More Love Letters: 12 Days of Love

12 DAYS GRAPHIC 3I’m excited to be participating in the More Love Letters 12 Days of Love Letters once again this year. If you aren’t familiar with MLL, as those in the know call it, I recommend you do: there are options to bring this to your college campus, for opportunities in the classroom, for individuals and so much more. The premise is simple: write a note, a letter, a poem, a song, something full of encouragement and love and send it out into the world, to one of the many people who need to be lifted up. I’ve penned notes over the last few years for people who have lost loved ones, received rough diagnoses, for others who were celebrating sobriety, college acceptance letters, taking big risks and moves. I’ve also been on the receiving end of letters during times I needed them most and even on days where I thought I was ok, but those letters, those words that friends sent to me, they mean more than I can express. All of those notes and letters, even emails that I’ve printed out go into a box that I look at when I’m down and blue.

It’s a wonderful experience and with that, I hope you’ll join me this year in sending love, positivity and encouragement to Mardi! All you need is a pen, paper/a pretty card/construction paper/a postcard, and a few minutes of your time to help brighten someone’s day.

The details about this request:

Today we’d love help scripting letters for Mardi. Her sister wrote to us “My sister is insanely smart, creative, hard-working, dedicated, and full of potential. She’s 29 and has recently discovered her passion and talent in handmade jewelry and nail polish, becoming an entrepreneur about a year ago and working hard to run her own online business ever since. But there are still many hard days, most of which leave her feeling unworthy, unmotivated, and unloved. I love Mardi dearly and I want her to know how special she really is, how much love she is surrounded by, and how much untapped potential she has for complete greatness. I think a love letter bundle could exponentially change the way she sees not only herself but the goodness of other people.” Let us show Mardi some love and encouragement to keep going with her passion!

Send your letter by December 19th to:
Alix C.
8217 Thornhill Drive
North Richland Hills, TX 76182

Have time to craft a few more letters? Check out the other 12 Days of Love Letter Requests here, and remember to check back! There’s a new one everyday through the 19th of December.

Happy writing & thank you in advance for participating.

Four Things

Borrowing this idea from Lisa (and her sister) today. It’s been a week: weird weather, working at odd hours to support an event in the Middle East which meant working from midnight to 3am this week in addition to my regular hours at the office, I have no idea what day it is so that means a fun post today!

Four names that people call me other than my real name:

1. Laylou ( a nickname my mom gave me that stuck)
2. Sweets (what Knight calls me)
3. Sis (what my brother calls me)
4. Uh… sometimes Nor, but that’s infrequent

Four jobs I’ve had:  

1. Customer Service Rep for Scholastic books for a summer while in college. I loved it because they gifted the latest Harry Potter books to their employees!
2. Hostess at a BBQ restaurant, also while in college.
3. Nanny, all throughout college
4. Aide to a legally blind student; helped her with her shopping, proofing papers, etc.

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

1. The Holiday
2. Love Actually
3. You’ve Got Mail
4. The Godfather

Four books I’d recommend:

1. The Elm Creek Quilt Series by Jennifer Chiaverini
2. Very Valentine, Adriana Trigiani
3. Jennifer Weiner’s early books (can’t pick just one)
4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

Four places I’ve lived:

1. Orlando, FL
2. Wisconsin
3. New Jersey
4. New York

Four places I’ve visited:

1. Toronto, Canada
2. Door County, WI
3. Rivera Maya, Mexico
4. England: London + several small towns

Four things I prefer not to eat:

1. Tree nuts thanks to my allergies
2. Mushrooms
3. Biscuits & gravy
4. Bratwurst

Four of my favorite foods:

1. Mexican food as a whole; LOVE.IT.
2. Homemade sauce and meatballs
3. Cheese and crackers
4. A really good burger

Four TV shows I watch: 

1. NCIS: LA
2. Chrisley Knows Best (reality show, it’s hilarious)
3. Scandal
4. Storage Wars

Four things I’m looking forward to this year:

1. The wedding of one of my forever friends
2. Meeting all the babies: I have 4 friends expecting their first child in March/April time frame
3. A few mini trips to see & catch-up with friends
4.

Four things I’m always saying:

1. Not OK.
2. Just five more minutes.
3. Watch your head (I say this to Jack often since he’s blind in one eye)
4. Thank you for calling… (part of my standard greeting when I answer my phone)

What are four things you are looking forward to this coming year? Any other of your Four that you want to share? 

Us Night Movies

Thanks to everyone who gave me recommendations on my Me Night Movies post. I’ve added several of them to my Netflix list for future viewing pleasure!

Since it’s cold and gross where I am (ice on the ground, whipping winds and chilly temps as I write this), I figured it would be a good time to share some of the “us,” movies that Knight and I watch as a couple. It’s unusual for us to have a true movie night but we try to get one or two in a month, during which time we may do some tiny projects (ironing, organizing, whatever) or we may just relax with some popcorn and enjoy. All depends on our mood.

What we saw in theaters:

Note: we rarely go to the theaters. Maybe every three months? When we go, we tend to see the independent/quirky movies as those are my most favorite. 

Chef. You guys, this movie. I laughed. I cried. I craved every single food they made. I wanted to get up and dance to the music. This movie is more than just a feel-good story; it’s full of ups & downs, triumphs and pitfalls. One of those movies I would watch again, and again and again…

St. Vincent. We saw this movie on Thanksgiving with my dad. Oh, all of the feelings. All of the tears (happy and sad). Bill Murray is simply amazing in his role, Melissa McCarthy is a delight and shows her more serious side. If you get a chance to see this one, do it. It will have you thinking long past the moment you walk out of the theater door.

What we rented/got via Netflix over the last few months:

Admission. I love Tina Fey. I love Paul Rudd. This movie was, eh, ok. Not as funny as I thought it would be, and when I popped into the DVD player, I was looking for funny & some laughs, not serious. Despite the lack of yucks, it was still a well done movie and makes some interesting points.

Sex Tape. The previews for this looked hilarious and since we missed it in theaters over the summer, we were looking forward to it. Funny but again, not as funny as I thought it would be. Some moments were awkward. Some were ridiculous (maybe because we know what the Cloud is and how technology works… there were some fatal script flaws that I had a hard time with that would have made the whole movie avoidable). Overall I kind of wish I could have the hour and 45 minutes back on this one.

That Awkward Moment. This movie felt a lot like a romantic comedy, but instead of for girls, for dudes. The plot follows the romances of three best guy friends, how they get there, how they deal with it, how they do (or don’t) tell each other about the relationships. Knight enjoyed this movie and I liked the story told from the guy’s point of view. Perfect date night movie (with more laughs & man humor than schmoop).

Neighbors. Hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny. It’s what we were looking for and it fit the bill in every way. I don’t know the last time Knight laughed so hard (he was almost in tears at several points). My favorite scene is towards the end when Rose Byrne & Seth Rogen are talking about how they like brunch and are excited over the smell of coffee. Just, yes.

A.C.O.D. (Adult Children of Divorce). Another great flick dealing with the aftermath of divorce on adult children. It’s… well, so far, it seems true. There is a lot covered in this movie that rings true for me and Knight with all that we’ve dealt/been through so far, and what we expect to come. (Misconceptions of divorce, how kids see it at a young age vs. when they get older, etc. etc.) This movie is mostly a comedy, with some romance, mixed in with coming of age and realizing the world is kind of harsh. Bonus: it has a great cast!

What’s the last movie you saw in theaters? What’s your perfect date night movie? 

Perk Up with Dunkin’

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Dunkin’ Brands. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation

June19_PM_FBThanksgiving is over. Christmas is fast approaching, and I mean fast. It’s that time of year where there doesn’t seem to be enough time to get things done: work, shop, decorate, send cards, have some time to yourself, meet-up with friends. It’s also that time of year where little pick-me-ups are so very essential. What better way to Perk up with the Dunkin’ Donuts DD Perks Rewards Program? It’s a no-brainer if you go there for any of their yummy beverages- my personal favorite is the mint hot chocolate when it’s cold out or the Vanilla Bean Coolatta when it’s summer time; Knight always gets their regular coffee, served black, in the largest size possible- or if you are stopping in for a sweet treat. Earlier this year I started “Donut Friday,” at our office and our customers & employees love it. I stop at Dunkin’ Donuts on my way into work to get a few dozen donuts for the customers and a drink for me. They get donuts, I get DD Reward Perks Points. It’s a win-win-win on a Friday!

How the DD Perks Rewards Program works: For every dollar you spend when you pay using an enrolled Dunkin’ Donuts card (either a physical, plastic card or via the Dunkin’ Mobile App), you’ll get five points per dollar. Once you earn 200 points, you’ll get a coupon for the beverage of your choice. Don’t have a Dunkin’ Donuts rewards card? No worries. When you get the Dunkin’ Donuts Mobile App, you can get a card right there on the spot, via the app. It’s easy, it’s free and Dunkin’ Donuts does all the work for you! (Or if you prefer, you can enroll in DD Perks Rewards online via the DD Perks Rewards Program webpage.)

Fun facts about the DD Perks Rewards Program & the Dunkin’ Mobile App: 

* DD Perks Rewards Program started in January 2014
* In June 2014 the DD Perks Rewards program had over one million members. Dunkin’ Donuts celebrated by automatically giving 100 bonus points to all existing DD Perks members and offered 100 bonus points to any new members for a week!
* I love that the DD Perks program is integrated with the Dunkin’ Mobile App. It’s so easy to add your DD Perks Rewards card into the Dunkin’ Mobile App, making it even easier to earn those 5 points for every dollar you spend!
* You’ll also receive in-app specials that you can use in-store. My current favorite: double bonus points now through December 8th with the purchase of a medium, or larger, beverage.

What you should do now, to start earning your DD Perks Rewards points:

1. Download the Dunkin’ Donuts Mobile app via your App Store.

2. Enter your DD Perks Rewards card info, or get one on the spot.

3. Then, enter promo code BLOG in the “promo” field on the 3rd (and last!) screen to earn a $5 DD card. It’s really that simple. What are you waiting for? Sign up today (December 1st) through Friday December 5th using promo code BLOG and earn a $5 thank you for enrolling in the program. The $5 is loaded into your mobile app so you can start using it immediately!

Do you have any rituals in your office that make Friday’s a win-win? What’s your favorite beverage or treat from Dunkin’ Donuts? Have you downloaded the Dunkin’ Donuts App and enrolled your DD Perks Rewards number to get your $5 gift card? 

Review: The Dunning Man

The Dunning ManThe Dunning Man by Kevin Fortuna is a collection of short stories featuring characters from all walks of life, with my favorites being “Poor Jimmy,” and “Flogging Maggie,” with “Weddings and Burials,” coming in close second.

Fortuna packs a punch in each short story, addressing a number of things: sexuality, family tension, ghosts from memories past, and more. Most of the stories start with one of the main characters with a drink in their hand, about to have a drink in their hand, or recovering from one too many drinks, which is interesting because even with all that alcohol the characters aren’t blurry, nor are their thoughts. Maybe that’s what makes the stories so interesting.

About the collection of stories, via Barnes & Noble:

The six stories in The Dunning Man feature anti-heroes who reject society’s rules. Characters from all walks of life-a rogue hip-hop star, a blackjack dealing mom, a middle-aged drunk plowing through his inheritance, and an empty-nester housewife trying to make peace with the past. They each exist in the here and now, living for what’s possible and what’s left-not what they’ve left behind. Redemption awaits all, but only along the rutted, gut-churning path of honest self-examination. Age quod agis.

Set in Atlantic City, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., the Hudson Valley and Manhattan, Fortuna’s stories depict the violent clash between society’s expectations and the chaotic arc of individual destiny. These are powerful tales of truth seekers imbued with larger-than-life personalities and the all-consuming need to find something worth seeking.

I often find short stories to be a bit morose and yet, I’m attracted to them all the same. If you enjoy a good short story (or six), pick this collection up.

Do you enjoy short stories? Any collection in particular that you would recommend? 

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I received a complimentary copy of this book via TLC Book Tours. All opinions are my own. 

On Thank Yous & Thanksgiving

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Thank you, dear reader, for being here. For supporting me. For telling me it’s ok to not be ok. For recommending books, podcasts, movies, ideas to me. For all the notes, cards, comments, texts, virtual hugs, the real life plans. All of it. You mean more to me than you’ll ever know and having this space to write, to send words out to the internet, it’s been a saving grace on more than one occasion.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and while I still don’t know how I feel about it (I’m going back and forth between wanting to lie in bed and sob vs. putting on my big girl panties and getting on with it) that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t shower those I love with thanks and gratitude. You are some of the people I love most so thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Whenever and however you celebrate, enjoy every minute of it. Every laugh, every stressful moment, every dirty dish and crumb, all the leftovers, the desserts, the family and friend moments. Take pictures. Laugh until you cry. Take a moment to sit back and absorb all the awesomeness that is your day and celebration. Be present. Soak it all in. Love and be loved. Because friends, let me tell you- as stressful as life gets or as worrisome as things can be, those moments with the ones you love? Those are the things you’ll remember long after the day is done and the dishes are put away. Trust me. I may not have future family Thanksgivings with my mom, but it is for damn sure that I love the memories and ones that I had.

Weekend in The Life: 11/22 and 11/23

I’m going to spare you the details of Friday the 21st because, you guys, it was the most boring work day ever. I got stuff done, sure, but I felt like time stood still so apart from my evening with Knight (Nachos, Netflix, dog walks) I am afraid Friday was nothing to write home about… at all. I’m going to finish off the day in the life posts with details about this past weekend! 

Saturday, 11/22

Morning: Woke up at 6am thanks in part to the neighbor’s puppy barking up a storm and in part because Jack woke up in response. Took Jack for a quick walk, climbed back in bed, because 6am on a Saturday, managed to fall asleep for 90 more minutes. Started my day by making breakfast sandwiches: scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits with butter and optional cheese. Get ready for day.

Afternoon: run errands: return books to library (and of course borrow two more, request two others), drop off clothes at dry cleaners, go to Barnes & Noble to look at new covers for my New Nook (Knight brought one home for me this weekend!), have hot chocolate, meet my dad at B&N, and chat for awhile. Run to Target for dog food and a few other essentials. Head home and hang out for the afternoon: order Belle’s birthday presents, order a new Nook cover for me, kind of laze about and feel restless because we want to do something but we don’t know what. Knight watches College Football, I read the fourth and finale book in a romance series. Walk Jack. Change dinner plans with friends so we can go to a place that has the Mizzou game on.

Evening: At 5pm, get ready for our night out with friends. Attempt to curl my hair but the rainy weather causes a huge issue, so ponytail with a side braid it is. Meet friends for dinner at 6pm, wait for a table for 45 minutes, thankfully steal a few seats at the bar. Get seated, debate on what to order for dinner, enjoy a good dinner with our friends, and home before Saturday Night Live. I had two glasses of wine at dinner and thus, I have a horrible headache when we get home, fall asleep just after Weekend Update on SNL. 31 is glorious sometimes.

Sunday, 11/23

Morning: Still have a killer headache from the wine the night before (um, hangovers are horrible. Also, this is why I very rarely drink any sort of alcohol) which means I lay in bed until 9:30am, the laziest I’ve been in… ages. Wake-up by watching an episode of Will & Grace, finish the romance book, check work email since we are doing a project that involves in a customer in Dubai and the time zones are making communication difficult, get ready for the day. Receive an email from a friend with some not-so-awesome news so reach out to her, offer support and hopefully will be able to see her this week. (See also: so tired of receiving bad news. This world is full of it and it’s a lot to take and deal with sometimes.)

Afternoon: Make our way over to my dad’s. We discuss paint with my dad, because Knight is painting his bathroom for him this week, go grab some lunch at Jason’s Deli, then off to Lowe’s to pick out paint and look at some of the fun Christmas decorations. Drop dad off at his house, get gas because it’s $2.39 a gallon (!), head home, take Jack on a very rainy walk, and start making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies to take to our friends’ house as we are having dinner with some long-lost friends. Watch Gilmore Girls while baking because Knight went back to Lowe’s to get some stuff for our house. Eat a cookie because omg, these cookies are delicious and I can’t resist.

Evening: Organize meal plans, grocery list and other misc. for the week. Do a little bit of reading, then get ready for dinner at our friend’s house a little before 6pm. Head to their house for an epic catch-up session, meet their kids (yup, it’s been THAT long since I’ve seen them, first time for Knight). Enjoy laughter, stories, and the promises of many more future dinners to come. Late night walk for Jack, quick email check, put away the rest of the cookies and go to bed close to 10:30 pm.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a weekend? Anyone else excited/proud if you manage to make it through half of Saturday Night Live? 

Day in the Life: 11/20

Today’s Day in the Life is brought to you in “highlights,” where I spotlight some of the best things as I moved through the day, in pictures & brief summaries.

Morning Highlights: 

It”s SERIAL Day!

As any Serial addict would suspect: New Serial Episode. I listen to it while getting ready for work, on the drive to work and I may or may not have re-listened to part of it at the office. This one really got to me for some reason. I’ve always been Team Reasonable Doubt (as in, whether Adnan did it or not the case is thin, the life + 30 years in prison seems extreme and there is so much murkiness and shadiness surrounding this case) and this one furthered that for me. But, this isn’t about how I feel about Serial, so I’ll stop there. //Muscle Therapy

View from the PT office while I get "muscle therapy"

View from the PT office while I get “muscle therapy”

before work today, at my Physical Therapy appointment. I’m cleared to start working out again as of Saturday and my appointments are now every two weeks. I feel good, am making process, and I hate my PT exercises, which is a good sign, the doc says.// Conquering a conference call I did NOT want to have I thought I would be in over my head but I muddled through and got thumbs up from the client. Managed to navigate my commute + the call + sound intelligent all at the same time so we’ll call this a win. //A surprise sale which means I’m going to be over my sales forecast for the month. //Solidifying Dinner Plans with our friends for Saturday. Checking out a restaurant we’ve never been to but hear great things. (Yup, sometimes I email friends during the day. So sue me.)

Giving myself thumbs up for the surprise sale.

Giving myself thumbs up for the surprise sale.

Afternoon Highlights:

I won’t lie, my afternoons are boring to write about and even more boring to read about. In between more of the same: emails, phone calls, etc. (oh, office life): Sorting out and coming out on top of several other work issues with vendors and other internal screw-ups that had been plaguing me all week. Fixed, done and off my plate! //Receive good news from a friend today that made me smile. Making my Friday to do list before I go home for the day. //

Evening Highlights: 

After work Traffic.

After work Traffic.

Things got kind of silly this evening. Had to wait for a co-worker to leave the office and of he course dragged his butt.// Traffic alert that there’s an accident on my main route home. Took side streets along with evvveerrryone else. Took an hour to get home, normally only takes 25.// Had plans to meet my mom’s BFF for dinner but she had to cancel. All leftovers were in the freezer, I had no protein thawed or dinner plan, I left my turkey at work (so sandwiches out), Knight didn’t know what he wanted and so, to the grocery store I went to get boneless wings for us

Groceries

Groceries

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Moment of Zen

to munch on (along with aluminum foil, broccoli, shredded cheese and some ice cream for the hubs. All on sale!)// Long walk with the Jack Dog. // Read while eating; Knight watches football. Do laundry. Turn on fireplace for some zen.//

 

 


What is your go-to meal when you have a change of dinner plans? Do you use a traffic alert app?

Review: Proof of Angels

Proof of AngelsProof of Angels by Mary Curran Hackett is the kind of book that once you pick it up, it’s tough to put back down. I got sucked in the world of Sean Magee, his friends James, Libby, and Tom, his brother-in-law Gaspar and his lovable dog, Chief.

You learn quickly that Sean has a few skeletons in his closet, people he’s wronged, and a few things that he hasn’t come to terms with, a rough relationship with his sister, a past with alcohol and then, if that’s not enough, he winds up caught in a horrible fire (he’s a firefighter) in which he nearly loses his life. Lost in the smoke and fire, Sean promises to be a better man if he can just get out of the burning building: from there, Sean believes he sees an angel, a light, that leads him to the window. He jumps three stories and sustains life threatening injuries.

From that point forward, Sean wrestles with his inner demons while helping those around him overcome theirs. You have James who is an emotional eater. Libby, a former heroine addict who trains service dogs like Chief. Tom, the RN/PT & former war veteran who helps Sean get his strength back. Gaspar, the brother-in-law who encourages Sean and makes it possible for him to get better. Throughout the novel, you’ll be rooting for Sean’s recovery and his happy ending. I couldn’t read this book fast enough to see how the novel ends, all the while reflecting on my beliefs, angels both imagined and real, spiritual or right here on Earth. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this novel:

 

You can find Proof of Angels on Goodreads, Amazon, IndieBound, and Barnes & Noble.

Mary Curran Hackett has a website, and she’s also on Facebook and Twitter if you’d like to connect with her.
(Note: Sean Magee is introduced in the Hackett’s first book, Proof of Heaven, but this can be read as a stand-alone with no issue.)
tlc tour host
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book via TLC Book Tours for the purposes of my review. All opinions are my own. 

Day in the Life: 11/19

(Getting bored? Don’t worry! I’m documenting Thursday in photos to change things up a bit!)

Morning: Wake up at 5:45 to the sound of a text coming in; it’s my dad. He’s sick so he’s staying home. Struggle to fall asleep for the next 30 minutes. Jack hears me rustling so he decides it’s time to get up, too. Take him out quickly, then get ready for the day. While getting ready: check my personal emails, do my PT exercises (I’ve been dealing with a flare-up with my lower back), grab my lunch and head out the door. Can’t decide between Classic Rock or Country for the commute. Skip the Christmas stations. Get gas because it’s $2.49 a gallon: SCORE! Do a little dance because it’s only 7:30am and it is already 40 degrees out. At work: make my to-do list, tackle emails: respond to customers, answer internal questions, prepare for my 9:30am meeting on marketing/promo materials. Go from that meeting to a 10:30am meeting with the same customer from yesterday. After meetings are done, take a time out to read a few blogs, then back to work. Eat at my desk while reading a few pages of The Hurricane Sisters (yup, I bring my Nook to work!): roasted turkey breast, vanilla bean greek Yogurt from Trader Joe’s and a string cheese.

Paper, paper, everywhere.

Paper, paper, everywhere.

Afternoon: Work on a special sale/promo we are offering to customers, post on the social media platforms, send to my customers who have expressed interest in it recently. Get the official statement from the Head Honchos on our Business Continuity Plan should the Grand Jury make their decision re: Indictment of Officer Wilson this weekend (tensions are… high, to say the least in a lot of areas of STL). Communicate said plan as necessary. All the while, rocking out to the Dave Matthews Band Station on iHeart.com. Meet and greet one of my customers and have a chat about their future needs, some light networking, and then more of the same: phone calls, emails, proposals. Office life is… predictable.

Evening: Exercise, cautiously. Mostly leg and ab work as per my PT’s instructions to strengthen my butt and my core. Dinner is BBQ Chicken on Pretzel Rolls, french fries and green beans (for me, Knight won’t touch them). Jack walks. Chat with Knight about his day. Coordinate with a friend for our upcoming couples night. Brainstorm on baby shower plans (throwing one for a friend in January). Gripe that fall/winter/dark nights are boring. Go to bed around 9:30pm because fall/winter/dark nights make me sleepy.

Do you bring a book or your eReader to work with you in case you can steal a few minutes? Do you bring lunch or go out for lunch?