Saturday, July 28, 2012

lovely august sponsors

Hey there! Starting today, I'm taking sponsors for August! Hooray!

I offer a variety of packages, but all include these basics: your button in the right column of the blog, and a spot in the sponsor spotlight in the middle of each month. I'm also ridiculously active on social media, so I try to promote my sponsors on twitter as much as possible. :) Prices are based on 2,000+ page views every month. 
Please understand that I will only work with bloggers/shops that I feel match the aesthetic of Simply, Valorie. That said, anyone who is a little adventurous, a little gutsy, and believes in having fun is welcome!

The Feature --- $12
Only one spot available per month! The feature blogger/shop will get a 200x200 ad spot on the right side of the blog, a spot in the monthly sponsor spotlight, me promoting your blog/shop on twitter, pinterest, and facebook, and an individual feature post. This fills fast, so get in touch quickly!

The Large Spot -- $8
Four available per month. This level will get a 200x200 ad spot on the right side of the blog, a spot in the monthly sponsor spotlight, and a few tweets/pins to promote your blog/shop throughout the month. 

The Small Spot -- $5
Five available per month. This level is simple and sweet: A 200x125 ad spot on the right side of the blog and a spot in the monthly sponsor spotlight. 
I'm also thinking of adding in something new - on Fridays I tend to do a "weekly roundup" of things I've done on the internet that week. Since I also tend to make this a "link up" post as well on another blog (typically High Five for Friday or Fill in the Blank Friday), these posts tend to get a lot of pageviews. I'm considering adding an option to sponsor that post for $12 - sponsoring it will also get you a 200x200 button on the right side of the blog, a spot in the monthly sponsor spotlight, and me posting about you on other networks where I'm active.
If you're interested, shoot met an email at valorielovely {at} gmail {dot} com!

Payments are made through PayPal - get in touch with me to reserve your spot! All ads will go up on the 1st of the month and run throughout that month.

Friday, July 27, 2012

high five for Friday!

I've been coming out of my funk that I was in for the past couple weeks, and with that I'm actually blogging and present on the internets again, so you know, let's all celebrate for that. You know what else we should celebrate? The fact that it's Friday. Because, really, that's the best ever, ever, ever.

Also, because I keep randomly skipping weeks, this week's high five for Friday (inspired by Lauren of My Grey Desk) is actually for about two weeks. Sorry, not sorry

1. During a trip to J Crew (40% off sale last weekend - hell yeah!) I picked this up and devoured it. I loooove J Crew.

2. Last night, I had dinner at Graffiato, Mike Isabella's Italian style restaurant here in DC. My experience can be summed up with this tweet: "If I had to pick between sex and eating Mike Isabella's food, I'd pick the food. No hesitation." I might hesitate only if it was Rupert Grint. And I'd still try to find a way to have both. (Pictured: Pepperoni flatbread, White House pizza, and a Hit the Road, Jack.)

3. Yes, this is a photo of a condom. I went to the zoo with a friend from college. When I got a headache, I tried to buy Advil from the machine in the bathroom and this is what it gave me. NOT THE SOLUTION I WAS LOOKING FOR.

4. About a week ago I also had dinner at Ripple with my friend Liane. Ripple is home of the now kind of famous Grilled Cheese Bar, which is basically the best thing to ever happen to my life. (Pictured: Winnimere and comté cheese on ciabatta bread with garlic aioli and bacon. Also, their wine is insanely good.)

5. For my birthday, my parents gave me a new pair of Nike Frees. This is from my first run in them. Since, you know, apparently the only other thing I do is EAT CHEESE so I need the running. NOT SORRY.

Also, the weekly round up is about two weeks long. There's a lot of good stuff in here you're going to want to check out though, so I don't think you'll mind. Right? RIGHT?!

Things You Missed Here on Simply, Valorie
Things I Did Everywhere Else on the Internet
  • Guest Post: Childhood Summer Vacations -- Becks wrote for me, and I wrote for her. The best! Also, Becks is just pretty cool in general, so you should stick around her site for a while and love her posts. 
  • {Guest Post} I've Left My Heart in Many Places -- Amy is moving, so I wrote a little bit for her about moving to DC and leaving your heart everywhere you travel. Amy is also cool, so you should probably stick around her site and leave her some love too. 
  • Thursday Thoughts -- On the 100 most creative people in business. 
Things I Didn't Come Up With, But LOVE

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

20sb Blog Swap - Childhood Vacation featuring Becks!

Howdee!  I'm Becks from Crunchy Can Feel Good.  I'm terrifically excited to be writing for Valorie today.  Even though my childhood summer vacations weren't fabulous and all over the world like Valorie's, I have travelled all over my British Columbia and Alberta, so I guess that counts for something?
You know those roadside community museums, or interactive centres  full of local history that you drive by on the side of the highway while wondering "who the hell goes to those?"  The answer is simple:  My father.

My dad is a delightful man who wanders around the house on a regular basis saying "meow meow meow" under his breath while he subconsciously talks to the cat who may, or may not be in the vicinity.  His favourite things are secretly feeding his children shredded turnips, hoarding Christmas chocolates from decades gone by, having heated debates about contentious subjects, and embarrassing my sister by showing her boyfriend whale pictures that he had taken on vacation.  He has recently purchased a "man bag" insisting that it is not a purse because it's "not that big."  He has also enjoyed proposing to my mum by putting her engagement ring in a bag of bananas, and as I mentioned before, single-handedly keeping all small businesses and museums in business by forcing his family to have an educational experience while on holiday.

So there we were.  On the road somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, driving without any destination in mind other than "how far can half of our budget take us before we have to turn around and use the other half to get back home?"  And this is what we saw.

Torrington's Gopher Hole Museum

Vegans and PETA supporters look away.  Yes, those are gophers.  Yes, they are dead.  And yes, they are dressed up in cute little outfits, posed and have speech bubbles stabbed into their head to create funny, endearing and sometimes poignant vignettes of gopher life.  This museum exists, and my family has been to it twice.  I have the 1998 and 2008 calendars to prove it.  I'm serious, this is a real place.  It's in Alberta, and was created as a solution to increase tourism and decrease the gopher population.  It even gets five stars on yelp.  This place is magical.

O'Keefe Family Ranch

I have been to historically re-enacted and dramatized "school" more than anyone else I know.  None so hardcore as my fifteen minute long "day" at the O'Keefe Ranch in Vernon British Columbia.  Boys were given caps, and girls were handed bonnets. We had to line up girls first, then boys, and from tallest to shortest.  We practiced our cursive on slate boards.  We had to address our teacher as "yes ma'am" or "no ma'am".  My dad sat behind my sister in "school" and took her then long braids and dipped them into his inkwell.  After my sister yelped and told on my dad to our teacher, my dad was lightly rapped on the hands with a stick and sent into the corner for misbehaving.   Then we ate grilled cheese sandwiches, which are irrelevant to the story, but delicious nonetheless.*

Anywhere there is Ice Cream

Imagine another 1/2 scoop, and you have the single scoop at Summerland Sweets as I remember it.*

One summer my mum and dad asked us three kids where we wanted to go for our summer vacation.  We had to pick somewhere in either British Columbia or Washington State.  Almost at the exact same time all three of us said "We want to go to Summerland for an ice cream."  Summerland Sweets has the largest ice cream single scoop that my family has ever been able to find anywhere.  Even the advertised "Largest single scoop in British Columbia" about 25 minutes out in the middle of nowhere in some rinky dink gas station does not compare to the glorious magnitude that is a Summerland Sweets Single Scoop.  But that does not deter us from trying to find one bigger!  Every sign for ice cream, we have to stop and get a scoop.  It's a rule.

Tyrell Museum in Drumheller

Drumheller has single-handedly ruined every subsequent dinosaur exhibit I have seen anywhere.  There are so many dinosaurs.  And everyone knows that dinosaurs are the best.  This is one museum that we didn't hate.  But I had to include it because ...


*Image sources: O'Keefe Family Ranch, Summerland Sweets, Tyrell Museum,

Monday, July 23, 2012

happy monday and some internet lovin'

Hey there everyone! To start this week off, my lovely sponsor Jamie is taking over the blog. She's a 24-year-old who lives in Seattle with her hubby and their three furbabies. Enjoy!

1. So, tell us about yourself. What are the need-to-knows?
I'm Jamie and I'm 24.  I'm a CMA and live in Seattle with my hubby and three fur babies :)  I LOVE to organize things.  It's a sickness, really.  I love photography and card making.  I'm usually not very adventurous but I did just open my own Etsy shop as well as become a Scentsy consultatnt.  So I'm trying to get out there :)

2. How did you get into blogging?
I was looking through Pinterest one day and came across Kate's blog, The Small Things Blog.  It got me interested.  I had never heard of blogging like this before.  Sot it was fun to see all the wonderful blogs out there.  I decided to start my own one day and here I am now!

3. Do you have a favorite post(s) you've ever written? (link to it here!)

My Dear Jamie post is my favorite!  It challenged me to look back on my life and give advice to my younger self.  Oh how I wish I knew back then what I know now :)

4. Who are your favorite bloggers to read?

O my!  It's so hard to choose :)  I will pick five!

5. Now, my go-to Getting To Know Someone question: What are you obsessed with right now?
My new silhouette!! I can't wait to make tons and tons of cards:)
...and Mad Men!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

288 ounces of juice that changed my definition of normal. asshole juice.

Call me crazy, but I recently invested in something called the BluePrintCleanse. I know, I know, "A JUICE CLEANSE, VALORIE? WHAT THE ACTUAL?" I know, everyone said this to me. Here's why I finally did it:

I had spent months feeling lethargic and getting a little sick frequently. At first I thought it was all psychological, just reactions to all the stress and the new environment in DC, but the more I did research into the symptoms I realized it might just be my body holding on to a lot of toxins and not getting rid of them well. I was also spending a lot of time just sleepy... for no reason. I'd sleep 8 hours a night and still be tired the next day. I did a lot of reading and concluded that a fast or cleanse could help my body do a sort of 'reset' that might help end all that.

I considered going at a juice cleanse myself - I researched how much DIYing it would cost but, I realized that a) that would all be hard, and I wouldn't have the patience and I probably wouldn't make the recipes well, and that b) I would never ever actually fucking do it if I didn't have to pay someone to make me do it. I don't have the motivation to stick to it all on my own. The fact that I would pay an arm and a leg and MY WHOLE ENTIRE FACE, BASICALLY in order to do this cleanse would make me stick to it.


I'll admit it - I was nervous going into this. I was vaguely afraid my body would go into shock because I rarely eat my vegetables (sorry, Mom and Dad!). I was approximately TERRIFIED that I'd be hungry the whole time, or not have enough energy for work. But I wasn't hungry because, oh hey, you're drinking six 16 oz juices a day, plus a whole lot of water and guess what? THAT'S A LOT OF LIQUID TO PUT IN YOUR BELLY. Luckily, they mostly actually taste okay.


#1: Green juice. Basically, it smells and tastes like a liquid salad, but with notes of apple and lemon that make it a little sweet. I was afraid it would take thick and leafy, but it has a really nice thin consistency. This was the one I was most afraid of, but ended up being my second favorite (which is good because you drink it twice a day). 

#2: P.A.M.: Pineapple, apple, mint. This one was my favorite! I actually looked forward to drinking it on the second day and on the third I was sad when I was done with it. The initial taste is very fruity, kind of tropical, but it has a minty aftertaste. Of course, this one made me really cocky, so I started thinking that if all the other juices were this delicious, I was going to be the mothereffing juicing CHAMPION which, well, was false.

#3: See #1.

#4: Spicy Lemonade: Water, lemon, agave nectar, cayenne. This one is basically the lemon cayenne detox, just not 60 oz of that a day. Good, but the bite of cayenne lingered a little too long for me. I had this one at 4 pm the first day (I started around 11 am), so I expected to be STARVING by this point, but I wasn't.

#5: If you don't like the taste of beets, you will hate this. I'm just saying that up front. Turns out I don't mind the taste of beets (who knew?) so I thought it was okay. That said, I can see why Nicole said it tasted like dirt - in a way it kind of smells like soil after rain. You're so not wanting to try this right now are you?

#6: Cashew Milk. GUYS, I WAS SO EXCITED FOR THIS ONE. I mean, Nicole said it tasted a mothereffing liquid cookie. How can liquid cookie be bad?! But, I hated it. It was kind of thick and left my mouth feeling really fuzzy, which made me gag. The scheduling of this means I started trying to drink it around 10 pm the first day, thinking I'd down it and be asleep by 12:15. Turns out, THERE'S NO DOWNING THESE JUICES. On the first day, it took me so long to try to drink it that I started watching a movie to keep me company and then fell asleep before I finished it. When I woke up, I assumed that seven hours without refrigeration was too long and had to throw it out. Same happened the second day. The third day, I finally discovered that if I mixed half of it in the morning with 1/2 cup (measured) of coffee, and did the same at night, I could handle it. I have a feeling it would also taste okay as a smoothie, but I never tried that.

The sixth one was when I finally thought "WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO? I CAN'T DO THIS. ABORT, ABORT, ABORT." 

Me, day one, juice one.
Was I hungry?
Yes. Not the whole time - the first day not at all. The second day a little in the evening, and the third day just yes for the first half of the day.  That was mostly my fault though - the way the cleanse is designed you shouldn't be hungry. Calorically, it's a step down for anyone - all six juices have a combined 1070 calories, but somehow you don't feel like you're missing much. Plus, you end up drinking ALL THE WATER too, so your stomach feels comfortably full frequently. However, because I didn't once finish the cashew milk, where all the protein and fats are, I was consuming down somewhere around 850 calories, which did leave me pretty hungry at times. Again though, the whole PAID MY FACE FOR THIS made it easy not to break it.

Was it hard? 
No, but it was complicated. 16 ounces of juice is a lot of liquid and in between each juice you're supposed to drink water or herbal tea. You have to leave 1-2 hours between juices, and have to finish the day's juices at least 2 hours before going to sleep. It was also tough because I had to work all three days I was juicin', so I had a hard time sticking to the schedule perfectly.

Okay that was a ton of information; how was it and was it worth it? 
Overall, I'd say yes. I mean, I spent three days going to the restroom 2-4 times an hour which was ludicrously inconvenient, but it was worth it. I felt like I had more energy while I was drinking the juices and even exercised two of the three days I was juicin', which surprised me.

I also was in a better mood than normal the whole time, which also surprised me because I mothereffing love food and I mainline coffee so I expected to be THE FUSSIEST EVER.

I had fussy moments - I think on three separate occasions I told one of my coworkers that if I didn't have the cleanest colon ever and mothereffing laser eye vision by the end of the three days, it wasn't worth it (hint: I don't, but it was). These moments normally happened while I was making coffee or serving gelato to customers, which was the worst kind of temptation ever.

NOTE TO YOU GUYS: If you work as a barista/in the food industry, don't torture yourself by going to work while you're doing a juice cleanse.

BluePrintCleanse does send you a nice little tote and ice packs so you can take your juices to work though. :)

Even though they say it's a three day cleanse, it's actually like a week long undertaking because before the cleanse you have to cut back on coffee, alcohol, and meat, then AFTER you have to reintroduce those foods again slowly, so you know, don't make plans to go out with your friends the whole time you're on it. Unless they're juicin' too. ALL THE JUICIN'.

Starting the first night, I had the most vivid and awkward dreams ever - I'm talking WOULDN'T DETAIL THEM ON THIS BLOG awkward. Apparently that and increased creativity (which I also felt) are totally normal symptoms of doing something like this though - probably the change in chemicals and routine.

While not why I did the cleanse, it was also nice to see myself drop a few pounds. Of course, I gained back most of the weight when I started eating you know, REAL SOLID FOOD again, but I permanently lost a couple pounds during the whole week I was prepping and reintroducing foods. I'm not mad about that.

I was a little afraid that, like Andrea, I'd discover I had a terrible food allergy like gluten or sugar, but the cleanse just reinforced that 'OH HEY VALORIE STOP DRINKING MILK YOU'RE LACTOSE INTOLERANT YOU DUMBASS.' So, that's fine, I guess.

Most importantly, the three days of juicing helped me to break a lot of bad food habits I have. Like I've mentioned, I've never been a healthy eater, per se - I didn't eat lots of fried foods or junk food, but I had too much bread and fatty things like Nutella in my diet and not enough fruits and vegetables. By the end of the second day (June 27th - here's PHOTO EVIDENCE) I was actually craving solid fruits and vegetables and made a list of things that sounded appealing so I'd remember them when I could have solids again. This change of diet has helped me keep some of the weight I lost during the cleanse off. It's also helping keep my mood up and making me feel like I have more energy, so that's been wonderful.

But, really, the best and worst thing about doing three days of BluePrintCleanse? It showed me how effing bad I was feeling before and how good I'm SUPPOSED to feel. It turned my sense of normal upside down and now my life will never be the same. It's probably a good thing, but for now I'm still a little angry.

Me, with my skin all glowy and pretty the day after the cleanse ended. Also, I swear I'm wearing clothes in this photo. Probably something I should never have to clarify, huh? One shoulder shirts for the win!

Monday, July 16, 2012

the plans that used to matter, the ones that do now, and the thing about having 365 opportunities to change.

I turned 22 on Friday. Yes, it was Friday the 13th. Yes, I was also born on a Friday the 13th. Honey badger doesn't care.  In fact, I didn't care. I mean, it's 22. So what?

My gift to myself was sleeping in. In fact, I slept for 12 hours straight, and it was the best ever. My gift from my parents was a new running skirt and a pair of new running shoes. Because apparently all I can think about these days when I'm not running is running.

On my 21st birthday, if you'd suggested that I'd be overjoyed to be buying running shoes on my 22nd birthday, I would have laughed in your face. But then I guess in one year, those 365 days are actually 365 opportunities for change.

365 days are 365 opportunities to change. Change something, change anything. If there's something you want to do, something you want to change, every morning you wake up is an opportunity to do so.

Three hundred and sixty-five opportunities to change.

The thing about birthdays is that they force you to stop and think - even if you don't care about your birthday, you still have to adjust at least long enough to say, "I'm twenty-one, er, twenty-two." They're milestones that creep up regularly and you're forced to acknowledge. For me, birthdays always make me reflective. I think about where those last 365 days took me - the changes I made, and the changes I didn't. The plans that came to fruition, the plans that got thrown to the wayside. The chances I took, and the chances I was too damn scared to take.

Hindsight is 20/20, and as I look back I can see that the feelings and convictions I have now started to grow their roots in my time in China, in having my birthday dinner overlooking The Bund in Shanghai.

A year ago, my plans went like this: I wanted to start having kids when I was about 28. Of course, I wanted to be married for at least three years first, so I'd get married at 25. I'd need a year to plan the wedding, so that meant getting engaged at 24. I wanted to date the guy for at least two years first, so that meant he already had to be a part of my life by...  22.

Today, that math is out the window. Where I see my life one year from today is far from those plans; other-side-of-the-world far away. Marriage and kids are so far in the future that I'm not even sure I see them anymore. It wasn't one single day changed that, but 365.

On July 13, 2011, I didn't know that I would wake up on July 13, 2012 in an apartment in DC and go running before going to work. I don't know where I'll wake up on July 13, 2013, but I would be surprised if it's in DC. I would be very surprised if it's in North America.

That's the thing about recognizing 365 days as 365 chances to do and change anything. It suddenly seems like anything is possible because you've got 365 opportunities to make it happen. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

It's the first Friday? OF JULY?


Whoa, starting posts off with all caps. Probably not a good sign.

(Mellower.) It's July. And I find that strange because that means I'm about to be 22 in less than two weeks and people are going to actually start taking me seriously.

Pfft. Okay, even I couldn't make it through that sentence without laughing. No one will be taking me seriously for a long time, and that's good because they probably shouldn't be. Because, you know, I spend my time looking at crap wonderful mothereffing things on the internet like this:

(Mmm, fresh GIFs via How Do I Put This Gently?

But anyway. High five for Friday! It's the weekend! Hooray! If you've never linked up with Lauren for High Five for Friday, you should probably do it stat. My high points were kind of lame (like sleeping for eight hours two days in a row...)  but here's the best I could come up with. 

1. This is what my morning runs look like, and that makes me so happy.
2. For the first time ever, the people at Starbucks spelled my name right without me saying anything first. I was very impressed.
3&3.5. I had to rent a BMW yesterday because I needed to get to Target and buy a bunch of crap pretty much immediately. It was the only Zipcar left, and I didn't hate it.
4. My new lamp! Between buying this and renting a BMW yesterday, I really spoiled myself. Any ideas what I should put in the bottom of it?
5. A couple weeks ago, my phone was autocorrecting "God" to "Gosling." It's still doing that, and it makes me laugh every time. iPhone, you da, you da best.

And with that, it's time for the weekly round up. Except basically I've been really MIA, internet-wise, so this is mostly a round up of things I found other places on the internet that are great.

The Only Thing I've Written Here at Simply, Valorie or anywhere else on the internet: 
Things I Didn't Come Up With but Are AWESOME:
  • "Fear isn't the enemy. Fear just wants to protect you. It may look like an oxygen-sucking demon, but the fear loves you and wants to keep you safe. That's its job. So gently remind it that you are safe and its job is done. " - via Random Love Punches. My current favorite thing on the internet. Thank Amber Adrian and Robert Calise for this.

Happy weekend! If you have any ideas of how I should celebrate the anticlimactic birthday that is 22, leave them in the comments. :) 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

the half year review, because hell yeah!

Apparently it's July. This month snuck up on me real quick - one minute it was May, and the next my July 1st "DO YOUR MID YEAR REVIEW" alarm was going off.

Because I mean, yes, I did spend an hour in January programming alarms into my phone to remind me to set goals at the beginning of every month. And in July I wanted to do a mid-year review to see how I'm doing so far.

(If you're unfamiliar with my furiously obsessive life planning system, now might be a good time to back away from this post slowly. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. If, on the other hand, you too are an obsessive life planner and want in on this addiction, HERE YOU GO, FRIEND.)

Here's the thing about how 2012 has gone so far - It's been the second most life changing year ever. I moved to Washington DC, I moved in with a boy and will live alone again soon, I've held a Grown Ass Woman job, started my own business, and fallen in love with being a barista. The things I've learned about myself this year have been ridiculously empowering and encouraging. And I've, more than ever, been enamored with the love and support of the blogging community and made friends with people that I never could have without the internet helping us out. In short: 2012 has been awesome.

The Half Point EFF YEAH list:

Successfully finishing the BluePrintCleanse! (More on this soon!)

Bought a bike (and have been riding it places)

Was an assistant photographer for a beautiful beach wedding

Got *my* wedding photography business officially incorporated (finally)!

Bought this lens I've been dying for (and started saving up for another!) 

Donated my hair!

Signed up for the Color Run and started training for it.
Met internet friends in real life. 
Worked a totally bizarre job, became a barista, and got hired as a social media coordinator for a small non-profit 
Wrote everyday for a month

It's been a good year. Here's to the next six months. Cheers!

Oh, and Happy Fourth of July, everyone! :)