Tag Archives: amy fulford

how to make world class scrambled eggs

22 Nov

scrambled eggs?  am i off my rocker?  what about turkey, cranberry sauce or harvest rolls?  nah, you’ve got that covered...it’s too late for that.  but what you really need to know is how to make world class eggs.  guys, listen up.  and by that i truly mean guys.  you have an opportunity here to master this art and win over your kids hearts every saturday morning.

at least that was the case with me.  my dad cooked a few things real well.  steak and eggs.  not together.  he was the world class scrambled egg maker.  in his slippers, saturday mornings, MTV blaring in the family room next to the kitchen.  TURN THAT CRAP DOWN!  sorry, i digress.  now, these may not have been the best eggs i ever had but i would never know it.  my dad talked everything he did up.  so when he served the eggs and bacon he’d say “have you ever seen anything more beautiful than that?”  and “you’re in for a real treat today, kids” – always matched with an eye roll from my mom.

now, i’m married to ROF and he really does make the best scrambled eggs.  i would have loved to have a scrambled egg challenge with him and my dad.  that would have been fun.  but ROF cooks me eggs a lot – even during the week! and i have to say, they are the best.  (shout out to my sis who makes the best over-easy eggs and egg sammies in the world!)

watch ROF at work here and how to make scrambled eggs.  oh, and of course, you girls can master this too! 🙂

2 things for tuesday – maple + einaudi

14 Nov

it’s 2 for tuesday.  here’s a little sumethin-sumethin for you on this most lovely tuesday.

these are two things i feel like talking about and since it’s my blog, i will.  you’ll thank me for it.  if you like to eat and like to listen to good music, you’re in for a treat. keep reading…

forget you, pumpkin spice. i want maple.

sure, i love to light a pumpkin soufflé candle from anthro like the rest of you, but i’m in love with another fall flavor.  it’s a flavor that takes a backseat to what we’ll call PS from now on but is (in my humble opinion) so much better.

why should maple be relegated to just a sunday morning pancake topper?  brace your taste buds for these snaps:

starting clockwise from upper left:

  1. creamy maple brie and cheddar apple soup// thanks to kevin lynch and the closet cooking website

  2. pastry wrapped baked brie with maple butter roasted apples//thanks to tieghan and the half-baked harvest blog

  3. maple glazed bacon wrapped roasted carrots//thanks again to the closet cooking website

  4. maple dijon chicken thighs//thanks to budget byte$ blog

if those recipes don’t make your mouth crave some maple… i’ve collected 15 others on my pinterest board that will!  see them here!


2 for tuesday – #2

get hip to ludovico einaudi

inspired initially by reading my favorite book and learning that listening to certain types of music and the SAME music while you work over and over again increase productivity (it works!) i stumbled upon this brilliant italian composer and pianist.  if you want to play a soundtrack to:

  • enrich the background of your life
  • make you think, make you happy, make you contemplate
  • help you concentrate
  • force you to meditate, let go

listen to einaudi.  i have done 2 things for you.  i’ve cultivated a playlist to listen to IN ORDER here:

also, here is a playlist that is my work playlist that i personally love.  you might love it too! then again, you might need more of a motley crue type of playlist!

make it a great tuesday!  i’m grateful for you!

encouragement for today

11 Nov

there’s something i want to remember every single morning.  

but i don’t.  i wake up and go through my programmed routine and i forget.  in the beginning i didn’t forget. and i made myself promise that i wouldn’t.

i don’t want to forget to remember to live this day as if i had 4 months left to live.  

like so many people out there, i learned this lesson the hard way.  it happened to someone close to me.  in fact, now that i think about it, it has been a similar situation for several people close to me.   why should you listen?  because i promise that if this news hasn’t crossed your path yet, it will someday.  

do you know what my dad did when he found out he had 4 months to live?  he moved, within weeks, two doors down from me in an OK apartment complex in dallas, texas.  do you know where he was living?  in a million dollar or so house on a golf course on hilton head island – away from his children – away from his family.

when he got the word that he was dying, his very first thought was me, my sister and my brother.   and my mom.  he didn’t give a shit that he was going to a rented one bedroom apartment – all that mattered was he was close to his family.  he didn’t care about feeling uncomfortable about asking our forgiveness, he did it.  and quick.

i could go on more about this but this encouragement for today isn’t about my dad.  it’s about you + me.  how can we live each day with this mindset?  here is what i thought about:

1. close your eyes.  you just got this horrible news.  what is very most important to you?  make it that important every single day and act as such.  pick up and move to dallas, so to speak.

2.  make it right.  if there is anything off kilter, make it right, now.  don’t wait for this day to come.  make it right RIGHT NOW.

3. make other people important.  taking a lesson from dad, i absolutely became the center of his life.  and i wasn’t before.  he was genuinely interested in what i was doing, saying, learning.  my favorite memories ever were in the morning before work, i would see his bald head bouncing down the outside walk to my house for coffee.  i loved it.  he couldn’t wait to wake up and talk to me about my day and what i was going to do.  i need to be like that every day with everyone i encounter.

4. get over yourself.  and your fears, insecurities and inhibitions.  it’s not about you.  it’s about your time with people important to you.  big difference.  so say i’m sorry, say i’m scared, say let’s pray, say i love you – stop with the inside voice telling you stupid things.  you only have a limited time.




3 quick tips on how to talk to people

30 Aug

one thing i’ve been blessed with is an absolutely fantastic career.  

one big part of this career over the past 24 years has been having meaningful conversations with clients, potential clients and other people i don’t know very well.  i’m sure there are a lot of people who can say the same thing.

i thought that it might be helpful to jot down some observations + tips for those people who maybe don’t have the opportunity to do this as often as i do.  if there is one thing i hate more than people who walk too close behind me it’s small talk.  otherwise known as chit-chat.  BORING!  life is just too damn short for it.

1. be genuinely interested.  this sounds like a no-brainer, but for me it takes work.  seriously.  i have the attention span of a gnat – just like my dad did.  so it is a conscious effort for me to pay attention let alone be genuinely interested. what kind of work does it take to be genuinely interested?  for me, i always want to know the background.  so when i’m meeting a car dealer for the first time (my clients)  i really want to hear their story.  how did they get to where they are today?  i’m hooked right there.  so whether you’re at a casual party talking to the stranger next to you or at a baby shower, wedding, new job – dig deeper.


2. ask a TON of questions.   this is the most important right here.  when talking to people you don’t know, never make it about you. get other people talking.  i ask so many questions that it is downright crazy.  but turning the focus off you and on to them is what can make you enchanting + memorable!  i’ve wondered before if this just makes me controlling – because i tend to avoid uncomfortable silences and want to jump right in with the questions.  who cares is my conclusion on that.  plus, if you think you’re uncomfortable talking to people – i bet they are too.  so take the pressure off for both of you.  my mom is super good at both #1 and #2.  she genuinely cares and she DOESN’T TALK ABOUT HERSELF – she wants to hear from you.

when you are conscious of this, you really pay attention when having a casual conversation of who is doing the majority of the talking.  i fill you in, you fill me in… blah blah blah.  but when you don’t know someone, it is a lot less intimidating to get them talking.  with luck, you’ll meet someone who reciprocates and starts asking you questions back.  who knows?  it may be the start of a great friendship.

have some questions at the ready -in your hip pocket – to whip out at any time.  i actually have a “go to” question that i’m not going to share.  it’s one i ask just about anyone. ROF knows what it is.  it’s something i genuinely want to know and it gets them talking.  


3. be real.  be vulnerable.  just relax.  people are all people.  if you’re feeling nervous, then chances are – they are too.  unless you’re claire underwood.  but, people really like it when you’re yourself.  isn’t it a relief when the person next to you at the baby shower, helps themselves to some tasty shrimp cocktail and a big fat glob of sauce hits their white shirt or worse?  if that happens to me, i laugh it off and make some crack about splattering some on the rest of the shirt, to even it out.  i’ve just given other people permission to be themselves.



i hope this helps even just a little bit.  would love to hear any other advice you might have.

over + out.

grill your pizza, yo!

29 Aug

 ROF was not happy about the idea of grilling pizza.

we were doing our pre-dinner ritual of playing cards when he kept saying things like:

“so i don’t get it.  how does it work?  i mean, do you roll the dough out?”

trust me, love.  look at all these recipe books that have done it – it can be done!

i have to say – on behalf of both of us – it was not good – the pizza was AWESOME.  y’all do this – this weekend!  this is what you do (not a recipe, just directions)

go to whole foods or trader joes and buy pizza dough in the freezer section.  you can buy dough anywhere but i can’t then vouch for how good it is.  thaw it out in the fridge. ours was in there for a few days – no biggie.  get your toppings together.  we fried up some onions and mushrooms from the farmers market on the stove.  might have thrown in some garlic too.  take the dough and just stretch it out with your fingers.

now, get your toppings together.  we fried up some onions and mushrooms from the farmers market on the stove.  might have thrown in some garlic too.  take the dough and just stretch it out with your fingers.  ROF and i did this together and (he won’t admit this) i think he may have had some fun.  his dough turned out much better than mine.

get the grill nice and hot and oil up the grates, oil up the pizza dough on both sides and throw those puppies on!  Cook for about 2 minutes on each side.  bring all your toppings including sauce and cheese down to the grill, open the lid and after the dough has been flipped twice, go to work.  we both decorated our pizza the way we wanted it.  one way is to put the cheese on the bottom, no sauce and then throw the veggies on top.  but we used sauce.

Cook for about 2 minutes on each side.  bring all your toppings including sauce and cheese down to the grill, open the lid and after the dough has been flipped twice, go to work.  we both decorated our pizza the way we wanted it.  one way is to put the cheese on the bottom, no sauce and then throw the veggies on top.  but we used sauce.  i dropped some ricotta cheese on mine because that’s how i roll.   then eat!

love you woody allen. yes, i mean it.

14 Jun

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

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

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

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

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

but my favorite movie of all time is annie hall.

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

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

happy wednesday.

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 somewhere.com 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…

IMG_4872 IMG_4873 IMG_6673 IMG_7446 IMG_7751



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: 


Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 1.32.20 PM

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!

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

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 12.09.09 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 12.09.47 PM

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

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 12.10.21 PM

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.   www.horatioalger.org      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!

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 http://en.wordpress.com/  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!

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

dreaming of the warm sun

1 Feb

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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until later, my friend…

6 Dec




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

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.


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)

work & life balance. constant journey. found yours?

4 Aug

suddenly i’ve hit an age where i feel somewhat wise.

not in a smart, know-it-all kind of way. it’s just a result of age. i feel wise because, for me, i’ve may have figured it out. priorities. you know when you are in your 20s and 30s (at least 4 me) i kind of – how do you say – worked my ass off. i was single focused on:

finding out what the expectations are and exceeding them. from my boss, from my clients even from my friends. some call that being a people-pleaser and i wouldn’t disagree but i’d add to that definition. i would call it being driven.

and that changed as i grew up. in my 20s, when i started to wonder about the bigger things in life like “where do you go when you die?” and “is this all for nothing” and “is this world really all about… just us?” i dug into all kinds of spiritual things and spun out in a place of faith where i know is the right place to be. but the point here isn’t that – it’s that what i started to be driven towards changed and grew.

but now, in my 40s i’ve started to question the engine that is driving me. i go back to the place i’ll call my eye opening moment. my dad’s funeral. you can read about that here. it was when all the work folks poured in and dealers from all over the country filled the room and i thought to myself THIS IS WHERE YOU END UP! all your stress and your voicemails and emails and strategy – you end up here.

so i came up with my own priorities that i thought about and spelled out and think about now – at least for the past week since I made them up. i am going to run everything through this and it will tell me how worried to get about something or stressed or even happy for that matter.

here it is, in this order, with the background of photos i took in northern michigan last week:

this is my new driver. first God. not my version of God. to each their own, but i know my God. it is the God of the bible and the one you only can know through Jesus. that is most important to me because it puts me on track and is more than just this life.

second is a combo meal. it is health and love. health has never ever been on my radar. i would say my priorities for the most part of my life have been more in this order: 1. work 2. love & feel good. not anymore. i’ve got a functional medicine nutritionist and i’m working the simple plan. striving for a life change and for paris!

love is ROF and my friends and family. if i don’t have my health, i won’t have them and they won’t have me. like peas in a pod. and they mean the world to me. more than work and feeling good and anything else.

third is work. and this is key. this is what i run the most through my stress gauge now. does it affect my relationship with God? am i putting work before God and health and love? yes? then something is off.

we’ll see how this works out but right now, i’m feeling great. now off for a beautiful sunday with ROF driving in JWK (old car) to a car show.

this is JWK:


what is your priority filter? i’d love to know – please share!

appreciating everyday people

30 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

it’s the little things.




lessons from E.T.

1 Jul

last night ROF and i watched movie # 25 on our quest to watch the A.F.I (american film institute) top 100 movies.  we have been working our way to #1 and it has taken us about 3 years now.  you can read about our journey here.

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the #25 movie was E.T.  i haven’t seen E.T. since i was 12 years old in the movie theatre in grand blanc, michigan.  i remember crying my eyes out.   this movie is a great movie on so many different levels.  watching it as a 43 year old, i notice the similarities of life and especially how it paralleled my own just this past week.  E.T. was a stranger. someone that didn’t fit it.  someone that wasn’t wearing yoga pants and carrying a louis vuitton bag.   E.T. was odd at first and sweet just after a few moments of getting to know him.  he was scary and odd to adults, but to kids he was a friend and someone they wanted to help.

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a week ago today, we put our beloved english bulldog, max, to rest.  he was suffering, in pain and not happy.  boy, did we love that dog.  at first you may be thinking that i’m going to make a deep correlation between loving a pet and what happened in E.T.  and you’d be right.  but actually, max was just like E.T. physically.   grunting, whining, waddling to get a scrap and he ate like a pig.  best dog in the world.

at 12 i  bawled my eyes out because i didn’t know how to deal with death.  

i didn’t understand good-bye forever.  at 43, i know how that feels now.  not just because of max, but because of wrigley, my lab that my brother had to put down just a few weeks before max, because of losing my dad too early and losing some friends.  watching E.T. puts that feeling into a short, well-written movie.  it’s about being open enough to welcome someone new and, maybe, different into your life, loving them, teaching them, learning from them and then letting them go.  they are not ours to keep.  nothing is ours.  be thankful for every minute of every day you have them.  then give them back to God.  

music to fix my very short attention span

29 Jun

man, i love rush hour.

but i didn’t always.  i inherited my dad’s massively short attention span.  for those of you that like my presentation skills in front of car dealers, it’s because i try to present to people like me.  keep it short, keep it entertaining, keep it passionate.  now… i’m not bragging about my inability to concentrate.  it actually causes me a great deal of stress.

back to rush hour.  so at 43 years old, i have NEVER had to be in rush hour.  never.  in chicago, i walked to work.  in dallas, i lived 10 minutes from work but now that i’m in birmingham, i have a 30 – 45 minute commute.  at first i hated it.  because of my short attention span, i can’t listen to a song in it’s entirety on the radio.  so i’m flipping and  flipping and pretty frustrated.   some like making phone calls, some dictate emails into their iphones and some juggle eating an egg white mcmuffin, green tea and applying make-up. but not moi. i prefer jamming good tunes.

and I found the cure. on a free app called mixcloud.  here is where famous and not famous djs spin on-going tunage.  having a dj spin music cures my need to turn the song after the first few seconds. i have full on worn out colin peter’s mix with nile rodgers.  nile rodgers was in chic and is madonna’s inspiration.  in fact, she opens up the mix.  nothing like a little daft punk with carly simon and donna summer.

this is EXACTLY what I need to take on the day at full throttle. download it, love it, play it LOUD.

if you even were next to me on my drive down to work, you’d crack up. and be a little embarrassed for me.




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

24 Jun

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

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

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

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

really annoying.  there.  i’m done ranting.  

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cabin fever

19 Jun

ROF and i are embracing the michigan lifestyle and this includes going “up north”. if you don’t know what that is, check out this video:

we’re slightly crazy about it and are thinking of renting a cabin for the summer next year. if you’re not familiar with michigan

look at a map

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it’s surrounded by big, glistening lakes. you have no idea how unbelievably beautiful this state is. if you don’t believe me, believe chef mario batali

anyway, all this thinking and dreaming of a lake house made me dig around on houzz to research my dream place. what i found was my ultimate michigan barn.

this was designed by northworks architects and planners out of chicago, il. this place is my idea of a getaway!
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you can see more on my cabin fever page on houzz here

paris: the new workout

29 May

we’re planning on going to paris in december.

 i’ve been wanting to go to paris for over 25 years.  i just really wanted to go with someone i loved.  like romantically (sorry mom.)

Amy Robert

so now, ROF is using his one week of vacation to take me there!  december may seem like an odd time to go, don’t you think?  not the spring when the buds on the trees are budding and the lovers are strolling down the Seine.  sidetracked <i hate that word ‘lovers’ by the way.  love-er.  almost hate that as much as the M word.>  

but there is a reason i picked december.  

it is the last month in the year and i’d like to lose 40 lbs before going to paris.  i better start.  that’s a lot of weight in not a lot of time.  the problem is, i don’t really want to change anything.  it’s no secret that ROF and i like the good life.  and that is what it is.  indulgence.  we like good friends, good wine, good food, good everything!  and i love living that kind of life with ROF.  but i’m going to have to tap the brakes, as they say, before paris.

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because this is my DREAM TRIP and i can’t settle for anything less than feeling great while i’m there.

so if you have some diet pointers (other than stop opening your mouth and eating good things) – send them my way.  use the code word “PARIS”.  I’ll know what you’re talking about.

getting better and brighter

21 Apr

this past week i was fortunate to be forced out of my comfort zone.  

if you remember, i like turbulence on a flight because it shakes me out of my thoughts and forces me to be present.



well, that is kind of how this past week was for me.  i’ve worked in the automotive advertising industry for 21 years now (hard to believe) and because some of the programs i’m doing, i was invited as a guest to attend the WFF annual conference in orlando.  i felt as if i was undercover, a poser, a faker.  however, when i shared who i was with some of the incredible women i met, they were impressed!  they thought it was a great idea that i was learning about their industry and they were, in turn, interested in mine.

i had the privilege of sitting through 6 one and a half hour long seminars taught by leaders in their field:


1. excavating the future: interactive session for reflection and planning for the year ahead (kellogg school of business professor)

2. seeing the big picture by kevin cope

3. courage, credibility and stretching your comfort zone

4. 21 ways to connect in business in 90 seconds or less (excellent)

5. taking the stairs: success means doing things you don’t want to do

6. accelerate your impact as a business leader


the goal of the program is content and connection so in each of these, I did exercises with and met women in the foodservice industry.  i have to say it has opened my eyes to what a great industry it is.  here are my scribbles of notes from the seminar.  they provided full decks and overviews but i listen best if i’m writing at the same time.

  • Sustained high performance requires rest
  • Productivity goes in 90 minute cycles
  • An impression happens in 2 seconds:  I trust you, you make sense, you move me.
  • Difference between motivation (money) and inspiration (create unstoppable employees)
  • #1 predictor of a successful person: Ability to Speak Up
  • 5 superpowers: Enthusiasm, Curiosity, Feedback, Empathy and Imagination
  • If people like you, they want to say YES to you, if they don’t they want to say NO to you.  They decide this very quickly.
  • 5 ways to make lasting impression: Attitude, eye contact, smile, open body language, synchronize.
  • Leaders speak in the positive, because people only process positive information.
  • Know what you want in the positive (horse example)
  • 55% of people are visual, the rest are kinetic or audio.  If you’re talking to a group, you need to engage all of them.  Tell a story
  • IAKOLA.  stands for I’m Am Kind Of Like A…. fill in the blank. (pit bull example)
  • It is key to understand how a company makes money.
  • Key that EVERYONE knows how a company makes money
  • Everyone needs to know their role in actively improving that process
  • Selling or supporting someone that is selling is key to increased revenue
  • Companies pay slower and collect faster for cash flow purposes
  • No margin, no mission  Stephen Covey
  • If you’re not unique, you better be cheap
  • That which you measure, you damage, that which you manage, you improve
  • Growth is important to a business because it attracts and keeps the best people
  • People work hard for a paycheck, harder for a person and hardest for a purpose
  • People want the big picture, need to engage employees hearts AND minds
  • Problems that are procrastinated on are amplified
  • Buffalo run into the storm to get through it, cows run from the storm and end up running with the storm for long periods of time.
  • Short term choices lead to difficult long term consequences
  • Leverage long term vision to endure short term sacrafice
  • The more we have invested into something the less likely we are to let it fail
  • Neutral thinking always becomes negative
  • Increase your commitment by asking the question HOW can I do this rather than SHOULD i do this
  • Some of us care so much about success that we procrastinate and wait for a perfect time
  • Cultivate a habit of action
  • Demand progress rather than perfection
  • Comparison is not only the thief of joy but the definition of mediocracy
  • Success is never owned, it is rented and the rent is due every day.  
  • or being healthy is never owned…
  • or leading a team….

overall it was a great sunday, monday and tuesday with 2600 bright women.

quick thought – advertising for good

26 Mar

if every big time advertiser partnered with one or more charities and gave the cause just :05 attention on their TV or digital ads, think about the much needed attention that charity would get.  


those big decisions

9 Mar

now that i think about it, i was always driven by inspiration and passion.

i was far from an all star all “a’ student in high school.

in fact, i don’t even remember caring to be one.  that seems like such a sin to say out loud in a day and age where high school kids are half way through college courses before they even get out of high school.  but it wasn’t a priority in my family.  in fact, it wasn’t even important to stay at the same school.  i went to two different grade schools and three different high schools – all in different states.

do you have any clue what it’s like to be the new person in school – even once? 

if you don’t, it is an entirely different challenge than getting good grades.  you want to fit in but you’re new, so first you have to figure out what fitting in means.  for some reason, that was always important to me – fitting in.  i can see where that wouldn’t be a need for everyone  – especially someone who went to school with the same people their entire student life.  but it was for me.   i made some great friends through the years but unfortunately for me, i was always moving on to the next adventure.

when it was time for me to go to college – the wanting to excel at school thing still hadn’t kicked off in me yet.  and i went to the university of cincinnati to be close to my grandma whom i loved beyond belief.  but unfortunately she died a week before my high school graduation and i had to go there without her being in cincinnati which was a very sad time for me.  but once again, it was time to fit in yet again.  and i met some awesome friends and had too much fun.  so much so that i couldn’t go back the next year.  i moved home and went to a community college for one semester.

it was there that i made probably one of the most important decisions of my life.

deflated and not really encouraged to do anything, i decided for myself that i wanted more.  i wanted much more and education was a part of it.  i took some advanced english courses in high school and my teacher told me back then that i would love columbia college in downtown chicago.  i remembered that and contacted the teacher – now a year later – and got the name of that school.  mom and i rode the commuter train together to downtown chicago and walked the eight blocks to michigan and harrison street to the school.  this by far, was out of my comfort zone and i loved it.

next was deciding what i wanted to do.  one thing i loved more than anything was magazines.  you can read more about that here.  and the ads in the magazine WORKED ON ME.  that is when i decided i wanted to be in advertising.  and the school i was now standing in front of was an excellent school for marketing communications.  it may not have been a top 10 school and i may have to live at home and miss out on all the great sorority life and hee haw of college.  risk possibly becoming even more far removed from my friends who all went away.  but now i had passion and direction and ever since that decision I HAVE NEVER LOOKED BACK.

to be continued…

things to love today

3 Mar

there are so many little things to love, here are a few things i’m loving right now…
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1. portlandia.

this show tickles me.  carrie & fred are my new best friends after flying around the country with them on my ipad.  it pokes fun at portland in a lovable, hysterical way.  they love the city, love working with each other and i’m so happy i stumbled upon them!  this humor isn’t for everyone.  you are either the kind that won’t get this at all, won’t think it is funny or smile constantly throughout the whole episode like i do.  like check out the opening song here. 

2. one kings lane

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there are a crazy ton of shopping sites out there and quite honestly, i’m a huge amazon fan.  nothing like buying something you don’t need without leaving your bed. and getting it the next day.  there is joss & main and  the foundry and rue la la.  but one kings lane, in my estimation is the best.  kinda addicted.  this site has been around for a while – so nothing new here – but i have ordered several awesome things from this site with great success.  it is reminiscent to going to searching through a flea market but on-line and everything is great – not crap.

ok.  so nothing like a flea market.

3. detroit

to say i love detroit would not be doing my feelings justice.  after hearing for years and years about the “dreaded” transfer to detroit or just people wrinkling up their nose when you mention it’s name – i really didn’t expect to be so taken.  the most notable thing about detroit and the areas surrounding detroit is that the people here love it here.  not just like it.  love it.  we have people at my office who live downtown or in midtown (same thing to me) who absolutely glow with pride talking about the places to eat and things to do.  i love that.

what’s even more important to note is that detroit isn’t just something to be surprised by but i’m even ashamedly in awe of some of the despair – spray painted buildings because they are somehow beautiful.  it’s not enough to stop there because the point that i’m at – that moves me to HELP detroit is that after watching this documentary – detropia – is that detroit is not detroit’s problem – it’s our entire country’s problem.  just like the country rallies around new orleans post-katrina and new york post-sandy – the country needs to rally around detroit.  everything exciting, big and great started from this city otherwise know as motown and the motor city.  it was built to hold the millions that lived here but now it’s only 700,000 spread out all over the city.  we need help and i want to be a part of the upswing of this wonderful city!

i think anthony bourdain said it best:

Anthony Bourdain’s blog, July 27: Detroit. Where just about everything cool originated. As angry as one gets looking at block after block of abandoned row houses in Baltimore and wondering how the hell that happened, it’s mind boggling to see how far Detroit has been allowed to fall. But what a truly magnificent breed of crazy-ass hardcase characters have dug in there. Of all three cities we visited, Detroit, oddly enough, even while looking the jaws of death straight in the face, remains closest to being a true culinary wonderland. This is due entirely to the successive waves of migration and immigration from all over the world, when people came to MAKE things in America — each group bringing their own food and traditions. Detroit IS the story of America, for better — and worse, and I think we’ve missed that, allowed ourselves to look away. Detroit, after all, made us who we are. Literally. A country of cars, highways, car culture, upward mobility, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and what were once, unlimited dreams. Whatever happens next, Motown, Eminem and the Stooges’ “Fun House”, at least, shall surely outlast the automobile.

of course, those from detroit are thinking – yeah – well said from your toasty home in birmingham.  well just you wait.

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the long abandoned beautiful train station

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that’s it for now.  have a great week!


18 Feb

this past weekend, ROF and i scurried off to toronto for a weekend getaway.

it was my first time ever in canada and i loved it.  only 4 hours away from birmingham, michigan it wasn’t a bad trip at all.  i was glad to read my friend and  former neighbor’s great travel blog: roam & home before i went and we then knew about some restaurants and areas to hit.

we stayed at the park hyatt toronto which we do because we have upgrade points and really enjoy their hotels.  while typically i’d say to stay somewhere local – i’ve since rescinded my pov on that.  it’s nice to explore local neighborhoods and restaurants and cities and then sleep somewhere somewhat familiar.  what do you think?

anyway, at the top of the hyatt was an awesome bar.  you know the type, low lit, manly decor with great big stools and lounging couches and tables. it had a wrap around deck too.  it was there that we met joe gomes a bartender that has been at the same bar for 54 years.  we loved him and you can see his picture below.  he has been the source of several interviews and it was awesome to be able to hang with him for a while.

we went to la societe bistro on bloor street, walkable from our hotel, and had the best escargot in the world.  thanks to jeff & sherri for that recommendation.  the next day we explored a wonderful area called queen street west which is just a funky fun street with all kinds of shops and restaurants.  i kicked ROF’s ass in cards at a coffee shop there.  we also went to terroni which was absolutely outstanding.  thanks karen v for that suggestion.  we had a puzzo pizza and calamari and some italian soda and beer.  perfect for a snowy saturday afternoon.  of course, i had to snag some olive oil and marinated peppers to bring back.

we then headed back to the hotel and because it was snowing quite ferociously, we stayed in the hotel and had a wonderful dinner at annona where we could look out at the beautiful sparkly snow. the seafood risotto and the salmon were to die for!

so much looking forward to my next canadian adventure!

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don’t call it a resolution, it’s re-focusing

28 Dec

i’ve always loved new things and experiences.  like the first day of school after goofing off all summer. new clothes and a new notebook with that first blank page just begging to be written on with your new pen from your new book bag (didn’t have backpacks back in my day.)

lately, i’ve been experiencing a lot of “new” things.  new city, new neighbors, new state, new co-workers, new office, new house – lots.  but my favorite kind of new is a new year.  typically, i put a lot of thought into starting anew.  not just resolutions but keeping my mind focused on what is important and what is not.  if you’re not careful, you can get wrapped up in the small things thinking they are the big things.


so it is about this time of year that i seek out photos of times i can remember being, well … exuberant.  i use that guidance i may need to get re-focused. here is one such photo:


the reason why i chose this picture is because i can remember feeling really good about myself.  healthy, confident and pretty.  not that i’m not those things now but once again, it’s about re-focusing for a new year.  i was eating well, enjoying myself and life and was inspired by the people around me which is always a bonus.

the other thing i do is download (or buy) books that help with this re-focus.  i love the first page of quotes in this book .  i haven’t read the book yet, so i’m not endorsing, but read these and tell me they don’t make you feel something!


To change one’s life:

Start immediately.

Do it flamboyantly.

No exceptions.   WILLIAM JAMES

Saying is one thing and doing is another. MONTAIGNE

What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say. RALPH WALDO EMERSON

We know what a person thinks not when he tells us what he thinks, but by his actions. ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER

Things won are done, joy’s soul lies in the doing. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don’t just stand there; make it happen. LEE IAO COC CA

Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. WALTER BAGEHOT

The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it. H. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF  

They talk most who have the least to say. MATTHEW PRIOR  

There are very few people who don’t become more interesting when they stop talking. MARY LOWRY  

Noise proves nothing—often a hen who has merely laid an egg, cackles as if she had laid an asteroid. MARK TWAIN

The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions CONFUCIUS    

The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them. GEORGE BERNARD SHAW


so here’s to us digging in, re-focusing in 2013 and being the best we can possibly be.  for us and for those we influence!


keep calm and don’t forget to be awesome from therekindledpage on easy.


like it or not – you’re making an impact.

17 Oct

for some reason, this has weighed a lot on my mind lately and i can’t remember what has brought it on. maybe it is moving and all the emotions that go along with that.

it’s something that is easier to see being applied to someone else – but not necessarily yourself. you are important to someone. you’re important to many people. we have such a hard time truly grasping the reality of us being a living, breathing NEED in someone’s life. but we are. we make an impact on others.

my biggest example of this is my dad. before he passed away, he left and divorced my mom. you can read all about that in “my story” over to the right and at the bottom (grab some wine, sit down with it if you must) but i was 30 and it absolutely tore any sort of solid ground i was standing on out from underneath me. i decided to not talk to my dad for about 6 months (at the time, it was planned out to be forever) i didn’t know how to act when i had been so hurt. my cousin, jim, said to me: ” i think your dad underestimated how you’d react”. it was then that i thought that my dad made a decision and didn’t really think about anyone else but himself. you may say – well, yea – that is who he should be concerned with, right?

but to add to the “we are important” comment above, we don’t realize the IMPACT we have on other people.

there is so much strife in this world without adding to it. relatives not talking to one another, friends not moving over a sticking point, friends moving/leaving/abandoning you. as i roll over these thoughts more, i think back to the ted video from brene brown on vulnerability. if you haven’t seen it, click here.

the thing is – you can control two things and there is one thing you can’t control.

you can control:

1. telling someone that they are important to you. you’re not confessing anything, you are not saying you condone what they do or what they’ve done but let them know that THEY AFFECT YOUR LIFE. write a note. send a text. mail a postcard. dial a number. leave a message. here is the script:

“you need to know that you are important to me.” and add one reason why. and that’s it. maybe that is to someone that you see and talk to every day. your husband, your mom, your sister, a friend, a co-worker, a mentor. maybe it is someone you haven’t talked to in a long time, maybe it is someone who has passed away, maybe they did you wrong. but you still think about them. they take up real estate in your head. i’d say that is important.

you can also control:

2.owning that you’re important and knowing that you affect other people. your decisions while your own, do affect other people either positively or negatively. that applies to many decisions: decision to drive after having too much to drink, decision to silence your phone when your daughter is talking, decision to say ‘i’m sorry’ or ‘you’re forgiven’.

you can’t control:

3. the fact that others make decisions that impact you in a negative way. you can only focus on people you have an impact on and people that have impacted you in a positive way.

who are those people in your life? can you give me one person and why?

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

Jackie Robinson

new york botanical gardens escape

16 Oct

while in NY for business, i got a chance to stay until saturday at my sister/brother in-laws house in chatham, nj.

you can’t beat new jersey in the fall.  you know, now that i think about it – new jersey and detroit are very similar.  yes, one is a state and one is a city but they both have totally skewed perceptions about them.  you’d think (from the media) that the minute you step in new jersey a mad housewife is going to come yelling at you or a snookie is going to bump into you at the grocery store.  but new jersey is gorgeous.

detroit – same thing.  while some of it true – it is still the murder capital of the country and all – no one ever mentions how fantastic the neighboring towns are.

anyway, fodder for a future post.  i was thinking it, so i wrote it.  

susan and i went to the beautiful new york botanical gardens in the bronx (hello…the bronx y’all!)  last week we stole away for a few hours and walked the grounds where there was a monet exhibit and had a wonderful lunch.  we also rode a tram (freezing cold!!) around the entire grounds.  who knew it was started in the 1800’s?  not i.

this picture above was not made in the future.  yes, it is only october, 2012 not 2013 but i can’t change it or don’t have time to – so please ignore.  thanks mom for letting me know!

mindful of life, while you live it

2 Oct

what a great sermon we listened to this sunday.

thank you Dr. Blair Monie!  it was uncanny that my mom had mentioned something similar to the theme of the sermon the evening before.  it was talking about being really mindful of where you were, where you have been from and where you’re going.  i guess we all can get in a place where a day is just another day.  or we’ve never really changed anything up so that we see the same things, talk to the same people and basically are content.  nothing wrong with that unless everything in your life is routine and therefore there is the fear that you could take everything for granted.  taking things for granted means that we’re not really mindful of the present.

why is that important?

because someday you will get old and your memories (if that) will be all you have.  not just memories of big trips or events like getting married – but everything.   like that rainy sunday you went to the movies with your mom and you both shivered under a shared umbrella while laughing and running to the car.  or the crunch of that favorite sushi roll you enjoyed with your sister-in-law while talking and sharing and getting to know each other.

the above was more my commentary than that of our pastor.  he reflected on the play “our town”, in which one of the main characters can choose one day to go back and experience one more time.  she chooses her 12th birthday party.  she finally finds it too painful, and realizes just how much life should be valued, “every, every minute.” poignantly, she asks the stage manager whether anyone realizes life while they live it, and is told, “No.

do you realize life while you live it?

dr. monie described a powerful message in psalm 8.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?[c]

You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

my own appreciation of my Lord is another blog post, or perhaps another blog all together.  as it is certainly something i don’t take for granted.  everyone has their own “religion” (and, to each their own) but i have a relationship with God and this psalm is so magnificent.  powerful in the thinking that He is mindful of us.  no matter what your upbringing, no matter what pain we’ve been through – or any apathetic, agnostic nothingness (which is worse, to me) – He has crowned us with glory and honor. to me, if God is mindful of me, then that blows my mind.  and makes me realize that i must be just as mindful of Him.  oh, the challenge in that!

lyrical sunday: we live

16 Sep

on september 25th, my dad will have been gone 7 years.  

hardest for me to believe (and i’ve always thought this) is that a living, breathing human being who was such an integral part of my life is just…gone.  never to be spoken to again.

maybe some of you know how i feel.  every single day, i think about my dad.  either it is remembering the funny line from the movie “wedding crashers” (she’s a stage 5 clinger!) that he laughed at or feeling his hands as they got so soft from the chemo or a james taylor song on the radio.

but around this time of year, i reflect on something that many people and maybe not so many know about.  how to hold someone’s hand as they bravely die.  as their body shuts down.  i remember september 24th, 7 years ago now, sleeping on the couch next to my dad’s bed at night watching his chest go up and down in the night.  i would hold my cell phone up and shine it across the room just to make sure he would know i was there.

for today, i want to share with you some lyrics that have always meant a lot to me.  i swear i need to engrave them somewhere so every morning i remember this.  in a world of a very shallow focus of “keeping up with the jones” these are great words to remember.

There’s a cross on the side of the road
Where a mother lost her son
How could she know that the morning he left
Would be the last time she’d trade with him for a little more time
(so she could say she loved him one last time)
And hold him tight
But with life we never know when we’re coming up to the end of the road
So what do we do then
With tragedy around the bend

We live, we love, we forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to love
We live, we love, we forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to love

There’s a man who waits for the tests to
See if the cancer had spread yet
And now he asks why did I wait to live ’til it was time to die
If I could have the time back, how I’d live
Life is such a gift
So how does the story end?
Well, this is your story and it all depends
So don’t let it become true
Get out and do what we were meant to do

We live, we love, we forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to love
We live, we love, we forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to love

Waking up to another dark morning
People are mourning
The weather in life outside is storming
But what would it take for the clouds to break
For us to realize each day
Is a gift somehow, someway
And get our heads up out of this darkness
And spark this new mindset and start on with life cuz it ain’t gone yet
And tragedy’s a reminder to take off the blinders and wake up
(to live the life)
We’re supposed to take up
(moving forward)
With all our heads up
Cuz life is worth living

We live, we love, we forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to love
We live, we love, we forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to love

 -superchick (look the song up!)

this week: vegas, paris, chicago & cinci!

14 Sep

this has been a crazy week. glad to be unwinding with a little cab franc and this 60 degree weather in dallas.

so this week was interesting in the way of travel and photos. kinda cool to get the photos i got messaged to me. oh, i love technology!

i was in vegas for a chevy meeting, ROF was in columbus, ohio and naperville, il (hello? i grew up here!) and my sister katie was in cincinnati where my grandma lived and my mom grew up. very very near and dear to my heart. lastly, d, a great friend of ours, is in paris (my ultimate dream location which i’ve never been) and he has been sending me snaps all week.

so, these were the photos i got and took this week.

while i was waiting wednesday morning for a friend to go to a meeting with, i saw this. a dude in his robe and baseball cap holding an elevator and hanging out. what happens in vegas … goes on a blog, dude.

this was our house in naperville. i got this from ROF who was there for a couple of days. i lived in this house from the summer before my sophomore year in high school until i moved downtown chicago when i was 23 years old. my family then moved on to dallas when i was 25. so this house brings back so-many-memories. i can tear up thinking of them. thanks, ROF.

this snap was sent by my sister, katie. she was in cincinnati and this was my grandparents condo on erie avenue in hyde park right across from the hyde park country club where they were founding members. this also brings back so many many memories. i can remember what the condo smelled like – leather and just baked mini bran muffins (my grandma was a stickler about maintaining her weight) i remember the bottom drawer of her dresser in her bedroom (2 twin beds – one for her, one for grandpa) that held plastic bangles of all shapes, sizes and colors. i used to put those on up to my elbow. the other thing i used to do – which is really funny – is when i got a little older, like that awkward middle school age, was read the dirty parts of her “romance” novels. note, they weren’t today’s standard of “dirty” they were super tame but…hello…granny!!

lastly, d really came through for me on texting pictures of paris.

i hope i get to experience this city. i may have it all built up in my head but i’m a very passionate person – about life, love, work, family, art etc… and this (TO ME) is the city that personifies that to me. everything about it is passionate – right down to the food, the sidewalk cafes – everything. thanks d for letting me live vicariously through you for the week!

that’s it for now folks. have a great weekend!

sunday poetic musings

9 Sep

change is in the air

3 Sep

by now you may have learned that ROF and i are moving…

it’s bittersweet. 

i’ve always embraced change but at the same time there is something in me that wants consistency and same-ness. there is comfort in what you know vs. the fear that comes with what you don’t.  however, i’ve discovered that fear dissipates as soon as you push past it.  then it becomes something that you know.

home is where the heart is and my heart is with ROF.  i gave my mom a sign that says on it “home is where your mom is” and that is true as well.  at least it was true for 39 of my 42 years.  however, having said that… i still do love our home.   and while i’m excited for change, i’m sad to be saying good-bye to a home that i love.  but it’s just a home, right?

i bonded with my sister in this home.  we bought it together 4 years ago and we had a lot of fun.  neither of us planned on it being our “forever house” – obviously – but at the time, we were single and looking to decorate.  and we loved to entertain.  i will forever look back on this time together with great fondness and memories.  then the house became ROF & my house!

the entertaining continues….   if i thought katie and i threw some parties, ROF and i really threw some parties.  all kinds.  small dinner parties, bigger bashes.  one of my favorite was ROF’s 40th birthday surprise party.  they opened an old bottle of tequila and things got fun from there – especially the fun with the cake designed to look just like… max.

another real memorable party was my mom’s 70th birthday party.  we had over 50 people here at our house, a band in the back yard, a mobile burger  unit in the back yard, homemade sangria and a special cake.  we had a blast and mom was so surprised.

i got engaged, married and lived happily ever after in this home.  we had an unbelievable wedding weekend in dallas followed by a brunch at our house with many of our friends and family members.  i’ll always cherish that time with ROF and all the people special to us.

i can’t wait to make new memories in our new place, in our new city.  i hope those memories have to do with first snows, cabin trips with card games and good ole mid-western fun.  but we’ll never forget the fun we had here.  whomever you are that gets this house…you’re lucky.  we all loved it!

if you are interested in this house – click here


eating like we were going to the chair

31 Aug

you know, i’m a little scared to admit this in public, but… it’s fun to eat.

yes, it is important to be healthy, be skinny and fashionable and all that blah blah blah boring stuff.  but it is also fun to enjoy a great meal, good wine, great company and excellent atmosphere. oh, so good!

(my dad was a lot like that)

here are some places we went to in san fran.  we got so many suggestions from some great people but time was limited.


tadich grill.  we heard about it here.

walking distance from our hotel on the Embarcadaro, this restaurant was about an hour wait, but well worth it.

but wait, i’m getting ahead of myself.... we actually went to the famous “house of prime rib” the night before.  i kid you not.  now, i am not a prime rib type of gal.  but i got major brownie points from ROF for taking him here.  and i enjoyed myself big time.  have to admit that i got teary thinking about how much my dad would have loved this place.  we got there early and sat at the packed bar – actually it was a PACKED restaurant.  there were many cool things i liked about this place:

1. we got to know the bartender, pete, who had been there for over 23 years.  he wanted to know all about us – where we were from, what we were doing in san fran.  he was swamped too – but really took the time to make us feel special.

2. while seated at the bar, a group of about 7 or 8 old men in suit coats walked by us – i mean they were in their late 80’s and 90’s.  all decked out.  so cool.  probably have been going there for many years.

3. a local couple sat by us and energetically struck up a conversation about the place and it was a highlight to chat it up with them and get insider scoop. 

4. did i mention i got brownie points from my main man for coming here?


hope you have a fantastic holiday weekend!

schwoosh, sniff, sip: our napa wine experience

29 Aug

here it comes... my disection of our dream vacation and honeymoon to san fran and napa.  we just got back yesterday!

i’m gonna break it down in several different posts because, as you will surely see, our concentration was placed in two specific places:  eating and drinking.  (is there anything else?)

ROF and i work well together.  he loves to plan and, coincidently,  so do i.  but neither of us is obnoxious about sticking to the plans we’ve made.  he takes care of the airline and hotel and i take care of the restaurants and things to do (shopping).  on this trip, ROF did an outstanding job of planning out the wineries we went to see —  and that is what I’ve chosen to focus this blog post on today.

the wineries–the drink.

first off, there are a couple of different things you can do at different vineyard’s in the napa valley.

1. there is the pop-in technique

2. the scheduled tasting

3. reserved tour

there are probably other ways to do napa valley but these were the ways we chose.

we had 3 days in napa valley and wanted to make the best of them.  

side note: ROF and i really enjoy good wine.  so this was a special treat for us to learn more about the things we enjoy.  

the first way to make the best use of our time was to get a driver on saturday.  typically, you could never see as many places in one day as we did, but because we didn’t have to drive or navigate we saw lots of places and then headed back to san francisco. at least that is the excuse we’re using.

saturday, august 25th

andretti winery:  owned by famous race car driver, mario andretti who has a taste for fine wine and food.  the building and adjoined house were unbelievable.  this was a good starting place for us and ROF wanted to go because he is a huge fan of mario and his whole family and has met mario before.  he was actually in town and staying at the house but we didn’t see him.  the shop was eclectic with food, cool clothes, books and great photographs of the family.

for the wine tasting, it was ok.  it was not very informative – just a pour and sip.  underwhelming but not bad.  glad we went but don’t need to go back

silver oak vineyard:  this is a favorite “special” occasion wine for us.  we’ve had it several times and the winery was beautiful and very busy.  kind of like you’re checking in at a hotel.  they were extremely knowledgable and nice.  gorgeous grounds and facility and as mentioned, some of our favorite wine.  they only make cabernet.  and it’s good.  real good. 

i’m starting to get used to the drill by now.  small pour, swoosh in the glass observe the color and clarity, take a big sniff and note the notes, undertones, overtones, peppery, smooth finish.  i appreciate the differences in all .

caymus vineyard:  this is my favorite-wine-ever.  i was drinking it when ROF proposed (thanks to paul & kelly!)  we watched a video on this family – the wagners – before we made this appointment and fell in love with the  family story behind this vineyard.

we arrived early and were met by a very welcoming woman who introduced herself and let us know that we were waiting for a bigger party to join us.  this was a scheduled “sit down” tasting (vs the andretti and silver oak pop in.) she gave us two glasses and asked us to sit in a reserved table outside on the beautiful patio.  she brought us a taste of wine and then a nice guy kept coming outside and filling our glasses.  the atmosphere was so friendly – and fun!

when the wedding party group arrived – of about 10 girls – we all went into a private room and sat around a dining room table. believe it or not, as we were chit-chatting (ROF was the only guy at first) we found out that the girl sitting next to us worked for the marketing arm and works in the same building as me.  hello small world.

this wine was presented to us by a passionate and smart guy who worked for the vineyard.  he gave an hour presentation of five different wines including their special select.  to me, this is the best wine in the world.  it’s so complex and every sip is delicious.  i could go on forever.

miner winery:   this was a pop-in tasting and the view was beautiful.  busy shop and the tasting was ok.  great wine and fantastic being there during harvest.  they had a glass wall where you could see the production.

stag’s leap winery:  another one of our favorite wines.  this place was a full on production and quite cool.  it was set up like a restaurant with a hostess stand.  we were a little bit tipsy at this point (the happy, having a ball kind of tipsy) and told everyone we were on our honeymoon and we got some attention.  not that we like attention.  they had barrels set up as tables inside and out.  inside was dark and they poured us some of their great wine.  we got a pretty hard sell to join their wine club but by this time we said “driver – home!”

sunday, august 26th

we were on our own having just checked out of the san fran hotel and we headed up early to napa.

pride vineyard:   got an excellent tip from dave & laura busker, our good friends from NYC about this winery.  WOW, were we happy we went.  ROF did some homework and booked a tour.  this was our first official tour (#2 above, remember).  first of all, the drive up to this vineyard and winery was UNBELIEVABLE.  it was steep and winding and scattered with houses and winerys and huge trees.

once there, it was breathtaking!  

we got paired up with 3 other couples and our tour guide – jake.  we toured the cave which is where good grapes go to turn into wine.   we had samples from stations stationed  throughout the cave.  jake was young, knowledgeable and answered all our questions.  at one point, we drank wine straight from the barrel.  we learned about how much goes into wine – so many variables:

altitude, humidity, what kind of barrel, how old the barrel, when the grapes are picked, where the grapes came from – the mountain, the valley – everything.

the pride family started this vineyard from scratch.  we would highly, highly recommend.  this was a treat!

sterling vineyards:  we pulled into the driveway here and saw the line to get in and kept driving.  drove next door to where there was no one but us!

twomey cellars:  the two words that got us in here were on the sign out front:  in the SILVER OAK family.  quaint tasting room with a friendly man who knew a lot about the wine.  since silver oak only makes only cab, twomey had merlot and pinot that was fantastic.  we schwooshed/smelled/sipped/sampled.  very glad we popped in here and by the time we left, several other people had filed in after us.

schramsberg vineyard:

background:  ROF went here 6 years ago and spoke highly of this tour and of this sparkling wine.  it has an unbelievable story with it’s beginning in 1862!  schramsberg has also played a role in world history. the blanc de blancs was used for President Nixon’s 1972 “Toast to Peace” with China’s premier Zhou Enlai. schramsberg’s sparkling wines have been served at official State functions by every U.S. Presidential administration since. ROF was so excited to show me this place and go on our second tour.

the reality:  our tour guide stunk.  there is no other way to put it.  he was a teacher during the week and gave tours at the winery on sunday.  he talked so much i thought my legs were going to give out underneath me.  he took us into their cave and KEPT US IN THERE FOREVER!!  he poured us 6 or 7 different sparkling wines with his opinion of what went best with each one.  “this one is great with spicy tacos”.  “this one is good with buttery or fatty fish” “this one is good with chips and oreos”.  he repeated himself several times by insisting that champagne is good to drink anytime like after rush hour.  blahblahblahblah!

he drove ROF and i up a wall – or i should say out of the cave!  we finally got out of there by asking if there was a club we could join.  in which he said yes and (got the hint) picked up all of “his” leftover champaign pouring bottles (6 or 7!) and led us to the door.  we paid $90 for this tour and felt it was very unprofessional for such an iconic vineyard and american success story.  we love the product – when you see it  – buy it and drink it.  but we won’t go back there again.

and as it turns out, ROF and i had a better experience the next day – our own story – so it is ok that schramsberg experience stank.

monday, august 27th

oh no…. we’re not done yet.  you may need to go get yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of vino to finish this!

hall vineyard and cellars:  by far, this was our favorite tour of all the places we went.  this was special to us because we’ve had hall wine in dallas at some of our favorite restaurants.  also because the owners of this vineyard live in dallas and he a business owner there.  ROF has friends who have worked closely with him.  their story – craig and kathryn – is fantastic.  i urge you to read their story in the link i provided.

we got to the tasting room a little early and i have to say, i wasn’t too keen on sampling wine at 10:30 in the morning – also after having such a jam packed last two days.  i may have been a little grumpy even but i put on my smiley face and went in.  this was a private tour – just ROF and me and our tour guide, john.  as we found out – john and robert grew up only 5 miles apart from each other in new jersey.

john was the most knowledgable and interesting person we’ve met on this trip.  he said “hope you’re ready to really see it!” and he took us clear into the vineyard itself where we picked different grapes and ate them out in the field.  we saw the bottling process up close and he took us to the huge vats of wine and told us about the process of creating great wine.  this is a boutique vineyard – producing 75,000 cases a year.  he spent a good hour with us walking around the facility.  but then we sat down in the shade and he brought us a cheese and fruit platter and gave us a tasting of 5 of their wines.  we enjoyed talking with him, learning about this unbelievable power couple from our hometown and sipping some great wine.  perfect start to the day.  and of course, after the first sample of wine, i was just back in the saddle again!

we got an awesome surprise towards the end of our time there when john brought out a bottle of wine for us from a business partner and friend of ROF’s – john wilson.  what a treat!  we were thrilled to say the least.

our next appointment wasn’t for a few hours, so we had lunch and drove near a place that our friend dave anderson’s family owned off of sage canyon road and next to chappellet vineyard.  it was a beautiful drive.  ROF told me of great memories he had at this house with dave and some friends.

last, but not least, was opus one.

known to most as simply the best wine there is –  this was $80 for two glasses of wine.  typically, i won’t be so class-less about putting price in here but i had to for this.  FOR TWO GLASSES.  that is like the same as a decent scarf or something!   this didn’t surprise me, because i’m familiar with the wine, but they basically poured you a glass of excellent ’03 vintage or ’08 vintage and you walk around.  it’s just something that you have to do once.  there is also no where else in the world you can get “just a glass” of opus!  you have to buy the whole $200+ bottle.  anyway, it was a stunning, stunning place.  

well that is all for part I:  the wine.  i hope you enjoyed this – but probably not as much as we did going!  have you been to napa valley?  what did you think?

hometown love. edition one.

12 Aug

if you’re ever in the big d, meaning dallas, check out some of our favorite places to eat.  sure, you can peruse yelp.com in search of strangers reviews and taste bud preferences but why do that when you can see what we like.  this by no means is an exhaustive list, just a start.

Get the flounder stuffed with ritz cracker – outstanding! on greenville avenue

start with the ahi tuna tower and then you must have the sundae roll. also on greenville ave.

cane russo. best pizza without a doubt. this is the dessert pizza. go. here. now. hip atmosphere too. if you’re into social media, tweet about @canerusso because the owner jay will retweet you! in deep ellum.

a must visit place with bar in center of restaurant. get anything – it’s all great. on greenville

appreciating: the free ride

10 Jul

i travel a lot for business.  like, a lot.  and i have to share with you one of my favorite things.


it’s the people that drive the rental car buses and the hotel shuttles.

it’s a wide range of people that do this but i typically run into older, retired folks and for the past 20 years, i’ve always thought the same thing – someday i will be them.  maybe not driving the bus, per se.  but older.  and hopefully content.  suddenly, you realize that you’re working so hard to… drive a shuttle bus someday!  if that isn’t enough reason to slow down and smell the roses, i don’t know what is.  this puts things in perspective for me.  here i am all stressed and stuff, yapping on the phone, texting, emailing, face booking, tweeting, on conference calls, juggling a suitcase and a briefcase, sweating, swearing and worried that things that i can’t control will come to fruition.
i used to fly from love field into houston intercontinental airport.  you can’t do that anymore, by the way. but i did it every month for about 5 years going to visit the houston area chevy dealers. there was the nicest man who used to pick me up in the hotel shuttle and drop me off.  and it was such a kind interaction.  we’d chat about where in africa he was from and how it differed from houston.  we’d talk about what was going on in and around houston and texas.  it made me remember to slow down and enjoy the process and not always be seeking the finish line.  talk to people, learn about someone else.

yep, i appreciate you mr or mrs shuttle bus driver

appreciating: family and keeping it real

9 Jul

“the strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.”  

MARIO PUZO, The Family

there is nothing more loving and more heartbreaking than the dynamics behind families.  and everyone has a story.  no family is without defect.  sure, families love to portray a perfect picture – especially around holidays or weddings but the truth is not one family is perfect.  not one – no matter how many pictures you post on facebook, your not fooling anyone.  the key here is: the goal is not to strive to be perfect.  it is in that striving that a lot of hurt happens.  you never measure up to this leave-it-to-beaver existence and it hurts.  it is only by being vulnerable about your family’s imperfections that you find (maybe) the purpose in which you probably are going through them in the first place.  to help others.  to be able to offer your learnings of getting through a particular situation to someone else going through the same thing.  you can extend words that hit home because you know what it’s like.

it is kind of like death or divorce or cancer.  if you haven’t gone through it, you don’t know.  and (please) don’t pretend you know.  and don’t offer advice.  however, if you have gone through it – your insight is priceless.  it could be one of the reasons we go through what we do.  who knows.

i remember being in my office after hours about 7 years ago.  i thought i was the only one in the office and decided to have a good cry.  my dad was dying of cancer and there was nothing i could do but be with him until the very end.  hold his hand.  tell him jokes.  tell him i will always love him.  i thought i was alone in my office but i wasn’t.  a new girl whom i didn’t know very well was there too.  her name was yareli.  she came in my office and hugged me and told me that she knew what i was going through because her mom had died in a car accident just 3 years earlier.  she didn’t tell me her whole story then and there but the empathy she showed in her action and her words told me that i wasn’t alone, i wasn’t stupid for crying in my office late at night.  i had a friend who knew how to say more than “i’m sorry”.  i will always love my friend for reaching out that night and not just slipping out or writing me an email.

it’s the same with families.  speaking of families, this past week ROF and i got to spend some extra special time with ROF’s sister, susan and his brother-in-law, mike.  susan has written some awesome articles for this blog which you can read here, here and here.  susan and ROF have a wonderful relationship that i know means so very much to both of them.  we had a blast this past week starting with the 4th of july and going until yesterday.  here is a photo diary of the past few days.

breakfast @hypnotic donuts in dallas

4th of july at the blue goose in dallas

4th of july at the blue goose in dallas

headed down to san antonio

dinner the first night – no where else but Rudy’s BBQ!

playing “tumbling tower” (or jenga) at hyatt hill country resort – awesome!

me – goofing off and playing with templates

there is nothing in the world like a loving family.  ROF and i were so thankful to be able to spend time with susan and mike this past week!

feeling appreciative

28 Jun

if you read my “bio” or whatever you call it in the upper right hand corner, you will see that i’m the appreciator because i wasn’t sure what to focus my blog on.  i started writing this for background info as part of my job – so that i would actually know how to do it.

how i came up with that idea of “the appreciator” is:

ROF and i were taking a walk through our neighborhood.  it was about a year ago now.  and as we’re walking i’m asking him what could my focus could be…because you know, you have to have a focus.  the conversation went a little bit like this:

“so i’m thinking of writing a blog” (me)

“really?  that’s cool.  about what?” (him)

“that’s the thing, i don’t know” (me)

“why do you want to do it?” (him)

“well, my CEO wants some information on writing a blog and i want to be able to say i know how…from my perspective” (me)

“ok.  well you are a good at a lot of things” (him)

“awe.  that’s sweet.  go on.  like what”  (digging for more…me)

“well, social media for one.  you love it, believe in it and know it.  (him)

“yeah.  but that’s work.  there’s more to me.  here’s the deal.  i appreciate nice music but i don’t write it.  i appreciate great design but i’m not a designer” (me)

“go on” (him)

“and i love DIY stuff but i don’t actually DIY” (me)

“and….” (him)

“and… i love photography but i don’t do it professionally.  love good food but don’t cook professionally – but i appreciate it all!” (me)

“i know” (me)

“i’m the appreciator” (me)

“there you have it” (him)

and there i had it.  so going back to the basics, here is the short list of things i appreciate.  

my relationship with God.  my Father and hard core foundation.  thank Him that i don’t struggle with “the meaning of life”.  i have it.

husband, ROF.  Sappy and all – he is whom i appreciate the most

mom & sister.  not a “given” they are built-in friends for life and beyond. soul-mates

awesome extended family.  susan, mike, mike, bill & sarah.  wonderful people whom i love being connected to (6 more days, susan!)

wonderful aunts & uncles & cousins – seriously fun people i wish we were all a lot closer

career and all the people who have supported me and taught me and pushed me to the limits (you know who you are)

career and all the people who believe in what we do and work hard to support “the cause”! (you know who you are A & S)

friends – you know who you are too

house, i never stop appreciating you

max and wrigley.  my babies.  i love you to death

flying all over the country

flying in first class

flying in first class on vacation with a bottle of red wine

playing gin with #1

cooking dinner with #1

clean cut grass

white sheets 

being organized

our new MAC computer suite (kiss kiss kiss)

massive storms when i’m with people i love or like a lot

massive storms when there is red wine involved to calm me down

colorado – feeling little teeny tiny in a land of big mountains and low valleys and knowing that man had nothing to do with the beauty


poached eggs

the food network

mad men, damages, restaurant impossible, anthony bourdain

chevy dealers all over the country

the geigers in madison wisconsin

the dallas cowboys (ROF, stop laughing, i mean it)

the night before you go on vacation

the night before holidays

friends who surprise you on your anniversary by toilet papering your house at midnight and then ringing your doorbell while you’re watching ghost adventurers (EEKK!) and showing up with a bottle of good, no great, champagne.

knowing that your prayers are answered

central market and whole foods when no one else is in the store

church when you sing that hymn and it hits you in a way that you have to cry but no one knows your crying

remembering the feel of your dad’s hands and smiling at the thought of his “funny tooth”

a big Christmas dinner over at a big families’s house with lots of food, drinks, a bonfire and love

the east coast -hills and chills and history

woody allen

the movies: network, manhattan, annie hall, guess who came to dinner, manchurian candidate and more

good wine

bad wine

great music – house, electronic, rock, mix tapes, playlists, hip and cool

going out to eat

louie and louie’s


costa rica

the joule

making ROF coffee in the morning

are you still reading?

magazines and all the nuggets of information they contain

ideas and the execution of ideas

smart clients

smart people

passionate thinkers


ok, i’m tired now and i’m going to go.  this was not an exhaustive list by any means.

it felt good to capture some of this.  wish you would share with me some of the things you appreciate so i can too!


live from pagosa

21 Jun

too busy vacationing to write.  here is some eye candy for you:

lunch in durango

the house where we are staying – thank you Beckmans! love it here.

a bit of the view from the inside

lovely durango!

road to the house

bigger picture of the house where we’re staying

best husband/bartender/chef/card player

chef dat underground dinner in dallas

10 Jun

last night we finally did an underground chef dat dinner in deep ellum.

i say finally because i had heard about it from several people including suzanne and some friends of the glasses and always wanted to check it out but didn’t have the chance.

until last night.

what an underground dinner is – at least the chef dat way – is you get on an email list and every week there is a dinner – or a couple of dinners – that you can attend by giving your cc number and reserving your space.  space is extremely limited.  you do this without knowing what is going to be on the menu or knowing the location of the dinner.  you kind of know the area, but not exact location.  so if you’re one of of these types that can’t go with the flow -in terms of being a picky eater-  this is not for you.

chef dat is david anthony temple a 28 year old chef who has been doing this for 3 years and has built quite a following.  he has chef dat dinners now in new orleans (where he’s from), hawaii and ft. worth (new).

we went with the st. peter’s – two of the nicest people we know – and a lot of fun!  they own hypnotic donuts in east dallas (dangerously close to our house!)


will we do it again?  heck yes!  great music, drinks, food and company – we had a blast.  chef dat came out before every course and told us what is in it, how and where he got it and how he created it.  local ingredients, unique and creative ideas and delicious.  what a fun night.

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