Halloween 2016

Yesterday was Halloween, and even though it was beautiful here in Chicagoland we had four trick or treaters ring our doorbell.  Luckily, it wasn’t a total bust, Mr.Bruce had a totally cute and super easy costume to wear!  He was a Beanie Baby!

Bruce's Beanie Baby Halloween Costume

 

Seriously this costume couldn’t have been easier, or cheaper! I think I spent about 10 minutes from start to finish making it and it cost less than a dollar.  This is the perfect halloween costume for someone with a furry friend!

How to make your very own beanie baby costume:

  1. Print one of the famous, heart shaped TY tags
  2. Staple to plain file folder (this is to give the tag some weight and to keep it laying the way you want it to on your furry friend)
  3. Cut on the lines
  4. Punch a hole in the tag so you can secure it to your furry friend

I took an old hair tie, looped it through onto itself and then secured it to Bruce’s collar.  But you could accomplish the same thing with ribbon, string, etc..

You might not be thinking about halloween right now, but pin this idea for next year and you’ll have the cutest pet on the block!

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What We’ve Been Up To…

Phew.. it’s June already! Where does the time go?  It’s been forever and a day since I’ve blogged so I thought I’d share a little bit of what we’ve been up to.

Bruce with TulipsBruce and I started a new obedience school at the local park district.  It’s completely different from what we were doing before at PetSmart but I’ve noticed a huge improvement in his behavior. Aside from that, he’s basically living the dream.  He goes to puppy play care twice a week and romps around with his pals.  Last weekend, we went to an off leash dog park and he got to swim for the first time.  His Instagram is still going strong (@brucedaboxer) and I’m so excited for him to experience his first real summer!  In just about a month, he’ll turn 1! I think I’m going to throw him a little paw-ty! 🙂

Bruce Swimming

The basement is coming along! A few weeks back, I whitewashed our fireplace which was SO easy!  Writing this reminds me that I wanted to share how easy it was.  I think it made a huge difference.  It really modernized the look of the fireplace.

whitewashed fireplace

Since then, G has finished the electrical and the low voltage stuff, and we passed the rough inspections with flying colors!  The past week we had drywallers here, now that the walls are up it’s starting to feel like the end really is in sight!  Next up, hanging the new doors, painting the walls, laying the floors, then trim work and decorating!!  I can’t wait for this project to be done so we can enjoy the space- it’s been a long time coming.

Drywall!

Lately I’ve been pretty busy.  I’ve been working on a few projects with my new role which has been a really neat learning opportunity, but a bit stressful too. We did a bit of traveling in April, going on a cruise in the Caribbean with my family and later this month we are planning a long weekend in Poland!  I’m pretty excited to go there, I’ve never been before!  Later this summer, I want to visit NYC with G- I had such a good time last year when I went for work in March, I think going in the summertime will be awesome.

family cruise

Last month, I joined a new gym (Orange Theory Fitness) and I really love it! I’m beyond out of shape, but after going religiously for a month I am starting to see and feel changes. Now, I need to get my eating under control and I just might start to see some progress on my goals this year after all.
Last week, we celebrated our one year wedding anniversary, and our 13th dating anniversary (CRAZY right?!?)  We celebrated downtown at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab which was delicious!  Writing this  also reminds me I need to finish sharing our wedding pictures and finalize our album with our photographer! Clearly I am a slacker!

Wedding

Anyways, I’m so glad it’s finally summer (my favorite season!)  Excited for all of the fun times in store over the next few months.

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Mr.Selfridge, Moxie & Tribes

Now that Downton Abbey is over, Mr.Selfridge, another one of my favorite Masterpiece shows on PBS is on.  {Which is also in its final season – the writers at Masterpiece must hate me!} Anyways, I was watching the most recent episode and was struck by a conversation between Josie and Kitty.

Kitty Edwards Mr.Selfridge - Masterpiece

Kitty Edwards Mr.Selfridge – Masterpiece

I’ll give a bit of background to set the stage while trying not to give away anything important.  It’s the 1920’s and Kitty has the opportunity to move from London to New York to work for a well know makeup company.  This opportunity would be awesome for her to take things to the next level in her career but she’s struggling because her husband doesn’t seem to be particularly supportive.    Anyway, Josie is in town and as she’s having tea with Kitty they discuss New York and if Kitty would like it.  Josie says:

“… People know where they want to go in their life and they seek it out with all their heart.  They don’t feel shame, they don’t feel embarrassed, people respect that. They call it moxie.”

I watched the scene, paused, rewinded, watched again and in that moment I had an epiphany of sorts, moxie is what I need more of in my life.  As I watched this exchange, I drew some abstract parallels from Kitty’s life to my own. She’s been letting others make her feel a certain way because of her hopes, dreams, and ambitions. I’m guilty of falling into some of the same traps that Kitty does. I know where I want to go.  I have clear goals and objectives, but I occasionally drift off course.  I’m guilty of being swayed by others, sometimes with ulterior motives. Being embarrassed to ask for more.  Letting others make me feel a certain way about my choices. Being twenty-something isn’t easy (I suspect the same goes for thirty and forty something too.) Part of moving forward, growing, and learning is the ability to reflect on the past and then move forward. I’m feeling inspired to get going back in the direction I should be, towards my goals, with moxie.

Coincidentally, I’m reading a book right now that parallels this in a strange way {isn’t it weird when things happen like that?}.  The author writes at one point about how people are either helping you forward or holding you back and how we need to be selective about who we let influence our professional and personal lives.  It’s really hot right now to have a “tribe” or “squad” or whatever the trendy buzzword of the week is to describe your inner circle. I think there’s more to it than jumping on a hashtag bandwagon. When I really stop and think – what kind of people do I want in my inner circle? How will these people influence and challenge me both personally and professionally, how will they propel me forward?  Is there anyone in my inner circle now that’s holding me back- and what do I need to do about them?  Then, on the flip side, what kind of person do I want to be to others who pick me for their inner circle? How can I better influence those people and push them forward.

I’ll admit, it’s wacky this one off random conversation between two characters in Mr.Selfridge sparked this all for me. Sometimes what you need to hear/learn has a way of smacking you in the face when you least expect it.  I don’t have all the answers, and I’m by no means an expert but I really wanted to share this because maybe you needed to read about moxie this week too.

Let’s make it a great week!Signature

 

Reading Review – March

One of my favorite things about going on vacation is having time to relax and read!  I had lots of time this past week to devour a few books, and since reading was one of my goals for 2016, I thought I’d share what I read, and what I’m planning to read this month!

March Book Up first, I finally was able to finish The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  As far as the writing goes, I did not love Marie’s style.  However, I really was inspired by the subject of the book! It has inspired me to do some serious spring cleaning this year.  Right now, with our lower level under construction we are basically living in 1/2 of our space and it feels like no matter what I do, or where I turn we have crap everywhere.  Like “storage room B” Continue reading

Bruce – Update March 2016

Last time I shared about Bruce, he was dressed up for Halloween ( #worstdogmomever ). I missed sharing a few holidays:

Bruce Christmas 2015

Christmas

Bruce NYE 2016

New Years Eve

If you enjoy cute puppy pictures, consider following Bruce on Instagram, { @BruceDaBoxer } This little brat has more followers than G & I combined!  Probably bexcuse he’s so cute.

When we first brought him home at two months old, he weighed in at 10 pounds.  Today, he’s eight months old and weighs right around 50 pounds!  He’s gotten much taller as well, but I don’t have an actual measurement to compare then vs. now.

Bruce Feb.2016

Personality wise, when I first wrote first him in September, I wrote about how he was coming out of his shell and exploring the house more.  Trust me, he is completely out of his shell these days. He’s a total goof-ball, and keeps us laughing every day with his crazy antics. I mean, check out this goofy face that his teachers at puppy play care captured:

Crazy Bruce

Speaking of puppy play care, he goes 2x a week and it is amazing!  Not only does he get great interaction with other dogs, but he gets so much activity.  I know because this crazy dog mom bought him an activity tracker!  We love it, and he loves it – playcare that is- he doesn’t care much about the activity tracker!  He was sick about two weeks ago, and then was neutered so he hasn’t been in about 3 weeks and I can tell every morning he’s pissed when he doesn’t get to go.  We can also tell, because he has been CRAZY lately, and I fully attribute it to boredom / the doctors orders to lay low.

He doesn’t chew the furniture any more (thank goodness!) but he does love chew toys!  Some of his favorites, are JW Balls, Kong Plush Wild Knot toys, and nylabones.  He is still a lover, this guy thinks he’s a lap-dog.

Bruce and Daddy

Over the past few months, we’ve had quite a few health concerns with Bruce.  When we first got him, we learned he had a very faint heart murmur.  Which in itself isn’t all that unusual, many puppies have murmurs and grow out of them.  We had hoped he would, but by 7 months he hadn’t so we had a cardio ultrasound done to determine if he had any of the heart problems that were common in Boxers.  I am happy to report, that the cardiologist gave him a great report!  We also had him checked for Hip Dysplasia- and he got a clear report there for now as well.

We also found out that Bruce is allergic to bees, which wasn’t pretty and resulted to a trip to the puppy ER.  Then, the next weekend someone scarfed a wild mushroom on a walk and got super sick (we only knew it was the mushroom because we found it in his vomit — super fun!)  That was another fun trip to the vet. Luckily, as of late things have been much less exciting! (Knock on wood!)

Sleepy Bruce

We graduated from Beginner puppy classes in December and Intermediate puppy classes in Feburary.  We did these througg PetSmart, and he has learned the basics.  After Easter, we are starting another round of obedience classes through our park district, the teacher is actually the woman who owns his daycare and we are very excited.  After that’s over, we are thinking about enrolling him in agility classes!

Graduate Bruce

I seriously love this little guy so much.  He has brought so much fun, energy, love, and excitement to our lives!  Having a puppy is a ton of work, but it has been so, so, so worth it!

Mommy & Bruce

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Periscope Anyone?

A few months back, I downloaded Periscope and then after a few days deleted it.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but now I’ve decided to give it another try.  Have you all heard about it?  It basically lets you broadcast yourself or watch other people’s broadcasts.

Broadcasting myself is a bit too far out of my comfort zone for right now.. BUT I’m curious to hear how you all are using it! Do you follow anyone?  Have you broadcasted yourself? Any tips/tricks? Or are you on the other side of the spectrum, and you hate it?

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Handmade Soaps + a Giveaway

One of my themes for 2016, is living with intention– making sure the things I do are done for a reason. One of the ways I’m working to do this is to make smarter product selections. Using glass containers to store my food instead of plastic. Selecting water and natural drinks over soda (let me tell you this is a daily struggle – I love me some soda – but know it’s terrible!) For my body, it’s been weighing heavy on me to look at the products I’m putting on my skin.

Let’s be honest, I’m a self proclaimed beauty product junkie- I love nothing more than wondering around Ulta Beauty looking at all the newest lotions and potions. But I realize that  skin is our largest organ, so shouldn’t we be conscious about what kind of chemicals we are slathering on or sudsing up with and the impact they have on our bodies?

Scenter of the MindI have one woman to thank for planting this seed in my mind, Linda, owner of Scenter of the Mind– a small business right here in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago! On a warm day last fall, we sat together and she pulled back the curtain and gave me the inside scoop on her products and how hand made, natural soaps are vastly different from the mass market soaps sold in most stores. Before we sat down, I had honestly never thought about the products I was putting on my body; I selected my body wash based on the packaging, or the scent, but never the ingredients, or how it was created. Since meeting with Linda, I’ve become a bit of a soap snob!

 

As we sat together, Linda walked me through how she creates each and every bar of soap. The magic starts with all natural essential and high quality vitamin enriched oils that are thoroughly mixed, then carefully poured into molds, and left for a day to solidify. After the mixture solidifies, you are left with loaves of soap, which are then removed from the molds and cut into bars.

Fresh loaf of Lavender Rosemary ready for cutting

Fresh loaf of Lavender Rosemary ready for cutting

I just love how pretty that loaf of soap is, the marbling at the top is so neat! After the bars of soap are cut, they must cure for three to six weeks before they can be wrapped. Let that soak in, three to six weeks!  Linda is a much more patient woman than I am 🙂 We joked about how her house always smells good with soaps curing.

This batch of Lemongrass soap is curing after being cut

This batch of Lemongrass soap is curing after being cut

After the soap has cured, Linda wraps, boxes, and distributes the soaps. This process is truly a labor of love! Linda’s enthusiasm and passion for producing high quality, all natural soaps is seriously so inspiring, you can tell she really loves what she does.

I learned so much in just a few hours with Linda. We talked about the chemicals and additives that are put into main stream body washes and soaps, and what they could do to our bodies – and also the environment.  I also learned the body washes I had been using contain detergents that dry out skin, whereas quality soaps contain glycerine which draws moisture to the skin, it also forms a protective layer to prevent moisture loss.  In fact, glycerine is a by-product of the natural soap making process so of course Linda’s soaps contain it, which helps to make them so mild & moisturizing!

Linda also took the time to walk me through her product line, which was awesome. When she pulled out her tote of soaps, I was like a kid in a candy store. I wish I could smell-o-blog, because these soaps smell amazing and the coolest thing is they aren’t manufactured scents, they’re natural!

Citrus Ginger Handmade SoapCitrus Ginger is one of Scenter of the Mind’s newest scents. The idea was born while Linda was doing a detox, which included ginger. Ginger is highly valued for its medicinal properties and fresh, distinctive scent. This coupled with orange and other citrus oils to create an extremely energizing, and invigorating soap- perfect to get you going in the morning!

 

Earl Grey Handmade Soap Bergamot Earl Grey was hands-down my favorite soap of the day; it was love at first sniff! Once Linda began telling me what essential oils went into this bar, it all made sense- this includes one of my all time favorite scents, bergamot! This bar has a fresh, slightly masculine scent – perfect for women or men.

 

Lavender Goat Milk Handmade SoapLavender Goat Milk is Scenter of the Mind’s top selling soap, and it’s easy to see why. Lavender is known for its calming and relaxing properties and when mixed with ultra moisturizing goat milk a dreamy, fresh, clean scent is born. This is a great bar of soap to use when winding down after a long, stressful day.

 

Almond Mocha Handmade SoapAlmond Mocha is one of Scenter of the Mind’s newest soaps, I didn’t get the chance to smell this one but just from reading the description it sounds divine “The rich, comforting fragrance of Christmas cookies along with the pick-me-up of a warm cup of coffee all inside this luscious bar of soap.” Christmas cookies? Yes please!

 

After all of these months, Linda’s message and passion has really stuck with me. Are we as consumers being intentional about the products we put onto our bodies? Do we look for the products made with the highest quality, all natural ingredients? As I sat with Linda, I learned that you do not have to sacrifice scent for quality, in fact you can get both.

Scenter of the Mind soaps can be found at a variety of Whole Foods, Mariano’s, and other natural retailers around Chicagoland- click here for a complete list! And if you are like me and you want to cut out the middle man, you can order direct from Linda, on her website!

Scenter of the Mind on display at Whole Foods

Scenter of the Mind on display at Whole Foods

Linda and I thought it would be fun to do a giveaway of five soaps so you guys could give them a try for yourselves! Enter using the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win, winners will be selected and notified on Monday, February 1st.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

Themes & Goals for 2016

Day Planner Goal Setting As we closed out 2015, I took some time to take stock of the year.  It certainly had it’s share of high-highs along with quite a few low-lows.  In my reflection I really asked myself how satisfied I am with life right now.  Don’t get me wrong, I am very fortunate, but I feel like I’m getting by but not excelling at anything- basically life feels mediocre right now.  My goal for 2016 is to change that, I don’t do mediocre.  I don’t want to just ‘get by’,  I get my kicks on excelling, being the best of the best, and feeling proud of my accomplishments and myself.

I used my new Day Designer to do some planning {I really, really enjoyed the vision/goal setting pages at the start but the jury’s still out on how I like using it to plan my time.}  Anyways, back on topic, I set three themes for 2016:

  1. Live with intention:  Make sure the things I do, are done for a reason
  2. Self: I need to be a focus in 2016
  3. Trim the Fat:  In more than just the obvious lose weight kind of way- cut out what doesn’t make me happy / serve a point

So within those three themes, I narrowed down more specific goals:

  1. For my body: get healthy- I have some specific, measurable goals but that’s a post for another day
  2. For my mind: read 1 fiction and 1 non fiction book a month
  3. For my home: get and stay organized, get rid of the junk – keep what makes me happy
  4. For my career: study, sit for, and pass the PHR
  5. For my social life: make it a point to reach out to someone weekly to check in, schedule one night out (or in) with friends a month, cut toxic relationships out
  6. For my community (volunteer role): publish a quarterly newsletter, develop and execute social media strategy
  7. For my blog: consistency, develop a content calendar (and stick to it), write about what makes me happy

So there you have it, my 2016 themes and goals.  Sitting here, reading them over again I’ll admit it seems kind of daunting, but I know that I’m not asking myself to do anything that I can’t do.  I really believe by working towards each of the aforementioned goals, which tie into my overarching themes for the year.  I can’t promise at the end of 2016, I’ll look back on my year and be completely satisfied (there is always room for improvement!) but I really hope that I will look back and feel proud of myself, and happy with my progress.

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4 simple steps to limit damage if your purse/wallet is stolen

 

purse stolen wallet stolen what to doIf your purse / wallet has been stolen, you need to act quick to limit damage. Staying calm and taking the below steps in the minutes after discovering the theft can really limit your exposure to further theft and damage.

  1. Alert your Bank of the ID theft – CLOSE YOUR ACCOUNT AND OPEN A NEW ONE. Do not just have new cards issued. These thieves are smart, I thought that I had this taken care of but come to find out, I did not.  Optional: you can  leave stolen account open with minimum of $10 in the account and ensure they flag your account with a warning for ANY attempt to deposit or withdraw from your account. These thieves may deposit one day and withdraw the next day using other stolen checks. Make sure you tell the bank manager why you are leaving the account open – to help catch the theives in action and to help law enforcement catch the theives.
  2. Cancel all credit cards. If you are reading this proactively, go get the  1-800 numbers  and current card numbers and make sure they are available at home or on cloud files so you know whom to call. If you are reading this because you are a victim, know you can also use Google to get this information  For example, I knew I had a Chase and Citi card in my wallet that was stolen, so I just googled ‘Chase credit card customer service” / “Citi credit card customer service”. Don’t wait to do this step, do it quickly to limit spending the thieves can do.  I was able to cancel all of my cards within 30 minutes of discovering the theft, and none of my cards were successfully used.
  3. File a police report in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc. were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation.  If the thieves use your ID at another bank, immediately call the police within jurisdiction of that bank to ensure they have full access to security cameras/description of the thieves. If necessary, file a report of stolen identity within that jurisdiction to help Law enforcement track activities.
  4. Perhaps the most important step of all, contact the 3 national credit reporting organizations ( Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. I found you can do this electronically or via phone, and it takes less than 10 minutes to complete.   Although they are required to notify each other, I was counseled my my local law enforcement that it is best to contact all three agencies on your own.  Placing a fraud alert on your name/SSN means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

Here are the numbers as of today (Dec. 2015)

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

Experian: (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742

TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

I am by no means an expert, but after my experience, I came across this information that was compiled and provided by the Felony Lane Gang Task Force and wanted to share it with you. So you can be prepared should this terrible event ever happen to you.

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