A rebuilding year

About a year and a half ago, I stopped blogging. I stopped because I had neither the energy nor the clarity. I was struggling with chronic pain from a herniated disc that ranged from moderate to excruciating. I didn’t have the capacity to do many things.

I felt huge amounts of resistance to writing. The blog sat untouched.

Late in 2015, I underwent surgery. It was, on one hand, long over due, and on the other, perfectly timed. It marked a shift in my self in many ways. Life is richer, and I am truly thankful for it all.

And now it’s New Years Eve. Almost 20 months since this long and winding road began, and I am reminded of this quote I read once, “Imagine where you’d be if you started a year ago.”

It describes how I feel about my own healing journey, as well as this blog. Imagine where we’ll be in a year!

I’m eager and so excited to see how 2016 will come together, with healing and inspiration and adventure for us all!

I am hopeful that we will share our stories, our successes, our recipes, and our support with one another even more in 2016. I really cannot wait!

May all your champagne toasts come true in 2016!

Friday Faves-ish

Better late than never on this post!

Whew, the past two weeks have been a whirlwind…which is just kind of par for the course given the holidays are officially upon us, right? 🙂 Filled with family fun, friends, jokes, laughter and definitely some memories, here’s the latest of my adventures. Hope your holidays have kicked off with flair, flavor and a lot of fun!



For maybe the first time ever, I saw snow in November, and it was amazing! Visiting my family for our yearly outdoor extravaganza in Upstate NY, I was thrilled to see snow coming down like crazy the first day I was there. Unlike here in Atlanta, the city does not shut down, people drive without losing their sense of lawfulness, and the grocery stores stay fully stocked (even the bread and milk sections). It was a whole new wintry world! (I must confess, I also tried to catch some flakes on my tongue. No judgment. 🙂 I felt like a kid!)

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One thing that is kind of understated about visiting my family of farmers is… local, organic, farm-fresh veggies! It was an incredible surprise to find this wheelbarrow full of acorn squash, yellow squash, butternut squash and colorful peppers in my uncle’s barn. I scooped up as much as I could to bring home with me, and then cooked a little up for a snack later that day. Fresh veggies, GF rotini, olive oil, salt & pepper made for a delightfully colorful nom!

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Enjoying our time off during the Thanskgiving week, Jessica and I tried out Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall on the beltline. “Campfire-and-lodge themed,” it offered some lovely wintry cocktails and down-home favorites, like Chicken & Dumplings and a S’mores Pie. It was a blast and should definitely be on your tour if you’re sampling seasonal cocktails or looking for a hip take on comfort foods this winter!

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When our usual, traditional Thanksgiving plans changed last minute, we ended up at a good friend’s house in Grant Park instead, and it was a marvelous turn of events! It was just so much fun to spend the holiday with him, his large family and a few friends. A first-time Holiday host, he did not have extensive fall decor for his tablescape. Leave it to my mom to  throw together the perfect holiday centerpiece: a Paul Revere bowl full of clementines with sprigs of holly from her own holly bush for a touch of color.


Part of the fun and privilege of being guests for Thanksgiving Dinner is contributing to the meal! We brought the desserts, among others were a gluten-full apple pie and a gluten free apple crisp. What does that mean for the bakers? Lots of apple peeling. This Thanksgiving was probably the first in a few years that we have done it all from scratch, and I honed my apple peeling and slicing skills like never before. The fruit of our labor (see what I did there? ;)) was this delicious apple crisp – tangy, buttery and with just the right amount of topping to delight the tastebuds. A little dollop of whipped topping didn’t hurt either 🙂 Mmmm!

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In post-holiday recovery, my mom and I took to Whole Foods. Her first trip after hearing about this mecca for years! I was beyond thrilled to finally show her the wonderland that is the hot bar and salad bar section! She had a great time and made quite the smorgasbord, but my joy in watching her whip up her own creation paled in comparison to my glee in seeing her take a picture of her meal, which she has never done before! I think having a food blogging daughter is finally wearing off 😉 It was so much fun to share that afternoon with her! Seeing her have as much fun as I was having was just icing on the cake!

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As we get catapulted even further into the holidays, it can be far too easy to get caught up in the hubbub, in the “I have to go to _____,” “we have to do ______,” etc.  Have to, have to, have to. The holidays are a magical time, but they are also a time when we can get a little frustrated or feel overwhelmed. Family dynamics can become more pronounced, the pressure for the perfect holiday/gift/dinner is on, the rush to get it all done can eclipse the joy of the season and the experience itself. We need to remember to take it all in, which is why this quote really grabbed my attention this week. It just clicked when I read it that the holiday season comes once a year, and next year’s Thanksgiving, Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas will never be exactly the same as the one upon us in 2014. Take the time to enjoy the moments. Turn up the Christmas carols while sitting in that less-than-stellar holiday traffic. Laugh when the dessert goes a little awry because your crazy aunt or overambitious cousin didn’t get the recipe just right. Just be present and find the joy in it all. No matter how small 🙂 ‘Tis the season!

Motivation for Your Monday: The Average

Jim Rohn You-are-the-average-of-the-five-people-you-spend-the-most-time-with.

Within the past week, this quote has crossed my path twice, which means… dum-da-dum! Today’s Motivation for Your Monday!

Jim Rohn, a renowned business person, expressed this notion in the context of business; a leader is defined, in part, by those with whom he spends the majority of his time. Simple, yet eloquent.

If, while aiming to take his/her business public and traded on the NY Stock Exchange, an individual’s team is comprised of a finance guy with no calculator, a marketer with no market pulse, a PR guy who doesn’t speak English, a procurement guy who can’t negotiate and a lawyer whose specialization is family law, how successful will that individual be? She or he won’t necessarily be doomed, but the challenges to success will certainly be more prominent.

Now think of a teenager in this same context. A bit of a trite example, but easy to follow. If a teenager “falls into the wrong crowd” at school, the likelihood of that kid making less-than-stellar choices is higher than the kid who doesn’t.

Now take a moment to think about yourself.

Mull over the personal goals you’ve set for yourself, such as losing weight, getting out of debt, improving your self-worth, learning something new, etc.

If, in the journey of working towards these goals, you surround yourself by nay-sayers, pessimists, or other individuals who do not value, nor support, these types of “must’s” as you do, how will this impact your rate of success? Sure, you can certainly overcome the odds! Absolutely, no doubt about it. But it seems that more stumbling blocks would be created along the way by surrounding oneself with people who tend towards more of a culture of negativity, complacency, etc.

Changing your behavior and your life are hard enough. Set yourself up for success!

Take stock of the people with whom you spend the most time.

Do they value and embody the ambition and priorities that you are working towards? It’s not so easy as to slice and dice your entire tribe, particularly if you’ve been friends with many of them for years, or they’re your own family. That’s ok. You don’t have to.

Look at other avenues for you to spend time with people who do embody those traits you want to emulate. Take advantage of opportunities to spend time with them or mix them into your group.

You’ll bring up the group average while also exposing new ideas to old friends and setting yourself up for success.

Win, win!

Photo Cred: thedreamsintoplanproject.wordpress.com

Friday Faves

Whew! I can hardly believe that Friday is here, and we’re staring down the weekend already. This week has really blown by in a blur! Here are a few of my favorite things from this week that are still keeping me buoyant as we enter the weekend, which is energy I’m certainly going to need if I want to keep up with some of my favorite outdoorsmen in a certain dairy country for the next few days. 🙂

Now tell me, what do you have planned?!

John Green

Having fallen in love with John Green’s style and prose in The Fault in Our Stars (so good; right up there with To Kill a Mockingbird)I did not hesitate to download this one while searching for books to read on a recent up-and-back day trip to New Jersey. (The fact that my name is in the title – and spelled properly, I might add – notwithstanding, of course.) 😉 Even though I’m only on chapter three, I can safely say I will enjoy it as much as Fault.

Here’s the gist: Colin Singleton, our protagonist in his late teens, is a bit OCD about becoming a “genius”  through having what he calls a “Eureka moment.” Well, dear Colin, turns out, is to not exactly the genius he had hoped he’d be, then he gets dumped by his girlfriend, Katherine XIX, named as such because she is the 19th girl named Katherine whom Colin has dated (hence, “the abundance“). Colin is so distraught by the breakup that his partner in crime, the pragmatic and dry-humored Hassan Harbish, suggests a road trip.

Oh, what a stopping point! I can hardly wait to devour the rest this weekend!

Adventure Awaits

Speaking of adventures and road trips, my travel buddies and I have become painfully aware that it is time for some globe trotting. The last excursion, to Puerto Rico, was a trip that was definitely unforgettable.

A few highlights:

  • We got lost in a rainforest; thankfully, The Commodore, a.k.a Dodd, provided literally everything we needed out of a wee satchel, except for snacks (you’re welcome, guys)
  • The truck in which we were riding to this rainforest was being driven by a local movie star and broke down midway up the mountain
  • While waiting for help to arrive, that same local movie star produced an armadillo shell ukelele and serenaded us with Spanish folk songs  (you can’t make this up)
  • There were numerous moments “lost in translation,” one of which resulted in us being referred to as “drunk donkeys” (we are still puzzled by that one)
  • We devised quite an impassioned plan to run for Puerto Rican political office in order to enact laws and/or guidelines regarding water conservation, pollution and animal rights (grand in ideology, pitiful in execution; refer to the above mention of those moments of “lost in translation”)

All this in a mere five days! Can you blame us for wanting to get back in the saddle and ride off again!? It makes my heart happy to imagine the possibilities!


I purchased this skirt on a whim last year when I was, um, “emboldened by strong emotions stemming from a rather shocking display of ungentlemanly behavior” (i.e. “retail recovery”). There is just something about sprinkling sparkle and sequins into the everyday and/or putting on a certain statement piece that brings out your inner “MEOW.” It really cures almost anything that ails you.

Ready to be rid of any lingering tension from last week, I pulled that skirt out, dressed it down a little bit (it was a Sunday morning, after all), and went off to meet Miss Too-Much-is-Never-Enough (Jenna) and Sweet Victoria for brunch. When Jenna, a seasoned fashion & lifestyle blogger and stylist among other things, insisted that I be in front of the camera that morning, I was not so sure; however, after calming my inner critic and nudging my inner diva with a few pointers from Jenna, it was a complete blast! (More to come on this in a future post!)

PSA: You simply must try it. Put on whatever makes you shine from the inside out, tell your inner critic to Zip It!, then strike a pose (or two! or ten!) and have a friend take pictures. It does wonders for your outlook. Try it this weekend & report back!

The Tools I Need...

Perhaps I marveled at the dexterity of whomever created this chalkboard art hanging above the bar at King + Duke in Buckhead (there was not a smudge) or maybe my fondness for three of Faulkner’s four tools just spoke to me? Whatever the reason, I found my attention lingering on this piece intermittently throughout the evening. It’s so simple, yet profound. Would love to hang it in my own study one day!

Last, but not least, Argus’ battle with the Tater Tot had me laughing as I watched him zip in and out of the frame as he plotted his plan of attack. Oh, that face! Enjoy!