjoy writing. I'm certainly not defined by being a lawyer - I leave my job at the office and have weeknights and weekends to pursue tons of other activities that have nothing to do with my day job. You can have so many different passions. You already know about my passion for pets and for the Iowa Hawkeyes, but today is about sharing something new. More passions. And one of mine happens to be music - specifically, the piano.





Here's something you might not know about me: I am really good at playing the piano! Really. I took lessons for many years as a child. Check out these entries from a booklet my mom kept from one of my concerts:




Goodness, I can't believe how many years ago that was! But if you don't think that's awesome, me playing Mozart at age 12, well, you're crazy. I can still play, and I still do, which is why we still have the piano! To tell you the truth, I did not like playing the piano when I started. I had natural talent because I have long, skinny fingers, but practicing was the absolute worst. I think every 9 year old would say that, though. My dad, genius that he was, would start giving me dollars to encourage practice. I had a tip jar on the piano and everything, for requests of course. It didn't take long for me to love it, and the better I got, the easier it was to practice.




I learned a lot from playing piano, more than just how to play. I learned poise and posture, of course, but I also learned how to multitask, how to block out distractions, how to play in front of a crowd, and how to keep going if I make mistakes. I think those are lessons that kids need, so I'm passionate about keeping the arts in schools and encouraging people to take up an instrument.

If you have similar feelings, then I encourage you to follow your passions. You can win a mentorship sponsored by Rémy Martin to follow your own passion. I also have a little recipe for you to show you how you can enjoy Rémy Martin at home at the end of this post!

Ready to pursue your passions and curious how to enter the Rémy Martin sweepstakes?
 To enter the sweepstakes, the Entrant must log on to his/her Twitter account and (i) follow @RemyRefined (if he/she does not already), and (ii) Tweet an image of Entrant showing their life passion and including the hashtags #RemyRefined and either #ChicagoSweepstakes, #DetroitSweepstakes, or #StLouisSweepstakes, depending on Entrant’s state of residence.
Grand Prize (1): The grand prize winner will receive a mentor for one (1) year to help winner live out his/her passion and a check for $5,000 (“Grand Prize”).
First Prize (15 [five (5) per location]): Each first prize winner will receive two (2) tickets to a Jhené Aiko concert on either August 12, 2016 for Michigan winners, August 16, 2016 for Illinois winners, or August 17, 2016 for Missouri winners, a meet and greet with Jhené Aiko, and a Remy Martin gift bag (“First Prize”).
Second Prize (30 [ten (10) per location]): Each second prize winner will receive two (2) tickets to a Jhené Aiko concert on either August 12, 2016 for Michigan winners, August 16, 2016 for Illinois winners, or August 17, 2016 for Missouri winners (“Second Prize’).
●No Purch. Nec. Ends 8/31/16. 21+, IL, MI, MO only, Rules: RemyRefined.com

Stephanie's Pianos and Peaches Cocktail




I love peach year round, though it is ideal in the summer. Rémy Martin is very smooth so it can compliment a variety of flavors, and I find peach to be top of the list. Rémy Martin is crafted for excellence and you can taste the passion that is poured into every bottle. To create its world renowned Fine Champagne Cognac, Rémy Martin selects only the finest grapes from the best growing regions in the Cognac region of France. All cognacs are aged in the finest French Limousin oak barrels for maximum taste, aroma and sophistication.

Ingredients
   3/4 oz peach schnapps
 1/2 oz Rémy Martin 1738® Accord Royal (I went with this one because it's the signature blend from the luxury house of Rémy Martin and has a really round texture due to how it's aged. The Rémy Martin VSOP would work as well!  It has dominant notes of vanilla if that is your preference.)
  3/4 oz lemon juice
Directions
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel or a wedge of peach.




How are you pursuing your passions? Enter the Rémy Martin Sweepstakes to give yourself a head start.


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