product review: Nerium AD

25 Feb



have you heard of this skincare line  nerium ad yet?  i hadn’t when my good friend (from high school!) told me about it.  to be honest, it sounded too good to be true.  when you watch the videos and research the product and see the before and after pictures, a little red warning light goes off in my mind that it doesn’t seem possible.

but i’ve got to say – i really love it.  i’ve been using it for a little over a month and i can see a difference.


my friend heather is the oldest friend i have.  not her age – no – i’ve known her the longest, since we were in grade school.  that is a lot for me because i went to several grade and high schools across the country.  she is smart (mba:northwestern, bba: university of michigan), fun and i’m so glad we connected after all these years.   she was hip to nerium ad, tried it, loved it and now sells it.  full disclosure: she gave me the day cream, night cream and body cream to try. doesn’t mean i had to write about it though!  

i don’t know about you, but i need my moisturizer to have some oomph to it.  the minute i put it on nerium ad, i can feel it.  both creams are fantastic but it’s the night cream that really makes the difference.   i have these wrinkle lines on my forehead and lines around my mouth and they have really been minimized.

heather did her own before and after shot:


i’m buying some more from heather.   i recommend that you reach out to her here  and check out the 30 day satisfaction or your money back dealio or you can email at  i’m hooked!

you know what other product i’m really liking a lot?  i love this product line.

travel: detroit’s corktown

22 Feb

detroit’s had a bad rap for a while.  if you didn’t know better, you’d think it was just one giant wasteland.  you’d be surprised to know that detroit has loads of little nooks + crannies of streets and neighborhoods with many great restaurants, shops, breweries and coffee houses.  one of those areas is called corktown.

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here are some key places to go in corktown.

1. eat: gold cash gold


a pawn store turned restaurant  has a small but delicious menu.  what they did to the 132 year-old space is incredible and i noticed all the details.  stop here for lunch, dinner or soon – brunch.


2. coffee:  astro coffee

i don’t think hipsters refer to places as a “hipster place” (that was me calling me a hipster…. ha) but this place is pretty damn cool.  funky music + vegan food offerings, this place has great coffee made by cute guys with unusual facial hair.



3. eat: mercury grill

i took some girls on my team here for lunch last year and we had a blast.  just a good ole grill with awesome food (look at that dog!).


4.  see:central michigan train station

i don’t know where to start with this building.  built in 1913 after detroit’s original train station burned down, this abandoned train station is one of the most beautiful building i’ve ever seen.  even abandoned and destroyed with graffiti it’s unbelievable.  in fact, it has been said that it is a premier example of ruins photography or ruin porn.  i first fell in love with it when i saw it for the first time during a lunch break at work.  here was my first sighting of this building.  i think my mouth fell wide open.

IMG_9427now, i don’t recommend that you go in this building, but if you were, this is what you’d see:


5. eat: slow’s bbq

arguably better bbq than anything i’ve had in texas!  (them are fighting words down here!) but this place is so good!   it’s always crowded but eat at the bar if you can – it’s more fun.  and buy a long sleeve tee like we did.


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.

digging this

5 Feb

happy thursday!

i’m happy because it’s ROF’s birthday weekend (starting today and running right up to the big day on monday) and we’re taking off for the great white north – upper michigan.  yes, it’s going to be close to 80 degrees here in dallas and we’re headed up to a tangy 7 degrees but we don’t care – we’re snowmobiling again!  we’re going with some of our favorite people in the whole world and staying at one of the most beautiful houses i’ve been to lately.  can’t wait!



here are some way random things i’m digging lately.  check them out!

1. trader joe’s frozen french onion soup.  

i know, it doesn’t sound that appealing, but trust me, it is so very delicious! they come like you see below, pop them in a small crock soup bowl, microwave for 3 minutes then pop into the over for 20 minutes.  the onions are caramelized, the broth has depth of flavor and there is only 210 calories to boot! run, don’t walk today!

frenchonion_soup_sealed imgres2. glenn harrold sleep app

i think i’ve talked about this one before.  but i use it so much i’m going to throw it in here again.  you can look at this and think it is a little weird, and i’d understand, but it works.  if you have trouble sleeping or your husband snores – pop in your head phones and let your mind take a little ride while listening to this.  i guarantee i’ve never heard the end of it because i’m out!



3.  misterwives

love them!  jamming out now…

4. cup of jo

this blog by joanna goddard is so much fun to read.  i look forward to every post!  rss it now.



hope you have a great thursday.

pay it forward with social media

30 Jan



my mail lady – monica  – did something exceptional last week.  i was anticipating a very important package that was being delivered via USPS and it was very late.  not to the fault of USPS, but the company shipping it.  it was something i needed very badly – medicine – if you must know.  i saw last week that while the parcel had been delivered to our local post office, morgan typically didn’t get to our neighborhood until after 6pm.  i was thinking that i would drive and pick it up myself.  the thought of orchestrating this was daunting to me.  but i called the post office and here are all the extraordinary things they did right:

  • a real person answered the phone (and the office wasn’t even open yet.)
  • they listened to my request and thought about it.
  • they told me that i should talk to my mail lady – and – oh, here she is!
  • they put monica on the phone and she too listened to me and said she’d call me back once the mail was sorted, in an hour.
  • she called me back in an hour.
  • i could come by and pick it up, she’d set it aside for me.
  • but wait, she could drive by now before she starts her route and drop it off for me.

ummm.  wow.  really?



so that isn’t even the point to my blog.  riveting story to this point, i know.  but here it is.  i was blown away.  wouldn’t you be?  i mean, it’s not like monica and i knew each other – we didn’t.  but what a nice, kind gesture.  so i did what any good social media user did and i tweeted about it to @USPS.  and that’s my point!  while many of you may think social media is just a tool those young kids use – this is actually a very pay-it-forward sort of deal.  via twitter, i can get straight to who counts at USPS because this is what happened.  i tweeted:

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then i got back this:

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granted, it could have been responded to MUCH QUICKER, but maybe they’re learning.  And that day, i got a frantic doorbell ring and knocking combo at my door.  it was monica.  she was beaming from ear to ear.

“thank you so much for the nice complement via twitter!  i’ve been recognized at work, they took my picture and i’m going to be written up in the company newsletter!”

then she handed me a card, which was unnecessary but super nice.




tweet good stuff.  as more and more companies work with social media folks like myself, they are getting smarter by keeping their ear to the ground of their customers.  they can turn monica’s good nature and willingness to go out of her way for me into a “raving fan” story for USPS.  now they know about monica and a new fan!


january playlist: snow & birdcage

21 Jan

when thinking of life’s most important things, music doesn’t typically come to mind.  probably not even in the top 5.

or 10.

but for me, music is key to sustaining a smashingly good mood.  and that’s worth something.  believe me.

this year, this website will highlight playlists every month.  all curated by yours truly.

this months playlist name comes courtesy of this website.  pretty funny name generator.  here’s another.

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while you listen to this playlist:
you’ll either be:
a) pouring a glass of wine and surfing the web. check out this blog, this blog or this blog.

b) fixing dinner made of pasta, homemade tomato sauce and meatballs (and drinking a glass of wine)

c) cruising in your car, top down and wind blowing through your hair. (no wine)


photo: @livenation
this month’s playlist is full of fun, moody riffs as well as some songs that will make you say… “i liked that song a long time ago but had no clue who it was!”

here are a couple of my favorites:

LAPSLEY:  falling short.  this has me written all over it.  just had to hear the first few notes and i was sold.  whole album is awesome.
GUSTER: long night.  oh wow.  first with satellite then comes this song.
BIG DATA: dangerous.  they had me at the claps.
BROODS:  old song but love love love.
SIA:  i want it to be known that i’ve loved her for over 15 years.  it all started with this song.  this live version brings big tears to my eyes  – she’s just that good.
sia photo courtesy of here
you might want to join spotify as it’s the only way to listen to music – if you’re a music lover.  follow me here!


happy new year!

1 Jan

i love new starts.  

2014 was a long but good year.

on the plus (+) side, both ROF and i have lost a considerable amount of weight.  it was a long, hard journey and we’ve got a lot more to go but it gives our 2015 resolutions a good start.

on the plus side again, we relocated back home to dallas.  sigh.  so good to be home.  where great friends and new adventures abound.  one of the friendliest places in the US, we’re glad to be welcomed back with open arms.

as “the appreciator”, i’m thankful for ROF’s exciting new position with a new company here in dallas.  he’s pumped and the opportunities are endless.

on the not-so-positive (-) side,  we had some pretty scary close calls in regards to health.  ROF’s blood clot and PE put him in the hospital for a week.  that was extremely scary.  i’m so thankful for him.

also, being stuck in the flooding in detroit for 9 hours was a moment in 2014 i’d like to forget.  you can read about that here.

back to new starts.

what has you excited for 2015?  i have my goals for the year set up in three categories: MIND/BODY/SOUL.  i’ll talk more about those later.  right now,

i need coffee.

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?

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.

APTOPIX Flooding Michigan

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.


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.


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.


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”


“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!


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.


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!

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.


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!

pretty obsessed

24 Jun

welcome to the stuff i’m obsessing over now…


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: 
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!


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.


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.


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?  


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

what to eat for breakfast

6 Apr

what to make for breakfast?

there ain’t nothing like a good egg.  my family loves eggs and we make them many different ways.  katie makes a mean fried egg.  she can even flip the egg in the pan without a spatula.   she’s cool.  ROF scrambles those eggs like no other.  it’s so simple yet so good.  he sautes peppers until they are just the right consistency before adding the eggs and cheese.  my specialty?  poachies.  yum-o.





but sometimes i like to venture past eggs and here are some great recipes!

first is oh joy’s rainbow pancakes. aren’t these the best idea ever?  especially if you have kids.  pop over there to get the recipe that is in video format.

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next is something that just made my mouth water a little bit.  baked baguette french toast by dash and bella blog.  i haven’t made this yet but think i will when i have my next overnight guests.


ok, i’m back to eggs.  check out these awesome egg cupcakes.  another great company breakfast.  thanks dine & dish for this recipe!

0b8a1e2d9145dfb6299e5879530fcb85lastly, how bout these amaretto french toast bites by the awesome sweet paul?  delish!



4 perfect cocktails: the gin + tonic

27 Mar

from the desk of ROF:

straight gin “smells like pine needles and tastes like hair spray”.

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that being said, i think i was hooked after my first one.  when i fix a gin + tonic in a heavy, cut glass, i feel as if i’m transported to a swank party in london.  it’s just such an english drink.

<side note: while dictating this blog to me, we just got in a riff about gin brands.  ROF said that hendricks was not a proper gin brand but if i wanted to listen to miley cyrus or katy perry and drink it, that was my prerogative.”  just thought i’d note that>

when i think of gin, i think of my grandfather, HB,  telling stories of buying good bathtub gin from chicago to take to the indy 500 during prohibition.  he said the last two years of prohibition – 1931 and 1932 were wilder than any of the 98 indy races in history.  i would have liked to have seen that.  i have continued to attend the indy 500 – this year will be my 30th.

i’m a fan of the original, old-school gin brands like tanqueray or bombay.  when it comes to making gin + tonics, you may wonder why a recipe is even needed.  the ingredients are pretty easy.  but it’s all about the perfect g+t.  the right amount of gin, the right tonic and cutting the limes just the way you like it.  my dear friend emma, bar manager at the original bob’s chophouse in dallas, showed me a technique 10+ years ago that i still use today.


premium gin/bombay sapphire

fresh, unopened canada dry tonic

plenty of ice

fresh cut lime wedges

short, heavy cocktail glass

martini shaker


fill your glass to the top with ice.  add 4-6 cubes in the bottom of the martini shaker. pour 2 oz of gin into the martini base.  add 3 splashes of tonic.  with the lid off, take a bartender spoon/stirrer and briskly stir the drink in the martini shaker base.

do not put top on martini shaker and shake it.  you will have a disaster on your hands!

squeeze a wedge of lime over the glass filled with ice.  place wedge on rim of glass.  pour contents in martini shaker into glass.

this, like the margarita we talked about here and the martini we talked about here is also a sipping drink.  enjoy!

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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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what younger women need to know – part three

23 Mar

continuing the blog post series on me talking with some older women, i introduce kay johnson!

kay was gracious to answer all my questions and i’m all the more enriched by getting to know her a little more!


Kay Johnson, age 70
I stayed home with my kids until they were old enough to be involved in activities that kept them for after- school practice.  When I did return to the workforce I was an administrative assistant and human resources person.

The best thing about growing older is you finally realize you can be your own person and not be concerned with being who your friends want you to be or saying what you think they want to hear.  You finally realize you are fine just the way you are.  We all have different childhood experiences and different personalities but now we embrace those differences.  (A far different attitude from my 20 year old self.)  <amen, kay!>

The decade I like most was the 50s. I loved the music and the innocence of the times.  My grandchildren will never be able to attend a Halloween carnival at their elementary school and trick-or-treat all the way home after dark with just the other neighborhood kids.

One of the best decisions I ever made was never to act shocked at anything my teen-aged daughters ever told me.  I figured they would feel free to talk to me about anything and never be afraid to come to me with whatever might be bothering them.  It worked just as I had hoped but with one little glitch.  I heard way more than I wanted to hear.

One of the worst decisions I ever made….  oh, how could I forget!  Once I let a door-to-door salesman into my house when my husband was gone.  Just two little girls, a dumb Cocker Spaniel, and me huddled together listening to his spiel about a water softener.  It was fine but believe me I knew it could have worked out differently.  (Looking back I think it was his first call and he was more terrified than I was.)  It taught me a lesson though.  I don’t have any problem turning people away or hanging up on the solicitors.

Advice to a younger woman would be don’t fail to recognize your worth.  Wake up every morning and look in the mirror and tell yourself one thing you like about yourself.  Educate yourself so you will never HAVE to depend on a husband or significant other to support you.  Position yourself so that you have choices.

The person I admire most has to be my mother.  She was always so wise.  She is 92 now and still has her moments.  She has very high morals and a strong work ethic that she passed on to my sister and me not by preaching but by the way she lived her life.  I love some of her sayings . . . She was widowed at age 58 and never remarried.  She always said, “I’d rather be single than wish I was.” You gotta love that!

The most famous person I ever met was Fats Domino.  We were on the same flight to Oklahoma City in 1965 and was I ever impressed!  Seriously, Blueberry Hill, I’m Walkin’, Blue Monday, Walking To New Orleans!!!  I loved rock and roll and Fats Domino was one of the best.

thanks kay!  that was wonderful!

to read others click here or here!

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.

social media tips for busy executives

11 Mar

social media can be daunting,

especially if you’re already having trouble

fitting your to-do list into a normal day.


who has time for it?  you say to anyone who asks.

social media is very important in this current year of 2014.  you can’t ignore it anymore.  but there are some things you can do to make it less time consuming.  why is social important for you?  i’ll give you just this one reason:

because now, current clients/potential clients/employees/bosses can get to know more of you than before social media.  why is that good?  because YOU CONTROL IT.  let’s take the core social platforms and compare them to their traditional (semi) equivalent:

LinkedIn:  business cards.

except with LinkedIn, you can exchange “business cards” online that include who you know in common (great conversation starter),  your complete work history and list of  accomplishments.  also you don’t need to know each other to exchange cards.  the best way i heard this explained was that connecting on LinkedIn was like a “soft” handshake.

manageable LINKEDIN

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1. update your page.  write down your password and check the box that says to keep you checked in.  make sure in your settings, your email is current and you are getting notified if someone links in to you.  get a great picture on there that represents you well.  write a summary.  pretend that a potential client is reading this – what are they reading?  do this now.

2. BE VERY VERY SELECTIVE.  do not write recommendations for someone unless you absolutely would hire them in a new york minute.  don’t accept everyone’s request.  do not hesitate to clean your connections up.  no one gets a notice that you’ve dropped them. these are the people you should accept:

– you know and like them. do not link in with people who just want to use you or your connections to just get a job and that’s it.

– they work in an industry you are in and are in a position to support you or vice versa in some way.

– you are interviewing them

– you currently work with them.  (note: this is how you stay in touch with peers via other jobs that you would nonetheless never talk to again)

do not worry about hurting people’s feelings.  it’s ok.  this is your page and YOU CONTROL IT.

3. Just maintain.  make sure you check your LinkedIn emails and link into people you are meeting with as a way of introduction.  And that’s it.  of course, there is so much more, but if this is the bare minimum.

twitter: newspaper

except with twitter, you customize your front page or “feed” with your interests.  from hot trending topics, to sports, to rush hour traffic.  twitter isn’t printed the evening before, it is instantaneous.  it is 10X better than newspaper.

you can do twitter.

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1. just like LinkedIn, make sure your picture, profile + settings are all up to date.  make sure that if you are mentioned in a tweet or you get a direct tweet – those come in the way of a notification on your phone.   if someone is talking to you, then you want to respond.  recently, onstar tweeted my blog (this blog) out to their followers and i thanked them and they invited me down to their HQ.  just from a tweet.  oh yea, stoli vodka responded via twitter on this blog here!

2. pick 2 times a day to check in on twitter.  scroll through your feed, check out any notifications.  i do this in the morning.  i read a news aggregator called Zite and tweet out the social media articles i read and like.  then at noon i check in and see that other people have favorited them (when they favorite them, it goes out to their followers) and who retweeted (forwarded) my tweets.  all this does is get you noticed and can give you legitimacy in a chosen field.

3. when you travel, follow key places.  if you’re going to vegas, you better follow your hotel, car service, show you’re going to see.  this allows you to connect with them directly and only good can (and has) come from that.

this doesn’t even touch the surface on twitter, but remember, this is for you mr or miss busy executive.

facebook: telephone

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well, telephone is a bit of a stretch.  but you’re able to talk to a good amount of people at once and if it’s relevant to them – they’ll speak up.  remember, you control your social media.  you control what pictures you have up, what you say and all of it helps define your personality to “the public” – or in the case of facebook, your friends.   maybe a better analogy would be that facebook is a magazine all about you.  sound narcissistic?  it’s not.  because i love tracking with my friends this way.  i love seeing someone got promoted, had a great day, went on vacation.  but even more, i love getting advice from a variety of people.

1. if you are a busy executive who doesn’t have time for facebook then don’t get on it.  if you pretend to have a page with a profile picture but no timeline photo then we KNOW that you have a page simply to look at other people’s pages.  and that is ok, i guess, but not the point of social media.  you also may have a half of page and just not be interested in facebook – in that case just take it down.  by not finishing your page and keeping up with it it sends the message “i tried but i’m going back to listen to my 8 track tapes”.  you don’t want that!

2. ok, so what to do on facebook if you’re a busy executive.  first, update everything.  it’s easy.  make sure there isn’t a big space at the top of your page – that is your timeline photo.  if it’s not updated, then everyone knows you haven’t done anything in over a year.  next, once a week, scroll through your news feed and “like” and comment on anything you “like” or have something to say.  once a week.  that’s good.

3. next, twice a week post an article you like or create a status with a quote or a favorite saying.  better yet, do it at the same time every week.  everyone likes this and the quote that you choose says something about you.

that’s it.  that’s good for a start.  who knows, you may want to do more once you get this far!  if you do, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for help.  after all that is what i do for a living!

4 perfect cocktails: #2 the martini

8 Mar

like the margarita, the martini has many great memories for me.

at an early age, i always thought the martini glass was chic, hip + intimidating, all at the same time.  as a teenager and in my 20’s, i used to watch clips of the rat pack and james bond – always with a martini in hand and thought there was something cool about it.

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i can remember a boss i had when i was 30 telling me:  “even if you don’t drink martinis, you need to know how to make one.  if you’re entertaining clients, you won’t look like an uncivilized buffoon. right at that time, i decided that if i was going to make one, i had to actually drink one first.  i went into st. pete’s dancing marlin one evening (one of my regular spots) and pete asked: “RO, what can i get cha?” i said: “a martini”.   with a smirk on his face, he asked: “what kind?”  i replied (painfully honest here) “i have no idea” and then added: “make one that the cool guys drink”.

i watched him chill the glass, mix the concoction, slide it over to me on a bev nap where i took a sip, winced and choked back to him “pete, this is nothing but a cold shot in a big fancy glass.”  he laughed, walking away and said “yep, it sure is!”.

this recipe is for my perfect martini.


stemmed martini glass//shaker with strainer//extra dry white vermouth//olives with their juice//stoli vodka//ice



take the martini glass, put 6-8 ice cubes + a splash of water and let sit and chill for 10 minutes.

while chilling, fill the shaker with ice + pour 3 ozs of stoli vodka, the smallest dash you can pour of vermouth and a splash (1/2 oz) of olive juice (this is called dirt and i like mine just a little dirty).  put the lid on the shaker and shake for 2 minutes.  kind of like this:


take off top of shaker, dump out ice from the martini glass + strain the martini into the glass (no ice in glass) + garnish with two olives.

much like the margarita, this is a sipping drink.   do not operate heavy machinery if you’ve had more than 2 of these!  but, as they say:

“One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough.”
James Thurber

by ROF

this is #2 in a 4 part series.  you can read about the margarita here

what younger women need to know – part deux

5 Mar

as my avid readers know, i’ve launched a new series called:

what younger women need to know

It stems from a need to connect with older, confident women.  i want all those tidbits, advice and most of all the perspective.  a couple of weeks ago, i profiled shirley and you can check it out here.  and today, i’m talking to kay baker.

Occupation:  Retired Educator from Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, and for the past 13 years I have served as a consultant and Texas Field Director for the Horatio Alger Association.      My first involvement with Horatio Alger was 30+ years ago.   

Photo of Kay 

  1. What’s the best thing about growing older  I am 73, and I like my age very much!  At 73, I have a better understanding and tolerance of the world around me…although often growing older brings failing health which is a heart-break.
  2. What decade did you like the most and why – 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s  I loved the 50’s.  Great strides were made in the medical field during that time…It was the year of the first organ transplant, and DNA was discovered. This was significant due to some family illnesses.  Color TV was also introduced and later in the 50’s the TV remote control was developed.  In addition, NASA was founded in the 50’s which led to vast space exploration yet not until the early 60’s was the first woman involved in space.
  3. The one meal you cooked the most in your life: Our family loved spaghetti and meat balls, and that meal found its way on our table once a week.  Meat loaf was another all-time favorite.
  4. One of the best decisions you ever made: One of the best decisions I ever made was to get an education—both a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree.  I am from a family of educators, and I was always told that an education did not particularly “make a person better, but it would be an agent in opening doors for you.”  I found that very true.  I have always had a special love for children.  Without an education I could not have spent 40 years teaching and in High School Administration. Even after my retirement, I work for the Horatio Alger Association, a Scholarship group, that assists high school graduates further their education with needed funding. 
  5. One of the worst:  I have always regretted that I did not complete a Doctoral Program.
  6. Advice you would give a younger woman: The world belongs to the young!  They should explore every avenue and seek every opportunity.  In deciding on a career—find a job you love and look forward to and it will never seem like ‘work’.”   My Grandmother shared this philosophy with me when I was very young…and she was correct!  I have always looked forward, enjoyed and had a great commitment for the jobs that I have had.
  7. Who did you admire most in your life and why: I had a Grandmother and Mother that I dearly loved and admired.  They were very thoughtful, very loving, caring, and considerate.  They had a wealth of friends that surrounded them.  They had a deep Christian belief.  I have always tried to emulate them.
  1. Who was the most important or famous person you ever met and were you impressed?  I have several people with whom I have been greatly impressed.  E. Don Brown, the Principal at L. D. Bell High School that I worked with for many years has always shown great wisdom and exceptional guidance in working with youngsters.  And there are many members of the Horatio Alger Association that I have had the honor and opportunity to meet and work with that I greatly admire for their commitment to young people and their contributions in making possible the funding for many scholarships.  Each year the Horatio Alger Association gives more than 8 million in scholarships to need-based young people throughout the United States and Canada.  What a group!

Thank you, Kay!

encouragement for today

28 Feb

it’s friday!  i don’t know about you, but i’m dreaming of flowers.  i need fresh flowers around me at home as much as possible.  it’s something that i rationalize:  i don’t have children, so i can afford fresh flowers.  stupid, i know.  i like the alive-ness of them.  <sigh>  wish it were spring.

these words + flowers cheered me up.  maybe you too?


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:

4 perfect cocktails: #1 margarita

23 Feb

every man, once he passes the beer only or the tumbler of rum (or jack) + coke phase of drinking, needs to learn how to make a good cocktail.  it needs to be one that he likes, impresses his friends + becomes a signature drink his lady friends brag about.

the first drink, that could be your drink, is the margarita.

probably the most bastardized cocktail on the planet.  i have to admit, i started drinking margaritas, probably underage, using chi-chi’s “authentic” original or strawberry margarita right out of the 2 litre bottle.  i remember a phase in college that i very much took part of drinking the infamous upside down margarita that is mixed directly in your mouth.   i remember doing this with a group of guys at our apartment and at the frat house in college.  all that was needed was a bottle of montezuma tequila + mr. boston’s margarita/sour mix.  together they cost less than $8. the bottles needed to be cold + almost frozen.  the person partaking had to sit in a chair with his head back, mouth open with a dish towel around his neck.  the “mixer” would then pour equal parts of the cold concoction directly in his mouth until his fist rose, which meant enough.

the kind of margarita i like to make now is nothing like these two i just described. 

i gained an appreciation for the REAL margarita after moving to dallas, texas in 1994.  anyone who lives in dallas knows all of the awesome mexican and tex-mex restaurants it has to offer. these are all places i love.  and their margaritas are all so different.  you gotta get the steak nachos at mi cocina and the frozen margarita in a frozen fishbowl schooner loaded with salt.  or go right now to javier’s, where i get the rojo fish and their top shelf margarita served in a stemmed blown glass goblet.  lastly, there is our beloved blue goose on lower greenville.  always get the fajita combo (god, are those good!) with their signature on- the-rocks sour margarita  in a large tumble.  it goes down way too easy.  two nights before my (+ the appreciators) wedding, we went there with my sister, Susan, and my brother in law and group of folks.   we were way over served pitchers of these margaritas but matched it with a platter of fajitas.


after 15 + years of working on my perfect margarita that i like to serve to guests at home with a mexican meal or just on the back patio with friends and family is this:

ROF’s epic margarita

serves: 2

3 oz herradura silver tequila

2 oz cointreau liqueur

2 oz simple syrup (any brand or homemade)

juice of 4 whole limes

cup of ice

place all ingredients into a martini shaker and shake briskly for 2 minutes.   put additional ice cubes in a short waterford cocktail glass and pour in your mixture.

and as i often have to tell my sister-in-law, katie:

this is a sipping drink!

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what younger women need to know.

21 Feb

I love older women!  

older than me, that is.  i think about all i’ve been through in my 44 years – the things i’ve done, seen, loved + cried over and, well, it’s a long list.  that’s why i appreciate hearing from other women that are even older than me.  they are in their 60’s or above and willing to mentor + share with me their wisdom.  

so today, i will share with you my notes from shirley.  Shirley is my dad’s cousin and one of the neatest people that i know!  she and her husband jerry, surprised my mom for her 70th birthday party along with my aunt annette.  ROF and i got to know shirley and jerry even more and i love this lady!  thanks shirley for the great insight!

name:  Shirley Gasvoda


occupation before and after marriage:  Assistant Counselor at Indiana University

1.  The best thing about growing older:  The peace and contentment of a life well lived, the joy of helping to create a happy family, the time to do what you want and not what you have to do and, most of all, not having to look like a raving beauty to impress people knowing you’ve earned every wrinkle and grey hair!

2.   My favorite (age) decade was the 50’s because our children were raised and mostly on their own, we had enough money to do things we enjoyed and we were still healthy and energetic enough to kick up our heels and look forward to grandchildren!

3.   The meal I cooked the most was pot roast which was the favorite of my three men and I must have baked pies a hundred times over.  I was and am the designated pie maker for all the Gasvoda holidays and that usually calls for five or six each time.

(i think we need both recipes, right?  will you share, shirley?)

4.    The best decision I ever made was to marry young to my wonderful husband.  We had our two boys at an early age which may not be as easy today but we were lucky to be surrounded by family to help and a strong love to depend on.  One advantage for us was that we were still young and healthy enough to be active after the kids were grown and we can enjoy our retirement years together.

5.    The worst decision I made was not pursuing a college education after being awarded a scholarship to Indiana University.  I was in love with my husband and decided to work at I.U. at home to be close to him while he attended Purdue University. Fortunately it worked out well but I would have benefited from not only the knowledge but the social advantages college would have offered.

6.     The advice I would give to a young woman is be yourself and not be influenced by social media if it contradicts what you want in life.  Think before you make a decision and if it’s the life you want badly give it all you can and go pursue your dreams.  If a husband is one of your goals, make sure he treats you with respect and love and wants your happiness as well as his own and you both have the same desires in life.

7.     I had two very strong women in my life and I admired them greatly.  My Grandmother came to the USA alone via Ellis Island when she was sixteen years old.  She spoke only German and didn’t know a word of English.  She was sponsored by a Dr. in Chicago and found work as a Nanny and supported herself until she married my Grandfather at twenty one years of age.  She had eight children and lived a happy life until age 76.

My Mother was also very strong and raised two children on a tenth grade education with little financial assistance.  She was a very hard worker and was always ready to take more than one job to supply our needs.  She had no help from the government which would probably be unheard of today! I like to hope that both these ladies shared some of their strength with me.

8.    Who is the most famous person you’ve met?  I’ve met some wonderful people along the way and impressed by their love of country and humanity but to categorize them as movie stars, politicians etc. would not top my list though I’ve met several.  I’ve had the pleasure of being guided by two Christian ministers who mentored and blessed me with their deep and abiding faith and have the love of fantastic friends and family that have provided unending inspiration.   Friends and Family make my world go around and a God that supports my every move….What more is there???

thanks, shirley.  i appreciate you.

and people – look for more of these to come in the future!

anthropologie or target?

19 Feb

have you noticed that there are some items at target that could pass for being sold at anthropologie?

yep, there are!

i’m ashamed to admit that i’m not a saavy coupon shopper.  never have been.  maybe if i had 3 little cherubs to dress and feed i would be.  but i don’t.  so i shop.  however, my mom did say to me once – who cares where you got it?  once it’s in your house – who cares?  and i am a believer in that.  in fact, the odder the place, the better.

one time, i brought home an old-fashioned file rack from a discount office supply store.  ROF thought i was completely nuts for getting this but LOOK HOW AWESOME IT IS! it’s in our guest room and filled with magazines!  IMG_4409

so that leads me to today’s post.  i’m super impressed with target, most of the time.  while shopping there this weekend, i thought i’d snap a few pics of items i believe could be sold/bought for triple the price at anthropologie.

by the way, i shop at anthro + i love it.  so i’m not dissing them.  i go there monthly for these and i keep my eye out for stuff like this.

owl-cookie-jari’m a sucker for owls.  they are so much not like me – quiet + calculating.   that’s another blog post.  this ceramic, adorable owl cookie jar (or dog treats, odds/ends, pasta jar) can be found at target.


i have these because they’re a beautiful pattern. i love the bit of depth in the knit that is hard to see here. get the towels and the rug.  you need some color in your bathroom, right?

target’s selection of lamps and funky lampshades are not only more reasonable than anthropologie, but they have a much better selection!


you can find jewelry at target that rivals anthropologie.  it’s not always on-trend, as they say – but who is –  for crying out loud.  that’s silly + unoriginal!

jewelryso run, don’t walk to target.  please send me any other finds you’ve discovered!  happy shopping!


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!


killer company chili recipe

5 Feb

everyone is looking for that killer chili recipe and i may have found it.

this is fancy chili.

this ain’t no throw it in a pot and watch it boil type of chili.  it’s stay-in-on-a-cold-saturday-afternoon-light-a-fire-in-the-fireplace kind of chili.  in our case, we made it before the super bowl while it was a balmy 7 degrees outside.

i got this recipe from one of my favorite cooks, but it actually isn’t her recipe but an award winning chili from one of her friends.  i googled this name and found a lot of bloggers have already covered this chili recipe, so if you don’t believe me how good it is – company good- just click here, or here or even here.  i don’t mind, but they don’t have cute ROF in their photos!


1. we cut this recipe in 1/2 and it gave us 6 servings.  note that or you’ll be eating it for a week. for lunch and dinner.

2. it has coffee in it.  fancy…!

3. there is a ton (i mean ton) of hot spices in here.  may want to cut it back just a little if you’re not adventurous like us.   the sour cream is a mandatory topping to cut in on the heat.

i’m not going to do a step by step post on this because, come on…. you can figure it out.  but both ROF and i highly recommend!  let me know if you make it.

Devon’s Award Winning Chili (Serves 6 to 8 )

Copyright 2010, Devon Fredericks, All Rights Reserved 

5 pounds beef brisket, cut in 1-inch cubes
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups yellow onions, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, crushed
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cumin
2 green peppers, diced
1 bay leaf
6 cups tomatoes, chopped with their liquid
Salt and pepper
½ cup strong coffee
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans
2 tablespoons basil

Serve with
Sour cream
Grated Cheddar
Diced tomato
Tortilla chips

Pat the brisket cubes dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a very large heavy casserole and quickly brown the meat in batches on all sides. Transfer the brisket to a separate bowl and set aside. Sauté the onion and garlic in the same oil over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes until limp, but not brown. Add the chili powder, pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and cumin and sauté for 1 minute. Add the green peppers, bay leaf, tomatoes with their juice, the reserved meat, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 2½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Add 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste, and the coffee, cover the pot and simmer for one more hour.

Add the kidney beans and basil, and warm through. Serve with bowls of sour cream, grated Cheddar, diced tomato, tortilla chips and Guacamole.

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encouragement for today

4 Feb

this week has been filled with encouragement.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 6.48.58 AM

and it’s only tuesday!

sunday’s sermon was excellent about God giving you courage and encouragement when you need it and pray for it.  ROF and i did a bible study last night based on the sermon and it asked us to name some times when God gave you a small responsibility to test you before He gave you a big one.  it’s just encouraging to me to know that He is so very intimately involved in our lives and not just a thing you do on sundays.  if you want to read more on this, click here.

next, my sister reminded me of something i found and sent to her last month.  I love this stuff.   this is by dan waldschmidt.  it gave her encouragement at the exact time she needed it.  maybe it will do the same for you.  thanks dan!  looks like he has a new book coming out.


You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
You have to give more than you get in return right away.
You have to care more about others than they care about you.
You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts”.
You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.
You have try and fail and try again.
You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.
You have to do the hard things.
The things that no one else is doing. The things that scare you. The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on.
Those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.
The hard things are the easiest things to avoid.  To excuse away. To pretend like they don’t apply to you.
The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things that smarter, wealthier, more qualified people don’t have the courage — or desperation — to do.
Do the hard things. You might be surprised at how amazing you really are.

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top photo credit to: henry stern

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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travel: the city of lights…finally

1 Jan

it took me more than 19 years to get to paris. the dream started here, if you remember.


if you also remember, it was my goal to drop some poundage before i went.  and that didn’t go quite as planned, but i’m not beating myself up.  after all, i went to paris and nothing was going to get me down.

this trip for me, was one of my dreams come true.  and it didn’t disappoint.

to start with, i really wanted to go to paris with someone i loved and who loved me.  my dad wanted to take me at once point in my life which was nice.  it would have been a blast.  but for some reason – because this wasn’t an ordinary trip – i wanted the dream to include this aspect.  a man.  my man.  in fact, ROF didn’t want to go to paris at all.  not even a smidge.  but i think he had fun.


i wanted to do a day by day breakdown of my trip, but i don’t have it in me.  it was a lot.  we used a fantastic travel agent whom i would vouch for 100%.  when you hear people talk about paris – it all sounds kind of fluffy, doesn’t it?  oh…. the wine.  oh….the food.   oh the sites….  i was a bit worried that perhaps i’ve built it up too much over the past 19 years! but the minute we got out of our car in front of our hotel, i knew that paris would not disappoint.  it was real.  i was here.  the twinkly lights, the beautiful people, the buildings and streets and different culture swirled around us.

some of the best advice came from rick steves.  he’s hands down the very best travel writer.  he said that the goal when visiting paris is to try live like a parisian.  not as an american visiting paris.  go with that attitude.  what that means is just fold yourself into the city.  don’t complain because your water doesn’t have ice in it.  or that service is slow and things aren’t rush rush rush.  paris is a huge city but it is not rush rush rush.  unless you are in an uber car like we were a couple times.  then you could die. driving there is unlike anything i’ve ever seen.  but we walked around most places anyway.

another piece of good advice came from our friend demain. and that was to just get out and explore.  we planned activities, but we also just hit the streets and we came upon so many sweet experiences.  here are some we had and some pictures.

1. the lovely, older lady in le bon marche who didn’t speak any english who helped me buy two scarves.  i spoke limited french but could understand what she was trying to say to me.  i could say “noir et blanc” and point at the black and white scarf and she would wrap it around me and suggest another scarf that went better with my “cheveux” or hair.  she taught me a couple of different ways to tie one too.  this whole experience was one i was actively seeking.  looks like i just needed to be brave enough to walk into a very high scale french department store and shop.  <read = shopping is the universal language!>

2. exploring the oldest flea markets in the world with a 23 year old tour guide all to ourselves!  i got some heavy, silver, vintage soup spoons that i regret not getting 6 or 8 instead of 4!

3. the cheese and wine tasting we did here was OUT OF THIS WORLD.  best ever.  nothing like 2 tons of cheese and wine for an afternoon lunch.  yum-o.  oh, and we learned a lot.  like how to read a french wine bottle.  why it is hard to try a wine and find it later in a store.  the five things that a sommelier would use to describe a wine and much much more.

4. that the musee d’orsay is way more fun than the louvre.  <hush your mouth! did you just say that?>  if you’re one who likes to look slowly at art while being trampled by a million kindergarteners and foreigners, then this is your place.  but it would take you 25 days and 25 nights to view each piece for 60 seconds each.  we had to go and the building was enough!  unbelievable!  beautiful.  but then we walked across the bridge to the d’orsay and had a blast in this old train station turned art museum.  ROF particularly liked <read: hated> the exhibit that was there.  we walked <read: ran> through this exhibit that was, how do you say, very forthcoming.

5. ate at a proper french restaurant with a michelin star: pur.  i have never in my life seen service like this.  it was like a magnificent show!  lucky ROF got to stare at the wall and me while dining, but i got to watch 9 or so waiters help us and do so seamlessly and without talking to each other.  the bread woman, the wine man, the main waiter, the table cleaner, the first course deliverer, the second course deliverer.  omg as the kids say…omg.  check out this beautiful, intimate restaurant here!

6. experienced the beautiful and entrancing rue montorgueil.  a must see if you’re in paris.

IMG_5749 IMG_5843 IMG_6044 IMG_6221 IMG_6080 IMG_6217 IMG_6157 IMG_6203 IMG_6236 IMG_6361 IMG_6362 IMG_6286 IMG_6138

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!

plaid + flannel

17 Nov

when i think of flannel, i typically think of plaid.  and i think of…

Eddie vedderdon’t you?

ah, eddie vedder.  hand’s down, my generation has the best music ever.  but that is not what this post is about.  it’s all about flannel + plaid.  two things that have fall written all over them.  tell me you don’t have a big ole flannel shirt with the arms rolled up that captures all the outdoorsy smells of bonfires, grilling, wet leaves and still holds out the chill in the air perfectly?

here are some items that are also trying to get into the plaid and/or flannel state of mind:


like this fantastic iphone cover by jake spade, a smashing bowtie by the kozie canine, a vintage poncho from freepeople that is no longer available but they have loads of hippie fantastic clothes, these flannel scrunchy boots i’m coveting and a plaid flannel infinity scarf that is sure to brighten up any old black winter coat.

oh, but that’s not it, my friend!

how about some more?  you can’t talk flannel without talking plaid and vice versa.  quite honestly, i’m even thinking they are one in the same which they most certainly are not.  something can be plaid or it can be flannel but most flannels are plaid.  sigh.  this sure beats thinking about all the work i have to do.

here is a website, you’re sure to dig.  i love the name of it.  toast.  already without looking, you are going to be able to tell that it is crunchy, warm, buttery and scrumptious.  go ahead and peek.  i’ll give you a glimpse.



lastly, did you know…

that duluth trading company rated cities as to how “flannel” they were?  check it out here.


way to be, louie.

13 Nov

i guess everyone has their idea of someone they’d like to emulate.  maybe a mother or father.  a mentor.  a rich tycoon.  maybe it’s a well-curated mish mosh of personalities.

the past week i haven’t been able to get ROF’s and my friend louie out of our mind.  he passed away this week – way too early.

we met louie through some very close friends of ours.  his restaurant soon became our meeting place.  after long days, before big parties, when wives were traveling or husbands worked late.  the meeting place.  unassuming – in fact almost obscure – louie’s didn’t have any windows but the minute you walked in, you felt at ease.   the best pizza, best salmon and ceasar salad like no other – Louie’s in east dallas was the place to be.  louie,  the co-owner and bartender was always there to greet us, shake our hand and stop and talk to us for a while. he kept the place open late for us and always made us laugh.  his trademark voice was scratchy, multi-toned and riddled with midwestern sarcasm.  he wasn’t the overly friendly, cheesy type that grinned from ear to ear 24/7 kind of person (thank God!)  he worked hard and had hard core conversations with all the folks at the bar that had an opinion.

when i moved to michigan, i came back to dallas and of course, went to louie’s.  louie was asking me about michigan and he left a voice message for ROF who was not there.  so i have the friendly “heyyyy robert…” message in my phone.

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after reading all the wonderful articles on louie, i started to really think about what it was about him i liked.  i realized that those attributes he has are ones i really want.  when i think about my career and where i want to go and do in the future, i think about louie and louie’s, the restaurant.  making people feel welcome and happy, serving good food and good drinks, working with family and making the people you work with family. what more in the world would you want?

my heart and prayers go out to louie’s wife, three kids, mom and brother.  also to our good friends who loved louie so much and to casey, john, beth and all the folks at louie’s who i know are still working but without hearing that trademark scratchy riff of a voice we all came to know and love so much.  the world has become a better place because of you, louie!

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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!


butternut squash, maple spices & french music

28 Sep

last night ROF was at his first detroit red wings (pre-season) hockey game with our good friend curt who is in town just to see lil ole us.  ROF is experiencing everything michigan and this, of course, was on the list.  he had a blast, of course.  but this meant i got to have a night to myself. an amy night…which i so appreciate.

don’t get me wrong, i love hanging with friends and especially with ROF.  and beat him at cards every night (my blog, i can dream if i want) but i treasure my time.  i’ve always had to have it.   some people don’t know what to do with themselves when they are alone.  i’m not one of those people.  here is a short list of some things i like to do in my time: 

play with photoshop

write blog posts

read one of a million books i downloaded

make fall soup and use my immersion blender

put in a woody allen dvd and half listen to it, rewind and replay

make the house smell good

punch carla bruni in pandora and turn it up

slow dance to french music with ruby

do my french lessons to get ready for paris

ponder paris

call my sister after 2 glasses of wine

call my mom after 3

make a collage of inspiring clippings

organize my purses

make playlists on spotify (made one for curt’s visit)

read, read, read

so last night

i snapped some photos of my house that i’ve kind of half-ass decorated for fall:

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and made some awesome butternut squash soup and toasted oyster crackers.  i’m addicted – ADDICTED – to this spice & tea exchange store in downtown birmingham.  by the way, there is one in grapevine, texas too.  You can find it here.  for the person who likes to think they are all into cooking but really you just like watching a lot of barefoot contessa on the food network – this is the place for you!  they have the best spice mixtures in the world.

my butternut squash soup was as easy as steaming butternut squash that i bought already cubed at the store (worth the extra $2), cooking some onions in butter, adding really good zingerman’s chicken broth, the squash, the autumn harvest spice mix  which is a blend of maple syrup granules, cinnamon, sugar, garlic, onion, salt, allspice, ginger, cloves and melding all together.  then add some low-fat cream cheese.  go ahead. add the whole thing.



 at this point it doesn’t look very good.

but then you get out the immersion blender, work it good and it turns out like this:

IMG_4030all, in all, very good.  i also “made” some spiced up oyster crackers to go with it.  it was supposed to have bacon salt and chardonnay salt from the tea and spice exchange, but they were out.  so we made my own concoction of maple granules, hickory salt and worcester granules along with garlic, olive oil and lots of dillweed.  love dillweed.  



and now off to vinsetta with rof and curt and this wonderful, wonderful michigan weather! 


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