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Archive for October, 2009

Snoopy and WoodstockIn honor of Halloween, I am providing you some history on the true purpose of Halloween – consuming inordinate amounts of candy while dressed like a fool – I just love a holiday that is so accepting of an activity I would enjoy engaging in more than once a year ๐Ÿ™‚ Just to let you know, I’m an especially big fan of Reese peanut butter cups, candy corn, and bubble gum, so if anyone is looking to get rid of these treats – I’m game. Anyways, be the hit at your Halloween shindig this weekend by reciting these “spookacular” (wow – I went there) facts to your friends:

  1. Today (October 30th) is National Candy Corn Day! Grab some corn and start munching!
  2. According to the National Confectioners Association, 93 percent of children go trick-or-treating each Halloween.
  3. 76 percent of households will include bite-size chocolate candies in their Halloween activities and 26 percent will go for full-size candy (chocolate and non-chocolate) – My sister used to somehow have all the goods on which houses in our neighborhood had the snack-size verse the full-size candy bars, so I would always hit her up for her knowledge – I think she was in on some type of inside “candy trading” scheme in which she was sworn to secrecy.
  4. 43 percent of adults cite costumes as one of the most indispensable parts of Halloween (National Confectioners Association).
  5. Approximately 1/2 of adults will dress up in a Halloween costume and about 2/3 of adults will participate in Halloween activities (squidoo.com)
  6. For years, Snickers has topped the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters.
  7. Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday (Christmas is first). (halloweenwebsite.com)
  8. 90 percent of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids’ Halloween trick-or-treat bags (purpletrail.com). Luckily my mom loved Almond Joys (which my sister and I both hated), so she got her fill ofย  those every Halloween in the 90’s.
  9. In the United States, 86 percent of people decorate their homes for Halloween (squidoo.com)
  10. Over 10 percent of pet owners dress their pets in Halloween costumes (pupletrail.com). Keeli – I have a sneaky suspicion you are included in this number ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dorothy Dog Costume

If Dorothy is now a dog...what is Toto???

Darth Kitty

Nobody messes with Darth Kitty!!!

Catholic School Girl Dog Costume

Oops - do you think she did it again??

Happy Halloween – have a safe and candy-filled weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Halloween!

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People Watching – it’s something we all love to do but try hard not to get caught in the act. I equate it to the inconspicuous way I try to sneak leftover birthday cake at work so no one knows I’ve taken the largest piece and left only a sliver for the poor soul that doesn’t realize I appointed myself “head of the Birthday Committee” (and made up the committee for that matter) for a reason. If someone can make a living off of bird-watching, do you think I could make a living off of people-watching? I find a person much more interesting and engaging than an Eastern Bluebird. Obviously, it’s clear that I am a definite people watcher, but I also excel in the art of daydreaming; I often find myself drifting away to some other place while engaging in the act of people watching. My new friend from the gym (I used the “friend” term loosely – he has only acknowledged me three times, but that counts for something right??? Considering the few times I’ve frequented the gym, I’m going to continue assuming he’s a friend), Delta (“Hi, I’m Delta, like the airline”), has pointed out my daydreaming tendencies at least twice while I’m lumped over the hamstring machine wishing I was downing a margarita. I am definitely one of those people who finds my inspiration while I’m lost in my own thoughts competing against myself in an internal mind game.

So that said, I’m in line at T.J. Maxx yesterday (yes, for those friends I spoke to over the weekend – this is my second time in 5 days that I have ventured to T.J. Maxx – I’m not ashamed) carrying a pile full of animal print inspired pieces. I realize I have had 364 days to plan my Halloween costume, but I have waited until day 362 to actually begin my costume hunt. Thanks to my friend Meghan, who is always full of ingenious ideas, I have decided to be a “Party animal” and adorn myself in animal prints and party-themed decorations. So thus, I find myself at T.J Maxx knowing the “Maxx” won’t let me down. I’m standing behind a family of 6 – mom, dad, and 4 kids (three boys and one girl). My people-watching instincts spring into action and I discreetly adjust my gaze over to the family. Little did I know that I would find my daily dose of inspiration right there in the line at T.J. Maxx; but you know what, that is when in happens – when you least expect it.

So, I’m watching one of the little boys looking through a book, listening to the mom calling for a straggler to get back in line, and the oldest boy playfully taunting the youngest child (the daughter). The oldest boy was probably 11 years old, decked out in a wife-beater and shorts two sizes two big – looking all too much like a teenager. The daughter, who couldn’t be older than 6, sported a knit pink sweater, blue jeans, and a head fool of braids. He was messing around with her, pretending to fool her by tapping one side of her shoulder and then the other while she attempted to grab his hand in the process. All of a sudden, he stops, comes behind her and so sweetly puts his arms around her. She grabs his hands and they stand, for a few minutes, in full embrace. I’m not sure if anyone else caught this moment, the other line-goers were shuffling their feet hoping for a quick checkout while the children’s parents will still trying to round up the middle two boys and keep their place in line, but I couldn’t help but smile when I saw these two youngsters so full of raw emotion – the “cool” brother blatantly showing his affection and love for his little sister. The little girl had a twinkle in her eye as she soaked in her big brother’s love and affection. As cliche as it sounds, this was a Kodak moment. You know what – I don’t care if that sounds cliche – aren’t Kodak moments what life is all about? Those few minutes that seem so simple but mean so much. These are the moments that inspire, that motivate, that make life truly worth living. That is what this blog is all about – savoring the small stuff. Savoring those Kodak moments and finding inspiration when you least expect it – whether it’s on the subway, at a concert, on a trip, or…waiting in line at T.J. Maxx.

Although it’s been more than 4 years since I have seen these sweet faces, these children provided me with more inspiration than they’ll ever know and Kodak moments to last a lifetime:

Kenyan Schoolboys

Kenyan Schoolgirls

Me and Little Ashley

Dancing with Ashley

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Yes, I know, it is one of life’s most perplexing questions. I am sure Plato spent many a days wondering why we, humans, are unable to tickle ourselves or, if in fact, the act of tickling is really tickling. Actually, we, as we know ourselves to be, may not even exist, thus canceling out the tickle issue altogether. Okay, now I’ve gotten us into a whole other topic, and because I barely made a “B” in my Intro to Philosophy college course, I think it’s best for all parties involved that I stick with the original intent for the post.

Back to it. So, we may never know why the chicken really did cross the road (Was it so he could nest in my Chick-Fil-A biscuit???), why the boy wasted his (and our time) crying wolf (he could have been playing a video game or something and stepped it up as his role of “little boy”), or the exact recipe for the secret sauce that makes those McDonalds Big Macs so tasty (not sure I really want to know). Let’s face it – some of life’s most important questions just can’t be answered. Luckily, some brainy scientists who were bored with their day jobs of sporting thick glasses and amalgamating various elements decided to let us in on why we can’t actually tickle ourselves. Grab your Tickle-Me-Elmo and start learning courtesy ofย  Howstuffworks.com:

Tickle-Me-Elmo

Why Can’t You Tickle Yourself?

“Most of us have a ticklish spot somewhere on our bodies, and it is usually pretty easy to find. For some it’s just above the knee, for others it’s the back of the neck, and some of us go into fits of laughter if someone grabs our sides. Laughing when another person tickles you is a natural reaction. Scientists have discovered that the feeling experienced when we are tickled causes us to panic and is a natural defense to little creepy crawlers like spiders and bugs. Slight tickles from insects can send a chill through your body letting you know something is crawling on you.

That same ticklish feeling sends us into a state of panic and elicits a response of uncontrollable laughter if a person tickles us. It’s the moment that you least expect to be tickled and are that causes you to feel extremely uneasy and panicked, which leads to the most intense ticklish feeling. Even if you do know that you are about to be tickled, the fear and unease of someone touching and possibly hurting you causes you to laugh. Some people are so ticklish that they begin laughing even before they are touched.

So, if someone else’s touch can tickle us, why can’t we tickle ourselves? Much of the explanation for this question is still unknown, but research has shown that the brain is trained to know what to feel when a person moves or performs any function. We aren’t aware of a lot of the sensations generated by our movements. For example, you probably don’t pay much attention to your vocal cords when you speak. For the same reason, we can’t tickle ourselves. If we grab our sides in an attempt to tickle ourselves, our brain anticipates this contact from the hands and prepares itself for it. By taking away the feeling of unease and panic, the body no longer responds the same as it would if someone else were to tickle us.

Brain scientists at the University College London have pinpointed the cerebellum as the part of the brain that prevents us from self-tickling. The cerebellum is the region located at the base of the brain that monitors our movements. It can distinguish expected sensations from unexpected sensations. An expected sensation would be the amount of pressure your fingers apply to your keyboard while typing. An unexpected sensation would be someone sneaking up behind you and tapping you on the shoulder. While the brain discards the sensation of typing, it pays a lot of attention to someone tapping on your shoulder. The difference in reactions from expected to unexpected is a built-in response that probably developed in early human history to detect predators.

Although we are not able to tickle ourselves unassisted, there is a way to trick the brain by using a robot tickler. That’s right. With all of the know-how of science and technology, a robot has been designed to allow people to tickle themselves. The same British scientists mentioned above have designed a machine that enables you to tickle yourself by remote control. To use the machine, a person lies on their back with their eyes shut. The robot is located near the person with a piece of soft foam attached to a plastic rod that is controlled by a remote control joystick. When the person activates the rod, the robot will react after a short delay. Even with delays as short as a fifth of a second from the time the person activates the rod until the robot tickled the person’s hand, subjects have described the sensation as the same as another person tickling them. So, in a sense, you could tickle yourself with a robotic assistant.”

In conclusion – We can’t tickle ourselves (unassisted), but we can have a blast being a tickle monster to our young family members and friends. Seeing their eyes light up with anticipation as the tickle monster embarks on his journey and hearing their sweet little laughs when he hits his target (their bellies and feet) is enough to make me smile ๐Ÿ™‚

Funny Tickle Cartoon

Tickle Monster

Tickle Monster

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My niece, Emma, just had her birthday yesterday, and although she only turned eight, she is wise beyond her years. She has a Facebook profile so she can talk to my sister and me (her aunts) online and pass along “flair” to her 12 friends (my best friends and her mom’s best friends ๐Ÿ™‚ ). She is a regular Curious George (just much smarter) and has figured out on her own how to update her profile, upload pictures, write on walls, make comments, etc. I noticed that she updated her profile the other day with the following quote (written exactly as it appears on her profile):

“Don’t ever judge people by there looks. Judge them by the indside.”

I was so impressed with her words and wanted to share her insight with you – I did say she is wise beyond her years, didn’t I!? I have learned, over the years, that if we open our ears, eyes, and our hearts to children, we will listen to and receive some of the best advice we will ever get. Children are innocent and are untouched by the stresses of everyday, adult life. They see every situation in life exactly as it is, without any bias or preconceived notions. If we, adults, applied that same type of thinking into our thoughts and decisions, we would probably live much happier lives. My niece has inadvertently reminded me to never judge a book by its cover and to hold my inordinate judgments to myself. Judging someone before getting to know him or her may cause us to miss out on gaining a new friend and soaking in all the knowledge that person has to share. In the end, our fixed judgment only punishes ourselves. As my extremely wise mother has always taught my sisters and me, “Pretty is as pretty does.” So taking the advice of two beautiful and inspirational women in my life (my niece and my mother), I am going to remember to always “act pretty” by only “judging the inside and not the outside.” I hope you’ll do the same ๐Ÿ™‚

Emma

Emma Grace - Age 8!

Emma and Jack

So persnickety... ๐Ÿ˜‰

Emma's Art

An Example of Emma's Exceptional Art!

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I think I first learned about Lisa Lillien, aka “Hungry Girl,” in an issue of Glamour magazine or a publication of that sorts. She is the sole creator of “Hungry Girl: Tips and Tricks for…Hungry Chicks!” I remember reading a small excerpt about her website, and although those types of websites and blogs are usually right up my alley, I never checked it out. I have only recently learned that I was missing out big time! I finally visited the site late last week when I ran across an article on Forbes.com entitled “Hungry Girl on Brand Building.” Lillien’s site is chock-full of healthy eating tips, recipes, and food reviews; and it’s perfect for everyday women, like ourselves, who want to eat healthy without having to sacrifice all that is yummy. She opens her readers’ minds to new uses for various foods and provides easy food swaps to save hundreds of calories without sacrificing taste. Lillien describes herself as a typical “hungry girl” who lost 30 pounds and decided to launch a brand in the food and diet space from a regular person’s perspective. She began with 9 initial subscribers and now receives up to 1,000 subscribers per day. Lillien believes her site is so successful, because she stays true to her instincts and understands “what content people want to see, what kind of food people are interested in and what gets people excited.”

If you haven’t visited Hungry-girl.com, I highly suggest it; and I also recommend reading the Forbes article detailing Lillien’s success. She is a smart, passionate, and motivated woman, and she has helped thousands of women adjust their eating habits and lose weight. Sign up for her free daily email and be on your way to “chewing the right thing.”

Lisa Lillien - Hungry Girl: The Online Low-Cal Guru

Lisa Lillien - Hungry Girl: The Online Low-Cal Guru

Hungry Girl Logo

Hungry Girl Recipes

Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200

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Free Chicken!

There is something about “free stuff” that makes many of us feel exceptionally happy. I know I always seem to feel more appreciative of something that is free, because someone has gone out of his or her way to allow me the chance to try or have something without any payback or repercussions. If any of you out there like free stuff, it’s time to visit the colonel – more than 5,000 KFC restaurants are giving away a free piece of grilled chicken today (Monday, 10/26), and today only! I’m not sure if any of you remember the whole “KFC/Oprah” debacle earlier this year, but lets just say that there were some angry, hungry patrons wanting a free piece of chicken that didn’t get one. Well, KFC president, Roger Eaton, promises that everyone will get his or her free piece of grilled chicken today. I had the pleasure of eating this tasty grilled chicken at a Kawa family pool party (one of my favorite events – I am blessed to be an adopted member of the family ๐Ÿ™‚ ), and I must admit – it’s quite good! So, if you’re hungry and are wanting a healthy, protein-rich snack, grab your free piece today!

Find your nearest KFC here.

KFC Logo

KFC Grilled Chicken

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In honor of the impending Atlanta rain…

“Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.”

Dancing in the rain

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

woman dancing in the rain

“Remember, even though the outside world might be raining, if you keep on smiling, the sun will soon show its face and smile back at you.”

Loving the rain

I hope everyone enjoys the weekend – whether it’s full of rain or full of sunshine – I hope you find something wonderful to smile about. Discover your “dancing in the rain” moment…and relish in it ๐Ÿ™‚

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