How To Be Your Best Self in 2016

As I type this there is a cold glass of Coca-Cola on one side of me and a sugar cookie on the other. I’m already failing two of my 2016 resolutions which were 1. stop drinking Coke and 2. cut the sugar. But, if I’m being totally honest, I haven’t given these new year resolutions much of a try even though it’s now seven days into my NEW YEAR, NEW ME outlook on life.

Look at the photo below. My almost 8 year old daughter brought it home from school earlier this week. These goals weren’t exclusively hers but a collection of suggestions from her class of 2nd graders. I saw it and thought there was definitely a lesson I could learn from it.

For the most part, every goal is a positive one. “Eat more fruit and veggies,” “Make healthy choices,” “Be a good friend,” “Always try my best” and so on. There isn’t one that says “DON’T DO THIS” or “DON’T DO THAT.” And for some reason, to this 40 year old who has never once kept a resolution, my daughter’s list of New Year’s goals actually feels like ones I could achieve if I tried.

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Feeling inspired, I’ve replaced my destined to fail resolutions for her positive and encouraging goals.

1. Drink More Water
2. Make Healthy Choices
3. Eat More Fruits and Veggies
4. Be Brave
5. Get More Energy

It feels simple. And sure, there aren’t any actionable steps attached on HOW to do these things but I think I’ll be ok if I just follow my kid’s advice to “Be Your Best Self.”

Be Your Best Self

Megan and I were asked to create a Realistic Resolutions For 2016 video for She Speaks TV! Click on over to our website to see the video! Megan also shares her favorite planner essentials for getting organized.

Too Fat for Stitch Fix?

Last week I received my 18th Stitch Fix box. At this rate, some might consider me an optimist and others might call me a glutton for punishment.

Let me back it up here. Stitch Fix is a monthly subscription service where a box of brand new clothes arrives on your doorstep. Inside is filled with pants, shorts or dresses, blouses and knit tops, sweaters or outerwear, and accessories. Their stylists put together your monthly Fix based on a profile created when you sign up. The cost of the service is $20. You keep and pay for any items you like and mail back the other pieces you don’t like. If you hate everything and send it all back, it costs you $20. If you keep anything, the $20 is applied to the purchase.

stitchfix

The Stitch Fix model is fun, effortless shopping for busy women. So many of my friends love the service and rave about the convenience. There is also a lot of complaining on the internet about Stitch Fix, mostly that the price point is too high for brands that can be found at stores like Nordstrom Rack.

My thoughts? I really love when that box arrives. I am always hopeful for what’s inside. Will there be a pair of shorts that don’t make my legs look like tree stumps? How about the perfect pair of distressed denim jeans to replace my beloved ones from the Gap? Or a blouse that will finally make me look put together for mornings at school drop off but that I can also wear to record videos for Long Story Short.

I absolutely love the convenience because I really hate shopping for myself these days. I’d much rather be disappointed in my own home rather than do the walk of shame from the dressing room and field questions like “How’d those work out for you?”

I do agree that the price point on some items can be high. I’m willing to pay a premium for quality clothing, especially denim, but this gal who typically shops at Old Navy and Target chokes on a $70 knit top and $40 necklace. Not to mention, I have purchased items in that price point from Stitch Fix and have found the quality to be on par with the fast fashion from my favorite retail stores.

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What does any of this have to do with being too fat for Stitch Fix? Well, over the last 18 months my biggest complaint with the service is that the clothes do not fit. Now, of course a lot of that burden falls on me. If I lost the ten (or 20) pounds I’ve been saying I’m going to lose for the last 7 years, I might actually fit into the pieces they send me. But that aside, I’m really disappointed at the lack of variety they have for women my size.

Real talk here: I am a true size 12 and I typically wear a size large. With some brands, I wear an XL to accommodate my larger chest and long arms. I’m also tall, so I like pants that are long. I’ve fiddled with my Stitch Fix style profile several times and have given tons of feedback to my stylist about selecting brands that aren’t cut so slim or sending pieces that fit my dimensions. And each month, I receive a pair of pants that are too tight and too short and shirts that are too boxy and drapey.

I finally realized I might be too fat for Stitch Fix when I started keeping the accessories from each Fix and sending all the clothes back.

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I’ve been dealing with immense feelings of self-hate for many months now. A lot of it has to do with how I feel, how I look physically, and since turning 40, how I am aging. I’ve been trying hard to navigate these rough waters. Part of the internal dialogue is conceding to this is who I am now and the other is screaming NO! YOU ARE NOT THIS PERSON! I certainly try to make changes and then find myself slipping into old habits because I am overcommitted to everything else in life except myself.

This all of course is not any fault of Stitch Fix. Yet, I find myself annoyed at this service that can’t accommodate styling the average size of an American woman.


With that said, I’m going to wrap up today’s blog. I would love if you left me a comment about anything I’ve written here. Are you using Stitch Fix? Tell me about your experience so far and what kind of tips you might have. Where do you shop for clothes (I have another blog post brewing about that dilemma as well)? Also, if you have dealt with similar feelings of self-loathing, I would love your advice on how to break free from it.

Top 5 Favorite YouTube Channels

If you would have asked me two years ago what I watched on YouTube I would have told you that I didn’t watch YouTube at all. Why would I want to watch cute cat videos or kids playing video games? It wasn’t until I wrote this post about makeup that I learned about haul videos and beauty tutorials.

Megan and I just published our 100th video last week over on Long Story Short and we love what we do. We have our fingers crossed for exciting things in the coming year.

People are always asking what I watch so here are my favorite YouTube channels.

Youtubefavorites

Tati from Glam Life Guru
If you want to learn anything about makeup, this is your channel. Tati uploads videos Monday – Friday with tips and tutorials, hauls and product reviews for both drugstore and luxury makeup brands.

Essie Button & Essie Button Vlogs
Estee Lalonde has two channels that she regularly publishes on. Essie Button is beauty tutorials, hauls and favorites. Her vlog channel is more about life in London with her boyfriend and dog.

LeighAnnSays & LeighAnnVlogs
Another beauty and makeup YouTuber. Are you seeing a trend here? Her vlog channel is fairly new and it chronicles what she does on the weekend. She’s young but I think she’s really funny.

MamaKatTV
Love her weekly Pinterest drink videos. Love more when her friend Marci sits in on a taste test. Plus, she’s just really good people and supportive of our channel.

Claire Marshall from Hey Claire
Incredible editing, incredible content. Claire create beauty and fashion videos but shares so much more than that. This video about her mom was heartbreaking.

Leave me a comment and let me know if you watch any of these YouTubers and what you think. You should know that there is much more on YouTube than beauty videos but these are my current favorites.

I Went to VidCon and All I Got Was A Lousy T-Shirt

Megan and I attended VidCon 2015 last week in Anaheim, CA. It was a no-brainer that we should go since the conference exists for YouTube creators and fans. Plus, we are local so we could both attend without committing to major travel.

But, I went to VidCon and all I got was a t-shirt.

VidCon2015tshirt

It pains me to write that I didn’t really enjoy the conference because there were definitely moments of fun and laughter and making new friends. But, our intent in going was to learn. VidCon added a new creator track this year and its purpose was to be educational. However, every session we attended turned into a Q&A with a panel of successful YouTubers that satisfied the fans but fell flat for those of us really wanting concrete tips or advice.

Watch our VidCon 2015 Vlog

We ended up attending very few sessions overall.

The highlights were meeting up with our friend Jessi from SHUGGILIPPO.  I throughly enjoyed our hallway chat on day two where she shared advice and her experiences. I also really enjoyed that she got us into a pretty swanky party where we day drank and shared the same air as John Green and Grace Helbig.

I loved meeting Deva from My Life Suckers and Hollie from Baby Gizmo. Both were lovely, transparent and engaging. Megan and I also made a collab video and lunched with Marianne and Julia from HGTV Handmade.

Watch our Green Tea KitKat Taste Test with Marianne & Julia

Will Megan and I attend VidCon 2016? Never say never but for now I’ll just enjoy my new sleep shirt.

We would love for you to subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you aren’t already! Hit the red subscribe button when you watch one of the videos above and you’ll never miss a new video.

Tig Notaro Documentary on Netflix

I had stumbled across a fantastic documentary just days after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was like divine intervention. Something had willed me to sit on my couch that morning and mindlessly scroll deep into the channel guide. The documentary followed a young woman through surgery and treatment and it totally and completely altered my perception of what I had anticipated for myself. I was and am still so thankful for that documentary because it left me hopeful.

I felt the same way after recently watching Tig on Netflix.

Tig Notaro documentary

Tig Notaro is a comedian. She has a very distinct style and voice that I like very much. I had first learned of who she was last summer after it was announced she would speak at a blogging conference I had planned to attend. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend her keynote at the conference but by then had learned about her story and the groundbreaking stand-up set she performed in 2012 where she opened with telling the audience she had cancer.

“Good evening. Hello. I have cancer.” Tig Notaro

I settled in earlier this month to see what the Tig documentary had to offer.

I laughed at her unique way she tells a story. I cried for her loss. I felt empathetic for her struggles and understood her desires. My heart broke all over that documentary and I learned that her story is so much more than having had breast cancer. Tig is about love, loss, fear and hope.

I highly recommend Tig for both my friends who have experienced cancer and for those who have simply been thrown a curve ball in their lives.

Tig is available exclusively on Netflix.

Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix #StreamTeam and gladly share my honest thoughts and opinions on their service each month. Netflix has provided me with a free subscription and device to stream their incredible content.

The Cure for the Afternoon Summer Slump

A few years ago, I had a friend declare that her household was going screen-free for the summer. My reaction was one of horror. There is just absolutely no way our family would make it through three months of summer days without a little TV down time.

Admittedly, we make it most of the morning and early afternoon without the television on. I have my favorite weekly podcasts and YouTube channels I like to listen to or watch as we putter around the house getting ready for the day. My daughter might watch one or two episodes of her favorite shows in the early morning or during breakfast and then we are out the door.

But then comes that dreaded afternoon slump. We’re usually hungry and tired and just need an hour or so to chill out with a snack and something good to watch. Thank goodness for Netflix! My daughter and I can find something to watch together or we can sit on opposite sides of the couch with our iPads and watch our own shows.

Here’s what to watch on Netflix this summer plus don’t miss our new go-to favorite afternoon snack below.

netflix collage

Family Friendly or Movies Mom Can Stand Watching, Too

Bad Hair Day
12 Mile Road
The Muppets Take Manhattan
Bug Off
House Arrest
High School Musical 2

Mom’s Side of the Couch (with Headphones!)

Pretty Little Liars
Orange is the New Black
Wentworth
Chasing Life
Cake

Little One’s Picks

Bindi’s Boot Camp
An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars
A Second Chance
Monster High 13 Wishes
Cupcake Wars

Our go-to snacks include kid-friendly pizza muffins, apple nachos, salty-spicy popcorn and watermelon pizza. The watermelon pizza is so easy to make: slice watermelon into triangles and top with any sliced fruit and shredded coconut. Easy and healthy, perfect for a mid-afternoon snack.

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netflix disclosure Thanks to Netflix for providing me with a subscription and device to stream content. All opinions are my own. You can find me on the couch.

Peek Inside What’s #NewAtTheCube

In 1998 I worked in Santa Ana where on one cloudy morning the company’s CFO suggested we take a walking field trip to a museum ground breaking event happening near our office. We were up for anything that wasn’t work so we went. However, our walk was immediately cut short as soon as we crossed over the parking lot lines. VPOTUS Al Gore was the speaker at the event and the area had been secured by secret service and sharp shooters. Back to work we went.

We have been to Discovery Cube Orange County a ton of times since 1998 because my daughter loves the hands-on science exhibits. We’ve been anxiously awaiting the expansion of the museum and were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the brand new exhibit earlier this week.

The remodel offers tons of new permanent exhibits including a virtual helicopter tour of Orange County’s Irvine Ranch, a water gallery, an inspector training course, an inventor’s workshop and more. The brand new 10,000 sq. ft. theater will hold visiting exhibits where the International Exhibit of Sherlock Holmes is now on display.

Discovery Cube OC

The museum also built a new Bean Sprouts for kid-friendly, healthy eating. They offer everything from sandwiches, pizza, salads and a coffee bar. They use allergy-free ingredients and work in a peanut-free kitchen.

Discovery Cube Orange County

Discovery Cube Orange County is giving away a family membership! Enter to win using the form below and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Discovery Cube Orange County for hosting a fun night!

Swap Your Soap: method

For weeks now, my daughter’s first grade class has been practicing songs for an Earth Day concert. She’s been learning the lyrics about ozone depletion and why styrofoam products are bad.  As a parent, the exciting part of the whole experience has been her genuine interest in what we can do as a family to reduce our environmental footprint.

There’s sure been a whole lot of finger wagging, too. Especially when the water faucet runs long or if the recyclables aren’t in their proper bin. She gave some serious side eyes when I used an aerosol hairspray the other morning, saying, “Mom! CFCs come from cans like that!”

I’ve got a serious environmentalist on my hands. We’ll be driving an electric car before long.

We're moving toward swapping out conventional products to environmentally friendly products. We love method. Read why their laundry soap is the best.

Eliminating household products in favor of more environmentally friendly ones seems like a huge undertaking. I think, mostly because, we have our favorites or we doubt the effectiveness of a natural product. Or, we pick up what’s on sale or what our budget allows.

My friend Miya gave me some great advice a while back. She said to start by replacing one product at a time and start with the one you use the most often. For us, that was laundry detergent. How a family of three generates so much dirty laundry is beyond me! Since taking Miya’s advice, we’ve been able to swap out laundry, dish and hand soap.

So what are we using?

My skin is extremely sensitive to perfumes. For this reason, we choose method 4x concentrated laundry detergent in the free + clear fragrance — which really isn’t a fragrance at all but it keeps my skin from breaking out in hives.

We're moving toward swapping out conventional products to environmentally friendly products. We love method. Read why their laundry soap is the best.

If the free + clear bores you, method offers a wide range of fragrances including beach sage, fresh clover, ginger mango and spring garden. I’m secretly coveting fresh clover.

What else I love about method is that their formulas are biodegradable, hypoallergenic and their bottles are 100% recyclable.  The 4x concentrated bottle is clear so you can actually see your product and it doesn’t have a handle which makes it easier to recycle. I love that there is that much thought and consideration made in its design!

I’m sure my daughter will make sure the empty bottle makes it way to the correct bin.

We're moving toward swapping out conventional products to environmentally friendly products. We love method. Read why their laundry soap is the best.

Consider swapping out your current laundry detergent for method. Use the coupon code THREEFORME for $3 off your online purchase on the method website. Also check out the exclusive collaboration between method and ASOS. They’ve curated a collection of fashion forward, effortless style perfect for the summer season.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Remembering on Giving Day

It will be 25 years this November since I lost a childhood friend to cancer. We were in 10th grade and she was days from turning 16 years old when she passed.

Mindy was beautiful. She was a ballet dancer and an honors student. She was so incredibly kind. Her family welcomed me in their home for consecutive weekend sleepovers where we would listen to Depeche Mode in heavy rotation on her CD player. We played with black eyeliner and red lipstick and talked about boys. She introduced me to her obsession with all things Esprit and Star Trek. We saw The Cure at Dodger Stadium together and cried when it was over.

Here’s one of the very few photos I have of the two of us. Big hair and smiles at our middle school graduation party. And by big hair (and forehead) I mean me.

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Her diagnosis was rare and advanced and her death was devastating to many.

I think of her often but especially when I see a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia and remember how badly she wanted one for her first car. Or, when I hear “Cherish” by Madonna and I’m taken back to the day we registered for 9th grade and how we danced to that song in an empty Lamppost Pizza. And though it has since been eliminated, I would think fondly of my sweet friend when I sent out holiday cards from the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation.

That Christmas after Mindy died, I stumbled upon a set of brightly colored holiday cards created by young artists fighting cancer. Sales benefited the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation and in a very small way, I felt that sending these cards was a way to remember her and support an organization that was helping to improve the care, quality of life and survival rates in kids like my dear friend.

PCRF is one of 350 non-profit organizations hoping to benefit in today’s first-ever Orange County giving day. For 30 hours beginning April 21, 2015, secure, tax-deductible donations will be accepted on iheartOC.org. The Orange County Community Foundation and their Giving Day partners will super-charge local giving by funding bonus awards and prizes to these 350 deserving organizations.

The goal is to raise $2 million for OC non-profits and keep giving within our community.

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Click here to find an organization or please visit iheartOC.org to make a donation. I will be making a donation to PCRF in Mindy’s name.

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This post is sponsored by Orange County Community Foundation. All opinions are my own.

Ever After High: Spring Unsprung Party

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 8.34.30 PMI am so stoked to be part of the Netflix #StreamTeam! I was hand selected to be part of their exclusive blogger network to help share the awesomeness that is Netflix streaming. Disclosure: Netflix provided me with a device and a year long subscription to stream content. All opinions are 100% my own.

 

Last month, Netflix premiered the brand new animated feature based on the popular Ever After High doll franchise. To celebrate, we whipped up an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung themed viewing party!

Tons of really great ideas for an Ever After High party. Food, crafts and decorations for an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung party.

If you aren’t familiar with Ever After High, the magical story lines follow the teenage sons and daughters of classic fairytale characters. Apple White is the daughter of Snow White, Alistar Wonderland is the son of Alice, Bunny Blanc is the daughter of The White Rabbit. My daughter’s favorites are Briar Beauty (daughter of Sleeping Beauty) and C.A. Cupid (daughter of Eros). If you are as confused as I was, see all the Ever After High characters here.

In Ever After High: Spring Unsprung, Kitty Cheshire’s mom plays a trick on Alistair Wonderland during Ever After High’s Spring Fairest, it might ruin the celebration’s happy ending. My daughter and her friends gave the movie two thumbs up! The really great news is that Netflix will release a 12-episode series later in 2015.

Let’s get to the Ever After High party details!

I was inspired by the characters and their extravagant headwear to create our own floral crowns. I followed this tutorial from Grow Creative to create the tissue paper pom poms. I made tons of extras because they packed such a colorful punch. Staple the tissue paper flowers to baker’s twine and wrap the twine tightly around a headband.

Tons of really great ideas for an Ever After High party. Food, crafts and decorations for an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung party.

Tons of really great ideas for an Ever After High party. Food, crafts and decorations for an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung party.

Tons of really great ideas for an Ever After High party. Food, crafts and decorations for an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung party.

I love following a theme for my parties and took my decorating cues from the Spring Unsprung storyline. Early in the movie, the students are preparing for the annual Spring Fairest celebration. Their palette was black and white to represent the passing of winter and tons of bright colors to represent the coming of spring. Easy enough!

Tons of really great ideas for an Ever After High party. Food, crafts and decorations for an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung party.

A black tablecloth, black and white striped paper products, and black and white polka dot paper straws mixed with the colorful tissue paper flowers and balloons set the foundation for the treat table. I attached an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung photo to the balloon as a centerpiece for the table.

Let’s take a closer look at the treats! I created labels for all the goodies by using a white chalkboard pen and the same paper punch I used to make the tissue paper flowers.

Tons of really great ideas for an Ever After High party. Food, crafts and decorations for an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung party.

The Well of Wonder leads the Ever After High students to Wonderland. Water + flavored water drops = Well of Wonder Water!

Tons of really great ideas for an Ever After High party. Food, crafts and decorations for an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung party.

The movie’s antagonist needs her own cookie! I piped on Wilton Sparkle Gel on store bought black & white cookies to create the Cheshire Cat’s famous smile.

Tons of really great ideas for an Ever After High party. Food, crafts and decorations for an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung party.

They serve Dragon Corn at the Spring Fairest celebration. We served Dragon Popcorn in black paper cones.

Tons of really great ideas for an Ever After High party. Food, crafts and decorations for an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung party.

These were almost too pretty to eat! Marshmallows on popsicle sticks dipped in Candi-Quick and topped with candy flowers.

Tons of really great ideas for an Ever After High party. Food, crafts and decorations for an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung party.

This was a store bought cupcake cake and perfect for our party!

Tons of really great ideas for an Ever After High party. Food, crafts and decorations for an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung party.

Treats in hand and now for the movie!

I decorated the mantle with black and white streamers and the tissue paper pom poms.

Tons of really great ideas for an Ever After High party. Food, crafts and decorations for an Ever After High: Spring Unsprung party.

What do you think of our Ever After High party?

Check out Netflix to stream Ever After High: Spring Unsprung! Here’s a tip: If you have trouble finding the Spring Unsprung movie, click the drop down function and select “season 2.” You can find four Ever After High short form webisodes under season 1.