Category Archives: blogging

A Fresh Turn on the Path Not Taken: YOUR PERFECT LIFE by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Your perfect life reviewA very happy Pub Day to Liz & Lisa!

The Book:

Best friends since childhood, Casey and Rachel couldn’t lead more different lives. While workaholic Casey rubs elbows with celebrities daily as the host of Gossip TV and comes home nightly to an empty apartment, stay-at-home mom Rachel juggles an “oops” baby, two fiery teenagers, and a husband who barely seems the man she fell in love with two decades before. After an argument at their twentieth high school reunion, Casey and Rachel throw back shots to get the night back on track. Instead, they get a life-changing hangover.

Waking up in each other’s bodies the next morning, they must figure out how to navigate their altered realities. Rachel is forced to confront the reason she gave up her broadcasting dreams when she got pregnant in college, and Casey finally steps out of the spotlight to face the truth about why she’s alone. And they soon discover that they don’t know themselves—or their best friend—nearly as well as they thought they did.

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke bring humor and heart to every page of this novel that is sure to please fans of In Her Shoes and The Opposite of Me. Your Perfect Life is a story about two very different women, what they didn’t know about each other, and how, by switching lives, they each learn to appreciate their own.

The Authors:

If you love ::ehem:: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, you’re probably familiar with long-time book bloggers Liz Fenton & Liza Steinke’s  Chick Lit is NOT Dead. Their fun and fabulous site features book reviews, author interviews, and tons of book giveaways. With the release of YOUR PERFECT LIFE,  Liz  & Lisa have transformed it into their own author site. The duo has been best friends for 25 years and survived high school and college together. Liz lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and two children. Lisa, a former talk show producer, now lives in Chicago, IL with her husband, daughter and two bonus children.

Find Liz & Lisa at:  Their Website  *  Twitter  *  Facebook  * Goodreads


The First Line:

My mouth tastes like ass.

The Good Stuff:

Admit it: you’ve had that dream where you switch lives—just for a blessed moment—with someone who doesn’t appreciate your brand of daily chaos. Maybe it’s the friend who doesn’t get how you can spend an entire day constructing the perfect paragraph, the Mother-In-Law who thinks you eat bonbons all day while you stay at home with a houseful of kids, or the old college friend who’s accomplished her career aspirations and so much more, has a nanny and a wine cellar, a perfect husband, and zero body fat. We always think there’s someone out there who has it all together, whose life is so easy compared to our hot mess of domestic and/or professional existence.

Liz and Lisa tapped into our imaginations, constructing the perfect “what if” story. We’ve all read/watched versions of this story before, but what could have ended up as a hokey cliche becomes fresh and funny in their hands. The characters are extremely likable, slightly sassy, and feel—well, kind of like us. I wanted to invite them over to share a pitcher of sangria by the pool and  dish about our days. (Daiquiris would work, but I couldn’t handle the Belvedere and sodas they swig in the book.) Maybe it’s because Casey and Rachel are right about my age. Maybe it’s because I’m a long-time SAHM who just went back to a “real” job and I relate to both sides of that great debate. Maybe it was just a smart, sweet, and insightful take on how women reflect upon that path not taken—and how with one sharp turn we can find our true direction.

And did I mention it was funny? Just look at that first line. If you’re reading this in public, watch out. Snort-worthy.

The Recommendation:

If you enjoy contemporary women’s fiction, a good laugh, or need a fun beach read, buy it. Perfect for a flight, long drive, or vacation read. You’ll breeze right through it, and wish it didn’t end.

The Details:

Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Release date:
June 10, 2014
Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press

 Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced review copy. All opinions are my own.

10 Principles to Build a Foundation for Your Dreams


Saturday I attended my second FLBlogCon here in Orlando, an eye-opening day full of inspiration, education, food, and fun. While I could write an entire post about surviving a conference for shy introverts (yup, that’s me), instead I’ll share one the biggest take-aways of the day. And it’s not just about blogging, it’s about life.

Pat Williams—Orlando Magic Senior VP, blogger, best-selling author, motivational speaker, basketball Hall-of-Famer, and father of 19 kids (no, that’s not a typo)—delivered the amazing opening key note speech. It all started with discovering our passion, our sweet spot.

{Sweet Spot} : an optimum point or combination of factors or qualities

For some of us that may be blogging, writing, our careers, or our family. For most, it’s that balance between. It’s our passion. We all dream of finding that sweet spot, of spending each day finding fulfillment in what we do, earning the financial rewards to make it possible, and feeling the peace in wanting to wake up tomorrow and do it all again. It’s finding passion in our work and having the strength to keep moving towards our dreams even in the face of defeat. We dream. Some of us dream BIG.

According to Pat Williams, we must first build a foundation for those dreams.

As I listened to his talk, I nodded my head and furiously typed notes. Below is what I took away from his words. It’s completely paraphrased, any mistakes are mine. What you take away is up to you.

10 Foundation Blocks for Building Your Dream


  1. Think the right kind of thoughts. What you think all day long will become your real life. And READ. One hour day. Real books.

  2. Say the right kind of words. The words we speak have a way of becoming our reality.

  3. Be specific in goal setting. A clear-cut, definite goal is a powerful motivator. Make three lists of your goals: short term daily, mid-range of a few years, and long range. Write them down, review them constantly, and  revise them when necessary. Goals without deadlines just kind of hang out there. Practice self-discipline. To quote Bobby Knight: Discipline is doing what you have to do, and doing it as well as you possibly can, and doing it that way all the time.

  4. Be responsible for your attitude. You yourself are not responsible for Syria, global warming, or tsunamis. Release it. You ARE responsible for your attitude. At the end of the day, that’s all you can control.

  5. Seek out the right kinds of friends. Get around a bunch of upbeat positive people, you will be like them soon. Negativity and resentment will pull you down. Also, when picking a spouse, ask yourself, “Does he/she make me a better person?”

  6. Don’t waist your disappointments. Take your hurts, pain, setbacks, and disappointments and turn them into strengths. We shine in good times and curl up in bad. But tough times are teachable moments — our spirits are open when we’re deep in that well. Be open to learning. Get something out of it.

  7. Go the second mile. Do twice what ‘s expected of you. Outwork people. It’s the old-fashioned way—it never will change. The current entitlement mindset (it’s owed to me) doesn’t work. We need to cut it off. Two of the most important words in English Language are What Else. As in what else can I do/contribute/etc. The people who grasp those words and follow through will dominate.

  8. Never give up. Winners in life plow through the tough times. Practice “Stick-to-it-ivity”—a phrase coined by Walt Disney.

  9. Character still counts. Honesty. Integrity. Responsibly. Humility. Courage.

  10. Live your life by the faith phenomena.

Honestly, I need to work on every one of these principles. Every day. I stink at most of them (see, there’s that negativity I need to kick-in-the-butt).

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write myself into my sweet spot. Because I can. Because I must. I have some work to do.

Thanks Pat.
Click here to read more about Pat

 Do you practice any of these principles? Which points do you take to heart?

 photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc

Creating Fun Photos with PicMonkey Halloween Themes

I know you all have discovered PicMonkey by now. This user-friendly app stormed the photo editing scene just before Picnik shut down, saving us all from boring, unedited pictures.

The site has improved rapidly, adding more fonts, collage options, textures, frames, and effects each month.  And now it seems they’ve gained some holiday spirit and added an entire Halloween collection full of fun editing treats.

They offer six brand new Halloween themes from kiddie-appropriate graphics to grotesque zombie gore. All are fun to play with.

And all are still free.

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The Trick or Treat theme features sweet goodies like candies, not-so-scary ghosts and goblins, 
and scrapbook-like cutouts. It would be perfect for designing a Halloween party invite.

With the Witches theme you can channel your inner enchantress,
wicked or glam, naught or nice.. .
(And no, that’s not a giant jello shot, but that would be a fab idea.)

 Let me clarify: my child is NOT a Demon. Not even close. He’s an angel 98% of the time.
 This picture just cried out to be played with, and I couldn’t stomach turning him into a gory zombie.
 They scare me. I can’t decide if this editing makes him look like an adorable supe or The Exorcist.

The Day of the Dead theme lets you experiment with Día de los Muertos face painting
without without a drop of artistic talent or magical makeup skills.
(If I tried this in real life I would look like my face was painted by a toddler with finger paints.)
Come November 1st, the official Mexican holiday, this will be my profile pic.

 And you too can painlessly transform into a Vampire just in time
for the last Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2 movie.
You can be monstrous or gorgeous, from the Bella Lugosi or Eric Northman clans.
No sparkle available though. If you want that you’re going to have to get more creative.
 I’m ready to join the Cullen family now…

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NOTE: This is NOT a sponsored post. I just spent far too much time playing with these Picmonkey effects and think you waste a day messing with them, too. Have fun. It’s an easy way to play dress up without buying a costume!

The Politics of Facebook

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Whoo-hoo!  It’s election season and the countdown until Super Tuesday is on! Only now instead of just sucking up our political coverage from the nightly news or morning paper, we are bombarded by posturing, heated arguments, and links we may consider offensive to our intelligence and/or core beliefs every time we scroll through our Facebook feed. It doesn’t matter if you hang to the left, to the right, or dangle somewhere in-between: the comments grow uglier as tolerance wears to snapping point.

What do you think about political wars being waged on Facebook?

Opinions are like assholes—we all have them. Social medial platforms are all about expressing your opinions and freedom of speech. Whether it’s an “Look at my cute kid” or “Look at your stupid candidate,” the reason we post anything—photos, memes, links, or status updates—is to share our opinions, our news, and our beliefs.

But some people believe others are crossing that tenuous line, that friends and relatives may be sharing opinions that are spawned from hate or anger opposed to a desire to educate others about political topics. Some can be misconstrued as racist, misogynistic, or homophobic—or worse, perhaps they are NOT misconstrued.

Others comment that it’s not the fact that others are stating their opinions, it’s the name calling, the vehemence, and the statements that anyone who does not share the same beliefs is an idiot.  And while many may think this, is Facebook an appropriate venue to state this?

Political posts/links/rants are not going to sway anyone who is set on Candidate A to vote for Candidate B. Period. If someone always votes for one party no matter what, nothing we say or post is going to do anything except annoy them or get them riled up to post about why their side is “right.”

 But perhaps you also have friends who are swing voters, who {gasp} don’t follow politics, don’t vote, and have no real concept of why any of this “political stuff” matters to them. Their only source of news is . .  Facebook. Yes, it’s true. Some of us feel obligated to educate them, to explain why it matters, and how Candidate X will improved their lives/destroy every value they believe in. But do they even pay attention? Should they?

What if you feel like you’ll have to skip Thanksgiving if you have to listen to one more of Uncle Harry’s political rants? Do you ignore him? Do you unfriend him? Block him?

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What can you do to avoid the political noise:

Hide offenders. Hover over the Friends button at the top of a friend’s timeline and select Show in News Feed to turn their updates on or off. You can also select Settings to control how many and what kinds of stories you see from them.

Hide a person or a type of story (ex: quizzes or games)
Hover over the top-right menu of a story, click the drop-down menu and choose what you’d like to hide:

  • Hide story will remove the story you’re looking at from your news feed
  • Hide all by and Unsubscribe from will remove the story you’re looking at from your news feed, as well as all future news feed stories from a person, Page, group, event or app
  • Report story or spam will remove the story you’re looking at from your news feed and help keep your news feed clear of stories like it in the future

If you accidentally hide something you want to see, click the Unhide link.

Install Social Fixer. This nifty plug in allows you to filter out any annoying status updates.  Lifehacker has an excellent quick tutorial on how to get rid of any status updates involving any range of keywords {ex: debate, Romney, Obama, election}. While it doesn’t block photos, with a little maneuvering you can block those infinitely annoying Clint Eastwood links. {You can also use it to block sports/baby posts—the possibilities are endless!}

Unfriend. This is the measure of last resort. Before you hit that button take a moment to think if the relationship should just go on a temporary hiatus or if it should be severed like a rotting limb.

Do you tolerate political posts? Do you look at both sides and/or see them as a method of educating yourself about the issues? Have you taken any action to avoid them?

Blogging Tips from Central Florida Blog Con

I FINALLY attended my first blog con—The Central Florida Blogger and Social Media Conference (a.k.a. CFL Blog Con 2012).

Yes, I’ve been blogging for years, but (1.) I’m horribly shy and the idea of hanging with hundreds of social media mavens scares the bejeezus out of me, and (2.) there’s no wiggle room for plane tickets or hotels in my budget. I stay local. Luckily, they kicked off the first Central Florida Blog Con last year (but I missed out because I didn’t buy my ticket soon enough). I didn’t make that mistake this year.

I came. I saw. I learned so much my brain nearly melted. So please bare with  me if I wander off on any tangents.

This year’s conference was held at the amazing Orlando Science Center. (If you want to know how much I love this place, see this previous AWARD WINNING post—more on that later.)  It was a bit of an adventure getting there. I had to drive through the Orlando Heart Walk, weaving between walkers as I drove on the wrong side of the road. (The cop told me to, I swear.)  I parked next to Captain Jack Sparrow and his wench who were speaking pirate-eze. Was I in the right place?

I was exactly where I needed to be. There just happened to be a big pirate fest going on also.

As we settled into the dramatically steep CineDome, the laptops and smart phones glowed and a flash mob broke out. No, I did not dance. I would have needed a few mimosas to gather the courage for spontaneous, extremely public dancing.

I thought I’d just share a FEW nuggets of wisdom that rocked my blogging/social media world. You probably know all this. Remember: I’m new to these things.

First up: keynote speaker Lou Mongello (of  WDW fame)

  • If you want to blog full time, treat it like a job. Don’t expect overnight success.
  • You never know who is watching. Build great content from day one.
  • And the much debatable Don’t accept freebies. Coca-Cola doesn’t pay their employees in coke. Freebies won’t feed your kids or pay your bills. Demand more.

Them: laptops, iPads, technology.  Me: pen & paper.

Marketing Yourself: How to Build a Media Kit by Callie  @The Wannabe Athlete

  • Always have an elevator pitch ready.
  • Add services offered (i.e. freelance articles, sponsored posts) to your media kit.
  • Save it on an EDITABLE pdf so it can be sent out and updated regularly.
  • Your social media stats are important, not just for high numbers, but to show engagement and influence.
  • Include your location. You never know when people are looking for locals.

 Fitting Blogging into Your Life with Christine @Cook the Story, Jackie @Momjovi, and Michelle @Crazy Running Legs.

  • ORGANIZATION is the key to success
  • Organize your Google reader to make scanning blogs more efficient (and find the plug in to comment directly from reader).
  • Make Pinterest work for you: use a Pinterest widget on your blog sidebar & WooBox app creates a tab on your FB page to show all of your  boards.

From I.P. to M-A-G by Kyle @Brink Magazine

  • Feature others who already have a built-in audience.

Tweet Your Way to Success: Developing a Social Media Strategy for Twitter by Rachelle Lucas @The Travel Bite

  • Use to prune who you follow and keep your ratio balanced.
  • Curate & share content from your niche AND other areas of interest.
  • Must, must, must use Hootsuite, TweetDeck, or other tool to manage lists and schedule tweets.
  • Old school “RTs” still rock. Don’t be a me, Me, ME tweeter. Don’t be a stalker.

    Widgets and Gadgets for Bloggers by Professor Josh @Professor Josh

    • Use Delicious to bookmark tweets, posts, photos, videos, articles. Tag and organize, share and have access to links anywhere.   
    • is some kind of magic I must figure out.
    • Use Zite to create your own perfect source of news feed. 
    • Evernote syncs projects between all your computers and devices.

    More Ways to Monetize Your Blog with Amanda Tinney @Disney Everyday

    • Did you know you can FLIP blogs? I had no idea. Check out Mind Blown.
    • Use google trends to discover what terms people are searching.
    • It’s better to link a post to FB with an image.
    • Brands want video: just 30 seconds of exciting and engaging content will make them swoon.

     Extreme Makeover Facebook Edition with Jeanette @J’s Everyday Fashion

    • You CAN monetize FB through affiliate links in captions.
    • If you build a consistent, engaged following, you can sell it as a part of your package.

    Whew. Are you tired yet?

    Organizers made this Blog Con paper-free. All the presentations slides (including the 12 or so I couldn’t attend due to conflicting schedules) are available to attendees via Doccaster. I’ve downloaded all of the sessions and I’m waiting for a chance to learn about the ones I missed.

    Now, imagine squeezing in some social time, a yummy lunch catered by Bahama Breeze, a quick yoga session, and gadget recharging time. I’m tired and exhilarated just thinking about it. (Note to self: I MUST get more gadgets. Like an iPad. And an iPhone. Or at least a tablet. My laptop with a burned out battery just does not cut it.)

    Mmmmm. . .Death by Chocolate and Dulce de Leche

    After all these amazing sessions, there was the Yelp after party in the DinoDigs. Yes—food, friends, and adult beverages while surrounded by dinosaur fossils. Absolutely fabulous.

    I need to track down this new cider.

    And I was so honored to have my #CFLGood Blogging for Good post about the Orlando Science Center selected as the winner!  I am proud to support such a wonderful organization.

    Hanging with some of the Central Florida Lady Bloggers (me, Paula, Michelle, Christine, J, and Jackie) at the Yelp party. They make me feel short even in 3-inch heels.  Photo borrowed from J via Paula.

    Thanks to all of the organizers, speakers, and sponsors of this year’s event. They did a fantastic job. I’m ready for next year!

    *Thanks to Macbeth Photography for letting all the attendees use his photos!

    BlogHer & RWAs ~ both, either, neither?

    If somehow you missed bumping into a shy redhead at BlogHer this year in New York City — well, that’s because I wasn’t there.

    Somehow, I also missed the Romance Writers of America Conference (RWAs) in Anaheim. 

    With all the gorgeous pics of beautiful (inside and out) writers and  bloggers having a blast, I felt like I needed a pic up too. This photo isn’t beautiful, and it’s from 2010, but I was at the RWAs. Though I didn’t attend the full conference, I did get to meet some of my favorite writers — Jane Porter, Mary Kay Andrews, Meg Cabot, Nora Roberts {though I can’t read her books. . .shhh!} You can read about my experience here.   As I mingled and wandered amongst hundreds of published authors I vowed I would attend the full conference soon. Apparently, just not this year.

    Instead, this is how I spent that weekend. Somehow someone (I shall not name names) left the water on while working on our master bedroom shower. Water permeated the drywall and flooded under half the bedroom suite’s floor. Which I installed two years ago. By hand. After the plumbers and drying crew left, I spent the weekend ripping up my floor (while some kind volunteers ripped out the vanity) and redoing the whole damn thing. I lost my ability to write for two weeks as the only words I conjured were far too vulgar to put in print (and certainly not original).

    And while I would have LOVED to have loaded my arms with goodie bags, hobnobbed with celebs, and met about 5,000 of my best blog friends IRL last weekend (not to mention learning so damn much about blogging my head would’ve probably exploded — that must be why they all hit the parties afterwards). . .

    I  wish I was going to BlogHer '12 

    I chose not to steal any of the thousands of images of my 
    wannabe friends living it up and bonding in the Big Apple 
    (because that’s just not how I roll).

    . . . Instead I nursed my poor kiddo through his third oral surgery. {I refuse to post an actual picture of his mouth. I can’t look at it for more than a few seconds, and if I released the image into the blogosphere he’d probably sue me when he turned of age. Look at this model. It’s much prettier.}

    I totally stole this image from an orthodontics website. 
    If you want to see the myriad of medieval torture devices that may be in your kids’ futures, click here.

    Yes, those are exposed teeth way below the gum-line attached to braces by dangling gold chains. My kid will be sporting some REAL mouth bling at back-to-school time (unlike fake-out Ryan Lochte — dude, I totally do not get it).

    When I calmed down and forced myself to think about which event I regretted missing the most, I realized it was the RWAs. Don’t get me wrong, I’d nearly give my left breast to go to BlogHer, but I’ve realized I will never make my living as a professional blogger. Free wine, books, and toothbrushes — heck yeah — but I won’t be funding kiddo’s college fund with my blogging proceeds.

    But it’s not just about the money. (Although making some money someday from my writing would be the cat’s pajamas.) It’s about my passion for writing, my need to give life to my stories, and my goal of publishing my freaking novel. To reach these goals and live the life I dream about, I must hone my craft and mingle with other writers. I’m dying to hear about their struggles and  successes, to soak up every blurb of advice they may offer. I need to familiarize myself with the dirty details of the publishing industry if I ever want to find an agent or sell a book. I need pay my RWA membership so I can feel like a real writer who deserves to be there.

    So while I’d still LOVE to see the bloggers, writers, humorists, and culinary divas I read each day and feel as if I already know at BlogHer 13  . . .

    My goal is set: I will attend RWAs next year in Atlanta. Time to start saving, keep writing, finish editing, and kick my life into gear.

    Romance Writers of America®
    33rd Annual Conference
    Atlanta Marriott® Marquis
    Atlanta, Georgia
    July 17-21, 2013

    Join more than 2,100 published and aspiring romance writers, editors, agents, and other industry professionals in Atlanta, GA. Conference attendees will enhance their writing and knowledge of the ins and outs of publishing at more than 100 workshops; get the inside track at panels and round-tables featuring publishing professionals; schedule a one-on-one pitch meeting with an acquiring editor or literary agent; attend parties and network with the stars of romance fiction; and be a part of RWA’s “Readers for Life” charity book signing. And let’s not forget the 2013 RITA®  and Golden Heart® Awards.
    Registration for RWA2013 will open in late January 2013.

    Who’s coming with me?
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    Central Florida Bloggers, Food, & Fun

    I finally made it to another monthly night out with a group of fun & fabulous Central Florida Lady Bloggers.  Mexican food, an icy Imperial (a Costa Rican beer), and blogging buddies — ingredients for a perfect evening!

     It felt so good trade out my writing wardrobe (a.k.a. yoga pants) for a bright  new dress, ditch the slippers for some espadrilles, and head downtown.  This suburban girl doesn’t get out much. Though I’m only about ten miles from the hip downtown area, I felt like I was heading into a different world — one that involves the choice of valet parking or driving in circles for hours to snatch a tiny parallel parking spot. But I found a spot where I wouldn’t get towed,  then enjoyed some delicious food, cold drinks, and amazing company.

    Carolina, from Peas in a Blog, was smart enough to bring her camera along (because no blogger should EVER leave home without one) and had our young waiter snap this photo. Thanks for letting us all totally steal it!

    These ladies are amazing. Not only do they write for a diverse range of blogs, but they run marathons, compete for national fashion blogging awards, host panel discussions at BlogHer Food, produce nationally syndicated television and radio shows, and so much more. I can’t help but to feel out of my league. Take a minute to discover some of their unique blogs — you won’t be disappointed.

    Christine – Cook the Story
    Kristina – Love & Zest

    Food & Fitness
    Carolina — Peas in a Blog
    Jessica – Sushi & Sit Ups

    J – J’s Everyday Fashion

    Children’s Health & Wellness
    Carly & Courtney – Illuminate Blog

    Colleen – Lady Ballers

    A bit of everything
    Heather – Housewife Glamour
    Jackie – Mom Jovi

    Social Media/Fitness
    Katy – Katy Widrick

    Running & Fun
    Paula – Eat Watch Run
    Victoria – Running Peanut

    *Thanks again to Carolina for compiling this list.  And if I miss you, let me know, & I’ll gladly add you.

    Since I’ve been trying to eat healthier (swimsuit season is already in full swing around here), I ordered the Lettuce Wrap Fajitas.  Probably not the best choice when wearing a new dress. They proved so messy, I dumped  all the ingredients on one plate and improvised a taco salad.  Not bad. And it gave me inspiration for dinner the next night.

    I’d bought some of the new Kraft Fresh Takes (coating, seasoning, & cheese mix) when they were free with coupons.  I baked some chicken breasts coated in the Chili Lime and Panko coating and tossed it on top of a salad of mixed baby greens, red and orange bell peppers, black beans, and green onions.

    Pretty good, if I do say so myself. And another example of why I don’t eat out much. It’s hard to justify spending $10+ bucks on a dinner salad when I can make it at home.

    Oh, and while I was making this dinner, Hubby suddenly remembered that he had a potluck at work...tomorrow.  I wasn’t making him anything at such the last minute, so I tossed him a box of brownie mix and let him figure it out.

    Better luck next time?  They still tasted great though (is it possible for brownies to taste bad?) and I’m sure all the ladies at his work will be tickled he made them himself.

    It’s My SITS Day & the Origin of Vinobaby

    Women Online It’s my SITS Day! A special welcome to all of the SITS GIRLS dropping by today. If you somehow don’t know about the SITS Girls, a quick rundown: they are a fabulous support group of 15,000+  women bloggers who are passionate about building a community and sharing their blogging and social media skills. They are smart, savvy, and want to help make YOU a success. Check them out.

    In honor of all the newbies, I decided to finally answer a question that has been burning in my online friend’s minds for years:  How did you come up with that weird Vinobaby name?

    Eons ago (okay 2008), when I first broke down and started this blog, I was a reluctant SAHM stuck at home with only my darling yet daunting 4-year-old for company, and I often teetered on the brink of sanity.  Days blurred together as I shuttled the Kiddo to playgroups and kept house like a frugal 50s flashback housewife (minus the pearls and heels, of course).

    I parented differently than many of the moms cluttering the park benches and kiddie gyms. I wasn’t afraid of my child like so many of them, wasn’t terrified he wouldn’t like me, or worried I’d scar him for life by telling him “NO” if he tried to bite me while drawing on the couch with permanent marker.  And I seemed to be the only SAHM who did not find changing diapers fulfilling. I longed to be more

    I had things I wanted to say, but I simply didn’t have the proper audience in real life. So I went online. Like so many of you. Fearing I would be stoned on the playgrounds or plastered with a scarlet letter for my scandalous beliefs, I chose to remain anonymous.

    Lets drift back a little further…

    While growing fat and busty eagerly awaiting Kiddo’s arrival, I explored some of the pregnancy message boards. Most of my friends IRL were child-free career girls and I was desperate to find women who had a clue what I was going through. I wasn’t going to use my REAL name — that just wasn’t safe of smart. I started thinking…

    An ACHTUNG BABY condom package hung from my bulletin board, a souvenir from an amazing U2 concert years ago. (I was in college, it seemed like cool souvenir at the time.)

    The Hubby and I married in Italy and loved going to wine tastings together…wine in Italian is VINO

    Besides having a BABY on the brain (and on my bladder) at the time, babies are often made with the help of a little vino. (You can’t tell me ours is the only one. The preponderance of children named “Tequila,” “Bailey,” and “Margarita” would fail to argue.)

    A screen name was born.
    It may be lame, but that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

    The original title for this blog was Musings From the Bottom of a Plastic Wine Glass.  I know. Too long. To lush. Not that Vinobaby’s Voice is any better, but for now, I’m stuck with it.  If all goes as planned, I will complete my novel, my writing career will take off, and this will be the little blog attached to my big professional author website. Someday.

    It’s good to dream.

    So, welcome to my world. If you are new here, you will find my blog is rather eclectic,  like me.  While I no longer consider this a just Mommy Blog, I do often write about kids and family. But as I’ve grown-up and my world has diversified, so has the blog.  I post about food, writing, books,  newsworthy issues, wine, and occasionally I whine. I try to keep some humor in most of my writing, because sometimes a laugh is what gets us through the day (at least until 5 o’clock). Check out the Popular Posts tab to see what other readers have liked.

    So I invite you to pull up a chair, put your feet up, grab a mug of coffee or glass of wine and explore. Follow me on Facebook, join me on Twitter, and subscribe by RSS. Please? We can all use a bigger tribe. Feel free to look me up on Pinterest or GoodReads, too.  Thanks so much for dropping by!


    What posts are you most proud of?

    What posts are you the most proud of?

    The most popular posts, which may have skyrocketed your numbers and added to your loyal following?

    The prettiest posts, filled with gorgeous photos of your stunning kids or faraway travels?

    Instructional  posts, clearly explaining some social media guides or a favorite craft or recipe you created?

    Topical posts, where you rallied for a cause or pointed out newsworthy injustices?

    The funniest posts, guaranteed to make each reader snort coffee out her nose and comment about your wit and wry humor?

    Or the candid posts, where perhaps in a moment of crisis or heartbreak you bared your soul through your words, not to please the readers, but to heal a piece of yourself?

    If you are a varied writer, your answer may be bits of all of the above.

    They are the the posts where your voice rings honest, clear, and true.

    Nicole from Moments That Define Life prompted us to list five blog posts we are most proud of.  A few I list below were obvious choices for me, as they received countless comments or appeared on BlogHer. Though I’m positive I could go back and edit these essays for clearer words and sentence structure, I’ll let them stand as they are.

     When Grace is Gone: A tale of longing, heartbreak, and acceptance.

     Swimsuit Shopping {Part one: the Grey Hair}: A toddler, a fitting room, and some painfully funny discoveries.

     The “C” Word: A waiting room, a diagnosis, a life flashing before closed eyes.


    Thrift Store Shopaholic: My favorite frugal fashionista tips to help you find the treasures amidst the trash.

     Killer Whales and Kindness: In the wake of a Sea World trainer’s death, a look at our relationships with these captive creatures.

    What posts are you most proud of?

    where the *magic* happens

    Not *that* magic.

    While cruising through the social media universe (a.k.a. wasting time on twitter) I came across an interesting little proposal: an  I’ll show you mine if you show me yours link up. Really? I didn’t think Just Jennifer was that type of girl…

    She’s not. {get your mind out of the gutter} She’s showing off where she gets her blog on.

    Since I also decided to hook up with the SITS Girls Build a Better Blog Challenge starting this Monday (#SITS31DBBB), I thought it would be polite for me to introduce myself with a peek into my writing world. (And where I waste time playing online Mahjong, tweeting, facebook stalking, etc.)

    To the outside world, I’m still considered just a SAHM to an elementary-aged child. It seems as if every single day I am bombarded by the “but what do you DO all day” question.

    I write. 

    Every single day.

    I completed the first draft of my novel in November, after nearly two years of agony. On good writing days, the words flowed like properly chilled chardonnay. Pure bliss. Most days, words appeared on the screen only after laborious contractions. (Stabbing pains, like before the epidural, when I pleaded for the magic drugs. Perhaps that’s why so many writers dull the voices with drink?)  Now I must start editing, rewriting, and proofing. Eventually I hope to con an agent into representing me and actually publish the book. It’s nice to dream.

    I blog.

    You’re here, so you know that.

    MY own personal domain. Somehow we ended up with more bedrooms than kids (one of the perks of having an ‘only’ — another is that the Hubby has his OWN office across the hall). After the baby-making machine shut down, I adopted orphaned furniture from all corners the house. The ten-foot double-desk (old sewing tables) came with our home, the bookshelf came with the husband, the filing cabinet once filled my dorm room, the desk chair liberated from an old job. I painted the walls to match the sky on a perfect day, breathing life into the once drab room.

    A cozy twin bed transformed into a couch for napping reading and working. Framed artwork filled the walls at first, but since much of my novel takes place in Costa Rica, I hung souvenirs and vacation photos to “keep me in the mood.”

    When I am lucky, and the weather hangs in perfect balance (a few measly weeks a year), I escape with my laptop to my satellite office. Also known as the porch.

    Those are good days.

    So, where do you do it?