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Sam Dobson Writes: September 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

Motivational Playlist

It's Monday and I've felt myself dragging all day long. Maybe it's the weekend catching up with me. We attended a Pet Project Foundation fundraiser event last night. PPF's Oktoberfest was filled with dancing and German shenanigans but of course when the lights came on and the music stopped, some of my coworkers and I didn't want the party to end. We migrated to the local karaoke bar for an encore. Needless to say, I was moving a bit slower than usual this morning. It's not just that, could I possibly be suffering from a case of the Monday blues?

Even on some Mondays that follow a mellow and uneventful weekend, I can still find myself lacking on enthusiasm. It's not the best way to start the work week. Sometimes you just need a little push of encouragement to get going. Slowly over the past few weeks I've been compiling a playlist on my Youtube account of songs that motivate me. My "Kick Ass" playlist is chocked full of go-get-em lyrics and upbeat melodies.

My playlist is designed to inspire me, to get me excited about writing and working. Songs about making something out of nothing, to keep pushing forward, and achieving your goals. It's the perfect thing to pump me up to make shit happen. I highly suggest making one of your own, whether it's purpose is to motivate you to workout or give you the courage to start your own business. Hey, you can always borrow mine :)

Motivational Playlist


1. The Fighter, Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder


2. Roar, Katy Perry


3. Lighters, Bad Meets Evil ft. Bruno Mars


4. Brave, Sara Bareilles


5. The Man, Aloe Blacc


6. Run The World, Beyonce 


7. Firework, Katy Perry


8. The Show Goes On, Lupe Fiasco



9. Stronger, Kanye West


10. On Top Of The World, Imagine Dragons


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Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Everyday Beauty Essentials

So, I've been wanting to add more consistency and organization to this blog. One way to do that is to have themed posts for a certain day of the week. Think along the lines of "Man Crush Monday" via Instagram. I thought it would be fun (and would help me stay on a schedule) to do a "Fab Five" post every Friday.

My idea was to post five things I love every Friday. Sounds random, huh? Well, allow me to add some order to this routine. Each Friday I will feature a different category. For example, maybe one Friday I feature five of my favorite dog related products and another Friday covers my favorite accessories. The options are limitless. Why wait? Here's my first Fab Five Friday, enjoy :)

Everyday Beauty Essentials


1. Olay All Day Moisturizer With Sunscreen
Ever since I started noticing the appearance of those slight brown spots on my face, I realized that my skin is no longer fresh and effortless. In a last ditch effort to prevent and combat wrinkles and dark spots on my precious face, I made a resolution to never leave the house without applying a thorough layer of moisturizer with SPF. I like Olay because once it dries it doesn't feel heavy or greasy as other moisturizers can. It's light weight and never causes breakouts.

2. Tom's Natural Deodorant in Wild Lavender
Obviously it's a big no-no to leave the house with smelly pits. I've always had extremely sensitive armpits. I constantly battled with underarm bumps and breakouts, they were painful and irritating. I tried numerous different things; all natural shaving cream, deodorant from Lush Cosmetics, I even went a few weeks sans any deodorant at all. No matter what I did, my pits would always suffer the price. I stumbled across Tom's Natural Deodorant at Target while carefully studying the deodorant section and I decided it was worth a shot. Since I began using this deodorant a few weeks ago, my pits have been bump-less and free of breakouts. I prefer the Wild Lavender scent over the scentless because you need some sort of scent to mask or dim the stench of your underarms.

3. Burt's Bees Lip Balm
I love Burt's Bees. Blake included a variety pack of balms in my Christmas stocking one year and I've been hooked ever since. I have them scattered throughout my life, in my make-up drawer, in my car, in my purse. I love the minty wake-up call it gives my lips, all while making them silky smooth. It's also a perfect topper for a simple lip stain. If you want smooth lips, incorporate Burt's Bees into your daily life.

4. Lucky You Perfume by Lucky Brand
I've never been a huge perfume girl. During my high school years, I was gifted a bottle of Lucky You brand perfume. I used it until it was gone and then moved on to the next perfume I was gifted. Like I said, I wasn't a big on perfume. It was never on my list to buy. As things often come around full circle, my grandmother randomly got me another bottle last Christmas and I've been using it ever since. I've decided that it is my favorite of all the perfumes I've tried. It's a subtle mix of citrus and floral notes that is far from overbearing. It works for day and night.

5. Each Peach Massage Bar by Lush Cosmetics
I am obsessed with Lush's massage bars. My favorite is Each Peach. I love the citrus scent and the light silky feel on my skin. I use it from head to toe for a brightening pick-me-up. It's great for a fresh start in the morning or a massage before bed. The custom tin makes it easier to keep my bar clean in between uses.


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dog Loot: Himalayan Dog Chews

A few weeks ago, my friend and coworker, Jessie and I tripped it out to Vegas for Super Zoo 2014. If you don't know what Super Zoo is, it's basically a huge expo featuring all things pet-related. Every retail item you could think of was featured by various retailers; dog food, treats, collars, supplements, grooming supplies, cleaning supplies, poop bags, dog clothes, training tools, etc. It was pretty cool to see what's out there and what's up and coming as far as dog products go. One of my favorite booths was the Himalayan Dog Chew booth. I had recently started to see these chews in pet stores, stocked right next to the various antlers. I was semi curious but never enough to go do some research.


Himalayan Dog Chews

Himalayan Dog Chews
My terrier mix, Iggy, chomping on a Himalayan Dog Chew.

Walking around Super Zoo, Himalayan Dog Chews had a nice, large booth right in the middle that I couldn't miss even if I wanted to. The very friendly sales rep engaged us in conversation and we asked her what the deal was with these relatively new dog chews. She explained that these chews were all natural, made from cow and yak milk (full list of ingredients: cow and yak milk, lime, salt). They have more nutritional value than antlers and should last fairly long. She gave us some samples and we, of course, gave them to our pups the second we got home.

It was immediately clear that my dogs were very interested in the chews. I could tell the smell was enough to draw them in. I gave each of my three pups a chew and observed as they all got to work. For my two small terrier mixes, the chews were causing them effort. I could tell that they would last a decent amount of time for the little pups. It's a completely different story for my boxer and for Jessie's shepherd. Hades, my boxer, can be a little piggy. Maybe it had to do with the size of the sample as I'm sure it wasn't the full size for a dog of her size, but Hades quickly broke off a few small pieces and then stuck the largest piece completely in her mouth. It freaked me out so I took the large piece away from her. Bummer.

Himalayan Dog Chews
Yaky-Charms by Himalayan Dog Chews

One cool thing about this product is that those small pieces that get broken off, those can be puffed up in the microwave for a few seconds. This changes the consistency from hard and possibly sharp to fluffy and crunch-able. So, Hades had to make due with a few puff pieces instead of a whole chew.

Back to the expo. As the sales rep at the Himalayan Dog Chew booth went on with her pitch, I browsed some of their other products. Holy crap, also featured was what looked like a bag of microwavable popcorn. I rudely interrupted her in my excitement to inquire as to what this product was. She explained that this too was yak and cow milk in little morsel form. You place the bag in the microwave as you would popcorn and let it rip. The morsels puff up and are ready to eat. 

I freaking love popcorn so I was most excited to test this treat with my dogs. I placed the bag in the microwave and let it go for about a minute and a half. Most of the pieces puffed up but some were still in their smaller form, perhaps I didn't let it go long enough. Once I opened the bag, the dogs came running (they must have gotten a nice whiff of that cheesy smell). Each dog reacted a little suspect to their first piece. They gently took the pieces in their mouths but didn't quite know what to do with it. Once they bit down and got a taste, it was all over. My dogs were hooked. The treats are light and airy, a perfect healthy treat. Plus, it's super fun to pop!


Himalayan Dog Chews


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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Party Theme: Bar Golf

Birthdays are a great excuse to attempt to get creative when it comes to getting drunk in a bar. No one wants a boring birthday with no pizzazz but most of us do want to throw back a few drinks. This is where themed parties come in handy. Adding a theme to your get-together will not only make things more interesting and make for great pictures (as my best friend Devin always says), but it will also make for special memories. You can look back on your twenty-something birthday and say, "gosh, that was so much fun when we all dressed up like ______" instead of "what the hell did I do for my twenty-something birthday?"

Themed parties are so much fun and despite the eye-rolling our husbands/boyfriends may give us, my besties and I often incorporate themes into our festivities. We've done a Mexican themed Christmas party, blind wine tasting party, and everyone's favorite, bar golf. We have done bar golf for two different birthdays now and they were both pretty fun albeit a bit of a drunken debauchery.

Bar Golf How-To

The gist of the game is to drink 9 drinks at 9 different "holes" (bars). 

Yes, I meant nine drinks. It may sound like a bad idea, one that can't even be done by some, but it's actually pretty fun if you have a schedule of where to go and when. For the first bar golf party we did, we planned and executed a map of nine bars in Laguna Beach. The second one was in Newport Beach. Both parties had a plan of which bars would be visited. Also key to accomplish all nine "holes" is a ring leader, someone to pay attention of time and keep the group moving. As can be expected, a large group of people will become rowdier and more unmanageable with each passing bar. 

Of course, dressing up is a big part of any themed party. For bar golf the required attire is that of a golfer. The first bar golf party we did included plain white visors for all attendees and blow-up novelty golf clubs. Needless to say, we definitely grabbed all the attention that night.

Bar Golf


Yes, you keep score. Each drink is worth different points with some people opting to limit the specific types of drinks that count. Scorecards are necessary to keep score, although I'm sure many people never finish nor compare scores at the end of the night. For a template, a quick google.com search will do or you can make your own. Below is the scorecard that was made and used for the most recent bar golf party I attended. You can tell just by looking at it that I was the designated driver for the night. 

Bar Golf


The first bar golf party began at my kick-ass Laguna Beach house. We set up a very elaborate golf-themed Bloody Mary Bar. Despite that we all love a good bloody mary, in retrospect, we didn't really need to start drinking before the nine "holes". Nevertheless, it was a neat display and they were tasting. Of course I made golf-themed cupcakes too, because that's my thing. All in all, a bar golf party is a sure thing when it comes to having a good time and making lots of memories. 

Bar Golf

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The Anatomy Of The Perfect Bloody Mary Bar

Themed food or drink bars are just awesome. They are visually appealing and add to the overall ambiance of any party and they allow guests to feel as if they have lots of options. I'm a big fan of unique food/drink bars, just click here to read how I incorporated a popcorn bar into my wedding! Anyways, my favorite drink bar is one that's all about the Bloody Mary.

Who doesn't love a good bloody mary? They are the perfect "morning after" drink. Of course they don't have to be consumed as a hangover cure, they go nicely with a gourmet brunch too. The bloody mary is just so versatile, it can be made in what seems like an infinity of different ways and everyone prefers theirs a bit different. As a lover of a tasty bloody mary but a chicken when it comes to spiciness, that's what I love most about a bloody mary bar. I can make mine to fit my taste buds and so can all the other guests. It's genius!

While the bloody mary is a malleable cocktail, there are few basics that must be supplied. The following is the anatomy of a perfect bloody mary bar:

Alcohol

*Vodka
*Tequila (What, never heard of a Bloody Maria?)

Juice

*Tomato juice
*Clamato juice
*Vegetable juice 

Citrus
Bloody Mary Bar

*Lemon slices or wedges
*Lime slices or wedges 

Veggies

*Olives
*Celery stalks
*Pickle spears
*Jalapenos
*Cocktail onions

Protein

*Bacon strips
*Bacon bits
*Cooked shrimp
*Hard-boiled eggs

Seasoning

*Salt
*Celery salt
*Ground black pepper
*Garlic salt
*Smoked paprika

Added Flavor

*Horseradish 
*Tabasco sauce
*Cholula
*Worcestershire sauce
*Steak sauce


Bloody Mary Bar


You can't just throw everything out all haphazardly on a table and call it a day. No, that won't do at all. Half the fun of a food/drink bar is the decor. Take the time to throw in some theme-related decorations and labels. Above is a picture of a bloody mary bar I did for my friend's bar golf birthday (interested in what bar golf is? click here for more details). You'll notice the fake grass, green (albeit see-through) tablecloth, golf-themed labels, etc. However you decorate your bloody mary bar, make sure you provide your guests with the recipe for a classic bloody mary so they have something to go off of. The most important thing is that you have fun with it!


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Golf-Themed Cupcakes

What seems like ages ago, one of my besties had a bar golf party (curious? click here for the details). We went all out; dressed in golfing attire, ran around with blow-up novelty clubs, had legit score cards on lanyards to keep securely around our necks. So it was only natural that I would bake cupcakes (as I always do) and decorate them to match the theme.

Golf Cupcakes


I did a lot of research before creating these cupcakes. There are some pretty cool but very intricate golf cupcake designs out there, way out of my league. I decided to stick with something more simple.

I baked the cupcakes as usual and opted for white paper liners. Brown liners, if you can find them, would look better as far as looking like dirt.

For the icing, I used vanilla icing a used a few drops of green food coloring to make a light green. For that textured grass look, I used green sugar crystal sprinkles. To prep, I poured the whole bottle into a mixing bowl. I generously iced one cupcake at a time and immediately dipped them into the sprinkles, making sure to evenly coat the surface. If you ice all the cupcakes at once and then attempt to add the sprinkles, the icing may be too dry to allow for proper sprinkle coverage.

To garnish, I made little flags to mimic the pin flags on a golf course. I cut a bunch of triangles out of blue construction paper and hot glued the triangles onto toothpicks. For extra emphasis on the "bar" part of our bar golf party, I added little cocktail stickers to each flag.

I displayed the cupcakes on a two-tiered cake stand and surrounded it with fake paper grass. Viola! Easy-peasy golf-themed cupcakes.

Golf Cupcakes


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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tri-Tip Caesar Salad

I'm doing my best to eat healthier and, for the good stuff, in moderation. Being married makes that seem like an unfeasible feat. I love my husband but he is constantly trying to shove deliciously fattening food down my throat. What can I say? He loves me so much that he is willing to share his fattiest foods with me. Here's the problem with that, I gain weight easier and faster than he ever will. It's not fair, it sucks, blah blah blah. So, in trying to eat healthier the other challenge has been cooking meals that satisfy my man's beastish nutrition needs, but that are guilt-free for me.

My husband has the appetite of a teenage jock going through puberty, it's practically never satisfied. While he will try to eat healthy sometimes, for now he has the leisure of stuffing his face with In & Out cheese burgers and animal style, cheese-topped fries without consequence. Of course that will most likely change in ten years, but for now I see him grimace every time I reach for turkey bacon instead of the real thing at the grocery store. Needless to say, compromise can be difficult. The trick is to come up with recipes that can be hearty for him and modifiable into healthy for me.

Enter salads. I know given the chance, my husband would take a hundred different meals over a salad any day of the week. Here's the thing he is just now coming around to realize: salads can be hearty and filling too. Last Saturday evening, my friend, Devin came over to make and have dinner with us. She brought all the fixings and we shared the task of prepping and cooking. We concocted a very filling salad that even satisfied Blake's hunger. With her permission, I am going to share the recipe with all of you.

Tri-Tip Caesar Salad

This delicious salad tops fresh and crunchy greens with sliced seasoned tri-tip. Now to make this meal for a man with a bigger-than-life appetite, it's topped with shaved parmesan cheese, garlic and herb croutons, and romano caesar dressing. If you want to cut down on the calories for yourself, skip the croutons, use light or fat-free dressing, go easy on the parmesan. All the ingredients we used came from Trader Joe's just because it's our fav. Throw together this super easy salad for a deliciously satisfying meal. Oh, and don't forget the wine! (Recipe credit to my friend, Devin. Serves 4.)

Tri-Tip Caesar Salad

The Fixings

*1 pound or package of seasoned/marinated tri-tip.
*1 package of romaine hearts. 
*1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese (or more if you fancy).
*1 cup mini heirloom tomatoes, halved. 
*A handful or two of garlic and herb croutons.
*Caesar dressing to taste.

The How-To

Tri-Tip: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a nonstick skillet, sear all sides of the tri-tip. Once seared, bake in oven for 45 minutes or until done.Thinly slice the cooked tri-tip.  

Salad: Wash and chop romaine hearts and place in large serving bowl. Top with tomato halves, croutons, and dressing. Toss all together. Top with tri-tip and shaved parmesan. Serve with warmed garlic bread, you won't regret it. 

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Training Tip: Pulling on Leash

Every morning I stuff my purse with my planner, snacks or lunch, and whatever other junk I feel like I need to get through the day. I cradle my laptop in one arm and carry my coffee in the other hand. All that and I still have three dog leashes to hold on to. The easiest way is to loop all three leashes around one of my wrists. This course of action has, on many occasions, caused me to spill my much needed coffee due to my unruly pack. I can think of few things more frustrating. It's utter chaos. My neighbors must think I'm nuts, that crazy dog lady down the street. Something's got to change.

Convinced that my morning juggling routine would be a lot easier if my three dogs did not pull on the leash, I consulted my friend and head trainer at Paws Pet Resorts. He gave me some pointers that I want to share with my fellow multitasking dog parents.

Training tip for dogs who pull on leash.


1. Don't Blame The Dog 
Our dogs pull because we let them pull, simple as that. When we are in a hurry to get out that door, our dogs pull and we don't correct them. This behavior then becomes habit. In the case of most dogs, they must be trained not to pull. As easy as it is to blame our dogs for their bad behavior, it is really our lack of training that has allowed this behavior to become the norm.

2. Putting On The Leash 
The second I grab a poop bag or go for their leashes, my trio starts to pace back and forth and jump up and down in excited anticipation. It's no wonder they pull on the leash after getting that worked up. Any time you need to put your dog on leash, give yourself a few extra minutes to get it right. Have your dog sit and give you eye contact before attaching the leash to their collar.

3. To Stop Pulling
If your dog is remaining calm, cue your dog with something along the lines of "okay, let's go" and begin walking. The second your dog begins to pull, stop walking. Wait for your dog to sit and give you eye contact, then give the cue and begin walking again.

4. Be Patient
This isn't a miracle fix. Every time your dog begins to pull, you will need to repeat #3 above. Be patient and always remain calm. If you feel yourself getting frustrated, end the walk and try again later.

5. Use Walking Tools
If your dog is ridiculously strong and you are having a hard time just holding onto the leash, let alone controlling the pulling, then you may want to look into a halter or harness to allow you better control. For my boxers, I used the Gentle Leader head collar by Petsafe until they "unlearned" how to pull on the leash.

Training tip for dogs who pull on leash.
Photo Creds: www.gentleleadercanada.com

The Gentle Leader allows for control without causing pain or discomfort for your pup. I won't lie, both of my dogs fought it hard (I'm talking flailing around like a fish out of water just trying to get it off) upon the first or second use not because it was uncomfortable but simple because it was strange. Ignore any weird looks you may get. Some passer-bys may think it's a muzzle because of it's placement. Fear not, with proper fitting your dog will still be able to open their mouths, drink water, and even eat. It worked wonders for me and my big kids don't even need it anymore.

If after all of this your dog is still bonkers on the leash, it might be high time you hire a trainer. If your dog is well behaved on a leash, it makes all outings more pleasant. And hey if for no other reason, Fido will get more walks and you can get more exercise in peace.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Why Long Distance Relationships Are Worth It

Obviously I am not currently in a long distance relationship, I am lucky enough to share a roof and bed with the man I love every day and night, but I have been in one before. Everyone has their own opinions about long distance relationships (let's call them LDRs), some say it's a lost cause others have thrived in them. No matter which side of the line you stand on, I think everyone can agree that LDRs pose challenges that couples under the same roof don't face. It's true, I won't sugar coat it, LDRs can be very tough and frustrating. To that, I also add that any relationship can be tough and frustrating at times. It's just that LDRs have a special way of getting under your skin, different than that of other relationships. Fear not. If you are in a LDR or may be in future, I am here to tell you that they can be totally worth the added struggle.


Missing Each Other

When my previous boyfriend and I lived a few hours apart (yes, I know that's not very long distance, but hear me out) I would go a week or two without seeing him and it did suck. But I will never forget that excitement I felt every time I made that drive to spend the weekend with him. When I saw him, it was pure joy. Don't get me wrong, I hate spending a single night away from my husband and don't do so willingly. But that doesn't change the fact that there is something special about reuniting in long distance relationships, you can't force those kinds of feelings.

It totally sucks when your significant other has to leave you for a week, a month, or more, but the distance can create a certain kind of yearning not easily found in same-roof couples. The distance may seem like a curse, but do your best to think of it as a blessing. From the day your man leaves, you have something amazing to look forward to: that day he comes home. Stay positive and keep looking forward. When you are missing him, put your energy into planning your upcoming time together. Just remember how wonderful your reunions are.

Real Quality Time

In LDRs, when you are together it sort of feels like you are on borrowed time. There is a sense of urgency to make every minute together count. Of course same-roof couples share quality time as well, but as you can imagine with people who spend every spare moment together, there is plenty of Facebook surfing and football watching. When you only have a weekend with your significant other, there is no time for that. When together, don't waste your time together and make that time of quality. Make sure to soak up as much of your partner as you can, while you can. Remember that if all goes as plans, one day your LDR will turn into a same-roof relationship and you'll have plenty of time to waste together. For now, make every moment count.

Endless Conversation 

When talking on the phone is the only contact you and your love get, those conversations seem to consist of anything and everything. Talk as long as you can and in the process, you will learn little, tiny, seemingly insignificant details about your partner that you may not have otherwise. Plus, who doesn't cherish those nights you stayed up so late talking about life and love that you fell asleep with the phone between your head and the pillow only to wake up hours later to the sound of your partner breathing?

Creative Intimacy

While you can get creative in the bedroom in any relationship, in a LDR you sort of have to. To keep the fire burning while apart, you have to spice it up in unique ways. Suddenly N'Sync's hit  song from 2000, "Digital Get Down", totally makes sense. Hey, if you have to be in a LDR in any decade, this is your best bet. Take advantage of the many digital advances at your disposal. If you prefer to keep things traditional, put that pen to paper. Need inspiration? Check out James Joyce's dirty letters, he could knock the knickers of his wife via snail mail and so could you.

Love Is Love

We don't get to pick who we love and that's the bottom line. You love who love and for some couples, the hand that's dealt isn't always the easiest. Does that mean you give up? Don't be so quick to abandon ship just because your new guy travels for work, lives across the country, or is due to be deployed. If you love him, why not give it a shot?

Long distance relationships are worth it.
Print by TheDreamyGiraffe on Etsy.com


Like I said, it's not all unicorns and rainbows. LDRs can be very tough and I don't believe it's right for everyone. The one thing a LDR will do is weed out the weak relationships. There are many factors that can weaken any relationship but are especially poisonous for a LDR. To name a few: jealousy, lack of trust, and miscommunication. 

If you want to make a LDR work stay positive and make the most of your time together. Plan special dates, exchange mementos to serve as reminders when apart, go for a weekend getaway, make plans for the future. Communicate as much as possible, be honest and open, and share even the little mundane details. Don't let the fire fade out, use technology to stay intimate, and make up for it when you're together. Don't take each other for granted and if it can work, it will. 

D + M- This one's for you two love birds <3

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