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What I Found in Taos New Mexico


I wanted to run away.

Or maybe just a get away?

(but I definitely thought about running away)

Maybe I was running to something?

Probably more like running from something.

But I was definitely looking for something.

Or rather, hoping something would find me.

Whatever it was, I found it in Taos.

This happened fast, (perhaps the most spontaneous thing I’ve done in 8 years), but after a quick review of my kid co-parenting schedule, I made a radical but necessary decision to get the hell out of Iowa. It was about as spontaneous as a type A 40+ year old person with control issues in a single home with 4 teenage & young adult mouths to feed and a gazillion bills to pay and lots of people counting on you to hold up the other end of a figurative white dress so it doesn’t drag along the hard filthy ground can be. But I did it. And it felt pretty damn spontaneous and GOOD and right.

7 days later I was heading West on a sixteen hour journey/quest/pilgrimage to some kind of hopeful savior in Taos, New Mexico (no pressure, Taos). I’ve never been there, I had no real reason to go there, it’s ski season, but I don’t snow ski and I was leaving snow to go to more snow but something about it was pulling at me, like a loose thread on your sweater that could either completely unravel into a heaping pile of nothing or is a complete nuisance just hanging there snagging on everything until you snip it.  I had to find out which it was.

Road trips are my happy place. I’m not intimidated by long drives. More like exhilarated by them. Sunrise, play lists and podcasts, quiet time, road snacks and gas station coffee, the landscapes of 4 different states, sunset, nefarious weather, road closures, white-outs, followed by gigantic black mountain top silhouettes lit up by bright night skies full of stars as I entered New Mexico … this was definitely my happy place. I actually felt my soul shift.

The first best decision I made was my lodging – Hotel Luna Mystica.  It’s a vintage trailer hotel with Airstream and other camper accommodations. I was glamping on the snow covered Mesa surrounded by mountains in a large camper fitted with 8 bunks rented by the night. It was so cosmic and sexy. I chose the ‘hostel’ camper because I’ve never stayed in one, it was crazy affordable ($25 a night), I wasn’t planning on being in it much except to sleep, and I wanted to meet people. Now it’s starting to sound sexy, am I right?

My camper mates included:

Pittsburgh, a kind, quiet woman roughly my age, single, successful career, living with her 21 year old daughter, a rich life of solo traveling, comfortable with herself in a very confident and unapologetic way (it was inspiring), with shared interests in travel, good food and beer, meeting new people, a love for adventure and the arts. I liked her.

Boston and Austin, mountain-weary young career men with friendly demeanor, nice smiles and kind faces that felt like mid-westerners, childhood friends that now live thousands of miles apart, one on the east coast, one in the south, spontaneously meeting for a weekend of snowboarding.

Lastly, there was Albuquerque times two, with their friend Saint Louis – a petite woman with a pretty-girl-next-door kind of face and bouncy blonde hair that mastered the French press each morning, filling our camper with the heavenly aroma of coffee like a long forgotten but once familiar Folgers commercial.

The next best decision I made was to take the infamous low road to Santa Fe.

The low road takes you south through the mountains, along the Rio Grande River through a myriad of small towns peppered with touristy stops, but most are closed due to being winter. I stopped at a few local wineries that were actually open, but my favorite was the Black Mesa Winery.  Colorado was my wine server. He was at least 6’3, rugged yet handsome in a weathered sort of way, Irish-looking man, with a just-rolled-out-of-bed head full of red hair, his face sun-kissed with freckles and permanent tan lines from sunglasses worn year round, the scruff of a two week old beard and the stale sweet breath of last night’s beer. Colorado rafts class 3 rapids year round on the Rio Grande with a group of close friends, he never rafts a day without a dry suit or a hypothermia kit, he lost 3 friends on the river just this past year, and another 3 lost that he wasn’t close to. Colorado’s grandmother from Trinidad made choke cherry butter and wine but never drank a drop of alcohol in her life. His childhood love for cooking led to an early career choice, traveling and training with world renowned chefs and sommeliers which contributed heavily to his taste for the finer things but yet he chooses a simple-no-cell-phone-off-the-grid-lifestyle.  His contagious zest for a life of adventure and appreciation for nature is so ingrained into the fabric of his being that you can’t avoid the contact high you get from the genuine joy and peace that radiates from his weathered soul. It was comforting … I felt grounded.

And we drank wine. REALLY good wine. Award-winning, taste-bud-awakening-melt-in-your-mouth-smooth-on-your-tongue, mind blowing wine.

We were briefly joined by Texas, a small in stature, thin but striking man with dark features, quiet and seemingly annoyed with our boisterous talk of water sports, but yet he peaked my interest … until all of the wine he opted to taste were sweet whites. I knew right then that it would never work. So I moved along my route.


In Santa Fe, I stopped at the Georgia O’Keefe museum. As I stood in front of her giant painting of the white flowers of the jimson weed, I was so overwhelmed by a powerful feeling of awe and appreciation that silent tears ran down my face. I detoured from my route to see the Ghost Ranch in Abiqui (ab-a-que) where she lived, I traveled the high road back to Taos and stopped and stood in front of the famous pueblo churches where she stood; the entire afternoon I was surrounded by the inspiration for some of her most famous paintings and for the first time in a long time, I felt centered.


Probably the best decision I made the entire time I was there in the magical land of Taos, was the day I hiked down into the Rio Grand Gorge in search of Black Rock Hot Springs. These are pools of natural hot springs that are settled along the banks of the Rio Grande River surrounded by giant black boulders.


To get there, you have to drive down to the John Dunn Bridge, along a very lengthy, lightly traveled, narrow red dirt road that had turned into a mud bog and slippery slush due to the recent snowfall. After you cross the bridge, you park in this small switchback that’s tucked into the mountain and continue your trek on foot, descending further and further down into the gorge towards the raging river.

There is no general path, so I followed what looked like tracks made by others in the same attempt to find this natural treasure.  After climbing and ducking and avoiding treacherous ledges for a solid 30 minutes, I found it. I quickly observed the pile of clothes and shoes and gear strewn out across the boulders like carefree, hurried skinny-dippers motivated by 30 degree temps, unsure of how many people were already there. As I approached the boulder where I was eventually going to place my gear and clothes, I noticed there were 4 people immersed in the natural pool, quietly chatting, surrounded by giant billows of steam that weighed heavily in the cold air.

After my awkward entry into the small pool (because I am about as graceful as a giraffe on brand new legs) I took a quiet moment to take it all in and center my thoughts on not what others may be thinking about me at that very moment, but of where I am. It’s now about 3pm and the sun is behind the mountains, dusk isn’t too far away but the light makes the colors on the rocks shine in deep rich tones, the cool mountain air is so fresh and crisp and I take a long, deep breath; I close my eyes and pay close attention to the steam warming my face and bare shoulders and how suddenly I am very aware of my body in the hot water. I am living in the now. This is real and so incredibly cool.

But the coolest part, was who I was sharing this moment with.

There was California and Michigan, a young, adventurous non-frilly couple who met while teaching English in Israel and together they hiked the Sierras and the Rockies and other mountains I haven’t heard of but sounded cool, and came to Taos to ski and hike for the weekend and were making plans to be WWOOF’ers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) in Australia this summer and just moved to Colorado from California for a less hectic, more simple life. California, who had dark hair, a kind face with shocking green eyes and perfect teeth, asked why I came to Taos. I simply stated that “I was on a quest”  and responded politely in a reassuring way with “that’s hot” … this made me blush.

There was New Jersey, a young Irish lad who is very quiet but had a sweet smile and didn’t stay long.

There was Hawaii who was recently displaced by the invasive volcanic lava and relocated to New Mexico. We were joined later by his mother and younger brother who mentioned that they have acres and acres of farmland where they grow taro root and how they cut their feet while harvesting the root on escargo snails that wash down stream into their ponds.

And then there was Wyoming and Wisconsin. A slightly malnourished looking Yuengling beer drinking couple, with sun kissed faces outlining the permanent pale shape of ski goggles, living in their truck by choice, enjoying a life off the grid. A life of adventure supported by a sweet gig as wilderness rangers at various national parks across the U.S. throughout the year. Never in the same place twice or for too long. Wyoming shared nail-biting stories of coming face-to-face with a big horn sheep who was impatiently waiting for him to pee so he could drink it and a night of cowboy camping when he awoke to his hands buried in bear’s coat while dreaming that he was petting his Pekingese in his sleep, claiming that when he finally realized what was happening, they locked eyes and both ran as fast as they could in opposite directions, both fleeing in terror. Wyoming simple stated, “it was not my day to die” and he took another swig of his beer.  He taught us that porcupines taste trees until they find the one they like the best to nest in and shared with us how humans are disgusting and disrespectful in nature when they refuse to bury their poop and Rangers see deer munching on grass with toilet paper hanging out of their mouths and squirrels making their nests with dirty toilet paper. BURY YOUR POOP, people. I could have listened to Wyoming all day. But it was getting darker and I still had to work my way back up the mountain. We all said our good-byes and went along our way, never to see each other again.

Of all of the things that I did and I saw and I experienced, it was the anonymous, insanely cool connections that I made on that trip that were by far my favorite experiences and the most unforgettable. They changed my life.

I met Vermont while sitting at the Taos Mesa Brewing bar across the road, who was part of the first responding rescue crew for the people buried in the avalanche on the mountain the day before I arrived (the first in 15 years – lost 2 people); there was Taos, the Native American born and raised there, that I shared an insightful and delicious breakfast with at Gutiz, there was Chicago and Milwaukee that I met at a bar that just finished a contracting job in Taos and were flying home the next day  … so many people, constantly moving in and out of your personal space at any given time, most people don’t even pay attention to.

I believe human connection is one of our basic fundamental needs as a person, it is a gift, and what we are meant for. We’re not meant to live a life in isolation and fear and loneliness, we are meant for connection. It’s part of our story. It’s where you find yourself.


Albert Einstein said it so beautifully with these words: “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Founder Series: Arthur Guinness



Everyone likes a good story.

Lately, I’ve found myself drawn the story behind the product. There are countless products in our world that started with someone’s idea, a random thought, a crazy dream. Those ‘someones’ were most likely surrounded by skeptics, by naysayers, non-supporters, and flat out disbelievers. Probably even family members who told them that it was “nonsense”, “don’t waste your time”, “that’s such a stupid idea.”


They didn’t listen. Or they didn’t care what others said, or thought, or felt. They listened to themselves. To their crazy idea. The voice they can’t quiet inside their head until they do something about it. And this is the story that fascinates me the most. The dreamers. The doers. The entrepreneurs. The inventors. What’s their story?

I google these people. A lot. Most of them are completely at random. I’m on a bus, drinking a Starbucks admiring the mermaid logo on my cup and think, “how did that even happen”? I turn straight to my friend, Google, and search for answers. I always find what I’m looking for and I am never disappointed.

People are straight up fascinating.

As many inventors as there are out there, there are biographies. Ginormous books with all the history and backstory anyone could want. And as much as I would love to sit and dig into the pages of their life, there is such little time any more.

But I also thought, during my recent quest for knowledge (which began when seeing a Guinness beer commercial), someone else might find their story interesting. And although they could Google it too, they may not.

So I decided that I’m going dust off my dormant blog, and jot down my findings along with some old timey pics and share these random founder stories. They may be stories you already know, or bits and pieces, but either way, I hope you enjoy my interpretation of these fascinating people.

Arthur Guinness


Arthur Guinness was born in Celbridge, Co Kildare, in 1725. His father was land steward to the archbishop of Cashel, Dr Arthur Price, and brewed beer for workers on the estate and was well known for his particularly fine porter beer. He taught Arthur the craft of brewing with the equipment they had in the churches basement.

Arthur was 27 when the archbishop passed away in 1752. Dr. Price left him £100 (the equivalent of four years wages at the time). Over the following three years, he perfected his skills as the brewer for an inn owned by his stepmother. In 1755, at the age of 30, he struck out his own, purchasing a small brewery in the village of Leixlip. He felt that brewing beer was a service to the community: this was the era in which gin was devastating poor communities and beer provided a far healthier and less intoxicating alternative.


In 1759, southwest of the city, he found an old dilapidated brewery in Dublin, named St. James’s Gate Brewery. Although the building needed a great deal of work, 34-year-old Guinness saw this as a major opportunity and rented the factory for just £45 a year, for an unprecedented lease-term of 9000 years.

In 1761 Arthur Guinness married Olivia Whitmore in St. Mary’s Church in Dublin. They had 21 children, 10 of which lived to adulthood.

In 1764, Arthur built the Beaumont House where the family lived on a farm of 51 acres. Now it’s the estate of Beaumont Convalescent Home, behind the main part of Beaumont Hospital, between Raheny and Santry in north County Dublin.

Arthur was a very dedicated member of the Church of Ireland. He had inherited the ethics of hard work from his father and the church instilled the goodness and responsibilities of wealth, which included the importance of caring for the poor.

As a result, Arthur became involved in a variety of social welfare organizations. He also gave to a number of charities, promoted Gaelic arts to encourage pride in the Irish heritage, and joined the Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick, an organization dedicated to ending the practice of dueling.

He was also a champion of the Sunday School movement in Ireland, which provided basic education to children. For Arthur, this was part of an interest in prison reform as well: he believed that education combined with Biblical teaching would keep people from falling into a life of crime.

Guinness Stout As We Know It

Guinness continued to develop and improve as a brewer. In 1779, he was named official brewer of Dublin Castle. At this point, he was brewing ales as well as a variety of dark porters. Gradually, though, he decided to specialize in porter; he finally gave up brewing ale in 1799 and figured out how to produce a good quality black porter (stout).

That’s when the production of the dark beer with creamy foam originated, and the company quickly became a symbol of Ireland. It was only four years later, at age of 78, when Arthur Guinness died. As a legacy to their children businessman left 25,000 pounds, which by today’s standards would amount to about 865,000 pounds.

By his death in 1803 the annual brewery output of the stout over 20,000 barrels.

The Brand

The harp, which serves as the emblem of Guinness, is based on a famous 14th century Irish harp known as the “O’Neill” or “Brian Boru” harp, which is now preserved in the Library of Trinity College Dublin.

The harp has been synonymous with Guinness since 1862, and according to some calendars it dates back to today April 5, when it was used as a symbol on the first bottle label for Guinness. It was registered as a Guinness company trademark in 1876.

The harp is also the official national emblem of the Republic of Ireland and can be found on the Republic’s coinage.

However, there is a difference between the Irish government harp and the Guinness harp. As Guinness had trademarked the harp symbol in 1876, the Irish Free State Government of 1922 had to turn the official government harp the other way around so as it could be differentiated from the trademarked Guinness harp.

The distinguishing feature between the two harps is that the Guinness Harp always appears with its straight edge (the sound board) to the left, and the government harp is always shown with its straight edge to the right.

It is because of the harp trademark that the Guinness company named its first lager ‘Harp’ in 1960. The harp is one of three elements that make up the Guinness livery. The other two elements are “Guinness” (the word) and Arthur Guinness’s famous signature.


There have been a number of changes to the design of the harp device over the years including a reduction in the number of strings shown. The current harp was introduced in 2005 when a new brand livery was launched.

The history of the Guinness brand is also the story of one of the most famous books in the world… the Guinness World Records book.

The Guinness Book of Records


Legend has it that in 1954, Sir Hugh Beaver, then the managing director of business for the Guinness Brewery, became involved in an argument during a shooting party, regarding the fastest game bird in Europe. There was no book available to provide the answer (and obviously no Google).  Beaver quickly realized that there were probably thousands of disputes just like this taking place and decided to run a Guinness promotion based on the idea of settling pub arguments over a pint of beer.

After speaking with some friends in London, twin brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter, it was determined that a book of this kind could be very popular and they began working on the project.  After nearly 14 weeks, at 90 hours a week, the project was complete. The first print run of The Guinness Book of Records was for 50,000 copies and by Christmas had become a bestseller in the UK, and is now one of the best selling books in the world.

The Guinness Legacy

Arthur died in 1803, but his legacy lives on. Over the next century, Guinness grew to be one of the largest and most respected breweries in the world. That story is a tribute to Arthur’s hard work and insistence on excellence, qualities which he passed on to his children and heirs. But that is only part of the Guinness story. The other part is the amount of good Guinness has done for its employees and their families and for Dublin, all of which is also part of Arthur’s legacy.

In the late nineteenth century, Dublin had the highest rate of contagious disease and the highest death rate in Europe. The city was a squalid mess of overcrowded slums as people from across Ireland made their way to Dublin in hopes of emigrating, but found the voyage too expensive or spaces on ships simply unavailable. Diseases such as smallpox, measles, dysentery, typhoid fever, and tuberculosis swept the population, striking women and children most severely.

The Victorian period is not known for its compassion to the working classes, yet the Guinness board members were molded by Arthur Guinness’ values. The benefits that came from working for Guinness not only applied to its workers, but to their families, widows and retirees.

A Guinness worker during the 1920s enjoyed full medical and dental care, massage services, reading rooms, subsidized meals, a company funded pension, subsidies for funeral expenses, educational benefits, sports facilities, free concerts, lectures and entertainment, and a guaranteed two pints of Guinness beer a day.

Today, the Guinness legacy lives on. It is one of the largest European beer brands and is respected by people throughout Ireland and beyond. But Arthur’s goals and dreams were always modest: move to the big city, make a good beer for its citizens, and a decent living for his family. He lived his entire life within a few miles of his brewery. He was not a titan of the beer industry. He was simply a man from a small town, with strong values and a knack for making good beer and he shared his love for it with his family.

Putting it Out There


This year for me is all about taking risks. Being fearless.


More like being brave. Because you can’t be brave if you don’t feel fear, right? Anyway, hear me out and then I welcome your honest response(s).

I’m scared shitless. Seriously. I’ve actually been ridiculously paralyzed and it’s not going to hold me back anymore. This is me. Being brave. Putting it out there.

If you know me or not, know this … I am not good with vulnerability. Just the word makes me shudder and freaks the shit out of me. Makes me feel weak .. open to injury and insult … and any other ugly thing out there that could sting or heaven forbid, destroy me emotionally.  Which, sometimes, I fear it may .. especially in my weaker moments. But “never let them see you cry”, right?  Sadly, I have not responded well in the past (tears, or anger, or both) when it hasn’t played out as lovely and hopeful as it did in my head and you can only imagine the wake of destruction it’s created.

However, I’m happy to report that as I’ve matured over the years, my response to vulnerability has also matured. I’ve learned a lot and I don’t think I would have been ready to do this several, or even a few years ago.  So here it goes.

As some of my closer friends, and maybe a few family members know, I’ve been writing a book.  For a very long time now. At least 6 years, if not longer.  You know what’s even crazier?  It’s been pretty much done for at least 3 out of the 6.  But I’ve been sitting on it. And as hard as it is to admit, it’s mostly out of my fear of vulnerability.  Not even fear of rejection bothers me. I’ve never been one who has been too concerned with how others feel or think about me.  But for some reason this work of love, and hate, and tears, and joy has rendered me debilitated.

But I am debilitated no longer.  So look out world, here I come.

Today I am sharing the book cover prototypes.  There are four.  Tell me which one speaks to you and why. I’d also like to hear what the title says to you or you think the book is about. Don’t worry. You don’t hold all the power. Or any really. I probably won’t change the title or even go with the most popular cover choice. This is simply part of my process of making it real. Of making myself accountable to my internal universe that manages to dictate my epic failures and my greatest achievements. And making myself vulnerable .. for the greater good … my greater good.

Book Cover Proto 1

book cover proto 3

Book Cover Proto 2

book cover proto 4

I have a friend who is on a mission called “100 Letters of Rejection” for 2015.  I’m following her lead.  I also did some tiny research on famous authors who were rejected countless times and yet they persevered.  And today we couldn’t imagine a world in which these works of art didn’t exist.  I’m not doing this to be famous, to be on the national bestseller list or win a Pulitzer prize. I’m doing it because it’s inside me, literally begging to get out. So whatever it becomes, I’m good with.  As long as I put it out there with no fear of vulnerability or debilitation.

THANK YOU for hearing me out.  THANK YOU for your participation in my process.  THANK YOU for your uncensored honesty.  THANK YOU for going on this journey with me.  It’s gonna be AWESOME.

~ S

p.s. watch for the Preface of my new book, which I had refused to write and wasn’t going to include, but I’m glad I changed my mind .. posting soon.

Based on Photos I Liked, Part 1


I don’t want to say I’m obsessed with Instagram, because I read so many blogs that start the very same way, so I’m going to start by saying something entirely different.

Instagram is like crack for my eyeballs. Like a flame to my moth .. the peanut butter to my jelly. Like the Romeo to my Juliet .. the macaroni to my cheese.

Ok. I’m obsessed with Instagram.

pics i like instagram Collage

Once upon a time, magazine’s were my obsession. I “read” very few of them, but my eyes would literally feast on the pictures like starving wild beasts. It didn’t matter what kind of magazine it was either. Fashion. Food. Nature. Music. Home. Men’s. Kid’s. Women’s. Bridal. DIY. You name it. If It had glossy pics, I had to have it. And not just have it, but tear pages from it, paste my favorites in books and on giant poster collages to look at later, and then still save the magazines just in case I wanted to look at them again later. Stacks and stacks upon stacks of them. Obsessed.

Instagram, however, takes my obsession to a whole new level. But on a more mature, deeper level. I have a minimal 409 followers. I actually KNOW less than 60 of them and the majority of the others are from different countries … hundreds of virtual penpals and our universal language is images. The old cliché still holds true … “a picture IS worth a thousand words.”

pics i like road Collage

Another point that makes it even better than my previous obsession (other than free), is that I am connected on a personal level with each and every one of them. Whether they KNOW me or not.

It’s not just a photo credit for a photographer I may never see or know or even view their work again.

What each of these people choose to take photos of and share (with me and the rest of the world) is personal, not another assignment or job. Their subject generally means something to them. They’re connected to it. And now I’m connected to it. And connected to them.

Ok. I admit, I may be starting to sound a little creepy, maybe even a bit stalkerish, but I assure you it’s nothing like that. I like knowing there are people out there seeing and doing and living life and sharing their “visual” stories with us. I like seeing the person behind the magic, the world through their eyes. I like having a glimpse into a life on the other side of the world that I may never get to experience. And connecting with them. As much or as little as I/we choose.

pics i like tracks Collage

These are truly fantastic times we live in.

Thank you Instagram for giving people such an accessible, fantastical outlet to express themselves … for bringing us all a little closer and making our big, big world feel a tiny bit smaller.

Thank you.

Sidenote: when I started to write this post, I intended for it to go in a completely different direction, but It took on a life of its own and became what it is and will make for an excellent precursor to my originally intended post, so I’m making this baby a two-parter. (inhale) (exhale)  Watch for part two later this week.

P.S. I’d love to connect with you further on IG! You can find me here.


50 Shades of Green; My Love Affair with Iowa


iowa cornfield

Over a couple of beers with a friend last week, she said “I’ve never been more in love with Iowa than I have this summer.” Strange brew talk I suppose, even for a couple of chicks, but it was somewhere between talking about how fast the summer went and the kids going back to school and the weird but awesome weather we’ve been having and we were only on beer one, so …

“YOU TOO!!??” I said, a little loudly (we were in a bar, mind you), but I was also excited to hear that I wasn’t the only one.

Honestly, all summer long, there wasn’t a day I didn’t marvel at the beauty of our fair state. It’s the green.

SO. Much. GREEN.

iowa farm 2


As a native of Iowa, it’s no wonder that green is, and always has been, my favorite color, but I never thought it was because of Iowa.  When I was a kid, I thought it was because it was also the color of my eyes ( i know  … loved myself a little much … let’s just go with healthy self-esteem).  And then I saw pictures of Ireland, and fell in love with its color. And then along came Brett Favre and so did my love for the Green Bay Packers. It is the core color of my closet and my chosen fashion accessories. But this summer, I found myself saying more than once, THIS is why I love the color green.

iowa countryside

With all the voluptuous hills and the deep valleys, the crisp, cool streams, the fertile land and the wavy fields of green, Iowa is straight up sexy. Even Grant Wood thought so. Just look at his paintings … how do you not fall in love with that?

grant wood stone city iowa


If you’re not from Iowa, or ever visited Iowa, it’s possible that this love affair is hard to understand. But trust me, all it takes is once.

iowa barnquilts

As long as the “once” is in summer. Between May and October. The rest of the year is tolerable because you know what happens when the snow melts .. and that something is beyond words most days and truly the miracle of rebirth at it’s finest.

iowa river valley

This is my invitation to you, you nay-sayers, you who think Ohio, Iowa, Idaho and Utah are all the same, or are unsure which is which.  A tour through Iowa is certain to be memorable and you’ll never confuse us again. And if you ever need a place to stay or a recommendation of where to go, eat, drink, camp, hike, etc., I can give a long list of friendly natives, including myself, willing to help you out.

I’m excited to hear about your Iowa adventures and what you love about where you’re from!!  Please share below.

“Is this heaven? No it’s Iowa.” ~ Field of Dreams

Fridays are My Favorite


it's friday

Has this been the longest week or is it just me?

Doesn’t even really matter any more because it is delicious, mouth-watering, deep-breathing, weekend-beginning Friday.

And time to share my favorites with you.

I had the pleasure of attending an artist’s reception for my favorite local artist, Bekah Ash.  I fell head-over-heels in love with her work almost 10 years ago when she had a booth at the Iowa Arts Festival and I’ve been coveting her work ever since.  I encourage you to check out her work here … be prepared to fall in love too.

p.s. she will be HUGE someday … and that some day is not too far away

bekah ash artist

{ p/c Bekah Ash }

A friend recently shared this tumblr with me and I wait on bated breath every day for the next post …  not kidding.

And although the images are striking, it’s the “conversation” had with their friend “evolution” that has me rolling.

{ and because I had such a hard time choosing one image to share, I settled *barely* on these three }

wtf evolution frog wtf evolution bird wtf evolution fish

{ p/c wtf, evolution? }

New Girl is one of our household’s favorite TV shows … so it is only fitting that we name our awesome new pup after one it’s characters …. meet the Schmidt’s … I see a little resemblance don’t you?

the schmidts

A colleague turned me onto Erika Napoletano … a feisty, smart redhead and a no BS kind of girl that helps get people unstuck (with a bitch-slap if need be), in business, life and otherwise.  I can’t get enough of her or what she has to say.  Check out this video of her talking about the “Power of Unpopular”  (also the title of her book)  and follow her blog … today dammit!

Well … that’s it for my faves on this snowy Iowa City Friday!

Hope you found a favorite or two as well.

Happy Friday!


Fridays are My Favorite




Wait?!  What?!

No … it’s not really Friday … but it is to ME!

Today starts my Montana adventure,

which means Friday is a no work day,

which also means today is my Friday!

{ you catch my drift }

Any who … I just wanted to share some of my favorite things from this week.

{ so far }

1. Check out the Germans response to the common swimsuit model/muscle car calendars here. I find it downright HA! LARIOUS! and will be looking to purchase one in the near future.


2. Sometimes you find yourself in a sticky situation where you can tell a friend could really use little warm fuzzy, but you’re really struggling to come up with something even remotely fuzzy … this tumblr could give you exactly what you AND your friend need.


3. I’ve heard of “A Picture 365 Days a Year”, but a “Picture An Hour”? Now that’s downright ambitious!  And I LOVE it!  See it for yourself here.


4. Have you heard this yet? If you haven’t, you’re welcome! If you have, hope you love it a second time around

{  p.s. it may make you blush }



It’s A Love/Hate Thing



Painting walls … truly a love/hate relationship here.

I. Hate. It.

The trim work, the drop cloths, applying all of that wretched blue tape, removing numerous switch plates, ceilings and corners (seriously?), removing the said wretched tape, cleaning brushes and rollers and paint pans (I don’t even do this anymore, I just throw them away), reattaching switch plates (a missing screw, what the?), up the ladder, down the ladder, step in the paint pan (insert the F bomb here), first coat, second coat, and a half day later you step back to realize it’s not even the color you thought it would be when it dried.

* sigh *

Did I mention I hate painting?

I know HATE is such a strong word and I always tell my kids to find a better word because nothing is quite that bad, maybe just misunderstood (?),  but no misunderstanding here …

! i HATE it !

After all that, what’s left to love?

i LOVE …

the solitude.

the definitive beginning and end – especially the end.

my favorite musical motivation blaring through my headphones.

and if I’m really REALLY lucky … no. interruptions. (but that’s only possible if my painting is off-site, like another planet  … or painting into the wee post bedtime/pre-dawn hours, which is my favorite time to paint for this reason alone).

The irony of all of this, is that I am a painter by nature.

My preferred method is wall murals and other commissioned large works of art.

flowers firetrucks townscape elephant mollys room my starry night

This type of painting is entirely different and much more enjoyable,

from the beginning anticipation to the bittersweet end.

But either one …  either way …  love or hate …

it’s a project that I find incredibly rewarding.

What tasks are a love/hate thing for you?

An Unlikely Fairy Tale


fairy tale castle

When someone thinks of a fairy tale, they envision singing birds, and sparkly castles, maybe some unicorns, a prince with his princess, magical moments full of enchantment .. and sparkles and rainbows and glitter and even more sparkles…

especially if you are a girl.

But not this girl.

I’m not sure at what point in my life I decided I would never have the fairy tale, nor really want it for that matter.

In high school, my fairy tale consisted of living in the Village in NYC, being all artsy fartsy with my artsy fartsy friends, staying out late, rubbing elbows with B list celebrities, painting when I wanted to paint in my giant loft with the giant windows, boyfriends went it felt right, and definitely no kids.

artists loft 2

And look at me now.

Two-failed marriages, four kids, a ratty vehicle, often living paycheck to paycheck, live-in boyfriend with two more kids, a dog, cat and a hamster, an 80 mile round-trip commute each day …

and THIS.

IS my fairy tale.

and I LOVE IT.

Anyone from the outside looking in would see a circus.


The chaos, the mess, the noise, loud-voices, laughter and tears, drawings and writings and various papers scattered everywhere, 12 different calendars to keep all eight of us in the right place at the right time (often late, but shoot, we made it, right?), mismatched socks, dancing in the kitchen, whose turn is it on the Xbox or who gets to pick the next song, sleepover forts that stay up for 3 months, the cat’s up a tree, the dog ate my pencil, i think the hamster might be dead (nope just MIA), unreturned library books, one gets the flu you all get the flu, what’s for dinner tonight, burps, farts and smelly arm-pits (except for Avery, our sweet and only little girl in a sea of teenage boys … yea right), who is picking up the kids and who is picking up the pizza making sure we don’t both end up at home with just the pizza and no kids …

And that’s just the good days.

But who doesn’t love a circus, right?!

(except for the freaky clowns of course)

Honestly …  I would take this circus over that fairy tale any day.

2012-07-03_20-19-11_16 2012-03-17_09-22-39_658 2012-09-02_11-02-55_181 2012-09-01_13-38-31_935 2012-08-24_21-27-50_459 2012-07-03_20-17-16_396 2012-05-26_19-30-31_83 2012-05-12_12-32-15_996 2012-12-30_15-46-30_576


Brad Pitt and Road Trips


road trip

I keep calling it an adventure.

My mother continues to refer to it as a dangerous mission.

Okay mom .. I get it .. I do ..

After all, the definition of adventure  “is an exciting or unusual experience; it may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome”.

{ EXACTLY!  That’s why we are going!!  geesh }

But let’s get some perspective ..

It’s not like we’re traveling into the Himalayans on the backs of llamas to rescue a dying tribe …

and the outcome is definitely not uncertain.

We have gladly accepted the task ( please, and thank you, Mel )  of driving my dear friend’s vehicle out to their new homestead/ranch in Montana.

From Iowa.

Through the mountains.

In the dead of winter.

wait!  … what? 

Bold? perhaps.

Risky? potentially.

Exciting?  Hell yes!

iowa city to bozeman

I am completely ecstatic at the mere idea of this road trip.

Ever since I saw Legends of the Fall with the mouth-watering, self-tortured Tristan (played so eloquently by Brad Pitt below), I have dreamed of seeing Montana,

(and Brad Pitt .. but that’s a completely separate adventure).

brad pitt legends of the fall


However, I fear the planning is making my travel mate/lover slightly annoyed …

which I can’t begin to understand why??

Who wouldn’t want to talk about all the wondrous things we will see & snap pictures of along the way, the strange yet awesome people we will meet at rest stops and roadside cafes ( such a romantic ), the multitude of stories we can share, the perfect play lists to keep us pumped and awake, the tasty, not-so-healthy road trip snacks and beverages we should pack, the outerwear we need to include, the emergency kit we better not forget, the best route to take and how in the hell will we not drive each other stark raving mad stuck in a car for twenty plus hours one-way together?

Let’s talk about that!

Every day until next Thursday.

That’s how excited I am.

Poor lover.



But let’s not feel too sorry for him yet. I’m sure there will be some kind of bonus in it for him …  along the way …

{ wink wink  … blush }





Be there soon, Mel!

Melody's yard in Bozeman Montana

Stay tuned for updates.