Thursday, March 31, 2011

a blogger's bio

Last weekend I decided to start reworking my bio and create an About Me page. (I'm sure many of you are way ahead of me!)
Anyway, I quickly realized it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, so I decided to do some research before jumping in.

I came across a really helpful post at BlogHer, which gave me a kick-start.

Then I started skimming the bio sections blogs I admire, and enjoy.

Here are a few:

I'm still working on mine, but I wanted to share what I learned to encourage you to write or re-work your bio/About Me pages!

What I'm taking away from my research:

1. Be concise. If a visitor is stopping by for the first time they may not want to read a novel--they just want to figure out who you are and what your blog is about. If you want, have a short bio on the front page and link to a longer bio for curious folks.

2. Be able to define your blog and audience, and share it in a clear way. I write about a few primary topics so I will share those things in my bio.

3. Be genuine, winsome, (& witty if it works)--but most of all, be yourself! a bio page that doesn't sound like you/your blog, doesn't work.

4. An extended "About me" page should include a photo or two, and links to some favorite or popular posts that describe what you and your blog are about. Also, any features, awards or recognitions you'd received as a blogger.

5. Provide a way for readers to contact you! Whether its in your bio or elsewhere on the blog, have an email address or contact form available.

Hope that helps some of you! I'll be working with the amazingly talented Joy of How Joyful Designs (who designed my blog) to make some of these changes over the next few weeks.

Do you have any other thoughts or advice (something you like to read in bloggers' bios?) Is it time for you to rework yours?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

thifting obsession

Friends, I cannot stop my latest addiction.
Brook and I hit up our favorite thrift store again on Saturday and I spent every dollar in my wallet. Four hours later I was treasure hunted out, but check out my latest scores:

a dress by Mustard Seed.
i love the zipper, gathered waistline and the rolled up sleeves.


Kenneth Cole blazer that is a tad big, but I might wear Kendi style with either the sleeves rolled up, or scrunched.


H&M blazer. This kind of reminds me of a marching band uniform. Which is awesome because I didn't go to a real school and never could be that nerd-tastic until now.
H & M military blazer

this Ann Taylor Loft cropped blazer (I supplied the vintage gold button)
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a Poetry tunic
Poetry Tunic

belt with an awesome buckle

and my fav: a beautiful soft leather Sigrid Olsen handbag in perfect condition.

I've always been the kind of girl who buys a $30 purse, uses it every day for a year and throws it away for a new one. I'm just not a purse person.
But I can already tell after using this purse, that I'll never buy a really cheap one again.


Some thrifting notes:

The disadvantage of the particular store we visit is that there are no fitting rooms.
So our #1 rule is to dress in flip-flops, leggings, and a tank top.
Rule #2 is to look out for items to re-sell, to make up some of the money I spent on myself.

Whatever I buy that I don't like, doesn't fit or doesn't work for whatever reason I've put up for sale on my eBay account, with a few other trinkets.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Signs of Spring

It's spring in SoCal (the cloudy, rainy days verify this)

Out here February showers bring March flowers, and I've been enjoying every minute of them.

so thankful to our previous house owners who planted all these gorgeous calla lillies in the back, and side yard of our little house.






10 tulips for $6 + 5 free callas = happy latte

Hope spring is making its presence known wherever you are!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Faves

An every-once-in-a-while round up of my favorites around the blogosphere.

In my Imaginary Closet by Creature Comforts. Love the concept, and what she put together. Now I'm messing around on Polyvore trying to create my own.

Taren admits she isn't doing what she loves and takes a leap of faith to get there.
(My friend Cait recently did the same.) Inspiring!

Reuben Egg Rolls at The Kitchn. I die.

you guys already listen to the Civil Wars, right?

I discovered them a couple months, and I've been obsessed with their Pandora station.
I loved their sound, and their music...and especially that Joy (Williams, the girl of the pair) used to be a pop CCM artist I listened to in h.s.!

Finally--One of BlogHer's posts this week arrested my attention and I can't stop thinking about it.
It's all about ownership of your decisions without apology.
I've never been one to back least not since my first college boyfriend where I took the blame for everything that went wrong and then some. I'm assertive, strong-willed (just ask E), and generally confident. I still need a reminder, and I think you do too.

Not just freedom to not speak your mind or share your decisions for fear of criticism (as someone more timid might be tempted to do), but also to have freedom from the rationalization and frustration associated with defending them.

Here's an excerpt from the post by Rachel Wilkerson, Don't say you're sorry, Just Own It

In my early twenties, I made so many decisions based on guilt. I always wanted to have a reason to justify my actions. A million reasons, actually. I went into conversations like I was going into battle, armed with my explanations like they were nun chucks. I would start swinging as soon as I heard the first disapproving, “Really? Are you sure?” I was armed and dangerous, ready to justify what I was doing to my friends and to myself until I was just beating everyone in the face with it.

But finally, something clicked for me. I realized my only explanation was, “Because.”

And I owned it.

Check out the post and let me know--what have you owned?

and finally--EEEeee! I just booked tickets for E and I to head to NYC for a short weekend in June. What should we see, do, eat, buy?!

not all a loss

thanks for encouragement after my terrible trip! I'm feeling much better about it now that I'm home, so I wanted to share the few bright spots.

One of my favorite things about Grand Rapids is that one of my dearest friends lives there. On my lunch and afternoon breaks during the 10-hour days Cait and I met up for brunch, lattes and shopping.

First stop was Marie Catribs. trendy, tiny, and yum--all natural fresh ingredients.
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They served my omelette in a puff pastry!
(the seasoned potatoes were delish)
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The next day we stopped for quick bite at Red Ball Jet. Sangria, crab cake slider and a margherita pizza.


red ball jet yum

in addition to that we had fun shopping (I scored an adorable red jacket I'll share next week), sipping some MI cranberry wine, playing Just Dance on the wii and chatting. I'm so thankful I got to spend a little time with Cait during this trip!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The worst of travel

If you asked me two weeks ago, I would say it was one of my favorite things--both personal and business travel.

This weekend tempered my expectations a little. Let me tell you about it.

It started Thursday morning. I was feeling pretty confident walking out the door in the morning that I had things together. I hadn't made a list this time, relying on my previous travel "experience" (I usually travel 4-5 times a year for work)

About half-way to the airport it occurred to me that I had forgotten the book I needed to read for my book club. I'd been saving it specifically for this trip so I was pretty disappointed not to have it along.
Then, one by one, I realized how many more things I'd forgotten. My Greek homework. some brochures. my cell phone charger. I was nearly hyperventilating by the time I got to the airport, so I called my friend Kim and we caught up while I sipped a 'calm-down' latte.

I was going to West MI, but thought it would be faster & cheaper to fly into Chicago, rent a car, and drive up to the conference I was headed to. (And it should have been!)
After getting off the plane I eventually found my way to the rental car shuttle--carrying a suitcase, a large wheeled briefcase, a laptop bag and a 4 ft long display--and got everything worked out for my rental car. (which always takes forever, because I'm not 25) I walked out to the spot where they told me my tiny economy car was parked, and instead there was a teal Nissan Cube.

So I triple check the parking space # and what they wrote on my paperwork, pile all my things inside and get in the car to leave, puzzled.

When I get through the maze of cars to the exit, the gate attendant looks at my paperwork and says " Lady, you're in the wrong car." So I turn around head back with no idea where I'm going (rental car lots are confusing!), get lost, flag down an attendant and burst into tears.
I can be such a baby.

Thankfully this lady was really understanding. I asked them to find the car I was supposed to take (a Nissan Versa), which they brought over and had someone move all my luggage over to the new car. I pulled myself together and got on the road...where I sat in city traffic for 2 hours before breaking free for the two more hours it takes to get to Grand Rapids.

My work was very slow and pretty uneventful (not a good thing), and I was feeling a little discouraged getting ready to leave. 5 hours before my flight left I hopped into the car to head back to Chicago.

I took the tollway to get into the city and since I was paying for an I-Pass, went to the far left lane and tried to get through the gate. But the sensor wasn't tripping to lift the gate. So I backed up, pulled forward several times. Meanwhile, a line of cars pile up behind me waiting to get through. Finally an attendant came over, told me the pass was giving them an error and I had to pay cash.

I get into the city at 3pm on Sunday afternoon expecting smooth sailing. I hit crawling traffic for 20 miles before arriving at O'Hare.

Chicago traffic

3.5 hours later I arrive to drop off my rental car, but I have to make a complaint about the I-Pass. Wait in line, nervously check watch. Repeat.

I finally board the shuttle with 1 hr 15 minutes before my flight. I'm the third person on the shuttle and the old man driving the bus is waiting for it to fill up. The minutes are ticking by and I'm a ball of stress. We leave...and it's now 55 minutes until my flight departs.

The shuttle drivers announces the stops. Guess who is on the last stop? That's right, this girl.

At this point it seems like every single person is taking a much time as possible to make me late. 10 feet before my drop-off I grab my 4 pieces of luggage and bound off the bus before it comes to a complete stop. punch my flight info into the self-service check in machine as fast as possible and get a print out saying I missed check-in.

by 4 minutes.

no exceptions made. (despite my plea that I could wait a week for my luggage!)

After standing line for 20 minutes at customer service, I was told there is another flight out to SD, in 3.5 hours. There are 5 open seats. "You're #1 now, but you could be #31 by the time the flight boards." (Thanks for the assurance!)

At this point I have a breakdown which I share on Twitter because E is on a hike back home and not answering his phone. (Thanks to all of you that offered support!)

Airport chilis

After a margarita and chips at the airport Chili's, I wait at the gate and am finally told I'll board the plane. We then sat on the plane waiting for a broken taillight to be fixed, the wings to be de-iced. Then we sit on the runway because there is a weather back up.
I spent the entire plane ride behind a 6 ft girl wearing a top-of-the-head bun AND a hooded sweatshirt, who also moved every 5 minutes so I couldn't see the movie being played. Even after I mentioned I couldn't see the movie and could she tilt the seat back?(she was sleeping anyway!), she still sat up directly in front of the screen.
(ps. the movie was Made in Dagenham, which was awesome)

I got home after 15 hours of traveling (a trip that usually takes 7 hrs max) and was not a very nice person until I woke up from 9 hours of sleep in my own bed.

Reading this story, I feel like my problems were just a few normal travel inconveniences and I'm a big baby. that's probably true. Thanks for letting me share anyway!

Monday, March 21, 2011

a week's worth of wear

I'm taking the day off after a long weekend of traveling for work right now, so I thought I'd share my outfit picks since starting the thrifted challenge. There are still two items I haven't worn, so that will be remedied soon, but I'm loving having one piece to work with in the morning and then picking compliments to it. It's a little bit of structure and a little bit of creativity--just what I like!


this is a little too casual for work, and looking back I'm not sure if I liked the different teals together.


While in Tucson, I spent most of the weekend in this dress:


arms stuck out somewhat awkwardly so you can how poofed the sleeves are. I loved it.


These cropped pants are my favorite thing. I feel s*xy (*so it doesn't show up in sleezy searches) and loved wearing them with stilettos. I wore these on my trip as well.

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Lastly, here's my favorite new travel outfit. It's comfy without being in pajamas and cute without being too dressed up.

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I now totally see the appeal of jeggings or pajamas jeans. they are fantastic.
(and yes, I did take this photo in an airport bathroom)

Friday, March 18, 2011

For Japan, With Love

I'm donating to a few churches I know that are doing relief work in Japan, but also observing this day of blogging silence.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Corned Beef & Cabbage + Leftovers

I craved the usual Irish fare a few weeks early and made corned beef and cabbage (and yes, broke our no red meat at home rule).

I picked up the corned beef from Costco, all marinated and ready to go. This is such a simple recipe
Corned beef + water/beef broth + le creuset!

Set on the stove for 4-5 hours. Add vegetables with 30 minutes left

When serving, I separate veggies and meat*. Slice corned beef thinly against the grain and serve with soda bread. or, an herb loaf like I had.

(*Save the cooking liquid!!)

this meal was delicious but there was so much corned beef left over! So I improvised.

The next day I made a barley soup using the meat and the leftover vegetables + some.

sauté onions

add about 1/2 c of barley (FYI, I wasn't watching the recipe and poured WAAAY too much barley in here)


cook for a few minutes to lightly brown, then add the saved corned beef broth and vegetables.
I added more baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and red cabbage


Simmer for 20 minutes


Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes, and the leftover shredded corned beef
and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Ignore the weird color and enjoy. It took E a couple bites to get past how weird it looks but by his second bowl he was loving it.


ps. this soup fed us for almost a week!

I served this topped with grated fontina cheese--but I think swiss would be the perfect topping. serve with crusty bread and butter!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

#OperationLayla Bake Sale today

Many of the people reading this will have already heard about Layla's story, but it's worth posting. I've known Layla (on the internets) for a while now, and was thrilled to see the response from the blogging community about her need.

Layla was diagnosed with a painful pre-existing condition which in addition to being debilitating and not allowing her to work, also excluded from her husband's insurance policy. For 388 days. When she needs surgery. (Read more of her story here...)

Some amazing ladies banded together to form #OperationLayla.
While they were able to raise the amount needed for the actual surgery within 48 hours (Amazing!), there are still a lot of associated costs with the procedure so today they are hosting a bake sale at Operation Layla to raise the remainder of the money.

(with all extra proceeds donated to the earthquake/tsunami relief in Japan.)

I hesitated posting about this, because there are some real goodies I want to win.

But please, get your butt over top, drool over all the goodies donated for fundraising, and buy something. (just don't bid on anything I want!) ;-)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Weekending in Tucson

In n out
Tucson airfield

Voyager resort

Dove nest in palm tree

Gram and gramps


Free margarita
Tucson sunset
Blueberry pomegranate choc. Chip ice creamCard playing


Feet on dash

Yogurt mill

My grandparents winter in Tucson so E and I took the opportunity of one really free weekend to visit them. A 7 hour drive through the desert, card games, soaking up the sun, lots of food, belt shopping, and garage saling. We have a blast with my grammy and gramps--I'm so thankful they are still so young, healthy and active.
We stopped by Yogurt Mill in El Cajon on our way home Sunday night...yumm

(all photos take on my HTC HD7 phone and edited with the photo enhancer app)

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