How to Argue Effectively

Arguing

I was raised in a home where “discussions” were considered a sport. Think: “what do you call banana pudding made without bananas?” and “does a week start on Sunday or Monday? (…What constitutes this week? Next week?! Don’t get me started.) This carried over into my marriage where I forever have browser tabs open settling disputes like “Times Square not a square?” and “antelope carnivore??”. In today’s combative, sensitive world, how do you artfully toe the line between workplace exploration and obnoxious ex-neighbor on Facebook?

If I’m being totally honest, my first instinct when approaching a post about disagreement was to just pout, storm away and stop this post before it even started because I DON’T CARE ANYWAY. However, in my long history of remaining friends with those who drive me crazy, here are a few things that have worked for me:

  1. Ask questions and try to understand: It’s always interesting to me to understand WHY the other person thinks the way they do. It’s hard to word this without sounding cheeky (and why do you think that?) but you can ask questions that will help you get informed, follow their train of thought and tie in your points later on.
  2. Be informed: The most frustrating thing for me in political discussions with my husband is when I enter territory where I feel uninformed. That immediately makes me feel defensive and want to hurl a “YOU’RE JUST WRONG AND DUMB” bomb or cry in an upscale Mexican restaurant over gun control. If you decide to pursue a dispute, make sure you are prepared with facts that support your side or address points the other person might bring up. The difference in how you feel after an argument is largely based on the degree of educated, unemotional and factual statements.
  3. Know the right time: With most of my friends and family, I have an arsenal of hot button items that I know can tip us into argument-ville. I am aware of which topics will NEVER be resolved, and which are open to mutual discussion.  I also know when I last ate, when Mercury is in Retrograde, when we have been on an 11 hour road trip together, and when we are low on sleep and high on hormones. If you truly want to argue with growth and understanding in mind, pick a time when everyone is sane, full and well rested. If you do not care about that, pick a time when everyone is on the edge and hangry and PMSing and watch the fur fly in circles forever.
  4. #RightReasons: Begin by understanding that there is a 99.8% chance you will never change that person’s mind. Go in hoping to learn, educate, or kill time until you find that mythical Sonic off some exit in Georgia. Look for the strength in your opposing views, especially if they have to do with the future of your relationship or your family. Will your differing political views forever ruin your unborn child? Only if you’re a jerk about it. Instead of letting it keep you up at night re-reading your horoscope compatibility, take comfort instead that you will have an educated, well-rounded offspring who can make their own decisions.
  5. DO NOT GLOAT: Last but definitely not least, if someone ever does come around to your point of view, welcome them with open arms. The fastest way to make someone bitter for life is to remind them of that time they were wrong, or congratulate them on their arrival to righteousness FINALLY ONLY AFTER I BULLIED YOU FOR 8 YEARS. Do not forward them chain letters about how they will die if they do not see the merit in your book club book pick. Avoid dropping off VHS tapes of Dateline where people’s kids ate too much red meat. Just trust that you provided enough good information for them to realize how right you are. They’ll get there.

 

Countertop FAQs with Geo’s Marble & Granite

graniteFrom the minute I heard another agent in my office say “I like to quiz myself on different granite types in my spare time”, I knew I was in the right place. In my opinion, nothing can change the whole look of a kitchen faster than new countertops. However, when my husband and I were looking at homes, I was totally overwhelmed trying to determine what material was in a kitchen, how easily I could replace it, and what that might entail. So, when I got the chance to sit down with the team at Geo’s Marble and Granite, I got right to the bottom of it all. The company has been in business since 2012 and came highly recommended, so I knew they’d be the ones who could answer my burning questions.

What are the most common materials you might find in a kitchen? How could someone tell the difference when they walk in a home?

Most often you will find quartz (which is manmade), granite or laminate. Occasionally you might see marble but it’s not usually recommended for a kitchen. To quickly tell which type is installed, look underneath. Naturally occurring stone like granite or marble isn’t often altered on the bottom, whereas laminate or quartz will have some factory markings or be smoother and more finished.

What do you need to consider when replacing countertops in my home?IMG_1913

At Geo’s, you’ll need to set aside about 5-7 business days for measuring and installation (this can vary greatly from business to business). As a rule of thumb, summer is better for installation as the winter months get extremely busy in the industry. Always ask if they are willing and able to remove old countertops as well. Geo’s is happy to help for an additional fee, but other companies may not offer disposal.

Which material is the easiest to care for?

Let’s start by saying marble is NOT the easiest, and is often discouraged in kitchens. Many styles can stain and etch easily when they come in contact with things like wine, coffee and even styrofoam. Marble is much better in a bathroom where it’s less likely for these things to come in contact with your surface. Quartz and granite are actually extremely easy to care for and they only require sealing once a year, which is just a simple spray (which you can purchase at Lowes or Home Depot) almost like cleaning and wiping down your counters. As long as you maintain the sealing, they are able to withstand heat, cutting, liquid, and all kinds of other kitchen mishaps. Another great thing about granite is that even if there is some accidental staining, the pattern will often camouflage it.

What happens if my kitchen is oddly shaped or requires a very long countertop?

No problem! While they try to have the fewest seams possible, they are often required in lengths over 10ft. Curves, rounded spaces and overhangs are no issue either.

What determines the cost of different countertops?

At the core, it’s all about supply and demand and what’s the most popular. Besides that, the main factors are material and square footage. Cost also fluctuates based on the amount of waste it takes to get a beautiful pattern. Granite pricing is tiered, so a “level one” granite would be a builder-grade material that starts around $29/ square foot. It has repetitive, even patterns that allow for one piece to be cut after another. Conversely, a complex piece of marble might require a lot of waste in order to get to that perfect design element on a piece, driving up the price. If humans can make more of it (quartz and laminate), it is often more affordable than things we rely on nature to produce (granite, quartzite, marble).

IMG_1231What are the biggest countertop trends right now?

The light, bright pieces are flying out of the store. Many people are going for the look of marble but prefer quartz or granite with that same design. For styles, waterfall countertops (where the counters extend over the sides all the way to the floor, like a table) are increasing in popularity.

I hope that helped clear up some of the questions out there about counters! The best part about this conversation was meeting someone that knew their stuff and loved what they did. They had a wonderful selection (much of it was imported from Brazil- fun fact!) and they were incredibly knowledgable about the varieties, nuances and trends. The team helped me understand how affordable and simple it could be to install and maintain these beautiful additions. If you have any other questions, I’d love to pass them along for answers!

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Doggone Good Weekend Recap

Y’all know I can’t resist a good pun.

Or a terrible pun.

Anywayyyy, this weekend was a doozy for us! We entertained for the first time in our new house, hit the town for our first official Raleigh holiday, and tried tons of new restaurants (our favorite!).

Saturday, we pushed the limits of #basic and threw our puppy Dorothy her first birthday party. Did I go overboard? Probably. Do I care? Nope.

On the menu, I had PAWncake skewers and chicken and WOOFles, a biscuit bar for humans and pups, sausage and grits casserole, and zucchini bread (“grass clipping bread”- our dog’s favorite!). I had been feverishly inviting humans and dogs to our house for weeks, blatantly ignoring the fact that it could rain or be cold in March, we had no fence yet, we have a white couch, etc. etc. Leave it to my sweet husband to always shine the logistical light on my decisions… but get dragged along for the ride anyway. It turned out to be the perfect day!

Saturday afternoon, we retired briefly to our porch for mimosas and March Madness. When we channeled our inner 19 year olds and decided that we could rally, we made our way to meet friends on Glenwood South. We were greeted with a sea of green, all people who had been enjoying the festivities much longer than we had.

We acted quickly and made a mobile reservation at Vidrio, realizing it was one of the only places on the road that partygoers might miss. Y’all, I am SO glad that we tried this place! It’s a Mediterranean tapas restaurant with absolutely breathtaking decor. It’s great for a date or happy hour because you can get several small plates, delicious wine, and never run out of topics to discuss with the art surrounding you. Vidrio means “glass”, and nearly every inch of the restaurant is adorned with gorgeous pieces. We loved the beef skewers, hanger steak, Brussels sprouts (with BACON JAM), and the jet black colored risotto.

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We tuckered out early that night, but managed to rouse ourselves for brunch at Lucky 32 down the street from us in Cary. I was so pleasantly surprised by the whole concept- the name comes from the fact that the menu refreshes every 32 days. I got the Suffolk Chicken Breast on the best grit cake of my life, and the cornbread was to die for as well!

I hope y’all had a great weekend, I’d love to know if anyone got into any more mischief than we did!

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How Do You Measure a (Real Estate) Year?

Some of the most asked questions I hear as a Realtor begin with “Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 12.22.46 PM.pngwhen should I…?” So, I compiled a VERY extensive list of all of my advice, broken out for buyers, sellers, homeowners and renters. If you’d prefer to just see a segmented list, click the links below for downloadable lists:

Buyers & Sellers

Renters

Homeowners

January -February

  • Buyers– This is the time of year to get prepared for a busy spring! Begin by finding a Realtor that you love and ask for suggestions on lenders you could meet with. The key is to get pre-approved, determine your budget and get the pieces in place so making an offer is turnkey when you’ve found The One. Consider making suggested improvements to your credit and topping off your savings after establishing your mortgage goals. If you are desperate for a home, there are often homes that went on the market during the late fall or early holiday season that are ready for a price-drop.
  • Sellers- This is your time to prepare as well. Begin interviewing agents to help you determine the value of your home, assist in suggesting repairs and getting the home ready to list. As you clean, paint and prepare your home, consider talking to your agent about a “coming soon” status approaching spring to generate interest while updates are being wrapped up. ALWAYS talk to an agent before doing major work on your home in order to sell it. There’s a chance the return might not be what you are hoping for, and a potential to over-improve your home and make it difficult to sell.
  • Homeowners- Angie’s List shares that “despite the thought of working outside in the cold winter months, this is actually a good time to start an addition. Frozen ground and dry air are better for digging foundations and pouring concrete footers than muddy ground and humidity. If your foundation is completed and the room addition is framed before the rainy season, the space can be under cover during the unpredictable spring weather. You’ll likely have fewer ‘rain days’ where no one works on the construction site. In addition, the winter months tend to be less busy for builders, because everyone is waiting for spring and tax refunds to start their home projects.”
  • Renters: The savings on rentals typically extend from October-April, so this is still a great time to snag a deal. Additionally, if you have a longer lead time and are anxious to start searching, consider a new construction building. Companies often want to complete projects before the busy rental season, and may offer bonuses and discounts on top of being a brand-new property.

March – May

  • Buyers/sellers: This timeframe is considered the “spring market” where activity is at a peak. While you might see a higher inventory, there is also an influx of buyers ready to get outside and find their new home. You might find that intentions aren’t always serious this time of year, as buyers are curious and exploring, and sellers might be testing the waters to see if a high price will generate interest. In this fast-paced season, buyers should be prepared with a budget and your offer terms in your back pocket. Sellers, understand what you would accept and how much you could net from the sale of your home prior to being in an emotional scenario.
  • Renters: Keep in mind that rentals often require 60 day’s notice if you choose to end your lease or pursue another rental. I have in many cases been left paying to break a lease or trying to fill a vacancy because I got excited about a new home, balcony or pool!
  • Homeowners: Due to the weather, this is a better time of year to begin outdoor renovations like sidings and decks. However, this is often the busiest time for builders, so it’s probably when you’ll pay the most money for their time and for materials.

June – September

  • Renters: Rents are often higher in these months when activity is high, especially in the case of a college town. Many people are looking for short term leases during summer internships or moving to new cities to begin jobs. On the flip side, there is a lot of variety and competition between apartment complexes, so discounts are not uncommon.
  • Buyers/Sellers: Consider the pros and cons of listing or searching for a home during this time. You might see a great side of a property and a neighborhood, but you could also be inconvenienced by vacations and holidays.
  • Homeowners: Indoor work like kitchen or bathroom remodelingis great during the summer months. Consider things like grilling outside, washing the dog in the driveway, and all of the options you have for not being cooped up inside while contractors complete work. Surprisingly, roofing projects are often done in the summer, because the roofing material needs certain higher temperatures to seal. If you have a Realtor, ask for trustworthy and reliable contractors that might be able to complete work while you are on vacation so you can avoid the inconvenience altogether!

October-December

  • Buyers/Sellers: Usually if you are seeking a home or hoping to sell your home at this time of year, know that the other party is usually more serious. This is not necessarily the time for curious buyers to hit the market, or for experimenting sellers to put their homes on the market to see what would happen. People are typically more focused on family and friends, so they will be less likely to be searching or wanting people in and out of their homes. Bonus, though, beautifully decorated houses are plentiful and you can find the perfect “Christmas Tree corner” that we all secretly seek during showings.
  • Homeowners: If you need a deal on home improvements and contractors, it could be worth it to consider waiting until during the holidays. Most professionals stay busy leading up to the holidays, so their schedules likely lighten up this time of year.
  • Renters: This is the best time of year to snag affordable rent. According to RentHop, “one-bedroom apartments are between 2.4% and 5.4% cheaper in the winter, while two-bedroom units are between 2.3% and 5.8% more affordable. In dollar figures, that equates to between a $37 and $171 per month savings for one-bedroom rentals and between $36 and $191 for two-bedrooms.”

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Article Sources: MarketWatch, Apartment Guide Blog, Investopedia, Sears Home Services

Odd Things to Refresh

So far, 2018 in the Azzarello household means that for a few weeks nothing is safe from being tossed, donated or stowed in a decorative basket. Between moving and feeling re-energized starting a new career, I have been the mood for all things fresh. I noticed that outside of the big ticket items (pantry, closets, laundry room) I’ve gained great satisfaction from refreshing a few out of the ordinary things I normally would have overlooked.

  1. Keychain– I totally took for granted how many times a day I handled my keys. My key ring was filled with mystery keys, empty rings that add length and weight, and crusty store cards that I barely used. I grabbed a staple remover to hold my key ring open to save my nails, then I removed every keychainkey, card and ring. If you can’t let go, consider an app like Stocard to store your discount cards digitally. Only keep things that are absolutely necessary or fill you with joy. I cut it down to my key fobs, gym card, my library card, my Wendy’s free Frosty for a year card, and my fun pom-pom keychain.
  2. Phone Case- While I know I have a problem picking up my phone itself, I never realized how big of an impact the case makes. In today’s world, it’s the first thing people see and associate with you, as weird as that sounds. I’ve found that the more I switch mine up and the more they resonate with me, the happier I am. I had this reindeer one from H&M on during the holidays, and it was an amazing conversation starter. I’m currently rocking a Target Dollar spot case with jazzy sloshing glitter that says “You’re a Llama fun”, and the happiness and entertainment it brings me is immeasurable. If you are on team practical, at the very least take off your case and wipe down the buttons, screen, and disinfect the back.
  3. Unmentionables– My underthings drawer (including my socks, tights and bras) was an  absolute nicoryghtmare. I saved mismatched socks and sports bras that were hanging on by a thread “just in case”. I even reached into my tights drawer the other day and pulled out TWO pairs with holes in them. Past Me putting those back in the drawer was like leaving Future Me a flaming bag of dog doo on the front stoop.

4. Closet: Hopefully you’ve already pulled out clothes you don’t wear, I don’t need to remind you to do that (but go do it again). I found it incredibly rewarding to take it a step further and make everything “ready to wear”. I pulled out everything remotely wrinkly and ironed it, I shaved pills off of sweaters, cleaned silver jewelry and cut off those annoying hangy things that get in the way while getting dressed. I’m a huge fan of my velvet hangers so I tossed out all of the wire ones and ensured they were all replaced as well.

pens5. Pen holder: For some reason, writing with a dried up pen gives me the willies- like biting into a popsicle. It’s also frustrating and unprofessional to not have a working pen handy that doesn’t advertise a fast food chain. Go through while watching TV and ditch all the pens that are broken, dried up or less than stellar. Sharpen broken pencils, pull out Sharpies and highlighters and stash pens where you most need them.

Sometimes when I start to organize, I get overwhelmed and freeze up after a big project. I hope that this gave you a few more ideas to keep plowing through your spring refresh! What has breathed new life into your routine recently?

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Beating the “Not-Yous”: Pre-Approval

When my husband and I were starting our home search, nothing took the wind out of my sails faster than walking into an open house… with 50 other people. We would sheepishly stand at the curb and pretend like we were in the Realtor.com commercials featuring the “not-yous” who would sneak in and steal the house of your dreams. Even if the house wasn’t a good fit, a layer of defensiveness mixed with shyness (you KNOW that’s not me) washed over me and I lost my will to carry on (dramatic… I know).

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Now, I can’t tell you why this happened, because we were ready to go. We were serious, we were educated and we were, most importantly, PRE-APPROVED for a mortgage by a lender. Oh Libby, you just took something exciting and made it sound terrifying and boring. (Bear with me!)

If you’re in the home buying process right now, you may have heard the words pre-qualified or pre-approved floating around. In today’s market (at least in the Triangle), this went from icing on the cake to an absolute must have for serious buyers. In many situations, a seller might not even consider an offer without at least a pre-qualification letter, and if there are buyers side by side in a bidding war who are pre-qualified vs. pre-approved, the pre-approved buyers will likely win 111000/10 times.

Stopppp. Don’t Care. Simplify.

Being either pre-qualified OR pre-approved by a mortgage lender shows sellers that you have the ability and the interest to buy what they are selling. Full stop.

Being pre-qualified means that you Googled a lender’s phone number or email (or found a form online), you have spoken to them about your income and they have *likely*  pulled your credit score. Read that again: this step is 50% based on what you SAY to a lender. You could call someone up, totally fudge your income and leave with the same pre-qualification letter as someone who was up front and honest. Furthermore, you could purchase a home with a credit score of at least 660, so that won’t really stop you. Please know this is better than nothing, but can you see why a seller prefers someone who’s taken the next step?

Pre-approval is one better in the lending process. It can also be done over the phone and through secure online systems. There is still no commitment to a lender or to a home, but the difference is that you’ll submit some documentation and other paperwork to prove what you’re saying is accurate.

Even if you are just starting, this process shows you how much you can realistically afford. If you are even slightly curious about the market, it’s important to arm yourself with this knowledge and preparation. There’s absolutely no reason to waste your time and your precious emotions falling in love with something you can’t have. We have This Is Us for that.

I know that is a big dose of reality that just rained all over your Open House tour this Sunday. I’ll let it sink in, and be back. next week with another tool for you to arm yourself with to send the “not yous” packing.

PS. If you are ready to learn more or just get a high level view of what the mortgage process could look like, my company offers an in house mortgage banker, Trevor. He’s approachable, informative and FAST at getting you any info you need! 

Buyer Myth #1:

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I wanted to start this series to bust a few myths that my friends and I had wrong before I entered the world of Real Estate. I’d love feedback if these are things you already know, or if you have other things you’ve always wondered!

The most common thing I hear from people curious about buying a home is that they’d rather save money than pay a buyer’s agent to show them homes when they can find them using sites like Realtor.com and Zillow.

WRONG! This is a fun one to blow up, because I can tell you that working with an agent is 100% free to you. The cost to have your very own advisor/guard dog/courier/therapist/chauffeur/DJ is paid for by the seller in a residential transaction, even in a new construction home (more on that soon!). Buyers and sellers have incredibly different needs and it’s invaluable to have someone protecting your OWN interest and going to bat on your behalf. 

Furthermore, tools readily available to consumers are nowhere near as powerful as those your agent would have. We can provide immediate, accurate, and consistently updated information on new properties and price changes, and have access to homes that haven’t even hit the market yet.

If you take anything away from today, please know that there’s no cost or obligation to be curious, even if you’re not sure what you want or if you’re ready!

Goal Digger

Like many of you, I set some aspirations at the beginning of the year. And like many of you (I think), I’ve also already run late to almost every appointment I’ve been to and claimed I had NO TIME for the gym through a full mouth of Thin Mints.

If you know my Rabbit Rabbit superstition, you know it would be easy for me to throw in the towel, chalk 2018 up to a failure and wait for January of 2019 to start over. However, I think that Valentine’s Day/Lent/Spring is actually a MUCH better time to begin fresh. The weather is getting better so you’re not tempted to complain from bed until noon every day. Days are longer so you’re not totally defeated when you leave work every day. People want to network, hang out, try new things, the list goes on.

I wanted to share a few things with you that I’m doing to keep momentum going. First, I created a 101 in 1001 goal list. This challenge is widespread in the blog community, and I thought it’d be a much more manageable way to try and attack a “mini-bucket list”. There are a variety of goals and I won’t spend time on them, but if you’re curious about my progress you can view my list here.VisionBoard.jpg

Next, I set a “word of the year”- Build. This acts as my basis for my strategy and I try to come back to it with each decision and idea that pops up throughout the year. I wanted to do something fluffier and more positive- “build” sounds like such hard work- but it’s the stage I’m in and I’m really excited about it. (You’ll see the little play on words at the top of my vision board where I found “build” in magazines)

My favorite goal setting exercise of the year is always my vision board. It’s #OprahApproved, and my mom and I usually knock them out together over Christmas/New Years. If you have never tried one, essentially you use magazines or photos to spell out your plan and put positive intentions out into the universe. Many people do them for one specific thing, like romance or a job hunt. I usually make it broad and have been shocked at the results! My favorite tips:

  1. Be creative: My favorite magazines to use are Oprah and Real Simple. They tend to have a wide variety of topics, and they’re aligned with a lot of the goals I find myself setting. However, you often won’t find the perfect word, phrase or image. Feel free to piece together letters to spell something out, check out the advertisements (where I find my best stuff!), and repurpose words. For example, on my board this year “Table of Contents” was trimmed down to become “content”. I’m also a fan of grabbing free magazines from the stands outside the grocery store for career focused or local features.
  2. Be strategic: If you’re familiar with the law of attraction, it is all about positivity. Make sure to avoid words like “don’t” or “stop” and focus on things you want to open, begin or start. I also try to be careful with being too specific, or cutting out an exact place or room in a home or style of something if I’m not sure it’s what I want (again, SUPER stitious). Example here, last year I only made it through half of my vision board. I put tons of things on there about Raleigh, moving, finding a job, but that was all I made it through. That stuff actually happened, I did move and find a job but I put no specifics on whether I wanted to be happy or how I wanted to feel. I ended up being frazzled, displaced, and in a really negative work environment. This year I took time to really spell it all out. I also think it’s important to have a “vibe” if you can- if you want to feel calm, pick pictures that portray that and leave white space. I plan to have a busy, fun, wild, productive year, so my vibe is totally different.
  3. HAVE FUN: I often stress out over what the board will end up looking like once I’m done. It takes me way longer than I need to, when the ultimate goal is to just get it on paper so the universe can start working in my favor. This year I covered the background with large colorful pictures, and layered over top with my intentions and favorite clippings. I’ve had friends make them and only include one or two pictures, some hand wrote or drew, and others were drawn to super abstract images and words. Try to keep your eyes on your own paper!

I’d love to hear if y’all end up trying a vision board this year. I swear it’s the most fun and productive way I get my head right and uncover things I didn’t even know I was hoping for.

Galentine’s Day Special: Articles Club!

In honor of Galentine’s Day, I wanted to share about a group of friends who has grown dear to me in the short time I’ve been in Raleigh. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m a “joiner” at heart. I tend to over-extend myself, so I was looking for the perfect balance of meeting some friendly faces without committing to be president of a club and chairing weekly meetings. IMG_1074

I stumbled upon Em for Marvelous and was thrilled to see that she not only called the Triangle home, she was recruiting for the coolest idea- an articles club! They met monthly around the same date (so important for herding vivacious, over-scheduled cats/millenials!). The only commitment was to read a handful of articles, sign up for a fun potluck, and show up and chat. The first night I came, there were about 5 of us who were brand new as well- all fans of Emily’s blog!

Each month I’m amazed at the awesome conversational paths we meander down. We are all from totally different walks of life (but have many things in common!) and everyone has such unique perspectives on the articles we read. We have even implemented “show notes”- stemming from our love of podcasts- to detail the book suggestions, TV show recommendations and life advice that comes out of our discussions.

It was a huge honor to get to pick the articles for tonight’s club, so I wanted to share them with you all. Our theme was “love” of course, so I broke it up into self love, loving your job and romantic love (with a twist!).

(Note: These have some PG-28 language and topics in them, reader beware!)

Self Love: Be Your Own Best Friend (via Elite Daily)

Love Love: 6 Relationship Habits Most People Think are Toxic (via Mark Manson)

Loving What you Do: Screw Finding Your Passion (via Mark Manson)

Check out a longer list of articles we have discussed in the past on Emily’s blog here. Let me know what you think of my picks this month!

Packing List: Las Vegas

Surprisingly enough, 2 out of the 3 times I have been to Vegas have been with my mom. We have forgone nights out at Coyote Ugly in favor of Cirque Du Soliel shows, hotel lobby tours, dancing to Boom Boom Pow while we pool hopped in one pieces, and eating mac and cheese while watching the Bellagio fountains.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there was a time when I wore a sparkly dress from Forever 21, enjoyed birthday cocktails with humans on stilts and tutus at a day club (yes this is a thing) and slept through dinner reservations- nearly missing our show. Both times have been equally rewarding and memory (?) filled.

Dressing comfortably when traveling with Betsy is an absolute requirement. She suffers no fools when it comes to achy feet or tight pants, because you should have thought about that before you left the house. Her rule of thumb for many trips, most especially Vegas, is “anyone can go to Vegas”. When you think about it, most of the places you travel are not the Ritz in Palm Springs. If there’s a chance you’ll see a middle-aged man drinking Bourbon in a Hello Kitty Costume who expects you to pay him for a photo (looking at you, New York, Orlando, etc.), then you can be sure you won’t stick out if you decide to tie a sensible sweatshirt around your waist.

Without further ado, here is what made it in my bag for our trip:

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Dr. Scholl’s Madison slip ons: These shoes are made of lamb wishes and butterfly kisses. They make me feel like not a regular mom, but a cool mom. They have great support and are made of nice stretchy suede. They get dirty, but I hope they never ever wear out. Ever.

Ponchos/Leggings: This outfit was on repeat all week. I swapped out pleather leggings for the evenings, and rotated different t-shirts and dressy tops for the fancier evenings. I also traded out sneakers for these low booties for our concert (because, sensibility). Vegas was mostly warm and dry but it definitely got chillier at night, so this was perfect!

MOISTURIZER: I cannot stress this enough. During our first trip, we were totally blindsided by the dry air and spent hours tearfully trekking to Lush for lotion samples. We wised up this time and packed lots of coconut oil, travel lotions and the ever-amazing Trader Joe’s Head to Toe Balm. We were also huge fans of popping by Sephora on the strip to sample the moisturizers and facial sprays.

Emergen-C: My mother and my husband are very… germ aware. My love of Emergen-C was drilled into me for many years, and multiple friends have tales of being served Emergen-C mimosas while paying me a visit. I like to steal plastic condiment containers with lids from fast food places in the airport and shake up a quick shot before and after flying.

Travel Water Bottle: These bottles are the best because they flatten out and take up very little space, but you have it handy to fill up in airports or at water fountains. It even has a little clip on it for bags or pockets!

Bucket Bag: I actually purchased mine on Amazon (mine was similar, it’s gray and has a top snap!) before our Europe trip last year. I love all the free space for water bottles, light sweaters and small purchases. It also has one zipper pocket inside where I usually stash my card holder and valuables.

I’ll share a brief recap of the mischief we got into later in the week. I’d love to know any cross-country travel essentials or hidden Vegas gems I’m missing out on!