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!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Everything's Sweeter with Honey

Hello, Strangers!

It's been about a week since I've basically fallen off the face of the planet, and for good reason: I got to spend four whole days in my hometown of Colorado Springs. It was incredible, and right this second I'm on a plane to go back to Ohio. It's incredible how being around family can get you right back to normal. Although I did have to work for just a splash, I made sure to shut that dang computer down, silence my phone, and just enjoy being home. Emails are an evil thing, I tell ya!

I wanted to share my airport experiences, as I had issues with my travels both to and fro, and had I freaked out, I could have easily ruined my whole trip (or at least my day).

I packed SO MANY clothes for this trip, I don't know what I was thinking, because when I'm around my sister, I seriously scrub it up . I checked two bags, costing me $60 (sheesh, right?!?). My first flight had to be de-iced for about an hour before we could take off, resulting in many of us aboard missing our connecting flights. I lucked out and got rebooked on a flight to Denver, only setting me back about 2 hours. One of the girls I was sitting with got booked on a flight that was 8 hours later, poor thing! Long story short, I made it to Colorado Springs, but my luggage hadn't. This is one of my worst fears flying, because I really like my clothes and makeup, and I don't have the time to pick out all that crap again, so I usually always carry on.

In addition to thinking I'd have to wear the same chonies for the next five days, I got to deal with a fairly rude agent who acted like it was my fault my bags weren't there. I kept my cool, said please and thank you, and made my bestie take me to get cocktails--stat. After an amazing long lunch, fancy drinks, and an even better night out, my bags arrived at her doorstep safely. No harm, no foul (even though I didn't get to wear my fabulous leather pants on Saturday night). Instead of freaking out and ruining the day, I trusted that things would work out, and enjoyed the day.

As for the flight home, I got to the airport early and found out that since my flight had gotten bumped on my way out, it caused a glitch in the airline's system and I couldn't check in to get back home. My mind started racing: I would have to stay here another day, miss my deadline at work tomorrow, make my sister drive all the way down here to pick me up...but I was calm and kind and waited for the attendant to troubleshoot. After about 30 minutes, I was all set on my flight, and she even checked my bags for free! I was thrilled.

Imagine the outcome of I would have lost it on this woman. She would have been upset, I would have been upset (and my blood pressure is high enough as it is), and the outcome would have been the same (except I'd probably be out another $60 for my checked bags).

Honey ALWAYS works better for everything. From business to travel to friends and family, I find this to be true over and over again.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Brooke Shields Eyebrows

I am obsessed with eyebrows, always have been.

I don't know if the persistent nagging from my mom to not over-pluck, or the low self-esteem that accompanies every young girl's journey through adolescence caused this lifelong affinity for perfection above my peepers, but it's something I've always wrestled with. My mom would say, "You have big, beautiful, Brooke Shields' eyebrows!" (PS-I hated it when she would say this, and immediately and consistently plucked my eyebrows into thin lines...aah, rebellion, why hast thou forsaken me?)

Because of my habitual overplucking, my eyebrows fought back and have decided not to grow in evenly anymore. Sad. But...that's what makeup is for! And now that big, beautiful, Brooke Shields eyebrows are celebrated, I've learned how to fill in my brows like a real-live adult.

I have dark-dark-dark eyebrows, so this has taken me some time to master, and I'm sure I'll get better as time goes along...I've gone back and forth on wanting to fill in my brows into black, defined arches, and more natural, soft lines, and to be quite honest, it fluctuates. Either way, I really love how different I can make my face look with big brows and different arches.

I found this fantastic brow makeup at Macy's with the help of my adorable associate, who even showed me how to use it. Tarte costs about $28, but comes with a bamboo applicator, and lasts forever since you only need a dab. I also love that it's not tested on animals.

I first use a Rimmel brow pencil in a lighter shade, since the Tarte makeup can come on a bit dark, and I have a lot of area to fill in. It's been helpful to me to use a light shade and a dark shade, so it doesn't look like I have evil-lady eyebrows painted on my face.
Fill in your desired shape, then use a Q-Tip to soften the edges and clean up any stray lines. Use just a touch of the Tarte brow makeup, and brush in light strokes for more definition. This stuff really stays on, so you don't have to worry about accidentally brushing your eyebrow off mid-day. :)

Sha-BAM, Eyebrows!
What are your tips and tricks?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mama Don't Cook

Times have changed. It used to be that the man would work hard in the office all day, come home to a sparkling house, homemade meal, and well-behaved children...Nowadays (thank Jesus), men and women are striving for equality, working their tails off at 9-5 jobs, coming home to cook dinner and enjoy a glass of wine together, and putting off having kiddos entirely is not an entirely strange lifestyle.

What happens when both partners are working crazy hours, and the last thing you want to do after a loooong day is cook a great meal. I want to put great food in my mouth, I just don't necessarily want to have to prepare it. I want to drink wine, zone out, and watch 'Cougar Town'.

Enter my new best friend: The Crock Pot.

I've been using this magic machine more and more, especially on days when I'm unsure if we'll be eating at 6 or 10pm. Lasagna was a hit (especially since it made for 3 lunch-leftovers), chicken is always my go-to, and this morning, it's pork.
I have on hand 1 pound of frozen pork chops, 1/2 of a sweet onion, 1 can of cream of mushroom condensed soup, 1 can of cream of chicken condensed soup, and 1 can of low-sodium chicken broth. I layer the onions on the bottom, and place the frozen pork right on top. No need to defrost, because I'm setting the timer for 13 hours (Yep, that's when I'll be back home tonight).
Add the soups, broth, and an extra can of water for good measure, and sprinkle with garlic powder and crushed red pepper. Tonight, I'll add some taters and green beans, and serve with a crusty roll. From what I've read, leftovers can be easily made into BBQ Pulled Pork, and I just so happen to have some homemade BBQ sauce on hand.

Looks disgusting now, but will taste amazing later! And bonus, it took me all of three minutes to put together.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

This is what I really want for Valentine's Day...Maybe...

Most of my inspiration, great or not-so-much, come from reading an article. Anyone who knows me could agree that 90% of my stories start with: "I read an article..." I've said it a thousand times before, and I'll say it again: I LOVE THE INTERNET!

This brings me to a potentially-uncomfortable experiment: Can you manufacture love? This is a super-interesting concept, one that I think most women have thought about at one time or another...If you think about it, a relationship is all about "making" someone love you. You do what the person likes to do, eat what they like to eat, dress in their favorite outfits or wear their favorite perfume...falling in love could be just as much a manipulative game we play as it is a true chemical reaction. Like eating a bunch of chocolate, they say...

This experiment explores that concept of "falling in love" in more depth, and finds that it might be able to be manufactured, as long as the two people involved are open to it. Here's the short version: Two people who are open to the idea of falling in love take turns asking each other a series of increasingly-intimate personal questions, and must answer the questions truthfully. After the series of questions is complete, they must stare into each other's eyes for four minutes (holy crap, an eternity).
Then...BOOM! Love.

Read the full article here; and if you have the opportunity to try this out, I'd love to hear how it goes!
In the spirit of this made-up "holiday", why not give it a shot? XOXO

TV Inspiration

I think I may watch too much TV, because the things that inspire me tend to be from the boob-tube…(As long as I’m thinking and not just zoning out, I suppose it doesn’t matter too much, right? haha.)

Anyways, we were watching (and by we, I mean my boyfriend) Rocky III; and while I don’t enjoy Sly’s muttering and poutiness throughout this movie, I caught the part of the movie when he is giving up, saying that it’s too hard to train and he’ll do better tomorrow. His trainer says, “There IS no tomorrow!” I was having a pouty day myself, and so this struck me as inspirational. It’s true. All we have is this very minute, and I argue with myself every day to justify sleeping an extra 30 minutes, or eating that extra slice of pizza, or drinking that second (or third) glass of wine. “Tomorrow” is an easy argument for anything, and it does not help us to accomplish anything at all! Why push off until tomorrow, the things we can accomplish today? I have a million unfinished projects due to my procrastination, when the fact is that I could make great progress on most any project in a day’s time. It’s easy to wait and complain. But all it takes is the tiniest bit of effort to get the ball rolling, and then all of a sudden, good things are happening all around you!

My second bit of TV inspiration comes from a football commercial, when they show kids training for the game, and they keep saying, “One More.” One more…anything, one more everything. Going above and beyond, always pushing yourself to the limit.

Excuses are not acceptable, because I know deep down that I am in control of every aspect of my life, through every action, inaction, and reaction. My life and happiness is what I make it. Deep sigh...everything is going to be okay...

My wonderful friend Sharon gave me this little nugget of wisdom a couple weeks ago, and when I'm white-knuckling my way through a stressful day or never-ending project, this gets me through: "How Do You Eat An Elephant?...One Bite At A Time"
Read more here: The Awakening Center.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Turning It All Around

One of my favorite quotes in the world comes from a movie. Yea, it's not the most scholarly thing to admit, but it's true! In "Vanilla Sky", Penelope Cruz says, "Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around." It points to the truth that there are an infinite number of possibilities that present themselves throughout our lifetime; it's up to us to act. Nothing ever happens by repeating what you did yesterday, your circumstance doesn't cause your unhappiness. The fact is, you chose this. Whether good or bad, every action or inaction, day in and day out, is a result of our decisions.

I could go in many different directions with this idea, but today it will be based on this story. This kid was an outcast at his school, he had lost his father and started fresh at a new school where he knew no one. He turned his situation around. He could have easily become the victim, but instead he turned to loving actions. So inspiring! Imagine if everyone took this kind of positive action to improve not only their immediate situation, but the lives of those they come into contact with, everyday.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Pigs and Pears

I have said too many times to count that I will never cook pork for dinner again, and I keep going back and trying. Why? For one, nobody likes a quitter, and two, I'm stubborn as a mule.

My efforts have (mostly) paid off, and this dish is one to repeat. This pork loin recipe was sweet and savory (plus, Matt raved, so I was thrilled).

I loosely followed this recipe from Epicurious.com, along with this one from Girl Cooks World. Modifications as follows:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil over med-high heat in an overnproof sauté pan.
Mix 1 Tablespoon EVOO, 1 Tablespoon dried thyme, 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (if you love garlic as much as me), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Rub mixture all over pork loin.
Brown pork loin in pan on all sides until golden brown. Remove pork from pan and set aside.
Add quartered red onion and quartered unpeeled pears to the same pan, sprinkle with thyme, salt, pepper, and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, cooking for about 5 minutes over medium heat, or until pears are golden brown.
Place your pork loin back in the skillet and drizzle with 3 Tablespoons honey.
Add 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth to the pan, and roast in your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
I used dried herbs, because whenever I buy them fresh, they sit around and rot and so I basically buy them for my garbage can. If you don't have this same issue, go ahead and use fresh!
I only had 2 pears. This actually ended up being enough, since Matt's not too keen on fruity meat.
I omitted the pear nectar since I was using honey, again, no overly-fruity meat.

When I cut into the pork, it was juicy and slightly pink. I served alongside the pears and onions, and drizzled the delicious juices from the pan over top. We gobbled this up faster than you can say, "Gangbusters", along with green beans and of course, a crusty dinner roll. Yum!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Music is Everything

I take for granted the music in my life.

I get to hum along to Pandora while I work, I blast Katy Perry when I drive, and I recently started taking voice lessons. Music is something that is always there for me. I realized this the other day when I was having a serious case of the Mondays. I just woke up angry, and I couldn't shake it. I locked myself in my office for most of the day, so as not to spread the ugliness I was feeling around, and bolted as close to 5 o'clock as I could manage. On the drive home, I blasted my favorite tunes while I drove, and before I knew it, I was singing along! The dreary feeling that had been hanging over me all day simply dissipated. It was incredible. Who knew Bruno Mars and Whitney Houston could be my therapists?

Music has been there through the best and worst moments of my life. Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men were my first loves, followed by No Doubt and TLC...I sang in choir all through elementary and high school. My first heartbreak was when I didn't get the coveted solo during our Senior choir concert... Alicia Keys provided my go-to song choices during all those karaoke nights at The Dublin House and Good Company, and her music was there for me during my divorce. I remember crying, then signing, then feeling powerful because her music helped me understand that I had the strength to not only start over, but to be a better me. Katy Perry has marked some of the best times in my life, from the years spent with the best friends you could ever hope to have, to the most relaxing vacation of my life.

I wouldn't be who I am without music in my life. Not only being able to hear it, but being able to sing along. I came across this incredible article the other day, about a young girl who covers a John Legend song. She has Down Syndrome, which makes it hard to talk, let alone sign. But she does, and she is an inspiration.

Check out the article here.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Yea, it's the Super Bowl... Let's talk about hair!

Messy hair is the bee's knees, and I am completely obsessed!

I owe it to the genius of Anh Co Tran and Instagram inspiration. I first read about the beautiful, wavy look on Pinterest, in this article about Instagram-worthy hair. Tran talks about the messy, easy, sexy hair look that has been so popular that he trademarked the name. "Lived-In Hair" is completely addicting, especially because I would much rather try to have messy hair than worry about creating perfect hair. Life is messy, and this 'do makes it easier to embrace the everyday!

My hair is CRAZY straight, so I bought a texture spray to add volume and stickiness. This product smells utterly amazing, and in addition to adding texture, it works as a dry shampoo.
Sephora online sells drybar Triple Sec for $25, and if you use eBates.com, you might even make some cash back!

Spray and scrunch you hair all over until you have the messy volume you'd like:

Separate your hair into top and bottom, using duck clips to secure. Grab a big fatty section of hair, smooth a bit with your fingers, and start wrapping around your iron (you can use a big curling iron, or a flat iron to achieve this look).

Start closest to your scalp and wind/twirl the iron in a circle until you get close to the ends. With my flat iron, I just keep twisting until the hair comes loose! Alternate twisting towards your face and away from your face to create movement and interest.

Give your strands a minute to cool down, spray and scrunch all over with a flexible hold hair spray...Then, go!

You can see more about how to get "Lived-In Hair" from this piece at InStyle.