Things I’m Loving: June 2014
It’s back! Since I got such positive feedback on my first “Things I’m Loving” post in October, I decided to make it a semi-regular series (whenever the mood strikes). Just like in the first edition, I am thrilled to share five of my current favorite things that I think you’ll love as well. I adore talking about the things I’m excited about, so if you’ve got an opinion, a question or a favorite of your own to share, let me know in the comments so we can chat about it!
This post contains affiliate links.
If you don’t own a pair of these yet, I’m about to change your life. That probably seems like a dramatic statement, but if you ask my fiancé he will tell you these shoes have had a positive effect on both of ours (details below). These are hands down the most comfortable flats I have ever worn in my life. It’s not just me either, you can read the 300+ gushing reviews on the Payless site if you need to hear more. So often I’ve found that flats are never as comfortable as they look. They always end up digging into my heel or my toe or being too narrow. Not these. I can walk around in these all day long every day for weeks straight and they will be nothing but comfortable. There’s not even a “breaking in” period, and for those who need a little extra width, they come in wide as well. Everyone I’ve told about these is now a convert, so I can’t wait for you all to try them too!
I own 8 different versions of these shoes because I wear them almost every day. I own them in navy, black, nude, black tweed, gold, silver, black & raffia and the navy & white striped Blaire version (same fit as the Claire flats but with a little hardware detail). I get constant compliments on them too – they’re so cute! Besides being insanely comfortable, absolutely adorable and going with everything, they’re almost always on sale for $19.99 (if they’re ever not, wait a bit…they will be), so they’re super affordable. I just donated two huge garbage bags full of shoes I never wear anymore because I wear these flats almost exclusively (true story). I have no need for shoes that hurt my feet when I can wear these!
Still waiting on the life changing part? Well, I have always been torn between wanting to look cute and wanting to be comfortable. In the past, when Pat (future Mr. Bites) and I were going to the zoo, a festival, shopping, on vacation, or anywhere else that involves a lot of walking I would inevitably choose fashion over function (innocently – I always thought I’d be more comfortable than I was!) and then 45 minutes later ruin our time by being too uncomfortable to continue. He noticed right away when I started wearing these because I am good to go for long walks and activities without a single complaint (well, unless I’m hot…or tired…or hungry, haha) and they go great with a skirt or sundress in a way that sneakers can’t.
If you love these shoes as much as I do, check back on the Payless site or in stores every few months because they seem to get new colors and patterns seasonally. I’ve also found that sometimes the stores have styles that aren’t shown online and vice versa. Get to the store and try these on (or buy them online using eBates for cash back – see below!) – you’ll never look back!
Did you know that by just typing one extra word into the Amazon URL, a portion of almost everything you buy on Amazon can go to the charity of your choice? Let’s say you want to buy this doughnut pan, this amazing book, or these packages of PB2. When you click any of those links you’ll see that instead of starting with “www.amazon.com”, they begin with “smile.amazon.com” instead. When you access Amazon by replacing the “www” with “smile” Amazon will donate 0.5% of eligible purchases to a charity you get to pick! Choose from almost a million eligible nonprofit groups (my AmazonSmile purchases benefit my local Make-A-Wish chapter and future Mr. Bites’ purchases benefit an environmental conservancy group), so your purchases benefit something meaningful to you. Half a percent may not sound like a lot, but imagine if everyone used this on every purchase they made on Amazon…that’s a lot of nonprofit funding!
The easiest way to remember to use this is to bookmark smile.amazon.com in your preferred web browser. I will also commit to try to remember to always start any Amazon affiliate links I may post with the appropriate smile wording. I love Amazon, so knowing my purchases are doing some good is just a huge bonus. Plus, if you’re trying to rationalize buying something awesome, “it’s helping charity” makes a great excuse to buy.
See here for AmazonSmile FAQs.
I hate chopping onions. Luckily, I haven’t done it by hand in months! I bought this food chopper at a Pampered Chef party I attended last Fall and it’s now one of my favorite kitchen tools. It really does reduce prep time for recipes that involve a lot of chopping and dicing and it saves you from the tears running down your cheeks when having to chop onions by hand! I’ve used it for all different vegetables and nuts and I’m hooked. You simply place the item you want to chop under the chopper on a cutting board (you may have to slice something in half or quarter it first if it is large) and then push down on the top a bunch of times until the food is chopped to your desired size. Smacking down on the top of the chopper is also pretty good stress relief, if you need it. The chopper also breaks down super simply into a few pieces to make it fast and easy to clean.
I am not a Pampered Chef sales rep, but if you know one then feel free to reach out to them or it appears you can order the chopper directly from their web site. I believe other brands have similar products as well if you prefer, though I haven’t tried them so I can’t really speak to how they compare.
Never chop onions again! Leave that to your food chopper. That’s its job.
I seem to be talking a lot about online shopping in this post, but I had to be sure to share this one with you.
Do you want to earn money for shopping online? Oh, you do? Of course you do. Guess what? That’s a real thing! Sign up on eBates and you can earn a % cash back on purchases at over 1,700 online stores such as Macy’s, Target, Bed, Bath Beyond, Land’s End, Ulta, Nordstrom, Toys R Us, ModCloth – almost anywhere you shop online! Plus, right now you get a $10 gift card just for signing up – seriously! I chose to get mine to Target and I spent it as soon as I got it.
Once you have an account, all you have to do when you want to shop online is start at eBates and type in the online store you want to shop in. Once eBates links you to the stores web site you can shop away and when you check out, you’ll get cash back for a percentage of your purchase in your eBates account. Every once in a while when your eBates account gets enough money, they send you a check. I’ve gotten a few checks from them – it really works! You can even earn some cash back for referring your friends – the links in this paragraph are my personal referral link, so if a few of you sign up from here I believe I will earn something back for referring you. I’d be referring you regardless though…it’s a way for you to get money back for doing something you’d be doing anyway! Who wouldn’t want to share that?
So you may be thinking…corn dogs, really? I hear ya. I have never given corn dogs a second thought and though I think I’ve tried them once or twice before these I was never blown away…until now. I am basically obsessed with these. I first saw them on Instagram when Kerri (wwpickyeatersplate) posted that she had a couple for dinner and they were only 4 Weight Watchers Points Plus each (I love following other WWers!). I filed that away in my head and figured next time I was at TJ’s I would pick up a box to try. So I did. Then the next time we went to TJ’s after that I bought 5 more boxes. No lie.
What’s so great about them? Well, the texture is perfect. You bake them in the oven and the outside gets all crispy and actually tastes like they came out of a fryer (no shame in my game, I love fried food), while the inside of the cornbread layer is soft and cakey and a little sweet. The hot dog inside is delicious and eating something on a stick is always fun. They taste great dipped in a little mustard and each corn dog is only 150 calories, so you can eat one with a side of oven fries and some veggies or fruit salad for a low point/low calorie meal that tastes indulgent. If you have a Trader Joe’s in your area, pick up a box (or two, or five) next time you’re there – you won’t regret it!
Honorable Mention: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Why an honorable mention? Trust me, it’s not because I love this book any less than the other things listed. It’s more that there is already so much hype surrounding The Fault In Our Stars right now (due to the corresponding movie that just came out) that I kind of assume you’re already being bombarded by it every time you turn on your computer. Kind of like if I had been like “You know what’s a good movie? Frozen!” a few months ago when it was so big that it was everywhere (I really do love Frozen though as well).
The thing is, this book deserves every bit of the hype. I put off reading it for a really long time even though I kept hearing about it because most of what I heard was “it’s about someone with cancer” and “it’s a total sob-fest.” I really didn’t feel like depressing myself so I stayed away. I read a lot and I get totally attached to characters. I didn’t want to be heartbroken and I didn’t want to read something that was sad just to be sad and really went for it trying to make the reader bawl like a baby.
I finally broke and started reading it and right away it was obviously not what I expected. This wasn’t a preachy, over-the-top, tug-at-your-heartstrings, Hallmark-commercial attempt to make me cry. The story feels authentic and the characters are genuine and engaging and seem real. The writing is beautiful. The book is funny and smart and sad and I couldn’t put it down. You will totally fall in love with Augustus. You will care so much about Hazel. If you haven’t read this yet, let me be the zillionth person to recommend it to you. Yes, you’ll cry, but it will be worth it.