We have the opportunity on the daily to make a positive impact on the world around us.
Whether one goes through their day searching for good deeds to be done,
or simply takes advantage of random opportunities to spread love,
every action (or inaction) has a resounding impact.
The question is: Is your impact today going to be positive, negative, or indifferent?
I have been told that one person can't make a difference.
I affectionately call these people "dummies"...
Those who actively try to hold the rest of us down,
those who would rather watch you drown than help you soar, those who can't grasp the power of positivity to create change.
Whether it's a great recipe found, or an uplifting story to share, you can be sure to find it here.
Let's start a Positivity Revolution, and drown out the dumb!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Caving at Christmas

So...I totally caved at the Christmas party. The Broadmoor is the most gorgeous hotel in Colorado, and I had the opportunity to be my bestie's Plus One for her company's holiday shindig. There was amazing food at every turn, most of which included meat. So I caved. The vino may have helped me forget the reasons I wanted to become vegetarian, and it definitely helped to choke down really delicious meat without thinking about the animals. And since I did it one night, I decided to do it the next, when our very good friends took us out for an incredible Italian feast. I can't be the girl who eats only salad when we go out!

I won't beat myself up about the two (or three) mishaps over the past few weeks, but I have to say, I woke up feeling gross this morning. It wasn't even a "bloated" feeling, it was like a rock was sitting in my tummy. So I think it's fair to say that my body simply responds better to a veggie lifestyle. And the best part is I eat so much more bread now. I eat all kinds of sandwiches and pastas, and I actually feel lighter and better than I did before. It's insane, and wonderful.

I attempted for the second time in my life to make tofu tonight, and I'm trying to convince myself it's like chicken (it's not). But, the fact that I don't have to wonder if the tofu had a good life, and I know I'm going to wake up tomorrow feeling great, is good enough to deal with some minor changes. I figure, even if I were to cut out meat 90% of the time, I can drastically reduce my impact on both animal cruelty and the environmental impact of agribusiness. But being crazy strict? Not my style.

Purple teeth ladies!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Powering Through

When I'm not napping on a plane, I like to ponder and write. This is the result of my in-flight thoughts this morning...

I am a feminist, which means I believe that the path to success for a man or woman should be basically the same. My definition of success personally is doing anything I want, within reason, without thinking as to the cost. I don't want fancy yachts or servants, I just want to live comfortably, travel often, eat at gorgeous restaurants and drink expensive wine. The thing is, the roadmap to becoming successful for a man and the roadmap to becoming successful as a woman are totally different. There are subtle, yet powerful obstacles in my way.

Even if I have the same views and goals as a man, the fact that I have breasts means that any after-hours business meeting teeters between a date and an actual meeting. If I have too much wine, I'm unprofessional (not so for a man). Conversations quickly meander from professional to relationship-based. I get questioned about past relationships, current relationships, and the reason why I may or may not be in love with someone. Totally inappropriate and uncomfortable, FYI.

Looks is important in business, as it is everywhere else in our backwards society...If I am good looking, men are more likely to do business with me, especially one-on-one, but it does not mean that they respect me. If I am not traditionally good looking, I won't get the attention that someone else may get, even though my skills may be far beyond their reach. If I eat too much, or eat too little, or am overly agreeable, or too argumentative, I am judged. Whereas a man would be commended for sticking to his guns no matter the circumstance, women are scrutinized at every opportunity.

Take the fact that I'm not married. When it dawns on me that my business meeting may be construed as something more, I play the boyfriend card. I do have a boyfriend, but I should never feel the need to divulge something personal about myself in order to keep a meeting professional. In these circumstances, it become immediately apparent that although it was clear in my mind that nothing about this was a date, that they were hoping for something more. More often than not, I leave my one-on-ones feeling dejected, devalued, and uninspired. I never know if someone is dealing with me for my business sense or for my looks.

How are women supposed to become truly successful in business when the men we do business with can't grasp or respect boundaries? Why should I have to monitor my every action in the hopes that I am continually perceived as professional? Anyone in the sales business knows that networking is huge, and I won't stop. But I've got to come to terms with the fact that no matter how I act, there will always be those who don't show respect. All we can do is push on.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Easing into a Vegan

Sounds kinda dirty, doesn't it? I can't help myself.

I'm about four days into my newfound interest into vegetarianism, and every time I open my fridge or look at delicious cheese or think about eating a succulent steak, all I can see in my mind is animals being tortured. It's the worst, mostly because I really enjoy eating animals, especially bacon and cheese.

We went to Happy Hour tonight, and I tried to plead my case without being obnoxious or high-and-mighty. I think that's the thing I hate most about this: I could totally give up all the meat I love for the love of animals and the planet, but I feel like I look like a jackass. Every time we go out, are my friends going to look at me and wonder what I'll eat, what I'll pass up, and if I'll make others uncomfortable by talking about my newfound beliefs? I worry about Christmas, when my sister will be preparing an amazing rare prime rib for dinner, and all I can think about is a cow suffering. What about when my boyfriend comes back and finds that our favorite pastime (ahem, eating) has to now be carefully planned? Will I hold to my beliefs, along with holding their interest? And furthermore, why should I even care? It's not like I'm trying to convert anyone, but I feel like I have to have an explanation. I have been devouring bacon like it's going out of style, and I've not had much regard for where food comes from since I was 9 years old. I take pride in eating everything, especially being able to eat more than dudes. Who am I without these pieces that I have allowed to define me? Will I still be interesting, sexy, and fun while standing up for what I believe in?

This experience is frankly, terrifying so far. I've had to start over from scratch a few times in my life, but this is altogether a different experience. There's such a negative, uptight stigma surrounding vegans and vegetarians. I don't want to be one of those people that my friends roll their eyes when we go out to eat. But I also can't eat irresponsibly anymore. Here's to trusting it will get better...

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What they don't tell you

I am so deeply proud of my military man.

When we decided to be "boyfriend/girlfriend", I knew it would mean staying together through his eight-month deployment. We made the most of the time we had together here, and crammed fun activities into every moment until he left. I had no idea what dating someone who deployed would be like, but I got my first taste on the drive home from the airport. I cried the entire way back to my house to crawl into bed, all the while trying to get it through my head that this was not forever. The emotional side of me always wins.

After my tears dried up, I took action and researched, mostly because I'm a giant nerd and partly because I refuse to be a Mopey-McGoo for eight months. I read a bunch of articles from military wives and girlfriends, pieces about what to send in care packages, and how to generally cope with a deployment. What I learned was that the process goes something like this:
1) Take up a hobby. Done, I am a workaholic and obsessed with crafts.
2) Start a daily schedule, and stick with it. I'm terrible at this, because I'm super ADD. This is still not getting done.
3) Find others to hang out with and provide support. I have the most amazing, supportive family and friends, who never tell me I'm annoying them with all my "miss my boyfriend" talk. Done.
4) Be overwhelmingly positive when talking to your partner, they are under a ton of stress. Not great at this one, but I'm trying to be better.
5) Send care packages, write letters, Skype. Done and Done. The best part of my day is when we get to text or video chat. And I love sending packages! The post office ladies have been incredibly kind and patient with my ignorance about shipping overseas.

These are all helpful bits of knowledge, and I am so thankful for the Googles. I couldn't help but wonder if the articles purposely leave this out; but no one talks about the loneliness and worry and guilt that is the daily life of the SO. I am in no way complaining about my relationship; I am counting down till he gets back home, and I think we're doing an awesome job making the best out of this deployment. But all the articles in the world could not have prepared me for the emotions that I've experienced over the past few months. Having the strictest schedule every day wouldn't make me worry any less; having friends and family doesn't make me less lonely at night, when I just want to know that he's home and safe. And then there's the guilt... I have a wonderful life; I get to do whatever I want, eat whatever I want, go anywhere at anytime; and he is stuck. I tell him everything, but there's always that guilt in the back of my mind, like I'm rubbing it in. In reality, I'm making mental lists of all the things we get to do together next year.

In conclusion, I would give this advice to anyone facing a long deployment, especially for a first-timer like me:
1) You WILL get lonely. Don't stray. If you find yourself doing something that you wouldn't do with your SO around, stop.
2) You might cry some days more than others, or not at all. Don't let your emotions interrupt your life here.
3) Send care packages often. They're so fun to put together, and only cost about $12 to ship to an APO.
4) Keep busy. Men can be wonderfully time-sucking, and a deployment provides a perfect opportunity to be a little selfish and do something only for yourself.
5) Tell your SO everything. Communication is the only thing you have to keep your bond strong over the months and miles.

Thank you to all who serve our great country, and to their families who also must sacrifice.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ignorance is Not Key

I like to watch random videos in bed before I force myself to start the day. It's not something I'm necessarily proud of, and it's probably a terrible habit, but it happens. I'll go on Facebook, which has oh-so many random bits of nonsense, and watch clips, which lead to other similar clips, and so on. I have a knack for finding the heart-jerkers, like dogs welcoming their military owners home after a deployment (those are my fave), and can sit there and just cry. Feels good most of the time. But this morning, I followed the wrong string, and wound up a changed person.

Everyone knows I love bacon. I love steak and beef and pork and chicken and eggs...I truly enjoy eating all of God's creatures! Until this morning. I was a carefree bacon-lover when I woke up this morning. Flipping through randoms, I saw a video about almond milk. "Hey, I like almond milk!" I thought to myself, and continued onto the next recommended video. This one was about dairy farms. I clicked Play, even though I typically avoid this kind of content. It's upsetting, I always cry, and then my eyes are red and face is puffy for the rest of the afternoon. This morning, for whatever reason, I watched the entire video about a secret investigation into dairy farms in Australia (funny thing is, the same thing happens here in the good old USA). It was horrifying. You wouldn't think that something as simple as milk would cause so much abuse and pain for the cows, and especially not the calves, but it's rampant and disgusting.

I could deal with the babies being taken away from their mothers, even while the cow is running after the vehicle that has her newborn calf...I could deal with the fact that cows have to give birth once per year in order to keep milking, although it was borderline upsetting...What tipped me over the edge into full-blown sob-mode was watching the farmers (can you even call them that?) kick, punch, throw, and drag baby calves around; trying to get them away from their mothers, throwing them into trucks, using electric prods in their faces to move them along the conveyor belt to slaughter. I understand there may not be a financial need for a calf in their eyes, but why torture them during their short lives? I don't understand. You can check out some really horrific videos at milkiscruel.com.

I pulled myself together after a bit and decided that a Starbuck's breakfast would make me feel better. After all, I don't drink milk, and I am totally addicted to their Bacon Gouda Breakfast Sandwiches! But when I pulled into the parking lot, I pulled right back out. The thought of putting food in my mouth that had likely been tortured, regardless of how utterly delicious and salty it would be, was no longer an option. I've lost it. I've lost my love of bacon. Which is a sad, very sad realization for me; but not as sad as seeing those animals being tortured.

I wanted to document this, because it's going to be hard. I want to remember how I feel right now, and remember that no matter how much shit people may give me, it's not their decision. It's mine. And I'm not going to go around preaching about the terrors of meat to everyone. I just choose not to participate anymore in mass-produced meat and meat products. It's because of the torture, not because I think we aren't supposed to eat animals (because I totally do).

So my goals now are to: 1) Clean out my fridge and give everything I no longer want to my bestie. 2) Find a local farm to buy eggs from, supposing they are free-range. (BONUS: I get to support local farmers who do the right thing). 3) Arrange a visit to the local slaughterhouse for me and my mom. She's totally down, and I'd like to see what happens. 4) Find a local farm who treats their animals humanely, to buy steak and chicken from (and maybe even bacon). If I can't find a place, I can live (mostly) meat-free. I already buy organic chicken, hoping it's free-range, but if I could purchase from a humane source, that's what I'll do. Plus, I could eat fish forever. This gives me an excuse to get the super-pricey fish special when I go out instead of the filet mignon!

Stay tuned: This is just the beginning.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Totally Cheating Chicken

For whatever reason, I've been holding onto this recipe gem for a while, so haven't made it in about a month, before my whole change in diet. Still, Enjoy!
I don't have a crockpot. (cue gasp!)

Let me explain: I'm cooking for one. Yes, I could take the time to pack my freezer full of the leftovers, but if history has taught me anything, those meals will rot with freezer burn before they make it to my tummy. Secondly, I work a ton, and my life is unpredictable. This means that when I set that handy timer for eight or even ten hours, there is no guarantee that I'll be home in time to take it off the heat. I have ruined many a beautiful meal by letting the crockpot go a few hours over. Thirdly, I don't have the room. My tiny apartment can only hold so many items, and choosing to lose the crockpot was one of those necessary sacrifices for the love of living more simply.

What's my point? You can totally cheat and make pulled chicken without the slow cooker! I adore pulled meats, and back in the day, I used to love smoking bone-in chicken breasts on the weekends. Alas, this is one of the things I no longer have...But I've found a loophole, and I couldn't wait to share!

I found this recipe from Just a Taste for slow-cooker balsamic pulled pork, and substituted chicken breast (I had oh-so many in my freezer). The beautiful thing about ditching the slow cooker for this recipe is that chicken takes waaaay less time to cook, so I started about two hours before I wanted to eat. I made the marinade, poured it over about 2 pounds of boneless chicken breasts in a nice deep skillet, and covered at medium heat. Two differences from the recipe provided: I omitted the blackberry jam (I'm sure it would have been amaze-balls, but I got impatient looking for it at the grocery store), and I used about 2 cups of chicken broth, with the last 1/2 cup mixed with cornstarch to thicken up the sauce at the end. I also made this tangy slaw from the same website while the chicken boiled.

After about an hour, the chicken was pull-ready, so I removed it from the pan and added my last 1/2 cup of chicken-broth/cornstarch mixture. Letting this simmer while I pulled the chicken allowed it to become nice and thick, so when I added the chicken back to the pan, it stuck beautifully.

The first night, Kristine and I made sandwiches with the chicken and slaw atop. The next night at my sister's house, we decided to make little BBQ crostini's, which were more delicious than I thought possible.

Definitely a keeper recipe, especially now that we have a fabu new app recipe! Happy eating,

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

IT Dummy

I am not a "computer person" per se, but Google has become my best friend in recent years. I Google everything, from sore throats to how to properly format a newspaper ad (yes, they still have newspapers here in Colorado). Today was the day I needed Google to show me how to make my email signature gorgeous with all my social media buttons. I maybe spent a bunch of time on this last night...and last week...until I was nearly ready to secede and swallow the fact that I would simply have a plain-Jane email signature.

Just as my heart was sinking, my eyes opened and I realized I had been totally misreading the directions! You know when someone else can clearly see what you cannot? It was one of those aha! moments when I wanted to slap my forehead and laugh (or cry) out loud. As I was reading the many forums online about this same topic, I noticed there were a select few in my same tribe who just couldn't figure this out. And the folks on the other side trying to help just kept repeating themselves. Not helpful; very frustrating. So I wanted to share my step-by-steps so we can all have the beautiful email signatures we want. I heavily referenced this forum for assistance along the way.

I work for a smaller company, so we don't have a specific "IT" department, let alone one expert to call upon for my many needs and questions. Many businesses across the U.S. likely function this way, especially those who have started your own biz and have no other staff. So without further adieu, let's get you a pretty signature! (PS- I use Microsoft Office 365, so these steps may vary for other applications. I'll also review how to properly add this to your iPhone sig.)

First, take your company logo and social media logos and upload them onto a free hosting app like tinypic.
Next, go to Outlook--File--Options--Mail--Create or Modify Signatures for Messages.
Click in your signature the place you'd like your image, then click the image button on your toolbar.

Go back to tinypic (or other hosting site) and choose your image. Highlight and copy the "Direct Link for Layouts" web address.
Back to Outlook: Paste your image's address into "File", and click the drop-down arrow, choosing "Link to File".

Boom! Your image should now show on your signature. Repeat this for as many logos/icons as you'd like!

When your clients open up your emails, you'd probably like for them to be able to click the image and go to your website. To accomplish this, head back into your Outlook signature editor, click the logo you'd like to link, then hit the Globe/Link icon:

Type the web address for the link, and press OK. Done!

Now for customizing your iPhone sig...
Send yourself a test email from your desktop Outlook account. When you receive it on your iPhone, select the entire signature text and copy. Then go to Settings--Mail--Signatures--Select the email account you'd like to populate with this signature. Shake your phone to undo attributes, this should take care of the auto font changes Apple makes.
Compose a new email message on your phone. Don't send this message! Hit cancel and save to drafts.
Go to your Drafts folder, copy entire signature piece, and go back to your iPhone settings to paste into the Signature area for your account. Shake your phone to undo attributes, and you should be all set!

I hope this is helpful to those who may not have access to an IT guru. Be sure to test your new, fabulous signature before sending it out to all your clients!

Friday, September 4, 2015

I Know Good Guys

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/01/11/3610327/college-men-forcible-sex-study/?utm_source=takepart.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pubexchange_module Rape culture exists everywhere, regardless of the supposed "intent" of the offender. Rape culture to me includes the instances when men repeatedly push themselves on a woman because they are treating their sexual needs as the most important thing in the world.

I tell people all the time (although it's not very lady like and so I probably shouldn't) that I am just as horny as a man; if not more so. Yet, I allow my brain to think for me, not my private parts. It's incredibly unfair to say that because someone has a penis, one becomes justifiable in forcibly putting it in a hole. I want sex all the time, too; and I check people out when they are beautiful. But you don't see me running around, rubbing my vagina on everything.

When someone says "No", it means just that. It doesn't mean, "Try harder." It doesn't mean, "Only when I'm dressed slutty." And it definitely doesn't mean, "Yes". I am a little confused by the apparent disconnect. If I have the ability to control my sexual desires and urges, why can't a man do the same? Just because you may like my body does not mean you get to do anything about it.

I also want to make it clear that I know PLENTY of men who can indeed control their urges just like I can; they are polite, they don't expect sex just because they buy dinner or drinks, and they treat women as equals. It's frustrating that all men don't act this way, because these men that I know are wonderful, and I feel fortunate to have them in my life.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Last Train

Cathie and I (mostly Cathie) have nearly mastered the confusion of the Trenitalia's train staziones. We know how to look up train times online, how to check the bin number for our intended train, and how to navigate the subways leading to each bin. We no longer get lost, only delayed, which seems to be Trenitalia's M.O. There are people everywhere, mostly lost-looking tourists, and they don't move out of your way. Ever. Everyone has the tendency to creep on and off the trains, even though oftentimes there is no conductor and you may get left behind if you are too slow and the doors close. We wrestle through the crowds to get to our trains early, and we can usually find a decent seat.

Today, however, we messed up. We had planned to buy our tickets early this morning, giving an ample two hours to eat breakfast and say "Ciao" to our fantastic host before making the treck to New Monterosso's train station. We didn't realize that both the early trains (nonstop to Milan) had been sold out, and the earliest we could leave would be 1:15. So, it is 9:30 in the morning and we are forced to kill almost 4 hours, armed without bathing suits on and hauling massive suitcases.

Not to be deterred, we order cappuccino, croissants, and fruit at a local bakery, successfully wasting an hour whilst people watching. Tourists are worse on this side of town compared to Old Monterosso; they are pushy and loud and fairly rude. We sit along the boardwalk after breakfast and snap some pics; although all I really want to do is get in that gorgeous ocean! The issue we have is lugging our suitcases down the hill, through the sand, and then back up again...no, thank you!

Around noon, we mosey over to a different shop for lunch (yes, this trip has revolved around food; to my utter delight). I get a greasy and delicious Prosciutto, Tomato, and cheese sandwich; Cathie gets a rice pizza that reeks of fresh garlic...so amazing!! I'm almost positive the lady helping me calls me a stupid American; but I can't blame her...I have learned probably 4 Italian phrases, and even though we've gotten by more than fine; I would be annoyed by me, too. We decide Old Monterosso is our fave.

Our train arrives without delay, and all I can think about is getting to Milan. Get to Milan, get out of this 1000-degree hotbox, take a shower...This is our last train ride of the trip! We could not be more thrilled. The scenery on the way is beyond beautiful, and the fact that this is our final train excursion makes it all the more so.

We arrive in Milan and hail a female taxi driver to help us get to Hotel San Francisco. It is amazingly air-conditioned in the lobby; but the room feels like a red jail cell, and the "Garden View" is shrubbery out back. Our concierge, Carlo, recommends a fabulous place where we have a delectable, long meal in a deserted restaurant. This is the first night of the trip that we have drank a respectable amount of vino, and are in bed before 10pm. Perfecto!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

George Michael

There are these amazing electronic blinds in Italy that block out all the light! (Yes, I understand we have these in America, it's just everywhere here.) So, we tell our wonderful host that we will DEFINITELY be at breakfast at 9...no problem...we get to our room at 3am, click the button to block out the Saturday morning light, and oversleep. Cathie wakes up at 9:15, shouting, "It's 9:15! We gotta go!" I don't believe her. It's so dark, how could it be the morning already?

We throw on respectable clothes and dash to the restaurant, a full 3-minute sprint with a finale of terrible stairs. Upon arrival, everything is just fine, although we feel that we have likely insulted Augusta, who is Francesco's mother and super adorable.

Being hungover with delicious food is difficult, but we power through. We choke down scrambled eggs, home made croissants, fruit, and pineapple juice (it sounded great when I ordered it). After breakfast, we explored Monterosso and ate dinner at a beautiful little place; every bite was heavenly; we had Calamari, Gnocchi with Pesto, and Ravioli with Walnut Sauce. The wine is cheap but smooth; I actually don't know what we will do when we get back! The 8-dollar glasses we order back home pale in comparison to the beautiful Litres we enjoy here for the same price.

After dinner, we head to our new favorite bar (FastBar, an American-themed joint that our landlord owns). We meet George and Michael, who will forever be known as one name. They are sweet to us but obviously want only one thing, so we walk away to order more vino. Our second-favorite bartender (Francesco is the first) invites us to join him, and we do. His friends are Thor and someone I don't remember. They invite us to a "lookout" to drink a bottle of wine and enjoy the scenery, and although we respectfully decline, they were still miffed that we decided to go home. (We actually paid our tab and RAN home so as to not allow them to know where we are staying.)

We were certain not to queue the blinds that night, and woke up bright and early to tackle the trails through Cinque Terre...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Italy Gals Don't Cry

It's our first trip out of the country; with no guide, no real plans, and only a pocket translator (thanks, Lee!) to help us decipher what others are saying around us.

Thank goodness we are staying for 11 days, because today has been a traveling disaster. We left yesterday morning on 3 hours of sleep, and at this point are nearing hour 28. It will be closer to 30 hours once we finally arrive to our hotel! We are stinky, exhausted, and a little stressed out; which is too stressed for vacay. Each one of our flights was delayed, resulting in us strong-arming old ladies out of our way as we sprinted (more of a run-shuffle, in flip-flops) to our next airport hub.

We arrived safely, albeit sweatily, in Milan around 1pm this afternoon (5am our time). We quickly discovered that although traveling without knowing the language of the land is easy in an airport, the train is another beast altogether. We purchased tickets to Malpensa from Milan, with a connection to Milano Centrale train station (or so we thought). Upon arriving in Malpensa a little over an hour later, our driver told us we had the wrong tickets. There was an obvious communication gap, leaving us with bags in hand and nowhere to go, and we ended up leaving our bus to find another way to Milano Centrale.

We purchased tickets for a train to Milano Centrale using a different company, and we relaxed on a speedy train for another hour, basically heading back in the direction we came. Awesome! I dozed off, and when I awoke, we came to the conclusion that it was time to get off the train. What we didn't realize was that we were getting off a full 3 stops early! Again, train travel is harder than air travel.

We sped around this new station, trying not to look too lost and foreign in this foreign land. It appeared there were literally zero kiosks or employees to ask for assistance from, but we finally found an English-speaking attendant who helped us purchase the correct ticket for our seemingly elusive destination.

Entering the Milano Centrale train station was exciting and chaotic. The architecture is beautiful, and the people even more so. We found a dark-haired, blue-eyed (married) police officer to assist us to ensure we would not miss our train to Monterosso. He graciously advised that we could keep an eye on one of the many monitors around the station for our gate assignment, and to pay special attention 10 minutes prior to departure. Whew! We were 40 minutes early. No sweat. We shopped, payed to use the restroom (weird), re-hydrated, and kept a watchful eye on our gate position.

So...our gate never comes up. We ask another officer, a different kiosk, and finally, a fairly grumpy man who is being shouted at in all languages about travel. Cathie takes the lead, pointing out our destination and the time. "You are 35 minutes late; that train has left. These displays are not working." So THAT'S what the many announcements (mind you, all in Italian) were for! Perhaps we should have become fluent before making this excursion?

Not to be deterred (although we both are on he verge of tears, red-faced and wide-eyed...Will we ever reach our little village?), we sweet-talk our attendant on Trenitalia to throw us on another train. She does, but fails to mention that since we no longer have seat assignments, we get to play musical chairs for anyone that enters our cabin. We end up moving about 3 times, each instance creating more anxiety than the last.

We finally settle in, and an angelic attendant sits with us to write down the times and names of the towns we will need to hop off in order to reach our final destination. Holding onto this piece of invaluable information, we successfully, nervously, hop off our train to Monterosso. We pass through the tunnel towards the exit, with absolutely no idea of what we would see on the other side...

...the view is breathtaking, even at 11 o'clock at night. The sea greets us amid softly-lot pathways that travel all over the village. People are everywhere; beautiful and put together and stylish. We finally made it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Good News

this is an older post, but I love it so wanted to share again...
There aren't enough of these stories being shared, and it's happening all around us...
Share your good news, send me a link, click on the links provided to learn more...let's drown out the dumb together!

These were some of the stories that got me inspired in 2014.
Browse around, and share your Good News to be included below!
I continue to share these via my Facebook page, hope to see you there!

Have you heard of the dry cleaner in Minneapolis who will dry clean interview outfits for FREE???
Elite Dry Cleaner shop has helped over 2,000 unemployed workers, at an estimated total cost of $32,000.
If there were a shop here in Dublin that did this, I would definitely give them my business!

This Goodwill employee found $10,000 at the store and turned it into her boss.
You would hope that everyone would choose to do the right thing in this scenario...

More ABC US news | ABC World News

We’re Tobacco Free
It’s official! All CVS/pharmacy locations are tobacco free as of September 3, 2014, beating our original target date by nearly a month. When we first shared our decision to remove cigarettes and tobacco from the shelves of our 7,700 CVS/pharmacy locations, some called it a bold decision. We called it the right decision then, and we call it the right decision now.

We all know the dangers associated with tobacco products. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of premature disease and death in the United States with more than 480,000 deaths each year. While the prevalence of cigarette smoking has decreased from approximately 42 percent of adults in 1965 to 18 percent today, the rate of reduction in smoking prevalence has stalled in the past decade. More interventions, such as reducing the availability of cigarettes, are needed.

"CVS Health is always looking for ways to promote health and reduce the burden of disease," said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Medical Officer of CVS Health. "Putting an end to the sale of cigarettes and tobacco will make a significant difference in reducing the chronic illnesses associated with tobacco use."

For some of our customers this is nothing new; they already experience a tobacco-free CVS/pharmacy. For example, two stores in the San Francisco market and dozens of stores in Massachusetts – where tobacco sales are banned by local ordinance – are tobacco free. And since the spring, new and relocated CVS/pharmacy stores have opened without cigarettes and other tobacco products behind the counter.

"Every day, all across the country, customers and patients place their trust in our 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners to serve their health care needs," said Helena B. Foulkes, President of CVS/pharmacy. "The removal of cigarettes and other tobacco products from our stores is an important step in helping Americans to quit smoking and get healthy."

Throughout the rest of 2014, our CVS/pharmacy stores will be unveiling new signage behind the checkout and will introduce a robust smoking cessation program and an enhanced selection of nicotine replacement products in select stores.

This is wonderful! Cigarettes are hard enough to stay away from, I hope this is a huge kick in the gut to Big Tobacco to let them know there ARE still companies who care more about people than dollars.
Read about it here.

Start at 3:47...
I love these ladies on "Today" anyways, and they make some great points here about feminism and a woman's prerogative to do WHATEVER SHE WANTS with her own body.
PS-Go, Miss Zellweger, for not giving in to the drama.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Project Sunlight
"Project Sunlight is a movement that has already started.
It’s made up of a growing community of people who believe it is possible to build a world
where everyone lives well and lives sustainably.
Who recognise we can only achieve this if we all work together to do small actions every day that make a real difference.
And who inspire others to join us in making this the way everyone chooses to live."

This made my soul happy...A Pay It Forward Flash Mob!
I don't dance in public, nor do I have the time to learn how, so this is my cup of tea, for sure!
At 4 p.m Eastern time on Saturday, October 11, stop whatever you're doing and pay it forward.
Maybe buy someone a coffee...
or gas..
or groceries..
big or small, let's have an event where all over the world, we are paying it forward at the same time.
However, if you are NOT able to make it in that time frame, ANY TIME on October 11 will be great.
This is going viral, around the world...
This pay it forward event crosses the world...includes everyone...of all beliefs, backgrounds and cultures.
Kindness has only one language...love.

To help shape future generations of young men
who desperately need positive gay role models.
The Gay Men Project is simply beautiful!

These employees boycotted when their favorite CEO was put out of his job.
Most employers will never understand what an impact their employees can have!
Read the article from Co.Exist.com, here.

This guy seems at first to be a bit douche-y, but I think his heart's in the perfect place!

I'm not saying I'm going to stop shaving my armpits,
but I am a feminist for exactly these reasons!

Amy P., you are one of my heroes!

Did you know that instead of packing away your wedding dress in the back of a closet,
you can donate it?
"At Every Girls Dream "EGD", our mission is to provide a beautiful wedding gown to brides undergoing financial hardship in the Southeast Michigan area. We have a variety of gorgeous gowns in every size and style. Through the generous donations of community partners we're working to make every girls dream come true. Our goal is to provide a free wedding gown that matches each brides personal style."
See how simple such a huge gesture can be on their website.

On a similar note as the wedding dress donation, imagine what you would do with a broken engagement but the wedding already planned and paid for?
A man found himself in just that situation, and instead of focusing on his own broken heart,
he turned his wedding day into a fundraising event!
See how he turned lemons into LemonAID on HuffPost's website.

An eight-year old girl heard about a veteran's fundraising efforts to professionally train his service dog,
something that he sorely needed after serving our country.
She immediately took action, asking her parents if she could help raise money for him, even though they had never met!
Watch the inspiring video here.

Some parents are really doing things right...
We recently got invited to our dear friend's 6-years old's birthday party, and inside the invite was this:

On the website, Uplifting Entertainment , I found this little nugget of Taylor Swift singing with a fan.
The power of music is truly amazing!

In Massachusetts, a little boy's birthday wish is simple: he just wants birthday cards. Danny turned 6 years old on July 25; and battling a brain tumor, he's unable to continue kindergarten and gets lonely without his buds.
I also adore cards, and figure a late one is better than none at all!
Read more here, and why not send a card to this bright-eyed kiddo?

This is from a website called Uplifting Entertainment, and the video almost brought me to tears.
We truly have no idea what crosses others have to bear...
(Read the article here)

Last month, the patrons at back East bar & Grill in Colorado Springs banded together to raise money
and make a little girl's first trip to chemo not so terrifying...
What a wonderful group of people!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cheap Sangria

Best cheap sangria around!

My girlfriends and I like to drink. Thing is, we don't have a ton of free cash, but we want to try new things...enter a white-wine Sangria that is perfect for an afternoon of rowdiness (like a lady)!

1) Go to the Farmer's Market and pick up a random basket of fruit.
2) Go to the liquor store and get a Bota Box of Pinot Grigio.
3) Pour wine into a pitcher (in my case, a bowl, because I'm new and had no pitcher).
4) Cut up your fruit and toss into your said pitcher/bowl.
5) Drink up, and ponder on your fabulousness.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I made Mushroom Pâtè!

To be truthful, I'm a big pussy and I don't want to know what is in Pâtè. I know it's liver and such...I'd just rather live my life without knowing the specifics.

Enter my recent, explosive obsession with Banh Mi.

I don't need to know exactly what it is, but I cannot get enough Banh Mi on the daily. If I could eat it three times daily, I totally would. The thing is, my restaurant with the best Banh Mi is very far away (about 25 minutes, an eternity in Colorado Springs). So I decided to try and make it, saving myself the drive, and treating myself to the mouth-watering goodness that is this Vietnamese delight.

Banh Mi has some French influence, like baguette, Pâtè, and rich mayonnaise. I was eager to make my own version of this street food, so I went ahead an Googled a mushroom Pâtè recipe from Food Network. I'll pretty much trust anything that Emeril Lagasse makes, so this recipe was the winner. As usual, I made a few changes, specifically substituting 8 ounces of mushrooms for bacon bits and ends that I found at Trader Joe's, which is seriously the best store ever.

Here is the recipe I followed:
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
3 teaspoons minced garlic
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean and coarsely chopped
8 ounces fresh cremini (baby bel), stems removed, wiped clean, and coarsely chopped
8 ounces bacon bits and pieces, fried in small saucepan
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried parsley leaves
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 ounces softened cream cheese
5 ounces softened goat cheese

In a large skillet, cook bacon until just cooked but still soft. Remove bacon to save for later, and add the shallots and garlic to the same skillet and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until wilted and starting to brown. Add the wine, thyme, and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the wine is nearly all evaporated, 5 minutes. Add the parsley and EVOO and cook for 30 seconds.

Add cheeses to skillet and allow to melt. Transfer to food processor and blend until creamy. Refrigerate and use on EVERYTHING!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Being With Me

I have totally adopted the feminist, girl-power mindset that any man would be lucky to have me...It's my understanding that a lot of women feel this way...an unfamiliar concept to someone who has literally NEVER acted like herself. I think (selfishly hope, rather) that the reality is that most women feel inadequate, but we are very good at hiding our insecurities.

I can walk into any room with the air that I don't care what anyone thinks; but the actuality is that everyone is judging, and sometimes I do feel rather self-conscious. It's the reason I occasionally force myself to go out of the house without makeup on, something brand-new for 2015.

I was talking with someone the other day about how I've "robbed" everyone I've been with (romantically) in the past of being with the "real Morgana". I didn't know the real me until I came back to CO early this year, so maybe that's a true statement. I've never felt free or confident enough to just be, so everyone I've been with in the past has tasted a version of me that was not 100% authentic. I wanted to be that "perfect girl": skinny, tasteful, intelligent, classy, blah, blah, blah...So I censored my shit to be that girl. The fact of the matter is, there is no perfect girl, and the ideals I was striving for were unrealistic, not to mention insulting to me as a human being. Why not be myself?

The year of 2015 has brought me great things; most importantly, freedom. I started over; again; to find myself and become who I was meant to be. I am a family-oriented, career-driven, social butterfly who would simply die without Alex and Cathie close by. The loves of my life are those who listen to my bullshit and like me anyways. I no longer have the desire to hold back anything, because I know that even if it will be judged, it will also be forgiven by the right people. That's what I hope to find in a romantic partner. Uncensored, sloppy, "classity" behavior that will absolutely be embarrassing at times. I want someone who will take that and love it to pieces!

So, I got a bit distracted (GD ADD!), but this is why I started this post, because it's 9pm and I'm cleaning my house, blogging about my life, cooking bacon and making Banh Mi sandwiches for my two girlfriend's lunch tomorrow...Being with me means late nights and early mornings; a tiny apartment blasting Ciara, Nicki Minaj, and Beyoncé; LOUD and sloppy cooking on the daily; golf tournaments and happy hours at my fave watering hole; with a splash of seriousness to keep my career on track, because I deff want to make more money than you do.

Is this so hard?

Monday, June 29, 2015


I am sitting in a seminar in beautiful Denver, Colorado on an 80° day.

I am dying.

Our speaker is from the IRS, she is a small business auditor who was never taught how to dress appropriately--her T-shirt dress is an unflattering mid-thigh summer ensemble. Adorable, but not appreciated by those of us who do know how to dress for business; and are sweating in suit jackets and close-toes shoes. This entire room reeks of sweat and boredom. I didn't notice the stench until after the last break, when half the attendees ad mysteriously disappeared, and the rest of us slowly returned to our seats, armed with coffee and Mountain Dew.

I sit in the front row, half because I enjoy being teacher's pet, and half because my ADD will surely keep me from learning anything amid a sea of ladies and gents who are begging to be (silently) judged.

The two presenters on break in front of me are both playing on their phones. The one with the open-toes sandals on can't seem to stop frowning. I can't help but think that she's going to put such deep lines in her pretty face! The other one is making a lemon-sucking face; and I just saw her take a nap-blink. You know those extra-long blinks you take when you're about to fall asleep?

I'm praying my Mountain Dew prevents me from doing the same.

Mrs. T-short dress opens with, "I'd really rather sit, but I speak so quietly..." she fades off and glares at the stationary microphone attached to her pedestal. She also mentions multiple times throughout her deadpan presentation of 40 slides that we must want to get out of this classroom. YES! We do! But we are stuck! Stuck in a stinky room on a gorgeous summer day, watching you read slides while barely moving your mouth. If you are so obviously bored with the content, how am I possibly supposed to care? She zips through the slides because it's almost rush hour, and she would like to beat traffic. "Dammit, I came to learn!" I want to scream that, but I don't, mostly because I'm pretty sure I would get tackled by the few folks left, who obviously share the same sentiment as our speaker.

Although our last speaker of the day may have gotten on the road in time, the rest of us have to endure a 30-minute Q&A session. On my survey for the course, I try to be honest but constructive, requesting knowledgeable speakers who are comfortable with the material (One of our speakers looked like she was having a panic attack right in front of us).

It takes me two hours to get home. I blast music and finger dance, and promise myself that I will never be like those speakers we had to endure today: Bored in life, Eager for the day to be done, Uninteresting and Uninterested. Life is simply too short!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

I Am Not A Monkey!

The message I receive on Facebook makes me cringe as soon as I read the two sentences.

The man on the sending end thinks he is giving me a compliment on my "big butt" and "nice boobies"...nope! These are not for you, Sir! I look at my friend incredulously. "Is he drunk?" It is 2:45 in the afternoon, so likely not the case. Which leaves the more probable solution that he thinks it's appropriate to talk about my body like it's his business.

I don't live in a big city, so thankfully I don't have to deal with the cat calls and verbal abuse that women have to endure on the daily. But this advance is just as unwelcome. My body is not on display for anyone. It is mine and I love it. But I am not a monkey! I am not in a zoo, and I demand more respect than the average bear. So treat me like a bear, and I might not maul your face off. (Cue sweet smile.)

Monday, June 22, 2015

What About, "For Better or For Better"?

When I moved into my own place, I bought a TV just so I could listen to Pandora like Cathie. I loved walking into her apartment and hearing "Nasty Girl's Radio" blasting (obvi the best station). I thought I would use my TV for more than just music, but it's rare unless golf is on a local station and I want to take a nap.

So I'm listening to Beyoncé radio today, which is a fantastic mix of artists like Destiny's Child, Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Sam Smith. This results in a random playlist throughout the day...sometimes it's love songs...most the time, it's raunchy rap. As any teenage girl or sappy adult can attest, love songs mean guys promising they'll love you forever, and women asking if they'll love them for better or worse...blahblahblah. One such lyric that caught my ear this afternoon was by Sam Smith, in "I'm Not The Only One". He croons, "You and me, we made a vow, For better or for worse, I can't believe you let me down..."

This made me question: Why does marriage have to mean "For better or for worse?" This implies things will inexplicably get worse. Instead of the vow meaning what it intended, ensuring that a couple understands it won't be all rainbows and unicorns every day, it more often provides a cop-out. It essentially allows one or both partners to act however they want and use this as a Get Out of Jail Free card. You fall in love with someone when they are at their best; when your day revolves around the next time you get to see them; when you can't wait to take them somewhere new or tell them a funny story. Sadly, new, shiny things (and people) fade, but by then you've been together that "right amount of time" and what else can you do besides get married? So you make this impossible promise that you really have no idea the extent or intensity of, in the blind hope that you will defy the other half of married couples who don't make it.

All this to say, I love the idea of marriage; it's beautiful: Find someone who loves you just as you are; Forever. But in order for marriage to become more realistic, the phrase in question should be removed. It's BS to expect me to stay in love with you if you act like a jackass. Why wouldn't we give our best selves to our spouses on the daily? How are you supposed to stay in love with someone who doesn't act as they did when you first fell in love? Or worse, someone who changes completely once they "have" you?

I would hope that if I ever pull the trigger, "For better or for worse" would mean that every day we try to be good to each other. And when shit hits the fan, we will be the other person's support so we can make it through, united. Complacency is what kills marriage, not the concept of marriage itself.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hands Off

I went out last week with my besties, and witnessed/experienced multiple sexual harassment scenarios...

I got my bra unhooked (expertly, and too quickly to protest) by someone trying to prove they "loved breasts" (BTW, who doesn't?). My girlfriend got her tits squeezed by a male who is "just a friend". Someone put their hands around my other friend's throat and kissed her neck (not her boyfriend)...Three girls, at a bar, getting steadily molested by strangers and friends...What fun!

I'll admit I didn't get angry until later, when I was thinking about the culmination of events. I should have said no, I shouldn't have giggled when it made me uncomfortable, I should have stood up for myself. We all probably should have. But what if you're in a public place and just want to be treated with some respect, and not manhandled by everyone who has had a drink. Just because I may participate in flirting doesn't mean I want your hands on me. Like, ever.

So what is acceptable behavior? If I smile at you does that give you permission to treat me like a whore? (It does not.) If I make a raunchy comment because we are in a bar and I've had a few cocktails, does that tell you, as a man, that you can do whatever you want to me? (Also, a screaming no.) Having boundaries and demanding respect doesn't mean I'm a prude, and it doesn't mean I'm a bitch. But I'll bet if I slapped your hand away, or better yet, slapped your face when you deserved it, you'd be eager to call me one!

I'm allowed to show my sexuality in words, flaunt my awesome cleavage when I can, and still be treated like...a human being. Look all you want, but like Kindergarten, how about keeping your hands to yourself?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

My Jiggly Thighs

Strength is beauty.

I don't know that a lot of people believe in that notion; it's sadly obvious that our society is obsessed with thin equalling beautiful. We completely disregard the fact that true beauty stems from the strength we have within us. Possessing emotional strength to overcome adversity is only part of it. Strength that shows itself on the outside is also beautiful, although we are constantly pressured to think that only a size 2 is perfection.

Let's talk about the current rage of the "thigh gap". I've not had a gap in my thighs since high school, and I have no desire to return to that awkward, skinny phase of my life. How is that sexy? I pondered this while hiking up a mountain last week. My thighs do not have a gap, and therefore do not fit the societal measurement of leg beauty; but I wouldn't change a thing.

These jiggly thighs of mine send me up mountain trails on daily adventures; they give me strength to run and (usually) not fall on my face; they support me when I pick my niece up and swing her around till we're both dizzy. I thank my strong thighs for giving me purpose, for allowing me to simply walk into a room when so many don't have that ability.

Yes, my workout shorts may be a splash too short (let's be honest, all my shorts are too short), and when I sit down, my legs squish delightfully together. I don't care. I'm proud of my jiggly thighs and the places they are able to take me.