5 things I’ve learned so far this month.

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1. Don’t run important errands with your kids the day after Halloween. In fact, don’t go anywhere. Make like Charlie with his golden ticket and take those sleep-deprived suckers straight home. October 31 may claim to be a holiday of all things spooky, but November 1 is the true day of little zombies and monsters. Nothing is more frightening than a 4-year-old throwing a five-alarm tantrum while waiting in line to vote early. I was attempting to vote at a library (of course the quietest of all the places), and was so flustered that I ran out of there with her and a book I did not check out under my arm.

2. I have a doppelgänger at Walmart.  I live in a two-stoplight town just north of Asheville. “The Walmart” is the epicenter of everything. It’s the closest place to buy all the things without driving into The Big City. Judge if you must. So I was at The Walmart, when one of the employees tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and he was all, “Whoah! You’re not her, but you look just like her!” He didn’t know her name, but apparently there was a woman who used to work in customer service there who is my twin. Apparently she still shops there a lot even though she no longer works there, so perhaps I will run into her one day. And if I see her in the check-out lane with a case of Mountain Dew, I’ll remind her what refined sugar does to our midsection.

3. Job hunting is like, HARD. Searching for a full-time job after freelancing part-time and mom-ing full-time for the past nine years feels like re-entering public school after being homeschooled. Only there aren’t any cool kids wearing pink or even art freaks dying to take me under their wing. I just keep putting myself out there, trying to sit with anyone in the proverbial career cafeteria who has an open chair. And I’m wishing I spoke Korean, had technical writing experience, or a deep love of vaping. Because that’s what these companies want, and I don’t have it. That being said, if you know of anyone looking to hire a stellar communications professional in Asheville or to work remotely, I’m your woman! (Kidding, not kidding.)

4. The “Insta” in Instagram is lost. I’ve really noticed more and more that both professional and personal accounts on Instagram have taken the instant spirit out of what used to be a spontaneous social media platform. If you’re scheduling out your Instagram posts or running your images through Lightroom and not simply using the filters readily available or (gasp!) #nofilter, you’re going against the entire purpose for which Instagram was intended. I’m an old school Instagrammer. That’s why most of my images aren’t of the highest quality and my comments are only as quippy as my brain is sharp at that instant.

5. “Funky Cold Medina” is a song about date rape. They’ve revived this song on one of my favorite radio stations, and the more I listen to it, the more horrified I get:

She said, “I’d like a drink, ” I said, “Ehm – ok, I’ll go get it

“Then a couple sips she cold licked her lips, and I knew that she was with it

He also drugs his dog, and there are definite anti-transgender undertones as well (remember Sheena?). And I used to roller skate to this shit. Can you imagine if this song came out today? Although there was “Blurred Lines.” Nothing blurry behind the meaning of that song.

That’s all.

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Suffering From Some Serious Pouf Envy

When it comes to redecorating your home, or even one room in your home, I’ve realized it’s like a design domino effect:

We need a new sofa for our living room. But when the new sofa comes, we will need to move the old sofa downstairs to the basement. But we haven’t finished the basement yet, so we will need to finish the basement in order to have a proper place to put the old sofa — in the new basement playroom (which will also be where we stow our kids until they turn 18). But we can’t start moving things into the basement until we move out the old stuff. And we can’t clear out the basement until we clear out the attic. This all has me hyperventilating like my first visit to IKEA. I went in with my shiny, sparkling bravado ready to take on the world one Swedish step-by-step instruction at a time, and came out on Xanax, clutching a toilet brush to my chest (my only purchase) mumbling to myself that it just cost a dollar. So poufs.

Poufs are an easy, non-threatening place to start. I can begin to refresh our living room without toppling over all of the other interior design dominoes. I am pouf-obsessed, and not just because the word is so much fun to say. The floor is highly underrated. Just ask the Japanese or Bedouins. I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune in a few years when I’m well into my forties and my joints start to ache and I grown every time I stand up, but for now, I’m all about poufing out on the floor. (Not to be confused with boofing. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

Here are 10 poufs I’m totally pining for:

1.Ira – Handmade Wool Braided Square Pouf , Death By Modernism2290100_Square_Pouf-Yellow2_544x576

Usually, I’d be nervous about a knit pouf with spills, but the mix of natural hues with just a stripe of color speaks to me. It screams to me, really. But in an exciting Oprah kind of way, not in a scary Billy Mays way (RIP, Billy).

2.Lyle Leather Ottoman, Joybird.com Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 1.44.04 PM

I’ve been coveting this buttery leather delight for a long time. Although I think my family would constantly fight over who gets to use it for the coffee table, ottoman, to sit on, to do a flying burrito on, etc.

3. Mina Stool, Rove Concepts

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Technically a stool, but the fur makes it pouf-y. We already have a blue rug, so instead of another pop of color, a change in texture can be a fun way to mix things up.

4. Mini Faux Leather Pouf, Crate & Kids

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Don’t dismiss the kids’ websites for grown-up rooms… they have some great stuff that’s very affordable. We have one of these in teal in my daughter’s room, but it floats around the house. It’s impressively durable, and for the price, I can get two! I just need to choose between white and gold.

5. Bumper Small Leather Ottoman, Blu Dot

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So versatile, this one can go with really any design style should I change our look down the line. And I just heart Blue Dot so much.

6. Sumo Pouf, Design Public

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I love the details on this one, like the stitching and the button, but really, the name was the clincher.

7. Stockholm Ottoman, IKEA

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I haven’t seen this one from IKEA in person, but it looks just like some way pricier Scandinavian ones I’ve seen online. And obviously more budget-friendly (if I could get through an IKEA trip without a panic attack).

8. Birdie Ottoman, Grandin Road

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Again, not technically a pouf but serves the same purpose. I like the playful yet modern bohemian feel to these.

9. Spotted Hide Pouf, cb2

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We used to have a cowhide rug that I miss dearly. This would bring back that feel only in fun-size. If you’re thinking about trying the hide trend, this is a great baby step! It’s surprising easy to to spot-treat. Just like if you spilled coffee on your dog… so I’ve heard from a friend.

10. Dainty Pouf, Warm Nordic

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Dainty Pouf, I think I love you most of all. So sleek and sophisticated, yet accessible. A perfect chance to add a pop of color to a room without going too crazy. And this is just the tip of the Warm Nordic iceberg. Their website is like the Lay’s potato chip bag of Nordic design — you can’t click just once.

What Nobody Tells You About ‘Kondo-ing’ Your Closet.

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If you aren’t familiar with the term “Kondo,” it comes from Marie Kondo, who has become the household name in tidying up and decluttering. Like Googling and Tasering, Marie has hit branding pay dirt with her name transforming into a domestically blissful buzzword.

I Kondo’d my closet last year. First, I read the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Upand it was indeed life-changing. While her methods apply best to people who don’t share space with others, you can still Kondo areas of your home (like your closet) that solely belong to you. So lets stick with the closet example. There are many details involved (like special ways to roll and fold your underwear), but the premise is that you only keep items that “spark joy.” You go through every single article of clothing, holding it between your fingers, and if it doesn’t spark joy (i.e. make you happy), you get rid of it. Forget who gave it to you, or holding onto it with the hopes that it might fit one day, or that you might have a reason to wear it if you change jobs. If it doesn’t spark joy, it’s gone.

What this book doesn’t come with is a warning not to Kondo areas of your home when you are in a depressed state when nothing brings you happiness. The day I Kondo’d my closet, I could’ve held Robert Downey, Jr. in my hands and been as joyless as the Rockbiter from The NeverEnding Story:

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I got rid of everything. And do you know what happens when you have no clothes? You might think, “Shopping!” But when you are on a budget, chemically imbalanced, and super down on your body to begin with, it’s tough to fill those voids with any urgency. So no. No shopping spree for me. Instead, I did (and still do) a lot more laundry. And a lot of wearing the same thing two days in a row when I know I won’t see the same people. I’m slowly building back up my wardrobe, but when it brings you no joy to buy things in your current size, and you’re waiting until you lose at least 10 more pounds, it’s quite the process. Plus, even though Ms. Kondo swears once you go tidy, you’ll never go back, I went back. I just cleaned it again, so you can actually walk into my walk-in closet, but it’s not the wrinkle-free beacon of minimalism it once was (for a whole month in 2017).

I’m thinking of bringing back the muumuu. Then I can finally open up my store of oversized dresses called Everywhere A Muumuu. I swear I’ll do anything for a pun. In fact I just (as in this very minute) bought this vintage maxi oversized dress from WanderWears on Etsy. Yup, I feel the spark. Will I still feel it when I’m holding this dress in my hands or more importantly when I try it on? Or is this just a momentary shopping high to be followed by buyer’s remorse? We shall see, Marie.

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On a related note, I’m looking for more Instagram influencers to follow for style inspiration. So far I’m loving @styledsnapshots, @lovelyinla, and @laurabrown99. Who are your favorites?

How Did I Not Know Kangaroos Have 3 Vaginas?

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(petponder.com)

Of course I mean just the female ones. This immediately got me wondering about the possible sexist nature of science in the media. If there was an animal out there with even two penises, let alone three, surely we’d all know about it. Or am I the last one to know about this kangaroo vagina thing? I read about it in a book by one of my favorite authors. Jenny Lawson is also a famous blogger, but she is actually a very gifted writer so she deserves the “author” title for her talents. Anyhoo, I’m reading about her adventures in Australia when she mentions the whole three-vagina kangaroo thing and my mind. is. blown. This is not something that’s ever come up on any episode of Wild Kratts I’ve ever seen.

So naturally, I Google “animals with two penises.” (Naturally.) I click on one of the top stories from Science Alert called, “Here’s Why Some Animals Have Two Penises.” A writer named Elizabeth Pennisi, whose article about where penises come from was quoted in the story. You can’t make this stuff up. I can see her in the pitch meeting now:

Editor: I’d love for one of you to take on a story about the origins of the peni–

Pennisi: Me! Me! Me! I got this. I was born for this.

Editor: Okay, Elizabeth. I like your cocksuredness. It’s yours.

Turns out, a millipede has four penises, which he uses as extra legs (because he really needed more). Snakes and lizards have what are called hemipenes, which are two evolved penises they keep tucked away in their tails ’til they’re, well, needed. No mammals have multiple penises, however, an echidna–a spiny anteater that looks like a little porcupine–has a four-headed penis.

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A short-beaked echidna. (Bushpea.com)

If you do your own Googling, you can find a picture of this little guy’s four-headed little guy, but decorum prohibits me from posting it here. (Even I have standards. But here’s a link and it looks like an alien puppy paw.) Also, you can actually buy a pillow that says “Echidna Penis” on it. It comes in nine colors on Amazon for only $24. God bless America:

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I’m willing to wager that most people don’t know about either the kangaroo vaginas or echidna penis phenomena. Unless you:

a) Have an obsession with unusual animal genitalia.

b) Are a zoologist or the like.

c) Read Jenny Lawson’s book “Furiously Happy,” and proceeded to jump down an Internet rabbit hole (that’s a rabbit with one penis and/or one vagina), or

d) You knew all of this because you’re one of those smug dickholes who knows everything about everything, always having “just read an article about that,” or “saw a documentary about that” and drinks rye (not bourbon) at cocktail parties.

After my research, I’ve come to the conclusion that all animals with weird genitalia, both male and female, have remained rather equitably out of the spotlight, so perhaps science is not as penis-headed as I thought. I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong.

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Though I will leave you with this: I’m not sure exactly how, but the menstruation industry is missing out on a great marketing opportunity. Possibly a mascot? I have enough trouble dealing with one vagina, so I don’t know how anyone, human or animal, could handle three. Roos, I raise my DivaCup to you.

Every Flavor of Dairy-Free Halo Top Ice Cream, Ranked

Certain foods have no substitute. Seitan will never taste like steak, and vegan “cheese” is an oxymoron. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian, but I’m drawn to meat-alternative proteins such as tofu and tempeh (this tempeh is my all-time fave), and have been trying to cut back on my dairy. I also don’t have a sweet tooth… except for ice cream. I hate getting my knuckles all sticky, cajoling enough of the rock-hard confection out of its carton to fill a cup bowl, yet I haven’t the will power to take just a bite or two and put it back. Halo Top ice cream was made for people like me. At least in theory. And when all of their dairy-free flavors were on sale at the store, it was like a sign (there was literally a sign). I’d had the oatmeal cookie dairy flavor and loved it, so I trial-and-errored my way through the non-dairy flavors only to find error after error. Sorry vegans. There’s a reason they put the “cream” in ice cream.

  1. Boiled chicken
  2. Poi
  3. Rice cakes
  4. .Wet paper
  5. Every flavor of Dairy-Free Halo Top ice cream

See what I did there?

I’ve also tried Arctic Zero, which was another fail. Is there a non-dairy ice cream out there that doesn’t make you feel like you’re being punished? Please share!

Unboxing Splendid Spoon

I know, I feel like an asshole for kowtowing to this whole unboxing fad, but I was so excited and curious about my first Splendid Spoon shipment that I thought it would be fun to share firsthand:

I just tried the Broccoli Hempseed soup. It was delish. And not just good-for-a-premade-healthy-soup delicious, but actually satisfying.

Photo via splendidspoon.com

My one complaint is a common pet peeve I have with portioned foods: When you read the nutrition label, it says that each of these containers includes two servings. C’mon now. Half of this little bowl is not enough to sustain anyone larger than a toddler for more than a minute. So when you’re looking at the calories, etc, you have to double it. This still puts you in at under 500 calories for lunch, not to mention all of the green goodness that comes with it. Both servings in that little container pack 40% of your daily iron!

I’m not under the delusion that five days of smoothies and soups per week alone will get me back to my happy weight, but it can’t hurt. One of the most convincing elements in the onslaught of Instagram ads was the testimonial of one woman who said she dropped five pounds in the first week. Again, not expecting miracles, but it gives me hope. Combining a healthy diet with meditation, less alcohol and more exercise (yoga, walking, and resistance band workouts) will hopefully yield some results in time for swimsuit season. Nothing like waiting ’til the last minute!

If this doesn’t work, I’m going to do my Drug Test Diet. That’s when you pretend you’re about to get drug tested for a new job. Spend seven days drinking as much water as you can and excessive exercise to sweat out as much “THC” as you can from your system and you would not believe what it will do for your figure:)

The Best Recipes for Pimiento Cheese and Benedictine

The other day, I saw this post on Instagram via @fruitloopkeeper, and it totally spoke to me (and made me snort laugh). So I’m going to honor this truth and get right down to it with my mom’s recipes for pimiento cheese and benedictine with just a tiny bit of explanation. No endless scrolling. Promise!

Pimiento Cheese

I never liked pimiento cheese until I had my mom’s. She doesn’t use mayonnaise, which is what I think really seals the deal for me.

INGREDIENTS:

1 block cream cheese, cut into cubes (the real deal, not fat-free)
1 8-oz pkg sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3-4 stalks green onion, green parts only, sliced thin
1 tsp salt (add more to taste)
1/4 tsp red pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
1 4-oz jar pimientos drained
Pinch of fresh jalapeño (optional)
METHOD:
1. Add all ingredients to food processor
2. Combine and enjoy!

Benedictine

If you aren’t from Louisville, Kentucky, you probably have never heard of benedictine, but it’s surprisingly one of several recipes indigenous to my hometown. It’s basically a spread made with cucumber, cream cheese and dill that works as well as a dip with veggies and crackers as it does between two slices of rye bread with some bacon. I made it for Derby and had some folks on Instagram ask me for the recipe. Like any good Southern recipe, there are endless interpretations and variations. But this is the only one you need;)
INGREDIENTS:
2 8-oz bricks cream cheese, cut into cubes
4-5 stalks green onion, green parts only, sliced thin
1 cucumber
1 tsp salt (Add more to taste.)
4 tsp dill (fresh or dry; I prefer fresh, and I always add more)
METHOD
1. Peel and seed cucumber. Wrap it in a paper towel and leave in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight to absorb moisture.
2. Combine all ingredients in food processor. Enjoy!
Notice that “enjoy” is part of the process:) Now you have two easy, go-to spreads/dips that are perfect for your spring and summer gatherings, or just to keep in the fridge for snacking and sandwiches!

The Best Advice for Decluttering

Even though it doesn’t quite feel like spring yet, my internal clock still has the urge to purge my home of unnecessary stuff: toys, clothes, expired food, my husband’s third boat, you name it. As I read stories in magazines and websites offering spring cleaning tips, all I keep thinking about is the cover story from the last issue of Breathe that I put out before I was [dry hard gulp] fired. If I had been braver back then, I would’ve shared what that experience was like. Maybe now I will. But not, like, right this second. Right now, I want to share the best cleaning advice that I keep coming back to every time I get overwhelmed with clutter. Because it really does make sense and it’s totally doable! I was lucky enough to have Kath Younger from Kath Eats Real Food write this piece. She takes very specific, relatable problems in different rooms of the house and then shares her solutions. Breathe has since folded so you can’t read this story in website form, but you can read it as a digital magazine via issuu. Just flip to page 18. Check it out and let me know what you think!

3 Things I Miss About Pepsi in the ’90s

I’m a Coke girl, but there was awhile there in the ’90s when Pepsi had my heart. As a gawky, poofy haired tween (before “tween” was even a word, they called us pre-teens back in the day), Pepsi had a knack for making me feel like I could be just a wee bit cool(er) if I drank their sodas. I’m such a sucker for a smart ad and good design. Thank god they weren’t selling crack… or butterfly clips.

The “Cool Kids” Commercial. People may have gone gaga over “Pepsi girl” Hallie Eisenberg, but this is my all-time favorite Pepsi commercial. It takes a good ad to make you switch brands, and this was that commercial for me, where I decided to give Pepsi a try. It didn’t last long, but then again neither did Bugle Boy jeans.

Young MC and Pepsi Cool Cans. With entire blogs devoted to drink design like Oh Beautiful Beer, it’s easy to forget that cans weren’t always considered an open canvas. I went bananas for these Pepsi Cool Cans and collected all four in the summer of 1990. Now, a six-pack goes for almost $30 on eBay. Maybe I should’ve kept mine!

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Crystal Pepsi. I feel like if I search really hard, there might be a few cases left in some dark corner of the dark continent along with a crate of Kentucky men’s basketball 1992 NCAA Champs t-shirts and hats that never saw the light of day (that one still hurts). And just now — like just this minute — I learned that Crystal Pepsi was re-released a couple of years ago for a brief time. How did I not know this? Well, I’m not going to miss another Crystal Pepsi promo, because I’ve joined the “Bring Back Crystal Pepsi” Facebook page. And while this page, with more than 7,800 followers is still active as of February 2018, its petition is sadly closed. So I’ve brought it upon myself to start the Bring Back the “Bring Back Crystal Pepsi Petition” Petition. Oh yeah, you heard that right. I’m imploring the original creator of the Bring Back Crystal Pepsi petition to open back up his plea to the masses. You can sign it here: httpschn.ge/2HhhAgv. They say you should pick and choose your battles. For me, the choice is clear.

6 Snippets of Magazine Inspiration

So much of my mom life is spent in waiting rooms, lobbies, and my mobile waiting room (aka, the car). Yesterday, I found myself waiting my way through a doctor appointment followed by a haircut. Between books and sick of scrolling through Instagram, I picked up a couple of magazines. I LOVE magazines. Whoever says print is dead, is dead to me. I love the feel of the lightweight coated paper between my fingers. And my favorite magazines mean talented editors at the mast who curate inspiring, beautiful, and sometimes surprising content in a layout that’s at once striking and flowing. I. Love. Print. Magazines.

When I find myself playing the waiting game, and I actually have time to read a magazine or two from cover to cover (I read from back to front, does anyone else do that?), I devour them like a pint of Halo Top ice cream.

When I find articles or helpful tidbits, it’s not enough for my scattered brain to make a mental note. I might as well ask my three-year-old to write it down for me. I wouldn’t be so gauche as to steal an entire magazine from a waiting room or tear out a page, rather I take photos. Yesterday’s bounty was reaped mainly from the April 2018 Redbook with the exception of one recipe from a winter edition of Real Simple.  Not as simple as hitting a “share” button, but I want to spread the love. Here are my finds:

  1. What a friend we have in cheeses. I must admit, I borrowed that headline from an editor I worked for years ago in Charlotte. It’s still my favorite of all time. And it suits these beautiful appetizers that I think I could actually make myself. Look how pretty!
    Credit:Redbook

    2. Seedy. I can do so well with my diet, but lack of a good snack in the car or at night always gets me in the end. This spin on sunflower seeds sounds so munch worthy.

    Credit:Redbook

    3. Leaf conquers all. I’m forever in search of a salad that sounds better than pasta or a sandwich. This one fits the lunch bill, plus it makes enough for four days!

    Credit:Redbook

    4. Something in ramen. This recipe for ramen looks way better than the stuff I made in college (and let’s face it, still sometimes make late night), and it sounds like it could actually live up to its “easy” promises.

    Credit:Real Simple

    5. Shake what your mama made ya. They describe this meditation jar for adults, but I want to do this craft with my kids and make one for each of them as well!

    Credit:Redbook

    6. Here comes the sun (screen). And I say, it’s more than all right. All this time I’ve been looking for a daily SPF lotion to wear under my makeup. Why didn’t I think of something like this setting mist? Brilliant!

    Credit:Redbook

     

    I love websites, but print magazines will always hold a special place in my heart. Do you prefer print magazines or websites, or both?