• Food,  How To,  Something That Could Change Your Life,  Travels

    How to Remove Coconut Meat Without Losing Your Mind

    One of the highlights of our visit to Maui last November was a tropical plantation tour. We learned about so many of the delicious fruits and flowers grown on the island; seeing pineapples, mangoes, avocados, bananas, and many others in their natural habitat was fascinating and we enjoyed the afternoon tremendously. One mind-blowing moment came when our tour guide pulled the tram over so she could demonstrate how to break down a coconut. By the way, I absolutely love coconut but I do not love all of the steps involved in breaking them down. I can gleefully poke a skewer into the eyes and pour out the water, and vigorously…

  • How To

    How to Receive a Gift

    I spent hours and hours (and hours) today, wrapping the rest of the holiday gifts that have been hanging out in my dining room for nearly two weeks, so I thought I’d go with the gift theme, again. Everyone’s talking about gifts right now anyway, so why not? Earlier this month I posted 6 Tips for the Gift-Giving Challenged, so if you’re still figuring out what to get for whom this holiday season or you just generally need advice make sure to check that out. Five years ago I wrote about what I enjoy receiving from someone after I give them a present: nothing but a “thank you.” Honest. I…

  • How To,  I've Got Mad Skillz,  My Friends Have Mad Skillz

    6 Tips for the Gift-Giving Challenged

    One of my very favorite things to do in the whole wide world is give gifts to others. I’m no Martha Stewart or *insert the name of any other famous and professional creative person here* but I do take lots of pride in coming up with gift ideas that seem like perfection. We’re coming up on the holiday season and I am already seeing requests for ideas on Facebook that look something like this… “What to buy for a 13-14 year old? Anyone?” …so I think my advice might be useful to some of you out there, during the December holidays and year-round. Of course, the easy answer for that…

  • How To,  Travels

    First Time Going to Maui? Here Are 12 Travel Tips from a (Former) First Timer.

    Are you headed to Maui? Exciting! I’m sitting in the airport like a sad sack, on the way home from our first-but-definitely-not-our-last trip, and I thought I’d write up some suggestions for other first-timers. Hopefully you’ll find this list helpful and, even if Maui isn’t in your future right now, you can use many of these tips when heading to other destinations as well. With that, here we go, in random order: 1. Book your flights early. When we first started checking out our options many months ago, we found some that were only two flights: Knoxville to Dallas or LA, and then right to Maui. Because we waited too…

  • Motivation,  Something That Could Change Your Life,  Travels

    Travel. (Just Go, Already.)

    I’ve done a little bit of traveling this year. *giggle* Actually, I’ve done a lot of traveling this year. Almost every time I go on a trip, I get texts from friends (and comments on photos that I post on social media) about how they wish they could pick up and go like I can. I get it. I was unable to do this until just a couple of years ago. I’m in this interesting season of life right now: I’m an empty nester and, for the first time in decades, unemployed except for some freelance writing I do on occasion. I’m able to keep appointments with myself to workout…

  • Confessions,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    What If We Just Don’t Ask “What If”?

    Recently I visited an alma mater of mine. Sidenote: I just had to look up “alma mater” to make sure it means “a school I once attended” rather than “a school from which I graduated”. The fall after I completed high school I entered Tennessee Technological University as a freshman majoring in German and stayed there for six months. I loved my time at TTU, short-lived as it was. My visit a couple of weeks ago brought back all kinds of memories. I drove by Jobe Hall, which is where I lived on the third floor. I walked through the student union. I walked across the quad to the south…

  • How To,  Motivation,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Do Something.

    It’s been a rough couple of days in America. Upset, anger, confusion, and sadness are only some of the emotions that people are dealing with after Hillary Clinton’s loss (or, rather, Donald Trump’s win) on Tuesday, not to mention the feelings of panic about the future. This election was different from others: it was the nastiest, ugliest, meanest cycle in our lifetime and in the end the Democratic loss/Republican win wasn’t upsetting simply because it was a loss. It was (is) upsetting because the racist, misogynistic, and anti-LGBT comments made by Donald Trump during the campaign along with his promises to rid the country of immigrants, build a wall, and…

  • Amazing People,  Friends,  My Friends Have Mad Skillz

    Personal Evolution: It’s a Thing.

    I enjoyed lunch with an old friend today, someone who I last saw only in passing when we were teaching spin classes at the same health club (years ago). Our lives have been intertwined in a bunch of different ways since we met in late 1995. I used to care for her school-aged kids in the health club nursery while she taught classes at night and on school holidays, and years later her daughter babysat for my boys in the summer when I worked full-time. She was a mentor to me when I was studying for my ACE Group Fitness certification and then when I became a spin instructor, and…

  • Tough Questions

    I Saw The Signs

    Sometimes my curiosity is overwhelming. Take yesterday, for example. I was watching the roll call at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), sobbing my eyes out when Hillary Clinton was officially nominated as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States and then sobbing my eyes out again when Bernie Sanders moved that Hillary be nominated by acclimation, trying to unify the party. (I’m just setting the stage for you.) While all of this history was being made, convention attendees were holding up signs. And more signs. And more signs. There was no sign shortage at the Republican National Convention (RNC) either, which I watched last week. Signs are commonplace…

  • How To,  I've Got Mad Skillz,  My Friends Have Mad Skillz

    An Amateur’s Guide to Arranging Flowers

    Here’s something you don’t know about me, after two billion years of blogging (I know; I can’t believe I left a stone unturned either): I adore arranging flowers into vases or other containers. ADORE. As in LOVE. It dates back to the late 1980’s when I was an eighteen-year-old newlywed, working at LeeWards Craft Store. I worked in the custom frame shop, which was located adjacent to the floral department. Two women who worked in Floral, Judy and Cherry, were much older than me–probably my age NOW–and very maternal towards me. I loved hanging out with them and was fascinated by what they did. They stood at the counter day…