How I Became a Runner

That’s right people!  She’s back!  Hey Megan is back sharing her story on how a girl who got kicked out of dance class (Oh, keep reading.) became a runner.  Since she is one of the people that keeps Tracey on track (Get it? On track? Running?  Never mind, that was terrible.) we are so glad she is the running expert that she is.

How I Became A Runner

Let me be clear.  I never intended to be a runner.  I ended up being a runner.  In fact, I have only recently come to realize that I actually became a runner.  My neighbor just finished her first race–a Susan G. Komen 5k.  She had a whole tam running with her from her job…but not me.  Hmm…I’m not easily offended so as she was talking to me about her team, I chided her on  not asking me.  Her response was that I was a runner–and she wasn’t.  Ha!  So here I am officially labeled a runner.  But let me digress.  Like I was saying I NEVER intended to be a runner.

My Fitness Journey or “How I Became a Runner”

My journey starts with genetics to be honest.  My dad played basketball forever.  I mean forever.  He played pick up games at our church at least once a week for as long as I can remember.  Long after his peers had retired from church ball, he was still showing up.  I believe it was a pretty bad back injury that ultimately sidelined him–from basketball.  He still skis and goes to the gym.  My dad started the youth basketball league in my town and ran it–forever.  My mom…she supported my dad in his exercise efforts.  Not that she hasn’t tried some forms of exercise.  I believe she did line dancing for quite awhile and she takes walks either with or without grandkids.  My point is, I think I had a good example of an exerciser in my home.

So my first foray into athletics was dance.  A disaster for SOOOO many reasons.  But that actually ended quickly because, well…I got kicked out for “goofing around.”  I don’t remember this at all.  And I might have taken my little sister down with me, but she ended up going back to dance later without me.  Which was good–she has rhythm I most definitely do not.  (As was evident in every aerobics class I ever tried).  So then I was dutifully enrolled in BYBA (Belmont Youth Basketball Association) for how many years?  Awhile I guess.  Of course, I am not the “tall one” in my family and basketball wasn’t my thing, so my career ended early.  So when high school hit I played field hockey–mostly because I couldn’t get “cut” from the  team because no one did!  And incredibly, I wasn’t too bad.  It was my sport.  I really enjoyed playing it and I was good enough that my coach pulled me aside and told me to do track for the next two seasons so I would get hurt playing other sports (which I never would have made the team for anyway, but in my egocentric teenage mind that sounded better).  So I played field hockey through high school.  The college I went to DEFINITELY did not have field hockey–I’m not sure anyone there had even heard of field hockey. BUT, I was in Utah so I skied.

 A lot.

Maybe too much.  Maybe not.

I had fun which was reflected in my freshman grades…

I skied with my sister and my future brother in law.  I skied with friends I knew and new friends!  In the summer I mountain biked and hiked and went river rafting.  I had a lot of fun in college.  And I ran.  I started running just to get out of my apartment.  There was this great trail that led right up into the canyon.  At first I just ran a mile or two but eventually I ran up to 10 miles at a time.  I didn’t like the running part but it was something to do.

Now fast forward–I’m married and working.  Now is when I tried out the gym classes.  I didn’t kickboxing, yoga, some kind of weight class, aerobics (fail), step aerobics (epic fail), spin, you get the picture.  I dabbled in them all but I ended up becoming a yoga instructor.  Seriously.  I know I don’t believe it either.  I’m thinking I got talked into by the physical therapists at my work…

Anyway, that didn’t last long because right after my yoga training I got pregnant with twins.  So all forms of solo activities came to a screeching halt–and have essentially not yet resumed.  I honestly cannot remember if I did any organized form of exercise after my twins were born.  Neither my husband nor I can remember a whole lot of those first couple of years.

So lets just skip to after my fourth child was born.  I knew I was done being pregnant (mainly because we were/are having a REALLY hard time keeping track of number 3).  I wanted to “be healthy” but have a genetic predisposition to being unable to stop eating chocolate (thanks mom!).  So, I had a double stroller and I started running.  Yep, just like Forrest Gump.  My intent was to run until I had a enough time to do some other more enjoyable form of exercise.  Time is funny though…somehow no matter how old my kids get I still don’t have any–time.  Weird.  So, with my 30 minutes of free time each morning I load up a kid or two in my double jogger and hit the pavement.  All four of my kids have spent considerable time in that stroller with me huffing behind them.

And now I’m a runner.

 I have finished two Tough Mudder races (thanks Jeanene) and a sprint triathlon (thanks Krista) and a couple of 15K (thanks Bren!)  I almost exclusively train for these through running.  Because now that’s what I do.  Will I stop?  Probably not.  I like it now.  It’s cheap and I can do it anywhere. Running starts my day off.  I always run outside so I get some fresh air in the mix.  My fellow runners–whether intentional or not–always give a wave or head nod of camaraderie as we pass.  I’ll stick with it.

 

Pumpkin Spice Arctic White Hot Cocoa

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We know, the name of this concoction is quite a mouthful. Pumpkin Spice Arctic White Hot Cocoa. But trust me, your mouth (and tastebuds) will be thanking us once you try this deliciousness. This was a joint effort on mine and Tracey’s part. I helped her discover the Land O’ Lakes hot chocolate last year. Then she said to me, a couple weeks ago, “Dude. Land O’ Lakes Arctic White hot cocoa mix and pumpkin spice creamer. It will change your world. Go. Now.” So I did. And she was right. It changed my world. I haven’t even attempted to make any other hot chocolate variation since trying this one. But, I added my own little twists to Tracey’s recipe too.

Here’s the final recipe: Make Arctic White according to package directions. Add about 2-3 tablespoons pumpkin spice creamer (depending on how pumpkiny you like it). Add 2 dollops of cool whip (generally I use a good ol’ spray bottle of whipped cream on my hot cocoa, but I didn’t have one at the time, so I used cool whip instead, and boy am I glad I did). Top with mini marshmallows and a couple sprinkles of ground cinnamon.

I think I’ve had one of these bad boys every day since I first tried it. It’s perfectly warming to the soul and tastes incredible.

beverage

Samoa Popcorn

Samoa Popcorn

 

So I’m supposed to be sharing my Christmas wishlist today.  Based on the photo above, I think we all know that isn’t happening.  At least not tonight. Instead we are sharing Samoa Popcorn.  The perfect treat for a November day that saw a high of 70 degrees.  You heard it.  70 degrees.

With this kind of weather it is no surprise I’m not feeling overly Christmas-ey today.  I am, however, tired from all of the pre-Christmas photo shoots that have been going on around here.

Instead of Christmas listing, tonight’s agenda includes catching  up on Nashville (Hello? The last thing I saw was Juliette kissin’ a girl. Whaaaa?) and hanging out with my husband, drinking lots of Diet Dr Pepper and eating copious amounts of sugar. Just in case you don’t have a sweet treat for you Friday night here is easiest and most satisfying treat you can make, Samoa Popcorn. It is also happens to be the easiest and most satisfying post I can share tonight.

In the interest in giving credit where it is due, originally my sister found this recipe on Cookies and Cups.  Check that gurl out.  She has some goooooood recipes. Recipes with lotso sugar.

For this recipe I made a couple little changes that worked better for me.  Enjoy!

Tips and Confessions in Mixology

andreaYou guys, I am so freakin’ excited about this guest post today. Andrea is Tracey’s friend from Texas, and this post is pure gold. Seriously. Just keep reading! It’s a literally mouth-wateringly good read. When I finished reading this post for the first time, I texted Tracey and said, “Your friend Andrea is a genius. I’m pretty sure I will be going to 7-11 today when I get off work. I HAVE to try her 7-11 Italian soda! Genius!!!” I am really that excited about this. This is Mixology at its finest, to be sure. Thanks so much for posting today Andrea : ) After this gem of a post, we will definitely need to have you back.

My name is Andrea and I am a drinkaholic. Not the alcoholic kind, mind you, but the carbonated, don’t-need-an-ID-to-buy-it kind. My vice is Diet Coke (henceforth referred to as DC). It brings me sunshine and warmth and smiles and all those good vibes and warm fuzzies. I will drink it hot or cold, bubbly or flat, any which way it can come. But I digress. The purpose of this post is to relay the secrets of an avid drink mixologist — not to proclaim my love of DC.

So… let me spill some of my precious Mixology secrets about how to go about mixing drinks and hope that the lessons I have learned along the way will benefit you in some small part.

If you’ve never mixed any kind of drink before, have no fear. My Mixology tips start with the basics…

Mixology

Mixology Confession #1. The best DC is at McDonalds. Hands down. I can’t explain it, but it is just the best. Ever. This one isn’t so much of a mixing tip, but just something that I feel like everyone should know.

Mixology Confession #1b. Another interesting fact, and also not so much of a tip, is that sometimes when I’m feeling a little frisky, I mix 2/3 DC and 1/3 Diet Dr. Pepper. It’s magic, I tell ya!

Mixology Confession #1c. I feel like I just need to add this one in here too while I’m sharing interesting tidbits. I’m mostly from Texas. I kind of claim it since I’ve been rooted here since 14, and in Texas, you refer to all soda as coke. It’s just a thing. Sometimes your waiter will ask if you want a coke and then he’ll say, “What kind?” It’s not so much like this anymore since the city has been growing so much, but I still think it’s fun. And I plan to employ this terminology in my post.

Mixology Tip #2. An easy place to start mixing drinks is using a Coca-Cola Freestyle. This super fabulous invention lets you pick just about any Coke product and add in a handful of different flavor options. Don’t be afraid, it’s really fun… and refillable so you can start all over if you don’t like what you’ve come up with. A lot of restaurants are getting them so keep your eyes peeled. I’ve seen them at Firehouse Subs, Double Dave’s Pizza, Wendy’s, Burger King and Five Guys Burgers.

Mixology Tip #3. My next recommendation would be to head to your local Sonic Drive-in. If you don’t have one… I’m really, really sorry. All drinks are better with nugget ice. I’m seriously coveting one of these beauties. Also at Sonic is a long list of quality flavors (this is where Sonic triumphs over the Coca-Cola Freestyle) and some are even sugar-free (WHAAA?). Also of note… you can add as many flavors as you want!  Oh, the possibilities. Some of my favorites are:

  • Raspberry Vanilla Diet Coke — prepare yourself, this one is amazing
  • Mango Sprite — refreshing and tropical, also my hubby’s fav
  • Mint Sprite — think Mojitos
  • Ocean Water — this is a Sonic original, but its pretty much just Sprite with Blue Coconut
  • Cherry Limeade — this is another Sonic original, and it is not one to be missed

Mixology Tip #4. If you’re looking to take your drinks a step further, then you’ve come to the right place. Remember those delicious Italian Sodas OUO gave you, where they took club soda and added syrup and heavy cream? Holy yum! I decided to take my own leap into the Italian world of Mixology after inspiration from your very own Tracey. (Isn’t she fabulous in every way??) She offered up the suggestion after hearing it from your other very own Hey Megan. So really I must credit this stroke of genius to Hey Megan. Thank you for changing my world.

I took her fabulous idea and ran with it… to 7-11. Hellooooo Big Gulps! You may not know it, but 7-11 is a paradise for mixology. They have massive cups and coke machines and oodles of additives. But right now, it’s really important that you pay close attention or else you might hate me and it would discredit all my hard work and sacrifice. Do not use the added flavors they may have dispensed with the cokes. They ruin everything. Your Diet Coke will definitely not taste right. Dump it out and start again. Fill your cup with plain Diet Coke (or whatever coke) and back away from the dispenser.

Take your cup to the coffee counter. They usually have several syrup options. French Vanilla, Vanilla, Hazelnut and Caramel. Big Tip — never use the Hazelnut. I learned this one the hard way. It’s probably the one and only time I couldn’t even force Diet Coke down my throat. You could use vanilla and it would still be great, but I usually go for the caramel. It’s sultry and tasty and delicious in a coke. A few squirts and you’re on to the next step. Slide down towards the creamers. It might be scary, but just take my word for it. Grab a few of the half-and-half creamers and dump them on in. Slap on a lid, stir lightly with your straw and you’re set.

This option is delicious with Diet Coke, Diet Dr. Pepper and Coke Zero. Those are my big 3. There’s really no competing with them. And the fun thing about using DDP is that it sort of tastes like a sugar cookie… but with a lot less guilt. It’s also important to note that another of my favorites is Coke Zero with Almond Joy Creamer. You don’t need any additional syrup or creamer, it’s all built into the one. It’s like a little dessert, but with the easiest recipe ever.

A few other random 7-11 suggestions:

  • Do not put the half and half in first. It makes fizz that equates to a root beer float. No one wants to spend 15 minutes sucking out that fizz.
  • Some 7-11s may have the fresh half and half in a dispenser. This can also work well in your drinks, but it’s kind of hard to fit a Big Gulp underneath the dispenser so be warned.
  • Save your big gulp cups. You can refills for 89 cents! Any size!
  • Though it is tempting, the Double Gulp is really hard to hold. So unless you can palm a basketball, I recommend sticking with a Super Big Gulp. Also, the Double Gulp is super top heavy and may wreak havoc on your car interior if you take a turn too quickly.
  • You can also implement these same tips for the best hot chocolate known to man. Also provided at 7-11.

So that’s the scoop. I really hope you find the time to try out at least one of my recommendations. They may leave you with a crippling addiction to 7-11 (my counter girls know me by name now), but in the end you’ll thank me.

Ten Things I Really Said — Toddler Edition

I realize that November is the month of gratitude (and mustaches) and really, two of the things I’m most grateful for are my demon offsprings sweet children. They are the lights of my life and I can’t imagine NOT having them.

However, prior to having children I would never have imagined the things that I say on a daily basis. This morning Little Missy took things to a whole new level. So as a mini-Unqualified Opinion gratitude gift, I present “Ten Things I Really Said Within a 20 Minute Period — Toddler Edition”

I’m sure there are more editions to come . . . Things I really said.

Winter Coats

This post comes to you by reader request. We had a request to see, specifically, “cute jackets”. So, I did some shopping my research of winter coats and have compiled some of my findings here, so as to assist you in all your winter coat-searching endeavors. These coats below are all my favorites of the coats that I found. Some of them, I love the “splurge” option more. Others, I actually like the “save” option more. In fact, I actually own one of the “save” option. I got mine on Super Sale at H&M.

Speaking of H&M. You guys, H&M is ab. so. lutely. killing it in winter coats right now. KILLING it. Seriously. If you find a coat you like from H&M below, definitely check in the store location closest to you to see if it’s on what they’re calling “holiday deal” in the store. I got my new favorite winter coat from them just a few days ago — originally $69.95, super sale in store $19.95. Yep. I saved a whole $50. I mean!

So, anyway. For the purposes of this post, the “save” options are all under $100, while the “splurge” options are all over $100. The categories of winter coats we have for you are as follows:

Coats

Wool – 1) Splurge 2) Save // Leopard – 1) Splurge 2) Save

Faux leather – 1) Splurge 2) Save // Drawstring waist – 1) Splurge 2) Save

Faux fur – 1) Splurge 2) Save // Peacoat – 1) Splurge 2) Save

Tribal – 1) Splurge 2) Save // Trench – 1) Splurge 2) Save

Fur-lined parka – 1) Splurge 2) Save // Quilted sleeves – 1) Splurge 2) Save

Asymmetrical zipper – 1) Splurge 2) Save // Plaid – 1) Splurge 2) Save

Wool coats. A good wool coat has recently moved to the top of my wishlist. I’m dying over the leather-trimmed “splurge” option above. Seriously, if the thought of spending that much on a coat didn’t give me heartburn, it’d already be in my closet. Maybe one day, self.

Leopard. I love leopard print, as long as you don’t look like a common street… Snooki when you wear it. I promise, there are ways to wear leopard and still look classy.

Leather. In the case of this post, both options are faux leather. But they both are amazing. I own a faux leather jacket, and just know, they are definitely worth the money spent.

Drawstring waist. The elbow patches on the “splurge” option are killing me. I love them so much. Like, put this coat on, and pretend you’re in the Hamptons, playing croquet and eating Maine lobster. Or, actually go to the Hamptons and do those things while wearing this coat. I almost think this coat requires it. Also, the “save” option is the one I bought. I love love loooove it.

Faux Fur. I don’t particularly like faux fur coats. At least not on me. But, some people can pull them off just grandly. If you’re one of those people, options above.

Peacoat. There is nothing quite like a good peacoat. I have the H&M option below from last season and I love it. I can wear it with anything. Also, that Michael Kors version has me drooling. Gold-zippered pockets, for the win!

Tribal. Tribal print is very trendy right now. Both of these coats play off that trend in a definite chic way, which I think is difficult to pull off with such a bold print. These winter coats are both definitely tribal done right.

Trench. Definitely a classic. When I think of trench coats, I think of Burberry. But, after finding these two non-Burberry options, I’ve realized that only thinking Burberry is a bit close-minded.

Fur-lined parka. So even though I’m not huge into the actual faux fur coats, I love the fur-lined hoods. And parkas are just so practical! That maroon one is turning into the heart-for-eyes iPhone emoji.

Quilted sleeves. I didn’t realize this was a trend, and I guess I’m not sure that it actually is or not. But I’m going to claim it as one and keep going. I found several options of quilted sleeves in my research. And I kind of am really, really loving them. What a unique way to mix textures and prints!

Asymmetrical zippers. Uhm. Did you see those coats? I’m pretty sure they speak for themselves.

Plaid. Plaid is a huge trend right now. HUGE. It’s everywhere. I’ve seen plaid pants (love), plaid shirts (double love), plaid scarves (sooo much love), plaid dresses (not sure I could pull that off, but still love), plaid skirts (loooove), and now! Plaid jackets. Both of the options I’ve got here, seriously. I just wish my wallet was fuller. I’d get them both. Insert hashtag FirstWorldProblems here.

So enjoy these options. Let us know what you think of these and leave some links in the comments of any coats you’re loving this winter! Also, check out our “Wear” board on Pinterest, because we are in the process of pinning some amazing coats, including but not limited to the coats in this post. Erika, over and out.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies with Kids

Recently, my little guy has taken an interest in cooking.  Every Sunday he gets out his “baking stool” and we bake something together.  Bread, cake, pie, muffins, cookies . . . whatever. He
doesn’t eat sweets so it usually means we make a treat I like. He just likes to help.

Chef Sam

And crack eggs.  Seriously, the kid is obsessed with eggs.  Sometimes I catch him standing in front of the fridge examining an egg.  Not my favorite thing to find.

Every week he asks if we are going to use butter, flour, sugar and, of course, eggs.  OBSESSED!

My parents were here over the weekend and Grandpa suggested that we make Magic Cookies.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

What are magic cookies you ask?  Well, they aren’t actually magic.  Once upon a time my dad asked my sister where we bought the special Hershey Kisses that don’t melt in the oven.  After what was probably ten minutes of hysterical laughter, Bethany explained that you put the Kisses on the cookies after you bake the cookies.

Magic cookies are the perfect cookie to make with little friends.  When I look for recipes to make together I look for a couple of things.

1.  The recipe must be fairly forgiving.  If a measurement is exactly right, the end result should taste about the same.  Kids love to help with ingredients and sometimes 1 cup might be a little more or less than it would be if an adult were measuring.

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2.  There should be lots of steps for kids to help perform.  Sam helped me form the cookies into balls and roll them in sugar.  He also helped Grandpa unwrap Hershey Kisses. All of these steps are also great for developing fine motor skills.

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3. Finally, the should be able to help from start to finish. Sam was super excited to top the cookies with Hershey Kisses and have Grandpa taste them.

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Sidenote: Don’t be afraid to switch it up a bit. Caramel filled Hershey Kisses in Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies? Genius!

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Things that make me go “Whaaaat?”

My favorite part of Despicable Me was this:

whaaaa

I think I laughed for 5 solid minutes when I first saw it in the theater. “It was your cousin’s idea!” “Whaaaat?”

There are things that I experience on a daily basis — both good and bad — to which I have the same reaction. Things that people say or do… things that just happen… things I see…. things that make me go “Whaaaat?”

Here are some of them:

When someone tells me they haven’t read and/or seen the Harry Potter books or movies. Are you human? Do you not like fun things?

Having to talk on the phone. I just wanna text. #ConfessionsOfAnIntrovert

Car eyelashes. Yikes.

car-eyelashes-[3]-110-p
(image via google)
When people get mad that Christmas “is here” before Thanksgiving. It’s Christmas! Let me celebrate as long as possible!

When I get cut off in traffic. Really? You just haaaaaad to get ahead by one more car? Congratulations. You almost killed me.

The saying in the e-card below — uhm, yes. French fries. Dr. Pepper. Ice Cream. White fudge covered Oreos. Thanksgiving Day. Just to name a few.

skinny
(image via pinterest)

When someone wears a pair of shoes that cost more than a month’s worth of my rent. Or a handbag. It’s really kind of sick. Sure, it’s a nice lookin’ bag, but, really?

When someone’s child wears clothes that cost more than a month’s worth of my rent. Aren’t they gonna outgrow it in like 3.5 minutes?

This ugly, impractical sink — I just don’t understand the point of it.

sink
(image via pinterest)

When people prefer winter over summer. I will never understand that one. Sun worshipper for life.

When someone with perfect teeth tells me they never had braces. I wish I had been so lucky. Good job on your life!

Crocs. That is all I have to say about that.

crocs
(image via google)

When people take pictures on railroad tracks. Public Service Announcement: First, just don’t. You are going to die. Literally… a train is going to hit you. Second, it’s so overused and not original anymore. It’s just tacky. Go take your pictures somewhere else. And photographers, I believe in you to be more creative and common sensical than that.

The shoestring fries from Freddy’s. I die every time. They’re freakin’, mouth-wateringly amazing. Go get you some!

(image via google)
(image via google)

Uggs and mini skirts. Together. Is it winter? Then don’t wear a mini skirt. Is it summer? Then Uggs are unnecessary.

Leggings as pants. They’re not pants. Get a shirt or a sweater that’s long enough to cover your bum and front region. Nobody wants to see that. Trust me.

When people don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”. Or “then” and “than”. Or “there” and “they’re” and “their”. Or “to” and “two” and “too”. You get the idea. Go back to 3rd grade please.

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(image via google)

Infomercials. Those are usually a good time.

The season finale of a really good TV show. Like the season finale of Scandal, season 2? My jaw dropped. Or the finale of season 1 of Prison Break, from back in the day? Such good TV.

The people that live in the apartment above me. I’m pretty sure they’re raising elephants. Or hippos. Maybe both?

Uncle Si. Hey!

Uncle-Si

And there are also some things that I do that make other people go “Whaaaat?” For example. When they hear I put salt on my grapefruit instead of sugar. It’s really very delicious with salt. Try it. When they hear I don’t like chocolate. I dunno what to tell ya. My tastebuddies think chocolate is bitter. Blegh. When they hear I lived in Puerto Rico and South Africa for 8 years of my life. Maybe most people are just being nice by reacting that way, but they really were cool experiences.

What are some things that make you go “Whaaaat?”

My Favorite Vacuum – Hoover Air Steerable

Favorite Vacuum

 

We like to talk about cleaning and organizing a lot around these parts.  That’s because Erika is fantastic at it and I, well, I need a lot of help.  Luckily for me, my sister-in-law/blogeague has shared a bunch of tips that have made it a lot easier for me to stay on top of cleaning.  More on that next week.  Today, we are talking about one of my favorite cleaning devices: my favorite vacuum.

Yes, I have a favorite vacuum.

Right before we moved our old vacuum died a slow and painful death.  I knew that my mother-in-law was coming and therefore I needed to take care of the pre-clean on our “Cleaning Advisory Scale” which meant a new vacuum.  Lucky for me, I have a hubby that is really good at research and he found this little treasure for me.  The Hoover Air Steerable Vacuum.

The Five Reasons This is My Favorite Vacuum

1. The suction is INSANE. I vacuum every other day and the amount of stuff that it pulls up never ceases to amaze me. At some point I am bound to run out of dust in my house. The dust bunnies cannot possibly keep up with this vacuum.  My only compliant it that sometimes the suction is too strong and it tries to eat my throw rugs.  But honestly, is that really something to complain about?

2.  It works on carpet AND my wood floors.  I use this thing everywhere in my home.  To clean my wood floors, I simply turn off the brush and suck up all of the random fruit loops that seem to magically appear on my floor.  Lemme tell ya, it sure beats sweeping every day.

3. Super light and maneuverable. Weighing in at about 18.5 lbs, I can carry it up and down the stairs with less effort than it takes to carry my toddler.  This makes vacuuming the stairs a cinch. It is super easy to steer and it is small enough that I can get into some spaces that a normal vacuum usually wont fit. Plus, my five year old can totally use it.

4. Handy hose attachment. The hose is fairly compact and easy to use. The hard plastic part slides into the body of the vacuum.  The upper handle is actually a part of the hose attachment.  This make using the hose even more convenient. Again, my 5 year old can easily use it to suck up all of the Pirate Booty that manages to make its way beneath my couch cushions.

5. Easy to empty.  The waste canister clicks into the front of the vacuum. With the push of a button it can easily be removed and then with another button, the trap door on the bottom of the canister flips open to dump the waste into the garbage can.  Easy peasy.

So there you have it, if you are looking for a new vacuum and brands like Dyson and Oreck are out of your price range, I totally recommend checking out my favorite vacuum the Hoover Air Steerable. If you are like me, you might even start to enjoy vacuuming.

Disclosure: This post is simply my opinion.  Hoover did not ask me to say nice things about them or their AMAZING vacuum. We just thought you might be interested. 

 

Guest Post: Home Decor with Erin


erin
You guys, today we are so excited for our second guest poster ever! Erin is one of my greatest friends. She’s possibly one of the sweetest, most caring, most selfless, funniest, most outgoing people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and I’m thrilled that our friendship has lasted as long as it has! I am also thrilled that she agreed to share her opinions on home decor today. I hope you guys will love her as much as I do. Thanks for posting today, Erin : ) (And also, I’m hoping that she’ll forgive me for stealing a picture from her Facebook to use… I just really wanted you guys to see how cute she is!)

My name is Erin and I live in Northern Alberta, Canada with my husband. We have lived here for about a year and just purchased our first home!

I am that woman who pins bucket-loads of home decor ideas on Pinterest. And now I can finally apply some of those pins to our home.

Decorating our home is actually a difficult task. First of all, my husband likes input and he never wants anything that looks too “girly.” I suppose that alone limits the type of decor that ends up in our home. Second of all, we live in a very small town where Wal-Mart is pretty much the only available store for acquiring home decor items. Thankfully, there is a store called Home Sense (which is equivalent to the US version of Home Goods) in a town roughly 2 hours away. If you have never stepped food into a Home Goods or Home Sense store, let me forewarn you for the day you do.

GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME! — The store carries everything you could imagine and more. My husband and I spent about 30 minutes just in the pillow section.

YOU WILL LEAVE WANTING EVERYHING! — Go in with a budget already set. It will help limit what you can and can’t buy in the end.

With those words of wisdom now under your belt, you’re ready to start decorating. Stores likes Home Sense/Home Goods, Target, and Wal-Mart can be great sources for finding affordable home decor. Below I am going to show you some examples of pieces you might see in a design and decor magazine, or even on Pinterest, that aren’t necessarily going to be a friend to your wallet. I will also show you similar pieces that you can find at a much more budget-friendly price at a stores like Target and Wal-mart.

Home Decor

Pinterest Pricey images found here: 1 2 3 4

Wallet Friendly items can be purchased here: 1 2 3 4

There is no need to spend your entire savings to decorate a home. Here are a few steps I follow when looking to update my own home décor:

  1. Pick one room at a time. I usually start with the entertaining spaces and guest bedroom and leave the master bedroom and office for last.
  2. Set a budget. We went from a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment to a four bedroom, two bathroom house. You can begin to imagine the extra space and walls we have for filling. Each month we set aside a certain amount of money we will use towards home renovations or décor.
  3. Don’t limit your options. Shopping in person is always nice, but don’t forget about the amazing deals you might find online.
  4. Check out the antique store. Unfortunately, we don’t have an antiques shop here in our small town, but I lived in Phoenix before I was married and I was able to find some of my most loved pieces of furniture while antiquing. Check out several in your town until you find your favorite place and don’t hesitate to ask your family and friends for their favorite shops.

Thank you for letting me share my unqualified opinion on home décor! If you have any fun tips on how you get inspiration for your home or perhaps you have some treasured shops you would like to share with us, go right ahead in the comments below. I know I (and the girls at OUO) would love to hear from you!