Thursday, April 2, 2020

We're Back + Our Plans During this New Normal

You guys, it has been two weeks and one day since my last post here, which is officially the longest I have ever gone without posting in the almost ten year history of the Bubby and Bean blog.  With everything happening right now surrounding Covid-19, I just haven't felt comfortable creating content. I have continued to post on Instagram, but only a few times, and in an admittedly awkward way. Initially I felt weird posting at all, but as I've settled into this new normal (of complete weirdness),  I've started to feel like I can get back to posting again. What that means exactly, I'm honestly not sure. Just as things in our world seem to be completely changing from day to day, my job is as well.

That said, what kind of things are you guys interested in seeing? Do you want more personal content? Do you want recipes or DIY projects you can do at home while quarantined? Do you want homeschool tips? (Kidding on that last one; I'm a terrible teacher as can be seen here.) Feel free to comment below, e-mail me, or DM me on Instagram. (I asked this same questions in Instagram Stories the other day and got over fifty responses, most of which said to continue posting as I regularly do, but to incorporate current times. And that is exactly what I feel most comfortable with myself.)

I want to be transparent in that while I likely won't be posting sponsored content as often as before, I will be easing back into it. I will continue to only work with brands I believe in and truly love, and my #1 priority will be focusing on campaigns that are authentic and sensitive to the times in which we are living. I need to do it though. I have to continue working. This is for my own sanity (I really do love this job), and also to support my family. My husband, who works in the live music industry, is out of work. And my little ones are counting on me right now.

Wherever you are, I hope you are okay. Two days ago was the first time I've really cried since all of this started. I felt a lot better afterward. If you need to talk, I am here.

Stay tuned...


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Uncertain Times

Guys, I don't even know what to say that hasn't already been said all over the internet and among friends. This is all absolutely surreal. Less than a week ago my plans for today were to be on a flight to Iceland with my husband for a week with the band he works for, while my kids stayed with their grandmothers and continued with school and activities. Today I sit in my home office struggling to finish the small amount of work I have while my kids run and yell downstairs and my husband, who flew back home to Chicago from California last Friday after their touring was indefinitely canceled, attempts to homeschool them. (Their schools are closed until April 6th, but we all know that it will likely be for the rest of the year.) I continue to get emails from agencies and brands telling me that campaigns I am working on or have completed but were not yet live are being postponed or canceled. It is a very uncertain time for my family - and for everyone - financially, mentally, and emotionally. This shit is scary.

I am trying very hard to focus on the positive. First of all, we are healthy. Our parents, who are in their 70s and most of whom have underlying health conditions, do not have the virus. That is ultimately all that matters. We also have time together that we never had before. My husband is usually gone half the year and when he is here to help with the kids, I am working excessively to squeeze my jobs in during his time at home. So this precious time together is a gift. My daughter's dance studio, which is her second home, is live streaming her classes and also my yoga classes, so we're able to continue doing those things we love. My kids' teachers are beyond amazing and are checking in throughout the day, everyday, to answer countless questions as we navigate this new normal of schooling. I am also thinking about bigger picture stuff, like how humans staying in their homes all over the world will have a positive impact on our earth.

For the first time since I started Bubby and Bean 10 years ago, I am unsure what the future will hold. Sponsored campaigns where I share products, services, and brands I love, are how I am able to sustain the blog and my social media channels. In other words, in order for me to spend the time that I do creating content here and most of all, on Instagram, I need to get paid so I can support my family. I am hoping that even though many brands are choosing to postpone campaigns for now (which is 100% understandable), that eventually things will pick back up. For right now, I likely won't be posting much here on the blog, if at all. I am truly sorry for this. I will still be posting often to my Instagram Stories and hopefully on my Instagram feed as well.

In the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other. If you're working from home and/or homeschooling, just do your best. Try to enjoy your time together. Look around you. Breath. Try new things. Or don't, and just relax. Find the good in this unexpected gift of time with your families, or time to yourself. And if you need to talk, I'm here.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

My Credit Journey: How I Established and Maintain Good Credit

Thank you Lexington Law Firm for sponsoring this post. A high service partner and consumer advocate that will help you fight for the credit you deserve!

I share a lot of the things I most appreciate from my everyday life here - like my home, my family, and even my vehicle - some of which you can see in these photos. And while it's easy on blogs and social media to share these shiny pieces of life, the truth is that it often takes a lot of work to get there. When we were planning/hoping to have children, looking for a home mortgage, and purchasing our minivan (complete with suburban soccer and dance mom stickers; no shame here!), I relied on my good credit to help. And during these times, I realized more than ever the importance of having good credit.

Thankfully, I started building my credit a long time ago. But I also learned many lessons - some the hard way - over the years of getting it to where it is now. Today, I want to share some of my personal experiences with you guys from my own credit journey. I also want to share some ways that, if your credit needs help, you can work to repair it with guidance from the professionals at Lexington Law Firm. While I haven't used Lexington Law Firm myself, I have heard great things about them, and would absolutely consider them if I were in a situation where I needed to repair my credit. I really appreciate the fact that they were leaders in creating a solution for the credit repair industry that is legal-based and trustworthy. Their team of lawyers take their knowledge of credit repair and use it to help the everyday consumer, which I think is pretty fantastic.

Now on to my credit-building journey!

A Rough Start
Way, way, way back when I was in college, there used to be tables set up on every corner on campus with all sorts of incentives to get students to open credit cards. I had seen enough of my friends rack up debt they couldn't pay back to be terrified, so I always ignored them. Once I was out of college however, I wished I'd accepted the offers, as I found it nearly impossible to establish credit. It was actually extremely difficult to get a credit card, and thus start to build credit, when I didn't have a credit history at all.

Establishing Credit
After several declined credit card applications over a couple of years, I reached out to someone with an established credit history (thanks mom!) to open a credit card with me. With a co-signer on my application, I was able to get approval, and I started using the card for small purchases I knew I could pay back in order to establish credit and gain a credit score, or a FICO® Score. This score, which is calculated by a 50-year old company called Fair Isaac Corporation, calculates a person's credit via their credit files across three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). It is considered the benchmark when financial institutions assess a person's lending risk. It's important! I did my best to be patient, because I knew I had to have the credit card account open for six months to give the credit reporting agencies time to monitor and report my activity.

Monitoring My Score
After it had been enough time and I finally had a credit score, I made sure to routinely monitor my credit report for errors. According to Lexington Law Firm, millions of Americans are declined when applying for home and vehicle loans because of inaccuracies on their credit reports. And these errors can take months to correct. It is important to correct any errors quickly, since the consequences can be long term.

Diversifying My Debt
Opening a credit card or two and getting that revolving credit on my file was important to establishing my credit, but I knew that in order to really get my credit score up, I needed to add a different type of loan as well. I needed a vehicle, so I applied for an auto loan on a very affordable used car and was approved. Over the years I have been able to continue to diversify my debt and prove I could pay it off with more vehicle loans and eventually a mortgage.

Mistakes and Making Them Right
Despite my best efforts to keep my credit healthy and my debt down, there was a point where I made some bad choices that became important life lessons. Long story short, I had a (very successful) eco-friendly clothing business for which I sometimes used my personal credit cards to fund. (Eventually I did it the right way and received business loans, but I was still learning!) When the economy crashed in 2008, many of the stores that carried my line closed and left me with excess merchandise and a hefty amount of debt. It all felt very overwhelming, but I stopped using my credit cards completely at that point and just worked hard on paying them down. It took years, but I was able to get out of debt.

Many people end up in similar situations and aren't able to get out of it. This combined with credit report errors can lead to a tarnished score. During times like these, Lexington Law Firm can help navigate the credit repair process, using their skills and knowledge of consumer protection laws to fight for their clients, who they believe have a right to a credit report that is accurate and fair.

The Present and An Excellent Score!
Over the years, I have worked to maintain a good credit score, and in the present, I'm happy to say that my score is excellent. I am grateful for this, as it has enabled me to do some of the things for which I'm most grateful in life, like start a family, buy the proper vehicles to make our lives more convenient, and get a mortgage for our house. But I still work it! I do things like make sure our cars and home loan payments (and other household payments too!) are made on time every single month. I also keep my paid off credit cards open, as to not shorten the length of my credit history or lower my available total credit. If I do use credit cards (which is very rare these days!), I pay them off promptly and always have less than 30% of my available credit used. And I check my FICO® Score at least every other month.

A bumpy beginning to establishing credit for myself and a few mistakes learned along the way have taught me a lot about working toward my ultimate goal of excellent credit. And being able to get a mortgage and vehicle loans at great rates has proved to me how important it is to maintain this score. But it's also reassuring to know that if anything ever goes wrong, credit repair is attainable, and that Lexington Law Firm can help. Lexington Law Firm's trusted professionals know consumer protection laws and how to utilize them to help fight for their clients' rights.

Just click here to learn more about Lexington Law Firm's service and how they can help you or your loved ones repair credit.

Thank you for letting me share my credit journey with you. If you have stories about your own journey to building or repairing your credit, I'd love to hear them! Feel free to comment or email me any time.


Monday, March 9, 2020

St. Patrick's Day Inspired Quesadillas

St. Patrick's Day Inspired Quesadillas

St. Patrick's Day is a week away, and whether you're Irish or not, it's fun to get into the spirit. (Well, it is for me anyway. But I'm a major sucker for holidays in general, so there's that.)

I've shared this story before, but speaking of being Irish, I always envied my Irish friends growing up in Chicago (there's a big Irish population here; I mean they dye the Chicago River green to celebrate), because I was one of the few in the area who wasn't. I felt like an outsider. Then in my late twenties, a discovery was made while going through papers my grandmother had left behind: my grandmother's grandparents had immigrated from - yes, that's right - Ireland. It turns out we are Irish.

Whether you're Irish or not, I think you'll enjoy these yummy St. Paddy's Day inspired quesadillas. My kids are obsessed with them. I kind of am too.

St. Patrick's Day Inspired Quesadillas
St. Patrick's Day Inspired Quesadillas

Serves 1-2

Large spinach (or any green) tortilla
1 cup grated cheese (we like cheddar or a Mexican blend)
Handful of fresh baby spinach
1/2 tablespoon oil (we like coconut) or butter
1/2 cup salsa verde  
1/2 avocado, cubed
Small handful of cilantro
1/2 lime

In a large skillet, melt oil or butter over medium heat. Place the tortilla in the pan and flip to warm both sides. Sprinkle cheese over half of the tortilla, then cover with baby spinach leaves. Fold uncovered side over the top of the covered side to fold in half. Reduce heat and cover the pan for about a minute. Uncover, flip, and cover again for a minute. Repeat this until the cheese is fully melted. Remove from pan and slice into wedges. Top with salsa verde, cubed avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

St. Patrick's Day Inspired Quesadillas
St. Patrick's Day Inspired Quesadillas
St. Patrick's Day Inspired Quesadillas

I'd love to hear about any other fun St. Patrick's Day recipes you enjoy this time of year.