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!

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?