The Giving Challenge

Liz here. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling especially thankful this year. I made a leap of faith and didn't fall on my ass.  My publishing dreams are on the cusp of coming true--with my best friend!  My family is healthy.  And we've got fabulous readers like y'all who swing by and tell us what's on your mind. Really, I couldn't ask for more. I'm a true believer that the more you give, the more you'll get back. Maybe that's why that I can't pass the person holding the sign on the side of the road without offering something--I've probably unknowingly bought more crack than anyone I know, but hey, my intentions are always good.

Each holiday, the adults in my family donate money rather than exchange gifts.  This year, we adopted a family through a fantastic foundation called Megan's Wings.  They help out families who have a child with cancer--gifts for the children, gas cards to drive to the treatments, etc. And as we perused the aisles of Target shopping for this Spiderman-loving four year old who was battling cancer, all the things that I thought I just had to have didn't seem so important anymore.  I would have bought the whole store for that little guy and his mom if I could. That feeling of giving back was better than any gift I could open. (Unless it was that big ass Louis Vuitton bag I've been eying for several years, that would feel really rad too...Mike Fenton, are you listening?!)

But please, don't think I'm getting on my giving high horse.  I can be just as selfish as the next person--I literally had an out-of-body experience the last time I stepped into Anthropologie. (Why does all their stuff have to be so...soft? and quirky? and perfect?!) But I'm trying, really trying, to push myself to give more than I think I can each year. And to push my kids to do the same thing. Because as much as I'd love for them to grow up to be superstar athletes that work part time as rocket scientists(in the off season, of course), the most important thing I want them to learn is to be kind.

Are y'all up for a challenge? Do one good deed this holiday season--maybe it's adopting a family, or maybe something simple like buying Starbucks for the person behind you in line. Maybe you offered to help someone carry groceries to their car or dropped off some toys to your local home for foster children. Do ONE good deed and come back and tell me about it here.

Once you come back and let me know what you've done(and if it's a charity, share that too so others can discover them!), and I'll enter you to win one of FOUR $25 Amazon gift cards. Oh, and tell your friends too! Let's make this a movement.  And if anyone can do that, it's a bunch of Type-A beyotches like us.

I'll choose the winners in a random drawing on January 1st after 10am. That means you have ALL MONTH to get your shit together and do something nice.  I know you can do it.

Ready...Set...GO DO GOOD!

xoxo, Liz







Allison Winn Scotch's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

We love Allison Winn Scotch. Plain and simple. She's definitely our girl. Loves mindless TV. Admits to wearing not just acid washed jeans but high-waisted acid washed jeans. And she writes damn good novels. Her third, The One That I Want, was just released in paperback and it's the perfect summer read. If you haven't yet devoured it (or even if you have) we suggest you immediately treat yourself to a copy (avail everywhere from Amazon to Target to Costco), sit back (preferably poolside with a cocktail in hand) and enjoy. Because you will. The One That I Want is the story of Tilly Farmer, a girl who’s seemingly perfect life begins to fall apart after an old childhood friend gives her the gift to see into the future. Doesn't it sound juicy? Well if you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win one of five copies! We'll randomly select the winner on Friday, July 1 after 6pm EST.

And now just another reason we love Allison. Her Do's and Do-over list...



1) DO let yourself feel nostalgic. One of the questions I’m most often asked, when discussing my books, is if I relate to my characters, who often get tangled up in their past memories. And my answer is always the same: of course. I love tugging out old photos, laughing at people’s ridiculous ‘80s (and ‘90s) hair on Facebook, hearing a song on the radio and remembering an old love. I think there’s a lot of value in honoring your past and preserving the good memories that came out of it. But that’s about where it ends. Allowing yourself to feel those twinges, and then taking them and finding a way to make your current life more fulfilled. Stalking your exes on Facebook isn’t going to get you anywhere other than on the road to unhappiness.

2) DO find someone who accepts you for you. I wrote an essay recently about an old boyfriend, for whom I tried to change everything about myself. And what struck me most about it was how grateful I am to have found someone for whom I haven’t had to change one iota. I sing as loudly as I want in the car (it indeed annoys him, but he lets me do it), I look like all hell broke loose in the morning and he doesn’t care. More importantly, he’s never made me doubt who I am, what my instincts are, or what I’d like to do with my life. It’s not that our marriage is perfect, but certainly, when it comes to criteria that should top the list of a healthy relationship, I’ve learned that acceptance has to be number one (or at least top three).

3) DO embrace your light side. In other words, if you watch the Bachelorette and other insipid reality shows, raise your hand and be proud! Damn proud! Okay, maybe not that proud. Maybe let’s just whisper it to each other. But still *quiet voice*: I love mindless TV, and I’m not afraid to tweet about it. Here’s the thing: I work really hard, I take care of my family, I read A LOT. And if at the end of the day, I want some escapism, I say, bring it on! And if, even after that, I want to read every single thread on Television Without Pity, analyzing all the ridiculous antics and sure-to-disappoint spoilers, well, bring that on to. Why? Because I’m worth it.

4) DO let yourself screw-up. I bet I’m not the first person to say this here, and I certainly hope I’m not the last. One of the most valuable lessons in my career has come from failure – the first book I wrote (which in hindsight was just totally and completely wretched) never sold, and it forced me to either step up and suck it up and do the work to write a better one, or quit. You know which one I chose. And ditto this for all of my relationships: all of my break-ups lead to where I am now, and sure, those break-ups were fraught with emotion and anxiety and certainly pain, but each was a valuable lesson for who I was becoming and who, eventually, I’d become.

5) DO go with the flow. For those of you who know me as an author, this one might surprise you because I am very, very anal about my job, but when it comes to everything else, I’m actually pretty laid-back. I’ve found that stressing out over things that I can’t control just leaves me...more stressed, and that not being flexible or able to accommodate life’s changes also just leaves me...more stressed. What’s the purpose? There isn’t any. I try to let the little stuff slide. There is, after all, a reason that they call it “the little stuff.” It’s easy to forget that when you’re in the thick of it, but at the end of the day, I promise, none of the smaller (albeit annoying) obstacles matter nearly as much as the big picture. So I’ll end with that one, actually. DO think big. Always.

DO-OVER: Gosh, I’m pretty comfortable with my life choices, even when they were total catastrophes (because, to be clear, there have been plenty of catastrophes), but we do probably need to discuss my fashion choices in my younger years. The 8th grade perm. The ill-advised double-dose of Sun-In that summer at camp. The acid washed jeans that were pulled (and belted!) just under my boob line. Oh dear. With all due respect to Esprit and Benetton and Guess...really? You couldn’t have made me look at least semi-okay during my formative years? I guess not. Oh well. Back to my first DO: I guess the good news is that I can reminisce, but then, I can also log off and try to pretend that (fashion) period never existed in the first place.

To find out more about the fabulous Allison Winn Scotch, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks, Allison!



Falling off the wagon, Loehmann's style by Liz

Hi, my name is Liz and I'm a shopping addict. Well, more like a recovering shopping addict.  At least I was in recovery until an ill-fated trip to Loehmann's last week.

But let me back up a little.  For those of you that are regulars around here, you heard me bragging about my Cash & Carry financial plan a few months ago.  And it wasn't bullsh*t-I had broken up with my Amex gold card last year and hadn't looked back since. Lately, I'm the one who has the cash when it's time to split the bill.  And I no longer feel like puking when I log into American Express's website to check out my balance.  However, I may have failed to mention the secret to my success. Something that I feared would be hard to keep up long term.  A theory that I decided to test last week.

Long story short, I failed miserably.

It all started when those pesky little children of mine began to grow out of their clothes.  I tried to ignore my daughter's tummy hanging out of her now too-short shirts and my son's flood pants.  Because I knew that stepping one foot into that overpriced, pushy salesperson jungle of a store called Justice would undo all my hard work these past months.  My dirty little secret? The only way I had been able to stop spending was to not step foot ANYWHERE that I love to shop for the past six months.

Target? It pained me, but I sent the hubs to stroll those glorious aisles.

Gap? Supervised online shopping only.

Loehmann's? I told myself those communal dressing rooms were terrible for my self-esteem.

And my strategy had been working damn well.  But now a growth spurt threatened to ruin it all.  Damn you children's multi-vitamins!

But being the Type-A beyotch I am, I was determined to come up with a solution.  And 100,000 American Express points later, I had one. (One perk to my addiction:membership rewards!)

So armed with gift cards from every store the kids like, I was able to purchase clothes that fit without going over my husband-allotted cash allowance.  But even being in the store was intoxicating.  I started to remember what a high shopping always gave me.  That feeling that my daughter just HAD to have those scratch and sniff jammies(WTF with those anyway?).  I tried to ignore my shopping buzz and just get what they needed. But there was no mistake-the shopping beast had been awakened in me once more.

Fast forward to the next week that included my two BFs bdays as well as an hour to kill within spitting distance of the Beverly Hills Loehmanns. I told myself that I was only going in there for them.  That they loved Loehmann's and I'd be a horrible friend if I didn't buy them something from there.  But from the moment that I walked in, I was drunk with happiness at their selection of Calvin Klein dresses.  High with the anticipation of wearing that straw fedora at the pool FOUR months from now when we went on vacay.  Cracked out at the thought of shaking my ass in that Michael Kors skirt.  And even though it made me feel slightly ill, I pulled out that gorgeous gold card and slapped it down for the cashier like the last six months had never happened.

I had officially fallen off the wagon.

Oh, but on a positive note, I did find Lisa something really cute for her bday!

That night, as I unsuccessfully tried to hide the bag from the hubs behind my ass (I haven't worked out much lately, thought it might work?!), I felt even worse.  Sick with guilt and regretting my actions, wanting to eat carbs and greasy food-it was clear that I had the shopping hangover from hell.

So guess what?  I'm taking all that sh*t back this week.  And just like any addict, I'll start over again from day one. And even though I know it's the right thing to do, I still think I would've ROCKED that straw fedora by the pool. *sigh*

What are your addictions?  Leave a comment and let me know!  Or just make me feel better about mine.

xo, Liz


Maternity Monday: Nesting In Overdrive!

I had heard this thing called "nesting" happens to you when you get pregnant. And I figured I wouldn't be immune- being somewhat of a *cough* *cough* anal retentive control freak anyway. But I (or I think I can safely speak for my husband) never in my wildest dreams imagined that it would hit me so hard and fast. Let's just say before I nested this past weekend, I'd never cleaned an oven... It all started innocently enough, when I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and announced to no one in particular (although the hubs probably wished he could've avoided my speech as it was Saturday morning) that I'd be making Thanksgiving dinner- that night. I dragged my big belly self out of bed and went into the kitchen to take inventory. But it was then that I noticed how raunchy and unsightly the inside of our refrigerator was. How had I let it get so bad?

Before I knew it, those long rubber ill-fitting yellow gloves were out and the cleaning frenzy was on like Donkey Kong. Once I figured out how to get in position to actually be able to clean (turns out one can sit rather easily on a child's step stool!).  I went off. Scrubbing and scouring and simultaneously gagging at certain unidentifiable stains and spots I found lurking within (I'll spare you the details).

And the refrigerator then led to the stove. How? I have no freakin' clue. But when my own scrubbing and scouring weren't enough to tackle it, I popped on something called the "self cleaning" button. Who knew? And then I moved on to the baseboards. Yes, baseboards. I haphazardly squatted and ran my duster along the edges while making a mental note to paint them. How did they get so dirty? And non-white?

I was a site as I frenetically moved from corner to closet to under every surface including the couch (ahhhh) and cleaned like I'd never cleaned before. I was like Molly Maid on crack as I mopped and vacuumed and removed rugs and window shades to be professionally cleaned. I was like Superman with X Ray vision as I noticed dust that I'm quite confident the non-prego human eye could not discern.

Midway through my cleaning frenzy, I started to freak out that I was harming the baby by inhaling cleaning products, so I made a trip across town to Target to get "green" everything. I was truly out of control.

But I marched on until exhaustion took hold (I'm proud to report I cleaned the entire house before I had to call it quits) and it was time to make that Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, I made it. Even after all that. The mashed potatoes were from scratch but the stuffing was from a box. And the pumpkin soup, well, let's just say it wasn't a big hit. And turkey? Well, that didn't happen either. But I was still happy with my poor man's "prego" Thanksgiving. And the fact that the house was spotless. In fact, we could've eaten that dinner off the kitchen floor- had I been able to get my pregnant self down there, that is.

So ladies.. please leave a comment- tell me I'm not alone! (Even if you're lying!) And be entered for a chance to win a $25 Target gift card!


Writing Wednesday: Chick Lit Is Not Dead! By Liz & Lisa

Chick Lit is not dead. It's not-we swear! And although we know that y'all are dying to discover the next big author, you'd probably be shocked to discover that we're STILL being told by agents that Chick lit, or Upmarket women's fiction, or whatever the hell they want us to call it these days, just doesn't sell.

And to be perfectly honest, we're tired of our gal Chick Lit feeling like she has to hide in the corner like some dirty slut. So we're calling bullsh*t.  Chick Lit is NOT Dead!

Looking back, Chick Lit's popularity was ultimately the death of her. Because when the market became over-saturated with a bunch of copycats with predictable plots and cardboard characters, she was catapulted down to the D-list faster than than you could say Snooki. She was accused of lacking substance, of being insulting to women's intelligence and being *gasp* cliche'.

Poor Chick Lit became such an outcast in the publishing world that she couldn't even be called by her own name anymore. Apparently, if she stood any chance of transforming from unbound manuscript to sleek, published novel, she had to be disguised as Women's Fiction. And even then, the odds of her becoming Homecoming Queen again were pretty damn slim.

Aspiring novelists querying agents needed to beware! Titles that conjured images of stilettos were shunned; the mention of designer purses was literary suicide; and if the protagonist was *gulp* a quirky, single girl with dreams of meeting Mr. Right, the manuscript was sent off to die a very slow death in some slush (or should we say "slut") pile.

Chick Lit had been pronounced dead, gone well before her time due to overexposure. And her writers and readers put on their black designer dresses and went into mourning.

Her headline in the gossip columns would have read, From It Girl to Out Girl. One Too Many Knock-offs Sealed Her Fate!

But like any former A-lister, we knew she'd make a come back. (If Hugh Grant could do it, so could she!) She just had to wait for her moment and seize it.

And the time is now! Here's why we say Chick Lit has not only made a comeback, but she's going to be on the scene for a while.

She's our fantasy! Thinking about the crashing stock market and the record high unemployment rates hurts our heads. So instead of watching the nightly news, we'd rather pop open the book with a stick figure drinking a martini on the cover and give our brains the night off. If you can't take a real vacation, at least give your brain one! Let your biggest worry be over whether Jane Q Single Gal gets to marry Joe Q Bachelor; whether frenemies can become friend-ly; if it's a bad idea to get a manny.  Let her wrap your ending up in a nice red bow and don't feel guilty about it for one second!

She's a cheap date! Even though hard economic times have caused most of us to slash our budgets (Tarjay is so the new Nordys), Chick Lit is still making it into our shopping carts. She's like that friend who talks you out of your buyer's remorse.  She reminds you that it's OK to spend money on things that make you feel better. In fact, she thinks it's the American way! And even though a lot of us can't justify buying that Louis Vuitton purse or getting that $200 haircut anymore, Chick Lit still gives a frugal girl some bang for her buck. If you get her in paperback, she's only about $12. 95! This seems like an awesome price considering how often she makes us laugh, cry or even SOL (snort out loud!).  And BTW, Chick Lit is always up on the latest trends. And if she says cheap is the new chic, we believe her!

She's Secure in her Stilettos Chick Lit is proud of who she is. She makes no apologies for drinking Cosmos or wearing designer skinny jeans. She's never going to make the argument that she should win the Pulitzer or that she's invented cold fusion.   And she definitely doesn't think a book should require a thesaurus while reading! She loves a good rom-com too and couldn't be happier that her cousin, Chick Flick is back on the red carpet again.

So to the literary snobs of the world, it's time to face the truth. That Chick Lit is back and better than ever. And she's back now for the very reason she exploded onto the literary scene in the first place. No good woman can resist well-written books with high fashion and happy endings.

So say it loud and proud, *channels Ty Pennington and yells into megaphone* CHICK LIT IS NOT DEAD!

What do you think?  Do you still want your happy ending? Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a $20 iTunes gift card!  Let's let people know that we want some brain candy!

xoxo, Liz & Lisa

Crisis of Geography By Lisa

Throughout the years, Liz and I have had our share of crises. First there was our identity crisis.  (Ask Liz about her meltdown in college when everyone called BOTH OF US Lisa.)

Then there was our quarterlife crisis. (Don't EVUH buy one of those close-up lighted vanity mirrors after age 35. Trust me on this one ladies.)

And now, I'm in the middle of  a geography crisis. A major one.


I can't decide where I live. Chicago, IL or Long Beach, CA?

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Well....

As many of you know, about six months ago I "shmoved" to Chicago be with my soon-to-be fiance.  I chose to use the word "shmove" over "move" because it was, well, less "I no longer live in California" sounding. After all, I still had a car and my furnished condo in Long Beach , my driver's license still said Cali and, c'mon, could I ever really be a Midwestern girl?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Midwestern people. In fact, they're nicer than most. But, when you technically have two residences, you can pick and choose where you want to live based on who's asking.  And most of the time, you're going to say California mostly in order to avoid the weird, squinty look people give you when they try to process why on God's green Earth you'd ever choose to go from the West to the Midwest. So, I'm not really lying when I say Long Beach... even though all my Hanky Pankys are in Illinois and my Long Beach condo has now been rented.


But since it's a New Year and I'm about to marry the man I've been shmiving with for the past six months, it's probably time to make a few confessions:

1. I confess: I'm still using a California driver's license. Okay, so here's the deal. I went into the DMV and I was ready to bite the bullet, I swear. Well, that is until I started sweating through my "I love California" t-shirt. As I looked around at the long line of wool coat and scarf wearing people, I knew that if I went through with my application for a driver's license that I'd officially be an Illinois resident. Which meant...

I could no longer hand my California ID to the lady at Target and have her "ooh and ahh" over the great, warm life I must have back there.

I could no longer get comments from the cute boys behind the counter at Cubs games when they saw my ID. I'd officially be a Midwesterner.

So, I turned on my North Face snow boot heel and walked out of there faster than you could say Go Cubs!

2.  I confess: I still watch TV on West Coast time! I still watch the Bachelor at the time my West Coast friends do. Half the fun of watching shows like these is the sideline banter I have with Liz during the show.  And now, even though I have to wait TWO FULL HOURS  so we can write on each other's walls about the 24 year old with fake ta-tas who's only known Jake for 11 seconds but is ready to marry him and have his babies, it's worth it.

3. I confess: I'm f***ing freezing my ever-expanding ass off! In order to keep my Midwestern cred with my new Midwestern friends, I LIE about how the cold is affecting me. I tell them that this Cali girl is A-okay and that the cold isn't anything a North Face coat and a good pair of gloves can't handle! But the truth is, I'm freezing my ass off! It's not like I haven't been around cold before...I love to ski and snowboard. But...this is ridiculous.  It was NINE degrees here on Sunday. And when I checked the weather in Long Beach on my Iphone (something I do at least once a day I guess to torture myself) it was SEVENTY TWO!  So, to warm myself up, I've turned the thermostat up to 75 and gone through an entire forest of firewood trying to turn "brutal cold" nights into "warm hearth" evenings.  But I'm still cold...And the only thing I've actually succeeded in is making my fiance's head spin off each time the heating bill arrives in the mail.

4.  I confess: When I fly back to Cali, I  tell the person in the seat next to me that I'm "on my way home." The minute I buckle myself into my seat and head to Cali, I'm often asked "do you live in California?" And I usually say, "Why, yes I do!" Then the person will say "what part?" and I'll happily respond "Long Beach" and they'll nod with approval. What can I say? I get homesick for the sun as soon as I make sure my Louis is stowed away properly and my tray table is in its upright position. I know that when I land I'm going to remember what I've been missing. How glorious it will be when I'll be able to walk outside to the taxi line WITHOUT needing thermal underwear and a face mask.  How people will be wearing flip flops in the seventy five degree January weather.

Don't believe me?  Want to see my ID?!

xoxo, Lisa