Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reflecting on 2017

Melinda Hope Photography
Beyond a doubt 2017 has been my best year yet. In a lot of ways 2017 was MY year. By that I mean I made myself a priority and I absolutely refuse to apologize for it. Before all the haters come out of the wood works to say I'm a selfish beyotch let me just say a few things.

It's not natural for me to put myself first. While I was away at college and my dad had to undergo chemo I made sure I drove home to be there for all of them. When my mom needed foot surgery and had to lay with her leg up for a week after, I came home to cook my dad dinner after he got home from work so he wouldn't have to try to take care of my mom and dinner (which if you know my dad his idea of cooking is scrambled eggs and burnt toast). I was raised to believe family comes first, so leaving after graduation while there was a lot going on in my family didn't feel like an option, so I worked from home for awhile.

I don't think there's ever a perfect time in life, so I just took the leap and went for it. 

I took a job halfway across the country because I wanted to. I put myself in situations that were outside my comfort zone and forced me to grow both personally and professionally. 

I ended up in a state I had never been to before and literally knew no one. 

Yet, I've never had more fun or felt so fulfilled.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine living in the middle of the midwest, but I have no doubt this is where I'm supposed to be right now. 

The people have embraced me and made me feel so welcome. There's an elderly couple at the gym who watches the news just to see me and always tells me what a good job I do.

When it rained in my apartment one of the news anchors opened her home to me and she had only known me a few weeks. 

I could go on and on, but really for me this place is home because of the people. The love and kindness I have been shown has brought me to tears on more than one occasion. 

I don't know if this is where I'll be five years down the line, but right now this is where I'm supposed to be. 

This is home. 

Life is all about change and beyond a doubt this has been a wild year full of change, but it's also been an absolute blast.

Every single day I get to meet amazing people and tell their stories. In some ways it blows my mind because I never thought this would be my life. 

I go to work every day and get to do something different. Yes, some days are incredibly long and the pay is terrible, but I also leave work and don't feel like it was work. I walk away happy, fulfilled and excited to go back and do it again. 

My dad always told me that he hoped I would find a job that I'd love so I'd never work a day in my life. Reporting is that job for me. Every day is an adventure and I hope that never changes.

In a lot of ways 2017 didn't turn out how I thought or planned, but it's been far better. It was a wild ride of a year, but I honestly couldn't be more thankful for the way it turned out. 

Thank you for following along on this crazy ride, I honestly can't believe y'all have stuck with me as long as you have. From the bottom of my heart thank you. Thank you for the endless love and support. Thank you for another great year, I wish I could hug every single one of you. Your comments and emails never fail to make my day. I love all of you and thank you for making me a part of your life💜

Cheers to a great year and here's to an even better 2018🎉🎉🎉

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Angry Dogs & Live Shots: Thinking Out Loud #69

Happy Thursday and a late Merry Christmas! I hope you had a very Merry Christmas. I spent the holiday working (no holidays in news), but I got to FaceTime with my parents and my puppy once I was off. I got to watch them open presents I sent, yes I mailed Cora presents, and it was nice. I definitely missed being home for the holiday though. This was another long week at work, mostly 12+ hour days. News life is no joke, but I get to tell some pretty cool stories so I guess it's all good. Anyway, before I really get blabbing, let's jump into this week's thinking out loud

1. This guy deserves major props. He was my photographer yesterday and we reported on a house fire in -17 degree weather. That's -17 WITHOUT windchill, with it was well below -25. We were outside forever for the morning show, but got a little break before we headed back out for the 5 & 6 pm shows. He braved the temps with me and he's the best partner in crime I could ask for, he sings along in the car with me🙌

2. While we waited between live shots for the 5 & 6pm shows we waited in the car because we were FROZEN. We were singing along to the radio and all the windows started steaming up, the neighbors probably thought something bad was going on. We just started laughing when we realized what was happening. Sorry, I'd rather steam up the windows singing and being warm than get frostbite. 

3. I got some comments and messages on my instagram post. Yes I was sick on Christmas and have been for awhile. I've been battling a kidney infection and have been running a fever, throwing up on occasion and dealing with other less than pleasant symptoms. I'm on the mend (hopefully) now and have been switched to new meds. Thank you for all the sweet messages. I have had to work through it, but I've taken time off at the gym to rest and let my body heal.

4. I need advice! I deal with excessively dry skin, but I put lotion on all the time. I've tried all sorts of things and even my dermatologist has given me stuff but nothing has worked. Do you have any products you love that work well? Any advice is appreciated!  

5. Viewers sent us in photos for Christmas and all of us almost died laughing over this one. This poor dog is clearly NOT thrilled to be in the reindeer costume. I've never seen a dog look so upset, but it's so hilarious😂

6. I LOVE this quote. I just relate so much to it. I've really been trying to focus more on living in the moment and less on setting expectations. Of course I still have goals, but I want to enjoy the day to day and not wish my life away. 

Happy Thursday and have a great weekend and a very happy (and safe) New Year! I'll see you in 2018🎉🎉🎉

1. How did you celebrate the holidays? 
2. What is one goal you have for the new year? 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Feeling Blessed: Thinking Out Loud #68

Happy Thursday! There's less than a week until Christmas, where has the time gone🙆 I avoided being a procrastinator this year, especially since I had to ship out all my gifts to friends and family so I'm fairly proud of that. Aside from the usual newsroom chaos, all I want for Christmas is a long nap. Like 12+ hours should do the trick, at least for awhile. Anyway let's jump into this weeks thinking out loud.

1. For the first time ever I changed my instagram profile picture. I guess I never cared that much about what my profile picture looked like, but when I participated in the body positivity campaign Melinda Hope Photography did a phenomenal job so I figured I would change it. Change is a good thing, right?

2. 62F degrees in the middle of December?! I'll happily take it! The temperature is supposed to rapidly change so I'm going to milk every second of this beautiful weather while I can. I wore a dress today with no tights or anything because it was gorgeous outside. I'm not looking forward to a long season of wearing only pants and freezing my butt off while I report outside. 

3. This year I participated in the Salvation Army's angel tree. My family and I have done it in years past, but since I don't really get a Christmas this year since I'll be working I wanted someone else to have a Christmas. I picked two children and both of them broke my heart. One wanted colored pencils and some art materials and the other only asked for a baseball. It seriously brought tears to my eyes because how insanely blessed I am. These kids ask for such basic things. I bought the little girl an awesome art kit, sketch pad, and some other supplies, while the little boy I got him a 12 pack of MLB official baseballs and a water bottle because if you're running around playing baseball then you're going to get thirsty right?

4. My parents have been keeping me updated on Cora. I miss her like crazy and I hate being away from her. When I mailed my Christmas present for my family of course I included a few presents for Cora (please tell me I'm not the only one who buys presents for their dogs?!). Cora still hasn't gotten the knack of opening presents down pat yet, but maybe this will be the year.

5. I tried the Gingerbread rxbar and I have to say I'm not a fan. A ton of breaking new stories happened all at once and I didn't have time to grab lunch, but I did have an rxbar on me so I ate it. I have to say I was pretty disappointed. I'll stick to the dark chocolate se salt ones from now on. 

6. Lastly, I always end with a quote and this one seemed fitting to me. I've really worked on being present this year and I think it's important to remember as Christmas approaches. Take time to just be present and enjoy the moment with friends and family. As you gather in places with other people take a minute to soak in all the love in the room and how incredibly blessed we are. Christmas always fills my heart with so much joy and I hope it does the same for you as well. 

Have a terrific Thursday and a great weekend, but more importantly, Merry Christmas! 

What are you looking forward to the most about Christmas? 
What is one thing you are thankful for this holiday season?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sunrise and Socks: Thinking Out Loud #67

Happy Thursday! This week has flown by for me and I have no complaints about that. It wasn't a crazy long work week which I am thankful for (unlike last week) and I got some pretty cool stories out of it. Plus it's getting close to Christmas which is always exciting. Anyway before I start totally jumping all over the place let's jump into this weeks thinking out loud

1. It's been a little warmer than normal here the past few days, but no complaints. I'll take heat over snow ANY day. I was on my way back from the gym when I saw this gorgeous sunrise. I'm a sucker for sunrises and sunsets. If I had any artistic ability I would pain them, since I don't I'll just stare in wonder at them.

2. Hands down my FAVORITE story this week. Granted the story was just about safety with holiday decorations so you don't burn your house down, but I got a full tour of the fire station, I got to climb inside all the different trucks, and I got to hangout with the guys. I had a blast with the guys, it was the nicest group of guys I have ever met. I really mean that, they were all so welcoming and so much fun to joke around with. I'm still working on getting them to let me slide down a fire pole, so fingers crossed😬

3. I also got to attend an event where students from a high school spent time decorating ornaments and making sugar cookies with seniors at a nursing home. It was so cool to see young people connecting with the elderly. I love hearing people's stories so to see other people enjoying that as well really warmed my heart, plus who doesn't have a soft spot for adorable elderly people?!

4. Any day I get to spend with puppies is a good day👌 these two puppies were brought all the way from the Virgin Islands as part of hurricane relief work. They were the sweetest dogs and I wanted to take them home with me. I do know they have a very good home here now so that makes me happy.

5. Tabio socks arrived! I'm so pumped to test these out! These are supposed to be top of the line for support while running so I'm very curious to try them out. Just putting them on and walking around I could feel the arch support so I'm curious to see how it's going to feel while running. I'll do a full review and have that up next week.

6. Is anyone else mildly stressing over Christmas? I'm basically done except I haven't actually mailed anything out yet, which is kind of stressing me out especially now that I'm seeing shipping delays for some things. I'm going to try to get everything shipped out today so fingers crossed everything arrives before Christmas.

7. I love this quote because at least for me my favorite place immediately pops in my head. Hawaii is that place for me when I'm just in awe of creation because you're surrounded by nothing but beauty no matter where you look. The majesty of creations makes you take a step back and you realize just how small you are in comparison to the world. 

Have a great Thursday and a terrific weekend! The countdown to Christmas is on🎉🎉🎉

Do you have a place that always takes you back, if so where?
What are you looking forward to the most about Christmas?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Body Positivity and Christmas Lights: Thinking Out Loud #66

Happy Thursday! This past work week for me has felt like it's been never ending. Several big stories broke so there was lots of overtime, which is good for my bank account, but I'm not sure I've ever been so exhausted. Everything aches and several naps are in order for my weekend😴 Being a news reporter is nowhere near as glamorous as most people think, but I do get to share a lot of really cool stories. On the plus side it's almost Christmas!!! Anyway before I babble even more, let's jump into this weeks thinking out loud!

1. I was feeling pretty sad that I wouldn't be able to be home for Christmas, sadly news doesn't have holidays so I'm working Christmas. While I was out last week I found a mini tree on clearance and I couldn't resist. I even got mini glitter ornaments from Target. It's definitely not the same as going home and being surrounded by family, but it beats not having any decoration. Plus it folds right back up and goes in a skinny box so storage isn't a problem👌 I still need to Christmas shop and I really need to get on it because I have to mail my family their presents so I have even less time to get it done🙆

2. I've loved glitter for my entire life much to my mom's dismay. Since I'm halfway across the country now I decided to buy glitter wrapping paper to wrap presents in, NEVER AGAIN. By the time I had wrapped one small box it looked like a glitter bomb had gone off in my apartment. I had glitter all over me, the floor in my apartment was covered, and somehow it managed to get on the walls? Still not sure how that happened. In the midst of the mess maintenance came knocking🙈 needless to say I will not be buying glitter paper again, but my love of glitter has not been tainted. 

3. Over the summer I took part in a body positivity shoot. One of my good friends from high school started a body positivity campaign called I love this part. Self love is something I think we all struggle with from time to time, some more than others, but being in a group of women and talking about our struggles was so mind opening because no matter how beautiful a person is or if they have the ideal body or not everyone struggles. It was so powerful to talk with the other women and share what we loved about ourselves and our bodies. Our bodies are all so different and so unique and that should be celebrated. I really encourage to check out the I love this part website and instagram because it's filled with inspiration and some really amazing women. In the coming weeks I'll share more of the photos from the shoot on my instagram page.

4. Having an autoimmune condition where I basically have no immune system makes me SUPER paranoid when people around me get sick. It's that time of year where people do start getting sick and with the flu shot only being 10% effective this year I'm uber paranoid. I've been taking lovebug probiotics every day to keep my gut healthy and body strong. They have several types that I rotate between, but during the cold months I take their Colds Sucks probiotics because it strengthens the bodies immunity. My body needs all the help it can get. I am in no way shape or form paid to say that, it's a product I genuinely love and support. They're more expensive than your average store brand probiotics, but you get what you pay for and I'd rather pay for a quality supplement where I know there's nothing funky in it than something questionable. 

5. I'm still slowly getting back into running. I knew getting back into it would be hard, but I forgot just how hard recovering from an injury is. I've gained strength from continued weight training and physical therapy, but it's frustrating because I used to pump out 12 miles with no problem. Now sometimes three is a struggle. My physical therapist and orthopedic surgeon have said it's totally normally and will take time, but I'm not the most patient person ever. I just want to be back running normally and pain free again.

6. This quote hit close to home for me this week. Sadly we live in a broken world where a lot of people only want what you for what you can give them. It's not fair and it's not right, but it's taught me who will always have my back and be there for me no matter what. Keep your inner circle close to you, but still be good to everyone even the users.

Have a good Thursday and a great weekend!

What is your favorite part about the Christmas/holiday season?
What is something you love about yourself?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Live Shots & Running: Thinking Out Loud #65

Happy Thursday! I am BEYOND glad it's Thursday because it's finally my weekend and after working over a week straight I'm exhausted. My weekend plans include a nice long nap and some time at the gym. This week has been challenging, but also a ton of fun. The unseasonably warm weather had me jumping for joy, but of course now it's cold that I finally have time off. Anyway, let's jump into this weeks thinking out loud.

1. Hands down the best part of being a reporter is all the people I get to meet and all the fun events I get to attend. I reported live from a tree lighting last weekend and the Chick-fil-A cow crashed my live shot along with two elves. It was such a blast and I got to meet viewer who were so sweet. I'm seriously in love with this city because people have been so welcoming. I never saw myself ending up here, but I'm glad work lead me here because in the short time I've been here the community has welcomed me with open arms and I'm just amazed at the kindness. 

2. Another part of my job that I love is every I get to dress up all the time. While some days I really don't feel like dressing up I generally love getting to look nice every day. I'm still looking for a few key pieces though, so if anyone has any suggestions of stores to check out- that aren't outrageously expensive- I'm all ears. 

3. Another really fun event I got to attend was a benefit for a local charity. The organization auctions off professionally decorated Christmas trees and all the proceeds go to the organization. While I wasn't a fan of the unicorns I LOVED all the glitter this tree had. It was so fun and unique that I kind of wanted it. 

4. The unseasonably warm weather has been AMAZING🙌 I got off a little before sunset on Black Friday so I hightailed it home and went for a quick run. I have been slowly getting back to running, but I'm taking it slow and following all the doctors orders. I've only been going short distances and keeping it at 2-3 times a week. Due to my schedule it's mostly been inside since I can't run in the middle of the day, but it's progress and that makes me happy.

5. I got to enjoy this stunning view on my run while the sun was setting. I soaked up every moment of the beauty because life is short and you have to enjoy the little things.

6. Of course I wanted to end on a quote, but this one one is technically. If you haven't heard the song New Years Day from Taylor Swift's new album I highly recommend it. It's a slow song, but it's very sweet and it reminds me of classic Taylor Swift.

Have a great Thursday and a fantastic weekend!!

What has been a good thing that has happened to you in the past week?
What are your thoughts about Prince Harry getting engaged? Do you even care?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Edition: Thinking Out Loud #64

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you're celebrating with friends and/or family and enjoying a delicious meal. Sadly I won't be having any turkey this year or celebrating with family since I'm halfway across the country working. There's no holidays in news so I'm working today and Christmas Eve and Christmas. I'm a little sad to be working Christmas since it's my favorite holiday, but I wouldn't be able to go home anyway so I'd rather be working. Anyway grab a plate of Thanksgiving fixings and let's jump into this weeks thinking out loud.

1. There's been an initiative in Nebraska to reduce distracted driving so the state has been posting funny signs to remind drivers to keep their eyes on the road. It's slightly confusing to me as I am taking my eyes off the road to read the sign, nonetheless I really don't understand the notion of being a good potato. The newsroom was having a debate over what the sign meant. I also learned that potatoes have eyes, but I have no clue if that's what the sign meant🤔

2. THIS CANDLE SMELLS AMAZING! I swear I do more than just smell candles at Target, I do most of my grocery shopping there, but it's very easy to become distracted in that store. Target is giving Bath and Body Works a run for their money with some of their scents. Plus, Chip and JoAnna Gains line at Target, their candles smell amazing😍

3. Speaking of Target they had these massive stuffed animals in the middle of the aisles. I know it's getting close to Christmas, but seriously where would you store these things? They are really cute and I would have loved a massive stuffed animal as a child, but now I'm a boring adult and think about where the heck one would have room for such a massive toy. I also just really tired of the commercialism of Christmas, but that's a story for another day.

4. Nothing like a new haircut to make you feel good💇 I decided I needed a change so I found a hair stylist and chopped of six inches. It's the shortest I've had it in years but it feels good to have a change. Plus I don't need as much shampoo and it doesn't take as long to dry which is always a plus in my world. The hair stylist spent over half an hour thinning out my hair because it's so thick and wavy naturally. When I was done my head felt so much lighter, it was amazing.

5. Last week was a rough week. Work was rough, I was missing my dog, and the realization that I was going to be alone for the holidays kind of sunk in. I was just feeling off. This year I've worked on not stuffing my emotions and being numb and instead allowing myself to acknowledge my feelings. It's a work in progress, but I was down in the dumps when friends showed up with froyo. I swear people in Nebraska are the nicest. It made my day and it made me feel so much better after talking it out with them. All of us are working Christmas so we decided to have a mini celebration once we're off for the day. It won't be the same as being at home, but it beats being alone during the holidays.

6. My boyfriend didn't appreciate this sign nearly as much as I did, but it's such a true statement. I was picking up some thread and a needle to fix a hole in a pair of pants when I found it. Of course I took a picture and sent it to him. Glitter makes everything better👌

7. I really love this quote. I think it's so beautiful and so well said. You can do absolutly anything you put your mind to. It might take a lot of hard work and years before you can accomplish whatever goal you have, but you can do it. Nothing in life that's worth having is easy. Don't give up. Ever.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!! Enjoy the holiday and have a fantastic weekend!

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving?
Do you go out shopping on Black Friday?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Cooking, Candles, & Taylor Swift: Thinking Out Loud #63

Happy Thursday! Technically it's only my weekend, but I am more than happy to have two days off. This past week is one I wouldn't mind forgetting. As much as I love my job not everyday is peaches and rainbows, but it will pass and I get some much needed down time. Anyway, let's jump into this weeks thinking out loud.

1. Yesterday I got to attend a student culinary competition and I had my mind blown. The students were all in high school and I was blown away by some of their creations. They were crafting some amazing decorations for desserts. This fruit sculpture was my favorite creation I saw today, but there was so many amazing pieces it was hard to pick just one favorite. Fingers crossed that next year I can be a taste tester😋

2. This dog will be the death of me. Every time I leave my apartment and she's at the fence and I can't come pet her she gives me the stink face. She's so stinking sweet and her sweet kisses and genuine excitement never fails to make my day. This week has been rough, but even just a few moments petting her after work have my day so much better. Dogs are beyond a doubt the best therapy🐶

3. I rarely watch TV, ironic I know because I'm news reporter, but my parents were into HGTV so I used to watch it sometimes with them. Well Chip and JoAnna Gains launched a line at Target and it's SO CUTE!! Their candles smell amazing and I'm going to pick up a few pieces from the line for Christmas presents. This candle was my favorite and it smelled so good. I definitely recommend checking out the line👌

4. Unless you've lived under a rock you probably know that Taylor Swift released a new album. I've been a fan since the beginning, but this album was definitely different from her previous ones. There's a note in the beginning album that just hit close to home. I've never understood why people constantly feel the need to dig into her personal life, let a gal live her life! Anyway my favorite songs off the album so far are New Year's Day, Call It What You Want, Delicate, and Getaway Car. 

5. These brownie cookies have been a hit in the newsroom. They're super easy to make and don't contain any crazy ingredients, so they're great to whip of the day of if needed. I've made a few batches this past week and have been asked for the recipe multiple times. I know I'll be making them again for the newsroom soon🍪

6. This quote has been stuck in my heart all week and wanted to share it. It's a quote that doesn't need any explanation💜

Have a terrific Thursday and have an amazing weekend!! 

Have you listened to Taylor Swift's new album, if so what are you thoughts/current favorite songs?
What are you looking forward to the most about the holidays?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Brownie Cookies

Happy Monday! This weekend was insane at work, but I enjoy being busy because it makes the day go by quicker and I feel more accomplished when I cover multiple events. 

Anyway, I was in need of a baking fix so I whipped up a batch of brownie cookies. The cookies were quickly devoured at work and everyone loved how they were, "like brownies in cookie form." Reporters have a way with words don't we😜 they're simple to make, only require a few basic ingredients and are a sure hit for any occasion!

Brownie Cookies
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Hershey's special dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
In a microwave safe bowl melt butter and three ounces of chocolate chips. Microwave for 30 seconds, stirring, and then microwaving for additional time until everything is melted.

Stir in sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, egg, and vanilla. 

Slowly add in flour, I mixed in 1/2 cup at a time. 

Finally, mix in chocolate chips.

Chill dough for 20-30 minutes.

While dough is cooling line a baking sheet with tin foil or spray with nonstick cook spray. 

After dough has chilled scoop dough in small amounts, roughly a tablespoon or two, onto baking sheet.

Bake at 350F degrees for 8-12 minutes. The cookies are done when the tops are no longer shiny. 

Allow cookies to cool completely before removing from baking sheet.

If you make them take a picture and tag me on instagram and use the hashtag #thesimplelife so I can see your creations!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Emojis and Network News: Thinking Out Loud #62

Happy Thursday! Honestly this week has been pretty ho hum, which I'm more than fine with because normally I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off. It also makes for a not so interesting week to share with you guys🤷 Anyway let's jump into this weeks thinking out loud.

1. I got to go to the Nebraska state capitol for the first time and holy smokes it's amazing! The inside is stunning with so much intricate tile work and artwork displayed, I was pretty blown away. Needless to say I was so not expecting, but it was a good surprise. 

2. Even though this is semi old I realized I never shared it and I was pretty excited about it. I did a story about local babies in the NICU at an area hospital who got Halloween costumes, which were pretty darn cute. I filmed a number of babies in the costumes, well the next morning the newsroom got a call and it was from network and they wanted my package. I was pretty excited about it, but really how can you not want to share adorable babies in halloween costumes?

3. Yesterday I got to play with an adorable dog after I interviewed a woman. The dog was so sweet, she was a total cuddle bug and before I put my gear away she climbed in the camera bag. I totally would have taken her back with me, but my boss might not have been too happy about a dog coming back with me. 

4. On a less fun note, I had to get a new phone because mine was dying. I had to fork over a ton of money to get a new iPhone because that's the only way I could get money for my old iPhone (rip phone). I ended up with the iPhone X and honestly the thing kind of terrifies me. The first thing I did was get a case because I've dropped my phone more than I care to admit, but I don't want to pay for a replacement phone. I can only imagine how much that would cost😳 On the plus side I got to play with the new animojis and they're totally hilarious and very amusing. However, animojis are not worth $1,200.

5. This quote has really resonated with me this week. Success, no matter what industry, does not happen overnight. It takes time to be successful and requires hard work day in and day out. Hard work shouldn't be feared though because it will pay off. You might not see the pay off immediately, but be patient it will happen.

Have a great Thursday and a great weekend everyone🎉🎉🎉

What are your weekend plans?
How do you like to relax after a long day?