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Stop Underselling!

The article title "stop underselling" is layered over an old-fashioned clay piggy bank.

Side hustles are all the rage right now: MLMs, ride share, selling your old clothes and furniture via online marketplaces, “donating” plasma. You’ve got to do whatever it takes to make the rent, or just the extra spending money, short of dancing the pole or working the sidewalk corner. I get it; I live it.

My whole life is side hustles right now. I drive Uber and Lyft, sell for SeneGence, and occasionally declutter my closet on Facebook marketplace or Let Go or whatever is vogue for the month. In some ways, I love it: I can set my own hours, work as much or as little as I want, I don’t have to answer to a boss, and there are no annoying coworkers. But it’s incredibly stressful sometimes, especially when everyone wants a cheaper price.

For example: I was trying to sell a Blue Tooth Speaker that I’ve had for a few years but haven’t used once in the past six months. It was a declutter no-brainer. The speaker is in great shape–no dents or scrapes or malfunctions–and is a top-quality speaker that normally goes for about $200. Considering that it is a few years old and used, I listed it at $75, knowing in my head that I’d accept $65.

Holy cow, people were trying to haggle with me for as low as $40! What!? That’s almost half of my asking price!!

I get it: people are buying used because they want to save money. And I know that the asking price is always a bit higher than the actual price (hence why I set it higher), but asking for a 50% discount is just plain rude!!

If you’re in small/personal business or hustling on the side, OR if you’re a shopper of side hustles, please read my rant:

A sketchbook is open to a large dollar-sign drawing. The artist's hands are in the photo field, along with some decor such as a plant and pink coffee mug.

Haggle Respectfully

Asking for a few dollars off here and there is understandable. Expected, even! When I listed my car on Craigslist, I listed it for $500 more than what I needed, knowing that people would try to haggle; it made accepting an offer for $400 off my asking price easy and friendly. But my favorite kind of shoppers are the ones that just pay the asking price.

If you’re going to do a low-ball haggle (say you offer $55 on a $75 price tag), immediately offer something to make that price cut a bit more appealing, like going to the seller rather than the seller coming to you. Saying “Would you accept $55? I can meet you wherever is convenient today so that you won’t have to go out of your way” is more well received than “I can give you $55”.

Also, if you’re going to offer a lower price, be able to pick up and pay that day, preferably within a few hours. As a seller, I don’t want to accept a lower price that can’t be carried out for another two days, because someone might offer the asking price between now and then!

Remember: the reason someone is selling instead of donating is because they need the cash. You’re trying to save a buck, they’re trying to save a buck: try to meet somewhere in the middle so that you both win. Essentially: haggle the way you’d want someone to haggle with you.

Related Reading: When It’s Been a Long Week and It’s Only Monday

Stop Asking Your Friends For A Discount

I see this all the time: friends asking friends for discounted services just because they’re friends. If your BFF is trying to make it in the world as a photographer and you ask her for engagement photos at a quarter of the price, you’re not actually supporting her business: you’re hurting it! People gotta pay bills, y’all, and your request for special treatment isn’t going to help keep the lights on.

Now, I myself do offer a friends and family discount because I want to, and because I’m terrible at business practices, but whatever. That’s something that I chose to do, and I’m okay with it, but I don’t like feeling pressured to offer more and essentially just give things away. The same goes for if I/your friend works at a store or restaurant and you ask for a discount: newsflash, unless I/your friend is the manager, we have zero control over discounts. As much as we’d like to help you out, we literally can’t, so stop making us feel bad for just doing our jobs.

Related Reading: 7 Ways to Maximize Your Budget

Propped up against infrastructure rails along a sidewalk is a cardboard sign. Written on it is "Need some used books; $ helps". A plastic cup for coin collection, a water bottle, and a book are laid next to the sign. Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

Don’t Try to Undersell Your Competition

If you’re just starting out selling your own product or service, you might feel the itch to sell at a lower price than your competitors to draw customers to you. But this is actually a really really bad idea.

One: if you undersell, you’re trapped at a selling price that doesn’t bring in the big bucks and you won’t make a profit. A few weeks or months down the road, you won’t be able to grow and that means you’ll eventually fizzle out and die.

Two: if you undersell, they’ll undersell. Then you’ll have to undersell again. And again. Next thing you know, you’re selling at cost with zero profit. Not good.

Do your market research and figure out what the high point, median, and low point is. List your stuff somewhere in that low point if you’re just starting out, or go for the median and maybe offer some introductory discounts to get the ball rolling. But whatever you do, don’t sell a dollar’s work for a dime.

 

I want to hear your thoughts and stories. Did I hit the mark or am I way off? What do you think about discount services like Groupon? Let me know in the comments!

 

April 3, 2018
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Things We Hate

A snarling cat is overlaid with the title "13 Pet Peeves"

Last week we were all about the love, so this week we decided to share all the things we hate. And again, not all the things we always say we hate like traffic or money or dieting. These are more like pet peeves or just small things we tend to not like so much in everyday life. This time there are 13, because you should always have more things you love than hate.

 

Belle

I hate… being late, people that are late, and events that start late

I hate… when people say “good” instead of “well”

I hate… when a website says an item is in stock, but it isn’t

I hate… when people don’t use the Oxford comma

I hate… that English and language arts programs are underfunded and underappreciated

I hate… being told that I’m too young to understand

I hate… when my generation is criticized for our values

I hate… feeling like I have to choose between security and happiness/fulfillment

I hate… when my hair doesn’t work with me

I hate… running out of hot water in the shower

I hate… how expensive it is to dye my hair

I hate… when my knee hurts for no reason

I hate… the corner pieces of cake that are 80% frosting

 

Elena

I hate… getting honked at

I hate… not being able to fall asleep

I hate… the smell of Arby’s

I hate… when people say “huh” instead of “what”

I hate… when I fail

I hate… being cold

I hate… loud chewers

I hate… the sound of scooping gravy and mashed potatoes from the pan to my plate

I hate… mean/rude comments

I hate… when people make me feel stupid

I hate… having a dead end job

I hate… when something runs out and no one refills it (especially toilet paper and coffee K-Cups)

I hate… being single

 

 

What are some things that really drive you bonkers?

 

February 20, 2018
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Share the Love <3

Posted in Lifestyle by

Red confetti hearts are photographed against a white background. The title "Share the Love" is overlaid.

 

I love….

In lieu of Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be appropriate to create a post about 14 things we love. I’m not talking about the standard things that you say you’re grateful for around the table at Thanksgiving, like loving your family, friends, and your dog; we already know you have love for them. This post is about the little things we love that are less obvious, but still important in our lives.

 

Elena

I love…. the smell of rain

I love…. getting compliments

I love…. a good book

I love…. cuddling

I love…. laughing and making others laugh

I love…. feeling smart

I love…. feeling appreciated

I love…. the beach

I love…. the silence of the snow

I love…. wearing a big sweater and pajama pants

I love…. not caring about my appearance (not wearing make-up or doing my hair)

I love…. to travel

I love…. trying new things

I love…. helping others

 

Related Reading: National Sex Day (Guest Post by Deanna Samaan)

 

Belle

I love….sleeping in

I love….not wearing pants

I love….being silly with friends

I love….finishing a project

I love….when the thing I want is on sale

I love….making new connections and friends

I love….trading travel stories

I love….having my back touched/a good massage

I love….that women value community over competition

I love….new inspirations

I love….green landscapes

I love….fluffy alpacas

I love….next day compliments

I love….no-judgement dancing

 

Related Reading: 13 Ways to Celebrate Galentine’s Day, 3 Reasons to Love Being Single

 

What are the little things you love? Comment below! We’d love to see the two, five, or fourteen things that you love <3

 

Red confetti hearts lie on a white surface. The title "14 Things We Love" is overlaidRed confetti hearts are photographed against a white background. The title "28 Things We Love" is overlaid
February 15, 2018
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13 Ways to Celebrate Galentine’s Day

Neon signs reading "girls" are lit up behind the overlaid article title "13 Ways to Celebrate Galentine's Day"

Regardless of if you’re single, in a relationship or dating, we highly encourage you to celebrate a once fictional, but now very real holiday, Galentine’s Day. Galentine’s Day is a day to celebrate friendship with all your lady friends! The holiday was invented by Leslie (played by Amy Poehler) in the T.V. show, Parks and Recreation. You can learn more about this “holiday” here. If you’re unsure how to celebrate Valentine’s Eve, we’ve come up with some ideas to share with you and all your girl friends, with some recommendations on items that one or both of us personally use!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you click through and make a purchase, we will earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. 

 

1. Ladies’ Wine Night

Everyone brings a bottle of wine and you have your own exclusive wine tasting in the comfort of your (or your friend’s) house! To make this into a competition, go out and buy something cheap (like this!) that’s related to wine and have that be the prize for the best wine!

Galentine's Day

 

2. Old Fashion Slumber Party

Screw looking cute, peel off those skinny jeans or even tight leggings and throw on your comfiest pair of pajama/yoga pants, hoodie, no make-up and hair in a messy bun. This is the judge free zone, where you can finally try that black face mask going around Facebook and YouTube that literally peels the outside layer of your face off (this one is the similar, cheaper brand Charcoal Peel Off Mask). Have a chick flick playing on the T.V. like Mean Girls, eat crap food and drink wine, and paint each other’s nails while one person reads aloud the humiliating stories in the back of Cosmopolitan.

 

3. Cookie/Cupcake Decorating

Forget the diet: bring me some sugah! Though you may need to prep this ahead of time (Elena’s mom’s recipe says to make sure the dough is refrigerated at least four hours prior to baking) you can roll out some dough and make heart shaped cookies (because these are your girlfriends and you love each other) and frost them with some white, red and pink dyed cream cheese frosting (because cream cheese is the best frosting and if you don’t think so, no cookies for you). Also if you aren’t into cookies, you can do cupcakes or even cake cookies! Elena’s sister makes these and they are the perfect balance between a cupcake and a cookie and are so moist and delicious!

 

4. Go to the Bars…in your sweat pants

Because this is about the girls, not getting the guys! And getting drunk. Cheers!

 

5. Get a Couple’s Massage (or a couple’s date package), but go with your BFF!

Take advantage of them sales! Especially ones on Groupon that give you an even better discount.

 

6. Paint Night

Go out to a place like Pinot’s Pallet, or host one at home. Belle bought some paint-by-numbers canvas paintings that we will be working on for months, that would be fun to start! Elena went to a friend’s house where they painted wine glasses (while drinking wine from a separate glass of course). Elena also had nights were she went out and bought water color or drawing paper in bulk and we drank wine, painted and watched Friends in the background.

Galentine's Day

7. Makeover Night!

Do like what we used to do in our mom’s bathroom (or older sister’s make up collection) as a kid and play with your make-up for new looks! Now is the time to share how you do your eye-shadow, what colors you use and what kind of primer helps all that glitter stick to your eye and not get in it. Now’s your chance to learn how to get that perfect smokey eye! Or maybe you have that friend who knows how to do the perfect liquid eyeliner wing that you’ve been wanting to learn for months. Just remember, don’t share mascara and probably eye-liners to avoid diseases, cause gross. For even more fun, finish a bottle of wine by yourself before attempting a make-over on your BFF and making her “beautiful” with blue eye-shadow and pink blush that’s been under your sink for three years.

 

8. Host a “Tupperware” Party

Yeah, that’s what our mom’s call it, but we all know we’re referring to a sex toy party, or make-up I guess, but mostly sex toys. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve hosted a Pure Romance party, and what timing having Single’s Awareness Day the very next day! Or Valentine’s Day if you’re in a relationship, they still have some fun S&M things that could make your night even more special.

 

9. Photoshoot!

Get all the gals together, get glammed, and have a photo shoot! Or just gather random things around your house and buy some cheap accessories that are normally in a photo booth to create your own, boas, glasses, hats (on your phone with your selfie stick).

Elena and Belle pose within a hung empty picture frame. Belle holds up a paper crown and Elena has a prop plaque that reads "still single!"

 

10. Craft night!

Learn to knit, cross stitch, make a collage… with wine, of course.

 

11. Gift your Bestie some Flowers and Chocolate

And get some for yourself, too, because let’s be real, you’ll be eating it together anyways, might as well get two containers so you can avoid fighting over the last piece. Then that way you have someone to complain with when both your stomachs hurt because you ate two whole giant heart boxes full of questionably flavored chocolates.

 

12. Go Braless!

Let the girls be freeeee! You’re with your girlfriends anyways, and likely they all have boobs too and know the struggle of the wired bra. For 10 hours a day. At LEAST. Whip that thing off!

 

13. Themed Potluck

If you’re having a girls night and you’re a little tight on money, host a potluck! The best part about this is that you can choose whatever theme you want, related or unrelated to the holiday: mexican food, italian food, your favorite recipe your mom makes etc. Or you could be like, okay, we are all girls and there are no boys, so let’s make this like a bachelorette party and have penis-pun food: little wienies, hot dogs, popsicles, banana split (you get the idea).

 

Regardless of what you decide to do, make this a friend’s day for you and your girls and have fun!

February 8, 2018
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W(h)ine About It: Blogger Communities

 

A laptop, book, and vase of flowers sit on a desk facing the winder. In a pink overlay box is the title "What they don't say about blogger communities"

Hands pulls a cork out of a wine bottle with the help of a corkscrew. The article title is overlaid: W(h)ine About It: Blogger Communities

So you’ve started a blog after reading four or five different “Start a Profitable Blog in 5 Easy Steps” tutorials. You bought your domain, set up your site, wrote several posts, created beautiful images for Pinterest… but your site isn’t getting enough traffic. Solution? Join blogger communities on Facebook!

Right?… Except it isn’t exactly what you expected, at least in the aspect of helping boost your views and encourage discussion.

Don’t get us wrong, the groups are wonderful! We’ve gotten some interaction, have discovered other great blogs to follow, and have learned some pretty nifty stuff. But there are six short-fallings that no one acknowledges. Until now:

 

Post and run

Blog-com pages generally have themes each day to help promote all aspects of your blog, things like “Twitter Tuesday” and “Feedback Friday”. You post a link in the comments for people to like, share, pin, comment on, retweet, etc. The idea is to post yours and then interact with other people’s blog posts that they’ve shared.

Except no one does.

Well, not no one. That’s harsh. But maybe one in ten actually follow through. We get that you can’t interact with everyone: ain’t nobody got time for that! and sometimes you just can’t connect. Example: we’re not going to comment on your mom blog where you wrote an article comparing plastic vegetable toys to felt ones. We’re not moms. We don’t have kids. We buy actual vegetables. As a result, we can’t pin your stuff to any of our Pinterest boards and can’t authentically interact with your post. So we skip it and put our efforts into someone else’s post about skincare, which we care about because we have skin.

Meanwhile, the content we posted hasn’t been touched by the 50 people that posted before it nor by the 273 that posted after. It gets to be a bit frustrating, and in turn makes us not want to engage in other posts because why should we put in so much work without it being reciprocated?

It should be as simple as it sounds: scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, right? But no, their post hasn’t received any interaction and they’re so busy and don’t have the time to even GLANCE at another post before or after theirs. Well guess what, Sharon, maybe we don’t have the time to look at your recipe for your vegan, gluten free brownies that probably taste like sidewalk chalk with a side of suck. We get it if you don’t like what we write about, but comment on something else: what would you change about the appearance of the blog? was it easy to navigate? would you follow my instagram? are the images clear and organized? It’s not that hard to give some sort of feedback to people. We won’t follow them unless their topic somehow relates to my own (because that’s what I’m interested in–again, sorry mom blogs), but we can comment on the picture: the quality, the hashtags, etc.

 

Click on my ads (illegal and…no)

A way to generate revenue from your blog is to install ads. Depending on which agency you go through, you might earn money only if the ad generates sales, or if the ad is merely clicked on. On some blog-com pages, individuals will start “click for click” posts for people to literally go click on each other’s ads to generate income. Not only is this a bit spammy, but in some situations it fringes on illegal actions (misuse of the system, false number generating…thanks but no thanks). Some admins are really good about getting this kind of content removed. Other times, you just have to scroll on past it. Or you can report the post as well or comment (if you’re really not concerned about what others will think of you).

Photo by Henrik Dønnestad on Unsplash

 

Everyone is accepted as long as they have a blog…

In order to join blog-coms, you have to have a blog. Shocking, we know. In many cases, it doesn’t matter what kind of blog as long as it’s your blog. Great in theory, but not in practice. This means there are a lot of blogs that are amateurly done: it’s a free platform, it’s unorganized, and don’t even get us started on spelling and grammar….

Remember how we talked about not being able to interact with blog posts about plastic vs. felt carrots because we’re in our young twenties and are living off peanut butter and ramen? We don’t mind that because there are other mom bloggers in the group that do care about it! But 99% of us don’t care about your latest achievement on the phone app games you play (yes, there really are blogs dedicated to that stuff). And as much as we want to travel the world and interact with people from around the globe, we can’t read your blog if it’s written in Russian. So we’ll keep scrolling.

 

Where are the police!?

Hello, Admin, yes we’re pointing at you; if you’re going to start a fire, you should know how to control it. On nearly every page, there is a page or post stating what the rules and regulations are (these are often stated on the post too, a.k.a directions). This should be easy enough to read and follow, but for all those greedy people who simply “don’t have time” to interact with others, but have plenty of time to respond to comments on their blog or their post, it’s not worth following. The thing about the rules and regulation posts is that, even though they are intimidating (and there’s nothing more humiliating than getting kicked off a bloggers page on Facebook), they are RARELY followed. Hey, Admin, I’ve commented on 5 posts and I see Felicia hasn’t commented on any and yet she has 4 likes and 2 comments… Care to do something about that?? A simple “bye Felicia” would do the trick.

 

Is anyone going to answer my question? Hello? No?

Many of us are newbies; we aren’t going to know everything. But that’s why we joined a community. Odds are, someone out the the 500 bloggers will know how to create a “Contact Us” page with a good plugin. Or how to fix the SEO on a page. Or what backlinks are. And yet….*crickets*

One of the problems could just be because no one sees the comment. So turn it into a post! Boom, everyone has a notification that you need help. Except their notifications have been blowing up all day because of the 300 comments on the one post they commented on. And what do they have to gain by helping you? Nothing. So what do they do? Nothing. Meanwhile, our questions are still unanswered. So much for community…kaboompics_Young woman working in a cafe

 

Required interaction

Some blog-coms have heard our pleas and answered with required interaction. Theory = great, practice = thanks, but no thanks. If you’ve joined a few blog-coms, more than likely you’ve seen a thread that sounds something like the following:

“Comment Thread: Post a link to your blog post and then comment on ALL comments in this thread. This thread will close after ten comments”

Whoopee, a guaranteed nine comments on your post! If you get less than that, then someone is about to get the boot from the group. Done and done. But, oh, wait, three of the posts are to mom blogs, one is to getting over an addiction, and another is to some news story about a wedding in India. We can’t relate to any of this, nor do we have an interest to. We could comment, but it would just be fake and that doesn’t sit right with us. So it looks like we’re the ones getting the boot…

 

Related Reading: W(h)ine About It: The Little Things

 

Whenever we post on another post on the thread, we say what we’ve done–commented, liked, shared, followed etc.–and what our blog name is (so people know who the heck we are) because that’s what the POST SAYS TO DO. But the people who refuse to interact are so incredibly frustrating. So these groups on Facebook have been great when they actually interact, but be warned, there will always be people (and Admin) who don’t follow directions or enforce the rules.

**To clarify, we love our blog-com groups. Without them, we’d be three miles behind where we are now. We just want to call out some bull-shit that we see and hopefully get some laughs (and results). 

A laptop, flower vase, and book are placed on a desk facing a window. The picture is shot from a side angle. In a pink overlay box is the title "The Truth About Blogger Communities"

 

Male hands are seen on a laptop keyboard, shot from above. In an orange overlay box is the title "Blogger Communities: 6 Shortfallings"
February 6, 2018
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Reading List for 2018

Posted in Books, Lifestyle by

 

https://www.sporcle.com/games/Paul91/friendsquiz

A little over due, but still here nonetheless!! Since we haven’t yet read any of these, we’ve included the summary on the back of each book. Also check out the links if the book is becoming a movie!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you click through and make a purchase, we will earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. 

 

Here are the books we’re looking to cross off the list this year:

 

 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33574273-a-wrinkle-in-time?“It was a dark and stormy night. Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a dangerous and most extraordinary adventure– one that will threaten their lives and our universe.”

Watch the trailer here

 

 

 

 

 

What Alice Forgot  by Liane Moriarty

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6469165-what-alice-forgot?ac=1&from_search=true“Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.”

 

 A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18774964-a-man-called-ove?ac=1&from_search=true“ALL YOU NEED IS OVE.

At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the most grumpiest man you will ever meet, a curmudgeon with staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People think him bitter, and he thinks himself surrounded by idiots.

Ove’s well-ordered, solitary world gets a shake-up one November morning with the appearance of new neighbors — a chatty young couple and their two boisterous daughters — who announce their arrival by accidentally flattening Ove’s mailbox with their U-Haul. What follows is a heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unlikely friendships, and a community’s unexpected reassessment of the one person they thought they had all figured out.”

Watch the trailer here.

 

 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

https://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/13526165-where-d-you-go-bernadette“A compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle – and people in general – has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence – creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.” – Synopsis from Goodreads

 

 

The Pact  by Jodi Picoult

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10916.The_Pact?ac=1&from_search=true“From Jodi Picoult, one of the most powerful writers in contemporary fiction, comes a riveting, timely, heartbreaking, and terrifying novel of families in anguish — and friendships ripped apart by inconceivable violence. Until the phone calls came at 3:00 A.M. on a November morning, the Golds and their neighbors, the Hartes, had been inseparable. It was no surprise to anyone when their teenage children, Chris and Emily, began showing signs that their relationship was moving beyond that of lifelong friends. But now, seventeen-year-old Emily has been shot to death by her beloved and devoted Chris as part of an apparent suicide pact — leaving two devastated families stranded in the dark and dense predawn, desperate for answers about an unthinkable act and the children they never really knew.”

 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Book cover for Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo“Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.”

 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Book cover for Outlander by Diana Gabaldon“The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”

 

 

February 1, 2018
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Concert: Here Come the Mummies

Posted in Lifestyle by

concert mummies

It’s not every day that you get to witness a group of grown men in full mummy gear play funk music for two straight hours. If that day every comes your way, grab it and go because it will be the best concert you ever see.

Our dear friend Mitch gifted us concert tickets to Here Come the Mummies at the Boulder Theater for Christmas. He had first introduced us to the band, however briefly, at dinner a few months earlier when Belle mentioned having enjoyed seeing Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the Arvada Center. BBVD is very classic swing music, but Belle’s mentioning of the horns and saxophone prompted Mitch to pull of clips of the Mummies’ funk music. Later, when he saw the band would be touring with a stop in Colorado for the first time in their 18 years as a band, he had the genius idea of getting tickets.

From left to right, Elena, Mitch, and Belle snap a selfie at the Boulder Theater before Here Come the Mummies hit the stage.

The Band

Decked in paint and mummy apparel, the “500 year old Egyptian Mummies” band members are shrouded in mystery. The identities of the eight musicians in the Nashville funk band are kept “under wraps”, as they say. Rumor has it that some of them have Grammies on their mantles from their solo or other group ventures, but nothing has been confirmed. Although it’s very likely because ooooh! lawdy that band can play.

Since 2002, the band has produced nine studio albums, four EPs, and two live albums. The members have fluctuated over the years, but the funky and powerful music has remained true. In addition in performing wicked saxophone, guitar, and trumpet solos, the band has a certain knack for word play. Out of context, lyrics are raunchy and have listeners looking quizzically like “did they really just say that?” In context, it’s just about a guy selling hotdogs (see: Attack of the Weiner Man).

Here Come the Mummies perform on stage. Blue stage lights illuminate band members dressed in mummy costumes and face paint in the funk concert.

The Show

The Mummies entered from the street front of the theater, parading through with drums and an Anubis in tow. Once on stage, the lights went wild. And so did the band. And so did the audience. Immediately, the music was loud, strong, and full. With drums, a key-tar, bass, electric guitar, trumpet, vocals, and three types of saxophone, it was a party.

What we found to be the most OMG was that the mummies didn’t stop. Ever. They masterfully used solos to give members quick water breaks and breathers, but the music never stopped. The dancing never stopped. The vocals never wavered. On it’s own, that’s impressive athleticism and performance abilities. But to do that in Colorado, where the air is thin and the oxygen lacking, that’s down-right amazing. We’ve heard people at various concerts and musicals and sporting events talk about the added difficulty of performing well with less air. We bypass out-of-state hikers keeled over on the side of the trail gasping for air. There’s such a thing as altitude sickness! But the Mummies handled it better than anyone we’d ever seen before (maybe it’s because mummies don’t have lungs? IDK).

Some of the audience knew the band’s work and flew their Freak Flags (it’s a song. It’s great); others were like us and vaguely knew the band. But everyone–everyone–had a great time. 100% would do again.

 

January 9, 2018
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Our Bucket List for 2018

Posted in Lifestyle by

 

Bucket ListAs 2017 is coming to an end, we decided to write down all the things we wanted to accomplish in the new year. Some are things that we never got to in 2017, others were thought of in the moment. We have an entire year to do everything (or close to) on this list. Welcome 2018, we’re excited for what you’ll bring!

2018 Bucket List

  • Hike a 14er
  • Go camping
  • Visit Canada
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Visit a city (in state) we’ve never been to
  • Spend a day on the water
  • Go skiing
  • Visit Hanging Lake
  • Write a story
  • Go on a Cruise
  • Do at least ONE Adrenaline Junky activity
  • Meet someone famous
  • Foster a pet
  • Go to a concert
  • Spend a day at a resort spa
  • Make our first $100 as bloggers
  • Take a cooking class
  • Go fishing
  • Swim with sharks
  • Go clamming
  • Stomp grapes
  • Try a strange food
  • Learn new songs in American Sign Language
  • Volunteer
  • Shoot a gun
  • Go paintballing
  • Go to at least ONE sports event per season
  • Ride a tandem bicycle
  • Ride a “beer bus”
  • Visit a hostel
  • Book an Air BnB
  • Go to a winery

 

January 2, 2018
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6 Mantras to Live By in 2018

Posted in Lifestyle by

new year mantras 2018

 

If you’re anything like anyone, right about now you’re working on a list of New Year’s Resolutions that likely has a number of repeats from years prior. Still haven’t stood up to your boss? Gained weight instead of lost it? Have yet to write that book you’ve been talking about since you were eleven *coughBELLEcough*? More than likely you start the year with great intentions, but fizzle out by March. That’s what happens. A year is a long time and a lot happens during all those moon cycles.

Maybe the problem isn’t you and your level of discipline; maybe the problem is with resolutions. 

What is a resolution?

A quick search in a separate tab lists the definitions of resolution as “a firm decision to do or not do something” and “the action of solving a problem”. This suggests that there is something wrong with us and our lives and therefore we must fix it.

Personally, here at TwoFeelsWrite, we had a bit of an issue with the ever so popular NYR to lose weight. Yes, yes, some people really do need to lose weight and some want to and that’s their life and their decision and you go Glenn Cocoa! But focusing too much on losing weight can lead to investing on a really expensive treadmill (a.k.a. coat hanger), or spending too much on a gym membership that you probably used in January, but now it’s June and you still haven’t cancelled the automatic withdrawal. One of the biggest issues with wanting to lose weight is that it can lead to dangerous fad diets or have too much focus on a number.

Resolutions are often firm and narrow, with clear success and failure. It’s hard to stick to something like that for twelve months when you obviously haven’t been working on it in the past (hence why it’s on your resolution list!). Maybe it’s time to try something else.

What is a mantra?

One more definition search: a mantra is “a statement or slogan repeated frequently” and/or “a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation”. But what does it really mean?

To us, it means a new focus, putting the emphasis on growth rather than problem. A mantra is something positive that you aim to incorporate in your daily life as a reminder towards success and happiness. There is success and there is failure, but maybe not as severely as with resolutions.

Take a look at the six mantras we’re going to be living in 2018.

1. Be Healthier

Bet ya saw that one coming a mile away. Nevertheless, it deserves to be here.

Belle: A big thing for me is my mental health, which has taken a beating in the last two years. I want to go to the gym and do yoga so that I’m physically healthy and stronger (and to look good naked, because #real), but also so that I have more energy and focus. I’m working on transitioning from coffee to tea so that I can cut out sugary creamers from my diet and keep my anxiety under control. There’s also drinking more water, not eating as much sugar, and overall healthy habits that I want to incorporate as best I can.

Elena: When I start something, I’m not always driven to finish it. The problem with being healthy is that it is never ending. My “cheat days” become my daily routine and healthy meals become less frequent. I want to work on balance, eating things that make me feel good more often: less junk food, no fast food, no soda, less alcohol and smaller portions. With the help of Pinterest, there are thousands of yummy recipes that are healthier. I received a yoga kit as a corporate gift from my company, so I have everything I could need. I just need the drive and be able to stick with it and make it a routine to be comfortable in my skin again and feel good.

2. Complain Less

In this day of climate change, political and economic disaster, and countless articles on how Millennials are killing this and another five killed in a terrorist attack, it’s hard to stay positive. But it’s important to keep some optimism and happiness in our lives.

No complaints

Belle: I was really inspired by a kid’s speech at a high school speech and debate tournament where he had this great “give yourself a hand” spiel. More or less it went something like this: “for every negative thing you focus on, point on five positives. Give naysayers and doubts the middle finger. Make a commitment to growth and a pinky promise to always keep trying. And every day give yourself a thumbs up because you did it.” That’s the sort of cheesy stuff I want to do this year. Focus on my successes more than my short comings, celebrate the little things, redirect conversations away from Negative Nancy and towards Polly Positive, and take control to change the things I complain about the most.

Elena: It’s so easy to find things to complain about on the daily: my back aches, there goes another $200 on medical bills, another misfortune to the car I’m stuck in a lease with for the next two years… I noticed when I wasn’t living in America and I was in school (not working) I was so much happier. But, I was also racking up a lot of debt. So to even the playing field, I need to find fun things to do in moderation so that I can still pay my bills, but also have a fun day out. Not just that, I find comfort in reading, writing and going to church or volunteering. When I think about people less fortunate than me, it’s easier to stop complaining.

3. Establish Sustainable Balance

This might be the biggest thing we (this time meaning our generation at large) struggle with the most. In college, there was the classic triangle of “grades, sleep, and social life: pick two”, and we’re shocked and terrified that, instead of going away, it’s grown into the hectic heptagon of “work, health, house, hobbies, sleep, social life, self care: pick two”. A lot of things fall by the wayside, and we’re still figuring out how to do it all.

Belle: I’m maybe sorta kinda cheating with this. I found that the biggest obstacle was working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour commute each way. So I got rid of it. Now I’m reorganizing my schedule around my needs and when things work best for me. For example, I can focus and get a lot of work done in the middle of the night and overall do better when I wake up later. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m setting little goals and schedules for every day so that the big tasks become little chunks and I’m more likely to have the time, energy, and discipline to do it all.

Elena: Trying to balance out my life is about as hard as trying to win $1,000 on a lottery ticket from the grocery store. I’m really terrible with following through with things: I still have a coffee table I need to stain, I have three crafts in a pile on my bedroom floor, I still need to get sandbags for my car this winter. I’m finding that when I take a moment and write things out, it’s really not that overwhelming, it’s very doable. What I need is more organization (the bullet journal is my savior), less T.V., more time reading or with people and to watch my spending.

Related Reading: 5 Ways To Stay Focused 

4. Work On Yourself, For Yourself

This is the age of empowerment and self realization. Don’t admire people that improve themselves: be that person!

Photo by Uroš Jovičić on Unsplash

Belle: I’m working on a lot of projects this upcoming year because they’re things that I either really enjoy and need to have more of in my life, or because it could be the thing that let’s me do the things I really enjoy. I’m doing away with traditional definitions of success and what’s expected of me in order to do what I believe to be is best for me. No more worrying about what looks good on a resume or what’s going to be put in the family Christmas card: I know me and I’m going to do what’s best for me so that I can be my best for others.

Elena: Sometimes when I’m at work, I look up prices for working visas to different countries or different jobs in the area to get away. Then I come to my senses and make a list of pros and cons of my decisions. I find that the more goals I have set, even if it’s finishing a project by the end of the week, I feel so much better. For this upcoming year, I want to do things for myself; take a vacation with my godmother, go to Canada (because why the hell not, eh?), get rid of the things I don’t need, make a financial plan and stick to it, calculate my BMI to keep track of how my body changes. I want to be a better person, do things for others, work hard and have fun!

Related Reading: 3 Reasons to Love Being Single

5. Build On Successes

This is where the mantra mentality can really take hold. Every day can be another mile stone, can be the “I did five pushups instead of four” and “I only hit snooze twice this morning” and “I made a new network connection today”.

Belle: I’ve been using this philosophy a lot with my gym routine as of late: “it wasn’t my best workout, but I went. I was at the gym, and I tried. I’m still developing the habit.” I’m at the point where it’s turning into a bit of a cop out, but it’s still good to view things positively so that I’m more inclined to do it again. Now I have to learn how to recognize successes and how to turn failures into successes within new business ventures and long-term goals. I can’t afford to let something work once and then not figure out how to make it happen again.

Elena: Successes are all mental, but they come from the people around you the most. My sister lost weight, she looks great and I told her so! My boss thanks me at the end of everyday, even if I feel like I did nothing that day, she always makes me feel appreciated. It’s great to have reassurance on accomplishments, but to feel successful, I need to really invest myself and my time. If I do that, I will feel successful when I leave the gym and my my abs are in pain when I laugh, when I have everything checked off my “to-do” list, or when I have an extra $50 in my savings. Little by little things will grow and change and make me feel more successful.

Related Reading: The Two Step: A Bilateral Move

6. Take Risks

We do not endorse covering yourself in bacon fat and jumping into a pool full of piranhas as positive risky behavior in 2018. But you won’t grow if you stay in your comfort zone, so eventually you have to cross your imaginary line and try something new. Maybe that means making the first move towards the cute guy at the bar or speaking up in work meetings. Maybe it means wearing bright red lipstick or going bungee jumping. That’s for you to decide.

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Belle: Oh boy howdy. 2018 is going to be the year where everything changes for me, but it has yet to be determined if it will be for the worse or for the better. I’m starting the year off by quitting my 9-5 and trying the freelance/independent contractor/aspiring student lifestyle. And I know the risks won’t stop there. But I’m excited and I’m determined to make it work.

Elena: This is what I’m looking forward to most! I went crazy when I was abroad in college and it was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m finding that I haven’t met many new people because I haven’t been going out or staying in hostels. I’m always with people I know, so we usually keep to ourselves. But the more people I meet, the more possibilities there are! I’m testing out the Inner Circle (which costs $5/week, but if you create a profile, then try to delete it, they offer you a free trial ;)). Not only is the Inner Circle meant for dating, but also just meeting people in your area. Moral of this mantra: be like Yes Man with no hesitation.

 

What are your 2018 goals and mantras? What steps will you be taking to achieve them? Let us know in the comments, as well as how we might be able to help!

December 26, 2017
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Dear Bellena: Help With the Holidays

bellena holidays

 

Belle and Elena are best friends (you already know this) and yet are vastly different (maybe you didn’t know that). Belle is all about “do no harm but take no shit”, save yourself first, and no third chances. Elena sees the best in people, loves everyone, and manages to stay in contact with almost everyone she’s ever met from everywhere. Belle makes decisions with her brain, Elena with her heart.

They compliment each other and keep each other in check. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have to battle it out when their opinions differ.

It also means they’re great for giving advice, because you can get two sides! Or, in the rare event that the two agree entirely on a plan of action, it’s likely because it’s the best. So send in your “Dear Bellena” letters and get personal advice from the lovely ladies!

Related Reading: 16 Personality Types

Disclaimer: Belle and Elena are not trained phycologists or should be considered professionals in regards to life-changing decisions. They are simply two women who want to help and offer their unsolicited advice. 

Help With the Holidays

Dear Bellena,

Christmas and the holidays has always been rough with my family, but I feel like this year is especially hard. My sister and I have never been close, but in recent years the space between us has grown, not shrunk. She dropped out of college, moved in with our parents, works part time at the mall, drinks and smokes, and constantly complains about things being hard for her. I work hard to support myself and be grateful for what I have.

This holiday season, I’m finding myself thinking about how good kids receive toys and bad kids are supposed to receive coal. I’m fed up with my sister and her bad behavior, but I don’t want to start a feud at Christmas by not getting her a gift, or by getting her a noticeable small and petty one. How can I make this holiday a good one for everyone, including myself?

Sincerely,

Fed Up Sis

 

Belle

Dear Fed Up Sis,

Sister relationships and family relationships are rough. Whoever came up with the idea that family means unconditional love was full of bull, but that idea can’t just be done away with without some consequences.

As someone who could have been a much better older sister than she was, I’m working hard to mend the relationship I have with my sister. It’s hard and awkward and, unfortunately, requires work from both ends. The two biggest things I want to share with you are: one, be the bigger person, and, two, communicate.

Before Christmas (not just the day before), pull your sis aside and talk to her about how you’re feeling. Awkward, I know. But do it. And don’t get angry! Try try try to phrase it as “this is what I see and this is why it upsets me” instead of “you’re a mess and I’m annoyed, so fix it”. There might be more going on that you’re not aware of. Then, on Christmas, give her as thoughtful as a gift as you can.

Playing the retribution game just sends the two of you into a spiral of hurt feelings and finger pointing. As much as you want to give her a crummy gift to match her crummy attitude, being the bigger person and giving her love will do more good in the long run. And I mean the long run, because it might take a year or two for her to catch on and return the favor. But from someone who is seeing it pay out and is much happier of her relationship with her sister today than four years ago, it’s really worth it.

Elena

Fed Up Sis,

Having three older sisters myself, I find this easier to relate to. I can also relate to the part with you living on your own and feeling successful without your family seeming to notice. As frustrating as these circumstances with your sister may be, you are still family, and family is there for the ups and downs. If I were in your shoes, I would still get my sister a moderately thoughtful gift. Just because you think she may not get one for you, doesn’t mean that you should do the same.

There are so many things you could give her that wouldn’t seem cheap, but useful. If she’s having issues with drugs and alcohol, try getting her something that she can do without those substances: a journal, a book, a yoga mat, an adult coloring book. All these things are ways to occupy the brain without the aid of drugs, which could help her out in that instance, and in turn, change her attitude.

If you’re heading home for the holidays, consider things that could be fun for your entire family to enjoy together. This may even require you to think back on traditions you had as a kid and build from there. Even watching a Christmas movie together or baking cookies could be a good way to build your relationship back with your sister.

To avoid a feud, still get your sister something, however little it may be, even if it’s a coal ornament for the tree (this will really depend on your sister’s sense of humor….). I fear that if you get her nothing, you’ll be regretting it more than bitter about the few dollars you’ll lose for actually getting something.

 

 

Best of luck,

Belle and Elena

December 18, 2017
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