Let’s Talk About Cheese, Baby.

Everyone loves a fully-loaded cheese platter, amiright?

6 easy tips to make the perfect cheese display

I know this because no matter the theme of the party I’m hosting, there’s always a platter of cheese on the buffet. When a girlfriend comes over to catch up, I whip up a quick cheese plate. When Brian and I can’t decide what to eat, we’ll smorgasbord like a couple of mad kitchen geniuses, and make a cheese display that will make your mouth water. But you know what? It’s not such a hard task. That’s probably why I do it so often. I’m gasp a little lazy. And cheese is easy. You don’t have to cook it (I mean, melty cheese is great and all, but when your cheese drawer is loaded with the good stuff, you don’t cook that cheesy goodness; you eat that cheese on its own). You barely even have to cut it.

How to create the ultimate cheese plate

As someone who once worked for cheese, I’ve learned a thing or two about cheesemongering. And it’s high time I shared that knowledge with you. Below, I’ve listed the most important six things you should know about making a cheese plate at home.

  • Always taste the cheese first. This step is crucial. If you have the opportunity to taste the cheese before you buy it, awesome. But if you order your groceries online, like I did last week, you probably won’t get to sample it before you buy. That’s okay. Just make sure you have yourself a little nibble of each offering before you serve your guests. Not only will this make you more knowledgeable when you’re talking about the flavors of the cheese, but also, you’re eating cheese. And what’s better than that?
  • Choose a stylish platter. I have a vast selection of cheese plates and platters to choose from. Wood boards, slate platters, ceramic dishes, glass cheese plates…all of these can give your display serious street cred.

how to make a cheese platter at home

  • Mix and match your cheese. Make sure you choose a variety of different cheeses, varying in color, shape, size, texture, and flavor for a full profile of cheesy goodness. For this plate, I chose Merlot BellaVitano (which is a cross between an aged cheddar and parmesan, and brined in merlot), Amablu Blue Cheese, Saint Andre Brie Triple Cream, and Organic Valley Grassmilk Raw Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I meant to add a manchego, which is a really gritty and delicious hard Spanish cheese that Brian loves, but I kept that one unopened in the cheese drawer with the Boar’s Head Monterey Jack with Jalapeno. My bridesmaids are coming over today for dress shopping, and I want to have some cheese to feed them as well. (But seriously you guys. All of these cheeses were available online. Delivered. To my door.)
  • Avoid cutting the cheese. I mean, if you’re hosting a big party and no one’s going to want to slice into your beautiful hunks of cheese, by all means, cut it RIGHT BEFORE you put it out. Do not buy pre-cut cheese. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Fresh cut cheese is a hundred times better than cheese that’s already been cut.
  • Place the cheese out early. Did you know that cheese tastes its absolute best at room temperature? For the tastiest selection of cheeses, let them sit out for about a half hour to 45 minutes before serving. Just keep in mind that food safety rules say it’s okay to leave food out for four hours…so once you hit that four-hour mark, it’s time to bring out fresh cheese. But honestly, cheese wouldn’t sit out for four hours without getting gobbled up, right?
  • Make the platter look full with accouterments. The best way to make a cheese plate look extra appetizing is to add dimension, color, and design by filling it to the brim with some of your favorite accompaniments. I love adding fresh fruit for the bright colors and tasty combination bites of sweet fruit and savory cheese. These strawberries were so stunning, I couldn’t even stop myself from eating a couple before I placed the rest on my platter. The weird square thing? That’s membrillo (quince paste), which is a sweet, fruit-flavored jelly-like substance made from the quince fruit. It looks bizarre but tastes amazing with sharp cheesy flavors. I like to sprinkle fresh nuts throughout a cheese platter as well to really fill it up (plus, I love nuts. Don’t you?).
Look at that beautiful strawberry!

That strawberry is the real deal, y’all. I can’t even with this fruit. And it was picked out for me by the fine team at Peapod.

These are the basic tricks I use to create decadent displays that I share with my friends and family when they visit our home. Sometimes, we even take these snacks on the road with us to bring to a party. Basically, cheese = friends. You’re welcome.

I want to have specialty cheeses delivered to my front door. Click To Tweet

What tips do you have for making a killer cheese plate? Do you have any favorite cheeses or accouterments? Have you ever experienced the unadulterated joy of online grocery shopping?

This post was sponsored by the wonderful people at Peapod, a grocery delivery service that pretty much changed my life. All food pictured above was delivered to my house without a second of me having to go into a grocery store, stand in line, or impulse buy stuff I don’t need. It may have been one of the most magical experiences of my life. There’s nothing quite like cheese getting delivered to your front door. Links used in this post may be affiliate links, which will earn me a commission should you use them to shop for groceries online. While I was compensated to write this post, all opinions expressed are from my own completely unbiased and cheese-obsessed brain.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

How to Bake the Perfect Cookies

It’s National Cookie Day, you guys. Do you know what that means? Fresh-baked, melty-chocolatey, delicious cookies should get in your belly. Immediately.

This post is sponsored by the fine people at Otis Spunkmeyer, several of whom I met a few weeks ago in Chicago while sampling their delicious snacks. As always, these opinions, ideas, and word babies are all mine. 

We hung out with some giant cookies at the Otis Spunkmeyer Sneak Peak last month.

This is my new blogging bestie Anna from Anna Dishes. If you like food or flowery things, she’s your girl. She’s also DEFINITELY one of my soulies, as we bonded over a lot of food and booze AND she let me stalk her the entire time she was here in Chicago. You’ll note she looks adorable while I don’t have a normal bone in my body. 

I love cookies. I’ve always been something of a cookie monster. C is for Chrissy. And cookie. Coincidence? I think not. I was raised to love cookies. I blame my dad. And grandfathers. They were all cookie monsters too. Well, my dad still is. One of his favorite gifts on birthdays and Christmas (a bottle of Courvoisier, wine, or scotch notwithstanding) is cookies.

When I was in high school, there was a little cookie stand down in the basement by the Driver’s Ed simulator hosted by Otis Spunkmeyer (you remember Otis Spunkmeyer for their amazing cookies, probably in high school or college, right?) One of the teachers – I think he was a teacher – would be there every morning 20 minutes before school started through 2nd period, selling cookies. I think it was like 3 for a dollar or something.

Whenever I had time and an extra dollar, I’d mosey on down and order a triple chocolate chip cookie (chocolate cookie with milk and white chips), white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, and oatmeal raisin. And then I’d eat them in all their melty, fresh-baked glory. I’ve always wished I could make delicious cookies like that.

Alas, it’s been many a years of baking…errors. If you haven’t noticed from previous recipes, I’m terrible at following recipes to a T, which is something you need to do with baking. If you don’t get just the right amount of butter, baking powder, baking soda (don’t even get me started on knowing the differences!), eggs etc…you’re doomed to failure. Just last week, I completely burned the Second Thanksgiving pumpkin cupcakes…More on what I did with that later…

I’ve made some pretty UNPRETTY cookies in my time. Flat cookies. Burnt cookies. Undercooked cookies (okay fine. Those were cookie dough balls and I ate them all). BUT…I’ve discovered the secret to perfectly baked cookies every time.

How to bake the perfect cookies

To make the best cookies, it’s a four step process.

First, you remove the cookies from their wrappers. These Otis Spunkmeyer treats (which will be available in a grocery store near you starting early next year) are made with no funky stuff, so they taste just like Mom made them (but with so much less mess).

Otis Spunkmeyer cookies come individually wrapped with no funky stuff!

Otis Spunkmeyer cookies come individually wrapped with no funky stuff!

Then, you place the cookie on a pan (I used a toaster-oven-size stone baking sheet for added crisposity).

Baking an Otis Spunkmeyer cookie in the toaster oven is easy. Just pop it in at 350 for 5-7 minutes for a warm gooey cookie.

Don’t mind my messy toaster oven…

Bake the cookie for 5-7 minutes until it’s warm to touch and the chocolate starts getting a little melty (wait too long and it’ll be super messy, but probably super delicious).

Otis Spunkmeyer cookies have the perfect cookie craters and delicious chunks of chocolate for a fresh cookie with no funky stuff.

That chocolate chunk is just starting to melt…

The secret to the best fresh-baked cookies on the planet. Click To Tweet
Look at that Otis Spunkmeyer melty goodness

Look at that Otis Spunkmeyer melty goodness

See how easy it is to celebrate National Cookie Day? That was my breakfast. I’ll probably have another cookie for dinner. And maybe one for lunch. Brian usually discourages this sort of behavior…but he’s not the boss of me!

Extra details on the Otis Spunkmeyer retail line of products: So much goodness is coming your way, you guys. They’re launching snack cakes, muffins, mini muffins, and of course, cookies. They’ll be in stores and on Amazon Prime Pantry so you can get your fill of deliciousness whenever you want it. And let me tell you. I tried them all, and you will not want to miss out (especially on the lemon cakes).

What are your favorite cookies? Do you have any cookie memories of Otis Spunkmeyer? Are you as excited for this product launch as I am?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

My Mom and Dad are Moving Into the 21st Century

My parents have never really been ones to jump on the technology bandwagon. We didn’t get a home computer until my senior year of high school (and dad referred to it as “The Devil’s Tool”). My parents only have cell phones because I wanted to be able to get in touch with them – so I signed ’em both up on my plan and got them phones. Mom still loves her VHS tapes, and dad swears by his flip phone. Until a few weeks ago, they were perfectly content with their ancient tube TV living inside the entertainment center my dad and I built together when I was about eleven. It was time for a change.

They upgraded to some fancy pants smart TV, not unlike the amazing 43″ Sharp Roku TV that Netflix so very generously provided to me for all the hard work (and by hard work, I mean TV watching) I do for them as part of the Stream Team.

my parents got a new TV, so I thought I'd teach them about Netflix

If you’re not following quirkychrissy on Snapchat, you’re missing out on doodles, people watching and more.

My brother and I convinced our parents to stop paying for premium cable and instead sign up for Netflix where they can watch movies and TV (including some Netflix originals that you can’t watch anywhere else such as House of Cards, which Mama Bear is dying to watch).

So I though I’d share with you the shows and movies I think my parents are really going to enjoy, separately and together.

My parents just got a smart TV. I thought I'd give them a headstart in the wonderful world of Netflix.Netflix for Mom

She loves reality TV, a good drama without too much violence, solid sitcoms, and nostalgic movies.

  • She’s excited to watch House of Cards, though I think she might be surprised by some of the violence (although I guess not after reading this). Even so, that first season is wicked smart. And Robin Wright’s and Kevin Spacey’s performances are killer.
  • Chef’s Table is likely to be a hit with Mom, as she loves watching cooking shows and chefs at work.
  • Friends was always one of Mom’s favorite shows. So I think she’ll enjoy a commercial-free binge watch.

Netflix for Dad

He loves war movies, sci-fi, strong dramas, John Wayne, and musicals.

  • Men in Black II hits the sci-fi nerve that Dad loves. Plus he’s probably seen it so many times, he can have a cat nap while watching.
  • Coyote Ugly is chock full of romance and country music, which Dad loves and Mom despises (the music not the romance). I recommend he watch this when she’s at poker night.
  • The Walking Dead is likely to be entertaining for dad, for at least the forst couple of seasons. I suspect like Brian and I, he’ll get bored with the plot midway through the series and stop watching.

Netflix for my Parents

They share a love of romantic and laugh-out-loud comedies, adventure and disaster movies and TV, and animated classics.

  • Adams Family Values is one of their absolute favorites. My bestie, Lily and I just watched the original Adams Family movie last month and it was just as fantastic as it was when I was a kid, but this one is pure gold for Mom and Dad.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is my favorite Netflix original to date. (Fuller House hasn’t started yet, but I’ve got some seriously high expectations for it). I think both my parents will love the cast and the story, particularly Titus Andromedon.
  • The Walt Disney short films collection is sure to be a hit. Mom will appreciate the brevity, and they’ll both love some of these amazing shorts. When watching Feast, there won’t be a dry eye in the room, but it’ll be worth every second.

Well, Mom and Dad, Welcome to the 21st century. I hope you love Netflix as much as we do! Cheers to a winter full of binge TV! Might I suggest a bottle of wine and a big ‘ole tub of cheese balls?

When your parents get their first smart TV, these shows may just make them addicted to Netflix. Click To Tweet

What Netflix shows do you recommend? We’re always looking for more recommendations, especially with hibernation season right around the corner.

Netflix Stream Team

This is a sponsored post for Netflix. I received a year’s subscription and a device on which to binge watch TV shows and movies in return for these monthly posts.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Karma Chameleon

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of AmazingKarma.com. All opinions are 100% mine.

I believe in karma.

Growing up, my mom would always tell me, “What goes around, comes around.” I try incredibly hard to adhere to that standard and treat others as I wish to be treated. As a general rule, I want to be treated with respect, love and understanding…and I want to show people how to enjoy life the way I enjoy life.

7 Easy Ways to Boost Your Karma

7 Ways to Boost Your Karma – Quirky Chrissy Style

  • Feed people when they come to your home; it’s best to give them something with cheese in it.
  • Wear brightly colored pants to give passersby something to talk about.
  • Ask if someone is okay when they fall down before laughing.
  • Make your public conversations as interesting as possible for people listening to what you say.
  • Fall down to make others laugh, especially if they’ve recently fallen down.
  • Bring shareable snacks to work.
  • Send adorable pictures of animals, babies and memes to make someone smile.

So basically, feed people and make them laugh = karma win.

In all seriousness, guys, I do actually try to do my part in this world in real, tangible ways. BUT…when I do something others might consider charity, I’ve recently been trying to keep that to myself because I don’t want to brag about it. I know in my heart that I’ve done something nice for someone else, and that’s all I need.

Of course, you know how I love games…and when I discovered Amazing Karma had turned the idea of “What goes around, comes around” into a game, I was intrigued. I started looking into this idea and thought it was a fun way to acknowledge people who do amazing things for you with the green karma cards. (And when people aren’t super awesome, you can acknowledge their negative karma with the red karma cards). Obviously, I jumped on the bandwagon and ordered a set of these cards, and I’m looking forward to sharing them in November.

Right now, Amazing Karma Gives away 200K Free Karma Cards so you can play the game of karma and watch as your karma is passed around to others and registered on the site. As people register and pass karma around, you earn points to donate money to a charity of your choice.

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Do you believe in Karma? What are some things you do to boost your karma in the world?

Visit Sponsors Site

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Freedom!

If you imagined pre-crazy Mel Gibson, half naked and about to be decapitated? Well played.

Now let’s talk about something a little more serious.

You are being watched.

You are being watched

Is that creepy? Because I think so. Everything you do. Everything you watch. Every website you visit. Every word you type is tracked. Sure the government may be reading your email. The NSA maybe be tracking your Skype chats. Homeland Security might even be keeping tabs on your shit. (I watch a lot of Person of Interest, and so I’m all engrossed in the world of government agencies spying on everything we do and say. Those red light cameras weren’t put up to ticket us, homies – more on that another time.)

But even creepier is that there are corporations out there. Watching you. Websites and internet spies watching your every move, ready and willing to send your information to the highest bidder. Do you check the permissions before you download an app to your devices? There’s a reason I don’t use the Facebook app or the Twitter app. I use browsers. Because if the apps are on your phone, they have access to your internet connection. Your personal information. Your user history. Your contacts. Everything.

Facebook

Basically, everyone’s trying to put a price on your information. But you can protect yourself, at least a little bit. I never download an app without looking at the permissions that it’s requesting. If I’m downloading a photo editing app, I check the permissions to see what it “needs,” because it probably doesn’t NEED much. In addition to checking permissions, I’ve been running F-Secure Freedome on my devices. This handy protective app blocks websites that could be tracking my information. It checks out my apps when I download them. It blocks tracking attempts. It basically protects me from myself and those “harmful” websites I visit.

Screenshot_2015-03-02-11-23-30When a site is harmful, F-Secure says NO. Bad. Don’t go to that site. Which happened when I went to check out a site that sent me referral traffic on my blog. I was appreciative. Screenshot_2015-02-28-06-40-28

It’s super easy to use and keeps you secure by encrypting your data on free Wi-Fi networks, keeping your virtual identity anonymous, changing your virtual location so you can’t be tracked, and blocking harmful sites and apps. This video sums it up pretty succinctly:

If you’re interested in trying out F-Secure Freedome for yourself, you can do so (and I’m loving it) by visiting Freedome VIP. I even have a special code for my readers so you can try it out for free for 90 days: qsf257

After the trial, the annual subscription is only $16.99, and the monthly subscription is $1.99. I spend more than that on a single nail polish. And it makes me feel better about being on the internet all the time.

As an added bonus, if you try F-Secure Freedome, you’ll have the chance to win an iPad mini and a free year of F-Secure Freedome to keep your privacy safe on your new device. You can enter via the Giveaway tool below.

Blog Friends, what do you do to protect your privacy online? Do you use any apps or tools to keep yourself anonymous? Are you going to try Freedome?

This post was sponsored by F-Secure. I received compensation and a free trial for Freedome to tell you about my experience. As always, I only work with brands and products that I wholeheartedly support.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Get Your Bathroom Ready for the Holidays

I’m working with my friends at Charmin and Roto-Rooter to show you how I get my bathrooms ready for the holidays.

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Charmin. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

As you probably remember, we just moved into our first (and please for the love of cheese, last) house and instead of one piddly apartment bathroom, we’re now the proud owners of three. Full. Bathrooms. This is one of them. This is actually the upstairs hall bathroom, but I like the tree in this bathroom best. I’ve had it for more than twenty years – It started as my bedroom Christmas tree, and now it’s my bathroom tree. The fancy soap dish and soap were Brian’s mom’s. I’m pretty sure that soap just keeps getting put out and no one uses it. I’m okay with that, because the other soap makes my hands smell like gingerbread cookies.

Bathroom Decorated for Christmas

Thanks to our party-friendly house, we (okay fine, I) volunteered to host Christmas. For 30-40 people. Both Brian’s family and my family will be joining us for one of my absolute favorite holidays as we celebrate, eat, drink and make merry.

People keep asking me, “Are you sure?” as if I volunteered out of obligation, but really, ALL MY GRISWOLD DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE!

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to do this. Of course, knowing me, something is bound to go wrong. Thankfully I’m stocked with Charmin (the brand backed by Rotor-Rooter as a clog-free and septic-safe TP) for the holidays so I won’t have to worry about a clogged toilet, even with 30-some-odd people in our house, and can instead focus on not burning myself, cutting myself or falling down the stairs.

Prep your bathroom for the holidays in six easy steps

Step 1: Stock up on toilet paper  – I usually opt for Charmin since it’s the softest, strongest and comes highly recommended by the plumbers at Roto-Rooter. The partnership between Charmin and Roto-Rooters promises that your toilets will stay clog free this holiday season. Make sure to have a couple extra rolls on hand in case someone runs out in the middle of their business. I can’t store them in the cabinet under the sink, since my laundry chute lives there, so I stock TP behind the mirror in the bathroom.

Bathroom stocked with TP

Step 2: Prepare for hand washing with lots of soap – I try to have festive holiday soap for the season, and always have a backup ready to switch out. I also like to have different scents in each bathroom.

Downstairs Bathroom - snowmen

Step 3: Use clean and dry hand towels or disposable hand towels – If you can splurge on the disposable hand towels, life will be oh-so-much easier, but a supply of cloth towels is great as long as you have extras to switch out regularly. With 30-40 people coming to our home, I’m going to have both.

I haven't gotten new fancy Christmas towels yet - I'll buy them after Christmas when they're 75% off.

I haven’t gotten new fancy Christmas towels yet – I’ll buy them after Christmas when they’re 75% off.

Step 4: Place a trash bin next to the toilet – You’ll be especially grateful if you use the disposable hand towels to have an empty trash container with a disposable liner or grocery bag. (I don’t think you need a picture of my trash bin.)

Step 5: Set up a Christmas tree and decorations – I kept things simple this year and just put up my mini tree, but other years, I’ve had Christmas towels and other decorative accents to really celebrate the season.

Mini Christmas tree in the bathroom

Step 6: Invite everyone over – Get ready for the hap hap happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, my friends, because your bathroom is ready to go. Don’t invite your elf on the shelf though. You never know what kind of trouble she’ll get into.

Meredelf Grey - just hanging around.

Meredelf Grey – just hanging around.

And just for fun, I made a quick video for you! Welcome to my upstairs hall bathroom. Thanks a million to my pal Brookie Banosnapper for coming over to shoot this little vid for me. I can’t even tell you how much flack I got for the way I put the toilet paper on the roll. Apparently, she’s of the toilet paper must be placed over and not under camp. I personally could care less, but she made me change it.

Blog Friends, what do you do to get ready for the holidays? Do you host parties this time of year? What holiday-ready bathroom tips do you swear by? Do you have a toilet paper brand preference? How about over or under?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things My Boyfriend Noticed About My Hair and Things He May Have Missed…

Brian rarely notices things I do to my hair. When he does, it’s kind of a big deal. A few weeks ago, I mentioned trying out Living Proof PhD (Perfect hair Day) so that you could get the DL on the life-altering promises that this stuff made. (Wait, you mean I really won’t have to wash my hair as often? And it’s going to be cleaner? And more awesome?) After using this for well over a month, I can safely say that yes, it really did mean less hair washing without looking gross (Note: Previously, I could go about 2 days without washing my hair before it started looking SERIOUSLY oily and gross. That’s me. Not everyone. Just clarifying).

Living Proof

Note: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Living Proof. I received product samples to facilitate my review and to thank me for my participation.

So I’ve been washing my hair every 3 days or so (I actually went 4 days at one point…don’t you judge me) since starting this Living Proof regimen, and I haven’t been disappointed.

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Review

I really enjoyed the results of styling my hair after using PhD. (And I can’t take a picture without making a funny face)

In my infinite wisdom, I styled my hair for Halloween…

Disclaimer: Normal people don't do their hair like this. But it's Halloween week, y'all.

Disclaimer: Normal people don’t do their hair like this. But it’s Halloween week, y’all.

And THANKFULLY, it wasn’t completely destroyed after the mass amounts of hairspray and teasing.

Living proof review

The day after the Halloween party. Unwashed hair. Boom.

And even after washing my hair and styling it, it’s definitely not destroyed.

As I’ve been testing this product out, Brian really has noticed several things about my hair, and I, of course, responded as best as I could:

  •  “Your hair is softer. Did you do something to it?”
    • “I didn’t wash it?”
  • “Your hair smells nice.”
    • “It’s not my favorite smell, but I feel a lot better knowing that it’s just me being weird.” (Disclaimer – I hate orangy/citrusy smells for some odd reason, even though I love orange and citrus)
  • “You’ve been taking a lot of bubble baths lately.”
    • “That’s because I don’t have to shower as often. This pleases me greatly. But I should probably still be clean and wash self.”

Of course, there are things he didn’t notice, and probably wouldn’t have, which bums me out because it’s pretty awesome.

  • My hair is literally squeaky clean. When I’m washing my hair, I don’t know if I’m losing it, but I definitely hear/feel the squeaks. Because this stuff is really getting to the root of the problem. Pun intended.
  • My hair doesn’t look like a disgusting greasy mess, even though you haven’t washed it in days. Well done.
Living Proof

The products I received from Living Proof to review.

In the grand scheme of things, this slightly pricier shampoo/conditioner set seems pretty worth it for the convenience and quality factor. I was legit skeptical at first, but I’m totally a believer. I’m not as big a fan of the styling treatment (I think it’s because I needed to wash my hair slightly more often when I used that, whereas the shampoo and conditioner alone gave me a longer run time), but after watching the following video, I’m willing to give it another go for some beachy waves (is it bad that I’m ALREADY thinking about our next Florida trip?).

So you’re interested in trying this sweet stuff out? Through November 8th, you can get free shipping and a free travel size PhD 5-in-1 Styling Treatment with the purchase of $20 or more using the following Living Proof coupon code.
○ Promotional Code: NOV2014

What do you do for the perfect hair day? What is your idea of a great hair day? How do you combat bad hair days? Have you ever teased the ever-loving-everything out of your hair?

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Living Proof That I Don’t Have to Wash My Hair Every Day #mc #sponsored

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Living Proof. I received free products to facilitate my review and to thank me for my participation.

Living Proof is co-owned by Jennifer Aniston, who truly believes in the products and uses them for herself.

Living Proof is co-owned by Jennifer Aniston, who truly believes in the products and uses them for herself.

So you know how sometimes you just do NOT want to go through all the trouble of getting in the shower, washing your hair, drying your hair, stylish your hair and doing ALL THE THINGS that encompass hair care every. single. day of your life? I know I’m not alone here, people. Not to mention, with my fake ginger mop, I need to wash it less often just to keep the color alive. Well, when Mom Central came to me with a campaign for Living Proof, a hair care system that makes it easier for me to wash my hair less often AND grabs my hair by the ponytail (or double ponytail) to get it under control, I was absolutely in.

I’ve done all sorts of things to combat needing to wash my hair, from baby powder to remove some of the oil to testing out that dry shampoo phenomenon (am I doing it wrong? Is it even working?), I figured trying a new hair care brand couldn’t hurt!

I received my Living Proof PhD shampoo, conditioner, and styling products in the mail last week, so I’ve had a little time to test them out, but I’ll be back in a few weeks to give you a full report on how well it works for my hair. But I CAN tell you about my first impressions and observations.

Living Proof

So far, I’m loving the  smoothness and frizz-reduction which I noticed immediately. I love sulfate-free products because they’re also fab for colored hair. I haven’t used heat on it yet (because I don’t often have time to blow dry my hair when I’m racing out the door to work), but I will soon. Scout’s honor. My hair feels lighter (and I have a LOT of hair). The products have a light citrus smell (probably some type of orange or tangerine), which I don’t love (I’ve always had a weird aversion to citrus smells), but Brian insists that my hair smells really good. PhD doesn’t keep those pesky allergens out of my hair, so I still need to wash every other day to avoid the allergy death match with my eyes.

I’m going to keep it up and keep you posted in a few weeks.

Here are some of the basic deets:

 PhD Shampoo and Conditioner

  • PhD (which is OBVIOUSLY short for Perfect hair Day) includes a shampoo, conditioner, and 5-in-1 styling treatment designed to do all the things! It’s supposed to deliver smoothness, volume, conditioning, strength, and polish with one simple routine
  • The PhD shampoo and conditioner are designed to keep hair cleaner, longer  so that lazy busy girls like me don’t need to wash our hair as often
  • The products are sulfate-free, oil-free and silicone-free, giving you the freedom to use them without worry about less-than-awesome ingredients 

 PhD 5-in-1 Styling Treatment

  • After using the PhD shampoo and conditioner, applying the styling treatment to damp hair (with or without that pesky blow dry)  will  pretty much accomplish everything you want from a hair care product from creating smoothness, boosting volume, and strengthening hair to providing heat protection, UV protection, and static control
  • The styling treatment is oil-free and silicone-free
  • Blow drying with a round brush will enhance volume and body
  • Blow drying with a flat brush will create a smooth, polished blowout

You can take the PhD challenge with me by signing up on the Living Proof website.

Blog Friends, what products do you use to keep your hair under control? Have you heard of or tried Living Proof?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

In Which Petaluma, California Stole a Little Piece of my Heart #PetalumaMade

Words cannot express my gratitude for one of the booziest vacations I’ve ever had. And I’ve been to New Orleans. Twice.

Adobe Road Wines

We began our trip in San Francisco, made our way up to wine country and then down around the bay to San Jose for BlogHer14. (Do I know the way to San Jose? Yes. Yes, I do.)

Of course, I’m planning on going about the details of this ‘cation in a disorderly fashion. I’ve already told you about traveling from Chicago to California, our delayed flight from San Jose to LA, BlogHer14 and shared some beautiful and fun pictures of our Petaluma day trips. But I think the beauty of Petaluma is worth so much more than the thousand+ words from those pictures.

The lovely blogger, Kristi Trimmer, and Petaluma winemaker, Cecilia Enriquez, collaborated to create this stunning tour of Petaluma and the surrounding wineries in the Petaluma Gap. Brian played the part of the token guy and you can see what he really enjoyed by following his Twitter feed.

We started the day at Roast and Vine, the coffee shop next to Hotel Petaluma, where many of the bloggers had stayed or were planning to stay. We had our own accommodations already lined up (and don’t fret, you’ll hear all about those too soon enough) so we drove in that morning from our own little corner of wine country. The lovely Trisha Lyn made adorable wine charms for us to mark our beverages (which of course, I managed to lose mine in the first 5 minutes of the trip.)

Terrific Tours and Azari Wines

Jason from Terrific Tours giving a presentation with the Azari wine maker.

Jason from Terrific Tours picked us up in a large van and played the part of our ‘scape goat, driver, tour guide and overall awesome partner in winery crime (but not really crime. Because this trip was awesome). His knowledge and tidbits of information throughout the trip made it even more educational and interesting. He had a lot to say and he was great company to have on such a fantastic tour. I loved that the website has a “snobbish attitudes not included” comment on their website. And it was true.

Saltonstall Estate Olive Oil and Wine

Saltonstall Estate Olive Oil and Wine

Our first stop was Saltonstall Estate where we sampled a few different wines, olive oils and olives. I couldn’t leave without olives because they were, quite simply, the best olives I have ever had.  Seriously. This certified organic olive orchard produced some incredible olives and olive oils. The wine was equally as delicious.

Azari Vineyards and Corkscrew Wines

The patio and wood-fire oven at Azari Vineyards and Corkscrew Wines

Our next stop was Azari Vineyards, home to Azari and Corkscrew Wines. We toured the beautiful location with the winemaker, enjoyed wood-fire oven pizza, and several amazing wines. Brian and I bought a shiner (a bottle of wine without a label) of Luma Blanc to take home and consume and I can’t wait to drink it with him!

Petaluma grapes

Cheese Pairing at Sonoma Portworkds

Gratuitous cheese and chocolate photo: Pairing at Sonoma Portworks

For our next stop, we made our way back into town to visit Sonoma Portworks, where we were delighted with cheese, chocolate truffles, port, and this amazing sonomic (which resembles a really high-quality balsamic vinegar but SO. MUCH. BETTER).

Sonoma Portworks

We then made our way to Cecilia’s Enriquez Estates, where she welcomed us into her home, shared her wines and brought an amazing cheese monger to pair more cheese with the wine. I was pretty much in heaven.

Enriquez Estates

Enriquez Estates: I think we drank it all…

Enriquez Estates

The view from Enriquez Estates

After tasting the various wines from Enriquez (and picking up a bottle of her tempernillo) and the delicious cheese from Achadinha Creamery (and picking up a large chunk of cheese), we relaxed in Cecilia’s backyard and stared out at the vineyard and the hills.

Achadinha Cheese

This might be my happy place…

Our final stop on the Petaluma tour of the day was Seared for a paired dinner with the winemakers and sponsors. Representatives  from the Petaluma Gap spoke about Petaluma, and the part it plays in Sonoma county wine. Because of the fog and the wind, wines from Petaluma have a distinction all their own. I’ll have an entire post about the delight and treat this dinner was, but for now, I’ll leave you with a wine selfie.

Wine Selfie

The next day we started our trip at Adobe Road Vineyards, where we had a few photo shoots with wine and fast cars, as Adobe Road also houses a great deal of racing cars, including a few Aston Martins.

Aston Martins

Aston Martin at Adobe Road

The Kristas, Kristi and Chrissy

The Kristas, Kristi and Chrissy: All you had to do was say, “Kris or Chris” and someone or four someones would answer.

Adobe Road

The last winery and vineyard that we visited was Keller Estates, which was a surprise addition to our tour after dining with owner, Anna, the previous evening. I was lucky enough to sit beside her at dinner, and she was absolutely wonderful. Her wines and stunning property were also fantastic. For my Chicago area friends, you can find Keller wines at Standard Market!

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The beautiful tasting room at Keller Estates was impressive and comfortable. I could have stayed here for hours!IMG_0924

Alas, our tour had to come to an end, but I can’t wait to visit again and check out the rest of the wines, spirits, beers, cheese and olive oils that Petaluma has to offer!

Have you been to wine country? What would be your favorite part of visiting this beautiful region in California? Are you more of a beer, wine or cheese person?

Full disclosure: The tour and wine tastings were complimentary to our little group, but I received no compensation to write this post. We also received a discount on our meal at Seared. All opinions are very much my own. 

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

How Dr. Travis Stork and Crest Helped Me Conquer My Fear

This post is courtesy of a partnership with Crest and One2One Network. Of course, just because I’m receiving compensation to talk about my fear and my experiences does not make it any less meaningful. It’s all me…Just sponsored.

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I’m afraid of the dentist.

Have I told you that?

I have this thing with metal touching teeth that drives me absolutely bonkers. When you scrape your teeth against your fork to ensure you get every last bite of food off it? I want to rip my hair out. Just THINKING about metal touching my teeth sends an uncomfortable shiver through my body and physical pain through my mouth.

So the fact that I haven’t been to the dentist in 20+ years is something that I am regrettably ashamed to admit. But I’ll tell you. Because this is important. This week, I’ll be making a phone call to make an appointment with…wait for it…a dentist. Who will probably tell me that despite my twice-daily brushing habits, I have cavities (multiples). But I’m going to do it. (Someone confirm that I have done this by the end of the week. I am notoriously bad at remembering to do things that terrify me. I’m looking to you guys to hold me accountable!)

Because May is Women’s Health Month. And something that you wouldn’t normally associate with Women’s Health Month can have a ginormous effect on (you guessed it) women’s health. Everyone’s health, really. Oral hygiene.

Let’s go back to the beginning.

Last week, I received an invitation to meet the wonderfully handsome and professional Dr. Travis Stork. You remember last time, when I casually touched Dr. Stork’s chest, right? If you don’t, you should probably take a minute to catch yourself up. I’ll wait.

You’re back? Great.

So OBVIOUSLY, I said yes. I HAD to see if he remembered me. Plus I knew he would have necessary and important things to say. Because he’s wickedly handsome smart.

When I told Brian about it…he was less than impressed.

Textversation My boyfriend wants to punch Dr. Stork

OF COURSE, he was only joking, right BRIAN?

Anyways, I quickly discovered that this event was in honor of Women’s Health Month (and Women’s Health Week – which was last week) and the correlation between good oral care and healthy bodies. Oral care. I brush my teeth. Sometimes I use mouthwash. And I’m a Crest girl. That counts, right?

My office is like...a block away.

My office is like…a block away from this Walgreens. I love working on State Street.

When I arrived at Walgreens (Oh yeah, you guys, this event? A BLOCK AWAY from my office. I took an early lunch. How sweet is that?), I was told to head upstairs (yes, the flagship Walgreens is a double decker store. Snacks and bevvies are downstairs and pharmacy/beauty is upstairs) and the good doctor would be there.

Travis StorkI made my way up the escalator and randomly happened upon Travis in the toothpaste aisle. Coincidence? I think not. He was in the middle of a photo shoot, and I immediately burst into the aisle with a big double take and then an obnoxious “HI!” like we’re old friends. Which of course, we are.

And then I embarrassingly asked him if he remembered me. Because like…I told him if I ran into him at the grocery store, he needed to remember me. And Walgreens is LIKE a mini-grocery store. And he pretended to, “from. um. um. BlogHer right?”

Boom!

“Yep! I was the girl with the wheelie sneaks. I almost wore them! But then I didn’t! HI!” Derp.

“Yeah! How are you?” He’s too nice. He’s like the nicest famous person  I know. He may well be the only famous person  I know.

We gabbed as he moved from one photo shoot to the other and he mentioned how it was great to be back in Chicago–as the last time he was supposed to come he couldn’t. “Remember when it was negative 40 degrees?”

“Yes I remember perfectly. I was here. It was COLD. I can’t believe you bailed on Chicago for a little cold.”

“Planes wouldn’t take off! Not my fault!”

My dialogue isn’t exact. It’s loose. Forgive me. But this was the first time it was fun to chat about the weather. Small talk with my favorite doctor? Yes, please.

And this was all BEFORE my one on one interview! I was the first one there. Lucky me, right?

Once he was finally ready to sit down for an interview, I was brought back behind a table, and it was SUPER claustrophobic. Dr. Stork asked nicely to move the interviews to the front side of the table, and he even carried my chair for me. What a gentleman!

So we sat down, and of COURSE, I was all discombobulated and nervous, dropping  my notepad and phone and camera all over the place, while he sat there cool as a cucumber.

I eventually got to start asking a few questions about the campaign with Crest and learned a few new things about the importance of REALLY GOOD oral care.

I thought it was kind of adorable that when I asked about the reason they were running this campaign for Women’s Health Month, Dr. Stork replied that women are essentially the captains and commanders of the household (Fact. Actually his words were more like, “Women are the guiders of good health” which I giggled at, internally) but that’s only part of why they were targeting the ladies.

70 percent of pregnant women have gingivitis or gum issues

So ladies, if you’re preggers, make SURE that you’re brushing, rinsing and flossing daily to protect yourself and reverse signs of this gum disease! but it’s not just pregnant women!

One out of every two adults has gingivitis or gum issuesAccording to the good doctor, there have been several studies that show correlation between periodontal diseases and heart disease. So your teeth health could possibly effect your overall health.

What’s a girl to do? Visit with the dentist twice a year. And brush your teeth twice a day. And rinse with a mouthwash of some sort. And floss (but you only have to do that once a day.) Dr. Stork uses Crest Pro-Health (they can prevent and even REVERSE gingivitis), and I proudly told him that we were a Crest household, as well. So when Crest hooked this girl up with a goodie bag of Crest Pro-Health and Oral-B products (plus my favorite doctor’s diet plan book), I was super excited!

Travis StorkAnd of course, there was the obligatory photo shoot with fancy camera men who made me look slightly washed out next to handsome doctors. And I was gripping my camera because I didn’t know where to put it. But look! We both wore purple!

Travis StorkWhat can you do next? Well, start by reading up on the importance of a good oral care routine with Crest Pro-Health products (paste, brush, rinse and floss) which, at Walgreens, are on sale for $2.99 each; PLUS when you buy 2 you get 1 free.  This offer is valid from 5/18-5/24. </ProductPlugging>

Feel free to be awesome like me (because I’m not obsessing over my oral hygiene routine in typical OCD fashion – no seriously, after this interview, I went and threw a bunch of money at the pharmacy and said make my teeth happy and gingivitis-free! And I’ve tripled the time I spend cleaning my teeth. And I started flossing.) and go spend about $20 on additional oral care products.

And make that dreaded appointment with your dentist. Conquer the fear. Oh, wait that’s just me? I’m working on it.

What’s your oral care routine like? Are you afraid of the dentist? What do you think of my dreamy doctor friend?

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!