Monday, October 26, 2015

5 Ways to Enjoy Tastykake Mini Cupkakes

When I was young, one of my favorite treats was actually when mom's pantry was empty. That's because it meant a stop at the gas station for breakfast. On those mornings, I'd choose a pair of chocolate cupcakes; you know, the ones with the white squiggles on top. Sweet satisfaction!

Imagine  my delight when my first Influenster VoxBox arrived with a smaller (but more grown up?) version of one of my favorite childhood treats. Yay! Talk about a mini win! Influenster is a community of 1.5 million socially savvy shoppers that test and review products. 

The first thing they asked me to review is food. Eat these, they said. Write about the eating, they said. OK! With a full box at my disposal, I was happy to test and approve the following uses for Tastykake mini cupkakes.

1. Bribe your kids to finish homework/clean their room/eat dinner/etc.
2. After the kids have gone to bed, indulge in Tastykakes Minis + ice cream/milk/pick your pleasure
3. Send a secret snack with a love note in your kids' or in the hubs' lunchbox for them to find later
4. Keep a stash in your desk drawer at work for emergency situations
5. Unwrap, stack and share a plate of Tastykakes Minis with the fam while watching the football game/movie/etc.

And don't forget, cupkakes are always great for breakfast!

Check out Tastykake's fun social media posts and offers:

Thanks to Influenster for the complimentary tasty treats. Opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cold Camping at Red River Gorge

What possesses a grown woman to give up a cozy bed in favor of the cold, hard ground with overnight temperature dipping into the teens?

There may have been moments she thought--while adjusting the glove warmers tucked inside her boots, gloves and cap--just maybe this wasn't a great idea. Layered inside two sleeping bags and a ridiculous amount of clothing, she shivered and prayed for daylight. But she's mostly forgotten that by now. 

There are few things more gratifying than exploring a place you've never been before, a place you may never visit again. If you're open minded, you don't have to travel far to find a decent weekend adventure. 

The Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky has been the scene of many such adventures for me. While I typically prefer my feet planted on the ground (as opposed to say, repelling down a rock face) there are incredible views and amazing rock formations to be seen if you're willing to do the work. 

The work at hand during our March 2015 visit was a relatively short hike (about two miles in) along the Sheltowee Trace, which is a main trail through the Gorge. An unofficial (read: potentially hidden) trail provides a quarter-mile ascent to Cloud Splitter. This is a great blog describing the trail and many others at Red River Gorge .

Here are some of our pictures from the weekend. Happy hiking!

Red River Gorge - Cloud Splitter - March 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ten Lessons From 10 Years on the Job

It's hard to believe I'm more than 10 years into my public relations career. Every passing year brings new challenges and opportunities, and although I still have many things to accomplish (and even more years before retirement), I've learned a few things along the way. I hope these lessons will help you on your journey.

1. Be a sponge.
Ask questions. Learn everything you can about where you work, whom you work for and with. Even if you’re not planning to stay long, this experience will be with you forever.

2. Don’t be judgmental.
When you’re first starting out, it’s easy to look around and think, “Gee, these people need to get it together.” You may be correct, but you may also be a know-it-all who doesn’t know a thing about work-life balance... or having a family depend on you for bread, water and a ride to basketball practice.

3. Don't sweat the small stuff.
Get a thick skin and wear it every day. Be flexible and open-minded.

4.  Keep track of your accomplishments.
Earned media placements, money negotiated on advertising, awards and honors... log everything that demonstrates your value, especially if it can be quantified. Which brings me to my next point, 

5. Ask for what you want.
This is especially true if you work in a competitive workplace. Be aware of growth opportunities and let it be known if you are interested. Ask what it will take to earn a promotion.

6. Find things that make you happy outside of work.
Enjoy your time off. Volunteer, travel, raise chickens... just don't put all your happiness eggs in one basket.

7. Don't wait for an evaluation to ask how you're doing.
It's a good idea--and I think it demonstrates initiative--to ask about your performance outside of the annual evaluation. Don't wait until then to find out about the little things you could have improved.

8. Work quietly, and let success be your noise.
Focus on your goals. Make it your ambition to live peacefully by minding your own business.

9. Have an attitude of gratitude.
Everyone likes to hear "thank you." Acknowledge colleagues when they contribute to your work. Even when the grass looks greener elsewhere, remember the opportunity you've been given and make the most of it. Mind your manners, in the office, on the phone and online. It's a small world. 

10. Keep learning.
Seek constructive criticism and use mistakes as a catalyst to do better. Find opportunities to expand your knowledge and be a lifelong learner.

What's your best life or career advice?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Keep your eye on the ball

After the weekend baseball game, we were winding down and joking around about things. Every now and then I would weave in a serious question. This is the only way I know how to have meaningful conversation with a seven-year-old boy. You have talk about farts and video games, sometimes. At the right time, I said I noticed he was having trouble hitting the coach's pitches, and asked what he thought we should do to get better. I was not expecting his response. 

"Mom, I see that ball coming and I just close my eyes..."

After a good laugh, I reiterated the same cliché I've heard a million times. 

"You have to keep your eyes open! Keep your eyes on the ball."

 I threw a couple fake punches over his left shoulder and he practiced not flinching. It's going to take a lot more practice and whiffle balls to get this done. 

After correcting or advising my son, it always exposes my own shortcomings.
Stop worrying.
Try harder.
Don't say bad words. 
Keep your eye on the ball. 

Keep your eye on the ball. The pile of things I want to accomplish seems to keep growing meanwhile I'm busy just trying to keep up with my job, some dishes and laundry. It gets more and more difficult to focus on what's important. 

I think I just need to open my eyes.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Bachelor Extreme Real World Makeover Edition

had a lot of housework to catch up on over the past weekend and I found myself pondering over some of life’s mysteries while washing five sink-loads of dishes. Inevitably my mind wandered to the impending finale of yet another Bachelor season on ABC.

I don't know why I spend any amount of time watching or wondering about this show, but it is a little escape from my very real life, including all those dishes. I watch The Bachelor and I'm woman enough to admit it.

So I was in the kitchen, in my pajamas and up to my elbows in dishwater. I started thinking to myself, it must be easy to fall in love when you're on an all-expenses paid tropical vacation for two months. The show has been on many seasons and I think it's high time the producers shake things up a bit.

I propose a revised bachelor with the following "real world" scenarios:

1.        Bachelor asks the girls out in person. No more cheesy notes delivered via courier. Picture this: Bachelor walks into a room and says “You, you, and you—not you—you, would you like to come on a group date with four other women?”

2.        Everyone keeps their mobile. Who is the bachelor texting at dinner?

3.        The second date is dinner at Chili’s, not a private picnic overlooking secluded snow-capped bluffs and a rambling river. I love Chili's, but who's paying? While we’re at it, let’s get rid of the chauffeurs. Better take it easy on the cocktails.

4.        Bachelor gets tickets to the Super Bowl, and can choose one of the ladies or his best friend. 

5. (This one from my friend Mrs. Smith) they should suffer through a good bout of flu together. 

What experiences would you like to see?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pinteresting Projects: February

If I didn’t spend so much time on Pinterest, I’d probably have more time to do the stuff I am pinning about. Every now and then, I come across a project that doesn’t take away too much time my beloved boards, usually repurposing things I already have around the house. Here’s two recent examples.

Lego Storage

About halfway through a bulk, economy size can of Folger’s, I started questioning why I purchased such an enormous amount of coffee (that was six months ago). I am the only coffee-drinker in my house. Anyhow, I polished it off and here is the reward: a Lego storage bin for the kiddos.
The original pin for this fantastic idea is here. To complete the project, I only purchased a small can of yellow spray paint. Of course, my version doesn’t look as nice because I cut a few corners. Instead of using vinyl cutouts for the face, I drew it with a black Sharpie.

Collage Bookmark

This was supposed to a Valentine’s project for the kids but they were not interested. That didn’t deter me. I collected a cereal box, yarn and old magazines and started cutting to my heart’s content, slapping the scraps together with Mod Podge. This pin was my inspiration, but I created more of a “play on words” using a quote about reading in a ransom note style.  

Check out my other repurposing projects:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

It's OK to Flash (Your Headlights)

I don't get away with much. I couldn't lie to save my life and I have very little personal time in which to carry out mischievous plots (I am writing this surrounded by dirty breakfast plates and in the next room, two naughty boys are jumping on the couch). Every once in a while, though, I get a rare opportunity to slide past the radar, literally.

Stock Photo: Front Of Car Picture. Image: 92200
© Photographer Melissa King | Agency:
While lying can make me physically ill, I get a strange sense of satisfaction when I successfully drive past a police officer running a speed radar. The feeling intensifies when I get to warn oncoming traffic by flashing my headlights.

Ha! You're not going to get us!

Granted, I'm obviously abiding the speed limit, I can't help but feel like I'm getting away with something.

I wondered if this was breaking the rules, and depending where you're driving, it might be. However, this week a U.S. District Judge in St. Louis ruled one city must stop citing drivers who flash their headlights. The ruling resulted from a suit filed by one driver who faced a $1,000 fine for the common practice.

Consider this: What is the intent of a "speed trap?" I think the police will say it's a matter of public safety. If you warn other drivers to slow down (through the action of flashing your lights), aren't you contributing to public safety? I have flashed my lights to warn drivers of other safety concerns, including deer and runners on the road. In Ohio and several other states, flashing your headlights is protected under the First Amendment.

No disrespect to the boys in blue, but why would police officers or city officials want to punish this practice? Could it be you are impeding a revenue source? Maybe that's why it feels so good.