Adventures in Dating: The habitual First dater

For quite some time now, I’ve been stuck in an unfortunate dating pattern. It looks something like this:

First date

Second date?

(Repeat a million times)

I’ve seen every first date horror that there is….and some that I never even knew existed. There was the starving artist who invited me to watch a movie at his place, and I learned that his place is a hole of an apartment with a mattress on the floor of the living room and a tv sitting on top of a few crates. The bathroom was unspeakable. There was the awkward guy who couldn’t carry a conversation and showed up with the red and white teddy bear that was holding a picture frame. “What was in the picture frame?” you ask. A picture of (wait for it…) him. Yes. A little teddy bear that looked like it was a consolation prize from a state fair or a winning item from a quarter-claw-machine that was holding a picture frame with a picture of him in the frame. There was the guy who got super drunk and took over the dance floor with ridiculous dance moves…embarrassing me to the point that I never wanted to return to the Firehouse Lounge again, (thank goodness it closed…I still think his drunken dance moves contributed to this bar’s demise…sorry Firehouse Lounge.) and then groped me the whole way back to the car. There was the loud laugher in the movies…who laughed SO loudly at ever single joke that I was mortified when the lights came on and people saw that I was with him. On top of all of these stories there are countless awkward pauses upon the arrival of the dinner check, many unwelcome goodnight kisses, and infinite unnecessary conversations about evil ex-girlfriends and baby mamas that simply made the nights unbearable.

photo

Some of these have been blind dates. Some are men who I have met around town. I meet them here and there…and all of the first dates are just horrible. How I long for the first dates of my past-the guy who met me at a local café where we talked until they closed…and then walked me to my car where we
talked for another hour…and then told me that he didn’t want the night to end, so we went to a 24-hour diner and talked and laughed for hours more. When I finally arrived home, it was 4 AM and I was on cloud nine. Or the guy who ended the night with the sweetest kiss on the forehead, telling me that he
couldn’t wait to see me again, texting me five minutes after the date ended to again tell me how much fun he had. And the sweet guy who opened all of doors, asked me what I wanted to drink and ordered it for me, and taught me how to improve my pool shot. These were fun first dates that all led to second
dates. These guys didn’t have to try hard…they did not drink too much, or bring cheesy gifts. They didn’t put out any sleazy moves, and they were gentleman. These dates ended with giddy calls to my best friend, telling her how sweet/cute/fantastic the guy seemed, with excitement for date # 2.

Oh how I long for a guy worthy of date #2. There have been so many 1 date wonders that I’m beginning to forget what date #2 feels like. I have started to forget the excitement of getting ready for date #2.

You want to look just as cute as you did for date #1, but there is a bit less pressure, because you know that he likes what he sees. Your mind races when you think about the kiss that likely comes from date #2…either because it didn’t come from the first date, or if it did, because you want to have that kiss
again. Date #2 is a sign that this could perhaps go somewhere…after all, it could have ended after the first date, but you’ve both decided that you want more. You may not have told your friends about the first date, because you weren’t sure what to expect, but they know about date #2.

This past weekend I went on two dates…both were first dates. One fell right in line with my pattern of lousy first dates. There will be no second date with this guy. The other…was different. It fell more into the category of the first dates of my past. The guy was sweet and good looking. We had a great time,
and date #2 is already scheduled. It appears as though this man has broken my Habitual First Dater pattern, which makes me wonder-will there be a date #3?

What is your worst first date story?

Cheers.

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The Most Famous Man of 2012

**Update**

Since the launch of the Kony 2012 video, a great deal of criticism has been raised. People have many opinions about Invisible Children, their practices and methods, and most recently, their CEO who has displayed less than ideal behavior. Invisible Children is an organization that I have supported for quite awhile, and still stand by them. They have address many of the questions people have about them on their website, and there are many articles out there addressing both sides of the issue. Regardless of your opinions of the Invisible Children Organization, this is an issue that requires action. Do your research, find an organization that you can stand behind confidently, and help make change happen. If you are fortunate enough to be able to read this blog, you have more freedoms and finances than many others. Be Classy. Be Fabulous. Give Back.

KONY 2012

We are almost a quarter of the way into 2012, but there is already a candidate for the most famous person of the year. I hope that you will help me spread his name and grow his fame.

Kony2012

Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army has abducted nearly 70,000 children and forced them into lives of sex slaves and child soldiers. Thousands of kids have died by his hand. This is happening today in central Africa. This is not a new issue-it has been going on since the 1980’s! I don’t tell the story very well-so check out this video from one of my favorite organizations – Invisible Children – regarding why it’s imperative to make Joseph Kony a household name in 2012.

This monster must be stopped and YOU are the one to make it happen. If everyone who watches this video shows 5 friends, and they all show 5 friends, and so on and so forth, the world will know within days. This has gone on long enough. We live in a world where we can see what happens in all corners of the earth. If we know what is happening in Central Africa, and do nothing about it, what does that say about our world? What good is having these abilities and technologies if we cannot achieve good with them? Imagine how those in power would respond if every person who saw this video posted 1 poster. 1 sticker. Wore 1 pin. And wrote 1 letter. I have already ordered my Kony2012 bracelet and t-shirt. I am ready to start plastering my town with posters and stickers. I have always loved this organization, but this video has pushed me to action more so than any of the others they have made in the past.

This year’s campaign has chosen 20 “Culturemakers” to help drive this message. These 20 people are musicians, actors, public figures, athletes. People who have influence over the masses. The list is diverse and these people will have the ability to reach millions. When I read the list, I was ecstatic to see the names. There are VERY few issues that Rush Limbaugh and Ellen Degeneres would agree on. Or Rick Warren and Lady Gaga. What would Warren Buffet and Rihanna have in common, besides having fame and fortune?  The fact that these 20 people with majorly differing political, religious, and personal views and beliefs can put aside their differences and work towards this common goal is absolutely inspiring. They are working on the same team and people around the world are jumping on board and following their strong lead. They have also produced a list of 12 influential political figures for supporters to contact to demand that action happen. With these 20 celebrities urging the world to contact these 12 political figures, Kony can be stopped-but only if everyone demands action.


KONY 2012 Culturemakers list

What about you? What are you going to do? You could ignore what you heard. You could “like” the video on YouTube, and go on with your day. Or you could take real action. Share the video with the people in your world. Visit www.kony2012.com (please be patient with the site. The overwhelming response to the Kony 2012 video has caused it to crash several times in the last few days.) to order the action kit and be ready for April 20th. Find your local Cover the Night event on the site, or on facebook, and find out how you can use your time, talents, and contacts to make it a success. This is the year to take down Joseph Kony. Every year more kids die.  Make this the year that Joseph Kony is the most famous man on the planet. He wants power, so let’s give him the face-time that kind of power deserves.

KONY 2012: Educate Yourselves And Act Now! photo 2

Cheers.

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Professionally Casual

In the professional world, many companies have moved away from traditionally professional dress codes, and opting for more casual attire. Many of my friends work in this type of environment, and I recently transitioned to an environment like this. Coming from a professional dress job, this became quite an adjustment for me.

I frequently hear horror stories from my coworkers and friends who also work in casual dress environments about people in the office who wear absurd outfits-far too casual for the workplace. Outfits that range from revealing to sloppy. From tacky to just plain wrong.

While some of these outfits are inexcusable, I can understand why there is such a large range. Casual dress environments generally give few guidelines, leaving the policy up for interpretation. This can result in anything from too low cut shirts to Steelers hoodies.

So how should you dress when working in a casual environment?

Here are three of my staple looks for a casual workplace.

Pencil Skirts and Feminine Tops

Skirts and Cardis

Pencil skirts come in all fabrics and colors and they are all flattering to all body types. Pair pencil skirts with flirty tops and cardigans. Add some ballet flats to keep the look casual. This look is professional, yet casual enough to wear out after work to happy hour. This outfit will likely be dressier than many others in a casual work environment, but will make you look polished in case the big bosses swing by for a visit, or a client needs to meet with you unexpectedly.

Shirt dresses

Shirt Dresses

I love shirt dresses. These casual dresses are comfortable, flattering, and so versatile. Sleeveless shirt dresses are great paired with a cardigan and a chunky beaded necklace. Pointed flats or a simple wedge keep the look casual and comfortable. Floral shirt dresses are great with bright colored shoes and accessories. Find some large vintage stud earrings and a funky ring for some flair.

Dark Denim

Work appropriate denim

Dark denim is the best for the work place. Other washes often look worn and old. I love a great pair of dark denim trousers with a bright cardigan and scarf, or a sharp black blazer with a cute top underneath. Great boots and a sharp bag completes the look.

What is the dress code in your workplace? Any favorite casual workplace trends?

Cheers.

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Filed under Classy&Fabulous Women, Fashion, The Workplace

The 16 Things I learned at my first job

Ronald McDonald

The summer that I was sixteen-years-old I ventured out into my quickly expanding suburban town to find my first job. There was a large plaza being built at that time and in that plaza sat a brand, spanking, new McDonald’s. I walked in, wearing my favorite khaki skirt and a blue and white striped shirt with my most responsible face on, and applied for a position. I appreciate each and everyday that I worked at that job, because it has taught me much of what has made me successful today.

  1. No matter what job you have in life, you always have the opportunity to have a bit of fun. Those late nights closing up with other high school kids from other area high schools were fun nights. We laughed and joked and got into trouble. This made it the perfect first job. Your job is as fun as you make it.
  2. Never order lemons at a restaurant. I know many people say this, but looking back on my time in the food service industry, I know that not everyone washed the lemons before cutting them. That means that those lemons were picked, transported, packed, shipped, opened, possibly dropped and passed to someone else, cut, and put into your drink…without being washed. Think about how many hands touched that lemon…gross. I think we could trace all flu pandemics back to lemons, rather than swine or birds. Just saying…
  3. Manners go a long way. No matter what type of business you are patronizing, use manners. Please and Thank-you.
  4. Use caution when referring to someone as “ma-am.” The first time a small child called me “ma-am” was at that counter. I immediately understood why many of my customers hated to be called “ma-am.” It sounds old. Sometimes it is appropriate, just use it very carefully.
  5. Never allow yourself to be a part of workplace drama. Drama ran deep at this job, and once you fell in, it was difficult to recover.
  6. No matter what a person promises you, if you tell a co-worker a secret, assume that he or she will share it with other co-workers. Gossip runs through the workplace like a woman in a shoe store. Once it starts, there is no stopping it and there will be collateral damage.
  7. I learned that I was not always as nice as I thought I was…especially to one guy in particular, who I dated during my time at this job. If you by any chance are reading this…I am sorry…I really was not very nice to you while we dated. Which leads to…
  8. Never date someone with whom you must work closely. It can lead to disaster. (Trust me…)
  9. Managing people does not translate to stomping around and barking orders. No one will respect you and no one will work for you.
  10. Every industry has people who I like to refer to as “lifers.” If you do not wish to work in this industry forever, work hard. Bust your butt. Find out what you would like to do with your life and do it. Never settle for anything less, because you will turn into a bitter miserable person, working in a job you hate, and not qualified to do anything else with your life. The worst part? You will have no one to blame but yourself.
  11. If you are not willing to work hard to achieve a goal, you forfeit your right to complain. No one wants to hear how much you hate your job-especially if you are not willing to do the work to change your situation.
  12. Never take yourself too seriously.
  13. Everything can be corrected. Customers would flip out when a sandwich was made wrong as if world peace was dependent on their chicken sandwich having Big Mac sauce added to it. (um. gross.) Rather than politely telling me that it was done incorrectly (despite the fact that I did enter the order correctly and the people actually making the food made the mistake), they would proceed to scream and yell an cause a scene. Calm down. It can be fixed. It will be fixed. And if you had been nicer to me, I might have thrown you a free bag of cookies or an apple pie for your trouble. But you were rude. So you get nothing.
  14. Working is a privilege, not a right. No matter what your job is, you are not doing them any favors by working there. You are providing a service. You are working there in exchange for a paycheck. Keep your attitude to yourself. And if you hate your job? Quit. Find a new one. You’re not qualified to find a new one? Be thankful you even have a job in difficult times.
  15. The amount of oil and grease used in fast food restaurants is literally unbelievable. I mean…you think you know how bad it is. You have no idea until you have slid across the floor of a McDonald’s kitchen and landed on your behind, covering yourself in the grossness of the floor. I think if I had burned my uniform after my last day, it would have caused a grease fire that could have potentially taken out the state of Pennsylvania.
  16. I also learned what type of manager I wanted to be in life. I knew at some point I would be managing people in a future job, and I never wanted to use that authority to deliberately hurt others as I had been in the past. One manager in the restaurant wanted to date the guy who happened to be dating me. (Oh-high school drama! How I miss thee…not really) She used her pull in the store to convince another high school kid to “trip” and spill an entire chocolate milkshake on me while I was walking to the bathroom. At the time, I nervously laughed it off and tried to keep a sense of humor about it. But I was hurt! Why would someone want to hurt my feelings like that? As I wiped the freezing cold milkshake off of my shirt and pants, I wept silently in the bathroom. It seemed SO mean! So awful! However, looking back on it, how sad was that person? She was in her 20’s and paid a high school boy to humiliate a high school girl who she was supposed to be managing! In the aftermath of “Milkshake Gate,” I learned that some people are hard-wired for drama and jealousy.

At the end of the day, I am grateful for those several years at the golden arches. I would never return there to work…no matter how much you paid me-but I would also never trade my time there and the lessons I learned for anything in the world.

What did you learn at your first job?

Cheers.

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Birthday Suit

My Birthday Weekend is here! As I celebrate 27, I am faced with the decision that plagues women across the world every single day…

What am I going to wear?

Last year, I took to the blog to ask your opinions. And this year, I am doing the same! The outfits are similar in form, but very different in presentation.

Here are the options…

Wild Side

Wild Side

This option contains leopard, sparkle, sexy red lips, and of course, my signature color, BLUE. (It brings out my eyes, ok?) The black pencil skirt which is in each of these options is flattering to all shapes. Animal prints are a favorite print of mine. I just love pairing them with strong, bold colors. Which is where I add the blue shrug and pumps. The knot necklace is a statement piece that commands attention, and of course, what birthday girl is complete without her bling? Sparkly earrings and finger nails finish off the look.

Pretty and Preppy

Pretty and Preppy

The second look displays another favorite look of mine-the classic preppy look. The ivory tie blouse is classy, yet fun when paired with leopard shoes, a blue shrug, and my favorite black pencil skirt. Bright pink lips and sparkly bracelets will add a bit of fun to the preppy look.

Feminine Floral

Feminine Floral

The third option is the classic skirt, a black shrug, and a fabulously feminine floral top with ruffles. Pink lips and a chunky beaded necklace dress it up, while I walk tall in my black pumps.

Which outfit do you choose? Hurry and vote! My party is two days away!

Cheers!

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What is a family?

I was blessed by being born into a great family. My birth parents are my parents. They have been together for over 30 years and built a beautiful life for our family.

I would be naïve to think that all children have the same life I had. Some were not born to the parents God wants for them. Some are adopted as babies. Some wait for years to meet their parents and are raised by birth parents, foster parents, social services, grandparents, or other relatives in transit before meeting the parents they are meant to have. Due to an all too often broken system, many children never get the parents that they deserve.

Adoption has had a strong place in my heart for years. Growing up in a church where foster children regularly frequented our youth group, children’s ministries, and nursery, I learned about social services and what they do for children at a young age. A close friend of mine is adopted. Friends from church have adopted babies from America, as well as all over the world. A family friend has embarked on the journey of adopting three beautiful children who, truth be told, adopted the family years ago, before any legal actions were taken. The young husband and wife have been married for just a few short months, but the building blocks of this family began assembling years ago-before they had even met. They are just mid 20-somethings already are caring for three children. Two beautiful little boys-brothers, with eyes that could melt the coldest heart, and a blonde, curly-haired, street smart sister- not quite school age, but knows how to work over any adult with her precious face and spunky attitude. Though the adoptions are not final, they are a FAMILY. They are the mommy and daddy that these kids trust with the most precious of things that mommies and daddies do: Bedtime stories, Barbie and Cars band-aids, and making the scary things in life go away. These kids have seen worse things in their few years on this earth than I have in my 26, but they finally have a family that will do whatever it takes to stick together. Read more about this precious family HERE. It’s such a cool story.

Adoption has surrounded me and fascinated me for years. Maybe that is God’s way of telling me that someday I will adopt a child? Maybe it’s just God’s way of telling me to pray for adoptions and help educate the world of a process that is challenging, rewarding, frustrating, and beautiful all at the same time.

A guy with whom I went to high school is currently embarking on this journey with his wife. Adam and April are a young couple who have a heart and a clear calling to adopt a child-who knows, maybe more than one! Their journey is one that I’ve been following a bit through facebook and April’s blog-which you can check out HERE. They have gone through mountains of paperwork, several home visits, and endless saving and fundraising. I am sure that they have felt frustrated on more than one occasion. Though, you would never know it by reading their blog. They have a grace and peace about them that is clearly carrying them through the process. It’s really beautiful to read about.

One thing that I love about the blog is how they address some sensitive issues that surround adoption. April speaks candidly about domestic vs. overseas adoption. She speaks about infertility and how that leads some couples to adoption. They have no reason to think that someday they will not be able to
naturally conceive-yet adoption has always been “Plan A” (love that post, April!) for their family. She speaks openly about race-often a hot-button topic in adoptions. She also speaks about open adoption, and the possibility of having a relationship with birth parents. They talk about their pro-life stance, which helped lead them to domestic adoption. Check out the blog. It’s a very cool read.

Now, I am not writing this because they asked me to. I did get clearance from them prior to writing and featuring their blog, but this was done on my own, because I have a heart for families of adoption. Maybe you feel a connection to adoption. Maybe you think someday you might like to adopt a child. Maybe you were adopted yourself. Maybe you are just a sucker for a happy ending. Whatever the case
may be, there are a couple of ways you can help this couple grow into the family that they are meant to be.

1. First and foremost-say a prayer. Pray for birth-mothers who are right now, at this very moment making decisions about the life of the unborn child they carry. Pray for adoptive parents who are going through the process. Excited. Scared. Joyful some days, somber the next. Pray for peace. And most importantly, pray for the children of adoption of all ages. Some meet their adoptive mommies and daddies days after birth. Some, months after birth. And some go through terribly painful situations for years before meeting the parents meant for them. Pray
for them to know that there is someone out there who loves them already-and hasn’t even met them yet.
2. Contribute financially. Again, No one asked me to feature this blog to ask for donations. However, the adoption process is not a cheap one. If you can give $10 and pack your lunch tomorrow instead of buying in the cafeteria. Trade a few happy hour cocktails for the beer on special tonight. It can add up. It can get this couple closer to their goal and closer to finding their child. They need to reach this goal soon-time is ticking! It’s Christmas. Help them get the ultimate Christmas gift.

If you are considering contributing to this cause, check out a new way the Swigers are fundraising. They have opened an online storefront through Just Love Coffee, which allows them to sell coffee, with proceeds going towards the adoption.  They receive $5 for each bag purchased, and if you buy 3 bags, you get the 4th for free! Sacrifice your fancy Starbucks cup and brew your own for a while! You’ll be getting more bang for your buck, and if you buy some fancy creamers, you’ll never even know the difference! Plus, along with the warm feeling a hot cup brings, you’ll get the warm feeling that comes from helping someone get the best gift possible.
3. Share the story! There are tons of families impacted by adoption. Maybe you know someone else who has a heart for adoption. You’d be surprised –there are people who have been touched by adoption and you’ve got no idea. Share Adam and April’s story with them. The more people who know, the more people will pray. And who knows? Maybe someone you share the story with will feel led to give to this precious, growing family.

Have you been touched by adoption in your life? Share your stories. We would love to hear them.

Cheers.

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It’s the thought that counts

Merry Christmas Everyone! With the most wonderful time of the year upon us, many of you are scrambling to finish your Christmas shopping. Getting something perfect for everyone without going broke can be a difficult task. There is your family, your friends, your boo…not to mention co-workers, the mail man, the nanny, and everyone else you would like to give something to. Here are a few crowd-
pleasing, yet cost-effective gifts to give to all of the people in your life!

Pashminas

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for a beautiful scarf. I have quite the collection and always seem to find a reason to buy a new one! Pittsburgh’s Strip District has a wide array of street vendors carrying many gift options-one of them being pashmina-scarves! Yesterday after work I stopped by one of these vendors. Lucy’s Handmade Clothing Shop is a small store on Penn Avenue.  In the store you’ll find adorable hats, gorgeous jewelry, and of course, pashminas! I stopped in to get a specific color scarf as a gift and was unable to find it. I searched the racks outside of the store on the sidewalk. No luck. I looked inside at rack after rack of scarves. Nothing.
Before admitting defeat, I asked Lucy if she had this color. She asked if I had checked upstairs.

Upstairs??
I had no idea there was an upstairs! I went up and sure enough, there was the color I sought! I also found a fabulous gray scarf and a black scarf with white chain print for myself. I love them so much and the recipient will love hers as well! The best part? These scarves were only 3 of $18. Great deal. You could get a scarf for all of your girlfriends at the office or for your nanny, your hairdresser, and your
cousin for less than $20! Thanks for the help, Lucy!

Christmas Ornaments

How can you go wrong with a beautiful ornament? Very Bradley has BEAUTIFUL ornaments that come in sets of 3 for about $30. You can divide them up and give one each to three of your friends. They also come in a three-compartment box, which would be perfect to fill with candy for your Christmas or New Year’s party, or to give to a friend. Maybe you have four friends to buy for and only three ornaments-no worries! Give the box with some chocolates to a friend. Or some trinkets for her desk at work-fill it with tea bags, sugar cubes in a gauze wrapper, and drink stirrers for a tea drinker to place on her desk. Or you could fill it with little lip glosses, nail files, and bobby pins for a co-worker who is always searching
through her purse for her things. Four friend’s gifts for around $35!

You can also go the route of handmade ornaments. My mother makes these beautiful, hand-painted ornaments that are really simple! You buy plain, glass bulb ornaments and open them up. You put paint inside of them and swirl it around. Write the year in a sparkly puffy paint on the outside. Bam. A one-of-
a-kind ornament for your dear friends. You can make a bunch of these for around $25.

Keep Warm with Coco

Head to Costco or Sams Club and get some coco and marshmallows in bulk. Buy a case of mason jars. For under $30 you can make jars of coco with gauze pouches of marshmallows for everyone in the office. Type up a cute little note about staying warm this Christmas on some colorful paper. Easy!

Do It Yourself

Anyone who doesn’t have Pinterest should cry themselves to sleep every night. The Do-it-yourself ideas on that site blow my mind, daily. With the use of some quality glue, a balloon, and an old magazine, you can create this lovely basket that I found on Pinterest.

Roll the magazine pages up into different size circles. Glue them well so that they stay put. Blow up the balloon and begin gluing the magazine circles to the balloon. Ensure that all circles are also glued to the edges of the other circles around them. Let sit for a day or two and then pop the balloon. You will be left with an adorable basket which could hold a small flower pot, artificial flowers without a pot, your mail
before or after it heads to the mail box, combs/brushes, etc. So adorable and handmade! I would LOVE to get this as a gift!

You can also give your favorite girlfriend a Do-it-yourself craft day as a gift. Go get the supplies to make a craft like the one above and pick up some snacks. Spend the day making baskets, gossiping, and snacking!

Do you have any other easy, affordable gifts you’ll be giving? Any Do It Yourself ideas?

Cheers.

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