Rollercoaster Week

This week has been a rollercoaster of events and emotions. Up one minute, down the next and most definitely spinning like crazy a few times. I guess that just means it's football season, huh? Training camp has officially kicked off and I'm hanging on for dear life. Despite the stress that often comes with this time of year, I had a few awesome things happen this week that I knew I wanted to share. So lets do that whole "Friday 5" thing if you will.

(1) Speaking of football, I wanted to bring back my one-time link up I've done the past few years. Just a fun day for everyone to write about their favorite teams, a good football-related story, maybe your gameday recipes- anything at all. The only requirement is to love football and then link up with me :) Put August 11th on your calendar now for Tailgate Tuesday.

(2) Okay, this bullet point is about football too but with an awesome twist. This week Jared officially got a junior high football coaching job and I could NOT be more proud of him! He's wanted to get into coaching for quite awhile and this is the perfect place to start. He is so talented not just athletically but in working with kids/youth too. I can't wait to watch him in this new role. I am one extra-proud wife this week!

(3) New protein powder. I already Instagrammed about this, but Strawberry Cheesecake might be my new favorite flavor. A couple years ago I never imagined I'd be drinking protein shakes for breakfast and for snacks, but now I just feel like it's a vital way for me to stay full and healthy. Highly recommend checking out this brand if you've wanted to take the leap as well.

(4) Crap, I came back to football again. Oh, well. That's to be expected around here. We always get new gear for the season (this is my 7th with the team... by the way! #holycrap) and usually it's just a t-shirt, which is fine and all but THIS year I got upgraded to a super nice Nike women's polo. Much better for running around like a crazy person this time of year! I'm sure you will be seeing lots of repeat photos of it soon.

(5) You might have seen me chatting about this on twitter, but the lovely Sarah organized another blogger lip sync and did all the editing and really- you just need to watch and enjoy :) Happy Friday!

Skyline Chili Dip Recipe

My name is Erin and I'm in love with just about everything about my city. Cincinnati, in case you're new here. We obviously have the best football team in the world but there are just so many wonderful things that are exclusive to my hometown and I've got one to share with you today. Skyline Chili. The first location opened in 1949 after a young man from Greece finally realized his dream of opening a restaurant in America. The best news I have for you is that even though their restaurants are mostly in Ohio, they do sell their products in 13 different states. Check here to see if you are one of the lucky ones :) 

If you're in luck- go grab these THREE ingredients and make this delicious appetizer for your next get-together. If you can't get the Skyline brand products, I still recommend you get your favorite brands of chili and cheese and participate anyway. And then come visit me in Cincinnati sometime so you can get the real deal.

Enough of that- onto to the recipe! Save this one for football season- it's a crowd pleaser for sure.
skyline chili dip recipe

1 15oz can Skyline Chili
12 oz (1 bag) Skyline Chili cheese
12 oz cream cheese, softened
*Optional, 1/4 cup diced onion
skyline chili recipe

-Spread softened cream cheese evenly on bottom of dish (I always use my 9.5" pie dish, but a small square baking dish works too!)
-Heat chili according to package directions. (Just a couple of minutes in the microwave) 
-Pour heated Skyline Chili over cream cheese. This step is messy- you've been warned.
-If you want onions, sprinkle them on now or skip this step like we do!
- Cover with Skyline shredded mild cheddar cheese.

- Carefully put that full dish in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.

- Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with nacho or corn chips and preferably wearing some type of gear representing your favorite football team. ENJOY and pin this recipe for the rest of your friends :)
Food photography is not my forte

Crossing Stuff Off

While most of my weekend was pretty great, I somehow came down with a stomach bug over the last 24-48 hours which has been not-so-great. Luckily I think I'm almost all the way past it- but I'll be nibbling saltines for the remainder of today just to be sure. Being sick is not fun, even if it's only for a day or two. Blah!

Before I felt terrible, Jared and I had a lot of fun together. I had to work super late Friday night so I came home and crashed so I'd be ready for the fun day Jared had planned for us. We've been wanting to do some 'sprucing' to our house but we've had a hard time choosing what to start on. There are a zillion projects we'd like to tackle, but since this isn't our forever home, it's tough to decide what to spend money on sometimes. Our office has been a bit of a hodgepodge for the past few years and it was time for a change so Jared took us out to Ikea to start the day.

I posted the little update on Instagram, but we got a new desk, storage system and an awesome lamp at Ikea. Our house has zero overhead lighting in the bedrooms (so frustrating!) and our previous desk lamps left the room feeling so dark and dreary. Not exactly the creative environment you want for a home office. Now the room feels much bigger and brighter and I'm kinda' in love. Get ready for some serious creativity, office! ;)

After I wrecked the cart pictured above we were done at Ikea, Jared took us to cross something off our little passport. Yeah, remember when I made that for Jared for our 3rd anniversary? We are still working on getting to all these local places and haven't done a great job on it so I was glad Jared picked something off there to do. Enter- The Root Beer Stand!!

The Root Beer stand is just a tiny little place with maybe 15 seats inside  and a bunch of picnic tables out back. It's cash only, the menu is simple, very inexpensive and the service is great! It's been around since 1957 and is on Top 50 Bucket List items for Cincinnati. I had a hotdog, chips and their special orange drink; Jared got a chili dog, chips and their famous root beer float- which I stole a few sips of as well.

It was fun to try a new little spot and add a "stamp" to our Cincinnati passport. We need to get out more, really! I feel like someone is always saying, "You've never been there?!" in regards to a restaurant or attraction in our area. Guilty of being routine, right here! There are so many hidden gems around town like this one and I'm vowing to cross more of them off our little to-do list.

I hope everyone had a great weekend- can you believe it's the end of July?! PS- Jared and I may have been a part of a music video this weekend--- coming soon! ;)

It's Not Friday

Let's talk about how I woke up today thinking that it was Friday. On second thought, let's not talk about that because it's far too depressing. Although I do have some weekend work hours coming up, Jared has a fun day-date planned for us Saturday and I'm anxious to find out what it is! Anytime I say day-date it reminds me of the movie Just Friends and how Ryan Reynolds gets put into the dreaded friend zone. Please tell me you all have seen it? It's a favorite of ours and I've probably watched it 100 times, no lie. Okay, that was off topic.

I had fun swapping blogs with Candace yesterday and I know there might be a few new faces around so HI! :) I really just wanted to pop in on this non-Friday (ugh) and mention a few things I'm loving lately.

- Burt's Bee's tinted lip balm. As a non lipstick-wearing girl, this is a great alternative. Just a little bit of color and keeps your lips soft! I got it in Hibiscus and I'm loving how it looks. I feel more put-together without feeling like I'm too done up for the office. Highly recommend- Anyone else use this?

- Losing weight! I mentioned it on Instagram but I tried out DietBet for the first time and lost 7 pounds the past 4 weeks. It feels good and I will definitely be doing another DietBet challenge soon. I know a few of you commented that you would be interested in doing one so I'll be sure to blog details when I find the next one I'm signing up for!

- Freestyling in the kitchen. I really like cooking but I'm always hesitant to change things up from recipes in fear that I'll ruin it. This week I made an Italian chicken, spinach and tomatoes dinner without a single note and it turned out delicious. Move over Rachael Ray! ;)

- Crunchy Peanut Butter, on a rice cake, topped with blueberries. It's been my go-to breakfast lately and it's like a weird, healthy version of a PB&J sandwich, I swear. Yum! This is the brand we buy, in case anyone's curious because yes, it is the best version.

- My man, always! I am so thankful I get to do life with Jared by my side. He and I are both wrestling with some big decisions in various aspects of life right now and it's tough to know what to do. There have been many late nights, long discussions and hypothetical plans but we're still just "stuck" not knowing what our next move is. Having Jared by my side makes the tough stuff easier and I know everything will work out for us in time. I know, I know... I'm being vague, but I have to be- sorry. Everything is fine though :)

What are you all loving lately? :)

My friend Candace

Something I have really enjoyed about not doing sponsors on my blog anymore is that I can now 100% authentically promote someone's blog I love without someone thinking I'm just doing it because I "have" to. Candace and I have been following each other's blogs for awhile and she's just the sweetest girl out there. The photos on her blog make me swoon daily and she happens to design gorgeous blogs as well! We thought it could be fun to swap blogs for the day and hopefully get to know some new faces. So while I'm over being silly on her blog, she's here today so please make her feel welcome. PS- Her birthday is right around the corner!! 

Hey guys!! I'm Candace from Lovely Little Rants. Erin is just the nicest thing to let me take over her blog today! (Thanks, E!) 

Let me sum myself up for you with this little list:

1. I've been married to Jason for almost an entire year (August 7th)! We met our graduation night of High school and we were best friends for a few years. We dated for 5 months and were married 3 months later! Best decision ever. Oh and ps we grew up 5 minutes away from each other and had never met. Whattt!!

2. I'll be 24 on Friday. Which also makes it my golden birthday! Please tell me you get 3 wishes or something on your golden birthday.

3. I make pallet wood signs for some wonderful customers which results in stain covering a portion of my body at all times. So guess what? Just because you guys like Erin as much as I do, use the code football for 15% off any sign! Yay discounts!

Feel free to see them all in my shop or on instagram. :)

4. Obviously I love clothes. And obviously my closet is always hungry. You'll find lots of cute clothes and ways to get them for a steal over on my blog among other things like hair tutorials and even how to make your own hair extensions!

5. I'm sort of obsessed with design. It's just my thing! I redesign my blog pretty regularly because I can never settle on just one design for long. I can't tell if it's a blessing or a curse ;) 

Obviously I love blogging and it's just the most fun little hobby of mine! I love making blog friends even more so hop on over to my little space in this big internet and introduce yourself. Let's be best friends, k? I can't wait to meet you!!

Getting Ready

Hey all! I'm alive and mostly well, I promise. I honestly feel like I'm still recovering from all of last week/weekend. I hadn't logged a 60-hour work week in awhile so it took it's toll on me that's for sure. We have more concerts at the stadium again this weekend (Friday AND Saturday) and then 'concert season' is finally done- thank goodness. Just prepping me for football season I suppose. Speaking of football, I'm ready for it. After the concerts this weekend it's time for training camp! It's here you guys!

I'm ready for football and fall weather and I don't care who knows it. I'm ready for our fantasy football draft, hosting parties for away games and working my butt off during home games. Our first preseason game is in 23 little days and I'm about to burst with excitement, seriously. I know a lot of people don't get into preseason games - but I am not one of them. Like you're surprised. I love seeing our team back out on the field, and it's cool to see some of the rookies get a chance to shine a little, too. Plus- our new scoreboards in the stadium are freakin' SWEET.

I'm obsessed, truly. I may already have the menu planned and my shopping list for the first get-together at our house when the Bengals open the season in Oakland. It's in September, and I'm prepared. I also have a list of everything I want to buy from the ProShop- girl's gotta have her gear! Thank goodness for an employee discount. ;) I'm a sports girl through and through- I do love me some baseball and basketball, and I enjoy college football too- but the NFL just has my heart. So though the coming days and weeks may be busy, and the hours long, knowing that I'm a part of my favorite team? Always worth it. WHODEY! 

Who's with me?! Bring on football!!!

Friday Snapshot

Hey all, remember me?! I have been slightly MIA this week since life and my job are SO busy. I think I even went a day or two without tweeting anything... that's got to be a record. It's what I like to call 'concert season' right now at work. Last week we hosted the AllStar concert, this week it's Luke Bryan and next weekend it's a two-day Jazz festival put on by Macy's. Whew! The hours are long, especially this week and it's taken a toll on me. I go to bed every night and feel like my alarm is buzzing two seconds later. The concert is tomorrow and I'll be working a solid 12-hour day so I'm already dreaming about a good Sunday nap ;)

But enough rambling- just thought I'd share a few quick things that haven't made it to the blog! Last weekend in addition to the AllStar fun we had, we attended a backyard wedding reception of one of Jared's good friends. He and his wife got married in Hawaii and hosted a big party here for everyone- it was a blast! Their parents backyard is officially my dream land. Covered patio with TVs, an in-ground pool, beautiful landscaping- yes, please. 

-- I feel like I've been doing a great job on my goals for this month, despite the busy schedule. Jared and I have worked out together a lot the past couple of weeks and it feels so nice to have a routine again. I missed lifting weights, I really do enjoy it! Plus we've been walking a lot after dinner which I love. I don't love how bugs seem to eat me up no matter what type of bug repellent I wear-- any tips??

-- My camera and I have been practicing a lot lately as well. I've always loved taking photos and think I have a decent eye for it, but there is obviously ALWAYS tons to learn and improve on. Practice practice practice- that's all I can do! I took my nice camera downtown to a new park area and got some great shots the other day- I might just frame a couple of these. I love the bridge in the background on the one! 
I hope everyone is having a good week and has a great weekend planned. I have about a zillion and a half blogs to read and catch up on, so I'll see ya' Sunday ;)

Let's Get Weird

I'm reading an incredible book right now. Brain Storm, written by the guy who produced The Lion King and Beauty & the Beast. I've picked it up here and there over the past few months, but it's a book you read slowly. At least I do anyway. It's all about the creative process and it's a lot to chew on as I pour over every page and sentence and word. Anytime I'm in a slump creativity-wise, I pick it up and enjoy another few pages or chapters.
Last night I was reading a section all about how the creative process looks so different for everyone, but routine seems to be the number one thing that blocks a person's creativity. We wake up, get ready, eat the same breakfast, drive to work, work all day, drive home, eat, and have our normal evening routine- whatever that might be. All of a sudden you look up and we're all like "Where did that month go?" and I think it's because we don't mix it up enough.

When you do the same exact thing every single day, it's easy for days to blur together. In this book, Don Hahn says a couple times a week he tries to do something completely out of the ordinary- or, weird. Doing something that's not a part of our normal day-to-day routine, no matter how small, can really trigger a new idea or a creative streak. One of his examples was that as a non-runner, he just went to a park one day and ran as fast as he could for thirty seconds. Another time he went to a restaurant in a completely different part of town and ate dinner alone. Sometimes he takes a different route home from the office. He loves the hardware store even though he might not have any projects to do- he just likes to wander alone and think and take his time. His point was- it can be anything! Just get weird! Change things up!

You all know I like to write, but creativity can obviously be applied to millions of things in your life. It's so easy to fall into life's routine and feel like each day is the same as the previous one- but I don't want to be in that trap anymore. Anytime I do something outside the norm I truly do find myself feeling happier, more creative or even just more at peace with life as it is. It might sound silly, but do something weird this week and get out of your routine. I'd love to hear how someone else "got weird" and what it actually did for their brain.  Future link-up idea?? :)

All-Star Festivities

Let me first just say. Todd.Freaking.Frazier! Last night's home run derby was an absolute blast to watch!! In honor of today being that big All-Star baseball thing, I figured I should actually show up and talk about what I've been up to. In my world, weekends are low-key more often that not, but that was not the case for this past weekend. I almost don't know where to start, I've been a busy bee!! I had plans Friday, Saturday & Sunday. And not just any plans, epic events! Friend city! Major celebrations! Since there's no way to fit all of that into just one post, I'm focusing on the fact that Jared and I got to attend FanFest and the AllStar Futures/Celebrity Softball game over the weekend!
In case you're living under a rock, Cincinnati is hosting the MLB AllStar game tonight and the fun and festivities kicked off last weekend. We lucked out with free tickets to a couple of the events at the last minute. I'd been keeping my fingers crossed for a hook-up and it finally came through! 

We'd thought about buying tickets to FanFest, but the $35 price scared us away. While it seemed really steep, I now realize that the freebies we walked away with were definitely worth the cost of admission. Jared and I each scored 2 tickets (so 4 total!) to the Louisville Slugger Museum, a $10 Dunkin' Donuts giftcard and a really cool AllStar game souvenir baseball. Those few items in addition to all the cool stuff to see/do? Definitely worth paying for- even though we didn't have to. I do think kids tickets should have been priced a little lower, but that's just my opinion.

I took a zillion photos that day- the few I'm posting don't even scratch the surface of everything we got to experience. We spent about three entire hours there- and would have probably stayed even longer but let's be honest- I got hungry. There was so much to look at, read, see, interact with, and plenty of photo opp's.

The ballpark was a fun time too- despite the weird weather we were having. It was hot, there were a few sporadic quick showers and before long we were in a full-blown rain forest and sweating like it was our job. Let's just say we left there very sticky people, but thankfully Rosie Red didn't mine and still let us snag a picture with her before leaving. That was my first photo with her, score!!

And of course we couldn't pass up any mustache without a picture. I think Jared nailed this pose ;)

So excuse me if I've got bags under my eyes, weird suntan/burn lines on my chest and if it takes me a minute to comprehend what you're saying when we chat... I'm still in a baseball fog today! Cincinnati is a great place to be :)

It's Official- I Don't Like Running

Whoa. That is a very big statement right there. Running enthusiasts, don't get upset with me and hightail it outta' here just yet- I still love you guys, but maybe not the running itself. Let me explain.

The D.C. half-marathon really did me in. The weather was one thing (ugh!) but injuring myself was a whole issue in itself. After that terrible day in March, the injury, the crutches and the rest- I just think I've figured something out. I don't like running. While I was hurt everyone kept asking me if I missed running, and at first I said yes, absolutely! But as time went on, I realized I wasn't missing it. I missed being active and fit, but not the running per say.

As I've healed and eased back into things- I've rediscovered the ways I DO love being fit. When training for a half-marathon my focus was all on running. Sure I still hit the weights here and there, but I was trying to get up to that mileage I needed to be at to survive. I lost sight of how exercise actually could be fun. I honestly dreaded a lot of the training. I saw it as a hassle, a waste of time and I never looked forward to a run like so many "real runners" do. I thought, "If I just keep doing it I'll eventually like it!" but you know what? That just might not be true for me.

I love going for long walks. I love lifting weights with Jared at our gym. I love dancing around and shaking it with cardio hip hop and Zumba. I enjoy frisbee golfing. I love bicycling and hope to have my own bike soon. It's fun to toss a football around the yard, get a game of badminton going or just shoot some hoops at the park. I figured it out! Exercise doesn't have to suck! It's about finding what you enjoy and DOING it.

I have talked about it before on here, but over the past few years my weight has fluctuated up and down multiple times. Yes, my eating habits have been part of the problem- but I think my confusion with exercising has been the problem too. I didn't always give 100% to workouts when it was focused just on running. But now? I'm getting out and about more. I'm moving more in general and having fun while I'm doing it!

Am I breaking up with running forever? Probably not. Am I done doing long-distance races? Yes. They just aren't for me! I've done two half-marathons and have no plans to do any more. A local 5k here and there? Maybe. Going out for a laid-back jog now and again? For sure! But running doesn't have to be my "thing" if I don't like it. Being healthy and fit and active is different for every person and I can honesty say that I feel I'm on the path to being the best version of myself again! I've made it my goal to do something active every single day. I'd encourage anyone struggling with their own health and fitness to find something that's fun for you and stick to it. There's something out there for everyone!

Tell the Truth

Yesterday was National Tell the Truth Day. Yes, there is a day for everything and yes, I am obsessed with that silly website. So many times blogging and social media only choose to show the good side of our lives. We pick the best pictures, only tell the positive stories and many behind the scenes topics and happenings are left out. I try to be pretty transparent on my blog, but even I'm guilty of that from time to time. So today, I'm telling the truth. I would have told you yesterday, but normal life got in the way of blogging. See? Truth, right there! ;) Plus I'm pretty sure we confess things on Wednesdays (is there a link up still?) so what better time to spill my guts?

- Some areas of my life are extremely organized, but as a result others are super neglected. It's like I can't get everything together all at once.

- I truly don't know what I want to do with my life, still. I often struggle with feeling like a failure in various aspects of life because I'm not sure where it's going and I don't know what my next move should be.

- I own multiple plush Disney characters and I'm not ashamed to admit that.

- In the mornings I ALWAYS wake up craving salty items. That's not normal, I'm sure. I've been to known to eat pretzels or chips as my breakfast in the past.

- Our house is 35 years old and most of the furniture in it is from Craig's List or yard sales. Most of the time I feel good about those deals we snagged, other times I find myself being jealous of people with nicer things. I hate the feeling of jealousy- ugh!

- I thought once we paid off our debt we'd feel rich- but I still don't.

- Babies scare me. I'm worried I'll either break them and/or they'll have bodily fluids on me if I hold them for more than 5 minutes.

- However- I rock with toddlers. I'd adopt ten 3-4 year olds right now if I could :)

- But speaking of kids? Stop asking me when we're having them. Please, for the love of all things!!!

- I'm addicted to stupid TV. Housewives, Lifetime movies, Teen Mom... we recently got rid of Netflix so I wouldn't be as tempted to spend hours vegging out when I have a free day.

- I rarely do anything 'nice' with my hair or makeup. I don't know how people spend so much time getting ready It feels like a waste of time for me. Dry hair and basic makeup is enough for me.

- This post got more serious than I intended it to be, but sometimes you just gotta lay it all out there right?

So tell the truth. Share the good, the bad, the exciting and the scary. We're all human and no one has it all together, all the time.


S'more Weekends Like These

The amount of s'mores I ate this weekend has got to be a record-breaking number. There are times when I can easily show a little restraint, just trying a small piece of a dessert, or drinking bottled water instead of pop. But something took over me this weekend and once I saw those marshmallows and squares of chocolate? I was a goner. I was roasting, making and inhaling faster than even I could keep up with. That's why there's no picture of me with my beloved s'mores and no official record-breaking number- I lost count ;)

Overall this weekend was an absolute blast. We saw family, we saw friends; we played badminton for the first time in years, we laughed at ourselves; I got a much-needed haircut and had lunch with my dad, we party hopped all over southwest Ohio; we watched a little cutie celebrate his first birthday and we set off enough fireworks at my brother-in-law's house to last us a whole year, for sure.
We had a perfect view from my BIL's front porch! We set up our firepit and could see various firework shows in all directions around us. Pretty cool 'accidental' discovery on our part. Plus, this firework photo below? Our own yard with $1.99 "Lady Liberty" fireworks- they were so much fun!

July 4th sortof signifies the last holiday weekend I'll have for a long, long while. Once football season is underway, there are no guaranteed holidays or days off. Everything is always up in the air and depends on how the season/schedule go- it's always an unknown which can make for a very challenging day-to-day schedule. So this 'last' long weekend was welcomed and embraced. I soaked up every minute of it.

Weekends like this past one are just good for my sanity. It's so easy to let the days and weeks fly by, jam-packed to the brim without stopping to really, truly enjoy them. These are the days, I tell ya what. I need s'more weekends like these on my radar because they truly keep me going when work gets tough or life gets hard. I hope you all had as much fun as I did over the weekend. Cheers to a new week, and new opportunities in every day!