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Web Time Wasters


How was your week, guys? I saw this fantastic dance performance, workedworkedwroteworked, brunched with some of my favorite ladies, and attended a lip-sync contest/birthday party.  So much fun!Links for you!

I love this. Uber Cab Confessions.

Doing this job, I learned quickly that there’s an unspoken contract between driver and passenger, and it has two primary clauses. First: I promise to get you safely and comfortably from Point A to Point B. Second, and just as important: I vow to look the other way while you, say, make out in the backseat (that happened) or refer a friend to your coke dealer (that, too). It’s an understanding, arrived at with no words: We’ll never see each other again, therefore you may act like an animal. The job can also be pretty lonely. Late one night, I stopped at a 7-Eleven for a cup of coffee, and I found myself all too happy to chat with a traffic cop who looked like Retta from Parks and Rec and who warned me not to put French-vanilla creamer in my coffee. “There’s something wrong with milk that doesn’t need to be refrigerated,” she said. “That fake milk will kill you.”
I can’t believe I just discovered Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party. It is the best/worst.
I will be sending this birthday card.
Things to eat/cook/bake: baked falafel,
My dude jokingly calls me a bower bird because I’m always secret cleaning people’s houses and feathering any given next. This is what an actual bower bird nest looks like, so color me flattered.
I send thank-you cards to all my clients so I go through cards like whoa. I should buy a box of these.
Like any good hipster, I love Wes Anderson movies – so I loved this interview with his music supervisor.
I’ve got six years till I’m in my forties, but I still enjoyed this post.
There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.
•There are no soul mates. Not in the traditional sense, at least. In my 20s someone told me that each person has not one but 30 soul mates walking the earth. (“Yes,” said a colleague, when I informed him of this, “and I’m trying to sleep with all of them.”) In fact, “soul mate” isn’t a pre-existing condition. It’s an earned title. They’re made over time.
A twitter feed that celebrates ‘real problems, but not real actual problems.’
Yup. 10 painfully obvious truths that we regularly forget.Good lord, I wish this would have existed when I was in graduate school. (If you teach college or, well, attend college this could change your school life).

One of my goals for this year is to work on being more observant.
Cute! Illustrated travel guides! (You can see all Yes and Yes’s Mini Travel Guides – written by expats and locals here.)
These throw pillows are adorable.I love this Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You journal.

I loved this house tour and now I need to paint one of my walls cobalt blue.

I’m currently trying to figure out some sort of headboard situation (you can see my bedroom here) so I loved this roundup of ‘things behind the bed.’

The difference between pity and compassion.

A pretty mouse pad? Yes, it’s possible!

Web Time Wasters

How To Make Dryer Balls From Yarn from Design*Sponge on Vimeo.

I’m back from Mexico!  Goodness, it was lovely.  I don’t know why I waited so long to go!  I spent almost two years in Southeast Asia before I traveled south of the border.  I hit the ground running, attending a Wits show the day after I got back.  Now I’m reveling in using my whole wardrobe, doing laundry, and having some semblance of a routine.  On February 22nd, I’m back on the road, heading to Alaska for the Iditarod!

Now!  Links for you!

A super random offer: are you coming to St. Paul for Red Bull Crashed Ice Feb 20-22? If you are and you’d like to sublet/Airbnb my apartment, it’s three blocks away from the action and I’ll be in Alaska!

Do you get wound up, worrying what people are thinking of you?
“Everyone is staring at how weird I am.”
“Everyone is staring at how gorgeous you are,” he replied.
“No, they think I look gay and out-of-place. Like I’m some weirdo the likes of which they’ve never seen.”
“Well you can choose to believe that. Or choose to believe they are looking at you because you are beautiful. It’s your choice. You’ll never know what they’re really thinking. So you can choose the option of feeling terrible about yourself, like you don’t fit in. Or you can choose to feel confident, like everyone is looking at you in admiration. Which one is going to get you the better result? Which one makes you happy?”

I’m looking for expats and locals to write Mini Travel Guides.  Is that you?  Do you know about any of these countries?

Yikes.  The reality of the cost of healthcare – Anna’s $111,618.02 birth story.

A deeply random recommendation: I picked up this memory foam bathroom rug at Target and now I’m recommending them to everyone I meet.

Ha!  Think every fashion blogger is flawless and perfect?  I loved these outtakes.

I’ve been doing this for years and it’s super a lovely, low-key way to keep memories of parties and celebrations.

Even though Christmas is long-past, I like to keep track of companies that give back so I can use them to buy birthday/anniversary/hostess gifts.  Here’s a nice round up.

This dress is perfect for winter, don’t you think?

I totally, totally agree that the joy journalists are expressing over Sochi’s hospitality problems is tacky.

First: Any journalist on an all-expense-paid-and-then-some trip to Russia to cover the Winter Olympics is living a dream. Every reporter there is experiencing a great privilege. Speaking from experience, it’s one an overwhelming number of journalists covering the games from newsrooms half a world away would give their eye teeth for.
Second: Your door doesn’t have a handle yet? You have to throw your toilet paper in the trash instead of flush it? Those living conditions are exponentially better than what billions of people around the world experience every day. 

Things to make/cook/bake/eat: creamy polenta and mushrooms, truffled popcorn, persimmon prosciutto and brie grilled cheese, crispy buffalo style quinoa sliders with sweet corn and scallions.

A round of hilarious tweets from 2013.

I want to live here.

Love it.  A hilarious Twitter account for …. a vegetable?

Are you a money rebel?

Know you need to unplug?  Can’t quite figure out how?  A guide.

One of my tricks for carry-on-only packing is neutral clothes and colorful accessories.  This scarf is perfect!

A reminder: the food you eat and the way you take care of yourself can change the world.

When we’re healthy we don’t contribute to the profits of the medical system because we don’t need it as much! What’s more, we cut down on the amount of pharmaceuticals that are dumped into the environment – which is so significant that in some rivers and lakes, male fish are turning female just from exposure to water contaminated by birth control pill waste. Antibiotics in the meat industry account for most of the antibiotic resistance in the world, which is a global health crisisHope you had a great weekend, guys!

Web Time Wasters


How was your week, friends?  This weekend my girl Alex was in town for her book signing so I insisted that she stay with me (and if you’re reading this before 4 pm on Sunday, you should come join us!) We had some Grade-A lady time (blowouts! brunch! magazines!) and generally solved the problems of the world.  It was fantastic.Also!  I’m looking for more people to write Mini Travel Guides – you can see the list of countries I’m interested in here

Links!  For you!

I loved this house tour – it’s clean and spare and sort of masculine without getting too ‘dark leather couch-y.’

Such a good reminder that sometimes?  It’s okay to quit.

If you don’t want to do something anymore, you don’t have to do it. Accomplishment for the sake of accomplishment is a waste. Does it feel incredible to achieve a goal? Of course – but only if that goal is something you truly want.
If you’re incredibly busy, you could try Elise’s three things concept.Two of my favorite people are making a film about a topic near and dear to every Minnesotan’s heart.

Would you ever go to Burning Man?  Here’s what an average day looks like.

This dress is so sexy but still pretty modest.  How is that even possible?!

Things to cook/bake/eat: these fancy rose petal cupcakes, vegan arugula pesto, 12 desserts in mugs, skillet sweet potatoes.

Let’s all read some banned books! (I loved #19 and #50)

I have a pair of these cheeky earrings and I get compliments on them All The Time.

I spent a lovely year and a half teaching preschool and kindergarten.  I thought this article on teaching emotional intelligence was super good.

“O.K., let’s practice. Play like I’m your mommy.” Scooting into the center of the circle, he gave the boy, Reedhom, a small toy bear to stand in for the iPhone, then began to berate him in a ridiculous booming voice. “Lalalala!” Wade hollered, looming overhead in a goofy parody of parental frustration. “Why are you doing that, Reedhom? Reedhom, why?” In the circle, the other kids rocked back and forth in delight. One or two impulsively begin to crawl in Reedhom’s direction, as if joining a game.
Still slightly teary, Reedhom began to giggle. Abruptly, Wade held up a finger. “Now, we talked about this. What can Reedhom do?” Recollecting himself, Reedhom sat up straight. “Mommy, I don’t like it when you scream at me,” he announced firmly.Woohooforyou would be a perfect way to celebrate a birthday, a promotion, a graduation, a move.  Just about anything!

You’ve probably seen this already, but this Craigslist ad in response to street harassment is phenomenal (and she’s from Minneapolis!)

If you’d stuck around, I would have happily shouted a few things of my own at you: that it’s people like you that make women avoid walking alone or taking transit even in broad daylight in their own cities; that no matter what screwed up metric you use it’s not a “compliment” to have someone interrogate me about my underwear; that thanks to you I would spend the entire train ride home feeling scrutinized and gross because you didn’t have the willpower or maturity to keep your mouth shut; that your wife and daughters or at the very least your mother deserve better than a cowardly man who shouts at women from the safety of his car.I’ve been looking for a new way to organize my work week and I really liked the way Danielle does hers.

What a gorgeous wedding!

Are you planning your Halloween costume yet?  A reminder.

9 ways to engage in self-care.

A beautiful catalog full of home furnishings I can’t afford but I’d really like in my space. (It’s all fancy and weird and museum-y!)

This is my new favorite tumblr.

A few Yes and Yes posts you may have missed: Mini Travel Guide: Norway, True Story: I’m 23 and I’ve Never Been Kissed, The Art of Self-Love.

Hope you had a lovely week!

How To Juggle A Day Job + Freelance Work + A Blog + Life

Looking for freelancing tips? Or side hustle advice? The truth is: it's hard to do it all and there isn't really a magic solution. But these self-employment tips will help! Click through to learn 9 ways to make working for yourself easier

Dear Sarah,

I am right now working on my own website and trying to cobble together a little freelance writing business. I was just wondering if you could speak to HOW YOU DO ALL THE THINGS? And HOW YOU DID ALL THOSE THINGS WHILE ALSO WORKING FULL-TIME?  I frequently look over my To Do List and there’s like eleventy jillion things on it. I mean, writing that list is exhausting enough. And then DOING it? And THEN trying to get clients to find me, let alone HIRE ME?!
– Lauren

Oh, girl.  I hear you.  For those of you who don’t know, when I first started Yes and Yes, I worked full time as an ESL teacher. Back then I taught, blogged seven days a week, and took freelance clients. Now I ‘just’ blog seven days a week and take freelance clients.  It’s way easier.

How to juggle a day job, freelance work, and everything else.

1. Opt for quality over quantity

You probably knew that already, right? But it bears repeating.

It’s better to have two amazing freelance clients, who are a joy to work with, whose work you can proudly include in your portfolio than 10 clients who hassle you.

It’s better to write one perfectly optimized, SEO-ed, lead-generating post per week than five “I just need to get something up!” posts. It’s better to learn how to navigate one or two social media platforms really, really well – rather than fumbling your way through all of them.

If you're looking for permission to do less and to do it well, this is it. Click To Tweet

2. Write less, promote more

I blog seven days a week because I have So Many Things To Talk About, but you totally don’t need to! Create an editorial calendar (Tuesday and Thursdays at 6 am, for example) and stick to it. Write two great blog posts each week and then promote the sweet bejesus out of them.

Because of how we use social media, it’s possible to tweet about something seven times over the course of a week without anyone really noticing or getting annoyed.  I would suggest writing different tweets each time or using different images for Facebook updates.  This will keep things fresh and attract different people.

3. Stop writing everything on your blog yourself

On Yes and Yes, I have four post series that I don’t write myself – True Story interviews, Real Life Style Icons, Mini Travel Guides, and the occasional guest post.

On this blog, I host bring in experts to write about topics I know nothing about.  These posts cross pollinate my readers with my guest posters’ readers, bring in fresh content, and save me tons and tons of time.

4. Schedule everything

Devote a few hours at the beginning of the month to scheduling. Take yourself on a DIY writing retreat and write all your content for the coming month. Schedule client invoices.

Use Hootsuite to schedule Twitter and Facebook updates.  Use Boomerang to schedule emails.  I love being able to schedule things months into the future and then forget about them!Life changing.

5. Lovingly and diplomatically establish boundaries

If you live with roommates or have a partner, make sure they understand what you’re trying to accomplish with your freelance career.  Don’t let them guilt trip you into a night out when you’ve got a deadline.  Don’t tolerate any “You’re no fuuuuuunnn!” BS.

Before you sign a client, share your ‘collaboration guidelines.’  If you’re months into a professional relationship that’s not working, take a look at these great scripts that will help get things back on track. 

6. Get seriously productive

Make lists, use the Pomodoro technique, download Leechblock.  Turn off your phone and gchat.  If you remember an important task and it’ll take less than five minutes, just do it now.  It’s worth freeing up that brain space so you can stop thinking “Oh, right!  I have to remember to send a follow-up email to that editor!”

7. Realize you’ll have to make sacrifices

Know that in order to make this happen, you’ll have to miss some parties.  You might have to pull some all-nighters.  Maybe you’ll have to give up your $5 coffees.

For the first two years of Yes and Yes, I spent every lunch hour, every weekday, networking with other bloggers.  That’s 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 2 years.   If my math is right, that’s 375 hours that I did NOT spend picnicing in the park or trying the good Thai place down the street. But now I get to picnic all I want!

8. Cut a few corners now and then

You’re going to be really busy getting your career going.  That doesn’t mean you should drop out of the rest of your life, but it does mean you might have to cut some corners.  Buy something at the deli to bring to the potluck, buy gift cards in bulk for Christmas, buy a case of wine so you won’t have to stop at the liquor store every time you’re invited to a dinner party.  Resist the urge to drink all the wine yourself.

9. Remember that you have a life outside of work – and your work will probably suffer if you drop out of your life

As busy as you are, make time for your friends, family, and partner. Get outside. Unplug. Go to art galleries and concerts and costume parties and stupid movies.  If you don’t give yourself a chance to recharge, you won’t have any energy to take over the world.

How do you guys juggle it all?  Any apps/platforms/techniques I’m missing?

P.S. How to be healthy even if you sit all day

photo by Oliver Thomas Klein // cc

New Thing: Write To An Inmate

Every year on my birthday, I make a list of new things I want to try. Some things are difficult, some are weird, some are shockingly mundane.  You can read about past adventures here.
Here’s something that might surprise you:  I’m quite passionate about prison reform.

I even applied for a job teaching ESL to male inmates a few years ago!

If you’re not sure why you should care about prison reform, here are a few things to consider:

24% of inmates have mental health issues
Despite a lower occurrence of violent crime, we have more people in jail
Non-violent offenders make up 60% of the prison and jail population
State correctional spending is estimated at $52 billion per year
60% of prison inmates are functionally illiterate
61% of Minnesota’s inmates will be convicted of another crime and return to prison.  Most states have a recidivism rate of about 40%

Shocking and sad, right?

I don’t really have any answers, but I wanted to do my part to make things a little bit easier for someone in a tough situation, so I used this website to find a lady inmate who seemed like she’d be a good match for me.  I found a woman who, pre-prison, worked as an accountant, has two kids, and was looking for letters from either sex.  Seems pretty legit, right?

It was a little bit weird putting pen to paper in a letter to someone I’ve never, ever met.  I told her a little bit about myself and my life, but didn’t want to err too much on the side of “and then I went to Europe for six weeks and it was greeaaaaaat!  PS whatsprisonlikeanddoyouhavetowearthoseorangejumpers?”

I settled on a middle ground of asking her about her kids and if she’d liked her previous job.

I’ve just dropped my letter in the mailbox and I’m interested to see if I ever hear from my new penpal.  I sure hope so!

Edited to add: On November 27th, I received a return letter from my pen pal!

First, let us acknowledge that getting a handwritten letter is The Actual Best, regardless of its source.

My penpal wrote about her kids (a boy and a girl, ages 5 and 7) and how much she missed them while they lived with her mom for the time being.  She wrote about her job in the prison, helping cook for 1,300 other female inmates.  She talked about preparing the Thanksgiving meal desserts “7up cake, peach cobbler and sweet potato pie :)”

Really, she seemed super sweet!  I totally plan to write back.

Have you ever written to an inmate? Would you? Has anyone in your life ever been in prison or jail?

If you’re interested in helping but not comfortable writing a letter to an inmate, consider Books Through Bars. Thanks for the suggestion, Jesse!

P.S. More new things to try: go to a monster truck rally, take a pole dancing class, try White Castle.