Tuesday, September 01, 2015

10 Things on Tuesday - Volume 43

1. So, it's two weeks later and I still haven't written about my weekend in Tulsa hanging out with my girls! I'll get on that soon. Oops? (Spoiler alert - it involves finding myself braless in public, wearing someone else's shoes.)

2.  I never watched New Girl because I found the main character way too grating, but I caught a couple of episodes while I was on vacation, and am now painfully in love with Nick Miller, and have possibly been binge Netflixing it. 

3. I've also been (finally) watching Orange Is The New Black, which is way, way different than the book, but addictive.

4. Heads up - my current favorite shorts are on clearance for $11.50! I love that they're unique but neutral-ish enough that you can pair them with all kinds of tops!

5. I've been trying to make a point to spend some time at the lake at least a couple of times a week.

I mostly just go find a spot to sit and write, and it's pretty great. More of this!

6. I've been OMG-crazy busy, but with the boring kind of life stuff that is not only time consuming, but also has the audacity to be totally uninteresting to blog about, thus two whole weeks of no posts. 

7. Today was the day I originally planned to move back to FL, but with all of the craziness of mom being in and out of the hospital and nursing home over the past several months, I'm now shooting for mid-October. It worked out strangely well, since FL is getting smacked by tropical storms right now! Taking care of mom has seriously cut into the amount of free time I have for work (#FreelanceProblems), so I am working pretty much 24/7 to build up my move fund! I'm soooo ready to go. 

8. I am super jealous that Target makes this line of what I like to think of as "Cat Lady In Training" clothes for little girls, and nothing in my size. Life is unfair. I would rock that kitten dress. 

Links to find these adorable things - clockwise - 1-2-3-4

9. My little town's citywide yard sale is in about 2 weeks, so I'm running around sticking neon price tags on things. It is pretty much perfect timing with the upcoming move, but man do I always repress how much work these things are! If you need me, I'll be searching for tips on how to make a bazillion dollars from a yard sale on Pinterest!

10. I'm strangely in love with this song right now:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Tennyson's Birthday Dinner from Sheba!

This post is sponsored by Vocalpoint and SHEBA. All opinions and adorable cats are my own.

So, this little dude...

just turned 2 years old! As you can tell from that bottom right pic when he was 6 weeks old, Ten and I have been BFF's for pretty much forever! (He still rides on my back/shoulders like that, even though he's up to a whopping 9.5 lbs now!)

I decided to use the samples that the Sheba team was kind enough to send me as the fancy dinner for Tennyson's birthday celebration! He got a whole small can to himself, and the other cats got to share everything else.

Being my cat is not a bad gig sometimes.

Ten loved both the chicken and turkey varieties of the Sheba Perfect Cuts - he's a tiny guy despite being a young adult now, so sometimes food with bi chunks can be a little large for him to handle, but these tiny diced meat pieces were perfect for him! And you've gotta love that they are made from responsibly sourced, high quality ingredients and plenty of protein!  

I loved the Sheba Perfect Portions - there are so many times that just one cat will be hungry (usually because they napped through meal time or were way too busy doing important cat stuff to show up), so I hate to open a whole new can just for that one. These are perfect for when that happens - the serving size is perfect for one kitty!

Want the chance to win a whole lotta Sheba for your cats? You can win an entire YEAR's supply by posting a photo of your cat eating Sheba to Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #SwitchToSheba, or uploading it at Vocalpoint! Time to show off your kitties!

Between the delicious dinner and a bunch of new mousie and catnip toys, I'd say Ten's birthday was a pretty solid success!

Have you tried any Sheba foods yet? (Well, your cats, not you personally. That's probably not the best idea,) Am I the only one weird enough to throw birthday parties for my cats, or have you done it, too? Make me feel better about my Cat lady-ness with your stories!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Vacation - WOOHOO!

It's just after 1 a.m., which means I'll be hitting the road in just over 8 hours (knock on wood!). (Yes, I know I should sleep.)

My life has been so crazy-hectic-busy the last few months that I don't even remember the last time that I got more than about half an hour to just hang out and relax, let alone like, MULTIPLE DAYS. I'm totally into it.

The last time I had any kind of getaway was a quick trip up to St. Louis back in February, which uhhh, could have gone better. (You can read about that here and here! Spoiler alert: I came back with one less car than I started with. And by that I mean no car.)

Tomorrow involves a four-ish hour drive to the Tulsa area, and then snuggling the crap out of three of my oldest friends all weekend. (Oldest in that we met in the days of Compuserve. Given that I spend a couple hours at mom's nursing home every night, I know some old ladies, yo.) (Speaking of which, she gets to move back to her house on Tuesday! I may never sleep again.) (Have I used enough parentheses yet?)

Oh man, if it tells you anything about how much I need to get away, I fell asleep at this point of writing this. Oops! Anyway, time to hit the road! Keep an eye on Twitter & both my blog Instagram and personal Instagram and such for updates, and I'll see you crazy kids next week!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

10 Things - Volume 42

1. This week so far has been absolutely NUTS as I try to fit an entire week's worth of work into 3 days. But at least it will be worth it, because...

2. GIRLS WEEKEND! I'm heading over to Oklahoma to hang out with 3 awesome women that I've known for 20 freaking years. I haven't seen one of them since high school (!!!), so I'm pretty excited for a weekend of shenanigans!

3. You know how sometimes you need a little treat to perk up your day? I picked up one of those face masks you always see in the beauty section for like $1.50 because I was in the mood for some cheap pampering. It didn't go well. 

As I was opening the package, I noticed that I'd missed where it said "for men", but screw gender based product marketing, what's the difference?

I couldn't shake the feeling that I was applying toothpaste to my face, although the super strong minty smell was more like diving headfirst into mouthwash. It burned to the point that I checked the ingredients and saw that after water, alcohol was the next most prevalent. Eep! Unlike the photo, I only got a light blue film over most of my face. I kept a wide margin around my eyes, but even with that distance it stung - I cant imagine if it dripped in! The smell got a little more tolerable as the minutes passed, but having it on my face never became a pleasant experience by ANY means. And in the end, I don't really think it did any good. Boooo-urns!

4. Currently seriously considering ordering this swimsuit top! Especially since it's on sale for $22! Finding an affordable underwire tankini is SO HARD - the boob struggle is real!

5. Also seriously wanting these Converse Shoreline low tops in charcoal. Why didn't I find these earlier in the summer? They'd be perfect with pretty much every pair of shorts I own!

6. You need to head over to Instagram and follow kittyfails. Trust me on this. They don't have all that many videos up yet, but oh man. Cat comedy gold.

A video posted by @kittyfails on

7. I finally, finally gave in and got a massage. I'm super money conscious in general, and I've just never been able to wrap my mind around the concept of giving someone a bunch of my dollars to rub on my naked body for an hour. I mean hello, there are a bazillion people out there who would be delighted to do that for free! But anyway, I gave in when I hit the point where my shoulder was so messed up that a huge wave of pain shot through it any time I sneezed (which is approximately every 5 seconds with my crazy summer allergies!) My awesome masseuse found knots I didn't even know I had (apparently my right elbow is super funky from years of laptop-ing!) And she was able to dig into my psoas muscle, which I've tried like crazy to stretch but have never been quite able to "get". OMG, I have never felt a sensation like that - it seriously felt like acid burning into my muscle. Built-up lactic acid, maybe? Whatever it was, it was so intense that when she would press into the muscle and ask me to lift my leg, I couldn't. SO WEIRD.

8. Continuing the theme of "Gimmie all the things!", I really want this comforter set from Target! Especially because hello, it's reversible!

9. I totally spilled green juice on my laptop last week, thus no 10 Things post! Well, I didn't so much spill the juice as fall asleep in a bed that contained both my glass of juice and my laptop...

I took the whole thing apart (always scary!) and discovered that my dvd drive got hit the hardest - quite a bit of liquid in there- but most of the rest of its little laptop guts were still dry. Whew! I soaked up every drop that I could with paper towels and then left it in pieces in a closet (to protect it from cats) for about 2 days. IT LIVES! (uh, except the dvd dive.) My trackpad is doing an annoying thing occasionally where it zooms when I'm just trying to move the mouse, but compared to a totally fried laptop, that doesn't seem so bad. I'll look into ordering a new mouse doo-dad thingy (technical term) at some point, but ain't nobody got time for that right now! And if it continues to be annoying, I can just pick up a cheap USB mouse and rock that for a while.

10. I wish I had brilliant, poignant words to mark the one year anniversary of what happened in Ferguson last year, but all I can really say is that it seems like everything and yet nothing has changed. Still heartbreaking to watch.

How is your week going so far?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Show Us Your Books! August 2015

Life According to Steph

It's that time of the month again! No, not THAT time. Show Us Your Books Time! Way more fun!

As always, you can click the book cover image to go straight to its Amazon page and learn more, partly for convenience and partly because cat food is like, really expensive you guys, and every affiliate link penny helps. #JustSayin.


I've heard so much about this book that I finally had to give in and pick it up! I was vaguely aware of the brand "Nasty Gal" before beginning the book, but I really couldn't have told you if they sold makeup or clothes or what. The original business sounds pretty great - Sophia got started selling thrifted vintage treasures on eBay to surprising success. It was one of those magical times when the right product hits at the right time (this is when ebay stores were huuuuge) and it really took off. At some point she transitioned to... less awesome stuff? For lack of a better way of putting it? I pulled up the site to check it out and there's still some unique vintage wstuff, but it's now mostly sort of... meh.

But back to the actual book! I'd heard so many great things, but ended up being kind of disappointed. It doesn't quite see to know what it wants to be - she spends a lot of time talking about how great it is to start your own business and be your own boss... and then offers advice on how to do well at interviews. If you're aimed at entrepreneurs, as the hashtagged caps lock title would imply, why are you giving advice on how to do well at a regular office? It would have been more interesting for her to focus on the "be your own boss" aspect, since there are a bazillion regular career books out there, but strangely enough she offers hardly any good info on starting and running a business other than "work really hard."

The overreaching impression of the book is that she thinks she became a multi-millionaire simply because she worked really hard. That's more than a little annoying because it ignores both the countless number of people who start their own businesses and work with equal drive and passion without ever getting much success, as well as the idea that a lot of her success was more of a right place/right time/right factors already in place type of scenario - that is she already knew enough about fashion to be able to style the looks, had tried modeling as a kid, she just happened to have pro photographer friend to shoot for her, it was just the right time when listing vintage clothes on ebay was huge, and she happened to live in a part of the country where you can actually find an abundance of incredible vintage at thrift shops. (Sorry, but the likelihood of finding more than maybe ten awesome money-making items a month drops to practically zero if you're living in, say, the Midwest, no matter how much time you devote to thrift shop stalking!)

Its also weird to have a book written by the owner of a site that sells $1,250 beaded leather sandals tell me that "money looks better in the bank thank on your feet". Almost as confusing is that after spending a large chunk of the book going on about how Nasty Gal is the best company everrrr, she has since stepped down as CEO after laying off 10% of the staff last summer. Okaaaay?

Not That Kind of Girl

Okay, so my picks this month aren't exactly unique and esoteric. C'est la vie.

I've only seen season 1 of Girls so far, but I think Lena Dunham is interesting. It seems that she's one of those people that people other worship or detest, but I fall somewhere in between, much as I do with this book. Yes, much like Dunham's character on Girls, there's a lot of privileged upper middle class upbringing firs world problems. That said, Lena is a good storyteller and this is an interesting read, just don't expect life-changing. There were some great, well-written essays and a handful that were more suited to say, an average Tuesday blog post than a book.

And just because I'm guessing it will come up - I spent a lot of the book wondering when the infamous incident with her sister would come up, only to realize "Oh. That thing a few chapters ago was it. Huh." Your reaction, of course, may vary depending on your life experiences and such.

10 % Happier

The author of this book got into meditation after suffering a panic attack on live tv in front of millions of viewers. As a pro at panic attacks, I totally know what it's like to try to hurry out of a grocery store hoping that nobody notices that you can't breathe and are totally freaking out, or to try to hurry to wrap up an interaction with a guest because you're sure you might pass out any second, so I can't even imagine it happening while you're on live TV.

This falls somewhere between self help and memoir, probably leaning a little more towards the latter. Unlike most books on this subject, Dan didn't aim for omg life changing with his mediation practice. He just wanted things to be kinda better. 10% happier might not sound like much, but it's a noticeable change. It's a good introduction to the benefits of meditation in a totally non-woo-woo way. In other words, it puts things in normal everyday person terms and experience, not the super new-agey or serious tone you see in a lot of books on the subject.

I actually just discovered while grabbing the cover image of this book from Amazon that there's a 34 page "sequel" that you can get for Kindle for freee! The reviews are super mixed, mostly saying that it repeats a lot of info from the original, so it sounds like it might be worth reading if you want an idea of  what 10% Happier is like, just don't expect awesomeness. (I just had it laser-beamed over to my Kindle, so I'll let you know!)

Annnnd, as always seems to happen, I hae totally run out of time to finish up my reviews before I need to post for the linkup! You would think that after 16 years I'd have the hang of this whole "blogging" thing, but apparently not! Bummer, since I still have at least 4 more books that I read recently to write about. Thankfully, I have a mini vacation coming up this weekend, so maybe I can finally catch up on both reading and reviewing! YAY!

Read anything awesome lately?

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Get Inspired! #InspiredByCrafted DIY Catnip Toys!

This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Ideal Balance® CRAFTED, but Straight On Till Morning only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

There's something special about anything that someone took the time to create by hand, with love. I think that's part of why sites like Etsy and Pinterest are so popular; we love the idea of DIY, but finding the time to actually create something special can be tough! As you might know if you've spent much time around my blog, I love picking up not-so-cute clothes at thrift shops for next to nothing and turning them into something wearable and one of a kind. It's so cool to know that literally no one else in the world has the same outfit you do! Here's one of my favorite transformations:

You can see the whole post about it here!

While I will happily spend hours upon hours in front of a sewing machine creating something fun, I'm definitely not one for spending a ton of time in the kitchen (I get annoyed by any meal that takes more than 10 minutes to prepare, so I cant imagine if I had to take time to prepare meals from scratch for my cats, too! Hill's® Ideal Balance Crafted® lets you skip those hours slaving over a hot stove by doing all of the work for you! They make small batch, slow cooked cat food that features meat as the first ingredient and unique ingredients like ancient grains that make the Crafted homemade style recipes really stand out from the rest. 

You can find the full line of Hill's Ideal Balance Crafted dog and cat food at specialty pet stores and on the shelves at many vet offices! There's even a coupon on the Hill's website for $7 off a bag of Hill's Ideal Balance Crafted dry food for your cat or dog! (My cats love the Crafted Grain Free Herbed Chicken and Chickpeas Recipe dry cat food!)  

Lots of people are getting inspired by the Crafted line of foods and getting creative to create something by hand! You can check out their awesome projects on the #InspiredByCrafted page, and even submit your own crafty projects and enter the giveaway to win one of 20 pet store gift cards! I couldn't resist joining in the DIY crafting fun, so I decided to make some super quick kitty catnip toys from things I already had around the house!

 Supplies you need: A scrap of fabric, some catnip, and good loud crinkly plastic from a cookie package so that the toy makes exciting noise when kitties play with it! (Enthusiastic Helper Kitten not necessary, but suggested.)

It's not a big deal if you're not great at sewing. The cats won't notice if your seams aren't anywhere close to being straight! The only thing you do need to be careful about is making sure there are no stray threads that your cat could ingest. Super dangerous to kitty digestive systems!

Fold your scrap of fabric in half and sew seams along two sides, leaving the last edge open so that you can flip it inside out and fill it up!

I put in a little bit of the crumpled up plastic, a layer of catnip, and then more crumpled plastic. You can totally skip the plastic, but it serves the dual purpose of making fun noises and taking up space inside so you can use less catnip and the toy stays lighter!

There are fancier ways to close it up, but I went quick and simple by folding the edge over twice to hide the raw edge. Voila!

The whole project took me less than ten minutes from start to finish, even including stops to snap photos for this post, and the cats were entertained by that thing for hours! I was surprised by how big of a hit it was, especially since it cost next to nothing to make! You can see a video of kittens having a blast with it on my Instagram!

Have you ever made something just for your pets? I'd love to see or hear about it! 

Friday, July 31, 2015

I Seem To Have Misplaced July - Have You Seen It?

How is this the last day of July? Where did it go? How did I only post a handful of times all month?

I'm about to get all old school blogger on you: stream-of-consciousness, omg there aren't even any pictures in this thing. Sorry 'bout it.

I'm in such a weird place in my life right now. I'm working so. freaking. hard. to save up for my impending move back to Florida, but hot damn is it hard to get any momentum going. I cant remember which book it was in (I've been reading like a fiend lately, or more accurately like my pre-internet middle school self) but I read something last night that mentioned how almost anything big is at least three times harder than you expect it to be. TRUTH. 

I need this move. I need to shake things up, start fresh. I've been stuck in Missouri for five years now, and every now and then I glance around and think "How did I get here? This is all wrong." I know that changing your surroundings is not an instant recipe for happiness, but I can't shake the feeling that where I am now just isn't the right fit for me. I miss my Florida friends and my palm trees and lazily wandering around Epcot on days off.

I'm trying. I've been viciously de-cluttering, a weird way to put it, I know, but I can't think of a more accurate description. I am tired of being weighed down by things that I keep just because I've always kept them. I've been working my bootie off whenever possible. So much writing. So much trying to pull my new side business together. So much reaching out, trying to make sure that when I do pick up and move, that I won't constantly be freaking out about money and unable to enjoy the life I've worked so hard to get back to.

It sounds so simple - do the work, make plans, budget, go. But man do I feel like I'm swimming against the current most of the time. Despite over a year of doctor visits every few months to figure out the right antidepressant/anti-anxiety medicine, I still get exhausted way too fast. My brain overloads after a couple of hours of trying to focus on work and gets way too fuzzy to produce the kind of content I'm getting paid for. And if I try to push through the exhaustion, mental and physical, and just keep going-going-going until there's finally a significant dent in my to-do list, my body totally shuts down on me and I usually find myself spending at least 24 hours in the most unimaginable vomit-y, headache-y, has ended in trip to ER more than once, pain. (That coming from someone who didn't even touch the fancy pain meds after getting my wisdom teeth out. I took an Advil or something and a nap. My pain tolerance is just weird.)

Throw in the weight of looking after mom while she's in the nursing home recovering from yet another bout of getting so weak that there are nights I have to feed her her dinner, as well as looking after things at her house and running to the store any time she needs snacks or random supplies (which is multiple times a week), and the little bit of energy that I start most days with gets zapped pretty fast.

So yeah, things are tough at the moment. They're not bad, by any means - I've spent more than enough time in "bad" times. Enough that I appreciate "Tough, but not awful" as an alternative. But I thought I'd share where I am right now, what's up in my head. A long string of day after day where I feel like I'm giving my all but only inching forward in tiny increments. But at least it's still forward motion.

I can't wait to be home (despite growing up in MO, FL is "home"), sharing adventures and silliness and all sorts of good things here. I can't wait to have stories that feel like they're worth telling again. Blogging can start to feel rough when your day was, "I wrote some articles, snuggled my cats, and threw away a bunch of old papers". It will be so much more fun when I get to go back to writing about the awesome new local band I just discovered, the hilarious thing I overheard at Disney World, the photos from random day trips to the beach just because it's just an hour away. Yes, life will still be crazy and hard and stressful after I move, but all of that is a lot easier to deal with when you're surrounded by people and places and things you love. That's what I need to get back to.

Time to start another day. Maybe I'll make a few more inches of progress than I did yesterday. Keep moving forward.