30 Day Writing Challenge {Day 1 /Social Media}

November is National Novel Writing Month and every November I promise myself that I'm going to hunker down and write my novel. I haven't, but what I found was a 30 day writing challenge for the month to spark some creativity. I found this pin on Pinterest, and have been following it, mostly. I've also used this one too. 

As you can see, I'm publishing these out of order, the only reason is that I'm just writing the prompts and they are piling up before I can get them onto the blog. Day 1 was "The Problem with Social Media". I write these on my phone and leave them pretty much unedited. If you want to join in the challenge, check out the pin and jump in!

At first glance the obvious problem with social media would be the time it can consume, the envy that it can bring, the bullying that inevitably follows, and the overall idiocy that continues. Right now social media is a mirror image of what's happening in our lives. The election, black lives vs blue lives, trashy Halloween costumes, celebrity scandals and gossip. People are bullied. Families are divided over Hillary vs Trump and everyone is offended.
I could write for hours on all the problems and issues that plague social media.
Instead, Here is what I know is great about social media.
I'm connected with friends and relatives that I normally wouldn't be. Some live near, some live far, but thanks to Facebook and Instagram they are a click away.
I like that my husband and I speak meme, fluently. We can send each other memes all day long and talk and laugh about them later. I love those direct messages from him.
I love that social media allows me to connect with people I would never meet otherwise. Two of my dearest friends are products of the blogging world. We've only met up three or four times in real life. We text every day. Without social media, I wouldn't have them in my life and that would be a crime.
I love that people all over the world can have a heart felt connection over a cat video or a sheriff dancing in a high school gym. Real connections. Sharing comments.  Being kind or showing support. It's fun to read positive reactions instead of the negative ones usually highlighted on social media.
I love so many things about social media, about my iPhone, about Internet connections. For all the awful and negative aspects of this new age of communication, there are so many positive ones. It's true that my children will never know about a life without Facebook or Instagram. A life where real, tangible mail ruled. A world where you couldn't just download the best selling book or movie the night it was released. Standing in line on press day, waiting for the five o'clock news, having to wait for a rerun of a favorite show, are just tales of lore. Stories of yesteryear.
Still there is something to be said about watching a table of ladies, grandmas and great grandmas to be specific, taking pictures of each other, then taking selfies. Maybe they all have Facebook accounts to keep up with the kids. Maybe they have Instagram accounts for all the filters. Maybe one of those cool grannies even has a Snapchat and added the deer filter. I have no idea, but from where I sat last Saturday in a restaurant, those ladies were happy as can be. Armed with iPhones and great filters. Giggling and laughing at what technology is doing for them.
Oh to be that cool one day.

30 Day Writing Challenge {Day 2: Earliest Memories}

November is National Novel Writing Month and every November I promise myself that I'm going to hunker down and write my novel. I haven't, but what I found was a 30 day writing challenge for the month to spark some creativity. I found this pin on Pinterest, and have been following it, mostly. I've also used this one too. 

Day 2 was "Your Earliest Memory" and I had a few to share. This was fun to write, even if it was just on my phone while my girls were at dance. If you want to join in the challenge, check out the pin and jump in!

I can remember going to preschool, Bo Peep and Ms. Jean was my teacher. I always wanted to get the "good egg" award. It was given to the most well behaved children at the end of the day. It was a card stock egg, on a string. It was coveted by all the children. I remember the beautiful schoolhouse that was once an actual house on a street in town, and it had neighbors. I remember celebrating my fifth birthday with the most beautiful cupcakes from Pollyanna bakery. White cupcakes with white butter cream air brushed to look like grass, with jelly beans and candy eggs on top. The privilege of being a spring baby. I remember the playground. Filled with play houses with real food boxes, recycled for play before people did such things. A large fort with real logs. Play cars that I literally fought over. Because the red one was always mine. I remember the most delicious sugar cookies, their tops packed with “nonpareils”, every color of the rainbow. I nibbled that cookie all the way down to my fingertips but refused to eat more, because my hands were dirty from playing outside. My request to wash them denied, my need for clean, germ free hands, intense. But I remember the cookie, still thirty four years later. The buttery film it left in my mouth, the crunch of the non perils, the heartbreak of losing the last third of it to dirty hands.

I remember my first quesadilla. Jack cheese on corn tortillas. More please. I always wanted more of whatever My grandma Chila was cooking. We sat on the porch of her house, watching the cars go by, the afternoon sun fading, a glorious day for Salinas. A rare fog free day. We waited there for my mom to pick me up after work. Maybe I was four, maybe I was five. I remember my Grandpa's red and white can of Budweiser, the sharp tang of the Monterey Jack cheese, the soft shell of the corn tortilla. I can still see the angle of the sun on the porch, and know all these years later that I was barefoot and in shorts. I can still feel the sun on my back from the beautiful Salinas day.

I can remember the first time I wrote my name, in a picture book. Over sized capital “E” and “A”, as though I had a preference for vowels. I had been writing my bike in the driveway and stopped to look at the book. The sun was bright and I had to squint to see my name on the page. The first time I remember reading was with Mrs. Perkinson my kindergarten teacher. I read her flash cards of colors, orange and red, purple and blue, then of words like house and cat. I can still remember the paste in the jars, the stamps on the back of my hand when we were good, the lunch that my grandma would pack… One half ham sandwich on white, one half banana, red juice in a plastic barrel that she had bought at Monte Mart, because I didn’t like milk.

For the month of November I'll be posting the things that I write in this challenge. It just takes me a few days to get them from my phone and edited. I hope you liked reading as much as I liked writing.

Uncommon Gifts for this Holiday Season {Uncommon Goods}

***I was approached by Uncommon Goods to give my honest opinion on their site and the kinds of products they offer. The opinions expressed in this post are mine. I've been a fan of Uncommon Goods for years, so this was a fun post to write. And yes, I was compensated for this post.***

Halloween has passed, and I’m  playing Christmas music and strategically planning my Christmas shopping. To be honest I think about Christmas gifts all year because I have a lot of gifts to buy, but I also like to find unique gifts for my family. I love finding things that they love, and maybe wouldn’t buy for themselves. This gets difficult with my kiddos that are spoiled rotten and have everything you see in Target. I love when I can find something that isn’t Disney or whatever movie is currently playing. For the adults in my life, like the Hubbs, I love finding gifts that will make an impression. Half the fun of shopping is in the “hunt”, what’s great about Uncommon Goods, is that you can “hunt” in your pajamas!

Uncommon Goods is a great website to find gifts for everyone on your list. From Infants to Grandparents and everyone in between you are sure to find something they will love. Uncommon Goods also has a registry and a Blog called The Goods, where they go in depth when presenting their products. What I love about Uncommon Goods is that they have unique gifts from artists around the world that they partner with. Many of them right here is the USA. Great for family members that want American made products, and for those of us who try to keep it “local”.

For this post, I scoured their website to find some great gifts for those folks on my “Hard to Buy” list, for my kiddos, and of course, Me. I couldn’t post every item, but here are my favorites.

For my “Hard to Buy” folks, I started with (1) Game of Phones, which will keep us all connected and engaged, because lets face it we are all on our phones anyway. I love that it’s competitive texting and Google searches, among other competitions. A (2) Smart Phone projector makes a movie night possible anywhere and anytime. I have family members that travel so how fun would this be on a long trip? Also for my friends that have impatient little ones, movie nights in forts while the adults recover from the day. I loved these (3) Zodiac necklaces for my women friends. Unique to each person who receives it, but also not overly flashy. I love that these necklaces can be worn all the time, dressy or casual. For my wine enthusiast friends, (4) Personalized Wine Barrel lazy Susans are perfect. Each can bring some rustic charm to any setting, and how perfect would they be for cheese and crackers? Score! Finally for my beer drinking folks, (5) and Insulated Growler. Perfect for the tailgater in your life, or maybe the camper. It holds 64 ounces and stays cold for 24 hours. You can also take it a step further and get the keg kit that goes with it, to turn the growler into a personal keg!

Searching for unique gifts for my kids was super fun. My girls are spoiled rotten, so I’m always looking for gifts that you can’t just buy anywhere, but also will make an impact. I mean, how many more Shopkins can we buy at this point? For Caitlin I loved the (1) Llama Pouch. It’s perfect for pencils, make up, or whatever she can stuff into it. She loves anything with animals these days, so this seems like a great buy. For both girls (2) the Mobi Math Game. It’s like Scrabble, but numbers. I’m sure they won’t even notice they are learning since they are so competitive. I’m pretty sure they both need (3) Gummy Bear lights, because really who doesn’t need Gummy Bear lights in their life? And finally, (4) Unicorn and Rainbow mismatched earrings. Unicorns are big in our house right now. These are just perfect.

Of course I could not visit any website with awesome products and not create a wish list for myself. I absolutely want a (1) plush uterus. Sure there are other organs available, but come on, the uterus is the only way to go. It’s looks so mild and unassuming, like most organs, but we all know she is the strongest. I also have to have (2) Game of Phones. Any game that allows me to be on my phone with purpose is okay in my book. (3) The Zodiac necklace is a must, especially since it’s pictured in my sign, so now I know I can’t live without it. But my real wish is to have (4) The Diana Camera. It’s a definite throwback, as it takes real film… Real FILM. It also produces those soft and dreamy images that we all flock to Instagram to create. It’s a must have for any photography enthusiast, or for someone like me who is just obsessed with Instagram. 

Even if you haven't started your Christmas shopping, Uncommon Goods is a great place to go when you need a unique gift for the special people in your life. Check out these other categories and my favorite picks from each one...

Great Personalized Anniversary gifts can be found on the Uncommon Goods top picks page. My Favorites include: The Personalized Family Print, turn your family into a fun illustration; The Intersection of Love print, you and your love intersecting in name; and these amazing personalized Whiskey Barrels, I'm not a fan of whiskey, but my best friend is and she would love this in her life!

Need a one of a kind baby gift? Need a housewarming gift for the family that has everything? Is Dad tired of socks and ties? Uncommon Goods top Personalized Gift collection is the place to find the perfect gift. My top three from this collection are: The personalized Alphabet Book for any child on your list, an awesome baby shower or first Christmas gift; The Personalized Amp Doormat, awesome for those rockers in your life; and The Baseball Stadium Blueprint, for any baseball fanatic!

Finally my top three birthday gifts for her, picked from the Uncommon Goods Birthday Gifts collection. The Make a Wish personalized birthday candle, with the birthday girls name and age; The Friendship Tree trinket box, for your dearest friend; and The New York Times Custom Birthday Book, which is a collection of the Times front page every year since you were born, what a unique gift for news lovers in your life!

Shopping is one of my favorite things to do, so this post was so fun to write. I hope I’ve peaked your interest and you will be headed to Uncommon Goods soon to check them out. Hopefully I’ve helped you find some great gifts for people on your list this Holiday Season. Check out Uncommon Goods on Facebook and Instagram for more gift ideas.

Happy Shopping friends!

Taking Stock {October 2016}

I haven't blogged in so long that I was looking for a way to come back and not write an extremely long post about life. In the past I've always loved the Taking Stock posts because they give readers a look into what you are doing right now. What you are loving, living, and eating which is super important right? Here is my Taking Stock for October.

Anything and everything that is pumpkin and also gluten free. The Trader Joe’s pancake mix is amazing and smells like all your pumpkin spice dreams are coming true. It’s a must in this house, because you can very easily turn it into Pumpkin Spice Gluten Free Donuts! I know. Life changing.

Dinner. At least once a week. Hot dogs and tater tots count right? I mean I do have to turn on my oven and all.

Starbucks Iced Tea. I’m not supposed to have it because I’m supposed to stay away from caffeine, but once a week I treat myself. It’s so bad, but also so good.  

Munching: On this fantastic gluten free popcorn mix made with SkinnyPop popcorn. I used gluten free ingredients to make it gf friendly. It’s so easy to make: Buy one bag SkinnyPop popcorn in the original flavor, one bag candy corn, one bag white chocolate chips and one bag mini chocolate chips. Mix popcorn, 2 handfuls of mini chips and half a bag of candy corn together in a bowl. Melt the white chocolate chips and pour over mixture in the bowl. Stir to combine and pour out onto parchment or wax paper. When cool eat, or eat immediately! Add sprinkles if you want! Super yummy and easy to make!

I read Winter Storms, by Elin Hilderbrand, who is one of my favorite authors. It’s a story that is set during the holidays which I love and its also the last book in a trilogy which totally breaks my heart. I also finished In Twenty Years, by Allison Winn over the weekend. It was fantastic, especially if you are on the verge of forty. I loved it.

All the boots. All the scarves. All the skinny jeans. And the all the cold weather so I can wear all these things.

For skinny jeans that will fit a petite person who carries their weight in their mid section and also has a flat ass… For a friend. I’m asking for a friend.

To 90s alternative on Pandora. Always 90s alternative on Pandora. Also the Chili Peppers new one that was released over the summer.

Precious hours watching New Girl. Before October I had only watched a few episodes, but now, I’ve seen everything except the current season. I always knew I’d love the show, but I just didn’t realize how much. I haven’t laughed this hard in years, and I laugh so loud that I scare the kids. I’m pretty sure Nick Miller is my spirit animal!

That the Giants would have made it to the World Series. Totally bummed that this wasn’t our “even” year.

Cooler nights and mornings. That way I can fake some fall fashion before the temperature is back up to 80 degrees!

And counting down the days until our Disneyland Trip! I have been to the park almost twenty times, but never when it’s decked out for Christmas. I’m beyond excited.

That I changed my schedule to have Wednesdays off. It’s the day we have the most dance classes, so it just made sense.  

Wondering: How next Tuesday is NOVEMBER FIRST!

Loving: Running. I know, but don’t hate me. A few years ago I became one of those people who loves to run after a lifetime of hating it. I have a 5:30 am call time with some girlfriends and it’s so fun to go and gab with them, but even better I get to run the “bitch” out. That’s what my neighbor says, and I believe her. It totally helps!

Hoping: That I can finish my Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving weekend. Praying on this also.

Marveling: That another year has past, faster than the last.

Needing: Boots. My others are trashed.

Wearing: The amazing boyfriend cut shirts from Old Navy and Rockstar jeans, which I will admit, I hated Rockstars in the beginning. But they fit really well (except in the butt, they sag, a lot!) and the mid rise waist guarantees that my crack will not show at work. No one wants to see “old lady crack”.

Following: Dan Rather on Facebook. I’m a liberal, so I may be super biased, but I love what he posts. He brings a historical element to this election that I find fascinating.

Noticing: That I have missed blogging and writing so much, but also noticing that I don’t feel as guilty as I used to when I skip it.

Thinking: About the Christmas story that I’ve been writing for two years may need to see the light of day.

Pinning: Gorgeous things for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Also delicious things for both holidays.

Giggling: With my husband at night after the kids go to bed. A few nights ago it was at Revenge of the Nerds. Before that A League of Their Own. Most nights its memes on Instagram.

Feeling: Like I want time to slow down. My favorite time of year is the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have a feeling that they are going to fly by this year.

What are you taking stock of these days?

Better Things are on the way! {Mom Giveaway}

I've been talking up the new FX show Better Things for over a week. Thanks for FX, I have a new favorite show! Thursday nights at 10 pm are booked for this season, which says a lot since I'm a huge fan of How to Get Away with Murder, which is on at the same time! Serious choices are happening.

If you read my first Better Things post, then you know I love Sam and her gang, but last week's episode (episode two) introduced us to Sam's mom, Phil. How do I explain Phil? I can't, you have to see her in all her British accented glory. Don't miss a moment of Sam and her life as TVs best mother.

To celebrate Sam, and mothers everywhere, FX has sent me a gift basket to giveaway to one of my readers. What fabulous swag can you look forward to? Giveaway items include:

Ray-Ban Sunglasses
Leather Clutch for mom’s things
Emergency Beauty Kit
Hypoallergenic travel pillow
Ultra-Soft travel pillow protector
Essential Oils Blend Mini

Cool Blue Tooth Keyring and Ray Ban Sunnies in a ultra hip black leather clutch!
Super soft travel pillow!
Glamorous Ray Ban Sunnies in their signature case!
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog about your current guilty pleasure. Starbucks? Chocolate? Grey's Anatomy? Currently mine is Better Things... So tell me yours for one entry. For extra entries, visit my Facebook page, visit my Instagram feed, or SHARE THIS BLOG POST! When you do, tag me so I can count your entry. This giveaway will close MONDAY 9/25.

Have fun, and don't miss tonight's new episode of Better Things!