back to school

7 Sep

i miss going back to school.  not the school part, but the outfits part.  my memories of back-to-school shopping are so alive and vivid and thinking back to that time makes me feel warm and happy.

there are a few places in life where you feel totally yourself.  where it’s safe to be silly and maybe even a little bratty (if called for) and be surrounded by unconditional love.  back to school shopping with mom and my sister was one of those places.  i always feel that way with them, but bts shopping sticks out as an annual event that we’d always anticipate.

starting in grade school and going pretty much into college, the three of us would designate a day in August to hit the stores and pull together outfits for the coming school year.  the excitement started in late july when the august issue of seventeen magazine was sent to the house.

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it was thick with knowledge and glossy pages of what we were to expect that season.  that magazine sat in its wrapper on the kitchen counter like a present i was too excited to open.  when the time was just right, i’d take it upstairs, close my door, lay on my bed on my stomach, open it up and slowly analyze each ad and editorial.  only after i was done and i’d let some time pass would i let my sister take a look.

we were totally spoiled.  i’ll admit that right now.  it was the one time of year where we just went crazy and stocked up on all the fall and winter clothes, shoes, bags – everything.  it was GIRL POWER all the way and dad always insisted on a fashion show once we got home.

so to understand the comment i made above about back-to-school shopping and being totally yourself – you have to know joan.  joan is my mom and you can read more about her here and here.

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my mom doesn’t mince words… at all.  she tells it how it is.  not one of those people that will say “looks so cute” and then say in her inside voice “not so much.”  her inside voice is her outside voice.  and the best part about that is she is my mom.  not someone who could be swayed by other intentions.  i know my mom has my best interest in mind.  so bts shopping became this time of extreme bonding with mom and katie.   we laughed, joked and threw clothes over doors.  we tried on millions of clothes.  the best was all three of us getting in one dressing room.  sometimes we laughed so hard that we had to gather ourselves together before exiting the stall. mom would sit on the little stool and direct:

“katie, give that top to amy, that color looks better on her.”

“amy, those pants are very slimming but the top is too short.”

“amy, stop standing on your tippy toes and making that silly face.” <laughter>  

“oooh  oooh, i like that!  that is cute, let me get more colors.”

together we went through the preppy phase where it was all about wide wale corduroys, button-down shirts and penny loafers. then we struggled through the grunge phase of ripped jeans.  we trampled through the limited and the limited express.  in high school, i ended up working at the limited because i knew their inventory better than they did.

we always had lunch at the food court and did a recap of our purchases and then hit it again.  at the end of the day, we got a diet coke at the mcdonalds drive through, went home and proceeded again to take inventory of our purchases by laying everything out by outfit on mom and dad’s bed.  only then did we start to think about which one would become the big FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL outfit but we had time for that.

my favorite part of the day was at dinner when at the urging of my mom, my dad would INSIST on seeing everything in the way of a fashion show where he would put on some duran duran or loverboy <whatever us kids listened to> and we’d parade up and down the stairs and into the family room, pivot, step up on the mantel and show off our goods while dad ooohed and ahhhed.  it made us laugh because we knew it wasn’t his cup of tea but he always played along.

how very blessed i was to be able to do that and have those clothes but most of all it’s the memories i cherish the most.

flooding in detroit + my story

14 Aug

when you catch the nightly news and you’re watching a weather disaster, thoughts of horror probably come over you.  

they are matched with sadness and many other emotions.  but you’re still sipping your coffee and then maybe you flip off the TV and go to work.  after all, what can you do but pray and think about the atrocity.  been there, done that.  i get it.  

on monday night i was one of those people you may have seen on the nightly news. on second thought, maybe not. after all i was completely shocked how little this tragedy made headlines.  i don’t think the world cares about detroit.  this is another atrocity.  i don’t get it.   simply the scariest night of my entire life.

so i wake up on a typical monday morning, get in my brand new 2014 chevy impala which is totally bad ass and head to work.  normal so far.  i like my music loud, so it’s pumping, my coffee is steaming in the cup holder next to me.  i park in the garage at one detroit center, jump into “work mode” and do my thing.  we’re on the 19th floor of an incredible building and have the best view of the river and detroit.  normal so far.

flash flood, i mean, forward to heading home.  had to leave a little earlier than normal but i had gotten in nice and early so i didn’t feel bad about it.  it was raining out but no big deal.  normal so far.

got in the car and headed out on interstate 75 pointed north.  it was coming down pretty hard but nothing at all unusual.  however, two hours later when I’ve only moved about 10 miles out of the city – not so normal.  while waiting in the horrible traffic, i go on to Facebook and look to see where my work buds are and one of them posts “do not go on the freeway, massive flooding, cars being routed off”.  not normal.  what?  i was smushed in between three semi’s and to my right, i see cars going THE OPPOSITE WAY on the shoulder.  i flip a couple of posts past the first and see another shot of water up to the windows of a car, people getting out of their cars to which the post reads “horrible flooding – this has what has held us up in traffic for 4 hours!”  now i realize all this was happening right in front of me.

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i’m a stranger to flooding.  honestly, it has been the least scariest natural disaster to me.  this is out of complete ignorance.  tornados – i’m all over them.  i know where to hide.  earthquakes, been in them.  scary, yet.  flooding – who can’t deal with a little extra water?!  i can swim!  so this is my mindset up until this point.  this is where i’m coming from.

right now, my pulse is raised but only at the horrendous thought of exiting the freeway at an unknown point.  this is detroit after all.  second only to flint having the most murders per capita.    some of you reading this have absolutely no clue what bad is- and that’s good.  but this isn’t a couple of blocks of nasty houses.  we’re talking miles and miles of blown out houses turned into drug havens.  i’m not going to belabor this because i believe in the good of detroit rather than the bad.  but let’s just say i never – ever – wanted to -ever- get off interstate 75 early.  not here.   i start to see the underpass and the cars under water and i reluctantly motion to the semi next to me to please let me and my little car over… i need to get off the interstate.

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it was so amazing how little communication was going on.  the news sucks here.  sorry.  it does.  robert was watching it for me and there was very little warning out there on what was going on.  he said to me “be careful – i’m real worried about you getting off the highway.”  i told him i was going to call on star and will talk to him soon.

i was in a shitty area.  it was now about 8:30pm and getting darker.  i was exiting 75 and had on star on the car system with me.  i love them.  one lady stayed on the phone with me two hours past her shift had finished.  she tried really hard to get me home.  but there was absolutely no way.  i was on low gas and every way i turned in this god forbidden area was flooded.

i’m not going to lie.  i was absolutely terrified.   i thought that i was headed in a good direction on a side road to 75 when suddenly there was a barricade and i had to turn around.  i weaved through some awful neighborhoods until i got to a main street… 8 mile.

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8 mile at 75 is two lanes exiting and then three lanes merging from the bridge that went over 75.  all 5 lanes came together in water that came up to the top of my tires.  when it was my turn to follow the car in front of me, i had to weave up on the sidewalk between a burnt out brothel and a dead street light.  my heart was pounding through my chest.  my hands were sweaty and i started to pray out loud.  i don’t pray because it’s the in thing to do – i pray because i believe in God and He can make stuff happen.  fyi.  research that. 

i was on with my on star rep who was seriously ready to get home and get her drink on.  as i merged into the flood, I now knew why i should fear floods.  if i were to stall out, i would be stuck with no police, no husband, no one to help me.  all night.  i put my credit cards and license in my bra and hid a credit card in the back pocket of the car.  smart, right?  as i go through the water, car after car is stalling out but not me.  i got through the water and made it to the other side.  that is where i breathed a huge sigh of relief.  even if i was on 8 mile in the #2 murder capital of the world.  just head west to woodward, i said to myself out loud.  i live off woodward.  Lord, get me there!  it’s only a mile down 8 mile.  so i excitedly go down 8 mile and right into a road block.  woodward is closed.  75 is closed.  i’m trapped on 8 mile and it’s now 10:30 at night.

<commercial break.  get a glass of wine.  take a sip.  I am. >

i go to a gas station and get gas (thank you God!) and introduce myself to another scared-to-death girl in her 20’s.  we were all over the place!  wide-eyed, mascara smudged faces looking around with our eyebrows raised and don’t-mess-with-me pretend faces.   i asked her if she was stranded and she said that she was trying to get to lavonia.  i didn’t even know where that was.  she tells me that the nice man in front of her is showing her the way out of 8 mile and pointed in the right direction.  i was afraid to be alone so i asked if i can follow (mistake #1) and she said sure.  so we all headed out on 8 mile and turned right on a street called john r (mistake #2).   i thought 8 mile was bad.  after all eminem sang about 8 mile and produced a movie on how bad it was. but john r was worse!  now, i was on a side street that was unlit, a bunch of warehouses and a ton of stranded cars strewn all over the street.  there were scary crackheads hanging out on corners too.  it was a long wait and by this point, i’ve clued in that typically means there is a flood area up ahead.  AM I IN HELL?   ROF was on the phone with me and he told me to stop driving around that i was going to get stuck and that would be the worse thing that could happen to me.  so I turned around, left my friends, and headed back the same way to 8 mile.  my home base.

however…

when i got to 8 mile, i could now only go right which meant –  i had to go the wrong way down 8 mile, go over 75, turn around and go through THE HUGE ASS FLOODED AREA AGAIN!  excuse my french. 

i’ll spare you the commentary.  it was now 11:30pm.  but i’ll just throw out some words/thoughts:

“ you ain’t gonna make it across, you gotta cross the median.  you ain’t gonna do that with your impala.  oh now wait, you got 20’s – give it a shot”

ok.

“amy, go park somewhere, you are going to get stuck.”

i made it through the huge flood area now – water up to the middle of my drivers side door.  i don’t know how, but i made it.  i drove straight to my favorite citgo gas stations sandwiched in between a strip bar and a cool restaurant called SOUL FOOD.  thank god, i never got kicked out of the citgo parking lot because i stayed there for 2 more hours.  i met a really nice indian woman and her friend she had picked up from the airport.  she had come in from india. WELCOME TO DETROIT!  she was going to 12 mile and woodward – near me – and she said “we are scared to death, can we follow you?”  i said sure.  after all, i do have all the answers.

i’ve been in the car for over 7 hours at this point.  no bathroom, no water, no food, no wine (mistake #3, always carry emergency wine)  ROF urged me to go to the strip club and have a drink but he was just joking.  i think.  my friend from india- gina – and i just parked close to each other and hung out while thug after thug got gas.  we even watched one tinkle between the two cars.  real nice.  i had my foot on the break, my hand on the shift and my mirrors positioned to see any funny business.  it was now 1:45 in the morning. rollin’ with my homies.

this was my breaking point.  i had called 911 because we were stranded and they said some words i’m sure they didn’t mean but were stressed out.  this whole time i had only seen 2 cops.  but i looked on google maps and saw i could take a side street to 9 mile, turn left and hit woodward and then go 110 mph home.  so i called on star because they are my very best friends at this point.  i did think it was cute that they would say “i will call the authorities if anything happens to you” it was reassuring but this is detroit, honey, ain’t nobody got time for that!

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so i rolled down my window and told gina and her friend to follow me, we were going home.  she said OK.  i told her to KEEP UP.  she said OK.  we headed down a side street which was obviously flooded out earlier because cars were strewn all over and on top of each other.  we made it to 9 mile but it looked like a war zone!  semi trucks were pulled over one by one along the side and cars were all over the place -stranded.  gina wasn’t keeping up and i thought for a split second to blow her off but couldn’t.  it was 2am.  i was shaking at the anticipation of getting home.

i pulled into a gas station and let gina catch up.  i rolled down the window and asked her to please step on it.  she said OK.  so we weaved down 9 mile together until we got to a sign that made me cry:  WOODWARD AVE!

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gina wanted to turn the wrong way, so i waved her down and together we headed down the now open woodward together.  as she turned off at 12 mile, she called me.  we had exchanged numbers.  “ i just want to tell you that i would have never gotten through tonight without you.”  sure you would have!  “no really, i wouldn’t have.  i would be asleep at the citgo on 8 mile!”  we both laughed.   i told her she was a comfort to me too and we said goodbye.  i thanked God for putting an angel with me for the night.

i have this night on my mind a lot.  i think i will for a while.  i’ve written in previous posts how much i like to be jolted out of my comfort zone.  this was a good jolt.  after all, the day started off so normal!  but what should i learn from this?  what is normal??  you never, ever know what can happen in a matter of minutes let alone hours.

appreciate everything you have now.  cuz tomorrow may not be the same.

xxoo

losing 75 pounds + what i’ve learned

10 Aug

so far,  i’ve lost a little over 75 pounds.

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that’s a shitload of weight, if i do say so myself.  i’m far from done too and have at least 50 more pounds to go.  i felt like sharing some of the things i’ve learned about myself during this process.

1. boy, do old habits run deep.

i kind of pride myself on remaining relevant.  whatever the hell that means… i guess i never wanted to be one of those people that gets stuck in their way and goes through life on auto-pilot.  and, i’m not.  but this process i’ve been through has taught me how important it is to recognize a negative pattern and revise it.  revising it means evolving your thinking and replacing that habit with something else.

let’s think about that negative habit.  it may not be something your spouse or family think is negative – it may not be “bad” in the world’s eyes – but for YOU and your new vision of yourself, it’s not good.  i’ve needed to lay down the law to myself.  here are some of my bad habits:

* mindless snacking.  i now share an office with my team in a big room because i’ll be commuting from dallas to detroit each week except for two days.  so i gave up my office.  so my team-mates are probably snickering right now because they have witnessed this first hand.  mindless snacking to me is having my hand in a popcorn bag 24/7 because i’m typing and thinking and writing and talking and my hands/brain always have to be doing something.  damnit to hell.  hate that!  because i recognize that, my solution is to drink more water instead and walk more.  i also track all the mindless shoving of snacks in my mouth in myfitnesspal app and punish myself with watching the calories add up.

* exercising. losing over 75 pounds makes exercising a lot easier.  and this is what i’ve learned.  my body WANTS to move.  all the time.  my energy level is so high now that exercise is almost a given.  but my negative habit is deeply, deeply engrained into my head.  and that is “i just don’t exercise”.  never have, never will.  boooorrring.  it was not stressed growing up and i do not stress it to myself.  when i played tennis in high school i used to do everything possible to get out of the sprints and the running.  i used to HIDE IN THE TENNIS CURTAIN!  <confession> so turning around this thinking is really hard.  when you tell yourself something that “you’re just not this or you just don’t do that” it is really debilitating.  so i just do it now.  i tell myself “i am a walker”  and that I love to move.  and i’m starting to believe it!

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2.  all the things they tell you to do on a diet really do work.  

the simple things like drink a lot of water, eat protein, chew small bites, eat slowly, get daily exercise and avoiding processed food.  all that works and works really well.  it took a lot for me to learn that – a lot.  but one way i’ve lost the weight is focusing on these things.

3. forget vanity, life is much better minus the weight. 

life really is that much better now that i’m lighter.  i’m just being honest.  this has nothing to do with trying to fit in because  fitting in, to me, is so easy and extremely boring and un-creative.  <had to get that in>.

but something i’ve learned is that the mean-girl voice in my head has gone away.  you know, that inside voice that said things that kept me down + held me back.  all that conflict is gone.  poof-bam-blitz!  and on top of that, getting dressed for work in the morning is a lot more fun.

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4. just get through it. 

it’s been a long journey, i’m still on it and always will be.  it’s amazing what you can do just by telling yourself to get through it. tomorrow is a new day and i want to be in a new place.  it’s not as simple as it sounds.  but no matter what you’re going through, you’ve got to hope that tomorrow will be different.  so push through, endure + persevere.

thanks for reading!

in my feedly

6 Aug

i’m slightly obsessed.

but by now, you’ve probably already clued into that.  and my obsession of choice is not TV (hate watching it unless it’s a really good series in which ROF + i tend to watch them all at once like this and this) or exercising (even though it should be.)  but my obsession is reading blogs.  i think i can contribute my A.D.D. to it.  like magazines, they are quick reads.  but i get so much out of them.  or you could say i know a little bit about a lot.  design blogs, food blogs, health blogs…<sigh>… i could go on forever.

i’ve also tried several different kind of readers or rss readers.  rss stands for <real simple syndication> and i’ve gone back to feedly.  they’ve been revamped quite a bit and they bring all my blogs into one place so i don’t have to jump around.

as you can see i follow a lot of ‘girly’ blogs.  but if you are one of the two guys that reads my blog,  besides my husband, feedly can pull together all your boy things as well – from business reads to sports to news —– it can all be put in one place.

like how i totally generalized in the previous paragraph?  made me chuckle a little.  crack myself up.  not that women don’t read that stuff.  you know what i mean.

here’s what i have in my feedly:

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going home to texas

3 Aug

my whole life, i’ve connected moving from city to city and moving forward in life.  that’s how i was raised.  because we moved around so much, my mom helped us think of it as an adventure.  new house, new friends, new schools – everything new!  moving was never a sad thing.  sure, maybe there were some tears saying goodbye to friends + family but then the open road is ahead of you.

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the other thing my parents did growing up, was teach us that our new city became “the city” to be in.  whether it really was (Chicago) or not (Flint), my parents always took pride in where they were.  after all, it’s where we were – so it had to be great, right?  when guests came to visit us, my parents knew the best route to our house (not past any bad areas, just the nice parts), the best restaurants, the neatest shops and we were always happy to be there.  i’m glad that is how i was raised rather than a bah-humbug sort of mover.  and it’s how i looked at where we live now, in Birmingham, michigan.

as much as i’ve “moved forward” from Cincinnati to Dayton to Cleveland to Boston to Grand Blanc to Brookfield to Naperville to Chicago to Dallas then to Birmingham... i’ve never moved back.  i’ve always moved on.

until now.

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and it’s such an awesome feeling.

as i grow older, thoughts start to creep in that maybe we weren’t moving forward but just moving around.  nah, i push that thought out of my head.  after all, i wouldn’t have this outgoing personality if i wasn’t forced to put myself out there growing up – going to three high schools in three cities- in the land of judgement (you know, junior high angst and high school peer pressure) and that’s the truth.  but when you’re over that middle age hump (read: 40) you start to think – wait…i want people that know me around me and i want to have a history with them.

so back to texas we go.  obviously for more reasons than these but we’re so thrilled.  we missed you texas, with your crazy storms, wide open spaces, friendly people and most of all we miss all the people that missed us and stayed in such good touch over the past two years. we’re hoping to pick up right where we left off.

oh, and i get to decorate another house.  yay!

until tomorrow…

25 things to do with peaches

25 Jun

Amy Fulford:

This is a repost of one of my most popular blogs on what to do with peaches!

Originally posted on the appreciator:

what do you do if you suddenly find yourself with a boatload of peach trees and those trees are producing a boatload of peaches?  

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well, first you bring them into the office and try to unload some of them.

then you ask for help…. and here i am.  

i’ve put together an awesome pinterest page called “25 things you can do with peaches” and you can find that here.

but before you check that out, my dear friend, Suzanne put together this fantastic blog post on her award-winning peach cobbler.  i can personally vouch for this cobbler because i’ve cobbled it.  that means wolfed it down.  get that story and recipe here.

here are some, what i’d consider… unique things to make using up all those wonderful peaches:

1. vanilla peach bourbon jam

terrific on toast, pancakes, ice cream and french toast.   make it, save it, eat…

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pretty obsessed

24 Jun

welcome to the stuff i’m obsessing over now…

touchbase:

i’m writing this on a big daddy airplane on my way from detroit to la.  listening to old school massive attack in my headphones.  it’s a gargantuan  miracle that they can get this puppy airborne.  it’s a 2x3x2 across.  i swear i can hear it saying “i think i can, i  think i can, i think i can” as it flies down the runway.  

i love flying.  nothing – almost nothing – is more beautiful.  my favorite part is when you break through the clouds to the pristine blue sky and separate from the clouds.  i always ponder the fact that is how life is <sigh>.  sometimes you need to clear through the clouds to the clear opening to get a new perspective.  here’s the riveting footage i took, if you’ve never seen this:  

obsession #1:  chatelaine magazine
we already know i’m obsessed with magazines, but this one is a new one to me.  my friend, alex, may know of it because it is canadian.  there are few magazines i believe have truly useful information in them.  real simple is one of them + country living is the other.  all the others are just fine and fun to flip through- no offense.

chatelaine totally fits in with the need-to-know bunch.  i found this gem when i got 2 free months of #nextissue on my ipad (see next obsession) it is jammed packed with fashion, recipes, travel ideas and music …for those in the know.

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obsession #2: nextissue app on ipad
just get it now.  don’t hesitate.  130+ magazines that download quick, you can read off line – what else do you need?  i don’t know.
free month on sign-up then $15/month.  it’s the spotify of the magazine world.  i just saved us about $500/year, ROF.

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obsession #3: food52.com 
get hip to this and quick.  not  just the recipes, not just the fun emails – the shopping!  oh my- do they have cool stuff.  i’m constantly putting stuff in my virtual basket (and then taking them out because i ask myself, do you really need this, and i say no. but then i say yes later and go through the process again and again…)

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obsession #4: sam smith
not new, i know.  but when i saw him on saturday night live singing this song, i’m not going to lie, my first thought was “this guy is that young and… white?!”  my second thought was “how the hell-o does his voice go that high?!”  slightly obsessed with this boy and wearing him out on spotify.  don’t listen to this song early in the morning, you won’t get it out of your head!

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obsession #5: homemade sugar scrub
i wrote about this here.  but i have to say that after using this pretty much every day or every other day throughout the winter, i didn’t get any of those awful dry spots.  my skin is silky smooth and i can tell a noticeable difference.

my recipe now is plain white sugar (can’t eat it, might as well slather my skin with it!), a huge glug of vitamin e oil, lots of almond oil and any kind of essential oil you’d like to smell in the morning.

when in the shower, don’t take a little dab – no – this is the kind of stuff you want to grab a huge handful and scrub (thus the name) your arms, shoulders – everything!  but don’t shave before you do it.  that will hurt.  shave after.

obsession #6: being relevant 
this is bringing in my day job a little.  i work with car dealer groups around the country on social media.  the reason why i love my career is not because i believe engaging in social media is important.  i do.  it’s because consumers are communicating differently now and some advertisers don’t see the opportunity.  and usually it’s because they don’t use the medium of social media themselves.  and it’s changing so fast now!  by the time you get caught up, it changes again.  some things are relevant, some aren’t.  but if advertisers aren’t tracking with consumers, it is money well wasted.  i like taking my clients to a place that is uncomfortable for them at first but by educating and being willing to experiment, learn that it’s a place they should be.

obsession #7: marcona almonds with rosemary
at trader joes.  salty. crunchy.  obsessed.

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obsession #8:  cardiac arrest by bad suns
playing it over and over.  especially effective at accelerating a good mood.  can’t help but to jump around like the silly 25 year old i think i still am.

obsession #9:  my mom
this is an on-going obsession.  i think about my mom all the time.  is that weird?  she has been my best friend for my whole life – since day one.  one thing she’s taught me is unconditional love.  she has told me that there is nothing i could do that would make her not love me.  think about how strong of a statement that is.  i will say that i tested it, for sure.

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i really tried to get 10 obsessions, but they don’t come that organized.

i guess you could say i’m obsessed with beating ROF in our on-going annual gin game.  the year comes to an end on 7/23.  he has won the last two years and won’t shut the hell up about it.  please let me surge ahead!  it’s a great “couples activity” by the way.  i read about that a while ago – having a couples activity together.  what is yours?  

 

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