Thursday, November 21, 2013

Product Review: Kate Spade Micas Pond Lacey Wallet

Kate Spade New York
Mikas Pond Lacey
Coloure: Sugared Grape

Hello, my name is Eleanor and I'm addicted to Kate Spade products! 

The Kate Spade (Lacey design) wallet has been in my wish list for as long as I can remember. This year, my husband gave me the Mikas Pond Lacey Wallet in Sugared Grape for my 33rd birthday.

Before I go on into my review, I just want to mention that when my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him exactly what it was (within the budgeted reason) and he paid for it. There was no passive-aggressive-read-in-between-the-lines type of expectation, just plain, "This is what I want." It makes gift giving so much easier and stress free. BIG KUDOS to my hubby. But I digress...

Kate Spade New York
Mikas Pond Lacey Wallet
Coloure: Sugared Grape

Quality leather, plating, and craftsmanship.
Beautifully designed with plenty of organizing compartments.
Fits one checkbook.
Inside contains 2 bill slots
Inside contains 12 credit card slots.
Inside has a zipper divider to secure important items.
Outer zipper closure to contain paper and monetary goods.
Slip pocket at the back.
The color pops, which reminds me of happiness during the dullness of winter.
Use as a Grab-And-Go on days you don't want to wear a purse.
I got the wallet on sale. *

Zipper gets in the way when you take credit cards out of the top most compartment.
Difficult to zip shut if you keep a month's worth of receipts, coupons, coins.

This product is beautiful. The stitching is perfection and the leather feels good to the touch. To me, the pros outweigh the cons. The zipper getting caught on the credit card is minor. The solution is simple, gently push the zipper back and take out the card. As far as over-stuffing your wallet to the point of non-closure, it's time to simplify. Do you really need all that stuff?

Overall, I'm very happy with this product.

*If you know me, I'm extremely cheap and frugal. It is extremely rare that I purchase anything full price. I usually avoid taking home anything less than 40-50% off. Luck was on my side when I stumbled upon the secret sale from the Kate Spade website. I was ecstatic!
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Broccoli Rice Casserole

Six years ago, my co-worker, Mindy, brought a Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole to a work potluck. The way she made it was fantastic. I went for a third and probably a fourth serving. I've only cooked it once since then, but yesterday my cravings were specific. 

I had to go by memory when cooking this dish. The main ingredients called for mushroom soup, broccoli, and rice. Slapped those together with a other ingredients, and voila... comfort food. Delicious! The family loved it... but most importantly, my toddler loved it - and he's a picky eater. 

Broccoli Rice Casserole

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 package (16 ounces) frozen chopped broccoli (fresh is better)
1/2 cup water
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, chopped
1 cup shredded cheese
1 1/2 cups cooked regular long-grain white rice
French's Onions

Heat the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the shitake mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in the broccoli and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the soup, water, cheese, and rice. Cook and stir until the cheese is melted. Pour the broccoli mixture into a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Top with more cheese, French's Onions, or both.

Consume, or wait and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbling.
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Thursday, October 31, 2013

All About UGG Boots - The Comprehensive Guide

The first time my eyes beheld UGG boots was circa 2003. They were the UGGliest things to ever hit the fashion scene. I cringed every time I saw women wear them. To me they depicted the ultimate sloppy, lazy persona of walking out of bed to mingle with people of Wal-Mart. Boy was I ever wrong.

I bought my first UGG boots 3 weeks ago out of necessity: to be comfortable, warm, and agile enough to run after my toddler son should we be out and about meandering all over town (during the colder seasons). So, for my 33rd birthday, UGG boots were the gift to myself.

It took me a while to actually hit the store to try on these boots. I'm the "research-ad-nauseum-ad-infinitum" type of consumer. I read endless reviews, and then weigh the pros and cons - especially when it will be a big purchase. Let's face it, these boots aren't cheap - they're a luxury to own. Avoid buyers remorse? You betcha!

Below are things to consider when buying the UGG boots:

  • Decisions, decisions, decisions 
    You get to the store and find yourself in front of the UGG section and are inundated with a plethora of different styles. That was me! I didn't know which style to try on, so I asked the shop girl to get 5 different styles in my size and in different colors. It's literally like finding the perfect wedding dress - it's a big decision so you have to come out of the experience totally in love with it. I tried on everything. Shop girl didn't seem to mind. I created a positive rapport with her prior to asking for help.
    • *** Coloured insoles can rub off on your white socks.
  • Losing Your UGG Virginity 
    You will love it! The first time I stepped into the style featured above, it felt like my feet were enveloped and bathed in the warmth and coziness of clouds. My gosh, it was absolutely wonderful. So snug and comfortable. Warm toes are the way to go.
  • Size & Fit
    In most boots, I usually get 1/2 size larger since I wear thick socks, but UGG boots only come in whole sizes. Make sure you try on different sizes and get the boot that is perfectly sung and comfortable to walk in. Don't just walk a couple of feet with them at the store, walk around the whole perfume and make-up section if need be. 
  • Socks or Not To Socks
    Some people suggest that you don't have to wear socks when wearing UGG boots, but it's better if you do. Feet sweat and when they are marinated for long hours day after day of use... the shoe will cause absolute disgust in the aroma area of the senses. People suggest to powder the insides to absorb the sweat, but it can get disgusting in there. WEAR SOCKS! 
    • *** If you have long toe nails, I suggest trim them. In the long run, long toe nails will rub on to the top of the boots and will create a hole. (See picture) If you wear socks, this could be prevented.
  • Arch Support & Insoles
    There is no arch support with such UGG boots. If you have plantar problems, put your inserts on top of the sole. It doesn't lift up. Worn out insoles? No problem, you can buy insoles here: Insoles 01, Insoles 02
  • Leather/Suede Protection
    There is an UGG kit you can buy - but you can get away with just the UGG Sheepskin Water and Stain Repellent. It will do the job. I even used the spray in some of my suede jackets and pumps. Spray once a month for protection.
  • Storage
    Once you decide on a specific style, ask for an untouched pair - meaning, boots that have not been tried on. These boots will come with a shoe form. Keep these in order to maintain the boot's form when storing them away. They are fantastic. 
  • Wet & Dry Weather
    Avoid wearing UGG boots when it's wet outside. These boots are made of sheepskin, and when it gets wicked wet, they tend to smell. Also, a drop of water fell on my boots the other day, when it dried, it created a watermark. If you bought the UGG Kit, you can remove the stain using the brush. Watch the video in the link for more information -or- remove the watermark stain by rubbing it back and forth. 
    • *** Avoid cooking when wearing these boots. Oil and grease will stain the boots... permanently.
  • Real vs. Fake
    First of all... to eliminate such the problem, purchase UGG shoes only in trusted department stores or online shoe stores that are legitimate, see link below, otherwise there is a chance that they will be fake. You don't want to get duped. Second, there are things to look for when buying Authentic UGG shoes:
    • Look through this gallery from the official UGG website to learn how to spot fake UGG boots
    • The tags inside the boot should have some kind of reflective security label sewn in the left shoe or in the shoe box. (see picture) 
    • Buying online? Here is a list of authorized online retailers.
  • Things I Missed
    I missed a lot here. If you have anything to add, leave it in the comments section.
My UGGs in action:

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Roasted Russian Chicken Drumstick With Quinoa & A Side Of Cauliflower Casserole

Roasted Russian Chicken Drumstick With Quinoa And A Side Of Cauliflower Casserole
Nutrition Facts (per plate): 393 calories, 16.9g fat, 3.5g saturated fat,
3.6g sugar, 24.5g protein, 37g carbohydrate, 5.5g fiber, 0.5mg sodium

I whipped this meal up real quick for dinner the other night. A few days later, the whole thing was gone! I cooked a lot too. It was pretty excellent if I don't say so myself.

There should have been 1 serving of the cauliflower casserole on that plate - there's only half a serving shown in that picture. I got too excited and forgot to put the other serving in. Oops. Also, the spice I used on the chicken is a Russian seasoning for potatoes but it still worked its magic on the chicken. The flavor was mild, yet middle eastern tasting. Like I said, EXOTIC!

Russian Seasoning For Potato Dishes
Ingredients: salt, sweet paprika, onion, sugar,
ground parsley, garlic, black pepper,
caraway seeds, cucuma, dill seeds, bay leaf.

Click Here
Roasted Russian Chicken Drumsticks
(serves 8)

8 organic chicken drumsticks
2 packets Russian seasoning for potato dishes
1/4 cup of olive oil (use less if you have to)
1/4 cup water (use less if you have to)

Place chicken drumsticks in a quart size Ziploc bag. Add water, olive oil, and 2 packets of the Russian seasoning. Shake until chicken is coated evenly with the mix. Marinate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven 300° F.

Spray glass bakeware with spray oil (I used our pyrex bakeware). Place chicken and bake for a total of 30-40 minutes flipping the chicken over and basting every 10 minutes.

* If you want the skin to be crunchy, broil for 1-2 minutes after it's cooked.

Plain Quinoa
(serves 8)

2 cups organic quinoa
4 cups water

Place quinoa in a sifter. Rub and swish the quinoa with your hands and rinse until the water is clear.

Combine quinoa and water then bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, simmer and cover for 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes covered then fluff with fork.

* Some people use chicken, beef or vegetable broth to substitute for the water. Some add olive oil as well.

Cauliflower Casserole
(serves 8)

1 large head of cauliflower chopped
1 medium sized red onion chopped
1 medium sized red pepper chopped
2 tbsp garlic finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Chop cauliflower. It doesn't need to be fine. Place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes on high until tender, stirring once or twice. Add red onion, red pepper, garlic, eggs, and mozzarella. Mix evenly.

Coat a glass bakeware with spray oil and press the mix evenly in the pan.

Bake at 300° F for 15-20 minutes until cooked. Cool for 10 minutes and then serve.

* I also used this casserole as a crust for pizza. Just top with sauce, cheese, and toppings and then bake until cheese on top is oozing.
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blackened Seared and Steamed Tilapia with Mashed Cauliflower and a Side of Asparagus

Blackened Seared-and-Steamed Tilapia with Mashed Cauliflower and a Side of Asparagus
Drink: Republic Of Tea - Decaf Ginger And Peach Iced Tea
Whipped this up in 20 minutes right after my workout at the gym. This was our family dinner tonight. Healthy and absolutely fantastic. Without further ado, the recipe is below.

Sauteed Asparagus
(serves 2)

8 asparagus spears
2 tbsp olive oil (1 tsp if cooking only the asparagus)
Salt, pepper to taste

Heat up the pan and add 2 tbsp of asparagus. While the pan is heating, cut the end of the asparagus and discard. Add the asparagus to the pan just so they are coated with olive oil. Remove immediately.

In another plate, season the asparagus with salt and pepper to taste. Add the asparagus back in the pan and cook until desired, turning over as needed. (We like ours a little crunchy so we don't overcook them)

Place in plate.

Blackened Seared and Steamed Tilapia 
(serves 2)

2 fresh tilapia fillets (4oz)
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
2 tbsp olive oil (from the olive oil from above)

While cooking the asparagus, pat tilapia dry and then sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder on both sides. Set aside.

Once asparagus are cooked and placed in plate, turn the stove up to high heat. Place both fillets in the pan and cook for two minutes.

Turn the fillets over and cover the pan with a lid. Take out of the fire and let it steam for 10 minutes. Do not take the lid off till 10 minutes are through.

Squeeze lime on top.

(This comes out perfect every time)

After 10 minutes, place in the plate.

Mashed Cauliflower
(serves 2)

1 head cauliflower
10+ cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Chop the cauliflower and boil until fork tender.

Drain cauliflower and place in a food processor with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder. Add Pulse till consistency of mush.

Serve on plate and top with a dash of black peppr.

Nutrition Facts (per 1 plate): 270 calories, 16.0g fat, 50mg cholesterol, 87.7mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate, 3.3g sugar, 5.7g fiber, 25.2g protein.
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Saturday, July 20, 2013

California Sandwich

The California Sandwich
Ezra Pound Cake
The Kitchen Confessional Of Rebecca Crump
I got this recipe from the blog Ezra Pound Cake, The Kitchen Confessional Of Rebecca Crump. I decided to try it out this morning with a few changes since I didn't have the ingredients with me at the grocery store. Instead of mixing up the ingredients for the spread, I used the Oikos Cucumber Dill Dip Greek Yogurt. I LOVE DILL! It's fantastic that they came out with their dip line. I also didn't put any cheese. It still turned out fantastic.

Here's the recipe from her website below:

California Sandwich 

Rebecca Crump (

Makes 2 large sandwiches or 4 small wraps
    Chive Spread:
    Avocado Salad:
  1. To Make the Chive Spread: In a small bowl, mix the Greek yogurt and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. To Make the Avocado Salad: In a medium bowl, gently toss together the avocado, tomato, cucumber, lime juice and basil or cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  3. To Assemble: Spread the chive-yogurt mixture on all four bread slices. Divide the sprouts between two slices of bread, and top with avocado salad and cheese. Cover with the remaining slices of bread. (If using tortillas, spread the chive-yogurt mixture on the tortillas, and top with cheese, avocado salad and sprouts. Roll, and eat.)
Here's what mine looked like. I didn't whip out my Nikon. This is my mobile camera. Not too shabby.
It tasted all sorts of fantastic! HEALTHY too.

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Magic Pop Open-Faced Turkey Salad Sandwich With Raw Veggies

Magic Pop Open-Faced Turkey Salad Sandwich With Raw Veggies
100 calories,  3.8g fat, 13.1 g carbs, 4.6g protein, 2.5 g fiber
Weight Watcher Points: 0 pts
Of late, I've been obsessed with healthy eating. My biggest inspiration is Heidi Powella coach, mother of three, and manager of their family business. She is also the wife of the famous Chris Powell, the coach and fitness trainer in the ABC's, Extreme Weight Loss.

Anyway, Heidi had this recipe in her blog: Open-Faced Low-Carb Turkeywiches. It makes 2 Turkeywiches, has 200 calories, 5 g fat, 14 g carbohydrate, 20 g protein. Not bad at all. I decided to try it. Everything listed in the ingredient section was in my grocery list. At the store, next to the rice cakes were these Magic Pop bags. I turned it around to look at the nutrition information and then BAM - I was blown away. 

Magic Pop Nutrition Information
As you can see to the right side, 1 piece of Magic Pop is only
15 calories and 4g carbohydrate. It's also 0 Weight Watchers points. As a bonus, it's diabetic friendly. 

These genius Magic Pops made it into our grocery cart. As another bonus, it comes with 12 different flavoures! This has become my substitute for bread! What an awesome guilt free snack to eat that will  totally fill you up. 

Magic Pop Open-Faced Turkey Salad Sandwich 
With Raw Veggies
1 Magic Pop 
2 tbs Chicken or Turkey Salad (add more as needed)
2 slices of tomatoes
lettuce (as much as you want)
raw broccoli (as much as you want)
raw carrot chips (as much as you want)


1. Spread the chicken or turkey salad on the magic pop.
2. Top with tomatoes and lettuce
3. Eat with a side of raw broccoli and raw carrot chips

1 serving (including vegetables): 
100 calories,  3.8g fat, 13.1 g carbs, 4.6g protein, 2.5 g fiber.

Converted to Weight Watcher Points (including vegetables): 
1 serving (including vegetables): 2 pts

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hey Girl...

I made my first meme. In case anyone hasn't figured it out, I'm an avid Mr. Darcy fan. Specifically that of Matthew MacFayden in the Pride & Prejudice movie. My gosh, what a measure of a man. Ryan Gosling, who?

Posted it on twitter too:

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

B is for...

Grinding coffee beans allows the flavoure to really come out. The coffee is fresh, delicious, and perfect.

Happy June 2013 Everyone! 

This month, I decided to participate in FatMumSlim's Photo-A-Day Challenge. Today is, B is for... Coffee Beans, Brewing, and Barista. Usually during the weekdays I use the Keurig at work. It saves a lot of time. However, during the weekends, I'm more of a barista/coffee aficionado. I take my time to create the perfect cup of Joe. Here's my weekend morning coffee ritual.

Dunn Bros Coffee is fantastic. They have numerous flavoures from all over the world.
The decafs are just as impressive. Tastes like regular blends.

We keep coffee in an air tight container to lock bean freshness.

Not particularly proud of my focusing skills here. But in our household, we grind coffee beans.

Brewing coffee. Mmmm...

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12 Steps To Self Care

The previous two weeks had been particularly challenging. Owning your own company with your husband isn't exactly the ideal dream life. In such a case, all means of normalcy ceases to exist. Between catching deadlines, running errands, working 15 hour days, business calls, wanting to smash your smart mobile across the room, taking care of reality, making everyone happy, feeling guilty for not spending enough time with our son and pets, and not getting quality time together in a married life - life gets pretty hectic. In such the environment, the only normal is to be bitter, cynical, and negative.

I stumbled upon the image above in facebook. I read it and let it sink in. Within minutes, I was transformed. Hope and motivation suddenly emerged from all the negative energy.

  • How often do we let circumstance control our lives? 
  • How often do we become the worst versions of ourselves because we can't manage everything that is thrown at us? 
  • How often do we put ourselves in our own world of hell because we're too hard on ourselves?
It's quite important to take care of ourselves - not only physically, but mentally. It's a different form of detox that I like to call, bliss. I encourage you to look at the list above and see what you need to improve to love and take care of yourself from the inside. 
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Monday, April 29, 2013


Alright, I got another RT from another one of my favourite shows: Arrested Development. Gotta love twitterverse! I'm so proud of my most favourited tweet!
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Sunday, April 21, 2013

In With The Classic

I've been agonizing for weeks in search for the perfect cross-body bag of quality grade at the right price. There were some Kate Spade and Coach bags that I adored but were way above my budget. Then there were the cheap ones that completely turned me off. I just needed a small little bag that could carry money, mobile, keys, and lip gloss. Let's face it ladies, those are basically all we need at any given time. 

This morning, I was going through my old stash of purses and my eyes lit up when I found the little D&D bag. I remember purchasing it with my mother when I was a sophomore in high school, circa 1997, in one of the D&D factory outlet stores in the state of Maine. It brought back so many good memories.

The bag is absolutely classic. After 16 years, the style is still relevant and the leather is still in good condition. That's the secret to buying purses - always go for the classics, the ones that will never go out of style. Shelling out a little more for quality is worth it in the long run.

In conclusion, I encourage you to look and dig in your closet before purchasing something new. You'll never know what you'll find.
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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cinnamon Beer Toast

My brother has this Spanish cookbook he got on sale when Borders Bookstore was still an existing business. He has made wonderful dishes from this book, and one is the Cinnamon Beer Toast above. The recipe is supposed to be called, Torrijas, but we modified it: omitted the eggs, used beer instead of white wine, used real sugar instead of dusting caster sugar, used olive oil instead of sunflower oil, and cooked it with minimum oil. It was wonderful! It went so fast. I had to stop myself from eating these. Oh so good!
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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Goal: Send My Parents On A Weekend Getaway

Goal: Send my parents on a weekend getaway
Goal Achieved: April 05, 2013
Location: The Richards House : Dubuque, IA
Photo provided by website
My parents have been such a blessing to Andrey and me. As entrepreneurs, Dre and I spend a lot of time working. It truly gives us peace of mind that Maksim is with family instead of a daycare. With everything that has happened, my family is always there for each other - and we're so lucky to have close bonds.

For my parents' 35th wedding anniversary, we decided to send them on a weekend getaway - somewhere different, somewhere unique, something far from the norm. When we mentioned an all-expense-paid  escape to a Victorian B&B, they were excited. 
(CLICK HERE - Read and see more pictures after the JUMP...)
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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Product Review: Two Faced Shadow Insurance

  • The excitement of trying a new eye shadow base
  • It got good reviews
  • Extremely greasy. After several uses, grease still oozed out
  • The primer and the grease separate inside the tubes
  • Shadow cakes in the creases of the eyes after four hours
  • It's $20 and it doesn't get the job done
This was the most disappointing beauty purchase in my history of make-up buying. Sephora had stellar reviews on this product: better than UD's Primer Potion, doesn't cake, a little goes a long way, long lasting, enhances eye shadow color, and etc. I couldn't wait to try it. When I opened it, oil came out, not primer, OIL! GROSS! I gave it a few more tries but it always came out greasy, even when mixed. I also noticed that after 4 hours, my eye make up started to cake up in the creases. I don't even want to get into what it looks like after 8 hours.

I'm positively going back to UD's Primer Potion. At least with that one my eye makeup stays decent for up to 12 hours.

Don't bother with this deceiving primer with rave reviews. What a waste of $20.
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Get a retweet from one of the accounts I follow on twitter.

Goal Achieved: 
March 25, 2013

I used to dislike twitter with a passion until my facebook newsfeed started to look like endless memes that simply annoyed me. The audience in twitter is smaller and less judgmental so it became my voice. I still use facebook to comment on what others say, but most of my updating is through my twitter.

One of my favourite things about this social media site is following accounts I adore, one of them being Pride & Prejudice - the 2005 movie adaptation of the classic literature. Granted, the movie has similarities and differences from the book, but I simply appreciate everything about the film: interpretation, cast, filmography, and music

I admit, Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy totally won me over. He put a spell on me throughout the movie and I became mesmerized by the intensity of his stare. Behind his eyes revealed the complexity of the human nature to understand, to love, hate, trust, accept, and forgive. I swooned and melted, my heart did a loop-de-loop. The feeling felt like being in love all over again. My husband is a good sport about my being in love with Mr. Darcy, ha ha, and he seems to view my little crush as some form of entertainment. Every time I go on and on about Mr. Darcy, he just rolls his eyes. 

Anyway, so the retweet - I was excited. It's very hard to get a retweet from a celebrity or a popular account. It's a small goal, but I'll take it! 
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Monday, April 1, 2013

Life Goals

I finally got my new LIFE GOALS list up.

The difference with this new list from the previous one is that I didn't set a deadline and the goals are easier to achieve. Then again, small or big goals - they're all the same since it's the learning that counts. But eventually, I'll integrate the old goals into this new one.

I will be adding to these goals as time goes by. This world is so vast and infinite that one lifetime is not enough to explore its greatness. But understanding through experience and perseverance makes a whole world of difference. It is the force that can change a person to become wiser.

You are never too old to set another goal
or to dream a new dream.
- C.S. Lewis -
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Back To Blogging

I've been a total slacker with blogging.  The whole, "I'm busy with life" New York/New England self-importance mentality nonsense got in the way of what I really love to do - which is blogging.

Currently I'm working on my new 101 Things to Do.  This time around, the goals are more realistic to the schedule of a full time working mommy - and absolutely doable.

There's approximately 75 things on my previous list that I didn't do - worth $75.  I haven't decided where to donate the money yet, but when I do, I'll blog about that too.

Stay tuned for more good things to come.
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