Am I a Funny Girl?

The siren song of Pinteresting parties

pinterest-partyI’m a blogger.
I can’t resist.
I love throwing parties, and I love going all out.

For Max’s first birthday, which was an Octopus’ Garden theme, I hand sewed an aquarium’s worth of plush toys as party favors. His second was a post-March for Babies picnic, where I made team tee shirts for all of our attendees. I was determined to go low-key for his third, “just some friends at the zoo,” which ended up a safari adventure shindig with a wagon decorated like a safari Jeep. Four and five were construction and Star Wars, and the Pinterest-effect was in full swing.

So here’s the thing.

Next week is Max’s birthday, and his party is on Sunday.

As soon as his Star Wars party ended last year, he chose an Angry Birds theme for his sixth birthday, and I started pinning right away. Games, food ideas, and cake decorations… I started, as I have every year, thinking about it immediately.

And then February rolled around, and Jamie and I started talking, and the next thing you know, we’re planning a family vacation to San Diego! LegoLand, a baseball game, the Safari Park… this. will. be. awesome. (The trip will be a surprise for Max, he knows nothing about it, so if you see him before our trip, do NOT say anything)

So now we have to downsize the party without him getting suspicious about the incredible shrinking birthday.

Like bazillions of kids before him, we called to book a space at a local pizza joint. Pizza, cupcakes, a couple of dollars for the arcade games.

We’ll throw in some Angry Birds napkins and a couple of balloons for good measure.

And yet, as Max and I wandered the aisles at Party City this evening, I felt guilty.

Is this party “enough”? Will he look back on his sixth birthday and feel bad that I dropped the ball so much?

I carried this basket full of stuff, adorned with Rovio’s licensed birds and pigs, and couldn’t quite shake the guilt.

But really? What does he care about?

So I asked him.

He wants his friends there.
He wants pizza with pepperoni and olives.
He wants balloons.
He wants both cake AND cupcakes, but understands I might only do one.
He wants to win another Spongebob from the claw machine.

Nowhere on this list did he include fondant Angry birds, mason jars adorned with those silly characters’ faces, custom painted real-life Angry Birds games, or matching felt masks for all of the characters.

I joke that I throw those parties “because I’m a blogger and it’s content,” which is absolutely true, but is that all? He doesn’t think I love him any more or less based on a silly birthday party. Why do *I* insist on placing that value on it?

PS: Just because I’m not throwing a Pinterest-worthy party this year doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow me! ;)

Grocery Outlet: Not your mama’s discount store #giveaway

grocery outlet disclosure

Grocery Outlet Palo AltoI’ve talked before about how I’m the world’s laziest couponer. I love saving money on groceries, but don’t have the time/patience/scissors to clip coupons for my grocery shopping. (Seriously. I can *never* find scissors when I need them!) Heck, I’m not even on a real shopping schedule… we shop when we’re running low on food… not a specific day of the week or anything.

Logo-Low ResSo if I’m going to save dollars, it has to be easy.

Enter Grocery Outlet.

When my mom was trying to save money when I was a kid, we shopped at the giant “bag it yourself” warehouse store, or we went to what we called the “used bread store,” a day-old baked goods store, or we went to a giant discount grocer. Digging through giant palettes of groceries, looking for less dented, or not-quite-expired packages.

Grocery Outlet flips that all around. I was invited to visit for the Grand Opening celebration at the new Grocery Outlet in Palo Alto, and couldn’t have been more impressed with what I saw.

Big, clean aisles, well-stocked with brands and products I know well. I was shocked (shocked, I tell you!) when I explored the beer and wine selection and found some of my favorite options at amazing prices.

Grocery Outlet BeerI seriously couldn’t believe some of the prices I found. Bread that I routinely pay over $5 for at my nearest grocery store was only $2.99! Justin’s Honey Peanut butter was $2.99 instead of the $7.99 it is elsewhere! (That one got a lot of attention on my Instagram feed!) 18 cage and antibiotic-free eggs wereonly $2.59, a far better deal than I’ve found elsewhere.

Grocery Outlet Orowheat breadSo what’s the catch? There’s a trick to taking advantage of the amazing deals at Grocery Outlet, but it’s a simple one. Shop there first. The stock that they carry in-store varies from day to day. When I was chatting with local owner Tony Tenaglia, he told me that their order choices come in three times a day, and it’s a rush to order the best stuff as quickly as possible.

Much like some online retailers work, Grocery Outlet buys the overstocks and excess merchandise from other stores, at a discount, and they pass that savings on to you. So they won’t always have what you need, but what they do have will save you tons. On my shopping trip this time around, they had nearly everything; I only skipped razor blades for Jamie and Kraft macaroni and cheese. They didn’t have it this time, but I can easily get those things at another store.

Grocery Outlet Produce
Grocery Outlet tulips

Now here’s the cool part! Grocery Outlet gave me TWO gift cards to give away! They’re worth $25 each, which is easily worth much more, since your dollar goes further at Grocery Outlet! Here’s how to enter:

Grocery Outlet cartIncluded in this cart: Cheez-It Party Mix, Tostitos Scoops, Pace Picante salsa, Green Giant carrots, Dole bananas, 2 12-bottle boxes of beer Gordon Biersch and Blue Moon variety packs), 20 oz. bottle specialty beer, 2 boxes Honey Nut Chex, 1 jar Best/Hellman’s mayo, 2 jars Jif peanut butter, 18 cage-free eggs, 12-pack Honey Maid snack crackers, quart 1/2 & 1/2, 12 pack International Delights “Heath Bar” creamer, 1/2 gallon 1% organic milk, jar Hershey’s Hazelnut/Cappuccino spread.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to keep up on the latest from Grocery Outlet? You can sign up for their emails here, visit Palo Alto’s website right here, and be sure to check out Grocery Outlet’s YouTube channel, too!

#ModCloth Grab Bag Sale on now! (Limited time)

Untitled-1Everyone loves a juicy surprise and ModCloth has put together one of the sweetest! Starting today at 9am PST you can get a $50 grab bag with every $150 purchase! This delicious deal will only be around while supplies last, so don’t wait or you’ll miss out. Be sure to read the fine print – your purchase must total $150 before tax and shipping and the deal does not apply to gift certificates. Need ideas for what to buy? Check out their new swimwear and cover ups they have sizes that are fun and flattering for all body types!

This post contains affiliate links.

10 tips to increase your password security

password security lionlocklionlock-disclosure

No one wants to deal with a hacked account, right? Whether it’s that old Hotmail account you haven’t looked at in years, or your credit card account, a hacked account can cause headaches for you and your friends, and that’s only the beginning of the issues that it can cause.

I also suffer from something that I call “Password Creation Anxiety”

We were resetting some passwords for a work thing, and our web developer asked me to come up with a password on the fly.
“Umm…. ummm…” Thinking to myself, ‘OMG, what if the password I suggest isn’t strong enough? What if he thinks it’s lame? What if it… “CocoaButterLotion!” I blurt.
Trying to not choose a password I’ve already use, I end up coming up with the most ridiculous things.

Why “CocoaButterLotion,” you ask? Because this is my desk:

lionlock password security deskSo needless to say, I need all the help I can get when it comes to creating secure passwords for my online accounts.

Here are ten tips to help you create and manage passwords to keep your online accounts safe.

  1. Use both numbers and letters in your passwords. I am NOT saying that you should use “password123″ because that’s a terrible password. You can try replacing letters with numbers or special characters, so instead of “password,” you could use “p@$$w0rd”
  2. If you aren’t going to use a password generator, use phrases that aren’t obvious. Avoid dates that might be commonly known; don’t use birthdates, or anniversaries, or anything like that. If you have a random string that you remember, like I still remember our first home phone number, that I learned in kindergarten. My sister might remember it too, but I seriously doubt anyone else does, and it’s something that only has importance to me.
  3. Be sure to rotate your passwords on a regular basis. If a hacker has been trying to break into your account (they’re very patient) changing your password can help wreck their “hard work” of trying to get access.
  4. Make your username as secure as your password. If you’re a blogger like me, don’t use “Admin” as your login for WordPress, use a selection of letters and characters instead. Reduce the hackers’ chances by making two secure things they need to decipher.
  5. Don’t “daisy chain” your passwords, or use multiple passwords across multiple platforms. Each site should have its own unique login. Can you imagine the chaos if a hacker got into one account, and then they got into ALL of your online accounts because they knew your password to everything. It makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it!
  6. Don’t use a simple dictionary word. Hackers have programs that will  start with aa and run all the way through the entire dictionary, until they hit on a jackpot.
  7. Do not use all numbers or letters in order or repeating. So don’t use “QWERTY” or “12345″ or “11111″ (Side note: Max thinks the word “qwerty” is hilarious and has been using it to name creatures he draws recently)
  8. Never share your passwords with anyone you don’t trust. Your spouse is one thing. A phone operator at a call center is another thing entrirely.
  9. Don’t save passwords in your browser. Autofill is handy for lots of things, passwords that keep important things safe is not one of them.
  10. Use a password manager. I, of course, recommend LionLock, but a secure password management tool is going to be a great additional layer of protection.

Do you have any additional tips that you rely on to keep your passwords, and yourself, secure online?

It’s finally spring, but I need help getting back on track. #NaturalProbiotic #cbias #shop

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser. This post is not a health care professional’s opinion. All opinions are my own.

I made some dramatic changes to my life last year. I lost nearly 50 lbs, and Jamie and both developed some great habits. We were going to the gym several times a week, eating really well, just generally setting great examples for Max.
And then winter came and it got cold.
And we lost track of all that great progress we’d made.

Now that spring is here, I’m ready to get back to work, and one of the tools I’m using this time around is Insync Natural Probiotic for digestive system balance.
bottlepit-#naturalprobiotic #cbias #shopI have this weird thing, and I totally realize it’s why I got so far away from my great habits. I’m really sensitive to the temperature and what I eat. I cannot, for the life of me, drink a smoothie or eat a salad when it’s cold outside. Likewise, just thinking about soup in the summer. I don’t even understand how someone can do that!

When it’s cold, and yes, it gets cold in California, all I want is warm, cozy food. Mac and cheese and shepherd’s pie, french toast casserole for breakfast, and don’t even get me started on the baked goods that come with the holidays!

But now, it’s spring. The days are getting longer, the sky bluer. I’m walking two or three miles every day on my lunch break, because it’s too gorgeous outside not to!

weather #naturalprobiotic #shopSpring is the time to get back to work on myself. We snack on the bounty of fruits and veggies we get at the farmer’s market, and I can create delicious smoothies with fruit and leafy greens and really get back on track to my healthy self.

max orange #naturalprobiotic #shopThere are still some challenges, of course. I mean, the snack bar at the tee ball field isn’t exactly stocked with the healthiest of options, and sometimes you just really want that cheeseburger. But by using Insync Probiotic, I’m doing what I can to help my digestive system be as healthy as possible.

watching baseball #naturalprobiotic #shopI’m excited for spring and summer, to get back to those habits I worked so hard to develop last year… I don’t want to waste any of the extended daylight and beautiful days we have ahead!

Do you struggle with the colder months, and staying healthy? Do you get excited for spring so you can revive your healthy habits?
Want more information about Insync Probiotic? You can find them on Twitter, Facebook or their website. #NaturalProbiotic #CollectiveBias

lake sunset #naturalprobiotic #shopScreen Shot 2014-03-31 at 2.01.52 PMInsync Probiotic is found in the dietary supplements section of Costco.

 

 

I propose a universal umbrella etiquette standard

It’s raining today.
I’m thankful for the rain, because we desperately need it heading into summer, but rain means, among other things, a threat to something I hold dear.
My eyeballs.

proposed-umbrella-etiquetteBeing six feet tall, that puts my eyes at about 5’6″ off the ground.
Right at umbrella height for the average person.
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had to duck out of the way, or actually gotten hit by someone who was carrying their umbrella right at my eyeball level.
(Photo shown above is a dramatic recreation. No eyeballs were harmed in the making of this post.)
I do my best to be aware, because I don’t expect the world to do everything for me, but the fact is, sometimes I have Max with me, or yeah, I’m on the phone, or I’m blinking.

So I would like to propose the following as some potential rules for universal umbrella etiquette.

  • When walking on a sidewalk that is only wide enough for two people to pass, lean your umbrella to your RIGHT shoulder, so both people lean their brolly to the outside, leaving a clear, spiky-thing free area for the bodies to pass safely. If you’re in a country that walks on the left instead of the right, you’re welcome to adjust accordingly.
  • If you are less tall a person you are approaching, and they do NOT have an umbrella, hold your umbrella up higher, to make it easier for them to duck under. Do NOT drop it in front of you like a shield. You might miss their eyes, but you’re taking up the entire sidewalk.
  • Your dog might not take a quick look around before shaking themselves off, but you’re smarter than your dog. Please give a cursory glance at your surroundings before shaking off your umbrella when entering a building. Other people don’t need a shower while trying to walk into Starbucks.
  • Consider putting your umbrella away if it isn’t actually raining. I timed myself, it takes less than 2 seconds to open an umbrella; don’t open it unless you see actual drops. You won’t melt, I promise. This is just about reducing risk to the eyeballs and other people around you.
  • You don’t need to crowd at the corner while waiting for the walk sign to change. Leave enough space in between you and the next umbrella to allow someone to get in between if they need to.
  • When two people are sharing an umbrella, the taller one should hold it. (Thanks Anne!)

What other rules would you propose relating to the oh-so-important issue of safe umbrella use in the world?

My current fashion must-have: Toms booties

I admit it, I’m a bit of shoe freak. Jamie thinks I’m weird, I think I’m about average.
This isn’t all of them:
shoecollectionBut for me, shoes aren’t just about covering my feet. I have shoes that hold memories for me; the Chucks Jamie bought me as a “welcome to your third trimester!” gift, the Manolos I wore to our wedding. The Birkestocks I’ve had since high school (yes, seriously) and the orange-heeled platforms I wore for my turn on stage with Listen To Your Mother last year.

I will often get obsessed with a pair of shoes and wear them several times a week for a while, trying out different ways of styling them, under the guise of “breaking them in”

And I’m currently obsessed with these Suede Wedge Booties from Toms.

favorite shoes toms wedgesThey are the perfect shoe for so many different outfits! I love them with colored tights and a dress, with jeans, or even just with a bare leg.

They’re cute, they’re comfortable, and I will always be a fan of Tom’s One for One movement.

Part of why I’m so drawn to these is because it’s a real challenge to find a wedge heel that *doesn’t* include a platform as well. My height is well-documented here. I love an inch or two heel, because it completes an outfit, but I don’t also need a giant platform to put me from freakishly tall to OMG-did-you-see-her-I-think-my-face-barely-comes-up-to-her-elbow tall.

shoedanceI constantly find myself lusting over other designs of these booties… they come in tons of colors, and other fabric choices, and they even come in  burlap with a rope wedge.

What do you think? Will you rock the bootie this spring?