Tag: Life Hacks

We were recently able to sneak away to Maui for 17 whole days- an amount of time that felt downright scandalous to set aside for the sole purpose of rest which is probably why I secretly planned to accomplish a lot of “inner work” while I was there.

You know, dreaming, planning, reflecting, figuring out my next right step in all major categories of life, that sort of thing.

FULL DISCLOSURE:

There was none of that.

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Instead I rested.

Like, actually rested.

And you know what?

Not being productive might be the most productive thing I’ve ever done.

It was like my entire soul exhaled when I wasn’t even aware I’d been holding my breath.

I didn’t recognize it until I’d finally relaxed (which wasn’t until around Day 4 because it takes a while to fully decompress) but it turns out I’m actually a pretty high-strung person. Maybe not on the surface.

But inwardly?

My mind is always buzzing. It’s leaping to the next thing on my to-do list, or fretting over what that list should consist of, or it’s indulging my inner monologue which runs an endlessly critical loop of worry, pressure, and/or guilt.

Wow, I really sound like a basket case here, don’t I? But hey, I’m just being honest. I’m not proud of it, but the truth is that the real me is not very chill. Which is why it was so good to quit dressing up rest with a secret agenda for “inner work” for once. To take the time to rest, be with my people, play in the ocean, and completely SHUT IT DOWN.


It reminded me of this thing that Emily Freeman said last year at the Hope*Writers workshop. She was talking about waiting as an important part of creative work and she pointed out that music isn’t solely made up of different notes strung together, it’s equally about the pause between those notes. Read More…

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time then you probably already know about Let’s Play Oprah.

If you’re new here, (hey! hi!👋🏼) let me explain: It’s a game we play each month in which I share my top 3 “Favorite Things” at the moment, and then at the end of the month I give one of those things away to a lucky reader.

You’re always invited to share YOUR Favorite Things too, so I hope you leave a comment and tell us all what you’re digging right now. It can be anything- food, products, podcasts, t.v. shows, movies, drinks, music, clothes, you name it. There are no rules, except you must dish because that’s what friends do.

If you’re subscribed to this blog that means you’ve invited me into your email inbox which is a privilege I don’t take lightly, and also why I’ve decided that ALL subscribers are automatically entered to win the monthly giveaway. Forever. The only time your name comes out of the drawing is if you unsubscribe or if you just won (in which case your name goes back in 6 months later).

Sometimes I’ll spice it up by adding extra ways to enter, like commenting on a FB live video or over on IG/Twitter, but by far the easiest way is to subscribe by email, so if you’re picking up what I’m putting down, just scroll to the bottom of this post or to the right margin of the page and enter your email address!

Okay, now that we have all the business out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff!

This month my 3 Favorite Things are: Read More…

It’s baaaaaaaaack!

Let’s Play Oprah is finally here again which means it’s time to talk Favorite Things and then I’m going to give one away.

Maybe even to you!

I’m not going to lie- I’ve been eagerly awaiting the return of Let’s Play Oprah even more than I’ve been awaiting the return of good fall T.V. And you know how I feel about my fall T.V.

We took the summer off from it but I’m so excited to be back dishing about all my Favorite Things. I had such a hard time narrowing it down to the usual three because I feel like there was so much good stuff we didn’t cover over the summer- like Cobian flip flops (sooo comfy) or my new favorite color of bullet journal (nordic blue), or how I made it 35 years until discovering how funny David Sedaris’ books are- but there’s simply not enough time to go over ALL the things so let’s just get right down to this month’s list.

  1. My absolute favorite wardrobe go-to this summer has been this long floral maxi dress.

It’s loose, comfortable, and IT EVEN HAS POCKETS, Y’ALL! 

I just love dresses with pockets. I’m not even sure why? It’s not like I really put much in them. I guess I’m just a sucker for a look that says, “Yah I’m fancy. What.” while also saying,“Look how effortless I am!” at the same time.I feel like a dress with pockets really nails that particular message, you know?

Anyway, I own this dress in 4 different colors/patterns and the red one is my favorite but I wear all of them all the time. But do you want to know the best part? I got it for just 20 bucks! Twenty bucks! For a whole outfit! The length makes it perfect for Fall too, just throw on a cute cardigan and you’re good to go.

2. My second favorite item this Fall is this cute leather backpack from Gap.

I’ve been wanting to transition from a purse to a backpack for a while now but it’s so hard to find one that’s the right size and stylish. Too big and you look like you’re 12 years old, too small and you’ve crossed over into the 90’s-Clueless-mini-backpack-era. I know that the 90’s have come full circle and are supposedly the “cool” kind of retro again, but personally I’m not just there yet.

This backpack is the perfect size for a purse replacement, it’s sleek and simple, and YOU GUYS, it’s so comfortable to wear! I might never go back to a regular purse. No more shoulder pain on long shopping trips! No more stuff flying out and hitting you in the face when you bend over to tie a shoe or unload the car! I am liberated! Don’t even get me started on how perfect it is for travel.

3. My final Favorite Thing, and the item I’ll be giving way this month is this limited edition lipstick at Clinique called Capri Pop from the Jonathan Adler collection.

It’s technically a Lip Primer and Lip Color in one, so it lasts for hours and this shade is just so, so fun. I tend to only wear lipstick if it’s a playful, bold color and this fits the bill on both. I’ve worn it all summer long and I’ll continue to wear it into the Fall. It’s a perfect shade blend between a true red and a berry, making it surprisingly versatile to wear. I wear it with both pinks and reds and it somehow manages to match them all. It won’t be around for long as it’s a limited edition so I snatched up a few and I’m giving one away to a lucky reader.

If you’re wondering how to be entered to win, there’s two ways to make sure you’re in the running:

  1. Comment on this post either here on the blog, or whatever social media channel you found it on (Twitter, FB, IG). You can tell me one of your Favorite Things right now (I’d love to hear!) , you say “enter me”, or you can even just say Hi. Every comment counts towards the drawing. *OR*
  2. Click the blue lighted bar at the bottom of this page and enter your email address. Subscribing with your email gets your name in the drawing FIVE times instead of once, so I mean, if you’re the betting type then you’ve got to love those odds.

Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for my next Facebook Live, where I’ll go over all the items in person and draw a name from my big red bowl!

Yahoo! Blogging is fun!

You guys, September is here!

(I like to start out my letters to you by stating something boring and obvious. It just really gets those creative juices flowing, you know?)

But do you know what this means?

It means Fall is here!

Isn’t Fall just the best?

It’s my absolute favorite time of year.

Not because of pumpkin spice (ewe) or the cooler temps (yes please) or even all the football (I’m a little peeved after losing in my fantasy league last year. I was literally The Biggest Loser. I now drive with a license plate of shame).

No, I love fall because it is the biggest re-set of the year.

I loooooove me a fresh start.

All the things get an overhaul. The schedule, the routine, the bedtimes, the… okay I just realized that was three different ways to say basically the same thing. So I guess my favorite part of of Fall is just the fact that I get my structured schedule back. Sue me.

Over here in southern Oregon the kids don’t go back to school until Sept. 5th, which is apparently like, an entire month later than the rest of the world? I don’t get it. Not only are we always behind because of time zones, we’re also behind in just about everything else. Which is why fidget spinners only became a thing for us like, five minutes ago. There’s probably already a new Taylor Swift song out that we don’t even know about yet…

Anyway, I’ll just be honest and admit that normally by the last week of August I am so ready for my kids to go back to school. Like, packing-up-their-backpacks-on-a-Saturday-even-though-school-doesn’t-start-until-Tuesday-ready.

I start off the summer feeling like Leslie Knope on a Monday morning- full of hope and good intentions…

but then I end the summer a lot more like Sunglasses Amy, trying to care that she’s supposed to be hosting the Oscars right now. Read More…

In a couple of days I’ll be hitting the road with my best friend (the other Amber) and all of our kids for the long-awaited Road-trip of 2017.

It’s a tradition we started 5 summers ago, after reading stories from one of our favorite authors (winky face to you, Melanie Shankle) about the adventures and memories that came from doing the same thing with her best friend and their kids every year.

We loved the idea so much that we started our own version of the tradition: No husbands. No plane rides over oceans. No babysitters. No fancy Pinterest-worthy handcrafted car-entertainment. Just 2 Ambers, 5 kids, and the open road. Actually, this year we’ll have 6 kids because one of them has reached teenager status and officially needs a friend to survive a long car ride with “the littles”.

Every year the Road Trip is the best of times:imageimage

And the worst of times:

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But it never fails to be the highlight of our kids’ summer and the thing we all talk about for the rest of the break.

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One year the car broke down.

One year we promised to take the kids to the famous Sea Glass Beach, got lost on an 11 hour tour of the coastline, finally discovered that the beach was too dangerous because of high tides, and settled on getting ice cream as our “fun” for the day.

One year Amber was kept awake all night long for two nights in a row, driven crazy by the faintest sound of a Mariachi band that she assumed was outside her window (because that’s normal…?) but it turned out that the radio next to her bed was set to the Spanish station on the lowest volume.

One year my 6-year-old son lost his ever-loving mind in an Oscar-worthy meltdown at Disneyland because he was terrified of Johnny Depp- a fact we were all unaware of until we were boarding the ride for Pirates of the Caribbean and he literally tried to jump off the boat in a mix of terror and fury.

This year we’ve got Yosemite on the docket, then we’ll head to a random water park in a little town called Gilroy, which is apparently famous for it’s garlic production… So basically Gilroy Gardens will either be really cool or really lame, and I guess we’ll just have to find out when we get there. (Sidenote: “Gilroy Gardens” is actually harder to say than you’d think, so now we just choose from “Gilmore Girls”, “Bilbo Baggins”, “Gilroy Bilbo”, “Guru Gardens” or any other wildly incorrect but fun to say pairing of words.

After GooGoo Gardens we’ll head to Santa Cruz and Capitola for the last couple of days of our trip where we’re guaranteed some beach fun and delicious pastries from our favorite little cafe there, aptly named The Buttery. We’ve made it a point to stop there almost every single year, BECAUSE BUTTER.

When all else fails, we always have The Buttery.

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I guess you could say we’ve learned a few things about road-tripping the hard way over the years, so we thought we’d share a few insider tips, in case you’re hitting the road with your littles this summer too.

  1. Whatever number of water bottles you think you’ll need for a long car ride- double it.  This will also double the number of potty stops, but by God, we can’t let them go thirsty.
  2. Crossing the street with children is the equivalent of crossing the street with 5 drunks. Proceed with caution.
  3. Never underestimate the power of candy. Also never underestimate the power of promising a “surprise” even when you have no idea what that “surprise” is yet.
  4. If you’re wearing flip-flops in the vicinity of little kids, your toes will be stepped on multiple times a day. You will be expected not to mind this.
  5. Anytime after hour 7 in the car, there will be psychotic bursts of hysteria: laughing and gleefully shrieking one minute, crying and wailing the next. The kids may do this also.

Good luck, go with God, and, wish us luck on our next adventure!

I’ll let you know how it goes….


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Once a month here on the blog, we play a fun game called “Let’s Play Oprah” where we share our current top 3 “Favorite Things” with each other and then at the end of the month I give away one of those items to a lucky subscriber.

Because giveaways are fun! And we just so happen to be fun-havers!

Every once in a while I’ll pick a theme for my Favorite Things but this month I didn’t even choose one on purpose- I just looked at my list and realized they all had one thing in common: Coconut.

I prefer clean, light, earthy scents over heavier floral scents any day, and Coconut happens to be one of my favorite scents of all, so I guess it’s no surprise that it appears in so many of my beauty and household products. The smell reminds me of summer vacation and all things beachy, and who doesn’t want to be reminded of that?

Okay, are you ready?

? Lets Play Oprah! ?

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  1. The Copper Coconut 3 wick candle by White Barn. 

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I have a *bit* of an obsession with candles. I have no problem telling people about my book-buying obsession because it makes me sound quirky and brainy, but I’ll never publicly cop to the number of candles I own. It’s a lot. Enough to be ashamed about. My candle cabinet is in the last place in my house that anyone would look because no one needs to be knowing about my dirty little candle hoarding secret. Read More…

People of the Internet! Are you ready to play our favorite game?

Because it’s time.

And I, for one, am VERY excited about this round.

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Once a month here on the blog we get to kick off our shoes, relax, and settle in for some fun. (Because of all the things I want us to be, Fun-Havers is at an even tie with Big Dreamers). How it works is, we all get to Play Oprah by sharing our top 3 “Favorite Things” at the moment, and then end of the month, I give one of those things away!

Maybe to you!

It’s quickly becoming my favorite post each month, because I get to hear from you guys and find out all the latest scoop on what you love. I love getting to know you guys on a more personal level, and I especially love packaging up the giveaways, writing a little note, and sending real, actual mail to you.

There’s nothing like finding a package with your name on it in your mailbox, amiright? Does it even get more fun than that?

Maybe if we were all sipping a glass of wine together.

So without further ado,

? Let’s Play Oprahhhhhh! ?

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My Top 3 Most Favorite Things this month are: Read More…

Well I’ll be darned if isn’t my favorite time of the month!

It’s time to talk Favorite Things and then to give one away!

Are you ready?

? Let’s Play Oprah! ?

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Before we get started I do need to make a confession.

Remember a couple of months ago when one of my Favorite Things was my Erin Condren personalized planner?

WELL.

I have a whole new paper love in my life.

This new love runs deep. It happened slowly and all at once and now my heart cannot deny it. I want to shout it from the rooftops, I want to monogram our initials together on bathroom towels. I want to get weird like Tom Cruise and jump on Oprah’s couch. The flames of this fire cannot be quenched.

I’m talking about my new Bullet Journal. 

Startup Stock Photos

Read More…

If you’re anything like me, then your favorite part of January is the prospect of a fresh new year stretched out before you, full of promise and hope.

And if you’re anything like me, then your least favorite part of January is that it turns into February all too quickly and without incident. Unless you count distractedness and a general sense of overwhelm as “incident.”

And if you’re still anything like me (at this point let’s just go ahead and assume you are, just for the sake of this piece, okay?) then that weighs heavily on you.

The distractedness and overwhelm, I mean.

Because at the end of the day you yearn for simplicity and focus, you just aren’t sure how to stop it from slipping through your fingers.

Finding that inner quiet you crave can be hard enough, but carrying it with you throughout the day is even harder.

The day is loud.

The day is full of to-do lists, commitments to meet, mouths to feed, and places to be.

Meanwhile it’s all set to the fast paced narrative of social media. That constant buzzing in the background; the pings and dings that remind you not only what you’re supposed to be doing, but what everyone else and their Aunt Fay is doing.

As humans living in an Internet era we’re expected to take in and process a huge amount of information at an alarming pace.

Like, an unnatural amount of information.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed. And I don’t mean to feel overwhelmed, I mean to actually be overwhelmed. Read More…

Well folks, can you believe we’re already halfway through January?

^ Apparently I like to start off my blog posts by highlighting the obvious. It really helps me get those creative juices flowing, you know?

Anyway, January.

I love it and I hate it.

January is the best because it is the freshest of all the fresh starts. Lord knows I love a clean slate. Regardless of whether it’s a new workout program, a writing project, or that whole ‘meal planning’ thing I keep hearing so much about (what sorcery is this?), I’m the queen of “I’ll start on Monday”, or “Next month”, or “Tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow.”

So the allure of a whole new year, stretched out before me, full of promise and good intention is more than enough to make my organizational little heart go pitter patter.

On the other hand, January is also kind of the worst. The weather is dreary, the days are short, the magic of the holidays has faded, and our bank accounts are still recalibrating from Christmas. Summer is a distant mirage, Spring hasn’t sprung yet, and we find ourselves in that weird, cold, grayish area of the year where we feel like we have a lot to do but not a lot of motivation to do it.

Or is that just me?

Don’t answer that.

Anyway, I can’t think of any better cure for the January Blues than a rousing game of Let’s Play Oprah.

If you’re new around here, this is a series we do once a month, where I share with you guys 3 of my most “Favorite Things” at the moment, and then at the end of the month I give away one of those things! To you guys! Because why not?

This series is purely for fun, and my absolute favorite part of the whole thing has been getting to know you all on a much more personal level. (Besides sending prizes in the mail. I really love that part too.)

The amount of interaction from you guys on these posts has been a completely unexpected delight. It turns out that you love to dish about your favorite things and chase the fun just as much as I do. So please keep joining in and telling me all of YOUR favorite things either by commenting on this post, emailing me back, or by sharing/commenting on social media using the hashtag #letsplayoprah.

Okay, are you guys ready? Because it’s time.

Let’s Play Oprah!

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Here are my Top 3 Favorite Things this month: Read More…