Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ms. Bear's Kitchen: Summer's final hurrah...

Summer is winding down, school has started again and believe it or not, Labor Day is right around the corner! So, in the spirit of one last hurrah for summer, we just had a fun meal today! It was easy, quick and delicious.
We heated up some turkey smoked sausage and put it in a warm bun.
We topped it with chopped onions and tomatoes. Add some fun summer sides like corn on the cob and potato salad and enjoy a final salute to summer!!!! Enjoy!

P.S. Don't forget to enter this year's BIC Back-To-School giveaway -- lots of great office goodies await one lucky winner!

My Diaries (The Remix): Reading #49

P.S. Don't forget to enter this year's BIC Back-To-School giveaway -- lots of great office goodies await one lucky winner!

Sponsor Spotlight: MagnetStreet Weddings

Next to the summer, fall is my absolute favorite wedding season. The beautiful leaves. The crisp air. There's just something so romantic about it, don't you think? I recently had the chance to chat with MagnetStreet Weddings, the online destination for all things wedding, including save-the-dates, invitations, wedding programs, reception goodies, wedding favors and thank-you essentials. Read on for five fun facts -- and a special discount! xoxo

Keep in touch...
Official Web site: MagnetStreet Weddings
Become a fan on Facebook
Follow on Twitter
Get inspired on Pinterest
1. Personalized designs: Every design is easily personalized with YOUR colors. You have unlimited color choices -- you can even create your own custom colors!

2. Trendy save-the-dates: Classic and photo booth sizes to cards and postcards, browse hundreds of creative designs -- all easily personalized with your weddings colors, photos, fonts and special wording.

3. Pocket Invitations: Pocket Wedding Invitations are oh-so-popular for modern weddings! Available in three distinct styles, Pocket Invites are pretty and practical as they are ideal for keeping wedding day details neat and organized.

4. Smart and stylish wedding programs: Browse 11 different wedding program sizes and shapes to fit your wedding style -- most are ready to ship in just three business days!

5. Impressive paper types: Luxe Pearl, Pressed Texture, Fine Linen & Premium Smooth. Each luxurious paper has a unique look and feel. Discover which paper type is best for your design by ordering free paper samples in your colors!

**MagnetStreet is offering 25% off wedding stationery through September 8th with the code WEDLBR25.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dear College Freshmen: 5 Life Hacks For The Next Four Years

Hello to college freshmen everywhere!
First, before we can even get to anything else, I'm going to need you to do something for me. Breathe. Sit down if you need to. I know you're probably nervous -- maybe even terrified. I hear lots of you are stepping into the world of higher education over the next couple weeks (that is, if you haven't already), and those hallowed ivy halls can be panic-inducing. I get it because I've been there. Suddenly, you're a small fish in a gigantic pond, and you feel like you have no idea what you're doing. And for most of you, this new journey is about so much more than textbooks and midterms -- though those things aren't to be overlooked, either. It's your first taste of early adulthood, of that elusive freedom that you, until now, had only heard about on TV shows like Friends.

Well, I'm here with some good news: You'll get through it. I promise. Sure, the entire landscape may seem intimidating (Hello, popular sorority girls and their PINK wardrobe! Hello, broad-shouldered football quarterback! Hello, massive library!), but once you learn the ropes, things will be a piece of cake! A couple months ago, I talked about life after college, but this advice is all about you, you beautiful undergrads! So in the name of college success, keep these 5 life hacks in mind...

1. Hit the books and go to class: I know, this one seems like a no-brainer, and I'm sure your high school teachers drilled this one into your head. But you'd be surprised how many people miss class for a variety of reasons -- they overslept, they partied a bit too hard the night before, they didn't finish a paper, they'd rather hang in the dorms and play video games than listen to a lecture on early American literature. You (or your parents...) spent good money on classes -- why not make sure you get your money's worth?

2. Get to know your professors: No, I don't advocate stalking them, but don't be afraid to ask for extra help! Make use of their office hours -- they're there for a reason. When I was a newspaper adviser, I can't tell you how many days I'd sit in my quiet office! Professors are pumped about what they're teaching and love to see students get excited too.

3. Get involved: Working on my college's newspaper was one of the best decisions I ever made in college. Not only was it a great learning experience, but I also met some amazing people who loved journalism and writing as much as I did. What are you passionate about? Chances are, there's a club that matches your favorite hobby! Get involved and have fun!

4. Know where the library is: Sounds basic, I know, but the library is a pretty happening place if you give it a chance -- and not just because people apparently like to make out in the stacks. It's quiet enough to get lots of work done, and librarians are like walking encyclopedias. I'd say the library rivals any frat party any day.

5. Call home on the weekends: Of course you'll get homesick. My mom always likes to tell the story of how she called home every day for the first month. Hearing familiar voices will help ease the transition. One no-no: Don't call just to ask your parents to send more money and clothes. That will get really old really fast.
So sharpen those #2 pencils and go forth! I promise these next four years are going to go by before you know it. And who knows -- come 2018, maybe you'll be the one doling out the college success tips! Knock 'em dead! xoxo

P.S. Don't forget to enter this year's BIC Back-To-School giveaway -- lots of great office goodies await one lucky winner!

[Photos via We Heart It]

How I Feel (In 5 Photos) Wednesday.





"Oh, won't you stay with me? 'Cause you're all I need..." --Sam Smith

P.S. Don't forget to enter this year's BIC Back-To-School giveaway -- lots of great office goodies await one lucky winner!

[Photos via emptyforest]

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Let's talk childhood celebrity crushes!


Brace yourself, friends, for this big revelation: I was pretty obsessed with pop culture as a kid. No, not pretty obsessed. More like EXTREMELY obsessed! Wait, you don't believe me? Really? OK, so it may be hard to believe, but it's true. I was a mini pop culturista (is that even a word?) -- I mean, I did have a Smurfs-themed birthday party when I turned three. That says a lot right there, doesn't it?

So I suppose it's only natural that I found myself easily wooed by the cute celebrities of the day. And by day, think the classic '80s and '90s. Oh, yes, there was room in my heart for them all, and I even had my father laminate some of my most prized photos. For the sake of brevity, here are 11 of my absolute favorites...

*Andrew McCarthy
*Scott Baio
*Donnie Wahlberg
*Joey McIntyre
*Chris O'Donnell
*Devon Sawa
*Ralph Macchio
*Justin Timberlake
*Brad Renfro
*Zack Morris -- yes, the character!
*Jonathan Taylor Thomas -- though I never wanted to admit this one for some reason!
Your turn, friends! Who did you find yourself crushing on way back when? Did you used to hang pictures of them on your wall? What do you think about them, looking back now? xoxo

Vintage beach photos



The Weather Channel's Travel blog is full of all sorts of amazing people, places and things. Case in point: These vintage beach photos from the early 20th Century. The fashions! The happy people! The roaring waves!




I love how people back then weren't afraid to pose or even ham it up for the camera...almost makes you want to travel back in time, doesn't it? xoxo

Wise Words From Readers: On becoming an adult...

The road to adulthood. It's an interesting one, isn't it? One minute we're wide-eyed young things and the next minute....BAM. We're staring straight at adulthood. A part of us feels more than prepared for this new phase in life, but the other part? Well, maybe it desperately wants to call our parents for advice. Whichever part wins out, there's no denying that first "adult moment." You know, that first time where it fully sinks in that you're an adult. We've all experienced it, and your tales were quite eye-opening this week...

*When I had my own cat and took her to the vet myself.

*What's adulthood?

*Still not an adult, but if I had to pick a date, it would be July 16th, 1985. The date I went into the army.

*Just call me Peter Pan.

*When I had to pay my own car insurance.

*Paying my own bills. Reminds me of that great line: "Don't grow up, it's a trap!"

*I guess an honest answer is really one night when I was crying to my mom and she said to me, "I'm sorry, honey. I can't fix it for you. No can make it better but you" in regard to a discussion about my mental illness and chronic pain and taking care of myself. I was away at college, and I realized that I had to make my own doctor appointments and find a therapist and be proactive in my own healthcare, or I was never going to live the life I wanted for myself. It was the scariest moment for me up to that point, but it was a really important lesson I had to learn.
My big, grand moment? It was probably when a young cashier called me "ma'am" for the very first time. I can still remember the moment as vividly as if it happened yesterday. I'm thinking the fact that my quarter-life crisis occurred shortly thereafter is just a coincidence...right? Here's next week's question...

Where do you see yourself in five years? Where will you be living? What will you be doing?

Visit So About What I Said on Facebook and Twitter to share your smarts -- and don't forget to use hashtag #WiseWordsFromReaders. See you there, friends! :)

[Photos via We Heart It]

Monday, August 25, 2014

BIC Back-To-School Giveaway!

For the third year in a row, I'm so excited to be partnering with BIC on a Back-To-School giveaway! As one of the leaders in all things school and office, BIC has it all -- from pens and pencils to markers to sticky notes to erasers -- and, as you'll see me explain in the video, their new fall campaign is near and dear to my heart. In collaboration with leading educators, the Fight For Your Write campaign seeks to educate and energize parents, teachers and students about the importance of lifelong writing.

And! This year's must-haves include the introduction of BIC Kids, the first line of children's writing instruments designed specifically to help children learn to write. How cool is that? Check out the above video for a closer look at this year's prize package ($35 value!). The fabulous collection includes...

*BIC Kids Mechanical Pencil -- includes an eraser and lead refill with six leads.
*BIC Kids Pen -- includes stickers for personalization.
*BIC Kids Stylus for small hands that helps children navigate tablets in the classroom or at home.
*The new BIC 4-Color Metallic -- five vibrant, metallic barrel colors: silver, turquoise, pink, lime green and purple.
*BIC 4-Color Mini -- provides the same fun appeal of the popular 4-Color, but in a convenient mini size—perfect for school or on-the-go.
*BIC Atlantis Comfort -- features BIC’s exclusive ink system for long-lasting smoothness.
*BIC Atlantis Exact -- features a fine point for exact, precise lines and clean writing.
*BIC Mechanical Pencil Xtra Shine -- features a fun, shiny, holographic design.
*BIC Magic Marker Brand Dry Erase Markers -- offers a consistent flow of vivid, bold colors and low odor in one marker.
*BIC Wite-Out® brand Zap -- convenience of correction tape in trendy neon designs! It also comes in a compact size for easy storage.
For your chance to win, simply visit BIC, and leave a comment below telling us your all-time favorite back-to-school memory. For additional entries, you can (please leave a separate comment for each entry)...
*Fan BIC on Facebook
*Fan So About What I Said on Facebook
*Follow So About What I Said on Twitter
*Follow So About What I Said on Pinterest
*Follow So About What I Said on Instagram
*Follow So About What I Said via GFC

You can also Tweet about the giveaway -- just make sure to mention @melissablake + #BICBackToSchool in your Tweet!

A winner will be chosen at random on Monday, September 8th, so you've got two weeks to enter. Have fun, friends! xoxo

**Please note: The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

(Thanks again to BIC for sending me an awesome Back-To-School package! Have a great year, everyone!)

Let's Try: The trick to perfect sleep

Do you ever have trouble falling asleep? I never used to give much thought to falling asleep. Usually, my head would hit the pillow and I'd be out like a light -- surely, there was no tossing and turning for me. Even now, as I've gotten older, sleep is still one of those things that comes relatively easy. But I've noticed one change lately: The way I sleep is different. Even if I'm bone tired, I have trouble just falling into bed and getting comfy. I always lie down on the left side of my bed and fall asleep on my left side. That is my magic sleep spot, and there's even an indentation in my bed to prove it!

New York magazine recently interviewed a sleep expert (doesn't that sound like an awesome job?), who said that sleeping with your feet outside of your blankets could help you sleep better and fall asleep faster. Scientists have speculated that cooler temperatures cause sleepiness, and the feet-outside-the-blankets theory might work the same way, says Natalie Dautovitch, a spokesperson for the National Sleep Foundation and a psychology professor at the University of Alabama.

"I think it’s likely in service of trying to cool our bodies down because we've gotten too warm to sleep," she said. The feet also have the perfect vascular structure to help dissipate body heat, so "sticking your toe out or your foot out could bring you to a more restorative sleep."
Sleep yet, friends? Do you sleep with your feet peeking out? Does it work? Any other sleep tricks that have worked? I'd love to hear them, and here's to peaceful slumbers! xoxo

P.S. Tracking your mood, Prancercise, Internet-free Thanksgivinghonest selfies and the 24-Hour No-Complain Challenge! :)


[Photos via We Heart It]
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