Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Flashback

{My grandma is turning 89 today!!! When I was a little girl I used to love how she would french braid my hair and teach me how to put on my "rouge" just right. She lives up in PA, and this weekend my family will be getting together to celebrate her special day. I wish I could be there too, but she will be in my heart. I love you gram!}
This week has been insanely busy since I’ve been scrambling to get everything taken care of before my stay-cation. After not having any official vacation days from work this year (not counting holiday's like the 4th of July), I need a break. My brain is fried! I will have a four day weekend, which is just enough to refuel for some big PR events I have coming up. I'm looking forward to taking crossing off some of my summer wishlist to-do items. And so that I can fully relax while I’m away, even for those few days, I have all my posts lined up for next week. I can't wait to share with you the adventures of my stay-cation! Have a great weekend friends!

{The fabulous Jessica Quirk from What I Wore, who I absolutely adore her and her amazing style, recently came out with her first book. When I approached her about donating a signed copy for one lucky girl attending our upcoming Glam Jam, she kindly sent me a copy. I couldn't help but page through this fashion filled recipe book, and promptly ordered my own! Go to her website to snag one for yourself!}

{During one of dinners out this week, I fell in love with this red zig zag cardigan on one of the waitresses. I must have mentioned to my hubby 50 times how much I like it and I wondered where it came from. I had a feeling it was a Forever 21 piece, and I was right. Guess where I'll be going on my stay-cation? This litle baby is comin home with me!}

{I must admit, I'm old enough to not only remember, but I'm old enough to have owned vinyl records. I think these blank writable CDs made to look like vinyl records are just super fun.}

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Glam Jam

Hello Friends. I am very excited to share with you an event we have coming up that I have helped run for the past 3 years. The Glam Jam. Just the name sounds like an amazing time right?!

I work at Shriners Hospitals for Children as their PR Specialist. For me, this role is such a blessing. You see, I was a patient at this very hospital when I was a child. Now being in PR for them, I really feel it is my opportunity to give back for all they have done for me.

My role can be somewhat glamorous, getting to interact with local and national celebrities, but the best part is what I get to do on behalf of the current patients going through the system.

We all can relate that healthy self-esteem is an area of concern for most teenage girls, but for many of our patients there is the added pressure of experiencing a visual difference from their peers (Many of our patients are in wheelchairs, have braces, perhaps a prosthetic limb, etc). The purpose of the Glam Jam is to increase the social-emotional heath of our teenage female patients through a motivational speaker, various self-esteem building activities and fun makeovers with hair, nail and makeup artists.

Look at how happy these girls were at the last few Glam Jam events. They are beaming with self confidence!

My whole goal with starting I Look Good Today was to hopefully show the world that no matter what your situation, your inner self esteem is essential and everyone is important and has a voice. The way you see yourself and portray yourself is how the world will see you. Growing up with a visible physical disability, I KNEW I looked different, but honey, I can still look in the mirror and say "I look good today!"

I wish all of you could join us at the Glam Jam. I know you would leave so fulfilled and inspired by these amazing young ladies!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Four Blog Awards in One Day! Oh My Ego!

I’m so excited because earlier this week Tara from Haute Lunchwho I just adore, awarded me with not one, but FOUR Blogger Awards including: the Kreativ Blogger Award, the Versatile Blogger Award, One Lovely Blog Award and the Stylish Blogger Award!  I’ve seen these little awards floating around the blogosphere and was hoping that someone out there would pass even one on to me.  So, a big thank you to Tara from me, and be sure to check out her fabulous blog!!!

Now for the fun part. I'm supposed to tell you seven fun facts about myself and forward the award to other deserving bloggers. Here it goes…

1) I still get giddy when ever anyone brings up the 90s TV show Dawson's Creek. I have the complete series on DVD and have been known to spend countless hours watching Dawson, Joey, Pacey, Jen, Jack and their cast of friends tackle the trials and tribulations of their teen angst. And for the record. . .I'm a complete Joey/Pacey fan!

2) I own a knit hat that Katie Holmes wore on the set of Dawson's Creek as Joey and a signed copy of one of the episode scripts by the five main cast members. I told you I was a fan!

3) I had a stuffed bunny named Annabelle when I was a teenager. I got to pick her out of a toy chest before going into the OR for my back surgery (That I almost died from.). I nicknamed her my "scared to death" bunny, because I was. Annabelle, although just a toy, was with me through it all and brought me so much comfort. Any time I would have to have surgery from that point on, she came with me. Unfortunately I had a CRAZY roommate that on her move out of our apartment decided to take Annabelle with her, along with other personal items that did not belong to her. It makes me sick to not have Annabelle anymore. I have literally cried over a stuffed animal at 33 years old!

4) I love corn with butter, mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip, it throws off the taste) and grated Parmesan cheese on it. Sounds gross, but it is SOOOO good!

5) My thumbs and pinkie fingers are double jointed.

6) When I eat Frosted Mini Wheats I eat them dry and just dunk them in milk one by one, like a cookie. I don't like them if they are in a bowl with milk on them.

7) My two current guy crushes, other than my hubby of course, are Josh Jackson and Orlando Bloom. My hubby is completely OK with the the fact that I get all googly-eyed with the first glimpse of these hunky men. He has his own crushes with Sarah Underwood and Jenny McCarthy.

The next part of my obligation is completely not fair, as I would love to pass these awards on to all of my blogging buddies that are so deserving of these awards. Ohhh decisions decisions.

Here are the 7 lovely ladies I'd like to nominate:

1) Sarah at FashionismyH2O

2) Kristina at Pretty Shiny Sparkly

3) Kimberlee at I have A Degree In This!

4) Abbt at abbzzw

5) Kendi at Kendi Everyday

6) Jessica at What I Wore

7) Amy Anne at Tomorrow's Dust

Thanks again to Tara for all the awards!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fashion Rules to Break: Beam On

The Rule: No sparkle or shine in the daytime.

Break It: Our daily grind gets less dreary when we glam it up a bit. Don't consign shimmery satins or sexy sequins to that brief stretch between the cocktail hour and bedtime. It's awesomely chic to rock a muted metallic coat, silky gold blouse or bead-embellished anything before dark. A bit of bling is especially welcome in architecturally sleek silhouettes.

So go ahead ladies, add a little sparkle into your life!

Is this a fashion rule that you will be breaking? I know I will!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Have Your Dessert and Chew It Too

I scream, you scream, we all scream for... GUM! People, this is not a test. I repeat. This is NOT a test. Or a dream, or a fantasy... it's happened. A gum that really, truly tastes not only like chocolate, but like chocolate mint ICE CREAM. As with all faux chocolate mints or gum, I was skeptical when I heard about the new line of Extra Dessert Delights. I tried desperately not to get my hopes up when I first heard about it, but I must admit, It had me at first bite. It's creamy. It's sweet. It's cold. It's minty. It's chocolatey. It's chocolate mint chip ice cream...gum. I'm wiping back tears, here. My dream has finally come true. And... and... you can chew it for as long as you want, and it won't run out of flavor. I swear, Willy Wonka's gum that was a three course meal all wrapped in to one stick would have a run for its money. This fabulous gum also comes in Key Lime Pie and Strawberry Shortcake flavors. I've tried the Key Lime Pie and I swear I could taste the graham cracker crust, the key lime, the whipped cream. . .to die for. I haven't tried the Strawberry Shortcake flavor just yet, but it's on my list.

So does this sound like something you would try or have you tried? What are your thoughts? I promise, you won't be disappointed!

P.S. Thank you to Nicole from Being a Marine Wife for highlighting my little blog to her readers! Check out the post here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Flashback

{People were wondering why I was posing next to this movie poster. DUH, because I'm the star of the movie HELLO!}

Happy Friday Friends! I hope you have had an absolutely fabulous week! I certainly did! There were four notable events that made me particularly happy. 1) My nephew's first birthday. I don't get to see him often since he lives about 5 hours away, so when I do I just cherish our time together. Being his first birthday was last weekend, we had a little celebration for him. Watching him DESTROY the cake and wear most of it was absolutely priceless! 2) We celebrated one of our patients who has raised over $300,000 for our hospital with a plaque ceremony. The most amazing part is she is 11 yrs old! It just goes to show you that no matter your age, no matter your disability, if you put your mind to something you can achieve great things! Part of the ceremony included a visit from MLB player David Price, pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays. He is such a nice guy! 3) Touring the 1920s hotel, The Fort Harrison. It is gorgeous and way out of my price range! I felt like a celebrity twirling under the beautiful crystal chandelier! 4) Thursday was a date night to the movies to see Winnie the Pooh (I know I'm just one big kid) with my hubby. Remember I mentioned here that hubby and I were extras in the Dolphin Tale movie? Well, it is coming out in Sept. SO EXCITED! After a jam-packed week, the weekend not going to be any slower. We're going to see our one-year-old nephew who is in town and getting much needed cuddle time with him, we're having a game night with friends and a fun pizza night out on Sunday!

Whatever you do, have fun, be safe and let me know all about it!

{The GORGEOUS chandelier in the Crystal Ballroom of the Fort Harrison Hotel. It made the prettiest designs of light throughout the entire room.}

{David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays was so gracious to take time out of his schedule  before pitching a game that same evening to support one of his favorite girls seated next to him. Although I'd love to say I'm the favorite, she's the little cutey on stage with him.}

{My hair is beginning to match up in length from the debacle of a haircut I had. I really am liking now how it is looking. My dad was right; it is only about 3 weeks between a bad haircut and a good one.}

{My nephew sure enjoyed his bday cake!}

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Don't Spend a Fortune to Look Like You Have One

Have you ever noticed that women who come from money know how to dress like it -- even when they end up living on a school teacher's salary? That's because they know a few bargain shopping secrets that help them score the luxe look without spending a fortune to get it.

You can appear to the manor born without overspending with these 5 simple steps.

1) The key is to know a classic when you see one. Study some retro photos online of Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly, or Audrey Hepburn - the usual icons - for a crash course in good breeding. Buy only clothing and accessories that transcend the trends and will look great every season, like a great black jacket. A well made white button-down blouse. A fitted pair of jeans. A pencil skirt. This way, you'll be able to shop sales and discount stores and buy some of your wardrobe off-season.

2) Spend up on the items you wear/carry every day. One dead giveaway that you don't have much cash to spare is if you're carrying a cheap bag -- and if you don't care one way or the other, then more power to you. However, girls who come from "money" always have at least one good bag to their name, whether they have a fat trust fund or not. Invest in a good bag, a nice winter coat, expensive-looking sunglasses, leather gloves, and a pretty scarf for winter.

3) Haunt outlets, thrift stores, semi-annual sales, discount designer websites and garage sales in upscale neighborhoods. Rich girls and girls who know how to look rich spend a lot of time bargain hunting in some very unlikely places. You'd be amazed at the designer gear you can find at Goodwill -- not only clothes but also designer bags. The same holds true for garage sales in the nicer neighborhoods in your area. Outlets and designer discount sites like Last Call, Ideeli, Haute Look, and Gilt Groupe are another great way to buy designer clothing, shoes, and accessories at deep discount, and if you love a particular high-end store, get on its e-mail list. You'll get all the news about big sales.

4) Never wear more than one "cheap" piece of clothing at a time. Think about it. That fabulous $6.80 black knit skirt you found at Forever 21 will look fabulous with tights and your black leather jacket. But put it with a $12 Forever 21 shirt and a $19.99 necklace from Target, and well, the look is diminished. I'm all for mixing in cheap stuff with your nicer investment pieces, but never wear all your inexpensive clothing and accessories all together.

5) Stun them with your shoes. You don't have to spend a fortune on an eye-catching pair of shoes. You just have to be willing to look for a while to find a pair you like and can afford. (This is where massive shoe websites like Zappos and Endless REALLY come in handy!) A flashy pair of shoes coupled with a more conservative look gives the impression that you have money to spare -- so much that you can buy a completely impractical pair of turquoise peeptoe platform heels, for example!

Out of all of these tips, remember, a lady never reveals what she's paid for something!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What I'm Wearing Wednesday: The Fort Harrison Hotel

{Top and skirt from JC Penney's American Living collection, shoes by Esprit, ring, bracelet, necklace, earrings all gifted.}
 Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the beautiful Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater to plan an upcoming fashion show that will benefit the mission I work so hard for throughout the week. The hotel, built in the 1920s, is rich in history having been operated by the inventor of the Oldsmobile and then later was the location where the Rolling Stones wrote their hit song, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". With its garden style fountains, glistening chandeliers and elegant gold leaf accents throughout the hotel, my floral skirt and pearl and diamond flower necklace and ring seemed to be the perfect fit.

{The melon color to this top gives it such a garden party feel. I love the ribbing on the sleeves and neckline.}
{This pearl necklace has a porcelain flower with diamond accents in the middle. So classic.}

{I love the accessories that just seem to bring this outfit all together. You can also see a close up of the design on my skirt. It is made of such a light cotton material that just makes me want to twirl . . .yes even in my chair, I like to twirl!}

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


For years I was addicted to watching Sex and the City. I spent countless hours watching Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha wear the best clothes, have the nicest decorated apartments and live a life that simply seemed captivating. Oh to walk in to Carrie's closet! I also just loved the bond the four women shared. Yes, they had their disagreements, but at the end of the day, they had a friendship that would last the test of time. You would think with all my admiration for the show I would have taken notice of all of the little details that make Carrie's workspace. Look at those patterned curtains, framed pictures and delicate lamp that all add an element of style, while maintaining a sleek and functional area to work. I spend the majority of my time in front of a computer, the least I can do is create a space that’s inviting and uniquely my own. Here are a few desk accessories that I would like to add to my own workspace to make it clever, cute and collected.

{Refined Around the Edges Tape Set. Dress up your parcels, mail, or latest collage with a strip of tape from this sweet set! Delivered in two distinct widths, this trio of paper tape provides a pleasant surprise at every seam, with a band of stars shooting across a bright yellow backdrop, petite polka dots over mint green, or a vibrant floral print. Whether you’re a devoted crafter or detail-oriented diva, add this cute kit of masking tape to your closet of supplies so you can surprise a friend with a charming touch of character.}

{I love these Just Sayin' notes. Whether it's a quip, comment, or question, pen the prose you’re ‘just sayin’ on one of these square sticky notes! With lined space for your message and a series of check boxes to suit each possible sentiment, this set allows you to express your thoughts without exhausting your vocabulary - you can even relay to the recipient that there’s already been ‘nuff said!’ Maybe it will be meaningful or marvelously mundane, but your next brief thought will look brilliant on these witty and wonderful sticky notes!}

{What Would Audrey Do?  More than just a fashion icon, Audrey Hepburn was also known for her gracious way of life. This book, penned by Pamela Keogh, is a primer for those who look for an Audrey-inspired life, whether it be in lessons of love, style, the home, or generosity. I have always loved Audrey Hepburn. To have this book on my desk for quick reference would be such a conversation piece!}

I have also recently come across the website See Jane Work. Jane is a fictional character who embodies everything working women are today. Whether your work is in the home, in the office, or, in your home-office, We women are expert organizers and multi-taskers who can lead the staff meeting, make the contract revisions, and schedule the vet appointment, all before we've had our second cup of coffee.

Holly Bohn is the Founder and Creative Director of this wonderfuly creative company. The idea for See Jane Work came when one of her many trips to an Office Superstore left her feeling frustrated and unsatisfied.

I love, love, LOVE the workspaces she has come up with. Her organizational skills definitely inspire me to get my workspace in tip top organizational shape. Take a look at some of these offices. I'm totally jealous!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Get it Straight!

Call me crazy, but I once spent $600 on a hair straightening treatment. I will pause for a moment to let you pick your jaw up off the floor. My wallet still screams just thinking about it.

Why would I pay $600 on my hair you ask? Well, long story short. I cannot do my hair myself. I don't have the physical strength to lift my arms up enough to style my own hair, so my lovely locks are at the mercy of my wonderful hubby, who thankfully does a FABULOUS job on my hair. Bless his heart because I am EXTREMELY anal about my hair. If it doesn't look good or if I'm not pleased I'll make him continue to work on it before we leave the bathroom. I blame that on the fact that I can't "fix" my hair throughout the day, so it has to look good from the get go. Ya, I'm nuts I know, but I take a lot of pride in my hair! It is probably the feature I am most complimented on.

Getting back to my actual hair. You have to understand, my hair is VERY thick and wavy. With the humidity we have in sunny FL this means BIG BIG HAIR. I like to joke that my hair would liken to Roseanne Roseannadanna. . .Remember her?

Trying to tame the hair beast was always a chore. My hair regimen looked something like this: wash, condition, dry for 20 minutes, use a straightening spray, flat iron. At the end of all that the volume of my hair was still very thick. My hair alone was taking over an hour to do. When you are not the person doing your own hair, that can be a lot to ask of someone.

I looked for simple care hair styles. For a while I went with a perm to curl my hair.

Having curls was easy to manage; wash, condition, mouse, scrunch, go. As cute as the curls might have been I thought they made me look too young and unprofessional. I became tired of them very quickly and wanted to try my hair straight.

In years past I had relaxers that claimed to keep your hair stick straight without having to iron it. HA HA, not with my hair. Ironing was always a must no matter the treatment. I swear my hair has a mind of its own.

Then in 2008 I decided that I would bite the bullet and pay $600 for the Japanese straightening treatment. My hair stylist assured me I would see the desired results I was looking for. She also promised this treatment would last 9 - 12 months, I wouldn't have to iron my hair and if I didn't want to, I wouldn't even have to dry my hair. HELLO, I was sold.

The 6 hr process was worth it. I had extremely straight hair with none of the fuss that it promised.

I have since found another hair stylist that charges only $250 for the same process. I'm all about saving whenever possible. Plus with my hair straight and no need for ironing (I still dry it because my hair is so thick it would take all day to air dry.) I can pretty much do my hair myself, which is HUGE for me since I have never been able to do it myself my entire life; and hello I'm 33!

Throughout my hair trails and tribulations I have tried a number of straightening products and tools and have spent a fortune on products to make hair care easier. I have become quite the expert on getting your stubborn hair to stay sleek and shiny. Here are some of the best tools and products that I find stand up to their promise.

{The Chi Flat Iron is by far the best ceramic flat iron you can buy. I have the original Chi. Years ago I spent over $100 dollars for this straightening God send, but today you can get it here for $52. Even before the Japanese straightening treatment this little baby did wonders on my hair.}

{This Vidal Sassoon Hot Air Styler tool is supposed to dry and curl your locks with the unique 1.5" barrel, which is equipped with air vents, flexible ball-tipped bristles and a cool-touch tip. Using this tool in a downward motion I found it is fantastic for straightening hair too. The barrel locks and unlocks for brushing ease, and rotates freely while drying to prevent tangles. Other features include variable temp settings, tangle-proof swiveling power cord and a safety plug with test/reset functions. After about ten years I had to get a new one, and let me tell you when it stopped working I freaked. This tool is a must have for me! You can get yours here.}

{Sleek.look blends ceramide, shea butter and apricot oil to help REPAIR damage, CONDITION hair and CONTROL frizz with long-lasting humidity protection for shine and all-day smoothness. Instantly transforms unruly, curly, wavy or frizzy hair into sensuously-sleek styles that stay smooth from shampoo to shampoo. You can get a duo pack here for $34.67} 

{Weightless spray with heat protection blocks out frizz as you straighten. Proprietary blend of polymers with keratin protein wraps each strand, sealing in straight styles for up to 3 days. Keeps hair glossy, smooth and swinging with body. At $10.75 per bottle that easily lasts you a few months it is well worth it. You can purchase yours here.}

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Flashback

{My hubby gave me a heart flower balloon this week from a party they had at his office. How adorably romantic! It doesn't take much to make me feel special to this man!}

Hello Friday. So nice to see you again! First things first. . .Happy Birthday Dad!!! I hope you have a wonderful day today!!! I love you!!!

OK, back to our weekly wrap-up. I can't tell you how much I have really enjoyed this week. There wasn't anything significant that happened this week, but just a lot of tiny moments that brought me a lot of joy! There was one particular thing that made the entire week for me.

I don't know about you, but I am a TOTAL ANIMAL LOVER! My hubby and I often take a back way home from work. It is less chaotic taking us away from interstate driving and a nice way to wind down from the hectic work day. We always pass by a home that has a very large amount of fenced in space with miniature horses, goats, sheep and other furry friends. When we drove by Wednesday night my hubby decided to pull the van over so we could get a closer look. Rolling down my window I called out to the two little horses as they were grazing mid field. They both looked up at me and then started making there way over to the fence. I couldn't believe it. When they approached with there swinging tails and adorable faces I squealed like a little girl. As I talked to them they would make sounds back as if they were answering me. It was everything I could do to not get out of my car and squish them up in a big hug. They made me sooo happy!

So what happened this week to make you happy? I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and thanks for visiting!!!

{This is Bosley. He came to live with us via Ebay. I won him for my hubby. He used to have this very same bunny when he was a little boy. Seeing Bosley online made my hubby so excited, so I knew I had to win him; and I did. SCORE! Bosley sits in our living room and makes both of us very happy whenever we see him. . .he's kinda ornery though. He thinks he owns the place!}
{My pretty chartreuse "J" notepad cover I use at work. I love taking this very posh office accessory to meetings. I feel very important when I use it!}
{The potato pancakes at The Shrimp Boat. Loaded mashed potatoes deep fried. Crunchy outside with fluffy mashed potatoes on the inside. Couldn't get enough of these things!}
{I can't believe it, but this Thursday was seven years ago that hubby proposed to me and we made sure to celebrate that special day! If you missed it, you can read our engagement story here. This picture was taken on a nature trail in PA a few days after I said "yes" on  another nature trail.}

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Uses for Everyday Things: Dryer Sheets

I love finding new uses for everyday household items. When it is laundry day, I love the smell our dryer sheets give to our clothes, towels and sheets. My favorite scent is black raspberry & hydrangea by Snuggle Exhilarations. It is such a fresh, sweet smell that seems to last long after the laundry has left the dryer.

For many years as soon as the laundry left the dryer the dryer sheets would go right into the trash. In my mind it had done its job. What I have learned through the years that these wonderful smelling sheets do much more than take the static cling from your clothes while in the dryer.

Use Dryer Sheets to:
  • Use a used dryer sheet to wipe your television or computer screen. Dryer sheets will help reduce the static cling of electronics.
  • Use a used dryer sheet to clean blinds and baseboards. It's the same concept as above!
  • Place an unused sheet in your drawers to help clothes keep smelling great.
  • Run a threaded needle through a fabric sheet before sewing to help keep thread from tangling.
  • Freshen smelly shoes by keeping a dryer sheet tucked in them when they're sitting in the closet.
  • Clean pet hair from furniture, clothes, or carpet. Just run a used sheet over it and it should attract it.
  • Loosen stuck on food from pans. Place an unused sheet in the bottom of the pan, fill with warm water, and let sit over night. It should be easier to clean in the morning. (I've never tried this, but I have read it works great!)
  • Eliminate car odors by tucking new sheets under seats.
  • Use a used sheet to clean soap scum from shower doors; just dampen the dryer sheet and wipe.
  • Make that wet dog odor go away. If the dog comes in smelling awful, just wipe him down with a used dryer sheet.
  • Repel mosquitoes. Hang used dryer sheets in your patio or pin them to your clothes. (I haven't tried this one either, but have heard it works.)
  • Use it as an air freshener. Stick them under furniture and in closets to make the house smell fresh without costing a ton.
  • End static cling. Carry a dryer sheet with you and just dampen it and run it down static-y clothing. This works great for hair too!!!
  • Dusting in general.
  • Clean paint brushes by soaking the brush in water with a dryer sheet. 
  • In your gym bag to keep from smelling.
  • Hang them near your garden to keep critters from munching a way.
  • Dust your washer and dryer when you are finished with the laundry.
Do you have any additional uses for dryer sheets? Please share below and I will add them to the list!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Guest Blogger Ruth Madison: Writing Your Story

Hello Friends. I am so excited about today's post. I recently asked a fellow blogger friend, Ruth Madison if she would be interested in guest blogging for I Look Good Today. I met Ruth a few months back and just adore her caring and cheerful personality. She happily took me up on my offer and has written the most wonderful post that I know you are going to enjoy. Be sure to check out her blog, Ruth Madison to get more from this incredible gal!
Writing Your Story
There's a saying that goes "Everyone has at least one story in her." I believe that to be true. Life is such an adventure and, as one of my favorite writers, Flannery O'Connor said, "Anyone who survives childhood has enough material for a book." We all have experiences the telling of which can help others who come after us.

Whether it's showing how you built a happy life for yourself after abuse, or how growing up with a disability gave you good perspective in life, or what it was like having many siblings, perhaps what it was like being an only child, maybe how you manage to be fashionable year-round. We can all learn from each others experiences.

Many people talk about writing a book someday, but it can be overwhelming to think about how to even start.  As the author of two books and another on the way, I want to offer you a few tips on how you might get started in this journey.

1) Write down snip-its.

We tend to want to start off with everything perfect.  To sit down at a heavy oak desk with a legal pad and a fountain pen and start exactly at the beginning with "I was born." You might write down a sentence or two and then become frustrated. It doesn't sound like great literature or great memoir, it's just a couple stupid sentences.  It's not going to start out great, revising is necessary!

To avoid frustration what I usually do is start out by writing down bits and pieces out of order. Before I start a book there are usually pieces that I know I want to go into it. I write down those first. Any parts of the story that are particularly compelling for me, I write just those parts.

I also let my brain soak in thoughts about the topic and jot down whatever ideas and tangents come to mind.

2) Outline

Every writer is different. There are as many different ways to write a book as there are people. Outlining works really well for me, but it might not work for you. It's worth giving a try, though.  

If you're telling a story (even if it's memoir), my favorite outlining method is called the Snowflake Method ( This is a way of expanding a story to make sure that there is a solid beginning, middle, and end. If you're writing non-fiction, or advice, you may want to gather ideas and bundle them by what they have in common. 

3) Start joining the bits and pieces together according to your outline and fill in the gaps to transition smoothly from one to the next. Make sure you read it out loud to make sure that the language flows.

If grammar and syntax are not your favorite things, it's okay to get someone else to proofread it for you. You're still the author.  

4) The most important thing is to keep yourself honest. People recognize and respond to you as you really are, not who you wish you were. When you try to write something idealized, it comes off sounding pretentious and not believable. When you are willing to put yourself on the page with your flaws, people are relieved to find a kindred spirit, someone as human as they are. It is the most personal and searingly honest stories that really take off in popularity. It's counter-intuitive, but the more personal and specific to yourself you are willing to get, the more relate-able your story becomes.

This is different from writing down everything that happened exactly as it was. Beginning writers get caught in the trap of being afraid to change little things. Even memoir is part art, and you do need to arrange things in the best order for the story. Life is far too complicated to be written down exactly as it happened and be a compelling read. Learning which parts can be left out of your story is important too. One piece of advice from Elmore Leonard is "I try to leave out the parts people skip."  

Once you have a full and overflowing draft written down, then you can go back through and think about each section "Does this support the main idea of the book?" (Helpful to have done the one-sentence summary from the Snowflake Method for this).

I hope that this will encourage each one of you to give writing a try. You may have a great book in you, but it won't help anyone if it's caught inside you. Give it a chance to come out into the world.

Ruth Madison is the author of books and short stories on disability and devotee themes. She believes that there aren't enough books out there with characters who have disabilities and she's on a mission to fix that. Find out more about her fiction at 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Take the Test: Are you a Shopaholic?

There's shopping and then there is your over-the-top purchasing that can wreak havoc on a person's life and wallet. I remember trips to the mall before I made my own money, armed with bday present or Christmas money and would think nothing on spending the majority on one item instead of getting the most for my money.

People who become preoccupied with with buying "stuff" and repeatedly spend money on items, regardless of need, are commonly referred to as shopaholics. Sometimes I feel like that impulse could be harbored inside of me, but I do my best to keep it at bay and typically my splurging on an item I didn't intend to buy ends up being on something like a new lipstick or fun accessory. . .not a $450 pair of shoes.

A new test on that could be extremely helpful in curbing those impulsive habits before they attack includes six statements, for which individuals answer on a seven-point scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree:

  • My closet has unopened shopping bags in it.
  • Others might consider me a "shopaholic".
  • Much of my life revolves around my next purchase.
  • I buy things I don't need.
  • I buy things on impulse when I go to a store.
  • I consider myself an impulsive buyer.
Those who score twenty-five or higher would be considered compulsive buyers. The test could help you know when you should leave your credit cards at home the next time you head out to shop.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Under My Umbrella

Hello Lovelies. Did you have a nice weekend? I sure hope so!

My weekend was full of good laughs, good food and fun games with hubby and a group of our friends. Much of our time however was spent indoors because of the non-stop rain. Living in FL, July is definitely part of our rainy season! Don't get me wrong, I LOVE when it rains; especially when I am going to bed, but it does pose a problem when you are all dressed up, ready to head out and you want to remain staying fashionable even under the stormy circumstances.

Here are a few of my top picks for weathering the storm with style.

{You will stay nice and dry under this cheerful rainbow umbrella.}

{Staying true to my Italian roots, this Italian made umbrella is gorgeous with it's deep blue floral print.}

{Even on those rainy days, when you just can't muster the energy dress up all pretty, you can exude an enchanting air by fastening on this necklace! Handmade by UK designer Stolen Thunder, this fanciful, bamboo necklace will give any look a bit of magic. Wear it with fun galoshes, high-waisted skinnies, and a billow blouse for a look that shines, 'weather' you're cuddling up to watch a movie at home, or heading out for a jam-packed day!}

{My favorite color is purple, so these lavender Annabel rain boots are top on my list for keeping your tootsies dry.}

{Just because it's raining there is no need to lose your edge. You'll be flauntin' some serious style with these funky rain boots. They're sure to keep you dry while you have fun playin' in the puddles.}

{These adorable ankle rain boots available in black and brown are inspired by the 80s but with a modern twist. These boots are comfortable and hip all rolled in to one.}

{I love this navy belted rain coat by Rainforest. It is fitted through the waist, has slightly flared cuffs and hem and flap front pockets. Accented with silver hardware, it is 100% polyester with toggles to tighten both hood and cuffs.}
{I said it once and I'll say it again, my favorite color is purple, and this vibrant purple and grey plaid double breasted rain coat is calling my name.}