January 26, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up: Popping Tags Edition

Oh hey, my face. While it was sleeting on Friday night, I kept warm under a blanket of chemicals and aluminum foil. Like the US Postal Service, neither rain, sleet, nor snow can keep me from my bi-monthly hair appointment. Also, for those keeping score at home, I didn't cut my hair. I'm not stopping until I achieve Crystal Gayle status. Apparently.

So the good news is, my fancy, new bike trainer is so quiet that Linda can sleep through my living room work-outs. The bad news is, Linda sleeps through my living room work-outs, #rude.

My friend April started an Article Club. She posted three articles online and we met at her house to discuss. We read this, this and this. As you may have deduced from my going off of Facebook for a month, I don't search out opportunities for tenuous conversation. But I've known April a long time and I trust her, plus few things get me going like group activities and meeting new people. There was also pizza and wine, so... duh.

I had a blast! April did a great job curating the right mix of attendees. We varied in age from 29-40+, single/divorced vs. married/re-married, children vs. no children, corporate vs. self-employed, cat vs. dog. It worked. We had real awesome, real respectful, real-talk. I had so much fun and can't wait for the next one.

My Sunday lady gang is a little disbanded at the moment, so I ended up running on my own yesterday. Sundays are supposed to be my long runs, but I keep not actually running long distances. I hurt my knees running that half marathon in December, so I've been slowing building back up. I ran five miles in Shelby yesterday, pretty fast:  10:22, 10:25, 10:26, 10:04, 9:34. Hooray, almost negative splits!

Because I don't have any friends anymore (kidding, kidding), I didn't do my post-run breakfast biscuit at Dose, so I was STARVING. John and I went to lunch at Kien Giang. Y'all, I'm not even kidding, I ate that banh mi as an appetizer.

File under: Duh. John and I are going to the Grammy's next week. There are three events that I need outfits for and finding those outfits will stand to be the greatest stressor of my life. Have I enlisted the help of a stylist? Yes. Have I ordered everything from everywhere? Yes. Do I have any idea what I'm wearing? No.

I found a gold blazer on Nasty Gal that I tried to buy only to find it exists solely in Mary Kate Olsen size. I've since made it my mission to find a gold blazer. I kind of found one. I think. I found this guy at the Rivergate Goodwill yesterday, where, pro tip, their blazer game is ON POINT. It's Calvin Klein and it appears to be brand new. It may need to be taken in a little, so we'll see (more pics on Flickr). To be continued...

January 23, 2015

I Went Off Facebook And Lived To Tell About It

(I apologize for the meta-ness of this picture)

Is it smart for someone in the social media business to go off of Facebook? Probably not. Did I do it anyway? You bet your ass I did. It didn't start out as any kind of statement or experiment, but rather, a necessity. I spent a week in December in a mountain cabin with no internet access. The first day without Facebook was twitchy and uncomfortable. I've never smoked, but I akin what I felt that day to what smokers feel when they quit - what do you do with your hands every 10 minutes? I was alarmed at how often I wanted to check Facebook and how I felt when I couldn't. I felt anxious over being left out, missing news, and letting people down by not telling them what I was doing. Scary stuff.

The first day was the hardest, but after that, I forgot about Facebook and went about the business of enjoying my vacation. Fast forward to one week later, back at home. This was a hard holiday season for me and I was having a lot of feelings about that. Being sad and disappointed didn't seem like a great time to jump back into the fray of Facebook, so I decided I'd give it another week. Two weeks off of Facebook is a thing; people do that; it's fine - FINE.

Sure enough, the emotional tide turned and I was okay again and capable of navigating the *artery to lunacy. But did I want to? Turns out, no, no I didn't. At this point, I feel like I should clarify that I was still going to Facebook and posting on my own page, managing my clients' pages, and responding to comments. I was just staying away from 'the artery'.

*The artery to lunacy is what my neighbor Amanda calls our part of Charlotte Pike, but I'm applying it to the Facebook News Feed.

Around this time, it started becoming obvious that I wasn't on Facebook. In social settings, topics would come up that I had no frame of reference for. It hadn't occurred to me that anyone would notice my absence on Facebook, especially since I was still posting on my own wall and responding to comments. What I didn't account for was people noticing me not liking or commenting on their posts, as well as the questions that go along with that, am I okay?, did they do something to piss me off?, etc. I felt terrible when I realized people were concerned about me, but it was eye-opening as to the power Facebook has over people's perception of you.

At this point, three weeks in, it did become an experiment. Also, I'm competitive and if you can do something for three weeks, you can do it for a month. This week was my one-month mark off of Facebook. I had planned on going back on Tuesday. But guess what happened on Monday night? POLITICS. The morning after President Obama's State of the Union didn't seem the best time to ease back into Facebook, so I didn't. And then I got busy and forgot about it. When I publish this post, I'll go back to being a normal Facebook user, News Feed and all. Goddess help me.

I learned some stuff by spending a month off of Facebook. In the obvious column, I learned that a huge portion of face-to-face interactions revolve around Facebook activity. I'm going to assume you knew that. Now for the interesting part. In the less obvious column, I learned that I like people better when I'm judging them based on how I feel as a result of actual, in-person interactions, as opposed to what they put on Facebook. When you can cut through what people want you to think about them and see them for who they are, you're like, 'Oh yeah, I like you. All those Duck Dynasty pictures made me forget that for a minute'.

Not being on Facebook is like those people with the "Kill your T.V." bumper stickers. Who are they? What world do they live in? Facebook is just where we're at. You can't not do it. But, I posit, you can set some real parameters around how you want to use it and what you want out of it. Facebook is this omnipresent THING shooting emotions at you all day. 'Oh, blah blah blah and blah blah blah went to lunch. I wonder why they didn't ask me? Guess I'll just binge eat this office candy and re-evaluate all of my adult friendships.'

People say that Facebook is a time-suck, but for me, that's not it. It's more that it injects these false feelings into my day that detract from not only from my productivity, but from my emotional well-being. I knew this, but I didn't know it until I felt the absence of it. For the month I was off of Facebook, I didn't have any random, daily frustrations unless I was legitimately frustrated, which, turns out, I rarely am. I'm a pretty happy person. It just took a month off of Facebook to disconnect the dots.

See you on the artery!

January 21, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up: Chili Dog Birthday Edition

Is it Wednesday already? Oops! Let's dive right in. Remember Gone Girl, that book I read and said I wanted to punch in the face? Well, on Friday night, a small group of us face punchers gathered to drink wine, eat delicious pizza and watch the movie adaptation of the book. I liked the movie, but full disclosure, I'd watch Ben Affleck weed-eat for two and half hours. I still standby my review of that terrible book, but the movie is good.

We have a birthday in the house! The initial plan was a low-key, 'Hey, we'll be at The Stone Fox. Come by and say hi!', but The Stone Fox booked a private party, so... a house party it was. The weather was gorgeous on Saturday and I meant to go for a bike ride, but I never made it. I cleaned my house and made browned butter chocolate buttercream cupcakes instead. I'm fine with my choice.

When we were in Arkansas for Christmas, John had the epiphany of his life: you can make, and eat, chili dogs anytime you want. So I decided to make chili dogs for his birthday. No one would eat them sober, so the chili dogs just sat there, taunting me. But as the bourbon kept flowing, people's chili dog inhibitions fell away, and then, like magic, I looked around and everyone had a chili dog in their hand. John ate like five. I'm not even kidding. It was amazing.

Jessica, who shares my gift of thrift, gave John the Ten Commandments. Why? Because she's awesome. John, ever the Boy Scout, went out to the garage and came back with not just a nail and a hammer, no, he came back with a picture hanging kit and securely hung that plaque on the wall. (It's still there.)

Oh, Sunday, the day of lost workouts. Did I get up and do my long run? No. Did I go to my 90-minute masters swim? Nope. Did I sleep late, make poor food choices and go thrifting? Yes, yes I did that. I obviously didn't buy this, but it's a $5 Diane Von Furstenberg sweater vest. I feel like everyone my age owned a department store version of this in middle school, probably, as my friend Casey points out, from either Esprit or Liz Claiborne.

True story: when I moved to NYC, I bought this fancy purse at Bloomingdale's that I LOVED. It was one of those early 2000's Sex & The City saddle bags that fit right under your arm. I couldn't afford Christian Dior, so I bought an Esprit one (tomato, tomahto). The fabric was red, black and white paisley and the foldover flap was black patten leather. I loved it! I called it the paisley hotdog. I kept that purse for years because I wanted to always remember the first fancy thing I bought myself as a New Yorker. There are assuredly two years of pictures of me carrying that purse. I'll try and find out for #tbt.

January 16, 2015

Birchbox Review: November

Hey, remember November? It was last year! I got my January Birchbox this week and realized that A) I hadn't opened my December box yet, and B) I hadn't posted my November review yet. Oy. November - go!

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, $43

I actually wear this product, but the sample is too dark for me so I'm giving it away. I think everyone I know is familiar with Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, but if not, you should try it. It's kind of the best out there.

dr. brand pores no more vacuum cleaner, $45

I'm not a person who has an issue with large pores or blackheads, so I don't really have a use for this. I used it once, but I have no idea if it did anything. It's a pretty large sample. If you want it, let me know.

Perlier Absolute Comfort Body Butter, $34

Meh. Not bad, not life changing. It's hand lotion; it smells good - whatever. I wouldn't spend $34 on it.

Bain de Terre argan oil, $14

I'm going through a huge hair oil phase. I just bought a bottle of Davines Ol/Oil, which I LOVE, but I dutifully tried this. I like it! And it's substantially cheaper than my $40 Davines. But too late, that Davines bottle will last me the rest of my life. If you're interested in trying hair oil, I'd start with this $14 bottle.

theBalm cosmetics Cindy-Lou Manizer, $24

I'm pretty sure this is the product my sister uses as blush and eyeshadow, and loves. She got it in a box and kept buying it. I never received it until this month. I like it! I have a blush I already like, so I'm using this as a highlighter on my cheekbones. It's a great color for me. I'm into it.

Pop Corn ChocoPod, $1

This was a freebie Birchbox threw in, but it was much appreciated, and devoured. I love these little guys!

January 12, 2015

The Blonde Mule Media


A lot of you have been asking what I do and what's this business I started. I started The Blonde Mule Media, a social media business. At this point, I'll direct you to my website for more details on what I do and how I can help your business.

The personality that created this business has been 38 years in the making, but these past 6-7 months have taken a village. I'd like to thank the following people:

John Baldwin - infinite moral support
Julie Koh - mapping out (literally) this new career path
Lynette Snyder - believing in me and becoming my first client
JoEllen Buckley - Jedi Master
Jeff Horne - making me charge money for this
Freya Potempa - magical unicorn powers
Amanda Bair - advice giver, bio writer, photo shoot extra
Meg Willoughby - logo and business card design
Brian Risse - professional photography
Giovanni Delgado - hair and makeup
Jamie Holland - website design

To everyone who has cheered me on as I climbed this mountain, thank you.

P.S. Click around up there on my Pages. You'll see a lot of new photos.

January 7, 2015

2014 Reading Round Up, Part Two

Full disclosure:  I'm still reading two of these books, so I really only read 25 books in 2014, not 27. Whatever! Here's where I left off in October. Since then, I've read a few more books, most of which I really liked. Keep reading for my Pulitzer Prize-level reviews.

Belinda by Anne Rice writing as Anne Rampling

I was warned this book would get me pregnant, but, knock wood, it did not. It wasn't as erotic as I expected. Thanks, Fifty Shades of Grey. Anne Rice is one of my favorite authors, so I'm not surprised I liked her writing. I am surprised I liked a book wholly about statutory rape. I'm apparently into sexist books set in California in the 70s and 80s.

Heritage by Sean Brock

Still reading - sorry!

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Also still reading, but funny!

Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album by Ken Caillat 

I liked this book. It's a somewhat technical story of how Rumours was made, told by the producer/lead engineer. My husband is a recording engineer, so I could keep up with the tech-speak, but it gets tedious in the last two chapters. 

The behind-the-scenes stories of what went on with the band in the studio make this book worth reading, but it's pretty sexist. Women are only mentioned in terms of their attractiveness, never in terms of their success or ability. I could have done without the author plugging his no-name "famous" daughter every chance he got, and there were way too many anecdotes about his dog, but overall I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who loves Rumours and/or Fleetwood Mac. 

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I loved this book! I even dog-eared and re-read a lot of passages. Of the three sections, I dog-eared the most from the fist section, but I found all three sections insightful and hilarious. A lot of my friends are responding negatively to this book, which confounds me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to friends.

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

I liked this book, but not as much as I expected or wanted to. This is the problem with buying a book from a first time author who receives a lot of hype. The hype gives you high expectations, which clouds your reading experience. It's a good book. I say this sometimes in regards to male authors, but I feel like this book is more for men. There just weren't any female characters, or any characters, that I could latch on to. I don't regret buying it or reading it, and I may even read his second book if he writes one, but I don't know that I'd recommend this to many people.

One Bowl Baking: Simple, From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts by Yvonne Ruperti

I liked a lot of the recipes in this book, but would have liked more pictures. I appreciate the concept of one bowl baking, but found myself flagging mostly recipes that I either already know how to make, or would still use my stand mixer for. I do recommend reading the book, especially if you enjoy baking. I doubt I'll buy a copy, but I enjoyed reading it.

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness

With only about 100 pages left, I had to walk away from this book. It was taking too long to slog through, I wasn't enjoying it, and I had much better books waiting to be read. I had a friend tell me how it ends so I can pick back up with # 3 if I decide to keep reading this series, #canstopdidstop.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" by Lena Dunham

This was a good read. There's a lot to take away from it. I particularly liked the parts about being a woman in her industry. It was a quick and easy read for me. I'd recommend it to friends and fellow fans of Lena. If you hate Lena Dunham, you will hate this book.

Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America by John Waters

This was my first John Waters book. The book is divided into three parts: imagined best case scenarios; imagined worst case scenarios; and what actually happened. The imagined best case scenarios section is pretty funny. The worst case scenarios were a little harder to get through. And the real story of what happened is fascinating and hilarious. This book made me excited for all the types of people you can meet out in the world. Hello, extrovert! Introverts, this book will make you so uncomfortable. But still read it! Push through the pain!

It's a WEIRD book, but I liked it. I read the alien magical anus chapter twice. I couldn't stop laughing. You need an open mind and a high threshold for weirdness, but I recommend it.

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) by Stephen King

So good! It's more suspenseful than scary, but it is deliciously disturbing in only the way Stephen King can be. I couldn't put it down. Loved it!

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

I loved this book! I was skeptical, and also had no idea who Sophia Amoruso was, but I was pleasantly surprised. At 38, I'm probably older than her target audience, but as someone in the early stages of starting her own business, I found it helpful and inspiring. The tone of the book is upbeat, positive and very much 'You go, girl!', which I like. I finished it feeling confident and excited.

My Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge has started. My goal is to again read 24 books, or two books a month. I don't know how I'll pick only 24 books to read out of the stacks of books I have waiting, but there are worse problems to have. Two at the top of my list are Station Eleven and Redeployment. Ahem, Tiffany...

To be continued!

January 5, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up: Holiday Hangover Edition

Oy. It's been a rough start back from the holidays, right? I think I have a holiday hangover. I did really good over the holidays and didn't buy myself anything, which I usually do the entire time I'm Christmas shopping. So to reward myself, on Friday I bought some stuff. You know, small ticket items like a Cycle Ops indoor bike trainer. Thanks, Red Kite! Then I went to Target and got new running tights (with a drawstring!) and this super cute/my new favorite sweatshirt. I needed a $40 sweatshirt like a hole in the head, but... #womenbeshopping.

I have exactly one friend from my youth, and this is her - Dawn. We met in middle school and have been friends and off and on roommates ever since. She moved to LA this year, but she was home for Christmas and wanted to check out Adele's, so I met her on Friday night for our fancy, lady dinner. Adele's - thumbs up!

More friends home for Christmas! On Saturday morning, I met my friend Hot Koh Koh for a run and coffee. And when I say run, I mean walk. Because we straight up walked for 4 miles. Whatever! My knee has been bothering me and it's easier to talk while walking anyway.

Okay, I did run on Sunday. Shockingly. I met Kristine, Melanie, Lana and Jessica to run various lengths in/around Belle Meade Boulevard. The three of us weren't feeling it, so we ran 3 miles, peaced out and went to Dose for coffee and biscuits.

Last week was my first week of Half Ironman training. I didn't actually start training, unless thinking, 'I should really start training' counts as training. I swim with NAC Masters and they sent out an email for their triathlete swimmers inviting us to show up at 3:30 on Sunday with our bikes and trainers for a 90 minute bike/swim brick workout. I just bought a bike trainer! I was super excited about this!

In not necessarily chronological order, here is a list of everything that went wrong. There was hockey practice and kids' swim practice, so I had to park a million miles away. It was freezing cold and raining. I was in flip flops. When I took my bike out of my trunk, my front tire wouldn't attach. I had to carry my bike, trainer and swim bag the million cold, wet miles into the building. I kept dropping things and sliding, because, flip flops. I got everything inside and up all the stairs to the bleachers only to realize that I didn't buy the training skewer to attach my bike to the trainer. No problem! I'll just park my bike and swim. The only lane open was so far away that I couldn't read the board, so I just swam freestyle for 45 minutes & got out. Wet, I walked my bike, swim bag and trainer back to my car. Still dropping things and sliding. I couldn't get the front tire back off my bike, so I couldn't get it in the trunk, and I couldn't get it in the backseat either. It was a disaster that ended in me crying all the way home. Interspersed in all this, were condescending remarks from men about bike maintenance, who I should be taking classes from and how bike trainers work. Thanks, men I don't know! You're why no one likes triathletes!


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