Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mornings In Germany

This is one of many Mornings In ________ posts in which local ladies tell us about their morning beauty and breakfast routines. And then we all wonder if our mornings would be better if we, too, ate rice congee for breakfast.

Name: Twaambo
Hometown: Lusaka, Zambia but living in Bonn, Germany
Age: old enough to know that you have to use products that work for you!
Occupation: Radio show host, free lance writer and blogger
My alarm is set for: 7:45 am

Most mornings I eat: Muesli with a few slices of banana and yoghurt. It's pretty filling and keeps me from eating too much at lunch time! Its healthy, tastes good, and I find it refreshing. Sometimes I get something from die bäckerei (the bakery). Bread isn't just food here, it's culture! I’ll get brötchen (rolls) that you typically eat with eggs, cheese, butter, or cold meats, however you like it!

My beauty routine consists of: I use Chamomile silky cleansing oil on my face three times a week, In the morning I ‘wash’ my face only with water and then moisturise with Bebe young care day/ night cream - it's really soft and sinks into my skin pretty well. I also use the Vitamin C daily moisturiser. Vitamin C works wonders on my skin, cleared some acne scars, and smells divine. Sometimes I use any of the great cheap masks from Balea and I use Ducray Icytane moisturising mousse on my body, its amazing for dry skin.

Then, I head to work by: by tram, I get to the Hauptbahnhof (central station) and then I walk ten minutes to work. The walk is through a magnificent avenue of chestnut trees and Clemensruhe Palace is at the end of the alley. My commute is 30 minutes.

Thanks for sharing, Twaambo! Other German readers - what's your morning routine?

P.S. Questionable hairstyles and inside my makeup bag

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How To Get Your Site + Shop Ready For The Holidays

I'm slightly sorry to be bringing up the holidays in late October, but I'm mostly trying to look out for you, fellow makers and sellers-of-stuff! Pop over to my small business blog if you want a pile of tips about how to prepare for (and more money on) this holiday season!

Why You Should Hang Out With + Date People You Admire

dating up

Friends, gather round while I share a personal story of which I am not particularly proud.

Long ago and far away, I was not very discerning about the people I surrounded myself with. I wasn't befriending drug dealers or puppy-kickers but I definitely had a few friends who required disclaimers and post-event apology emails.

There was the girl who would get in yelling matches with people she just met.
There was the guy who initiated fist fights, in clubs, on the regular.
There were many, many people whose names required the unspoken asterisks "You've just got to get to know him" and "She's an acquired taste" and "She's a lot better when she's sober."

I'm equally sad to report that I dated a few (generally nice, well-mannered) dudes who inspired their fair share of eye-rolls and blushing. The boyfriend who would invite people over and then get so drunk he'd pass out before the party even started. The guy who'd dated half my city and treated most of those ladies poorly.

None of these were humans I was particularly proud to know.

I liked them! They had redeeming qualities - they were funny or interesting or smart - but they also pretty regularly engaged in choices and behavior that made me want to cross the room and pretend I didn't know them or follow behind them with a broom and dust pan, cleaning up the literal or emotional messes left in their wake.

You deserve friends who leave no mess and require no explanation. Don't you?

Have you heard that clever saying that you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with? I doubt this is based on science (because if it were I'd have developed a taste for craft beers by now) but our friends undoubtedly rub off on us. Their political opinions, the slang they use, even how they manage their money and their health - in small but real ways, who our friends are affects who we are.

So why would you want to be affected by people who were anything less than wonderful?

Slowly but surely, I've filled my life with amazing people I'm thrilled to know, the sorts of people whose awesome will (hopefully) rub off on me.

Jeremy and his wife adopted three siblings from Ethiopia. Ewa runs super marathons. Elizabeth co-created an organic skincare line that's carried by Anthropologie. Grant made a music video. Amy owns a successful, all-women tattoo shop. Justin doesn't own a car and rides his bike 14 miles (each way!) to work every day. Jen has two (!) M.A.s from Harvard. Kelly wrote a a New York Times best seller. My guy made a whole damn movie

You deserve friends and partners who inspire more boasting than blushes, people who are exactly as amazing as you are.

Are you proud of the people you surround yourself with? In what positive ways have your friends rubbed off on you?

P.S. My guy's movie is actually screening at 6:30 this Saturday at The Parkway Theater and we're giving away two tickets to a Twin Cities resident! First one to email me at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org gets 'em! (Or you can just buy tickets here.)

photo by Mario Mancuso // cc

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Is Your "Church"?

"Every time I go there I cry. It's my church."

So said my friend Amber as we munched hipster fusion tacos amidst exposed brick and wooden beams in Silverlake. 

She was talking about the Griffith Observatory and their Centered On The Universe film.
I was wondering what that even means and picking the chicken out of my $7 taco.

For most of my adult life, I've given religion and spirituality less thought than I've given my bangs.
Or what I'm eating for breakfast. Or how my ass looks in those jeans.
Which is to say - very, very little thought.

When I visit my parents, I'll occasionally attend the church I grew up in because I want to say hello to all those sweet little old ladies. I went to a Universal Unitarian church once. I love partaking in my guy's (totally atheist) Jewish holidays.

When people start talking about crystals and chakras and "communing with blahblahblah whatever" I mentally assemble my shopping list and consider my cuticles with undue scrutiny.

But Amber's comment got me thinking. What does church mean? What would church feel like to me, the most Agnostic and deeply unspiritual of humans?

Coincidentally (or by divine intervention?) just a few days after our conversation, Amber and I attended a workout class with one Mr. Richard Simmons.

We danced. We sang and shouted in unison with people we'd just met, making eye contact and grinning while we high kicked. I moved my body in a way that brought me that down-to-the-bone, childlike joy. I felt connected and happy and part of something bigger that myself - even if that something was just a studio full of happy, sweaty strangers.

As completely ridiculous as it sounds, I finally understood my friend and her version of spirituality by sweating to the oldies.

And little by little, I started taking note of those tiny moments when I would well up with happy tears or chest-swelling connection.  Those moments have become my personal version of church.

For me, church takes place any time
I'm making music with people I love,
I'm alone with the sun and a huge, open sky,
I get completely lost in what I'm doing and I feel connected to the task at hand - dancing, writing, cooking, scrubbing the grout with a toothbrush.

Your church is any space that fills + thrills you. It's any gathering of people that brings you tangible joy. 

Do you subscribe to an organized religion? Do you think of yourself as spiritual? When do you feel most connected? What is your church? 

photo by Robert Couse-Baker // cc

Monday, October 20, 2014

True Story: I'm Turning 30, Becoming A Stepmom, and Getting Married In One Year

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of Rhiannon, Ben, and Eva.

Tell us a bit about yourself! 
I’m Rhiannon, named after the Fleetwood Mac song. I’m the oldest of three girls from a mostly Italian/Irish family. I’m an office manager by day and a writer by life. I live in Hammond, Indiana, which is right over the border of Indiana/Illinois, with my fiancé Ben, his three year-old daughter, Eva, and his/our 10.5 year-old black lab mix, Sloth. I’m still a White Sox fan and still work in downtown Chicago, as does Ben. I just have a different zip code.

What's your fiancé like? And tell us about his kid!
Ben is the most loving and kindest person I know, next to Eva. I tell people he’s a mix between a human Xanax and a Buddha and neither one is a stretch. Every single day he asks how I am/what I’m feeling/what I want and need from him, be it his ridiculous fish tacos, a back rub, or to be my soundboard one more time. He’s really, really good at knowing when I’m full of it, when “fine” does not mean fine, when I’m trying to cover up a bad day by talking a lot/constantly changing the subject/asking about his day/Eva/Sloth/if the books I ordered came in the mail, etc…He never pushes.

He does a lot of waiting, which is good because I’m awful at it. I’m very Martha Stewart about things. “We need to leave by 5:30 to make the party at 6 and we need to have these snacks in the car for Eva and we need to go grocery shopping, etc…” We balance each other out. I’m very go, go, go and he’s very, “Rhi, breathe. Everything will get done. What can I do? What do you need?”

Eva is amazing. She just turned three on April 16 and her party was all pink and all princess. Last year was a train theme; I love her range. She is kind and curious and at least once a day asks me and Ben to “draw a little heart and a big heart.” Right now she is obsessed with Scooby Doo and says, “I want another mystery!” She is the biggest blessing in my life. It’s amazing how much she’s changed since I met her when she was sixteen months old. Everything she does is magic.

Prior to meeting your fiancé, what were your feelings about 'mixed families' and parenting kids you didn't give birth to? 
I’d always had it in my head that I would adopt if I didn’t get married. I could see myself as a mother before I could see myself as a wife. I have always been the “mom” in most group situations: the planner, the worrier, the listener. I’ve had several jobs where I worked with kid: as a nanny, working in an after school program, and tutoring. 

My parents are not divorced, but Ben’s did when he was young and both remarried. It’s crucial to me that we raise our children differently than the way we were raised. I grew up in a house with a lot of fighting. I know my parents loved me, but it was a sad childhood and I did not learn how to be happy until I was in my twenties. I want to help Eva be happy.

Had you ever dated a man with kids before you met your fiancé?
No, but I dated a few who acted like kids, so, pretty close.

At what point did you meet the kids? What was your first impression? 
We agreed Eva would be the last person I met, and I did meet her after close to two months. I followed Ben’s lead on this because she is his life. We talked about her all the time and he was incredibly protective of her. I fell in love with him as he shared more and more about her and then I met her and I was done. I mean get-the-fork-done. I’m grateful that I’ve been a part of her life for more than half of it. 

How did the people in your life feel about you marrying a man who already had kids?
Nearly everyone was wonderful about it. “Do what makes you happy. Trust yourself.” Being supported and encouraged by friends and family was everything. I was never nervous about meeting him/meeting Eva/dating a man who had been through a LOT and that is an understatement. I just knew he was the one and felt calm in that. (Ben is Eva’s legal guardian and has sole physical custody of her. I can’t say more than this for legal reasons, but he is divorced and I waited to meet Eva until the divorce was final.)

What did your fiancé tell his kids when he asked you to marry him?
Ben told Eva I was going to be her step mommy. He asked her if she knew what that was and she said no. He explained that I was going to be like a mommy; it’s just a different type of mommy. Eva said, “I just want her to be like Rhi.” Things like this just crack me open. 

Will Eva be involved in your wedding? 
Absolutely. Eva is our flower girl. She loves, I mean loves big dresses and flowers, so this job is right up her alley.

Do you and your fiancé plan to have children of your own?
Yes. I would love to give Eva a sibling or two. Ben said he’ll be happy with whatever we’re blessed with, but to be clear, we are not having anywhere near a Duggar situation here. And he likes the girl name I’ve had picked out since forever, so that is a big plus.

Obviously turning 30, getting married, and becoming a stepmom is a lot of milestones for one year. How do you feel about all this? 
It’s a lot. It really is, but I’m so ready to be married to this man and be a step mama to Eva. There are plenty of days I feel overwhelmed to the point of tears, sometimes on the train, sometimes on the spin bike, overwhelmed by how much work there is to do, by how huge this life of mine is becoming. I’m already helping raise this girl, but come September it will be a bit bigger. And the thirty thing is weird. So many people I know who are 29, 30, 31 are married, have their third child, etc… And that’s their story. One of my favorite quotes is “Comparison is the thief of joy” by Theodore Roosevelt because it’s so dang true. This is my path. My story is my own.

What advice would you give to others who are crossing off multiple milestones in a super short period of time?
Breathe. Focus on the blessings and less on the stress. If I allow myself to be consumed by stress then there is no room for the joy that’s also a part of this journey, joy that I deserve.

When I’m particularly overwhelmed/stressed/whiney I make gratitude lists. I’m the queen of lists and Post its, but making gratitude lists helps me breathe better when I forget how. I am thankful for an empty row of spin bikes. I am thankful we did not get caught by that train on the way to our own this morning. I am thankful for $7 sushi from the café downstairs. I am thankful for the sound of Eva saying, “Shhh. I have to tell you a princess secret…I love you” as she grabs my face with both of her hands like my grandmother did when I was a child. I am thankful for this breath, for this life. 

Thanks so much for sharing, Rhiannon! Are any of you guys stepparents or stepkids? How have you dealt with new family? 

P.S. True Story: I'm a triplet but our birthdays are 11 days apart and What I'm (Trying To) Teach My Kids

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Web Time Wasters

How was your week, guys? It's been unseasonably gorgeous here in Minnesota, so I've been making the most of it with lots of hike and longs walks and lovely, outdoor dinner parties. Today, I'm hosting brunch for two of my girlfriends (I'm making these and my BFF is skyping in from New Mexico!) and then watching my favorite 11-year-old's last baseball game of the season.

Anyway. Links for you!

Ever late to the party, I am newly obsessed with the capsule wardrobe blog Un-fancy. (Gah! So stylish!)

Everything's better with quotes on it.

After my 23 hour train trip from L.A. to Portland, I'm obsessed with Amtrak. This blog post is a wealth of information about booking and having your own train adventure!

Welp, now I'm adding Lisbon to my must-go list.

LOVE this long-form, photo-heavy piece on rodeo queens.
That night, they decide, it’s time to go out dancing. The RV that six of them are sleeping in looks like it has been hit by a Western-feminine tornado. Boots, hats, turquoise jewelry, jeans, makeup, and eight queens in various states of readiness are everywhere. A lonely cheetah-print bra, owner unknown, is sitting on a counter. After a brief search, Miss Nebraska—Sam—sets it down on a cheetah-print suitcase.
“These probably belong to the same person,” she reasons.

I'm cooler by association now that Anthropologie carries my friend's skin care line (and it's amazing and organic!)

Further fantasizing: a million amazing pool cabanas.

YESYESYES. I have So Many Feelings about this. Why you should 'let' your man wear red pants.
In the last year he’s tried many different things with his hair from the neck up and it’s amazing how many people have commented to me about it.
"I can’t believe you let him grow a mustache."
"I would never let my husband grow a beard."
"Do you REALLY like his long hair?"
"You’re brave to let him do that."
I was really taken aback by the response of people, to me! I didn’t have to think to hard about an authentic response and I noticed it was always the same two things.
1. I’m surprised, but I actually really like it
2. It’s really not that big of a deal…it’s just a (fill-in-the-blank.)

Oh, the hilarity! This series of replies to a spammy text is amazing.

I'm taking a break from proselytizing about Old Navy Rockstar jeans to tell you about these. High enough to mash everything in, make your butt look, and they have enough stretch to literally do deep plies. Not that I tried or anything.

Potentially unpopular opinion: I loooooove the way cilantro smells. Obviously, I love this roundup of cilantro-scented beauty products.

We agree that leopard is a neutral, right? Right.

If you read this True Story interview with my friend Kaitlin, you know that 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. Nora writes about hers.
I don’t know when it happened, when the butterfly heart I’d seen at 8 weeks turned to the ghost inside of me. What was I doing to not notice something so monumental? Driving my car, shopping for groceries, eating a bowl of cereal in bed, none of these seem like the things that should keep a mother from noticing her baby no longer is.
It’s a new kind of sadness to feel. It’s not for myself, and it’s not a typical brand of mourning, either. It’s a cold comfort to know how many women have been here before. How many women I know. How many women around the world heard the same news on that same day, felt the same perceptible loss of something that almost was. Almost is always the hardest.

High quality underwear that support girls' education? Into it.

Black swan makeup for Halloween!

The heartbreaking reality of low-wage workers.
Her landlady, Amelia Resende, said Ms. Fernandes fell behind on her rent a couple of times this year, struggling to come up with $550 a month for the basement apartment in Newark that she rarely slept in. Mr. Carter said that she was hoping to move to Pennsylvania, where he lives

Ms. Resende said that Ms. Fernandes slept in her running S.U.V. so often that she started keeping a container full of fuel in the back. Mr. Carter warned that this wasn’t safe, but Ms. Fernandes brushed aside his concerns. She couldn’t run the risk of waking up to an empty tank

Could you survive a weekend with the cult of Oprah?

Wonderful! A sexually enlightened R&B song.

Worth watching: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED talk about the danger of a single story.

Take yourself on a date, girl!

If you like these links, you might like my Twitter stream. Each evening I tweet a link to my favorite read of the day - different than the links you see here. I even hashtag them #yandy so you can find them all in one handy place!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fun links! Show Your Real + Expanded Comfort Zones + Effortless work

It's Saturday! The day designed for drinking a whole pot of coffee, padding around the house in your yoga pants till 11 am, and lunching on crackers and hummus because grocery shopping is over-rated. Allow me to assist you in your lounging by pointing you towards some great posts from this month's sponsors.

Favorite posts:
Iron mom // I'm awesome // Show your real: Allie
Let's be friends!
facebook // instagram // twitter // pinterest

Favorite posts:
Let's be friends!
 instagram // twitter // pinterest // youtube

Favorite posts:
Let's be friends!

Favorite posts:
Let's be friends!

Want to see your stuff here? In front of 11,000+ people? My sponsors are really happy and many of them come back month after month! You can see my rates and info here or drop me a line at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org to get started!

Friday, October 17, 2014

All my best Halloween stuff!

Tis the season for my absolute favorite holiday! Growing up, I'd usually start planning the next year's Halloween costume on November third and this year I've already tried on my costume three times. I made sure I've got at least three parties to go to so my costume can get maximum exposure. Obviously, I'm making these.

Anyway, in honor of The Best Holiday Ever, here are some Halloween-related posts from my archives for you!


Happy best-holiday-of-the-year!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How To Buy The Best Ad Space (And Make The Most Of It)

Thinking about buying ad space for the holidays? (Yes, I too hate that I just mentioned that). All ad space is not created equal and there are all sorts of clever things you can to to get the most out of yours. Pop over to my small business blog if you'd like to know more! 

New Thing: See A Movie At 'The Heights' (+ voting with your money)

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try. Some are easy, some are suuuuuper hard (at least for me) and some are so, so mundane and easy to complete. You can read about previous adventures here

Tell me if you guys know this feeling:
Lean-forward-in-your-seat fascination
I-should-probably-be-embarrassed-I'm-this-excited grinning
A just barely suppressed desire to clap like a toddler

It pains me to admit that riding a Segway gave me this feeling and most recently, I experienced this while watching an elderly gentleman toot away on a restored Wurlitzer as they slowly rose out of a stage in a gorgeous, historic theater in Northeast Minneapolis. As our organist tootled through his repertoire of show tunes (including 'Edelweiss' and 'Give My Regards To Broadway,' obviously) the lights on the Wurlitzer changed color and I leaned back in my comfy, velvet seat, grinning like an idiot.

Growing up in rural Minnesota, it was a major point of pride that our town of 2,000 had a movie theater. Sure, we only had one stoplight but we had art deco murals, a marquee filled with blinking yellow lights, reasonably priced popcorn, and a screen twice as big as what you'd find in those cineplexes.

So when I heard about The Heights' live, pre-show Wurlitzer performance and their $8 indie movies I couldn't wait to hunker down and engage in some good old fashioned nostalgia. It was so wonderful and sweet I promptly signed up for their newsletter and announced to all and sundry that this is where you can expect to find me every Friday night this winter. 

Ass in chair, grinning like a dork at a light up organ. 

And on a related note, I'd like to pull out a tiny soap box and remind you of something you already know: 
We vote with our dollars. 

Each time we spend money at an independently owned business that gives back to the community and pays employees a living wage, we're voting for the kind of world we want. 

When we go to a movie at The Heights rather than Mann Cinema, we're voting for light up organs, thought-provoking movies, and community engagement. We're voting against $10 popcorn and movies like this

Rant finished. 

If you're interested in your own vintage theater experience, there are still tons all over the U.S.: The Riverview (this is in the Twin Cities and I go there all the time! Movies are $3!), The Orpheum Theater in L.A., The Byrd Theater in Richmond, VA, The Senator Theater in Baltimore, MD, The Castro Theater in San Francisco, The Fargo Theater, The Alabama Theater, Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Galaxy Drive-In in Ennis, TXThe Tampa Theater (I saw a movie here in March and it was AMAZING.)

Do you have an awesome, historic movie theater near you? Leave a link in the comments and I'll edit this post to include it!

interior photo by