Category Archives: Life

Life / Sponsored

Clean Eating…Not Just for Humans


I’m sharing #NUTRO in my life as part of a NUTRO sponsored series for Socialstars™.

Over the past few months I have been trying to create positive habits in my personal life. From trying to create a better work/life balance (leaving work at 5pm), working out (going to yoga class at least once a week), to eating healthier (I quit eating fast food in December…trying to eat less artificial sugar). I’m definitely not perfect in my execution of the aforementioned goals, but my life is a constant work-in-progress with room for improvement.

For me, it’s about doing the little things that can help me reach my goals. Little things like making it to yoga twice a week, but not beating myself up if I don’t make it because something else comes up, or simply switching to air-popped popcorn instead of microwave popcorn (trust me, popcorn is a food group in my diet), or simply turning my work e-mail ‘off’ on my phone to help reduce my anxiety of always being available.

When evaluating my daily habits, I realized there was no point in just stopping with me but to evaluate the decisions we were making for the well being of our dog, Lola! Cody always jokes with me that I treat her like my child, and I don’t deny it. She’s my baby girl and I want what is best for her. We adopted Lola three years ago from a rescue in Nashville. We had her for a trial period, but I knew the moment Cody brought her home, she was never leaving.

So first things first, I started with the food we were feeding her. Admittedly, I was previously buying food off the shelf without doing any research. As a first time pet owner (Cody has had dogs before; Lola is my first pet, ever), I don’t have any notes or previously knowledge to best compare brands and what’s best for her.  I can spend hours going down an internet black hole researching skincare products for myself, however; I realized I needed to be spending the same time investing in products that keep my girl strong, healthy, and around for a very long time! This is where NUTRO™ came into our life.

In the food we cook for ourselves, we try to utilize all natural, non-GMO ingredients and thankfully NUTRO™ does too. I slowly introduced Lola to their new dry food product, NUTRO™ Limited Ingredient Diet Small Bites Adult Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Dog Food a few weeks ago and to say she enjoyed it was an understatement. Made with no more than 10 ingredients, the food not only offers high-quality protein, but also provides nutrients to promote healthy skin. We have struggled from time to time with Lola’s allergies and skin sensitivity, so anything to help her keep her coat soft and shiny, I’m willing to try! I’m sure Lola would agree, as she loves to look her best when she’s modeling for The Brunette One (exhibit ABC, and D). Prime example below, I can’t even with her guilty eyes after knocking over the bag of food, it’s safe to say we have a NUTRO™ enthusiast.

Trace amounts of genetically modified material may be present due to potential cross contact during manufacturing.


5 Must-Have Tips for Working from Home



1. Get Dressed & Ready for Your Day
2. Dedicated Work Space But Don’t Be Afraid to Get Out of the House (coffee shop, co-working)
3. Take a Lunch Break But Beware of Snacking
4. Background Noise
5. Set Working Hours and STICK TO THEM

I’ve been working from home since July and in a few short weeks I will return to the office, fingers crossed we get to keep some flexibility after working remote the past few months. As my time comes to a close working remote, I thought I would reflect and share my thoughts on the concept.

It took a few weeks to get in the mindset of working from home. I started off with big dreams of setting my own hours (relatively speaking) and immediately settling into a routine. That didn’t happen. I was very much used to collaborating with my team members and was also in the midst of helping train my replacement into my old role when I was promoted in May. We couldn’t always meet in person in the middle of the day so we have to rely on Skype meetings, conference calls, and Skype messaging (takes me back to my AIM days).

I am not a morning person, this shouldn’t surprise ANYONE. I’ve gotten in the habit of rolling out of bed, throwing on yoga pants, a sweatshirt and sitting down at my computer. It’s a bad habit to start but I try to get up early enough to shower and get dressed every day like I’m still headed into the office (this means getting up at a decent time). Several days out of the week I’m running into our temporary office or headed to site visits with clients, so I have to get dressed up anyways.

I spent the first few weekends of this past summer getting my home office decorated. I had every intention of painting the space but with the thought of working remotely from my home office surrounded by four beige walls, I knew it was time to make the space truly my own (see my home office here)! One thing I’ve struggled with is trying to stay organized. At the office I had a place for all my folders, papers, etc. I know, I know – I should try to be eco-friendly, less paper, less folders. It is possible, but with some of my projects, paper is simply inevitable. I invested in a few Poppin goodies to help organize my life. When working from my home office or kitchen counter just isn’t cutting it, I simply leave my house. We have a temporary office set up, so you can often find me there or at one of my favorite coffee shops around our office or close to my house. They provide just enough background noise for me and help re-focus on the tasks at hand.

Make sure you take time to actually have a lunch break or just a break in genral. So often I make my lunch and sit back down at my computer. I’ve been trying to step away during the lunch hour to have a clear definition between work and life such as running errands, switching the laundry, or catching up on a episode of How to Get Away with Murder. And while taking an actual break during the day is important, beware of constant snacking! I swear I put on the ‘work from home 15 lb’. Try to keep healthy snacks such as fruits and veggies, or even try Poppin’ Peas, a choice much better for you than potato chips, available at Hy-Vee if you live in the Midwest!

I’m a huge fan of background noise so you can usually find me listening to Pandora, Coffitvity (a website that loops background noise of your choosing), or a pod-cast if I’m doing busy work. Working by yourself, especially at home, can get lonely and at times, very distracting. There may be dirty dishes to be cleaned up or laundry to be folded, you have to be very dedicated to your to-do list and what needs to get done that day.  If you ever find yourself getting distracted by your phone when you should be focused on something else – I use the app called Unplugged – it turns your phone on Airplane mode and keeps track of how long you don’t touch your phone. It turns into a little game to see how long you can stay off of it.

The last piece of advice is set firm working hours and stick to them. I may start work at 8am every day, but I often find myself working through lunch and past 5pm. This may not apply to everyone that works from home, but because I don’t have kids and my dog is pretty low maintenance, I tend to ignore the clock vs. watching everyone get up from a desk at 5pm and head home.  I take work-out classes in the evening, so on those nights, I know I have to shut off and switch gears. One thing I’ve learned is if you give people access to you past a certain time, especially clients, then learn to expect responses after ‘working hours’ or more immediately than if you firmly set your boundaries of when you will be accessible.

It’s been a great experience and I’ve definitely had some days where I’m more than ready to be back in an office setting, but I hope, moving forward that our office allows us to keep some flexibility – some perks include missing on rush hour (both in the morning and evenings), being able to switch laundry or start the dishes in the middle of the day, meet and co-work with my team members, run to appointments from home instead of running around town. Did I mention spending every day with my dog? I don’t know what I will do once I have to be in the office every day – do you think they would notice if I brought Lola in with me?!

Every experience has it’s ups and downs, but I hope these 5 tips help you in the future if you ever have the opportunity to work from home!

 Image by Cassandra Monroe for The Brunette One


A Day at Center Grove Orchard



Right before Halloween, my best friend Jackie, her little boy, Landon, and I spent the day at Center Grove Orchard just outside of Des Moines. We fed the goats, visited the turkeys, ate ice cream, played in the corn pool, and of course, hand picked our very own pumpkins. Next year I promised myself I would try the corn maze! While we were there, I took some family photos for Jackie. Landon was such a ham! I may or may not have asked Landon to be my date (ahem, excuse) so I could act like a kid for a few hours, although he was at times way too cool for me – ha!

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