Friday, September 19, 2014

Finding Comfort

Sometimes things don't go as expected…

THE SOUND OF MUSIC -"My Favorite Things" from Helena Moreno on Vimeo.

I guess that's when you watch Julie Andrews sing about her favorite things. :)

The Sound of Music is a musical from the 1960's wherein a nun (Julie Andrews), who wasn't fitting in at the abbey, is sent to care for a family of 6 children right before the beginning of World War 2. Under her care and guidance, the children blossom, learning how to sing and have fun in ways that haven't been allowed since their mother died many years earlier. While the story is definitely a coming-of-age tale of the nun who didn't fit in and the children who didn't know how to have fun, the story is also an account of the very beginning of the war years in Austria and how war changes people, sometimes for the worst.

What comes to mind when you think of comfort? Have you seen The Sound of Music?

* I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?
** Buy The Sound of Music on Amazon or on Google.
*** Download "My Favorite Things" from Amazon.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Make Money Doing What You Love

Image Credit: Giovanni Orlando

Today's #30lists list was to mention what you wish made you money. Obviously, I want everything I do to make money. A nickel for brushing my teeth, a dime for going shopping, a quarter for budgeting… Think about how quickly all of those cents add up! Justin can hardly believe that when I spot a penny on the ground I will stoop to pick it up. He says that not only are the coins gross and covered in germs, but they aren't hardly worth anything. I am of the opinion that pennies add up quickly, and I'm willing to take the germs with the monetary gain.

Luckily, assuming you are of the Justin-persuasion and anti-penny picking up, there are still plenty of options to make money by doing the things you already do. So what do you do? Here are few things that I do:

• blogging
• photography
• traveling
• budgeting
• shopping/going out to eat/going to the movies
• and most importantly SLEEPING!!! :)

Now, obviously whatever I put my main focus on has the most opportunity for monetary gain. If you don't develop and gain skill, how can you get any better at what you are doing? And if you don't improve at what you are doing, how can you make more money? The answer is simple: you can't.

So how do you make money doing all of those things I mentioned above?

1. Blogging – You can monetize your blog. If you are a blogger, I'm sure you already know that, but it's worth mentioning if you don't. There are multiple ways to go about it, but the gist is, for products you promote, and clicks or buys that those products receive from buyers on your blog, you receive money. Companies even offer products for you to try and they pay you for it sometimes with money and sometimes with products you might have bought anyway.

Here are a few examples of companies I work with:

One2One Network gave me a copy of Train's Bulletproof Picasso for review.
Shopsense gives me $.05 every time someone clicks on a link that I have monetized through them. It doesn't add up quickly and I have never been able to cash out with them, but, for me, it's nice seeing that my readers are interested in some of the same things as me. Plus, it lets me know what products I should blog more about … and which products I should blog less about. :)
VigLink is super easy and monetizes links on your site that aren't monetized through any other company. They only pay if someone clicks and buys through your link. And the worst part, even if a link goes through VigLink and someone does buy the product, if the company has decided you aren't receiving enough clicks, you still don't get money for it. Argh. Making money from a blog is hard.

2. Photography – Obviously you are aware that there are people in this world who solely take images for an income. Photographers do that; perhaps you've heard of them? But there are other monetary opportunities with pictures as well. For example, you could sell stock images. I've never done that, but you can easily google places to sell them. There are a variety of options including a one time payment as well as payment options for every time someone downloads one of your images from a stock photography site. Sound too good to be true? Maybe, but maybe not. Be careful when doing this, because if someone downloads and uses an image you sold to a stock photography site, they might be able to use it for commercial use and make more money off of it than you will ever see. This is just a chance you take in making a quick buck for your work.

Another option you might consider if you are good at editing is agreeing to edit other photographers' work for a small fee. Be sure to receive written permission and have the correct documents signed (speak with your lawyer for more information on what you need) from the photographer before doing so though; you don't want to get into legal trouble.

3. Traveling – If you like to travel a lot, be sure to follow blogs about traveling like Boarding Area. Often they will post deals for signing up for hotel/rental car/flying loyalty programs that can earn you points. There are also dining programs and shopping portals (United and Delta Skymiles for example) you might consider using just for doing the things you normally do – dinning out and shopping. Recently I've also seen where travel and financial blogs have encouraged obtaining reward credit cards and using the bonuses they offer to obtain your ideal vacation more cheaply and easily than you could have done otherwise. Here are a few options I recommend:

Capital One Venture Card is a credit card my husband and I obtained in August last year and took advantage of for free during our first year with the company. We got the card because we needed one that offered "no foreign transaction fees" since we were planning a trip abroad. One of the major bonuses is that you get 2x the points on everyday spend and those points can be redeemed for Amazon giftcards and used to pay for travel expenses. So far we have received more than $700 in Amazon cash and at least $120 towards travel expenses. Not bad, huh? We aren't even going to talk about all of the fees the card could have saved us in Europe. When we talked about dropping the card early this month, it seemed silly given the low $49 fee when we were making more than we were spending by renewing the card!
IHG Rewards Club – I had gold status throughout the year at a variety of US branded hotel chains that I received through … whatever means, but IHG has seemed to be the most worthwhile for me. You can get status by signing up for the IHG credit card with the first year being free and every year following being $49. The main perk with the card, from what I understand, is receiving one night free every year on your anniversary with the card. Since you get status perks, like room upgrades, free meals, etc, the card could very well be worthwhile. I don't have the card, so I can't really say too much about that. The thing I love about the IHG program is the low prices (frequently lower than any other hotel brand) and the points break options. Staying at a hotel for 5,000 points? Nice! Sometime last year we stayed at a hotel in Chattanooga for one night earning enough points to stay at a points break hotel in Asheville for two nights completely free! The free room wasn't dingy either; it had a refrigerator and a view of the mountains! Yes, there are definitely perks to being an IHG loyalist, and I have found them! :)

4. Budgeting – I feel a bit like I'm wasting my time talking about making money budgeting, since, if you are in the know, you know how to make money budgeting. For arguments sake, we'll go over a few of your options.

Santander Bank currently offers an extra $20 a month if you open both a checking and savings account with them, have a minimum deposit in both accounts, direct deposit $1500 a month into the checking account and pay at least 2 bills through BillPay. That's an extra $240 a year just for paying bills! I haven't used this bank before, but the offer sounds good to me…
SmartyPig is an online bank that allows you to develop savings goals and provides high interest for any money you deposit into your savings accounts with them. Furthermore, when you are ready to cash out, you can purchase gift cards at a percentage off to make your savings go even further! If you'd prefer, obviously, you can simply have the money deposited into your checking and savings accounts with your regular bank as well.

There are also opportunities for making money through credit card usage (as mentioned above), investing, using CDs, etc, etc, etc… I am not a financial advisor, so I can't really tell you all of the ways you can make money through budgeting. The point is: you can.

5. Shopping/Going Out to Eat/Etc… – Obviously, you can do any of the above things (using shopping portals, credit card spend) to earn money by doing the things you would normally do, but you could also take advantage of apps and mystery shopping to make even more money.

• Apps like Field Agent, EasyShift, and GigWalk alert you to when a job is in your area, how much you will get paid for doing the job, when it needs to be completed by, and what exactly the job entails. Some jobs net you a lot for your time and effort while others may only be worth it if you were already out shopping or running errands anyway.
• Other apps like Shopmium and RetailMeNot provide coupons. With Shopmium you submit your receipt after shopping if you have any items on their list; they then send a refund to you via Paypal. RetailMeNot provides coupons for both online and offline shopping. I always check out this app when shopping at stores like Macy's, Home Depot, or Michael's; the app is less relevant for grocery stores where you would need coupons for individual food items.
• You've heard me mention using ReceiptHog and ReceiptPal before. These are both great apps that give you money (and points) for submitting your receipts after you return from shopping. $30 in my paypal account for a few minutes of my time after shopping? Heck yeah!
• I recently starting doing mystery jobs for companies like A Closer Look and Goodwin and Associates. As such I can't really provide reviews for either company. So far I have done jobs that involved going to see a movie in the Imax theatre with popcorn and drinks and a compliance shop at a local grocery store when my husband and I went to buy some alcohol. I've also seen mystery shops available for bowling, staying at hotels, ordering pizza, going out to eat at local restaurants, and even gambling! Since you don't get paid/reimbursed for a full 2 months after you complete the jobs, I'd recommend not doing anything you wouldn't otherwise do. Also, it does take up to an hour or more to fill out some of the very in depth forms, so don't leave my blog post thinking of this as a quick "get rich scheme". It is so not.
• Finally, be sure you use online portals when checking out online. A good comparison site is Cashbackholic. Some even offer a bonus for joining like Ebates, MrRebates, and ExtraBux! After you spend enough money, the online portal will send you a check or paypal for the amount you are being refunded! It's a great way to get cash back on things you are already purchasing online! In the past 3 years I've earned more than $200 back!

6. Sleeping – Unfortunately, the only way I can think of to make money doing this is if you are involved in a sleep study. You may just have to sleep this one out. ;)

Are you taking full advantage of all of your monetization opportunities? Do you make money doing what you love? Are there any other opportunities you can share with me? I always love hearing about new and different ways to make money!

Be sure to go enter my beauty giveaway! For the next two days, you can earn an extra two entries just by entering!

** None of the companies I've mentioned have compensated me in any way, shape, or form for my referrals on this post. All opinions are my own. You are responsible for any actions you take as a result of my recommendations. Please don't do anything I wouldn't do. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Individuality in the Media

When the little girl I watch became enthralled with the music video for "Shake It Off", I almost threw up. Taylor Swift? Really? But the song got stuck in my head, and inevitably I went to watch the Behind the Scenes and discovered that her intention was far from what I had picked up on initially from watching the video. Taylor Swift was encouraging individuality and "dancing to the beat of your own drum", an idea that I can't help but respect her for whether or not I approve of her song or music video.

Taylor Swift isn't the only music artist to encourage individuality recently though.

I always go back to Sara Bareilles and "Brave"…

And then there is Tori Amos' most recent album "Unrepentant Geraldines" where she sings multiple songs about the process of growing older, women's issues, and remaining true to yourself…

While all of these artists have very different audiences in mind, the celebrities' intentions of encouraging uniqueness and individuality stand out as something to be applauded and as a very positive message to share with the world. We don't often hear about being yourself, especially as we grow older, so it's great to see celebrities reinforcing the ideas we heard as children.

I think children and teens will be able to relate easier to celebrities like Taylor Swift in much the same way that they related to Sesame Street as a child. If a cool celebrity like Taylor Swift encourages you to be yourself, what choice do you have? … It's also pretty great for older artists like Tori Amos to talk about these issues from an entirely different perspective.

Being yourself – your unique, quirky, individual self – allows you to move forward through life in ways that holding back or fitting in simply don't. Only when you break through the mold of what is expected of you can you truly excel.

Are you enjoying seeing celebrities endorse uniqueness as much as I am?

And, more importantly, why haven't you entered my giveaway yet? :)

** I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Beauty Giveaway

I recently received a bunch of beauty products to try, and I thought it would be fun to share in the experience with my readers. Guess what that means?


There will be 3 beauty pack winners and 8 sample pack winners. Here's what they will get:

In the 3 beauty packs:
• 8 Vichy Life Serum samples
• .37 fl oz L'Oreal RevitaLift Miracle Blur Instant Eye Smoother sample
• $2 coupon toward any Revitalift Miracle Blur Product (excludes trial size, 12/31/14)
• L'Oreal Paris Scarlet #306 Lip Color
• Redbook subscription for you and a friend
• L'Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Restoring Shampoo, Conditioner, and Damage Erasing Balm (.34 oz of each)
• L'Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Triple Resist Reinforcing Shampoo and Conditioner (.34 oz)
• $2 off coupon toward any L'Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Triple Resist treatment (12/31/14)
• 8 Miracle Blur Instant Eye Smoother samplers to share with friends
• 8 Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Skin Smoother Finishing Cream samples to share with friends
• U By Kotex tampons and liners

In the 8 sample packs:
• .37 fl oz L'Oreal RevitaLift Miracle Blur Instant Eye Smoother sample
• $2 coupon toward any Revitalift Miracle Blur Product (excludes trial size, 12/31/14)
• L'Oreal Paris Scarlet #306 Lip Color
• Redbook subscription for you and a friend
• 1 Miracle Blur Instant Eye Smoother sampler

Sound exciting?

In order to win one of the prizes above, follow With Love on Google+ or subscribe via RSS feed and use the rafflecopter below to find other ways to enter. All entries must be received by October 2nd at midnight. The giveaway is open to US entrants only over 18. Winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter and will be notified within a weeks time by email and their name will be posted on the rafflecopter widget. New winners will be chosen within 48 hours if I do not hear from the first chosen.

So… what are you waiting for? Enter now! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 15, 2014

26 Clichés I Had Never Heard Before

I'm technically suppose to blog about my favorite clichés today, but there are so many! Clichés I mean, not necessarily favorites. Instead I have decided to explore the ClichéSite and find one cliché per letter of the alphabet that I like and was previously unfamiliar with. The goal is to learn something about the clichés and have a bit of fun while doing it!

Aa many chins as a Chinese phone book.

My first thought was "isn't that funny"… chins … Chinese. When I think of Asian names, I think of Hu's, Ho's and Heh's, but not necessarily chin. (Sorry, I don't know many Chinese-specific names.) Come to find out this cliché has absolutely nothing to do with last names at all! It's about being fat –
The fact that someone has a great amount of excess skin and flesh under their chin.
So depressing.

Box of fluffy ducks.

Ok, I admit it. I'm purposely choosing the funny sounding ones. A box of fluffy ducks sounds adorable!!
1. I am fine.
2. I am content or doing well.
   Used as a response to the question, How are you?
This cliché is from New Zealand, and now that I know it I reallllllllllllyyyyy want to use it.

To cowboy up.

This makes me think of a western movie. Or! Or! Or! How I Met Your Mother. Anyone else want to suit up? ;)

Neil Patrick Harris really pulled that one off well! So what does "to cowboy up" really mean?
To be tough but with honor and dignity.
Not what I was expecting! I don't necessarily think of "honor and dignity" when I think of cowboys. Hmm … Learn something new every day. :)

Dangle a carrot in front of him.

He's a horse, obviously. :)
To motivate someone by providing an incentive or reward.
Everything's copasetic.

Honestly I had no idea what copasetic meant when I chose this one. (It means "in excellent order".)
Everything is going according to plan.
Time to take over the world!

Fell off my plate.

I imagine someone that is sooo tired that they fall into their plate of spaghetti. And yes, it must be spaghetti. No other food will do.
Describes the situation of having forgotten to do one of many things that you were supposed to do.
And I was worried I'd never be able to use this cliché again!

 Garlic milkshake.

1. Very strong.
2. Very powerful.
Hide the salami.

Am I hungry? Salami, milkshake, carrot, plate?! ;)
Didn't see that one coming. :)

It's raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock.

Umm… What does a rock have to do with anything?
1. It is raining very hard.
2. There is a lot of rain coming down.
I'm still not sure what the rock has to do with anything?

Just fell off the turnip truck.

I admit I knew this one, but it was one of the more amusing 'j' clichés.
A derogatory expression used to describe someone who is not very smart or who is dumb.
Keep your hair on.

Thanks for the advice, but I'm not exactly wearing a wig…
Used to tell someone to stay calm or to be patient.
People must wear a lot more wigs in Australia…

Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.

How have I not heard of this? It sounds like something that would predominantly be said in the south!
 If nothing bad happens.
I can't imagine any situation when I would be comfortable saying this. I think I'll stick to the very southern "Bless your heart!" :) I know what that means and when to use it. ;)

Mony a mickle maks a muckle.

Can you say that five times fast?!
Many little things add up to something great.
As nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Didn't see that one coming! ;)

One taco short of a combination plate.

I feel like someone just made this one up. A real cliché? Come on! You make me sad!
A derogatory expression used to describe someone who is not very smart or who is dumb.

Pig dog.

Either someone can't make up their mind which animal it is or there is some weird inbreeding going on.
1. #sshole.
2. Used as an exclamation to communicate that you are very angry at someone.
Not sure what to think of the Germans at this point. :)

Quit horsing around!

Dang! There aren't many Q clichés! You know what this means, right?
Stop grabbing or tackling each other.
Hmm… I thought it meant stop fooling around/being silly/doing the opposite of what you are suppose to… I have decided that some websites need to do more research. :)

Raining pitchforks.

Raining very heavily.
Slicker than snot on a door knob.

Very slick or slippery.
That's exactly what you tell kids after mopping, right?

The technicolor yawn.

Did this saying come out in the 50s?
Describes the act of vomiting or regurgitating.
Awww… I really didn't see that one coming! I thought it meant to be rude or yawn in someone's face … not that.

Useless as tits on a boar hog.

That is pretty useless.
Not at all helpful or useful.
Like a virgin on prom night.

I feel like this saying may have been made famous by Madonna or Billy Joel
1. Very nervous. 2. Not calm or peaceful. 3. Paranoid. 

Ok, I guess Madonna was bit more high class than that. After all, she was in Venice…

What's cookin', good lookin'?

Awww. That is not a pick-up line, is it?!
1. What are you doing?
2. How are you?
I'm sure they meant to include "babe" or some such thing when writing the explanation; they just didn't think about it…

Your father wasn't a glass maker.

I knew it.
Often used by children, this is really a directive to tell someone to move out of the way because you cannot see what you are looking at.
Would a child really think of that? It seems a bit deep.

Zip it.

I needed a 'Z'. :)
Used as a directive to instruct someone to stop talking.
What are some of your favorite clichés? Did you learn any new ones from this post?

** I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Movie Night!!

Things necessary for staying in on a Friday night…

• an awesome husband
• freshly popped, homemade popcorn
• a good movie
• and a blanket.

But sometimes it's nice to go out to the theatre, especially when you don't have to pay… I had the luxury of having a few jobs this summer pay me to go to the movies. (Best jobs ever, amiright?!) I only went a few times, but I thought I would review the movies I saw, so you would know what to see … as well as what not to see.

I started off the summer well with a viewing of Edge of Tomorrow. Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise take action movies to an entirely new level in this film. I'm not a big blood and guts kind of person; the truth is they make me sick. I knew before even walking into the theatre that seeing this movie, for me, was probably not the best of ideas. On top of that little issue of mine, I was also completely convinced that a character dying every. single. day. would get boring and monotonous. I was wrong. On both counts. The director, editors, and creators of this movie did a fantastic job moving the story along, not allowing it to get stuck at any single point despite the heavy repetition, all the while keeping me entranced – eyes glued to the screen. Even Justin, who watched the movie much later while distracted, couldn't keep his eyes off of it either. The movie just draws you in. Not many movies do that for me any more, so I was really surprised that this movie could have that kind of hold on me.

With 8/10 on IMDB and 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and my approval (the most important of any!), I highly recommend seeing this film. It's definitely one of the best that this summer has produced.

While not at the top of my list of must-see movies, Chef was a fun story even if it lacked in plot. Basically, a chef (duh) loses his job when he refuses to cook the same outdated unadventurous food his boss insists on, that has always been on the menu at a local restaurant, for a food critic. Rather than lose status as "artist", he takes to the road in a food truck with his best friend exploring the states, learning to make new foods, teaching his son all about cooking, and becoming an entrepreneur. Like I said, the story is fun and engaging, but don't expect a deep plot. At the very least there are some fabulous actors and actresses thrown into the movie – like Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, and Robert Downey Jr. – that make it worth at least one viewing.

This movie is rated 7.4/10 on IMDB and 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Blended. Drew Barrymore. Adam Sandler. You've seen it before, you'll probably see it again. Redundant, expected, usual … and heartwarming. As only these two actors can be.

Rated 6.5/10 on IMDB and 14% on Rotten Tomatoes.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a kid friendly animated adventure that only really excites kids and whose trailer, even, bores me just a little. If you see this movie, expect to see a stupid main character do stupid things in an effort to save dragons, meet his mother, and keep his girlfriend (while she stupidly follows along encouraging him). Great family movie, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it as an adult.

The masses seem to disagree with me giving the movie an 8.2/10 on IMDB and 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (It would seem you will have to decide for yourself whether or not this movie is worth a viewing.)

To be honest, I did not want to see Guardians of the Galaxy. A talking raccoon? A talking tree? I'll watch sci-fi, but I am not a sci-fi girl. To my surprise, this movie was fun! The music, the super heroes, the comedy, the adventure… I loved it! And the best part: only a few weeks later the kids I watch are obsessed with the soundtrack. More specifically, I have heard the two teenage boys I watch crooning away to Michael Jackson's "I Want You Back". There is nothing quite like hearing that; it made my day. haha. :)

Even if we never have another Spider Man, Batman, or even The Incredibles, I am definitely looking forward to the release of Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I only hope that they can do even half as good as they did with the first.

This movie has received 8.6/10 on IMDB and 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

What movies have you seen recently? Are there any really good ones that you would recommend for a movie night in? … or out?

* I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?
** Psst! You can go here to listen to the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack on youtube! … Or buy the soundtrack on Amazon! You know you want to! :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mid-Year: A Look Back

Image Credit: Arcreyes

So far this year I have…
• written a blog post that has received more than 1,000 views!
• babysat a 4 year old for a week and learned quite a bit.
• attended the broadway production of the musical Once.
• bought a truck! This was my first big purchase ever.
• moved to a new home against my will.
• travelled to Europe for the first time ever.
• took a trip to Panama City Beach, FL to see the ocean.
• lost my job.
• began a new one.
• visited Charleston to get away from it all.
• celebrated my birthday with macarons and French cooking!
• scheduled a flight to DC for October to visit some friends.
• and went with Justin to see John Hodgman for his birthday.
I am in a completely different place in life than I was when I wrote my 2014 new years goals and quite a few of them have changed as I have grown and changed. I am grateful for all of the wonderful experiences this year has brought so far, sad about the changes I didn't plan for, and excited for what is to come.

Given today's date, I also wanted to share this post from last year – a reminder of how America survived one of the most difficult and tragic days of my existence. On the one hand I feel that I should devote a full day's post to the tragedy, but on the other hand I feel that moving on, without forgetting, is also the correct thing to do. What do you think? Will you be doing anything special to commemorate today in honor of those who were lost 13 years ago?

** I'm taking part in 30 Days of Lists! Are you?