What I have Learned From COVID-19

Life has handed us lemons this year. So I’ve squeezed them into cocktails, made divine lemon roasted chicken, and made my sink disposal smell like a lemon grove. Ha! Take that 2020!

– Me showing life who the boss is around here.

I’ve enjoyed reading about what others have learned from the pandemic. We’ve all gained something from it and much is with a silver lining. Certainly it goes without saying that COVID-19 is serious and the virus has caused much grief for so many. Humor and family always get me through tough times though! I have stayed sane laughing at ridiculous memes, the funny lessons learned from being stuck at home, and getting back to a simpler life where what matters the most is under your roof.

So here is what I’ve learned during COVID-19:

  1. I can eat an entire bag of Veggie Straws and not feel sick.
  2. My hair must be washed after four days. That’s the limit.
  3. My pajamas that I lived in for a while must be washed after four days. That’s the limit.
  4. Wearing a mask means it’s ok to talk to myself out loud in the grocery store.
  5. The 19 part represents the potential number of pounds you might gain.
  6. How much value people place on toilet paper. Should be distributed by the U.S Mint and priced like silver and gold.
  7. What six feet actually looks like thanks to the blue tape in stores. I have no spatial awareness and my guess would have been inaccurate and more like 10 feet.  We’d be lined up wall to wall in the store.
  8. I don’t like the word “unprecedented” anymore.
  9. People have VERY strong opinions.
  10. The importance of remembering manners and grace after reading opinions that differ from your own.
  11. If I wake up and can smell and taste my coffee I’m doing pretty good!
  12. Family and friends are everything.
  13. I’m a hugger.
  14. I make really good cocktails and elderflower and rose are delicious with gin.
  15. If I have lemons, flour, milk, eggs and cheese I can pretty much make anything into a meal.
  16. I don’t have to always go somewhere.
  17. How exhausting my life was. 
  18. How many people are medical experts with a side hustle as a politician! I am so impressed.
  19. What some people call prepping for a pandemic is also called hoarding.
  20. It is now necessary to announce to a group of people that you have allergies and try to convince them that if you sneeze no one will get COVID.
  21. It is now necessary that if you have allergies and might sneeze among a group of people that you might just want to stay home.
  22. The importance of supporting local small business owners. Shop small local businesses! 
  23. How popular puzzles are. I felt like I needed to run to Target to get one, slap half of it together, call the kids down to smile around it for a pic and post it on Facebook. “Look at us…..doing a puzzle! Together!”
  24. Nature and being outside is essential. Our country is beautiful!
  25. Not to take anything for granted. Be grateful for health, love, home, work, and each other!
Beaver Lake in Eureka Springs, Arkansas – A reminder of how beautiful our country is and that if you have love from those you love….you have everything.

Hunted! Products and Finds Worth Telling Ya’ll About.

Chased. Foraged. Pursued. Shopped. Ferreted. Rooted. Scouted. – Synonyms for hunted or all the ways to describe my hard-earned acquisitions

I feel like I’m always on the hunt for something. The perfect tote, just right nude lip gloss, just right summer, spring, fall, winter lip gloss, boots, sandals, sundress, pillows…..and on and on. Not to mention a product for my face that provides enough hydration and fights aging…..since I’m aging and all. Sigh.

So, I decided to share what I’ve hunted down. Maybe it will work for you too! I’ll also share products and things that my friends have found that they love. These are not sponsored. Just tried and approved by real women with busy lives and budgets.

Here are my latest favorites! These were sought out based on the heat and my quest to not look like a melting mess. The shoes had nothing to do with the heat. I’m always on the hunt for great shoes.

  1. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Water Gel Face Moisturizer

My face is so very dry. And at the very same time sweats in the summer heat. I can’t stand a heavy face cream in the summer but I can’t go without a moisturizer. My dermatologist always recommends Neutrogena for my sensitive skin and gave me a sample. I love it in the summer. It’s not enough in the winter but perfect for now! Absorbs like a gel but moisturizes like a cream. Makes my makeup look dewy and fresh. My boyfriend loves it too. So get some and pass it around the family. Or don’t.

  • Neutrogena Hydro Boost Lipshine

I’m always looking for the perfect lip color that isn’t heavy in the summer – but it has to be moisturizing. Hunted one down! This one doesn’t feel heavy in the heat and doesn’t bleed. Isn’t sticky or tacky feeling. It’s the perfect lip gloss for the summer. Radiant Rose is my favorite shade that looks natural for casual summer days.  On top of that it moisturizes like a lip balm and is inexpensive. Winning!

  • Trish McEvoy Liquid Face Color

I bought a Trish McEvoy makeup planner in February and this cream blush came with it. I wasn’t in love with it. I thought it was streaky and hard to blend. I hoped that because it was creamy it would work on my dry skin during the winter but it did not. My powder blush worked better. Fast forward to summer….it is perfect for hot weather! Dry blush streaks when my face gets hot. This cream does not move and it blends so well giving my complexion a little burst of dewy color. It’s more sheer which I like in the summer. It’s great as a lip stain too with a gloss on top. Love it!! It’s in a twist-up click pen with a brush head. Get it at Nordstrom.  It lasts a long time so spending $38 on it is well worth it!

  • Trish McEvoy FAST-TRACK Bronzer Stick

I bought this in February along with the liquid face color. I love it!! I usually find bronzers hard to blend and too orange or weird for my skin. I’m pale. This one is perfect. It’s a cream to powder stick that blends easily with your fingers or a sponge. It comes in one shade and you can just keep building until you get the right amount of warmth for your skin. Keeps you looking sunny! I wear it over my moisturizer with the liquid face color, mascara, lip gloss and I’m out the door.

  • Vince Camuto Felima Two-Strap Sandal

I needed a sandal that could be casual but fun to wear out with a dress or with denim shorts and a t-shirt. It had to have a square toe, a blocky heel, be stylish and comfortable. I looked for a while. Finally scored the perfect pair! I bought it in black but I’m going to buy the black/white snakeskin patterned pair as well I think. Yeah….I think I will. Cute isn’t it? And it’s on sale.

Anyone find anything this summer that they love? Anyone? I’d like to hear about it!

I Think Where There Is Fried Rice There Is Love

So you mean to tell me that a chicken fried this rice? -Someone hilarious

My fried rice recipe is one of my favorites. And my kids love it!  I have perfected the recipe and it’s healthy which means that I am, once again, WINNING! I adapted my recipe from one published in The Joy Of Cooking. My most beloved cookbook….worn out, tattered and stained from Lord knows what I splattered on it. I am a messy cook but I think the bigger the mess the better the dish. Right?

If you read different recipes they will tell you to make the rice the day before and start with cold rice. Do I do that? No. Am I telling you not to make it the day before? No. Feel free to plan ahead and use cold cooked rice. I am just not good at planning that far ahead. I just cook the rice and set it aside. I have found the key is to get the oil in the skillet very hot. And when you add the eggs, make a little well in the middle of the rice and scramble it right there in that little spot before stirring it throughout the rice. OK?

We like our fried rice simple. If I make ham fried rice then I don’t add anything else. Sometimes mushrooms but my kids don’t like that. So truly just ham and rice. Anytime I bake a ham I make fried rice with the leftovers. Ham seasoned with cloves is amazing in fried rice. Coriander is the star in this dish so add that to your grocery list! Coriander makes many recipes delicious. You can use cardamom in place of it if you have that instead. Other uses for coriander include roasted potatoes, vegetable soup, roasted eggplant, and any Indian or Asian rice dish.

If I make chicken fried rice, I like to toss in some broccoli. That’s it. We do not like cabbage or onion but you knock yourselves out adding the veggies you like. And I use brown rice sometimes, but we really prefer white rice.

Here’s the recipe:

¼ cup olive oil – heat in a skillet

3 cups cooked rice – toss it in the hot oil

Once hot throughout and golden add:

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooked chicken (I like sautéed chicken), ham or shrimp

Mix well and and hollow out a center in the rice and add:

2 eggs – scramble the eggs and then stir into the rice

Add:

1 tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce – or more if you like

1 teaspoon coriander

Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet – about 1 tablespoon and sprinkle on top of the fried rice

Variations:  Add mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onion, peas or whatever you like!

It’s not pretty…..but how it tastes is what matters and it’s really good! Let me know how you like it and how you prepare your fried rice.

Ham fried rice with coriander and toasted sesame seeds

One Ham, Three Recipes and Countless Memories

Food is not about impressing people. It’s about making them feel comfortable. – Ina Garten

Ina….were you talking about ham?!?!?

My pictures aren’t pretty. Sorry.

I will never forget my friend Elizabeth texting me while I was at work one day early in March telling me I had better stop by the grocery store on the way home. She said the shelves were pretty bare with people gearing up to hunker down due to COVID-19. When my friend Elizabeth tells me to do something I just do it. So, I went and I walked down the aisles in disbelief that the shelves were practically bare.  It was like one of those old westerns where one lone cowboy is walking through a ghost town with tumble weeds floating around. Even old music was playing – it was Sheena Easton though – not eerie western movie music. That would have been weird. All the meat was gone! Gone! Except for a pork butt. One lonely pork butt begging for a home. And a section full of ham. Ham! Huge hams that would feed us for a month with an expiration date of November something. So, in the cart the ham went with the other five things that were left in the store. I grabbed some frozen taquitos and we had the most delicious dinner out of those. I’m a huge fan now!

I had to go back to another store the next day because Elizabeth said I had better since it was stocked for the most part. Since I was able to buy a month’s worth of groceries in 30 minutes, I put the ham on hold until Easter.  

Easter Sunday was definitely different but a wonderful day, nonetheless. I spent the day home with my beloved family and delicious food. The ham was so simple, but so good. The smell of a glazed ham in the oven is so comforting and brought up so many memories. Past Easters, Christmas, my grandmother’s baked hams and sweet family memories. It’s amazing how a scent can take you back to precious times. And it was just what we needed during those uncertain days at the beginning of the pandemic – comfort.

That ham and I….meant to be! The recipe couldn’t be any simpler:

You need a 8-9 pound smoked ham placed in a foil lined roasting pan. A pile of cloves. Yellow mustard. Brown sugar.

  1. Take the cloves – about a ¼ cup I’d say – and bedazzle that ham all over with them. Get creative with clove designs if you want! Some score the ham with a knife first…knock yourself out.
  2. Add about a ¼ cup of mustard and a ¼ cup of brown sugar to a small bowl and stir to create a paste.
  3. Rub the mixture all over the ham.
  4. Bake at 325 for around 3 hours 15 minutes or until a thermometer reaches 130.

That’s it my friends. Enjoy the most delicious scent throughout your house! And it’s so good. I mean, my son will stand at the refrigerator and snack on ham in the middle of the night.

Unless you have a large crowd, you should have lots of leftovers. I made white beans and ham, ham fried rice, and ham sliders. Ham and Havarti cheese……food couple of the year. All very different and no one complained that we were having ham again. I’ll post the recipes so check back!

Oh! It doesn’t have to be Easter to bake a ham. Ham is so good with baked beans, salads, macaroni and cheese – truly perfect for anytime of the year and feeds a crowd. Throw one in the oven and take the sliced meat to the lake. Sandwiches and sliders all week – perfect to pack in a cooler and enjoy on a boat ride. Or at breakfast with bloody mary’s – I definitely enjoyed that combo more than once before it was devoured.

Oh! In case you didn’t know…. ham is very lean and a great source protein. It’s also a great source of selenium, phosporous, zinc, vitamin B6, B12, thiamine, riboflavin, and choline. It’s also low in calories! A win!

Hope you enjoy and let me know how you like it!

Shepherd’s Pie. It’s What’s For Dinner During The Great Casserole Comeback!

“Where’d you get the shepherd?” – My boyfriend Kevin

“This looks so bad but it tastes so good!” – My Kids

Cooking has been challenging to say the least being at the mercy of what is available at the grocery store and my own pantry. I  never know what will be out of stock next at the grocery store. I was shocked to see that hot dogs and sausages were totally wiped out with a sign that said people could only purchase one. Hot dogs? Is that because they will last until the end of time? That is all I can think of. Anyway, as a result I have tried to buy things that will last and that I can stretch through the week.  I fondly refer to this time as the The Great Casserole Comeback. Oh what I can do with a roast chicken, rice, carrots, potatoes, 5 pounds of ground beef……endless possibilities! My kids look scared to death when they see a 9×13 dish come out of the oven.

Well, much to their chagrin they loved my shepherd’s pie. They ate it all. Only one little bit left for lunch the next day.  It’s not pretty…nooooooo it’s not. But what it lacks in presentation it more than makes up for in taste. And that is why I share it with you here today. The best part…..it’s healthy and very easy to make from scratch.  Use the vegetables you have and don’t worry if you’re missing any. Don’t have fresh veggies but plenty of frozen? Throw them in! It calls for mushrooms but they were sold out like the hot dogs. My kids were thrilled. Don’t eat meat or it’s not stocked? Leave it out – the gravy is so good with the vegetables and mashed potatoes alone. You can make it with ground beef or turkey.

Recipe is as follows – it’s easier than it looks!

1 lb lean ground beef or turkey

1 1/2 cups low sodium beef broth

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

2 bay leaves

3 whole cloves

1 tsp thyme

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced onion

1 cup quartered mushrooms

1 cup diced celery

1 cup frozen corn

1 tablespoon, plus ¾ tablespoon all purpose flour

½ cup low sodium beef broth

3-4 chopped, cooked, mashed potatoes

½ cup milk – low fat

1 tablespoon butter

1 -2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Brown beef in a large skillet and drain when done. Wipe the skillet clean. Return beef to skillet and stir in 1 cup broth, pepper, salt, bay leaves, cloves and thyme. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

While that cooks chop the potatoes and cover in a pan with cold water. Boil the potatoes until tender for 10-12 minutes. Drain in a colander and return to pan. Add butter, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. I have been known to add a spoonful of sour cream. Mash or mix until fluffy in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Add carrots, onions, mushrooms, celery and corn to the skillet with the beef. Add 1/2 cup or so of more broth if it’s low to cook the veggies. Simmer and cook covered for 7 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Preheat oven to 375. Put flour in a small bowl and slowly whisk in broth. Stir until smooth and blended. Add to beef mixture. Simmer for 5-7 minutes until slightly thickened. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased casserole dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top and cover with mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

I hope your family loves it! I find that cooking for family is psychologically and spiritually nourishing. Food is love!

Proof that my kids loved it:

This Too Shall Pass. Until Then……

“We fall into despair when the terrible gangs up on us and we forget the world can also be wonderful. We just see terrible everywhere we look. So what you do for your friend is you bring up the wonderful, so both are side by side. The world is terrible and wonderful at the same time. One doesn’t negate the other, but the wonderful keeps us in the game.”   – Catherine Ryan Hyde, Have You Seen Luis Velez?

How cute is this? Two little girls in my mom’s neighborhood painted and placed these on everyone’s driveway with a different word of hope for each family.

Keep making lemonade! I keep reading posts and articles right now about making lemonade out of the lemons being thrown at us right now. There is so much that is positive out there and people coming together….six feet apart and separated by phone screens and monitors of course. I do feel so much closer to people from so far away. Do you? All the references to lemons make me smile right now. Lemons are a symbol of well-being and positive surroundings. I don’t know about you but I could really use that right now! The stock market is down and the number on my bathroom scale is up. Shelter in place is in effect for the county in which I live. Oh, and the governor in the fine state of Georgia closed school for the rest of the year. It’s necessary I know. My kids miss their classes, teachers and friends. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. The number on my bathroom scale is up. Did I mention that already? I think I did.

I have so many questions. Such as…..

  1. Can I get pulled over just driving to the grocery store? I don’t think I would have a problem if I did. One look at my crazed eyes, an ungroomed dirty dog in the back seat and two kids with home given haircuts should get us waved right on.

2. Are other people changing out of daytime pajamas to put on nighttime pajamas when it gets kind of dark? Asking for a friend.

3. Who is staying awake at night worried sick about loved ones getting sick? And keeping jobs and finances intact? Anyone else? I think I already know the answer.

Worries will continue but so will so many good things and lessons we take away from all of this. I see on Facebook and hear from so many about how it’s brought their families back to the kitchen table for dinner each night. I have always insisted on family dinner at the table but sometimes it was a snack at 9:30 after lacrosse practice and we were too tired to really talk. Now we have dinner every night together and talk, walk the dog around the neighborhood (not a rushed somebody please take that poor dog out right now plea), play tennis, cards (we are trying to learn to play poker – $1 buy-in), or just sit and watch television. Together.  It’s not perfect….we bicker, I try to cheat at cards, ghastly inappropriate things are expelled from both kids at the dinner table, I get mad and then laugh. Because I don’t care what anyone says – a fart is funny. And they work so hard at it and we should celebrate everyone’s God given talents during this difficult time.

I have friends making masks, inspirational jewelry with sweet messages to send to those who need it, dropping off desserts, cards, anything to help lift spirits. There was a drive-by birthday celebration for a neighbor in my neighborhood. Singing happy birthday out of the windows of cars. It brought joy to the entire street! My daughter and I went to a very large parking lot, sat six feet apart from dear friends and celebrated a 16th birthday. There were less than 10 people congregating. It was simple – balloons, bubbles, and singing happy birthday. It was awesome! I received this beautiful package on my doorstep. Lemons of course! With lemon macarons – I’ll share the recipe.

We are all in it together! I read this on LinkedIn from businesses, Facebook from friends, and tell my kids that. We will get through this together. From six feet apart, through FaceTime, Zoom, prayer, texts, funny memes, etc…. The memes! Hilarious videos and memes that I love sending to friends. We all need a laugh! Anyone have a favorite? Here’s a few of mine. Share yours in comments. Please!!!

So stand on that blue tape in the grocery store, wash your hands, stay home and I hope you all feel more connected than ever before. Life is precious and I don’t know many who aren’t waking up each day grateful for what they have right now. Our time with our children and loved ones is precious too. We will look back and remember when we had to stay home, play games, and just come together. That’s what I’ll remember about this when it’s over. How we all got through it together.

I can’t sew masks and I don’t make jewelry. I have never been a crafty person. But I love telling stories, writing and cooking. So that’s what I’m going to do! I have made delicious dinners that my kids have actually liked and I’m trying to compile recipes. I have to take time to write them down because I cook without them and I’ll share them soon. I think we all could use easy recipes right now and I hear people are running out of dinner inspiration. I’ll share mine!

I hope you’ll check back for stories, recipes and whatever else I come up with. It’s the least I can do to help us all get through this…..together!

Thanksgiving! Giving Thanks For The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

“And now, dear Mr. Worthing, I will not intrude any longer into a house of sorrow. I would merely beg you not to be too much bowed down by grief. What seem to us bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

This is the time of the year when I turn into a mushy ever flowing fountain of feelings. Anyone who runs into me during the season of thankfulness and merry everything knows they will have to endure listening to me tell them how thankful I am for their friendship and all the love in my heart. I can’t help it! It’s how God made me! My children walk in wide arcs around me avoiding arms reach. As my daughter says, “You’re so extra, mom.” Extra cool! I’m pretty sure that’s what she really means. Lol! My dear friend and neighbor Elizabeth is not a hugger. She is very thankful this Thanksgiving to be miles away or she’d be peeling me off like a fruit roll-up. Hurry home E!

I am literally thankful for every little thing including the misfortunes. In fact, it is misfortune that led me to some of my greatest blessings. Blessings have come into my life that changed me in ways I cannot even describe. Let me tell you that you never know when something amazing will come into your life. Call it a prayer answered, a miracle, blessing, whatever you want. Just don’t stop believing. Hold on to the feeling. Ha! Tell me you don’t have this song in your head right now.

So many people have this thought that if something hasn’t come into their lives at a certain point, it never will. There is a chance that this is true – but there is also a chance that it could happen. I am thankful for so many things especially my children and my family. My amazing boyfriend Kevin is included when I say family. I have the most supportive and loving friends I love with all my heart. I’m always thankful for these people and even though that’s a given, I still make sure to say it out loud. Over and over. So, along with giving thanks for the amazing people in my life, I am also giving thanks that it’s never too late in life to start over. And on top of that for all of the bad things I’ve endured as well.

I have found at the still tender young age of 50 that my life experiences are still unfolding. Not wrapping up. Just because my children are wrapping up childhood (weep! weep! weep!) and soon starting their lives out of the nest doesn’t mean that anything comes to an end for me. It’s a beginning. I’m thankful women at any age can start a new career, new relationship, new beginnings with anything!

I am thankful for closed doors. I am thankful for the things that didn’t work out even if they made me desperately sad. For whatever reason, certain things just weren’t meant to be in my life. As a result, other things, blessings for sure, came into my life. Some I worked hard for, searched for and others just fell into my lap.

I think it’s really important to be thankful for things we sometimes don’t even realize we have been given. Hardships, failures, missed opportunities, a bad day, any inconvenience that led you to something better. I have heard that good things fall apart so better things can fall together. Things happen out of our control and we have to trust that everything happens for a reason. Although, I will say that I can’t think of a reason that makes sense for losing friends at a young age. I know several who have lost their children. The lesson and reasoning will never be clear to me. All I can do is be grateful for the short time they touched my life and remember that life is a gift not to take for granted.

In this season of thankfulness, I am grateful for the good, the bad and the ugly. They all shape who I am, what I have, and the people who are in my life. I wouldn’t change a thing. And for that feeling, I am thankful.

Making Up Isn’t Hard To Do. It’s Easy! And Empowering!

Make-up can only make you look pretty on the outside, but it doesn’t help if you are ugly on the inside. Unless you eat the makeup.

– A very deep and thought provoking quote. Maybe Audrey Hepburn said it or maybe someone just made it up that she said it. I don’t know and I don’t care.

People say money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a beautiful makeup palette and if that brings joy then maybe sometimes it can! Anyone one out there besides me who gets a little giddy after mastering a perfect smoky eye? Well, actually I do know someone who is as enthusiastic about it as me. My friend Beth who should be a makeup artist. Her makeup is always perfect. Always! And she watches YouTube tutorials and tells me about them. When I tell her about the 20 / 30 something year old blogger who had the perfect makeup for her skin at her tender young age, Beth knows exactly what products to use to emulate that same look for my 50 year old skin. I love her so much. For so many reasons beyond the fact that she makes me look good. Literally makes me look good. Because she does my makeup.

I even invited her over one day and said “hey Beth, bring your makeup over. I mean, I would like to see you and I have no interest in your makeup, don’t be silly. I just want to talk to you. But bring your makeup just in case. The door is open, come straight to my bathroom.” And she did! We had so much fun. We are both self-proclaimed and proud makeup junkies. I told her that I wanted to learn new ways to apply eyeshadow besides just swirling all the colors together and brushing it over my eyelids. Then we started talking about under eye brighteners and highlighters and blush and before you know it, we were doing a full on makeover. The results were so good that I have purchased the products she uses that have made such a difference. I’m so much glowier and dewier now. I feel pretty. And if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right! The best part? It’s so easy to do each morning and just takes minutes.

So, I’m sharing this post with you and not just because I want to boast about how great my makeup looks. Many of my friends ask me about makeup. Some of them are going back to work and want to look more polished. Others just feel like wearing it again, but need some tips and tricks. Beth to the rescue!

Often times, makeup and fashion can get pushed to the wayside and some just feel that the importance of it is shallow and trivial. It really is OK to place real value on your appearance. You can be pretty smart, pretty kind, pretty thoughtful, pretty brave AND care about looking your best and just being pretty.

Makeup, hair, and clothes you are confident with can be empowering. Making the choice to wear makeup that is right for you and makes you feel good is a perfect example of confidence and security in who you are!

I don’t know who said these quotes either, but it might have been Coco Chanel or Marilyn Monroe. I think people make stuff up that famous people say. Anyway……these are deep, too, so prepare yourself. “Inner beauty is great but some mascara doesn’t hurt” and “life isn’t perfect but your makeup can be.” Right?!?!? Can I get an amen? I think someone also said “Happiness is the best makeup.” Ummmmm ok. You just keep telling yourself that all the way to Sephora. (I’m sorry if I’ve taken this too far. I am shallow. Everyone is beautiful with or without makeup. But, just a little light gloss never hurts……)..

I am brave enough to say that I love fresh faced pretty makeup. Not too much and just enough to enhance what we already have and hide what we hate – unevenness, splotchy-ness, saggy things that make us a little sad. Life is too short to be sad about anything that can be easily fixed with a tube of something that is less than $20 or slightly more, but lasts a long time and washes off before bed.  So with that, pull out the makeup brushes, eyeshadows, creams, glosses and have some fun creating a look you love. Not sure what that is? Read below for the step-by-step process my gorgeous friend Beth taught me.

Thanks Beth! I love the eyeshadow and it’s easy for me to apply every day.

Here are all the products we used that I now swear by and the steps Beth taught me to apply effortlessly. You can click through the images and purchase on Amazon if you want to.

Sadly, though, one of the eyeshadow palettes we used has been discountinued. It is Urban Decay Naked Smoky palette and it’s my absolute favorite. The good news, though, is that you can still get it on Amazon.com. See below for product links. The other palette we used is my other favorite – Urban Decay Naked 2.

Here are the easy steps for my new go-to fresh faced look!

  1. After moisturizing, I apply Laura Mercier’s Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer all over my face including eyelids. Beth likes Clinique Super Balanced Makeup for more coverage.
  2. Gently apply Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion Eden to eyelids. It’s the best! Eyeshadow does not crease or melt off.
  3. Using the Smoky palette brush Combust all over – or any light beige eyeshadow – from lash to brow line.
  4. Using Naked2, brush Tease (a medium brown) along the crease corner to corner.
  5. Add Whiskey (dark brown) from Smoky in the corner to 1/4 way across your eyelid.
  6. Add High (frosty gold) from Smoky to the inner corner blending in to Whiskey.
  7. Brush Thirteen (matte cream color) from Smoky across the brow bone.
  8. Line the eye across your lashes with your favorite dark liner. I like to use eyeshadow and prefer Blackout from the Smoky palette.
  9. Gently dab and blend BareMinerals Stroke of Light Eye Brightener under the eye. This was new to me introduced by Beth. I’m now an addict and love it! Buy some.
  10. Swipe on dark black mascara – I like L’Oreal Lash Paradise in Blackest Black. It’s just like Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara but less expensive.
  11. Brush FLOWER Heatwave Luminous Bronzer wherever you want to be sunkissed. This is Drew Barrymore’s line and I can only find it by going to flowerbeauty.com.
  12. Brush BECCA Luminous Blush on your cheekbones for an awesome glow. I love BECCA products for highlighting. My daughter introduced me to this line. Thanks SK!
  13. Finish with your favorite lipstick or lipgloss or blend both together. We chose MAC Prrr Lipglass and L’Oreal Julianne Lipstick.

I follow this every morning and it works with any of the eyeshadow palettes I have. I also switch out black liner for colbalt blue or dark green. So pretty! If I’m in a hurry, I skip the eye brightener and bronzer – don’t tell Beth. But, the entire process only takes between 5-8 minutes. This simple effort makes such a difference in how I feel when I leave the house!

And if someone stops you and asks, “Wow! Who are you wearing makeup for?”, you just smile and say “Myself.”

So this is a teeny tiny link to Urban Decay Smoky Palette. I couldn’t figure out how to make it larger. HAHA! It’s hard to find so if you want this gorgeous palette you had better get it now. It’s my favorite!!

BECCA Highlighting Blush – this is Camellia and works for any skin tone. Beautiful illuminating glow!

Peachy-pink neutral that looks great worn alone or over any lipstick color. And I mean ANY color because I gloss it over all of my lipstick colors from bright pink to deep dark red. Just buy it and thank me later.

I’d like to thank my beautiful friend Beth who took the time to come over just to make me look pretty. She truly is so talented in making so many things lovely from home interiors to glowing faces. This post is dedicated to you Beth!

Lemony Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice

Back to School + Cooler Nights = Comfort Food

We also call this Chicken Surprise. Because under the melted cheese……Surprise! Broccoli! Surprise! Lemony Sauce! This is one of my kid’s favorite dishes and it has broccoli in it. They don’t like broccoli on its own just sitting on a plate.  My son does not like rice. Except in this recipe – he eats it up!

With tennis, wrestling, lacrosse and lots of activities my kids need protein and vegetables. So if I have to present it under a blanket of creamy cheese sauce so be it. This is also a very easy recipe to make which is a bonus – especially after a busy day. It’s great for dinner the next night or the night after that and it’s so good heated in the microwave for lunch.

When I find a recipe that my teenagers will eat and it has vegetables in it I have to share it! You are welcome!

Here is the recipe – preheat oven to 350

  1. 2 large chicken breasts about 1.5 pounds. Boil or bake until done. Coarsely chop and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  OR buy a rotisserie chicken and pull it off the bone.
  2. Broccoli florets – about 2 cups. Steam for about 3 – 4 minutes. Squeeze a lemon wedge over it. Set aside.
  3. 2 cups of cooked rice – set aside.
  4. Sauce: 1 can cream of chicken soup, ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 cup sour cream, ¼ cup milk, juice of half of a lemon, and 1 cup of cheddar cheese – mix all of that together in a bowl.
  5. 1 tsp of olive oil spread in bottom of 9×13 baking dish.
  6. Spoon rice in bottom of pan and spread evenly.
  7. Layer broccoli over the rice.
  8. Add the chicken on top of the broccoli.
  9. Pour the sauce over all of it.
  10. Sprinkle 1-2 cups of cheddar cheese on top.
  11. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly.

It is so creamy good and the lemon juice makes such a difference. I hope you like it and that it becomes one of your family’s favorites, too.

50 Things I Finally Know Now That I’m Almost 50.

The first 50 years of childhood are always the hardest.  – Unknown

I don’t feel old. I think aging has taken on a whole new meaning and you are only as old as you feel. It’s very liberating to turn 50 and look back at all the things that happened that have shaped me into who I am today. All of those lessons, good and bad, have led me to choices I have made. These choices are helping me make my dreams a reality to create a new chapter in my story. I have learned a lot about who I am and what I like. The best part….I don’t care what anyone else thinks. That’s the gift you get when you turn 50!

Here’s my list of 50 things I know for sure as I turn 50:

1.I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me. Thank you Stuart Smalley. I know you said it back in 1992 and I should have listened but I was dumb then. I miss the muscle tone I had in my legs when I was 22, but not the low self-esteem, over-thinking, and anxiety I had trying to figure out the realities in life.

2. The grass is always greener over the septic tank. Oh Erma. Read one of Erma Bombeck’s books! She is so very funny and her words make me think about what I take for granted. I don’t want to be in competition with anyone and I just want to be happy for the Jones family. You know, those people we all try to keep up with. I am content. It’s taken me 50 years to say that.

3. I will never interview well at Hooters and that’s ok. I don’t have what it takes if you know what I mean. I’m over it. I’m going to love my body as it is. We know we are getting older but it’s like our bodies want to make sure we are aware. My body: Oh hey! Down here! I know I used to be perky up there but I’ve moved! Yep. These are your new knees now. We have folds! I’ve decided that if my knee skin and other areas can shift around then my perceptions can, too. I’m going to be kinder and more accepting to myself.

4. Growing older is a privilege.

5. It’s not scary to put yourself out there. Would I have started a blog when I was 25? No! My instructions for my written thoughts were adamantly told to my sister, “Crawl under my bed and burn everything you find under there.” Try new things, take risks, and don’t be afraid to fail.

6. I can’t rock a Dorothy Hamill haircut. Or a Anna Wintour bob. I have tried both and I looked like Little Boy Blue. I know this now. Stick to what works. Long straight hair it is.

7. Who my people are. Carefully choose who gets your time and heart. Choose those who are beautiful on the inside who let their light shine out. Bask in their glow and give it back!

8. I’m not a runner. That’s all I have to say about that.

9. I don’t like beer. I’m not going to pretend I think it’s good anymore. It’s the beer. It’s definitely not me.

10. There is no shame in asking for help. Never suffer alone. Too many people are willing to listen and help.

11. It really is better to give then receive.

12. I’ll never like quinoa and I won’t die if I don’t eat it. Blech.

13. I’ll never like kale and I won’t die if I don’t eat it. Blech.

14. Sunscreen really is important. Not sure? Come over and I’ll show you my neck. My dermatologist:  “Ummmmm, not much I can do there. Should’ve worn sunscreen.”

15. I like being over-dressed. You wear your cut-off jorts and be happy. I’ll wear my dress and be equally happy. And style has no age.   

16. You can’t say I love you enough.

17. My mom was right. That’s all I have to say about that.

18. Use the good china every day. My grandmother gave me at least three sets of china. They were all to be used every day she said. What good are things if they are hidden away and kept for a special occasion she said. Every day is a special occasion. Wear your good jewelry. Use your china. Eat in the dining room even if it’s not Easter, or Christmas, or Thanksgiving. What are you saving it for?

19. Fear of missing out is a waste of time. Want to stay in? Didn’t get an invite somewhere? So what! Stop sulking, put the phone down and resist false comparisons. Be where you are and enjoy every minute of it. JOMO. Joy of missing out. It’s a thing now.

20. My humor is off-color, inappropriate at times, and some people don’t like it. I’m not sorry. It’s who I am. A fart in church is funny I don’t care who you are.

21. Life really is too short to drink bad coffee.

22. Life is not too short to drink bad wine. Bad wine is better than no wine. And if all that is available is just so-so wine I’ll drink it and be thankful for it. This does not apply to coffee. This is my list. If it doesn’t make sense to you then you make your own list.

23. You can make dreams come true. By doing. Not dreaming.

24. Anxiety and stress is normal. Figuring out how to handle it and manage it for a healthy, happy life is hard but can be done.

25. I know so little. There is still so much to learn and know. I used to think I knew most everything. Because when you’re between the ages of 5 and 29 you just do and you make sure everyone knows it. Now I keep my mouth shut (well, more than I used to anyway) and listen.

26. It’s ok to say no.

27. Pay yourself first. Allocate money to savings, time to yourself, and schedule things that bring you joy FIRST, instead of trying to fit these things in if there’s time or anything left at the end.

28. My kids are going to be all right. Even if they fail at something, get their feelings hurt, don’t get into their dream college, are rejected by who they thought were their friends, get a bad grade, are sad when things don’t work out, etc…….my kids are going to be all right.

29. It’s ok to have 15-20 bottles of perfume and you don’t have to use one up before you buy another. Because I said so.

30. It’s ok to have 15-20 lipsticks / glosses and you don’t have to use one up before you buy another. Because I said so.

31. I don’t have to wear jeans to work on Friday just because it’s casual Friday. I’m wearing the cutest dress I own on a Friday. Unless it’s January. And then I’m wearing jeans. Unless it’s over 55 degrees. Then I might wear a dress and boots. Wear what you want!

32. Friends might not stay your friends. It’s always hurtful when someone decides they don’t want to hang out with you anymore. It happens to all of us throughout our lives and not just in third grade. Sometimes they come back and you pick up just where you left off. Sometimes it just ends. Always be thankful for that friendship and remember it fondly.

33. It’s not too late…..for anything. Ambition, creativity and growth are lifelong journeys.

34. I have the power to shape my future. I am not a victim of any circumstance. Regardless of what happens, the power to change is up to me.

35. Marie Kondo, a capsule wardrobe and minimal anything is not for me. Stay true to who you are. Don’t throw anything out that you will want back. That’s what storage boxes, shelves and bins are for. Don’t be a hoarder either. That’s bad.

36. Quality beats quantity.

37. Learn from the past. Don’t live in the past. Be present here and now.

38. What grace really means. Show grace, be gracious and forgive with grace.

39. My problems are not the worst. Neither are yours. I know now that if I saw everyone else’s problems laid out on the floor along with mine, I’d likely grab mine and run.

40. Everything can be figured out and there is a solution for everything. You may not like what it is but no one is stuck.

41. Yield. Pause. Breathe. Passing time allows for so much to take care of itself and lends clarity for how to easily approach anything.

42. I haven’t had my best days yet. I just think I have! I’ll have this on repeat on my 50th birthday. Say it over and over.

43. Money is crucial but health is the real wealth. I can always make more money, but once health is gone…..it’s gone. Exercise, water, sleep and good nutrition.

44. You can wear white after Labor Day. Open toed shoes, too. Do it! I dare you. Break all the rules.

45. There are no rules in dating. Single women – you can call first, text first, message first and even *gasp* suggest a date first. Make your own rules that fit your personality.

46. Good things may be gone for those who wait. If you want something – go get it! Make it happen! Now go!

47. The senior discount is cool. I will ask for it loud and proud. Movie theater tickets are a gazillion dollars! I’m as old as dirt! Give me the discount!

48. Give more compliments. Now when I see someone in the store or out and about and think to myself “what a cute skirt, pretty hair, skin, blah blah blah” I don’t keep it to myself. I love hearing compliments – I’m so vain! Everybody does and it makes their day a little better.

49. Radiate positivity and let your light shine. Smile more. You will feel happier and it’s such a great feeling knowing those around you feel more at ease and happier because if it.

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50. Have a zest for life! We only get one so make it count!