Letter From April Issue No. 1

Welcome to 2016!

Recently, WNIC radio in Detroit asked their followers in social media to describe their 2015 in one word. As grateful as I am to have survived cancer that seemed like an easy question for me to answer–but it wasn’t.

I paused. I thought. I reflected.

Like snippets of a movie I recalled the events of last year; I had two surgeries for breast reconstruction. I thought about the stress and anxiety I felt with each of them and immediately felt dread over the next one. I thought about the challenges I’ve faced physically and emotionally as I try to find my way back to recovery.

I thought about friends and family who are no longer a part of my life due to disagreements, arrogance, death or distance. It made me a little sad. In the moment the best words I could find to describe 2015 were “grateful” and “good.” But those words seem so overused and monotonous.

Convinced there was a better word I continued to reflect.

I survived cancer. And that’s a BIG deal! My hair has made a come back and it’s almost the same length it was before chemotherapy stole it away from me.  I’ve met some pretty amazing women along the way, and I’ve learned I’m one of them. I do not say this in arrogance. It’s more like surprise.  I’ve always admired the strength and abilities of  other women but never really saw my own.  And for the first time, November, I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror and recognized the woman looking back at me. What a feeling!

And then, the icing on the cake of 2015 came to mind; the day I married the man who loved me through it all. My rock. My cheerleader. My best friend. He’s the one who said we could do it–I could it–when I had my doubts. He told me I was beautiful even when my appearance faded with chemotherapy. He comforted me when I was nervous, scared or worried (and he still does). The day we said I DO was “perfect” for us. We were married in beautiful Santa Barbara in a quaint ceremony. I danced down the aisle with my dad to the song Today I Met The Boy I’m Going To Marry. And when the officiant said,

Do you promise to love, honor and cherish in sickness and in health?

I teared up. I could barely speak. After a long pause I whispered “I do.” My new husband stared at me with tears in his eyes and my dad had to look away so as to not let me see the emotion in his. Everyone knew our love had already been tested. We took our vows with the full awareness that life can change or end in an instant.

With memories like these the only word to describe my 2015 is EXTRAORDINARY! And for that, I am GRATEFUL.

Looking forward; 2016

In 2016 I hope to remain cancer-free and healthy. I will continue to work on strengthening my body and immune system. Unfortunately, I will have additional surgeries to complete breast reconstruction. As you can imagine, I dread them. But I look forward to getting it all behind me.

I hope to bring you  interesting content with more consistency. I thank you for welcoming me to the blogosphere. I appreciate those of you who have followed me and offered encouragement while I create my little space on the web. I look forward to getting to know you all so much more in the days to come. May this find you at the beginning of  a healthy and happy year. And remember; if you like what you read here, share it!

Now tell me, what one word would you use to describe your 2015?

 

Image sourced at iStock

6 Shopping Apps You May Want To Consider This Season

Hello, friends!

In just a few days the 12 day's to Christmas countdown will officially begin. By now you're probably making your list's and checking them twice. For most of us part of the Christmas tradition is shopping at malls and enjoying the Christmas ambiance they exude–you really do have to applaud mall decorators. They transform boring mall's into Hallmark movie sets each year. I think it's a shame they save that kind of beauty for just once a year. However, it's nonetheless beautiful. And while I enjoy beautiful surroundings, I have to admit; I haven't been to any mall this season. And I'm not alone.

The recent mass shootings and terrorist attacks have frightened even those who were once determined to continue on as usual, despite terrorist threats. Everyone from supermarket strangers to friends and family have confessed to being too afraid to go to the mall for any reason this season–even if they do it anyway.

I'm always getting emails and text messages asking me about a variety of things. And I love it! I'm happy to share anything I've learned or discovered. Last year around this time most of my emails and text messages were about difficult relatives, gift giving and etiquette. But this year, my text messages and emails look very different.

Hey April! How are you? What do you think of all of this madness with the shootings, attacks and threats? I'm feeling concerned. I'm kind of afraid to shop at the mall's this year. Where will you be shopping? Maybe I'll follow you!

It wasn't until then that I realized so many are concerned. Those messages inspired this post. And even though there are those who will be quick to criticize, judge and lecture anyone who expresses fear, that doesn't change the fact that we have awoken to a new day. Fear is quickly becoming a part of our culture.

For many countries threats, bombings and sirens are a part of the norm. That doesn't mean that it's easy for those populations to except or live with it, nor does it make it right. But, in countries like the United States and France, we have indeed been living with a sense of freedom. Freedom from fear. We now have to adjust to the realization that we are living and working side-by-side with those who want to take that freedom from us. That is a reality that's hard to swallow. It will take time to wrap our brains around that.

So regardless of what anyone else says, you do what you must to get through these challenging times. And know that you are not alone. So now that I've said that, let's move on. Whether you're shopping for the holiday's or for an app you can use year-round, here are some of my picks. Let me say, there are so many great apps out there and I will continue to share them with you as I come across them. For now, this is what I have. And even though I like theme all, there is one that stands out as my favorite. Keep reading!

Remember to act fast if you plan on ordering for Christmas. And if you're worried about delays or getting the wrong item, my solution to that is to print a copy of the item you purchased and wrap it up, put in a card or box and put a bow on it. This way no matter what happens you will have something to hand over. Sound cheesy? Well, maybe. But that's imperfect living. And cheesy in some cases is better than nothin.'

Talk to me! What's your favorite shopping apps?

XO!



Let's Shop!


  • SPRING | The spring shopping app allows you to shop more than 800 brands including, but not limited to, skincare and stocking stuffers. SPRING offers free shipping and free returns. But beware! Reviewers say the app is so easy to use that you can quickly and easily empty your bank account–so consider yourself warned.
  • OPEN SKY | I love OPEN SKY for unique finds and good deals. I've been following them since the app was first released. I have not been disappointed.
  • RETAIL ME NOT | You may already know about this app. In a recent episode of The VIew, fashion expert, Stacy London, dressed the hosts in outfits she purchased from Retail Me Not for under a $100. You can save up to 70 percent on items here so this is definitely an app to check out.
  • AMAZON | I'm sure you know all about this app but I didn't want to leave it out.
  • PINTEREST | Did you know you can now shop some of your favorite pins on Pinterest? Thats right! Leave no stone unturned.

And now, for my favorite shopping app of the year! I'm so excited about this app. And I feel so guilty about saying this because I do not want to put down any other app, because I think a lot of them are great! But, if there was one app I had to choose, OPERATOR may be it!


  • OPERATOR | You HAVE to check this app out if you haven't already! OPERATOR is an iPhone app that has been called “the Uber for everything” by techinsider.io and they couldn't have been more accurate. Operators tagline is “your next shopping experience starts with a text.” And it's true!

All you have to do is download the app, sign in and then send a text message that indicates what you're looking for and an operator will find it for you. It can be anything from flowers and electronics to fashion and tickets. This app is perfect for the workaholic, UBER-busy and mall-challenged. Just take a look how easy this is.



 
 


How AWESOME is that!

 

 

 

From Miss To Mrs

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I’m getting married!

 

 

The wedding is this weekend. The plan has been to get married for awhile now, but life got in the way. To be honest, cancer did. But a few  weeks ago-and right after our Santa Barbara getaway- we decided now is the time.  And as Harry said to Sally in the romcom When Harry Met Sally

“When you know you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start  now!”

So here’s the lowdown on my wedding plans; the ceremony is inspired by the simple weddings of the 1950’s (in conjunction with an episode of The Newsroom).  I’m not one of those women who have dreamed about their wedding day since they age of 2. I don’t have the desire to say my I Do’s in front of a 150 people. And that’s a good thing because I don’t know 150 people. 

We will probably have a delayed celebration in the spring or summer. But for now, it’s just going to be us and the parents. I don’t want the stress, the drama or the big bill that usually comes with a big wedding. 

After all that we’ve been through the last few years I want to be focused on the moments that matter most; the look on his face when my dad hands me off to him. The moment we say I DO. And the first time we are introduced as husband and wife. This day is a celebration of our love, our commitment and our survival. When I was about 15 I came across a quote that has stayed with me ever since. 

Any wedding with the two right people is a big wedding.

I don’t remember who wrote that, but it was in that moment that I realized there was something bigger than the wedding ceremony itself. And while I didn’t know what dress I would wear, how many frogs I would kiss along the way or what song I would play on my wedding day, I did know I wanted mine to be that kind of big.

Don’t get me wrong (disclaimer) I’m not bad mouthing big weddings or minimizing the love that goes into them. If that works for you, great! But for some of us, simple is best. If simple is your thing too, be sure to check out IntimateWeddings.com. You’ll find some beautiful inspiration. Keep checking back for more details including; what’s in my bridal survival kit and beauty bag.

for now, X-Oh!

Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance ~Coco Chanel

 

 

 

 

Weekend Getaway Santa Barbara

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This month marks three years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And while I didn’t have a party to commemorate the occasion, I did spend a few days in Santa Barbara. Yay! Getting away was such a big deal for us. Since the diagnosis we haven’t been on a vacation, a weekend getaway or so much as a sleepover–anywhere–unless you count the hospital stays.

Santa Barbara was the perfect place to dip my toes back into the travel pool; it’s beautiful, laid back and charming. For those who may not know, Santa Barbara is located between the Santa Ynez mountains and the Pacific ocean–the best of both worlds. With its beautiful red tile roofs and perfect climate it’s been nicknamed “The American Riviera.” It’s the perfect place to pamper yourself or your relationship. Here’s a few pics. I’ll be back to share more from my trip!


This is the Santa Barbara courthouse. The architecture is beautiful.

 

 

 

 
 

 

Facebook Chat With Giada De Laurentiis

Giada De Laurentiis is a Food Network star, accomplished cookbook author and single mom. On Tuesday (November 3, 2015), she’ll release her eighth cookbook titled Happy Cooking: Make Every Meal Count….Without Stressing Out. And the word on the street is that it’s her biggest book–ever!

With nearly 200 recipes and Giada’s advice on entertaining, choosing ingredients and practical solutions for everyday situations, there’s bound to be something appealing to every cook.  Last week-gearing up for her book tour-Giada participated in a Facebook chat in conjunction with Williams Sonoma. Here’s some of the Q + A’s.

What’s your secret to staying so thin?

A little bit of everything, not a lot of anything.

What’s your favorite recipe? 

Pizza De Pasta from my new cookbook!

Which city are you most excited to visit on your [book] tour?

I love them all but I’m really excited about Boston!

Will you ever do a cookbook with Jade?

I’ve been thinking about it.

What is your favorite way to give back to yourself?

Mani and pedi with Jade.

Do you have one traditional dish you make every year?

Pumpkin pie is a must!

Will there be a season 2 of Giada in Italy?

Who knows ;)

Any new ideas for a fun Thanksgiving dish this year?

Herb-roasted turkey breast…if you roast the breast separately it’ll be moist and cooked to perfection! Recipe is in the new cookbook.

What is your go-to weekend meal?

Stuffed chicken parm! Jade loves it too! Posted a pic on my insta recently!

end of chat

The one question I didn’t get answered by Giada was, what advice or tips do you have for the host to help minimize stress on the holidays?  Fortunately, my dad was on Facebook at the time so he took the liberty of answering the question.

Okay April. It’s not rocket science!!! That’s why you have alcohol. It’s for the STRESS!

I can’t help but think my dad must have been disappointed that I even had to ask (laugh). I think his answer was great! And certainly, honest.  Happy November everyone!

Will Scott Disick Be The Next Tragedy?

LAMAR Odom, pro basketball player, ex-husband of Khloe Kardashian and the father of three is in a Las Vegas hospital fighting for his life. E! Entertainment–the channel that airs Keeping Up With The Kardashians–has reported that Odom is being treated for a drug overdose with possible brain damage.

And while many fans and followers send their well-wishes and prayers to the family via social media, Instagram followers of Scott Disick are urging him to see the Odom tragedy as a “wake up” call. 

@josiedaisy99 says

Don’t let things get so bad that what happened to Lamar happens to you. Keep going on the right path. You don’t need the booze

@ksl1232001 writes

WAKE UP SCOTT BEFORE YOU LOSE EVERYTHING!!!!!

@itsmeheidiii said

See Scott don’t end up like lamar!!! Shape up for your family!!!

@dianestuffer posted a lengthy comment, so this is a condensed version

I am dying and I have no control over it. You have three beautiful children. The choices you make now will shape the rest of their lives. I can’t change my future but you can. I suggest you go to Lamar’s bedside and take a good look and realize you will be in the same boat. By the way there are no Rollexes, parties, fancy cars and booze when you are 6 feet underground.

@jwins34 said

You’re next if you don’t pull your head out of your (fill in the blank)!!

@devleyz1977 implored Disick

Please let this tragic situation with Lamar be a wake up call.

It’s no secret that Disick has been struggling with issues of addiction. He’s been drunk and stupid on several episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and in tabloid rags. The good news is; as I write this, E! Online has just announced that Disick is checking into rehab for the fourth time.

Maybe seeing Odom on what may be his deathbed will prove to be the “scared straight” moment he needs. What do you think? Share your thoughts with me.

Why your pumpkin should be teal blue this Halloween

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Hello friends! Debbie Downer here asking YOU to support the Teal Pumpkin Project this Halloween by handing out non-food items to your trick-or-treaters. What? Why would I want to do that? Well, I’m glad you asked! I realize that part of the fun of Halloween is that it’s the ONE day out of the year that kids can take candy from strangers. And even better, they can take as much of it as they can get. 

But did you know

  • According to Food Allergy Research and Education, approximately 15 million Americans have food allergies. (And that number continues grow)
  • 38.7 percent of children with food allergies have a severe reaction some leading to death
  • 1 in every 13 children have food allergies

Tell me more about teal pumpkin

The Teal Pumpkin Project is a movement started by Food Allergy Research and Education (aka FARE). It was initiated in 2014 with the goal of raising awareness to food allergies, and making Halloween safer for ALL. Last year, households from 50 states and 7 countries participated in the movement.

It’s easy to do!

All you have to do is paint a pumpkin teal and put it on your porch, stoop or doorstep along with a free printable sign from FARE to indicate you have non-food treats available. Trust me, you’ll make a family and a child very happy. I know what I’m talking about here because I have food allergies and my sister was a diabetic.

To print your free teal pumpkin sign or to get some non-food treat ideas go to foodallergy.org