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.

Sea, Sand, Books, and Beach Shrimp

Smell the sea and feel the sky, let your soul and spirit fly. – Van Morrison

I just returned home from another great beach vacation. We celebrated my mom’s 70th birthday at her favorite place – the beach on 30-A in Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. If you haven’t been let me tell you it’s one of the most beautiful beaches I have been to and I’ve been to many coast to coast. Pristine natural beauty and the color of the water is truly gorgeous. The Watercolor community in Santa Rosa on 30-A is so aptly named for the aqua and turquoise crystal clear sea water. The gorgeous water color combined with sugar white sand is breathtaking. We stayed a few miles from Watercolor in the charming Blue Mountain Beach area and loved it.

Typically, we pack in activities such as snorkeling, boating, shopping and enjoying as many restaurants as possible. This time, my kids let me know they wanted to relax vs. being dragged everywhere. Dragged everywhere? Poor children. That was music to my ears. I read two books and lounged on the beach everyday all day. Heaven on earth. I read Educated by Tara Westover and Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Read them! Even if you don’t like to read. Read them! They will change you for good.

When I did pull myself out of my chair it was to figure out dinner. There was a fantastic fresh seafood market next door and I bought tons of fresh shrimp. Old Bay, lemons, boiling water and in minutes I announced that dinner was served. Fresh watermelon, a salad, and crusty French bread accompanied. Lunch the next day was shrimp tossed in a little mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, avocado, salt and pepper. So fresh and healthy! I call it Beach Shrimp. Yes, it’s on a paper plate. I barely washed my hair much less styled dinner.

I’m back home and it’s hot. I’m craving this perfect meal as it is cold, light and healthy. The best part – it just takes a little time to prepare!

Here’s the recipe if you can call it that:

Shrimp – only fresh. Please. I bought a little over 2 lbs.

Old Bay – ¼ of a cup or 2 heaping tablespoons per pound I’d say

Lemon – a big one – cut into quarters

Add water to a large pot – a little over half way to the top. Squeeze juice from a lemon into the water and toss it in – I quarter it and add it to the water. Add Old Bay and stir. Bring to a boil. Add shrimp and boil 3 minutes for medium and 4 minutes for large shrimp.

Beach Shrimp:

1 lb of cooked, chilled shrimp – peeled and deveined

Tablespoon of mayonnaise

Tablespoon of sour cream

Juice of half of a lemon

One avocado, coarsely chopped

Coarsely ground salt and pepper.  I like Himelayan pink salt.

Toss it all together. I like it alone or over a spring mix salad. It’s also good in French bread served po-boy style.

This will definitely be a recipe made at the beach each summer and enjoyed at home when the mood strikes.  I hope you like it! Comment if you feel like it if you have any beach recipes you enjoy.

Birthday Girl!
My Sea Urchins!

Happy National Lipstick Day! Because There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Lipsticks.

Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together. – Elizabeth Taylor

I guess there really is a national holiday for everything! I just happen to love lipstick and lipgloss, though, so I’m all for it. I also just happen to be wearing my favorite lipstick / gloss combination. I was at the beach all last week and am just returning back to work so I needed a little Monday morning pick me up. A cute summer dress (that is also comfortable) and bright glossy lips helped send me on my way. As I get older my skin keeps getting drier making it important to find moisturizing lipsticks and glosses. MAC seems to have the perfect formula for my lips that I count on and I love their colors.

MAC’s Lady Danger lipstick with Lipglass in PRRR (yes that ‘s the color…..PRRR) swiped over it works well with my red floral dress I chose for an otherwise mundane Monday. Lady Danger is a very bright orange red. I love to wear it on its own when I’m out at night but I typically blend it with a nude gloss to lighten it up for day.

Mondays can be tough but the right attitude and a cute dress to lift your spirits makes it better. As my mom always says, put on a little lipstick and everything will be alright.

Here are the two I wore today with the link included…

MAC Lady Danger

MAC PRRR

And a few other favorites I keep in my bag always…

NARS Orgasm Oil-Infused Lip Tint – peachy pink shimmer

tarte Rainforest of the Sea Quench Lip Rescue in Rose – When you want a lip balm AND pretty color this is the one!

MAC Date Night – It’s purple and it’s fantastic. But it doesn’t look purple on your lips – just the most perfect plummy glossy color for day or night.

Gloss it on, get out there and smile! And every little thing is going to be alright.

Think You Can’t Go Back To Work Because You Are Older? Stop That And Think Again!

A lot of people think it’s made up of a million perfect decisions and luck. But in reality, 90% of success is a combination of failures, picking yourself back up, persistence and HARD WORK. 

– Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx

At work with my lucky lemon charm bracelet! Wearing things I love keeps me motivated.

I was a stay at home mom for 13 years and loved every minute. I am very thankful that I was able to have this time with my children and never felt that it interrupted my career. This time in my life gave me so much in return.  I went back to work when my son started middle school and my daughter was in the fifth grade. It seemed like the perfect time knowing they would not be home the majority of the day. My then husband had been laid off around that time and even though he was back to work, the idea that it could happen again weighed heavily. Did I return with the same job title and salary as I had 13 years prior? No. Not even close. Did I have the perfect career wardrobe ready to hit the streets? No. Not even close. Resume? No. LinkedIn profile? What? 

I was in my mid-40’s and had a “who is going to hire a middle aged woman in her 40’s” attitude. My mindset was focused on every obstacle in my way. So I did the only thing that made sense to me. I bought a lottery ticket. When that didn’t pan out I decided on plan B. Find my old resume and bring it back to life. Just finding my old resume felt like a huge step and I realized I needed to add and change very little. Taking that one baby step forward felt so productive and empowering. The lesson – just dive in. Start somewhere. Baby steps still move us forward.

If you are a woman 40+ needing or wanting to go back to work but feeling like I did – not so confident with no idea how to start – the best thing you can do is simply change your mindset. College tuition costs were in my near future. I ended up getting divorced making a substantial income crucial. Plus, people live longer, healthier lives that demand increased retirement and savings. The most important reason – the self-fulfillment and identity after spending many years taking care of others. I changed my attitude thinking about all of the benefits in store for ME.

The good news for us “older” women is that according to the Department of Labor, the population of working women over 55 has increased 4.2 percent to 17 million over the last year. This is compared to a 1.8 percent increase in employment for all women and a 3.3 percent gain for men over 55.

While I am sure you agree this is great news, maybe you are thinking what about that career gap? What about it? I proudly exclaimed that I made the decision to stay home with my kids. It was a plan that worked. In an interview, share how much you accomplished and how ready, excited and motivated you are to return to work. I added church volunteering, National Charity League, Girl Scout Leader, PTA roles and school volunteering on my resume. All of it was received well in interviews. It helped prove my point that older women returning to work are more mature, react well to challenges, make excellent mentors and know how to professionally communicate with people at all age levels.

I started back working for a local magazine selling advertising. I found the job online and applied. It was not my dream job but it was a reentry into the workforce. I was able to be home to meet the bus and it allowed for flexibility with the kids. It ended after the magazine was sold. I bounced around a bit, survived a lay-off and another very unhappy situation. Closed doors lead to new opportunities and now I have a job that I love. I’m career focused and enjoy being in the office around smart people who are inspiring. I started this blog thanks to the confidence I’ve achieved and what I have learned.

I have heard people tell me that I make it look so easy – being older, divorced, raising teens, and working a full-time job. I’m so lucky everything fell into place they say! I smile and say thank you! The truth? I made many mistakes, interviewed and was turned down countless times, and have had many hard days. Changing my attitude, persistence, and HARD WORK paid off. If I can do it, you can, too!

Here are a few suggestions that worked for me:

Resume and LinkedIn Profile: Write a strong one and focus on your skills, attributes and accomplishments. Include your strengths and what makes you successful. As I mentioned, I added church volunteering, Girl Scout Leader, National Charity League, PTA roles and school volunteering on my resume. I had people mention they loved that as it shows I have a strong moral character and work ethic.

Network:  Tell your friends! Talk to people. Let everyone know your plans and you’ll find that you learn something from almost everyone you talk to. LinkedIn is a must and an excellent way to find people in an area of interest. Once you connect you will eventually want to send them a direct message. Send a brief to the point message. The worst thing that will happen is that you won’t hear back. If you do hear back, ask for a few minutes on the phone or face to face to learn more about their career path, their take on the industry, and if they can help connect you to others.

Interviews: Don’t talk yourself out of going on one because it’s not the job you want. It’s interview experience! And who knows…maybe it’s different than what you thought and maybe you’ll change your mind. Regardless, go on as many interviews as you can. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and how you like to work. Do you like to collaborate with a team or work better alone? What was a challenge you overcame in a past job? What was one of your biggest success stories? Are you a strategic thinker? Knowing who you are and how you work will clarify a lot and help with interview questions.

Wardrobe and makeup: Feel good about yourself on an interview. If you know you look put together and are excited about your outfit, your confidence will soar. You don’t have to break the bank. I bought a few dresses that were professional and comfortable. I didn’t want to mess with skirts, pants, waistbands or matching blouses, belts, etc…when getting ready for an interview. One great dress and a pair of stylish, professional shoes was all I needed. Once I started working, I shopped sales at J. Crew, Banana Republic, Anthropologie and Nordstroms for clothes that I could wear to work and dress down for any occasion. I found dresses and other clothing on sale for less than $50 that were made well – don’t buy cheap clothing! Buy clothes that will last and save money. I still enjoy a bargain but I love to budget for a really great piece from Tory Burch, Ted Baker and I so love Stuart Weitzman and L.K. Bennett shoes. Get a job, save some money and reward your hard work from time to time!

My best advice? Don’t doubt yourself! Be fearless – and if you are scared, do it anyway. You will feel on top of the world after getting that first job offer! Good luck! I’d love to hear comments with suggestions and stories to inspire.

The reward at the end of the day? Being greeted by my biggest fan!

My Friend Mary’s Basil Lemon Yogurt Cake

Bakers gonna bake, bake, bake, bake, bake! – A baker I don’t know said or sang this

Have lots of basil and lemons lying around? If you do, you should make this for breakfast this weekend. And if you don’t just run to the store and get some. My friend Mary made this for her daughter, Ava, for breakfast on a Sunday morning. She found Meyer lemons at the store and decided to make it and serve with fresh lemonade and fruit. I can’t wait for my daughter, Sarah Kate, to make it for me. Ha! I am a terrible baker. I don’t even like baking. I have ruined brownies out of the box. Yes, it is possible.

I love the story behind the recipe. Mary and her daughter volunteer at an assisted living facility – which sometimes my daughter and I will volunteer also playing bingo with the ladies. It is such a gratifying experience! I always think I am going there to help brighten their day but I think I leave a little better than when I walked in. I love their stories, advice and company.

Mary likes to go on Wednesdays because that’s when they bake. She said they might not remember what day it is but put a recipe in their hand, let them boss you around, and they are off to the races! So that’s where she scored this delicious recipe. From one of the sweet residents in assisted living. She hand wrote the recipe for her. I love that. This led to a discussion about our grandmothers and their handwritten recipes we still have. My grandmother Ann didn’t have recipes. I learned to cook from her and so I don’t have a lot of recipes either. I just learned. My other grandmother, Maxine, typed all of her recipes on a typewriter of course and then made notes on the cards. One handwritten comment says, “Extra good!”. I have them! Here is her beautiful recipe box she gave to me with her typed recipes – along with the name of the person who gave it to her.

Mary found this gorgous box recently and it holds her recipes. It’s so pretty!

Here’s the sweet handwritten recipe for the cake. So sweet. I love that Mary’s hand and phone casts a shadow over the page. Lol!

Sarah Kate! Are you reading this? I have all the ingredients you need to whip this up! Can’t wait. Love, mom.

Basil Lemon Yogurt Cake

3 cups of flour

5 tsp baking powder

1.5 cups sugar

Zest of 4 lemons

1.5 cups of plain yogurt

2 tbspn lemon juice

1 cup oil

4 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup chopped basil

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour cake pan. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix sugar and lemon zest. Add yogurt and lemon juice and mix well. Add oil, eggs and vanilla. Add basil and mix well. Fold in flour mix just until it crumbles. Pour in bundt pan or cake pans and bake 45 minutes.

Glaze: 1 cup of powdered sugar, 4 tsp lemon juice, and 1 tsp milk. Pour over cooled cake.