Friday Favorites

Hello, there! Here’s yet another edition of my Friday Favorites. Let’s say it all together now, “TGIF!” That’s for sure. I am so looking forward to spending sometime with the family at the beach this weekend. (And I’m a nerd and look forward to the time jamming out in the car ride on the way there. Maybe getting some coffee because what beats a Friday afternoon caffeine high? OK, Friday Happy Hours in the sunshine are pretty fabulous as well.) Anyways, you’re probably wondering what I’ve got for you today?

All Tide Up will be getting new shirts (TANKS! just in time for summer) in the store this weekend. Get excited because I know, I am! Be sure to check it out, and if you haven’t already, give ’em a follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There are giveaways and free shipping deals you wouldn’t wanna miss out on!

I’m not even gonna lie here, I might be pulling for some contestants that are not on Adam’s team. (Though I did love Caroline and was sad to see her go – she better get a record deal with someone else!) But oh, wow did I love this weeks performance of The Cure’s “Lovesong” by Adam Levine and his team on The Voice.

This Buzzfeed article “21 Kids Who Sold Out Their Parents” had me LOLing at the office. Who doesn’t love kid art? And if you need a laugh you definitely need to skim over this one.


My heart may have been breaking a little last night as we had to say goodbye to The Office but oh my goodness, talk about a great two hours of television. Before they aired the finale there was this awesome interview session and montage collection called The Office Retrospective. If you missed last night, and even if you haven’t been up to date in the current season (or since Michael Scott left) I recommend you watch it anyway. From the get go, (which this is how it works for this show with me anyway) I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. Later there were tears rolling down. Some from that uncontrollable hyena laughter and from some the tugging on my heart strings. The dynamics on this show have always been incredible. They casted some brilliant actors who portray these characters like they were made to, and the writing is just top notch. Plus, I didn’t know John Krasinski was working as a waiter when he auditioned for the role of Jim Halpert (even though he’d been encouraged to go for Dwight!) that “THE KISS” was his first on-screen, or that Jenna Fischer was a temp in real life. Hello. Fabulous news guy. If that ain’t a ray of sunshine and light sending hope into your dreams, then what is? There are some pretty awesome moments in the finale, and the speeches at the end?! All incredible and quotable, and *sigh.* Just go watch it, ok? Endings may suck, but wow what a great run! And to know that the cast and crew are as close as they appear, in real life? Just wonderful. I love knowing projects like this exist out there, people love work that much out there.

OK, so there’s my shout outs to a portion of the awesomeness of this week. Be sure to check those out! Annnnd as we head into the weekend, have a safe, happy, wonderful one!

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Jax Weekend Recap: Stranded to Rescued and a Celebrity Meet & Greet Come True

PART ONE

Oh my. How about that premature St.Patrick’s Day post the other day? How would I have known all those mentioned activities were this close to not going into fruition?! I was just chugging along I-10 on my way to Jacksonville destination (one): Florida Theatre – Lisa Loeb. Then out of nowhere, I hear this weird clicking noise so I turned down Phoenix on Pandora Radio, so I can listen. Then the clicking noise stops, and about a minute later (my car that’s on cruise control at 75) seems to be slowing down on its own? My foot wasn’t on the break, so I press the accelator, and…nothing. It’s gone from 75mph to 50mph in about zero seconds. I try not to freak out, so I start to pull over to the shoulder of the road and before I can even get the car all the way in the grass to park – it shuts off! None of the lights had turned on or anything, and to make things more crazy – the car has filled up with smoke. Me and my wild imagination immediately envision the car bursting into flames, so I grab my purse so I at least half some money and an ID, grab my phone (which is all wrapped up in the car charger, trying to trap me in the smoking vehicle,) and literally like attempted to jump out of the car. Of course it’s tilted on the side of the road so the door was too heavy (and there was traffic) to open all the way and it comes swinging back and slams on my knee which has been a lovely shade of green and purple this week, ha! So then in m efforts to escape I ran to the woods, and called my Dad. I know, always calling the parents – but hello! I didn’t know if I was about to be in a Fast and the Furious scene on the side of I-10 in the middle of nowhere. What went down next was a very long ordeal of a thousand phone calls, and amazing people coming to my rescue. I was trying to stay calm but got pretty freaked at some points because I was on the side of the road, by myself, dressed for the concert, scared to get back in the smoking car – and I could hear voices coming from the woods. Is this not the perfect scenario for every horror movie you’ve never wanted to watch? Phone call after phone call, lots of text messages. Where the heck to get it towed to, where was I, etc. The guy from the insurance company was like “hey, not to make you feel worse but I had a Mustang and it sounds like almost the same thing that happened to be. Unfortunately it was a serious problem.” Oh great thanks! What’s that place you want to tow it to? Pineda? Vaneda?! Oh you don’t know? Me neither, I think that’s probably not the best choice. OH my word. I eventually walked back to the car, so I’d be closer by and after like an hour and a half a cop comes pounding on my window. What’s going on? What are you doing? What happened? Is someone coming? Oh you know, I just like to chill on the side of the road for fun. Anyway. So! As fate would have it, a friend of a friend was also enroute to Jax and would actually be passing me on the side of I-10. I went from being alone, to then Jules (to the rescue! who first pulled up to a van with a family and a bunch of confused children as to why she was approaching them,) then my cousin! Who left his hang out to come save the day and because he didn’t like me chillin on the side of the interstate by myself, and thennn a tow truck all at the same spot. I am so eternally grateful to my cousin Tim, and to Jules for helpin a girl out. Like seriously. Life savers. And my parents for their patience, since they were trying to help from a baseball game in Panama City. And Beth the friend I was enroute to visit, for orchestrating the rescue to Jacksonville. I mean seriously? Way to pull through and ignite my faith in humanity. No one had to do anything they did, and it really meant a lot. I tweeted on the side of the road about being disappointed since I’d wanted to see Lisa Loeb since like middle school. SHE TWEETED ME BACK! “Oh no! Someone call triple a” eek! I had kind of just let myself try and accept that if I could even get there, it’d be worth whatever came of the weekend. And you know what? After a crazy adventure in weird directions and getting stuck waiting for the longest train ever to come through Jules got me there in time! (And we had a nice girl talk on the way over, and that was nice after being in the middle of no where by myself with just my thoughts.) I didn’t even miss her! How that magically worked out? Ohh definitely not by my doing. Apparently, according to the woman seated next to me (who’d seen LL seventeen years ago with Lyle Lovett, and then later at Lilith Fair) the opener had gotten stranded in Dallas, so I didn’t miss that either. (I guess one of the band members of Nine Stories, played in the meantime?)

Now, after all these years look what happened! I had the pleasure of meeting her. I bought that poster she signed and spelled my name right! She told the woman who took our photo, “we tweeted each other! We talk on Twitter.” Because you know the first thing out of my mouth was “I was the girl who tweeted about being stuck in the middle of nowhere!” And she was like oh no that was you! Did you get to see the show? I’m so glad! ahh etc. but my brain is mush because I was so in awe. She’s just as beautiful and awesome in person as she seemed in my head all these years.

The show was incredible, too. She was so funny on stage. And she played so many songs! Wishing Heart, Truthfully, Jake, I Do, Stay, Dance with the Angels, Snow Day, Hurricane, Bring Me Up, This even The Disappointing Pancake! And several songs from No Fairy Tale! Ohh, I thought my heart might explode. She’s just so talented, and I was trying to soak it all in, each note, each strum. She had some anecdotes to go along with the songs too, and it really felt like she was just having a normal conversation with the audience.

So yeah, just like a friend said – what had temporarily seemed like a bit of a nightmare turned into a pretty memorable night, in a good way.

To be continued…

Spend Less, Give More: Warby Parker

Hello, hello and welcome to another post in my Spend Less, Give More series! If you’re just now joining us,  here’s a recap: I’ve been using Mugs Life to spotlight some different organizations to consider contributing to during this Christmas season. If you’re going to give gifts anyways, why not try presents with a purpose? Give something that will have a lasting impact on someone’s life! The previous posts have highlighted different needs people face on a daily basis, both physical and emotional: : clean water (Charity:Water), food and sustainability (to put it simply) Heifer International, shoes and eyesight TOMs, mental health with To Write Love On Her Arms, and yesterday’s which is mental health in a different way where you contribute your time instead of money through the outreach of writing love letters with More Love Letters.

Today I’m shifting the focus again, and if you’re a vet reader of Mugs Life today’s post won’t be much of a surprise. I’ve been gushing about Warby Parker Eyewear for a while now. (I even enlisted your help when I was deciding on frames during the at-home try-on process.) Like TOMs, Warby Parker Eyewear is a one-for-one organization, with every pair of glasses you purchase, a pair is given to someone in need! Did you know that “almost one billion people worldwide don’t have access to glasses?” The people at Warby Parker believe that “everyone has the right to see.” Why don’t we join them in their mission, by improving eyesight and in turn improving the condition of people’s lives!

(Image borrowed from the Warby Parker Facebook page.)

I found out about Warby Parker from my friend Megan. I had mentioned at lunch one Sunday that I was on the lookout for a new pair of glasses, and she asked if I had checked out Warby Parker? She’d seen one of their pop-up shops before and said, she thought I’d really like them. So when I got home, I went to their website and was intrigued immediately. I’ve always loved funky frames, back in seventh grade mine were kind of Drew Carey style (just smaller for my twelve year old face.) And I have always wanted glasses that looked like something Lisa Loeb might wear – stand-out, bold, different. Warby Parker definitely fits all these adjectives. BUT what really sold me, and I knew I was in as soon as I read it, was that with every pair of glasses purchased, someone else would be getting a pair. They’re partnered with Vision Spring and other non-profits to make such distributions possible! AND I knew, that like other pieces I’ve mentioned (TOMS shoes, Charity Water shirts, etc.) that people would ask me about them, that once I had their attention I could gush about what a wonderful company they are. And I kid you not – that happens on a regular basis. I’m a proud owner of the Colton whiskey tortoise shell frames. Warby Parker is able to deliver their customers extremely reasonably priced eye-wear because they sell directly to you! Seriously, when you pay $95 for prescription glasses (INCLUDING frames AND lenses!!), and you’re essentially buying two pair does it get better than that? Warby Parker has a great at home try-on process, where they’ll mail you five pairs of glasses that you can keep for five days. Take pics, share with friends, wear around, get opinions and a feel for which pair you think best suits you! The return process is extremely simple as well and did I mention FREE SHIPPING? (Side note: international ordering coming soon! Share with your friends around the world!) And if none of those five pairs were the right fit for you? Try again!

(Me in my Warby Parker Coltons.)

I think it’s also extremely important to note that the Warby Parker Eyewear company has impeccable customer service. Honestly they are one of the best companies I’ve ever communicated with. They promptly respond to people reaching out on social media (Facebook & Twitter,) answer e-mails, are completely accurate with estimated mail times and it seems like their employees go out of the way to make your experience with the company all-together pleasant. I couldn’t contain my excitement about them, and as soon as anyone asks me about my glasses, or tells me that they need new glasses I start rambling about how awesome Warby Parker is. Warby Parker is constantly expanding their eyewear selection, now you can purchase prescription (and non-prescription) sunglasses, as well. This is great because you can still participate even if you have perfect eye-sight (lucky you!) If you want to share the gift of Warby Parker with a friend, but want them to be able to pick out the frames themselves, why not try a Warby Parker gift card? Fun fact time! Guess where Warby Parker got their name from? Any guesses? Jack Kerouac’s early characters: Zagg Parker and Warby Pepper! Also, there are some cool ways to interact with other Warby Parker fans, and the company out in real-life as they have a Class Trip Tour with traveling show rooms! Also, be on the lookout for pop-up shops! (PS: check out the blog, and they’re also on Instagram!)

Be sure to check out stories of lives being changed by Warby Parker.

Spend Less, Give More: More Love Letters

Good morning! Welcome to the Spend Less, Give More series here on Mugs Life. If you’re just joining us, I’ve been making suggestions over the past few days of different organizations to contribute to this Christmas season, encouraging giving gifts with a purpose. The first few organizations highlight supporting immediate basic physical needs: clean water (Charity:Water), food (to put it simply) Heifer International, and shoes and eyesight TOMs. Yesterday, the focus shifted a little bit with a spotlight on emotional needs and mental health with To Write Love On Her Arms. With all of these posts there’s been a push for monetary donations, but today is a little bit different. If you’ve got the money to buy a stamp, a pen, paper, envelope, and some kind words? The only thing else you need to give is a few minutes of your time! Today’s spotlight: More Love Letters.

It’s been less than a year since Hannah Brencher started sending bundles from The World Needs More Love Letters. Thanks to the I Heart Daily Newsletter in my inbox last week, I can say I’ve participated in this wonderful movement. Hannah‘s mom had written her letters for years, so like me, she already had a love for snail mail. It’s funny because the day I got that e-mail, I was in a rough place myself, and I thought “this is perfect” because for me: one of the best ways to push myself into the light when my love tank is running low, is to write to someone else in hopes of lifting their spirits. That’s what More Love Letters is all about. Back in 2010 Hannah living in NYC, was in a dark place herself, so she started penning letters to strangers she thought could use a boost of encouragement, and leaving them all over the city. After that she invited her blog readers to request a letter, if they were in need of one themselves. From there, More Love Letters became what it’s known as now – a global initiative. Hundreds of letters have been sent. You can sign up to join the team, where you’ll be emailed a request each month, you pen a love letter, mail it to the PO Box and a bundle of letters will be put together and sent to someone who needs a little love.  One of the things I think is really cool about More Love Letters are the requests. People write in to request letters for a friend in need. The request could be for a teammate, relative, friend, fiance, coworker, people from so many parts of life that someone has recognized could use some light in their life. This was the request for Madeline, the day I got the I Heart Daily e-mail, which was encouraging participation in More Love Letter‘s “12 Days of Letter Writing.”

Madeline, due to depression and anxiety issues, left high school last year to homeschool herself. She has made some progress but has fallen behind in her studies and really needs some motivation to keep going even though she is falling behind even more every day. Her letter request writes, “It was this time last year when she left school and I know she is very prone to become depressed again in the winter time. I try to involve her in social activities as much as I can, as she will isolate herself otherwise, but I think a little love from a stranger could really help her outlook on life right now.’ Scratch out “stranger” — we are about to bless Madeline’s life with a whole lot of love letters. Help us in showing her how very wonderful and capable Madeline truly is.

(My letter for the bundle.)

You wanna know something a little crazy? I had just finished penning my letter for Madeline’s Bundle, around 10:30am last Friday morning. It was only about an hour later when I started seeing the news reports of the horrific tragedy taking place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut. The innocent beautiful children’s lives ending far too soon, and the brave teachers who’d lost their own protecting them. (Just to note – I’m not trying to loosely combine these two things, or breeze over such a significant event, that has forever changed so many people.) I had just finished expressing how, even though it’s hard to see it sometimes, how true the words from one of my favorite songs are: “This world can be ugly, but isn’t it beautiful?” (“There, There Katie” Jack’s Mannequin.) Seriously. It kind of caught me off guard because one of the first things that flashed through my mind, despite the shock of such a tragedy was: more love. We need more love. And I knew in my heart it wasn’t a coincidence I wrote the letter that morning. It was like God whispering in my ear, encouraging me to follow through knowing of course, when you spread love you can feel love.

And now in recent days, we’ve seen a community come together, we’ve seen people reaching out, we’ve seen love being spread. In the face of such tragedy, we’ve seen compassion. Like six year old Emilie Parker who’s dad has shared how Emilie constantly was coloring pictures, and writing notes to cheer up people around her whenever she saw someone looking down. Robbie Parker said himself: “(that the tragedy) not turn into something that defines us, but something that inspires us to be better, to be more compassionate and more humble people.”

So, today that’s what I’m encouraging you to do. More Love Letters is a simple, but extremely powerful way to contribute to making the world a better place. I know, that you know, someone on this planet who could use a little love. We could all use more love. Pick up that pen, and get writing. It’s a small gesture, that can make a world of difference and have such an impact on turning around someone’s day.

Here you can watch the TED Talk video of Hannah discussing More Love Letters:

 

Stay connected to the journey of More Love Letters: find them on Facebook, follow on Twitter, read the blog. Be sure to share with you friends too, that’s how a movement of love grows!

 

Spend Less, Give More: TOMs

(Disclaimer: I do not own any of these photos or media, the rights belong to TOMs, I’m just borrowing them for informational purposes.)

I don’t always blog on Saturdays, but I’m posting today to share another Spend Less, Give More spotlight (previously featured – Charity:Water and Heifer International.) By now, I am sure you have heard about TOMs shoes, a one-for-one company founded by Blake Mycoskie. While TOMs now has eyewear and clothing – it all started with shoes. Why shoes? Because barefeet are just the beginning of a chain reaction of things that prevent children and adults from healthy, positive lives. Barefeet put everyone at-risk for “soil-transmitted diseases.” These diseases can cause long-term problems, and in some cases lead to death. Imagine being barefoot all the time, walking, running, playing – you’re bound to get simple scrapes and cuts (especially kids just being normal playful kids,) but even small wounds like those can lead to full-blown infection in developing countries that don’t have access to treatments. Here’s another angle you might not have thought about – many schools require students to wear uniforms in order to attend, and shoes are a mandatory part of those uniforms. Without shoes the kids aren’t able to go to school, thus preventing them from receiving an education which bars them from all sorts of opportunities in life! Do you see how simply lives can be changed through a pair of shoes? So many people have closets full of shoes, but all around the world there are people who have never owned a single pair. TOMs operates under the one-for-one model. With each pair of shoes purchased, a pair is given to a child in need. TOMs shoes are available in men, womens, youth, and even TINY TOMs sizes. TOMs are another charitable gift that’s been given in my family several times. I own multiple pairs, and it’s great knowing that when you buy a pair someone else is getting a pair! Like the Charity:Water shirts, TOMs shoes were a conversation starter from the beginning, and what a great story to tell.

My first pair of TOMs, in the wild in Key Largo.

The TOMs team participates in shoe drops, and going into communities in need and giving them the shoes personally. You’ve probably thought about how fast kids feet can grow, and wonder what happens when the kids shoes don’t fit anymore? Well, once communities in need are identified TOMs works to keep those kids in shoes that fit, as they grow! (See TOMs How We Give page for more info.)

Blake has been all over the world, and visited so many different impoverished communities while giving out shoes. He’s seen so many people who don’t have the ability to fulfill basic needs. Recognizing other needs that could also be helped, he decided not to limit TOMs to just shoes, but expand on the one for one model. So, they launched TOMs Eyewear. They’ve got tons of different styles of sunglasses for men and women, and each purchase can benefit someone with the gift of sight in one of three ways: someone might recieve a pair of prescription eyeglasses, have a procedure that literally saves their sight, or receive medical treatment.

So, you’ve got some options. TOMs is another gift-giving idea this holiday season. Consider giving gifts with meaning, contributing your money to something that will help better lives this season!

You can like TOMs on Facebook, follow on Twitter, read the blog, and even find them on Pinterest to follow them on their one-for-one journeys, keep up with TOMs news, and even submit your own content!

Spend Less, Give More: Heifer International

This holiday season I’m utilizing my blog to encourage the idea of spending less, and giving more. (Check out the kick-off post: Spend Less, Give More.) Yesterday I featured one of my favorite organizations: Charity:Water. Well, now I’d love for you to take the time to read about another favorite organization: Heifer International.

(Disclaimer: I do not own any of this media content, which is the property of Heifer International. Just using for informational purposes.)

(Image via Heifer International Facebook page.)

Heifer International’s mission is simple, but completely invaluable: “to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth.”

I still remember years back when my dad’s friend Hope donated an animal in his name. We got the card that explains the gift and organization and I thought – wow, how cool. Since then all of the members of my family have contributed to Heifer International. Flocks of chicks, flocks of ducks, cows, goats – Hope’s gift truly did set the pass-it-on spark.

 

The awesome thing about donations to Heifer International is that the gifts these donations provide are about more than just a source of food. Take the chickens for example – chickens lay eggs, then those eggs can be used to feed others in the community or be sold in the market. The same thing goes for goat or cow milk, even honey from bees! This brings together agriculture and business – providing people a way to take care of their families, and helps build hope. The boost in commerce can transform communities!

Has someone donated to Heifer International in your honor before? Did it inspire you to pass it on?! Just think how your contribution can change lives! View the gift catalog and see how donations of all sizes can make a difference. Your contribution can set off the chain of events that lead to full bellies, thriving communities, educational opportunities, and more!

(Image via Heifer International Facebook.)
Children in Uganda with family chickens. Look at those smiles!

You can read the Heifer International blog, follow them on Twitter, or like their Facebook page to keep-up! Pass it on!

Charity: Water – Give the Gift of Clean Water

(Disclaimer: These are NOT my photos, all from Charity:Water‘s social media sites, but I’m borrowing them to share with you.)

Yesterday I posted about the idea of giving more, and spending less this holiday season. (Spend Less, Give More) Putting a stop to buying pointless junk just to cross someone off a list of gift-giving obligation. The organization I’d like to spotlight today is Charity Water an organization founded by Scott Harrison.

The mission of Charity: Water is simple – a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

Why Water?

 

Why Water?

Many of us take clean drinking water for granted. We’ve never considered what it would be like to wait in lines to fill up jugs (very heavy jugs) that we would then have to carry for miles, and even after that there’s still the likely possibility we would get sick or die of a disease from using the water because it’s not clean. Just because you might not be thinking about it, doesn’t mean this isn’t occurring all over the world, everyday. Did you know that more than 800 MILLION PEOPLE don’t have access to clean drinking water?! Before you sit there, completely discouraged, take heart in knowing that while this problem affects so, so many people – it doesn’t take very much to help. You might be surprised to know that Charity: Water uses the 100% model, meaning that all donations made to Charity: Water go to funding clean-water projects. You can read more about this here. Mere DOLLARS can make a difference here, people! Did yo know $20 can give someone clean water for 20 years?!

That right there could easily be your message to loved ones! (See that bottom line? $20 gives one person clean water for TWENTY YEARS! It’s true.)

You may have seen popular celebrities donating their birthdays to Charity: Water to raise money for clean-water well funding (Kristen Bell, Sophia Bush, Justin Bieber, Will & Jada Smith, Jessica Biel, and many more…) There are several ways you can donate. Do you want to contribute to someone else’s Charity: Water birthday campaign? Do you want to donate your own birthday? You can make a regular donation here. Plus, there’s a store of Charity: Water gear – buy yourself, or for others.

(Image via Charity:Water)

Purchase a pack of five wristbands for $25. They’re a great reminder, and way to spread the water about Charity: Water.

Or would you rather sport a t-shirt? My parents got these for my brother and I one for Christmas a few years back, and they are great conversation starters!

(Image via Charity:Water)

You can find more gift ideas to support Charity:Water funded wells, and raise awareness for the cause on their site – everything from ties with the symbolic yellow jerry can to cufflinks, carafes, and even jewelery!

(Image via Charity:Water)

Charity:Water keeps you up-to-date on projects, and you can see directly how the clean water wells are changing people’s lives – read the blog, like on Facebook, or track on Twitter! Why water? Because it changes everything. I would love for you to truly consider donating to Charity:Water this season, or anytime of the year for that matter. If some of this information is new to you, or you just needed reminding be sure to pass it on. Every bit of help can make a difference!