Wednesday, December 16, 2015

13 Things I Learned From Andie MacDowell

Andie MacDowell at our Club W Event
Andie MacDowell at our Club W event.
A few weeks ago, my work hosted a women's event featuring actress Andie MacDowell. At the ninth hour, I was asked if I'd like to interview her. Um, interview a celebrity? Yes, please!

The interview lasted just a minutes, as I was the first of several people who wanted some of her time before she spoke at our event. But in those few moments, and in the talk she presented to the crowd, Andie reminded me just how important positive self-esteem is to living a good, healthy life. 

Here are a few gems Andie imparted that evening. Which ones are your favorites? I like 3, 5 and 13.
  1. How you feel about yourself creates the life you lead.
  2. Self-esteem gives you good energy to make good choices about what you eat.
  3. In life, we get all kinds of messages. Be careful with the messages you keep inside your soul. They make a difference in how you live your life.
  4. Hold all your goodness inside of you.
  5. What really matters is what you think and feel about yourself.
  6. How do you stand up for yourself?
  7. I’m not losing my beauty. My beauty is just different than from when I was younger.
  8. Healthy is beautiful. Everything looks good when it is healthy.
  9. Think about your self-worth and value. What does beauty mean to you?
  10. It’s all in how much effort you put into it, how hard you try to take care of yourself and what messages you feed yourself.
  11. What makes you happy?
  12. Choose to focus on the good memories.
  13. Beauty is an action. You have to be a beautiful person to be a beautiful person. 
If you'd like to see my whole interview with Andie, watch One Minute With Andie.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real! 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving 2015

Keeping up with my writing was tough this year. Admittedly, for quite awhile I didn't even think about this blog. A true case of my Real Reality taking over my Ideal Reality. Nothing bad has happened, nothing life changing. Just life. Just me in need of a break.

But over the last several weeks, I have found myself collecting little bits here and there with the thought that, "Hey ... I'd like to write about these thoughts and experiences."

So, here I am, on the last day of what has been a lovely Thanksgiving weekend, snuggly in my bed tip-tapping away and thoroughly enjoying myself.

No guarantees of regular posts or content worthy of your time. Just me back to dinking around online.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Stay tuned!

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fashion for the Over 40 Crowd

Trying to find a fashionista image of myself to accompany this post was tougher than I thought it would be. Images of me are few and far between, and images of me looking stylish even farther! This one is from August 2014. My husband snapped it as the peeps and I were preparing to leave for their first day of 2nd grade. I like this picture. My hair looks good, my smile is genuine and I am rockin' that cardigan! 

I'm a classic dresser. I love comfortable clothes that look nice and fit well. But when I went back to work last fall, I wanted to up my game a bit. Add some color, some flair, some fun. But remain classy, definitely age appropriate and professional. Can you tell from the photo I'm not a big "show some skin" gal? All buttoned up, baby! That's me. 

But where to start to find what's in, what's out, what's apropro, what's not? 

The blogs below focus on fashion for women over 40, and they are fabulous! They offer inspiration, ideas and courage as I step outside my comfy comfort zone and try new styles, colors and ... gasp! ... showing a little skin.

Maybe the fashion gal in the mirror (Real Reality) will one day reflect the one in my head (Ideal Reality)! 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Truffles, Sewing, New Recipes & Colin Firth

Homemade truffles! The End
Earlier this year, I posted my Little List of Learning. My Ideal Reality inspired this list, but I suspected my Real Reality would come roaring in, putting a halt to my plans before I could stop it. And for many months, it did. 

And then, I realized the only thing stopping me from starting my list was ... ME. Well, enough of that! I made my first batch of truffles, and I dusted off the sewing machine and sewed new curtains for the peep's bedroom. As long as you don't look at them too closely, they look professionally made. If you do look at them closely, well, ... just don't. 

I've tested several new recipes, including a Shrimp Avocado Salad I whipped up tonight. I  created six freezer recipes, with varied success.

So, it looks like my British boyfriend, Colin, is the only one who hasn't gotten any love except for a few adds to my Amazon Instant Video watch list. 

As for my theme and my three words ... I'm working on making them each a bigger part of my life. It's one thing to write them, but another to live them. 

How are you coming along with your three words? Your theme? Please share! 

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

From the Nightstand: Must Read Books

This is the first post from my new tablet! I have no idea what I'm doing so bear with me and forgive any wonkiness.

Over the past two years, I've tried to do more reading. It's been challenging to put down my phone at night and dive into a good book, but I'm trying. I'm a tad behind on updating my list of recommendations. It's on my To Do list.

I've got a ginormous stack of must reads on my nightstand. Here's what's on my reading list:

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (to read with the peeps)
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen (currently reading)
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (currently reading with the peeps)
Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (currently reading)
Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels
The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton

Whew! I'm excited about each one of these!

What books are you into right now? Please share!

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Break Revisited

Welcome to Florida The Sunshine State

This week is the peeps' Spring Break, and it is killing me that I'm working and have zero time off. Grateful for the job, but still ... 

I've very nostalgic for the trip the three of us took to Florida two years ago. So, I'm talking a walk down memory lane by rereading my trip posts. 

Join me! 

Making It Count: Connecting & Experiencing

Drop Some Bricks: Great Advice on the Eve of My Epic Adventure

True Confession Time: I Was Out To Prove Something With My Florida Vacation

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Leopold the Leprechaun Wishes You a Happy St. Patrick's Day

leprechaun with a pot of gold

Happy St. Patrick's Day! In Kansas City, we have a big ol' parade, green beer, the works. It's especially fun if you take the day off to enjoy it (which I am not doing. Nor have I ever.) In fact, I think the only time I attended my hometown celebration was when I was a senior in high school. Skipping school on St. Paddy's Day was the cool thing to do. But seeing as how that was probably the only day I ever skipped school (official Senior Skip Day doesn't count), it didn't make me cool. 

Last year, I posted about the peeps' Leprechaun Trap and the fun we had with our visiting leprechaun. Well, Leopold (that's his name, apparently) returned this year and was just as snarky as ever. The peeps enjoyed writing notes back and forth for a few days, but they soon tired of it. They weren't even interested in building him a trap. I guess that means they are outgrowing some of our silly fun. That makes me happy/sad. 

But I think I might still put green food coloring in the toilet. The idea of leprechaun pee will always make me giggle. 

How about you? Any big plans? 

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Quick & Easy: Lego Legends of Chima Laval Box

Lego Legends of Chima Laval
My last post talked about my Ideal Reality vs. Real Reality dilemma involving creating Valentine's boxes for the peeps' elementary school Spring parties (Wow. How First World Problemy does THAT sound?) 

One of the peeps wanted a Lego Legends of Chima Laval box, but I couldn't find a Pinterest idea to steal, which meant my daughter and I had to get creative. If you've read any of my previous blogs, you know that the mere thought of the words "crafty" or "creative" makes me sweat. 

However, we ended up with a pretty decent, not to mention original, box. It took very little time and very little money. Here's how we did it.  


  • Shoe box, any size. (We used a kids sneaker box.)
  • Red feathers (1 package)
  • White self-adhesive felt (I used one small rectangle.)
  • Black self-adhesive felt (I used one small rectangle.)
  • Tan felt (as many pieces needed to cover the front, sides and back of box; we used 3)
  • Glue
  • Black Sharpie
  • White paper (to wrap the box first)
  • Sparkling gold self-adhesive foam sheets (2)
  • Image of Laval's big ol' head for reference.

Create the box!
1. Wrap the shoe box in white paper to hide the original color. (As I'm typing this, I thinking you could probably just go ahead and glue the tan felt to the box and skip the wrapping.)

2. Stand the box on one end and cut a hole for the mouth.

3. Wrap a piece of tan felt around the sides and front of the box; cut the felt around the mouth opening.

4. Turn the gold foam sheet over and draw Laval's crown. Even if you are not an artist, which I am not, the crown is simple to draw.

5. Cut out the crown, remove the backing, and adhere it to the box as shown above.

6. Cut thin strips of black felt and adhere them to the crown to add a bit of definition, as shown above.

7. To create Laval's flaming red mane, adhere red feathers to the sticky side of the crown. Go ahead ... stick those feathers ... as many as you want. It's fun! (Life lesson learned the hard way: Save one red feather per sibling to avoid any potential meltdowns. If one kid has a feather, every kid wants one.)

8. Turn the white felt over and draw Laval's muzzle.

9. Cut out the muzzle and adhere it to the box, as show above; cut the felt around the mouth opening.

10. Cut itty bitty teen weeny teeth from the white felt. Apparently, you need four to make his dental work authentic.  

11. Adhere the itty bitty teen weeny teeth to the inside of Laval's mouth.

12. Cut two white eyes from the felt and adhere them to the box in the appropriate places. 

13. Cut a Laval-shaped nose out of the black felt and adhere it to the face. Again, in the appropriate place.

14. Draw eyebrows and pupils with the black Sharpie. (You could also cut them from the black felt, but I was way over cutting pieces from felt at this point.)

That's it! It took us approximately 45 minutes to create. Maybe less.

Be sure to check out the Lego Legends of Chima birthday party I threw last year! 

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015: Meeting the Expectation

Minecraft Steve and Legends of Chima Laval

Last year, I wrote about about being completely caught off guard by the elaborate Valentine's boxes my peeps' classmates crafted for the one-hour spring parties. You can read that post here. This year, I was a little more clued in, but offered the girls an option: decorated gift bag or create your own box? At first, they said a gift bag was fine (WAHOO!), but about a week before the party they wanted to create boxes (CRAP!). Each peep had t draw out her plan and write a detailed list of needed supplies ... without my help. The results were pretty amazing, I must say so myself. 

One sweet peep crafted a Minecraft Steve head all by herself. (I cut the slot in the head because I didn't think it was good parenting to let an 8-year-old handle a box cutter.)  The rest was her handiwork, and I thought it was spectacular! 

The uber creative peep wanted to create Laval, the lion from Lego Legends of Chima. her ability to choose projects that no one on Earth has ever attempted never ceases to amaze me, nor does her steadfast faith that mom can make anything happen. 

The child found the one Valentine's box idea that was not on Pinterest. Hooray. So, we brainstormed some ideas, and she drew up a visual. She needed help drawing and cutting, but that's about it. I think it turned out rather nicely. Each box took 30 minutes tops, and we we only had to buy a few supplies. 

Both peeps were thrilled, not to mention proud. 

So, yes, I caved to the school society's Valentine's Day box expectations. In My Ideal Reality, this stuff doesn't matter and I poo-poo this silliness. But in My Real Reality, I know this stuff does matter. I know how important it is for kids to feel included, and if that means making Valentine's boxes, I'll do it. 

But I think I found a happy medium. The girls wanted boxes, and I put the responsibility on them to draw out their ideas, decide what supplies they needed and make as much of the box as possible on their own.  

Now that the party has passed, we're onto the next thing. This morning at breakfast they mentioned the leprechaun. Sigh. (If you didn't read the post link above, that wont' make sense to you.)

To celebrate Valentine's Day, we are headed to a Theatre For Young America performance and an early dinner at The Brick. Then we'll return home and snuggle in because it is going to be a cold one in KC tonight! 

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real. And ... Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 2, 2015

My Little List of Learning

The List
At the start of every new year, my sister-in-law, Mary, announces her learning goals for the next 12 months. Her list is always full of exotic, curious and novel ideas. Last year, she decided to teach herself to make cheese, and she did. In fact, she became so good at it that a local beer, wine and cheese supply store asked her to teach a class. This year, she's cultivating a mushroom farm in her backyard. See what I mean? Exotic and interesting. There are other random items on her list  - I think one involves chickens. Even if she doesn't accomplish everything, as least she can say she did something. 

As much as I love her lists - they truly are works of art - they make me a little sad because I realize I don't have any "just for fun" goals. Mine are all either professional or parenting-oriented. 

So, to go along with my theme for 2015 (FUN), I decided to make a list of things I want to do or learn this year.

Drum roll, please. 

  • Watch as many Colin Firth movies. (He is my British boyfriend, so I owe it to him to watch his filmography, right?). 
  • Improve my sewing machine skills. Curtains, anyone? Pillow coverings?
  • Become a truffle-making expert. (The decadent sweet treat, NOT the mushroom.)
  • Improve my menu planning and freezing skills. 
  • Experiment with new recipes so we expand our eat-at-home menu.

That's it for now. Trust me, just jotting down those five things was exhausting. It made me realize how infrequently I stop and think about what I truly enjoy. Kind of sad, right? 

So, off I go with my little list of learning. 

What about you? What do you want to learn about this year? 

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Finding Friends in Your 40s is Tough. But I Did It.

I don't make friends very easily, especially not of the female variety. I can count on one hand the number of ladies in my personal circle. I've known each of them for at least 25 years. And even within that circle, I don't tell all. 

The older I get, the tougher it is to make new friends. Sure, I've met a lot of women through the peeps' elementary school, but we don't socialize beyond the schoolyard except for the occasional birthday party. (Maybe that's because I use words such as "schoolyard.")

So, imagine my surprise when the gift of friendship popped up in the form the fabulous Ms. J. We were thrown together a couple of years ago when I accepted a contract job at the company where she works. It wasn't "friends at first sight." There's always the painfully awkward "new person" phase. But one day, not too far into my gig, our friendship clicked into place and stayed there.
Ms. J and I are complete opposites when it comes to flair and personality. That girl has more flair than anyone I've ever met. From her fashion sense to her gregarious personality, she's shines everywhere she goes. My flair comes in flashes. Some hot, but most not.  

Put us together in a professional setting, and watch out. We get shit done, and we don't take no for answer. From work ethic (deadlines mean something, dammit!) to our drive to always do our best to dealing with crazy coworkers, we are in lockstep, and I love it. Miss workign with Ms. J. so much.   

On a personal level, we commiserate over our perceived parenting fails, and giggle insanely over the smallest of things.We listen, offer advice and hold each other up. 

Her heart is genuine, and she'll do just about anything for just about anybody. She is probably one of the first people to ever say to me, "You are a good mom." and "I got your back." and "I love you, friend." 

Check out her blog One Hundred Kind. Did I mention she's an amazing writer? She blogs about her year-long adventure in committing 365 random acts of kindness. Ms. J. thinks she taking on a challenge, but the truth is she commits both deliberate and random acts every single day. 

It's so rare in life that we meet someone who is on exactly the same page. Have you been that lucky? I hope so! 

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My 3 Words for 2015 ... and a Theme

Number 3 (three)

I can't think of a better time to revive my blog than the start of a brand new year. I'm three months into my new job and life has settled down a bit.  

For the past several years, Chris Brogan, has encouraged people to kick off the new year by focusing on just three guiding words instead the vague resolutions.  You can read more about his approach here. I liked the idea, so I decided to give it a try. 

My 3 words for 2015 are: 1) Slow. 2) Help. 3) Priorities.

SLOW. As in, slow down, sister! I put myself in a constant whirlwind of getting things done, and I'm exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. I also make stupid mistakes when I'm rushing. So this year, I want to slow myself down so I can think, focus, savor and be my best self. It goes along with the idea of being present in the moment. I've lost that ability and want it back. 

HELP. As in, help others. I have been so much in my own head for so long, it seems I've forgotten there are other people in this world who need a helping hand. . 

PRIORITIES. As in, figure out what's most important. Usually, it's not cleaning the house or keeping myself awake at night worrying about things I can't change or have no control over.This year, my priorities are people, especially the ones who live with me.

I also picked a theme: FUN! Basically, I'm not having any fun in life. I'm not laughing enough. And that's stupid because when I step out of my head, I realize what an awesome life I have. I want to enjoy it.  

What are your 3 words? Do you also have a theme?

Thanks for reading! Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real!