My Favorite Holiday Gifts 2019, Part 4: Sparkly Gifts

Yep…sparkly, because I love sparkly, and I know lots of other people do too! But if you think I mean “sparkly” as in diamonds, I should set the record straight here. I don’t mean diamonds. I mean sparkly as in glitter, sequins, and foil. Sparkly as in fun!

If you have someone on your gift list who loves sparkly things, you might just find the perfect gift right here. And if you love sparkly things yourself, well, go ahead and buy it for yourself, wrap it up in some glittery wrapping paper, put it under the tree, and thank a surprised member of your family after you open it. I do that every year! When I look at him after opening a gift he doesn’t know he got me, my husband has finally learned to play along when I say, “Thank you, Honey!”

It’s no secret that I love glitter and sequins, and I believe in wearing them all the time to brighten my own day and everyone else’s. It just makes me happy to look down and see glittery shoes on my feet or sequins on my shirt or jacket. I can’t help myself.

So without further ado…here are my suggestions for your sparkly friends…

Poo Pourri Pink Citron Glitter Bomb Toilet Spray. OK, so this is not a glitter you wear, but every time you use Poo Pourri Glitter Bomb before you “go,” it will make you a little happier. I can’t help myself. I love this idea. I’ve already order a bottle for myself and a few for friends. Priced at just $9.99, it’s a fun, sparkly gift! Order from Ulta here.IMG_5492

Ugg Glitter Boots. The first ones I came across are the Ugg Glitter Cosmos Classic Short boots, priced at $189.95 at Nordstrom. They come in two colors, and they have my favorite feature: glitter! Get them here. Nordstrom also has the Ugg Cosmos Classic Bow Mini Bootie for $159.95, and it is adorable! Get it from Nordstrom here., and I’m angling for the gold ones right now. And Dillard’s offers the same bootie in four colors! You can purchase through Dillard’s here! If anyone is wondering, I wear size 9.

 

Bari Lynn Sequin Wine Bag. For your sparkly friend who always loves to have a bottle of wine handy, this is a great gift! Priced at $25 at Neiman Marcus, it’s priced right, and it’s darn cute too! Perfect for celebrating every single day! Get it at Neiman Marcus here.

Lauren Moshi Foil Shirts and Blankets. My sister-in-law, my daughter, and I have been big fans of Lauren Moshi for a few years. Their t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, and joggers are all supersoft and fashionable. We stumbled upon the store in LA several years ago…it’s right next door to The Ivy on Robertson, a restaurant often visited by celebrities. I’ve seen one of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in the store…with her tiny dog. The Lauren Moshi items with foil decor are shiny, beautiful, fun, and comfortable. I have a few of the foil pieces and love them. You can see all the Lauren Moshi foil items here. Prices start at $88. They’re not cheap, but they’re cool!

Gold Glitter Face Mask. The Swoozie’s website says, “Beauty doesn’t have to be serious…have a fun night with your besties with the Glitter Beauty Peel Off Face Mask.” It would make for some interesting selfies or pics with friends, and it leaves skin silky smooth. Priced at $4.95, you can buy several at one time! Get them at Swoozie’s here.239701-500

Zara Blue Collection Glitter Handbag. Priced at $49.90, this mini crossbody bag comes in three colors…blue, pink, and silver. It’s tiny, but it holds all the essentials while adding some sparkle to your ensemble! I’ll be carrying one of these to dinner soon! You can purchase here.8626004009_2_4_1

Glitter Duck Boots. Yes! It’s a thing! I saw these on the Belk website and ordered some for myself immediately! They came in last week, and I love them! They are so cute, and I can hardly wait for the perfect day to wear them. The best thing…they’re inexpensive! Priced at $59, but use code WINTERFEST at Belk.com and get them for under $45! See them here.Belk

Glitter flasks. For those friends or family members who like to take their own alcohol with them, Kitson’s offers two different glitter flasks. If I kept my bourbon in one of these, every time I took it out of my bag for a “nip,” I would smile…not just because of the bourbon, but also because of the sparkle! Priced at $19.95 and $28.00, these make great gifts. Get them here. Nordstrom has a cute one too, the Brumate Glitter Flask, priced at $22.95. You can find it here.

 

More Kitson gifts. And while you’re looking at those flasks, you might as well check out their other sparkly gifts. One favorite is the Ombre Glitter Box Clutch, priced at $68, and available in two colors. See it here. Kitson also has a cute sequined pillow collection…perfect for the person on your list who likes a little bling in her house. One favorite is black and white sequined and says “Dogs are my kind of people.” See it here. For a more pricey blinged-out gift at Kitson, there are the Chiara Ferragni Silver Slip Ons, and they sure are cute…and like I said, they’re pricey at $365. See them here.

 

Shiny Shoes. And while we’re talking about shiny shoes, I’ll share a few more. All of these can be found at Nordstrom. First, there are some cute hi-top Converse Chuck Taylors for $65 here. They also have some Vans Glitter Slip-Ons, priced at $59.95 here. But my favorites are some Keds/Kate Spade Slip Ons priced at $90. I actually have two pairs of the keds for casual days, and I get compliments every single time I wear them. You can get them here.

Kate Spade Glitter Huggie Earrings. Priced at $34.80 at Nordstrom, these glittery earrings are a no-brainer for your fashion-forward friends. They come in five sparkling colors, and with a different shape, they’re not your average earrings. Get them at Nordstrom here. b89afc68-5f46-4629-ba3c-b34049a8a61a-2

Rebecca Minkoff Leo Envelope Clutch. Offered at Nordstrom in three colors, this envelope clutch is glitter-covered and thin, but it holds all your credit cards, essentials (ID, lipstick, etc) and even your phone. I love this glitter bag in the multicolor version or the black version, because I feel like they go with everything. Get it for $128 here.167d95df-be86-435b-ae94-8a718b713ff7.jpeg

Rose Gold Glitter Pool Raft. Sure, it’s not warm outside right now, but this is a great gift for any glittery person who loves the sunshine! They can use it when it gets warm. At $29.95, it’s inexpensive, and I can almost guarantee they’ll love it! Get it here.271702-500-2

Glittery makeup. There are lots of glittery options out there. Three I’ve found are from Estee Lauder, NARS, and Urban Decay. Nordstrom carries the Estee Lauder Glitter Pot for $26, and the website says it’s “a twinkly, microfine glitter that delivers glamour, fantasy, and mystery.” Use it over eyeshadow or on cheekbones and bare shoulders to create some glimmer. Get it here. They also carry the NARS quad eyeshadow, which has four shimmery, rich colors for $52. Get it here. And don’t forget the entire Urban Decay Naked Honey line…see the whole line here.

 

Shiny Accessories from Neiman Marcus. Neiman Marcus carries lots of beautiful, shiny accessories. Some of my favorites? The Ban.Do Glitter Bomb Water Bottle…priced at $30, it’s pretty, and anyone who sees it will immediately feel happier. Get it here. For something really different, check out the Aprons by Jem Sequined Dish Gloves. Yep…sequins for doing the dishes! They’re adorable, and they’re $45. And while you’re checking those out, check out the sequined apron from the same brand. Priced at $145, it’s super cute. See both items here. Want to add a little bling to your home? Neiman’s has the Giselle Sequin Elephants Pillow in blue for $40. See it here. And last but not least, they have my very favorite new earrings…from Sachin and Babi…they’re $145 and come in white, silver or gold…the fabulous Clara Fleurette Sequin Hoop Earrings. I’ll be wrapping some of the gold ones for myself this year. Get them here.

 

Alice and Olivia tshirts. Alice and Olivia offers some fun sequined shirts in their line this year. In fact, they have sequins all through the line…dresses, skirts, jackets, shoes…but I love the t-shirts. Some of them are on sale right now, and they start at $117. Click here to see all the sequins in the line. Below are some of my favorite tees…

Socialite Sequin Bomber. While scrolling through the Nordstrom site the other day, I came across a sequined bomber jacket that is perfect for casual wear. No, I wouldn’t wear it to my daughter’s lacrosse game, but going out to dinner with friends? Yep. It’s likely aimed at a younger audience (and that’s great too!), but I think it would work for all ages. Priced at just $69.00, it’s silver with black bands…and would work well with jeans or dressed up. See it here.c35ed72c-8868-4499-a7f8-2c897c13f6e8

Joan Vass Lion Sweater. I like this one because it’s different. At Neiman Marcus, Joan Vass has a beautiful sequined lion sweater…black sweater with gold/silver sequin lion and red bands near the wrists. It’s scoop necked and looks cute alone or with a shirt underneath. Sale priced now at $202 (reduced from $270), it would make a lovely gift. You can see it here.NMTZ4VR_mz

 

You can see there are lots of options for the sparkly person on your list. Shoes? Yes. Sweater? Yes. T-shirts? Yes. Makeup? Yes. Accessories? Yes. And lots more! To find more, sit down with a glass of Champagne or Prosecco and go to different websites, entering “glitter” or “sequin” in the search bar to see what they have to offer. You’re guaranteed to find lots of “bling.”

*** Coming soon: Gifts for men! Stocking stuffers! Travel gifts! Southern gifts! And if you have a suggestion for another category…let me know!***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Dead Files

It’s October. Halloween and all things scary tend to be the theme in October. I’m not big on creepy, paranormal things, but I might believe in ghosts. Call me crazy, but we really believed we had a ghost in the house I lived in as a teenager. Our ghost was not violent. We were convinced she was a nice ghost. Go ahead…think I’m crazy. I don’t care. In fact, I might believe in ghosts so heartily that I have trouble watching shows about paranormal activity. Today, I accidentally started watching a show about a ghost in an old house, and all I could think was, “I wouldn’t sleep in that house.” And then I changed channels, because it was a little too creepy.

Earlier this year, I was on a flight from Los Angeles to Charlotte, and a very sweet young lady was seated next to me. We started talking, because she ordered a cocktail before takeoff, telling me she is terrified of flying. She warned me that if there is any type of turbulence, she would become very nervous. I took the opportunity to explain to her that, as a former flight attendant, I might be able to help her stay calm. I told her that she could watch me, and if I didn’t become anxious, she didn’t need to. I even told her she could hold my hand if she needed to.

After all that, she said to me she had been hypnotized to help with her fear of flying before, and while it worked for some time, it seemed to be wearing off. She explained that she has to travel for work. And then she told me something that surprised me: she had been in two crashes before!

We took off, and after we were in the air, I asked her what she does that requires her to travel, and that’s when she told me she is on a television show called The Dead Files. Because I had never seen it at the time, I didn’t have any questions to ask her. I had never even heard of the show, but I told her I felt sure some of my friends were probably big fans. I had no idea what I was talking about.

After we landed, I posted on Facebook that I had been sitting next to Amy from The Dead Files, and a couple of my friends got really excited. When I got home, I did some “research,” which means I googled The Dead Files. And that’s when I discovered Amy is a medium. Oh, that brought up so many questions that I wish I had been able to ask her at the time. Like: When she said she had been in two crashes before, did she mean she had physically been in two crashes, or did she somehow feel the emotions of someone else who had been in crashes? Had she communicated with people who had died in crashes? So many questions…

So now, I’ve watched The Dead Files a few times. It has been on The Travel Channel since 2011, and they have produced about 200 episodes. Amy Allan is the medium who was sitting next to me on the flight, and she was pretty, sweet, and charming…not creepy at all. Of course, at the time, I had no idea she was a medium. After seeing a few episodes, I’m fascinated, and I wish I had known more about her and the show when I met her. Missed opportunity.

But if you are interested in some paranormal activity/communication, The Dead Files might be right up your alley.  You’ll wonder if Amy was actually in a crash or if someone else was in the crash and communicated through her. I hope she has gone back for more hypnosis for that fear of flying.

 

 

Taking the Back Roads

This past weekend, I met some friends in Atlanta for a concert. Of course, we had a fabulous time, because concerts make us feel young, but the drive from Charlotte to Atlanta and back can be less than pleasant. I love driving, and I especially love driving alone! I can listen to the music I want to hear. I can open the sunroof. I can think. But there is nothing relaxing about driving on I-85 between Charlotte and Atlanta. The trucks! The speed! The stupid slow drivers in the left lane! Note to all: if I’m having to pass you on the right, you’re doing it wrong. The left lane is the passing lane and should be moving faster than the right lane. I don’t care what the speed limit is. If folks are passing you on the right, get your butt over into the right lane.

So this time, I tried something different. I opted to drive on back roads instead of the interstate till I got south of Greenville, South Carolina…and it was downright relaxing! No jockeying for position. No crazy speeds. No idiots driving too slow in the left lane. No trucks. It was glorious! I enjoyed it!

Along the way, I passed through towns like Rock Hill, SC, Clinton, SC, Saluda, SC, Pelzer, SC, and more. There were actually things to see along the way: beautiful, historic homes and churches; the historic downtowns of small towns; old train depots; a funeral home with folks gathered outside; a large horse on top of a pole…maybe the symbol of someone’s farm? I saw folks riding horses along dirt roads that ran parallel to the road I was driving. There were big signs advertising upcoming championship rodeos, and another sign for the I-77 Speedway in Chester, SC. I saw old high schools and their football stadiums…probably home to their own version of Friday Night Lights. Big, round hay bales were rolled tightly on farms. Cows grazed. Local restaurants…some of which had long been shuttered and some that appeared properous…dotted the roadside. Teenagers sat on tailgates outside convenience stores. I could smell the fresh air…instead of diesel fuel.

Did it take me a little longer to get to and from Atlanta? Sure it did. Was it worth it? You bet. A drive that should have taken me about three hours and 45 minutes took about 4 1/2 hours. I opened the sunroof and cranked up the tunes, and I enjoyed the ride…passing over rivers and lakes I had never seen. I didn’t even know most of them existed!

And as I drove, I thought about how the folks who live out there on those roads can actually see the stars at night, and I was a little jealous. I love sitting outside in the dark and relaxing while watching satellites and rockets pass overhead. I love seeing planets, constellations, and stars, but it’s difficult to enjoy stargazing when there’s light pollution around a city.

Next time I go to Atlanta, I will take the same route. Yeah…it will take me a little longer, but I will be going through towns where life doesn’t seem so “dog eat dog.” I’ll go through places where it doesn’t seem every man is out for himself. And I might just stop at one of the mom and pop restaurants for lunch.

Mother’s 80th Birthday

My mother’s 80th birthday is approaching…September 3. She was born in Alabama two days after World War II started in Poland. Sadly, she isn’t here to celebrate her 80th birthday. She died 20 months ago, on December 30, 2017. To say I miss her is an understatement. I’ve written about her before. She was nurturing…nurturing us as well as lots of neighborhood kids and our classmates. She liked for things to be done “the right way.” Yes, she was a rule follower…I got it honestly. But she also had a fantastic sense of humor…it’s necessary in dealing with my brother, for sure. And she had a great sense of adventure and encouraged us, her children, to have a sense of adventure, as well. My husband would tell you she did a good job of instilling a sense of adventure in me.

In November 1997, I decided I wanted to go to Mexico City for vacation. I didn’t have any friends who were interested in going, so I decided I would go alone. A few days before I was scheduled to go, Mother called me and offered to go with me. I knew she was going simply because she didn’t want me to go alone, but it turned out to be the trip of a lifetime. She purchased her airline ticket, and a few days later, we were on our way to an adventure. I had visited Mexico City in 1982, but Mother had no idea what to expect. I tried to make sure she saw everything she could safely see while we were there. We visited El Zocalo, which she found fascinating. We spent a lot of time touring the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, a place she considered one of the most beautiful places she had ever seen. We had coffee in the Gran Hotel, an historic hotel facing El Zocalo, admiring the beautiful glass ceiling. We shopped in local markets. We toured El Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Museum of Anthropology. We ate street food. We ate in great restaurants and dined al fresco at different places in La Zona Rosa. She always ordered chicken in molé sauce. And she fell in love with the warm people of Mexico. We spent Sunday afternoon in Chapultepec Park (see info here), visiting the zoo (pandas!) and Chapultepec Castle atop the hill overlooking the park. She laughed for years at how much I made her walk while we were there. And she laughed that we ordered late night room service every night while we were there. In fact, when the hotel put a copy of our bill under the door, I was shocked at the total. Remember, I was single and thirty years old…working in the travel business. I took one look at the bill and said to Mother, “Ummm…this bill is $8000. My credit card won’t take that much!” We quickly remembered, of course, that it was 8000 pesos. At that time, that translated to just over $1000 USD. Since I worked in the travel industry, I had secured us a great rate on the hotel room…80 percent off the rack rate…and we were staying in a beautiful hotel in La Zona Rosa. And in the end, it didn’t matter about my credit card, because Mother picked up the tab, as my parents had done so many times. Good times, no doubt, and it’s an adventure I’m glad we shared. She knew I loved Mexico City, and I am thrilled we experienced it together. I hope to one day take my own daughter to Mexico City to show her the same sights.

I have lived in North Carolina for the past 19 years, and Mother lived in Alabama, so I didn’t see her all the time. Many times, after Daddy died in 2006, I tried to talk her into moving to Charlotte, but she didn’t want to move this far north. I saw her several times a year, but we spoke on the phone every day…and often, more than once a day. She loved to talk about current events. She loved hearing about my life. She loved hearing about my daughter. She loved hearing about our adventures. She loved to talk about football.

She and my daddy also loved sunflowers. I grew some in my garden last year, and this year, I’ve grown more. Some of them are blooming now, but I hope a few will hold out a little longer. I want to have some blooming on her birthday, and it would be great if a few would hold out till Daddy’s birthday on September 14. In fact, two of my Mammoth Sunflowers are side by side…one is about two feet taller than the other, and that height difference makes me think of Mother and Daddy too. Mother was under five feet tall, and Daddy was 6’3″…so it makes me smile every time I see those two mismatched sunflowers.

When she fell ill on Christmas Eve 2017, I got up on Christmas morning and drove to Alabama, with the intention of bringing her back to Charlotte with me. On the long drive there, I thought of what I would say to make it clear she didn’t have a choice in the matter…she was coming home with me. But after arriving and speaking with the doctors, I realized she wouldn’t be coming home with me. She would be going home to the Lord. She would be laughing with Daddy soon. She died on December 30, 2017.

On her birthday, I will add a little Bailey’s Irish Cream to my coffee in memory of her. She would laugh if she knew that.

Happy Birthday in Heaven, Mother.

First Day of Sophomore Year

Today is the first day of school at our daughter’s school. She will be starting her sophomore year of high school. Seriously…only three more years of school before she off to college. How can that be?!?

She survived…even thrived in freshman year! She learned a lot academically, socially, and athletically. She got good grades. She loved her teachers. She made new friends. She had some solid extracurricular activities. In fact, she played varsity field hockey and varsity lacrosse, and she was a basketball cheerleader. The cheerleading part is a big deal. She is not one who likes to perform. She likes to play sports. She isn’t looking at her “audience” when she plays sports, but cheerleading is different. I was very proud of her for trying something new. And it wasn’t just new to her. Her school hadn’t had cheerleaders in years, so she was a part of a new team altogether.

And now she begins her second year of high school. She has already had a few field hockey games. She had school orientation yesterday, and after a rough morning of “I have nothing to wear,” she rebounded after orientation, telling me she was thrilled with her schedule for the year. Even though she had no idea which of her friends were in her classes, she was happy with her schedule. Whew! That’s a win!

The first couple months of school, my husband will drive her to school, or she will ride with friends. I will pick her up after field hockey practice most of the time, and I’m sure she will get rides with friends when she can. But in October, she should be getting her driver’s license, and life will change for all of us. She will drive herself to school and home from practice in the afternoons. She will be able to meet her friends on weekends on her own. I won’t have to take her where she wants to go, because she will be able to drive herself. It’s going to be a big change, and though I’m sure I will worry every single time she drives away, she will be gaining some independence.

Independence is the goal. Our little girl is growing up…that’s for sure.

Last night, before going to bed, she made sure she had everything she needs for school today…notebooks, paper, pens, pencils, books, book bag, etc. We made sure she is prepared for a new school year. After forcing her to take “first day of school” pictures, my husband drove her to school this morning, and they stopped at Starbucks on the way. I feel sure she reunited with friends she hasn’t seen this summer, and right now, she’s likely meeting her new teachers. She’ll eat grilled cheese from the cafeteria at lunch, and if she doesn’t get a ride home with a friend, I’ll pick her up after school.

And chances are, she will tell me very little till she is good and ready to tell me.

But I’m embracing this 10th grade year, even though I prefer an eternal summer…and I’m already planning vacations for the holidays, spring break, and next summer. It’s what I do. We always need something to look forward to. Because I want her to know that life is meant to be lived NOW. Do the things you have to do so you can do the things you want to do. See the world. Enjoy your friends. Learn new things.

I’m not going to pretend I’m happy the school year is starting. I’m not. If I could do it, life would be one big adventure. But reality is that she needs to go to school…for lots of reasons.

Our baby is not a baby anymore.

Let’s get this school year started…and I’ll be looking forward to the next holiday!

 

 

We Finally Made It

Has there ever been somewhere you wanted to go but just never made it happen? I don’t mean a big trip. I mean a little place somewhere you wanted to visit when you were in the area, but circumstances kept you from going?

A few years ago, I embarked on a road trip with my friend, Mary Ann, along with her three kids and my daughter. We started in Charlotte and drove al through Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania…and straight home from there. We saw most of the things we wanted to see, but we missed a couple.

The first one we missed was Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin. You can see the website here. It’s a giant cheese store about 45 minutes from Chicago. It’s actually more than a cheese store…it’s a gift shop, an ice cream parlor, a restaurant, and a big photo op! Of course, it’s shaped like a castle, but it’s not made of cheese. We found out about it when we were looking at information about something that might be fun to visit just over the Wisconsin border from Chicago…it would be a way to make a quick visit to Wisconsin so our kids could add it to their lists of states they had visited.

Alas, we didn’t get to go while we were on that trip. There was so much fun to be had in Chicago on that trip that we never made it to Mars Cheese Castle…never even crossed the border into Wisconsin. And I’ve always regretted it. I used to go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, all the time, and I loved it. The people were always so nice, and well…the cheese! So I especially hated my daughter didn’t get to go. She, of course, didn’t care. She was 11 years old when we took that road trip, and Mars Cheese Castle just didn’t sound that interesting to her.

Yesterday, we flew into Chicago…me, my daughter, and her friend. The girls are going to a small concert early today, and then we are going to Lollapalooza in downtown Chicago. We are staying in Schaumburg, because the early event is near here. We will Uber into downtown later.

But when we landed yesterday and got our rental car, I told the girls I wanted to make a quick trip up to Mars Cheese Castle. They grimaced. They moaned. They complained. Actually, only my daughter complained, grimaced, and moaned. Her friend was very polite about it. My daughter asked if I could drop them at the hotel and go by myself? I almost agreed to it, but then I said, “Come on. You’ve never been to Wisconsin, and it won’t take long.” She rolled her eyes but gave in, asking only if I would stop and get them food on the way.

After a quick stop for food and a 45-minute drive north, we found Mars Cheese Castle! It was everything I had hoped and more! Seriously, I had wondered if we would get there and just see shelves of cheese curds, but whoever built it knew what they were doing. Of course, it looks like a castle on the exterior, and there is a big electric sign out front. I made the girls take pictures of me in front of the sign and the building when we got out of the car, and to my surprise, they wanted pics too! Winning!

We walked in with a family who had visited many times before. They were practically giddy! They had lived nearby at one time but had moved away, so they were there for a visit…and they were stocking up on the cheese curds! Of course, I grabbed some cheese curds and put them in my cart too. The girls disappeared as soon as we walked in, but in a few minutes, they came back to me, eating ice cream cones and wearing paper crowns with the Mars Cheese Castle logo on the front. We shopped a little; I grabbed a hoodie for me and some t-shirts for all of us, and we took some photos inside the store. I also got myself a cup of Superman ice cream and a paper crown.

As we walked to the car, we were laughing and taking more pictures. As soon as we started to drive away, my daughter said, “That was a lot more fun than I thought it would be!” Whew! One day, they will learn that I do my research ahead of time.

So I was able to mark Mars Cheese Castle off my list of places to visit, and my daughter has now been to Wisconsin! She has the paper crown to prove it! But don’t get me wrong…given the opportunity to visit again, I will be going back to Mars Cheese Castle!

The other place we didn’t get to visit on that road trip in 2015 with Mary Ann? Oram’s Donuts in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. See their website here. We made it to Beaver Falls, but we didn’t go to Oram’s because we had a car full of cranky kids that day…well, mine was cranky. It was the last leg of our big road trip of 2015, and we were all tired. But one thing I know for sure is that Mary Ann and I will get to Oram’s Donuts…without our kids.

So if you find yourself in Chicagoland or southern Wisconsin, visit Mars Cheese Castle. Think of me as you walk around eating your ice cream cone and squeaky cheese (cheese curds) while wearing your paper crown (they’re free at the ice cream counter).

True Friends Are Like Warm Blankets

True friends are like warm blankets.

This weekend, I spent three days in central Florida with a dear friend from college. We have kept in touch since we were 19 years old and students at the University of Alabama. We’re both 52 now…do the math.

We have shared a lot over the years…secrets, tears, laughs, good times, sadness, hard times…heck, we even have the same wedding anniversary, but she married five years before I did. We are true friends…through thick and thin. Oh, the stories we could tell! Stories of fun nights, bad dates, good parties, bad boyfriends, great experiences, terrible breakups, exciting jobs, sad losses, new babies, teenagers, and some stories of things that could only happen to us…or at least it feels that way. And we have shared some of those stories with our kids. They didn’t really seem to care at the time, though. In fact, they likely rolled their eyes, but one day, they will remember the stories we have told them…and they’ll laugh about some of them, and likely cry about others.

As for this weekend, we didn’t talk about old times a lot. We have covered that many times over the years. Of course, we laughed about some of the funnier things that happened when we were together, but we didn’t rehash it all. We talked about life as we see it now…33 years after becoming friends. We’re middle-aged moms now. We have a different vantage point now than we did at 19. We talked about things we have been through…things we have survived…and we talked about happiness. We talked about how, at 52, we know happiness doesn’t come from having material things. We are very aware that not worrying about how the bills will be paid can contribute to a peaceful, happy existence, but all the extra stuff...not so much. You can have lots of jewelry and fancy cars, but do those material things make you happy? We discussed that what makes us happy is experiencing life with people we love.

We know that for a lot of reasons, but mostly, we know it, because we didn’t sit around talking about material things at all. We didn’t talk about cars, jewelry, handbags, or clothes. We enjoyed talking about interactions with people. We shared stories about life experiences. It wasn’t about bragging rights. It was about sharing life events and how we handled them. We discussed painful experiences and what we learned from them. I’ve lost both parents, and she has lost her dad…we talked and cried about that a lot. And we talked about joyful experiences…things we did together; things our kids have enjoyed; stories of our children’s childhoods and our own childhoods…and more.

Did I mention we laughed a lot?

And while no one can “relive” their youth, we found ourselves absolutely slack-jawed while we watched Endless Love (rent it on Amazon here), a movie we were too young to see when it was a released with an R rating in 1981, but we both watched later on HBO. In fact, it had been so long since either of us had seen it that we forgot Tom Cruise and Jami Gertz had bit parts in the movie. And we had never realized before that a then-unknown Ian Ziering (of Beverly Hills 90210 fame) was in the movie. We also watched Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink (you can rent both on Amazon.com) and reminisced about seeing those movies as teenagers. And before you even think it…I know Sixteen Candles could never be made today with its sexism, underage/nonconsensual sex, underage drinking, and more…but it’s comedy, people! It’s supposed to be funny. I thought it was funny in 1984, and I still think it’s funny now.

During the day, we drove around the lovely town where she lives. We looked at historic homes, parks, flowers, and trees, and one day, we went tubing with her teenage son at Ichetucknee Springs State Park…quite the adventure! The water was refreshingly cold as we floated down the river…laughing and talking. She laughed at me when I would float off into the grasses on the edge of the river, and I laughed at her when she missed the entrance to the disembarkation ramp. We made new memories we will laugh about for years to come.

But what I enjoyed most was simply being with my friend. She knows who I really am and loves me anyway. Spending time with my friend was like being wrapped in a warm blanket. She’s comforting. She has been around for a long time. And she makes me feel secure. I came home feeling rejuvenated. I came home feeling content.

Sure, we are middle-aged moms now, and we have had a lot more life experience than when we became friends. We are, in fact, older than our parents were when we became friends. Wow…we really are middle aged.

She’s a keeper.