My Mom’s First Selfie, My Secret Phone, and My Code Name is Cheesasaurus Rex

I’ve been with Sprint for over a decade. More than eleven years, according to a HAND-WRITTEN note from Angie at Sprint. Actually, it’s been about twelve years, but who’s counting?

Disclosity-closure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received a sample device to facilitate my review. I really have been a Sprint customer for what seems like forever. And I really would recommend them. And there’s a pretty fun story below, so keep reading. 

I like to say that I sold my soul to Sprint back in the fall of 2002 for a VERY fancy, then-super-techy flip phone. The Sanyo flip with a pretty blue screen and a retractable antenna was ALL the rage…and a pretty lofty upgrade from my Nokia brick with the hot pink sparkle face plate (Funny; come to think of it, my phone now is bigger than that brick). It was also jumping from a Chicagoland cellular phone provider to a company that had nationwide service, particularly service that stretched to the middle of Illinois, in Peoria, where I was a student at Bradley University.

So I sold my soul. Because I’m never leaving the Sprint family. (And it’s totally not a bad thing.)

What started as just me, and worked up to a family plan of five (me, Brian, Mama Bear, Papa Bear (post about Dad coming soon), and Little Brother), was a business relationship that has, in truth, had its ups and downs. My Sprint love-affair was a little rocky for a few years. Between 2011 and 2013, Sprint service was spotty. I was on the phone with customer service almost as often as I was on the phone with Brian. I got to know several of the customer service associates and they were, in fact, the reason I stayed with Sprint. I would get yelly, and they would calmly explain that they were upgrading the towers and talk me off my ledge.

Luckily, I stuck around. The Sprint upgrades in the Chicago metro area now include 4G LTE (long-term evolution) and HD voice (high-definition voice) so Sprint customers like me can get faster speeds and better call quality. Speeds of 50-60 Mbps are especially beneficial for streaming video and online gaming.

But this fancy 4G LTE service isn’t just for Sprint customers. Boost Mobile, a subsidiary brand of Sprint that offers pre-paid plans, also runs on the network. For the last several weeks, I’ve been testing out the LG Volt with a Boost Mobile monthly plan courtesy of the powers that be over at Sprint and Boost Mobile.

LG Volt

The LG Volt retails for $179.99

For $35, my secret phone and I can talk, text and max out on up to 1GB of high-speed data. They also have higher plans for $45 and $55 with higher levels of monthly high-speed data. Since this wasn’t my “real” number, I allowed myself to play with the Facebook app, Twitter app, and use it for social media galore. Which worked out well. I texted and called just a few people with the number, allowing it to be my “secret” phone. Obviously, I needed a code name.

Secret Phone and Code Name

A textversation with one of my favorite people.

My mom is excited that she’s getting her first smart phone pretty soon (coughthisonecough), so I let her test it out. The first thing she did? She took a selfie. My cousin and I photo bombed it. (The self-facing camera isn’t my favorite (It only has 1.3 MP), but it’s still better than a certain little i. I’m just saying.

My mom, my aunts, and my cousin were at cats for Halloween. Me? I was a mouse.

My mom, my aunts, and my cousin were at cats for Halloween. Me? I was a mouse.

The rest of the features are pretty on par with my regular smart phone. I really enjoyed having a phone that utilizes the Kit Kat system. Brian was less than impressed with some of the pre-loaded apps. I can’t say I blame him.

LG Volt pre-loaded apps review

The 8 MP rear-facing camera was pretty solid, too. Doesn’t it make you just want to drink capirinha  all night long?

Capirinha

What do you think, Blog Friends? Do you have Sprint? What cell phone service provider do you have? Do you love them, hate them or neither? Would you try out the Boost Mobile service for an easy $35 monthly cost?

You can also keep up with Sprint on Facebook and Twitter.

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!

‘Twas the Night Before We Bought Our House…

Blog friends! We bought a house! I wrote you a little poem! Okay, I’m going to stop using exclamation points now. The night before we closed on our house, Brian’s dad thought it would be the perfect opportunity to watch The Amityville Horror. I know. I KNOW. Not the best idea. So I thought I’d write you a little poem about it. I never claimed to be a poet, but here’s what I came up with.

The night before we closed on our house, we made some poor choices and watched Amityville Horror

‘Twas the night before closing, and all through my brain
Not a thought was unnerving; I wasn’t going insane;
Appointments were made for paint and repair,
In hopes that our house would get some tender loving care;
I was perfectly nestled all snug on the couch;
While visions of Christmas danced in my thoughts;
When Brian was working, his dad with the remote,
Had just chosen a movie for us to enjoy,
When on the TV, there arose such a fright,
I curled even deeper; I wished it weren’t night.
A couple was purchasing a beautiful home,
That soon would be full of terrors and ghosts.
Shirtless Ryan Reynolds couldn’t improve,
The terrifying show that was supposed to amuse,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But Brian to help assuage my great fear,
With snuggles from Brian and a laugh from his dad,
I knew that this movie wasn’t half bad.
More wicked visions and evil house sights,
And the couple that moved there was trying to fight.
The movie it ended; they all got away,
Their stuff left in the house, but they couldn’t stay
The credits, they rolled in the dark family room
And bedtime had come; it came much too soon
I slept with the lights on; how could I not?
My mind was now panicked and worried with wrought;
What if our house would be trying to kill us?
Just then, in a moment I was falling asleep
The room was quite quiet, ’til Bri started to creep.
As he crawled into bed, he made barely a sound,
I made him make promises just in case we found
Our house to be possessed and he’d try to kill me,
I said, “Brian don’t hack my body up with an axe;”
He responded not to worry, he didn’t have an axe,
And he looked a little wicked with a gleam in his eye.
“I’d have to use a mop or a broom til you die”
“Well, Brian I don’t think that’s what I meant”
He looked at me, laughing, “Don’t circumvent.
It’s not me that will kill you, the house wants you dead;”
I said, “Brian, those aren’t thoughts I want in my head,”
And he turned out the light and snuggled me close;
I said, “Don’t just ignore me – it’s scary, you know?”
He laughed at my worry and patted my cheek.
And promised to keep me safe from the freaks,
And I laughed when he said this, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, and I went to sleep,
And dreamed all the dreams of life in our keep,
I know that we’ll have a wonderful life,
And maybe one day he’ll even make me his wife;
We woke up the next morning ready to start,
The first day of homeownership – now the hard part.
As we pulled up to the house our agent was waiting—
The house is now ours – we’re cohabitating.

So anyways, with this milestone that is buying a freaking house, we prepared (poorly) by watching The Amityville Horror. Ryan Reynolds really was shirtless most of the movie. I really did go to sleep with the lights on. Brian really did promise to kill me with a mop or a broom because he didn’t have an axe. And we really are homeowners now.

As I was telling my mom about our movie night the next day (mere hours after we bought the house), she told me that it was a true story.

Wait, what? I’m sleeping with the lights on forever.

So I went to Netflix to see what they had for me. I figure we might as well continue down this haunted house rabbit hole (you know, considering we’re moving during peak Halloween season) and stream a few other Amityville Horror movies…just for funsies.

Amityville Horror

Oh look! There’s a 45 minute feature on the true story of Amityville. Yep. Totally going to watch it.

Blog Friends, do you enjoy scary movies? Do they freak you out? Have you ever watched the wrong scary movie at the wrong time? Have you purchased a home? What was it like for you?

I’m part of the Netflix Stream Team and was recently given a complimentary subscription to Netflix in order to share my experiences. Though I currently have complimentary service, I’ve been a Netflix subscriber for years and wouldn’t have it any other way.

StreamTeamBadge

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!

I May Have Accidentally Given Someone My Password. Again.

I’m a brand ambassador representing F-Secure KEY in the effort to change the way people think about passwords and security. While I have been compensated for my time, all opinions, stories, and ideas expressed are still my own.

Another quick cautionary story about passwords (because my first password fail wasn’t enough). Last week, the day I posted about my password fail, I was G-chatting one of my girlfriends while doing some stuff. I went to type an important password into the password pop-up box…and clicked enter. Thus sharing my BRILLIANT but top-secret password to my friend. And now I can never use that password again. Not that I don’t trust her or anything, but what if her e-mail gets hacked? So now I have to come up with yet another BRILLIANT and top-secret password.

Bummer.

We’ve all got passwords. Some of us (cough me cough) use variations of the same general password across a bazillion different platforms. And can never seem to remember the right combination of usernames/passwords…

Others are organized and efficient and (Um. Can you come to my computer and help me sort this stuff out?) really good with passwords. I recently started using F-Secure KEY to track my usernames and passwords – and yes…I’m STILL inputting them (stop laughing) because I’ve had to change passwords and have e-mail reminders sent left and right (no, really, stop laughing).

This handy-dandy infographic is actually SUPER helpful for creating passwords. I never would have thought of personalizing passwords for the different sites, but that’s a pretty neat idea.

Password Safety

Which of these tips do you think is the most useful?

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!

Tell Me Your Password And No One Gets Hurt…

The following story about password security is true and real and SCARY. So listen up. Don’t do what I did.

While we’re here, I figured I should mention that I’m a brand ambassador representing F-Secure KEY in the effort to change the way people think about passwords and security. While I have been compensated for my time, all opinions, stories, and ideas expressed are still my own.

Password Safety KEY app

Photo by Viktor Hanacek

A story about giving away my password

A while back, I committed the ultimate password sin. My then-boss called me on my personal cell phone, while I was at lunch. “Quick! What’s your work password?!” The panic in his voice and the anxiety in my system (which gets even more GAAAHHH! when I’m put on the spot) responded immediately and completely stupidly. I gave him my password.

Not only did I give him my password, I clued him into the type of password I was, at the time, prone to using. THANKFULLY it wasn’t the password that I was using at the time for anything but my work log-in, but it was MY password. The password that I’m not supposed to give to ANYONE.

Even worse? I found out later that he was on speakerphone.

Now, he didn’t think twice of it as something he was doing wrong. He genuinely did need my password to get into a computer for something. But he should have waited the 10-15 minutes it would have taken me to return and input my own password without giving it out.

After the chaos, I politely sent my boss an e-mail explaining how uncomfortable his request made me and that I felt it was a little inappropriate, and I would prefer not to be put on the spot like that ever again. It was then that he realized what he had done, and he did apologize profusely, promising not to compromise my personal security again.

Since that day, I’ve come to adopt a system of creating new passwords for different log-ins to ensure that I’m keeping myself digitally protected.

F-Secure KEY

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Let’s talk about F-Secure. I’ve been using the app for about a week and a half, and I still haven’t integrated all of my passwords yet. But I’m getting there. And oh-my-God, I’ve had to change 3 passwords already so that I could input them into KEY – but I’ll never have to change them because I forgot them again! Obviously, I’ll need to change them every 6 months or so, but with KEY, I’ll have access to all the up-to-date passwords without a whole heck of a lot of effort. THAT’S what I’m talking about.

I’m not going to lie, you guys. This app? Totally not sexy. Although I’m AM a huge fan of the delicious purple color. But what this app does? TOTALLY important. One might say necessary, depending on how many times you have to key in your password before you get it right…which for me is often quite a few. KEY stores all of your passwords in ONE place, so you never have to remember the 27 billion passwords for all the sites you utilize. With the free KEY app, you can store your passwords on a single device, but with KEY Premium, you can use the app on ALL your devices, whether you’re a PC/Mac/Android/Little i. You won’t have to try to remember all the passwords, as the app will keep them for you. You’ll only need to remember your KEY password.

So who needs another flashy app when the function is what keeps you safe?

Just for you, I’ve got a code to try KEY Premium for two months, so you can see if less than $2/month is worth it to keep your passwords safe across all your devices. Download the KEY app and use the code PREMIUMKEYOFFER14 to check it out.  And even better? A giveaway.

Free KEY Premium for a year & iPad Mini 16GB Wi-Fi Giveaway

Oh look! The lovely people at F-Secure want to share their wisdom (and give you another device for storing your passwords)! All you have to do is enter, and we’ll do the rest. The Giveaway Tools form below will be open until September 30 at 9:00 PM Central Standard Time. Good luck!

Blog Friends, have you ever accidentally given out your password to someone? How would you have handled the situation if your boss asked for your password?

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!

Wine-Paired Dinner at Seared Petaluma

I’ve been dreaming of wine and cheese lately. I’m not sure why, since I happen to have a pretty decent stockpile of both wine and cheese in my fridge. But it happens.

#PetalumaMade Wine Paired Dinner

 

Remember back in July when I was all over social media with some of my new blogging buddies telling you how fantastic Petaluma, California is? Well, I absolutely HAD to tell you about the wine-paired dinner that we had at Seared. It definitely hit the level of meal-amazingness that our Disney dinner at Cat Cora’s restaurant had.

After a day of boozing and wining through the Petaluma countryside, we made our way back to Seared, a fine dining establishment in downtown Petaluma for dinner. We were greeted by a lovely collection of Petaluma business owners, wine growers and farmers.

Seared Wine Paired Dinner

While the 5-course dinner itself was exquisite, the experience was what truly made this meal magnificent. Brian couldn’t stop bragging about how awesome it was that the chef came out and described each course in detail, followed by a short description of the wines by the wine owners and growers, and in one case, the farmer who raised the quail. It was the ultimate in dining style.

Grilled stone fruit soup

The first course was a stone fruit soup garnished with baby greens, creme fraiche made of Purple Haze (a lavender and fennel pollen chevre goat cheese from Cypress Grove), preserved lemon and black pepper. The flavors melded together perfectly for a phenomenal soup.

Grilled Stone Fruit Soup with Purple Haze Chevre Creme Fraiche

Paired with the soup was Lelarge-Pugeot Champagne, which was represented by the lovely Clémence Lelarge, whose family vineyard produces this delicious Champagne in France.

Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Salad

This course was absolutely delightful and refreshing. Have I told you how much I love arugula? The cucumber was sliced thin, the tomatoes were amazing and the burrata complemented the salad perfectly.

Heirloom tomato and cucumber salad with arugula, burrata and basil vinaigrette

This was my favorite course of liquid joy, featuring the Fogline Vineyards 2013 Chardonnay with a lovely introduction presented by winemaker, Evan Pontoriero. This wine was sunshine in a bottle. Brian and I came home with a few bottles of this brightly flavored wine.

Crudo

This delicious raw dish featured a flavorful albacore and a unique combination of accouterments to create a delicate balance of complementary flavors. Brian (who, as you may remember, despises seafood) and the vegetarians all received a similar dish with a trumpet mushroom instead of the albacore. The culinary geniuses in the kitchen made every effort to accommodate our entire group and all their dietary restrictions.

Crudo with albacore, avocado puree, grapefruit, pickled fennel, breakfast radish and Fresno chili

 

This dish was paired with the La Cruz Vineyard Pinot Noir from Keller Estate, as introduced by the delightful Anna Keller, who I had the pleasure of sitting next to during dinner. I love a good pinot, and this wine was decadent and delicious.

Devil’s Gulch Quail

Our main course was this amazing quail, stuffed with a rib eye chorizo boudin surrounded by a smoked tomato broth and topped with spinach, pine nuts, and golden raisins. After the chef discussed the course, we were treated with a short presentation about the quail and Devil’s Gulch Ranch from owner, Mark Pasternak. As I gently tried not to make an ass of myself, eating the quail with a fork and knife, both Anna and Mark were found teasing me for not just picking it up and going to town like everyone else. I was pretty proud of myself and the fact that not once during this meal did I dribble, spill, spit or splash!

quail, stuffed with a rib eye chorizo boudin surrounded by a smoked tomato broth, spinach, pine nuts, and golden raisins

The quail was paired with that tasty Luma-Rouge from Corkscrew Wines that we sampled earlier in the day at Azari Vineyards. A perfect pairing for a fine meal!

Black Pepper Panna Cotta

I had never consumed panna cotta until this event. I didn’t even know what it was. Cake? Pie? Pastry? Jello? Pudding? It was its own magical sweet dish that made me want to pick up the plate and put tongue to remnants. But I refrained. Because I’m respectable.

Black pepper panna cotta with aztec chocolate and red wine-blackberry compote

 

The panna cotta was finished with Enriquez Vineyards Tempranillo, which was the happy ending of an amazing meal. Cecilia Enriquez, wine owner and maker briefly spoke about the wine, which we had the joy of tasting earlier in the day, and she thanked everyone for their participation in this wonderful trip that was her brain child.

One of the most amazing aspects of this meal was the introductions from the winemakers and owners (and the rancher who supplied the quail!) describing their wines and their stories. This was an experience that could not have been matched, and I can’t wait to visit my friends in Petaluma again soon.

Blog Friends, what’s the best meal you’ve ever had? Have you experienced a wine paired meal? Tell me about it!

 

 

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 Where You’re Getting With Curb

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Curb. I received a promotional code to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

I love it when an app makes my life easier. I love it even more when it involves me not having to walk a mile in my shoes or anyone else’s.

Curb_RGB

In case you were unaware, I live in suburbia and work in downtown Chicago. The Loop. Smack dab in the middle of everything awesome. And about a mile away from the train that brings me in and out of this beautiful city.

Curb, formerly known as Taxi Magic, is a super useful app that helps you get a cab when you need it. I’ve been using Curb, and their network of more than 4,000 taxis in Chicago, for several weeks and I’m never looking back. The drivers are licensed, commercially insured and have all completed thorough background checks. That’s a program I can stand behind.

In the past, I would hope and pray a taxi would show up where I needed it, when I needed it, and more often than not, cabs driving by were already full with people (the perks of working two blocks away from one of the biggest Chicago tourist traps – Millennium Park). When I’m in a hurry, I want to know that a cab is going to be there when I need it. Especially if I’m trying to make a train. Cue Curb, where I can order a cab to pick me up now or plan for later! The process is simple and made my life so. much. easier.

App_Map

Recent occurrences when Curb has been a lifesaver or just plain convenient:

  • When my train was 30 minutes late getting into the city. I was only 15 minutes late for work.
  • When I left work just a few minutes late. (I have my walk time scheduled to a TEE. Any later, and I’m usually out of luck.)
  • When I met Brian for drinks in River North after work.
  • When Brian and I left the aforementioned bar and went to an event hosted by my website host. I love them.

I have yet to plan my next Curb adventure in advance, but I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl. As if you didn’t already know. You can get started with Curb, and as an added bonus for you, my lovely readers, you can get $15 dollars off your first ride! Just use the code: CurbMom14 To use this code, download the Curb app on your Android or iOS phone. Then, follow these instructions:

  • Open the Curb app
  • Tap the gear symbol in the top right corner
  • Tap “Promos and Credits” on the dropdown menu
  • Enter your code and tap the “enter” key on your keyboard
  • After entering the code, $15 will appear on your “Promos and Credits” screen.
  • Full details on using the Curb coupon code can be found here:http://bit.ly/1CnLGVc 

Do you take cabs anywhere? When? How do you call for cabs? Have you used Curb or as its previous name, TaxiMagic? Will you? Tell me all your secrets.

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!

Touring Wine Country with #PetalumaMade

A lovely group of influencers and Brian got together in California. This is the midday result in photos.

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Blog Friends, I’m LOVING Petaluma! Have you been to Petaluma? What are your favorite California wines?

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!