Woman’s Words Wednesday – Hilarious, Honest, Happily Single, Holly

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“If there’s one thing that’s sadder than being single, it’s settling. And I refuse to do it.”

I first met Holly Ann Phillips when I was working at Abercrombie & Fitch and the abercrombie kids store in the Mall of Louisiana.

This had to be circa 2006/7. “Post Katrina”, as the time after August 2005 has been dubbed by NOLA peeps, I took a managerial job with the “model-y” clothing store in Shreveport. I had never really been a collar-popping, layer-centric type who wore the brand, but I was stuck in North LA because my City was flooded, I needed a J.O.B. STAT, and you had to have a college Degree to be a manager at A&F.

Yes I did it for the salary (teeny, tiny salary) and health insurance, but I also knew, if I was going to have a job on my resume that said “Manager” and was my first after graduating, I was going to make the most of it and excel, no matter the industry or location.

I became very good at managing, training, and styling the store which involved all the correct folding, placement and presentation of the merchandise, and dressing of the forms (mannequins without limbs), so much so that when there was a fire in the back of the Baton Rouge location, I was sent to help re-do the store. Impressed by the job I did the first go round, I was sent again one holiday season to help failing standards and quitting managers. That’s when I met one of my all-time favorite gingers!

Holly worked in the kids’ store and was as fiery and energetic as her hair would suggest. She was easy to talk to, spunky, good at her job and pleasant to be around. Holly and I would talk a lot about relationships and it surprises me in no way that she has become a professional writer and blogs about her relationship life.

At that time in my life I had made friends with a guy who was studying to be a brain surgeon. We had met and hung out in Shreveport, so when he went back to his hometown in B.R., and I found myself working a few weeks stint at the Abercrombie locations, we decided to hangout again. Mc-Very-Attractive would visit the mall on occasion and bring me treats like cookies. Holly and I would talk about him being the kind of guy who would make a good catch: handsome, great job, did nice things.

The good Doctor and I did not end up together, though we remain caring friends, and he is now married with children…

I tell this story to introduce my single sister Holly, but also to give a glimpse of just one of the many wonderful men who have come, and gone, in my life as I remain single. And over 30. And completely OK WITH IT!

I give this Wednesday’s Woman Words to the lovely Ms. Holly Ann Phillips because her blog today said a million things I have BEEN thinking and saying to people for a WHILE now. I love the life I have lead, the adventures I have had, the men I have loved, and hated, and wished for, and screamed about, and remain dedicated to a friendship with, and I wouldn’t trade it for a second of being settled because I settled.

Here’s  Holly to more pointedly and wittily explain:

 “I don’t think that’s a question I can answer,” I told her. “What if I don’t find someone?”

I’m single, stop asking why.

on The Bitter Lemon by Holly Ann Phillips

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The pictures were from the trip to Cancun I just returned from…I felt inspired by Holly’s post. How did Holly’s post make you feel readers? I’m highly interested. I’m sure she is too so comment here and leave her some feedback.

To my single readers, in the face of negativity or confusion from the coupled-crowd, brush it off and keep doing YOU! Celebrate your

Sexy Single Self

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Foto Friday – Clicks of Carnival

Oh well it’s Carnival Time & Everybody’s Feelin’ Fine

While the rest of the nation is sending out Valentines, shopping for chocolate and roses, or possibly caring that it’s President’s Day on Monday, many residents around Louisiana, especially here in The Big Easy of NOLA, are simply concerned about securing their spot for the next parade (Neutral Ground or Sidewalk Side? IT MATTERS), making sure they have a wristband for a restroom, getting their dresses or tuxes dry cleaned between Krewe Balls, and stocking up on booze and snacks for the route.

The Carnival season stretches from the Epiphany or Kings Day through Mardi Gras

The “big weekend” starts tonight and will run through Lundi Gras on Monday and Mardi Gras Tuesday, with the Super-Krewes rolling through the streets over the next few days. Here’s a look at my Mardi Gras happenings so far this season:

The Coronation Ball for Endymion

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Black Tie is a requirement at the balls

Endymion Coronation Float

The floats line the Convention Center for viewing

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Mardi Gras Traditions 

Traffic Selfie

The “waiting in traffic” selfie floods social media

Collectible & Bead

Porcelain collectible of a permanent float from Super-Krewe Bacchus & a vintage bead like the ones originally thrown in parades.

King Cake

King Cake is EVERYWHERE! Work, home, parades…

The Parades 

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Decorated balconies & flags bring Carnival Spirit to the French Quarter

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My sister and I with King “Dewy” Andoullie, King Barkus 2015. We marched in the parade as part of his escort!

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Catching the coveted shoes at the Krewe of Muses with my friend Lauren

“Throw me Somethin Mista!”

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This is just a small sampling from my Mardi Gras fun so far. Over the next few days I’ll be snapping many more in between hikes to different friends on the parade routes, shouting for the best blinky-throws, stuffing my face with king cake, and just generally enjoying one of the biggest parties in the world!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Merry Mardi Gras Mah Mates!!!

Try it Tuesday – Self-esteem Selfie

#20BeautifulWomenChallenge

I’ve noticed the above hashtag circling around social media sites. Perhaps you have too. So I decided to look into it…

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After doing some interweb digging I actually came up pretty short on the origins and meaning behind the latest selfie phenomena.

I did find there was a 20 Beautiful Women book that the Huffington Post gave an exceptional review. Author Sabe Tekle shares her own story alongside 19 other women she gathered for the 2013 publication. These stories of women conquering their battles, discovering their virtues and understanding what enabled them down their paths, sound like the kind of collection I need to get in-between the pages of, and QUICK!

But back to the hashtag.

The #20BeautfulChallenge can be described as a cyclical series of selfies to spread self-empowerment and self-esteem. (Awesome alliteration!) A nominated person posts a picture of themselves in which they feel beautiful. They then tag, and so nominate, 20 other people to do the same. The idea of the selfie is not to grab “likes” but to confidently share an ideal of yourself with others. The pictures I saw ranged from facial beauty shots to quirky faces, from travel photos to action shots. There are group shots along with the singles and members of the male gender as well.

While there are mocking pictures and negative feedback on sites like Twitter and Instagram, the negativity seems to be aimed at the self-serving-selfie takers interested more in posting for lust or likes and perhaps gathering followers through the movement.

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One Twitter follower seemed to be against the need for the movement the way people are against Valentine’s Day as a need to show love; if you love someone you should show it everyday, or in this case, friends don’t need to tag you for you to feel beautiful:

All-in-all, applied in the intended context, the movement seems to be another hash-mark in the positive column for hastags and the power of social media, much like the #nomakeup hashtag inspired clean-faced selfies and natural-beauty acceptance.

So in honor of the challenge here is my most recent selfie that is by far one of my favorites:

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This is my sister Ann & I in the Royalty Room with the King of Barkus and crew, before the parade this past Sunday, 2/8/15. This picture makes me feel beautiful because it captured the true excitement in our eyes to be spending such a fun day together. My sister is the other half of me in a way no one else will be and only a few can understand. Any time with her is fantastic. She is so ridiculously beautiful, inside and out, and she makes me feel more beautiful just by proximity. The sunlight of this gorgeous day shines on our faces and radiates from our smiles. I just think there are few things more beautiful than sister-love; especially when it’s glittered with the magic of Mardi Gras in New Orleans!

“A beautiful woman is peaceful: she has made peace with her past. A beautiful woman is passionate: she is on fire with a strong desire to change the world. A beautiful woman is purposeful: she knows why she was born and does what she was created here to do. Be beautiful.” Sabe Tekle

So my beautiful readers, I hope you will get inspired to post your own #20BeautifulWomenChallenge picture and nominate women you see as beautiful!

Spread Stupendous Self-Esteem

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Share your thoughts on the #20BeautifulWomenChallenge. Love it? Think it’s just a bunch of selfies? Know more about it? Have you done it?

Fall & Football

It’s the first cool Fall day in Louisiana & a huge day of SEC collegiate Football! Life is so good in the South!

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Preparing for a day of food & fun with friends (of which I will include in future posts)!

Maybe it’s a Southern thing, maybe it’s a Louisiana thing but today we will be made happy by a crisp breeze, smoked meats, huge pots of savory gumbo, craft beer, raucous tailgating, babies in school colors, boots & scarves, cheering & backseat coaching.

It bears repeating: today, life is so good in the South.

B is for … Bargains: Better Buds Bash

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We’re into the second month of the blog and the second letter. For the month of September, B’s theme is going to be “Better” in a  series of posts about simple ways to do things better. Brilliant!

Today’s do-better theme, Entertaining and Dinner Parties:

 

 

Entertaining:

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  • Presentation is key – When setting out food for entertaining, remember the old adage – We eat with our eyes first. I know that a good part of my presentation OCD comes from my event planning days, but those were valuable lessons learned. No-one sees the container the food comes out off, just the plate they take the food from – The lesson here is to go with the store brand or an alternative, cheaper option when possible with the food and serve it up in an eye-appealing way.
    • I love me some Water Crackers but at upwards of $4 a box, they’re a bit more than I want to pay for a snack “accessory”! There are many tasty alternatives like rice-crackers that come in several yummy flavors (Whole Foods 365 are delicious) and usually retail closer to $1 a box. Less expensive, crusty bread sliced in a basket looks rustic and inviting next to a cheese plate & a loaf can go for $1 from the grocery.
    • Wine in a box has come a long way in taste and quality over the last decade, offering award-winning wine at “bulk” prices, which is what you’re looking for when serveral bottles are likely to be poured. Black Box is a personal favorite of mine and several of my girlfriends. Just because the wine comes in a box doesn’t mean it has to be placed out for spigot use. Decanting that box wine makes for a lovely presentation and can enhance the taste through aeration and temperature; red wine will be kept at room temperature and white wine decanters are designed to keep the wine chilled.
  • Sharing is caring – As much as I love a visually appealing spread, having not yet become the recipient of a bridal registry, I’m lacking when it comes to presentation dishware. Buying them would throw my entire budget, however I know friends who do very well with thrifting for them. My suggestion, borrow from relatives, other friends, or even the friends you are hosting. Make the effort to collect from them in advance of the party and return the dishware washed and with a short “Thank You” note soon after. The small effort to collect and return equals huge payoff for a fabulous table setting.
    • Or skip the fancy dishes all together and place plain dishware on a clever table topper! Pinterest in full of “chalkboard table” ideas!
  • A little bit $$$ a lot of $ – When planning entertainment dishes like snacks, apps, small bites,  remember a rule of thirds. For every one pricier item, have two lower priced items, and make your pricier items only up to a third of the entire spread.
    • I love cheese and love, love, love a cheeseboard. Probably because I could sit and eat the whole thing! (Don’t judge) As much as I would like a cheeseboard full of Humboldt Fog and Roquetfort, I’m balling on a budget. Following the thirds-rule, I make sure my board has plenty of less expensive items on the spread: grapes, carrots, olives, nuts (drizzle with oil and cajun spices, toast in oven for a few mins for extra pizzazz), slices of delicious and inexpensive sharp cheddar, and let’s not underestimate the wonders of a block of store-brand cream-cheese with a pepper jelly on top.
    • Whole Foods has a basket of cheeses in the cheese department that’s filled with the odds-and-ends of the cheeses; the “last piece” basket. The pieces are usually no more than $5. Rummage through and pick out a few pieces. Spot these around your cheese board for variety and interest.

 

Dinner Parties:

 

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  • What’s growing = what’s cheapest – Though we live in a magical world of year round produce where you can get strawberries in the dead of winter, the most economical selections are those that traveled the least distance and are in season. Make sure to plan your meal around what’s growing to cut costs and ensure a superior product.
  • Shop with your eyes, then with your wallet – Grab the grocery publications or check online for the sales they are running. Plan a menu around that. This rule also applies for drinks and snacks for a dinner party.
    • If hummus is on sale, for instance, I will usually reduce or forgo the cheese plate for hummus and veggies. Delicious and easy frozen meatballs on special? You bet they’re going in a small bite dish for a party or as an app for a dinner!
    • This is also a great way to get pricier items on the plate. If it’s a rare occasion when crab claws are on sale, just one or two on each plate can really fancy-up the meal of a small gathering. Asparagus can be pricey but I love to scoop it up when it’s on special.
  • Good food is good food, period – Many people assume, because they are having company over, they should serve “only the best” to their guests. While I agree your guests should get the best you have to offer, what you have to offer should fit your budget.
    • Can’t afford to serve everyone steak? Go for a more economical cut of meat, like flank steak and serve it in a creative way (try it atop the Triple Threat Salad) or make beef stroganoff with inexpensive stew meat (Bonus: it can be made in the slow-cooker before the party).
  • No leftovers zone – Be reasonable with yourself about how much to serve your guests. Remember that restaurant sizes are not a good guide for serving sizes and that you will not be providing guests with to-go boxes. While second helpings are nice to offer, how many of your  guests do you anticipate having them? If you have served snacks before a dinner party meal, your portion sizes at dinner can be smaller; same if there is a starter, salad, dessert, etc.

 

In Sum: Plan for the sale and the season. Follow the thirds rule and aim for the inexpensive. Presentation over brand-name and  delicious over expensive.

And the most important thing to remember is the reason you are feeding…to gather everyone together for good food and a good time! It’s about company and memories, so concern yourself more with being a gracious host/hostess than a well-to-do one!

Bidding you Blissful Bashes! 

Fun Facts Friday – B is for Baking

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Last Saturday morning I decided to combat the bleakness of the rains pummeling against my windows with the warms smells of baking and coffee.SAS.M3

 

 

Wild-berry "protein" muffins

Wild-berry “protein” muffins fresh out the oven!

I made myself some wild-berry “protein” muffins.  Now before you go giving me any undue credit, I used a mix…but, as I often do when making food, I did change up the recipe and add a few of my own ingredients. That’s usually easier to do with cooking than baking, given the exactness required more often  in baking recipes but I find muffins to be pretty forgiving.

 

Fun story: In high school Home Economics class my group put all the melted butter listed for the recipe in our orange muffin batter. While the muffins were baking we went to prepare the topping and realized the butter was meant to top the muffins with. There was a slight panic in the eyes of four plaid-clad young ladies! What happened to the muffins, you ask? They came out looking perfect! We melted more butter, topped them with zest and sugar and got rave reviews for our super moist creations! HIGH-FIVE!

For Saturday’s muffins I just substituted vanilla protein powder for the milk and added more spice with cinnamon and nutmeg.  I added some flax too, just for a bit more nutritional value.

Making Muffins

I love my well worn muffin tin. It reminds me of fond times chatting over morning muffins with roommates and my sister.

September is a new month and so it’s time for a new letter: B! Inspired by our new letter and morning muffins, our first FFF is all about baking.

 

Encyclopedia.com defines baking as:

 two culinary processes: cooking by dry heat in an enclosed oven and making up flour-based goods (breads, cakes, pastries) that are cooked by baking. By extension a baking day is devoted to making breads and cakes and includes the idea of a batch bake or tray bake made up in quantity for cutting into smaller pieces.

and lists the occupations of the trade as the baker and the pastry chef:

the baker using yeast to make breads and the pastry cook producing delicate pastries and cakes.

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Bakers and Pastry Chefs have a patron saint all their own; Saint Honore. Honore was a Bishop and, fittingly, French. When Honore became Bishop, a woman baking didn’t believe it and to prove he was indeed Bishop, a piece of her bread was placed in the ground and grew into a tree. Celebrate on May 16th by baking with fruit from trees, like a lemon pound cake!

Saw this helpful hint on Today I Found Out:

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And an found article from Wise Bread to help crack the code! Buy Better Bread!

Color Coding Bread

One of the first things I helped my mother bake, cake. My mom was incredible and made all the cakes for my siblings and cousins. She was a master of themes and icing, creating everything from an army battle field to a Care Bear.

Cakes come in all shapes and sizes now but were traditionally round and here’s why:

Cake Cake Cake

Find out about the history of cakes from Weekend Notes!

This symbolizes the cyclical nature of life, the sun and the moon, which is probably the reason why we have cakes during important events; highlighting that we are embarking on a new journey in our life-span.

Ancient breads were also round, typically fashioned into round balls and baked in shallow pans. In the 17th century, cake hoops made from metal or wood were increasingly used.

Now everyone together, you know the song…“Cake-Cake-Cake-Cake-Cake”

Know who the Guiness World Record holder for the world’s largest brownie is? All American Cooking does!brownies

It’s Something Sweet BakeShop in Daphne, Alabama who used  432 eggs, 216 pounds of sugar, 108 cups of flour, and 27 pounds of chocolate, 54 pounds of butter, to make the 234.2 pound confection! Sounds like just enough chocolaty deliciousness to satisfy my sweet tooth!

I hope these fun facts have preheated your desire-to-bake-oven! Click around on the links for more fun baking facts and tips and check back on SAS for upcoming baking ideas. Remeber, baking should be like these facts, fun! It doesn’t have to be from-scratch to count either. Slice-and-bake cookie? Yummy! Box cornbread? Yes, please! Cake from a mix? Make mine fun-fetti!

So my dear readers, whether you’re an oven  novice or a pro,

Blissfully Bust-out some Baking! 

What’s your favorite thing to bake or favorite baking tip? Let us hear it below!

Try it Tuesday – A is for All/Almost Natural

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I rarely read the Letter from the Editor in magazines, preferring to instead skip ahead to the pages with pictures and a visually stimulating layout or a cover article I’ve been dying to devour. Linda Wells, Editor in Chief of Allure changed my mind awhile back with her honest, poignant opinions, and now I make it a point to pause my page flipping and read what she has to say.

In her July letter (magazine addition, the online addition is different) Wells writes about self-acceptance, self-assurance and beauty issues in women.

“…since perfection is an impossibility, many women feel inadequate from the get-go. – We begin and end each day before a magnifying mirror, scrutinizing our flaws, blind to our beauty.” 

Even as  most of us women analyze our appearance as we apply our makeup in the mirror in the morning, again each time we touch-up our faces in the restroom and perhaps in the car in-between, the hashtags of #nofilter and #nomakeup accompanying “fresh faced” pictures, are trending.
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 “People who are never oblivious about their appearance-Beyonce’, Gwyneth, Rihanna, Miley-have posted no-makeup selfies on Instagram lately as part of a trend in going bare-faced and proud…the no-makeup selfie is a declaration of self-acceptance and unadorned beauty.” 

 

 

I’ve seen the “Stars Without Makeup” articles in magazines several times and while these stars may not have makeup on, they do have a few things working in their favor: genetics, lighting and post-shoot editing. This may be why the #nofilter and Instagram #nomakeup pictures are becoming so popular; it’s meant to be the truest, most real picture of the celebrity or average Jane who posts it.

“The no-makeup selfie is an effort to reclaim confidence…until we feel comfortable in our own, unadorned skin, we’ll never feel truly beautiful.”

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So in an effort to boost my own acceptance of my God-given, natural beauty, and inspired by the words of Lauren Bacall in last week’s WWW, here’s my no-makeup selfie. This is me in the morning, skin washed and moisturized with nothing tinted or colored; #nofilter. I did employ mother nature’s best gift for photography, sunlight and bit my lips for a bit of natural color. It’s a little scary to know this picture will be online for the world to see but, that’s the point, now isn’t it!

To be realistic though, I, along with most of the women I know, wear makeup practically every day. While not a requirement, it is the standard in most work environments and day-to-day situations. As Wells points out, the trend toward natural beauty

“…doesn’t have to mean a repudiation of makeup, just as beauty doesn’t have to require 14 products and an hour in the bathroom…Makeup isn’t the enemy of self-esteem; it’s an extension and expression of it.”

And while  my friends would rightfully put me in the “14 products and an hour (or two) in the bathroom” category, I reserve that kind of attention to getting ready for outings, night clubs, special occasions, etc. My typical daily routine for life and work is significantly more edited because, to me, 10 more minutes of sleep is  more rewarding than extensive contouring. So when there may be camera or man of interest involved I am likely to spend considerably more time with products and technique, but a clean, fresh-faced look is perfect for sitting under florescent lights or “making” groceries (as we say in NOLA).

Here’s a few tips for a simple, pulled together, almost natural look of your own:

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  • Make BB creams or tinted moisturizers your bestie! Most you can find are packed with anti-aging ingredients including the most important one, SPF, so if you’re rushed or want to skip moisturizing first, feel free. They are sheer so they can be applied quickly. I like to use a stipple brush because I can swirl on the cream more evenly and faster than with my fingers. Bonus, stipple brushes distribute so well, you can use less product.
  • Get a concealer with an applicator tip.  My favorite for daily use is Maybelline’s Age Rewind Eraser thanks to its spongy tip. Dab the concealer on with the applicator tip and blend. In the case of concealer where your goal is to blend in a concentrated area, fingertips make the quickest and best tools.
  • Say it with me, Cream Blush. Quite possibly the easiest makeup product to apply. Treat it like modified finger painting and tap on the color rather than smearing. Tapping allows you to build color  and gives you the most natural flush. Bonus use: buy a color that’s more peachy than pink and dab on eyeslids too.
  • Multi-tonal powder and a fluffy brush are a power duo. Choose a powder that has several tones in one compact so that you can customize the blending to fit your skin-tone of the moment. A Monday after a weekend beach trip may require more swirl-time in the bronzer area than a Thursday during a regular, indoor week. Swirl color accordingly with a large, fluffy brush and apply all over to set your cream and blush.
  • Brush those brows. This step may seem excessive if you are trying to speed up your routine however brushing your eyebrows neat can make a world of difference and takes 5 seconds with the right tool. Run a clean, mascara wand in an arch shape through the brows.
  • Brighten the lids, darken the lashes. A light sweeping of an ivory or bone colored shadow on the eyelids will help brighten the face and a coat of mascara is arguably the makeup step with the most positive impact. Use a fluffy shadow brush to dust the eyelids and finish the face with a few coats of mascara. (Find tips to pick the best mascara for you, here.)

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So now it’s your turn to Try It! 

If taking the #nomakeup selfie is not your thing and neither is forgoing makeup for a day, just try a lighter, quicker, almost-natural look and see how it feels!

I encourage my readers, take a day (or two) this week and enjoy

Being Beautifully Bare!

 

 

 

 

I’d love to read comments about your experience with #nomakeup selfies or natural makeup tips. Please share below!