Operation Beautiful Post + All that Glitters is Gold Giveaway.

I want to share with you some words from Erica’s heart. She deeply desires that you–yes, you–feel beautiful. And she is questioning exactly what that words means anyway. I’ll let her take it away:

Important question for you: When was the last time you felt most beautiful? A minute ago? A week ago? What were you doing?

Operation Beautiful is a mission to show you – and women everywhere – that you are beautiful all the time exactly the way you are. (Really). But, you need to change.

operation beautiful

I’m not talking about changing the number on the scale or your love of Ben & Jerry’s – I’m talking about your love of self. Way too often, we fill ourselves with harmful self-deprecating thoughts; it’s negative and tears us down, making us our own worst enemy. We always seek the greatest of friendships and love, but if we don’t love ourselves first, who ever can? Time for Operation Beautiful.

Operation Beautiful was born on my friend Shane’s blog, and I was instantly uplifted, knowing I had come across something fabulous. So what’s it all about?

Too often, we sell ourselves short. We get sucked into the societal vacuum of aggressive Type A perfectionism (I would know – I’m Type A to the core), always striving and stretching towards a look, achievement, or status that seems better than where we’re presently at. We’re discontented with our bodies, and we tell lies every day to our own faces. I’m fat. I’m ugly. I’m not that pretty. I’m not smart. And I’m definitely not beautiful.

Lies, lies, LIES. You are beautiful, and this is the effort to prove just that.

Operation Beautiful happens as often as you like. You fill out this form, answering 4 quick questions about what you love most about yourself, both inside and out. You send a photo along too, and you’re on your way. But here’s the thing. Many of us don’t really realize how insanely hard it can be to recognize beautiful aspects of ourselves when we’re constantly surrounded by society’s version of what “beautiful.” Thin is beautiful. Tan and toned is beautiful. Blonde bombshell is beautiful. Victoria’s Secret Angel is beautiful.

All of that might be true (and Lord knows I want me a pair of wings someday), but it’s not the only beautiful.

Do you have standout freckles? Do you love your muscular legs? How about your booty, your always-pedicured toes…or maybe your feet are calloused and beat from dancing en pointe for years. It’s all beautiful, and it all deserves to be celebrated. So join me in celebrating the simple things that are oh-so-inspiring and awesome. Join the operation that’s pulling women together and showcasing all of the insanely beautiful things we have to offer, even if in just a snapshot.

It’s my hope that this whole effort will go viral. Because it’s my hope that one day, you’ll wake up everyday feeling beautiful.

Will you join the Operation?

 

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signatureThank you so much, Erica! I hope some ladies do join up. I have been trying to get up the courage. Maybe this is the push I need. I also have a giveaway for you this week, with some awesome ladies, a Kate Spade Rose Gold Wristlet and a “This is the Year to…” Bangle. I love both. The bangle reads that on the inside while the outside says things like: “make a splash.” I love it and I know you will too!

allthatglittersisgoldgiveawayThese are the lovely ladies hosting the giveaway with me:janfebLauren of Sincerely, Lo | Anne of  Love the Here and Now | Lindsay of Bourbon, Lipstick, and Stilettos
Bex of Butcher’s Niche | Amanda of Kids and Cabernet | Liz of Baby Got BA
Suz of 2 Cats and Chloe | Lisa of Lisa Loves John | Nina of Flowers in my Hair

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Nonna’s Shells.

nonnasshels2I feel like I need a microphone to say something like: are you ready to rumble?????? This is by far the most popular of Nonna’s recipes and considering all of her recipes are amazing, this one is a doozy. When my parents divorced, my cousin’s on the other side bemoaned the lack of shells at holidays for a few years before I told my nonna and she started making them for the boys.

Now when I show up for Thanksgiving, they open the door just enough so they can say, “Did you bring the shells?” before they laugh and let me. These babies are legendary. If she ever entered a contest, she would enter these and she would win. Watch out, Mario Batali (also, Mario, why do you where crocs?).

What’s great about Nonna’s Shells is that you can freeze them. Freeze them! And they still taste just as good when you take them out. I mean, what would your rather receive if for some reason people were providing you meals (maybe you just had a baby, maybe you lost someone)–a casserole or these babies? I mean, come on. 

What I love about Nonna, besides the million of other things, is she willingly shares her recipes. There is no secret sauce. Just like she cooks with generosity, she shares her recipes as well. I love it and her.

Stuffed Shells

Shells
1lb. box of jumbo shells
Cooked by the directions on box
Drain and rinse with cold water, then drain again (It makes them easier to handle)

Filling
In a medium to large pot, brown, 1 1/2 lbs of ground round meat, 1/2 lb. of ground pork or 1/2 lb. of veal
Do not overly cook meat
Add 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
Add 2 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Add chopped parsley (small handful)
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove pot from stove
Add 2 or 3 slices of soaked bread (squeeze moisture from bread)
Add 2 eggs, mixed well
Add 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
Add 1 10 oz pkg of chopped spinach (cooked and drained; use a fork to cut the spinach into smaller bits)
Add a sprinkle a little nutmeg (to taste)
Stir mixture thoroughly

Put whatever type of sauce you have made on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pyrex pan
Fill each shell with meat filling and line shells in pan
Add more sauce to the top of the shells, and top off with additional parmesan cheese
Cover with aluminum foil
Cook 30 to 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven

If You Are Freezing Them
Do not put them in the oven
Wrap entire pan (top and bottom) with aluminum foil
Remove from the freezer before you are ready to eat with enough time to thaw
Let them thaw naturally on kitchen counter
Then cook 30 to 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven

I will warn you. These are easy to make…but they will not taste as good as Nonna’s the first several times you make them. I know this from first hand experience in my family. It’s true for most of Nonna’s recipes since she’s been making them for many years (I am not about to put an age on her on the blog). But seriously they are worth it. I cannot emphasize that enough.

So, have I whet you appetite? Do you think you’ll attempt them?

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Crafts and DIY in Small Spaces.

Crafts and DIY in Small SpacesCreating things has always relaxed me. Unfortunately, gone are the days when I can hop in the car and head to Hob Lob (as I refer to it) or Michael’s. It has just not been feasible in the last two cities I have inhabited–San Francisco and now Chicago. Adding to my consternation, both of my apartments in each of theses cities were and are studio apartments. Space is at a premium. In SF, I did a lot of spray painting on the fire escape (completely safe! haha) but in Chicago, with its winters, outdoor space (especially now) is hard to find. If I were to spray paint indoors, not only would I suffocate myself but the entire floor. So I needed to learn the art of crafts and DIY in small spaces.

There’s also the issue I have where I think that even the most mundane or small thing might maybe, someday, be used to make something. I found myself with way too many of these things that may be used someday to make something. Is anyone else like this? Please say yes.craftsmall5

Furthermore, I am also the “saver” type. As in: oh, I don’t want to use the good glitter on this project because what if I need it for another project that I haven’t even thought up yet? These two issues, if not combatted, could get me on the show Hoarders if I am not careful. So what’s my solution? Here are a couple of things I am just recently learning.

1. I bought a cart at Ikea and I told myself that everything had to fit in the cart or I had to purge. So (gulp) I purged.smallcraft4
2. I am also now enforcing a new rule that when a new craft item comes in (like a new set of paints) another one needs to be used up (or thrown out but I always go with the used up choice) and without the remorse and what if I need this specific leopard ribbon for a project two years from now that I can’t even think of but oh my goodness what if.
3. I actually use my supplies instead of worrying over if I will need them for another hypothetical project down the road.smallcrafts1
4. Because I can’t have unlimited supplies of things, I have to prioritize as well. For instance, I’d love to have a wrapping station with ribbons and paper for all occasions but it isn’t feasible. So instead this Christmas I bought brown paper (packages tied up in string…) and kept it simple. I just used that same wrapping paper and some other supplies to create my own wrapping paper for a friend (I’ll show you the tutorial once she receives the gift).

I don’t have room for a sewing machine (sad), let alone a craft room. If you are unfamiliar with studio apartments, I technically don’t even have a bedroom (although my Chicago place is not your momma’s typical studio). My place in Chicago is smaller than SF (but a WHOLE lot nicer) and the space is more useable. Still, the old adage holds true for any smaller dwelling: everything has to have its place. I love the Ikea cart because the shelves are deep (honestly the photos don’t do it justice; you have no idea how much stuff I have crammed into those shelves) and I can fit so much in it. I can also move it if the need arises and even though it’s open and people can see all my crafting supplies, keeping it neat isn’t that hard. And besides, the people who come into my place already know (usually) that I am a creative nut who sees something at a store and says: I could make that. smallcrafts2

Do you have a hobby that comes with a lot of stuff? How do you stay organized? How do you keep your hobby from getting out of control? And for all the crafters out there, how do you do it? Also, if you have a craft room, consider me jealous. I would probably take that before a bedroom (ha!).

x,
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Birthday by Numbers.

birthday by numbersLife is funny sometimes or most of the time, actually, if you are looking for it. I was dreading this birthday for a few reasons or maybe I was just trying not to have expectations and it was the best birthday I have had in the longest time. It was so good that I had to share it with you too (all of you who instagrammed and tweeted me wishes and everyone else too!) because this is more than a recap. This is a cornucopia of the best people, food, things, and feelings. Paint by numbers? Please. This is Birthday by Numbers.

2: The Number of People in my Bed This Weekend

My mom came and stayed with me (you know, the woman who gave birth to me many moons ago) and we went out on on town. One night, I made her wear my favorite lipstick (MAC’s Damn Glamorous…and we were). I got her hooked on Parenthood. She helped me with one project (which is great because usually when she comes I put her to work but I did all the work before she came). After she fell asleep, I woke her up and made her tell me the story of the day I was born. We did not even fight one time. I like her very much. I think I will keep her.

7: The Number of People Around the Birthday Table (Mom, Dad, Stepmom, Little Sister, Aunt, Nonna, Me)

God is crazy and He is good. These people sat around a table and enjoyed delicious food while laughing. My little sister was ecstatic to be around my mom (she has a special thing for her…she always has). “Who are you sitting across from her?” Ava asked me. “I am sitting across from Miss Sandi.” I laughed so much. I felt so loved and cherished–exactly how one should feel on her birthday. I was so aware of how far God has brought us and I felt His joy at watching us around that table.

1: The Amount of Times We Felt Nostalgic for San Francisco

Whenever my mom visited me in San Francisco, we always ate at Umami Burger. Chicago got one in the summer and Mom and I stumbled upon it on accident. She was all about it. It felt good, a full circle kind of moment.

3: How Many Times My Love of Leopard was Mentioned on my Birthday

I typically don’t share presents here–like ooh, look what I got! But I was fortunate enough to receive these slippers that are going to help my all over body pain when I have to stand and cook and clean and wash dishes. “And look, they are leopard!” Ava told me. She also said, “Nina, look at this wrapping paper. It’s leopard.”

Finally, Ava met two little girls having dinner after their Daddy Daughter Dance and on the way out, as they put on their coats, Ava told one of the girls: “My sister would love your coat because she loves leopard.”

So there’s that. I teach her important things. (I also told her that of all the sister God could have picked for me, He picked the best one. She replied, “He picked the best one for me too!” And then: “Miss Sandi, look I can draw a heart!”

127: How Many Times We Said This is Amazing When We Went to Eataly

We ordered a bottle of wine–Barolo–which always feels fancy and grown up to me. But I mean, two glasses each equals a bottle which is fair over a large meal. Still, two glasses for my mom and me is kind of a lot but we ate so much delicious food. And we went to a Nutella Bar after. And I brought super fresh things from Italy. And I found STAR COOKIES. Or as they are called Pan di Stelle. They are basically chocolate shortbread and I have not been able to find them anywhere for years and years, except Italy, and I called my friend and shrieked and she shrieked (all over the cookies) and then I bought her a bag too. I also bought some amazing espresso, cheeses, olives, meats. It was seriously like an extremely authentic Italian Disney World.

I am so filled with love and joy. There is no number or amount I could use to describe it.
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UnderWarrior: Save the Undies.

IMG_1047The two men who read this blog? Skip this one. Trust.

Truth time. Cue Usher singing: these are my confessions. Awhile back, I texted my girlfriends from my cubicle (group texts, gotta love them) something like: oh, my gosh. I am having a period emergency. It’s serious and it’s not even noon. I’m not going to go in more details here but suffice to say I was so desperate. I was new to the office and didn’t know that many people and so I felt a bit funny asking someonefor something. Luckily, I found the U by Kotex ® Ultra Thin slipped into an extra pocket in my purse, folded so thinly and tiny. Week prior, I had the opportunity to try U by Kotex months earlier and it became my go to, probably do to the 3D Capture Core. All I knew was that it worked and really that’s all that matters.

My friends assured my via text that this happens to everyone. Really? I thought. I mean, we are in our twenties. We have been doing this every month for awhile now. Oh yeah, they told me. It’s par for the course. They also assured me that I am not the only who has some stained undies. What?! I honestly thought I was the only one. If this is true, this is not fair. We’ve got enough problems every month. Our undies should not have to suffer too. Save the freakin’ undies. I am now an Underwarrior.
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Isn’t that crazy? There are so many issues where we think we are the only ones and then we talk to other women and then it’s: oh, I’m not the only one!

So when I decided I was going to have all white bedding, I had to get real with myself. At nighttime, at that time of the month, I often leak onto my sheets. It’s horrible. Once I had a sleepover, ironically with one of the same girls I was texting earlier in this story, and I had an accident. I felt like a toddler who peed in the bed. Only red on white is just so…blatant. But I really wanted white bedding. IMG_1029

I use to lay towels and sleep on terry cloth, again like a child. But then I tried U by Kotex ® Ultra Thin Overnight (which does not feel like a diaper) and rid me of the fear of wearing tampon overnight (wow, let’s get so real in this post). I know this sounds like I am swilling this product but seriously I used the same brand since fifth grade when Aunt Flo first visited (way too early). Switching was a big deal. Just as big of a deal as getting the all white bedding.IMG_1026You can actually get a sample. I am all about free samples about anything. You should be too. Not only is it free stuff but you can figure out if it works for you. Aunt Flo is personal but at the same time, in really talking about with my girlfriends, we all struggle universally. I’ve found that after my friends gave birth and we talk about that the period is no longer a big deal. IMG_1055

All I know, I don’t want to lose any more undies and I don’t want you too either. Even in my tiniest purse, I carry a U by Kotex ® Ultra Thin all the time. Save the undies.

And that is the freakin’ truth.

But thanks to U by Kotex for sponsoring today’s story and encouraging me to become an #UnderWarrior. I mean, you’ve saved my sheets and my sanity. What more could I want?

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Oddly Lovely.

I love Cat from Oddly Lovely and I won’t pretend part of the reason is totally self serving because she lives in in the Bay Area (aka San Francisco and other areas around the bay…You get it? The City by the Bay?). I left a huge part of my heart in San Francisco and reading Cat’s words, seeing her home, or enjoying her creations through the screen make me less homesick for that place. But enough of about me because I have too much to say about Cat. She’s lovely (oddly or not).Nine_Headshot 1She believes in the oxford comma (preach, sister. Writing at a job in the AP style hurts me sometimes), she’s an introvert, and her dog is her best friend. Better yet, she breaks down first, second, and third wave feminism in a blog post asking the question: Can feminist’s wear make-up? Listen, if you’ve heard the word feminist and want to know more or you don’t know what I am referring to when I mention first, second, and third wave feminism, don’t feel bad! Just read this post. It’s worth understanding especially because it’s a word that has a huge connotation with it, depending on the people you are with, political parties, and what day of the week it is. I can’t recommend this post highly enough because she breaks it down.

I want to read posts from smart, thoughtful women like CatNina_HomeHer post about writing and posting controversial pieces really struck a chord with me. What she says is so true: posting those pieces is hard. It’s not fun. I have to almost force myself on the occasion that I have. I don’t agree with Cat on everything but that’s also why I read her blog. I think it’s incredibly important to not only read posts on subjects I may have a different opinion on but to have friends and conversations in that same vein. It’s really easy to be insular and just hang out with people just like you. You won’t ever change or grow because your beliefs won’t ever be challenged. And I don’t want that for me. Neither does Cat.

I love what she says here because it’s something I have recently realized: “Even though I can be sensitive to negative blowback (okay, VERY sensitive to negative blowback), I am working on having a thicker skin and being brave and speaking up for what I believe in. Because the blog posts that make people think – those are the ones that really matter.”

PREACH, GIRL.

(Also, how does one get thicker skin? We’re working on it. Right, Cat?)Nine_Headshot 2Don’t misunderstand. Her blog is a (oddly) lovely menagerie of her thoughts and opinions and her creations like this Lavender Whipped Body Butter Recipe.Nina_Body ButterShe’s also an incredible cook and if I could taste something through my computer screen I would, like this Kale, Kielbasa, White Bean Soup. Talk about comfort food.Nina_SoupAlso, how could the Italian in me not love this Tomato and Ricotta Focaccia Toast?Nina_Focaccia ToastAs if it is worth noting, don’t you love her oddly lovely style, from her photography to her clothes?

P.S. If you are missing Serial (me!), check out her post 12 Podcasts to Make Life More Interesting.

The longer I blog the more I realize that I need women bloggers like Cat who have similar interests but also challenge me. I am so happy to share her with you. Please check her out. You’ll fall in love, I promise. There is nothing odd about her or her blog–only loveliness.
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Fairytale: Smile.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions, as always, are mine alone. #OpticSmiles #CollectiveBias#OpticSmilesOnce upon a time, there was a little girl whose father was a cleaner and repairer of teeth also known as a dentist. For most of her life, people asked to see her teeth upon hearing her father’s profession and she smiled willingly for them. This girl grew into a young woman and went on many adventures. These adventures required lots of coffee (maybe even the occasional soda…shh!) and lots of red lipstick (which showcases a smile for better or for worse). Unfortunately coffee, the occasional soda, and the wear and tear of every day took their toll on her once pearly white teeth. She sought a solution–one her father approved of–and found it in Colgate® Optic White® Platinum Express White.

In all seriousness, my entire life people have asked to see my teeth and I had no problem showing them because I was proud of them. When your dad is a dentist, you are kind of a walking advertisement whether you like it or not. But recently, as I was putting on my signature red lipstick in the morning,and smiled at my own reflection, I noticed my teeth just did not seem as white. Like the girl in the classic fairy tale I retold, I like coffee and the occasional soda (imagine that!) and as I looked at an old photo of myself I realized that my teeth had yellowed a little bit. I really noticed it when I found an old clip of myself lip synching, which happens to be one of my talents. If this was noticeable when I wore red lips and lip synching, that means it is noticeable about 99.9% of the time because…I’m either wearing red on my lips or pretending I am making a music video all the time.colgate3

In my house, growing up, teeth are always one of the first things my family noticed. My dad helped a lot of people and I learned from a young age that if a person felt self conscious about their smile, it affected their life. I am the last person to talk about external beauty but there is something different about a person’s smile. I think it’s because, the moment you feel joy or happiness, you want to automatically smile but if you don’t feel good about your smile (which I saw), it changes those moments of joy and happiness. I can honestly say I saw my dad change people’s lives by working on their teeth. Of course, there was never judgement unless the person in question was an ex boyfriend. Then maybe, the dentist might say: “He was not right for you.” Pause. “And his teeth!”colgate4

I want to laugh loudly and grin while wearing my red lipstick without thinking twice. I don’t want to be self conscious. I don’t want to censor my emotions as I live adventurously (also I don’t want to forgo my coffee). Since I have coffee every morning, I need a solution that is going to combat that every single day too and does so fast and easy. Let’s be honest. This is a modern girl’s fairytale and I don’t have a lot of time on my hands. Who does? If this princess can get whiter teeth just by doing something I am already doing (brushing in the morning and at night), then I am for it. When I heard that Colgate® Optic White® Express White Toothpaste uses hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth (and then talked to my dad about what that meant), I was so excited.

It felt like a fairytale. I did see a difference in three days but I continue to see a difference every day I continue to use it–and all this just by brushing. Maybe it isn’t alchemy or a fairytale, or so my dad says. Maybe it’s because Colgate® Optic White® Express White Toothpaste has two times more of the professionally recommended whitening ingredient. Hear, hear!colgate5

You can live your own fairytale too. Just call up your horse and carriage, hop on over to Walmart, and try it. In many stores, all over the kingdom, there will be live demos happening on February 28th and more importantly, tooth fairies/real people will be handing out coupons for money off to try this whitening toothpaste. With multiple sizes (who else always forgets toothpaste when you travel?), this is something you want to try.colgate2

Do you want whiter teeth? Is it something you think about when you brush in the morning or take off your make up at night? What if you could have whiter teeth just by brushing like you already do? I’d be on it because this is not fairytale. This is real life and I laugh loud and live loud and now I don’t need to be self conscious at all.before after
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5 Things Sales Taught Me.

5 things sales taught meI lived in SF for two wonderful years and during that time, I started and excelled in a career I never expected–tech sales. I never pictured myself working with sales, talking with business owners and trying to convince them to buy several thousand dollars worth of software. But I found I was naturally kind of good at it. And I naturally kind of liked it. Meanwhile, in those two years, I received so much training and nurturing in the field. You know how people always talk about how sales can be forayed into any career? They are right. More than that, sales changed some of the relationships in my life too. I like to think it still informs parts of my life. Here’s what I learned, a little behind the scenes for you: 5 things sales taught me.

1. People hate to be sold to. People want to connect. People want to be heard.

Who can tell when they someone is trying to sell them something? And everyone or nearly everyone raises their hand. It’s not fun and it feels icky. It felt icky for me on the other side of things as well. I was fortunate in that I believed in my product and because of my family had a passion for helping small businesses. I truly believed this product could do that. And so I listened to the woes of the small business owner in New York or Philly or wherever. I listened and asked questions. I was successful because of that but I didn’t do those things to be successful, if that makes sense.

2. Someone ALWAYS controls the conversation. No matter what.

I know. You may think I am crazy. But pay attention to some of the conversations you have been involved with lately. Or consider a relationship that is difficult and remember a conversation from there. There is always someone who controls the conversation. And you know who that person is? The one asking the questions.

Now this does not mean that you need to control every conversation. I mean, in sales, yes, you want to control the conversation. But in your daily life and how that translates it just helps to be aware of this. It has specifically helped me in relationships that are harder to navigate. Instead of feeling frustrated and like I am not being heard, I recognize that this person needs the control (long story) and most of the time, I let this person have it because it is not worth it. Other times, I can navigate to make sure that I am the one asking the questions.

3. Anyone can talk to anyone. The human condition is exactly that.

That’s the thing with sales. Imagine having to pick up the phone and talk to 100 strangers a day. Imagine having to ask them to set aside an hour of their very busy time to listen to, what is, in effect, your presentation. Awkward? Yes. It is. The first several days. And then it isn’t anymore. Then it’s just what you do. And suddenly, fear of talking to anyone falls away because you are talking to mean people and nice people and everyone in between. In fact, perhaps you are sworn at and hung up on and suddenly you have the gall to call them back and somehow still get their business. That feels good. It feels so good.

4. Value over Function. Always.

Well, my I post on this blog 5x a week. I have xyz followers. Here you will read about abc. But what does that MEAN FOR THE READER? Why would someone come back here every day and read? That’s value. Those first things are functions. This is such a great metaphor except I am not going to try to sell you on my blog and go into the value. Ha.

Let’s talk about a mini van. There are seven seats. That’s a function. What’s the value? Your whole family can ride together in one vehicle, saving money on gas, and spending time together. No one’s space is compromised and there is plenty of room left for everything else your family needs for your activities. Etc. Etc. Does that make sense? Can you see why one tactic is so much more powerful than the other? It’s very similar and yet different to the mantra of every writing teacher: show, don’t tell.

5. You can always get a better deal.

No salesperson wants me to tell you this but it’s true. After working behind the scenes, I can definitely tell you that there is always a deal available to tell you. It’s just a matter of you doing the work and having to talk through and spending the time to get that deal.

Also, depending on the company and which quarter system they are on, you are more likely to get a deal towards the end of the month. The sales person wants to hit their monthly and quarterly goal.

Is anyone here in sales? Any other lessons? There are so many so I chose five but I’d love to hear from you. And are there any questions?
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Book Pairings.

readthisreadthatHave you ever read a book where you just do not want it to end? It’s the best and worst feeling in the world. I know for me, I get to the end and I wish I could start all over, not just begin again, but be the person I was before I read the book, before the words affected me or I experienced the twists and turns. And yet, a good book changes me (and you too, probably) and so I don’t want to go back either. So I’ve put together some pairings, like good wine with the perfect dinner, a pairing of books. If you liked one of the books, you will probably enjoy the other. (Also, by the by, these are affiliate links and some of links include free books…free books! Love!)
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Gone Girl (book/kindle) | The Girl on the Train (book/kindle)

I devoured both. I can’t say more because well…if you’ve read one or both of them, any further explanations could endanger your experience. If someone tried to get between me and finishing these books, I would have gone feral.

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Pride and Prejudice (book/kindle) | North and South (book/kindle)

Full disclosure: I watched the BBC Mini Series of North and South before reading the book. Also as an aside, it is amazing. Almost as amazing as Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. But basically, if you are into historical romances with guys and girls who are constantly misunderstanding one another, resulting in lots of heart flutters (and you know, the historical stuff too, of course) consider it.

read3Dark Places (book/kindle)|  In Cold Blood (book/kindle)

A fan of Gillian Flynn? Specifically, Dark Places, a true crime deal where one of the almost victims is certain she remembers the events of the night her family was murdered? Not only is In Cold Blood a classic, it’s a true story and all the more chilling because of it.

read4Hunger Games Trilogy(book/kindle) | MadAdamm Trilogy/starting with Oryx and Crake (book/kindle)

If you love dystopian literature than you need to read Atwood’s trilogy. Her writing is superb and this trilogy includes everything you love about the Hunger Games or Divergent, with a literary genius writing it.

read5Carry On, Warrior (book/kindle) | Traveling Mercies (book/kindle)

Glennon Doyle credits Anne Lamott as her muse in writing. If you want to be inspired to live a bravely vulnerable life, read both of these. Seriously. Don’t question it.

read6Bossypants (book/kindle) | Yes Please (book/kindle)

I love smart women. I love funny women. Tina and Amy qualify as both. I laughed more with Tina and I thought more with Amy but I would recommend either to you in a second. There is a reason they call each other their “comedy wives.”

read7Practical Magic(book/kindle) | Blackberry Wine (book/kindle)

If you like magical realism, either one of these books are incredible.

Do you have a pairing of books or a third to add to any of these pairings? Have you read this or that and loved it? Tell me! I am a voracious reader.
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From Target, With Love.

Let’s get right to it because:

1. I confess I am super nervous about the post I wrote on Fifty Shades of Grey and the Christian POV. It’s kind of unique considering what I’ve read. I accidentally hit publish on last night (meant to hit save draft since I recently lost a post; I’ve been a bit anal; now I will be anal about the publish button). There was lots of nervous laughter when I realized this.50

2. I confess that despite my denial, I think I may have the flu and just got back from running to the pharmacy which is too close to ask a cab or uber driver to take me but is far enough away that when you have the flu, kind of winds you.

3. I confess that I have the best sister in the whole world. I am just being real. If she is this cool at four, I think the possibilities are endless. She also got me a giftcard to Target which was beyond kind of her because I know how she esteems Target. For example, when she used to do something new (she was a bit younger then), we would ask her: “Where did you learn that?” And she would say, “From Target.” So you see, she gets it, guy.IMG_0922 4. I confess Snail Mail makes me inordinately happy. I received two surprise notes from friends and I almost cried. I was also running a fever so…I also confess I have a pile of mail to send out but I am waiting for a new printer cartridge so I can print out the labels and it’s getting embarrassing how big the pile is and how long I have had the thing on the bottom.IMG_09245. I confess…I was wrong about vlogging. Some people are gleefully laughing at this confession. Example A: my first vlog under duress a few months ago. Example B: I’m now co-hosting the same linkup, I was originally challenged to join. The linkup is open for a week so you can still join or mark your calendars for March 12. I will always be a writer but I have to say, it’s really great to see and meet other bloggers “face-to-face.” So I see it. I get it. I am cohosting.

Love you guys. Because you are my people. I’m linking up with Darci, Christina, Natasha, April, KarliAmy, and the lovely Leslie.

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