Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I recently submitted my PINK story for a wonderful website, Pinktober365.com. The website is a collection of stories from breast cancer survivors and breast cancer warriors, and the goal is to create a daily awareness for breast cancer. If you know of anyone who would like to share their PINK story, please let me know and I can place you in contact with the website's creator. The following, is my PINK story:

It has been said that someone doesn't become passionate about something until it affects them personally. Finding a cure for breast cancer is personal to me...my grandmother, my great aunt (my grandmother’s sister), my aunt, and stepmother are all breast cancer survivors!

I have always walked and volunteered for the local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events in cities that I live in. Once I learned about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day I really wanted to walk it. But there was never a walk close enough to where I lived. Then my luck changed...I relocated to Dallas, Texas!

In January 2009 when I first registered for the 3-Day, I had no idea about the journey I was beginning. During the next 10 months I learned so much about myself, the things that are really important in life, and what I can do when I put my mind to it. I also learned of many more friends and friends of friends who had won the fight against breast cancer.

As I walked the last mile of my first 3-Day in November 2009, I kept saying to myself over and over "I can't believe I just walked 60 miles!". I also knew that it wouldn't be the last 60 miles that I would walk to find a cure for breast cancer.
Including my first walk in Dallas in 2009, I have walked five different events in three different cities (Dallas ’09, ’10 & ‘11, Chicago ‘10, and Tampa ‘11). I have walked multiple cities in a year, including walking back to back events in 2011. All of the walks are special to me, although walking Chicago in 2010 tops the list. While my stepmom and I were training for the walk, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was six weeks post-op from her mastectomy when we walked, and she was able to participate in the Survivor’s Circle for opening and closing ceremonies. And the cherry on top was having all of my family there to cheer us on and experience it with us.
I walk for my family members and friends who have beat this disease. I walk for all of the fighters of this disease who I will never have the honor to meet. I walk for the awareness and education the 3-Day event creates in communities. I walk because I know that one day a cure for breast cancer will be found!
Consider doing something extraordinary and join my PINK 3-Day family for the 2012 Susan G. Komen 3-Day!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Gift of Life

Almost 3 years ago I wrote a post about organ donation in light of my aunt receiving a heart transplant. It's hard to believe that I am back writing about another family member being given the gift of life through an organ donation.

My stepfather received a new lease on life by receiving his heart transplant a few short days ago. Thankfully I can report that so far everything is going well. His breathing tube has been removed, and other than feeling tired, he is feeling as well as can be expected.

After my initial post about organ donation, I gave a lot of thought about becoming an organ donor. It wasn't until last year when I needed to change my address on my driver's license that I finally made the decision to become an organ donor.

I'll be honest that a big factor in me making this decision was due to a family member being personally affected by organ donation. When I thought about my aunt being given another chance to live her life -  to continue being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, grandmother, aunt - I thought about the donor who made such a selfless decision to help someone they probably wouldn't even know. I also thought about the donor's family too. Although they have lost a family member, their loved one has given the gift of life which hopefully provides a sense of comfort to them.

As many reasons as there are for becoming an organ donor, there are many reasons people are against it. I'm not here to sway anyone's thoughts one way or another. I'm just here to create awareness and give you something to think about.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wednesday Weigh In

For those who follow my blog on a regular basis, you might have realized that for the past two weeks I haven't posted my weekly Weight Watcher weigh in. Part of the reason is that I have been out of town on business trips for the past two Wednesdays. And yes, that is just an excuse since there are Weight Watcher locations just about everywhere. Here's to hoping that I find myself to Weight Watcher's next week!

OK, I'm only the second day into Lent and what I decided to be committed to for the next 40 days. I know originally I said that I wanted to limit my sweets consumption. That is still in play, although I decided to take it a bit further. Over the next 40 days I really want to concentrate on healthy eating and making better food (and drink) choices.

It always seems like when I have an epiphany about these things, I am in the middle of a business trip. (Although if I were being honest with myself, I'm ALWAYS in the middle of a business trip!) So realistically, there probably isn't a better time to begin something new other than taking charge and starting it today!

Just because I am traveling, doesn't mean I don't have healthy options available. I typically just choose to avoid them. I would like to stick to just seafood, turkey or vegetarian dishes during Lent. Yesterday I did pretty good that I had shrimp for lunch dinner. Where the better choice could have came in was not to have fried shrimp on a Po Boy sandwich (although it was SO good!). For dinner I did much better in that I only ate half of my meal. (It could have been that it was rich, but hey, I'll take eating half a meal anyway I can get it!)

Making the decision to change my eating habits is going to be a difficult one for me to stay committed. But when I stop and think about all of the other things I commit to (like walking 60 miles for breast cancer) I know that I can commit to a healthier lifestyle. I want to do this while the choice is still my own and not someone telling me I have to do it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm a Heavy Medalist!

My Rock 'n Roll Heavy Medal finally arrived!

I received this medal for walking in two 2011 Competitor Rock 'n Roll Marathon Series events. Last March I walked the Dallas half marathon, and this past December I walked the Las Vegas half marathon. Notice I typed 'walked'...I'm definitely not a runner, let alone a jogger. I just enjoy long distance walking.

I walked my first half marathon as a way to stay in training mode during the 3 Day off season. After each event, I keep thinking that eventually I want to train to jog a portion of the half marathon. To be honest, walking 13.1 miles isn't that challenging for me after walking 60 miles during the 3 Day. (Don't get me wrong, 13.1 miles is a lot of miles!) I really do want to challenge myself to either beat my walking time or better yet, actually train to jog a half marathon.

I haven't signed up to walk the 2012 Dallas Rock 'n Roll half marathon. I'm not really feeling motivated to do much in the way of health and fitness right now (I really need to get out of this slump!). But I am going to volunteeer at the event with my 3 Day walking team, Angels for the Cure. Our team will be at one of the water stations to hand out water to the walkers and runners.

Although...I'll admit that once I received my new blinged out heavy medal in the mail, I really did think about signing up to walk next month. Funny how a medal on a ribbon would be my motivation, huh? OK, just wait until you walk, jog or run your first half marathon and receive your medal. Then you'll understand...

My Half Marathon Medal Bling Collection

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

I had a chance to get together with a friend and her family last week before they left for NOLA (that New Orleans, Louisiana for those who aren't familiar with the acronym). My friend and a good number of her family members evacuated from New Orleans and eventually relocated to Dallas after Hurricane Katrina. Since then I have been fortunate to learn New Orleans sayings ('make' groceries a.k.a going grocery shopping) and have exceptional cuisine (crawfish etouffee pies anyone?)!

From previous conversationswith my friend,  I believe that Fat Tuesday got it's name because it's the last day before Lent begins, and people typically eat a fantastic meal since something is given up or sacrificed until Easter. With Fat Tuesday quickly approaching, I asked my friend what she would be giving up. She shared that last year her pastor stated that Lent shouldn't be about giving up or sacrificing something, but should be looked at as being committed or dedicated to something.

Of course, I immediately began to think about what I could commit to for 40 days. Naturally, my thoughts drifted to my health, eating habits, and my desire to lose weight. Initially I thought about eliminating all sweets from my diet. Realizing that was a bit extreme, and that my commitment to that wouldn't last for long, I decided to commit to eating sweets only once a week. For me a sweet treat is picking up a cupcake or going to get a lemon tart from La Madeline. Unfortunately, I don't discrimenate against sweets too much.

If all goes well, hopefully my taste for sweet things will diminish and I will lose a couple of pounds in the process!

Monday, February 20, 2012

I'll Always Love You

Typically I try not to get too personal on my blog. Although today I thought I should pay a special tribute to my Grandmother who passed away 10 years ago today. This past Saturday as I watched the Whitney Houston home going service, my thoughts immediately went to my Grandmother when Kevin Costner spoke of his memories growing up in a Baptist church.

When I was young, I spent every free moment that I had with my Grandmother. My parents and I lived with her when I was younger, and I believe that is where our special bond began. Or it could have been that I was the first grandchild. A big part of the time we spent together was going to church on Sunday morning. I remember my Grandmother always being dressed in her finest, from her church hat to her dress suit, purse, and heels. We always sat in the same place every Sunday. And somehow every Sunday I managed to get a butterscotch candy that she carried in her purse.

Probably my most favorite memory is having family dinner after church at her house on Sundays. My family would be there, my aunt, my cousin, and my Grandmother's boyfriend, Bill. My Grandfather was killed in a car accident a year or so before I was born, and I never knew him. Bill was a part of my life as early as I can remember. Although he and my Grandmother never married, he was like a Grandfather to me until the day he died a year and a half after my Grandmother died.

My Grandmother was raised in the South and somehow migrated to the North. (I regret that I never asked her more about her younger days or about my Grandfather). Being that she was born in 1919, she experienced segregation first hand. I can still remember watching the Miss America pageant with her when Vanessa Williams was crowned the first African American Miss America. My Grandmother was so proud and happy. When Barack Obama was elected as the first African American president, all I could think about was how proud my Grandmother would have been, and that I wish she would have lived to seen that moment.

My Grandmother was a kind, loving and caring woman who was respected by so many. To me, she was my Grandma and someone that I loved more than anything. She was taken from me so unexpectedly during a brief hospitalization. A few nights before she died, I received a call from my father that she had been admitted to the hospital, yet he didn't think that I needed to drive the 4 hours home. I tried to call her that night at the hospital but I couldn't reach her. He encouraged me to keep trying, and I finally did speak to her. She sounded like herself and had that laugh that I will always remember. Little did I know it would be the last time I would hear her voice. Two nights later I received a call that I would need to travel home as soon as possible. My Grandma was on life support and never did regain consciousness. Her death occurred two days before what would have been her next birthday and a big surprise that we had planned for her.

There are very few days that I don't think about my Grandma. When every good thing happens in my life, I want to call her. I know that she still watches over me and that she is with me every step of the way. I carry her and her memories with me in my heart. And I will always love her.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Training Shoes Anyone?

Last week I attended a shoe clinic at my local 3 Day outfitter Luke's Locker. What's a shoe clinic, you might be thinking. Well, let me tell you...

Luke's Locker offered to hold a 3 Day shoe clinic for my walking team, Angels for the Cure. Although the shoe clinic event was specially scheduled for my team, anyone was able to attend. The best thing is that Luke's opened early for us on a Saturday morning AND we had the place to ourselves! Now, if you haven't been in a running store on the weekend, then you have no idea how long the wait can be. Sometimes the wait can be in upwards of 30 minutes to see a running shoe consultant. Since it was just us, the wait time didn't seem long and it gave us a chance to catch up with one another.

I brought in my current walking shoes for the shoe consultant to take a look at (I strongly encourage this so the wear pattern can be looked at). We also talked about how I tie my shoes, the type of socks that I wear, and any problems that I had been experiencing. I then walked up and down the track in the store so he could see how I walk. After all of that, and remeasuring my feet, he brought out a couple of pairs of shoes for me to try on and walk with.

Since I started walking in the 3 Day, I have been pretty happy with my Asics (that is after trying some shoes that didn't work so well for me). I've also been leary of changing shoes for fear of eperiencing problems that I don't currently have (like blisters...ouch!) After last year's walking season, I thought that I should possibly try a different shoe. It seems like my Asics weren't quite doing the job for me anymore (my feet, especially my arches, would kill me on the second day of the walk).

Hopefully I have made a love connection with these new kicks:

And yes, the PINK shoelaces were an add on!
Other than the personal attention to getting fitted for my 3 Day shoes, I forgot to mention another plus...a DISCOUNT! During a shoe clinic, the hosting outfitter will typically offer an additional discount. The normal 3 Day discount Luke's offers is 10%. During the shoe clinic Luke's gave us 15% off all of our purchases (with the exception of items that were on clearance). The additional 5% may not sound like a lot, but every bit helps since getting the appropriate gear for training isn't cheap.

If you're thinking about walking the 3 Day (or starting any type of training program) I strongly encourage you to try a true running store (not Finish Line, please) to get your kicks. You get the benefit of expereinced staff who are typically runners themselves. They are extremely helpful at giving hints and tips for shoes, clothing, supplements, etc. And they're not there just to sell you a pair of shoes. They have a passion for what they do, a committment to fitness, and understand the importance of appropriate footwear to be successful.

Happy training!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Susan G. Komen in the News

Today was the first day that anyone asked me my thoughts about Susan G. Komen's (SGK) recent statement that the organization would no longer provide monies to Planned Parenthood, only to overturn that decision a few short days later. Since the announcement I have just been taking in as much information as I can and listening to concerns. To be honest, I don't have a concern with their decision either way. Here's my my two cents...

For those who don't know, SGK has contributed monies to Planned Parenthood for quite some time. Of course I have participated in events where spectators were there to state their opposition of that due to Planned Parenthood being pro-choice. Well,  I'm pro-choice. I believe that women should have the choice of a safe environment to explore the medical options that they feel might be best for them. Planned Parenthood is also a lot more than this one aspect of their services. On the other hand, I understand the ethical concerns about SGK supporting an organization that is under investigation. I also believe in 'innocent until proven guilty'. The decision to discontinue support to Planned Parenthood should be made after they have been found guilty of something. Just think if they aren't guilty of anything, and the good that money could have done?

What I do believe and support is that SGK does a lot of great things in communities, nationally and globally. I believe that anyone who hears the name 'Susan G. Komen' automatically associates that name with breast cancer. SGK has such a presence in communities. And that presence creates awareness. Awareness which creates educating men and women on breast health. This awareness encourages people to obtain mammograms. This awareness will also lead the way to a cure being found for breast cancer, which will certainly benefit other types of cancer.

I choose to walk (and will continue to walk) in the 3 Day due to the many lives that I touch walking the streets that host a 3 Day event. I choose to continue to support SGK for all of the great things this organization provides - education and awareness about breast cancer education and finding a cure for breast cancer. I have been blessed to have 4 breast cancer survivors in my family. That's huge! I wouldn't be doing my part if I didn't use my voice (and feet!) to continue to support SGK.

I hope that all of my wonderful donors over the past three years will continue to support me in something that I am so passionate about. Even if they don't, I will self fund my fundraising and continue to walk. Simply because it's just that important to me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

TV, Anyone?

Do you have a favorite TV night? I finally figured out that my night for TV is Tuesday night! Here's my line up (in no particular order):

Real Housewives of Orange County - I know, I know as some of you roll your eyes. For some reason the Real Housewives series is my guilty pleasure. And the Real Housewives of Orange County are probably my favorite! Who doesn't like to watch ladies of leisure complain about their lives and make us wonder how they really make money?

The Game - The Game is back for another season after it was cancelled, and then returned with a less then stellar season. In case you've never seen it, you can find it on BET. It's about a fictional football team in San Diego and the players and their wives and probably covers just about all of the sterotypes you can think of about ballers and their lifestyles.

Let's Stay Together - This show is in it's second season on BET and airs right after The Game. It started out about one couple who is married, one couple who is dating, and then a girl who is single. Now both of the couples are married and the single gal has gone off to be on Survivor (a.k.a. having a baby in real life).

Southland - This is a police drama that comes on TNT. I never did watch the show when it came on one of the major networks. I found it sometime last year when I was channel surfing late at night and was immediately hooked! The new season just started and I can't wait to see what will happen next. Very interesting mix of characters and storylines.

Flashpoint - This is another police drama. It wasn't until recently that I found out the show is filmed in Canada. (I thought it was filmed in Seattle, go figure). The show is about a fictional Strategic Response Unit and has a great story line that captures you in the first few minutes of each episode. And what's pretty cool about the show it that all of the major actors are Canadian, except for the female lead.

Inkmaster - As if I didn't already have enough shows to watch on Tuesday night, I just added Inkmaster to my Tuesday rotation this week. Inkmaster is a tattoo competition show. From looking at me, no one usually guesses that I have a fascination with tattoos or that I have been tattooed five times. Secretly I have always wanted to be a tattoo artist but my lack of drawing skills continues to hold me back form pursuing my dream. And after watching a few episodes of this show, I now know what to look for in my next tattoo artist.

Glee - I almost forgot this show! I only started watching Glee a little over a year ago. The quick wit and humor are what drew me in. Sometimes the singing can be a bit much for me, but I do enjoy most of their versions of popular songs.

Ringer - Last, but not least is Ringer. This is a show of many twists and turns about identical twin sisters (and some bad acting from time to time, which includes really fake backgrounds). One sister was running away from her past, only to have her twin die (OK, fake her death) and then resume the dead sister's life. And guess what? The 'dead' sister is back and now their lives are starting to cross. It still hasn't been revealed why the one sister faked her death in the first place.

I know this seems like a LOT of TV to watch in one evening (OK, period!). Thankfully I have a DVR and I record all of the shows and watch them at my leisure (usually after they have recorded so I can fast forward through the commercials).

Certainly, I'm not the only TV junkie out there....what are you watching?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Four Types of Friendship

While reading MWF Seeking BFF, I learned about the four major types of friendships:

1) The Acquaintance - someone you'd chat with on the street or at a local cafe;

2) The Casual Friend - a 'grab lunch' pal who often serves a specific purpose, such as a tennis or running partner;

3) The Close Buddy - an intimate, trustworthy comrade you can say anything to; and

4) The Lifer - who's as deep and forever as family.

According to the book, women should have 3 - 5 lifers, 5 - 20 close friends, 10 - 150 casual friends, and 10 - 100 acquaintances. After reading this, it made me think about the make up of my friendships.

The writer of MWF Seeking BFF, was in search of a friendship like she has with her two besties from grade school. When I think about my friendships, I don't have a bestie from 'way back in the day'. When I was growing up, I had a group of best friends who I always thought I would be best friends with. But then life after high school began, and for me, those friendships slowly faded away. I do run into some of them from time to time when I return home to visit my family. Although I'm happy to see them and catch up, I feel like we live in two different worlds. For me, they have moved into the acquaintance category.

When I went to college I met one of my friends that I consider a Lifer. When I first arrived on campus I sought her out to learn more about sororities. After five minutes of talking, our friendship grew into so much more. (And I never did join a sorority) Today she and I live in different parts of the country and we don't talk on the phone nearly as much as we used to. When I was recently in her city on business we got together, and you would have thought our last conversation was just days before. I know that I can always count on her for anything and that she is just a phone call away.

When I think about my Lifer category, I honestly don't have that minimum three people that probably should be in that category. When I think about another friend that I would place in this category, she is a friend that I have only known for a few years. The best thing about our friendship is that she allowed it to grow naturally for me. She would consistently ask me to do things with her, and I would consistently say 'yes' only to cancel at the last minute. But that never stopped her from asking. When I finally started accepting her invitations for more small group interactions, our friendship quickly started to grow. Now I know that no matter what happens, she and I will always be friends.

I believe that most of my friendships fall into the casual friend category, sometimes overlapping into the close buddy category. For me, if I can't tell someone anything and everything, they are probably more of a casual friend than a close buddy. But then again, I do have some friends that I can say anything to, just not anything about everything. (Make sense?)

I'll be the first to admit, that I tend to keep people at arm's length. For someone to really get into my inner circle, it takes a lot. There isn't any type of criteria that has to be met, it's just when I feel comfortable and that I can really trust someone. You've all heard someone say, "It's not you, it's me". Well, it really is me.

Friday, February 10, 2012

NaBloPoMo Prompt: Do You Live Close to Your Family?

According to Mapquest, I live approximately 16 hours 18 minutes or 995.82 miles from my family, and there are 4 states that separate us. (Guess I'll be thinking twice about driving home for my brother's wedding in June) 

Since the early '90's I have lived in a different state from my immediate family. My first move from the state of Michigan only placed me over the state line to Indiana and about 30 minutes from them. It really didn't really feel like I had moved away from home and I would still see my family all the time.

My next move kept me in the state of Indiana, took me to Indianapolis which is about 3 1/2 hours away from family. I finally completed my bachelor's degree and landed my first 'real' adult job that had career potential. The distance wasn't too bad since I was able to drive home for a weekend or whenever special family things came up.

My next move was due to a career change, and took me to Cincinnati, Ohio and about 5 hours from my family. Due to the travel with my company and the added distance, this move started making it a little more difficult to see my family. Now trips home were planned in advance or around a holiday or other special event.

My next move brought me to where I currently live, Dallas, Texas. Needless to say, the distance (and my business travel schedule) only allows me to travel home once or twice a year, definitely around the holidays or when other special events that I have planned to return home for.

Do I miss living near my family? Definitely! I miss just being able to drop by my mom's home for a home cooked meal, or go tailgating with my dad for a Notre Dame football game. I miss not being there when there is a family illness and being able to provide comfort and support. I miss getting together just because it's Friday.

Who knows, maybe one day I'll move closer to my family. Until then, I'll be thankful for frequent flier miles and the ability to get a direct flight home when I need it. And I'll enjoy my siblings letting me be 'the favorite' during those short trips when I am home!

Pic of me & my family after the 2010 Chicago 3 Day Walk

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I know that its been awhile since I posted my Weight Watcher's results. I finally decided to go in and face the music (a.k.a. weigh in). Here are the results:

Weekly Loss/Gain: -3.4 pounds
Total Loss/Gain: -9.8 pounds

Believe me, I am as surprised as you are that my weight is down! Especially after spending a week and a half in St. Louis and it all it seemed like I did was eat. Although for the past week, I have been a lot more conscious of what I have been eating. (And probably being a little under the weather helped that too!)

None the less, I think I am finally ready to get back on my weight loss wagon. Last week when I was town for a day, Simply Fit Foods was running a promo special on house accounts. So today I swung by there and picked up my meals for the next several days. Although I will be traveling the first part of next week,  the travel is close enough that I can pack some meals to take with me.

A few weeks ago I was watching a TV program (probably Oprah or Dr. Phil) about weight loss. And there were three questions that were asked regarding losing weight:

1. Why are you overweight?

I'm overweight because I don't exercise portion control and will power. I thoroughly enjoy eating - trying new and different things, going to new restaurants, desserts, the taste and texture of foods, and the list goes on and on. I realize that I can enjoy all of those things but it doesn't have to be on a daily basis. And when I do enjoy those things, it needs to be in moderation. I can still enjoy eating. I just need to begin enjoying fruits and vegtables a lot more.

2. Why do you want to lose weight?

I want to lose weight to be healthy. Adult onset diabetes runs in my family. And I know that the extra weight that I carry makes me more susceptible to getting diabetes if I don't begin watching what I eat and in turn losing weight.

3. Why have you been unable to maintain weight loss?

I've been unable to maintain weight loss because I think of it as once I lose the weight, the battle is over. And it's not. For me, maintaining my weight loss is going to be an active job for me. And probably a job that I will have for the rest of my life.

When I think about it, the extra weight didn't happen overnight. Unfortunately, it isn't going to go away overnight either. It is going to take a conscious decision on my part to become more active and make better choices around the foods that I eat. I want to lose the weight in a healthy way in order to have a better chance of keeping it off once and for all.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Next Stop....Orlando, FL!

Duty called and I had to travel to Orlando, FL for a few days (I know, wow is me). Unfortunately my allergies decided to join me on the trip which made the trip a lot less pleasant. Fortunately after a day of staying in bed, I feel like I am finally back on track to feeling better.

While in Orlando, I had the pleasure of staying at one of the hotels at Universal Studios, Loews Royal Pacific Resort. Since it's the off season for the Disney properties, Universal Studios closed at 6 pm daily, so I didn't get the opportunity to go check out any of the attractions after my work responsibilities were over. Fortunately, Universal City Walk was open late and I did have the chance to try The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Emeril's Restuarant Orlando. About the resort...

Until I arrived I didn't realize that the resort has a Pacific Islander theme to it. When I arrived, the valet person said "Aloha!" and I felt like I was back in Maui again! All of the staff were very nice and accommodating during my stay. The resort is a mid-size resort, and it was very easy to get from my room to the conference area. (I've stayed at properties in Las Vegas where it was a solid 15 minute walk from the room to the conference area)

The nice thing about the resort is that the hotel stay included admission to Universal Studios, which was a short walk or water taxi ride away (an $87 a day value!). If I had been able to go to Universal Studios, my room key also would have given me access to special lines to access the attractions quicker. So if you are ever traveling to one of the Disney properties, you might want to consider staying on site and inquiring if the resort offers this amenity.

About the food...

While I was there, I was pleasantly surprised by a tasty and colorful grilled shrimp salad that I had at Bubba Gumps. And if you plan on dinign there, you might want to be up to speed on your Forrest Gump trivia!

I've been fortunate to dine at a few different Emeril restaurants before (Las Vegas, New Orleans, and this was my second visit to the one at City Walk). The service is always outstanding - my glass was never half full, crumbs were quickly brushed away from the table, and finished dishes were quickly removed. I had a wonderful Cioppino (seafood stew) which certainly helped the sore throat that I was nursing.

If you ever plan a trip to Orlando, always consider the time of year when making flight arrangements. Since the Orlando airport is extremely busy, you'll want to make certain that you have a solid two hours to return a rental car, check in your bags, and get through the long security lines. I also don't recommend flying standby either since the flights are typically full. I thought I would try for my return flight home since I was able to leave earlier than I thought. In the end, I was able to get home about two hours earlier that I was scheduled to, and I don't know if it was worth all of the hassle.

All in all the business to trip to Orlando was good. Hopefully next time I'll find more time for pleasure!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Facebook Funny on a Sunday

I'm sure many of you are on Facebook, and have witnessed a strange exchange of comments in response to a status update. Well, I just so happened to have one that appeared in my Newsfeed that I thought I would share:

I think my Facebook friend got tired of trying to explain whose birthday it was. Honestly, I think he was pretty clear from his status update whose birthday it was. When I checked his status the next day, he never responded to his friend's last comment. Hopefully she's not still wondering.

Hopefully you got a laugh from this like I did! (And hopefully whomever was making the comments doesn't follow my blog either!)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Fountain on Locust

My work assignment in the St. Louis area ended a few days ago. In a small way, I was sad to leave. I think mainly because I wasn't able to see (or eat) all of the things that I wanted to. Typically for me a work assignment can last up to 90 days which allows me to pace myself a little better. Unfortunately, only being someplace cool for a week and a half, causes me to cram everything in.

Before I left, I did have the chance to try The Fountain on Locust which was an "I INSIST you go there!" recommendation from a friend of mine. And he was right on point!

The theme of The Fountain, is what I envision as a old time fountain and ice cream shop restaurant. It's a very small place yet packed with character and great food. I decided to have a egg salad sandwich on whole wheat bread, with a cup of Tuscan bean soup.

OK, you might be thinking, "What's so special about egg salad?". Well, this was the best egg salad sandwich I had ever had! It was a hearty sandwich and wasn't overly mayonnaisey (if that's a word). It was made with Dijon mustard and had capers in it which give it extra flavor. The soup was....it was an AWESOME bean soup! Full of beans and small bits of potatoes and lots of flavor. All of The Fountain soups are homemade every day too. (You might notice a partial view of a fountain glass in the upper left corner of my picture. That was a Pomegrante Egg Creme...delish!)

My friend who INSISTED that I go to The Fountain, is a big (and I men really BIG!) ice cream lover. The Fountain has all types of wonderful ice cream drinks (adult and non-adult) and ice cream concoctions. I decided on a butter pecan ice cream cone. Now, this was just any butter pecan ice cream cone. It was the creamiest butter pecan ice cream I have ever had, and it was in a homemade pretzel cone!

The combination of sweet and salty was WONDERFUL! The ice cream comes from a dairy in Wisconsin that some how ages its ice cream. Whatever they do to it, it is beyond awesome. By time I got to the ice cream cone, some of the ice cream had melted inside it, which made the cone even better. The cone was salty and it tasted like a fresh baked pretzel.

You definitely have to try The Fountain if you are ever in the downtown St. Louis area!

Friday, February 3, 2012

MWF Doesn't Find BFF

Well, I finally finished reading MWF Seeks BFF. Being the nice person that I am, I think my initial thoughts about the book might have been a bit harsh. At least by the end of the book, the writer seemed like she became a bit more normal and less obsessive about her pursuit and expectations for friendship. The writer didn't find a new BFF although she did find about 22 new, solid friendships (according to her Dunbar Number calculations, she only had room for 20 more friends anyway). Moving on...

Overall the book left me very intrigued about friendships - how they develop, how they are maintained, and how they end. I think most people think that I'm a fairly like able person (of course I do have my moments!), and that I've never met a stranger (I think I have my dad to thank for this trait). A friend says it's because I smile a lot which makes me engaging to others (who knows). It's very easy for me to start a conversation with someone on just about anything.

On the flip slide I don't talk about myself very much. Although I'll admit that I'm an open book (just ask me anything you want to know and I'll tell you), in the same breath I'll say that I'm also a very private person. (If you're not directly asking me something about me, I'm probably not voluntary telling you what you want to know). I can still remember participating in a team building exercise at work. One person who I considered a work friend said "Shannon knows a lot about me, but I hardly know anything about her. She has a way of turning the conversation around to make it all about me." And she was right.

In light of my shortcomings (believe me, the list is long), I still don't have a problem meeting people. After reading MWF Seeks BFF, I think making friends is a more conscious effort for some people than others. My biggest problem is developing friendships with people that I meet. Part of this I blame on my career choice (traveling for weeks at a time can make it difficult to give a new friendship the attention that it needs) and the other part is that I don't have a big desire to find 52 (or even 22) new friends like the writer of the book did.

I'm sure if I figured out my Dunbar Number, there's probably room for more friends in my life. Maybe I should figure out what that number is. Well, one day...

Thursday, February 2, 2012


The theme for this month's NaBloPoMo is 'relative' and the focus on relationships. Although I might follow the daily prompts for writing, I'm also thinking about writing about some topics from a book I have been reading, MWF Seeks BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Bestfriend by Rachel Bertsche. And probably from the title you've figured out what the book is about. Basically the writer has relocated to Chicago with her husband and well, doesn't have any friends (OK, friends who live in the Chicago area).

I thought the book would be kind of lighthearted, but it is laced with a LOT of scientific data about friendships and the research the writer has conducted. Who knew? I mean, who knew that it's soooo much work to make friends? Similar to the writer, I have relocated to several different states since I've been an adult. And I can't say that making friends has been that difficult for me.

Other than the scientific data, the writer also seems to be a bit, well needy. She sets up 'friend dates' and over analyzes them before the 'date' even happens. Like, "Julie is 40 and has two kids so I don't think she will make a good BFF." Seriously? And even if she doesn't hit it off with the potential friend, she's disappointed when the person doesn't respond back to her follow up emails. I mentioned that the writer is married, and I certainly feel for her poor husband who is on the journey (not his choice) with her. Oh, I forgot to mention that the writer's goal is to go on one friend date a week for a year. So far, I'm only about half through the year in this (long, drawn out) process.

Although the book makes me frustrated at times, whenever I start a book I have to finish the book. Hopefully by time I reach the end of the book, Rachel will find a new BFF and I will learn more about my friendships too.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Blogs and Friendship

Since the beginning of the year, I have been trying to organize areas of my life a bit better. One area that I started to organize was my digital photos, Internet favorites, and blog subscriptions.
Although I’m not very good at it, I love to take pictures. I’m pretty good about getting the pictures from my camera to my laptop to a folder.  Other than that, it’s just a bunch of pictures that I seldom go back and look at or do anything with for that matter. So I decided to organize my pictures by creating folders for each type of event (i.e. - vacation), and then I created subcategories within each folder (i.e. - Hawaii).  Then to really get organized, I went through each picture and deleted the ‘not so good’ pics.
My Internet favorites was a bit more daunting task since I have tons of favorites! Soon after I started going through them, I realized a lot of the links were outdated or the links were no longer valid. From looking over my favorites list, I realize that ‘my favorites’ are applicable to whatever phase I was going through at a certain period in my life (house hunting, tattoos, hobbies, etc.). Now, onto the blogs…
Organizing my blog subscriptions was the hardest for me. I’ll admit that I have (OK, HAD) over 50 different blogs that I am (was) following. And if you’re a blog follower, you already know that’s a lot of content to read. Especially since some bloggers are more active than other bloggers. (I have a few bloggers that I love to read who post two or three times a day! Maybe one day I’ll get to that level.)
For me, unsubscribing to some of my blogs was kind of like saying good bye to a friend. Once I begin following a blog, I begin to feel like I know the person in a cyberspace kind of sense. I look forward to hearing what happens next in their lives.  And similar to the real world, the friendship continues to develop in some way or it ends for one reason or another.
So, I started going through my list of blog subscriptions in Google Reader.  If I came across a blog and the blogger hadn’t posted anything in 4 – 6 months, I stopped following the blog. This was the hardest for me – selecting unsubscribe.  Especially since before the past 30 days, I was one of ‘those’ bloggers who posted very sporadically. Now I have a greater appreciation for my followers and making certain I keep you in the know.
Now, the ‘4 – 6 months’ timeframe wasn’t a hard and fast rule. Some of the blogs I follow are 3-Day bloggers. These bloggers only blog about the 3-Day so I don’t expect them to blog all year long (although it sometimes feels like the 3-Day should be a never ending event). To be honest, I don’t have expectations for anyone to blog every day since I don’t have time to read blogs every day. I just want you to be there when I need you. Just like a real friendship.