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.

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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

Ingredients

Filling
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

IngredientsIMG_2968
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

Directions
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

Ingredients
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

Monograms

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.

Rockin the Romper

Blue Romper

I’ve never been a fan of the “romper”. Not because I don’t think they’re completely adorable (because they are!) but because they have a tendency to make the vertically impaired feel, well, even more vertically impaired.

The floral print and blue and coral color combo are what initially won me over on this little Asos number. I didn’t care if it made me look like a stubby watermelon shoved into a jumper—I was determined to make it work, hobbit look-a-like or not.

Blue Romper

Blue Romper

Summer Shoes

To my surprise, when I modeled it for my mirror, I actually felt skinny and elongated in it. It’s the only romper I can say this about. Because of the drop waist and flowing shorts, it gives the illusion of a longer torso, perfect for my fellow shorties out there!

Long story short, I’m in LOVE with this look and determined to find more jumpers exactly like it. I’ve crossed over and this shorty is a believer!

Amanda’s Look
Floral Romper: Asos. Similar Yumi Kim
Summer Sandals: Saks Fifth Ave Gray
Coral Seed Bead Bracelet: Similar Etsy TeeceTorre