Monthly Archives: November 2011

Just Be.

This Thanksgiving has been quiet and somewhat solitary. I’ve been able to reflect on just how amazing life is…. I’m thankful to be.

I’ve spent time appreciating the amazing color of the trees in fall, the goofiness of my dog, the unbelievable joy I get from yoga, the tenderness I feel for my sweetheart, and just breathing in and out.

Life is so short and it seems to me we just forget to just be…. Breathing. Enjoying.

So instead of being something (thankful, joyful, happy, etc)… I’ve taken time this Thanksgiving, to just be.

~ Michaela

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This was a very untraditional Thanksgiving for me.  My husband left for his Mother’s house on Tuesday and I flew to my parent’s new place in Texas on Friday after Thanksgiving.  This meant I was home with only the dogs for company on Thanksgiving day.  I had leftovers from dinner with friends the night before and did one of my favorite things – I went to the theater to see The Decendants.  I had theater popcorn for my main meal and it was a great day !

On Friday morning, my Sister and I flew to Pharr, TX to spend a few days with our parents and grandmother at a retirement resort community where they are staying for the winter.

My sister and I both live to eat.  She routinely shares her menu wish list well before she arrives so we are eating fabulous meals made up of childhood favorites during our extended visit.  We are thoroughly enjoying our ‘All Inclusive’ Resort Vacation in South Texas with family.

~ Susan

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This (and every) Thanksgiving I’m thankful for:
A large, intrusive, inappropriate and completely awesome extended family, that I’m never more thankful for than around the holidays
Friends that make me laugh out loud just thinking about the fun we have had and will have together
My little dog Ellie, who I just can’t get enough of
A job that allows me to live a life that I truly enjoy
And finally,
The honest people that Marriott employs, who are FedEx-ing me the computer that I left in their hotel over the weekend.
– Erin

Cutting the cord

I’m 30. I’m single. I live in the same general area that I grew up in, about 30 minutes from my parents. 

My family is very close. My brother and sister are two of my best friends.  I love my parents to death and I love spending time with them.

Here it comes…


During the holidays, my parents still expect me to stay at their house on “the eve” – Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve – especially Christmas Eve.  And here’s the BUT – I really, really, REALLY don’t want to.  I haven’t wanted to for the past few years, but I continue to just do it because, I don’t feel like I have a good excuse not to – aside from the fact that I am a college graduate with a mortgage.  Plus I know my parents would be sad/disappointed.

I don’t like sleeping on the couch (well, not when it’s on purpose), and that’s where I sleep when I stay at my parents.  I like my house and  my bed (both that I BOUGHT); I like waking up and having (a lot) of coffee before interacting with people, and I like my own shower and not having to pack a bag to go a half an hour away. 

Don’t get me wrong – I love spending the holidays with my family, and wouldn’t want it any other way. But I wonder, how much longer can this go on?  Will I have to sleep there on the eve for the rest of my life if I decide not to get married and/or have kids? Will I be leaving my dentures in a cup on the table next to the couch?  The majority of my friends are married, and most with kids at this point, so they aren’t expected to stay at home on “the eve.”  But I’m the same age as them.

So I think this might be the year.  I’m going to take a stand!!

Who am I kidding – I’m going to drink 12 gimlets on Christmas Eve and pass out on the couch and end up having to stay anyway.

But really – this doesn’t just apply to Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve – there are tons of examples of situations where, if I was married, would have totally different expectations.  When does that change?

– Erin

Andy Rooney on Women Over Forty

Andy Rooney says: As I grow in age, I value women who are over forty most of all. Here are just a few reasons why: A woman over forty will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, “What are you thinking?” She doesn’t care what you think.

If a woman over forty doesn’t want to watch the game, she doesn’t sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do. And, it’s usually something more interesting.

A woman over forty knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants and from whom. Few women past the age of forty give a hoot what you might think about her or what she’s doing.

Women over forty are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won’t hesitate to shoot you, if they think they can get away with it. Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it’s like to be unappreciated.

A woman over forty has the self-assurance to introduce you to her women friends. A younger woman with a man will often ignore even her best friend because she doesn’t trust the guy with other women. Women over forty couldn’t care less if you’re attracted to her friends because she knows her friends won’t betray her.

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over forty. They always know. A woman over forty looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over forty is far sexier than her younger counterpart. Older women are forthright and honest. They’ll tell you right off if you are a jerk, if you are acting like one! You don’t ever have to wonder where you stand with her.

Yes, we praise women over forty for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it’s not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed hot woman of forty-plus, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some twenty-two-year-old waitress.

Ladies, I apologize. For all those men who say, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,” here’s an update for you. Now 80 percent of women are against marriage, why? Because women realize it’s not worth buying an entire pig, just to get a little sausage.


Our “Dirty Little Secrets”…

I am sure I have a normal, healthy amount of dirty little secrets – no more than the average non-serial killer. When forced consider one to share, I decided to go with the first one to pop in my head. I, Jennifer Zarcone – no-reality-show-watching, master’s degree-holding, public radio-listening, New Yorker subscribing, grown-ass woman never miss an episode of Days of Our Lives.

It started innocently enough. Co-workers wanted to watch in a conference room during lunch. I refused for a while. Soap Operas?! Don’t we have more important things to discuss?! Deep down I knew why I didn’t want to watch. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to quit. You see, I come from a long line of addictive soap watchers. We are ABC watchers – the Quartermaines and the Webers – these were my people.  And I knew if I started watching, I wouldn’t be able to stop.  

Now, those co-workers are long gone and the Brady’s and the Horton’s – their lives and the absolutely ridiculous situations they get themselves in and out of are just the brain candy I need at the end of the day (in my defense – with DVR, you can watch a Soap in about 15 minutes). It is their ability to bounce back after any set-back – to be up and walking around and running for mayor weeks after being shot in the head at point black range; or having your heart taken out and put back in and then dating casually two weeks later. These lessons of resilience just can’t be found in the real world – or on PBS.

– Jen


I record more hours of television per week than most people work.

This is not an exaggeration. 

And yes, I have a full time job.

I knew before starting to write this post that I recorded a lot of TV.  The only thing I can stand to watch ‘live’ is sports, so anything else that I have an interest in seeing goes straight to the DVR.  I’m a chronic multi-tasker, and the thought of wasting my time on commercials just about sends me over the edge. 

Anyway, I made a list of the shows I’m recording right now.  Keep in mind, its fall and my “TV busy season,” but I’m averaging about 35 hours of recording per week.  I also realized through this little exercise that I watch a lot of TV on-demand because I literally can’t fit it into the schedule of my DVR.  It *might* be getting a little excessive.  Then again, maybe its not as abnormal as I think.

 The funny thing is, 5 years ago, I was watching almost zero TV.  I had a different job, was working crazy hours, and had more of a “live to work” than “work to live” lifestyle.  When I wasn’t working I was thinking about work, regardless of the time of day or day of the week. 

When I switched jobs and could relax enough to sit down at the end of the day to watch something mindless, I quickly got addicted.  I love it all – reality, drama, crime scene shows, cooking, travel… the list goes on. HGTV is a serious problem for me – I find myself watching re-runs of House Hunters International – already knowing the house they will pick but watching it anyway, dreaming that one day I will be buying a house in those exactly locations. 

Maybe I will try to watch a little less TV now that I see the magnitude of my “little secret” but really, I couldn’t be more content than when I’m sitting on my couch, watching these ridiculous shows with Ellie on my lap. 

– Erin


I’m in bed before your children

Yes that is right, i go to bed early. Very early. Wicked early. Unbelievably early…You get the idea.

I usually follow that up immediately with, “but i get up very early too,” hoping for a smidgen of understanding or forgiveness I guess.
I know it is lame. My husband knows it is lame. My sisters and brothers know it is lame… and yes I beat my parents to bed most nights (they are in their 70’s) and they know it is lame.

Urban Dictionary defines me as a closer. Good ole’ Ben Franklin has made it easier with his famous quote about how I’m going to be “healthy, wealthy and wise” all because I’m early to bed. Then of course the Canadians go and test the theory experimentally and disprove good Ben (seriously).

But here is the deal. I can’t help it…I love going to bed more than most things (except my husband and dog). My bed is my sanctuary and sometimes, when I wrap up the day, my biggest indulgence is to get in bed before 8pm. It is decadent, wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable!

Dirty little secret or not – I have been ridiculed and yelled at for being an early sleeper and through all of it, I just don’t care because ‘I yam what i yam.’

I enjoy morning, I enjoy going to bed early, and I love my life. Do with that what you will!

– Michaela


I love going to the movie theater to watch movies.  Not rock’m sock’m action movies or gory thrillers. Oh no, not for me.  I demand chick flicks that always end the way you’ll know they’ll end.  I want no surprises.  I want to know going in that the guy gets the girl or the girl gets the guy.  No worries, no stress, perfect ending every time. 

My little secret is I don’t want any company when I go to the theater.  I want to sit alone with no one around me.  I don’t want the chatter and I don’t want to share my large tub of popcorn.  I want a couple of hours where I can mindlessly shove popcorn in my mouth and drink my soda. 

I pick the first movie of the day on Saturday or Sunday and head off to oblivion.  This is me time and I love it – it’s not better than a massage but relaxing in a different kind of way.  When I’m sitting fat and happy in a theater with a huge grin on my face because of some mushy, romantic or funny scene on the big screen, well, I’m in heaven.  Mindless, chick flick enjoyment all by myself.   

– Susan

What’s your dirty little secret??

Capturing sweetness

Recently my father in law passed away. At too young an age… unexpected, sad.

Events like this somehow tweak your perspective and I’ve had flashes of great insight during these trying times. When I can get there, it is so sweet and savory that I’ve been trying to capture it.

The best I can explain is that the goodness is to remember that nothing lasts forever. For me, this small simple key seems to unlock my ability to enjoy true happiness and more importantly, contentment.

That is to say, life is sad, happy, angry, frustrating and joyful – all at once and all at different times, for different lengths of time. But right now, embody….down to your tippy toes… that this moment, this night, this job, this weather, this health, this relationship, this pet, this situation WILL CHANGE.

If you can truly feel it and appreciate the feelings that you are having, good or bad – the challenge of your colleagues, the stress of your job, the joy in your dog, the battle with fitness, the achievement of your day – you are truly living and that is all we have.  Because it will change, just as it has always changed….Then one day we are gone.

If you waste all your time being so stuck in the actual emotion at the second, really stuck, and not just watching it all flow by and experiencing it, you have truly missed out.

Life is unbearably sweet and precious! Step back, smile and marvel at the wonder of it all.

~ Michaela

Was That My Turn?

I’m geographically challenged.  I don’t know how people are born with absolutely NO sense of direction, but I’m proof that you can survive this affliction.  Even if I do know where we’re going, you don’t want to rely on me for  directions if you’re driving, because I’ll forget to tell you.  It’s like the passenger seat automatically disengages the little part of my brain dedicated to navigation. But, sometimes good things come out of missing a turn.

Recently, my friend was driving us somewhere new in my town.  True to form, I forgot to say where to go and we wound up detouring through an area near my paternal grandparents’ house that triggered childhood memories.  Then, wait, did you see that sign that said ‘Bold City Brewery’?  And did that store next to it say ‘Just Brew It’?  My friend always wanted to try brewing and Saint Louis made me a fan of microbrews (Square One is a favorite!).

After keeping the store clerk open late answering our questions, we were trying to fit a brewing kit and a large glass carboy into a tiny trunk (the one disadvantage of detours is being ill-prepared).   The next day brought the aroma of hops to the kitchen and left us pondering names for breweries and beer labels.

A few evenings later I’m home alone and hear a bang!  Luckily, it wasn’t too late or too dark, so I didn’t panic when I couldn’t identify the sound.  Later I opened
the pantry door to put something away and saw tiny glass shards and brown liquid all over the floor.  A beer bottle had broken.  Just slight annoyance while I cleaned it up.  A couple of hours later, a BANG!  Really, another bottle broken?  A little more annoyance now as I clean up the second time.  When the third bottle exploded, I was officially perturbed and called my friend to let him know
about it.  I found a storage bin just the right size for 45 bottles of beer and counted each time another bottle lost its battle and marveled at how glass shards got out of the container.

The next day, he asked me to release some of the pressure from the remaining bottles.  But someone who happened to be with me suggested I could really be hurt.  So…  I found safety goggles, donned a heavy sweater and garden gloves and before opening bottles with the bin lid protecting my face.  The first bottle spewed beer into the air a foot or so.  The next, and last, bottle that I tried to
save spewed brown, sticky liquid nearly four feet into the air and onto three
different shelves of pantry contents.  Now, I’m worried AND aggravated.  I put the lid back on, gingerly carried the bin outside, and placed an old DVR and four bags of mulch on top of it so the sun’s affect wouldn’t force more shards out of the bin.

Turns out, there was some miscommunication about the bottling process.  Now, we are a few batches into the new hobby and the beer stays controlled.  It actually tastes good and we’re having fun trying different kits.

Sometimes a wrong turn can lead to new hobbies, some interesting moments, and a few laughs.  Next time I wind up on a detour, I’ll be certain to keep my eyes open for unexpected benefits!

~ Lori