This just in: Kiwi on Potato Salad!

My mind is blown! I stopped by my aunt and uncle’s house Saturday evening to bring some crock-pot dinners for the week as my aunt recovers from a hospital stay.  When they thanked me, I told them to hold the thanks until they taste the food as I had not tested a single one of the recipes.  My uncle reminded me of his words at my grandma’s funeral that the cooking skips a generation and so he was sure it would be great.  It wasn’t until now as I am writing this that I really get what his theory implies about my cooking! I’m in the same category as my grandma! I suppose I’ll accept that- deliciousness with a side of creativity! But then he said something that blew my mind…

“At least you don’t put kiwis on top of potato salad.”

“Come again?” I asked.  “You mean hard boiled eggs on fruit salads?” My uncle replied, “She did both.”

What!?! This is amazing!! Oh the possibilities!  Meet Mr. Kiwi!

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How did Carrie Bradshaw Do It?

Some of you may have caught on and some of you may not have… but I’m in love.  And my question is how in the world did Carrie Bradshaw do it? How did she openly write about the questions, concerns, and silly happenings of her current relationships.  I mean, didn’t Big read the paper every week to have open insight into the head of Carrie?  Yet they never seemed to talk about it! So here I am, happy in love with this man- knowing he will read this blog post and wanting to catch you all up- so what to talk about?!

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I could start with how we met, but as that was almost a year ago I’ll start with what I love about him- that seems like a safe topic that won’t get me in trouble. 😉

First, he loves me.  And as my blog celebrates the quirkiness of life, let me tell you that he fully loves all of me and the crazy things that make me-me.  But you’re thinking….  ‘Jess, you have it all together what’s not to love?’  This would be the time all the gals I’ve ever lived with chime in with a giant “HA!” in the comment section of this post!

My FIRST  time meeting his friends for Sushi I spilt my glass of wine all over the table (which they pre-ordered for me),  I have lost and left my phone COUNTLESS places, I have successfully given him ringworm, I have taken him to the wrong side of the ferry just to take it back to where we came from without knowing I had led him in a complete circle until half way back around, I have made him dress up as Bing Bong with my family, my cousins call him Jeff, he has to put up with my car sickness and me crying for the sake of a “good cry”,  I mispronounce words, make up words, I write run-on sentences, I combine thoughts and he understands what I’m saying, I showed him my African dance moves on our second date, I made him into a brown egg for this blog.  I mean I could be wrong, but I’m a pretty lucky girl.

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Secondly, all the qualities that make him- him. I love that he’s smart and can speak 3 languages! I love that he listens to musical theatre, that he reads, we can go to church together, he’s got the BEST laugh, he needles me (not that he does it, but that knows what to needle me about), he is amazing at analogies,  he likes to give backrubs, that he reaches out to invite my friend’s husbands to play golf or tennis, that he’s active, that he cooks for me even when he has to make one spicy for himself and one mild for me, he makes me coffee and brings me chocolates, he is thoughtful and keeps great friends, he is a great listener, he thinks big, believes in both of our dreams and to top it off he is stinkin’ cute!

If you are single, you may want to throw up and if you are with someone you may not care about this post.  I am so used to sharing and writing about the awful dating stories that amuse everyone- including myself sometimes.  But when it comes to writing about finding a stellar guy- it’s foreign and strange.  Thanks for bearing with me as I practice.  I have a ways to go before I’m a common day Carrie Bradshaw.

Vendors We Love: Charlie’s on Main

My first reblog!! Thanks Sarah for featuring our space in your blog! I can’t wait to follow you, your events and tips of the trade!!

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Chef Dave Heide is no stranger to the food scene, he’s the owner and head Chef at Liliana’s in Fitchburg. Sarah’s had the pleasure of working with him before when he prepared a fabulous, creepy, crawly, bug buffet at Madison Children’s Museum Sustainability Sideshow fundraiser. At Charlie’s on Main, Chef Heide’s second restaurant, they won’t be serving up bugs, but instead focuses on farm to table menus that are personalized for every event.

Just 20 minutes from downtown Madison, Charlie’s on Main in Oregon just may be the unique wedding venue you’ve been looking for. This beautiful space is available for a full wedding (ceremony, dinner as well as dancing), holds up to 150 people, includes two floors with stairs along with a bridal suite. With a charming vintage feel, Charlie’s on Main has a unique décor with many doors and windows recycled from the Capitol building. (You didn’t hear it from us…

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Thanks Pinterest… another Hobby for me to start

Thanks Pinterest… for yet another hobby for me to want to start!  I notice, however, that you do not send anyone to help me finish my projects?!?!

Thanks Pinterest.. another hobby to start and never finish!

Thanks Pinterest.. another hobby to start and never finish!

I don’t know if you know this about me yet, but I want to do it all.  Professors used to tell us going into acting that if there is anything else you can imagine doing with your life- do that instead.  It is surely going to be an easier life if you do.  The problem with that question for me was there was no doubt I wanted to be an actress however, I could also see and still see myself being an art teacher, running a non profit for women and children, working for the girl scout council, teaching children’s theatre, a blog sensation, a Mary Kay National, professional organizer, owning and running an events space, women’s rights activist, children’s book author, and about a million more professions and careers.    Those do not include my hobbies of becoming a great piano player, catching up on my scrapbooks (that’s laughable now), baking, being a yogi, obtaining my killer body, mentoring, entertaining… and forget me listing my interests because I think you get it!

Pinterest was made for people like me- people who are easily awwed and think they can do it all.  So we pin like crazy thinking in the near future we will remember to go to that page and do that craft.   In reality, we have too many things going on to start and if by some stroke of a miracle we do complete it- we are disappointed it didn’t turn out like perfection.  Indeed, it turns into a ‘pinterest fail’.

That’s where my story begins…. So there I was on pinterest and saw this awesome map of the USA and each state was filled with an individual photo from when that couple had visited that particular state.  What an awesome idea and immediately I thought of my dad who has been to every state and was soon turning 60.  How great would it be to include pictures from when he was a boy, when my mom and him were first dating, taking us kids growing up, and now their retired trips!  Angie thought I was crazy for starting this project and I thought ‘oh it will be easy!’ … I should have listened, but Pinterst made it look so easy! After HOURS/DAYS of tracing every state with tracing paper, exacto-knifing out the foam board, scanning old pictures in the computer, photoshopping photos to make them the right size, printing the photos, tracing the photos, cutting and adhering the photos to foam board that didn’t quite piece together I had a finished- well almost finished map! I will have you know that JUST today- 2 days before October- I finished his map!  I did finish it enough to be able to present it to him on his birthday in June.

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I think the wine industry should really be thanking Pinterest because their projects have I’d say a two bottle minimum!  Actually that’s how they should be required to label the level of difficulty/time commitment of each project by the number of glasses of wine similarly to how they put $$ dollar signs next to listings of hotels.  This is what it would look like…

The wine scale for the non- Martha Stewart’s of the world!

 Pinterest Easy Level- only one glass

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Pinterest Intermediate Level- only 2 glasses and only mild regret

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Pinterest Difficult Level- only 3 glasses of wine, regret, and a few curse words

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Pinterest Why did I do this to myself Level- 1-unlimited bottles of wine, hours and hours longer than you thought it would take, serious regret and curse words for all those who make it look easy! 

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But what I would really like to share is how this one project has in my world turned into about 14 other projects! Egad- seriously am I the only one with this problem!?!   As Saminu and I were working on it (that’s how I knew he must really like me- he gave up a night with his buddies to help me craft- a keeper for sure) in between our cursing and regret we were saying how we wish we could just buy a US puzzle or pieces that fit better together and that you could just glue your photos to without the whole tracing and exacto-knife process…   so that’s what we did!! Made special for the do it all but not always finish all kind of person!   Now available on Etsy and working on a map for underneath to fit those pieces so you can save your time and your sanity! 🙂 Feel free to still drink the two bottles of wine!   Add Etsy extrodranaire to my list of jobs and life ambitions!

Check it out:

You are welcome- no tracing and no exacto-knifing foam board for hours and hours!

You are welcome- no tracing and no exacto-knifing foam board for hours and hours!

Can Purchase at:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/239724323/marking-time-usa-pieces?ref=pr_shop

What to pack for a Colorado-cation

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One of the perks of my life is that I have friends all over the country and although I’d prefer them to be close by, I love an excuse to travel to visit them! For our 30th Birthday, one of my best friends, Liz and I decided to take a trip out to Colorado and each visit one of our friends that had moved away.  I was out to visit Ann and she was out to visit Andrea.  Together we packed one suitcase, left for Milwaukee at 2:45am  (Thanks Mom and Dad for the 3am donuts and ride!) and was in Denver, Co. by 8am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!  Upon our arrival we had a few ideas of what we kind of wanted to do, but nothing much planned as a definite which can make packing a little more difficult.  Here is my ‘cation’ series on what to pack when you go to Colorado!

After our morning of slap happiness laughter and napping in our designated nap zones (best host ever.. and best nap ever) we were ready to explore parts of the city!

In a matter of minutes you could be freezing with the sun under the clouds to sweating and roasting the minute the sun decided to show through.  You can be hiking in the foothills, drive an hour and be in the snow-covered mountains.  If I had to give you one piece of advice when considering what to pack for Colorado in the spring : in one word… LAYERS!!  You will need shorts and pants, tank top and long-sleeved shirt, wind breaker jacket and sunscreen.

Right away Liz and I could feel the effects of altitude change.  They don’t call Denver 5280 for nothing being a mile above 0.  One of the main issues is staying hydrated!  Drink an abundance of water which means I would pack a water bottle to take with you! Of course, you can purchase one once you get there but don’t wait, it makes the world of difference.  Note *You will also get drunk faster than people who are already acclimated to the altitude so be prepared to be a cheap date.

I was so excited for fresh mountain air and had in my mind that the air would be so rejuvenating -I was sooo wrong!  DRY! The air is gritty, dusty and dry!  Pack moisturizer hand, body, and face!  I would say pack a humidifier if I would think people could fit that in their suitcase, but alas, you probably can’t so just drink lots and lots of water.

Now, there were some clear differences being a hiking novice like myself vs. a hiking pro  that I would like to point out.  I like to hike like the best of them, however, let me be clear that what I call hiking in Madison or Chicago is what Denversodians would call walking for a long time. 😉  Ann, who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, took Liz and I hiking and there were some clear differences in how we were dressed (also how much air we were huffing, but that’s not what this blog post is about;) ) . Don’t let not being totally prepared stop you because we got by just fine- I’ll just point out the differences now…

Ann: Camel Back for water so she doesn’t have to stop.  Hiking boots for traction and rocks.  She has multiple pairs, some that aren’t as heavy-duty for warmer days.  What you can’t see is that she also has a waterproof bag with a roll of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, a knife, rope, reflector heat blanket thing, you know… those life saving survival things.

Liz and Myself: Each had a water bottle so we had no choice but to make pit stops to drink… bummer. 😉   Tennis Shoes which forced us to walk like mountain lions down the steep and rocky inclines. A snack pack which was just that- a pack for our snacks (and our cell phones).

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It is safe to say in this scenario Ann would live and we would die.  Although she assured us she would share so we would all live!  Now that’s a friend!

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It would not have been a complete Denver Vacation if I would not have showed-off my skills and practiced yoga on the rocks which always makes the most sense to practice when you are one off-balance motion to your death, but alas I sacrificed and did it anyway. 😉   Props to the real yogi’s who actually make this look good! This is why this blog is perfectly imperfect!

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Pack your swimsuit and flip flops for the hot springs.  Your silver jewelery will turn this copperish color in the water so I suggest you don’t wear it.  An interesting fact about Sulphur is it is supposed to be very detoxifying (similar to Epson Salts, etc) because it is all negative ions.  As humans who are around phones, computers, signals, etc we have so many positive ions so the Sulphur’s negative ions bond with our positive detoxifying us.  This also allows us to sleep better!IMG_2474

I would definitely check out what sports games and concerts are happening during the time you are there because there is so much do!  We hit up opening weekend of the Rockies vs. Cubs so I sported my purple shirt and Andrea lent me a Colorado Rockies baseball hat and Liz a shirt.  Being a Brewer’s fan I could not cheer on the Cubs so I went local! I also learned to whistle – with my fingers. For real!!  I’m still practicing.  We hit the capital and we went to Red Rock Amphitheatre, and not to mention all the breweries!

The trick to visiting friends, especially friends that probably have frequent out-of-town guests is to know when to rest and when to go.  Know when to spend and know when to save.  And above all respect and be flexible with the lifestyle and work of the people you are visiting and staying with.

What made our trip so special is that we probably hung out with a solid 10 different gals- all friends of friends, neighbors, girlfriends, etc and everyone had a ball together!  I am a firm believer that like attracts like! Liz’s friends posses similar amazing qualities that Liz has so no wonder I loved them all!  I could not have asked for better company or a better time.   The quote that sums up the trip and takes the cake for the best quote (there were a lot to compete with) :

“I cannot laugh and Parkour at the same time!”

Hopefully your trip will have as many laugh so hard you cry moments as mine did! I don’t know if it is the altitude but I’m much funnier a mile in the sky. 🙂

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We have it all backwards!

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I have grandiose dreams and I am the queen of making dream boards and pinteresting my perfect life.  I am a firm believer that I will be successful.  And yet I am also the queen of “I’ll start tomorrow”, “I don’t feel like it” , “I’ll start Monday”, etc excuses.  Plainly said I need to get my head out of my ass if I’m going to accomplish the life I have dreamed of.  All the positive literature in the world can’t help me with some of the things I need to work on.  Here are some BullS**t excuses we tell ourselves which are completely BACKWARDS! Myself included!  These Ahas! have helped me change not just my thoughts but my habits (although lord knows, I am a work in progress). 

1. BS: I wish I was more consistent in xyz.  TRUTH: Discipline comes before Consistency.

This is by far the biggest AHA I have ever had!  When I heard a Mary Kay National Sales Director say this, it changed my life!   We all long to be more consistent in our business, our workouts, our eating, our goals, etc.  What we forget and is absolutely essential and that is… discipline comes before consistency.  How can one be more consistent in workouts when you don’t make it to the gym, how can you be consistent in your home business when you don’t show up??  What I did was change what I was saying to myself.  Instead of thinking I have to  meet all of these new people for my business, which was this overwhelming task that would stop me before I started, I starting saying I need to be at a Starbucks (my office) by 9am every day and it doesn’t matter what I do to get there.  I had no expectation of what happened upon my arrival- only that I show up at 9am everyday.  Guess what happened- I met new people everyday because now that you’re there you might as well work and now that I was working guess what I became… CONSISTENT!

My sister works from home and as a bonus can work in her pjs and shower on her lunch break.  She and I were talking about how she wished she could get up in time to shower and get her 4 year old out the door before work started.  Again, sometimes the idea of simple shower is exhausting.  The same way washing your face at the end of the night is.  So the solution to this is stop thinking about the shower and instead be in your bathroom at 7am.  You can go back to sleep on the bathmat if you want once you get there and maybe the first few times you fall right back asleep.  But it would be my estimation that before you know it: you’re awake, in the bathroom, and you decide to shower. Now you shower before work everyday not because you were consistent but because you had the discipline to show up in the bathroom.  Want to be more consistent with your workouts? I think you get it- drive to the gym and go in after work.  Again, it doesn’t matter what you do once you get in the doors- just become disciplined in going there. Get it! Got it!  LIFE CHANGING PRINCIPLE!

2.  BS: Once I get motivated I’ll start working on xyz. TRUTH:   Action comes before Motivation .
We are all guilty of this!  This blog is the perfect example- I rarely become motivated to write until I sit down and start writing and before you know it I am inspired to keep writing and my brain is flooded with more ideas and it’s fun! It’s like a plane getting off the ground and sometimes it takes a lot of WORK and a lot of willing of yourself, but once you hit that altitude it’s clear sailing and you can just glide.   “Someday I’ll feel like getting my paints out and start painting again.” If you are waiting to be inspired and motivated – Guess what?? You’ll probably be waiting a long time!   I bet when you start painting you’ll be motivated to keep going!

3.  BS: If I had more time, I’d get more done. TRUTH:  The busiest people get the most done.

Now this I know to be true! Going full-time with my Mary Kay business may have been one of the worst things I could have done because I had so much time on my hands I got nothing done!  I’m sure you’re reading this thinking yeah right, what I would do if I had all the time in the world.  The answer for most of us is waste it.  Think how much you are able to accomplish right before you go on a vacation or move to new apartment.  I bet you would look at that to-do list and think I can never get all of that done and miraculously you do!  You HAVE to manage your time, you HAVE to be accountable, you HAVE to get it done. Stop thinking that you don’t have the time or that xyz would happen if you did have more time because in most people’s cases it’s just not true.  Just merely thinking about my years in college getting home from rehearsals at 10pm and staying up to write a 15 page Spanish paper to be at English class the next morning at 8am I’m exhausted, but I did it.   You are capable of so much! BELIEVE IT!  People in motion stay in motion and if you want something done give it to the busiest person and it will be.

4.  BS: I’ll wait for the right time to start it. TRUTH:   There is NEVER a good time to start something new.

You’ll wait forever if you are waiting for the ‘right’ time to start something new.   People use this as an excuse WAY too much and frankly I’m tired of hearing it!  If you waited for every light to turn green on your way home- you would never leave work.  I wanted to start piano lessons when I was in high school and never really did. Well today, I would have been playing piano for over 11 years!  I started lessons last fall finally. 🙂  My point is- stop it! Start what you want and if there is a hiccup, so be it! You’ll overcome it, but at least 10 years from now you won’t be saying I should have done xy or z.

5.  BS: I’ll start saving money once I have it.  TRUTH:  Once you start managing and saving your money you’ll have it.  

Tell me, if I were to say to you: “I’ll start eating right once I lose weight”, would you think I was off my rocker??  How is the above BS Statement any less crazy!    Master the level you are on and you will be promoted to the next level.  Why should you be trusted to handle anything larger than what you have when you can’t handle what you have been given!?  Stop with the crazy belief that you’ll never save money because you don’t have any because it is nothing but BS.  Getting real now! 😉

6.  BS: I need to give up my bad habits cold turkey.  TRUTH:  To change your habit you must REPLACE it with a new habit.

This is something on the forefront of my mind lately and something I am working on.  During winter I pick up all sorts of awful habits.  A lot have to do with Netflix and HGTV right now… if I’m being honest.  And again I can say ‘ugh, i really need to give up tv.’  but the truth is unless I replace that activity with something else I will never give it up.  Whether it’s a walk straight away in the morning to shake up my routine, a great new book, or another activity- I’m going to have to find something to fill the gap to replace my old bad habit. This is true of all habits.

7.  BS: The advice I receive from my friends and family is good advice and in my best interest.  TRUTH:  Take advice ONLY from people you would change positions with.

I am so passionate about this bit of BS because we are all guilty of it.  Sometimes it makes perfect sense -I wouldn’t ask someone how to lose weight who was overweight just like I wouldn’t ask someone for financial advice who was broke.  And yet, we are totally guilty of asking relationship advice from someone in a relationship we don’t admire.  We take professional advice on our careers or options when we wouldn’t want their job, their life, or their income.  We let other people’s opinion (and believe me everyone has an opinion they want you to hear!) change what our gut feels, what we want for our life and it just is backwards!  So when someone gives you their unsolicited advice, ask yourself,  do I respect and admire that area of their life  and would I change spots with that person in that category of their life?

NOW FOR THE HARD PART- THE WORK!

One of life’s regrets… not becoming a Japanese Sensation

It was just a normal night at the brewery with Mae and myself: pouring beers, meeting neat people and giving a Chinese interpreted brewery tour. 😉  At the end of the tour they wanted some pictures, which I was happy to take.  I reached for their camera, they said “No, no.. of you!”.  I should have known better working in the restaurant industry as long as I have of certain stereotypes that have almost always proven true.  I was happy to oblige these kind and interesting Chinese men (one who I picked up owned some sort of winery in China)  and pose for the picture of only me in front of our brewery logo on the wall.  Going back to the bar I was reminded of the last time a picture like that was taken of me and shared the story with Mae, which I will soon share with you.  It’s funny to me because so often weird and pretty entertaining things happen in my life that I don’t blink twice about until I share the story with others.  It’s not until people point out how ridiculous they sound that the same occurs to me! Mae is one of these gals who must find my life a little wackado.

I first experienced this cultural difference when we were on a family vacation to San Francisco at the age of 9 or 10 when I was asked for the first time to pose for a picture by an Asian family also touring the city.  By the age of 23 and a waitress downtown Chicago at Rock Bottom, I was not phased by this custom so when a Japanese table ordered their flight of beer, took out their camera and asked me to smile for the picture I held up the menu and didn’t think twice about it.  If I had, I would have fixed my totally jacked up bangs. When I asked what they were in town for they replied that they wrote the Chicago Travel Guide for Japanese business men.

A year or so later I had switched jobs and was serving at another brewery in the city.  I received an alarming text of a photo of me holding a Rock Bottom menu with the words RESTAURANTS both in English and Japanese across my chest! As it turned out, a Japanese man had stopped into Rock Bottom to find me.  My former coworkers convinced them to leave the book and he left me a message to email him.   Apparently, I was seen in Tokyo as well! I am the only human being photographed in the entire book and I am also the corner tab on EVERY page in the restaurant section.  I debated whether or not to email him and decided that he was probably just a creeper and never did.  This was 6 years ago and when I think back I wished I would have emailed him to at least find out what he wanted.  Did he want to pay me royalties for my ‘beautiful’ picture? Did he want me to model for more editions of the Chicago Travel Guides?  Was I about to become a Japanese sensation!?? These are questions I will never know the answers to!! Is 6 years too late to send an email to Mr. Hirano???   If I have learned anything, life’s biggest regret is when you are forced to say WHAT IF?! So when an opportunity knocks on your door, no matter how crazy it looks – I SAY TAKE IT- YOU COULD BECOME THE NEXT JAPANESE SENSATION!20141210_142429

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(… and also listen to your gut because who knows… he totally could have been a creeper 😉 )