Friday, September 30, 2016

cost money, make money, no money

I have blog posts in my head that I never write because I feel like they should look or be a certain way. Instead of doing what I should do - collaging all of this and making it look pretty - I'm just going to tell you about a few things that I like a lot lately since it's Friday and who wants to read anything real, anyway?

Things that cost money:
I'm not a huge makeup person, but I love this NYX Gotcha Covered concealer. It's $5 and a little goes a long way. It's super thick and I think of it as paint, but I really like it for getting rid of under eye circles.

One of my friends was looking for rose gold nail polish and in trying to help her, I found this rose gold glittery polish at Kohl's. I had to have it and I love it - metallic without looking like glitter and light enough to not notice too much when it chips.

Things that make money:
I installed the Ibotta app a long time ago and thought it was confusing, so I deleted it. I saw something about it recently so I decided to try it again and I love it. It's so easy - basically after you shop, you select items you bought, scan them, and then take a photo of your receipt -  and it has items on there like bananas and onions that I buy often and things like bread and milk that I sometimes need as well as name brand things that I might want to try. There was a $4 coupon for lipstick that only cost $5.82 so that's a pretty good deal. If you haven't tried it yet and want to, use my link and you get $10 when you redeem your first rebate (and, to tell the truth, I get $5, so come on...)

Things that are free:
NPR's How I Built This podcast is one of my new favorites. Hearing the stories behind how major companies started as ideas and became worth millions or billions of dollars from the people who built them is fascinating to me.

Twitter. It's my favorite form of social media. The challenge of making a point in 140 characters weeds out miscellaneous information and it isn't like facebook where you have to follow people back out of obligation. I find it especially interesting during election season - the memes, jokes, and ridiculous fights keep my attention for far too long.

iOS 10. I love it. Many people do not. The fact that gifs are at my fingertips and photos are super easy to send make me happy. Plus, my phone seems faster than ever and I like that you can easily swipe for the camera PLUS sending confetti and balloons has yet to get old.

So far, there are no plans this weekend and the weather is cooling off (kind of) so I'm excited to see what we find to do. Saturday is the beginning of my birthday month so I have high hopes.

Apologies for having captcha turned on - I've gotten literally 40 spam comments in the past few days! It will be gone again soon!

Friday, September 16, 2016

goals from a non-goal setter


Truth: It's been so long since I posted a photo on my blog, I had to think about how. Another truth: When I saw my friend Bre post these free stock photos for bloggers, I knew I wanted to write about the goals I've been working on. Seeing that Steph and Sara are hosting a goals link-up sealed the deal.

I'm not a goal-oriented person. I like to do what needs to be done and do it well, but looking to the future isn't my forte. Perhaps I fear failure, so if I never plan to accomplish anything, I never let anyone down. It isn't ideal. I've been thinking a lot about hard work, doing things that benefit me, and the payoff that comes from working hard, or at least consistently, toward something. I felt like I needed to make some goals for myself, simply for the satisfaction of getting things done, the same way I'll make myself a checklist of things to do at work just for the simple joy of crossing them off. So, here are some goals from a self-proclaimed non-goal setter. They've been in my head for about a month and will definitely take me through the fall and beyond.

1) #tenfortieks: Yup, it's something I have never tweeted about but in my head, it's a hashtag. I wear ballet flats to work daily and cheap ones just aren't cutting it anymore. I've seen Tieks before on bloggers, but it wasn't until I saw two coworkers with pairs that I got really interested in them. I was able to ask real people if they were worth the steep price tag (they start at $175!) and actually comfortable and I got a resounding yes. So, I decided I needed to have them, but I need to earn them. Enter Ten for Tieks (#tenfortieks). I need to lose 10 lbs and if I do, I get myself some shoes. It's been a good way to motivate myself to get up at 5 a.m. and go to the gym, take walks at lunch, do less mindless or emotional snacking, and think about the money I save every time I don't give in to junk. I've lost about 6 lbs in six weeks - I'm not doing anything crazy - but I think the mindfulness I'm gaining will make the process worth it.

2) Use My Planner: I have a $10 planner from Target with an unconventional set-up that totally works for me (post to come, possibly). I like to use it to keep up with all the things I want to do, from podcasts to listen to, new TV shows to watch, cleaning chores to do that night or in the future, how much I worked out, and things like that. I also try to document a little thing I did each day in it, from trivia nights to lunches with friends or binge watching a TV show (yup, there's a Stranger Things day). I like that it helps me see where I spend some of my time and helps me remember things I'm bound to forget.

3) Dress more like an adult: The aforementioned daily ballet flats are usually accompanied by pants, a top, and a cardigan. There's a reason I'm not a fashion blogger. But, I have noticed when I wear heels or a dress or have my nails painted I feel... better. Older. Like I'm playing the role of Real Adult Professional and have my life together. It's a nice feeling. Not for every day, but I have been trying to keep it in mind as I create a fall wardrobe. I want to buy a blazer, but they always make me feel like an extra in an 80s movie, but surely there are some without shoulder pads, right? And, I've been painting my nails more which is so easy that I wonder why I don't do it more often.

I have other, smaller life things I'm working on, too. Write more, start Christmas shopping, be a more supportive friend, use my time more wisely, and try new things. It's a lot. But it's nice to have a focus. Maybe I can become a goals person after all. Does that count as another goal?

Life According to Steph
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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

seriously good reads

I feel like this was my best book reading month of 2016 yet. So far this year, I think I've only rated one book 5 stars; this month, there are three 5s and one 4.5. Though there were two books that weren't for me, the books I liked, I really liked. Let's get to it.

The Underground Railroad - This book was part what I was expecting, and part not. Maybe the acclaim and putting Oprah's name on the cover made my expectations too high, but overall, I just didn't care about this book or its narrator at all. Stop reading if you mind mild spoilers - okay seriously, what was the point of making something surreal about the Underground Railroad? It was a book so deeply rooted in reality that making the railroad an actual railroad was jarring and unnecessary and downright confusing. (2.5 stars)

The Woman in Cabin 10 - This was the right book at the right time. I wanted something with more action and intrigue after The Underground Railroad, and this delivered. It isn't the best book ever, and it shouldn't be the next Gone Girl or anything like that, but the plot kept me guessing and the narrator's anxiety spilled over into me so much that I had to stop reading so close to bedtime. I was excited to discuss it as soon as I finished it - I just really liked it. I definitely recommend this one if you want a solid story that will keep you interested. (5 stars)

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg - I don't have much to add to this that Steph and Jana haven't already said. If you're the least bit interested, just read it. It's the Cliff's Notes of an awesome woman's life with insight into her nontraditional (for its time) marriage and all of the glass ceilings she broke through to become the second female US Supreme Court Justice. I love RBG and her principle that "We the People" means everyone and her constant work toward equality. My only complaint is that there is SO much stuff in the back of the book - an index, a glossary, footnotes, etc. - that if you're reading a digital copy, you'll be at like 68% when the book ends. I was really bummed because I wanted more. Also, can we talk about how I got to breathe her air and be in the same room with her a few years ago? (5 stars)

Girls on Fire - I had two days to read this before it went back to the library, so I committed myself to it on Labor Day. By the time I realized I really didn't like it, I was too far invested to quit, so I pushed through. I basically hated this. Stupid teenagers doing dumb things with zero payoff and being awful for the sake of being awful. I'm not sure who this is for. I should have put it down. (2 stars, and that feels generous)

The Sea of Tranquility - I saw this book on everyone's list last year and my library kept adding it to the digital collection and then taking it away. I didn't really know much about it, and I was bummed when I saw it was YA since I had just finished Girls on Fire. However, this is a far different book. I like the way the story unfolded and it was one that I wanted to read at every spare second. I didn't mind the changing viewpoints and the characters' actions mostly made sense. I liked the teen love story, though it was ridiculously farfetched. My only gripe is that in some moments, the characters were wise far beyond their years whereas in others, they seemed closer to 13 than 18. Nonetheless, it was a good YA story and none of the kids had cancer, which is always a nice change. (5 stars)

(A) One True Loves - Good ole Taylor Jenkins Reid. If you haven't read any of her books yet, do it now. I have listened to all of them, I think, and they're really enjoyable. Sure, the women nearly always make choices that I completely disagree with and just plain don't get, but TJR explains where they're coming from and how they make sense for that person. I liked the premise of this book - a woman's husband is presumed dead so she moves on, gets engaged to someone else, and then her husband comes back - and it definitely had me wondering what I would do in a similar situation. I think what I really like about these books is that the author always tosses in little details about the character's thoughts or the setting that sit with the reader and make the books feel more real and relatable. (4.5 stars)

It's going to be hard to top that many good books but I'm excited to try! Looking forward to finding new recs from Steph, Jana, and everyone else who links up.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

riding shotgun to chasing dreams

If you have asked me what's new lately, my answer has invariably involved barbecue. And that seems unfair. You're asking what's new with me, not what's new with my husband. But, it seems that no matter how independent a person thinks they are, the interests of one half of a couple tend to color the other. Especially if that interest is a love of barbecue turned into a burgeoning business.

So what's new with me is Doubleback BBQ. I know that it's actually what's new with Andrew; I'm just along for the ride. But it absolutely affects me - our house is its unofficial home, its wares are tested in my kitchen, and all of the time that a new business baby takes comes from time spent with my husband, or spent sleeping, or the time we used to spend doing anything besides eating and thinking about smoked meat. And I only feel okay about it.

I've never been good with dreams or goals. As a kid, I knew I wanted to get married and go to college. I've done that. I still wonder what I want to BE when I grow up, beyond simply "happy." So while I get dreams and hard work in theory, it's hard for me to understand all of the work that's now going into Doubleback. It's hard for me to grasp that even though he's beyond tired, staying up all night smoking a brisket is kind of fun for my husband. It's hard for me to give up weekends "to cook" since I know that Friday is spent prepping, Saturday is for serving, and on Sunday, we recover and try to cram a weekend's worth of activity into a few waking hours. And it's hard for me to comprehend that a willingness to clean a kitchen spattered with meat juices is now viewed as a sign of love and support when I do it with minimal grumbling. It's a hobby and a dream that might one day be a career but right now seems like a never-ending sink of dishes, a garage full of wood, and a to-do list that's never quite done.

I guess my thing is - and maybe you can help me out - how do I fit myself in the picture? How do you wholeheartedly support a dream that is not your own without resenting it? Resentment hasn't taken residence here yet - this is still new and exciting - but I worry about it. I think about the money we've spent, the vacation days used, and the sacrifices that could be in an attempt to run a successful barbecue endeavor (I feel like I should mention here that Andrew does have a business partner who is also married, and it's awesome to have someone who understands, though we really haven't elaborated on how we feel - yet). I remember how dry my hands get after doing dishes for what feels like days and how weekends used to be for antique malls and netflix bingeing and sometimes I just don't want to deal with meat, or packing the car full of supplies, or my event planning brain that refuses to shut off and constantly asks the guys if they're sure they have enough forks/foil/tablecloths, etc. But how do you shut down a dream?

The answer, for me, right now, is that you don't. You help your husband (mostly) when he asks you, but you draw the line and escape to Target when you need to. You learn to keep quiet (which is SO HARD) about business matters that don't concern you because, both literally and figuratively, it isn't your business. You plan "special days" for no reason where there is no BBQ talk and little BBQ texting to said business partner. You get your nails done because you deserve it. You understand that your weekends are subject to smoking meat, tasting BBQ, or prepping for anything in that realm for the near future. You give your best advice, encouragement, patience, and understanding. And you learn to be okay, at least for now, with answering a question like "what's new with you?" with an answer that isn't entirely your own because you have faith that this dream is worth it.

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch because when I write an actual post, I want some people to see it.