My Hidden Talent


Another month, another linkup! This month, the girls at The B Bar / The Well  asked us to share our hidden talents.

To be honest, I don’t really think my talents are hidden because I’m always pretty vocal about what I’m up to!

I have a fond childhood memory where my father asked me what I wanted to be when I grew u-  I said “an artist” as I was drawing a landscape sketch in my notebook. Although I’m not a ‘pencil to paper’ artist, I think my love for being creative has benefited my blog and photography business. (Although, I do have to say whenever I do sketch or paint, it comes really naturally.)

Coffee Shop Photoshoot 7 image via Everlasting Love Photography

I’m very good at networking, connecting and sharing helpful information that others might find useful. I feel that I do have “the eye” needed for photography or design, and I am so thankful for that- I’m a very visual person and I love seeing how colors pair together with an overall design.

Being able to visualize a design plan was a huge plus while working on the home I’m flipping (#MonroeFamilyFlip)  Also, networking and connecting with other creatives has been a great way of growing my blog and personal growth- I’ve made a couple of great friendships too!

Shop the B Bar linkup

As far as a hidden talent. I’ve been told by multiple I’m a really good singer but I’m way too embarrassed of myself to actually prove that (let’s just say I was belting out tunes when I thought I was alone in the ‘flip’ house- but turns out my mom was behind me the whole time… Her response was ‘Damn, I should have made you sing more as a kid- we could be millionaires by now!” I tried out for one solo in front of my high school choir class and that was the most courage I could ever muster to sing in front of someone!

What are your hidden talents and how do you leverage them? 

I participated in this link up with a ton of other lovely ladies- be sure to check out what their hidden talents are too!

Alyssa J Freitas
Annie Reeves
The Not Quite Adult
Equal Parts of a Whole
Life Modifier
soak and simmer
Carrie Loves
Emilie Lima Burke
Knowing Kelly
Something Good
Cassandra Monroe
Ember & March
Feathers and Stripes
Leigh Clair
Southern Soul
All The Pretty Stars
Perfect Enough For Us
Mrs. on the Move
The Toppy Top
Mint Julep Girl
A Minimalist Blog
Beauty and the Pitch
Meg Biram

Transitional Summer and Fall Headwear

If you’re anything like me, you tend to shop for the months coming ahead instead of shopping for ‘now.’  Aside from a few last minute purchases needed for some events, I have completely stopped shopping for summer- it’ll be the end of August before I can say ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte,’ and I want to be prepared.

One of my favorite accessories for both summer and fall is a cute hat that will complete my look. I love to take advantage of wearing hats for style before I’m forced to bundle up for the cold weather.

summer staples: think straw, panama and floppy styles.  images viaonetwothreefour

summer hat inspiration and style
fall staples: think knitted, wool, floppy and beanie styles.  images viaonetwothree

fall hat inspiration and style
The key to finding transitional summer and fall headwear is finding styles in a neutral color scheme and light materials. I’ve rounded up some headwear that I’ve got my eye on- both for last minute summer purchases and prepping for the cooler months ahead.

summer hat inspiration and style products

How to Interview a Subject For Your Blog

How To Interview a Subject For Your Blog 1

During my time as a Public Affairs Sergeant in the military, I learned many journalism related skills that grew me professionally. Most of these skills were perfected over time, like interviewing subject matter experts. When I first started, I wasn’t as confident in my interviewing skills and my questions definitely needed work. After seven years on the job, my skills improved greatly and interviewing subjects became routine. I’ve complied some tips that I’ve learned over the years and I hope they’ll help you the next time you conduct an interview!

Although this post specifically mentions ‘for your blog,’ please know that these tips are great for any person for any project!

Before the Interview


1. Brainstorm Your Angle

Before I even begin thinking about my interview subjects, I typically sit down and brainstorm what angle I want my article to go in. Your angle doesn’t have to be concrete but having a clear idea of what you want to write will give you a clue on what to ask your subject, or if you need several subjects for different supporting information. You’ll want to decide if you’re writing a news or feature article, or if you’re writing a questionnaire that will show off the subjects personality (these are usually used when featuring someone.)

2. Plan your Questions or Conversational Bullet Points

Now that you have your angle, it’s time to start planning your questions. It’s good to have the basic questions that will provide you with the information you need to complete your article. However, be sure to think outside the box and ask open ended questions that require the subject to answer with thought.

3. Reach Out to Your Subjects

I personally think contacting subjects via email is the most practical and respectful way to reach out to schedule an interview, but if your subject has an office space with a public number, feel free to try that out too- you’re guaranteed a quicker response if you’re facing a deadline. Be clear on what you’ll be interviewing them about- this will give them an idea on how to form their answers.

4. Discuss How You’ll be Holding the Interview and What Equipment You’ll be Using

I like interviewing my subjects in person because it gives a more personal feel and you can pick up on things, like their personality or environment, that you normally wouldn’t have through email or phone. However, bloggers aren’t always in the same area, so conducting an interview via phone or email has its advantages. For one, some subjects get nervous and prefer to answer questions through email or phone. Also, emailing the questions to the subject may allow them to give you a more detailed, informative answer. As far as recording equipment, I use my trusty Sony voice recorder, but in a pinch, I use my ‘Voice Memos’ app on my iPhone. Of course, always bring a pad of paper and a couple pens for backup.

During the Interview


1. Pick a Quiet Location

If conducting your interview in person, be sure to pick a quiet spot that won’t interfere with your subject’s attention, conversation or your voice recordings. You could always visit their office for an interview, or if you want to hold it in a coffee shop, call ahead and ask what their least busy times are.

2. Make your Subject Feel At Ease

Offer to buy them a coffee if meeting at a local cafe or give a rundown of your questions before hand, just to make them feel at ease.

3. Fact Check!

If you you need your subject to clarify on an answer, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s better to be right about your facts rather than assume. Also, make sure you spell your subjects name, title/occupation and other details. There’s nothing worse than misspelling your subjects name! (Thankfully, I have never done it my whole military career- SO proud of that! But I have spelled a word wrong that ended up on the front page of my base’s newsletter and right on the general’s desk! Thankfully I had enough time to pull the remaining copies from print (and from the general’s desk!) fix the error and reprint the newsletters. The word was ‘beginning’ and yes, it still haunts me.)

4. Take Notes

Even if you’re using a voice recorder, don’t feel like you should rely on it. Jot down notes during the interview as backup. Whenever your subject says something particularly quotable, mark down the time from your recorder- this allows you to find that quote easier post interview.

After the Interview


1. Thank Your Subject and Confirm Contact Information

Be sure to thank your subject for taking the time to speak with you. Confirm their contact information just in case you need to contact them to clarify any other questions you may have. If you have a business card, now would be a great time to exchange yours with your subjects.

2. Transcribe Your Notes While the Interview Is Still Fresh

Typically after an interview, I grab some food and coffee to go and sit at my computer until my notes are transcribed and my story is partially written. It’s best to knock your notes out right away because your short term memory will pick up on bits of the interview, which will help you out while you’re writing. I usually listen through the interview and transcribe the parts that are most relevant to the angle I’m going with. After writing my first draft of the article, I take a break or get some air and revisit it to further proof read.

3. Follow Up with the Subject

Once the interview is posted, send your subject a follow up email to thank them again and send them the link to your article for their viewing.

The greatest thing about interviewing people is that you’re able to gather information straight from the source and you’re getting to know someone’s story. Interviewing a subject is also a great way to make connections in your industry. Have you ever conducted an interview or have you ever been interviewed?

images via: 1 2 3 

Downtown Davenport Eats: Me and Billy Kitchen and Bar

As most of you know, I’ve been traveling back and forth from New York to Iowa because I’m renovating a home there. Whenever I have a chance, I love finding new places that have popped up since I moved (I haven’t lived in Iowa for almost 5 years.)

I first discovered Me and Billy through a local news segment discussing the rise of the price of eggs. Although the interview was interesting, my attention focused on the design of the restaurant. Sleek subway tiles, industrial lighting and eye-catching patterns were elements that drew me in. I immediately grabbed my iPhone and searched for the restaurant’s address and made plans to check the place out by the weekend.

Upon visiting Me and Billy, I felt an immediate sense of family togetherness. Billy Collins, the man behind the name, approached each table to make conversations with the guests. My family and I really enjoyed our experience at Me and Billy, so I knew I just had to highlight their business on this blog.

Me and Billy, downtown Davenport kitchen and bar

Me and Billy Downtown Davenport Eats

During my most recent visit to Me and Billy, I was able to sit down with the family behind the business and learn about how they’re making their mark on downtown Davenport.

The idea to open a ‘bar with great food’ originated when Fran Maus (‘The Boss Lady’) craved a unique taste and  atmosphere in the downtown Davenport area. After realizing that her ideas of starting a restaurant could become a reality, Maus and her husband started building a business plan and began searching for the right location, with help from the rest of her family.

“From the street, it’s a very attractive building,” said Billy. “It just needed the right idea to fit into this building. As [it was] gutted, Sarah walked in and said she had a vision. That vision is what you see today.”

Sarah Collins (‘Jill of All Trades’) said her interior design skills came from her mother and the input of her sister. “It was a joint effort; you pick up design hints from your own parents and upbringing. I think [our mother] has a lot of style and it rubbed off on us- there’s a little bit of each of us sprinkled throughout the entire space.”

Once they had the space, the restaurant and bar needed a name. That’s where Me and Billy came in, which was an ode to Billy’s first boat. The space splits into three elements- a formal dining area, a comfortable bar area and a private event space (complete with a ‘cheers’ marquee light.)

Me and Billy restaurant and bar, downtown Davenport Iowa

Although I’m no longer based near the Quad Cities area, I appreciate how the team behind Me and Billy work with their community. Recently rated the Quad City Chamber of Commerce 2015 Hot Spot of the Year, the restaurant plays host to many fundraisers and private events, as well as participates in community events.

“We go to and host a lot of fundraisers- it’s just engrained in us, it’s second nature,” said Maus.

This coming weekend, the team is hosting a block party with hopes of getting locals to visit and discover amazing businesses all in walking distance.

“Both of our parents are entrepreneurs,” said Sarah. “With that comes knowing a lot of people [and] being involved. All of it is linked and it’s important for people to know that we’re local and we support local businesses and communities.”

“Davenport is our home and we’re very proud of that,” said Billy. “We want to keep building on the success we’ve had by inviting people and making sure they feel welcomed and part of the community.”

Me and Billy Downtown Davenport Eats

The menu features fresh ingredients that, when paired together in a meal, compliment each other. During this visit, I had the delicious BLT Salad with added grilled chicken. Between the mix of protein and fresh ingredients, the salad was the perfect solution for a hot day. My mother ordered the Apple and Ginger Pork Belly which came with a bourbon apple sauce drizzled over a bed of potato hash and caramelized pearl onions.

The meals not only tasted great but were beautifully plated and were that items on the menu were reasonably priced too. For about $39, my mother and I ordered an appetizer, two meals and three drinks each. That’s a deal to me!

Me and Billy Downtown Davenport Eats

Speaking of drinks, they’re delicious. I can’t rave enough about the drinks served at Me and Billy. Be sure to try the Arnold Palmer Sangria, the classic moscow mule (I had some pear vodka added to mine!) or the Pear Martini.

Me and Billy, downtown Davenport restaurant and bar From left to right: Sarah Collins, Fran Maus, Mary Collins and Billy Collins.

If you live in near the area, be sure to visit Me and Billy! Keep up with their business here: Twitter Instagram Facebook •

Me and Billy
200 West 3rd Street
Davenport, IA 52801

My Deployment Summer Essentials

I’m linking up with the lovely ladies from Shop The BBar/The Well and many other bloggers for this summer-inspired post.

For today’s linkup, we’re discussing summer essentials. I thought I’d share what my summer essentials were for when I was deployed two years ago (it works with #TBT right!?) I know many of my essentials will work great no matter where you are.

Two years ago, I was stationed at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for nine months as a Public Affairs Sergeant; while deployed, I wrote for the base magazine, The Wire, and assisted with media visits (both print and video journalists from both large and local networks.) We were very busy during our work hours but luckily this deployment allowed for us to have time off and the ability to choose from many extra curricular activities to do on base (quite a change from being in the Middle East on my first deployment!)

While those back home were blasted with cold, cruel snow and ice, I was thankful to have nine straight months of tropical weather at my disposal. Here are the summer essentials that made my deployment SO MUCH fun- I know they’ll be a great way to make your summer fun too, no matter where you are.

Summer Essentials: sports
Whether you’re cheering on the sidelines for your favorite team to win or you’re in on the action yourself, sports are a great way to get active in the summer while spending time with your friends and family. Try joining a local softball beer-league team or hosting a game day party (both are also great ways to meet new people.) During my deployment, I stayed active in the sporting world by running in a few races on base, cheering for my friend’s football games and participating in a softball and bowling league.

beach days… or weeks! 

I mean let’s be honest, a little beach day wouldn’t hurt anyone’s summertime vibes right? So pack your bags and head to your nearest beach for the weekend, or if you don’t live near a beach, maybe it’s time to plan that vacation you and ‘babe’ have been talking about.

hobbies, goals and trying new things
Summer is a great time to pick up a hobby or set personal records- maybe you want to increase your mileage and shorten your run time, or you’ve got several personal goals you’d like to accomplish. While deployed, I ran into some wildlife, began pottery lessons on base, took advantage of the shared kitchen on my block and I picked up volunteering at the base plant nursery- that lovely picture of me was shortly before my first run in with a wild tarantula!

Summer Essentials Friends and Food
good friends, good food
No summer would be complete without good friends and good food. Fire up that grill,  garnish your drink and have your friends over! Maybe it’s time to hit up that new restaurant around the corner with your girlfriends from college! Weekend barbecues and hanging out ‘on the block’ was how I spent my free time with my friends. Oh, and don’t mind the makeshift grill I made during a midnight shift for work! (It was actually pretty amazing- you know me, I’ll find any way to cook up some food.)

So if you’re staying active or having fun through sports, hitting up the beach or taking that long awaited vacation, starting a new goal or continuing a hobby, and enjoying good food with great company, you’re guarenteed to have a great summer.

 Be SURE to see what other summer essentials these ladies are sharing!

26 and Not Counting  • Alyssa J Freitas • soak and simmer • The Not Quite Adult • Carrie Loves • The Yuppie Files • PRBlonde • Knowing Kelly • Something Good • Feathers and Stripes • Otherworldly • Sunny Side Up • Life Modifier • Leigh Clair • Rae Loves • Rose Colored Water • Rossetto • Fashion to a T • PreppyPanache • Emilie Lima Burke • Ember & March • Business Betties • with love from ellie • Mint Julep Girl • Love Peace and shimmer • Rae Everyday • Little Wild Heart • star-crossed smile • Luv in the Bubble • Perfect Enough For Us  • LIFE BY BRI • Sorcha Eleanor • Brikasia • Dreams and Colour Schemes • Elana Lyn • Sequins & Strawberries • Pattern Me Pretty • Beauty and the Pitch • White Oak Creative • The Toppy Top • White Cabana • In The Grey • Taryn Williford • Cooper + Thames • Mrs. on the Move • Magnificent Temptations • Meg Biram • Victoria McGinley