Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What A Month (I'm Not Dead)

So, I've been off the OTS "grid" for the last month…
most of that time being spent getting settled into my new apartment in Nebraska,
as well as starting my culinary program. It took a couple of weeks to get internet set up
at home...a little time changing cell phone providers (I'd had T-mobile for years, but they
are not user-friendly out here at all)…made some progress on navigating the area
(or at least being able to get a handful of places without using Google Maps or GPS)…
successfully completed my first week in my program (despite slicing off a chunk of a finger during
a knife skills practice session)…and my second week is almost wrapped (one more class tonight).
I'm taking five classes this term, one of them a lecture/lab that runs about
eight hours long (2hrs/Le, 6hrs/La)…and my classes are demanding.
Looking at the hourly/day breakdown of my weekly classes…
roughly 29% of my Mondays, 33% of my Tuesdays and 17% of my Wednesdays are spent in class.
And that's not counting additional homework, time spent studying, etc.
And I won't lie: mentally, and physically, this can be exhausting. And it's only week two.
All of that being said…I feel great.
I'm tired, but I feel great.
I'm sore, but I feel great.
My brain hurts from the surplus new information. But I feel great.
I can honestly say, at this moment, this has been one of the best decisions I've ever made.
I'm excited to be in a great city, with someone I love, learning so many new things.
And I'm excited for everything that might come out of this.
And it feels really, really…great.
Did I say "great" enough? I think you get my drift.
What was the last big risk you took, or the last big decision you made?
Did it turn out the way you wanted it to?
What would you do differently, if anything?

Send me your thoughts at:

Hope you're all having a wonderful week!

xxxx Alyssa Marie

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hey, Hey! It's Moving Day! (+ Playlist Of The Moment #13)

After driving up to Omaha and coming back to Cincinnati after only 7-8 hours,
I spent most of the week having a ridiculously difficult time remembering the correct day it was.
Most of Monday, I had mentally signed off. And most of Tuesday, I'd thought it was Monday.
On Wednesday I told someone about a movie coming out "tomorrow," somehow thinking
"tomorrow" was Friday. I met my friend Shelbie for lunch (amazingly delish thai food, btw) on Thursday, and it felt like a Tuesday. Friday came…and went…feeling much like a weekend day, thanks to loading up the moving truck. Oh, moving week festivities.

But, wait a minute…we've made it!

*Sigh* Okay, okay.
So, it's not an official/actual "made it" until everything's in Omaha.
I know, I know. You party poopers.

I'm typing this late Friday evening,
and this post is scheduled to go live early Saturday morning (after we've left).
Long story short…I may be on the way to Omaha* as you're reading this.

*Though it's a long drive, it's a fairly easy one…so, at least, I've got that going for me.

I'm loaded up on music for the road, and this week's playlist includes some of the tunes I'm listening to on the drive. It also includes a few songs I've been listening to all week, and a heavy dose of nostalgia.

Cincinnati hasn't been terrible, but I'm looking forward to starting this new chapter in Omaha.
Though I will miss the familiarity of the area, I'm excited to explore this new place.
I'm antsy, anxious, a little nervous…but, most of all, I'm hopeful.
I'm grateful for the people I've met, and all the lessons I've learned, here.
Fingers crossed for safe travels, eh?

Thoughts, comments and suggestions (on anything) are always welcome.
Send them to me at:

Much love, Cincinnati.
Onward to Omaha!
xxxx Alyssa Marie

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

TYST/Weekly Inspiration (an "Excuse the Mess" Merger)

Drawing by Noel Badges Pugh
"If you want to succeed in your life, remember this phrase: The past does not equal the future. Because you failed yesterday; or all day today; or a moment ago; or for the last six months;
the last sixteen years; or the last fifty years of life, doesn’t mean anything.
All that matters is: What are you going to do, right now?"
—Anthony Robbins

*Whew* In the thick of the move, now.
Counting down to leaving this Saturday morning. Boy, oh boy.
Hope you're having a great start to the week, my dears!

Send your thoughts to:

xxxx Alyssa Marie 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Treat Yo Self Tuesday: Just Like Animals

Maybe your week has just started, and (oh, boy) there's a lot to do.
If there's anything I've learned in life, it's that animals know how to relax and enjoy life.
So, let's take a cue from the animals. Let's take the time, and enjoy the little things a little more.
Here are a few animals that know how to do just that. Take notes, if necessary.
What are your favorite ways to relax?
What are your favorite "little things"?

Send your thoughts to:

xxxx Alyssa Marie

Monday, October 27, 2014

Money Monday: Top 2 Habits Millennials Should Develop to Grow Wealth

Born after 1980? Welcome to the club, fellow Millennial.
While our age range seems to catch a slightly bad reputation (and gets plenty of bad nicknames),
studies about Millennials have shown us to be a very well educated (and optimistic) group.
And, with recent studies showing that 40 million consumers carry at least one open student loan,
we're also heavily burdened by student debt. Irregardless of your age group, this edition of Money Monday looks at two important things to keep in mind when your goal is growing your future wealth. 

1. Spend (and save) smart
 Think about it this way:
You go out for lunch every day with coworkers and spend $15.
Go five days a week? That's $300 in one month.
Go every month each year? That's $3,600.
If you start at age 25 and invest that $3,600 a year into an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) or a 401(k), with an average annual return of 7%, you'd have almost $1 million by your mid-60s.

While I'm not saying you should never spend money on clothes, food/entertainment, etc., the key here is to be smart about it. Beyond the widely heard mantra "live within your means," one of the biggest things to keep in mind is your financial goals. If your major goal is to grow your wealth, it would be wise to evaluate/reevaluate where you are spending your money now. Sure, use a budget…but be realistic. Break everything down, and decide (honestly) what extras you can/cannot live without. Including the extras in your lifestyle isn't a huge deal…but you should be including them in your budget. You don't need to beat yourself up too much over going a little over your extra allocated budget but, if you do, be sure to examine why (and balance it with your next month's budget).
If you went over by buying lunch/food a few extra times, because you were in a hurry or had "nothing"at home, try planning and preparing your meals in advance.
Also, don't be embarrassed to use coupons. Even if it doesn't seem like you're saving much each time, those times add up easily. Look at it as getting free money from a store. (Who doesn't like free money?)

2. Care for your credit
According to a May 2014 study from the Consumer Federation of America, most Millennials don't fully grasp just how important (and far-reaching) credit is to their entire financial life. Only 18% understand the types of businesses (i.e. credit card issuers, utility companies, lenders, cell phone carriers, etc.) that affect credit, and also use credit to evaluate you as a potential customer.
According to a study from Experian (a nationwide credit bureau), many Millennials have poor credit because they don't pay their bills on time. If you're frequently late in paying your bills, realize that your payment history is the most important part of how your credit score is calculated.You may have a great no-fee credit card with rewards, but carrying balances or making late payments could
mean high-interest rates will invalidate any benefits. If you carry a balance you could be paying a
variable interest rate as high as 19%. And if you make payments late or use too much of your credit,
you could be hit with a penalty rate which could run north of 30%!
Something else to be careful with, when it comes to your credit score, is how often it's checked. Inquiries into your credit score are classified as, either, being "hard" or "soft." Hard inquiries happen when you apply for any kind of credit (i.e. credit cards, auto loans, mortgages), and can lower your score. Soft inquiries happen when you or your employer check your credit (or even when a creditor checks your credit to send you an unsolicited offer), and they do not impact your score. Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for two years. Having a lot of hard inquiries can be very detrimental. If you're frequently expanding the amount of credit you have available, it may be viewed by potential lenders as an attempt to expand the amount of debt owed. This is seen as an increased risk that a borrower will not pay back a loan, and could make it much more difficult for you to grow future credit.

While these two factors are very important, these aren't the only things that can impact future financial success. Remember, if you have the drive to work for it, you can make anything happen.

As always, feel free to send your thoughts to:

Happy Monday!
xxxx Alyssa Marie

Sunday, October 26, 2014

OTS on Pinterest: October Inspiration

I enjoy every single season, and can't really pick just one favorite.
That being said, a time of year I really enjoy is the in-between time...
when the hot summer fades, but it's not yet a freezing winter.
Reflections on this month's board:
- I'm excited to use some of this inspiration to decorate my new apartment soon.
- I dig all of the cozy fall fashion…bring on the scarves, sweaters and boots!
- Also...bring on the coffee! And plenty of books to read!

As always, feel free to send any thoughts to:

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend :)
Happy Sunday!

xxxx Alyssa Marie

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Weekend Wake Up: Playlist of the Moment #12

This past week has been pretty crazy, and I'm already
on day three of being moved out of my Cincinnati apartment.
It's all snuck up on me (pretty darn quickly).
(Which makes me even more aware of how fast the week has gone by.)
The days are, almost quite literally, just blurring together.
And, suffice it to say, things haven't been very quiet in my mind.
Irregardless, here's some of the music that has been added to the rotation:

As usual, a lot of songs to choose from…some old...some new.
You may not like all of them, but maybe you'll like (at least) one.

Let me know what you think!
Is there a song/album/artist you think I should listen to?

Send your thoughts to:

Follow me on Instagram to see how the moving process goes, during and after.

Happy Saturday!
xxxx Alyssa Marie

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Weekly Inspiration: Varying States (of Damage and Repair)

"You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday.
You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity."
"He sings about the pain in loving someone that hurt him in the past, and when they wanted another chance, he wants assurance from them that he won't be hurt again. He's so hurt from before that he's trying to have control on his heart this time. In the end, he realizes that love is not about control or playing safe. It's about losing control and letting all your guards down to let someone into your heart. That that's the way of truly loving a person, so we have to take that chance and truly fall all the way. This song is beautiful. Takes time to learn the lesson though."
Illustration by Ed Fairburn

“A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.”
―Oliver Wendell Holmes

“You are not breakable simply because you have broken; 
try to remember that you will never be any less than whole.
A broken person is still a whole person"
—Emma Bleker 

"Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive."
—Josephine Hart

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."
Ernest Hemingway 

Is there a quote you like, or an artist you think I should check out?
Send your thoughts to:

xxxx Alyssa Marie

Monday, October 20, 2014

Money Monday: 4 Tricks Supermarkets Use To Make You Spend More

Last week we talked about the tricks online retailers use to encourage spending.
This week, we're talking about some similar tactics used by grocery stores. 

Over the last few years, I've gotten much better at planning my grocery trips (i.e. using meal plans to create my grocery lists). There were plenty of times in the past when I would go stop at the grocery on a whim, and those were the times I would end up going slightly over budget. Though you may not have any issues with recalling your full grocery list from memory, there are several psychology tricks supermarkets enlist to trick you into spending more money than you plan.

1. Location, location, location.
This article isn't about real estate, but this phrase can also apply to the importance of product placement in the grocery store. Ever wondered why your store is constantly changing their layout? If you don't know where things are, you spend more time inside the store. The more time you spend inside the store, the more time you have to browse the shelves, and the higher the chances are you'll be tempted into making an impulse purchase. Ever wondered why there is a gap between longer aisles? Store designers want to encourage you to go down the aisles. Stores also tend to place (pricier) name-brand items at eye-level on shelves, moving the (less expensive) store brand items to lower levels. 

2. Sneaky circulars
Whether in print or online, many people rely on store ads to help plan their grocery list. The trick here? Despite being advertised, every item in the circular may not actually be on sale. Manufacturers may have paid to have their items featured, even without price reductions. Items that are sold at or below cost to tempt shoppers (a.k.a. "loss leaders") are typically featured on the front page of the store ad.
Source: Huffington Post
3. Color-coding (practically everything)
Companies use the psychology behind color-coding to influence your purchasing behavior. Our subconscious associations with colors influence how we understand prices, value and quality. Blue is often used to target budget-conscious consumers, who associate the color with trust and stability. Red creates a sense of urgency, which can trigger impulse buys. Purple is often associated with luxury or royalty, and promotes a sense of high quality.
4. Odd digit psychology, and the power of "9"
The method of not pricing items in round numbers (i.e. 69 or 99 cents) is also known as "odd pricing" (and the practice has been in use for over a century). For several years there's also been a theory that consumers pay the most attention to the first digit of a price. Basically, if an item is marked $1.99 instead of $2.00 the consumer will be more likely associate the price with $1 instead of $2.

Notice anything about the methods your local grocery store uses?
Does learning any of this change make you reevaluate your shopping habits?

Send your thoughts to:

Happy Monday!

xxxx Alyssa Marie

Friday, October 17, 2014

TGIF: Playlist of the Moment #11

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I was in Omaha recently…
as well as my quick announcement that, very soon, I will be leaving Cincinnati to move there.

The last few weeks have been a slight mess, on various levels. Sick. Stress. General bleh.
Furniture's out this weekend. By this time next week, I'll be out of my apartment in Cincinnati.
And I'll be going to my new place in Omaha in about 3 weeks.
And, oh. My. Goodness. How the time goes.
I won't lie, I'm a little nervous. And a little scared.
And a little more anxious with each day.
But something in my gut tells me...this is it.
Yes, I'm really ready for this.

Here's a playlist of songs I've had on heavy rotation this past week.
I've made the jump to YouTube playlists, instead of just posting a few individual videos…
which means this playlist is much bigger than the ones I've posted previously.
Lots of songs I like…some old...some new.
You may not like all of them, but maybe you'll like (at least) one.

Let me know what you think!
Is there a song/album/artist you think I should listen to?

Send your thoughts to:

Join me on this new adventure:
Follow me on Instagram to see how the moving process goes, during and after.

Happy Friday!
xxxx Alyssa Marie