It’s not perfect, but it’s love.

081Today is my parents 38th wedding anniversary. It’s easy for me to remember how many years because they married in March of 1977 and we were married 30 years later in March of 2007. It’s difficult for me to imagine being married for almost 40 years. The world we live in certainly doesn’t make it easy, and although things have never been perfect, I’m so very proud of them for sticking it out, still being friends, and being the most amazing parents a girl could ask for.

It’s hard to believe it was 23 years ago today, on their 15th anniversary, that we were running around the house following my mom as she uncovered 15 gifts, one for each year, hidden around the house. Dad was always so creative like that. The 15th gift was a heart necklace that had 15 tiny diamonds all the way around. That year we had a Mexican fiesta for dinner with decorations and virgin margaritas for us kids. Every year we got presents too, and dad would wrap them days ahead of time and put them in the living room to taunt us! My favorite gifts were my PJ Sparkles doll, she was amazing and upon looking her up for reference I just discovered she’s almost $400 on amazon…face palm on not saving that toy!…and my little electronic puppy on a leash (which mom wouldn’t let me walk outside because it was white and I would get it dirty…hello its a dog!) It seems like yesterday that 13 years ago we celebrated their 25th with all their friends and family, surprising them with a party where we even had their wedding cake recreated. And, of course, eight years ago weeks away from their 30th when I myself was married and they gave me away to a man they now lovingly refer to as, their son. 20020317 04

They both, in their own way, broke a cycle as parents. Neither of them had an ideal childhood, certainly not one they wished to see repeated. My mother actually was fearful of having children at all, afraid she wouldn’t be able to be a good mother since she was never shown how. My dad was given a little more love growing up, but with an absent Naval officer for a father, who was stern and distant when he was home, he was lacking. Of course he loved his parents, but he knew he was going to do things differently, they both did.

When mom found out she was pregnant with my sister, she called my dad in a panic asking “What are we going to do?!” He simply replied, “We’re going to have a baby.” They did, and 34 years later they have two grown daughters who grew up in a house filled with reading, adventure, laughter, spirituality, and love. The older I get and the more I learn about the world and other people’s stories, the more I am grateful. Grateful for the “bubble” that I lived in. Money was tight but I never knew it, I was clothed, fed, went on vacations, and pretty much got whatever I wanted (within reason). There was never any family drama or fights that I was privy to, nobody ever cursed or smoked in my presence, and we were only surrounded by people who loved us, and most importantly, loved God. We sat around the dinner table every night to a home cooked meal prepared by my mother who had worked a full day and before bed we were read a story by my father who had worked all day and must have been so exhausted.

As a kid in Jacksonville Florida my dad watched on the news as they opened Walt Disney World just a few short hours away. Despite begging their father to take them, he never did and so my father, promised himself that he would take his kids one day. He saved for years and years with a special Disney savings account and meticulously planned the perfect jam-packed Disney experience. A few months before we were supposed to leave, the opportunity came up for them to purchase their first home, but they didn’t have enough money to cover a down payment and closing costs. They could have easily dipped into the Disney fund, but they didn’t. Instead, they scrimped and saved, selling everything they could think of, including most of my mother’s precious antiques. Then off we went to Disney World, clueless that any of this had gone on (at least I was, I’m sure my sister is reading this rolling her eyes as she often incredulously disagrees with my recollection of history). It didn’t hit me till many years later how difficult that must have been and what a sacrifice it was. But they always put us first. And they still do.

They are an amazing support system, always there when I need them. I unfortunately inherited my father’s depression and my mother’s ability to put a smile on your face even when you’re hurting on the inside. Those two combined don’t always make us the best communicators as a family, but they still care in their own way. My last miscarriage, they just hugged me as long as I needed and then, as if I were a little girl with a scraped knee, took me for ice cream. It was exactly what I needed. After your third one there are no words, no sentiments that haven’t already been given, there is just love.

My father and the butcher love being together, they drink bourbon, laugh, and work together on projects, my dad imparting his years of knowledge and experience to my husband. And my mom is my favorite shopping partner, always there to listen and give advice. It’s usually a bit “momma bear” and biased, but hey, sometimes you just need somebody on your side!

Last week we took my mom to see the traveling Broadway show, Motown. (It was fantastic and she loved it.) When we picked her up, my dad walked her out to the car and kissed her goodbye. Thirty-eight years of marriage and still kissing each other goodbye, it’s not perfect, but its love.IMG_8642


The Warby Parker Experiment 

Help! I need your input! I mentioned in an earlier post that I tried out a new service called “Warby Parker”. They are an American brand of prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses founded in 2010. Warby Parker sells online and has a limited number of showrooms in the United States. By designing glasses in-house and selling only directly to consumers, the company lowers the cost of its glasses by a significant amount which makes them really affordable, especially for people without vision insurance. (Can I just say how grateful I am for Publix and their phenomenal health benefits?!) Click here to read a little more about their company in NY Magazine. 

The designs for the company’s frames feature vintage-inspired style which was right up my alley. I don’t wear my glasses often, not because I don’t need them I’m (super blind) but because I feel I can see much more clearly with my contacts and hate feeling and limitations of the frame on your face. (They also bring out the dirty old man in my father in law, who thinks I look like a librarian or schoolteacher when I wear them haha, what is with men and librarians? Love you da!) So even though I’m not a big eyeglass wearer, when I DO wear them, I want them to be cute! 

So after perusing the Warby Parker website I selected five pairs that I liked the best. They shipped them to me completely free of charge, I try them on, pick my favorite, and then ship back and place my order. One pair, a clear lucite pair that I thought would be cool, were…not. So I narrowed it down to four pairs (I think #3 is my favorite…okay actually #1 is my favorite but of course they’re more expensive than all the others so I convinced myself I liked the other pair better haha) but now I need your input to decide! Comment below 1,2,3, or 4 and I’ll tally up the votes between my blog, instagram, and facebook. So help me out and cast those votes! 

Mind your p’s and…tuna?

I’ve said many times that food is love. This particular dish particularly proves that to be true for several reasons…

There’s nothing like a “family recipe”, something that has been made and passed down for generations. My sweet Grandma Lou made this for my dad when he was growing up and he loved it. (and since my Grandpa lovingly says that she could “burn water”, that’s really sayin’ something!) She gave the recipe to my mom when they got married who made it her own and fed it to us my entire life. I made it for the butcher, an italian who grew up eating his mother’s “pasta & peas”, and he loved it. Three generations, not too shabby for a simple 3 ingredient salad. Remember that yard work I mentioned in my anniversary post? Well it’s still going on and my father has so generously been helping his son in law. So yesterday I called them in for lunch and they were delighted to see what was on the menu. As he sat down to eat, my dad reminisced about his mother making it for him and said, “this is my definition of comfort food.” When somebody says that about your food, you know you’re doing something right. 

That being said, I actually really dislike it myself. Is loathe too strong a word? (And it’s not because I can’t stand the sight of anything creamy with mayo, that’s my mother in law.) Let me explain, as it has nothing to do with the taste (although truthfully I can do without peas) but rather what it represents. As I mentioned, my mom made it often when I was a kid, especially for the convention. Because it’s cheap, easy, and served cold, it was the perfect thing to serve as we trudged through the door after the long drive home from an exhausting day at Vet Stadium. I hated driving home from the convention. It took forever, crammed into the back of the station wagon, inevitably arguing with my older sister, plus we always had some interesting passengers with us along the way, and driving home meant we had to drive there in the morning obviously which meant getting up SUPER early. But most of all, driving home meant staying home, instead of at a super exciting (and super expensive-but what kid cares about that?!) Philadelphia hotel with a pool and tons of friends everywhere. 

That salad (which my mother had wisely prepared ahead so she wouldn’t have to cook after such a long day) meant one thing to me- we weren’t going out to eat. Yet another exciting feature of the convention, going out with all your friends! (Mind you we did do this on occasion but more so as we got older and when we weren’t outside all day in 100 degree heat causing fatigue, heat stroke, and all sorts of unpleasant odors) It wasn’t that the pasta tasted bad, it was just that I knew that giant Tupperware bowl with the blue lid (which she still uses to this day, if that’s not a testament to a good brand I don’t know what is!) was sitting there in the fridge waiting for us and it was the only thing standing between me and a kids meal at the Ground Round. (my favorite childhood restaurant, they played old cartoons on a big projector screen and gave you popcorn while you waited for your food, it was the best. I think it’s a Macaroni Grill now.) I understand perhaps this all sounds bratty and ungrateful but these were my honest feelings as a child and are by no means any reflection on how I currently feel about the convention or my mother and is in no way meant to imply that I was deprived as a child (even though I may have felt so at the time but what kid doesn’t?) To this day, even though it’s delicious, I won’t eat this salad, I just can’t. 

However, like I said before, the butcher loves it. So I make it for him. And now, every year when we go to the convention, the roles have reversed- I frugally plan the menu and make the food to give my mom a break. And I make the tuna pasta salad for my family, (with a little something different on the side for myself of course) because, well, food is love. 

Still want the recipe?

Pasta & Peas Salad                     Schochler Shells 

  • 1 lb mini shells (really any pasta will be fine, quiona shells work really nicely too but shhh don’t tell the plumber, he hates quiona pasta…even though he regularly eats it unknowingly) 
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • Mayonnaise (I’m sorry but I can’t give you a measurent, the amount of mayo one uses is a really personal decision I feel) 
  • 2 cans of tuna (drained and preferably albacore) 
  • Salt & pepper (mom adds dill to her’s which I don’t care for but floats and boats and all that) 

Boil the pasta and let it cool. Break tuna up into small pieces. Put shells into a large bowl and fold in tuna and peas. Put in mayo (I like to start with a little and add more as I see fit but remember if you make this ahead the pasta will absorb a good amount and could become dry so you may want to have some on the side) then season generously with salt, pepper, and the aforementioned but not preferable, dill. That’s pretty much it folks, I hope this becomes a family recipe of yours as well!  

And just to avoid any backlash from this post…love you Mommy! 

First World Problems…

Today I experienced a few “problems” that I realized, upon further examination, most people would laughingly refer to as “first world problems”. Urban dictionary defines the term as “Problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at.” 

First, I really wanted to have my morning cup of tea out of this beautiful teacup I got at Goodwill (did I mention they just built a brand new store 10 minutes from my house?! It’s amazing) for a DOLLAR! But apparently, according to my mothers, it’s really old and painted with gold paint full of lead that could like, kill me or something?! 

Isn’t it pretty? But I can’t drink out of it?! Then when doing research about it (upon which I also found a yahoo answer saying, “even if it was lead that isnt enough to hurt you, unless you were an infant and it alll chipped off and you swallowed it, then maybe youd get sick, otherwise lead in small amounts is good, and if there old there most likely good quality, they should be fine” now I’m not saying that my moms are wrong, I’m just saying I like that lady from Virginia’s answer much better) I found it listed on etsy for $30. So now I am confronted with two “problems”, if I keep it I can’t drink from it and if I sell it I could make a $29 profit but then I wouldn’t have this beautifully unique teacup in my collection! 

Next, I tried out a new company called Warby Parker. You go to their site, pick out five pairs of frames which they then send you for FREE to try on and then you send them back and if you choose order a pair with your prescription. 

It’s pretty cool and I like them all (stay tuned for a future post where you can help me choose the best pair) but now I’m faced with a dilemma, I like them all! How do I choose?! 

And lastly, I just feel like ipsy doesn’t get me and it’s so frustrating! Let me explain. I’ve blogged about ipsy before (click to read) but I’ll refresh your memory; Ipsy is a monthly beauty and makeup subscription box. Each month you get full size or deluxe-sized products, plus a cute makeup bag. The products are chosen specifically for you based on a personalized beauty quiz you take when you sign up. I think it’s one of the best value beauty subscriptions and a great way to try out new products and build out your makeup collection for less than the cost of one tube of lip gloss! 

But here’s the thing, despite me taking the quiz, sometimes I just feel like they don’t get me at all! Did my personal beauty quiz really make you think I wanted metallic blue liquid liner and lip butter that was the creepiest flesh shade I would only wear if I were playing a corpse in a movie?! Really ipsy?! This has happened several times over the course of my subscription and it gives me pause as to whether I should continue the service. 

I realized that all three of these “problems”; the tea cup, the glasses, and the beauty products, really aren’t problems at all. Weird Al even wrote a song about “First World Problems” on his new album, it’s one of the only songs to not directly parody a current popular song. Yankovic instead opts to imitate the Pixies’ style to riff about the hardest parts of life; showers getting cold after a mere hour, friends calling instead of texting, and the perils of low thread counts on the sheets. See the Video here. 

My point in all this? Although this post was meant to be a comical one (obviously I have REAL problems like we all do) just because other people have bigger problems you shouldn’t minimize your own. (I’m not referring to the aforementioned ones though) Like when someone says, “well it could be worse, you could have cancer.” That’s true but it doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to be sad for what I am dealing with. Everybody has their stuff. But for the most part, we’re pretty spoiled and shouldn’t be complaining about anything. I am grateful for the lack of big problems in my life, and happy to have little “first world” ones. Are you? 

eight years ago today…

Ok well not technically today, it was actually yesterday but let’s not split hairs. I wonder where that expression came from…I bet my dad would know. Anyway, yesterday was our 8th anniversary. I really can’t believe how quickly the years have passed. We spent the day (and by “we” I mean my father, father in law, and the butcher, while I stayed inside randomly supervising, bringing them cold drinks and sandwiches…) doing yard work. So romantic. I suppose it’s a sign of old age and the joys of home ownership? Honestly, the butcher works so much and we have so much company coming these next couple of months that I’d rather get my patio finished than go to the beach for the day. (Well not rather but you know what I mean. Plus he says he has a surprise planned for me in May so I don’t mind waiting. Well I mind but I can do it!) Throughout the day I kept saying, “Honey, this time eight years ago you were putting your tux on”…or “eight years ago today we were probably cutting our cake”, etc. So I decided to do a little blog post featuring the highlights from that very special day and bring you along for the ride. 

Every bride needs a custom made t-shirt…

2007 (213) 

Didn’t I have the best bridesmaids? We all wore our shirts for rehearsal the night before. Boy was Jackie mad that we forgot to tell her to wear jeans!2007 (208) 

Rehearsal dinner was a luau at the in-laws…coconut bras were a must!2007 (222) 

Always been a daddy’s girl…this was an emotional walk. Also I would like to say that even though I loved our wedding I hated my hair and makeup (or lack thereof, and would change everything about the way I looked if I could, even my dress) 2007 (77) Eight pretty maids, all in a row…2007 (108) 

As Abba would say, “I doooooooo, I do, I do, I do I do…..”2007 (125) 

The new Mr. & Mrs! IMG_1589b The fam…2007 (154)Time for a limo ride! Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 657 limo couple 

I loved my bridesmaid dresses. They were ridiculously expensive and I truly regret making them pay so much for them but I was young, dumb, and they were pretty!Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 617b 

This is one of my favorite wedding photos ever. 2007 (205) 

Jumping for joy and testing out the veil the Butcher’s grandmother made.Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 322b 

We took some family photos…2007 (182)b 

Then some group shots….Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 332 

Then we walked through the Villages town square and got cheered on by hundreds of senior citizens!Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 339 Before dinner we watched the obligatory embarrassing photo slideshow…Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 313

Then we danced…Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 438 

Played Cinderella…Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 446 

Did the chicken dance….Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 294b 

And the tarantella, a traditional Neapolitan folk dance that is mandatory at Italian weddings…Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 280b Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 276 

And no reception (in my opinion) is complete without a little Frank…”start spreading the news….”Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 430 

Then we cut the cake(s) mmmmm cannoli filling…IMG_1702 

Took some family photos…IMG_1651_edited-1Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 346 

Danced a little more…Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 398 

And then passed out from exhaustion! Boy am I glad I wore flats! Joey & Lori's Wedding 031007 447

If I had to do it all over again…I’d do everything different (not what you thought I was going to say huh?) I mean we didn’t even have PINTEREST then! But it was our wedding day and I loved it all the same. The one thing I wouldn’t change? The man I married. 

“It’s easy to see, I have confidence in me…”

Whether you’re a young nun on a hilltop (incase you didn’t catch it the title of this post is a line from sound of music duh) , a mom sitting at the computer in sweats drinking coffee and paying bills, or a 95 year old Polish immigrant, artist, and style icon named  Ilona Royce Smithkin, you can have confidence. 

“I came into my own, maybe ten, twelves years ago…”

Her eyelashes flutter against her wrinkled cheeks as she describes, with perfectly painted pink lips, how she cut pieces of her own hair to create perfectly matching false lashes. She, along with many other beautiful ladies, is the subject of a fabulous documentary I came across on Netflix called, “Advanced Style”. Originally a blog, then book, now documentary and phenomenon, it features fashionable women over 50 on the streets of New York City.

It took Ilona 83 years to fully figure out who she was. She and the other women were so inspiring to me, not only because of their incredible sense of style and artistry but also because of their confidence. I’m beginning to learn from so many women I speak to, my mothers (I have two mothers, I hope you’re as fortunate) friends, and even myself as I get older, that the older you get, the less you care. Care what others think about you. When we’re young we have so much insecurity about what we look like, what we say, how others perceive us. It’s so nice to grow and let some of that slip away.

“At my stage of my life I’m more interested in the air, the sea, the feeling of freedom within myself. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody else, I don’t have to impress anybody, and I wouldn’t want to because I’m really enjoying myself at this stage of my life and I really feel good about me.”

Maybe it was the fashion, the thick New York accents that reminded me of the women in my husbands family, or the fact that these women were just so darn cute, but I couldn’t get enough of Advanced Style. You have to watch this film and I just know you’ll feel like running to your closet, putting on some red lipstick, a feather boa, and dancing around the room. Or not. But I know you’ll really enjoy it and get a kick out of these ladies, even if you remain seated the whole time.

Purple Peplum 

I find peplum tops to be so flattering for a covering your tummy. You have to find the right one though, because they can sometimes turn maternity real quick. But I loved this ELOQUII Peplum Top In Blue Floral from Gwynnie Bee. And thanks to the wonderful Target, I had a perfectly matching pencil skirt to go with it!