30 April 2012

Sunshine Milkshakes

image via

Happy Monday Friends. I hope your week is off to a good start. After a pretty hectic few days, the weekend was all about having a little down time and serious relaxation. Thursday night I went to the grocery store and picked up containers of vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries. I whipped up some delicious fresh strawberry milkshakes which were quickly devoured. The next day we finished off the strawberries on pancakes.

Then over the weekend I remembered one of my all-time favorite treats. And since I've been working so hard lately taking care of all sorts of things, I thought I deserved it. I put several scoops of vanilla ice cream in the blender then covered it with orange juice and blended that baby up.

Orange juice shakes, aka Sunshine Shakes, are just the best. Simple, refreshing, and oh so delicious.They are the perfect summer treat and so easy to make. I can't remember the last time I had an orange juice shake so obviously it's been far, far too long.

How about you? Are you a fan of Sunshine Shakes? Do you have a favorite comfort food milkshake?

26 April 2012

Sending Thanks For Many Kindnesses

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Ah, it's Friday. It's been an amazing week -- amazing in the sense that I have crossed paths with so many kind and generous people who have offered their assistance, their kindness, their empathy, their expertise and service to me and my loved ones in such a broad variety of ways. It's amazing how many people I interacted with in so many different settings: medical facilities, businesses, shops, restaurants, over the phone and more.

I can do nothing more than express my deepest thanks to all these people I did not know at the beginning of the week whose faces are now sewn to my soul in gratitude for their small acts of service. I realize more and more that you never know what your service, kindness and friendship will mean to another person. You just never know how tired they are, how hard their day has been, or what challenges they are facing.

It's always possible that a simple hello to someone feeling hopeless may restore their hope. A warm word may convince someone who feels alone and isolated that they are not alone and there is love to be had out in the world. So I send out my thanks today to all the people whose kindness has touched my life this week. I hope you too, lovely readers, have been blessed this week too. Happy Weekend!

25 April 2012

Take A Moment To Inspire Someone Today

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Just wanted to put out a challenge today to do something to inspire or lift another. As I talked about with a friend recently, we never really know what people are going through. There is someone out there who could use your friendship and love today. They might just need a smile in the grocery store. Maybe a friend could use an encouraging card. Perhaps a neighbor could use a visit or a plate of brownies. Someone you know who is going through a discouraging time might benefit from a message of inspiration from you.

I am always surprised when someone reaches out in such a beautiful life in my way. And it's interesting how it usually comes out of the blue at just the right moment. I want to bring more light to this world. I hope today we can do it by banding together to act in sweet kindness to others. I know we'll all be blessed. Happy Wednesday.

24 April 2012

Tuesday Quick Tip - Eagle Creek Toiletries Bag

image via Eagle Creek

When I was traveling regularly on business I had to find some systems that would make life as simple as possible when it came to packing and jumping back and forth from my home life to my travel life. I nailed down a system that I still use today to make sure I have everything I need, especially when it comes to the tons of little toiletry items that you so often find you need on trips.

After each trip I refined my system until I had rounded up everything I could come up with that I needed when traveling abroad or domestically. In the beginning, after each trip I would add new items, all in travel size containers. The best part was finding a toiletries bag that met all my wishes -- the Eagle Creek Pack-It Wallaby.

image via Eagle Creek

I found that I usually did not travel more than two weeks. Then I figured out how much of each item I needed to last about that long. Next I found travel sized products that lasted about that amount of time and whenever possible I bought refillable travel bottles from small shampoo bottles to tiny jars for moisturizer and astringent. This way I could maximize my packing space by keeping every container as small and lightweight as possible.

When I do travel for longer I just pack two small containers. That way if it's a disposable container, I can dispose of one as soon as it it empty and lighten my load.  When you are schlepping luggage around the world, keeping it light is essential to your sanity and maybe more importantly, haa-haa, your back.

My Wallaby organization is broken down into 4 easy sections:

Top Section: face products (wash, astringent, cotton pads, etc.), powder, toothbrush, hairbrush.
Vertical Pockets: shampoo and condition, hair spray, leave-in conditioner and body wash.
Zipper Pocket: (behind the vertical pockets) medicinal items, a sewing kit, first aid kit and lady-specific items.
Bottom Detachable Zip Pocket: small thing used regularly - toothpaste, moisturizer, lotion, dental floss, cotton swabs, tweezers and nail clippers.

So I always know immediately where to look for things because they are always in the same place. The other thing I have done that has saved me a lot of time and frustration is to check and refill everything when I arrive home from every trip. This way there is no thinking for the next trip, I can just grab the toiletries kit and toss it into my suitcase. Taking that extra step right when I get home has made packing much simpler and I know I am always prepared.

I also use a variety of other Eagle Creek packing system products for my regular travel. I will share more of them soon. You can see the entire line of Eagle Creek products here. Do you have a packing system you love? I'm always on the prowl for good travel and storage products I'd love to hear your recommendations!

Happy Tuesday!

23 April 2012

Joyful Tears For SoCal Ragnar Relay Runners

image via

Friday night at about midnight we were driving down 1-15 towards San Diego. I knew the SoCal Ragnar Relay was being held Friday and Saturday, ending in San Diego. So I checked out the race map earlier in the day and knew they would be running down I-15. I hoped we might see the race from the highway but I had no idea what effect it would have on me.

Looking out the passenger window I began to see single red lights every hundred yards or so on the frontage road. Sometimes there were several near each other. Other times there would be one light alone in a long stretch of road. In front of each of these small red illuminations you could see the rays of a headlamp lighting up only a small piece of road in front of each runner. The images of these runners painfully slogging their way up and down the hilly terrain, alone in the dark was overwhelming. Tears came to my eyes. I still get teary-eyed thinking about it.

My hands raised in the air, I cheered them loudly from inside the car. "You can do it! You can do it! Great job! I am so proud of you! Oooooh, you CAN do it! You can!"

I sent my heart to them and wanted so badly that in their souls they could feel me sending them love and encouragement. I wanted them to know I was with them, that they were not alone, that I had faith in them. I wanted to give them every ounce of energy and encouragement I had. I wanted to pull off the road and cry with those that cried and celebrate with those that celebrated. I felt so proud of them as I watched them do this very hard thing.

As I have thought about all those emotions I was flooded with in that moment, I've thought about their courage and how I want to have that kind of courage in my life, whether it be for fitness challenges or anything else. I thought about how often we don't know who is cheering us on right around us just outside of the view or , but they are there and they are cheering. And I thought about how much I want to let people around me know that I am cheering them on and that I really know, deep down in my heart that they CAN do it - whatever they face in life.

I'm inspired to make my cheering a little louder and a little better heard. I am going to roll my windows down and yell very loud from now on. I'm going to cheer for myself and for you! I CAN DO IT! YOU CAN DO IT! WE CAN DO IT!

19 April 2012

Making Birthdays Special

image via

I love birthdays. I especially enjoy celebrating the birthdays of people I love. Yesterday was The Man's birthday and it was such a lovely day. We each tried to get as much work done as early as possible so that we could have some fun.

I think birthdays should be special. I think the birthday girl or boy should experience lots of joys and should do things that make them truly happy. I think they should be surrounded by love and laughter.

If these are my standards for a good birthday, our objectives were met yesterday. We smiled, we laughed and had a happy time together. I made my  prize-winning Italian chicken sandwiches for lunch. Then after more work, we headed out to a golf course near here.    

I've always believed that the golf gods will try to reel you just often enough to keep you addicted by giving you a good day on the course every so often. I had one of those days after not having golfed for  quite a while. I was happy to reacquaint myself with an activity I have enjoyed since college and will definitely go again soon. I found that I am enjoying the focus and concentration required more than I ever have before.

After golf we relaxed for a bit and then went out for a late night dinner. Our meal was quite a hodgepodge: gourmet onion rings, stuff mushrooms, Ahi roll and Spicy Cashew Chicken and rice. It was so charming to see the sweet smile on The Man's face when restaurant staff gathered together to sing happy birthday & give him a special dessert.

He is not a big fusser about his birthday, so it was especially nice to see a big, authentic, appreciative, generous smile light up his face. That, after all is the goal of a good birthday. To give the birthday boy or girl a sense that we see who they are and celebrate them and their life. Happy Birthday my sweet man. Love you and appreciate all you bring to our world and the greater world at large. Hope this is your best year yet.

And to you, dear readers, I ask: How do you celebrate birthdays? What is your favorite activity to make the day special? I am still thinking about how we will establish traditions for family birthdays going forward. I would love to hear what your traditions are and think about some new ideas to incorporate into our family.

17 April 2012

Quick Cleaning The House

image via

After a morning of errands that all worked out to be much more difficult than originally anticipated (post office, banks, grocery store, shopping returns, etc.) I came home with some, shall we say, "not positive" energy burning.

So I decided I would put that energy to use doing some "quick and dirty" house cleaning. I've made a commitment to myself to always make my bed first thing in the morning because it makes a huge difference in how I feel about my bedroom space. It makes the entire space seem much more tidy and organized. I've been reaping the benefits of that action for years now, inspired by a dear friend.

Recently I have committed to keeping my large bathroom vanity very clean. I keep the cleaning products right nearby then can put everything away, wipe the counters and sink and shine up the mirror in just a few minutes. It's amazing how keeping that large area extra tidy improves the way I feel about walking into that space. So that is the first thing I did when I got home since my bed was already made.

While I was working on my attitude adjustment, aka cleaning the bathroom, I was reminded of two great posts from two of my favorite bloggers. The first was by DesignMom Gabby Blair. She wrote a very inspiring piece on making use of small increments of time to get a lot done and how much that has changed the way she feels about her To Do list. Here's a link to her wise words. I'm living them and it does make a difference. Now when I decide to take on a quick project I do it a little more cheerfully and think of Gabby.

The second post I thought of is printed out and hanging above my desk. It's a weekly house cleaning chart and home keeping philosophy that was passed along by Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook. It goes right along with Gabby's post breaking down all the regular housecleaning chores into small, doable chores for each day. Just reading over ig makes home life sound so much more peaceful and less hectic.

Always grateful to have inspiring bloggers who encourage me to live in a happy place both psychologically and in my home! These are the gifts that bloggers give each other, just some that I am so grateful for. Check out these two posts. I am sure there is something there that will help you make your own life a little less hectic.

So, do you burn off frustration with house cleaning? Do you have a go to task for those "special" moments? Have you made any home or time organizational changes lately that have improved life for you? I love it when you share! Leave a comment in the comment section below.

Hope your week is going well! It's very bright and beautiful here and I just enjoyed a lunch of beautiful homemade omelette, peach yogurt and fresh strawberries. Nice!

16 April 2012

Go For It Monday

Took this photo at the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum in San Diego over the weekend. It perfectly describes how I'm feeling about the upcoming week. Ready for take off. After the most charming and delightful Spring Break it's back to projects, goals, rituals and a bit more routine.

Last night once the cars were unpacked we kicked off the new week with a big mountain of pancakes, bacon, strawberries and whipped cream. It was good to have a home cooked meal and to putter around the house watering plants and putting things away.

I am so happy to be back at my desk today. Can't wait to run through my morning ritual. Excited to just courageously go for it on a couple of projects. A great workout is in order. It's a happy Monday.
It's amazing how a break, a lot of fresh air, play time, extra sleep and an escape from your normal world can inspire and energize.

What is energizing you these days?

image via kalanicut

13 April 2012

Does This Speak To The Authentic Me?

image via Zappos

It's Friday again unbelievably! I was doing some research for future blog posts recently when I had an A-ha moment. It all had to do with these pretty shoes. I looked at them and thought, "Oh, I love those!"

But then the question came, "But do they speak for the authentic you?" I think I was inspired to this thought by recent readings in Simple Abundance by Sarah ban Breathnach. Many daily inspirations have been about investing in a well-edited wardrobe that really speaks to who you are.

When I asked myself the second question, there was hesitation and a major lack of clarity on the subject. Even now, I can't answer yes. These are the kind of shoes you could get totally sucked into buying on a whim in Springtime. They are like fresh bouquets after a long hard winter! I started thinking about other items in my wardrobe that I have never worn or rarely worn. I began to wonder if most of those items would fit into this category of "Oooh, those are nice!...but they don't speak to the most authentic me".

When I really take the time to sit in my authentic self and look at my world, it is quite easy for me to start editing out things that don't mean enough to me.  I know that the purchases I have made for my wardrobe and home that really speak to me are items I have loved and enjoyed until they absolutely fell apart.

But the BIG challenge is being in the right frame of mind to be authentic in the first place. It's far too easy to be overwhelmed, distracted and disjointed rather than calm, assured and focused. When I imagine the heartache, suffering and money I could save myself by being more authentically me in my decision making -- and everything I do--, I certainly feel inspired to take the time to live in a more "real me" state of mind.

What about you? Have you recently altered how you decide what you will purchase? How do you know when you know that something is "it" for you? How have you dealt with the "mistake" purchases of the past?

Hope you have a fantastic weekend. We are expecting rain, so it will be a low key couple of days I think. Maybe we'll make some homemade soup, do some crafts and have a popcorn-movie night.

12 April 2012

Living A Noble & Inspired Life

image via

There is no better revenge towards those
who would wish you ill or do you ill,
than demonstrating a noble, inspired
and calm demeanor.

A beautiful wave's path cannot be
altered by the ripples of an ugly pebble.


11 April 2012

It Must Be Friend Week

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I have a dear friend who I have reconnected with this past year. It had been many, many years since we had talked or had any contact. We have shared a couple of letters and emails and have been trying to get on the phone with each other since last summer. With time changes and family schedules we have been two phone ships that keep passing in the night.

This week has not been the best. I have never had allergy problems in California, but for some reason for the past three days I have been suffering more than I ever have anywhere. Sore throat, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, headache. Oh it's been miserable. Yesterday I really felt like I had no will to live. I say that with a smile, but really having been so miserable for so many days and not sleeping well, I was definitely not in superhero form.

So connecting with my lovely friend yesterday by phone really made my day. It was lovely to catch up, share what we've learned and how we've grown in life. It was so encouraging to talk with her because she's totally living in reality and thriving. She's suffered loss, she's experienced joy, she's lived through frustrations and challenges - and she is thriving. Such an inspiration.

I feel that it was meant to be that we reconnected in this moment in my life. I'm thinking this week how very interesting it is to see prayers answered and worries calmed by friends in every day kinds of conversations. I have no doubt that there is a higher power bringing these people to my life and each of our lives. I am so grateful for that. I hope, that without knowing it, I am somehow in a position to be a light to others like my dear friends are so regularly to me.

I hope you are having a happy week and are surrounded by good people wherever you might be.

09 April 2012

Five Things I Am Loving About This Week

I have been flooded with a wave of gratitude for all the beautiful things in my life the past few days. We are so lucky to be alive and with as few problems as we have. There are always others who can beat us at the suffering game -- who have it worse than we do. But to have faith that you can overcome your fears, challenges, and losses and yet thrive is a great comfort. Here are a few things that are giving me the sense that I enjoy great bounty in my life.

1) Time with The Man and The Bug. It's Spring Break, hoooray! There is nothing better than having people who want you around, give you oodles of love and appreciation, and are there to share a home cooked meal with.

2) An awesome, well-rounded family. What a blessing to people who will laugh with you and cry with you. But usually just laugh with you. Much more fun.

3) Amazing friends. Spent Saturday afternoon at a fantastic Easter Egg Hunt with dearest of dear friends at Will Rogers State Park. This was his home, in the photo, that is now a museum. At the park, I had the most fortuitous conversation with an old friend. I don't even know how we ended up on the subject but if there was anyone in the world I could discuss life situations I am edging towards right now, it was her. And it didn't even dawn on me until we started talking.

I was amazed at how much we had in common and what wonderful words of wisdom she had to share. My favorite thing she said was to stay away from discouragers. Isn't that the best advice for any effort in life. Stay away from those damn discouragers. (Sorry for the naughty word, but it seriously fits, right?!) Honestly, who needs them. Would any of us accomplish anything is we listened to these people?! I came home and wrote down everything she was able to share with me between kid interruptions, food interruptions, egg hiding and other distractions. Such a blessing.

4) Fantastic weather. It was 81 yesterday. It felt so good not to need a jacket last night. That is extremely rare for us. There are very, very few nights, any time of year, when a jacket isn't a must here. So good for the soul to get some sun on the cheeks and in the heart.

5) To associate with good people.  Yes I mentioned friends and family, but good associates are such a blessing. I love being surrounded in my work, church, neighborhood and with blog and twitter friends who are positive and inspiring. These are not always people that I know all that well, but they inspire me with their positive, hopeful  outlooks, courage and strength. Often they don't know how much people appreciate them, but I certainly do. I have felt particularly grateful for the few minutes here and there that I get to spend with these people. I'm trying to be better about letting these people know that their words and actions are appreciated and meaningful to me.

I'm looking forward to this coming week. I hope to treasure every good minute of it. Memories are being made. Sweet, loving moments have already been plentiful. Fun days are planned and we are so blessed. If I can just remember that, every day, this week and beyond will be glorious.

Image via kalanicut

06 April 2012

A Weekend Treat - Talenti Gelato

image via Talenti

I believe in living a balanced life. So since yesterday was all about brutal workouts, I thought we needed to balance that out with a delicious treat that is starting to appear in stores all around the country - Talenti Gelato and Sorbet.

We have our favorite Gelato shop but it's a good 45 minutes from our house, not too practical when you have a late night craving. But now amazing gelato is available at the grocery store around the corner. Talenti is made from the best quality ingredients and less calories than traditional ice cream.

It's hard to choose a favorite flavor, there are so many delicious chocolate, carmel, cookie and fruit versions to choose from. I loved the sea salt caramel and would definitely like to try the Caramel Cookie Crunch, Black Cherry, Caribbean Coconut and Sicilian Pistacio. For you Sorbet fans there are some amazing fruit flavors.You can see the entire product line here.

It could be very challenging for some to not eat the entire container in one sitting. We first tried Talenti a few months ago in San Diego. Now it's fun to see it popping up in more and more grocery stores near home. If you want to find Talenti deliciousness near your home check here to find stores and locations near you. I promise you won't be disappointed. You deserve it after all you've accomplished this week, right?

Have a fantastic weekend. We start Spring Break as of today, which we are really looking forward to. A week with more kid fun and less grown up obligations. That sounds fantastic!

05 April 2012

You CAN Push It Harder...MUCH Harder

image via

Today I just want to share my enthusiasm for working out. I have always been a strong believer that the body is a gift and a temple. That it should taken care of with the greatest of attention. But it's easy for that care of the body to get moved to the periphery when life gets busy or stressful. That just leads to more discouragement and as time passes it's a greater and greater obstacle to overcome. It's so easy for weakness of every kind to overtake the body when we don't keep it in optimal health.

I've been working out pretty regularly but haven't made a lot of real progress. But in the past two weeks I challenged myself to do workouts that I didn't feel I could possibly do. I found some amazing and "scary-hard" at-home workouts on Pinterest. You can find lots of these along with a lot of "no excuses" motivation on my Fitness Focused board.

My first attempts were pretty dismal. But the second time around and third time around I started getting very excited to see the improvements I made which motivated me to really start pushing myself. And push I did. It was amazing what I could accomplish within a few days. After doing a few hundred push ups in small quantities it's amazing how many more I can do and, even better, how my arms are shaping up so quickly.

I have also been pushing myself much more in the gym too. Trying to keep things fresh by trying, keep doing more in less time and increasing the total time of my workouts. The combined at-home and gym time and new strength training leaves me exhausted, but that also means I'm sleeping better and longer. The best parts are all the extra energy I feel, how much more limber and loose my muscles feel and how good I feel about taking charge of this area of my life. It's a confidence booster in every way.

If you have let your workouts slip for a few weeks or have never really worked out in your life, I am challenging you to start today. Your body deserves this care from you and it will reward you many times over in good health and a longer life. Do something good for your body. Talk a slow walk around your neighborhood if that's challenging for you or do more if you can. But don't be afraid to really push yourself hard. The body adapts pretty quickly and you will see improvements. It's never too late!

I would love it if you would share your success stories in the comments. Add a link to a workout you are loving right now. What is working for you? What do you want to accomplish? Can't wait to hear what you are up to and how it's working for you.

04 April 2012

Style Me Up With Sanita Green Leather Clogs

image via Amazon

You know I have a weakness for leather, the color green and wood clogs. Meow! I could not be more in love with these shoes. They are so perfect for a little BoHo chic twist with jeans cuffed a bit. I'm seeing them with a pretty white square neck cotton tunic, a cream or chocolate brown sweater, a pretty print scarf with a hint of green in it or a gorgeous chunky necklace for warmer days. Sterling silver bracelets coupled with braided leather wristbands.And how cute would they be with a breezy summer dress?! Put the hair in a top bun and wow.

These clogs are by Sanita and are available at Amazon for more than 50% off. Such a nice deal. Another great addition to a solid wardrobe of items to love and wear for a few seasons. And they also come in orange. Mmm.

Thanks for indulging my clog love once again. You know I have to get it out of my system every few weeks. Clogs have been a part of me since childhood. Living in Denmark only solidified that love  It's just never going to go away. Happy day.

How about you? Do you clog? Are you a soft sole or wood sole fan? Do you have a favorite brand and style?

03 April 2012

Gracious Dressing - Boden Skirts

all images via Boden

As I have thought back on my conversation with a San Diego events planner about our wishes that women would dress with more grace and true style rather than unflattering trends of the day or unkempt, sloppy attire, I thought it would be great to feature designers who do design for a woman of grace.

Boden had a Spring 2012 line that is filled with practical, pretty skirts that give gals a little coverage on the legs and are easy to sit and live in graciously. Here are four examples from top left to right.
I love that there are designers out there focused on designing beautiful clothes for normal women, who live real and busy lives, have children climbing on their laps or have thighs they wish to keep to themselves. Hoorah for Boden! Thank you for keeping us beautiful.

02 April 2012

Five Things I Would Tell The Younger Me

image by EBC

Do you ever crack up or become mortified when you think back on the things you believed about life when you were growing up? Do you ever wish you could talk to your younger self, to give some words of encouragement and perhaps warning?

Here are five things I would tell myself if I could have a good heart-to-heart with my younger self.
  • Decide who you will be in your life, rather than how your life will be. One you have total control over, the other you have zero control over. Life generally does not unfold as we imagine in our heads. Don't make any time lines or expectations for your life that require the participation or involvement of other people. That you no control over either.
  • Every time of life is hard. In fact they get harder and harder. The secret is to enjoy every drop of every happy, peaceful, charming second, minute, hour, day or week you have. That is where all life's joy is hiding for those willing to take the time to see it and grab it.
  • You can be happy, calm, kind, stable, friendly, patient, strong, enduring and brave if...you decide to be. It's a choice.
  • Gracious behavior trumps just about every other action or success in life. If you're a jerk, no one will remember anything about you other than you were a jerk. One gracious act on your part and you will be remembered in someone's heart forever.
  • No one will ever truly know what you suffer in your life. Remember that when you are tempted to judge others. Give everyone a break.
And yes, that is me in the photo above. Miss All Legs in the yellow sweater and baseball hat. In all my life I think there have been about 6 years when I had short hair. This was one of them.

Okay what I most want to do today is hear from you. What are some of the hilarious things you believed when you are young that were embarrassingly naive? If you could go back and tell yourself a few things to get your head on a little straighter when you were young what would you say? Or would you not say anything and let things unfold just a they have? I'd love to read a your comments.
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