Sunday, August 2, 2015

Lessons Learned: July 2015

Oh, July. What a whirlwind of a month you turned out to be. The biggest lesson I learned from this past month was to make fear my bitch! Rawr. No, but seriously, my comfort zone is like an old abandoned barn now. There's nobody there. The roof is falling in. The paint is peeling. Pretty soon, there will be no comfort zone left.

Let's take a look at my fear ass-kicking accomplishments this month: 

{FAMILY VACATION}  Now, I wasn't afraid of taking a vacation, mind you. It's just that this vacation was so completely different from anything I have ever experienced in my life. We took a week off in July, rented an RV, and stayed at a campground. You heard me. No hotel. No real walls/doors. Just us, some movies, and thinner-than-one-ply RV toilet paper. It was an adventure to say the least, but I'm so glad we went! We may just have to do it again next year.

Will and his grandma relaxing in the RV

{HEADSHOTS}  I finally got sick of my old blog photo. It was of my wedding day. Seeing as I've been married for almost a decade, I thought it was finally time to get some new photos of myself on the blog. But I hesitated. Why? Because I thought it was so first world and self-indulgent of me to pay for professional headshots FOR MY BLOG. And I also got weird thinking about what to do with my hands, and my bitchy resting face, and how to maintain my cool and not hyperventilate if people happened to walk by while I was getting my picture taken (we were in a public place). 

But I gotta tell you, I decided to ignore all that and just go for it. And it turned out to be such an awesome experience! Penny really took care of me and make me feel comfortable. And I love my new photos! I wrote about this in the very first The Chronicles of Chaos Newsletter. You should totally sign up.

Photo Credit: P. Chevalley Photography 

{VLOGGING}   I am insane. I signed up for Vlog Every Day in August (VEDA), a vlogging project where you film a video for each day of the month. I was so scared, but I have always been in awe of vloggers and how they just draw you in and it feels like a friend is talking to you about their lives. I have been having a blast so far and the community is so amazing and supportive. Why did I even trip? (is "trip" still a thing?) Anyways, if you love me, you should subscribe to my YouTube Channel. Peas and spanks. 

So, there you have it. July has been destroyed. Haha. August - you're next, buddy. 

What did you learn in July?

P.S. Issue 2 of Holl and Lane Magazine is out NOW! Give it a read. Subscribe (for free!) to have every issue delivered to your inbox. Ciao. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Write or Die Wednesdays: Pain and Choice

Welcome to Write or Die Wednesdays: A Writer's Link-Up! We are Vashelle and Mia inviting you to partake in some creative writing with us every other week.


If you are new to this link-up and wondering what Write or Die is all about, check it out here!

If you missed the last round of Write or Die, where everyone shared what makes them uncomfortable, you can check out those posts here. Thanks to all who participated!

Also, don't forget to join the #WODW Book Club! We have begun reading our second selection, The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes, and you have plenty of time to join in on the fun if you haven't already! We'll be reading and discussing this selection until September 30th. Click here to join!

The prompt for the next two weeks is this quote by Khalil Gibran:


Happy writing!


You guys. I made a vlog! Ahhh. I'm participating in Vlog Every Day August (or VEDA for short) where you submit a video for each day of the month. So I decided I needed to practice a little bit and wanted to submit my #WODW post as a video. I hope you enjoy it. And we should totally start a drinking game and take shots for every time I say "you know." Ha. Also, here is a link to the poem that I mention in the video. Enjoy! 

Click here to subcribe to my YouTube Channel. And don't forget to sign up for the newsletter! xo


    An InLinkz Link-up

Monday, July 27, 2015

Read All About It: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green #collaboreads

Yay, it's time for Round 2 of #COLLABOREADS, hosted by Rachel and Amber. It's a book review link up with a monthly theme. The best part is - you get to pick whatever book you want as long as it fits into the theme. The theme for July was: A book with someone's name in the title. {Click here to Check out June's review. The theme was: A book on the NYT Bestseller's List when you start reading it.}

I chose a book that I've had in my TBR pile on my shelf for a little while now: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. 

So, without further ado, here is my R.E.A.D.S. review! 

{Riveting} What part of the book could you NOT get enough of? 

The entire thing! It was such a funny read. I kept giggling at the shenanigans of the main characters. I really love how John Green captures life as a high schooler (at least for me). 

The book is about Colin, a boy who has only dated girls named "Katherine". Katherine #19 has just broken up with him at the beginning of the book and he is really upset. His best friend, Hassan, suggests they go on a road trip to cheer him up and get him out of the house. Colin is a bit of a child prodigy - he speaks many different languages and was on a reality game show for smark kids where he won $10,000. The friendship between Colin and Hassan was so entertaining! The scene about the Frenchman who has Tourette's and hemorrhoids - OMG. I laughed until I cried!! 

Also, there are footnotes sprinkled throughout the book that are hilarious. I couldn't stop giggling. 

{Elements} How did you relate to/care for the characters? What's your thought on the plot line and twists and turns? 

The characters were so much fun. I could relate a lot to Colin because of his nerdy ways - always reading a book, or scribbling down ideas in his notebook. Colin is always doing anagrams of words; when I was a kid, I would always spell words backwards and say them phonetically and make my own 'language'. #nerdalert 

The plot was pretty self-explanatory. Colin and Hassan set out on a road trip, stop in a town and end up staying there longer than they planned and making friends. Colin is also trying to figure out some mathematical theorem as to why he's the "dumpee" in his relationships with all of the Katherines. 

{Associate} What other books are like this one? If none, did it remind you of a particular TV or movie with its themes and characters? Does it serendipitous-ly line-up with things going on in your life or the news right now? 

An Abundance of Katherines reminds me a lot of Paper Towns - also by John Green. In Paper Towns, there is also a high school boy who is not part of the 'in' crowd who sets off on a road trip with his friends, all because of a girl.

{Design} You know you judged this book by the cover. What did you think of it? How did it relate to the contents of the novel? And the font and layout of the pages? 

The cool thing about the cover is that a contest was held for the readers of the book to create a new cover design. The winner is the cover you see above by a woman named Sarah Turbin. In the Q&A at the end of the book, John Green says he loves Sarah's artwork design because it "captures so much about the book - its nerdiness, its heart, and its love of footnotes." The perfect trifecta. :) 

{Stars} How many out of five do you give this book? Would you recommend this book to a friend?

This book gets 5 out of 5 stars from me! It kept me interested, it kept me laughing. I would absolutely recommend it to a friend, especially if they love John Green books. 

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the book:

* "The oldest pictures were faded and yellowing, and Colin thought about how even in pictures of their youth, old people look old." 

* "You can love someone so much, he thought. But you can never love people as much as you can miss them." 

Have you read An Abundance of Katherines? What did you think? Do you like books by John Green? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Also, the theme for next month's #collaboreads link up is: A book set in the summer time. :)

P.S. Don't forget to join Shelly and me for Write or Die Wednesdays, beginning Wednesday, 7/29. The writing prompt for the next 2 weeks is the quote below. What does it mean to you? Come share with us! Happy writing. 

Chase Your Dreams: The Stories of Our Lives

magazine editor Sarah Hartley Holl & Lane

I've talked about chasing my dreams before. The ups and downs and frustrations that come with navigating that journey. Sometimes I feel like I never make any progress or that there are too many obstacles to overcome. And sometimes I get inspired by seeing others chase their dreams and make them a reality.

Sarah Hartley is one of those people and I'm honored to know her. As some of you know, I'm on the social media team for Holl & Lane Magazine which was founded by Sarah and I love every minute of it. Getting to see firsthand how Sarah is kicking butt and taking names has renewed my commitment to my own dreams.

This is Sarah's story.


I’m  seven years old and I’m sitting at a mini table and chairs.  I’m writing furiously into a notebook and occasionally looking back to yell at my imaginary assistant.  We’re running a magazine here, and she needs to get her act together.  There are models to schedule, clothes to lay out, and articles to write (in marker)!  We’re on a deadline, here!


I alternated between a lot of dream careers as I was growing up.  McDonalds fry maker (because I assumed that meant free fries), a teacher, and a magazine editor.  I dreamt of writing for Sassy magazine.  As I grew up, the other dreams started to fade away and magazine editor stayed at the forefront.  After high school I chose a college with an excellent journalism program and was all set to follow my dream.  Until I wasn’t.  Somewhere in the few months before I left for school I talked myself out of journalism, out of the longtime dream that I had.  I was afraid of what life would look like, I didn’t think that I stood a chance in the competitive world of magazines, I wasn’t tall and skinny and blonde (which is what I assumed most people who worked in magazines looked like).  I lost my nerve.  So I went to school, got a fashion degree, followed by a Master’s in business, and put the dream out of my mind.

Fast forward to a few years ago when I’m living in a new city, working from home in an insurance job that I despise and feeling the tug of creativity pulling me in so many directions that I didn’t know how to focus on just one.  I made a list of three dream goals  that I had for myself- I wanted to write a book, I wanted to own a clothing boutique, and I wanted to start my own magazine.  I had no idea how to do any of these things so from time to time I’d put half hearted research into it and then move on again.

It wasn’t until I started my personal blog that the need for another creative outlet became strong again.  The blog helped to fulfill some of that need, but not enough.  I wanted something bigger, I wanted a dream.  

One of my biggest pet peeves in life is listening to someone talk and talk and talk about something but they never do anything about it.  I was becoming that way.  I had talked about these big dreams but never did anything to go after them.  Early this year I knew it was time to pick one and focus on it.  So I thought hard about which one I could easily start (because if it was too hard, I knew I’d never do it).  A clothing boutique would involve too much money, so that one was out.  A book sounded good, but I had no idea what I wanted to write about.  So magazine it was.  I decided in April that it was time to follow this dream I had for a long time.  I picked a launch date of June 1st and then threw myself into preparing.

I had absolutely no idea what went into designing a magazine.  I had no idea where stories or contributors came from and I have no formal design experience.  But I didn’t let any of that stop me. I started thinking about the types of stories I wanted to read, I started polling my friends and family about what they love and don’t love about other magazines.  And then I started soliciting them for stories.  At the same time, I announced on my blog that I was starting this venture.  I bought the domain and secured the names for social media.  Doing all this made it real and made me feel like I couldn’t back out.  I had generated interest and damnit, I was going to follow through.

As I started meticulously designing each and every page, it started to really come together and it became something I was immensely proud of.  Each night after I put my son to bed, I would sit down on the couch with my laptop, open up InDesign and layout the magazine until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  All day at work (I now work a full time job in marketing for an architectural firm) I’d daydream about new ideas and new stories and new layouts.  At lunchtime I’d race to the conference room, laptop in hand, ready to dive in for that short half hour break.

Pretty soon it was June 1st, launch date.  I had already sent the completed issue out to a select group of people I called my focus group and the response I got was unbelievable.  Email after email and comment after comment was filled with nothing but praise and positivity.  It left me smiling for days. So now when it was time to launch to the rest of the world I felt confident and I felt ready.  And thankfully the response has been nothing short of amazing.

I’m now just about to launch Issue 2 of Holl & Lane magazine.  And this one is even better than the first, in my opinion, because I have learned so much in the short time between the two issues.

My focus for this magazine has, and will continue to be, telling other people’s stories in a beautiful way.  So many people have such amazing, inspiring, beautiful, heartwarming and heartbreaking stories but they may not have the outlet.  I want to give them that.  I want to tell stories that don’t get heard often enough.  I want people to read my magazine and feel less alone after.  I want them to feel like they’re amongst friends.  I want Holl & Lane to feel real and approachable.

I want to tell the stories of our lives.

Connect with Holl & Lane on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest


Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your inspiring story and letting people share their own stories in the pages of Holl & Lane Magazine!! 

The 2nd issue of Holl & Lane will be available on August 1st. Sign up for the newsletter to have it delivered directly to your inbox!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Read All About It (The Kids' Corner): Candy and the Cankersaur

Candy and the Cankersaur by Jason Sandberg

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
"This is the sweet and funny tale of a young girl named Candy and a Cankersaurus Rex! Candy receives a dinosaur as a gift and is determined to train him to be a good pet."

My thoughts:
What an adorable book! My boys absolutely loved it, but that's no surprise, as they love anything about dinosaurs. The basic premise of the story is that Candy's father is very busy with work and she doesn't get to spend as much time with him as she would like. While she has all the latest and greatest toys that money can buy, she is lonely. Her father feels guilty and decides to get her a special present - a pet Dinosaur - to keep her company. Meanwhile, her friend, Chucky, known for his "one-up-manship" becomes jealous of Candy's new companion and that's where things get a little tricky. 

The story itself is great, but what really captured my boys' attention is the illustration. There's artwork on every page and a few sentences to go along with the picture. My 6 year old had no problem reading through the story with me and has wanted to read it every single night since. 

Candy and the Cankersaur is available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo

If you are a nanny or if you have kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews - definitely pick up a copy of this ebook. I really think the kiddos in your life will enjoy it! 

AND you're in luck because author Jason Sandberg has graciously offered 5 copies of the ebook to 5 lucky winners! Enter below for your chance to win. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Write or Die Wednesdays: An Uncomfortable Situation

Welcome to Write or Die Wednesdays: A Writer's Link-Up! We are Vashelle and Mia inviting you to partake in some creative writing with us every other week.


If you are new to this link-up and are wondering what Write or Die is all about, check it out here!

If you missed the last round of Write or Die, you can check out those posts here. We had some really great entries submitted!

Also, don't forget to join the #WODW Book Club! We have begun reading our second selection, The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes, and you have plenty of time to join in on the fun if you haven't already! We'll be reading and discussing this selection until September 30th. Click here to join!


The prompt for the next two weeks is: What makes you uncomfortable? Happy writing!


"So, tell me about yourself."

OMG. I just broke out into invisible hives just reading that phrase. I really hate talking about myself. I never know what to say. I'm always bracing myself for the silent judgment that I assume is there as I'm talking and then I get self-conscious. And then I stop talking. And the awkward silence begins. Haha.

When someone asks me to tell them about more about me - my stomach gets tied up in knots. They could be the nicest person ever, but there will still be that part of me in the back of my mind that thinks they think I'm an idiot. It's weird. I also just truly don't know what to say. Do I tell them about my job (snooze)? What I do in my spare time (ha!)? I'm just too much into my head.

I think I have a tendency to also downplay my accomplishments so that I don't come across as a braggart. And I also downplay my hobbies and passions because I hate the questions that inevitably follow: "Blogging? What is that? Does anybody even read it? Writer? Oh, so you're one of 'those' people who is working on a book. Is it ever going to be finished? You read? Ew, I don't read books, just tell me when the movie comes out." 

Just... no.

"I am not good at small talk. I will hide in a cupboard to avoid chitty-chat." Caitlin Moran

I don't really know why I'm this way. Maybe it's my introversion coming through. I hate small talk and find that most people don't really care about the answer anyways. You know those people - they'll ask how you are, or how your weekend was, and when you start to answer you realize that they aren't even paying attention to you anymore. So I generally just say, "Fine" and keep it moving.

Being averse to small talk and talking about myself has a pro and con.

The con: It makes me a hard person to get to know. I think most people feel like I'm keeping them at arm's length or I'm standoffish (aka bitchy). I'm sure it feels like pulling teeth when people ask me questions sometimes. Heck, my husband almost didn't talk to me because he thought I was stuck up. And I was over there totally crushing on him. Ha!

The pro: I'm a great listener. Fact: When you don't really talk much, it's very easy to listen to others. I like being a sounding board for people. I've found that most people really appreciate having someone who will let them vent. People are always telling me about their problems and I always patiently listen because I do truly care, and I also want them to know that I'm there for them.

What's funny, though, is that after people get to know me, I don't stop talking. I'm usually goofing off and joking around with them. I love to make people laugh!

So, I guess the moral of this story is, if there's someone in your life - a friend, a family member, a coworker - who doesn't say much, don't immediately write them off. Give them a chance to feel comfortable around you. Keep talking to them - you never know, they may surprise you. :)

What makes YOU uncomfortable?


    An InLinkz Link-up

The Waiting Game

I'm a very impatient person. I don't like to wait - AT ALL. I have a tendency to over-think and over-analyze everything, and so the longer the waiting period, the worse it is for me because my mind comes up with all of these crazy scenarios. I just want to know already!

My husband knows this quite well. I think he has finally learned not to even imply that he bought me a present or planned any kind of surprise because I will hound him till the end of time. And then he just gives in and tells me what it is because he can't deal with my intensity. Haha. 

It's something that has always plagued me, even at a young age. One of my first memories is when I was 3 years old and telling my dad that I was actually 4 years old. Because I just couldn't wait to be 4. And no amount of logic would convince me otherwise - I was 4, damn it! 

I am totally the impatient person who will hang up on you if you put me on hold for longer than a minute. Or get up and leave a restaurant if no one comes by to at least take our drink order within 5-10 minutes. 

Being impatient definitely has its downfalls. It usually means that I forget to just breathe and live in the moment. I'm nitpicking every little thing that could go wrong, instead of looking at the big picture of how it's not really life or death. Like not seeing the forest for the trees, or however that saying goes. 

Anyway, after all of that, I can't even share what I'm waiting for yet. I know, such a tease. But I'd greatly appreciate some positive vibes. And any tips that you can share about how to just sit back and relax and let things happen. 

P.S. Shelly and I want to know: What makes you uncomfortable? Write down your answer and share with us for Write or Die Wednesdays, beginning July 15th and lasting for 2 weeks. Happy writing!