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

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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.

   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
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.

How to Earn $10 From Your Mobile Device

Swagbucks is the web’s most popular rewards program that gives you free gift cards and cash for the everyday things you already do online. Whenever you shop, watch videos or search the web, Swagbucks gives you points called SB. You can use your SB to redeem gift cards to hundreds of your favorite stores. 

With the Swagbucks Mobile and SBTV apps I can use my spare minutes to earn free gift cards on my phone! Like the Swagbucks website, I can rack up SB by shopping, answering surveys and watching videos.

While you wait for the coffee to brew, download free games and other apps through the Discover tab: 20 SB

During commercial breaks, take a featured survey or fill out your survey profile: 60 SB

While standing in line at the grocery store, answer the daily poll: 1 SB

When you’ve finally made it to the gym, watch style, tech and celeb news through the SBTV app: 2 SB for every 10 videos

Just as you’ve put dinner in the oven, your Swagbucks app tells you there’s a new Swag Code!: 3 SB

Before you go to sleep, use the Swagbucks app to shop from your favorite stores. You deserve it!: 100 SB 

By downloading the Swagbucks mobile app, I can earn a free $10 gift card by the end of my week. Who knew playing on my phone could be so productive!

Invite your friends to download the Swagbucks Mobile app so they can start earning their way to free gift cards. It's 100% free to download and 100% easy to use. Its available for both iPhone and Android devices. 

Alaskan Cruise In a Carry On - Toiletries and 1 Quart Bag

This post may contain affiliate links.

Is anyone else as intrigued as I am by what other people bring in their toiletry bags and luggage when going on vacation?  No, just me?  Well in case you like to creep as much as I do, I decided to do a couple of posts on what I'm bringing on my 9 day cruise to Alaska.  I am only bringing a carry on rolling suitcase and a tote size purse, making it subject to the size and weight restrictions as well as the 1 quart bag for liquids rule.

An Overly Detailed Bathroom Tour

I absolutely love YouTube video and blog posts on what products people use and what they keep in their bathroom.  I don't think that's weird at all.  Or maybe it's just me and I'm strange?  Well in the event that it's not just me, I decided to share a closer look at what's in my bathroom, including my shower, drawers, and under the sink, plus how I organize it all.

An Update To 'My Epically Decluttered Wardrobe'

Back in October of 2014, so almost 2 years ago, I wrote my first post on decluttering my wardrobe.  As you can see in that post, I kept 198 items after getting rid of 66 things.  Which I thought was pretty bad ass, since that number included shoes, jewelry, winter hats, everything.  I mean, think about your space - if you have 20 necklaces, 15 pairs of shoes, 5 pairs of jeans, 20 pieces of underwear, you can see how quickly it might add up!  

To me, 198 was a damn good number; I had purged a lot.  And now my closet looks like this:

Christmas in July. It's Real!

Did you know that Christmas in July is a real thing? People are already saving up for the holidays, and the online rewards site Swagbucks surveyed its members to learn more. Check out these fun facts and start YOUR holiday saving today!

In case you haven't heard me talking about them already, Swagbucks is the fun rewards program that gives you free gift cards and cash for the everyday things you already do online. You can conveniently earn points (called SB) when you shop at your favorite retailers, watch entertaining videos, search the web, answer surveys and find great deals. Redeem your points for free gift cards to your favorite retailers like Amazon or Walmart, to name a few, or get cash back from PayPal!

One of the best parts is that it costs you nothing to join and be a member! You decide how to earn, and you can do it at home or on the go (using their mobile apps)! Join today and start earning for December - it'll be around the corner before you know it...

Goal Setting Tip of the Month: Try 'Tiny Habits'

This month's goal setting tip is all about embracing the idea of creating tiny habits.  A Tiny Habit is something you do once a day that takes less than 30 seconds and requires little effort.  It's important to anchor the desired behavior to a "trigger."  For example, remembering your vitamins.  Your tiny habit might be "After I pour my coffee, I will open my vitamin container."  The natural progression is that you'll then take the vitamins, but it's all about that first tiny step, anchored to something specific that you do every day (pour coffee.)


Fall Film Challenge 2016

"What? It's not fall yet!"  No, it's not, we're solidly still in the summer season, don't worry.  But Jenn has already put out her categories for her fall film challenge and I needed to get a start on picking my movies.  I participated last year and checked every movie off my list, and ended up loving ones I thought I would hate.  Plus I won a prize (Redbox gift card!) so that always makes it more fun.  There's more prizes this year so if you're thinking of joining in, that's great incentive.  You can head over to Jenn's blog post for all the rules, but mainly it's that the challenge begins on September 1, giving you plenty of time to get your picks in.  I really hope you'll join in.

Three on Thursday

Welcome back to Three on Thursday, a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites that I think you should do, try, or buy. 

1. Schofferhofer Grapefruit Beer.  I love grapefruit anything, and I love how many grapefruit beer options there are.  This one is slightly harder to find than other brands, but it's worth it.  This one is the best!  They have a locator on their site which is pretty accurate, so you can find both bars and stores that carry it.  It's the perfect summer drink.

29 Things About John For His 29th Birthday

Mostly here on this blog, we talk about me.  Which is fine - I'm an only child; 'me' is my favorite topic of conversation.  But today isn't about me, for once.  I figured I mention John but you probably don't know much about him, so I'm bringing you 29 facts to get to know him better.