Georgia On My Mind…

If you ever get the chance to come to Georgia, this is what you need to know and see:

Stone Mountain – About a half hour drive from the city, the 825 ft. "mountain" was once a rock quarry and is most well-known for the large carving on the north face of the mountain depicting confederate soldiers. During the summer, the park offers a laser show including fireworks and featuring popular and traditional American music. In the winter, they use snow machines to create snow providing Georgia residents the opportunity to sled … even in 50º weather! (Georgia doesn't get much snow, so we get excited about the little things…) Other attractions in the park include a Civil War museum, an old car museum, a small plantation, the walk-up trail (for the mountain), the carillon (a bell tower) which plays music a few times a day, a covered bridge, and a grist mill.

Dahlonega – A 2 hour drive from downtown, Dahlonega used to be a gold mine. In fact, a number of US coins were minted there between 1838 and 1961. In more recent years, the town has become more of a day trip featuring antique shops, small restaurants, craft stores, chocolate, and wine.

Helen – Also located in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains, Helen is a small "Georgia alpine village". It is best known for it's south German-style architecture and the small Oktoberfest the village hosts in September, October, and November of each year. Visitors go to shop at the tourist shops, eat German food at local restaurants, and (most importantly) raft down the Chattahoochee river.

• Coastal cities such as Savannah don't usually come up in conversation when you talk about visiting Georgia, because… because. Honestly, I don't really know why. Perhaps because the mountain towns are closer to Atlanta? I haven't really visited too many of the coastal cities, so I can't really tell you much about which of these to go to. They are a good 6 hour drive from Atlanta.

There are also a few interesting museums and stores within the Atlanta area that are particular to the location…

Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum – Located next to the Atlanta Zoo, the museum features a 25 million dollar cylindrical panoramic painting of the Civil War. Other than the painting, the museum is probably not worth a visit unless you are really interested in the civil war.

The Coke Museum – In the center of downtown, visit this museum if you are interested in trying all of the different cokes from around the world. It's mostly an advertising campaign, so don't get your hopes up too much that your money will go to something truly enlightening when you pay the entrance fee. (How many gallons of coke do they think one visitor will drink?!)

The Fox Theater – Also in downtown Atlanta and one of the most beautiful venues to visit if you want to take in a show while you are here, I highly recommend at least taking the tour. The architecture is beautiful and the history of it is captivating.

Cabbage Patch Babyland Hospital – Located in north Georgia, this location is great for the 1980s doll lover in all of us… Your young daughter will be enthralled if you take her.

Centennial Olympic Park – In central downtown, the location of the 1996 olympics is a great place to have a picnic or watch a concert. There is always something going on there, so every visit is unique.

Margaret Mitchell House, Wren's Nest, Andalusia Farm – Museums featuring three of Georgia's most famous authors, Margaret Mitchell (Gone With the Wind), Joel Chandler Harris (Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings), and Flannery O'Conner (A Good Man is Hard to Find).

Delta Museum – Unique to Georgia and located near the airport, the museum isn't even really all that interesting to a plane fanatic. Go at your own risk.

More typical locations that you can find in nearly any city you visit include the Atlanta Zoo, the Georgia Aquarium, High Museum of Art, Georgia Botanical Gardens, Callaway Gardens (which has a spectacular Christmas light display), Georgia History Museum, and the Fernbank Museum.

Have you ever been to Georgia? What places would you recommend visiting?

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Life Accomplishments

"I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I've led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who's ever lived: I've loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough." - Noah Calhoun (The Notebook)

I'm not sure I could say it any better. (I tried.)

What are your life accomplishments? Is there anything you are particularly proud for having done?

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Today I was asked to consider what beauty means to me. I could only really think of it in terms of Photoshop though. For me, with regards to Photoshop, beauty is perfection … or the striving for perfection. And the end result was that I spent my morning editing an image of Venice. It turns out I will have to carefully consider my position on beauty at some other point when I have more time.

The good news is that if you want to try some of the products I am giving away without actually winning, I found you some sample and coupon links! Yay!!

L'Oréal Advanced Haircare

$1 off any L'Oréal Paris product

You can thank me later. :)

What does beauty mean to you? Are you going to take advantage of any of the sample/coupon links I shared?

5 Websites That Inspire

1. Pinterest – I'm 95% certain that half of the world feels inspired by pinterest. Most likely it is just the female half of the populations, but whatever! There is no better place to find hair and make-up tutorials, beautiful clothing, amazing recipes, and fun crafts.

2. Slickdeals – I go to slickdeals when I'm looking for gift ideas or hoping that something I want/need is going to go on sale.

3. Effortless Anthropologie – The best part of the week is when Roxy of Effortless Anthropologie posts reader outfits on her blog. If I need style inspiration, this is a fantastic place for me to go! It's always fun seeing the clothing I already own being worn in new, stylish ways that I never would have considered.

4. Digg Reader – Other peoples' blogs always inspire me before I go to write my daily blog post. They are informative helping me to understand what is going on in the world, style, finding delicious recipes, and so much more!

5. Google – No matter what I'm looking for, google always has the answer.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Don't forget to enter my beauty giveaway! There is only a week left!

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Five Truths

I'm pretty terrible about keeping secrets. I tend to say whatever it is that I'm thinking. Both of these truths made it fairly difficult to answer the prompt of "Don't tell anybody, but…" Instead I have decided to share a few truths about me.

1. I have already bought 2 Christmas gifts. As a planner, when I see things go on sale that I know people would love, I tend to go ahead and purchase those gifts … months before I need them.

2. My favorite place to shop is Anthropologie because of their awesome return policy. I know that if I buy something tomorrow and it sits in my closet unworn until Christmas, I can return the item and get my money back. By using their return policy, I guarantee that every item in my closet is a favorite, or at least a well-worn piece.

For the English version click here.

3. I recently started watching Sesamstraße on Youtube, and I really wish I had started watching it prior to traveling to Germany. While primarily a children's show based off of the American Sesame Street, I love the repetition of words and funny, short stories that are easy to follow for practicing my knowledge of the German language. Even if I don't understand what is going on, half of the time the imagery makes me laugh anyway. :)

(I did try watching The Smurfs auf Deutsch, but the stories were much too complicated and, frankly, a bit boring to follow.)

4. For the past month I have held off editing images. I get so frustrated not being able to achieve the look I want. Even months later, after I have "finished" editing an image, I will look back and see problems. I think I see myself more as an artist than a photographer for that reason alone. 

5. I would love to improve my writing, but I'm not sure how to go about it. Any suggestions?

Do you have any secrets? Or are you as outspoken about them as I am?

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Tips for Meal Planning on a Budget

Image Credit: meehanf

In budgeting I've learned that meal planning is super important. It's truly the make or break portion of our budget. Our spending on food fluctuates between over $1,000 in any given month to a mere $600! I know some people can get away with spending less and using coupons, but in our household, we are pretty big on consuming foods without preservatives and extra ingredients we can't even pronounce the name of. We make homemade breads and salad dressings, and most of our meals are served with a variety of different fresh fruits and vegetables.

One of the biggest and most important aspects of budgeting for us is meal planning. If we don't plan, we find that we tend to be in the higher range of spending. As it turns out, deciding what you want to eat on the day you are going to eat it results in more shopping trips and more money spent. Yes, you have fresher food, but, in my opinion, even the freshest of foods, fruits and vegetables, don't go bad fast enough to warrant 2, 3 or even 5 trips a week to the grocery store. Plus, think about all of the gas you are using (assuming public transportation is unavailable) and time you are wasting.

The next most important aspect is having a goal/budget. At $600 a month, our goal is to not go above spending $150/week. We include EVERYTHING in this budget that is related to food or cleaning. In other words, eating out counts. It's really hard to stay on budget when everything counts, so we find it is often best to buy some things in bulk during alternating months that way we aren't going over budget every month on food. We also use a flexible budget in which money not spent one week can roll over into the next week's budget … and vice versa. It's okay to spend $170 one week if you only spend $130 the next week.

When we talk about buying in bulk, we don't mean buying fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk UNLESS you are planning on consuming them quickly. If you are having a party, go ahead and buy the strawberries in bulk. It's a healthy snack to share with your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors. Plus, if it is consumed within a few days, you may have saved yourself some money on other snacks. Another option for buying in bulk is to turn that item into something else that will last longer than the original, fresh item would have. For example buying tomatoes in bulk and making spaghetti sauce is a great option. You can use the leftover sauce for a variety of meals or freeze it for a later date. Top these bulk-buying options with a coupon or discount code and you could save yourself a lot of money over time!

Continuing on with that train of thought, save yourself some money and don't buy fresh fruits and vegetables unless you intend on eating them quickly or preserving them in some way. Even if you aren't buying in bulk, fresh produce adds up quickly. If you buy bananas, raspberries, and strawberries but don't consume them, you are essentially throwing away nearly $10 in fruit! I'm not telling you to gain weight by eating things you aren't hungry for or don't necessarily want to eat in your diet, but I am saying that if you aren't planning on immediately going home and eating or cooking with this produce, you could be wasting a lot of money over time.

Look in your pantry before you shop and use what you have to save money. Better yet – look in your fridge! How many meals do you have leftovers for from the past week in there? A great option for saving money is to have a leftover dinner night wherein everyone picks out leftovers they want and reheats them. It keeps food from going bad and it helps to clear out the fridge! Another idea is to reuse the leftovers to make an entirely new meal. If you have a bunch of leftover sides for example, you could easily cook some meat and have a whole new meal.

Obviously using coupons and apps like Ibotta can save you money. In our household, we don't consume a lot of cereal, canned products, frozen meals, or snack cakes/cookies, so coupons always seem less useful than other money saving methods. However, since we do think of cleaning products within the same realm of budgeting as food, coupons can be extremely useful for saving money in our budget and provide us more freedom and money for foods in our budget.

One of the most overlooked methods of saving money is to cook in bulk and take your lunch to work. If you have foods frozen in the freezer, you can always pull them out on a whim and reheat them in the microwave for days you are in a hurry or uninterested in cooking. We won't talk about how much money you can save packing your lunch from leftovers. It can add up to be a lot quite quickly especially if you aren't eating fast food.

Finally, when going out to eat, you have options that can help you save money. For example, drinking water instead of soda, beer, or alcohol will bring down the price by at least $1-$2 depending on how many people in your party usually get drinks out. Using coupons is obviously a great option. Then there is sharing meals. Specifically in the US, food portions tend to be rather large. Sharing a meal between two people can save you upwards of $10-$15. This means you can eat out twice as much!

How do you save money on food? Do you have any other suggestions for me?

Don't forget to enter my beauty giveaway for some free samples!

* I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?
•• If you are interested in budgeting, be sure to check out my post on making money doing what you love! :)

Make Money Doing What You Love

Image Credit: Giovanni Orlando

Today's #30lists list was to mention what you wish made you money. Obviously, I want everything I do to make money. A nickel for brushing my teeth, a dime for going shopping, a quarter for budgeting… Think about how quickly all of those cents add up! Justin can hardly believe that when I spot a penny on the ground I will stoop to pick it up. He says that not only are the coins gross and covered in germs, but they aren't hardly worth anything. I am of the opinion that pennies add up quickly, and I'm willing to take the germs with the monetary gain.

Luckily, assuming you are of the Justin-persuasion and anti-penny picking up, there are still plenty of options to make money by doing the things you already do. So what do you do? Here are a few things that I do:

• blogging
• photography
• traveling
• budgeting
• shopping/going out to eat/going to the movies
• and most importantly SLEEPING!!! :)

Now, obviously whatever I put my main focus on has the most opportunity for monetary gain. If you don't develop and gain skill, how can you get any better at what you are doing? And if you don't improve at what you are doing, how can you make more money? The answer is simple: you can't.

So how do you make money doing all of those things I mentioned above?

1. Blogging – You can monetize your blog. If you are a blogger, I'm sure you already know that, but it's worth mentioning if you don't. There are multiple ways to go about it, but the gist is, for products you promote, and clicks or buys that those products receive from buyers on your blog, you receive money. Companies even offer products for you to try and they pay you for it sometimes with money and sometimes with products you might have bought anyway.

Here are a few examples of companies I work with:

One2One Network gave me a copy of Train's Bulletproof Picasso for review.
Shopsense gives me $.05 every time someone clicks on a link that I have monetized through them. It doesn't add up quickly and I have never been able to cash out with them, but, for me, it's nice seeing that my readers are interested in some of the same things as me. Plus, it lets me know what products I should blog more about … and which products I should blog less about. :)
VigLink is super easy and monetizes links on your site that aren't monetized through any other company. They only pay if someone clicks and buys through your link. And the worst part, even if a link goes through VigLink and someone does buy the product, if the company has decided you aren't receiving enough clicks, you still don't get money for it. Argh. Making money from a blog is hard.

2. Photography – Obviously you are aware that there are people in this world who solely take images for an income. Photographers do that; perhaps you've heard of them? But there are other monetary opportunities with pictures as well. For example, you could sell stock images. I've never done that, but you can easily google places to sell them. There are a variety of options including a one time payment as well as payment options for every time someone downloads one of your images from a stock photography site. Sound too good to be true? Maybe, but maybe not. Be careful when doing this, because if someone downloads and uses an image you sold to a stock photography site, they might be able to use it for commercial use and make more money off of it than you will ever see. This is just a chance you take in making a quick buck for your work.

Another option you might consider if you are good at editing is agreeing to edit other photographers' work for a small fee. Be sure to receive written permission and have the correct documents signed (speak with your lawyer for more information on what you need) from the photographer before doing so though; you don't want to get into legal trouble.

3. Traveling – If you like to travel a lot, be sure to follow blogs about traveling like Boarding Area. Often they will post deals for signing up for hotel/rental car/flying loyalty programs that can earn you points. There are also dining programs and shopping portals (United and Delta Skymiles for example) you might consider using just for doing the things you normally do – dinning out and shopping. Recently I've also seen where travel and financial blogs have encouraged obtaining reward credit cards and using the bonuses they offer to obtain your ideal vacation more cheaply and easily than you could have done otherwise. Here are a few options I recommend:

Capital One Venture Card is a credit card my husband and I obtained in August last year and took advantage of for free during our first year with the company. We got the card because we needed one that offered "no foreign transaction fees" since we were planning a trip abroad. One of the major bonuses is that you get 2x the points on everyday spend and those points can be redeemed for Amazon giftcards and used to pay for travel expenses. So far we have received more than $700 in Amazon cash and at least $120 towards travel expenses. Not bad, huh? We aren't even going to talk about all of the fees the card could have saved us in Europe. When we talked about dropping the card early this month, it seemed silly given the low $49 fee when we were making more than we were spending by renewing the card!
IHG Rewards Club – I had gold status throughout the year at a variety of US branded hotel chains that I received through … whatever means, but IHG has seemed to be the most worthwhile for me. You can get status by signing up for the IHG credit card with the first year being free and every year following being $49. The main perk with the card, from what I understand, is receiving one night free every year on your anniversary with the card. Since you get status perks, like room upgrades, free meals, etc, the card could very well be worthwhile. I don't have the card, so I can't really say too much about that. The thing I love about the IHG program is the low prices (frequently lower than any other hotel brand) and the points break options. Staying at a hotel for 5,000 points? Nice! Sometime last year we stayed at a hotel in Chattanooga for one night earning enough points to stay at a points break hotel in Asheville for two nights completely free! The free room wasn't dingy either; it had a refrigerator and a view of the mountains! Yes, there are definitely perks to being an IHG loyalist, and I have found them! :)

4. Budgeting – I feel a bit like I'm wasting my time talking about making money budgeting, since, if you are in the know, you know how to make money budgeting. For arguments sake, we'll go over a few of your options.

Santander Bank currently offers an extra $20 a month if you open both a checking and savings account with them, have a minimum deposit in both accounts, direct deposit $1500 a month into the checking account and pay at least 2 bills through BillPay. That's an extra $240 a year just for paying bills! I haven't used this bank before, but the offer sounds good to me…
SmartyPig is an online bank that allows you to develop savings goals and provides high interest for any money you deposit into your savings accounts with them. Furthermore, when you are ready to cash out, you can purchase gift cards at a percentage off to make your savings go even further! If you'd prefer, obviously, you can simply have the money deposited into your checking and savings accounts with your regular bank as well.

There are also opportunities for making money through credit card usage (as mentioned above), investing, using CDs, etc, etc, etc… I am not a financial advisor, so I can't really tell you all of the ways you can make money through budgeting. The point is: you can.

5. Shopping/Going Out to Eat/Etc… – Obviously, you can do any of the above things (using shopping portals, credit card spend) to earn money by doing the things you would normally do, but you could also take advantage of apps and mystery shopping to make even more money.

• Apps like Field Agent, EasyShift, and GigWalk alert you to when a job is in your area, how much you will get paid for doing the job, when it needs to be completed by, and what exactly the job entails. Some jobs net you a lot for your time and effort while others may only be worth it if you were already out shopping or running errands anyway.
• Other apps like Shopmium and RetailMeNot provide coupons. With Shopmium you submit your receipt after shopping if you have any items on their list; they then send a refund to you via Paypal. RetailMeNot provides coupons for both online and offline shopping. I always check out this app when shopping at stores like Macy's, Home Depot, or Michael's; the app is less relevant for grocery stores where you would need coupons for individual food items.
• You've heard me mention using ReceiptHog and ReceiptPal before. These are both great apps that give you money (and points) for submitting your receipts after you return from shopping. $30 in my paypal account for a few minutes of my time after shopping? Heck yeah!
• I recently starting doing mystery jobs for companies like A Closer Look and Goodwin and Associates. As such I can't really provide reviews for either company. So far I have done jobs that involved going to see a movie in the Imax theatre with popcorn and drinks and a compliance shop at a local grocery store when my husband and I went to buy some alcohol. I've also seen mystery shops available for bowling, staying at hotels, ordering pizza, going out to eat at local restaurants, and even gambling! Since you don't get paid/reimbursed for a full 2 months after you complete the jobs, I'd recommend not doing anything you wouldn't otherwise do. Also, it does take up to an hour or more to fill out some of the very in depth forms, so don't leave my blog post thinking of this as a quick "get rich scheme". It is so not.
• Finally, be sure you use online portals when checking out online. A good comparison site is Cashbackholic. Some even offer a bonus for joining like Ebates, MrRebates, and ExtraBux! After you spend enough money, the online portal will send you a check or paypal for the amount you are being refunded! It's a great way to get cash back on things you are already purchasing online! In the past 3 years I've earned more than $200 back!

6. Sleeping – Unfortunately, the only way I can think of to make money doing this is if you are involved in a sleep study. You may just have to sleep this one out. ;)

Are you taking full advantage of all of your monetization opportunities? Do you make money doing what you love? Are there any other opportunities you can share with me? I always love hearing about new and different ways to make money!

Be sure to go enter my beauty giveaway! For the next two days, you can earn an extra two entries just by entering!

** None of the companies I've mentioned have compensated me in any way, shape, or form for my referrals on this post. All opinions are my own. You are responsible for any actions you take as a result of my recommendations. Please don't do anything I wouldn't do. :)

Individuality in the Media

When the little girl I watch became enthralled with the music video for "Shake It Off", I almost threw up. Taylor Swift? Really? But the song got stuck in my head, and inevitably I went to watch the Behind the Scenes and discovered that her intention was far from what I had picked up on initially from watching the video. Taylor Swift was encouraging individuality and "dancing to the beat of your own drum", an idea that I can't help but respect her for whether or not I approve of her song or music video.

Taylor Swift isn't the only music artist to encourage individuality recently though.

I always go back to Sara Bareilles and "Brave"…

And then there is Tori Amos' most recent album "Unrepentant Geraldines" where she sings multiple songs about the process of growing older, women's issues, and remaining true to yourself…

While all of these artists have very different audiences in mind, the celebrities' intentions of encouraging uniqueness and individuality stand out as something to be applauded and as a very positive message to share with the world. We don't often hear about being yourself, especially as we grow older, so it's great to see celebrities reinforcing the ideas we heard as children.

I think children and teens will be able to relate easier to celebrities like Taylor Swift in much the same way that they related to Sesame Street as a child. If a cool celebrity like Taylor Swift encourages you to be yourself, what choice do you have? … It's also pretty great for older artists like Tori Amos to talk about these issues from an entirely different perspective.

Being yourself – your unique, quirky, individual self – allows you to move forward through life in ways that holding back or fitting in simply don't. Only when you break through the mold of what is expected of you can you truly excel.

Are you enjoying seeing celebrities endorse uniqueness as much as I am?

And, more importantly, why haven't you entered my giveaway yet? :)

** I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?

Beauty Giveaway

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. Thanks to all who entered! Winners have been notified!

I recently received a bunch of beauty products to try, and I thought it would be fun to share in the experience with my readers. Guess what that means?


There will be 3 beauty pack winners and 8 sample pack winners. Here's what they will get:

In the 3 beauty packs:
• 8 Vichy Life Serum samples
• .37 fl oz L'Oreal RevitaLift Miracle Blur Instant Eye Smoother sample
• $2 coupon toward any Revitalift Miracle Blur Product (excludes trial size, 12/31/14)
• L'Oreal Paris Scarlet #306 Lip Color
• Redbook subscription for you and a friend
• L'Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Restoring Shampoo, Conditioner, and Damage Erasing Balm (.34 oz of each)
• L'Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Triple Resist Reinforcing Shampoo and Conditioner (.34 oz)
• $2 off coupon toward any L'Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Triple Resist treatment (12/31/14)
• 8 Miracle Blur Instant Eye Smoother samplers to share with friends
• 8 Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Skin Smoother Finishing Cream samples to share with friends
• U By Kotex tampons and liners

In the 8 sample packs:
• .37 fl oz L'Oreal RevitaLift Miracle Blur Instant Eye Smoother sample
• $2 coupon toward any Revitalift Miracle Blur Product (excludes trial size, 12/31/14)
• L'Oreal Paris Scarlet #306 Lip Color
• Redbook subscription for you and a friend
• 1 Miracle Blur Instant Eye Smoother sampler

Sound exciting?

In order to win one of the prizes above, follow With Love on Google+ or subscribe via RSS feed and use the rafflecopter below to find other ways to enter. All entries must be received by October 2nd at midnight. The giveaway is open to US entrants only over 18. Winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter and will be notified within a weeks time by email and their name will be posted on the rafflecopter widget. New winners will be chosen within 48 hours if I do not hear from the first chosen.

So… what are you waiting for? Enter now! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

26 Clichés I Had Never Heard Before

I'm technically suppose to blog about my favorite clichés today, but there are so many! Clichés I mean, not necessarily favorites. Instead I have decided to explore the ClichéSite and find one cliché per letter of the alphabet that I like and was previously unfamiliar with. The goal is to learn something about the clichés and have a bit of fun while doing it!

Aa many chins as a Chinese phone book.

My first thought was "isn't that funny"… chins … Chinese. When I think of Asian names, I think of Hu's, Ho's and Heh's, but not necessarily chin. (Sorry, I don't know many Chinese-specific names.) Come to find out this cliché has absolutely nothing to do with last names at all! It's about being fat –
The fact that someone has a great amount of excess skin and flesh under their chin.
So depressing.

Box of fluffy ducks.

Ok, I admit it. I'm purposely choosing the funny sounding ones. A box of fluffy ducks sounds adorable!!
1. I am fine.
2. I am content or doing well.
   Used as a response to the question, How are you?
This cliché is from New Zealand, and now that I know it I reallllllllllllyyyyy want to use it.

To cowboy up.

This makes me think of a western movie. Or! Or! Or! How I Met Your Mother. Anyone else want to suit up? ;)

Neil Patrick Harris really pulled that one off well! So what does "to cowboy up" really mean?
To be tough but with honor and dignity.
Not what I was expecting! I don't necessarily think of "honor and dignity" when I think of cowboys. Hmm … Learn something new every day. :)

Dangle a carrot in front of him.

He's a horse, obviously. :)
To motivate someone by providing an incentive or reward.
Everything's copasetic.

Honestly I had no idea what copasetic meant when I chose this one. (It means "in excellent order".)
Everything is going according to plan.
Time to take over the world!

Fell off my plate.

I imagine someone that is sooo tired that they fall into their plate of spaghetti. And yes, it must be spaghetti. No other food will do.
Describes the situation of having forgotten to do one of many things that you were supposed to do.
And I was worried I'd never be able to use this cliché again!

 Garlic milkshake.

1. Very strong.
2. Very powerful.
Hide the salami.

Am I hungry? Salami, milkshake, carrot, plate?! ;)
Didn't see that one coming. :)

It's raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock.

Umm… What does a rock have to do with anything?
1. It is raining very hard.
2. There is a lot of rain coming down.
I'm still not sure what the rock has to do with anything?

Just fell off the turnip truck.

I admit I knew this one, but it was one of the more amusing 'j' clichés.
A derogatory expression used to describe someone who is not very smart or who is dumb.
Keep your hair on.

Thanks for the advice, but I'm not exactly wearing a wig…
Used to tell someone to stay calm or to be patient.
People must wear a lot more wigs in Australia…

Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.

How have I not heard of this? It sounds like something that would predominantly be said in the south!
 If nothing bad happens.
I can't imagine any situation when I would be comfortable saying this. I think I'll stick to the very southern "Bless your heart!" :) I know what that means and when to use it. ;)

Mony a mickle maks a muckle.

Can you say that five times fast?!
Many little things add up to something great.
As nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Didn't see that one coming! ;)

One taco short of a combination plate.

I feel like someone just made this one up. A real cliché? Come on! You make me sad!
A derogatory expression used to describe someone who is not very smart or who is dumb.

Pig dog.

Either someone can't make up their mind which animal it is or there is some weird inbreeding going on.
1. #sshole.
2. Used as an exclamation to communicate that you are very angry at someone.
Not sure what to think of the Germans at this point. :)

Quit horsing around!

Dang! There aren't many Q clichés! You know what this means, right?
Stop grabbing or tackling each other.
Hmm… I thought it meant stop fooling around/being silly/doing the opposite of what you are suppose to… I have decided that some websites need to do more research. :)

Raining pitchforks.

Raining very heavily.
Slicker than snot on a door knob.

Very slick or slippery.
That's exactly what you tell kids after mopping, right?

The technicolor yawn.

Did this saying come out in the 50s?
Describes the act of vomiting or regurgitating.
Awww… I really didn't see that one coming! I thought it meant to be rude or yawn in someone's face … not that.

Useless as tits on a boar hog.

That is pretty useless.
Not at all helpful or useful.
Like a virgin on prom night.

I feel like this saying may have been made famous by Madonna or Billy Joel
1. Very nervous. 2. Not calm or peaceful. 3. Paranoid. 

Ok, I guess Madonna was bit more high class than that. After all, she was in Venice…

What's cookin', good lookin'?

Awww. That is not a pick-up line, is it?!
1. What are you doing?
2. How are you?
I'm sure they meant to include "babe" or some such thing when writing the explanation; they just didn't think about it…

Your father wasn't a glass maker.

I knew it.
Often used by children, this is really a directive to tell someone to move out of the way because you cannot see what you are looking at.
Would a child really think of that? It seems a bit deep.

Zip it.

I needed a 'Z'. :)
Used as a directive to instruct someone to stop talking.
What are some of your favorite clichés? Did you learn any new ones from this post?

** I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?

Movie Night!!

Things necessary for staying in on a Friday night…

• an awesome husband
• freshly popped, homemade popcorn
• a good movie
• and a blanket.

But sometimes it's nice to go out to the theatre, especially when you don't have to pay… I had the luxury of having a few jobs this summer pay me to go to the movies. (Best jobs ever, amiright?!) I only went a few times, but I thought I would review the movies I saw, so you would know what to see … as well as what not to see.

I started off the summer well with a viewing of Edge of Tomorrow. Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise take action movies to an entirely new level in this film. I'm not a big blood and guts kind of person; the truth is they make me sick. I knew before even walking into the theatre that seeing this movie, for me, was probably not the best of ideas. On top of that little issue of mine, I was also completely convinced that a character dying every. single. day. would get boring and monotonous. I was wrong. On both counts. The director, editors, and creators of this movie did a fantastic job moving the story along, not allowing it to get stuck at any single point despite the heavy repetition, all the while keeping me entranced – eyes glued to the screen. Even Justin, who watched the movie much later while distracted, couldn't keep his eyes off of it either. The movie just draws you in. Not many movies do that for me any more, so I was really surprised that this movie could have that kind of hold on me.

With 8/10 on IMDB and 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and my approval (the most important of any!), I highly recommend seeing this film. It's definitely one of the best that this summer has produced.

While not at the top of my list of must-see movies, Chef was a fun story even if it lacked in plot. Basically, a chef (duh) loses his job when he refuses to cook the same outdated unadventurous food his boss insists on, that has always been on the menu at a local restaurant, for a food critic. Rather than lose status as "artist", he takes to the road in a food truck with his best friend exploring the states, learning to make new foods, teaching his son all about cooking, and becoming an entrepreneur. Like I said, the story is fun and engaging, but don't expect a deep plot. At the very least there are some fabulous actors and actresses thrown into the movie – like Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, and Robert Downey Jr. – that make it worth at least one viewing.

This movie is rated 7.4/10 on IMDB and 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Blended. Drew Barrymore. Adam Sandler. You've seen it before, you'll probably see it again. Redundant, expected, usual … and heartwarming. As only these two actors can be.

Rated 6.5/10 on IMDB and 14% on Rotten Tomatoes.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a kid friendly animated adventure that only really excites kids and whose trailer, even, bores me just a little. If you see this movie, expect to see a stupid main character do stupid things in an effort to save dragons, meet his mother, and keep his girlfriend (while she stupidly follows along encouraging him). Great family movie, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it as an adult.

The masses seem to disagree with me giving the movie an 8.2/10 on IMDB and 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (It would seem you will have to decide for yourself whether or not this movie is worth a viewing.)

To be honest, I did not want to see Guardians of the Galaxy. A talking raccoon? A talking tree? I'll watch sci-fi, but I am not a sci-fi girl. To my surprise, this movie was fun! The music, the super heroes, the comedy, the adventure… I loved it! And the best part: only a few weeks later the kids I watch are obsessed with the soundtrack. More specifically, I have heard the two teenage boys I watch crooning away to Michael Jackson's "I Want You Back". There is nothing quite like hearing that; it made my day. haha. :)

Even if we never have another Spider Man, Batman, or even The Incredibles, I am definitely looking forward to the release of Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I only hope that they can do even half as good as they did with the first.

This movie has received 8.6/10 on IMDB and 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

What movies have you seen recently? Are there any really good ones that you would recommend for a movie night in? … or out?

* I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?
** Psst! You can go here to listen to the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack on youtube! … Or buy the soundtrack on Amazon! You know you want to! :)

Mid-Year: A Look Back

Image Credit: Arcreyes

So far this year I have…
• written a blog post that has received more than 1,000 views!
• babysat a 4 year old for a week and learned quite a bit.
• attended the broadway production of the musical Once.
bought a truck! This was my first big purchase ever.
moved to a new home against my will.
travelled to Europe for the first time ever.
• took a trip to Panama City Beach, FL to see the ocean.
lost my job.
• began a new one.
visited Charleston to get away from it all.
• celebrated my birthday with macarons and French cooking!
• scheduled a flight to DC for October to visit some friends.
• and went with Justin to see John Hodgman for his birthday.

I am in a completely different place in life than I was when I wrote my 2014 new years goals and quite a few of them have changed as I have grown and changed. I am grateful for all of the wonderful experiences this year has brought so far, sad about the changes I didn't plan for, and excited for what is to come.

Given today's date, I also wanted to share this post from last year – a reminder of how America survived one of the most difficult and tragic days of my existence. On the one hand I feel that I should devote a full day's post to the tragedy, but on the other hand I feel that moving on, without forgetting, is also the correct thing to do. What do you think? Will you be doing anything special to commemorate today in honor of those who were lost 13 years ago?

** I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?

Topics I Like To Talk About

Photo credit: Daniel E. Lee

"I like to start my notes to you as if we're already in the middle of a conversation. I pretend that we're the oldest and dearest friends -- as opposed to what we actually are, people who don't know each other's names." - Kathleen Kelly (You've Got Mail)

When I first meet someone, I am always a bit apprehensive about opening my mouth. I will either shove my foot in said mouth and make some crazy mistake, I'll misread whatever emotion it is that you feel about any given subject, or my mind will go completely blank. It's not that I don't care about you, I'm just terrible at small talk! The funny thing is that online I don't have that inhibition. I suppose many people don't, but I like knowing that, specifically with a blogpost or e-mail, I can go back and re-write/edit what I'm trying to say until I get it perfect (or run out of time, whichever comes sooner).

Thankfully, once I get to know a person, I am pretty open and, according to friends, "will talk your ears off" if given the chance. Below are just a few of those topics you will find me most intrigued by:
• Photography. If you aren't a photographer though, let's not go there. I don't necessarily want to give beginning photographers a lesson on what to do or what not to do. 
• Food. I know good food, because my husband cooks it and I criticize it. 
• Germany and the German language. I love talking with other Americans, who have been to Europe, about the cultural differences and the struggles to learn/understand the different languages. It makes me feel less alone. :) 
• Children, Education, Reading, Writing, and the importance of Art Education for children. I wrote a 25 page single-spaced 12 point font paper on this subject and studied it for a whole semester during grad school. It's important and should be discussed. 
• Travel including where to go and what to do at given locations assuming I have been to the same locations you are wanting to travel to.
• Women's rights and issues. I am woman, hear me roar! :) 
• Finances and Budgeting. I'm secretly judging you and your methods, most especially if you lack methods. 
• Gossip. I like talking about my family, friends, and favorite tv shows. Who doesn't? 
Basically, if you see it in my blog, I like to talk about it. :) What topics do you like to talk about?

** I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?

Ain't Nobody Got Time For…

Photo Credit: Biola Mederios

First, the list:
• Chores/Cleaning/Housework – Ick. I hate them. Can't I hire someone to clean up after me? 
• Reading – This is one I want to have time and make time for, but I just don't. 
• Being Sick – If you get sick, you have to take vacation time, and who really wants to spend their vacation time being sick? Plus, when you get back to work you have to do all of the work you missed while you were out. Ugh. 
• Breakfast – Unless you work from home, you probably know what I mean. Sleep a little bit longer or get up and eat a meal you aren't hungry for? Yeah, that's what I thought. 
• Hair – I have decided that I need my own personal hair stylist with me every day of the week. Updo? Braids? Cute hair? Ummm … heck yeah! Having to do it myself? ugh… 
• The Doorbell – I'm probably really weird, but I hate answering the door when I am home alone. Other than my irrational fears of being killed, the doorbell only ever rings when I'm busy, in the shower, or headed out the door. You couldn't come at some other time … y'know … when my husband is home?  
• Budgets – Honestly, I like budgeting. I like organizing the numbers and seeing how good or bad I have done during a given month. I don't like saving money though. I like the way it sounds to say you are saving money, and I like the way it feels to see the money grow in your bank account. I even like the way debt goes down when you put your money towards that. I don't like not spending though. That's no fun.
Now, the monthly budget update:

Can't we just pay off all of our debts so I can quit doing this?!?
• Net worth: ↑ by 4%. It's the best it's been since February! 
• Debts: ↓ Obviously, down by 4%. Best it's been since April! (I'm happy for little improvements.) 
• Assets: Sitting steady at my ultimate goal of 10% of our debt and just over 2 months worth of paychecks. It will probably stay that way for a while. Remember last month?
The good news is that last month we spent a whopping 46% less than we did during August 2013!! Whoa!!! (Getting my car fixed cost quite a bit last year.) Our goal for this month is to continue the trend of spending less than we did last year at this time and using those savings to pay off debt. We'll see how that works out. So far, we are over budget on food, because … food.

In the mean time, a graph:

yellow = last year; green = this year

What don't you have time for? :)

* I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?

Books for Everyone

quote from The Catcher in the Rye

Today's list is all about books, and frankly I'm just not sure I can list books that everyone must read. Over my life, when I have read books, the books that have gotten most of my attention are ones with female protagonists, most likely because I am female myself and can best relate to those types of characters.

One book does stand out above all others though:

The Catcher In the Rye

I can't remember what it was about and, for that reason alone, I know that I should just go pick it up and read it again. All I remember, from watching the Vlog Brothers is that Holden Caulfield told the story of his life as a teenager in a way that I got. The book was replete with run-on sentences and cursing, but I completely understood where Holden Caulfield was coming from. I may not have understood every aspect of the story, but the way it was written was simply fantastic. I highly, highly recommend a read of The Catcher In the Rye even if I don't remember a single thing about it.

Catch Me If You Can

has been on my list of books to read since the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks came out in 2002. The movie was amazing … and yet the book sits on my shelf just waiting to be picked up. Why haven't I read it? Is there something wrong with the writing? Does it simply not capture my interest? Or am I just too busy to take the time to read it?

The Good German

was another book that I picked up in high school that I still haven't found time to read. I must admit that I picked it up for it's pretty cover. I am certain I will love it when I do find time to read it; I find any books focusing on postwar 1940s murder mysteries to be thrilling and fun pageturners. I know this because of my love of Holly Roth's 1954 The Content Assignment which I found (and read) when going through my grandparent's books years and years ago.

I think I have digressed enough, but there simply aren't too many books I would recommend to a large group of people, let alone everyone. Currently I find myself challenging my skills by attempting to read Der Richter und sein Henker. It's a small novelette written by Friedrich Dürrenmatt from the 1950s that, from my understanding, is frequently read in German schools. I chose the book because of it's small size and, from what I'm assuming, rather limited vocabulary making it easier for a non-German speaker to get through. We'll see. Spending $5 to test my skills and possibly learn a bit more seemed like a good investment even if the book turns out to be awful, which I've heard it is. I am definitely looking forward to the day when I am able to get through the story, comprehending the majority of it enough to throw the book across the room, as many reviewers have claimed to have done. That will definitely be a good day. :)

Do you have books that you would recommend to everyone? Have you read any of the books I've mentioned?

*See other books I have recommended here and here.
** I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?

Train - Bulletproof Picasso Review

The first time I went to New York City was with my orchestra class. I can't remember what we did or saw, but I definitely remember the people I was with and just being absolutely fascinated and enthralled by the city. There was so much activity everywhere and so many people to people-watch! It was just astounding, and I quickly fell in love. I decided at that point, that one day I would return, get up early, find a coffee shop on a street corner, have breakfast and just people-watch for hours and hours on end. That hasn't happened yet, but perhaps one day it will. ;)

When we got back, one of my friends put together a slideshow of images from New York City and he used Train's "Drops of Jupiter" as the background song. We all crowded into my instructor's office to watch it on the tiny computer screen; that was enough to sear the combination of the trip and song into my brain. I cannot hear the song without smiling and thinking of all of the fun I had so many years ago.

When One2One asked me to review Train's newest cd, I was excited to be given the opportunity. I'm not sure the band has done anything that has truly impressed me in years, but I'm always willing to give them another chance. After all, Train has sold more than ten million albums worldwide, thirty million tracks worldwide, with numerous platinum/gold citations on their mantle, 3 Grammy Awards, 2 Billboard Music Awards and dozens of other honors and nominations. Doesn't that say something about the band? :)

I began by listening to the album’s first single, “Angel In Blue Jeans,” which has soared to the Top 15 of Triple A and Adult Top 40 radio in only a month. Unfortunately, upon first listening, I wasn't too impressed. I'm not sure if it was the song or just the overly dramatic video that got under my skin. Either way, it was really fun to see Hannah Simone from the hit TV show ‘New Girl’ in the video! I'm not sure they could have found a prettier "angel in blue jeans"!

I also wasn't impressed with "Cadillac, Cadillac" either. Both this song and "Angel in Blue Jeans" gave me the feeling that the band was desperate and needed money. Neither of which entice me to buy an album. I don't buy albums because they have top hits; I buy albums because the music is awesome.

Luckily, upon listening to the album I found a number of other songs, not chosen as singles, that I liked. The band definitely has a gift for delivering memorable songs that capture the listener’s imagination, and this album is no exception. I'd love to list a song or two from the album that really captured my attention and love, but there isn't just one song that stands out. The album, as a whole, is one of the best I have ever had the opportunity to review, and I have reviewed a lot of albums! If you like Train, you will like "Bulletproof Picasso". And in case you are still hesitant, be sure to check out their live 1 hour performance on QVC at 5PM ET today (Sep. 5). You know you want to… :)

Here are the links for pre-ordering "Bulletproof Picasso" which will be released on September 16:

For more information about the band, to find out about upcoming tour dates, or anything else, be sure to check out and follow their webpage, youtube, twitter and/or facebook pages.

What do you think about Train's new album? Are you excited about their new release? Share with me in the comments!

* I participated in the Train Bulletproof Picasso album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own.

A Month of Projects

image from Flickr via PhotoPin

There are definitely days when I wonder how people have time for leisure activities.  I frequently find myself running from activity to activity just trying to keep sane. Then again, I admit that this may be some personal fatal flaw that only I possess. It's quite possible that other people just know when to stop and/or have difficulty thinking of just one more thing to do.

Here is my current list of projects for the month of September, which is more like a list of things I have planned rather than "projects" so-to-speak. It may seem like I have a light schedule, but believe me when I say it will be busy!

• Review Train's new album Bulletproof Picasso for One2One Network!!!! (Just downloaded the album today!) 
• Go see John Hodgman with the husband on Saturday. 
• Host a make-up sample/coupon giveaway and try the new L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Eye Smoother!! I haven't had a giveaway in sooooo long, so I am really excited about this! 
• As per usual, do all of the editing, take on more jobs, babysit as much as possible, blog daily, etc… 
• Plan the trip to DC booking a hotel room, finding one or two awesome things to do and places to eat, and reserve a car. 
• Continue to pay down debt and stick to a budget. (This will be the most difficult of the tasks.)

What will keep you busy during the month of September? Will you be watching all of the football games, preparing for fall, or doing something else? Share with me! I'd love to see and hear about your September plans!

* I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?

The End of the Weekend

I'm a bit tired today, so I just thought I would share an update of what we did this weekend.


• Ordered this dress with a 20% discount

and now I'm impatiently awaiting it's arrival scheduled for this afternoon.

• Completed approximately 4 hours of audits at various Wal Marts, driving around town making money with Field Agent, Easy Shift, Mobee, and my loving, patient husband.


• Drove up to north Georgia with the in-laws for fun (?) and food. We ate at

where we got ribs, pork, brisket, chicken, baked beans, cole slaw, fries, and blackberry cobbler for lunch. It was my first time having blackberry cobbler, and it was soooooooo delicious. I loved it!


• Didn't do much, but I didn't feel great either. Took Claritin and when that didn't solve my allergy problems, I opted for Benadryl. Argh.

• Went to Provino's for the husband's birthday dinner with the parents and in-laws. Free food ftw?!

• Ordered a book from Amazon in (intermediate) German! So thrilled about attempting that! (I have a feeling it will soon be covered in English translation pencil markings…)

• Also ordered French almond flour! The website was a pain, but hopefully the flour is worth it!

• Paid 2 bills using the new Check app and received some *free* money.


• More jobs.

• A bit of rain (but mostly thunder).

• Grocery shopping at Your Dekalb Farmer's Market as well as planning food for the week.

• Free yogurt from Menchie's for Justin's birthday. We tried the cookies vs. creme yogurt and discovered that we are "cookies" people. ;)

• Tried cookies and cream straws in my milk. So delicious, but hardly worth the price. If I'm going to be 5 and drink flavored milk, the chocolate milk from YDFM is sooo much better! And it makes delicious hot chocolate too!

• Did laundry and tried to teach Justin the 2 second folding trick. Failed.

• Tried to order plane tickets for a flight to Washington DC for October. Website was down. Failed at that too. :-/

• Ended the day with steak. Because we are worth it. :)

Did you do anything exciting during the labor day weekend?