My Summer Tradition

Pretty much every summer for the majority of my life, I have traveled to Lake of the Woods.  Have you heard of it?  It occupies parts of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, and northern Minnesota.  It is over 70 miles long and wide and has 14,552 islands.

When I was young, we would attach one of those Winnebago foldout campers to the back of our car, and drive three hours up and three hours back.  Somehow, we packed: my parents, my brother, a couple of my stepbrothers and sisters and our huge black standard poodle, Mitzi into the car.  We did this EVERY weekend of the summer!  This is where I sat on a bee and got my first sting, and had my first wee little crush on a boy a few campers down.

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From the Winnebago, we graduated to a little white house on Rainy River. Rainy River runs into the big lake and is just outside of Baudette, Minnesota, population about 1,100. Now that we had the benefit of heat, plumbing, etc., we started traveling here during the winter months, too . . . again, EVERY weekend.  This is about the time where I just wanted to be home on the weekend.  I had friends and a social life where, if I missed out on something happening, my life would be over and I would die (I’m a teenager now). I had a hard time convincing my parents I should stay home so, instead, I would bring my friends along.

lynne-blog-3-2There is a tiny little island that my best friend, Jillie, and I would love to sneak off to. She had a tiny fishing boat, kind of like a dinghy. She would pull up to my dock, pick me up and off we went.  We were always alone on this island; it was like our little secret.  The island was very remote, had nothing on it to speak of except a bunch of sand ,so no one ever ventured there but us. One time, we thought we would be super grown up and sophisticated and sunbathe topless.  That was the very rare time that another fishing boat came floating by.  Now, the island has somehow been discovered and is full of big boats and lots of families picnicking.  My family and I still love to go there.

My parents decided to build their dream home at the Lake about the time I was starting my own family.  I had moved to Minneapolis and, so now, the three-hour drive is a seven-hour drive.  The drive takes us through many quiet, small towns and truly is a slice of Americana.  Homes with wrap-around front porches, lawn art and flags waving proudly.  Nobody is in a hurry to get anywhere, and everything is slowed way down.  So lovely.

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There really isn’t that much to do at the lake . . . except for fishing, and so heading out onto the huge lake means spending the entire day on the boat . . . fishing.  I’m not that great of a fisherwoman as it takes great patience, and I get extremely bored waiting for something to happen.  We usually catch walleye and trout.  Nowadays, we bring a couple of boats onto the lake and have fishing competitions between them, which can get really loud and boisterous.  To this day, my boat has never won.

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Fourth of July celebrations at the lake are my favorite part. Thousands of people come into Baudette for the street fair and fireworks.  At the street fair you can listen to bagpipes, enjoy fried walleye, get a tattoo or our favorite thing, watch someone else get a tattoo. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the tattoo truck is located right next to the Beer Garden. At dusk, it is so cool to see all the families sitting on blankets with their coolers, fluorescent light-up necklaces and twirly thingies in anticipation for the fireworks.  Our neighbors in Canada across the river have lit up American flags in their backyards as a sign of friendship.  The fireworks are choreographed to music, and always end with Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.” When it’s all over and we’re walking back to the car, it’s always the feeling of “best night ever.”

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What’s a Hoosier Anyway?

Last week my family and I set out on our longest road trip to date. Minneapolis, MN to Bloomington, IN.   I can’t believe I didn’t discuss road trips in my earlier blogs . . . isn’t this the season dedicated to hours in the car eating junk food, listening to the radio and counting cows?! I feel like it’s a rite of passage for every American child, and mine were totally up for the challenge.

Backing out of the driveway, my hubby had ‘Holiday Road’ blaring from the speakers (all great road trips must pay homage to Nat’l Lampoons Vacation, whether Aunt Edna is with you or not) and both boys were armed with their favorite movies, headphones and snacks for days. I planned to use these hours to catch up on email, sort through photos on my phone and make sure our family calendar was on point when we returned. But, as always, motion sickness set in half way through my first email and in lieu of being productive, I counted cows.

I feel like when we travel, we throw all rules out the windows. Bed times, nutrition, screen time, all take a back seat to accommodate the road trippin’ timeline. So, when we made our first stop in Chicago, already past the boy’s bedtime, it was fitting that we entered the lobby of the hotel to some serious bass, dark lights and a bar full of 20-somethings in their finest “I’m looking for a date” fashions. The lobby bar was a total club scene and there I stood with my family, covered in chip crumbs, ice cream spills and backpacks full of stuffed animals and dinosaurs. (Parenthood Erin blog 3 fireworkssure does change a Saturday night.) We definitely cramped the cool-kids weekend vibes and found immediate refuge up a few levels in our room. My kids were thrilled to be up way past their bed time, ordering pizza in bed and watching the Olympics. And if that wasn’t good enough, just like in a movie, outside our huge picture window, over-looking Lake Michigan, a fireworks show erupted right in front of us and for the first time in 8 hours, we were all silent, staring out the window. What a treat!! I could get used to this. But all good things must come to an end and all good kids must hit the hay (as my dad would say), lights were soon out and we were all happily in bed.

Erin blog 3 Chi2The next day, we had breakfast in bed, went swimming in the rooftop pool and took the boys on the Navy Pier ferris wheel before packing back up. Next stop: Bloomington, IN. The home of Indiana University, my husband’s Alma Mater. He’s a third generation Hoosier and couldn’t be more proud. By the time we Erin blog 3 ferrisarrived on campus, he was already plotting out what fraternity our boys would pledge, where they will live on campus and how to get the best seats at Assembly Hall for a little IU Bball. (Side note: I really love his love of his school, but grooming our boys this early in life is just not fair to me and my hometown University of MN Golden Gopher pride. Not to mention, I’ll never stop crying if my boys move that far away from me. A counter plan to keep my boys in MN begins now . . . I’ll keep you posted on the progress.) We quickly jumped out of the car and did a walking tour Erin blog 3 IU familythrough campus. Even though IU is a rival Big Ten school to my U o MN, I have to admit, that campus is beautiful!!! After a dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, my husband took the boys to the book store to load up on all things Hoosier red and white. Outfits, posters, stuffed animals (are you kidding me?? This is too much), my boys emerged from the store looking like the newest freshman recruits. We checked IU off our road trip list and got to bed, the next day we were taking off for destination number three.

Erin blog 3 hoosier bothErin blog 3 hoosier

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Wawasee, in Syracuse, IN is where my husband spent every summer of his childhood. Leaving IU and driving north to Lake Wawasee, my boys were already in their swim trunks, sunscreen on, ready to dive into the Erin blog 3 slidewater as soon as we arrived. Pulling into the cottage my husband spent weeks at as a kid, we made this insanely long road trip, worth every minute. The lake is clear and clean, there are boats and jet skis and toys for everyone. And the cottage is a perfect setting to enjoy the final few days of summer.

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My oldest, William, has a brand new Go Pro that he proudly wore as he jumped in the lake and sped around on the jet ski. James, our baby (fine. He’s almost 5, but will always be my baby) worked up the courage to make the giant lily pad his stomping grounds. We swam, boated, ate and repeated for 36 Erin blog 3 jetskihours! It was mostly marvelous, with just a few minor meltdowns. I mean no family of four can go 36 hours without a few meltdowns over whose turn it is anyway and who was really responsible for dropping the brand new Go Pro and letting it sink to the bottom of the lake . . . right? Right. Other than a few minor mishaps, we returned each night to the cottage a brand new shade of tan (even though we wear a lot of sunscreen) and a whole new level of exhausted.

It was bittersweet packing up for our final voyage, not only because I simply adore time with my three boys, but also because Syracuse, IN to Minneapolis, MN is no joke. About 10 hours, with stops and a nasty rain storm, to get back to home sweet home. But on our way home, there was definitely a sense of pride from all four of us. The kids were thrilled with the new adventures and are already plotting ways to permanently eat breakfast in bed. My husband was beaming with pride that his family had a blast in his favorite state. And I, to be real honest, am thrilled that I was able to keep this family unit in one piece, without massive meltdown for a total of 1000+ miles across the Midwest. Phew.

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Thanks for taking this road trip with me! Next stop: Vancouver with my college roomies . . .

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Kimberly’s 48 hours in Vegas Survival Guide

Looking for a quick getaway that has all the makings of an Adult Disneyland? Then look no further than Viva Las Vegas.

My sister-in-law, Natasha, had never been to Vegas and since my friend, Bucky, was headlining in a show and colleagues were attending the JCK, it seemed like the perfect weekend to go for broke (no pun intended)!!  Girls Trip!!

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There are lots of great and affordable airlines traveling to LV this time of year – so while the temperatures are rising, take advantage of the low $$ for travel.  Pack a carry-on only; don’t waste a minute of your time at baggage claim and heaven forbid your luggage gets lost.  It’s a quick trip: 2 tops, 1 bottom, a bathing suit & cover up, 2 dresses, 1 pair of heels and a pair of flip flops . . . that’s all you need!!

Once you arrive, be prepared to wait in line for a taxi. This line appears to be never ending, depending upon the time Kimberly blog 2 taxi line insert& day of arrival, but it moves quicker then Space Mountain and there’s some pretty good people watching along the way.

Once you get to your hotel, you may also encounter a long line to check in. Understand, Vegas truly never sleeps, so people are checking in & out at all hours of the day.  Join the Total Rewards program online so you have a member number, as most casinos have a special check-in line & tons of discount for members . . . and it’s free to join.  And always smile, be courteous and ask for an upgrade.  I found that being kind (that and a discreet tip to the person checking you in) will pay off handsomely in the long run. You’re not in your room for most of the day, but a higher floor, better view and executive lounge privileges can sure make your stay that much sweeter.

Kimberly blog 2 shopping 3Shopping in Vegas is just insane! It’s the best of NYC, LA, London, Paris and your favorite mall all wrapped up on one long strip.  From the highest end boutiques to the most convenient of touristy shops – you could literally arrive there empty handed and go home with an entirely new wardrobe!!Kimberly blog 2 shopping 1

If you love to eat like me, you’ll be in a gastronomical paradise!! From the mom & pop diners to your favorite celebrity chefs, there are a gazillion Kimberly food 3opportunities to tantalize your taste buds.  Enjoy breakfast in Rome, lunch in Paris and dinner in NYC . . . it’s a culinary feast of the senses.  Don’t have a reservation?  No prob!  Be flexible, go on an off hour, be willing to sit at the bar, smile . . . and don’t forget to tip the guy or gal that squeezes you in without much of a wait!!

Kimberly blog 2 food 1Entertainment abounds in Vegas, from the biggest headliners, to musical Kimberly blog 2 MJ2reviews, cabarets, comedy and everything in between.  If you’re worried about seeing that one big showstopper, then perhaps book in advance.  But I found walking up to the ticket counter was just as easy, you see the actual venue & there are no overpriced service charges from a third party!  Kimberly blog 2 BrittneyPerhaps the best secret is that house seats are ‘on hold’ until the day of the show for special guests of the headliners, etc.  If you’re at the right place at the right time, a coveted seat may be yours!!!

Want to feel inspired? The various hotels are all incredibly different and feature one-of-a-kind architecture and design features that are truly museum quality.  Be sure to allow some time to just wander from one place to the next to the next . . .

Kimberly blog 2 poolsideFinally . . . it’s totally hothothot in Vegas and you must stay hydrated!!  Carry h2o with you at all times and wear sunscreen.  If hanging out by the pool, rent a covered cabana or lounge chairs that offer you shade and protection.  While they can be $100-200 for the day, with food/beverage minimums . . . it’s completely worth it for you to have a place to hang your hat, take a little nap if you stayed out too late the night before and just enjoy the wild and wacky pool scene.  When it’s 114 degrees outside, getting burned and blistered can happen quicker then you think and ruin the rest of your trip!

Yep, you really can do Vegas in 48 hours and survive!!  And, if you happen to get caught up on one or more of these steps, just remember:

What happens in Vegas . . . well, you know the rest!

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Love to see YOUR Vegas vacation pix too!!

Cheers xx

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Five years of wedded bliss!

Woo hoo!  We made it!  Five years of wedded bliss.  I’m happy to announce that Tim and I celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary since my last blog post. Last post, I promised to follow up with our dinner in white experience this year around and, as luck would have it, we were able to celebrate our anniversary on the night of the dinner in white.  It was dreamy.Fatima blog 2 1C

In case you missed it, ‘dinner in white’ is a tradition that started in Paris years ago where it resembles a flash mob but as a fancy picnic.  You’re given a date and time in advance, and the location is announced half an hour before the dinner starts.  You pack up everything you need, from tables and chairs, to food, and any decorations, and head to the location where everyone gathers for a beautiful summer picnic.

Fatima blog 2 loading upThis is the not so glamorous part, hauling all of your supplies to the location. We decided to at least have fun with it by taking a goofy selfie!

This year, it was even more impromptu because there were reports of thunder storms the night of the dinner, so the organizers announced on Facebook at noon the same day that it would be moved to the following day.

Fatima blog 2 sparklersAs luck would have it, we had absolutely no plans the next night, which happened to be our five year anniversary.  How perfect!  On the downside, however, two of the members of our group could not make it because they had a previous engagement.  The remaining four of us were game, and we decided to go through with the dinner.  This year, the location was announced to be at a pedestrian bridge spanning the Mississippi River, overlooking the Minneapolis skyline.

Fatima blog 2 grilled salmonOne of the key factors is preparing a delicious dinner menu.  Tim and I decided to go out on a limb and do something fancy.  We grilled salmon on cedar planks at home, packed it up, and carefully brought it to the picnic location. We also had a delicious potato salad, cherries, and beautiful desserts that our friends picked up at a local gourmet bakery.  A refreshing, sparkling ice tea beverage was also served in . . . what else, an antique silver teapot.  Go big, or go home!

The weather was lovely, the company was fantastic, and the food was delicious . . . what else do you need?  Oh, wait!  Wardrobe!!

So, last post, I mentioned our group wanted to try to go for a theme.  We were thinking a little punk, circus theme. I’m not even really sure what that means . . . ha ha . . . but I did my best to be a little edgy with some exaggerated ruffles, a deeper shade of lipstick, and a feather and lace headpiece.  I found the top on eBay, the feather at Michael’s craft store, and I cut up an old lace blouse for the headpiece.Fatima blog 2 wardrobe

Overall, the event was a perfect way to celebrate our anniversary and spend time with close friends.  Several hundred people showed up and we all lit sparklers and dined into the night.  A live band even showed up to serenade the diners . . . it was truly a memorable night.Fatima blog 2 sparklers 2

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Traditions

kathy blog 2 homeThere is something so nostalgic and a bit romantic about creating great traditions with family and friends. We started going ‘up North to the cabin’ every July with our college friends about 30 years ago.  Back then we were just a group of crazy couples (with even some of our parents), then babies came and weddings and funerals  . . . but we never missed this time together.  Fast-forward to more recent years and it’s back to just us crazy couples – now all empty nesters!  The events of the week have started to revolve around food, what could be better?!

kathy blog 2 beach fireSo picture this . . . lakeside cabin with a great beach, bonfire, loons (the bird not the people) and some great classic rock music . . . and now add in a traditional CLAMBAKE!

Here’s how we did it, and now it’s part of the tradition and everyone can participate.

Start with a visit to your local fish market to get the clams, shrimp, mussels and lobsters!  And the rest is kathy blog 2 lobstereasy.  We wanted to do this on the beach over an open fire, so we started with a huge galvanized tub and started picking rocks out of the lake to use at the bottom of the tub. Filled it with lake water – yep, lake water (a really clean lake) – and then started layering in all the goodies.

Here’s the recipe I use (not created but use, and it’s perfect every time):

Beach Clambake

1-½ lbs of baby red potatoes                                                                        1 lb little neck clams                                                                                         2 cups water                                                                                                      4 tablespoons salted butter                                                                              2 large yellow onions, cut into eighths                                                           8 garlic cloves                                                                                                   ½ bottle of dry white wine                                                                               1 ¼ lb of kielbasa sausage, cut into bit size                                                    3 lobsters, each 1 1/2 lbs or larger                                                                      5 medium ears of corn, husked and broken in half                                         1 lb of deveined shrimp                                                                                    8 lemons, quartered for serving                                                                 Tons of melted butter for serving                                                     Sourdough bread for serving

  1. kathy blog 2 guysPre boil the potatoes until tender
  2. Fill large bowl with cool, slated tap water and submerge clams for 30-45 min. This way they purge the sand.  Scrub.
  3. Start adding ingredients to the tub in this order (with enough water in the tub to cover the rocks) and steam the ingredients: onion, garlic, wine, cooked potatoes, sausage. Steam for 5 minutes by covering with wet beach towel. Add the lobsters and cook for 6 minutes. Add the corn and clams and cook another 6 minutes. Add shrimp, cover and cook another 6 minutes.
  4. Pour onto a newspaper-covered table and serve with lemons and melted butter and some fresh warm sourdough bread.

The bar is easy, we usually have cold beer in a tub and some crisp, cold, white wine.

We spread newspaper over a picnic table down at the waters edge, throw out a few plates and lobster crackers, and go to town!

Dessert?  That’s easy….s’mores of course!  Enjoy!

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The Great Outdoors

I’ve never been one with nature.  In fact, the whole idea of interacting with nature has often scared me to into a wild fit of screaming and dancing about like a crazy lady (it all started in third grade with an unexpected visit from a snake . . . eww.  And remind me to tell you about the gecko in Petite St Vincent. I still get shivers up my spine!).  Don’t get me wrong, I love and honor this great planet and respect all living creatures.  They each make this world beautiful and I love observing it . . . from a comfortable distance.

Erin blog 2 swimmingBut every year, my parents, my brother’s family and my family (#TeamNewburg) road trip to northern Minnesota for a week of family time and inevitably becoming one with nature.  This week I’m ‘up north’ with my family and we’re having a blast playing card games, swimming (in the chlorinated pool), taking long walks, snuggling up for movies and ‘unplugging’, as they say.  It’s been an annual trip we’ve taken for the past 8 years.  My boys just love spending time with their grandparents and cousins.  My husband gets more golf in this week than he does all year. My sister-in-law and I eat all Erin blog 2 fishingthe carbs we want.  My dad gets up extra early to take his grandsons fishing and teaches them how to cast and reel.  It really is a special week of family time that I treasure.

It is also a time that brings me insanely and uncomfortably close with the beauty of our great state.  In just a few short days, we’ve seen the following:

  1. Erin blog 2 turtleSnakes basking in the sun on the walking bridge
  2. Turtles taking a break on lily pads
  3. A frog on our grill, just in time for happy hour
  4. A wolf quietly observing from hole #5
  5. A bear, in the ditch watching the cars go by
  6. Eagles circling the pine trees, looking for lunch
  7. A deer surprising us in the gravel parking lot
  8. And more bees, mosquitos, birds, squirrels and chipmunks than we can count!!

Erin blog 2 hand in handIt’s incredible how beautiful a family vacation can be.  Not only for the uninterrupted time together, but also the reminder that even our greatest fears (whether reasonable or not!) can still provide the most amazing beauty.  I sit here in awe of what our great state of Minnesota has to offer and am thankful it provides a place for my family and I to enjoy the simplicity of life.  Lets be clear, I’ll still keep a healthy distance and there will definitely be many more unreasonable episodes of terror.  But, for this one week, I will become one with nature and simply enjoy the great outdoors.

Erin blog 2 fish cleaningI’d love to know how you and your family get away. We’re always looking for ideas for our family.

What do you love most about your state?

What’s your take on the great outdoors? Observe from a distance or become one with it?!?

 

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Who wants to come to work with me?

Heather blogSeeing as it’s now summer, lots of you are getting ready for your vacations and time away.  Maybe it’s packing up the car and going camping, to an amusement park, seeing family, or maybe something completely different!  For those of you who are staying around home but still need to ‘get away’ if even for just a moment, I’ve got a great idea: ever wondered what a day looks like as an Evine host? Let me take you to work with me for the day!

The first thing you need to know – the only thing that stays consistent is change! Our schedule is never the same day by day, week by week, and sometimes even hour by hour.

Today is a Friday and I wake up at 6 am to enjoy a much needed hot cup of coffee, then off to Pilates by 7am. After my workout I grab a quick shower and protein shake. There are a few glamorous errands that NEED to be done today such as buying cat food, cat litter, cat toys, cat nip…do you see a theme here?  I arrive at the Evine studio by 11 am and ready to start my shopping day with you, but guess what? I won’t see you on the air until 6:00pm for Before and After Beauty.

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As I pass our security station, I notice we have a new guard. I spend the next 5 minutes explaining that I am, in fact, the woman whose face is on my badge. Funny how this never happens when I have makeup on!

As soon as I enter the building, I’m off to my first meeting of the day.   I swear I can hear the angels singing as I open the door to the meeting room… it’s a shopping free-for-all with the jewelry buyers! Tray after tray of beautiful jewelry are spread across the table. Together we try one and drool over the merchandise, wishing we could take it all home with us. Once we’ve had our fun, we get down to business by reviewing customer reviews and feedback to identify what you (our viewers) want to see. I tell them what questions you call in with while I’m on the air and also keep a list of your personal requests for our talented designers. Michael Valitutti’s team shares some exciting new items in the world of cameos; Chuck Clemency’s team has a hot new design in morganite; and Dallas Prince’s team…well I have been sworn to secrecy, but you just wait! Overall, a very productive meeting.

Heather cameo blog

Now it’s down to the beauty offices. This place feels like home to me. It’s a paradise of plush couches, elegant light fixtures, and more beauty products than a girl could ever dream of. Here I get to slather on new creams, and check out the hot summer lipstick colors. The biggest question I hear from all of you is, “Heather do you REALLY use that?” My answer is always “Yes!” I sample every last item in each collection I present to you. Obviously, I cannot use them all everyday or I would never leave my vanity!!

Next, it’s back to the host room. I have my cue cards and show plans strewn about. I scribble all of my notes on each card so I don’t forget to ask the questions I know you want answered. My research takes at least 2 hours for show. After visiting with each of my 4 guests for 15 minutes each, I feel prepared to take you shopping.

What I do next is one of my favorite parts of the day. It’s a trip to the pink room! This where our amazing stylist Annabelle does her magic. She transforms my messy pilates pony tail to a long silky blowout that finally has me looking like my Evine badge. It’s now 1 hour to showtime and I sit with our whole team (producer, director, visual stylist and sales manager) discussing the flow of the show… or at least how we THINK the show will go. Then we get a good laugh as we realize live TV never goes as planned.  In the few short minutes before the cameras roll, I put in my earpiece and position my microphone, the lights dim and studio goes quiet. I sit down at the vanity in studio E and get ready to say “Good Friday evening everyone and welcome into Before and After Beauty”. You all know how the rest of my night goes as you and I go shopping together through your television.

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I am back home and in my PJ’s by 10pm, already excited for my 6 am wake up call to do it all again. I love my job!

 

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When life gives you lemons . . . make lemonade!

It’s a quote my grandmother stitched onto an embroidered piece of fabric and framed it, placing it in my bedroom – it had 2 bunnies that reminded me of Beatrix Potter bunnies – very simple crisscrosses created the words to a very complex life message.  I’ve thought of this quote many times as I’ve experienced tough times – how do I make lemonade out of this?  It means to find the silver lining to the dark cloud, or to make something positive out of something negative.

Like cancer—how can you find the positive in that? One little girl did just that.

For many, summertime is the time to drink lemonade because it’s hot. However, for my family, it’s a time to do our part and fundraise to help find a cure for cancer—one cup at a time! 

Chloe stand blog

Each summer my daughter, Chloe has held a neighborhood lemonade stand outside of our home where she sells cupcakes, cookies and brownies to raise money for Childhood Cancer Research through Alex’s Lemonade Foundation.   It’s an annual fundraising event that Alex’s parents continued on well after their 4- year old daughter Alex’s death from brain cancer.  She was an inspiration to kids across the nation for telling her mom she wanted to raise over $1 million dollar for a cure for all children who have cancer.  Alex doesn’t know it- but she has more than doubled that goal!  Chloe was just one of the kids she inspired to take action!

Chloe brownie blogDaddy is handy so he made the lemonade stand with pink and yellow strips when she was just 6-years old, soon becoming an attraction to all of the kids in the neighborhood!  Everyone wanted to come and help pour lemonade and sell cookies!  

Wendi group blogIt’s a whole weekend event and, of course, I invited all my fellow hosts – this year Sam Saboura from One World stopped by and did a live Facebook chat with me from the Lemonade stand – AND he contributed!  Laura Duffek from your favorite bedding and Tiffany Style Lighting shows also came around, as well as host Kimberly Wells, who was a big donor this year (thank you Kimberly!!) and even  easy and breezy Becky Wright from OSO Casual!  Host Kendy Kloepfer comes every year and got Chloe police blogto witness the fire truck pulling up onto the block, along with Chloe who, of course, was screaming and jumping up and down (sidenote- why are firemen always cute? Where were my single girlfriends?)  Another donor was even our own CEO Bob Rosenblatt (who is a doll by the way), Invicta Ryan . . . and the list goes on!

 

So, all-in-all, it was a huge success!

By the time Chloe was 6-years old, she had raised over $1,000. Each year since then, she has surpassed that goal, with over $8,000 donated so far!  That first year the local news station came to interview her and last year, a local company who chooses one “little fundraiser” to help raise BIG money, presented her with a $1500 check.  It’s been amazing to witness how people really come out to help, and have been moved by the big heart of a ‘little’ person.

Chloe stand 2 blogThis year Chloe’s Lemonade stand was held in honor of Cheryl,  a long-time beloved friend and nail technician to many of the female hosts at EVINE, who’s had cancer for over a year and is undergoing a major battle for her life.  Prayers for her would be wonderful . . . .

 Learning about compassion and helping others is a lesson I wanted to teach my daughter at a young age—what are you doing to touch the life of others this summer?

 

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Wally says “Happy Summer!”

If you’re a dog owner like us, summer is the best time of the year here in Minnesota. We love taking our ‘boys’ on walks around the lake, playing ‘catch’ and ‘tug-o-war’ in the back yard, and going for long rides in the car. Being outside is fun but there are a few simple precautions that we take that help protect our dogs and keep them cool in the heat.

Wally blog

Stay Hydrated. Bring extra water for your dog on any long walk. Drinking water is one of the ways dogs cool themselves. If they’re playing outside, make sure their water bowl is full.

Stay off Hot Pavement. Summer heat warms pavements just like a frying pan and, if the pavement gets too hot, it can burn your dog’s paws. You can check by pressing the back of your hand against the asphalt or concrete to see if it will be comfortable for your dog to walk on. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws!  Avoid these surfaces during the hot part of the day or consider putting protective booties (good luck with that) on your dog’s paws as added protection. Wally just walks on the grass as much as possible

Prevent sunburn. My bulldog Wally is mostly white, and white dogs tend to get sunburned more easily. Additionally, the tips of ears, bridge of the nose, around the eyes and abdomen are all sensitive areas on a dog’s skin. So, if you plan to be out in hot sun for a while, get your dog a sun protector or sunscreen made for dogs and, whenever possible, rest in the shade.

Keep up on ticks and fleas protection. Being outdoors is great, but wooded areas and long grasses are home for ticks and fleas.

Let’s go swimming! We keep a pool filled just in case one of my dogs wants to take a dip and cool off.

Wally blog pool

And of course…never, ever leave your pet in the car on a hot day.

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Life’s a beach

You’ve probably never heard the song ‘Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside’ and it’s highly unlikely you’ll find it on iTunes any time soon, but it’s quintessentially British and sums up who I am when it comes to summer. I heart the beach – big time!

For me, summer is an experience for the senses. After we’ve been bundled up from the cold inside our houses and our big coats, it feels celebratory to shake it off and salute the sun, the sky and sea. I adore the feeling of warm sun and a cool breeze on my skin, the sound of the ocean, the sensation of sand between my toes as I walk through the waves. From the bleak midwinter, summer comes with a beauty so perfect it brings a sense of anticipation that anything is possible.

When I was little our annual holiday home was a tiny cottage called ‘Binsey’ in Cornwall that was owned by my Great Uncle Fred and Auntie Mae. I have the utmost respect for my amazing parents making a four hour (or was it eight hour?) journey with three small children, no air con and a constant wail of “Are we there yet?” But once we were there – what an adventure! We lived on the beach; surfing on wooden boards, eating peppery Cornish pasties and clambering on the rocks with our nets in one hand and buckets in the other looking for salty rock pools and the wondrous sea creatures they held within.

When I was five, we moved to glorious Sussex-by-the-sea. First, to historic Hastings, where my Dad would take us climbing on the cliffs and tell us stories about the great battle that took place there in 1066. We’d watch the glassblowers on the pier making colorful creations whilst eating hot donuts fresh from the pan.

Next, we moved to Elmer Sands, which couldn’t get more British seaside because we had a Butlins holiday camp in nearby Bognor Regis where hoards of Brits would flock year upon year to sit in deckchairs eating ice-creams and getting suburnt. Our house was so close to the beach I could see the sea from my bedroom window. We went to the beach every day after school and I even remember one day bringing a tray with a teapot, a jug of milk and cups for all the Mums and Dads after one of them said, they were, ‘Gagging for a cuppa’. Some days an ordinary walk on the beach could turn into an adventure when a trawler had become grounded or we found an unexploded WWII bomb that had washed in with the waves!

In 1999 I fell in love. Not with a person but with a place. It was the first time I visited the Spanish island of Ibiza. I have been lucky enough to work and travel all over the world but there is something quite magical about the island and it holds so many great memories for me from seeing the moon rise to many a sunset. In fact, in 2009, I ditched the city and moved there for the summer. A favorite memory that year was when I was steering a friend’s yacht (as you do!) and, as I looked out at the glittering ocean, I had the thought that this couldn’t be any more perfect. At that precise moment, five dolphins popped up out of the waves right by the side of the boat to say hello!

Still on my bucket (and spade?) list is the Maldives. In our host room, my screen saver/vision board is a stunning picture that appears every time I turn on my computer.

I’ve visited many places and many beaches but, wherever I am in the world, the sea brings both a sense of excitement and peace. The ocean can be as still as a mill-pond or a swirling all-consuming torrent. It is a reminder that nothing in life is constant apart from change.

Here’s just a small snapshot of snapshots from some of my seaside adventures that I’d like to share you with you:

 

Cornwall

Cornwall – the start of my love affair with the beach on one of our family holidays

 

Provence

Provence 2009 – this was a holiday with my parents and my grandmother we had a gorgeous villa up in the hills in the South of France. If I can’t be at the beach you’ll find me at a pool!

 

Capetown

Cape Town 2011 – I shot an American commercial (yes, I can do other accents!) in Cape Town, and the whole trip was magical – from flying Club Class, scaling Table Mountain and even a Hollywood celebrity sitting feet away from me on the flight home! 

 

KoChang

Ko Chang 2012 – one of my BBFs lives in Bangkok in Thailand and when I went to visit in 2012 we caught a boat to the island of Ko Chang. I love this picture as it looks like it’s from a brochure – that’s how beautiful Thailand is – no filter required!

 

Croatia

Croatia 2013 – Croatia has incredible sunsets and the Adriatic sea is like no other. A friend and I went to a festival there and it rained every day – apart from this one!

 

Ibiza

Ibiza 2013 – this is from a holiday with the girls. I procrastinated for ages about whether to pay extra for a room with a sea view but I was so glad I did. This was the view from our balcony. Pure bliss!

 

Brighton

Brighton 2015 – Brighton is very near to where I grew up in Sussex and always has a place in my heart. This is the shell of the old pier that burned down in 2003.  I took this photo last year when I working in Brighton for a few days.

I’d love to hear about your ocean adventures. If you could only go to one beach in the world for the rest of your life, where would you go and why? Which hot spots in the US would you recommend I visit? And what’s on your beach bucket list?

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