April 29, 2013

This Would Make My Great-Grandfather Roll Over In His Grave...

My mother's side of the family is from the Midwest.  Well, they actually came from Norway in the late 1800's and settled in Minnesota.  According to my mom, my great-grandfather was a stately gentleman, who had 12 children with his lovely bride.  Can you even imagine raising 12 children?  Anyway, they ultimately settled in Pine City, Minnesota and owned several Coca-Cola Franchises throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.  They were a well-known family in their community, as "pop" was quite a luxury in those days.  So, the family that produced and distributed the sugary beverage had celebrity status in their Midwestern neck of the woods.

My mom tells stories about lazy summers in her grandparent's home town with scads of cousins playing in and around the Coke Distribution Plant and participating in parades and festivals throughout July and August.  The grandchildren had any and all flavors of Coke products available to them at all times.  I recall one particular story my mom tells about the time she and her cousin snuck down to the corner market and purchased small packages of sugary crystals similar to Kool-aid.  When her grandfather discovered it, he was furious because he fully believed that Coke products were the one and only beverage, and immediately made the girls wash their treat down the drain.

Now fast forward decades later and we have come to find that pop, as we still call it in our home, is a beverage that is causing all sorts of problems due to this country's high consumption rate.  I can't even recall the last time I drank pop. Frankly, I just can't justify drinking calories that do not come from a bottle that reads Pinot Noir.

I stumbled upon this fictitious ad for Coke and got a kick out of it.  I am sure Coca-Cola would not approve, and I'm fairly certain that my great-grandfather would be equally shocked and dismayed since he lived and breathed everything Coke.  For that matter, he would probably take one look at my 64 ounce daily water intake and my morning kale~spinach smoothie and wonder where it all went wrong...


April 23, 2013

I Want To Introduce You To A Great Man By The Name Of Frosty Westering...

Pacific Lutheran University is a small but well-respected college located in the state of Washington.  I know this because I am a PLU grad.  When I think back to my college years, I am reminded of the outstanding people, a campus buzzing with great energy, and football.  You see, PLU was known for their successful football program that consistently reached greatness at the helm of one man.

His name is Frosty Westering and he died last week.  Frosty was not a grand-stander, wasn't motivated by accolades, and never sought out rock star status like many of his big university counterparts.  He found his calling by showing those around him how to find inner drive, compete with excellence, and strive for personal accomplishment through perseverance and team work.

You may read this and think, what coach doesn't try to instill these values and principles in their players?  Well, Frosty was special.  While he was a football aficionado, he was so much more.  On occasion, he would stop practice and remind his players to simply take a moment to admire the stunningly exquisite Mount Rainier that sat just beyond the campus.  When most coaches would be focused on a new football season, he expected his players to take time to help newbie freshmen move their belongings into their respective dorms.  And to calm and focus his team, he encouraged them to sing without embarrassment.  He believed that singing calmed nerves and raised a person's state of consciousness. In fact, it was not uncommon to find the team singing on the sidelines prior to a big game.

You may be wondering how this translated to wins and losses.  After all, he was a football coach, and at the end of the day it is about the success of the game.  Well, in 32 seasons, he never had a losing season.  Additionally, he led his team to four national championships and four runner up finishes.

While winning seasons are great and obviously the goal, I inherently believe that coaches have the potential to influence and mold the lives of their teams.  Just recently we saw in the news a coach who tried to inspire his players by yelling and throwing balls at them.  While that tactic may have initially gleaned an immediate reaction from the players, he gave away the opportunity to teach life lessons.  The same life lessons that Frosty Westering brought to his players every day for 32 seasons.  Lessons like mutual respect, inspiration through demonstration, and the pride of hard work even when it comes without the final prize of victory in the end.  While a tangible trophy is often a physical reminder of excellence, I personally know many who came away from their years under Frosty's tutelage with the prize of personal and philosophical integrity that has carried them into adulthood.

The mark of a great man is what is said during and after his life.  Frosty will certainly go down in history as one of the greats, and those who had the privilege of knowing him should count themselves lucky.

April 15, 2013

Some Things Are Just Meant To Be Together...

I was scanning an article in Men's Health Magazine.  Okay, I admit that I may have initially opened the glossy mag under the false pretense of a cute boy on the front cover.  Eventually, I did find my way to an article that was full of solid information.

According to a bunch of smarty pants researchers, there is something to be said for pairing certain foods with each other for an added burst of nutritional value. So, here's what they did.  They looked at the practices of the United States, as well as other countries, and noticed that certain foods consumed together seemed to pack a greater punch, while simultaneously lowering the risk of cancer, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes. But they also took a look at scouring out the arteries and basic brain power, too!  They took their findings to the lab, tested it out on a willing group from the rodent family, and came up with a list of winners. I'm not going to go into the specifics because it's kind of boring and, like you, I usually want to cut to the chase.  So, here it is...

~ Tomatoes and Avocados
~ Oatmeal and Orange Juice
~ Broccoli and Tomatoes
~ Lemon and Kale
~ Apples and Chocolate
~ Blueberries and Grapes
~ Soy and Salmon
~ Peanuts and Whole Wheat
~ Red Meat and Rosemary
~ Garlic and Fish
~ Eggs and Cantaloupe
~ Almonds and Yogurt
~ Turmeric and Black Pepper

You probably scanned the list and likely combine many of these foods together already.  A side note on turmeric~some people shy away from it because of its bright color and pungent flavor.  I discovered a recipe years ago that I have prepared over and over.  Combine firm tofu (don't judge~stay with me) in a hot pan with a little olive oil, veggies of your choice, and sprinkle some turmeric and black pepper over it.  You can add Parmesan cheese or a little goat cheese and it is yummy and healthy.

April 8, 2013

An Unconventional Family That Will Warm Your Heart ...

Mommy, daddy, and baby have historically given us those moments of  "aww, that's so sweet."  But times, they are a-changin'...

I came across this inspirational video of a young man, who courageously stood in front of a sizable audience, and displayed a lovely and raw account of his life, his fears, and his family.

According to Mr. Webster, the definition of family is (1) parents and their children (2) relatives (3) lineage (4) a group of related things.

When watching this special teen, I was reminded that regardless of the family dynamic, we all just want to feel that we are part of a family unit.

I hope the following video will be as powerful for you as it was for me.


April 1, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Why You Shouldn't Snub Secondhand and Vintage...

I come from a long line of women who love fashion.  I am talking about everything from clothes to shoes to the perfect accessory that ties it all together.  I have photos of my grandmother and her sisters from the roaring twenties where they are decked out in the most beautiful dresses, hats, and full length fur coats. (don't judge~it was long before PETA came into the picture)

At the age of 16, with my brand new work permit in hand, I made an appointment with the Nordstrom HR Department.  Every time I walked into the familiar surroundings of any Nordstrom, it was as if the mothership had called me home. Sadly, they did not initially share a mutual admiration for my keen vision of what I knew I could bring to the Nordstrom family.  It became clear to me that I was going to have to go to Plan B.  I basically became relentless and made it my mission to convince the powers that be that they were missing out if they did not nab me as their newest protege.  And I am proud to say that I ultimately wore them down and happily worked at Nordstrom throughout high school and college. Looking back, it was probably one of the best working and learning environments I had as a young woman.  The philosophy of the company, the high expectations of the employees, and the overwhelming number one rule that customer service was always top priority.  Simply, the honor and privilege that came from working at the creme de la creme of clothing stores.      

You might think the greatest gift I received from Nordstrom was a 20% discount. While that was lovely, it was more basic.  It was learning the nitty-gritty of fashion.  You know, the thrill of meshing together articles of clothing that alone are nice, but together make a statement.  Don't get me wrong, there have been plenty of fashion don'ts throughout the years, even some fashion yikes!!  But I paid attention to anyone who I thought had that special talent for merchandising, and all of those nuggets I picked up along the way have continued to serve me well as an adult.

While I still love the chill that goes up my spine when I walk into Nordstrom, I have learned to use the basic art of dressing in the polar opposite surroundings of secondhand stores.  What???  In the course of several years, you may have noticed that consignment stores, vintage shops, and online sites like eBay have become all the rage.  I am not a personal fan of buying used clothing online because it is difficult to see the item, and once you purchase it, you typically own it.  But a nice consignment store in a really good part of town is hard to beat.

I am often asked why I would ever be caught dead in a "used clothing store." Funny thing is that I have purchased many many items with tags on or shoes with not one scuff on the sole at such a HUGE markdown, it would make your head spin.  Out of all of my clothing conquests, I would say that my very favorite is a knee-length wool Escada sweater that likely retailed for $1000.  I just happened to be in Whidbey Island, Washington celebrating my anniversary a few years ago, and happened upon it in the most adorable consignment shop that could have easily been mistaken for a high-end boutique.  It was $80.00 and I never looked back.  Another time I found the most pristine vintage swing coat on a sale rack for $30.00.  You just never know what sweet little gem you're going to find.          

I have put together my top ten list to remember when consignment store shopping because there can be some pitfalls when shopping secondhand.

1~ The first thing to remember is that you typically cannot return it so don't get too excited by the prices and purchase items you really don't need and probably won't wear.

2~ Be sure to examine the item well. That means look for hidden repairs, damage, and stains.  The best shops are sticklers so try to shop at consignment stores that are in more affluent communities and have a boutique feel.

3~ Don't buy a shirt, for example, that originally came from Target or a lower end store.  You might as well just go to Target and buy it new.  It's not going to be discounted enough to make it worth buying it second-hand.

4~ Be careful buying handbags.  There are a lot of knockoff bags out there.  If you don't know your stuff, you could end up with a cheap wannabe designer bag.  If you do know your stuff, you can get a great deal on a Louis Vuitton or Gucci bag. Again, definitely go to a high-end consignment store.  They pride themselves on selling the real designer bags.

5~ If you need a fancy dress, it's the best place to shop.  Chances are the dress was only worn once.

6~ Accessories like leather belts, jewelry, and scarves can be very expensive and can be found for significantly less at a consignment shop.

7~Leather is another item that is very expensive when purchased new.  If you are seeking a leather skirt or pants, this is definitely the way to go.

8~The dressing rooms are typically small and not well-lighted.  Be sure to check yourself out in the common area, as they all usually have full length or three-way mirrors somewhere in the store.  Okay~ this may sound weird but I always take a small compact in case they don't have a three-way mirror.  If doesn't look good from behind, don't buy it.

9~Be willing to walk away empty handed.  Remember, it can be hit or miss because it's not a store with multiple sizes.  You may see the perfect skirt but it's one size too small.  Don't, and I repeat don't say to yourself I am going to buy it and lose 10 pounds.   Just walk away.  Remember rule #1~you can't return it if you change your mind or fail to lose those pesky 10 pounds.

10~If you do find the perfect item, don't, and I repeat don't walk away because someone else will know rule number 10 and they will snag it.  Trust me, I have hesitated before and missed out.  And it still pains me to this day.  Sigh...