One Year Anniversary – The Paper Anniversary

Today, April 6, Bright-Yellow officially celebrates its one year anniversary.  I find it funny that the one anniversary is the paper anniversary which we’re celebrating for a digital product!

One year ago, I launched Bright-Yellow as a way to challenge myself with daily writing while I searched for a full-time job.  Returning to Chicago as a double unemployed couple meant living on a budget.  I enjoy sharing the tips and tricks I find for budget living as well as general “stuff that you should know, too” that I discover along the way.

Groupon logoA year ago, my first post was about Groupon, a daily deal available for one day only.  When I wrote about it a year ago, Groupon was available in New York and Chicago.  Today, 45 cities enjoy Groupon from Albuquerque to Washington, D.C.  and Groupon offers deals seven days a week (as well as a side deal every day).  If you have not signed up for Groupon, DO IT NOW!  And iPhone users, download the app – you no longer have to print the Groupons – just show your phone and you’re all set!

Since starting Bright-Yellow, I have posted 118 times, had 10,391 page-views (apparently you readers like booze and books since those are the top tags used to find Bright-Yellow), had my busiest day on December 15 (Gifts that Do Good), and Jeff and I have gone from double unemployment to double employment with Jeff landing a dream job (that involves booze – apparently that beercation was well worth it)!

The next few posts will be a check in on some more favorites from the last year so if you have a particular past entry you’d like highlighted, just let me know through the comments section.

As always, thanks for reading Bright-Yellow.


Ushering In 2010 – Perspective

Yesterday I ushered in 2010 by sitting around all day with Jeff in our pjs watching movies and some football (yes, we are lazy but we have also been sick around this house and decided that it was a good idea to start the year by not infecting friends with our yucky germs).  Well, Jeff watched football and I cruised the Internet, finding items that straddle the line between useful and useless knowledge (such as filling my head with gossipy fluff as it was “reveal day” on gossip blog Crazy Days and Nights – check it out to see what I mean).  I also caught up with some Facebook and Twitter friends and read some blogs that I enjoy.

One of those blogs is I’m a Mom in Real Life.  Yes, she’s a mom and I’m not, but she doesn’t really write about “mommy” topics – she writes about topics that make me laugh and, in this case, make me think and put a few things in perspective.  Mom in Real Life received an email from another blogger (I have no idea how this whole blog community really works but I’m learning and finding some really cool people) asking her to post the following.  Please read it, share it, comment on it, and if you’d like to read more from Brandy, her blog is here (as well as her contact info).  Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow – it means a lot to me that you all check it out and to my “real life” friends and family – I love you.

I know I’ve asked you guys for many things on this blog and I’m going to ask you for one more.

Read this.

That’s all.

My name is brandy. And I have a blog.

And a plea.

I use my blog to showcase the crazy I meet everyday, share the stories of the kids I teach and document my love for tequila, dairy products and the abdominal muscles of Ryan Reynolds. Rarely do I talk about personal issues on my blog- as personal as the dude that I adore (who I actually met through my blog- single ladies, let that be a very good reason to blog, the possibility of meeting someone as wonderful as my man), but I need your help. And it involves my dude.

He’s a guy who made math comics for my class, so they would love learning about addition. He’s the kinda guy who sends my friends gift cards when they are having hard times, who remembers every story I ever told him, who was the first person I celebrated with when I got a teaching job. He’s the guy who sent flowers to me at school- dozens of my favourite pink roses just because he loves me. He’s a guy who has spent a year patiently explaining (and re-explaining) everything there is to know about football during the important games when silence is preferred. He’s made me word puzzles and comics and stayed up late playing Scrabble with me (even though I beat him almost every time). He’s listened to me cry about school and family and jobs. He is everything I never knew I needed and everything I always knew I wanted.

The holidays have hit us hard. He’s recently been told he may have something called multiple myeloma- an incurable cancer, that gives a person an average of five years of continued life. Though this news has came as a shock, he continues to be exactly who has always been- spending his time worrying about me, rather than worrying about himself. He’s the most selfless individual I know- (he stayed late on Christmas Eve to work, so his co-workers could leave early) and a post like this would never be something that he would promote or encourage but when I’m overwhelmed and feeling helpless, the blogging community has always given me tremendous support and comfort, two things I desperately need at this time.

As I write this, the future is uncertain and we aren’t sure what’s happening. He’ll need to see an oncologist soon, to verify what’s going on in his body. My hope is that everyone who reads this think positive thoughts and if you are a person who prays, could you add him to your list? (You can refer to him as ‘brandy’s hot awesome dude’). If you don’t pray, please keep him in your heart.This cancer is only a possibility and I believe that the prayers and positive thoughts of people can make sure it never becomes a reality.

I want to give a big thank you to the blog owner who scraped their original blog plans and graciously put this up. My goal is to get as many people as possible to see and read this post. If you are reading this and want to help, copy and paste my plea into your blog or send a link through twitter, so more people can keep him in their thoughts. I would be so very grateful (even more grateful than I am to my friend who first showed me the picture of Ryan Reynolds on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. If you haven’t seen it, google it. You. Are. Welcome).

I realize this all sounds dramatic, a Lifetime movie in the making- but this is life. Right now. And I’m throwing away any hint of ego and am humbly asking for you to pray or think kind thoughts. If you are able to pass this on, thank you and if you know anything regarding MM- please email me (my email is on my blog). This isn’t a call for sympathy or a plea for pity. It’s just one girl hoping you can think positive thoughts for the person she adores. If my current heartache provides you with anything, let it be with the reminder that life is short, love is unbending and no one knows what could happen next. Maybe it is silly, but I really do believe that positive thoughts can make a huge difference. Thank you for reading this and if you haven’t already? Please tell someone you love them today.

I did.

Gifts that Do Good – Part 3 (for foodies)

So, now you have something for the musician, something for the jewelry lover/search for inner peace recipient, now it’s time for something for the foodie.

For those of you who have followed Bright-Yellow since the beginning, please excuse the repeat.  I just love this gift, though.  A La Card Chicago (if you don’t live in Chicago, don’t worry – I do and I’d like this gift so get it for me! Just kidding – really, there are many similar programs in other cities) is a deck of 52 cards for food lovers.  Each card features a different restaurant including a $10 gift certificate to that restaurant. And we’re not talking that random so-so restaurant on the corner. No, we’re talking some of Chicago’s favorites like The Bristol, Katsu, Naha, and Hot Doug’s.

As for the doing good – $1 from each A La Card Chicago deck goes to Common Threads and it’s a great gift that won’t break your budget – each deck is only $30!

Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow. Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments section and tell others about Bright-Yellow!

Gift Ideas that Do Good Part 2

Now that you’re all set with the musician in the family, now it’s time to shop for something pretty to wear – “wearable juju” as Pretty Bird puts it.

My friend (yep another one – I’m lucky to be surrounded by a lot of creative folks) Dian Sourelis started Pretty Bird with her friend Nancy Denney Essex.  For them, “it is a labor of love—love of beauty, love of feminine energy, and love of spirit.”  For the rest of us, it’s love of pretty jewelry!

Dian and Nancy have gathered natural and semi-precious materials from all over the world to create beautiful jewelry, including Malas which they describe as a contemporary interpretation of an ancient tradition. Each mala is made with 108 beads, designed to assist in mantra meditation and prayer. Incorporating handcrafted Thai silver charms, globally sourced accents and eco-friendly linen, each is a handmade original — no two are alike — and can be worn as a necklace or wrist wrap.”  They also create custom pieces based on your healing needs, for your group, or (my favorite) using an existing piece that needs to be “re-purposed” into a wearable juju!

So, if you’re in need of a personal yet creative gift for someone special, check out Pretty Bird.  And, let’s say great-aunt Edna gives you some of her jewelry that doesn’t quite suit your look, look at Pretty Bird.  Check out Pretty Bird’s Web site by clicking here (you can also arrange a time to check out their Pilsen studio through the Web site) or see their work at the Chicago Art District’s Second Fridays Events (the next one is January 9).

Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow!

Gift Ideas that Give Back

Allow me a moment of smugness – I have finished all of my holiday shopping and am about 95% finished with holiday cards on December 13!  Since this never happens, I need a moment to enjoy it!

You say you’re not quite finished and you’re stumped for ideas?  Well, Bright-Yellow to the rescue! All this week I’m going to feature gift ideas that give back (think of it as two gifts in one!).  First up, Greenhouse Chicago aka Tony Green.

I confess that Tony is a musician friend of mine (you may see that confession a few more times this week) but even if he weren’t, I’d be excited about this gift idea.  This holiday season, Tony is donating half of all of his CD and gift sales to Rock for Kids, a great non-profit here in Chicago that provides music education to kids in need.  You can check out Tony’s CDs on iTunes, CD Baby, or his own site Greenhouse Chicago.  Need something more personal this holiday season? How about guitar lessons?  Tony also teaches and has a great deal – CD and Guitar Lesson gift packs for only $60 plus $6 S&H (keep in mind, that means $30 for Rock for Kids!).  The gift pack includes two CDs and a gift certificate for one hour of guitar lessons (in the Chicago vicinity unless you’d like to fly him out to your area).

Tony is Scottish but this gift is not crap (I can’t help it – that joke somehow had to be made since he really is Scottish)!  Just click here to check out his tunes and get some holiday shopping done!

Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow.  Don’t forget to subscribe so that it’s waiting for your in your mailbox!

We All Have Something To Give

Today’s post is about giving. A long time ago I read an article about how you can feel rich even when you don’t make a lot of money. I have kept this in mind as Jeff & I continue to look for full-time jobs. One of the suggestions that stayed with me is to donate to a charity. You may think that you don’t have anything to spare, but there is always someone who can use your help – even if it is as simple as a dollar in the cup of a homeless person.

On Thursday, my friend, Dian, is hosting a fundraiser. Dian started a charity a few years ago called Creative Pitch. She runs a marketing and graphic design firm, Brainforest, and saw that her crew was throwing away barely used markers, paper, etc. just because they were maybe purchased for a particular client pitch or because something newer and better had come along. Dian, being the awesome person that she is, thought all of that trash was unacceptable and thought “hmmm… we’re probably not the only agency with extra supplies and maybe teachers or after school programs could use these items” and started “pitching” them to schools and community organizations – and Creative Pitch was born! To learn more about Creative Pitch, please click here.

On Thursday, May 28, Creative Pitch is hosting a fundraiser – Something To Pitch About! Sadly, I have plans that cannot be changed on Thursday night (hi Jen Lancaster!), but I encourage all of you to go have fun at Lumen (839 W. Fulton Market) from 6-9PM. The tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door – of course, drinks are included in that ticket price! For all of the details and purchasing tickets online, please click here.

If you work with a creative shop that may have extra art supplies, or you’re looking to volunteer, Creative Pitch is always looking for extra help, too!

Remember, even if you aren’t doing as well as you’d like to be financially, we all have something to give. Creative Pitch welcomes your help on Thursday night!