18 July 2017

Loft Sales are my anti-drug

I'm beginning to think Loft knows when I've had a rough day at work. 

Without fail, when it's been a particularly rough day where I begin to wonder if I'm in the right business or question if I even know how to do my job, a Loft sale email pops into my inbox. 

It sits there tempting me to load up my cart and accidentally buy clothes that no one will actually see me in other than my husband and cats as I never really leave the house. But I'm quite certain Geordi appreciates my little fashion shows and I know Fawkes enjoys sleeping on the clothes...😒 (He likes satin feeling items and anything black. How very modern. . .)

Currently, Loft has all sale items at 50% off, plus Free Shipping on New Items and purchases over $75. (Which...given the rough day I've been having not difficult to achieve...I lost count of conference calls after the 5th or so) 

Here are some of my picks for you to pick up so I can live vicariously through someone. 

Summer still has a few months here. So I'm always on the hunt for shorts. I practically live in them. I love Loft's shorts because they're not insanely short and the material is comfortable and breathable when it's 120 degrees outside and I'm considering if it's really worth it to go to the store or if I could Amazon Prime things like PopTarts and batteries. (Hint: You can, yo!)

I've noticed my closest is quickly filling with dark colors such as black, greys, and dark blues. So I'm attempting to talk myself into wearing more colors like these bright pink striped shorts or this floral shirtdress. Shirtdresses mean no trousers and everyone can get behind that.

I've been trying to start wearing more accessories. I never really know what to wear so I usually go without. I've started trying to incorporate more layering necklaces. Sometimes I pull it off, sometimes I don't. But I don't think I could go wrong with this Multi strand Drop Pendant Necklace. It's simple enough to pair with a nice top and shorts or dress up with a dress. (Maybe, if I'm wrong please fix me)

What will you pick up? Share with me so I know what to add to my Must have list!

03 January 2017

See the light where the sky meets the sea It calls me...

These last few months have sped by. It feels like just a few weeks ago we were picking Sami up from camp and had 250+ days before vacation.  Now we're down to a little over 60 and there's a huge amount of planning left to do.

For this year's vacation, we decided to do another cruise. This time on the Disney Dream to the Bahamas.

We originally booked a verandah cabin for 7 nights on the Disney Fantasy to the eastern Caribbean. However, a couple weeks later,  I decided to switch us to a 3 night/4 night Back to Back on the Dream.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line

Why? Who knows. Maybe I like making stuff difficult? We did save about $600 doing this. Our room did change to an extended Aft verandah. So we got a larger verandah.

What we will do is embark from Port Canaveral on a Friday, spend Saturday in Nassau, Sunday at Disney's private island Castaway Cay, then return to Florida on Monday. We'll leave our luggage in our stateroom, have breakfast, disembark with a day bag with our documents and a few things for the day and then go through US Customs and Immigration, go back upstairs and check in again. We'll have to wait for a little bit, but then we'll be some of the first back on the ship.

We'll repeat the same course this time adding in a day at sea before disembarking on Friday.

It seems complicated and it is a bit. But there are a few reasons we chose to do this.

I love Disney Cruise Line. We experienced the Fantasy and want to try all of the ships. This is a way for us to experience the Disney Fantasy's sister ship. It also gives us 2 days at Castaway Cay. Which is a lovely island with loads to do and incredible Disney theming.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line

It also lets us see how we like shorter cruises. Disney occasionally sails from Southern California which is a bit easier of a drive at 5 hours. So  if we do like 3 or 4 night cruises we could possibly make the trip to California for a short cruise. Immensely cheaper as we don't have to fly and they tend to be the smaller Classic ships.

Disney cruises are expensive. I won't lie. Our cruise price is probably twice what we could get on a different line. Is it worth it? I think thats a hard question to really answer. Disney service has always been superb. The theming is well thought out, stylish and doesn't feel cheap.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line

There are also no casinos on Disney Cruise Line ships. We're not big gamblers. I don't see the point in casinos. I'm not sure what the draw is to casinos on cruises.

We also like the kids programming. The Oceaneer's Lab and Club for children 3-12 is amazing and full of things and activities to keep Sami happy and she has a blast. It's hard to drag her away from them at times.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line

We love the adult exclusive areas. Grabbing a book and stretching out by Quiet Cove without a huge group of screaming children fighting over pool space.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line

Remy's is by far our favourite Disney restaurant. The service is amazing and the food is delectable. While it's not included in the cruise fare, it's well worth the up charge.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line

The ships are extremely clean. There was never a time I saw a mess that wasn't cleaned up right away.  I was always a bit wary of cruising because of the chance of illness. But given the amount of cleaning and sanitation I saw, I don't think I'm worried about that anymore.

One of Nate's biggest thing was environmental rating. Disney has consistently received high marks on their environmental initiatives.  You can find out more here:

So now it has snuck on us. We're just a little over 2 months left. So there will be lots of planning left to do!!

Have you ever taken a Disney Cruise? Have you ever wanted to?

02 January 2017

A man with a mission in 2 of 3 editions

One of my favourite things about January is putting together my new reading list. I don't always stick to it, I rarely stop at just the ones I list. But it such an exciting way to start the year with a new list of books to read and add to my ever growing book cases (Actually, stacked next to my bookcases as my bookshelf is now too full for more books. . . )

Here are the first 20 books I plan to read this year. What's on your list? Any recomendations? 

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick 

All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead 

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George 

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham 

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians That Helped Win The Space Race by Margot Lee Sherrerly

Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Milliard 

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer 

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness 

Rocket Girl- The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan - America’s First Female Rocket Scientist  

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin 

White Trash. The 400-year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg  

American Witches: A broomstick Tour through Four Centuries by Susan Fair 

Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt by Arthur T Vanderbilt II 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City - Matthew Desmond 

Suffragette: My Own Story by Emmeline Pankhurst

The Lost World of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay 

Shadow of the Titanic - Andrew Wilson 

The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki 

01 January 2017

New Year's Brunch - St Francis

It's finally 2017!!! I know many people that had a wonderful 2016, but mine was pretty frustrating and stressful. So I was excited to ring in 2017 as quickly as possible.

I made plans for a New Year's Day brunch with Nate at a little restaurant we found in uptown Phoenix.
St Francis located at 111 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix mixes the modern and mid-century feel that I've come to expect from Phoenix. (It feels like Phoenix discovered the 60's and 70's and decided they were happy and not going to change their Aesthetic much.)

 Phoenix rocks the 70's aesthetic pretty well and St Francis mixes the old and new very well.

The architecture aside, the restaurant in warm and inviting. It's on the smaller side, which makes it feel much more intimate. Always something we look for.

The facade is a glass retractable door that opens are nice days to expose the bar area. The door was closed today due to the New Year's drizzle we had this morning, but we've seen it open before and it creates a fun view of Uptown Plaza. (We were there right before Christmas and they had it open. One of the perks of living in the valley of the sun is patio weather in December)

We were shown to our table in the upstairs loft area over looking the main dining area and the jazz band playing. I was pleasantly surprised as usually sitting that close to live music makes it difficult to carry on a conversation. But the music was a wonderful addition and not overpowering in volume. It was also a very talented local jazz band which I hope will be there again next time. I didn't get a chance to get their names but I wish I had.

As I'm addicted to all things carb-y. We ordered the Baker's Board.

A was a delicious array of pastries and bread with fresh butter , cream and jam.

It included a St Francis baguette, Oat and carrot muffin, banana bread muffin and a banana scone. (I think. Some come with a cinnamon roll, but I mentioned I don't like cinnamon rolls so I believe they left it off because of that. Which is great as the smell of cinnamon rolls gives me a headache. However, if you ARE a fan. They were impressively huge rolls)

All of it was divine and quite filling on itself. I think we could have easily made this a nice meal with some drinks.

All of these items are fresh made from the Phoenix Public Market. Which is definitely something we are going to check out as soon as possible. Because I may need to buy my weight in those muffins. 

Since we're gluttons for punishment and forgot to add the "Stop gorging ourselves" to our list of 2017 resolutions, we both ordered entrees on top of the Baker's Board.
Nate ordered the Chorizo Scramble (chorizo, spinach, jack cheese, salsa, and toast for $10) 
He loved it. The chorizo was spicy and the salsa had a surprising kick to it. Which even living in Arizona, not always a given when it comes to restaurant standard salsas. The toast was the same bread as the baguette on the baker's board. This bread is amazing and cooked in house. The serving size was impressive for the price and he barely finished it after eating our weight in baked goods. 
I ordered the Farmer's Market Frittata (seasonal vegetables, cheddar, arugula for $10)
One thing I love about this place is how they use seasonal fresh and local vegetables and ingredients whenever possible. 
My frittata was amazing. I was expecting a lot of egg, with a few pieces of vegetable tossed in and a sprinkle of cheese. 
I was so so wrong. 
Topped with Brussels sprouts, red peppers, arugula, broccolini, cherry tomatoes, purple and orange cauliflower and some sort of winter squash with a white flesh. 

The cauliflower was an interesting twist. the purple cauliflower had a nutty flavor to it, while the orange cauliflower had a slightly sweet taste. 
All of the vegetables were fresh and ripe. The seasoning was light so you were able to really taste the different vegetables. It was vegetarian and gluten free. 
The menu denotes which items are vegan, vegetarian, dairy free and gluten free. There was a large number of vegetarian items and a couple vegan items. 
Something else to enjoy? Kids 12 and under eat free. We didn't take Sami with us, but there is plenty on the kids menu that she would enjoy. 
With drinks and food, we paid about $38 before tip. 
Service was phenomenal and our server was friendly attentive and able to answer questions about the menu. 

Their Happy Hour menu is also impressive and includes the forbidden rice bowl (vegan), Morrocan meatballs, baked goat cheese and 
pumpkin soup. 

If you're in Phoenix, check it out Their menu changes seasonally (In order to use the freshest local ingredients) and please. Eat a Baker's Board for me!

View from our table of the jazz band

Upstairs dining area

Always stop for a mirror photo! 

And of course, Happy New Year from me and my goofy dog (And the husband!) 

14 June 2016

We rise and fall, and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer and love is love is love...

It's been a painful and emotional couple of days in the United States. We are once again, reeling and in pain as another terroristic attack has taken place on American soil. This time, 49 people are dead and dozens more are injured in what has become the worst mass shooting in U.S history. 

People are angry. People are scared and people are lost. 

In the 48 hours since the attack, my Facebook feed has blown up with tributes, calls to action, disgust and pain. 

My friends and loved ones are trying to grapple with this in the only ways they know how. 

I've seen friends working together to coordinate donations, ordering supplies for the blood banks, passing out information on how to help and expressing their sorrow and this is what we need. Action. 

However, I'm also seeing the dark side of terror. Fear, judgement, anger and blame. 

This is normal. People process things differently. I am a person of action. To me, in times of pain and the unknown, the best action you can take is to reach out and comfort and love and help your fellow citizen. 

Unfortunately, instead of love, I'm seeing hate. 

I wasn't going to post about this. It's a hot button issue here. I have no answers. I have no fix for this. I cannot heal the pain I see that is so raw and real among my friends. 

But I have to express my pain. 

For the most part, I'm used to brushing things off. Years of moderating the dreaded comment section, seeing the terrible, wretched thoughts people share about the smallest thing has helped me develop the ability to look pass all of the hateful rhetoric on social. 

But today, a post hit me deep in my heart. It was the usual type of post you see here in the US after a mass shooting. I'm sure it's been posted hundreds of times before because it shifts blame to someone else. 

It lists other terroristic attacks against the US and says how "The problem is not guns, It's a Godless Country" 

I am and have been an atheist for many years. I do not discourage others their religious beliefs. Because I know there is more than just the 2nd amendment to the Constitution. I know that as an American, the First amendment gives them that right. 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I have great respect for religion. I think it can truly help some people. I think it gives some people a feeling of belonging, a sense of community and a belief system that helps them through life. It is not what I have chosen for myself. All I ask, is they have the same respect for my choice to not believe. I draw the line when they depend on religion for hate. 

My Atheism works well for me, it will not work for others and it is not something I encourage for others. It is not something I feel is the one true way. 

However, this meme this person shared in their fear of the recent events made me realize. I am the Godless Country they are blaming this on. I am an unapologetic atheist. I choose not to believe in their God. Therefore, do they feel I am part of what contributed to this? 

I am a loving person. I am a strong person. I am a wife, a friend, a sister, a mother, a Feminist, an LGBT+ Ally and I am an American. Until today, I did not realize, some of my friends saw me as what is wrong with this country. 

I love my fellow citizens regardless of their sexual orientation, their religion, gender and political beliefs. I find wonder and amazement in the world around me and I want the world to be a better place than it is. But according to this, I am the problem.

But this is fear. This is wanting to push the blame elsewhere, to put up walls and to push people out. Because we're hurt. Because we're scared. Because we don't know how to handle such destruction and pain.

This doesn't help though. Saying it's because there is no prayer in school, or because people are not your chosen religion, is not going to help. When we start dividing people between us vs them, the religious vs the non-religious, The LDS vs the Baptists, the Catholics vs the Protestants, this accomplishes nothing but alienating everyone. This creates pain, weakens our bonds and creates strife. 

But I'm not what is wrong. I'm a law-abiding contributing member of society. I appreciate diversity, I appreciate art and beauty and science. I appreciate everyone that has touched my life.  I celebrate life and mourn death. I give more than I take, I hope I set good examples for those I meet. 

How can you allow this to divide us? How can you see something where your fellow citizens are in pain and scared and not want to unite against the bullies that are trying desperately to rip us apart?

Differences in skin color, beliefs, sexual identity and who someone loves should not divide us. In the face of fear, we should unite and celebrate the true American spirit, not of clinging to our fear. But celebrating our strength, our diversity and our ability to endure. 

So instead of focusing on hurtful things people are posting, I choose life. I choose the true American spirit, and the spirit of those around the world sending actual love to a country in tears. 

I believe people are fundamentally good. That good will always triumph over bad as long as we stay united. 

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." "

 These helpers are the types of people we should really be turning to in these times: 

Everyone who has donated to the Equality Florida GoFundMe supporting Victims of the Pulse Shooting: As of 2am Tuesday morning, they have raised nearly $3 Million. 

The Thousands that lined up to donate blood:

JetBlue offering Free Flights to families of the Orlando victims:

Chick-Fil-a for donating food and tea to blood donors on a Sunday, when the stores are typically closed. This has touched me deeply. Because to me, this is a True Christian act and I respect them greatly for it:

All of the tributes from news agencies, The Tony Awards, Talk shows: 

John Oliver:

Anderson Cooper:

Lin Manuel-Miranda:

And the countries around the world paying tribute to our fallen Americans:

Dumbledore once said "....we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort's gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open." 

And remember.    Love Wins. 

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