Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hot Toddy for an Aching Body

Hello Dahlin's! I know it's been a while but I have a good excuse this time! Despite my efforts to avoid the yearly "funk", the bug has caught me just as it has caught many of you this cold and flu season. I am a big believer in mind over matter; a positive perspective can work wonders in any predicament. To quote my life coach, "The Little Engine That Could", I think I can, I think I can get over this cold without a trip to the doc in the box. OTC cold remedies and Vitamin C gummies in the shape of cute teddies do make the days more "bearable," but they just can't squash this bug. Alas, I have found comfort in an old British treatment, the Hot Toddy! Even though this sounds like a character straight out of "Magic Mike", the Hot Toddy is a hot beverage traditionally made with whisky, boiling water and sugar or honey. Many recipes spice up this sipper with Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger or Lemon- all believed to house medicinal properties. The recipe below can be adapted depending on your personal tastes or to what you have behind the bar. Bourbon or Brandy, Whiskey or Whisky, Rum or Rumplemintz- it's alllll good! Due to the strong alcoholic nature of this beverage, please refrain from driving, operating heavy machinery or texting old flames- none of which you should be doing while sick anyhow! Even though the old adage "keep your fluids up" while sick is very true, they mean water- not heaps of Hot Toddies! Remember to take care of yourselves and get some rest as we enter the hustle and bustle of this holiday season. Cheers to you finding some aid and healing in the comforting cocktail.


1 teaspoon of honey


Pour the honey, boiling water, and whiskey into a mug. Spice it with the cloves and cinnamon, and add slice of lemon. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes so the flavors can mingle, then sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg before serving. Sip at your leisure and slip off into sweet dreams!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Staying Fly While You Fly!

From the guarded gates of the White House, down to booze-filled Bourbon Street and on again in the City of Sin, 2012 has been the year of travel! The spirit of adventure is something that runs rampant through our blood- the people you meet, the sights you see and the food you indulge in shaped my most cherished memories. Those memories didn't come without a little heart ache and maybe a few gray hairs on this 30 year old head however. Whether you are flying the friendly skies with Delta or AirTran, Continental or Southwest, American or United, traveling via airplane can be mentally and physically draining. The hassle of packing, the stress of getting to the airport on time, and then the endless flight followed by jet lag- remind me why this is fun again?! You know how they say "it's in the journey, not the destination?" Well after a 4 1/2 flight having been packed like a sardine in between a wailing child and a narcoleptic with a snoring problem, I may beg to differ. I am not what I would call an avid world traveler but there are a few tricks of the trade I have picked up along the way to help get you somewhere over the rainbow!

Tackling Turbulence- Sit in the front of the airplane if possible, also close your eyes. If you are prone to motion sickness, pop a few Dramamines before boarding or stock up on Ginger flavored candy which can also aid with nausea and nerves. Before you know it, you'll be floating on cloud nine cool calm & collected!

Keep It Clean- Forgive me if I get too personal with this one but one day you will thank me! We travel with a pack of Wet Wipes or baby wipes to keep ALL areas refreshed! You can wipe your face, clean your cell phone and wipe your seat (pun intended...) Wet Wipes: Because sometimes showering just isn't an option. :)

Away with Accessories- Slip-ons or Sandals are the best foot wear when traveling through security. You will also want to either forgo or trim down your jewelry selection as everything has to be taken off to pass through the metal detectors. Try not to wear hats as you will just have to take it off and show everyone your banged-up bouffant as you wait in line. Instead throw your hair back in a sleek pony or messy bun using a metal free rubber band. Even though you look like a Kardashian walking through a normally lit airport with bug eye shades, I do recommend this accessory for travel. They limit the amount of make-up you have to apply and serve double duty as an eye mask on the plane.

Dress for Success- Instead of wearing those adorable linen pants that will look like a Shar Pei's face when you deplane, throw on a wrinkle resistant jersey knit dress! My favorite travel piece is the Carolyn Dress in "Hotty Pink Day Lilly" from Lilly Pulitzer. It's bright, light and looks just right! Make sure your dress is long enough however that when you bend over to pick up your bags or put your shoes back on, you aren't showing everyone your biscuit...They just paid for an airline ticket, not a peep show remember. A light-weight cardigan tied around your waist or shoulders is for form and functionality- airline A/C's get frigid!

Kiss & Make-up- Pack a small bag with a tube of lipstick, mascara, comb, those wet wipes and your medications. This is just enough of a survival kit to get you through a plane delay or even worse, a cancelled flight. Two of my favorite necessities are Wisps by Colgate and are your ready for this...toilet seat covers! Why buy blotting papers when you have them dispensed freely in every single latrine you've ever done business in! They absorb any excess oil on your face with just a pat- call them fa-bowl-ous!

Entertain Me- Ipods, Nooks, Kindles, Playing Cards, Books, Magazines and the list goes on! I love to take a box of note cards and prestamped envelopes to knock out my thank yous. Mail them at the airport post office and check that off your to-dos! Whatever your do just keep those idle minds at work and make the time "fly" by.

Snack Attack- Airline snacks would make Dr. Atkins turn over in his grave consisting of Nabisco Cheese Nips, Snyder's Salted Pretzels and my weakness Lorna Doone Shortbread. Sure, accept these gracious hostess gifts but save them for later. You want high protein snacks that curb your hunger. Stock up on the turkey jerky, roasted almonds, dried cherries, blueberries and maybe even cheese spreads depending on the length of your flight. Flavored tea bags are a great carry on as they relax and satiate you. Bring along some minty gum to excite the taste buds, keep your breath fresh and to help your ears pop.

I write this blog to you as I eagerly prepare for two trips of a lifetime. On Friday, my bestie and I will be heading to the Big Apple for my very first time and weeks later, we will be in Las Vegas renewing my wedding vows officiated by the King himself. Travel can truly open your world and your perspective on life. Even if it's an hour away from where you call home, go! See the world as someone else sees it- you'll be glad you did! Bon Voyage, y'all!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Skinny Summer Sipper

It's summertime and the living is easy or at least so says the song! Because I actually listened to my mother and did not become a school teacher, this summer finds me toiling away in a cubicle, staring at a computer screen and making copies like the rest of the masses. It's not that I don't like my job, I just LOVE not working! :) Who's with me? If you are a MF'er (Monday through Friday-er people, what did you think I meant?) weekends are what we live for! The two days where time clocks, name badges and  motor oil coffee are just a part of a bad dream is when it's time to relish summer! On the weekend immerse yourself in the sun, the sand, the surf and the endless array of frozen cocktails that grace your parched palate. What says summer  better than a frothy Pina Colada served in hollowed out pineapple, maraschino cherry skewer and adorned with a colorful paper umbrella that after a few drinks makes the most elegant hair accessory! Yeah, those 2,000 calorie cocktails are great and all if you have a personal trainer or happen to be on a Carnival Cruise boat south of the equator but let's talk about something a bit more practical to sip on your summer weekends. I stumbled upon Bethenny Frankel's brain child Skinnygirl Vodka in Cucumber at a fabulous friend's 4th of July fete and gave it a whirl. The vodka was refreshing, herbaceous and clean on the palate- an ideal combo to beat the heat and wash away the blues. With a little imagination and summer swimsuit motivation, see the sipper that was born below:

Cucumber Skinny Gimme (As in Gimlet, get it?)


Skinnygirl Cucumber Vodka
Sprite Zero or Diet Sierra Mist
Club Soda
Fresh Lime Juice (MUST BE FRESH!)
Cucumber Slices


Muddle the cucumber with a few squeezes of lime in the bottom of a glass. Add ice, vodka, diet lemon-lime soda and a bit of club soda. The club soda "cuts" the dietness of the soda but mix to your liking.
No, I didn't put measurements because you know dang well you never measure out cocktail components. After a few of these, I am sure you will forgo the mixers all together too! Whether you are enjoying a few months of summer or 2 days a week of summer, grab yourself a glass and load it up with this libation. Until next time, keep cucumber cool y'all!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fresh off the Farm

Let me predicate this blog with announcing it will be a little different than what you are used hearing from the Diva. I just celebrated my 30th birthday and apparently at this tender young age you are supposed to have it all together and the secrets of the universe are revealed. You are expected to know who you are and have a clear vision of where you are going. Well y'all, here I sit disheartened in the afterglow of this milestone celebration and unfortunately, I still don't have the answers. I don't really know who I am, where I am going or what I want to be when I grow up BUT I do know what makes me happy: PARTIES! These celebrations of life, moments and achievements are what ignite my passion, this I am confident of! Not a day goes by that I don't wake up and think to myself "now, what kind of party can I plan next?!" The concept, design and eventually the "birthing process" of the event is the ultimate joy for me; others are probably pulling their hair out and grinding their teeth to the mandible just thinking about all this mess! So, in honor of my 30th birthday and not having it all together, I have decided to share a little party inspiration with y'all once a month. These will  be condensed concepts and ideas for you to mold and meld to your liking. We will keep the concepts simple, brief, VERY inexpensive (as you all know my love affair with the Dollar Tree) and hopefully inspiring! I would like to commit to one of these entries once a month, but you know me! Please feel free to email or comment suggestions on party themes you would like to see here! Let our creations lead to your inspiration!

Concept: Fresh off the Farm

Suggested Theme Adaptations: 4th of July Celebrations, Summer Picnic Parties & Baby Showers

Key Components: Eggs, Chickens, Mason Jars,Vegetables, Raffia & Distressed Wood

For centerpieces, consider fresh brown and white eggs lovingly displayed in a chicken wire basket stuffed with raffia to resemble hay. Ceramic chicken, basket and raffia all purchased from Dollar Tree.

For variations, why not color your chickens? Red, white and blue bitties would be ideal for the 4th but how about a pale pink or sky blue for a baby shower adaptation? Any mother hen would crow with delight to see such a sight!

They say you "eat with your eyes" first! These food stands were made by simply super gluing a small glass plate to a taper candle holder, both of which can be found at Dollar Tree. Varying heights and textures add visual interest to your buffet and decor. Don't skimp on the rib sticking food as country=comfort!

Gingham or checkered print is a requirment to execute this farm fresh fete! Red checks evoke a "down-home" rustic feel however consider pink or blue for your baby shower. A black gingham would be chic for a country couture twist. Tie your flatware rolls with a piece of raffia or twine- it may be a bit more timelier but your dedication to details will be appreciated.

Mason or Ball jars are cost effective and true to theme serving vessels. Fill them with Sweet Tea or Country Time Lemonade to continue that on the farm feeling. Don't forget to garnish with a lemon wheel and fresh mint! After your guests are done meeting and eating, send them home with a farm favor; what about a pack of vegetable seeds or a tomato pincushion? The best favors are useful or edible!

As always, thank you for your love, support and sharing throughout the days! Looking forward to another set of 30 years with everyone!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Be Our Guests

Church bells ring, are ya listening? On the bride, diamonds are glistening. It's a beautiful sight; we’ll party all night, walking in a Wedding Wonderland!
Is your Facebook news feed filled with relationship status updates and last name changes? Does your mailbox burst at the brim with hand-calligraphed, LOVE stamped invitations? Is your waistline 3 inches bigger because of mass consumption of petit fours and monogrammed bridal shower cookies? Tis’ the season for wedded bliss!
J’adore me some weddings, y'all! The décor, the dress, the dinner and all that love in one room! Being a wedding guest is something I cherish. A wedding ceremony is one of the most sacred and intimate things you can witness in your lifetime. To be invited to celebrate such a meaningful occasion for your friends or family is a privilege that I hold so dear. Many brides and grooms brush up on their etiquette while planning the wedding but us guests should hit the books as well! As a former member of the wedding planning industry, I can safely say attending a wedding “ain’t my first rodeo.” I have seen it all: the good, the bad and the downright UGLY! Sometimes we forget the true meaning of a wedding and party like it’s 1999- taking no prisoners. We may lose sight that the wedding is about the love the couple shares and the uniting of two families. You may be mumbling “Sandy don’t preach…I’m in trouble deep,” but I just wanted to take the time to share some wedding day decorum that will make everyone’s world a better place.

Disclaimer: I am not Emily Post, I am not Martha Stewart and I am not Kate Middleton. Anyone who knows me has probably seen me walk around barefoot, dance on a table or chew gum with my mouth open. I do however deeply admire the sanctity of marriage and truly believe weddings should be a joyous and revered celebration. Have fun, toss back a few wine spritzers, Twist-N-Shout but be respectful.

* Perfectly Punctual- I will start off with the hardest pill to swallow. Mark my words that I will be late to my own funeral but I will not be late to a wedding. Give yourself or your date "SGT" or as we call it, Sorority Girl Time. If the wedding ceremony starts at 6:00pm tell yourself or your date 5:00pm. The day before go ahead and map out your route, check for road closures or inclement weather as these will all effect travel time. Depending on where the ceremony is going to be held (hotel, park, church, etc.) you may also want to determine the parking situation. Is it self-parking, valet only or everyman-for-himself street parking? Remember, there is no harm being early to a wedding. Seize the opportunity to snoop around in a fancy hotel bathroom, get a pre-party martini at the bar or practice singing your hymnals. As my cheer coach always told me “…To be on time is to be late and to be late is unacceptable.” (ESPECIALLY for a wedding!)

* Thank you, thank you very much- Somewhere between the Cha-Cha Slide and the Cupid Shuffle, take time out of the party to profusely thank the parents of the bride and groom. Even if the couple paid entirely for the wedding, let the parents know what an honor it was to be included in such a personal celebration for the family. Tell them why the bride/groom is special to you and what an awesome person they raised. A wedding is a celebration for the families as much as the bride and groom. A short yet sincere email of gratitude to the couple and/or their parents post wedding is always a welcomed gesture of gentility.

* Couple Care- If the opportunity arises offer to get the bride and groom a drink or maybe a plate of food. Often newlyweds get so caught up in the mixing and the mingling they forget to sample the cuisine they have been dreaming about for over a year. Don’t get disgruntled if their wedding planner or maître D takes over this task; your offer to fetch them a drink or a jerk chicken skewer will not go unnoticed. It also gives you an excuse to tell the love birds how happy they both look and thank them for inviting you to this momentous celebration.

* Think Before You Drink- When the words “open bar” are uttered, do the gold-lined clouds part and are you serenaded by the sugary voices of a thousand angels? Since the dawn on time libations and celebrations have gone hand in hand- Jesus even sipped on some vino rojo at the Last Supper. Weddings are parties with a purpose, honoring a sacred commitment two people in love have just made. At the bar have a few, keep your water table up and if you must “tie one on” that night, make plans with your buds for the after party at a local pub or in the hotel lounge. The public profession of love two of your favorite people just made should be exalted not halted by your drunken frat boy foppery. 

* May I Have Your Attention Please- Try to be front and center during formalities. These include wedding party introductions, first dances and cake cutting. Don't go to the bar, don't text, don't chit chat at the table- just give the couple and their parents your full undivided attention. Their marriage is after all why you have the luxury of a 4 hour open bar and unlimited crab cakes. Want to dine and dash to get away from the smelly cat lady at your table? Just have another sip (or huge gulp) of your Vodka Soda and try to stay through a few more dances. The old adage is you can leave after the cake is cut but use personal judgment as these days sometimes the cake is used for dessert. A wedding is a once in a lifetime event for the twosome- help them get their money's worth!

* Adequate Attire- If you are lucky, the invitation may tell you what to wear: semi-formal, formal, black tie, etc. If you are not given dress code instructions and are in doubt, it’s always best to over dress. I don’t mean wear a Mr. Peanut top hat and tails to a beach side wedding in Maui but wear something a little nicer than Uncle Eddie’s Aloha shirt and khaki shorts. Ladies, colorful and classy tea-length cocktail dresses are always appropriate (beware of the bosom factor.) Gentlemen, a non-patterned button-up shirt, blazer and starched slacks are a safe bet anywhere. Call me old school, but I still think the bride should be the only one in white or any shade of it and despite the amount of rump shaking, shoes should be left on.  Don’t fret over fashion, just use your intuition along with what your mother taught you and you will be dressed to impress!

* Present A Present- Being invited to a wedding is an honor and privilege in itself. It is customary to send the couple a gift if you receive a wedding invitation even if you cannot attend the blessed event. Contrary to popular belief the cost or amount of the gift is not directly correlated to how much the couple is spending per person at the wedding. As with any other occasion a wedding gift should be meaningful to the recipient, personal and hopefully useful. Money or gift cards are the most popular wedding gift as nest building can be pretty costly. In addition to the couple’s wedding gift it is always nice to contribute a few extra bucks if they host a “Dollar Dance” during the festivities. Did I get you in a giving mood? You may want a few more greenbacks for that heavy-handed bartender or that speedy valet attendant. They work hard for the money too!

Relish in the fact that someone you love or at least know of is celebrating one of the happiest day lives and you have the honor of being apart of it. Be smart, be courteous and be safe. May you all "eat, drink and be married!"

Monday, January 9, 2012

Filter Fabulous! did you get here so fast? While others are anticipating the promise and possibilities of a brand spanking New Year I must admit...I am a bit bummed! Year after year, I live for the holidays! I crazily contemplate my Christmas crafts, manically manifest my menus, and devilishly deck the halls with boughs of holly! Now that the Yuletide has passed, I cower at the idea of taking all of my pretty, pretty decorations down and boxing them up until next year. Sigh....But wait, isn't the season of winter worth celebrating too? There are so many magical things that the winter brings- snow, frost, icicles and crackling fireplaces! For those of us living in climates close to the tropics, a winter wonderland may be only a dream or a ski vacation away. Here in Orlando; we are stewing in a steamy 75 degrees on this January day... No snowman or sledding for us any time soon! Upon my web travels, I found this adorable D.I.Y. wreath that may cause even Jack Frost himself to come nipping at your nose. How clever is this craft made out of what else but clean COFFEE FILTERS! What caught my eye about this craft is the wreath reminded me of wintery white carnations- one of my all time favorite, but much neglected flowers. If you are like me and need a little dose of creative crafting to help get you through those post Christmas blues, pour yourself a cup of hot cocoa, sneak into those flannel penguin pj's and fire up that glue gun!


* Styrofoam or hay wreath form (Note: If using pressed hay wreath, leave the plastic covering on!)
* Extra large coffee filters
* Hot glue gun and glue sticks
* White craft glue
* Stiff paintbrush
* Glitter
* Bow or ribbon (optional)


Stack one coffee filter on top of another. Fold in half and pinch the bottom of both filters in center. Draw hand from bottom to top to bunch into a blossom; squeeze at pinched point to hold shape. Begin hot gluing pinched ends of filters side by side around the wreath form with blossoms pointing outward. Start from the outside of the ring in. Continue this pattern until wreath form is covered with coffee filter blooms. (Note: If you do find small gaps developing, feel free to fill these in with cupcake liners for texture and depth.) If you think your wreath needs a little pizzazz, brush watered-down craft glue onto wreath with a stiff brush and sprinkle with glitter. Use hot glue to attach a bow to wreath, if desired.

For those of you who may be sick of snowflakes and irritated by icicles by this point in the year, this couture coffee creation is changeable! Dust them with a little pink or blue spray paint for a friend's baby shower, incorporate pastel colored cupcake liners for a spring blossoms wreath or even use the natural unbleached coffee filters for a charming rustic look to be displayed all year long.  Happy Hot Gluing  and Happy New Year, All!