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.


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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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.


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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What is a Doodle? 37 Doodle Breeds

Recently we pinned an infographic (you can see it below) about “designer dogs” on one of our Pinterest boards. It’s just a cute compilation of some interesting facts about these purposeful…

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Annnnnddddd, they’re off!

The Iditarod is on! Mushers took off today from Willow, starting at 2 pm Alaska Time (6 pm Eastern). “Just” 42 miles to the next checkpoint at Yentna. Current temperature in the area is 24 degrees Fahrenheit, with a 62% chance of snow. Ever wonder what a musher eats? Check out GQ’s article about Larry … Continue reading Annnnnddddd, they’re off!

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Iceland Bound (Give Me Your Tips!)

Visiting Iceland

We leave for Iceland in two weeks and I’m both excited and nervous. We haven’t traveled abroad without the kids, well, since before we had kids. And my husband is used to being away from them consistently for work, but I’ve never been away from them for more than three day/two night trips. (This will be a week.) I know it’s all going to be just fine, and I also realize this is a pretty privileged thing to be nervous about. I think more than anything, my anxiety stems from having to get everything prepared in advance for their schedules and hoping I don’t mess anything up. All that said, I have wanted to visit Iceland for many, many years, and it’s being made possible because the band my husband stage manages is playing a series of shows there, so more than anything, I am grateful.

There won’t be a lot of time to explore since this is a work trip for Robbie, but we will have some down time. The last day is our only full day to do what we want, and we have a really cool Golden Circle excursion in the works. We are also planning to hit up the Blue Lagoon on our way to the airport before we head home. Other than that, we have no plans. So if you’ve been and have tips or recommendations, I would love to hear them! I know the basics (that everything is incredibly expensive, that we should buy any booze at the airport, that weather is unpredictable, etc.), but anything beyond that would be so appreciated. We’ll be staying in Reykjavik the entire time, but may be able to incorporate a few short day trips into the itinerary as long as Robbie is back by afternoon for work.

Oh, and we are going during the time of year when the Northern Lights are most visible, which is by far the thing about which I’m most excited. Robbie and I have been chasing them for many years and have never gotten a glimpse. Fingers crossed hard!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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{Giveaway} Jiminy’s Wholesome Dog Treats Made From Crickets!

This post includes affiliate links. I’m always looking for nutritious and tasty treats for Barli and Tiki–but, at the same time, I’d like to help minimize the impact that they, like…

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Win a Blue Zoca Premium Waterproof Blanket!

This giveaway is sponsored by and fulfilled by Blue Zoca. For the past several years, we have worried about pet stains on our bed…so much so that we’ve had to cover the bed with a…

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The 16 Best Items at Trader Joe’s (2020 Edition)

The Best Items At Trader's Joes, 2020 Edition

Every spring since 2017, I’ve shared my favorite items from Trader Joe’s with with you guys. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s my favorite grocery store for many reasons (healthier options, affordability, overall good vibe), but I mostly love all of the speciality items they offer under their own branding. After a big TJs shopping trip last week, it felt like a good time to share this year’s favorites. There are, of course, many core staples that have remained year after year, but I’ve also included some newer go-to’s. (And nope, this isn’t sponsored. I just love me some TJs.)

1. Toscano Black Pepper Cheese
Once again keeping this at #1 because it is, my all-time favorite TJs product. It was recommended to us several years ago by a Trader Joe’s employee while we were shopping, and it now a staple in our fridge. You have to try it. Trust me.

2. Green Goddess Dip
This is a new item to TJ’s and I pray to the universe every time I taste it that they never discontinue it. It’s a combo of avocado, sour cream, and garlic, and I eat it on everything from raw carrots to eggs to tacos.

3. Raw Almond Butter
Expensive but worth it. It’s by the best almond better I’d had aside from fresh ground (and even then the texture is no match).

4. Carrot Ginger Miso Salad Dressing 
Current favorite dressing. An explosion of flavors.

5. Handcrafted Black Bean & Cheese Taquitos
I mean, they’re taquitos. Need I say more?

6. Triple Ginger Snaps
By far the best ginger snaps I’ve ever tasted (other than my dad’s homemade variety). The fresh ginger, candied ginger, and ground ginger combine to create true ginger cookie heaven.

7. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
The best price I’ve found and we use it daily. No brainer.

8. Organic Broccoli Slaw 
I discovered this in 2018 and now I can’t live without it. It’s the perfect crunch to add to bowls and tacos, and also delicious steamed with pasta sauce.

9. Everything But The Bagel Seasoning
Best seasoning there ever was. I need not say more.

10. Thai Yellow Curry Sauce
This one holds a special place in my heart. The first time I had my now-husband over for dinner (13 years ago!), I made him yellow curry tofu with this sauce. His exact word in response was “smitten.” (I also drank way too much vodka that night and he ended up holding up my hair over the toilet, which was the first of many signs that this one was a keeper.)

11. Thai Vegetable Gyoza
Tibetan Momos are my absolute favorite food, but they’re impossible to find outside of Tibetan restaurants, and my one attempt at making them was disastrous to say the least. These are the closest I’ve found. I eat them with sriracha and soy sauce. So so so good.

12. Paneer Tikka Masala with Spinach Basmati Rice 
This genuinely tastes as good as the Paneer Masala at my favorite Indian restaurant. My only complaint is that for a dinner, the portion is quite small.

13.  These Peanuts Go On a Date Bars.
I’m not a big bar person, but the label intrigued me (great marketing work, TJs) and I loved they only have 4 ingredients. I’m glad I tried them, because now you can always find one in my purse. They’re the perfect sweet, nutty treat.

14. Soy Chorizo
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a teen so I’ve never tried real chorizo, but this soy version was recommended to me and I can’t get enough. So yummy mixed in with eggs and in burrito bowls.

15. Steamed Lentils 
These make the perfect snack, are great on salads, and just make life easier. My kids are fans too. I top them with a little Bragg’s Amino Acids.

16. Speculoos Cookie Butter
You guys don’t need me to tell you about this one, right? I don’t buy it as much as I used to because the calorie count is not kind, but it’s one of my favorite treats.

Did I miss any of your favorites? If so, please let me know! I’m always stoked to try new TJ’s goodies.


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Dog Food Storage: What You Need to Know

If you are purchasing large sacks of dog food, know how to safely store dog food — and where in your house to store the food to keep it fresh.

This post first appeared in DogTipper.com. Link to…

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Dog Park Time—Some Simple Dos and Don’ts

Today we have a guest post from Erin Edwards at Pet Treater about a topic that will soon be on everyone’s mind as the weather warms: a trip to the dog park! Every day for your fur baby is an…

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