Sundance 2015

According to the Sundance Institute website, “In 1981, Robert Redford founded the Sundance Institute to foster independence, risk-taking, and new voices in American film. That year, ten emerging filmmakers were invited to Sundance Resort in the mountains of Utah, where they worked with leading writers, directors, and actors to develop their original independent projects.

Today, our staff of 150 employees works from offices in Park City, Los Angeles, and New York City to provide 24 residential labs, grants exceeding $2.5 million, and ongoing mentorships that support more than 350 artists each year. Each January, our Sundance Film Festival introduces a global audience to groundbreaking work and emerging talent in independent film. More than 50 other public programs connect artists with audiences to present original voices, inspire new ideas, and create community around independent storytelling.

But, it hasn’t just become an important event for independent film makers, it also helps to foster connections in the entertainment industry, provide even A-list celebrities a chance to branch out into other areas of filmmaking, such as writing, directing and producing; as well as giving movie enthusiasts a close connection to the entertainment industry that few get to experience.

Year after year, I’ve seen my friends attend this (rather cold yet glamorous) event, posting pictures of them with celebrities, parties, movies and other goings on.  Year after year, I’ve longed to go.  Finally, I had an opportunity and now, I’m hooked.

Day 1: Thursday, January 22nd

Since it was a low-key night, we headed to Robert Redford’s restaurant Zoom for dinner and drinks.  It’s an incredible place!  I highly recommend the Short Rib dish.



Day 2: Friday, January 23rd

My girlfriend and I headed over to the spa at Montage for the day (which I highly recommend – we spent the whole day there, taking advantage of the entire 35,000 Sq. Ft. facility).  Note, Montage is also the place many celebrities stay, including The Stone Temple Pilots (STP), Gwenyth Paltrow, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon!  That evening, Montage was holding a free, live concert with STP, which was incredible (see videos below).

In the late evening, we headed over to Bistro 412 for dinner – a place I wouldn’t recommend unless you’re in for a large, loud crowd and ok service.

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 Stone Temple Pilots at Montage

Day 3: Saturday, January 24th

This was a great day to be out and about, running into celebrities (shout outs go to Alec Baldwin and his family, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Bacon, Keanu Reeves, James Franco and Zachary Quinto), taking in free/private events and generally wandering around, exploring.

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 Chase Sapphire Lounge Q&A with James Franco and Zachary Quinto

Acura Live!

Collective Party with Pras

Fun with iPhhhoto at the Collective party!

Day 4: Sunday, January 25th

On our final day in Park City, we decided to start the day out with something a little unusual but highly therapeutic – dog sledding!  We hired Racer Gibson, via All Seasons Adventures, to take us on our 50-minute ride.  It was the most incredible experience.

Through Racer Gibson, the husband and wife team have a foundation called Arctic Rescue that helps rescue huskies, which they both will foster and take on permanently.  Some of these pups have been with the team for four weeks and are already sledding.  And from personal experience, every one of these dogs is so happy, in amazing health and just wants to run!

I spent time going down the line, playing with each of them and even the elderly ones that get to go along for rides in the car or just for slower, shorter experiences.  All of them were so loving and gentle and of course, I wanted to bring them all home!

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Dog Sledding around the old mines

On our last day in Park City, we also went to brunch at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, hung out at the Lipton Sparkling Tea Lounge, listening to the amazing mixes of my friend DJ Mr Best; and explored as much of Main St. as we could before we all headed home.

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More fun with iPhhhoto at Lipton Sparkling Tea Lounge

While this was an amazing trip, there are definitely a few things I’d do differently:


No kidding, passes for 2016 will start becoming available in April of 2015.  Check out the Sundance website for more information.  All Access passes definitely provide you the best experience and while they seem costly, almost every event is free food and alcohol.


There is no easy way around town at all – it doesn’t matter if it’s by cab, uber or car rental.

Taxis: Taxis are the MOST EXPENSIVE way to go.  To give you an example, taxis charge $120 (with tip) to get to Park city from the airport.  Ubers charge half of that (if you go with Uber X).  To give you another example, taxis were charging $45 to go one mile from our place in Deer Valley to Main St.,  Uber X was $7.

Ubers: While Ubers seem to be the cheaper option, they are not always available the way you would hope.  During the day, Uber was only deploying Acura SUVs, which had a MINIMUM rate of $35 – $50, depending on the time of day.  Uber X’s were not available until the evenings.  HINT: If you get ahold of an Uber X driver, ask for their cell #, as they will be more than happy to get you when you need a ride.

Park City Shuttle: Pending you are near a stop, this is the cheapest way to get around, as it is free!  Most shuttles run in their own loops with their main station being on Main St.  It will virtually take you anywhere you need to go, including the resorts!

Renting a Car: Depending on what you rent, this is also a great option (and one I might entertain next year).  While parking is a HUGE PAIN during most of the time on Main St. (and around $20-$25 a day), it does allow you a lot more flexibility to come and go.  The nights are so cold that waiting for a cab, Uber or a shuttle is painful.


There are many resorts to choose from, all of which do provide free shuttle service if you are staying with them (although the rates are incredibly pricey).  The other option is to rent a house.  Deer Valley is the place to be however, if you want more inexpensive options, try looking even 20 minutes outside of the city.

Events/Parties/Eating/Drinking = LONG LINES

There is a pecking order to any place you want to get into.  All-Access get first right to entry, followed ticket holders, then  guest list attendees and then if there is availability, walk-ins.  Given that the venues are much smaller and intimate now, the latter usually do not get entry and are oftentimes, waiting outside all night.

Oftentimes, this means finding a bite to eat can be rather difficult. Most of the restaurants and bars are taken over by private events.  Make any and all reservations you can, well in advance.  Note that those establishments without parties oftentimes have a long line, since everyone wants to eat and very few places are available.  My suggestion: Either eat at your resort or go grocery shopping as much as you can.

What to Wear

I’m sure it’s no secret, I’m a fashion enthusiast, which means layering was not something that crossed my mind.  When I was putting together my outfits, I kept thinking that I’d be inside more than outside.  This is definitely not the case.  Warm, chic coats, hats and gloves are KEY.  I saw women layering a turtleneck with a fur vest AND a coat AND a scarf.  It’s possible to look amazing while staying warm :-) Also, note that there is ice and snow everywhere so heels are not ideal most of the time.  Reserve those for the nights out (the sidewalks on Main St. are pretty clear).

…until next year…

Every Year is a New Adventure – Here’s to an Extraordinary 2015!


A few months ago, someone handed me this sticker.  It is such a fantastic reminder of staying in the present, appreciating all that is around you and having fun.  In other words, live the type of life that stories are made of.

Reflecting back on this past year, I’d never expect to be saying the words, “My 2014 was what screenplays are based on”.  In other words, I (happily) lived a great story!  Below is my recap.

It’s Better to Have Loved and Lost, Particularly if You Grow From it!

2013 brought a fairytale to my life – one that few understand unless you experience it for yourself (or you are close enough to me, to have witnessed it unfold).  Whether you have known someone for 6 weeks, 6 months, or 60 years, people constantly evolve and sometimes, it doesn’t happen in the harmony you had hoped for.  I was lucky (with no regrets) to take a huge risk in love and although we’ve decided to part ways this year as good friends (please join me in wishing him the best – he’s a good person), I am proud to have learned so much about myself in this process.  Like my dad always says, “Everything happens for a reason”.  I am very eager and excited to see what this new year will hold – both in love and in other aspects of my life.  But if there is one thing I’ve learned (above anything else), is to just go with the flow and enjoy :-)

Speaking of Loves, There’s a New One In My Life!


As almost everyone has seen, a little furry bundle came into my life one week before my birthday, this past summer.  Leo Devolites is now 7 months old, loves to play fetch, has learned some new tricks and can be found snoozing under furniture.  He loves long walks on the beach (and chasing seagulls), squeaky toys (particularly when you’re watching TV) and car rides with the top down.  He’s the best addition to my life and such a joy.  He’s excited for all the new adventures that will happen next year.  “Mom” is excited for doggy day camp, hiring a dog walker next spring and wearing him out :-)

Exploring the World Feeds My Soul


Lake Ontario/Toronto

Traveling is the number one biggest “must have” in my life.  I love the thrill of exploring new places, taking long drives and seeing even the same scenery from a different perspective.  This year, my traveling took me to: Grand Rapids, Nashville (my first time at the Grand Ole Opry!), Dallas, Las Cruces, San Diego, Barcelona, Los Angeles (several times), San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Toronto.

I’ve experienced the California coast line from the train, played tour guide (up and down the coast) to countless friends, and have done enough wandering to appreciate the beauty in my surroundings.

In the first half of 2015, my travels (so far) will take me to Birmingham, Washington D.C., Salt Lake City (Sundance!) San Francisco, Bahamas, Budapest, Greece and Italy!  I can’t wait to see where else my travels will take me, feeding my soul just a little bit more along the way!

I’m Taking on a Side Job as a Professional Mover. (Not quite.)

My beautiful view.

My beautiful view in San Diego.

This past May, I made the “great move” to San Diego, eager (and excited) to start a new life.  Through the vision of being by the beach everyday, hiking, walking, running, yoga, etc., I was looking forward to a more active lifestyle. Over the last six months, I’ve discovered that perfect weather and beaches nearby cannot replace the fact that the Washington, D.C. Metro Area is (and always will be) home.  I’m so blessed to have an amazing, beautiful and successful group of friends in my life who have made me realize that home is where the heart is and as discovered, the rest of me needs to join that vital organ back where I belong.  On May 9th/10th, Leo and I will have packed up our belongings, shipped everything off and will be heading home FOR GOOD!  (He says he’s excited to mix with D.C. dogs, as these SoCal ones are too laid back :-) ) We promise this is it and that the next time we move, it will be into a purchased home!

When Do You Find Time to Work With All This Adventure?

I’ve been super blessed to be with the same company for the last three years (who have been very understanding of my indecisiveness on living locale) and really love what I do!  I’ve learned an immense amount about the innovation space, constantly seeking new ways to contribute and new ways to learn.  In the last year, I’ve gotten to work with some incredible companies that have helped me to grow professionally, turning me into a thought leader.  I have many professional goals for 2015 but the biggest being innovation game development that excites people about these types of programs!

Yes, I Also Have Hobbies Wedged In There

When people ask me what else I do with my life, I tell them I love to throw dinner parties, drink great wine, cook, shop, and write – the last two being the passions I spend the most time at.

As some of you know, I was the Director of Marketing for Tysons Galleria a few years back, which then turned into an opportunity to write a weekly fashion column for Washington Life Magazine.  I resigned from that post at the end of last year to focus on the move to San Diego, as well as all the other things going on in my life at the time.  But, there is still no escaping the fact that I love fashion – it’s part of who I am.  In the last month, my Pinterest account is getting a lot more attention, as I decided to follow my passion of constructing complete looks for particular travels ( it’s Sundance at the moment).  It is my goal that (aside for being discovered for Street Style in Park City :-D), I can contribute to some fashion publications again, as I can’t imagine not staying involved!

And, while on the subject of writing, I’m two chapters into my untitled novel!  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my blog post on it here.  It is quite a laborious process and one that I am glad I am going through.  My goal by the end of 2015: Get it out to publishers with a solid marketing plan!

Here’s to Another Great Year of Living Your Story!

With all that has happened and all that I have to look forward to, I am excited to create the next chapter in the new year! Stay tuned for the same cast of characters (with a few new ones along the way) and what my story will hold.  Here’s to a fabulous new year for each of you.  Thank you for being a part of my life and Happy New Year!

Fashion Follows Form: Fashion That Makes You Think

Per my travel blog yesterday on my wonderful time in Toronto, I mentioned the fashion exhibit that my girlfriends and I went to see at the Royal Ontario Museum, entitled, “Fashion Follows Form”.  I felt it deserved its own blog post.

Located in a hidden section on the fourth floor and although small, the exhibit was powerful.  It presented three different questions that really made you think about how one shape does not fit all, and that there are some niche markets out there that could be big business for the right designers:

1. How do you construct clothes for the handicap?

2. What if you do incorporate less-often used materials into fashion – how does it change the silhouette?

3. Have we been shopping for outfits all wrong?

Designing Clothes for the Handicap


Well-known, Canadian designer-to-the-stars, Izzy Camilleri, was approached in 2004 by a handicapped journalist, asking her to create a functional, yet fashionable wardrobe for her.  It was then that IZ Adaptive was born (you can read the full history here).  She had a small but wonderful collection of her designs on display, ranging from functional leather jackets, to trench coats and wedding attire.

It was a wonderment to see how she was able to deconstruct even the most classic of pieces, such as a trench coat, that makes you really think about HOW clothes are constructed.  Her exhibit explains that even clothing for abled-persons isn’t designed for sitting – it’s designed for standing.  The standard patterns used are a straight cut, causing most dresses, skirts, shorts and pants to ride up when we sit down.  For a person who is wheelchair-bound, it doesn’t make any sense thus, she designed an L-shaped pattern that is more comfortable and flattering.  It also reduces the amount of “bulk” that can result from ill-fitting clothes in a sitting position.

Her exhibit makes you think – how else can a pattern be reconstructed to accommodate other types of functional needs?  Will fashion ever get away from mass production, one-shape-fits-all standards?  Will more designers emerge for specialty clothing that accommodate special needs?  This could open the door to new lines of business for already existing designers.

Updating Classics Using Mixed Materials


The other half of this exhibit was centered around silhouettes, updating classics and how the use of mixed materials can change both dramatically.

The image above is an unbelievable fur and mesh mix dress from a classic silhouette pattern.  The bulk of the fur and the leather belt accentuates the femininity of the garment while providing a unique twist on an evening gown.  In person, it’s stunning.  Fur isn’t something widely used past outwear and accessories, provoking thoughts of what other materials can be used to create wearable designs.

But, it’s not just about material and finding inspiration within a silhouette or a classic.  It’s also about the detail and appreciating the painstaking process that a designer goes through to complete their work of “art”. In the image below, you can see the creative use of beading, colors, materials and shapes.  Take a look at each piece and study the detail.  Take a look at how these outfits actually flow together to create stunning, complete looks.  It makes you realize that individually, you may never wear these pieces but instead, they were made to go with each other.  When you look at it this way, it changes our way of shopping. Instead of shopping for individual pieces, we start to shop for entire outfits because “the look” is actually what we’re after, not just the pants or the shirt.  (Check out my Pinterest page for examples.)


Being enthralled with fashion and taking the time to really study this exhibit, it was inspiring and impressive.  Even if you’re not a fashion enthusiast, walking through this exhibit gives you a newfound appreciation for those that can take something simple and turn it into a wearable masterpiece.  I highly suggest that anyone, who finds themselves in Toronto, checks it out.

Itinerary: Toronto, ON

This past weekend, I helped celebrate a girlfriend’s birthday.  For the last month or so, we deliberated on where to go, discussing the usual spots, such as Miami, Nashville and Charleston.  I came up with the idea of Canada.  For us Americans, it’s (unfairly) something we never think to visit and yet, it’s a beautiful country.  Although snowy and cold this time of year, a winter/holiday jaunt in a new city sounded like a lot of fun to all of us.  Below is our itinerary of where we stayed, visited and dined.  We highly recommend a visit there!

CN Tower and 360 Restaurant Holiday Brunch

When in a new city, you have to be a tourist, right?  The CN Tower was the tallest tower in the world (at 1,815 ft.) until 2010.  It’s about a 70 second elevator ride to the rotating restaurant, 360 The Restaurant, which sits at the top (check out the video below).

It takes 70 minutes to do a complete rotation, giving you views of Toronto and Lake Ontario.  We managed to see one and a half rotations.  Check out the pics below:

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Price: $65 per person 

Royal Ontario Museum

Our next stop was the Royal Ontario Museum to see the “Fashion Follows Form” exhibit.  This museum kind of has a little bit of everything in it (think of it as a Smithsonian mashup) – dinosaur bones, animals, bugs, gemology (my favorite), artifacts from around the world, an art gallery and this.

The exhibit deserves it’s own post (which can be found here) but if you do have the time to go to this museum, I highly suggest it – it’s always great to get in a little culture.

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Price: $10 per person

Visiting Santa and The Eaton Centre

One of the best parts about visiting a wintery place during the holidays, are all of the holiday decor and events going on.  Behind our hotel (Marriott Eaton Centre), was a back entrance to the Eaton Centre mall.  Along the path to get there, was a little Christmas cottage with Santa clearly napping inside.  His “helper” let us in to take a couple of pics, by which he was then quite “jolly”.


On the 54th floor of the TD Bank building (66 Wellington W.) sits one of Oliver and Bonacini‘s award-winning restaurants, Canoe.  Known in Toronto for their impeccable menus and service (as well as locations), it was the restaurant I was most looking forward to experiencing, and we were not disappointed.  We were given a table overlooking the CN Tower and Lake Ontario at night, which was beautifully lit and quite peaceful.  The ambience definitely gave you a first class feel and the food portions were perfect.  I can’t wait to come back and try the other ones in their portfolio.

Price: About $100 per person, including two glasses of wine.

High Tea at Fairmont Royal York

If there is one experience you should do around the world (wherever it is provided), it would be high tea at the Fairmont.  Having never done this before, it was one of the most incredible “dining” experiences I’ve ever had.  The Fairmont in Toronto is just exquisite, even more so because of how impeccable it was decorated for Christmas.

In the Library room, we had a staff of three providing us with amazing service, even remembering to make me gluten-free versions of the finger sandwiches, scones and pastries they set out.  It was such a lovely, relaxing experience that we vowed to not just do this tea wherever we are, but to also never stay in any other hotel again (I’m starting a Fairmont travel fund).

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Price: $60 per person

Christmas Market

… I mean how could you NOT want to go there?  It’s a fun experience for a few hours.  The Toronto Christmas Market is set in the Distillery District, amongst boutique shops, art galleries, breweries and restaurants.  There are spirits vendors, providing free samples of holiday cocktails, holiday-inspired treats, performances, Christmas ornament vendors and more!

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Some things to note on travel:

  • Porter is the easiest way to get to Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ) on a direct flight, although not all U.S. airports include Porter.
  • YTZ has a lounge with free beverages (coffee, tea, sodas and water), free wi-fi, and a living-room like atmosphere to relax in before you are paged for your flight.
  • Yes, you need a passport to get in and out of Canada and their security rules follow the same rules as the U.S.
  • Taxis are not always available in Toronto.  They have rotations – we discovered that between the hours of 2-5, it’s their “break” time, so don’t be surprised if no one stops!
  • There is Uber but that is just as difficult to get
  • You can calculate taxi fares here.  But note that with traffic, two miles is about $13.
  • Conversion rate – $1 for 1 CAD.  Banks will be different – USAA’s conversion rate was $.88 for 1 CAD
  • You need an international cell plan for Canada – definitely don’t forget that!

Winter Fun at The Gaylord National Harbor

In Washington, D.C., Christmas is magical – millions of twinkling lights, a few dozen holiday performances, the lighting of the National Christmas tree and jolly Santas everywhere (some are questionable).  But, there are very few places in the city that have all-day Christmas adventures that bring out the kid in all of us – even if it means braving 9 degree temperatures.

For the second year in a row, I went to ICE!  This year’s theme was “Frosty the Snowman” (I’m guessing next year might be “Frozen”) and it was just as magical as  “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.  Check out the slideshow below.  Note: Next year I will remember my own parka, two pairs of gloves (not one) and a hat.  I keep forgetting that 9 degrees is 41 degrees too cold for me :-)

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Beauty Product Review: Younique 3D Lash Mascara

Whenever anyone asks me what three things I’d bring on a deserted island with me, I always say one of them has to be mascara (and a good moisturizer and a man).  All joking aside, it doesn’t matter what kind of night I’ve had (or even day).  I don’t leave the house without putting it on.  Yet, I’ve stumbled to find a really good one that actually maximizes your lashes to the point that people wonder if they’re false.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been using Younique‘s Moodstruck 3D Lash set and I’m in love!

Me with no makeup.

Me with no makeup.

Me getting ready for a night out - full makeup on!

Me getting ready for a night out – full makeup on (including the lash set)!

For those of you who have just bought the set, or are contemplating purchasing it, or even are interested in learning more, I’ve included a set of tips for use.  These tips come from a professional makeup artist who swears by this set as well:

  1. The instructions tell you to put a coat of your mascara on. Skip this step. It does absolutely NOTHING for you. Plus – you don’t need 2 products! Instead, start with an eyelash curler to get maximum effect.
  2. Have both lids untwisted so you can move seamlessly through the application process.
  3. Apply a normal coat of the transplanting gel – like a mascara.
  4. Start mid way up your lash and wiggle the fibers through. Don’t forget the lashes near the outer corner of your eye! That’s where you get the real WOW factor!
  5. Seal those fibers in with another coat of the transplanting gel. This is where you will start to see the lashes re-separate into long thick beautiful lashes.
  6. The first time you do it, you may find yourself going through the lashes with a safety pin to separate those that got stuck. Be patient! This is something new and there is a slight learning curve. In a few applications you will be a master!!!

If you want to purchase this set, click here.  Are you currently using it?  Comment on this post with before and after pics!

Happy holidays!

Overwhelmingly Grateful at Second State!


Some of my beautiful friends that joined me for dinner.

On Monday, December 8th, I was so honored and humbled to be thrown a “welcome home” dinner at Second State (thank you IMMENSELY Reese), and to be surrounded by so many close friends (that braved the DC protests, Prince William’s arrival and the FREEZING, wet weather to see me). Words cannot describe how wowed I was at the group that joined me.  Each of them do incredible things with their lives and all have something to be super proud of.  I am definitely blessed to be surrounded by beauty, brains and warm personalities!!!!


I also want to take the time to mention what an incredible job Reese did on his new restaurant, Second State.  Once the Mighty Pint, a dive bar with the best tater tots in town, he transformed it into an rustic-meets-urban, down-home cooking, dining experience with some of the best food I’ve eaten in quite some time.

My good friend Reese - he just keeps knocking out of the park with his restaurants (stay tuned for Orange Anchor and Union Social!)

My good friend Reese – he just keeps knocking it out of the park with his restaurants (stay tuned for Orange Anchor and Union Social!)

Very rarely do I ever look at a menu and think, “I want EVERYTHING on it!”  Instead, we all chose things to share.  I chose to  the root beer braised short ribs (that literally melted), brown ale butter chicken, fried brussels sprouts, roasted pheasant and root beer baked beans (which Reese indicated is his grandmother’s recipe with some tweaks).  With just that little tasting, I’m already hooked!

Note: I hear their brunch is incredible and their lunch menu is great as well!

Below are some more pics.  Thank you to Vithaya Phongsavan for the clearer ones and to all of my friends that provided the rest!

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OMG, I’m Writing a Novel!

Yeah, you’ve probably heard this from one or two of your friends.  Everyone has a story to tell and everyone tries to tell it – whether it be self-published, misspelled literature; or they are staring at the first sentence, in hopes the rest will just flow out of them, like in the movies (minus Funny Farm – if you saw that and can appreciate his attempts, beyond the humor, then you get it.).

Well, I fell into the latter description.  My mom encouraged us to read as kids, especially every summer.  Some kids got put in sports camps, we got put in library camps.  No joke.  I used to complain and complain about going but secretly, I loved it.  I learned how to write stories and plays, develop characters and to let my imagination go wherever it wanted.  I spent hours in my room coming up with stories, reading light-hearted fiction books (I read “This Place Has No Atmosphereat least 15 times, mainly because I loved that she was moving to the moon and it was so creative!), mysteries (Nancy Drew was HUGE) and biographies on all sorts of fascinating people – celebrities, Presidents and well-known societal fixtures.  Reading took me on journeys – something I am a huge believer in.  So how did I come to want to write the novel I’ve started?

Sixteen years ago, I was on vacation in South Myrtle Beach, SC for GMU Greek Beach Week.  Although not really tied to any one sorority, I was often invited to join in whatever festivities were happening.  I remember my third night there, I was watching some incredibly inebriated groups of individuals attempt to couple up.  One particular pair included (a now semi-famous) DJ and this drop-dead gorgeous girl (names are left out).  Although he was up-and-coming, he didn’t have enough money to really get her attention still, he tried anyway.  That very night, while he was attempting to get (at least) a date, I could hear her excuses for why she wouldn’t go out with him: “Don’t you know who I am?  “I’m well-known in L.A. and what would the tabloids say?” “I need to be SEEN with someone who everyone will talk about.”  He kept promising her the world and she kept refusing (two years later, his career was MADE in Miami and she came running back).  Anyway, once she got frustrated and gave up, she walked away from him and was back with our group.  She clearly didn’t think any of us heard that conversation. We all knew her real story – she wanted a boyfriend so bad but the addiction of attention was far greater than settling for one man.  She desperately wanted to pull away from her L.A. lifestyle and while it was true that many people knew her, she did exaggerate a bit to him about just how many did.  She wanted to be loved, adored and envied by everyone yet, there was a small part of her that wanted to run to the woods of Montana and settle down with “Farmer John” and live a much simpler life.  Although I don’t keep in touch with either of them, I often think about what happened to them.  Still, she became my inspiration for my main character.  It’s then that the idea of a novel popped into my head.  Why?  Because on some level, everyone can relate to an internal struggle that is impacted by leading both public and private lifestyles, and I am fascinated by people and their stories.

I tried developing opening chapters with her as the character, trying to imagine what it was like growing up as her, and even reading biographies about celebs to gain a perspective; but never quite connected the way I needed to.

Since I was fascinated with people and their own lives (including my own), I started drawing on personal experiences and stories of others for fodder – something that will be peppered throughout the novel(s) (along with a lot of crazy fictional events).  I thought if I did this, the opening chapter would come to me.  And so, for the last 16 years, this novel sat in the back of my brain as something that would “one day” happen when it was time.

Well, that time finally came while I was in Barcelona, checking out the church I was (supposed) to be married in.  The minute I walked in, it hit me.  My opening chapter’s angle was all wrong this whole time and what was about to be put down on paper was going to be extremely powerful.  I thought about this opening constantly.  Just like a handbag, or a pair of shoes you CANNOT get out of your mind, this concept was taking over most of my brain all the time.  It had to be written down – I had to do this.  Finally, the time came when I couldn’t ignore this anymore…

While I’m still developing the description of what this is all about, here is what I have so far, “Alison Gibson is an envied woman.  She leads a sophisticated lifestyle.  She’s beautiful, successful, well-known and well-liked.  She knows that she can have anything she wants, whenever she wants it.  To everyone else, she makes her life look effortless and exciting.  To her, it’s a mess.  While everyone else sees miles of palm trees, endless parties with the wealthy and piles of opportunities; she sees charred landscapes with no sense of direction on how to get out of it.    She feels lost, she wants to be loved and she cannot figure out how to snag the right man that will stay forever.  Each time there was promise, it was let down after emotionally violent let down.  One day, that all comes to an end…”

Stay tuned!  This will be a long process and honestly, I don’t know it it will amount to anything other than attempt at my dream.

Recipe Box: Gluten-free Thanksgiving Recipes for 1-2 people!

Because I love a challenge, I cooked a feast.  Below are the recipes I used – almost all of which can be used year-round and all of which are meant for 1-2 people.


NOTE: Make sure to brine the turkey 2-3 days BEFORE cooking it!  The crust and the gravy should be prepared the night before.

2.5 quarts water
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/3 large onion, diced
2 small carrots, diced
1 1/2 rib celery, diced
1 head garlic, cut in 1/2 equatorially
1/2 bunch fresh rosemary
1/2 bunch fresh sage
3 bay leaves
1 (3 lb.) turkey breast

Herb crust:
1 bunch fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
1 bunch fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
1 stick of butter, room temperature
Kosher salt


To brine the turkey breast: Combine all of the ingredients for the brine in a large container. Add the turkey and let it brine in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

To prepare the turkey breast for cooking: Remove the turkey from the brine the night before roasting and pat it thoroughly dry with paper towels. Combine the rosemary, sage, and butter for the herb crust in a small bowl. Season, to taste, with kosher salt. Work the butter under the skin of the turkey and massage it into the breasts.  Wrap in aluminum foil

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Put 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup apple cider in the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the netted turkey breast, skin side up.  Roast, uncovered, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Let cool, prior to removing netting.

NOTE: If you do not have a roaster, slice the turkey into cutlets, put the liquid mix in a large pan and place the turkey cutlets on top, cooking until thoroughly cooked, registering at 165 degrees.

Gluten-Free Stuffing


Serves 8

4 cups gluten-free 1-inch bread cubes (that’s about 2 sandwich loaves)
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 large onion, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon each fine-chopped fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme
1 cups hot stock (turkey or chicken)
1.5 large eggs
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the bread cubes in a large bowl. Set a small pan on high heat and pour in the stock. Cook until it is boiling hot, then leave it simmering on the back burner. Beat the eggs together in a bowl.

Set a large saute pan on medium-high heat. Put the oil and butter in the pan. When the liquids move around the pan easily, add the diced celery and onions. Cook them, stirring, until they are soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the fresh herbs to the pan and cook, stirring, until they release their fragrance, about 1 minute.

Toss the softened celery and onions into the bowl with the bread cubes. Put it all into a 3-quart casserole pan.

Pour a few tablespoons of the hot stock into the beaten eggs. Stir, quickly, until the stock is incorporated. Add the remaining stock, slowly, continuing to stir.

Pour the eggy stock over the pan of bread cubes. Press down on the cubes with your hands, distributing the liquid evenly. Cover the casserole pan with aluminum foil.

Slide the stuffing into the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and cook until the stuffing is steaming hot and browned, but not dry, about 5 more minutes. If you can insert a toothpick into the middle of the stuffing and have it come out clean, the stuffing is done.

Cover with gravy, immediately.

Vegetarian Gravy


1 medium onion, quartered
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt
1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms (about 1 heaping cup)
6 sprigs thyme
2 sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 dried bay leaf
6 fresh sage leaves
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper


Position an oven rack in the highest position, and preheat to 450 degrees F. Toss the onions, celery, carrots and garlic with 1 teaspoon each oil and salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the vegetables are charred in some places, 25 to 30 minutes.

Bring the roasted vegetables, 1 cup water, mushrooms, thyme, sun-dried tomatoes, soy sauce, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is gone, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 6 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and bring back to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and gently simmer until reduced by about one third, about 45 minutes. Strain the stock through a strainer into a large liquid measuring cup; use the back of a ladle to squeeze all the liquid out of the solids (there should be about 4 cups of stock). If not making gravy right away, let the stock cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

To make the gravy, warm the stock slightly in a medium saucepan if it has been refrigerated. Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons oil in another medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sage leaves, and cook until fried and crispy, about 2 minutes; remove and set aside. Add the flour to the saucepan, and stir until smooth and lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the warm stock while whisking constantly until smooth and thick, 8 to 10 minutes

Chop up the fried sage, stir it into the gravy along with the parsley and season to taste with pepper.

Orange Scented Sweet Mashed Potatoes


2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks or thin slices
1 tablespoon oil, extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
2 slices smoky bacon, finely chopped
1 orange, zested and juiced
Chicken stock, as needed
1 teaspoon coriander, 1/3 palmful
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/3 palmful
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Put the potatoes in a medium pot, cover with water, salt the water and bring to boil over medium heat. Cook until tender, then drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Heat a little oil over medium heat, in a medium saute pan and add the bacon and cook until it begins to crisp. Stir in the orange zest and juice and the potatoes. Mash to desired consistency with some chicken stock to thin the potatoes, if desired. Stir in the coriander, cumin, cinnamon and hot sauce. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

Low-sugar, Gluten-free Pumpkin Pie

  • 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp of Truvia Baking Blend
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.)  LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.)  NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
  • 1  unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell (Bob’s Red Mill makes a great pie mix!)
  • Whipped cream (optional)


MIX Truvia, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

POUR into pie shells (note, I used 2, 10 X 10 round pans)

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 25 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

“No” Can Spell Success!

Today, a friend of mine posted a Business Insider interview with Barbara Corcoran – a real estate mogul and an Investor on Shark Tank.  In this interview clip, she discusses the difference between $8M earners and $40K earners in real estate.  However, her words of advice can be applied to any profession.  She explains that her fear of rejection, being a poor student and insecurities drove her to prove people wrong.  She believes that the word “no” should drive people to achieve more.

Click here to check out the clip.

Oftentimes, we get caught up in the word “no” because it’s most often associated with rejection and the feeling of shame.  It leads us to think, “Im bothering this person and I don’t want to make them mad” or “I’m not good enough for this”.  It causes us to flee.

I fully admit that most of my life, I’ve had that fear of rejection as well, as I am a people pleaser.  However, about a year ago, a close friend of mine gave me some advice I’ll never forget, “People are just people.  And, at the end of the day, it’s just business and unless someone attacks your character, you’re allowed to make mistakes, so long as you own up to them and provide a plan that will correct them.”  He also told me, “You got this.  As long as you have done your homework and you’re educated on whatever it is you’re doing, you can’t fail.”  No joke, that changed my entire outlook on my professional career.  I am going to make mistakes, I WILL admit to them (and not provide excuses) and I WILL succeed.  Why?  When you are able to prove to people that you’re human but that you’re responsible and willing to drive forward and NOT make the same mistake again, it is looked at as personal growth.

But, let’s get back to this word “no”….

We avoid it like the plague because we’d all rather hear “yes” (of course).  But why?  Why SHOULD things be so easy?  The truth – they shouldn’t.  We have to hear the word “no” or we will never toughen up for the harder dealings in life.  We have to learn that unless your personal character is attacked, whatever it is, is manageable – it’s not the end of the world.

I’ll illustrate this with two examples:

Old Me

At a previous job I was at, years ago, I worked more hours in a week than most humans should work in a month.  It was the most demanding job I had ever had, and I did it to the best of my ability.  I had bosses that weren’t happy with me, since the day I started (while it pays to have connections, it also doesn’t boast well for credibility at times).  As a result, my work was never good enough, I was never doing enough (despite doing enough work for a team of three), and I wasn’t getting the career guidance I needed to do my best. They saw my weaknesses being exposed and tore right through it with hurtful words and threats. The result: I crumbled – full-on, no-joke panic attack.  It rattled me to my core.  I believed I wasn’t good enough for any other company and as such, stepped away from corporate life.  The positive: I started my own marketing consulting company that did well for about four years.  It turns out all that tearing apart of my work and character, helped me develop a thick skin! Still, it left an internal gaping hole where my confidence, in all of my abilities, once was – it’s just that very few saw it.

New Me

With the aforementioned advice from my friend over a year ago, I changed, and it literally happened over night.  I have been with a new company for about three years now and I’ve watched myself grow, change and get stronger in what I know.  I’ve been allowed to make mistakes, have been scolded for some of them, but I can confidently say, I’ve never made the same mistake twice.  I’ve also been bold enough to ask for projects that put me outside of my comfort zone – even if I knew I’d fail there too.

The trick is “eating humble pie”.  You don’t know what you don’t know.  Asking lots of questions helps with that.  Not being afraid to ask for help, helps with that too.  People are people and nine times out of ten, they want to see you succeed if they see the eagerness within you.  Still, I do hear the word “no”.  But you know what?  I like it.  I want to hear it.  I want to find a way to turn it into a “yes” because it proves to myself that I DO have the confidence to take on anything that comes my way.

Any one of us can be a Barbara Corcoran to some degree – you just have to take that two-letter word and turn it into something fabulous.