Ask Away Friday With Express Bus Mama

I met today’s Ask Away Friday partner during last week’s link up. Jenny is a new blogger and I really love her blog. It is clear that she took a lot of time think about her vision before she started. She blogs at Express Bus Mama. Make sure you check out her answers to my questions!

Express Bus Mama ASk


Wondering what Ask Away Friday is all about? Two bloggers exchange 10 questions and answer them on their blog. We link up with one of the hosts, Tamara from Tamara Like CameraTiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life LaughterChristy from Uplifting FamiliesStacey from This Momma’s Ramblings or Amber from Bold Fit Mom and visit each other. This is a really sweet community and I’m pretty stoked to be meeting some of my Ask Away friends at Blog U this summer!

1. What do you miss about the Midwest? What do you dislike about New England?

My entire family lives in my hometown in Illinois, so they probably the thing I miss most. I also really love the sunsets in Illinois. The land is so flat and you can see for miles and miles.

I hate New England winters. They are beautiful, but I’m not a fan of the cold weather.

2. I love to thrift too! What’s your thrifting mantra?

Go with an open mind. In my purse, I keep a running list of the things that I’m hoping to come across. There are some things that I’m always on the hunt for (patchwork quilts, vintage children’s books, and beautiful coffee mugs). And there are some things that I am actively looking for to fill wardrobe holes for the kids.

Almost all of the kid’s clothing is second hand (except for socks and underwear). To build a child’s wardrobe from second hand clothing means that you really have to think a head a bit. When I go, I look not only for things of the size they are currently in, but also a size or two ahead.

My other piece of advice is this- if you don’t love it, don’t buy it, no matter how great the deal is.

3. Your kids’ names are adorable. Why did you choose them?

Malone was named after Sam Malone from Cheers. Michael and I met in Boston and wanted to have a name that held a piece of our story.

Malone named Lola. His favorite song is Lola by The Kinks. From the second we told him we were going to have a baby (I think I was around six weeks…I was sick and he was worried), he said that it was a sister named Lola. After hearing it for almost nine months, it stuck. We had a few other names we liked better, but she’s our Lola. We often call her Lollie.

4. You’re a success story! Would you encourage others looking for love to go the online route?

We would have likely never met, if it weren’t for We didn’t share similar circles of friends or live in the same neighborhood. I think that using an online dating service is a great tool to utilize, if you’re looking for love. I say that with caution though. Michael and I met in 2003, when the internet was still an innocent baby. I haven’t been around any dating sites in a long time and I don’t know how that landscape has changed.

5. What’s one thing about blogging that you love, but never expected?

I love that I get to use so many different parts of my brain. When I was in college, I couldn’t settle on a major. I was interested in too many subjects. I eventually dropped out because I couldn’t pick and stick to something.

Blogging allows me to dabble a little bit in to so many different areas and is diverse enough to hold my interest. On the artistic side, I love fooling around with graphic design, learning how to use my big girl camera, and writing outside of my comfort zone.

But I am equally in love with the business side and learning about marketing, networking, taxes for bloggers, and setting long term goals.

I didn't expect to fall in love with the diversity of blogging.
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A writer could blog, but being a blogger is so much more than writing.
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6. Share a couple time management tips for bloggers.

I just recently started writing in Word and then transferring it over onto my platform. That has really helped me narrow down my focus. When I’m online, I get too distracted by the other things that are happening. I might bounce from writing to Twitter to reading another blog to thinking I should look at their media kit and then hop over to Facebook, back to Twitter, and then finally back to writing again. Writing in Word has eliminated all of that.

I also think that keeping an idea bank or editorial calendar is a great time management idea. My calendar isn’t set in stone, but I love knowing what I am going to write about when I have a chance to come to the computer and do it.

Sometimes the hardest part of blogging is figuring out what to write.
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7. You’ve just won an obscene amount of money. What are going to change about your life? What will you keep the same?

We are going to buy a house (we rent) and a mini van. We’ll spend a few years making wise investments and planning a trip around the world. I’d love to take a year or two and travel the globe with my kids. I think it would be a great way to bond as a family and expand their world view.

Our family mission statement will always stay the same. This is what guides most of the decisions we make for the future of our family. Our goal is to raise empathetic self sufficient children who make wise decisions and love their neighbors more than themselves.

8. I love magazines but have less and less time to enjoy them. What about you? Do you subscribe to any?

I love People Magazine, but I don’t subscribe to any. I find I’d rather get my inspiration and content from other bloggers. If I had unlimited hours in my day, I’d likely read magazines more frequently. But I just don’t.

9. Describe the perfect pizza.

The perfect pizza is one shared with friends in a kitchen with babies on hips and drinks in hands. It’s hugs hello and kisses on cheeks. It’s laughter on crisp summer nights.

The perfect pizza is eaten between questions.

“How is the new job going?”

“How is your mom recovering from knee surgery?”

“When are you free this week for coffee?”

The perfect pizza is kids running in and out of the house, forgetting to close the slider along the way. They’re not cousins, but they might as well be. They do not know life without each other’s friendship.

It’s climbing up Uncle Josh and yelling at the dogs to stop stealing bread from babies.

The perfect pizza is live well lived, in community with our oldest friends.

I have an AMAZING pizza dough recipe. I’ll be sharing it on the blog very soon!

10. You have beautiful, long hair so of course I’m going to ask you about it. Hair care tips? Would you ever go short?

Funny you should ask that, I just recently cut it! It is much much shorter now, and I have bangs.

In all honesty, I believe that great hair starts from within. Drinking enough water can do amazing things for your body. And I don’t know if there has been a scientific study that proves it, but it certainly can’t help.

I am also not a fan of doing damaging things to my hair. I don’t get it colored or treated. I use flat irons and blow dryers sparingly (I air dry). And I don’t wash it more than a couple times a week if I can help it. I’m a big fan of dry shampoo for the in between, but I’ve also heard a little baby powder will do the trick too.

When I do wash it, I typically use the Tea Tree Oil shampoo and conditioner from Trader Joes. And sometimes, instead of using conditioner in the shower I use a spray on conditioner. I think that if you’re not careful with conditioner, it can really build up and get flaky.

But here is my secret.

Before you get your headshots taken, go for a blow out so it looks fabulous.
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  1. 1

    REa says

    A writer could blog, but being a blogger is so much more than writing. — Oh I just love this line! This is so true.

    Your description of the perfect pizza is amazing. You went above and beyond to describe that to us.
    I don’t undergo any treatment for my hair too. My trip to the salon will only include a simple haircut. As much as I’d love not to wash my hair every so often, it’s not possible in my country as it’s sunny most of the time :D

  2. 3

    Jenny says

    Thank you so much for swapping with me this week! I love getting to know new people and your questions were so much fun. Your pizza really is the perfect pizza. I’ll never eat pizza without thinking about that again. I’m guilty of breaking your thrifting rules. I always buy things just because they’re “cheap” and end up wasting so so much money. Your family mission statement is so inspiring and true :)
    Jenny recently posted..Princess Diana, Rose Gardens, and Lobster…Oh My!My Profile

    • 4

      NJ says

      Thank you for swapping with me! I loved answering your questions- they were really thoughtful!

      You live close to me, so you should come for pizza sometime!

  3. 5

    Lisa @ The Golden spoons says

    Love these answers – especially the pizza one! Looking forward to swapping with you in a couple weeks – time for me to get back in the AAF saddle!
    Lisa @ The Golden spoons recently posted..ReentryMy Profile

    • 6

      NJ says

      I was off from AAF for a few weeks too and it was hard to get back into the swing of things a bit. However, I am so glad I did. I love swapping (and answering).

  4. 7

    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout says

    I love love love your answer to the pizza question! I wish I could magically teleport to visit all my blog friends. (I guess that’s what blog conferences are for, huh?!) Someday… when the kids get a little older.
    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted..May Goals, and April Goals in ReviewMy Profile

    • 8

      NJ says

      I am headed to two this year and I am so excited! My husband has a boat load of vacation time- he’s been with his company for over 14 years. He’ll take time off so I can go. We realized that if we want this space to grow, we need to invest in it a little bit more. Blog U is really affordable. I think it was $249.00 and the price includes meals and lodging (on campus, in dorms).

  5. 9

    Kim says

    I love your description of a perfect pizza – sounds awesome.
    And, your haircut is super cute!
    Kim recently posted..No Excuses – We Can Always Make Time to MOVE!!!My Profile

    • 10

      NJ says

      Thanks Kim!

      I was a bit nervous about the bangs at first, but the longer I have them, the more I like them!

  6. 11

    Beth @ Structure in an Unstructured Life says

    Loved your swap this week!! Your blogging answers were fantastic -completely related. And your pizza description was absolutely beautiful. Made my heart happy to read it!!
    Have a wonderful weekend, my friend!!
    Beth @ Structure in an Unstructured Life recently posted..Ask Away Friday with ReaMy Profile

    • 12

      NJ says

      Thanks Beth!

      We don’t often get to gather anymore, there are so many moving parts to this group with work travel and kids. But these friendships are more than a decade old and there is just something so sweet about being with people who have walked live with you for a REALLY long time.

  7. 13

    Nancy says

    Can’t wait to read your perfect pizza recipe! We just made pizza again tonight…easy to do on softball nights when we get back late.
    I definitely agree with you on meeting people online… I don’t think I would meet Henry if it happened today. The Internet is so different now and I didn’t even meet him on a dating site!
    Nancy recently posted..My Writing ProcessMy Profile

    • 14

      NJ says

      It is a really great honey whole wheat crust. The only thing I don’t love is the mess it makes to make it home made!

  8. 15

    Tiffany says

    OMGosh you cut your hair!?!?!?! I love it but I never thought you would! Go you for making changes! I am in LOVE with you description of the perfect pizza. You are so right it is all about the atmosphere the mood, the relationships that surround you that can make it awesome!

    Amazing idea to have your ClickToTweet within…you had some grey points definitely share worthy!
    Tiffany recently posted..Let’s Chat: Feeling Blah, College In My Face & Easter MemoriesMy Profile

    • 16

      NJ says

      I did! I love it so much. The only problem is that now I need to get new head shots!

      Click to tweet is a new obsession of mine. I am really loving it!

      • 17

        Tiffany says

        I can’t wait to see the new shots! :)

        When I first got ClickToTweet I was tweeting everything…LOL I actually forget abou tit now but it is definitely a great tool…

        • 18

          NJ says

          I am hoping Tamera will take them for me, but right now she’s swamped with a side project. We only live about 15 minutes away from each other, so we’ll see!

          I love click to tweet!

  9. 19

    Stacey Gannett says

    You are so right about Illinois sunsets, when not in a city surrounded by buildings. Your perfect pizza sound amazing and I completely agree. Your new haircut is wonderful, mine is getting very heavy, the longer it gets and I don’t think that i could go above the shoulders, but I am getting to a point that I am wanting at least 5 or 6 inches taken off. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, NJ!
    Stacey Gannett recently posted..#AskAwayFriday with Echo from Domain of the Mad Mommy!My Profile

    • 20

      NJ says

      Illinois sunsets are so beautiful. I never get to see the sunset here at our house. We live in a neighborhood with a lot of trees. And at the end of my road is a mountain that blocks my view west. If I went over the mountain, I’d have a really pretty view!

      I cut my hair because it was taking over 35 minutes to brush it out everyday. I don’t have time for that! I think she took about 6 or 7 inches off. I’m a big fan of giving the stylist permission to do what she thinks will look good. It wasn’t until the very last second that I gave bangs the green light. I love it so much. And she had fun doing it. When I told her she could do whatever she wanted (as long as I could still pull it back into a ponytail) and I promised I wouldn’t be mad, she flipped with excitement. She said most people come in with a really specific idea. She used a razor to cut most of it. My hair is typically really heavy, but the razor cut took away a lot of the volume (I’ve got wicked thick hair).

  10. 21

    Shelly says

    You’re spot on about the sunsets here! I live at the edge of our town where it’s cornfields as far as you can see and we have the most gorgeous sunsets! She’s right, your kids names are super cute! I wanna join you for pizza! That sounds perfect. :) Have a great weekend! Hopefully the sun will come out!
    Shelly recently posted..Terrarium Spruce UpMy Profile

    • 22

      NJ says

      Well, it is Tuesday now (we were away for a long weekend) and the sun is out! While we were away, the trees started to bloom and spring is finally here!

      I love the sunsets in Illinois, they are my FAVORITE!

      If you ever come to MA, I’ll have you here for pizza. I promise.

  11. 23

    Echo says

    Oh wow! I love your answers! Falling in love with the diversity in blogging – I totally get that!
    Echo recently posted..Ask Away Friday!My Profile

    • 24

      NJ says

      It is so true. Blogging is so diverse, which makes it the perfect job for me. When I was in college, I couldn’t ever settle on a major because I loved studying too many subjects !

  12. 25

    Christy Garrett Parenting Tips says

    I actually met my husband on MySpace.We didn’t meet right away and talked for a long time before he finally decided to meet. In fact, our first date was a bit awkward but he gave me a second chance and the rest is history. We are coming up on our 6 year anniversary.
    Christy Garrett Parenting Tips recently posted..#ASKAWAYFriday Parenting Tips, Tough Decisions, Shopping, and MoreMy Profile

    • 26

      NJ says

      Awesome! Myspace was so fun! It was like the first facebook! I didn’t use it a ton, but I totally had my page tricked out with a lot of animation and sparkle.

      Our first date wasn’t awkward, we talked for hours. It was only until recently that I realized how much he must have really liked me right off the bat- my husband is a huge introvert so talking for hours isn’t his thing!

  13. 27

    Kristi Campbell says

    Aw I love love number nine. What a perfect answer and one that I didn’t expect. Also the advice of “if you don’t love it, don’t buy it regardless of the bargain” is SO good. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought something because it was a great deal and then not used it. And my husband and I met online, too! Cool!!
    Happy Mother’s Day! I love your kids’ names and how they came to be.
    Kristi Campbell recently posted..From a dad, who thinks his wife gave his special needs son the worldMy Profile

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