MY MANY MOAI

I feel like an enigma as the introvert that loves joining groups. Growing up, groups served my desire to disappear in the pile of, and yet identify with, my peers. I wore the labels from showing up for just enough meetings to get in the yearbook picture and partake in the free snacks. I knew the truth I aimed to occupy, I just balked at my own value not believing I offered anything new. I feel like teenage angst boiled over then reduced down to a thick syrup of Imposter syndrome.  

Thank goodness that my heart knew what it needed and where I wanted to wind up, although my feet kept kicking myself in the ass. My heart backed myself into some amazing groups that I still can’t believe include me in their membership. These groups not only broadcast my soul to the world but, in turn, give me clarification and confidence about who I am. Each group feels a little bit like home. 

These lovely Red Hat Society ladies grew by word-of-mouth but are nation-wide!

 

High School Girlfriends – Friends who have known the many evolutions of me (since before I knew who I was) and still stay close anyway!

OMagInsiders – Group of hearts on a similar wavelength who expanded my horizons and helped redefine the second season of my life. 

Eat My Way Around The World – Flavorful foodie friends introduced to me by work who remind me to season our work life with social meals. They know what I’m saying even if words evade me. 

Redondo Rocks – Kind, creative and generous people aiming to embellish people’s days and  strengthen the positive connections in our community. 

Mom Tribe – I have a flourishing and eager-to-help network of moms who have driven carpools, fed my kids, kept them if I have to be somewhere at an off hour, taken them on fun adventures, and helped me keep my eyes on the ground – so much so that my children believe that I really do see everything everywhere. While I love them all for helping make me a successful mom, I love them as people and look forward to the times when the kids are scarce too.  

Korean Adoptees – We’re so spread out around the globe, but we’re reuniting online through a wide variety of groups where we help carry the history we share together and mentor each other to find the answers we hope for or the path we are meant for.

I’m so fortunate because these groups offer:

  • A security blanket – Non-judgemental support when needed
  • Level-headed perspective – They speak truthfully and directly to help steer me
  • Calming agent – They listen and give great hugs which dissipate the feeling of being alone in any storm
  • Strong support – They totally jump on my crazy train when I’m roaring down the tracks
  • Sweeten my life – They surprise me with special treats of kind gestures and rituals
  • Bonus: Did you know that by participating in regular moais, your life could increase by 8 years (Blue Zones)?

WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Do you belong to any moais, groups or clubs?

What kind?
What is your longest-lasting Moai?
Do you prefer online or in-person groups?

How many people are in your Moai?
Do you know how to say Moai?   Mo•ai (/mo,eye/) Japan
Tell me the top three things your Moai give you!

WWP: WRITE AN “ABOUT ME…” ABOUT YOU

Once I hit job-searching age, I received instruction on writing effective elevator speeches. These conversation starters explained myself and my goals – blurted out in the time needed to ride a few floors when momentarily trapped with someone possibly capable of changing my life’s trajectory. For me, creating a quick tagline to communicate about a company, product or service came far more naturally than talking about myself. What about you?

So, here I sit working on re-branding my website for the second time – but now considering what I believe and what I want to offer in that arena. I carefully consider each method of delivery and my messaging. I’m squeezing my brain and wringing my heart to find words to explain it in a way that embraces readers and convinces them to sit a while longer and see what happens.  Part of my resistance comes from the fact that I’m entering a new frontier and still trying to define exactly what space I will occupy. You too?

 

From my Twitter profile, my shortest “About me!”

WRITING EXERCISE 1: Elevator Speech about you – 1 liner – Who are you and what are you doing?

I recently completed the Brand You! Executive-education course working to gain a full 360 degree/3-D perspective of who I am and what I offer. Truthfully, this course benefits anyone trying to navigate this changing job landscape to remind you of your brand, your passion, vision, and core values that may translate better than specific skills being rendered unnecessary thanks to technology and automation.  

We only look and self-evaluate ourselves based on our reflections in the mirror. In this course, we receive evaluations and quick insights from others who see the “real us.” They know our faces straight on.  We also took a variety of third-party evaluations, some confirming information I knew about myself, some clarifying characteristics about me that now suddenly made sense.

My 150-ish word “About Me” from my Facebook Page

WRITING EXERCISE 2: Brief about you – 150 words – Who, what, where, when, and why are you doing this?

So what other questions do you ask yourself to help get to the core of who you are? Here are a few I’ve learned from a few conferences and podcasts. Share yours in the comments!

  • What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What would you do if money was no object?
  • What are three things that bring you joy?
  • What would you write in your obituary?

Another reason why I have difficulty with this task is, again, imposter syndrome. I don’t always understand the “how,” I just know that I get stuff done. Sometimes it feels wickedly smart and other times extremely messy. But I get there.

This mantra quickly helped me transition from my year of vulnerability to a year of striving, confidence, reinvention:  Why Not Me?!

This is the first paragraph of a way too long profile from my blog!

WRITING EXERCISE 3: About you – as long as you need – Who, what, where, when, and why are you doing this? Then start revising by cutting half out… See what happens.

EXTRA CREDIT:
So while I did refer you to my various sites and my old “About Me” examples, I am working on redoing my site and will share new info “About Me” shortly! Feel free to let me know what caught your eye or what made you look away. While I finish re-working my various “About Me” please consider asking one more question for me:

What do you need right now?

Leave your comments or DM me if you wish to let me know privately. I want to know what you are working on, what is challenging you, what steals your time? I can’t wait to learn more about YOU!

#WednesdayWritingPrompt #WWP #Autobiography #MiniMemoir #Bio #Writing #AboutMe #AboutYou #OMagInsiders #MakesMeWander

ONE WOMAN WRITING RETREAT

I’m still designing how the label “Writer” fits me. Writing still exists as more of a hobby or side-gig right now, but occupies more real estate on my 8-year plan.  So I try to emanate what writers do… They write, read, write, wander, go on writing retreats, write, submit articles, drink wine, apply for writing residencies, write, procrastinate, get a publishing deal, get distracted, and write.

If you love this journal, you can click on the picture to buy! #afflink

So far, it’s been hard to create a regular habit for me.  I started my blog to force the daily writing habit (but my kids went to sleep earlier back in 2012). Now that they’re older, and seemingly never go to bed, my train of thought gets too easily distracted by the constant movement in my house. I don’t have a protected writing space physically or mentally. I often go away from home to get any writing done.

My writing retreats consist of Saturday mornings when I get up to move my car by 7:30am (due to street cleaning) or when I house sit for others and put distance between me and my laundry, dishes, bookshelf, stack of magazines, and binge-worthy shows. Conferences and retreats always sparks ideas and energizes me to write, but I don’t want to spend a lot of extra time and money just to get writing done. Also, while I love the networking aspect, I get more wrapped up in other people’s ideas and know that sometimes, I need to focus more deeply on my own.  

It dawned on me that when I wrote my master’s thesis 5 years ago, holing myself up in a hotel near my home helped me retain my focus! I live only 6 miles from the Crowne Plaza LAX hotel, limiting my travel time, and knew they’d done extensive renovations.  With their view of LAX, it makes my mind wander enough to get the “what ifs”  flowing without making me want to get up and wander. 

In order to maximize my time, I set up a few guidelines and enforced them:

RESPECT YOUR TIME – While on this mini retreat, use time wisely! Set boundaries, eliminate distractions. Although a bed to myself and unlimited paid TV movie channels tempts me, I purposefully left the TV off or swore that I’d wait until I met my productivity goals. (Turns out it never went on).

PERSONALIZE YOUR SPACE – Rearrange any furniture not bolted down, that moves easily. I made sure the desk and my notebooks would be the central focus. I stayed close to the air, put my back to the view, and felt more invested in the job at hand.

SET GOALS – Whether aiming for a certain page count, or hashing out an idea by meditating on your ideas, make a schedule for yourself to allow balanced time for eating, sleeping, working, and daydreaming.

HEALTHY FOODS – My goal focused on not spending too much time and effort on meals. Though this hotel does feature a variety of food in the lobby, I knew if I ate in the hotel, I’d get wrapped up in conversations and get distracted. I purposefully drove offsite for dinner. Kabuki in the Howard Hughes center offered me flavorful sushi options outside of my routine spicy tuna rolls. 

I packed a weekend’s worth of healthy snacks for my marathon writing session.

I did wind up running to the lobby for a salad from the Boulevard Market Cafe and it hit the spot!

HYDRATE – My fluid routine consists of equal parts coffee, water and wine – in that order.  Creative juices flow more freely with proper hydration! 

VOLUMES OF SUPPORTING MATERIALS – Obviously, I’m the one you should look for in the case of an emergency that may prevent us from returning home right away. Not for my snack and hydration supplies but for my books to read to pass the time.

SELF CARE – Make sure you take time to be still, or pamper yourself, or do whatever helps your daily routine dissipate and allows you to center and be present for your writing weekend.

BE FLEXIBLE – You may define this as yoga, I define this as forgiving myself and allowing the schedule to reveal itself as I go. Things may change, I may not hit every  mark, but still dedicating time to myself and living in a boundary-less space while stretching my creative muscles felt amazing!

I’d love to report back that I finished a novel in 24 hours, or even an outline, but I didn’t. Still, it’s worth the exercise to get away, organize my notes some, and remind me what I love about writing. Next time, I plan to amplify my efforts with large adhesive note papers and some expo markers, or even a pile of square note pads that I can stick to the wall and continue to hash out ideas.

What about you?
When is the last time you did a retreat?
Were you alone or with friends?
What is your favorite part of getting away?
What are you writing right now?
Where should I go next?
Alone or with other writers?

#Writing #Writerslife #retreat #CrownePlazaLAX #KABUKI #Restaurant #Meditate #bath #wine #books #notebooks #ideas #Write #iboughtit #MakesMeWander

O WOW! OPRAH MAG 2019 FALL BEAUTY O-WARD WINNERS!

As a whole, I am a low-maintenance kinda gal. Primarily born out of necessity, coupled with the fact that I no longer like to wake up early, I have a very simple skin and hair routine – more than half of which I complete in my parked car before going to work. 

 

Usually using my phone light for better and brighter lighting!

 

So it was super fun for some of us #OMagInsiders and the magazine staff to play beauty queen and sample some of the products that O, The Oprah Magazine’s beauty editor Brian Underwood singled out for award consideration!  

Some products were classics, some were brand new. Some were high-end, many were more reasonably priced. All were deliciously and delicately scented, super effective and easy to use so they fit in well with my mornings! Here are my my longer (than the magazine) reviews:

JOHN MASTERS ORGANICS
FINE HAIR SHAMPOO WITH ROSEMARY & PEPPERMINT
This shampoo performed great! Because the shampoo ran thinner, I used less but it still permeated to my scalp. It left less buildup on my hair too. The peppermint smelled and felt wonderful, energizing me in the mornings. 
I recommend the shampoo if you enjoy treating your hair to a day at the salon! 

BEACHWAVER CO. GOOD VIBES
MOISTURIZING CONDITIONER WITH COCONUT OIL
I used a little bit of the conditioner – but I cheated and applied product all the way up to my scalp, not just stopping halfway like the instructions said. My knots instantly fell loose leaving smooth wavy hair! I didn’t need to apply a lot to my thick hair, and after I rinsed, I still felt the benefits without any residual buildup!

I used it at home and brought it in my beach bag for extra protection from the drying sun and salt! Transitioning from the beach to cafe just got easier simply by running my fingers through my hair.

ALTERNA
CAVIAR ANTI-AGING ANTI-FRIZZ AIR DRY BALM
I am extremely low-maintenance with the styling of my hair and this product worked really well with how simple I keep things. I used it both on wet hair straight from the shower, just running my fingers through my wavy hair and also on dry hair to seal my hair for a high ponytail! In both cases, it doesn’t require much product, spreads out easily between my two hands, applies clear and distributes evenly.

It does a great job holding my hair’s desired shape in both cases without tons of angel hair popping out (which is the norm with my wavy hair). I love that my hair doen’t feel waxy (dirty) by the end of the day, it doesn’t feel crispy when first applied. I just rub the rest of the balm into the back of my hands for extra moisture!

RODIN
LUXURY LIP & CHEEK OIL
The best feature of this product surprised me in that the oil didn’t feel oily. It applied to lips easily and didn’t leave huge glossy marks or come off in weird sticky blotches onto my coffee cup.

My tint-free oil absorbed nicely into my cheeks leaving a shimmer that looked more natural (to me) than the powdered highlighters do. This provided a more delicate, natural look that creates highlights better than the powdered highlighters or fine glitter lotions. I look forward to trying some of their tints!

ESTEE LAUDER
ADVANCED NIGHT REPAIR INTENSE RESET CONCENTRATE
Estee Lauder officially helped me turn the page from my aggressive younger blemish-fighting skin routine to a more caring, respectful mindful skin care routine! Advanced Night Repair felt richer and immediately relaxed and protected my skin. It felt as though this one product and I trusted each other to work together.

While using this, I didn’t have to use as many skin-care steps during the day (extra masks; serum + lotions) because the impact of the night repair lasted to the morning – even after washing my face. I saw a difference in the fine lines on my face after a few days and overall, my skin looked younger and more supple, more elastic. This earned a permanent spot in my skin care routine moving forward. More than a fan, I’m an advocate.

 

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU?
How long does your morning routine take?
What about nighttimes?
If you could only use one product for beauty and one for cosmetics, what would they be?
What is your favorite product that you feel deserves an Oward?
What’s the craziest beauty product you ever purchased?
Did you try any of the products from the list?
They’re so reasonable for how well they work!

#OMagInsiders #OprahMag #BrianUnderwood #FallOwards #Beauty #BeautyBlogger #MakeUp #Skincare #BeautyOver50 #BeautyOver40 #Over40blogger #Womenover40 #blogtober #MakesMeWander

 

 

WWP: WHAT IS A HEALTHY HABIT I DEVELOPED (AND ONE I RELEASED)?

With each passing year, the changes in the seasons – especially as summer cools and turns to fall – become more noticeable to me! Perhaps because I feel how fast they blow through now that my kids are older. Perhaps because I’m aware of how fast life is passing overall.  

A fellow blogger Jessica Gustafson inspired me this week by explaining how one masters living seasonally! I also relate to where she stands with making revisions to her blog, newsletter and such (while I’m just starting to design revisions and a newsletter).  Her example will pull me through to the finish line with revamping my blog!

But first, I’m responding to her prompts – I smashed 3 into 1. I look forward to checking back in with her blog at the end of this season too.  

Ready? Pens up!

  • What is a healthy habit you developed for yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. What is one you can release in each area?  

Recently, I recognized that my daily routine followed the same path every weekday. Work, drive to the grocery store, sit in the parking lot for at least 10 minutes listening to the radio while playing some distracting game on my phone, wandering the aisles of the grocery store looking for dinner inspiration, then driving home to cook, clean up and crash until bedtime.  Sprinkle in daily debates with teenagers and I felt tapped out by the end of the day. Fortunately, while I recovered from surgery recently, I picked up a habit that improved my physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Walking. 

While still in recovery, walking helped my body function properly and increased my endurance. The endorphins helped me feel better and lifted my mood.  Secondary benefits included the freedom it provided me (when restricted from driving) and my daily outings helped keep my curiosity healthy and my moods sunny. As my strength increased, I challenged myself with distance or speed records. I knew that I needed to reassess my workday routine to ensure I could keep my new practice up. While I used to tell myself to get up from my desk every hour and walk or walk 30 minutes at lunch, my consistency stunk. 

To force my plan, I gave up my parking spot on campus. I now walk about 15 minutes each way to my office and back.  On a physical level, it contributes a lot to my 12,000 daily step goal. It raises my heart-rate and gets me to breathe deeper (especially on the stairs up to my third floor office). On a mental level, sometimes it allows me extra time to finish a podcast I’m totally into, or it accommodates my physical meditation while I count steps or my breaths against the squares in the pavement. Spiritually, it gives me space to be present, be more mindful. Sure, I’ll admit this also keeps me safe from tripping on a crack in the sidewalk while looking at my phone. I clear a space within my cerebral clutter to talk to myself, evaluate what works and what does not. My chats with myself are kinder, more supportive, not just nagging myself or cursing – ok, maybe I still sometimes sound like a sailor in my head. I take the time to consider what I might work on or what I need to let go and let the universe take over. 

One new mantra that made sense to me the moment I heard it is “Why not me?” These three little words are helping me shed the habits I need to release: a) Crashing on the couch then wondering why I’m not hitting my marks b) Giving too much power to the “What ifs?” and c) Feeling like I can’t enjoy the Successes for fear that a Loss will be right behind it – to bring me back to level ground.

I still find it hard to believe that a little action as simple as putting one foot in front of the other releases all of this magic!  I also sometimes find it hard to keep up the routine on the weekends, but that’s my next goal!

What about you?
How do you check in with yourself at the seasons’ transitions?
What habits did you pick up during this last season?
Have you let any go?
Do you have a mantra? Or many mantras?
What do you do when you need to work through an idea?
What does the voice in your head sound like?
Do you journal? Do you want to know how to live seasonally?
Did you check out her other journal prompts?
Have you done other #WednesdayWritingPrompts ?
If you do – share the links in the comments below!

#JournalPrompt #WWP #selfreflection #Seasons #ChangingSeasons #Blogtober #Blogtober2019 #LiveSeasonally #Inspired #WritingPrompt #MakesMeWander

WRITING FOR CONNECTION AND RELEASE

As an adoptee who was born mixed Korean, the irony of our deportation to other countries – because our look did not fit in with the Korean society – is that we did not fit in with our new adopted countries either. I dove in and embraced everything my family offered me: My new home, Cheerios, Keds, Orioles, Elvis, Big Wheels and Sesame Street! But, even from my earliest memories, I remember feeling aware that I did not look like those in my play circle. 

Outside of my family and playdates, the only unlimited influence over me were books. One of the first books I identified with shared illustrations of Native American youngsters with similar hair and skin colors. That was the first time anyone came close to resembling me so I believed I must be one of them. 

When first introducing myself to the Korean Adoptee communities as an adult, I became feverish about wanting to meet as many others like me as possible.  Anthologies helped me gorge on fellow adoptees’ stories to crack open and identify some of the heavy emotions I’d carried with me and also to connect with people who relate to those feelings.  Several anthologies of adoptees or those from biological mothers brought me to tears as they shared thoughts from deep in their hearts. 

The many Mixed Korean contributors!

The first time I entered a conference session filled with mixed Korean faces, I felt my last nerve relax as I felt present in the tribe of people who truly understand me without uttering one word. The Korean adoptee and the mixed Korean communities embrace their own tightly and the connections reassure me. As soon as I heard about a Mixed Korean anthology, I immediately submitted the first words that came rushing forth. 

Bucketlist item: To have my my writing in a book!

My initial excitement grew from the idea that my writing would be published alongside my peers on pages in a physical book! I could not wait to feel the weight of Mixed Korean: Our Stories in my hands.  I had not yet even considered how it might impact the readers’ lives the way other anthologies became turning points in mine. The editors’ began preparing us for book readings! I signed up for an early Los Angeles reading and felt so nervous that I completely skipped my introduction and just read my passage.  

Mixed Korean: Our Stories at halfkorean.com annual dinner

I worried about the sharp emotions from my pages and how they’d be received. Turns out, as soon as I’d sent the words to the editors, the negative emotions went with them. So, now, when I read them on the page I still recall the moments that caused me discomfort, but the negative emotions no longer clung to me. Writing helped release me.

Mixed Korean: Our Stories reading in San Francisco

 

I brought the anthology to another reading with fellow Korean Adoptee authors in Los Angeles and later we did another Mixed Korean reading in San Francisco at a university! I’m so humbled with each new audience and the many stories that they, in turn, share with me. It warms my heart feeling each new connection and knowing that this anthology weaved our stories together. 

img_6158

Korean Adoptee Authors at Beyond Baroque

Currently there are a few readings scheduled around the country and stay tuned, because the anthology is currently being translated into Korean!  

If you order a copy of the Mixed Korean anthology, it benefits 325Kamra – a team of DNA angels who are working to reunite families!

What about you?
Have you ever contributed to an anthology? About what topic?
Or have you written a memoir?
Are you mixed race?
Do you know your ethnic origins?
Do you have any emotions you’re tired of carrying around?
Does it help to write about it?
Do you journal – daily, weekly, monthly or when you feel like it?

#journal #mixedkorean #anthology #Adoptee #KoreanAdoptee #MyHistoryIsAMystery #notafflink #nonprofit #DNA #SeoulSearch #MakesMeWander

WRITING FULL-CIRCLE WITH MY FIRST MENTOR

When asked what I would do if I knew I could not fail, the answer is: Write. When asked how I wound up here, the answer slowly takes shape. From a very young age, I just really dug the vibe of the few writers I met. One of my favorite childhood books, contained a personalized note from the author and, though I never met her, I felt instantly plugged in on that wavelength. It felt magical to me to read books then see the picture of the solitary author and know that they created something that people everywhere would enjoy. I also loved reading!

By Gary Bradshaw

I do not recall spending hours crafting original stories while growing up (besides the fantasies I wrote in my diary). I know I suffer from an overactive imagination. After a near-miss in an intersection, I sit and play all the “what if” outcomes in my mind in slow motion but try to stop myself so I don’t actually put those images into the universe (so they won’t really happen) all before I get to the end of that same block. I tend to look towards the horizon with a kaleidoscope rather than a telescope!

The first time I felt the depth of writing happened in a high school writing class where we practiced and analyzed various styles of writing. From there I rolled into AP English taught by one of my favorite teachers (and already my yearbook advisor) Gary Bradshaw.  I dug his vibe! He was a unicycle-riding, poetry-writing surfer! I felt like he absorbed the work I turned in – and any of my classmates’ conversations – differently than anyone else. After one particular essay “The Piano” that I cashed in every opportunity to rewrite (inching towards an “A”), I exasperatedly asked how to know what an “A” paper requires? His totally zen response to me: “When your writing piece is done, you’ll just know!” From that moment on, I did not write for the grade, I wrote for what felt right or made me sit up straight and lift my hands victoriously. He developed my skill, confidence and my intuition simultaneously.

When I think of how I passed some college classes thanks only to my ability to write well about a topic, I hear his chuckle. When I re-read things I wrote, without remembering the words, I thank him for helping me tap into my subconscious flow. When I get the rare opportunity to feel “boo-ya!” about what I just wrote, that brings me back to his zen wisdom.  I regret that I cannot thank him in person as he unexpectedly passed at a young age right after I graduated from college, and I hadn’t talked to him since high school. 

This year, I found that one of his PHS faculty peers, Frank Barone, created a collection of Gary’s poetry, Two Hands Writing. I bought it on the spot! I shed a few tears, hearing his voice in my mind while reading the words that he so carefully laid out on paper.  While I know our conversation remains one-sided, I feel like we now exist on the same wavelength. To close this full-circle moment, I found a new (to me) writing exercise online that he helped design! Maybe I’ll do that for a future #Blogtober post. 

What about you?
Who do you consider to be your mentor(s)?
Did you have a chance to thank them?
What makes them stand out to you?
What was their best lesson?
Do you pay it forward?
Do you have a great writing exercise I should do?
Do you view your future through a telescope, periscope or kaleidoscope?
Are you doing #Blogtober? If so, share your posts too!

#Mentor #Writing #Teacher #LearnSomethingNewEveryDay #CommunityPool #WritingExercise #PowayHigh #PHS #WritersSeminar #APEnglish #GaryBradshaw #TwoHandsWriting #NotAfflink #poetry #MakesMeWander

MAKING LIFE SIMPLY DELICIOUS

[📷: betsylife.com]

As a single mom, working a day job and blogging by night, I’m always looking for ways to simplify my routine.  No longer wanting to take the time to window shop, stroll through aisles, collect free samples, and do mini fashion shows in the dressing rooms, I started to notice so many people purchasing boxed subscriptions!  Everything from wine to snacks to cosmetics to books to clothing easily and regularly brighten people’s doorsteps!

You can get FREE sirloin and salmon!!

I recently subscribed to ButcherBox (#ad) and I love how many ways you can personalize the box – from the contents (we chose the beef, poultry & pork box), to the delivery schedule!  The quality of the meats are great and they arrive still frozen and sealed in portioned sizes!

 

Loved that the fruits and veggies came with no signs of a rough trip!

I also signed up for Imperfect Produce (#Coupon – We both get $20 off).  I’ve always rooted for underdogs, including unappreciated imperfectly shaped or sized produce!  These boxes contain a wide variety of selections that you review and personalize based on preference or social calendar! The sizes or shapes may vary, but the flavors and freshness impressed me.

[📷: betsylife.com]

With both boxes, I remained curious and open to adventure! I discovered new cuts of meat or exotic produce that I’ve never cooked with before. This led me to look through my pinned recipes online where I found Betsylife.com. First of all, her beautiful photography and her personal ramblings drew me in.  I felt like Betsy and I were hanging out in her kitchen chilling and chatting! Her posts set the tone but don’t hide the recipes in a long, scrolling blog post (thank you!).

One day I wound up with an overabundance of strawberries and a craving to bake so I tried this beautiful super simple Almond Strawberry Upside Down Cake!

I felt like the best mom ever with love oozing from the tendrils of steam as it cooled near the window sending billows of strawberry and almond scent to my neighbors. I never did get around to sharing the cake. …yet.

 

[📷: betsylife.com]

Impressed with Betsy’s recipes – simple enough for me to pull off, elegant enough that they look and taste like a masterpiece – I wanted to see what else she had up her chef sleeve!  Always looking for fun ways to feed my kids, but knowing their individual pickiness, inability to agree with each other and collective aversion to condiments, I went for the

Obviously, I lack Betsy’s food styling skills!

Individual Oven Baked Sloppy Joes. Super simple to make and how smart is she to make so many fun recipes for 1 when the rest of the world cooks for 2 or 4!  I made it for 3 #easy! Flavorful and beefy enough for one child and easy-to-chew meat for the other!

Alright, now convinced, (and with lots of ground beef because ButcherBox’s deal when I signed up was free ground beef for life – right now YOU could get free Salmon and Sirloin), I realized that my kids don’t mind trying new things if they’re teeny!  For my last dinner and using jalapenos from my Imperfect Produce,

I made Jalapeno Cheddar Juicy Lucy burger sliders (how smart that the cheese is INSIDE the burger?!) with a Broccoli Bacon Cheddar Loaded Potato Bites appetizer! Save this recipe for this week’s big game! 

 

I felt like a real chef with all the ingredients laid out!

Trying Betsy’s new recipes felt fun, creative, delicious – which is way more satisfying that what I usually cook!  I own a row of cookbooks and pinned over 7,500 recipes to my boards, so CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: I will find new chefs and try at least 4 of their recipes that month! My skills simmer somewhere around beginner but I had so much fun cooking with Betsylife.com and she added a dash of confidence, inspiring me to improvise! 

The next time I made the Strawberry Almond Upside Down cake – for a family celebration – I went extra adding blueberries to the top too! I just cooked it a little longer (because extra berries means extra juice).  Delicious!

What about you?
When’s the last time you tried a new recipe?
Have you tried Betsy’s Life recipes?
Do you have a recipe I should try?
What chef should I check out next?
Do you subscribe to any boxes?
When’s the last time you cooked outside the (subscription) box?

RECIPES:

ALMOND STRAWBERRY UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

BROCCOLI BACON CHEDDAR LOADED POTATO BITES 

INDIVIDUAL OVEN BAKED SLOPPY JOES

JALAPENO CHEDDAR JUICY LUCY BURGER

#ChallengeAccepted #NotAnAd for #BetsyLife #JustAnAdmirer #FoodStylist #Recipes #Afflink for #ButcherBox #ImperfectProduce #Jalapeno #Cheddar #burger #slider #strawberry #Almond #cake #broccoli #Bacon #Potato #bites #Individual #RecipesForOne #SloppyJoes #Oven #blogtober #October #cook #Dinner #Lunch #Appetizer #omaginsiders #makesmewander

WWP: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SEASON?

What’s your favorite season? Yesterday I would have answered, without a doubt: summer! Summer permeates my being in such delicate yet curious ways. I’m drawn to the water, the hypnotic rhythm of the waves and the journey that they travelled. Beach sunsets wrap any day up in a colorful package, gifting me satisfaction and recharged cells to start again the next day. The relationship of sand and water fascinates me – the millions of tiny pieces that support our weight as we walk upon them and the texture and temperature changes as I dig deeper with my toes or Flashdance until sand becomes quicksand. The smell of the ocean pulls me from any moment I’m walking through, instantly muffling out any city sounds and bringing peace and the image of endless horizons to my mind. I worship the sun (more responsibly as an adult) and feel the lightest when the days are bright and sunny!

Used Courtesy of SprayedOut.com

But, after opening my windows this morning, ready to stare down my computer and face the blog post I wanted to write by today (this isn’t the one), a cool breeze came in through the windows – the winds of change!  They tickle me to move, they itch me to forge a new direction! After daydreaming through summertime, I feel the strength of fall! The loud crunch of leaves after falling from the trees thrill me. I revel in the mystery of each day wondering if the sun or clouds will win. I crave natural textures of cotton cable-knit sweaters, the bark of trees, the ironic strength of squash skins, and I’ve already filled my nose and home with cinnamon pinecones! I want to stretch during fall to get ready for this whirlwind winter season that ends each year and ushers in the new year.

I used to think this restlessness originated from my Gemini birth sign – which happens to be an air sign. I don’t put a ton of emphasis on zodiac and personality tests BUT as an adoptee it does put a fun spin on Nature vs. Nurture. Since I don’t have relationships with biological relatives, besides my kids, it’s hard for me to tell which craziness I created myself or inherited. These Gemini and INFJ definitions also remind me that I’m not the only one in the world wired this way.

Used Courtesy of SprayedOut.com

This fall we’re preparing for more change than I prefer, starting with my son moving to college at the start of the new year. He’s a spring admit and I feel so fortunate relishing a few extra months with him while everyone else already dropped their kids off. I’m also stressing about that first college tuition bill. Although it makes sense on paper, until we get past the first one, I’m really stressed. However, the stress fuels my fire and I’m focusing it towards something that I can impact – my website.  Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, my new site will soon feature a) More consistent posts; b) More organized topics to make it a better resource; c) Better features and more levels to provide more for those who visit. Now that I yearn to share more of my personal journey and help others plan theirs, I’m creating and planning! It’s exhilarating!

I do look forward to the winter and the many reasons to reconnect with friends and families to reflect on our highlights while wrapping up this year. I anxiously anticipate spring — sending my son across town to college and a new beginning!  While his campus is only 18.2 miles away, that’s just a hair past my reach and .2 miles outside of my comfort zone but I look forward to watching him embrace the opportunities to learn and come into his own. Thankfully, he’s just an uber or metrolink ride away. My daughter deserves a new level of relaxation at home as an only child (which hopefully overrides the fact that her chores just doubled)! With each year older that my kids grow, I cautiously sample a schedule with more freedoms and learn to appreciate my kids in new ways.

So while this season’s winds of change pick up, I plant my feet firmly on the ground, lean into the winds, and breathe deeply! I am ready for the next season. 

 

What is your favorite season?
Do you feel different with different seasons?
When is the last time the winds of change ushered in something big for you?
What defines the fall season for you?
Can you believe it’s nearing the end of the year already?

#wwp #WednesdayWritingPrompt #Blogtober #Day2 #Seasons #WindsOfChange #Changes #WeatherTheStorms #WritingPrompt #SparksOfInspiration #OMagInsiders #MakesMeWander

CURRENTLY – OPRAH’S FAVORITE THINGS!

As a Californian, it’s sometimes tough to notice the seasons changing and for many years the holidays always sneak up on me. BUT NOT THIS YEAR!  This year, I kicked off the holiday season in the most fabulous way I ever dreamed of!

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I was invited to attend the Oprah’s Favorite Things reveal holiday kick-off party!  The evening fulfilled every dream I held onto since watching Oprah give away her list of Favorite Things for many years on her show and, now, in her magazine. While I was invited to attend the event, the decision to share my opinion, and the opinions given, are always my own.

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I’m so humbled and grateful that three of us #OMagInsiders, Tonya, Rachel and I, received the invitations as a result of being recognized by our peers for our community-building efforts within the #OMagInsiders group. 

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While this VIP invitation rewarded us with many comforts (Thank you O, The Oprah Magazine!!), the most rewarding gift is being a part of this group and celebrating this festive night with the other #OMagInsiders who inspire me and motivate me daily! My excitement grew exponentially each time another O Mag Insider walked through the door to celebrate the with us!

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Everyone’s been asking me – what were your favorites, what should I get? I’ve compiled a list of what I’m CURRENTLY OBSESSING over to help inspire you!

CURRENTLY INSPIRED
As the elevator doors opened on one of the top floors of a high-rise in Manhattan, the excitement of the people in evening attire and the colors of the inviting packages flooded my senses!

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I loved that in the spirit of giving and Oprah’s Favorite Things, we brought children’s books as donations to Books for Kids Foundation. Oprah and I have that in common – I always gift at least one book with every child toy I give! I love the idea of encouraging kids to keep reading hard copy books!

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CURRENTLY CRAVING
The enchanting twinkling city lights drew us farther into the room while inviting us up to Cloud 9 with an endless view of downtown. Delicious appetizers passed by featuring Oprah’s Favorite flavors from sweet to savory!  Savory won me over.

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The Maine Lobster Mac and Cheese – served in mini tart crusts are perfection! The Truffle Burger Kit makes burgers impossible to ignore! To unassuming guests, it’s a juicy mouthful of quality beef until the truffle flavor dances across your taste buds! If you haven’t done a lot of truffle stuff yet, start here. Beef and truffles go together!

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CURRENTLY PLANNING MENUS
I’m following Oprah’s suggestion to make holiday morning french toast using one of Roy’s Panettones. The multi-dimensional flavors and texture melt into your mouth! Red Velvet Gourmet Bundt (other flavors also available) brings on the holidays looking like something Santa would favor – but translates well to every other occasion as well! Bundts are the best because they pack as much cake goodness as possible in a slice!

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Put aside my status as a highly-caffeinated individual – you know that nothing goes better with baked goods than COFFEE! Look at the various options that Nespresso Lattissima One Silky White  indulged us with! …and so easy to use!

img_8595In my other hand, I held a signature cocktail made from Oprah’s favorite Casa Dragones Tequila – now in a size suitable for stocking stuffing!  

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CURRENTLY INDULGING
I rarely make self-indulgent purchases but, after this trip, I’m changing my philosophy. I can’t take my eyes off the clean, bold patterned Tory Sport color-block tracksuit because the pattern commands my attention and accentuates the strength of women. This weekend I’ll be the calmest shopper out there (or online) on Black Friday comfortably navigating sales while wearing fashionable Ultra Lite Caftan.  

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I love the power of scents to help me make sense of my day.  I love the La Chatelaine Deluxe Hand-Cream set because what woman doesn’t love options and a world of possibilities?

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CURRENTLY BEING SCHOOLED
While I always spent money for well-built shoes to train for endurance events, I’m the opposite with my daily wear shoes. Now Oprah’s Favorite Things boasts two footwear options with technology, structure and style to help me outlast my to-do lists. While already partial to the APL: TechLoom Bliss after hearing they were created by twin USC Trojans, I was sold by the sleek elegance of the shoes. The warm red color promoted them from athletic wear to chic wear.  

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My feet eagerly anticipate sliding into my Vionic Gemma plush slippers when I’m finally home for the night. They cradle my foot with the softest fluffy lining topping an orthotic footbed engineered to give my feet a second wind (after I’m finished reading my O Mag).

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CURRENTLY GIFTING
I’m over the idea of gift cards. I love dreaming up gifts that people will (hopefully) love and use – and remember!  I look for gifts that dazzle me like the Rainbow Tumblers – and everything else from Glitterville.com. They’re beautiful and enhance every event!  

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I love the Empowered bracelets because they share six beautiful but powerful mantras you wear on your wrist (without getting it permanently inked).

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The next gift warmed my heart and my hands because we got to hear the history behind these Knitted Faux Fur Mittens and how Oprah’s feedback helped shape the final product.  The Power of O made them happen! Your hands will thank you!

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For my sweetest friend, who invited us to stay at her home on our last trip back east, I left Face to Face Designs Napkins knowing that she’d have a house full of guests this holiday week!  Use them as napkins or bathroom finger towels! 

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CURRENTLY FASCINATED BY
I cannot stop dreaming about this item and while I personally can’t afford it, nor do I have a wall fancy enough to test it on, I’m dying to see this Samsung 2018 X7FN QLED TV in person! When it’s on, it’s a TV – when it’s off, it DISAPPEARS on the wall!?! Please call me for movie night if you get it, I’ll bring the popcorn!

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I love LOVE this idea and wish I’d thought of it first – the Lumos Kickstart Helmets that show lit up blinker signals on the back of a cyclist’s helmet to indicate where they’re turning.  Whether you have 2 or 4 wheels, you’re welcome! #ShareTheRoad

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CURRENTLY RECEIVING HINTS ABOUT
My kids had renewed interest in Oprah and the list that she and Adam Glassman carefully procured when they heard iPhone XRs were on the list.  Maybe I’ll give in for the one leaving for college this fall (let’s see if he reads my blog). Perhaps I’ll buy time with the other child’s current phone by upgrading her ear buds to AirPods.

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Tell me, do you have Amazon Echo Spot in every room of your house to play tunes throughout, or for shopping? Convince me why I’ll love it!

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We waited forever to take an Elevator Selfie!

Whether this was my one time experiencing Oprah’s Favorite Things in person live, or if I ever get invited back again, or I’d even volunteer as a helpful Elf – the evening met and surpassed every idea of what I thought this evening could be.  

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Dream come true to tour the O, The Oprah Magazine offices!

Waking up the next day and finding out it wasn’t all a dream was the best feeling! I love that even on any other year, I still have fun sampling a few things off of her list!

Wanna see the whole list of 107 Oprah’s Favorite Things?!

What about you?

  • Did you splurge and buy anything off of her list?
  • Are you doing #BlackFriday or #SmallBusinessSaturday?
  • Will you be braving the stores or shopping online this holiday season?
  • Which Oprah’s Favorite Thing would you buy if money was no object?
  • Have you considered doing a “Favorite Things” exchange with your friends where everyone exchanges their own favorite things?
  • What are your Favorite Things that you feel should be on next year’s list?
  • Have you checked out the new OprahMag.com – it’s where I live now!
  • Want to subscribe to the O, The Oprah Magazine?
  • Have you seen the special edition “Let It Go!” (it’s like curling up with a good book)!

What are you Currently up to?
Consider these:

  • CURRENTLY AVOIDING
  • CURRENTLY DRINKING
  • CURRENTLY WATCHING
  • CURRENTLY PANICKING
  • CURRENTLY COVETING
  • CURRENTLY COOKING
  • CURRENTLY LISTENING TO
  • CURRENTLY NEEDING
  • Or dream up your own!

#OMagInsiders #OprahsFavoriteThings2018 #OprahsFavoriteThings #OMagazine #OprahMag #OFT #HolidayShopping #BlackFriday #CyberMonday #ShopSmall #SmallBusinessSaturday #MakesMeWander

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