Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Country Girl

I turned on an online country radio station yesterday while I was cleaning (and dancing with Kayla) around our house. And I still love country music as much as I did in my high school days.

Of course, I will be the first to admit that there are plenty of corny, twangy, and completely worthless songs in the genre. BUT there are also songs that are particularly moving, sweet, inspiring, and fun. There's something about country music that reminds me of family and wide, open spaces. It conjurs up images of boots and horses and wrap-around porches, summer dresses and fresh-grown vegetables and falling in love, jean jackets and juke boxes and authenticity.

I hereby present a list of a few of my favorite country songs (old and new):
I Loved Her First (Heartland)
Without You (Dixie Chicks)
The Dance (Garth Brooks)
When You Say Nothing At All (Alison Krauss)
Grandpa (The Judds)

Share your favorites!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Business Idea #1: Restaurant/Cafe for Families

Attention aspiring entrepreneurers! If you are looking for a business idea with huge potential for success, consider opening a restaurant/cafe chain for moms and/or families. Think outside-of-the-box and think about the needs of families. Think beyond simply offering a kids menu. Create a place where kids and families are completely welcome - and wah-la - your business will be booming. (P.S. I'll be your first customer!)

Here are a few suggestions:
* Menu items ahould be nutritious and kid-friendly, but also delicious and gourmet (satisfying the palate of both the parents and the kids). No more chicken nuggets and hot dogs! How about chicken salad sandwiches (cut into cute shapes with cookie cutters), whole wheat banana pancakes (w/ the classic smily face created w/ cherries and other fruits), or a sliced fruit and yogurt sundae?
* Plan in large family-friendly restrooms as part of the restaurant design. In the restrooms, be sure to include clean changing station areas complete with complimentary wipes and comfortable chairs or private areas for nursing.
* Create a kids play area w/ a playground and/or books and/or toys and/or a make-believe shop.
* Make it a place where parents can still feel professional, productive, and trendy. Have free WI-FI access, good coffee, maybe even a nice selection of wines.
* Have special events and classes throughout the week: baby sign language, storyhour, work-at-home parents networking, moms night out, etc.

Need more suggestions? I've got them! Just ask.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Right Next Door

Two days ago I was hanging out with my friend Ashley. We were talking about master-planned communities and how much we would like to live in one. I said that, if one opened on this side of town, we might consider moving. She said, "...and we'd move in right next door!"

And I thought - that would be absolutely wonderful! I'd love to be able to go walking, to make dinner together, to hang out during the day, to stop over if I was out of milk, and to put our kids in strollers and meander to the local cafe or swimming pool (all in the master-plan, of course!). I vote YES on that dream...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

To-Do List for this Spring

* Start Kayla's scrapbook.
* Set up a home studio and take tons of pictures of Kayla.
* Host my quarterly clothes swap.
* Study for the G.R.E.
* Create a breakfast club with a few good friends.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Just One

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." - Mother Teresa

So begins my mission - the "Just 1" Campaign: to help the needy, to mentor little children, to impact the global community - one person at a time.

This year, I commit to kindness.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Professor

I did some research yesterday on various careers in order to be sure of the direction that I want to take. After making an extensive table of pros and cons, I determined that I do indeed want to become a professor.

P.S. If you are investigating various careers and would like to take an assessment, there is a fairly comprehensive one available for free through Monster. You can check it out at http://mymonster.com/JobStrengthProfile/Intro.aspx. Have fun!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Customizable Degrees

It's unfortunate that I can't customize a degree to meet my career interests. In an ideal world, I would concentrate on communication and then throw in some business, public relations, debate, and public speaking courses. I'd include some classes in media, technology, marketing, family studies, and health. Finally, I'd add in a foreign language - perhaps two.

I actually would not be surprised if this becomes the new "way" for higher education institutions - interdisciplinary and personally customized degree plans. After all, such a format benefits both the student and the future employer (and, ultimately, society) because the outcome is a well-rounded student who is motivated enough to create their own path and passionate enough to pursue it.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Mommyhood is Magnificent

At the moment, I am staring at my beautiful little girl. She's smiling and cooing and touching her toes. She's winning my heart (as she always does) with her big, blue eyes and her gorgeous, gummy smile.

In so many ways, I am looking forward to staying home with her after May. We'll be the best of buddies this summer and into autumn - just me and the babe.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Girl Next Door

Being around all of the hoopla and foofaraw of the fashion industry and the celebrity world made me realize that I'm really just the girl-next-door type. Yes, I liked being served champagne while my hair was shampooed and eating gourmet food was fun, but something seemed missing from that green world of wealth and fame. The people I met were nice, but they lacked the authenticity that comes from hard work and happenstance.

I like the "real", homeade part of me. It's the me that:
* doesn't wear make-up or wears just a little bit of blush and lipstick
* loves to lounge around the house in pajama pants and t-shirts
* would much rather eat-in with friends than attend a big soiree
* sings in the shower and along with the radio in the car
* dances in the living room
* makes crazy faces to make Kayla laugh
* loves wearing jeans, boots, and a nice jacket
* enjoys walking, camping, hiking, scrapbooking, and hanging out with friends
* curls up with a good book or on a soft chair with my laptop to blog or write
* is totally and completely content at home with the people I love

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Hotel

As part of my contest prize, FIDM put us up in the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica. It is the newest hotel in the area and it is considered to be posh, postmodern, and swanky to the utmost degree. And it was nice - but not $275-300/night nice.

It was, of course, very nice on the one hand. The rooms all had 42" plasma TV's. The comforter was down. The sheets and pillows were noticeably soft. Bathrobes and slippers were provided in all of the rooms. Oh, and I can't leave out the Penthouse restaurant on the 18th floor - it had beautiful views, fascinating decorations, and delicious gourmet food.

On the other hand, wireless Internet service was not complimentary (that is not at all postmodern...) and guests had to pay for parking. There was no pool on the hotel grounds. There were no family amenities (kids club, play area, kids menu at restaurant, etc.). The guestrooms were on the small side. There was no happy hour and breakfast was not complimentary. The "nightly turndown" service didn't even include a mint.

As Tim and I laid on the queen size bed with Kayla upon arrival, we both commented how hotels really aren't all that they are cracked up to be. In many ways, it's much more satisfying and restful and luxurious to be wrapped in the comfort of our home.

Monday, March 5, 2007

My First Big Contest Win

Remember my contesting hobby (see my prior blog entitled "contests")? I won my first prize: an all-expenses-paid trip for me and a guest to Santa Monica, CA - including airfare for two, accommodations, most meals, transportation, a $1,000 shopping spree with a wardrobe consultant, a haircut/style, a makeover, and 2 tickets to a dinner and debut fashion show. The contest was sponsored by FIDM. My entry consisted of four short essays and a photo of myself.

We just took the trip this past weekend and returned last night (hence, my neglected blog...). As with most things in life, I made it a learning experience and came away with a lot of great insights about myself and about the fashion industry.

Today's log will be about the shopping spree portion of the trip:

1) Shopping with a consultant is the best way to shop - especially if you don't particularly like to shop. If I were rich and I had my druthers, I would go shopping once a quarter with a fashion consultant because it's fast, efficient, and fun. Essentially, I just stood in the dressing room and tried on clothes that were brought to me from throughout the store. Vicki brought me styles that she thought would look good on me - I tried them on and handed them back if they were in the wrong size, didn't fit right, wrong color, etc. Plus, she gave me feedback about various styles. All in all, we bought: 2 skirts, 2 pants, 3 shirts, 2 jackets, a camisole, 2 pairs of shoes, and 2 hand bags. We spent most of our time and money at Zara, but also made purchases at Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Loehmanns. We stopped in at BCBG, Mango, and Max Studio as well. If we had more time, Vicki was also going to bring me to H & M, Anthropologie, Club Monaco, and Banana Republic. [NOTE: Out of the 11 stores named above, only 5 are in AZ and only 2 are in southern AZ.]

2) Women's clothes are overpriced and under quality. I can understand a pair of pants being $50 or even $100, but not $200, $300, $500+. That's just plain ridiculous.

3) If you buy at high end stores, expect to take your clothes to a seamstress afterward. All the pants and jackets were too long and the jackets needed to be brought in. Such is life in Beverly Hills.

4) I would absolutely love to win a shopping spree for casual/athletic clothes. Yes, it was fun to buy shiny heels, swirly skirts, and leather handbags - but it wasn't particularly practical for a young mother. I would have much rather purchased fashionable jeans, sweaters, shorts, t-shirts, tennies, etc. Especially since Tucson is on the casual side and especially since I won't be in a fulltime work setting for some time now.

All in all, shopping on Saturday was my favorite part of the experience. This came as a surprise to me since shopping is generally not something that I enjoy.

I would have liked to have a bit more buying power (Ex. I wanted to buy all pants since I wear pants way more often than skirts due to constantly bending over to pick up baby, but the wardrobe consultant insisted that I buy skirts), but I can't complain. I received some very nice pieces that I can mix and match with clothes in my closet.