Monthly Archives of: December 2010

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Joy to My World

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My girlfriend, Joy, just left.  She came over and I made her the most phenomenal cappuccino, that she says is even better than Starbucks.  I might have to say so myself, considering I made them 90 minutes ago and my foam is still there!

Oh Joy, Joy, Joy!  When I reflect on 2010, and the people, places, things, and events that have altered my existence in any way, Joy is definitely on the top of my list!  Joy was just a casual shopper in my boutique, I had seen her in there a few times, she would always buy Tyler candles and maybe a top or accessory.  At my check out counter I learned that Joy had moved here from NY, was doing a little photography for a magazine, and was living three blocks away from.  She seemed interesting enough, and like somebody I could hang out with.  She was into wine and cutting edge ideas,  fashionable and beautiful, but I never reached out to her for the first two years.  That is until last March.

My business has forced me to grow, and make new friends, and learn the art of relationships.  Which has been one of the biggest gifts I’ve ever been given.  So I invited Joy up one morning for Coffee, and we talked about anti-aging products, and so on.  She bought some stuff and then I couldn’t get rid of her!  Or she couldn’t get rid of me?  It didn’t matter, either way, we were stuck together.  We found out that we were both born on March 20.  Two true Pisces, two true soul sisters!

Joy has brought so much joy into my life.  Her name truly represents her.  She is a ray of light, and when I think of her I always smile.   We laugh a lot together, she was exactly what I missing.  We are so much the same, yet so different at the same time.  I like to think we fill little holes within each other.  She has taught me a lot about cooking, a little about sewing, a lot about tomato plants, a lot about parenting, and a ton about patience.  (And so much more than that!) In return, I have taught her how to make smoky eyes, pick the best wine for your buck, make potato candy, do up-do’s, and hopefully more than that.

She is down to earth, crafty, humble, honest, caring, fun, funny, sexy, dependable, and just an all around amazing person.  One thing she isn’t, is boring.  Which is exactly why we compliment each other so well.  She’s so full of life, and it shows in everything she does, including in her incredible children.  She also has a gift of bringing people together, as I do, that may be the best trait that we share.

I was out xmas shopping for decorations a few weeks ago, and found the word Joy, and I put it on my mantle.  I texted her the pic and wrote, “I made an alter to you!  You’re one of the best things that happened to me in 2010.” Joy, I wasn’t kidding, truly you are.  I cherish your friendship, and every single time you walk through my back door and scare the shit out of the babysitter for not knocking!  I mean how many of your girlfriends can say they bared the Justin Beiber concert for your daughter out of pure friendship, haha.  Glad to be kicking off the New Year with you and your amazing husband! Cheers!  (And looking forward to our birthday at the roller rink in a few months!)

Love,

Shan

(Don’t be mad at me for this.. 🙂

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Planning a budget, can James Franco help?

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Oh that hurt!  The B word.  Budget.  What the hell is it and how do you have one?  Susan Ormand where are you?  I’m sitting down and attempting, yet again, to have one.  I mean, seriously, how can someone live without a budget?  I don’t care if you are a garbage man, or Donald Trump, everyone needs a budget!  Including me.  I can tell you I went wayyy over budget for xmas, because I didn’t even have one!  I heard the other day that one reason rich people are rich is because they have a budget!!  That definitely rang a bell in my fuzzy little head.

While working on my budget for 2011 I came across an Esquire magazine in my pile of paperwork.  James Franco is everywhere, and he just seems more worthy of a blog than a budget.  I picked up the magazine and read, “He’s everywhere:  In theaters and on TV, taking classes at Yale and building sculptures, directing documentaries and writing fiction.  He refuses to be defined by anything, so he does everything.  The question is, what does it all add up to?”

Wow, did the universe put that out there for me to see?  Because I couldn’t describe myself any better.  I think I’m the female version of James, if that is even possible.  My friends have been calling me a force of nature lately, because I too refuse to be defined by just one thing.  I’m running a designer denim boutique, relaunching a pub that’s been around since 1955 with my brother, heavily considering going back to school to get into a doctoral program (because I’m not okay with just having a bachelor’s degree in journalism,) building a team nationally for an anti-aging company, writing my memoir and blogs, finding reasons and places to learn how to salsa, being a mom, a wife, and I’ve fallen back in love with travelling.  That’s a lot to have on my plate, yet I don’t know how to roll any other way.  But, what does it all add up to?  Good question.  I’m not sure it really makes any sense at all, but it adds up to me.   It’s just who I am.  I’ve struggled with my lack of define-ness for years, but have recently learned to embrace it.  I’m an honest-to-God Pisces with a love for life, I don’t wanna miss a beat.

I’m looking forward to 2011 as one of my best years yet on this planet.   Time to put even more focus into all those projects I’ve started and move them up another notch!  As far as the budget thingy goes….I may need James Franco’s help with that, LOL.  I wonder if he’s going back to Yale for an accounting degree?  And James, if you’re reading this, thanks for helping me feel better about myself!

Cheers!

Shannon

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The Perfect Potato Candy, Just For You Sugar!

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The one, the only, potato candy!  Yes, it sounds nasty, and who ever thought potatoes, sugar, and peanut butter could be such a huge it.  I can promise you, this candy will be the hit of any party!

Ok, this is how ya do it!  I’ve found that getting microwavable potatoes will save you a lot of time!  So nuke it until it’s super uber soft!  Then, cut it in half and scoop out half of the potato.  Put it in your kitchen aid (you can also do this by hand but it takes longer and arm pump is an end result) and beat the potato with the dough attachment for just about a minute.  Then add 1/3 bag of confectioner’s sugar, beat until it’s mixed, then add another 1/3 sugar, beat until mixed.  Do this until you have used one full bag.  Then add about ¼ of another bag of sugar, when dough is firm enough to make a ball, take it out of the bowl and place it on a counter top that is coated with, yes, even more powdered sugar!  If the dough is still wet, knead in more sugar until it’s a little dryer.  The key is to NOT add too much sugar, or dough get’s hard and breaks.

Then coat the rolling pin with more SUGAR!!  Roll out the dough until it’s about as thin as you can get it, but not too thin or it will fall apart.    Then spread peanut butter all over it, as much as you want.  I’m a pb addict so the more the merrier for me!  Then roll the dough, like a burrito but without tucking in the ends.  Slice it and indulge!

Watch out, this candy has an addiction rate somewhat similar to crack!  BEWARE!  ENJOY!  And don’t forget to do at least an hour of cardio after sampling a few pieces!!

Cheers!

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My Christmas Story

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What is your favorite holiday tradition?  Do you have a special food or cake (hopefully not gag-me fruit cake) that you bake?  Or a really cool, old, ratty, ornament from First Grade?  Or a special get-together with friends from out of town?  Or is your tradition not to have any tradition at all?

I’m pretty non-traditional, and I like it that way.  Although, I do decorate my house like a crazy woman, and watch A Christmas Story as much as I possibly can,  (as of last year I’ve added the leg lamp to my front window.)  I do make potato candy (3 ingredients, super easy, always a hit), and sometimes the most amazing rum balls that take six weeks to marinate.  That’s only when I’m feeling super inspired though.

There was one solid tradition I had, and I broke it this year.  I’m a little bummed, but relieved at the same time.  I started a Christmas party thirteen years ago, which had grown to over 200 people, and it would take a month to plan, then a week for me to bake, decorate, etc.  It had gotten completely out of control the last few years, so we decided to take 2010 off.

When ER docs that you don’t even know are passing out on your bathroom floor, and end up in the hospital themselves, it’s a sign your party is too successful!  When you’re Vera Wang rock’s glasses come up missing and you have to call around the neighborhood to get them back, you know you’ve shared your holiday spirit too much!  And when the cops show up, don’t want to arrest anyone for being to loud, and really just wanna stay and party themselves, you know you’ve thrown the absolute most rocking holiday party on the planet!  But imagine cleaning up after all that holiday cheer (and broken glass, and sometimes vomit) the week before Christmas.  So that’s why I decided to take it easy this year.

They say we trade one obsession for another.  So this year, to fill my holiday hole of no big party planning, I recreated my Christmas tree.  And it’s not just me, thank God.  I’ve taken a survey, and most women change their trees almost every year.  I’d have to say that’s a good sign of being non-traditional.   All of my homemade ornaments are on my mother’s tree, where they belong.  Unfortunately, it’s expensive to recreate your xmas tree’s wardrobe every year, but I see it as a creative outlet.   And coming from a fashionista, I’m sure your tree doesn’t want to wear the same outfit every year!  This year my tree was inspired from my recent trip to New Orlean’s and it’s decorated with peacock feathers, and some funky birds.  I think it’s my favorite tree yet!

What is your favorite, or non-favorite holiday tradition?  Please share, because I know there are some good ones out there!  And post some pics of your tree!  Merry Christmas!  Cheers!

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Screw Making a New Year’s Resolution

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NYR’s we will just call them from now on.  I feel like the words New Year’s Resolution’s are just tainted.  I can’t even physically say them anymore.  Probably because I failed at keeping them so many times before, that is until I started changing my mindset about them.  I’d set my NYR and it was pretty much the same goal every single year.   Lose five pounds, get back to my pre-holiday weight, blah, blah, blah.  (I’m gagging while I’m typing this.)  There weren’t really any bigger goals than that until the previous few years.

When I started setting life goals, and accomplishments, things started to change.  This year I’ve already written out new life goals and have started to put them into action. The things I want to get better at and the goals I want to achieve have to start now.  I don’t have the mindset of I’ll wait until next year to start getting better at this or that. When you know there’s something you can do better or more efficiently, or goals you want to obtain, do not wait for a specific date to start tackling them.  The first available moment you have to write out a plan or set realistic, measurable accountable goals, do it!  Start now and hit the ground running.  By the time January rolls around you’re already set to work your plan!

For instance, last year for xmas I got the French Rosetta Stone.  Oh wait, I think that was two years ago.  Either way, I only used it four times.  I’m determined to become fluent in another language.  I’ve chosen French because I think it sounds beautiful coming off the tongue, and I studied it for four years in high school.  So I’ve got a good base.  I don’t care if the rest of the world thinks it makes more sense to learn Spanish, dreams and goals shouldn’t always make sense to other people.  How many people thought Edison and Ford were nuts for trying to invent the light bulb or V8 engine?

So I say forget about making New Year’s Resolutions.  Make life goals.  Plan them every step of the way.  Find a way to measure your benchmarks, and keep moving forward.  When you reach your goal, make a new.  This way you have no choice but to keep growing and finding success.  Just the other day I downloaded Rosetta from my old computer onto my mac, this way I have no excuses when January 1, 2011 rolls around.  It’s there and ready to go!  And actually, I think I’ll start today.  Parle vous Francais?

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Fear and Loathing

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Well it’s started.  Winter.  And with that comes a ton of fear for me.  I just took a left when I should’ve taken a right.  Right would have taken me down one of the steepest roads in Morgantown, which is the way I needed to go to make it to work out with my trainer.  But I took a left.  So now, here I am, writing at Starbucks about how much I effen hate driving in the snow!  Yes, it’s pretty to look at, but how can something so beautiful create so much fear inside me?  I would much rather jump out of an airplane 10,000 feet up, than drive in the snow.  Yeah, I know that doesn’t make much sense, but I would.

I feel like Frosty is sitting on my chest.  Oh God Frosty, how you make me feel so confused about you!  There is nothing more beautiful than a freshly fallen snow, especially in my neighborhood of old beautiful Victorian homes, lined with leafless Dogwoods and the occasional Evergreen.   It’s like living in a snow globe.  I love nothing more than walking outside while big fat flakes are falling down, hitting my face, and landing on my lashes.  Everything is so quiet except for the sound of the crunching of the powder under my boots, which I gladly welcome.  It’s also pretty funny to watch cars trying to make it up my hill, while enjoying a nice glass of wine.

But then there’s the side of me that just wants to pack my bags and go stay with my best friend in southern California until Spring.   Just run from it all! But that’s not reality.  Running from fear is absolutely the worst thing that we can do.   So in between all of my negative thoughts about driving in this mess, I’m trying to think of ways to make winter better.  I’ve got a pair of really cool Ugg snow boots coming this week, and they are hot!  And waterproof!  So at least if I’m freezing my ass off, I’ll still look good.  Yes, that’s about the most utterly shallow thing I can say right now, but whatever tricks I can play on my mind to get me through this, I’ll use.

Don’t let the snow put a damper on your wardrobe.  There are three things you must have in your closet this winter:  1) Jeggings – if you don’t have them RUN to your  nearest boutique and get them.  My store can’t keep them in stock! 2) Sexy snow boots.  Check out Uggs, once again, you can’t go wrong.  And I’m not talking about the Uggs you see college girls wearing with their sweats tucked into them.  Uggs has an entire collection, and they rock.   Yes, men too!  You need to literally follow in Tom Brady’s footsteps and get yourself a pair!  3) A great winter hat.  Hats are sexy.  Period.  Whether you are going for the Dr. Zhivago look, or Justin Timberlake, get your hat on!

I’ve got a few warm trips planned this winter.  One in January and one in February.  But that still leaves about 130 days left in winter.  Not that I’m counting!  It’s time to tighten up my creative thinking cap, get artsy, get focused, and stay positive.  If we let it rain, then it will pour.  And what we think about, we bring about.  So I can either sit here and pout about the roads, or I can grow some balls, head out there with the rest of society, and not let the situation defeat me.   I’m not headed to my trainer, but I am headed to a gym that’s right by Starbucks.  I gotta start somewhere.  Cheers!

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The Big Easy’s Never Been Better

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Nola.  N’awlins.  New Orleans.  Call it what you want.  I call it mysterious. Oh, New Orleans makes me want to be a vampire!  The vibe, the mysteriousness, the freakiness of it all! Visiting Ann Rice’s hometown is about as close to a vampire as I will ever be, unfortunately.   We all love Twilight, but I have been a huge fan of the fangy undeads since I can remember.  Maybe it was Interview With A Vampire starring Brad Pitt that did me in.  Or it could have been Once Bitten.  Either way, True Blood and Robert Patterson and his family of bloodsuckers have gotten me back into the vampire mood.

This was my third visit to New Orleans, and I always feel a little different when I visit that town.  A little uneasy in the Big Easy.  I grew up watching scary movies with my mom.  Silver Bullet, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street.  You name it, I watched it.  So to this day I’m always looking back over my shoulder in the dark.  I don’t think I will ever outgrow the fear that something is watching me.

I hadn’t been to New Orleans since before Hurricane Katrina.  It is definitely cleaner now, but with that came deserted buildings and storefronts.  The French Quarter was still kickin’ as if nothing had ever happened.   We stayed at the Ritz since it was basically free.  They were doing a Papa Noel special, and it was almost as cheap as a Marriott, so we booked it since that particular Ritz had the best spa of all the Ritz’s, and one of the top spas in the USA.

We kept meaning to go and steam and hot tub, but the streets of Nola kept taunting us to come out and play.  So I never stepped foot past the spa store or the gym.  Friday night we walked around and found Arnaud’s Restaurant.   Where we enjoyed a three-piece band.  It was quite lovely.  But Sunday night we hit the jackpot with Dinner at Bombay, and some of the most amazing food I’ve ever had, followed by a stroll around town to find Madame LaVeau’s Voodoo house, where Psychic Cybil gave me a reading and was spot on.  She looked at me and said, “I see Eat Pray Love,” which I just happened to have with me on the trip.  That was cool yet kind of freaky.

Afterward we found Madame LaLaurie’s haunted house.  Google her if you haven’t heard about her nastiness.  A pretty evil socialite who’s house caught on fire. When the fireman came to save the building, they found slaves and servants that were tied to the walls and floors, and bound in other ways with their eyes sewn shut, their ears sawed down, broken limbs, and even tortured genitals.  (This happened in 1840).  She fled, never to be found.  Her house has been turned into many businesses, none of which have succeeded for very long because the screams of the tortured victims are said to still be very prominent, as well as Madame LaLaurie’s  ghost.

When I walked up to her building I was honestly scared to death.  I walked over to peer through the window, but as I leaned in I was afraid I would see something, or get pulled in by some “other.” I felt instantly unsettled.  I’m scared of my own shadow, so this was pushing it for me.  When I turned to leave, I realized my family was already a half a block away.  I ran to catch up but couldn’t help to keep looking back over my shoulder.  It took me a while to shake that eerie feeling.

On our walk back to the hotel, we passed the gay section, adorned with rainbow flags everywhere.  As I passed a go-go bar, I noticed a very skinny male up on the bar dancing in short hot pants.  Confirmed.  definitely gay.

Preservation Hall was where we ended the night.  What a pleasant surprise! It was a stripped down old storefront.  Six men, no mics, old school vintage jazz.  Amazing jazz.   Breathtaking jazz.  The band had summoned quite a diverse crowd.  From a guy wearing a NY baseball hat and a leather coat, to a guy in dreads, to a hipster crowd, to three West Virginians just looking for some raw, real music without anyone trying to sell us anything.  Like deep-fried oysters or powder-sugar-covered beignets.

These guys were all over sixty, except for one, Lionel, who was the trombone player, that sang in a Louis Armstrong voice.  He worked that bone like some unforeseen force was playing tug-of-war with it.  The band was more than impressive.  They were electric.  Their passion for jazz was felt in every single person that night.  I definitely have a newfound appreciation for it, and can’t wait to visit there again.  Now instead of feeling uneasy in the Big Easy, New Orleans makes me feel excited and alive inside….and next time I’m finding the vampire bar!