Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Betty Crocker Knows Best

Every once and a while I will become inspired to cook...

In the spring I found this great recipe for "Impossibly Easy Zucchini Pie" on the Betty Crocker website. I have made it now approximately 4 times.  Not only is it easy to make, but it tastes WONDERFUL!

1 Cup of Chopped Zucchini
1 Cup of Chopped Tomato
1/2 Cup of Chopped Onion
1/3 Cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese
2/3 Cup of Pancake Mix
(of course they suggest Bisquick®, but any brand will do) 
3/4 Cup of Skim Milk
2 Eggs
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
1/4 Teaspoon of Pepper

Most naturally I add to this list of ingredients! I want to eat this "pie" at my main entree so I add 1 cup of chopped Trader Joe's Smoke Apple Chardonnay Chicken Sausage. 

The great thing about the chicken sausage is that it is already fully cooked and of course all natural!!  Not only does the sausage add protein to this yummy "pie", but it adds a light sweet flavor.

For the pie crust I usually use a pre-made frozen crust that you just thaw and place in a pie dish - I can't say that I have ever been daring enough to make my our crust...

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400. 
Step 2: Sprinkle zucchini, tomato, onion, and cheese (plus the chick sausage) evenly in the pie plate.
(I prefer to mix these ingredients first that way all is evenly dispersed in the pie plate)
Step 3: Mix remaining ingredients (pancake mix, milk, eggs, salt and pepper) until blended. 
Pour evenly into the pie plate.
(I also like to add more Parmesan (preferably freshly grated) on the top before cooking)
Step 4: Bake for about 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes.
Step 5: Mangia!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Vacation Cut Short....

Thanks to Hurricane Irene my family vacation to Martha's Vineyard was cut short.  Originally, I had planned on leaving today, but due to the predicted course of the storm I took the last ferry off the island on Friday and the first and ONLY train to leave South Station on Saturday.

Even though vacation may have been cut short I still have a wonderful time.  The weather was perfect for the beach.  My niece, Nica, enjoyed the beach and the water!  Even though it was her second year to the Vineyard - it was really her first opportunity to play in the sand and water.  As you can see she thoroughly enjoyed herself.

We dined and drank at our "regular" spots that we normally visit during our annual vacations; Sharky's Cantina, Nancy'sThe Black Dog Tavern, Sand Bar & Grille, The Outlook. We ate ice cream at Ben and Bill's and Mad Martha's and gorged on donuts from the home of Back Door Donuts.  We shopped at The Black Dog, Vineyard Vines, Sanctuary, and many other small boutiques in Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, and Vineyard Haven.
Among shopping, dining, and drinking we visited attraction such as The Flying Horses Carousel.

I even managed to get the brass ring! O.K. actually I DROPPED the brass ring (only me) I was in attempted to getting two rings in one shot and my second ring was the brass ring which I dropped!!! Instead of taking my "free ride" I gave it to a small boy who would probably enjoy the second ride more than I did.

Even though I was on vacation, there was no vacation from training for the B.A.A Half Marathon which I will be running on October 9th.  I ran and biked along the beautiful  bike path long the ocean.

It was a great week - even though it was cut short!  However, I don't think that I am mentally ready to go back to work tomorrow.....

....Back to life, back to reality....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In the Grand Scheme of Things

I sometimes question if I went into the right career.  Or I will even question myself why I chose to study fashion design in college.  It is apparent that I have a passion within me to create something new.  There is just something so breathtaking about taking a blank piece of fabric and turning into something wearable.

I have to admit that I was very blessed when it came time for me to find my first job right out of college.  A professor once told me to disregard the "5 years of experience" within the description for a job opening - and I did just that.

After a few interviews and endless on-line searches I came across an opening at Priscilla of Boston in the Women's Wear Daily (WWD) career section of the newspaper.  However, the job, Lectra Operator, required a minimum of 5 years experience and the only experience I had was 3 semesters of learning Gerber.  Regardless, I submitted my resume and forgot about it.  No really, I completely forgot that I had sent POB my resume until one day I received a phone call for an interview.

Needless, to say I got the job and started my career within the garment industry or "fashion" industry as some would say.  Over the past four years in my career there has been so much stress about not having enough fabric to make a dress, the ivory isn't the right ivory (I know that is hard to believe), the dress won't be shipped in time - I could go on forever. 

The other week I was thinking about all the wasted energy I spent on stressing to get a mere dress completed and shipped on time.  In the grand scheme of things, life, that is pretty darn pathetic if you ask me.  I understand that it is my job and all, but honestly there are just so many more important things going on in the world other than making sure a dress, of all things, is be produced on schedule.

My supervisor asked me the other week how I was not stressing over the fact that our fall production was late.  I told her I am doing what I can to see that it isn't late, but I refuse to waste my energy on stressing over it. In the end it is truly not worth it. I would much rather hold on to my sanity.....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sick Sad World....

As I was on my to the gym yesterday there was "crime scene" tape on my side of the street and across the street; however, there was no one around so I walked under the tape and continued my walk to the gym.

As I returned the tape was removed from my side of the street, but there was the NYPD Crime Scene Unit van parked across the street. *RED FLAG* something is going on!  My Yorkville neighborhood has been "safe" for the past year that I have lived here so most naturally I become concerned.

An officer was walking in my direction I stopped him asking "Has something happened in the neighborhood?"  His response "Ah, yes." and that was all he said.  As I was walking up my stairs to my apartment I became bothered by that officer's lack of response.  Here is a young single woman who obviously lives in the neighborhood and he can't inform me what has occurred - I am now wondering if I should be concerned for my well being.

After getting ready for the day I decided that I would read at Carl Schurz Park since it was a gorgeous Saturday in the city.  As I went back outside there is now a crowd of people on my side of the street.  I stopped to see anyone knew what had gone on...

It turns out an unarmed man had broke into a 27 year old woman's apartment on the first level and sexually assaulted her. Unfortunately, she had left her windows open, unsecured, and the window gate open. The intruder pulled down the fire escape ladder to assist him to get through the window and fled through the front door of the building. Neighbors heard her screams of terror around 5:15 am and found her in the hallway pant-less.

There have been no arrests since last night, but luckily through the investigation detectives found whole hand prints smudged on the windows.

Rumor has it that she is a sweet girl that is originally from Texas, went to the University of Arkansas, and just moved into the neighborhood a month ago.  She is in stable condition at Cornell Hospital where she is being treated.

This shake up in the neighborhood has made be thankful that my dear friend, Ralph, had gotten me extra locks on my windows.  He purchased these small screws from the hardware store around corner.  I feel much more at ease knowing that I have a little extra security.

It is sad that we have sick people in this world that will hurt another human being.  We must always be on extra alert at all times to make sure that we are safe. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Follow your heart

Home is where the heart is and some people leave their hearts behind inorder to create a "life" for themselves.  Ms. Liz Giordano knows this first hand - luckily she learned to eventually follow her heart and not her head.

Liz graduated in 2010 from Rhode Island School of Design with her bachelors in Apparel Design.  With her passion for fashion and her love for designing bridal gowns, Liz left her family behind in Boston to create a career for herself in The Big Apple.  She landed a job as a bridal sales assistant in the wholesale department at Priscilla of Boston (this is where we met) even though it was not a "creative" job that she had hoped for, she told herself she had her foot in the door and honestly that is all that matter at the time.

As time slowly began to pass Liz realized that the job was not the right fit for her, even though she created many wonderful relationships between her co-workers and her bridal accounts.  She was uable to express herself creatively and felt that she was not putting her hard earned degree to work. 

In March of 2011 she was offered to take a position (the job I was leaving behind) within the product development department.  It would make her another step closer to the creative aspect of the company.  After some thought she knew that the job would not give her happiness she was seeking and would just pile on more stress. Plus, she was not sure how long she wanted to stay "here" (the city that is).

I have failed to mention that Liz not only left her tightly knitted family behind in Boston, but her love interest, her boyfriend, Brett.  She did her best with keeping the flame alive within their relationship, but truth be told she would have much rather been living closer to him.

Liz began to resent to city.  She realized that she was only living here to work in order to get a pay check...
On the 27th of July, Liz found herself at her desk crying, due to her unhappiness, at 9:30 in the morning.  Within just a few short hours and a few conversations with the parentals she walked into her boss's office and quit her job.  She told me when she was giving her noticed it felt like an enormous weight was lifted off of her shoulders and she felt whole again.

Liz's last day in the city is August 31st, her lease on her apartment is up (talk about perfect timing!).  Many of her "city" friends are sad to see her go (including me), but are happy for her now that she is happy.  She will begin her new adventure in Boston - unsure what the future may bring, but she is not worried since she will now be home.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Picture...

I have this picture on my refrigerator at home and every time I see it makes me smile - no matter how many times I have already seen....

...I am smiling now as I post it. 

There is just something so captivating about the photo that is just draws me in.  Perhaps, it is her innocence and chunkiness!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Where has the time gone....

I have been missing in action for 3 1/2 months now.  I have no real excuse for not blogging.  All I can say is that I had fallen off the horse and now I am trying to get back on it.

This past weekend I travelled up to Maine for a lovely weekend with some dear friends. On my 9 1/2 hour car ride up, Hillary and I were talking about her blog Shopahillic.  She blogs about shopping experiences, fashion trends, and whatever else may come to mind.  I informed her that I too have or should I say had a blog.

And that is when it hit me! I need to get back to blogging! Why did I stop? I enjoy writing. I enjoy making others smile. So, why the heck did I give up on it?

Perhaps, it was the craziness of the new job and the fact that I am miserable within this new position.  I became proactive again in the job search, but nothing has fallen on my plate; therefore, I began to lose sight and patience.  With the frustration of not being able to find the "right fit" I began to shettler myself.  I became less socialable (which may be hard for some of you to believe) and kept to myself.

But now I have finally snapped out it! I am no longer in a rut. I just need to be patient and keep telling myself that something (a job) will come around when the time is right....

So, expect to see more postings!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Billion Acts of Green....

I am dedicating this week's blogs (that is when I do actually blog) to Earth Day.

April 22, 2011

Make sure to check out Earth Day Network.  The site chuckful of infromation!
You can share your commitment for Earth Day.
You can start your own Earth Day Event.
You can locate a local even to attend.
The options are endless!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Extreme Couponing...

Have you seen this new craze Extreme Couponing on TLC Wednesday and Sunday nights?  I have watched it once and it just amazes me how these families are able to but over $1,200.00 worth of groceries for $100.00.  However, I don't find it complete necessary to buy 44 bottles of mustard.  This "couponing" is a full-time job in itself.  These families plan their trips out before they go and there is a lot of prep work that goes into their shopping trips.
This "extreme couponing" seems to be almost a hoarding disease.  Who needs over 100 rolls of toilet paper shoved under their 3 year old's bed?  Regardless, it was intriguing to watch them safe an abundance of money.
After watching the show I "googled" couponing.  I came across a blog,  Couponing 101.  The blog updates your on weekly/daily deals/sales.  Some posts are broken down by individual store's sale.  The author of the blogger also attaches coupons with the sales to save additional money.
I can't say that I will ever save over 90% of my grocery bill, but I will take tips that Couponing 101 has to offer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Longevity of Smiling

1. Smiling Makes Us Attractive

We are drawn to people who smile. There is an attraction factor. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away -- but a smile draws them in.

2. Smiling Changes Our Mood

Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There's a good chance you mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.

3. Smiling Is Contagious

When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.

4. Smiling Relieves Stress

Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you'll be better able to take action.

5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System

Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling.

6. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure

When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?

7. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin

Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

8. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger

The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making a person appear younger. Don't go for a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day -- you'll look younger and feel better.

9. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful

Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at meetings and appointments and people will react to you differently.

10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive

Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It's hard. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that "Life is Good!" Stay away from depression, stress and worry by smiling.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Go Green or Go Home....

I am BIG on recycling!

(unfortunately, I can't say I have recycled boys...)

For those of you who don't know Earth Day is on April 22nd (I am sure that day's blog will be all about it and leading up to it I will blog about it - just like today).  I am a devote recycler.  I do my best to recycle all paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, etc that I would like to "trash".  Techincally, our recycables should be much larger than our garbage!  I also use reuseable bags when I go shopping.  I have no desire to use nor waste those plastic bags (that is just bag for the environment).  However, if you do find yourself with a mound of shopping bags you can recycle them at your closet supermaket (most locations have a receptcale at the enterance/exit).  Also, there are a handful of grocery stores and superstores (Target, etc) will credit you 5 cents per reuseable bag!  Who knew saving the Earth could also pay back!!!!

I was just browsing Real Simple Magazine's website (who's motto is: life made easier, every day) and came across a useful article on What You Can Recycle (for those of you who are beginners to the recycling world) and How to Recycle Anything.  If you have time check it out!

Don't forget to plan something on the 22nd to celebrate Earth Day!  I once had all my co-workers donate a dollar which we donated (ended up planting 22 trees) and clean up our parking lot (which was a total mess at the time).  Remember the smallest thing can make a huge difference!!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Back in Action!!

I have been missing in action!!  My computer was getting fixed for the past week and a half (I have been slightly lost without it). I was told that the computer would be done by Wednesday.  On Thursday when I realized that I hadn't received an update I call up to see what the status was.  That was when I was informed that it "should" be done on Friday.  So, on Friday I called up on my walk home and of course was put on a hold for a good ten minutes.  I ended up stopping by since it was on my way home.  That was when I was told again that it would be done later that night or by 10 a.m. on Saturday.  Well, I never received a called on Saturday......I finally got the phone call today.  Needless to say I am glad I no longer need to deal with that frustration and I have my computer back. (sigh)

I feel awful that I haven't blogged in over two weeks! I feel that I have been neglecting The Meaningful Smile!

Painting by: Anat Ronen

I hope to blog everyday now!  However, it does seem a bit difficult to do after a long day of work!  The new job is going well.  The days fly by since they are filled with so much to do and the hours are long.  So, unfortunately that last thing I want to do when I get home is turn on the computer (since I have been on one all day).

I hope to keep the promise to myself to blog at least every other day....

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Beginnings

Today, is the start of a new beginning for my career.  It is my first day at Nue by Shani.  I am excited and nervous for this new adventure - which is natural.  I get the opportunity to continue doing product development as well as technical and some production.  This is such an amazing chance for me to grow within my career.  I am looking forward to this unexpected undertaking.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
~Walt Disney~

Friday, March 25, 2011

Closing a Door

It is time for me to close a chapter in my life.  After four wonderfully crazy years I have decided to leave my first job out of college.  Today is my last day with the company.
In June 2007, just a month out of college, I started my career in the twisted fashion industry with Priscilla of Boston.  The position, Lectra Operator, (I don't think I am even going to dare to explain what that entails) I applied for required 5 years experience.  I, however, had NONE!  But that didn't stop me from sending in my resume - and I am glad it didn't!  I was called in for an interview and was offered the position a few days later.  Now, go figure right after they offered me the position someone with 12 years experience applied for the position!
Within no time I became a member of the tightly knitted dysfunctional clan that worked in the Charlestown, MA factory.  They were like a family!  After 2 1/2 years I was informed that I would be losing my job, but I never did! I actually got promoted instead with the help of some wonderful people - how often does that happen?!?!  I packed my things and moved to NYC for the new job.  Once again I became a member of the tightly knitted dysfunctional clan here in the New York office.
However, it is now my time to move on to something else.  I truly love everyone that I work with and will miss them dearly, but I have been given and opportunity else where......

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Best Revenge

Thank you, Sir Chuck Palahniuk (whomever you are) you couldn't have said it better! 

National Puppy Day!

Today, March 23rd, is National Puppy Day!

Aw, this makes me want one!!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

You Are Not Alone

I know that many of us feel alone through our trails and tribulations in life, but we need to remind ourselves (no matter how hard it may be) that we are not alone.  You are only alone if you choose to be.  There is always someone that isn't too far away with a hand reaching out for you, all you need to do is grab on to it.

I search for love
When the night came and it closed in
I was alone
but you found me where I was hiding
and now I'll never ever be the same
It was the sweetest voice that called my name

You're not alone
for I am here
let me wipe away your every fear
My love I've never left your side
I have seen you through the darkest night
and I'm the one who's loved you all your life
All of your life

You cry yourself to sleep
cause the hurt is real
and the pain cuts deep
All hope seems lost
With heartache your closest friend
and everyone else long gone

You've had to face the music on your own
but there is a sweeter song that calls you home

You're not alone
for I am here
let me wipe away your every tear
My love I've never left your side
I have seen you through the darkest nights
And I'm the one who's loved you all your life
All your life

Faithful and true... Forever
For my love will carry you....

You're not alone
for I... I am here
let me wipe away every fear... Oh yeah
My love I've never left your side
I have seen you through your darkest night
Your darkest night
And I'm the one who's loved you all your life
All of your life
~Meredith Andrews~

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Put A Spring In Your Step

Today, March 20, 2011 Spring begins!!!

It has been a long, exhausting, cold winter and I am happy to see if go!  Spring is such an amazing time of year.  Not only does the city return to life, but so does nature!!  There are endless options of things to do; walk around Central Park, view the Macy's Flower Show, farmers markets, street fairs, seasonal flea markets, dining outdoors, drink of rooftops, bike through the city - oh I could go on and on.

Make sure to check out Time Out New York's 101 Things to do in NYC in the spring.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Picture Says A 1,000 Words

I have to give credit to Miss Hayley Paige for this one.  I stole it from her blog and thought it was also fitting for mine!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here are a few things that you may or may not have know about Saint Patrick, how the holiday and its tradition came about.....

The (Christian) holiday is named after Saint Patrick (AD 387-461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland.  However, he is not from Ireland! He was born into a wealthy Roman-British family.

He was also know for wearing BLUE not GREEN. 

So, you question where the green came into play?  Well, he did use the shamrock to explain the the Holy Trinity to pagans.  He also wore a shamrock which is how the color green became associated.

How come the holiday falls on March 17th?  Well, that is the day that Saint Patrick died.

Now, I am sure that you are wondering how the drinking became to be a popular commodity to have on this day......

For those of you who aren't religious and don't know, but St. Patrick's Day always falls during Lent.  Lent is the preparation of of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  During this time believers prepare themselves through prayer, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial - in other words they normally give up things such as drinking.  However, on St. Patrick's Day the Lenten restrictions of fasting and drinking are lifts; therefore, you have an excuse to get drunk!

Funny Lent Ecard: I'm giving up drinking for Lent and giving up Lent for St. Patrick's Day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lend A Helping Hand

It is so sad to have to read about the horrible situation that Japan is going through at this time.  First of all count your blessing at this time and be thankful for all that you have in life.  Secondly, there are many ways that you can help out (without getting scammed).  You don't have to donate a large amount of money and remember that every bit counts!  Here are a few non-profit organizations that are providing relief to those victims.

For decades, Japan has supported UNICEF's lifesaving work by assisting children in their time of need. UNICEF is now there for Japan's children.

The American Red Cross is also sending relief over to the victims of the earthquake and Tsunami.   Not only can you make an on-line donation, but you can also text  "REDCROSS" to 90999 where a $10 donation will be made and will be billed to your next cell phone bill.

The Salvation Army has joined the texting trend as well!  Text "quake" or "japan" to 80888 and $10 will be automatically donated.

These are just a few of the many wonderful organizations that are out there helping support this catastrophic disaster.  I understand that times are tough, but truly every penny counts.  Perhaps, you can give up your morning coffee or bring lunch instead of buying it and with that money you would have spent donate it.  Just a thought!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Use Your Mind to Change Your Body

Once again I found another article I would like to share with you.  This time it is from March 2011 Self issue.

Your body's best friend? Your brain! Cutting-edge research proves mind/body techniques can ease aches, illness, insomnia and more. A skeptic's guide to thinking yourself well —Erin Bried

There's a good reason you feel like a goddess when you walk out of yoga class, and it's not because you finally got your money's worth out of your gym. It's because yoga and similar mind-quieting methods have the potential to work as well as many medications at treating what ails you. "We now have compelling scientific proof that the mind can heal the body," says Herbert Benson, M.D., director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of Relaxation Revolution. The latest promises:

Your body dials down stress. Dr. Benson's research has found that mind/body practices—meditation, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, visualization—all elicit the relaxation response, quelling the release of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Your heart slows, blood pressure falls and digestion eases.
Your immunity soars. The relaxation response causes cells to release micropuffs of nitric oxide, a gas that dilates blood vessels and stabilizes the immune system, Dr. Benson reported in Medical Science Monitor. Mind/body methods worked as well as drugs designed to do the same thing, without the side effects.
Your brain grows. As you get older, your brain begins to shrink. But in a study in NeuroReport, researchers discovered that the prefrontal cortex and the anterior right insula, areas linked to attention and sensory processing, were thicker and more robust in those who meditate. "It's like exercise for the brain, making it stronger," says Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist in San Rafael, California, and author of Buddha's Brain.
Your genes change. Here's the real slap-your-forehead news: In a study in PLoS ONE, Dr. Benson compared the genes of 38 people, half of whom meditated regularly and half of whom never did. Controlling for other factors, he found that genes associated with stress-related illness behaved differently in the two groups. "These genes control not only stress but also premature aging and inflammation," he says. It seems meditators' genes were essentially telling their body to stress less and age more slowly.
Despite the powerful evidence, 45 percent of you remain skeptical of mind/body medicine, according to a poll, and 2 percent say it's out-and-out baloney. Read on and we guarantee you'll change your mind—and your body, too.

Your relaxation Rx
Which mind/body treatments have the most rock-solid science backing them up? Brent Bauer, M.D., director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, provides the big picture.

For…                           Try…
Back Pain                   Yoga
High Cholesterol        Qigong
Depression                  Music therapy, qigong, yoga
Eating Disorders         Meditation, yoga
Fertility                       Visualization, yoga
Heart Health              Deep breathing, qigong, yoga
Immunity                   Breathing, chants, meditation, qigong
Insomnia                    Acupuncture, visualization, yoga
Joint Pain                   Music therapy, qigong, yoga
Migraines                    Acupuncture, yoga
The #1 health habit you're not doing…yet
Only 13 percent of SELF readers meditate regularly, but two thirds of you say you'd be willing to give it a try. What's holding you back? Avoid your biggest roadblocks to inner peace and find your way om.
Roadblock 1: "I don't know how."
Twenty-nine percent of you merely need instruction, so here goes: Pick something simple and recurring to focus on, a mantra. "It could be your breath, a prayer or a saying, like, 'May this be a good day,'" says Hanson, who teaches meditation. Then repeat it in your head as long as you can, up to 20 minutes. "If you get distracted, that's OK," he says. Gently refocus until the mantra has recaptured your attention.
Roadblock 2: "I have no time."
Stop everything to do nothing? No can do, say 18 percent of you. Luckily, you may get benefits from meditating for as little as five minutes. If even that's a stretch, you can reduce stress simply by doing daily chores more mindfully. "Staying steadily, attentively present with everyday tasks such as doing the dishes or brushing your teeth can be a calming, informal kind of meditation," Hanson says.
Roadblock 3: "I can't sit still."
Patience is the issue for 36 percent of you. Instead of fostering a quiet mind, meditation sets off a mental ticker tape of to-do and should-have-done lists. If you're a fidgety or anxious type, try a walking meditation, Hanson says. As you stroll, focus on the sensation of breathing or on your footfalls. Walking not active enough? Yoga, tai chi and jogging can all elicit the relaxation response.

Breathing lessons
There may be no quicker way to trigger the magical relaxation response (and all the good genetic changes that come with it) than by controlling your breath. Not only will deep breathing lower your blood pressure, but recent research shows sucking wind, as it were, can also increase antioxidant levels in your blood, helping protect you from oxidative stress and all the dastardly conditions associated with it, including heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer's disease and plain ol' aging. It's sort of silly to think you'd need instructions on how to breathe, but trust us and try this exercise from Dr. Bauer, who is also the author of the Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine. Do it twice a day, and you'll feel better.
1. With eyes closed and shoulders relaxed, inhale through your nose for six counts. Expand your belly, not your chest.
2. Try to hold your breath for four counts.
3. Exhale through your mouth for a count of six. Repeat the sequence three to five times.

It's not all in your head
But a heck of a lot of it is. Tap into the amazing power of placebo.
52 percent of you feel wholeheartedly that mind/body medicine works—and that belief alone may make it true. A study in The Journal of Neuroscience shows that if you are feeling discomfort and are given a placebo you believe to be a painkiller, your mind will instruct your body to release feel-good endorphins. And the effect is lasting:
79 percent of depressed people who responded to a mere placebo had avoided relapse even after 12 weeks, the Journal of Psychiatric Research reports. The studies used sham pills as a placebo, but you can use mind/body methods for yours. But do note: Research says folks who get real meds, plus a placebo, feel the most relief. Dr. Benson's take? "Use your innate powers and the pills."

Wait. Yoga can help cure that?
Those Sun Salutations, Downward Dogs and Chaturangas are your ticket to much more than sexy curves and a lean body. Choose the right method and you can pose your way out of…
Back pain
What we know People who attended only one 90-minute yoga class a week for 16 weeks reduced their back pain by two thirds and their pain medication usage by 88 percent, according to one study in the aptly named journal Pain.
How it works One of many theories: Pressing into the floor activates your pressure receptors, blocking the neural pathways that signal pain, suggests Tiffany Field, Ph.D., director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami.
Which type to try Skip the hard-core yoga and emphasize meditation and stretching. "Tight muscles can be a factor in pain, and calming your nervous system will help relax them," says Timothy McCall, M.D., author of Yoga as Medicine.
What we know Still more proof of yoga's power to alleviate ouches: Migraine sufferers who took up the habit for three months reported fewer and less intense headaches, a 2007 study in the journal Headache shows.
How it works For starters, yoga reduces cortisol by relaxing you. "Nasty stress hormones only aggravate pain," Field says. Yoga also promotes better sleep, and the more soundly you snooze, the fewer pain chemicals your brain secretes.
Which type to try As with treating back pain, pick a calming practice, Dr. McCall advises. Zenning out in a long Savasana (Corpse pose) at the end of class will help. So will focusing on exhalations. If it feels good, make each twice as long as your inhalations.
What we know People on antidepressants who added thrice-weekly yoga for two months said they felt less depressed, anxious and angry, University of California Los Angeles research notes. In 65 percent, their depression went into remission.
How it works Your hormones are at work here, too. "Yoga helps your body produce serotonin, a natural antidepressant, and helps lower cortisol levels, which are elevated in people with depression," Field says.
Which type to try If you're in a slump (but still fairly fit), energizing poses such as Sun Salutations may lift you out of it. "There's a misconception that yoga is only about relaxation," Dr. McCall says. "Some practices can stimulate you."
Eating disorders
What we know Could a yogi heal your eating issues? In a recent study of 50 adolescent girls with eating disorders, scientists found that an hour of yoga a week for eight weeks reduced subjects' symptoms and their overall preoccupation with food.
How it works Anxiety and depression pop up more often in people with eating problems, says study coauthor Amber Frye-Johnson, a research scientist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Yoga fans have lower rates of both.
Which type to try "All yoga makes people more accepting and loving toward themselves and their body," Dr. McCall says. You may need a relaxing or energizing class based on symptoms. Consult your doctor and to find the right one.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Keep Your Chin Up

As, I read Fitness Magazine in bed on this rainy Sunday morning.  I came across an article I wanted to share; however, I am having a hard time finding it on Fitness Magazine's website.  For those of you who have the magazine (or decide to get it) the article starts on page 110 of the March 2011 issue.

The subtitle reads "A few choice words can turn a downpour of negative thoughts into a sunshiny day.  Learn to tape the power of mantras."

The basis of the article is finding your own mantras to void out negative energy.  For those of you who aren't sure of the meaning a mantra is a sound, syllable, word or group of words that are considered to be capable of creating transformation (spiritual transformation).  The use of mantras are now widespread which are based on the the practices in earlier Eastern traditions and religion.

Now, the key to creating the correct mantra is to NOT place a negative in your series of words.  For example if you are trying to eat better don't say "I am not going to allow my job to stress me out" but say "I am going to remain relaxed in my job."  Think of the Little Engine that Could....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy Hour

First of all, why do we call it Happy Hour and not HAPPY HOURS!!  Let's be honest it has never lasted for a hour.  My maternal grandparents would always have happy hour and sometimes they would just drink their dinner.  Cheers to that!  Now, I have a better understand of where I get it from......

I have certainly found that I have a tendency to leave my information (phone number and email address) at local bars around the city.  I can't complain one bit about doing so!!  I have won two happy hours!  My first was at Calico Jacks on Saturday February 19th.  I drank for free from 10 pm - 1 am while my friends drank for half off OR for $30 could have an open bar during the time frame.  I mean how could you not!?!?  I had over 10 people come which I then received a $25 certificate for the next time I dine at CJ's.

Tonight's Happy Hour is at the Irish Exit.  They are offering pretty much the same deal as above.  I drink for free from 6-9pm and my friends drink half off.  Once again if I have 10 friends attend I will get a $25 gift certificate.  After 9 the bar has $1 mugs of beer and $5 bombs - now that sounds like a recipe for a disaster to me!

However, what is great about this is that it gets my friends and I to come together when we necessarily might not of had plans to do so. 

My younger sister who normally calls me and asks me where I am going tonight would probably agree that this picture explains me...
Basically she believes I am lush just because I have a pretty lively social life....

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hacker McHacker

This morning my email account was hacked into and everyone on my contact list received the following:


I'm sorry for this odd request because it might get to you too urgent but it's because of the situation of things right now, I'm stuck in Cardiff Wales with Family right now, we came down here on vacation we were robbed, the situation seems worse as bags,cash ,credit cards and cell phone were stolen at GUN POINT, It's such a crazy experience for us, we need help flying back home, the authorities are not being 100% supportive but the good thing is that we still have our passport but don't have enough money to get our flight ticket back home, please i need you to loan me some money, I will reimburse you right as soon as I'm back home. I promise

Thanks In Advance 

Of course I was not thrilled when my phone started going off at 6 a.m. with text messages and phone calls to let me know about the email.  It became quite annoying within no time.  However, as the day went on I realized how many people that haven't heard from me in a while were so concerned.  I began to think how lucky I am!  If I was to ever find myself in a bind I know that there are SO many people who would have my back.  I am truly blessed with such wonderful, supportive, loving family and friends.

Who would have ever thought that a SPAM email would remind me of my blessings?

Monday, February 28, 2011

It is the small things in life...

Sometimes it is the smallest things in life that can truly entertain us - just like this little babe.....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Recently Engaged??

If so, 1. Congratulations and 2. if you live in the Boston area make sure to swing through Charlestown this weekend....

There are going to be wedding gowns from $199-$1999.  Not only will there be wedding gowns, but you will also be able to find bridesmaids dresses, shoes, veils, and accessories!  It is defintely worth stopping by if you are in the market for any of the mentioned items.

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

25 Days...

.....Until SPRING.  I am itching for beautiful weather.  Who isn't over this winter weather? 

I just can't wait for the trees to blossom with buds, flowers to bloom, and the wind to be a warm breeze.....Spring brings everyone back to life as well.  Think of all those who stay indoors simply because it is cold out.  Oh I can't wait to put the boots, sweaters, and wool coats away!  It is just around the corner....

 Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!" 
-Robin Williams-

Monday, February 21, 2011

Just Breathe

Are you feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed?  Just take a few deep breaths and you will begin to relax. Close your eyes, inhale through your nose, hold till the count of 4, and exhale through your mouth.  Repeat.  Zone out your surroundings. Feel your body relaxing.  Listen to your breathe. 

O.K. so maybe that didn't solve your problems, but you can't deny that it didn't relax you a little!  I am one who relies on my breath (alright, then again, who doesn't it?).  I have suffered with anxiety in the past and every time I felt anxious, I became uncomfortable in my own skin.  My heart would be racing as if it was going to jump out of my chest.  In order to calm myself (hoping the anxiousness wouldn't lead to an anxiety attack) I would close my eyes and focus on my breathing (sometimes this would take 10-15 minutes before I could begin to relax).  But it truly helped me! It is amazing what a little breathing can do! 

So, remember to just breathe!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Be True to Yourself

I subscribe to Self magazine (my family would say "Of course you would." I have been known to be self-absorbed from time to time.)  Anyways, getting back on track my March issue just arrived today and on the cover in bold fuchsia letters is read Make today happier.

I went on so I could share the article with you.
Authenticity is key to a happy, healthy, more meaningful existence. Just being yourself sounds so easy, yet it's suprisingly hard to do. Here's how to be your truest self every day. —Marjorie Ingall

A few years ago, I was sitting at a family brunch listening to an elderly relative blithely spout racist and homophobic remarks. The room was so silent, you could have heard a pin drop—a pin I wish I could have poked her with. Was anyone going to challenge her? Apparently not. Should I say something? Because I'd only married into this family, I worried about overstepping. Gently, I offered, "I think you're making some major generalizations…." She glared, and a cousin shot me a silent message: Shut it. I did.
Years later, I still regret not speaking up, and the memory of that moment makes me feel as if I'd betrayed myself. As I discovered, being genuinely authentic—something experts define as knowing who you are and what you value and being true to those things in your daily life—is vital to happiness, as important as forming strong friendships and finding fulfilling work. "Research shows that if you talk about what you believe and identify with what you say, rather than hiding yourself from others, you'll be a happier person," says Kennon Sheldon, Ph.D., professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri at Columbia. "To achieve peak happiness—autonomy, competence and relatedness—we have to do what we believe, do it well, keep getting better at it and connect to other people in the process. The surest way to achieve all that is to live authentically," Sheldon explains.
Understanding who you are and feeling confident enough to express your views may also lead to improved health and longevity. "People who score high on measures of authenticity tend to have better resources for dealing with setbacks, feel more secure in their ability to meet life's challenges, form deeper relationships and develop a stronger sense of self-worth," says Brian Goldman, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Clayton State University. They also seem to experience less stress. "Studies suggest that individuals who know themselves well and act on what they know report fewer stress-related symptoms such as headaches, backaches and stomachaches."
But what if who you are defies the expectations of everyone around you? Or what if you have conflicting impulses, as I did that day at brunch—specifically, a desire to avoid a scene versus standing up for what I knew was right? "We all have versions of ourselves that pull us in different directions," says Catherine Birndorf, M.D., a psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and self's psychology expert. For instance, you may act one way at work and another with friends. (No F-bombs at the staff meeting!) "But if loved ones are pointing out that you're not being yourself on a regular basis"—e.g., you suppress your opinions because you don't want to anger your hotheaded boyfriend—"that's a clue you're not being true to yourself and you should look at that," she says.
Women, in particular, may have a tough time with authenticity. "Marching to your own drummer goes against evolutionary conditioning," says Julie Holland, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. "Women are hardwired to chug along a predetermined path—couple up, have kids," she says. "Plus, most of us are taught that it's more important to fit in than to be authentic to who we are."
Another evolutionary strike against authenticity: "Typically, women tend to be nurturers; we're more attuned to other people's needs," Dr. Birndorf says. "When you're worrying so much about how others are doing, it can be difficult to be aware of what you want, never mind speaking up about it." But if you make no effort to figure out what you want, you're almost certain to disappoint yourself—and be less happy, to boot.

The four keys to living authentically

So how do you go about getting real? Goldman says these four factors are critical to finding and projecting who you are.
1 An awareness of what makes you tick That could mean knowing you value the freedom to be creative more than you do having a regular routine, or that you'd rather have a few close confidantes than a wide circle of casual acquaintances.
2 The ability to gauge your weaknesses Maybe you know you're not the biggest brainiac, but you compensate by being a superstar worker. Or you can acknowledge that you have a habit of telling white lies to make your anecdotes more interesting.
3 A willingness to act in accordance with your values That might mean speaking up against injustice or refusing to do work that runs counter to your beliefs.
4 Honest and sincere relationships "Letting people know who you really are, revealing your vulnerabilities as well as your strengths, is key if you want strong, healthy relationships," says Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., author of The How of Happiness. Meaning you need to be able to share all the sides of you, even the ones you're not always proud of. "Honest disclosure helps create closeness, which leads to greater social support and long-term joy," she says.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the more comfortable you are with your beliefs, the easier it will be to stick up for them. "It may be tough to speak out about an issue when you're feeling ambivalent, but once you're clear about what your true feelings are, you'll feel stronger and more able to stay the course," Dr. Birndorf explains.
One surprising factor that might make it easier to be authentic: the economic downturn. "What's happening in the economy is terrifying, yes, but it's also forcing some of us to break down our facades and do a bit of soul searching about who we are and what we want," says Mike Robbins, a life coach and author of Be Yourself: Everyone Else Is Already Taken. "We're trying to define our identity without a job or a 401(k)." That can feel frightening at first, but it's also an opportunity to figure out how to pack more meaning into your day-to-day and connect with others more deeply.

Ready to lead a life you feel good about, from the inside out? Dive in to the following exercises, designed to help you hear your inner voice and heed it, so every day can feel richer, more joy-filled and less stressful, starting right now.

Pinpoint what matters to you

Pursuing intrinsic goals—goals motivated by you alone, rather than family, friends or society—will bring you more satisfaction and pleasure than following a path you haven't chosen freely, according to Lyubomirsky. So grab a pen and answer these questions, to hone in on what you value most.
What makes you happiest? Is it spending time with people you love or solving tough problems? If you're having trouble being specific, "try thinking about words or concepts that feel meaningful, whether that's integrity, ambition, passion, success or connection," Dr. Birndorf suggests. "Ask yourself what defines you, what's most important in your life."
Next, consider what upsets you most. All the injustice in the world? Feeling disconnected from friends and family?
What are your deepest fears? That you'll become homeless? Never having the adventures you've dreamed of?
What gifts do you want to share? Are you a genius at bringing people together? Do you have a yen to write poetry?
If it's difficult to zero in on what you truly value, ask yourself this question: "If today were my last day on earth, what would I do?" This exercise should help you target what really resonates with you, whether it's leading a life that's endlessly stimulating or enjoying well-loved rituals with family close at hand. Once you've achieved this self-awareness, you'll be better equipped to choose friends and a partner who share your values, find a career and hobbies that thrill you and build a life you love.

Know your weaknesses

It's not enough to know what you care about. You also need to be aware of your strengths and where you fall short so you can choose realistic goals that will ultimately feel satisfying. To see if you're a master of unbiased processing—the ability to view yourself objectively, warts and all—try to recall…
A time you ignored your gut. Ever hooked up with an ex against your better judgment, then felt (predictably) regretful? Next time, pause when you get that initial sinking feeling. "Often, when you're not paying attention to your inner voice, you'll experience a variety of physical sensations—aches and pains or a pounding heart," Dr. Birndorf says. "Take note, then ask yourself, Am I listening to my internal compass?"
A time you tried to whitewash one of your flaws. Maybe deep down, you know you're an ace procrastinator, but somehow, you always find an excuse for why things don't get done. (No time!) "None of us is perfect," Dr. Birndorf says. "By accepting the various shades of gray, you'll have a clearer picture of who you are and what you need to do to get what you want."
A time you blamed someone else for your mistake. ("If you hadn't distracted me, I'd have done a better job!") The point of these questions is not to beat yourself up—you probably do too much of that anyway. "You want to become more aware, a key step in changing any negative behaviors," Dr. Holland says.
I experienced that kind of awareness firsthand, when I landed a coveted producer job at a new, much ballyhooed cable network for women. Many friends and colleagues were envious and told me so. I should have been thrilled, except I hated the work. I found the pace too fast and the treatment of issues superficial; I missed delving deep into research and writing long paragraphs. If I had been honest with myself, I'd have admitted that I was doing something that didn't suit me. But I was too busy forcing myself to put on a happy face to pay attention to what I was feeling—like a fish out of water. Everyone else thought my job was prestigious and cool, so it must be so!
Clearly, I was ignoring the first tenet of authenticity: being aware of what made me tick. I also wasn't paying attention to what I knew about my strengths and weaknesses (the second tenet).
Then I got promoted: The big bosses wanted me to manage the other writers. Given that the only part of the job I enjoyed and valued was the friendships I had made with these writers, the prospect of having to be the one to tell them what to do, cracking the whip and losing those congenial relationships made me feel anxious rather than joyful. My reaction, and the fact that I was finally able to acknowledge it, hammered home how unhappy I was. So I gave notice and returned to magazine writing. And before long, I could breathe again.

Align your values and actions

As for my failure to stand up to my bigoted relative at that long-ago brunch, that broke authenticity tenet number three: I didn't act in a way that was congruent with my values. I've always prided myself on being someone who stands up to oppression. (I write articles in favor of gay marriage and against racism. I bring my kids to political rallies. I watch Jon Stewart!) I'm not saying I should have drowned out her rant by singing 1960s folk songs, but let's be honest: After a feeble protest, I caved. And my silence conveyed the message that this woman's words were acceptable. Maybe if I'd done the following exercise beforehand, I wouldn't have betrayed myself that way.
Think of a time you didn't act in concert with your values. Next, change the script. What could you have done or said differently? What if you'd said X and she'd said Y? "It's easy to brood over the times we've let ourselves down or blurted out something silly," Dr. Birndorf says. "Instead of replaying these missteps, it's helpful to reimagine how you might have handled things differently so you can do better next time."
That doesn't mean envisioning a scene in which you're simply telling the person off. "Being authentic is not about being a jerk—you have to respect where someone else is coming from," Sheldon says. "The best way to be persuasive is to take in someone else's perspective, to say something like, 'You may not see it this way, but here's why I think what I do.' You have to give people the space to have a different opinion."
Reflect on the possible consequences of your new version. What's the worst that could have happened? Would speaking your mind really have been so catastrophic?
When I look back on my relative's tirade and my tepid response, I realize that I could have tried to say something along the lines of "The way you're talking is making me uncomfortable. But we have different views here, so let's change the subject." Even if she lost her temper, no biggie—I'd still look like the reasonable one. Or I could have kept my mouth shut, avoided conflict altogether, then clued in my younger cousins as to how I was feeling later. ("You know it's not right to talk like that, don't you? I wish I'd said something, but I didn't want to embarrass Cousin So-and-So.")

Dare to reveal your true self

Perhaps the toughest part of being authentic is owning up to your less than noble emotions (jealousy when a friend announces she's pregnant while you've been fruitlessly trying for years). Why bother? When you allow yourself to be known, you give others the opportunity to reveal themselves as well. That's what brings people closer, a key to happiness.

Consider whether you express your true emotions. Start by asking yourself this question: A friend tells you that she has landed your secret dream job. How do you react to the "good" news?
A With a squeal of joy; you can cry later, when you're alone.
B By saying, "Wow, I've heard they work really long hours there. Forget that vacation you were planning!"
C By telling your friend how proud you are of her and that you know she'll do great in her new gig, but also admitting that you're a little bit jealous of her accomplishment.
If you answered C, congratulations. You're generally able to show your emotions, even when they're not pretty, which means you likely have close bonds. If you answered A or B, you'll be glad to know you have the chance to improve your relationships. "Being your true self doesn't mean obliterating the traits that aren't great," Dr. Birndorf says. "If you're feeling jealous, you don't have to hide it. Coming clean may even help you identify a possible problem before it turns into something huge, and you'll both understand each other better." There is a bonus beyond deepening the friendship: "When you recognize that it's possible to have complex, opposing feelings at the same time, that's a huge emotional victory," Dr. Birndorf says.
As I've gotten older and learned to trust myself, I've had more of those kinds of victories, like when I fell in love with my husband and decided to go live with him, clear across the country. When I told a former boss and mentor about my plans, she was horrified: "My generation did not pave the way for yours so that you could give up and play house!" I had always looked up to this woman, so her negative response made me anxious. I, too, felt worried about not being properly feminist or that I'd feel like a fool if the relationship didn't work out and I ended up slinking home with my tail between my legs.
Yet despite all that, I kept on with my plan. I also vowed to tell people the real reason I was moving (my boyfriend lives in California, and I'm going there to be with him) as opposed to inventing fake reasons for my move (I need a break from New York City). Despite the inevitable criticism, it was easier to tell the truth—even to my mentor—because I knew that my desires were authentic. And although there were no guarantees that things would work out, I wanted to try. In return, I got love and challenges and hot sex and pain and joy and, eventually, beautiful children. But even if my relationship had tanked and I'd moved back alone, I know that taking the risk would have been worth it. I was, after all, following not only my gut but also my heart. You can't get more authentic than that.

I hope that you enjoyed reading the article.