Looking Back on an Amazing 2015

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Finally having my first breather in 2016, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on an amazing year in my life. 2015 brought so many opportunities and changes and I feel nothing but blessed to have shared these experiences with the people I love with my entire heart. Here’s a look back at an amazing year.


San Diego HomeWe moved! And not just any move, we made THEE move. Kevin and I decided that if we’re going to be working our tails off, we might as well be working our tails off right on the water. Why not have our morning cup of coffee with a view. When in San Diego! We love our home and that is exactly what it is, Our FIRST home together!


IMG_2764I turned 30. This number might scare some women, but I am honored and blessed to be 30. I’ve had more than my share of obstacles and heart-break to get here, but you know what, I’m here. I might not be exactly where I thought I’d be but I’m exactly where I need to be and, above all, I’m happy. Cheers to being 30 and fabulous!


IMG_3126Kevin’s company, Block Risers, launched. Not only did his company get started, but he, alongside Sven Anders Alwerud at Jelly Skateboards, completed a successful crowdfunding campaign that generated over $102,000! I am so ridiculously proud of Kevin and his team. 2015 was only the start of this amazing venture!


IMG_4695I started a new job! I joined Jacob Tyler creative group as Senior Brand Manager in July and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I cannot believe how fast the last seven months have gone and the projects I’ve been able to be a part of. This is the career I’ve been working towards and I couldn’t think of a better agency to grow with. We’re going to see big things in 2016!


IMG_4514My family experienced Lambeau Field. We’ve always been Green Bay fans, and my sweet heart almost sister-in-law planned the perfect birthday present for my brother–a surprise Packers VS Seahawks game with friends and family in tow! We drank, we cheered, we won and I got to see my brother with the biggest smile ever when we walked through that door to surprise him!


IMG_3758Amanda Mac Studio celebrated its one year anniversary! Whoa! If you would have asked me a few years ago if I would have my own business I would have giggled you out the door. This is a major accomplishment for me and I love seeing how my little etsy shop has grown. I love my customers (well, most of them) and the inspiration and creativity the community brings. Look for my new item “Mac Stacks” summer of 2016!


IMG_5936The Iowa Hawkeyes made it to the Rose Bowl! For Christmas, Kevin bought me six tickets to Pasadena, a bowl game the Hawks haven’t seen in over 25 years. It was an experience of a lifetime and that’s how I’ll always remember it! If you want the score, you’ll have to ask someone else, I’ve already misplaced it! 🙂

Falling in Love with Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint Dresser

I’ve wanted to paint something with chalk paint about as long as I’ve had this dresser–a very long time. I constantly see on Pinterest and other DIY type sites, darling little accent pieces with shabby chic flare.

Refinishing furniture, or at least the intention to refinish furniture, is something I’ve always been passionate about. I’m always looking for the perfect furniture find, even if I have no place for it–and living in our little beach condo, we certainly have no place for it. I’m an advocate when it comes to making an original new again, whether it be an old steamer truck, a brick colonial or my buffet pictured here. I’ll take the time to give the real deal a little love any day over something in a box from Ikea.

So back to chalk paint. Oh my goodness I’m in love. White Chalk PaintOne pint of Annie Sloans, clear wax and a few new pieces of hardware and I had a brand new dresser. All in, dresser included, I spent about $125 on this little DIY weekend project. Oh, and the best part, you don’t even have to sand anything. That’s right, and I repeat, no sanding necessary!

There are so many different ways to skin a cat when it comes to chalk paint and wax. Every instruction I read/watched was slightly different from one another. I am confident your results will be perfect which ever you choose to follow. Both My Passion For Decor and The Thinking Closet do a great job if you’re looking for some application tips!

I was between White and Provence (I need to keep my beachy cottage look going after all) but here were the beautiful pieces that helped give me my inspiration. Certainly feel free to share your chalk paint projects and inspiration. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I’m on the hunt for a new furniture piece!

Chalk Paint Dresser Inspiration


Left to Right:  Lily Pad Cottage  |  Antique Restoration  |  The Painted Drawer

The Simple Girl’s Pho

Simple to make pho

The first time I was told we were going out for pho (pronounced fuh) I cringed. The idea of going out on the town and actually paying someone for soup is not exactly my idea of a date night. Flash-forward two hours into the date later… I’m officially obsessed with pho.

It’s wonderful, and wonderful for you. It’s warm, flavorful, tangy and I love the whole idea of adding whatever-the-heck you want to it. Want some bean sprouts? Sure! Need some jalapeños? Toss em in. Totally hooked on pho.

Naturally, what Amanda likes, Amanda likes to re-create. I perused my local Vietnamese market and purchased everything I needed to start my own at-home pho. Well… I purchased everything with a picture on it that looked like something I would need for pho.

One word of note before we begin. This is easy girl’s pho. I quickly learned, after I had purchased my ingredients (minus the oxtail bone) that the pho broth alone can take days to create. This recipe will not take you days, it will take you a crock-pot and a few hours—you can read a good book and tip a few wine glasses back while the slow cooker does the work for you!


5-6 Beef Bones (I seriously used sirloin bones from the night before—the more meat hunks hanging off them the better
1 Large Onion (chopped)
1 Hunk Fresh Ginger (peeled and chopped)
4 Cups Beef Broth
2 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 Stick of Cinnamon
1 tsp Pepper
3 Star of Anise (the little star looking things that come in popery…but don’t use popery)

Raw Beef – shaved very thin
1-2 lb Rice Noodles/Rice Sticks

Optional (but recommended!) Toppings
Bean Sprouts
Mint Leaves


Combine broth, water, fish sauce, bones and all spices into your crockpot.

On a non-stick baking sheet, oven-broil your diced onions and ginger for about 5 minutes. You’ll want the onions and ginger to be slightly charred but not crispy burnt. Transfer onions and ginger to your crockpot.

Cook on low crock-pot setting for 4-6 hours. Longer if you have the time!

When your broth is ready, you will want to strain it of all solid bits before it comes time to serve. You can use or strainer or a slotted spoon to discard the pieces. If a strainer is used, just make sure to transfer your broth back to the crock-pot when complete—you want to keep your broth hot!

Cook your rice noodles until al dente. Drain and divide among your serving bowls.

To prepare your pho bowls, place your thin slices of beef and cooked noodles into your individual bowls. Ladle the hot broth over top over your beef slices and noodles. The hot broth should cook your meat within moments, turning the meat an grayish opaque color. If some pieces stay slightly pink, do not be alarmed, those are just medium rare-medium pieces but completely safe to consume.

Serve your pho bowls to your guests and let them have fun with all of the toppings you’ve arranged for them on the table.

Makes 4 servings


Note: When slicing your beef thin, if you have trouble doing so, try flash freezing it for a few moments before you cut it. This will help keep it stiff and easier to cut into thin strips!

My Little Hand-Painted Globe

Hand Painted Globe
Little hand-painted globes have been popping up everywhere you look. Pinterest. Etsy. Antropologie. And for good reason… they’re adorable!

I purchased a (rather hideous) orange globe from Home Goods ($25) about six months ago with the intent to turn it into something creative of my own. Finally, a weekend to myself, I broke out the paint brushes (and the globe that I had been storing in the trunk of my car) and got to work.

Before and after hand-painted globe

What you need:

A globe (I recommend Home Goods, TJ Maxx or Ebay)
Your favorite acrylic paints
Paint brushes
A black sharpie (optional for outlining)

All in the project ran me about $35 and a good morning’s worth of time. For inspiration, I looked up “hand painted globes” on Pinterest to better visualize the style I was after. After I was done painting the globe, I added a little custom personalization and added little outlined hearts to all of the places Kevin and I have traveled to. I cannot wait to keep updating our little diy world!

Globes that inspired me:
Inspiring hand-painted globe

Product Hoar-der

Hotel Toiletries
Last year was a very proud year for this girl. I accomplished many goals, the biggest being the large amount of debt I was able to successfully tackle. I scrimped. I saved. I paid down every bill and loan that I had amassed in my name (all accept my student loans which you should all know by now I consider another limb VS actual debt.)

Since last year was my pay-off-debt year, my dream for 2015 was to start cushioning my bank account. After all, I have very tenacious investing goals and the only way to make money is to spend money. In order to spend money, well… I need money to begin with.

So I started to think of ways I could save. Yes, I could do the obvious and buy fewer shoes and (cringe) eat more meals from a box, but what other creative changes could I make that wouldn’t affect my waistline and my dignity?

Then it occurred to me. There was one (possibly brilliant or completely asinine) daily routine that I could change and implement instantly that could save me possible hundreds in the course of a year. And so I began my experiment… that has nothing to do with giving up Starbucks.

You, reader, are either one of two people. You are:

A. The type of individual who travels and takes your own toiletries, occasionally using the accommodation’s provided hygiene goods.

B. The person who shoves every type of freebie they can get their hands on into their carryon. After all, the maid cart is free game.

I, oddly enough, am the latter of the two travelers. If it’s in a plastic bag or bottle, I will hoard it like an underprivileged raccoon. Over the course of two years, traveling like I do, I have managed to amass enough shampoo, conditioner and body wash to replace an Ulta’s inventory. Or, if you are looking for a more realistic/visual representation, an entire three-drawer Rubbermaid. Still a tenacious feat for this traveling klepto.

Since January 1, 2015, I, Amanda Jane, have been lathering, rinsing, scrubbing, picking, and brushing myself clean FOR FREE from the help of Radissons, Marriotts, Hiltons and Wyndhams all over the continental US. I have not purchased a single shampoo, conditioner, soap or lotion in over six months and I’m still going strong.

With that said, just because I’m going strong, doesn’t mean my hair is. This experiment has truly been the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Some of the finer hotels, for example the Wynn in Las Vegas, will provide you with the very same brands and quality you’re already using on a regular basis. On the other hand, the Silver Creek Inn, in Granby, Colorado (you know, the one with the murphy bed with plaid sheets) might as well be one step up from Dawn dish soap.

So if you’re looking to save some extra coin this year and your hair doesn’t mind Schizophrenic dry spells from time to time, I highly recommend taking advantage of the “Hotel Free Sample” giveaways. It’s a great way to save some money, try some new product and provide you with snappy blog content when you obviously have nothing more fascinating to write about.


P.S. For all of you friends and family out there planning to visit me this year…do not worry. You will have your choice of either hotel provided product or the conventionally purchased, overly-priced but amazing bath items we’re all very fond of and used to.

When in Cabo

Embroidered Dress

It started as a daydream–turquoise waves washing up onto white sandy beaches, bottomless strawberry pina coladas and then nothingness, just doing and worrying about absolutely nothingness. That serene daydream escalated quite quickly into an obsession. Within days of muttering (singing) the words Cabo San Lucas, I was saving my pennies, scouring resorts on Tripadvisor and planning a month’s worth of Mexican themed vacation outfits. I was in need of some major R&R…and more importantly, shopping for it.

Visions of laying out and swim-up-bar boozing were not the only things I became infatuated with. Kevin quickly pointed out that everything in my shopping bag(s) were embroidered. I was to become a modern day Piñata in heels. When in Rome, babe!

When planning a Mexican vacation, the ceviche shouldn’t be the only thing authentic. When else do you get to have this much fun with what you wear? If it was embroidered, adorned with pom-poms, off the shoulder or had a donkey on it, I was determined to make it mine! Arrrriba!

Mexican Dress

Dress: Kori America Fringe Aztec Dress $32

Vacation Dress

Dress: Vintage find! Goodwill $6

Similar: Huipil Boutique $125

Mexican Dress

Dress: Anthropologie Folk Art Dress $178

Panama Hat

Panama Hat: Christy’s $195

Jcrew Embroidered Dress

Dress: JCrew Scallop Dress $138 

Sexy Man: Kansas, Priceless

Loving an Entrepreneur

Loving an Entrepreneur

It’s no secret that I’ve always had a thing for entrepreneurs…entrepreneurs at least 6’2 with dashing good looks and broad shoulders. But with those broad shoulders comes a lot of extra weight that can weigh down on a girl if not completely understanding and open to what she’s about to get herself into.

An entrepreneur is a whole different breed of man and are not for the faint of heart. More than likely, you fell in love with your entrepreneur for his passion, ambition and overall need to succeed. Unfortunately, it’s that same ambition that will start to test your relationship and get your entrepreneur into trouble.

So, for all you doe-eyed loveys out there considering diving head first into the mystical abyss of entrepreneur love and supporter-dom, here are a few tips I’ve learned, hard knocks in hand and home, along the way as to how to love an entrepreneur.

He’s Going to Be Gone… ALOT.

If you’re someone that considers themselves a dependent (I realize everyone fancies themselves an independent woman but let’s be real here) and doesn’t like being alone, you’re going to find out real quick that loving an entrepreneur is going to be much more difficult than you had originally planned. Personally, I am completely fine entertaining myself (being alone is the only time I don’t feel guilty stuffing my face with brownie batter and flipping on the latest Nicolas Sparks flick) but if you’re an individual that needs a companion to lick the batter spoon right alongside you at every breaking moment, make sure you have a good support group, friends or family, that you’ll be able to rely on when your love is away. Furry friends will help with this issue as well.

Get Used to the Mess.

My friends and family will tell you that I’m a nut when it comes to my home. Design. Décor. Cleanliness. You name it. As much as those items mean to me, they take a back seat when you date an entrepreneur—especially when you share an 1100sq ft beach condo with one. Entrepreneurs go through many stages, product development sometimes being one of them, and their amazing creativity will undoubtedly make a mess of your home from time-to-time. There have even been days (strings of days) when I have been strictly informed not to clean our home. I smile, nod and proceed to schedule a Doctors appointment knowing I’m undoubtedly forming an ulcer. Ulcer or no ulcer, it’s his house too…and that will become very apparently when his stuff is EVERYWHERE.

Buy Baskets.

Why buy baskets, you ask? See item 2. You’ve heard of the crazy bag lady? I am the crazy basket lady. The entrepreneur’s “stuff” will soon find its way into every nook and cranny in your home. At one point, I could have done the backstroke in our bedroom through the pool of prototypes on the floor. So unless your honey is peddling vases or Kate Spade picture frames, hide the “stuff” in a basket. Who needs marriage counseling when you have baskets?

It’s Not Junk.

Dear God don’t throw anything away without his approval. What is one woman’s junk (pretty much everything he brings into the house) is an entrepreneur’s treasure. Entrepreneur really means Hoarder in Latin. So whether it be a screw, a post-it with something scribbled on it, a magazine from six years ago or a used band-aid, DO NOT toss it without his approval. Tip: Put (hide) what you consider toss items in a basket and once a week, go through the items together, coaxing him to get rid of any unneeded “stuff.”

Save His Accomplishments and Share Them with Friends and Family.

He will have accomplishments in his career, whether it be a local newspaper feature or a small business award, and if he’s like most men, he’ll never keep the proof let alone share it with the one person in his life that wants him to succeed even more than you do—his mother. So keep these awards and recognitions for him (and his mom) because one day he’s going to really appreciate that you have.

Feed Your Entrepreneur.

He will get busy. He will forget to eat. He too needs to feel loved even when it’s HE who is away from you all of the time. Yes, I love to cook so this one is a little easier for me, but I always make sure my baby is fed, whether it be a late dinner or pre-packed leftovers for lunch the next day. I, myself, travel quite a bit for work so will cook ahead, package him meals for the week accompanied with individual post-it notes as to which day and time he should be eating which pre-packed meal….Too far?

Know When it’s Time to Leave or Time to Stay.

Like I said, loving an entrepreneur is not easy, but your happiness and goals need to be just as important and successful as his business.

Do Not Try to Change Him.

Entrepreneurs do not just wake up one day and decide it is their lively hood. It is in their blood and there is no changing who they are. If a couple deals have gone south, leashing him up to a dog house with only a few feet of rope is not going to help your cause. He’s not going to become an accountant or architect because you think he needs a normal desk job like your friends’ husbands. If you’re picking fights with him because of who he is, take a step back and consider the real root of the problem and what the resolution is. If the fix comes down to changing him, it isn’t him that needs to change.

Tread Lightly When it Comes to Major Business Decisions

As the lead supporter in his life, you are entitled to an opinion but at the end of the day, it is a business that HE owns and it is his decision to make. This is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome and one of the most critical to remember. This is the make-or-break tip of the day. Yes, it is hard to watch the love of your life put themselves in a tough position, partner with a bad person, or shell out money to something hap-hazard, but from experience, what is even harder, is mending the divide you start to create between the two of you when you do not side with his decisions. There is a fine line between being a cautious supporter and being a nay-sayer. It is in our blood to protect the ones we love, but like a mother who lets their toddler fall when learning to walk so they try, try, try again, we too need to let our entrepreneurs fall and learn on their own. If owning your own business was easy, everyone would do it. It’s battling the risk who makes them who they are and because they are capable of overcoming it on their own against all odds…that is why we fall and stay in love with them.

Make time to stay in love.

You’re both busy. You’re both leading crazy lives. There are times he’ll be too busy to comment on your new hair style or how spic and span the floors look after you’ve spent your entire Saturday afternoon cleaning them. Get out of the house. Go dancing. Go get dinner at that place you’ve always wanted to go. Also, remember that he thinks and makes hard decisions all day long. Spending time together is one executive decision he won’t mind you making. Odds are he’s going to appreciate the break and appreciate even more that you made the decision to do so for him.  P.S. Kevin, I just booked Cabo for us and put it on your credit card. Xoxo

Have you dated an entrepreneur? What kept you together? What pulled you apart?

Country Style Rhubarb Crumble Crisp – Like Mother Used to Make

Rhubarb Crisp

Like a fresh picked olive or tri-tip cut in Iowa, finding rhubarb in a grocery store in California calls for a celebratory happy dance.

When I told my fellow Californians how excited I was to have found and purchased rhubarb, they starred at the red and green finds blankly. GASP—they have no idea what rhubarb is!

Well, I’ll tell you what rhubarb is. Rhubarb is this amazing sour meets sweet fruit (at least, I think it’s a fruit…I’m totally calling it a fruit) that, when combined with a little sugar and a melt-in-your-mouth crumb topping, becomes one of the absolute best Midwest desserts that will ever meet your taste buds. So if you’re looking to try something new, or if you’re like me and looking for a little piece of back home, it’s time to pick up some rhubarb.

Country Style Rhubarb Crumble Crisp


5 Cups sliced rhubarb (about 8 stalks)
½ Cup sugar
3 Tbsp. Corn Starch
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg

Crumb Topping
½ Cup Butter, melted
1 Cup Oatmeal/Old Fashioned Oats
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Flour

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together sliced rhubarb, sugar and corn starch. Toss to coat. Pour mixture into a 9×11 greased pan. Set aside.

To make your crumb topping, melt your butter in a bowl and add the rest of your ingredients. Mix ingredients evenly until you have a crumble consistency. Top your rhubarb evenly with your crumb topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes until bubbly. Serve with vanilla ice-cream and enjoy!

Good Ol’ Fashioned Pot Roast

Pot Roast

I’m a career girl. I work A LOT. But that doesn’t stop me from cooking up a storm… most days anyway. Yes, I have my off days (mac and cheese, anyone?) but when I can anticipate an extra-long day at the office, those 12 hour-ers that have you crawling home, I try to plan my meals in advance. For those days, I break out what I call my handy-dandy “Freezer Packs.”

A freezer pack is simply fresh veggies, typically potatoes, onions, carrots and celery that I cut up, toss in a zip-lock and throw in the freezer. These little packs are life savers. Ready and willing my little freezer packs sit until they’re needed to save the day. The only other items you need are a crock-pot and a protein of your choosing.

Enter the pot roast—best friend of the freezer pack. I always like to have one of these bad boys in the freezer as well, just waiting for me to pull out when a long day at the office is in the forecast. Together, my freezer pack and slab of pork will make the perfect pair, and the best part, it takes me no time at all!

Make Ahead Freezer Pack

4 Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes (I used whole red potatoes which works equally well)
4 Celery stalks
1 Onion, sliced
4 Carrots, chopped into pieces

Clean and chop into pieces, all of your vegetables. Place veggies in a zip-lock bag. Close bag and date bag with marker. Place bag in freezer and utilize when needed. Note—you can add (or leave out) any vegetables of your choosing.

Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

2-3lb pork chuck roast
1 Cup beef broth (any broth works, really)
1 Packet onion soup mix
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Freezer pack of vegetables (or you can always use fresh veggies)

Spray crock-pot with cooking spray and turn setting to low. Place pot roast into slow-cooker. Sprinkle half of onion soup mix over pot roast. Top the roast with your vegetables. Pour beef broth over top of vegetables and sprinkle with the remainder of your onion soup mix. Cover and let cook on low setting for 8 hours…or whenever you make it home from the office (wink!) Serves nicely with soda bread or similar. Enjoy!

Monogram Mania


Finally! Mom’s everywhere can now consider themselves cool for labeling every-single-thing their children own with initials blazing. The monogram is back and not just for moms.

If you haven’t noticed, personalization of personal items is all the current rage. Umbrellas to coolers. Phone cases to designer handbags. First, middle and last initial will be sure to turn heads this season—they’ve certainly turned mine!

So if you’re looking to monogram your look from head to toe, check out these amazing finds. These are some of my personal favorites but I would love to know what yours are! What have you monogrammed?

Monogram Finds in Banner Photo
From Top Left: Duffle Bag. Cocktail Ring. Umbrella. Scarf.
From Bottom Left: Fleece Vest. Tumblers. Notebook. Throw Pillow.