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25 things to do with blueberries

24 Jun

if you’re like me, you walk into whole foods or your local grocery store of choice and walk right into the fresh produce section.  there sits beautiful mounds of blueberries all nicely packaged and wrapped with care.  i tend to daydream as step closer to them – thinking of all the hard work that went into getting those blueberries to us.  you know… how they have to  be picked, sorted, packaged, shipped and then they have just a few days (if that) of shelf life.  yes, i know, that goes for all produce.

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but i never end up grabbing a pint because i  just can never finish a whole one and they end up going bad.  and then i feel guilty.  so i walk past the blueberries and think …next time…


i’ve specially curated a batch of 25+ blueberry recipes for you from some of my favorite bloggers and pinners.  don’t miss the one here – a hysterical v-logger that i love!  those little blue nuggets of goodness will never get wasted now!  i’ve only collected recipes that look good to me and that i would make.  or i liked the name of the recipe like cloufouti.

here are 5 blueberry recipes and for the rest, go to my dedicated pinterest page here.

be sure to click on the “by” for the recipe.

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baked blueberry oatmeal

from cupofjo blog

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blueberry chopped chicken salad

from us highbrush blueberry council

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blueberry sauce crepes with honey whipped cream


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summer corn + blueberry salad


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blueberry lemon cake


Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 1.18.39 PMand if you’re looking for 25 things to do with peaches…. click here!  or check out this awesome recipe for a tried and true delicious peach cobbler recipe.

love you woody allen. yes, i mean it.

14 Jun

listening to harry janes & his orchestra – the i’ve heard that song before” – takes me right back to age 22 when i first realized that woody allen’s movies were the slice of life movies i loved.  especially this song in hannah & her sisters.    i know. i know.  lots of controversy on WA.   i don’t care.  you know why?

oh these movies are so good.  but let me explain why.  these aren’t cliff-hanger, sensational movies.  no.  these are really deep “love ’em or hate ’em” character movies.  it’s honest.  they are hard to watch sometimes.  once again, they are a bit slow but it’s meant to be watched like you are just an observer – a fly on the wall.

i probably have written this before but i got into woody movies from an awesome class i took at columbia – urban life in media & film. thought it would be a blow-off class.  not so much.  but when we watched the movie MANHATTAN in that class -that was it for me.  done.  sold from the opening scene:

at 24 years old, i can’t even believe how much i watched his movies.  to the point that my clients gave me as a going away gift, a CD collection of all his movies (love.) 

take this scene my chicago roommate and i watched over and over again in his movie HUSBANDS AND WIVES.  i think judy davis won an award for this role.  this scene comes from her first date after she separated from her husband who was cheating on her.  her acting is brilliant, funny and sad all at the same time.

but my favorite movie of all time is annie hall.

la dee da.  the greatest part is that annie was from… wisconsin. chippewa falls.  i love it.

well, i just heard that song.  and this is what i thought about it.

happy wednesday.

hello in the hotel

27 May
checking out of our hotel this morning, i was running behind as usual.  had to fill my coffee up some more for the hour trip to INDY.
a woman about my age was filling up too.  she asked how i was doing this morning.  i said so far so good.  how about her?  well, it’s early but (little laugh) going well so far.  i put a pump of hazelnut sugary badness in my coffee, threw a lid on and wished her a good rest of the day and left.
small interactions happen like that all the time, right?  stupid for me to write about. WRONG.  they don’t happen that much anymore.  are you a talker to strangers?  or can you go through your entire day without interacting with anyone?  why did this small nicety chit chat at the hampton inn coffee counter capture my attention?
because we don’t do it.  ok.  i don’t know about you.  but i don’t.  i’m going to pay more attention to talking to strangers – more specifically, being nice to strangers.  why not?
last night when we were checking in to the hotel there was this HUGE storm.  it had tornados and it was real dark.  i was scared to death because i have always been terrified of storms since i was little.  grow up.  anyway, we couldn’t check in because there was a woman trying hard to get a hotel room for her family.  she was all in black, in tight shorts and a tank top with a chain securing her wallet to her belt.  Her husband was wearing all black too, heavily pierced and spikes and was playing with their kids.  she was holding up the line. the storm was coming.  i needed a sip of wine to keep my nerves in balance.  ROF and i were making comments about the family to each other once in our room but it made me think.  i said “what if they couldn’t get a room this late on a holiday weekend because someone in their family died and they were in town dealing with that?” ROF agreed and our comments ceased.
you never know when you can be an angel to someone just by saying some kind words.  i’m going to try!


30 Apr

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”– Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Screenplay

today’s SUNDAYCHILL read is about change.

tomorrow movers come and we’re moving to wisconsin. this isn’t a surprise to many of you, my friends, because for the last year i’ve spent 80% of my time commuting from texas to wisconsin.  thats a lot of time on a plane. in january, i was home for 4 days total.  

bottomline, we wanted to see if the job i took (which catapulted me in a new direction) would be one that would be a good fit for both ROF and me.

it was.

ive moved my entire life.  here are the places I’ve lived (that I remember): cleveland, boston, grand blanc mi, brookfield wi, naperville, il, cincinnati,oh, chicago (3 different places over 11 years, dallas (7 different places over 14 years), birmingham mi, now madison. 

3 things i love about moving and change:

  • KEEPS YOUR EYES AND MIND FRESH AND AWAKE everything is new.  like everything.  i’m talking about – going to your fridge and pouring a little OJ in the morning – that’s a new experience.  it cleans out your brain from daily habits and gives you an opportunity to build new ones.
  • MASSIVE EXPLORATION TRIPS ROF and i have a blast hitting the road and checking out the sites.  we love finding hidden gems, talkative bartenders and doing new things. 
  • EXPANDING YOUR CIRCLE OF GREATNESS i have some pretty unbelievable friends. i was able to connect with many of them over the past few weeks.  and together ROF and i know some really cool people that we love very much.  that group is going to grow with this move.  hands down, our favorite part about moving to michigan was getting to know my cousin and his family real well.  also getting to know ROFs college friends the holbrooks and my boss ron and kathy better.  when you are on your deathbed it is these friendships you remember, not the power point presentations you put together – right?

so tuesday morning think of us making the commute one last time via two day car trip with pup in tow.  we will miss being close to my mom and our friends but we’ll be a short 2 hour direct flight away.  



18 Apr

i think you could safely say that i’m obsessed with this book:

hands down, most actionable book i’ve ever read.

i’ll get back to that.

when i was a kid, my brother and sister and i used to have to walk our lab, maggie, out “to the dirt” to do her business.  it involved hooking her leash up and walking through our large backyard to a big empty space with just…dirt.  doing this at night before bed was never fun and we used to argue about who had to do it.  plus, it was a little bit scary.  strange noises and it was dusk or dark out.  i’d throw my ski coat on over my long minny mouse nightgown with the ruffles around the bottom and begrudgingly take my turn.

when maggie and i got to the dirt and she was sniffing around, i would stare up at the sky.  and as a young 8 or 9 year old i would look at the stars and think to myself  i can go as far as you are high in the sky.”  i had this in me that life isn’t something that just happens to me but something i make happen.

i still believe that.  forty-some years later.  there is something that drives me forward.

in reading this book, i discovered that (i think) what i might have in me is two-fold:

a) a God-given ability or drive to serve but not sure what that is yet (itch that hasn’t been scratched)

b) driven to discover what my PEAK PERFORMANCE level is. 

more on that later.  the sub-head to the book is:

the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers.

like, why wouldn’t you want to study this?  my favorite part of the book is that it is written simply (even though it is HUGE) by highlighting these habits from tim ferriss’ podcast notes.  which is how i take notes.  so it is easy to quickly glean these tactics.

so in re-reading the section on chris sacca (for the 10th time), i love what he told a graduating class in a commencement speech.  he told them:

“Weirdness is why we adore our friends…gets us hired.  Be your unapologetically weird self.  In fact, being weird may even find you the ultimate happiness.”

damn, that is the truth.  and no one tells you that until you’re older.  you’re in grade school and high school and peer pressure is so huge.  you want the same brand shoes, the fancy purse or the house in the hills. because that is what everyone else has.  i remember those days of fitting in being the most important thing ever.

flash forward to now.  i don’t like my closest friends because of that stuff.  i like them because they ADD something to my life or teach me something or they show me how to think differently.   maybe they have experiences that are different from me.  weirdness.

i was super inspired by reading this.  chris sacca is an early stage investor in dozens of companies including twitter, uber, instagram, kickstarter and more.  he is a recurring guest shark on shark tank.

weird is what makes you…well…you.  and while i’ll be honest, fitting in was always very important to me (validation?) but that little girl in her micky mouse nightgown with her ski coat wrapped around her shivering out at “the dirt” looking at the stars knew something too.

weird, isn’t it?


what’s up wit me?

5 Nov



it’s been so long since i’ve posted anything of true substance i bet you’ve gone away.  come back, cuz i’m back!  i started a new position on january 1st this year and have been heavily consumed with it.  i’ve decided to re-energize and focus this personal blog because it’s so much fun to write.

my life has changed a great deal over the past 10 months and i’m thankful to say for the better.  actually, better isn’t the right word.  i’ve always liked where i was but i guess the direction i’ve been going has just been right and built on top of what i’ve had before.

does that make sense?  saying “better” implies before wasn’t great.  which isn’t the case.

moving on… (geez)

in any case i’m happy.  real happy.  happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect.  i hate the word perfect because perfect =  boring.  it means you’re done – poof- it’s perfect.  perfect can be a napkin that you fold into a duck for a dinner party like – now that’s a perfect duck – but not applicable to your life.

being happy means that i’m recognizing and basking in the fact that i’m:

  • surrounded by great people. people that make me laugh, challenge me to be better, love me and want to call me early on a saturday morning to talk.  people that are thoughtful towards me by doing things like filling my car with gas or dropping a postcard from their travels in the mail to me.  people that appreciate the ideas and thoughts i bring and the work i do.  people that inspire me  – to practice yoga, to write and create.  people that are just damn cool – they get promoted, start a business, entertain effortlessly and are great at what they do.  these people do things with their lives that egg me on – run marathons, throw a charity event, throw a martini party, buy a new house and are just plain inspirational.
  • loved deeply and love wholeheartedly. i’m so glad i waited 39 years to get married.  my dad told me since i was way young to never settle.  he was talking about getting married – because he knew several men through work and the years that got divorced and the woman didn’t know what to do. he swore he would tell me “how men really were”  which he didn’t (what does that mean anyhow) but nonetheless i waited until i knew i wasn’t settling.  and i got a winner! 
  • loving my career and the direction it’s taken.  i did the same thing for 24 years.  worked my way from an intern at JTC Advertising on wells street in chicago to soon-to-be partner in a marketing venture that starts january 1 complete with 24 clients ready to go.  this shit is real!  what has driven me throughout my career is my love of marketing, being relevant to consumers and working with excellent clients that aren’t afraid to pave new roads with me.  i’m so passionate and driven about what i do that it makes every day fun to be alive.  i know.  i’m super cheesy.  shut up.
  • having fucking fun!  yep, just dropped the f bomb because it’s my damn blog.  i travel in one of the most beautiful places on earth, meet up with ROF in detroit to visit great friends, madison to visit great friends, chicago to visit great friends, florida to visit great family, atlanta to see great family.   as most of you know, we don’t have kids and guess what?  at 40 something years old – ROF and i are having the time of our lives.  we play cards (i’m winning…), get room service at fancy hotels, enjoy each other’s company without watching TV (unless we’re binge watching breaking bad), go to football games and cabins up north and the hill country down south.  we made salsa in santa fe and learned about wine in paris.  we laughed at a cramped comedy club in new york and played gin in toronto.

i felt like writing all this down because i know that happy will change as we get older.  i know that unhappy times are near.  and hopefully i am equipped to handle those times.  i can think this way for many reasons – first off – i always have.   second off – i had the experience of watching someone i loved die.  not a lot of people can say that.  make shit happen… today!  it’s getting your head around the fact that every second of every day you have a choice.

and people close to me know that i say this all. the. time. 

you have a choice to:

love where you are RIGHT NOW, not where you want to be

leave your shitty job

do something fun

kick needy people out of your life

decide you need boundaries that protect you

go on a dating site


wake up and be productive

wow. this is really a lot for a saturday morning.  (sigh)  look forward


make it happen today

10 Aug




have a great day!


5 Aug

i grew up in the midwest.  in ohio, michigan, Illinois and wisconsin.  in fact, I went to three different high schools in three different states.  

and i’m not sure how to describe it, but it just feels like home in the air whenever I land up here. the smell in the air, the beautiful scenery and it seems like my body instantly recognizes the familiarity or connection.  last week we were in michigan and this weekend we are in upper wisconsin.  yep, it is 60 degrees right now – jealous my fellow dallasites?

i straddle living “in the south” and working “in the north” and have the unique perspective of getting the best of both worlds.

i love where i am in life. and if I had a child in their 20’s struggling with their career or situation i would have the unique ability to give sage advice. 

i guess that’s called getting old.  

the advice is this. just wait.  life changes.

15 years ago i worked at j walter thompson in chicago and was single.  i worked with clients in wisconsin and traveled the whole state.  i kept a journal and it was filled with pages of loving my life and job but, truthfully, being painfully lonely.  i never thought i would meet someone.

flash forward 15 years.  now, i am on the client side (same client!) and married to my very best friend.  had to go all the way to texas to get him but it was worth it. this weekend I get to show him this beautiful part of the country and smile, thinking about my 30 year old self.  oh what good comes to those who wait!

hustle and hit it in august

1 Aug

thanks gary vee for an inspiring message this morning – the 1st of august. 

Inspirational Gary Vaynerchuk Quotes

Wake up before everybody else and work into the night. Hustle” 

“Skills are cheap. Passion is priceless.” 

“No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story.” 

“Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, what do I want to do everyday for the rest of my life…do that.”

“There’s no reason in 2016, to do shit you hate. NONE.” 

“The truth is that finding happiness in what you do every day is so imperative.” 

“You didn’t grow up driving…you figured it out.” 

“All your ideas may be solid or even good .. But you have to Actually EXECUTE on them for them to matter.” 

“Love your family, work super hard, live your passion.” 

“I’m just always looking forwards. I spend very little time, looking backwards” 

“Effort is grossly underrated.” 

“Live your passion. What does that mean, anyway? It means that when you get up for work every morning, every single morning, you are pumped because you get to talk about or work with or do the thing that interests you the most in the world. You don’t live for vacations because you don’t need a break from what you’re doing—working, playing, and relaxing are one and the same. You don’t even pay attention to how many hours you’re working because to you, it’s not really work. You’re making money, but you’d do whatever it is you’re doing for free.” 

“I put zero weight into anyone’s opinion about me because I know exactly who I am. Can you say the same? When” 

“I failed all my classes and that’s why I’m winning. In hindsight, the fact that I was considered a failure for the first 18 years of my life has become the foundation of my success.”

“Stop focusing on dumb shit. Don’t be afraid to break things. Don’t be romantic. Don’t take the time to breathe. Don’t aim for perfect. And whatever you do, keep moving. Reread this a few times . . .”

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Cook it: gazpacho 

27 Jul

get it:

4 vine ripe tomatoes, skin removed and chopped

1/2 cucumber, diced

1/2 green pepper, diced

1/4c red wine vinegar

1/4c olive oil

1 tbsp black pepper

1 tbsp garlic powder (we love bolners fiesta brand)

2 c zing zang bloody mary mix

6-46 dashes of tabasco

make it:

prep all your ingredients. Put them all in a bowl.  add more of what you like and less of what you don’t. mix well.

cover and put in fridge for at least a couple hours – these folks need to spend time getting to know each other in the bowl.

when ready to serve, you can serve as-is or puree half of it in blender and pour it back in the bowl. Gives it a more soup-like texture but with some chunks.  serve in a bowl with dollop of sour cream, some croutons and chopped scallions.

early morning emoji banter

26 May

can’t blame him- my coffee is the best!  Yes this really happened this morning!

favorite instagrammers

8 Apr


for me, instagram started out to be just an app to run a filter through my photographs.  i didn’t pay attention to the fact that other people could see them.

IMG_1578but that was 6 years ago and now instagram is a tremendous marketing tool.  like they say, a picture says 1000 words!  and people are sooooo creative.  here are just a handful of people i love to follow:


her instagram is so inspiring.  even though i plan to eat a cinnamon bun as big as my face that ROF got me from bucky’s, i love to stay connected to her.

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carin olsson has the most beautiful photos of paris.  my heart skips a beat looking at them.  i’d love to go there again.  live there?  in a hot minute!



ha.  they just post stuff they overhear at bars and cafes all over LA.  or they take submissions.  pretty funny stuff.



best sushi in the united states of america.  hands down.  if you are ever in NYC – eat here!  but they also have a very creative instagram feed.  i’m drooling.

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amanda dawson, co-founder and CD of 100 layer cake in los angeles has an awesome feed.  i want to jump right into any of her photos.

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what are your favorite instagram feeds?

on the #road: 3/16/16

16 Mar

rockford, il


hotel restaurant

seriously – no one here…

except the waitress, who is from Mexico

we bonded because I knew the word


red wine, first and only glass, listening to “baby it’s cold outside” on stereo

christmas in march.

awesome day today on the wide open road visiting kind, smart, cool 

clients, well, peers now – not in agencyland anymore.

reading a sassy book, sending friends goofy dubsmash videos and winding down from a day that started at 3am. get to see my husband AND niece + boy tomorrow! 




13 Mar

i found this awesome site to create moodboards (super) easily.  it’s fun to do and bring your visions to life.  check it out here and see my dream bedroom and office boards below.

dreamy bedroom (2)working from home (4)

3.inspiring things 4 thursday

3 Mar

it’s important to be inspired. being with someone, watching something or remembering kind words is like a glass of cold water on a hot, humid day. they comfort but can also lead the direction to a bigger vision for yourself or for the world.

here are three inspiring videos. watch when you can, you won’t regret it!

and the last one deserves a little dialogue from me.  this video really spoke to me.  i absolutely love how she dug into what she needed to feel complete and then turn it into something that benefits others.  i think about this daily…constantly.

“my own definition of success has become more than anything about freedom to do different things…”

that sounds like such a luxury, doesn’t it?  true freedom?  but the new thinking for me is that i can have that luxury.  i’m not putting kids through school, i’m not saving to pay for weddings.  it doesn’t mean changing lifestyles, it’s about changing mindsets and taking your abilities to a whole new, exciting level.


heart attacks + fries

22 Feb

happy new year!

yes, i realize that it’s almost march but i haven’t posted since december.  i got a new job and started it in january and have been running ever since. (new job is awesome, by the way)

right now, i’m on an early morning delta flight out of dfw headed first to minneapolis and then to duluth. the cabin in this small plane smells like freshly brewed coffee and morning breath from the several men around me sleeping with their mouth wide open and head back.  from duluth i will rent a SUV and drive an hour and half to ashland, wisconsin.  otherwise known as God’s country.  look it up on a map.  it may be only 6 degrees up there but i consider it to be a huge perk of my job to experience the beauty which is northern wisconsin. then i turn around and drive back, stay by the airport and am on an early morning flight out of duluth to minneapolis and land back at dfw tomorrow at noon.

living healthy.

so at my age (46) i just realized i could die someday.  as a gen x’er (i’m stereotyping) the thought of dying or coming up on serious health issues could not have been further from my mind.  i was invincible and could smoke as much as i wanted (after all, the kids from my favorite movies did like st. elmos fire and singles.)


drink wine as much as i wanted like carrie bradshaw in sex and the city and not care about how it affected me and my body.


now i know.  and it’s a sobering fact of life.  you get old and your body and organs go along for the ride.

my brother who is four years younger than me had a couple massive heart attacks around thanksgiving. they had to shock him 19 times and his heart stopped beating for over 15 minutes.  my brother and i have a very strained and challenging relationship but it has made me sad for him.  it has made me think of me too.  that maybe it isn’t enough for me to just drink my trader joe’s super green powder drink every morning and “try” to walk 30 minutes before slumping back in front of my computer for the rest of the day.  maybe i have to do more and maybe it’s urgent.  maybe i better stop thinking that all there is what makes me happy now and think about the fact that what i do now will make me very happy in the future.

so i’m not a complainer or a whiner, i’m a doer and so i got a physical.  i’m on a plan to lose weight and eat right.  it is not going to be easy.  in fact, i forgot about eating right when i ordered a BLT sandwich and fries at st. pete’s dancing marlin this weekend. i only ate half.

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baby steps.

i also have a cardiologist who is going to run all the tests and wants to see me every 6 months.  she’s awesome.  my mom had her first heart attack at only 49.  and i’m 46.

it’s a journey,right?  that’s what they say.  i hope that i can do this and have encouragement along the way.

happy new year!

december playlist

4 Dec

i’m sorry, i don’t mean to brag, but this may simply be the best playlist to date.  i’m just saying.

i don’t know why all my playlists are named with something having to do with wine.  i think it’s because when you’re sipping wine with friends, you need to have just the right music.  duh.

anyway, i followed some of my favorite djs on spotify and curated this list of eclectic songs that should make you happy.  i’m happy!

i put a song on here that will make my sister think of me.  another one really reminds me of hanging with debbie and jeff cummings in chicago over 20 years ago (can they guess which one?) also, melissa glick will smile at a couple of flashbacks some songs will give her.

what are your plans for the weekend?  we’re going to a fun wine tasting tonight, heading to a dallas best new restaurant saturday with friends we love and chilling, playing cards (i’ll be winning) on sunday.


happy friday!

project child save – please read!

6 Oct

i want to announce my friend kelly’s non-profit organization: Quest 4 Recovery.  Quest 4 Recovery supports the recovery of children that have been kidnapped for exploitation purposes.  i’m so impressed with this organization and mission, i can’t even tell you.

wait, yes i can.

before i jump into my interview with kelly and talk about their next benefit, watch even a minute of the documentary that inspired them to start this nonprofit.  in fact, proceeds from their upcoming backyard benefit are going to project child save and ty ritter will be at this event in dallas!  warning:  this video is disturbing.


i caught up with kelly and gabby at their first fundraiser at kendra scott in preston center.

1. who is all involved in Quest 4 Recovery?

Gabriela Garcia, Tara Banda and you!

2. why is this a passion of yours?  

While pregnant with my second baby, I watched the A&E documentary on Project Child Save .  It affected me so much that approximately 18 months later, I was still thinking about their organization.  I wanted to help and felt it needed to be more than just me writing a check.  I mentioned it to Gabby and she was just as inspired as I was and we came up with the idea of starting a non-profit.  A charity for charities, if you will.  An organization that supports and champions for all non-profits trying to help kids escape exploitation.

3. what is the mission?

To raise funds and awareness for nonprofits that are helping children escape sexual slavery and exploitation  Whether it’s an organization that assists in physical recovery of a child or helps with emotional repercussions after the rescue.  We can be their advocate.  

4. where do donations go to and is there a goal that you’re aiming for?  

After our costs for a fundraising event are recouped  (I.e. venue rental, food, beverages, etc.) all funds will go back to the non-profit we were highlighting.  

For example, on October 24th, 2015 we are hosting a fundraiser for Ty Ritter’s Project Child Save.  They are a group of ex-military men/women that rescue children from foreign, hostile, and often corrupt territories.  Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, you name it.  Child pornography and trafficking of children is so profitable that many countries will turn a blind eye if not fully support it, albeit covertly.  These children must be taken back by these brave men and women because they are never going to get out unless someone goes and gets them.  The local law enforcement won’t help and is often in on the operation.  Project Child Save fills in the gap.  If they could buy back a child, they would.  Unfortunately, with the internet you can sell a child a hundred times over with little to no risk and it’s only going to get worse unless there are more organizations like PCS willing to take the risk to save the kids.

5. what has been the most challenging thing so far in starting a charity?  

Just the trial by fire we’re going through now!  We’re four women that are passionate about helping Ty’s group but we aren’t professional fundraisers.  However, neither was Susan G. Komen when she started out.  Passion and commitment is what we have and so far it’s working. Awareness is everything.  It leads to all good things when trying to raise money for the true heroes taking real risks.

for those of you in dallas, please consider coming to an awesome event supporting project child save.  ty ritter is flying in from california, excited to have others supporting his cause of saving kids.  it would mean so much to me, kelly and the team to have you attend.  click here for tickets!

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5 lovely links (you’ll love!): pumpkin

23 Sep

Flashback to posts long ago…pumpkin, it’s more than just a latte!

this is so very annoying!

19 Feb

have you ever found yourself doing something.. whatever… and that very thing that you’re doing you found very annoying in other people?  (you may have to read that twice to get what i’m saying.)

well, i’m doing that right now.


i’m on a plane, first class, no less (free upgrade), and have a very nasty cold.  i can’t help it.  who knows i may not even go to the meetings i’m flying to be in, i’m that sick.  i’m dripping, sneezing, sniffling and crumpling up napkins, kleenex and anything that can be used to help soothe my acheing head.  i hate those people.  seriously.  i’m the whisperer that says “why didn’t they just stay at home!?  Why do they want to get us all sick?  how selfish!”

now, that’s me.

just wanted to say that.  that’s it.

– sniffy.

2 reasons to quit boot camp and eat bon bons

8 Nov

i can’t let the last post stay up any longer.  i feel like a fake… a fraud.


yes, i went to boot camp and yes, i wrote a post about it the day i went.   that’s all true.  but i didn’t go back.  i was in pain for a full five days afterwards.  if my muscles would talk they would have sounded like this!  here i was, all gung ho boot camp girl.  wakin’ up at 4:50am to grab the 5:15am ride with a friend to ‘boot camp’.  i’m all about the image.  that image looked good to me, in my head.  heck, i’ll even write a post about so everyone knows how warrior-like i am.



so i’m here to finish the image for you – although i’d be more than happy to just keep on keepin on with you thinking i was this boot camp convert.  it’s kinda like looking smoking hot at a party but then posting an instagram photo of you mixing sweet & low in your coffee the next morning.  the real image is that i need to share about my boot camp experience is that i took my fit bit watch off, threw it on my desk, limped and moaned over to the couch in my office and plopped down with my computer and didn’t move all day.

am i a quitter?  maybe.  or maybe i just didn’t find the activity for me.  so here are my 2 reasons to quit boot camp.  (this may be more for me than you, but again, it’s my blog)

1. be realistic about your commitment level

if it isn’t something you can commit to on a regular basis, move on.  boot camp <or insert any activity here> may be for some people and not for others and that is why there’s 31 flavors.  just don’t give up (amy!)  look at the experience as a good trial run, rate it as something you could do often or not.  if the answer is not, keep looking for what your thing is to do.  the important thing is to move.

2. be encouraged, be motivated but don’t be pressured

i’m not talking about pressure from others – i’m talking feeling pressure from yourself.  that ugly voice i spoke about here coming out and telling you negative things.  like YOU COULDN’T HANDLE BOOT CAMP, JIGGLE ARMS!!  if it’s not for you, fist bump yourself for getting a good one hour workout in and move on.

so there, i feel better now that i’ve come clean to you.  has anyone else tried something like this and decided it was not their thing?  i’d love to hear from you.

*photo of apple cider cupcake with nutmeg frosting courtesy of

3 reasons to do a boot camp.

29 Oct

not that i’m some expert.  in fact, this morning was my first one.  ever.  so don’t read this like i’m preaching.  i ain’t preaching.  i’m just saying that here are some reasons to do boot camp or something similar.

#1 by showing up, you already started your day with one positive, healthy decision.

truly,  who wants to get up at 5am, leave the house at 5:15am and run around a dark parking lot with a bunch of strangers who may judge you?  not me.  however, i am getting up that early on saturday morning to head out to a flea market to shop on saturday morning.  see what i mean?  you made a good choice just by showing up. mark that off your to-do list, babe.


#2  you learn quickly what your “inside voice” has to say.

are you an encourager to yourself or a hindrance?  does it say “just take it at your own pace, you got this” or does it say “you’re a fat a**.  no wonder you gained so much weight” why is this a reason to do a boot camp?  because you force this voice to come out (well in your head, anyway, hopefully.)  you can do something about that voice if it’s negative.  if you don’t do something like a boot camp, that negative voice may be in your head influencing your thoughts and you’re not even aware of it.  so if it’s there, now you know, now you can change.



#3 having other people there is good accountability.

i like getting on my treadmill and pounding out 45 minutes and a couple of miles but it is VERY EASY for me to talk myself out of doing it.  however, if someone is picking you up in the morning (you know who you are…) and you show up and there are other people there too – there is just something that is encouraging in that.  you don’t want to be the person with the excuses like i have when it is just me, myself and i on the treadmill.

i imagine it would be the same if you had a walking or running partner.  built-in accountability.  yea.

so now that i’ve written this blog post it would mean i REALLY need to show up now for my second “boot camp”, right?

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.


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!

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.


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.


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

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

don’t be afraid of color

16 Jun

are you one of those color-shy folks that likes to stay neutral inside your house for fear of…. fear of… fear of WHAT?  what exactly holds you back from showing a little leg inside your house with a  pop of color?  now more than ever, it’s easy to get away with it.  why?  because things aren’t so matchy-matchy any more.

don’t play life so safe all the time.  in my opinion, the reason why the brownish, taupey, tannish stay around is because women are afraid of being judged and they want to play it safe.

ok, or maybe they just like it!  i’m ok with that.

but i’m not ok if you’d like to step out of the proverbial gray box but don’t.  here are some ideas for you.



Insert one color into your white/beige/tan room.  in this brilliant room from headed they chose a wonderful, deep turquoise to offset the white kitchen.  try just having one color to pop out.  and do it just in replaceable items like a jar, plates, dish clothes.  that way in a year from now (or a month) you want to throw up an orange color – the transformation is easy!


i do this and my color of choice is orange. my cheapest (kind of and depending on who you ask) idea is to decorate with fruit.  if you visit my house, you may think – damn they eat a lot of fruit!  but really there is no need to think that.  decorating with oranges is my thing.  they last quite a long time and provide just the color i need to make my point.  these pictures below are from my house…

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another idea for color without going completely insane would be to just paint a wall a color or the floor.

snagged this from erin williamson’s awesome portfolio:


or check out this attic room floor from mandarina studios – love love love, dahling!

cambridge-residence-20lastly, the colored floors but in a pattern, snagged from here:



still not a believer?  i haven’t convinced you to add some color to that room?  here is what color says about you.  it says:

hello.  i’m bold, i’m brazen and i’m not afraid of what you think.

well, you may not be any of those things, but let your room give off the impression that you are.  why not?

so idea #3 of adding color into your house is to get one piece of furniture.  just one… like this: 


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or from ehouseport:


hopefully this gives you some ideas to play with now or in the future!  let me know if you try anything out!

awesome t-shirts

9 Apr

i’m into t-shirts with sayings on them.  i don’t know why.  i just like them.

like these:

6ff5e488788b0a84c1892deb5dfa0bc6 40d3e6f299c8c571b80bc3700175e56f 048be0302c92714bcb9eda2c54af9e3d 66ace70d45f898e4fa15e8b69cec06fc 183fe9a0a8b2bf13d93e68048afd604f b66bd4a3d2e6f9d805d84e3376da9869 d0037597c53b035f9ece91fc52c6c1b1 Screen_Shot_2014-03-19_at_3.29.52_PM_grande

dreamy coffee table books

24 Mar

too busy or broke to travel?

no matter…get a drink and open up one of the stacks of books you have on exotic places on your  coffee table.   here are some fun aspirational books i found on one kings lane.  they aren’t there any more, but you can find these via google. or check out this list of best coffee books of 2013.  as you can see, my favorite are assouline books. 

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easy sugar scrub recipe

17 Mar

i’m a sucker for cute packaging for spa products but have a hard time paying for things like sugar scrub when it is, well…sugar.

so i make it.  it’s so easy and quite honestly, i like my packaging better.  everything you need is on, at the grocery store and probably in your kitchen.

so why do you want to use a sugar scrub?  well, because you’ve got to slough off that winter dead skin and rejuvenate.  and boys, i’m talking to you too.

there are tons of recipes – i encourage you to experiment and have fun.  here’s what i do:

order or get:

Vitamin E oil, good smelling essential oil (remember you will be using this in the morning.  I have orange + grapefruit)

then grab:

olive oil, any kind of sugar (brown, regular, mix) and any kind of nice smelling herb.  in this small batch, i used herbs de provence which is a mix of many great tangy herbs.

IMG_7546lastly, get a nice jar – like a mason jar or you can spend hours on searching for cooler jars (like I did) and then go ahead and get those.

put some sugar in a mixing bowl – more than what will fit in the jar.  pour in some olive oil until the sugar is the kind of consistency you like – I like mine pretty moist (least favorite word) then mix it around.  Add some vit. e, a couple drops of essential oil and enough herbs that you can see them in the mix of sugar.  pour in jar.

how to use this

whatever you do – do not shave first.  it won’t feel good.  Scrub the mix lightly (scrub…lightly…oxymoron?) all over and rinse. be careful because the oil might be slick. you will feel so hydrated, so smooth – wonderful!

here is my sister + i making a batch last year.  boy, was i spoiled to have her visit so many times!  i miss her big time.  as you can see, i got the wrong sugar and got the packets by mistake.  we had to open a couple of those.

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you may have the urge to watch this while you’re making your sugar scrub:

pink is the new black + white

15 Mar

pink is a color i’m obsessed with for some reason i have yet to figure out.  

maybe it is the awful weather we’ve had here in detroit.  like, the worst in the country <insert sympathy for me here> but pink just seems to warm everything up and be distinctly girly at the same time – which i like.  here are some pink things i’m digging.  find out details over here at my pinterest page.pink2 pink

if i had signature colors it would be black and white together (not mixed together but… you know what i mean) with a pink accent.

au revoir.

shirley’s pot roast recipe

27 Feb

nothing beats a juicy pot roast on the weekend.

whether you’re one person or 10 – this is a winter necessity.  so buy some meat today for the weekend and make your house smell fantastic!

i received some requests for shirley’s pot roast recipe after my post last week, so here you go.  these are a few of my favorite things to do on a saturday or sunday night while a pot roast is cooking:

potroastfor those of you reading from dallas, you may think a fire in the fireplace is odd.  because, after all – it IS the end of february.   not here in michigan.  we still have feet (not inches) of snow on the ground.

thanks shirley!

i think you and jerry need to come up here and stay with us and COOK it for us + jim + marinell roe + the boys!  you’re welcome any time.

from the kitchen of shirley gasvoda!

I like to select a round bone pot roast and trim most of the fat off.

Brown both sides in a little oil in a dutch oven pan.

Season with salt and pepper after browning.

Add one envelope of dry Lipton Onion Soup +

One cut up green pepper (gives a wonderful flavor to the roast)

One bay leaf and a

Sprinkle of garlic salt.

Add enough water to cover half the depth of the roast.

Simmer on top of the stove for several hours or until nearly tender (depending on size of the roast)

Add carrots and potatoes, if so desired.  This makes a delicious base for gravy too.

Now with slow cookers being so popular I use the same ingredients and cook according to the cooker instructions and it turns out just as good.

You can also do this in the oven but I’ve had better luck on top of the stove and think the roast turns out more juicy and tender.

I have fond memories of the kids coming home from school lifting the pot lids and just enjoying the aroma!

idea + advice for parents

25 Feb

this isn’t going to be that deep.  it’s just an idea + a little advice for you.


this past week, i was driving to work and stuck in rush hour traffic.  i don’t really complain because i like the time by myself.  i typically go through my to-do list for the day and alternately jam out to really good music.  like my spotify disco mix.  good music is subjective, you know.


i do this because music lifts my spirits (kind of like this) and takes me out of the mundane go-to-work-time-to-make-the-donuts routine.  it was during this disco jam-out that i thought of my friend at work.  you know who you are.  she used to be quite the disco queen back in the day.  and i was thinking of her while listening to this music.  then my mind shifted to the fact that her daughter just had her first baby – her grandchild  – a girl.  joy of all joys!  my mind then shifted to my very good friend and sister-in-law, susan.  i was talking with her that morning about the blog she did for her kids – which is excellent.  i thought that my friend at work would like the same idea.

now you know how my mind works.  riveting.

i thought that my friend at work should do a blog to her daughter and granddaughter filled with wisdom, family history and laughs, advice, recipes, memories and pictures. this wasn’t my idea, i got it from susan’s blog. here was the advice i gave my friend at work, that if you want to start a blog for your loved one.

< IDEA:  a memory blog>

here is the way to start:

  1. think of a name for your blog. needs to be something personal between your daughter + you.  that makes it fun. 
  2. think of 5 or as many as you want topics to frame your posts.  as mentioned, some ideas are: Recipes + restaurants, sweet memories, to my granddaughter, advice etc… 
  3. if you want, snoop around go to  to just explore.  
  4. carry a notebook and jot down ideas for blog articles as they come to you.  i have an app for my iphone called GNEO for this list.  It’s easy.  

lastly, write your first post.  just do it in email or a word document and then copy/paste it into your first blog post. 

Here is some advice. 

  • write exactly how you would talk.  don’t worry how well you write, worry about making sure it just sounds like YOU.
  • write like you’re talking to your daughter.  Don’t write like strangers are reading this – you don’t have to over-explain.  You’re just having a conversation. 
  • start with why you’re writing this blog and what you want to accomplish with it. 
  • don’t need to make it too long.  try to always include pictures.  

that was the idea.

here is the advice:

if you have kids under the age of 16 – get onstar.  get a gm vehicle with onstar or get just the rearview mirror.  if your kids are looking for a great inexpensive car with a ton of value – recommend something like this.   i know you have navigation on your phone – who doesn’t.  but what you don’t have is someone that knows if you get in a car accident, witness a car accident or have an emergency of any kind.  if you’re in an accident, onstar immediately calls for help – you don’t have to do anything.  they will also talk with your kids if you are in trouble – many more.  it is a no brainer to have and, in my mind, not smart to not have.  watch this:

love checklist – use it.

14 Feb

this verse isn’t just for weddings!

use it as a checklist for friends, peers, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses (hate that word, sounds like louse)

happy valentines day!


this valentines day, love yourself first

11 Feb

this valentine’s day, I offer you a twist on what to think about first.

those of you with loved ones will automatically give cards, treats and smooches. that’s fun for sure.

but this v-day, add something new to the mix.   add spending a few minutes loving who you are.   i know how stupid that sounds but stop laughing for a second.   do YOU love YOU?

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 1.22.32 PMwhat that means is do you take care of yourself?  not in the manicure/pedicure way.  it doesn’t mean that you perform your role as wife/husband, mother/daughter, friend/peer perfectly – as we know that is never the objective.  it means… is the voice in your head – the one that talks to you – a positive voice?  does it say things like:

“you nailed that presentation!”

“that’s ok, there will be another opportunity, you did your best!”

“you are exactly where you need to be.”

or is it more like this:

“dumb ass, why’d ya do something like that?”

“i just can’t keep up”

“why’d i say that? i’m so stupid”

the thing with being good to yourself is that if you never learned from your parents, older siblings or a caregiver how to love yourself, you may not even know how.  a big part of being good to yourself is to say I AM ENOUGH.  and it’s being vulnerable enough to admit you’re not perfect.

one of the biggest life-changing things i did was watch this TED video.  i watched the video, i dunno, maybe 10 times.  it’s one of those videos that digs deep into who you are. i actually already wrote about this video here back in 2012.  it breaks open the WHY behind the negative self-talk, which then shows you how to love yourself more.   watch it.  and if you want more info,  you can read the blog, take the class or simply just read the book. 

also, here’s some more inspiration to love yourself on V-Day.  find more here.

Enough1 Enough2

it’s here – the weekend

8 Feb

finally we got outa dodge for the weekend. happy 45th year to robert.

If it wasn’t cold enough in birmingham, mi for us – we headed “up north” for a shopping + snowmobile weekend with some of our favorite people (+ they’re family to boot!)

have a good one!


intentions vs. actions

2 Feb

happy sunday!  go cowboys!  this is an oldie but a goodie.  and my intentions below have stayed the same and my action has improved.


ROF + i are all into watching breaking bad (we’re slow to catch on) and although i think the show jumped the shark a little recently, it’s excellent.

it’s one of several shows out there that gives you a multi-layered look inside people.  a character that has pretty good + decent intentions but has made a decision to take bad actions.  for a tv show – meaning purely for entertainment purposes –  i’ve discovered i like this.  watching these kind of shows, to me, with their multi-dimensional lead was way better than any of the stupid :30 minute sitcoms out there <insert laugh track here.>

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 6.52.05 AMtake mr. walter white from breaking bad.  if you haven’t seen the show, i’m not going to ruin anything for you here.  but let’s do a little character assessment, shall we ?

intention:  dying of cancer with little time to live, he has crappy insurance and little savings his intention is to leave his family with plenty of money to for college + living for long after he’s gone

action: he becomes the best crystal meth cook around and a drug dealer in the process

we’re only on season 3, so we don’t know if his actions ever catch up with his intentions.  and don’t ruin it for us.  at first, i thought GO FOR IT, WALT.  he’s dying, he wants to provide for his disabled son, his newborn daughter and his wife, right?  honorable?  yes.  however, the lies he tells and the person he becomes start to overpower his intentions.  i was all GO FOR IT at the start,  but am now thinking that his actions have been way more hurtful than his intentions were decent.

do you have good intentions with something but take bad action?  

let’s look at another character, i was personally obsessed with for at least the first 4 seasons:

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dexter, from dexter.  holy moly was this an outstanding show.  i absolutely hated myself for loving him so much.  

i know that he has a bit of a troubled past.  ok, a real messed up past but:

intention:  rid the miami streets of terrible criminals who perform horrific crimes yet get away when the legal system fails.

action:  yo, he kills them!  eye for an eye.  oh, and he works for the police.

this was a doozy of a dichotomy between good + evil.

was intention winning over action?  who cares what you do as long as…. you meant well.

we’ll check more into that soon.  one more example.

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possibly my first experience with this intention vs. action deal on tv:  tony soprano.

intention:  to get better.  the mob boss that saw a shrink.

action: did bad mob stuff that hurt his family and his health constantly

while tony’s intention isn’t as clear cut as walter or dex’s – but it was enough to add wonderful depth to the character.  and make you pull for him even though he was a bad guy.

so what is the conflict in your life?  real life, i’m talking about now.  

i’ll go first.  remember, we’re not aiming for an emmy here like the above shows.

intention:  to build close, meaningful friendships that are maintained…forever.

action:  i don’t make it a priority to stay in touch.

honesty hurts!  i hated writing that down.  stinks. but step 1 is taking ownership of our actions, right?   at least isn’t that what tony soprano learned?

what about you?

dreaming of the warm sun

1 Feb

i’m not going to complain about how cold it is up here (and everywhere for that matter) but something in me just wants to look at the color yellow.yellowmontage

top left: beautifully bold yet simple room.  i love!  courtesy of a beautiful mess blog click here

top right: i’m a sucker for anything eames.  can’t give credit because i can’t find who shot these pics.

bottom left: way to make a window pop.   amazing how a simple design feature can speak volumes about your personality.  it says, i’m daring, i take risks, i like what i like and don’t care if anyone else likes it. i like you without even meeting you!  link courtesy of design nerd

bottom right:  ikat bowls from west elm.  these are sitting in my virtual shopping cart.  i’m a fan.


top right: what you’re missing here is the kick ass boots that go with this outfit!  see herevintage photothis vintage pic is via micemen.  and it’s just plain fun.  and look they’re not all on their phones!

here’s to yellow.  cuz, here’s what it looks like here:

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until later, my friend…

6 Dec




read more about how special this trip is to me here or here  and now i’m going to be there!

hear. jams to be thankful for this holiday

28 Nov


for me, music isn’t just to be listened to, it’s to be felt.  it puts you in a mood.  maybe a day drinking kind of mood, or a stroll in the snow mood or simply a thankful mood.  here is a carefully curated bunch of playlists to put you in the right frame of mind while you mix turkey with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.  don’t you want to just plug and play?  hopefully, i made it a little easier for you Thanksgiving today.

first is my playlist on spotify.  (if you are still using itunes, shame on you) click here for the playlist.  i made it just for you, so listen and love.

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didn’t just put together one playlist for you – but, like, a million.  there has to be something in here you will like!


has a wide range of tastes that mesh together seamlessly – good for a food coma, they say. and, i must add, very creative song list for thanksgiving.  listen here.  i love “sweet potato” by celia and “making pies” by patty griffin and ‘mashed potato time” by dee dee sharp.  cute.


click here for some joni mitchell, beastie boys and fats waller.  beautiful.  just like pumpkin pie mixed with stuffing and a touch of green bean casserole.

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 8.53.29 AMHappy Thanksgiving.  I love all of you, my friends, reading this!

see. HONY – humans of new york.

26 Nov

a friend introduced me to this incredible facebook page you have to “like” instantly.  it is the most unique facebook page i’ve ever encountered. and that is saying a lot.  you have to have a little bit of an artsy point of view to get it.  it’s called HUMANS OF NEW YORK.  it’s actually a blog that you can find here.

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snapping pictures, getting a blurb and moving on.  these are amazing and really make you realize how small you are and how big and beautiful the world is.  watch his story:

here is a sample of what comes into my feed:

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Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 8.34.48 AM Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 8.35.06 AMi hope your life is enriched like mine has been!

salted caramel recipes

10 Nov

salt + caramel = 2 things that go together like soni+cher, peanut butter + jelly and vodka + lemons. after pumpkin, the one thing that says ‘fall’ is salted caramel.

there is just something about the sweet + salty togetherness that when you mix it with the background of falling red leaves, crisp temperatures and crackling fire it all says – home to me.

pinterest + I curated some tasty recipes for you. from a martini to popcorn to rice krispie treats.  all of the great blogs and recipes can be found here.



top left to right: salted caramel pretzel brownies, salted caramel bark

salted caramel pb cups and bailey’s salted caramel chocolate pie



from top left to right: salted caramel macarons, popcorn,

brownies with SC filling and rice krispie treats.

and you can’t forget the salted caramel martini.  did you know that have that flavor?  Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 8.15.38 PM

the recipe from ministry of alcohol’s website


2 parts stoli salted karamel

3 parts apple juice

how easy is that?  (to quote my favorite cook)

absolutely obsessed with lorde

9 Nov

since this blog is called the appreciator, i have to write about my latest obsession – lorde, the 16 year old singer/songwriter from new zealand.  i am absolutely blown away by her sound + lyrics.  her debut album is amazing from top to bottom and i listen to it so loud driving to and from work that people have to think i’m a bit nuts.  how in the hell-o can someone that young have such deep, creative lyrics?


now, if you are one of those people that just enjoys a good beat, then you probably won’t like this. but if you get into lyrics and oddity and unsymmetrical poetry – then you won’t be able to put this down like a never-ending delicious book.  here are the lyrics to one of my favorite’s called ‘team’.  i can already picture the lyrics sketched on a big white wall in my dream office space.

Wait ’til you’re announced
We’ve not yet lost all our graces
The hounds will stay in chains
Look upon your greatness
That you’ll send the call out
(Send the call out [15x])

Call all the ladies out
They’re in their finery
A hundred jewels on throats
A hundred jewels between teeth
Now bring my boys in
Their skin in craters like the moon
The moon we love like a brother, while he glows through the room

Dancin’ around the lies we tell
Dancin’ around big eyes as well
Even the comatose they don’t dance and tell

We live in cities you’ll never see on screen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run free
Living in ruins of the palace within my dreams
And you know, we’re on each other’s team

I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air, so there
So all the cups got broke shards beneath our feet but it wasn’t my fault
And everyone’s competing for a love they won’t receive
‘Cause what this palace wants is release


I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air
So there
I’m kinda older than I was when I revelled without a care
So there


here is the song:

here’s a great video about her.  watch this and then compare ( i had to briefly…) her to someone with the initials MC.  who is the artist?

i am a writer.

2 Nov

ROF said something this week that upset me.  or it made me mad at first but then i thought about it some more.

i was telling a story about something that happened to me that i thought was right out of a scene from a movie, or a book.  and i said to ROF, “you know, the writer in me thought that would be a great story to tell.”  that’s when he said:

“since when are you a writer?”

i won’t bore you with the witty repartee but it is one of those things that i always thought i was.  in fact, i bet my mom and sister are reading this saying “she is a writer?” but it is one of those things that i’ve always aspired to be but don’t write much any more.  unless you count 287 blog posts writing.

which i do, by the way.  ROF. even if there are pictures.

i graduated college with a fiction writing minor.  i took a post-grad class called “your first 100 pages” of your novel.  i wrote a book of poems.  I’M A WRITER.

or am i just one of those old(er) people that hangs on to who they used to be – or worse – hangs on to whom they wanted to be? busted.  but stuff like this can always be turned around, right?  

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ernest hemingway, i’m not.  but i kind of liked thinking of myself as a writer.  so i’m going to start to write.  you’ll notice a new tab at the top of my blog. peek in there sometime if you want to read some musings.  i want to be a writer.

tips to be a savvy traveller.

19 Oct

as many of you know, i travel a lot.  there are people that travel more than me and less than me, but let’s just say, i’m on the road.  when i am there are some companies and techniques that will make your travel life much easier.

1. UBER.

we’re in chicago right now and on our first full day, have used UBER already 6 times.  here is why you don’t want to be one of those tourists waving down a taxi in the middle of the street (so uncouth!) in any big city.

  • download the app to your smart phone.  fill out all the information including your credit card.
  • turn on your gps locator finder.
  • when you’re ready for an UBER car, just hit the button.  you can see where the cars are
  • they are not pizza soaked, weird smelling yellow cabs. they are lincoln mkt, cadillac escalades and better.
  • the drivers are in dark suits.  the cars smell new
  • since you pressed the button, they know where you are and you will get a text message on when they are going to get you.
  • UBER it far, UBER it close, doesn’t matter but you must do it!
  • there is no cash exchanged.  none.  no tip either!  all via your cc they have on file.  you get receipt instantly emailed!


if you must drive, then don’t use any other company other than national rental car.  they did not pay me for this post.  but there is no better rental car company out there.  gone are the days of waiting in line for what seems like HOURS while they endlessly punch buttons.  it’s easy to get status with them.  then you don’t need to do anything but make an easy on-line reservation, then by-pass the counter, pick a great car and get in it and drive off.  easies experience hands down.  shame on you for going anywhere else!


if you are going anywhere for 2 days or less, don’t bother checking your bag.  it’s a waste of time when you go to the airport and when you leave.  with hard core business travel, it really is a sign of weakness to check.  here are my security line tips from someone that is very picky about how you go through the lane.

  • if you are organized, you do NOT need to start unpacking all your stuff right there with the stack of bins. ANNOYING!  sorry, did i say that out loud?  you know, the type that is just so excited to take off her shoes and belt and drop her computer in a bin that she stands there and does it right there at the go?  holds everyone up.  don’t do that.  in fact, don’t do jack – just grab two bins – then slide them up until you’re almost to the point of throwing everything through the black tunnel.  the security person will start barking all the orders, KINDA directed at you, but you have done nothing except kept the line moving behind you.  and they’ll thank you.  then in one move – lift your computer out and put into one bin and put your shoes and purse in the other bin and shove it through.  there.  EASY.  don’t tell anyone but you don’t need to remove your baggie of stuff.  i never do.  i don’t know why they say that!


don’t be afraid of the best airlines out there.  they are the way they are because they move fast, they are friendly and they don’t take any bs.


this is a little bit of a no-duh one, but YELP when traveling won’t lead you wrong.  yes there are stupid people who leave stupid reviews.  yes, you have to do some digging.  but the bottom line is that crowd sourcing works.  if the majority of people dig the restaurant, then go.

there – you’re prepared.  now go!


thinking of pumpkins already….

8 Sep

here’s an older post that i love, so reposting… don’t hate me for recycling. 

i think you get the point by now, i love fall and everything that goes along with it –

cool weather, sweaters, squash, chili, the holidays.  i especially love starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte.  it’s the only time of year i like starbucks.  but pumpkin flavor, color or the actual vegetable i’m all over.  here are some links to everything pumpkin: 

link #1:  better homes & gardens shows some creative ways to decorate with pumpkins

link #2: pumpkin pancakes.  to-die-for!

found these on a blog called “annie’s eats”  .  and you can get the recipes there too.  just look at these…

link #3:  skinnygirl pumpkin pie dip

here is link to original post at skinnytaste

Pumpkin Pie Dip
Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 12 • Size: 1/2 cup • Old Points: 2 pts • Points+: 3 pts
Calories: 102.9 • Fat: 0.1g • Protein: 1.8 g • Carb: 27.7 g • Fiber: 0.9 g

  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (Splenda would work too)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
  • 6 oz fat free Greek yogurt (I used Chiobani)
  • 8 oz cool whip free
  • cut up apples to dip (extra points)

Mix pumpkin with brown sugar, vanilla and spices, blend well. Mix in yogurt.

Fold in cool whip and chill in refrigerator until ready to eat.
Makes about 6 cups.

link #4: pumpkin smelling candles

it’s almost as good as eating them, isn’t it?  i truly can not get enough of this smell.  makes my house smell like i have been slaving for hours when really i was fooling around on pinterest! check out these i found on etsy.  click here.

link #5: pumpkin scarf

is this not so cute?!  why mess with a big bulky sweater that would make you look huge because you ate too many pumpkin pancakes anyway?  just wear this warming but not bulky neck scarf!  found, yet again, on etsy.  if you’re not into this site, get with it!  click here

hope you enjoyed today’s links.  is it 73 degrees where you are too?

don’t you love canine kids?

21 Aug

welcome lil ruby.

while there is no replacement for max, our black and white english bulldog puppy has brightened our 9 to 5 lives.


loving change

18 Aug

so we moved to michigan about 10 months ago and survived the winter and watched it give way to the most beautiful summer i’ve ever experienced.  in fact, i’m quite sure that ROF is tired of hearing me say:


it actually sounds more like this:  “i looooovvvve it!”  and i’m saying that because i really do.  i appreciate all the uniqueness that michigan has to offer that i’m not used to like:

big beautiful lakes with sandy beaches – everywhere

cool summer mornings and evenings

stays light out in the summer until almost 10pm

the change of seasons 

the hope and the grit of detroit

how nuts people are over cool cars

but then i realized something kind of big.  i actually have been programmed to LOVE IT.

growing up, i lived in cincinnati, cleveland, troy, boston, grand blanc, milwaukee, chicago, dallas, detroit.  i went to 3 different high schools in 3 different states.  even more elementary schools and during all these moves, both my mom and dad got us really excited for change by making it really fun and exciting. it could have been as simple as going for ice cream as a kid smushed in the way back of a vintage corvette or picking blueberries in the woods in boston to dad getting us the presidential suite at the hilton on michigan avenue, loading the beds with a bunch of cubs t-shirts and hats and taking us to dinner at the 95th floor of the hancock building.  i learned to LOVE change.  to love new houses, new opportunities.

so it’s not that i don’t truly loooooove it – as i say about something almost every day, because i do.  it’s just that realization that i think i’ve always been an “appreciator”!

appreciating everyday people

30 Jul

so this brief blog post is to say that i appreciate the fantastic guy who works in our building downstairs who holds the door kindly for all of us leaving the building around 6pm – 7pm.  the door locks so he does this so we don’t have to fish for our keys.  he’s an older, balding type with happy eyes and is always so kind and  friendly.  last night’s interaction went like this:

“how you doin’ tonight?” (nice man holding door)

“i’m doin’ fine, thank you!” (me, all pooped from a long day)

“i know you’re fine, but HOW YA DOIN’?”  (he yells as i round the corner) 

i laughed all the way in the elevator and into my car.  (this was not a cheesy interaction but a nice, funny one).

it’s the little things.




25 things to do with peaches

24 Jul

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 it!

and when you make it, use these really fantastic jars from williams-sonoma.  makes me want to whip up a batch right now!


2. peach pie pinwheels from spoonful (click on the title for link)


3. grilled peaches with rosemary & balsamic vinegar from the framed table

Grilled Peaches w/ Balsamic & Rosemary

i’ve always wanted to grill fruit and this looks so delicious and easy! 

ok, i’m officially hungry now.  i’m not sure i can continue.  but i must….

4. walnut and peach buttermilk pancakes


these look so unique i must try them!

now, wash all these down with some delightful peach drinks 

5. peach lemonade from divas can cook

IMG_9959-1024x6826. peach & thyme sangria from my style vita


7.  peach & cream skinny milkshake from will cook for smiles

i think the words skinny and milkshake don’t go together but this looks like something i would eat nonetheless!


hopefully this is helpful if you find yourself with boatloads of peaches from your trees!

rant: only say thank you when you are thanking someone. thanks.

24 Jun

it’s not normal for me to rant on my blog called “the appreciator” but i feel like it.  and it’s my blog.

have you noticed how incorrectly people use the words “thank you”?  

especially in this modern day communication via email, i notice that people say “thank you” when they really aren’t saying thank you for anything at all.  like the entire email is one big to-do list for you and at the bottom is “thank you!”  for what?  reading my diatribe?

the worst offender is the one that populates their signature with the word “THANKS!”  which means that they could be ripping you a new one in the email but don’t forget that i added “THANKS!” to the end of the email so now we’re all good and i’m really a nice person.

really annoying.  there.  i’m done ranting.  

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