Commenting on Blogs

I talked recently about a habit I’m trying to break, but today I’d like to share a habit I’m trying to pick up (or at least become better about!)

Commenting on blogs.

And generally being more supportive and “vocal” about the online content I engage with. Because the keyword there is engage, right? I have this blog. I have a podcast. I work remotely for clients who need help with marketing and web content. So, I’m constantly consuming online content. But often times, it’s just that…consuming, not engaging with.

I guess, initially, my motives are a little selfish. I feel like I should interact with blog posts (and other content) the way I want people to interact with mine. But, I think it’s more than that:

– I want to be encouraging to people I think are doing rad things online…
– I want to feel like we’re all in this together (see also: work remotely. y’all are my co-workers, mk?)…
– …and honestly, I want to do my part to make sure this is happening.

But sometimes that sort of very public, online love-fest feels overwhelming to me. It is so much easier to be a lurker. To feel uncomfortable about admiration or networking or a comment that doesn’t really add all that much to the conversation other than — “wow, this was really fun to read!”

So, I’m seeking input…

What do you think? Is this an area you’re awesome at? What advice would you offer? TELL ME EVERYTHING!

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Fall At-Home Date Ideas with Date Night In Box

It’s that time of year again. By the time I’m done with work for the day, it’s already dark outside. The last thing I want to do most nights is bundle up and head back out into the cold. But on the flip side, spending every night ’til Spring binge watching TV shows on the couch isn’t exactly my idea of the greatest love story ever told. So, what’s the middle ground?

Here are a few fall-friendly date ideas that you and your partner can enjoy from home…

1. Cook dinner together while you listen to tunes

Sure, you gotta eat EVERY night but a lot of times that can mean divvying up the labor, grabbing something on the go, or heating up leftovers. For an at-home date night, consider planning something special and then cook together. You can pop a bottle of wine, chat at the table as things are in the oven, and…

 

 

 

…don’t forget the tunes! Pop on a fun playlist that you can enjoy in the background as you cook. Music can really set the tone for the evening so pick songs for the vibe. Romantic, fun, can’t help but sing along — you get the idea.

2. Get cozy & make a craft

You don’t have to go wild with supplies, but putting your heads together to make something is a great way to spend an evening…and looking at the finished product will always make your heart swell. Chet and I spent several weeks one summer figuring out how to turn vintage books into notebooks and the ones we kept bring back such wonderful memories.

Pictured above are the materials we used to make a Christmas ornament (the ink pad was for thumb prints and the ballpoint Sharpie for writing important-to-us dates) and a little tea light candle. Who knows!? If you enjoy a craft enough, you can always consider batch-making a few more…holiday gift-giving is right around the corner! (And that candle was so easy to make, I’m thinking everyone is gonna get one in their stocking this year, lol)

3. Engage in a little friendly competition

 

Playing a game is another great, screen-free option. A lot of games are geared for more than 2 players but do a little research to 2-person games the two of you can get behind. This dice game is a lot of fun! I also can endorse backgammon (though I’m terrible at it, lol), Trivial Pursuit, and Rummikub.

 

 

4. Curl up on the couch with a movie

Ok, ok…so curling up on the couch is SOMETIMES allowed! You’ve Got Mail is the perfect Fall film after all. Other cozy options? Autumn in New York, Good Will Hunting, October Sky, Practical Magic, Remember the Titans, The Blind Side, and When Harry Met Sally.

Plus, checking this one out of from the library with the intention of watching during a fall-themed date night felt way more romantic than clicking something from the queue, ya know?

Wanna leave the planning out of your at-home date nights?

You get all of the above (& MORE!) with a subscription to Date Night In.

Date Night In is a custom created, memorable date night subscription experience that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home. Each box includes interactive activities with ambiance, materials, and suggestions on  how to get the most out of your date. DNI’s highest priority is to help customers connect with their partner. 

And the best part? You don’t have to plan a thing! Everything you need to create a meaningful and romantic date night is waiting for you on your doorstep each month.

 

 

Interested in enjoying a monthly date night from the comfort of your own home? Consider a subscription to Date Night In Boxes. Every month features a new theme for you and your partner to enjoy! 

P.S. Here’s a look at last month’s box.

mid-week round-up

Well, here we are again, ladies and germs! Yesterday was Election Day here in the U.S. and I cast my first ballot in my new home-state of Alabama, watched a lot of news coverage, and gave major side-eye to some of the results. There were some beautiful victories last night but still so, so much work to be done. And on we fight. Hope the rest of your week looks promising, and here are some links for your enjoyment and entertainment…

A new book by one of my very favorite authors.

A newlywed nest in NYC.

How to work with friends and not make it weird.

Vegetarian pumpkin pot pie.

How to use up leftover Halloween candy.

You should probably be dressing your salad twice.

Sad animal facts.

Why this 33 year old mom pretended to be a high-school cheerleader.

Upon visiting the city that made her family refugees, Ana Barić encounters old wounds and alternate realities.

Royal family fandom.

[Related: Follow Elizabeth Holmes on Instagram.]

Easy weeknight dinner recipes from home cooks.

This Melissa McCarthy story just might cheer you up.

And a new episode of Uncovered the Podcast. (Which also might cheer you up, just sayin’!)

P.S. Plus, here are some Finding Delight links in case you still wanna keep reading stuff on the internet — World Cup Half Empty or Half Full and Cooking Up a Taste of Home.

P.P.S. Did these links offer you some much-needed entertainment? Consider buying me a coffee!

The “All You Need is a Clock” Workout

the "all you need is a clock" workout

So, I’ve been getting more and more into HIIT and kickboxing workouts…

…I know, I know — WHO AM I?

But, 20 – 30 minute blasts have been fitting the bill for me in a lot of ways. (Especially on Mondays and Fridays. Getting all my aggression out with a sweat sesh is a nice way to bookend the work week, ya know.)I try to incorporate these workouts a few times a week and reserve the rest of my fitness energy for yoga and long walks.

And because you KNOW I like to keep things as simple as poss (and eliminate decision fatigue, hello?!), when I stumbled upon this idea it was too good to pass up.

All you need is a digital clock (HI! there’s one on your cell phone!) and a list of 10 exercises.

So, let’s start with the list. This can include anything from push-ups and crunches…to pistons and burpees (if you’re feeling that CrossFit vibe)…to cross-jabs and front kicks (if you wanna get out aggression a la kickboxing).

Jot down 10 moves from 1 to 0, like this:

1 – Jumping jacks
2 – Squats
3 – Cross, jab
4 – Kettle bell swings
5 – Crunches
6 – Side-to-side leg raises
7 – Overhead presses
8 – Front kicks
9 – Hook, elbow strike
0 – Bicep curls

Next, let’s look at that clock! If the time is 07:45, take the first 3 digits to get the number of reps, and the last number to get the exercise. So in this case you would do 74 crunches. 12:22 is 122 squats, 2:19 is 21 hook, elbow strikes. You get it?

Then, all you have to do is determine how long you want your rest time to be in between moves and how long you want the overall workout to last.

Get some music pumping…and BINGO, BANGO — “All You Need is a Clock” Workout achieved!

What are your favorite ways to exercise? Would you try this workout?

P.S. The “It’s Britney, Bitch” Workout.
P.P.S. Tried this workout and loved it? Consider buying me a coffee!

Ballin’ on a Budget Mini Tips

ten ballin' on a budget mini tips

I have a whole series on the blog that highlights strategies for BALLIN’ ON A BUDGET by way of ditching — ie) ditch the bare cupboards, ditch the gym membership, etc. Today, I’d like to build on this BALLIN’ ON A BUDGET theme with a new series. My favorite budget mini tips. The last series included posts that proposed something for all of us to ditch, in order to free up line items on our budgets, and offered a 4 week plan on how to implement. These mini tips are things you can implement RIGHT NOW. Like, straight away, as soon as you read them!

Whether you’re actively pinching pennies or simply want to re-direct some of those pennies to better serve you, this series is for you!

Here are the first 10 MINI TIPS

1. Automate Payments and Savings Whenever Possible

You KNOW I love a “set it and forget it” option. If you’re able, schedule your bills so that payments are automated. This will save you time, but it will also save you from accidentally incurring any late fees. Similarly, set up a fixed amount that will come out of your paychecks and get whisked away right into your savings account.

2. Price Compare with Amazon

A lot of household and personal care items are available on Amazon. Before impulse purchasing at the grocery or drug store, pop on that smart phone and check out pricing on Amazon. It’s a 30 second search that could save you quite a few bucks. And if you have Prime, you’ll have your items lickety-split anyways.

3. Find Ways to Winterize Your Home

If you live in an area that actually sees seasons, do a little research about how to best keep the heat in and the cold out. Every house and apartment is different so do a quick walk around your space looking for ways to winterize. Performing an audit on your home each Autumn can help you devise a plan for the coming Winter and allow you to purchase certain items before it gets too chilly.

4. Incorporate Affordable Recipes You Love to Eat 

If you stumble upon a meal you’ve made yourself that was both, super budget friendly AND delicious, don’t just leave it as a one off! Work that sucker into your meal rotation. Even if you don’t meal plan (which if you’re trying to save money you totally should!), you can still choose to have the meal every week or every other week. That is, until you get sick of it and have to find a new “cheap meets yummy” favorite…

5. Shop the Produce Section

Everyone knows, if you’re trying to eat healthy, you’ve gotta focus your grocery shopping efforts on the periphery of the store. If you’re ballin’ on a budget, you need to spend the majority of your time in the produce section. Start in this section, get all the deals you can, and then build out your buggy from the rest of the departments.

6. Ask for Cheaper Rates

My belief is that it never hurts to ask for what you want. And if you’re ballin’ on a budget, you want things to be cheaper. Ask for student rates, AAA discounts, special deals, etc. When your cell phone bill goes up, call and see what can be done. The worst that can happen is you get told no.

7. Have a “Buy Price”

Create a little cheat sheet listing food and household items that you like to have in stock. Then, do some research to determine the best sale prices for these items in your area. These are their buy prices. Then, when you’re checking out a store’s circular or see an item on sale, you can refer back to your sheet to see if it’s the right price to stock up.

8. Use Open Source Software

There are so many options out there. If a software isn’t necessary for your work, look into the free versions before plunking down your credit card.

9. Feed Your Freezer

If you double one meal a week and stick the extra servings in the freezer, you will have a plethora of ready-to-go options in no time! These “defrost and heat” meals are perfect for busy (or lazy) nights and will keep you from hitting up a restaurant or take out option.

10. Buy Only What You Need at the Grocery

This hearkens back to the importance of a meal plan, but at the very least, attack your grocery shopping with a PLAN. Make a list, check it twice, and STICK TO IT.

Thanks so much for reading! I know tons of you have your own favorite budget tips – what other advice can you share? On the other end, what aspects of budgeting do you find most difficult? 

P.S. My top tips on getting control of debt.

The Healthy Habit of Hydration

*This post may contain affiliate links.

We all strive for good health. We drag ourselves to hit the treadmill even when our every instinct screams at us to crawl back into bed. We eschew unhealthy foods and make the effort to cook nutritious yet delicious meals, even when we’ve had a hard day’s work and the allure of the take-out pizza is almost impossible to resist. We do our best to get the sleep our bodies and minds need to function optimally. 

There is, however, one aspect of our health that many overlook. Something that’s an intrinsic part of overall health. Staying hydrated. While many of us understand the importance of hydration, fewer of us take active steps to ensure that we’re hydrated. Quite simply, most of us aren’t drinking enough water.  

Let’s chat about it…

But water is so boriiing!

It’s generally recommended that we drink 2 liters of water per day. While other beverages contribute to this, one must bear in mind the caloric content of the non-water options and how these may offset an otherwise balanced diet. Just as we can make poor dietary choices when we’re hungry, we can also make poor choices with our drinks when we’re thirsty, reaching for a sugary juice or a diet soda (which has health issues of its own) to quench our thirst. The best way to remedy this is to invest in a reusable water bottle and keep it by your side at all times. Keep it on your desk at work and top it up every half hour (it’ll do you good to get out of your seat once in a while anyway). 

“But water is so boriiing!” I can hear you all thinking! Well, the good news is that if the idea of drinking plain old tap water is anathema to you, there are plenty of flavored waters which use natural ingredients and eschew the harmful additives that make diet soda so problematic. (This watermelon water is a fave.)

When you glug your way to 2 liters a day you will reap a wide range of health benefits, including…

Healthy immune function

We’re surrounded by many kinds of bacteria. Most of them are fairly benign, but some can lead to serious health problems. As the weather gets colder, many of us will be at risk of exposure to a nasty array of bugs and viruses. Fortunately, good hydration supports healthy immune function through the production of lymph. This fluid runs through your body collecting bacteria and transporting them to the lymph nodes where they are duly eradicated before they can cause harm.

Ridding your body of toxins

Another way good hydration keeps us healthy is by supporting kidney function. As most of us know, kidneys are vital in flushing toxins out of your bodies through your urine. Thus, the more water you drink, the better equipped you are to rid your body of potentially harmful toxins. This also helps to boost your immune system as your bodies’ resources aren’t getting used up helping out your kidneys.

Facilitating cognitive function

We all know that mental fugue that comes with not drinking enough water. Staying hydrated allows for better conduction of electrical impulses through the body, especially within the brain. When we stay hydrated our brains feel more alert and aware. Thus, staying hydrated is essential for those whose jobs require them to be alert and make quick decisions. (I would argue this is all jobs, right?)

What’s more, regular hydration helps to boost your brain’s production of melatonin; an essential hormone produced by the pineal gland that helps regulate sleep and wakefulness. So, the more water you drink, the more restful your sleep.

So, there you have it. Get in the healthy habit of remaining hydrated wherever you go and your body will thank you!

For the love of BOOKS!

What have you been reading lately? While I believe ALL seasons are great for reading, Fall weather feels especially conducive. Don’t you think? There’s something so lovely about curling up on the couch because, hey, it’s already dark outside…but in reality you still have plenty of hours ’til bedtime.

I think Anne, of Green Gables fame, said it best —

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Sad to see October go. But so excited for what books lay ahead in November! If you’re in the same boat, here are some books I’ve read recently that I’d recommend for next month’s evening couch sessions:

Sharp Objects
Delancey
Honeymoon in Purdah
Under the Banner of Heaven
All the Light We Cannot See
The Vacationers
Some Girls
Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

I’m currently reading The Silver Star, which is written by the same person who wrote The Glass Castle. My friend recently recommended Nevada (I added it to my reading list right away), and my mom and sister both LOVED The Electric Woman. Also, I recently saw someone perform an amazing oral interpretation of a story from Her Body and Other Parties, which totally made me want to reread.

So, what are YOU reading? Anything you’ve read in the last few years that you can’t stop recommending to people? Would love to hear!!

P.S. How to make time for books.

List 9: Favorite Websites & Blogs

I started a LIST SERIES in Summer 2018 and decided to keep adding to it here and there. These posts are kinda like an introduction (or a reintroduction for those who’ve been with me since the jump!). A nice to meet ya, so glad you stopped by, now STAY AWHILE! Why lists? Because I love making ’em! Enjoy…

My favorite websites and blogs…

Instagram
YouTube
Cup of Jo
A Beautiful Mess
PicMonkey
Amazon
Nursing Clio
Yes and Yes
Podbean
MailChimp
Basecamp
Outside Online
Unsplash
Slate
Cupcakes & Cashmere
The Anna Edit
oh, and blogging Facebook group pages…
but not so much Facebook itself, lol

Tell me a few of your favorite websites and blogs in the comments below! xoxo

[And in case you’re curious…

LIST 1
LIST 2 
LIST 3
LIST 4
LIST 5
LIST 6

LIST 7
LIST 8]

mid-week round-up

What are you up to this week? I’m headed to Bowling Green on Friday, and I can’t wait to be wowed by the WKU Forensics Team. The weather has been cooling in these parts and the sun has that magical autumn sparkle. I’m loving any excuse to take a brisk walk, and we’ve been making lots of fall-weather foods – like Cincinnati chili, gumbo, and Girl Scout stew. And thank you to everyone who has taken the time to check out my podcast! It has been a blast making it and I can’t wait for you to hear all the upcoming episodes. Have a wonderful Wednesday, and enjoy these links from ’round the world wide web…

How to make a Beyonce at Coachella Halloween costume.

The FBI of the National Park Services handles the complex crimes committed on NPS land.

Who does “Southern femininity” really belong to?

Related: Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon

The power and legacy of Amererica’s female spirtualists.

Social media is turning an art form into an industry.

The $11 drugstore item Queen Elizabeth uses to fall asleep.

Cool timelapse. (…but very triggering if you ever had braces, lol.)

West Virginia’s small-town revival.

Isolated nomads are under siege in the Amazon jungle.

How to eat your way through Nashville in one day.

The perfect morning workout.

Related: A 12 Day Workout Challenge 

A woman’s paycheck is influenced by her hometown — even if she doesn’t live there anymore.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — How to Spend Your Time Helping Others and A Random Read.

Do or Don’t: Command Centers

The offending wall. (She’s naked!!!)

One HUGE advantage to our little home in Alabama is that I have a dedicated home office. I love having a space for my desk that’s not about one foot away from where I sleep (like it was in Miami!). I also have a closet (for overflow crap), some drawer storage for craft supplies, a book shelf, and a comfy chair by the window (mostly for my cat/office assistant lol).

But one piece of my home office puzzle that I haven’t quite figured out yet? One big, blank wall. I have my desk against one wall, and all the others either have a door or a window, but then there’s a HUGE blank canvas on the other side.

I’ve been picking up pieces here and there for a potential gallery wall…but then I stumbled upon an idea on Pinterest. A command center! Many examples that I found seemed to be more geared towards household/large family management, yet I think they could be adapted to fit a freelancer’s needs! What do you think?

Here are 5 inspiring examples…

(From Beneath My Heart)

(From The Happy Housie)

(From Sarah Rosemary)

(From The Idea Room)

(From Simply September)

What do you think? Have you ever made a command center? Do you think having one in a home office would be helpful?