Category: Lists & Things

I Tried The Positivity Blog’s 12 Ways To Improve Your Self-Esteem…

Me with my favorite Snapchat filter

And here’s how it went…

Self-esteem. This is a very loaded word which corresponds to how we feel about ourselves. When we’re young and the world hasn’t impressed upon us how we should think, feel, and look it’s easy for us to have a good sense of self-worth, for us to feel special. The older we get the bigger the internal struggle we feel with outside influences to truly love ourselves. It’s hard sometimes to reconcile myself as a Christian when God says we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves. I know I do my best to love others but it does beg me to question: can we really truly love others if we do not love ourselves fully?

The ugly truth to that question is that we can’t. Until we make peace with our own strengths and weaknesses we can never truly appreciate and understand someone else’s. In my last post, I discussed my life long battle with anxiety, which often goes hand-in-hand with my self esteem. If you ask me how my self-esteem is, I’ll tell you it depends on the day. I have days and weeks where my self-esteem is top notch then I have other days where I can barely look in the mirror. If you ask my husband, however, he will say I am my harshest critic. Whether it’s a comment about my body or on my character, I admittedly put myself down much more then I raise myself up. This is a very unsettling self-assessment.

The moment I decided that I wanted to write this, I knew I wanted to do this realistically and in the most authentic way possible. In the slew of Internet findings there are dozens of articles on how to improve your self-esteem but one particularly caught my eye. It came from a blog called the positivity blog and it was how to improve your self-esteem: 12 powerful tips. My first thought of course was, oh I like power! When I read the article I definitely found that these were exercises I could try and report back on here if they were successful for me or not. So without further ado I give you the list of 12 steps to improve your self-esteem, courtesy of The Positivity Blog, along with my results.

1. Say stop to my inner critic.

According to The Positivity blog ” a good place to start with raising your self-esteem is by learning how to handle and to replace the voice of your own inner critic.”

The first two days this practice was rough for me. Honestly, I was tempted to put myself down several times but I also noticed a pattern. These thoughts tended to come to mind when I was getting dressed or putting on my makeup for the day. The positivity blog suggested saying “no no no no, we’re not going there” to myself but I found this method as successful as Hillary Clinton telling the truth. Instead whenever I was forced to look at myself in the mirror and felt obligated to put myself down I remembered something key in breaking the pattern. I thought like this while I was doing things I’m really good at. When I spend a night listening to beach waves under the unconditionally loving arm of my husband, when I finish either a digital or hand drawn/painted portrait, when I help my friends work through an issue, or spend time with my niece and nephew, and help a co-worker through her growing pains at work I feel exceptionally good about myself. So I took this tip with a twist, every time I looked myself in the mirror as I prepped for the day and my inner critic voiced its displeasure I countered back to it with a, “yes I may have put on weight, but I’m an excellent wife, friend and aunt.” Countering with a positive seemed very forced at first but by Thursday I found it was quite natural. A positive for every negative.

2. Use healthier motivation habits.

According to step two of the Positivity Blong “To make the inner critic less useful for yourself and that voice weaker and at the same time motivate yourself to take action and raise your self-esteem it is certainly helps to have healthy motivation habits.”
So how did I interpret this into my self esteem routine? I wrote a list of things I didn’t like about myself…

1. My weight- Okay, yes! I get it! Well, what can I do to change this? I can start walking more, eat healthier for sure and drink more water. This is very changeable. I also need to accept that the girl who was a size 5 jeans is gone. My body has changed, I’m a woman, I’m older and I need to learn to love my curves. So I did, I stood in the mirror and looked at my body and found things I did like. I won’t share them on here but I will say it was harder at first then I’d first imagined but once I began to compliment myself it became easier. Yes, I still want to be like 30 pounds lighter and I’m confident I will be but I needed to love myself today to help myself tomorrow.

2. I Start Things Without Finishing Them- whether it be my writing this blog or a novel I’ve been working with on and off, I get pumped about an idea begin working on it feverishly then when life and anxiety gets in the way I just stop committing to it. I can correct this by committing to writing things I’m passionate about…I think I just tired too hard to appeal to the masses and get this blog noticed that as a result my posts were forced but ever since I’ve been writing about my real life struggles and world issues which matter to me I’ve found my writing came more effortless and enjoyable. It’s a work in progress but I’m finding my groove and I’m happy with that.

3. Take a 2 minute self-appreciation break.
According to The Positivity Blog “This is a very simple and fun habit. And if you spend just two minutes on it every day for a month then it can make huge difference. Here’s what you do: Take a deep breath, slow down and ask yourself this question: what are 3 things I can appreciate about myself?”

So there I sat with a pencil in hand and wrote three things I appreciate about myself:

1. I’ve laughed in the face of adversity more times then I can count.

2. I can give people really solid advice and make them feel better.

3. My empathy

It wasn’t much but it was a start…a sort of, I love me proclaimation…soon I was able to write all my positive traits on an index card

To date it’s the one of the best things I’ve done for myself.

4. Write down 3 things in the evening that you can appreciate about yourself

The Positivity Blog calls this “a variation of the habit above and combining the two of them can be extra powerful for two boosts in self-esteem a day.” Basically an affirmation was what I took it as.

1. I made an amazing dinner…chicken and mashed potatoes. Tom really enjoyed it.

2. I am a child of God and wife of an amazing God-Fearing man.

3. I have very beautiful eyes.

As I kept track of different things I loved about myself as the week progressed, I found it was awesome confidence boosters for when I was feeling down.

5. Do the right thing

The Positivity Blog talks about doing the right thing to help boost confidence. So I began a mission called: Friendly Friday’s where I do a random act of kindness anonymously. Whether it’s buying a co-worker coffee and leaving it on the table when she bemoans she’s tired, allowing someone to pull out in front of me or leaving a nickel in the vending machine random acts of kindness no matter how small have helped me to feel good about myself.

The other seven things the blog spoke about consisted of basically about breaking habits of perfectionism, handling mistakes/failures better, being kinder to others and not comparative, spending time with supportive people and staying motivated to loving myself.

Of these seven things I’d say most can be considered in your best interest to curb or cut out completely. For instance, perfectionism is good but sometimes its self destructive, especially for me. My best is never good enough for myself, if success isn’t met then I go into self defeat mode. This week, however, my mantra was, “I did my best that’s all I can do. I did my best and that’s good enough for me” and it was oddly refreshing, when I focused on the good I accomplished I was able to write my daily list easier. Letting go of the idea of everything going “how it’s supposed to go” helped me to grasp how to handle my failures better in the future. Also you are who you hang out with, let your tribe be filled with people who love and support you and help build up both your self esteem and character. I am fairly blessed in this way as I have an amazing tribe of family and friends who although flawed like me do their best to raise me up each day. Nobody is perfect everyone,including me, will fall short of someone’s expectations at times and as human beings that’s OK.

In today’s world we’ll always be confronted with someone who has the perfect body, the perfect job, the seemingly perfect life and if we hold her selves to someone else’s standard we stifle what is unique about ourselves. We will never be happy with ourselves and our loved ones if we are always looking for our lives to be like someone else’s.

So my overall opinion after going all week following the steps on the Positivity Blog was although at times it was extremely overwhelming to face a lot of uncomfortable truths when it came to how I saw myself I realized that we all have the power to change the way we see ourselves by taking small steps. Would I say the 12 steps to better self-esteem fixed me in the week that I did it? No, I’m a work in progress but it did help me to pin point ways to make small changes in the way I see myself and that’s fine by me.

You can check out the Positivity Blog ‘s article here: How to Improve Your Self-Esteem: 12 Powerful Tips

How would you rate your self esteem? Leave your thoughts and comments below…

Love you. Mean it.



The Science Behind…

King Henry VIII and His Wives’ Miscarriages…


Science has come along way in the last centuries, it was able to solve many mysteries which were left unsolved for decades. With advances in technology, DNA analysis, and a better understanding of medical symptoms it’s no surprise that Catherine of Aragon who doctors said had ‘a black patch on her heart.’ died of cancer, a disease not understood at that time but recognized easily today. Technologies and advancements in science shed light on a lot of things dismissed or not understood by Tudor Era England, including the ailments of Henry VIII and the miscarriages of his wives, Catherine and Anne (the latter which he famously had executed after three short years of marriage and nearly eight of courtship).

So what caused a monarch who was basically the Leonardo DiCaprio of his day when he was younger often described as charismatic, eye-catching and even caring, for a member of the Royal family, to be remembered in a tainted more grim illustration of a gluttonous, impaired, selfish ruler with a habit of executing wives on false charges of adultery?

Research which was conducted in 2011 by bio archaeologist Catrina Banks Whitley while still a graduate student at Southern Methodist University and anthropologist Kyra Kramer, claim a Kell antigen blood disorder was a reason for the numerous miscarriages Henry’s wives suffered often late in pregnancy.

So what does that mean?  A Kell negative woman (such as Anne) who has multiple pregnancies with a Kell positive man (Henry VIII) can produce a healthy, Kell positive child in a first pregnancy (Elizabeth is a prime example of this) but the antibodies she produces during that first pregnancy will cross the placenta and attack a Kell positive fetus in any follow-up pregnancies.

As they write in The Historical Journal and also on the popular Tudor website The Anne Boleyn Files, the researchers found a pattern between “the Kell blood group incompatibility being consistent with the pregnancies of Henry’s first two wives, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn.” If Henry also suffered from McLeod syndrome, a genetic disorder specific to the Kell blood group, it would finally provide an explanation for his shift in both physical form and personality from handsome and agreeable to lackluster and tyrannical . Whitley and Kramer having  “identified the causal medical condition underlying Henry’s reproductive problems and psychological deterioration,” may be the answer to an age-old myth notorious to the time that the LORD was angry with the Monarch for his wife choice .

Many people, even those with minimal historical background, know that Henry married six women, two of whom he famously executed, and broke England’s ties with the Catholic Church – all in pursuit of a marital union that would produce a male heir. His brief, shining moment of glory with the birth of his son Edward was short-lived when the sickly prince died before he even reached his sixteenth birthday. In college, as a history major, most Historians have long debated theories of illness and injury that might explain the physical deterioration and frightening, tyrannical behavior that he began to display after his 40th birthday but not so much to the unsuccessful pregnancies of his wives in an age of newly developing medical care coupled with poor nutrition and hygiene.

As a Kell positive father, if the authors are correct, that means Henry WAS in fact the cause behind Anne and Catherine’s inability to bear a healthy infant after the first Kell negative pregnancy. Which is exactly the same circumstances experienced with women who had multiple pregnancies by Henry. Some may be aware of Henry’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, by his mistress Elizabeth Blout this perfectly healthy male birth was the ruler that Henry used to measure and conclude that the fault was of the women NOT the monarch, for the failed births. This is not an accurate measuring stick, however, since Bessie Blout only had one pregnancy by Henry. Also, interestingly enough, most people who are within this blood disorder group are Kell negative, so they experience little to no reproductive issues, it is only with the rare Kell positive father found in Henry VIII that these reproductive issues manifest.

I’d like to stress the emphasis the authors put on fetal mortality being ‘the Kell legacy, not infertility’. Henry was nearly 18 when he married the 23-year-old Catherine of Aragon, widow of his older brother Arthur (but never consummated). Looking at their pregnancies: the first daughter, a girl, was stillborn; the second child, a boy, lived only 52 days and four other confirmed pregnancies followed during the marriage it was documented that three were either stillborn or died shortly after birth. Enter Mary, their only surviving daughter who would eventually be crowned the fourth Monarch in the Tudor dynasty.

The exact number of miscarriages had by Henry’s wives and even less documented mistress is difficult for any historian  to determine, especially when we can’t just hop in a time machine and see for ourselves. Most agree Henry’s wives had a total of at least 11 and possibly 13 or more pregnancies. Only four of the eleven known pregnancies survived infancy. Whitley and Kramer call the high rate of random late-term miscarriages and stillbirths suffered by Henry’s first two queens “an atypical reproductive pattern” because, even in an age of high child mortality, most women carried their pregnancies to term during that time, and even in cases where death was imminent, their infants usually lived long enough to be christened.

The authors of this study explain that if as a potentially Kell positive father, each time Henry impregnated the Kell negative mother, such as Catherine, Anne, or Jane, each pregnancy had from the jump a 50-50 chance of creating Kell positive fetus.  So in layman’s terms this means the first pregnancy usually carries to term and produces a healthy infant, even if the infant is Kell gene positive and the mother is Kell negative. The problem comes with the mother’s following Kell positive pregnancies after the first birth which are at risk because the mother’s antibodies will literally attack the Kell positive fetus as a foreign body, thus causing miscarriage or still-birth. Any baby that is Kell negative will not be attacked by the mother’s antibodies and will carry to term if otherwise healthy. “Although the fact that Henry and Catherine of Aragon’s firstborn did not survive is somewhat atypical, it is possible that some cases of Kell sensitization affect even the first pregnancy,” Kramer notes.

The survival of Mary, the fifth pregnancy for Catherine of Aragon, fits the Kell scenario if Mary inherited the recessive Kell gene from Henry, resulting in a healthy infant. Anne Boleyn’s pregnancies were a textbook example of Kell with a healthy first child, Queen Elizabeth, and subsequent late-term miscarriages two boys which proved to be the final undoing to her relationship with Henry. Jane Seymour had only Edward before her death, but the pattern of a healthy firstborn also is consistent with a Kell positive father, had Jane survived her pregnancy with Edward it is likely, in Kramer’s opinion, we would have seen her miscarry as well in the pregnancies which followed Edward’s birth.

Science was also able to pinpoint several of Henry’s male maternal relatives which followed the Kell positive reproductive pattern. The authors claim to have “traced the possible transmission of the Kell positive gene from Jacquetta of Luxembourg, the king’s maternal great-grandmother,” suggesting the genetic presence of the Kell phenotype within the family.

My thoughts on reading the study conducted by Kramer and Whitley, seem to be a shining example of how advancements in science and medicine can reveal very human elements in otherwise larger than life (no pun intended considering Henry was said to have weighed close to 400 pounds at his death) historical figure. I believe that these findings are very consistent with the patterns we’ve seen documented with the pregnancies of Catherine and Anne. It was much easier to believe that God was displeased with Henry during that time, or his wife was an adulterous witch (Anne) or he was a sinner for laying with his brother’s wife (Catherine), than to explain what actually by today’s standards was a genetic blood disorder but was unavailable to diagnose at that time.

Do you believe Henry VIII was Kell positive? Leave a comment below explaining your thoughts on this topic.

Love you. Mean it.



Did this post excite you? You can read more about it here on The Anne Boleyn Files:


Top 5…

TV Dads…

The only thing better than your own Father is the Fathers we love through TV. This post will be different in a sense that instead of counting down, we will be working our way down the list of famous TV Dad’s I thought were epic in their own right.


1. Red Forman– The symbol of tough parenting, whether it’s telling Eric to do a chore, get job or that’s he’s going to put his foot in-well you know where if you watched That 70’s Show-Red represents the no nonsense, take charge parent who puts his family first even if it doesn’t make him the most popular person in his household. Red also works just hard as his mouth runs to create a good life for Laurie (where’d she go anyway?), Eric, and Kitty, which harkens back to a simpler time where the man provided for his family. Red, although not the most affectionate person, seems to always be willing to make a situation right for his wife Kitty-just stay away from him when he does! Red is Eric’s harshest critic, however, as seen in the episode ‘Eric Gets Suspended’ he threatens Bob who was calling Eric a bad influence on Donna. When watching ‘That 70’s Show’ as a kid, you might think, ‘my God Red! Why do you got to be so tough?’ but as you watch as an adult and you see the stupid things Eric does (whether Red catches him or not) you might say to yourself “I’d put my foot in his-well you know where!-too!”


2.Burt Chance– The father of Jimmy Chance and husband to Virginia Chance on the TV show ‘Raising Hope’.  Burt is the youngest father on the list, being only seventeen when he became a father to Jimmy and thirty-eight when the show started.  He tends to be more immature than the rest of the fathers on the list, but beneath that is a big heart of love and fatherly advice.  For example, on the episode ‘Sheer Madness’ he warns Jimmy about holding in gas, being that you can only squeeze that little muscle so many times and you don’t want to wear it out when your in your twenties.  As noted previously, Burt was only 17 when he had Jimmy, although he and Virginia didn’t have a lot of money and couldn’t always give Jimmy the best things, you can clearly see they raised him with the most important thing a child needs and that’s love.  Burt is the owner of a small landscape company where he employs his son Jimmy and the two work as a father son team, just don’t let him see you peeing in the bushes cause he’ll push you in.  In the episode ‘The Sniffles’, Burt can not afford to provide health insurance for Jimmy and Hope, Jimmy wants to get a part time job to pay for it, but Burt doesn’t want him to.  You later find out Burt was working a second job for his rival landscape company to be able to provide the insurance for Jimmy and Hope, he explains to Jimmy that’s he feels like it should always be his job to provide for him and his granddaughter Hope, not just as his boss, but as his father.  He didn’t even want the insurance for himself, but it was something Jimmy wanted, this just shows how far and how low Burt was willing to go for his son.


3. Homer Simpson– Homer Simpson of ‘The Simpsons’ is an example of parenting to the extreme. Homer represents what every parent might sometimes wish they could do or perhaps even do if the situation could be solved in thirty minutes. Such as buying your daughter a pony, getting many different jobs each day, or just saying “Why you little-” to the jerk of a son. Despite Homer’s many flaws in parenting, he does show genuine care for his children. Such as being truly ashamed when he embarrasses them, showing support for what they want to do, and really tried to be a better Father than his Father, Abe was to him. Another example would be when Maggie was born, Homer never wanted his third child when his wife Marge was pregnant with her because it forced him to go back to work at the soul-crushing Power plant, however, when Maggie was born Homer loved her instantly. When Bart and Lisa ask why there are no pictures of Maggie in the house, Homer simply replies “I keep them where I need cheering up the most” and you see that is at the Power Plant where his work area is full of Maggie’s pictures.


4.Carl Winslow- Carl is the Father of Ed, Laura, Judy (where did Judy go after three seasons?) and the husband to Harriet Winslow on the show ‘Family Matters’. He later even becomes an adoptive Father to 3J as well. Carl, although short tempered, is a very humble and kind person which reflects in his parenting. Carl, out of all the Fathers on this list, seems to be the right balance between firm and lenient. You can always see that he does everything out of love for his family, despite that fact that he often clashes with his son Eddy, due to the latter’s rebellious nature, he is always there to help his son out and be supportive of his decisions. Carl works as a police officer and by the end of the show’s run works his way up to being Captain. He does this by simply being good at his job, working hard, regardless of other’s being promoted before him by being suck-ups, Carl does not want to do that for a higher position, instead wanting to be viewed as the best man for the job. Steve Urkel, the bane of Carl’s existence, constantly annoys him and costs him plenty of money in damages to the family home over the years. Despite this, Carl develops a fondness for Steve as the show progresses and is always there to back him up. Becoming a father-figure to Steve is very endearing for the viewers to watch, especially when Carl goes to parents day at Steve’s college because he knew it would mean a lot to the young man.


5. Dan Conner- Dan Conner portrayed so epically by John Goodman, is the epitome of an easy-going Father on the 90’s classic ‘Roseanne’. Although is not a strict parent by any means, his children (Becky, Darlene and DJ) know that if they make him angry, they’ve really done it! Dan always shows support for everybody in his family, despite not always agreeing with what they do, such as both Becky and Darlene getting married young, he always lends a helping hand regardless if it isn’t up to his standards. What Dan really represents is the true blue collar Father who dealt with real issues during the show and didn’t have a perfect fairy-tale home, job or what most “TV Fathers” had. Dan handled each situation highlighted each week with humility and perseverance unique to his own Fathering ability. What makes Dan different from all the other Fathers is the undeniable chemistry he and Roseanne had on TV, you truly believed and hoped the best in these two lovable characters. Dan’s love is what really makes Roseanne’s character for the simple fact that she, although very abrasive, can be equally as lovable too.

Who were your Top Five TV Dads? Leave a comment below as I love hearing from you!

Love you. Mean it.



What Draco Taught Me…

about life…

Dogs. Some people love them and others hate them. Whether you classify yourself as a dog or cat person there’s plenty to take away from this post about what we can learn from the animals in our lives. Personally, I think humans should strive to be the type of person their pet thinks they are because the world would be a better place for sure! I know for a fact my life has changed and been enriched from Draco being apart of it. To prove it, I’ve created a list of 3 things my fur-baby has taught me about life.

1. Unconditional Love– No matter what mood I come home in or how many times I yell at him to stop jumping on our house guests, Draco loves me. He is always 100% hyped to spend time with Tom and I (he absolutely hates being left behind whether we go to work or out to dinner) and he is the first to greet us with a wagging tail not to mention a sloppy kiss. Animals don’t judge your messy hair, runny mascara from crying after a rough day, and problems concerning the outside world. They are unconditionally there for you to vent to, laugh/play with, sob on their soft coat and snuggle with. Animals sadly get abandoned by their owners each day but your animal will NEVER abandon you. Draco taught me that the humans in our lives deserve the same type of unconditional love, in a world where everything from family relationships to friendships are disposable, we can stand to learn a lot about how to treat others from the way our animals treat us with patience, deep unconditional love and respect.

2. Responsibility – Draco was literally the first living, breathing creature Tom and I have kept alive, happy, and healthy for the last two years. Let that sink in. I remember bringing home this tiny little puppy on my lap thinking, “holy hat, this is all me…this helpless animal will rely on us for the rest of his life.” Draco requires regular yearly vet check ups, attention, exercise, and a specific diet to keep him at his best. Prior to bringing him home, both Tom and I had experience caring for the family dogs we had with our parents and siblings but after bringing Draco home I feel like I have a greater sense of responsibility, whether we’re out with friends for a night on the town or at a wedding/family event animals help their owners be less selfish because you have them to think of. Gone are the days we can spend an impromptu weekend trip to AC because we have Draco to consider, but we’re strangely okay with that!

3. Appreciation for the little things in life – Draco gets excitement from the little things in life, like walking down to the dock to sit and watch the sunset with me. He also enjoys running around the yard and going on outings with his best friend, Rafe (My best friend Jen’s Australian Sheppard). He doesn’t wish for more money, fame, a bigger house or a nicer car. He asks only for time each day with the people who matter most to him and at the end of the day, while it’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day life, animals can remind what it’s like to be young without the weight of the world on our shoulders and in turn appreciate the little things in life we often overlook.

While there are so many more lesson animals can teach us, I feel that these three are the most important to touch upon. I will end this post with a thank you to my Draco, for making me a better person, friend, and dog mom. What three things have your animals taught you? Leave a comment below discussing what ways your life was more enriched by your animals, I love hearing from all of you!

Love you. Mean it.



My Top 10 New Jersey Restaurants…

For locals and visitor’s alike….

Food, it’s one of the many things you remember whether you’re going to an event (like a wedding or shower) or on vacation. It’s a factor in determining if you want to return or try someplace else. Let’s be real, your food and restaurant experiences shape you as something that stands out as either really good or really bad. To spare you the less than grand restaurant experience whether you’re visiting or live in the Jersey Shore area here are Tom and I’s top 10 restaurant choices that are guaranteed to leave you not disappointed-just please don’t fist pump, real locals aren’t like the characters (most actually from NY) you’ve seen on TV and get quite insulted at being compared to them.

Rating Breakdown:
$ = scale of 1-5 ($$$$$ being most expensive; $ being least expensive)
* = Overall food and service (***** being the best; * being the worst)

1. The Office Lounge- Tom and I began going to this diamond in the rough in 2010, there’s a wide variety of choices on the menu that suitable for even the most picky of taste buds. The service is superb, in fact most of the waiters and waitresses knew my husband and I by name-the only thing that beats the service is their delicious food!
Rating: * *  * * *
Price Rating: $$$
Overall Grade: -A
Dishes We’d Recommend: Quesadillas, Prime Ribs, French Onion Soup and Pina Coladas
Check out their menu and more here:

2. Burger 25– Tom and I stumbled upon this place on the way to the boardwalk, it’s not your typical burger joint as there’s literally 25 different ways you can order your burger from the Philly Burger which is like a Philly cheese steak on top of your burger to the Mac Daddy a burger with mac and cheese on top of it and each one is out of this world delicious. It’s not just burgers though-Burger 25 has equally delicious chicken, hot dogs, salads, wings and sides, it’s actually quite overwhelming. Burger 25’s only downfall is the space available to sit as it gets quite busy in the quaint restaurant.
Rating: * * * * *
Price Rating: $$$
Overall Grade: -A
Dishes We’d Recommend: The Philly Burger, Bacon Cheese Burger, Oreo Shake and chocolate shake.
Check out their menu and more here:

3. Chili’s Bar and Grill– What can I say? Before Tom and I found the Office Lounge Chili’s was our main squeeze. Chili’s has a wide variety of appetizers, salads, soups, chili, fresh Mex bowls, fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, tacos and quesadillas, ribs, chicken and steak just to name a few. The food and service are good and worth the sometimes overcrowded dinner time rushes.
Rating: * * * *
Price Rating: $$$$
Overall Grade: B+
Dishes we’d recommend: two words. Sillet Queso.
Check out their menu and more here:

4. El Familiar (Latin Food)- If Mexican food and Columbian food got married and had a baby this place would be it. El Familiar takes traditionalism and authenticity very seriously and offers top-notch food, service and atmosphere.
Rating: * * * * *
Price Rating: $$$$
Overall Grade: A
Dishes we’d recommend: chimichangas and steak.
Check out their menu and more here:

5. Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill– A wide variety of choices for even the most pickier of eaters. I am a huge fan of Applebee’s because of the family friendly atmosphere and friendly/accommodating  service.
Rating: * * * * *
Price Rating: $$$
Overall Grade: A
Dishes we’d recommend: We’ve had mostly everything BUT we highly recommend the Ribs and the Chicken Quesadilla with a side of Mexi-Rice .
Check out their menu and more here:

7. Bubbakoo’s Burritos (American Style Mexican)- What’s not to love about building your own burrito? It’s like Chipotle but better! The staff is exceptionally welcoming and accommodating-not to mention the food is fresh and delicious!
Rating: * * * * *
Price Rating: $$
Overall Grade: A+
Dishes we’d recommend: The double beef and pulled pork burritos.
Check out their menu and more here:

8. Il Giardinello (Italian Food)- My childhood best guy friend, Mike, used to work here and smuggle us home left overs from the kitchen when he worked there. If you want to send your taste buds on an authentic trip to Italy you can’t visit the Jersey Shore without a trip to Il Giardinello! The staff is exceptionally diligent and the food is to die for. The only complaint I have regarding this restaurant is the price (which is a bit on the expensive side) but the food is well worth it!
Rating: * * * * *
Price Rating: $$$$$
Overall Grade: B+ (sorry the prices impact the grade!)
Dishes we’d recommend: Penne Vodka and Veal Parmigiano.
Check out their menu and more here:

9. Ikko (Japanese Restaurant)- My brother-in-law, Mike, is a huge fan of Hibachi, which is why it was no surprise that he introduced Tom and I to this place back to 2011. Everything from the chicken to the steak is absolutely delicious and the chefs really put on an excellent show for kids of all ages.
Rating: * * * *
Price Rating: $$$$$
Overall Grade: B-
Dishes we’d recommend: Anything off the Hibachi menu!
Check out their menu and more here:

10. Harvest Buffet (Chinese Buffet)- Tom and I found this hidden gold mine back in 2014 when we moved down to the area. They offer a wide variety of Chinese and American food buffet and offer lunch specials daily! The best part is the food and service are great and it’s never too packed so you’ll always get seated quickly.
Rating: * * * *
Price Rating: $$
Overall Grade: B
Dishes we’d recommend: All of it! Come hungry and leave satisfied!
Check out their menu and more here:

Are there any restaurants I missed that you enjoy? Leave a comment below or let’s chat about it on Twitter, I love hearing from you!

Love you. Mean it.



Addictive Games Review…


Whether I’m waiting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office or just looking to pass some time away there’s an app for everything…literally!
Every now and again I get the urge to look through the top rated free games in the App Store on iTunes and every now and then an app catches my eye.
Enter the game ‘Stack’ by the developer Ketchapp (think of Ketchup to remember). The object of the game is quite simple you stack the squares by tapping the bottom square once the top square lines up. You basically stack them as high as you can before the blocks get smaller and smaller (the app actually keeps track of how many you get). It’s very easy but very addictive. Like super addictive, as in I’m about to start a chapter called ‘Stack Addicts Anonymous’

The diamonds you see in the top right corner you gain with the amount of personal records you set and the ads (while present) aren’t so overwhelming that you’ll get irritated with actually playing the game.

I believe you can get rid of the ads by paying a fee but as I mentioned above its not detrimental to your gamer sanity to view them.

Overall I give this app 5/5 stars it’s so simple my Mom could probably play it and challenging enough that you won’t get terribly bored of it quickly.

Did you try this app? How did you feel about it? Leave a comment below with your thoughts and opinions, I love to hear from you.

Love you. Mean it.


A Woman’s Right To Choose…

…Not, in the meaning you think this title means….

I’m perfectly fine being the crazy Aunt 🙂
Let me start this post by giving you a background, I’m 27 years old. Keep that in mind that at 27, I’d have to get pregnant next month in order to be the age my Mother was when she had me (at 28). Surprisingly (or not surprisingly to those of you who actually know me), I am on the fence about having children of my own. Don’t get me wrong, my love for kids is totally intact, I mold and shape them into (hopefully) becoming the most well-rounded and well-adjusted student five out of seven days a week and I truly love my job. Being a pre-school teacher is one of the most demanding and rewarding things you can do with your life. Which is why for many the months leading up to my wedding to Tom, relatives and friends asked us “So when do you plan on starting a family?” it’s a natural progressive question. This is why I did not get offended the first six times it was asked to me and I coyly replied, “We’re not sure if kids are in the cards for us”. The reactions ranged from “good for you!” to “why not?! You’d be such great parents!” I’ve come to the conclusion with my husband that IF we do have a child it will on our terms (yes, there’s no typo if we have a child it will be the only one).
My parents are very supportive of Tom and I’s decision to have or not have a child and there’s a large comfort in knowing we aren’t the only millennials opting out of parenthood. According to a study from the Urban Institute,’ birth rates among women in their 20’s dropped 15% between 2007 and 2012.’ Additional studies from Pew Research Center shows a longer-term trend of women opting out of parenthood as since 1970 foregoing motherhood altogether has doubled. This statistic is strangely empowering, mostly because I’ve been faced with comments from relatives and even friends who’ve had kids that reflect the taboo associated with women who choose not to be Mothers. I’ve been told that it’s “disappointing” that I could honestly even consider not bringing life into this world, then there’s my favorite, the “I do not know what true unconditional love is until I give birth and lay eyes on my baby for the very first time” and even past popes in my Catholic faith have put reluctant women (like myself) on blast saying not to procreate is essentially “selfish”.
When I’m feeling optimistic about having a child, I try to appease these “pro parenting” people and say perhaps just one baby would be nice, and I genuinely mean that most days. After all, as my cousin Kathleen and I have joked, “who will pick out the best nursing home for us when we’re old?”. I have a lot of decent jewelry, a solid set of morals and values passed on from my parents and I’m already kind of a parent now as a teacher. So, essentially the critics DO have a point, I think my husband and I could potentially have a lot of positive attributes that would make us decent parents. What we didn’t count on was reactions to having one child are sometimes WORSE than explaining you’re not sure you’re having children at all. “You can’t just have one!” “That’s more selfish than having none at all!” “They’ll be alone!” the onslaught of these pro-parenting individuals many of them who I love and who’s opinion I value, make me fall back to square one of ‘undecided’ in the kid department.
These claims that having just one is even more selfish is simply unfounded for me. For one, I was an only child for nearly eight years before my brother was born. Had a beautiful “whoops!” that ended up resulting in Joey not happened, I would have been an only child. I love my brother, I’m blessed to have him and every time I watch him accomplish something great my heart swells with genuine pride. Am I better off for having him in my life? Absolutely, I only hazily remember my detailed life before he was born, however, I do not think I would have been less adjusted, more bratty, and heaps more self-centered if he had not been born 19 years and 3 months ago. That character just never was in mine or my husband’s DNA and it certainly wouldn’t be in our only child’s DNA either.
A common misconception about women on the fence about kids is that we don’t want to have children because we don’t have the time and our careers come first. This isn’t always true, in fact, I LOVE when people ask me how I’ve come to my decision rather than assume. My advice, ASK before you ASSUME. Here are 5 reasons why I’m leaning towards not having children:
1. Children can be money pits and with student loans on the table they may not be feasible to support when my husband and I ourselves have just enough money get by and get the occasional Applebee’s once a month. Don’t even get me started on medical costs in terms of giving birth and having the burden of a lifetime financial commitment to a kid (not to mention more than one, how’s that selfish?). With more millenials going to college finances is the top reason many of my 20’s cohorts feel they may opt out altogether.
2. Mental health issues are on both sides of my husband and I’s families. I won’t get into details but if you’ve taken a biology course in science you’ll know there’s always a shot at mental illness being passed down.
3. I will need in-vitro fertilization because of a genetic disorder-that while it does not impact my life to severely-it could manifest in my offspring much more severe. So my eggs will need to be tested and basically conceived for me which takes time, money and patience.
4.  The world isn’t always a great place and I would want to spare my potential child from living in a world of jerks. I feel like we as a world have far too many issues with bullying, shooting, law enforcement, government officials and quite frankly I don’t want to thrust that responsibility on someone who had no say in whether or not they wanted to be born.
5. It’s my body, my choice and I don’t need a reason why. The same way I do not judge people who want to embark on starting families or ask them why they are choosing to have children, I do not want that question thrust upon me about why I chose not to.
If Tom and I do have a baby, rest assured it will be an only child. Not only is this more financially feasible for our lifestyle, our miracle baby would be loved and gotten the best medical care in the world (if they did turn out mentally ill), I would only have one child to worry about in this scary world and that’s if we choose to have one, devil’s advocate. I also wouldn’t be that parent on social media who posts a slew of photos and videos of their child on social media every two hours. In fact, my child will probably be posted and chatted about once a month so my friends and family can actually see the growth of the child and not feel bombarded by photographs of every hour of my child’s mouth (showing a tooth coming in), showing them sleep or 60 other photographs of them doing the same thing. I will not be that social media monster mom and if I become one, please remind me of this post. A child might just be okay and affordable for Tom and I but forget about two, it just isn’t in the cards. A baby might not be in the cards at all for us. If all else fails we’re perfectly fine being the crazy Aunt and Uncle, I’ll write an update in 10 years on the outcome but please stop criticizing me, because it is a woman’s right to choose.
How do you feel about children? Are you having one or more? What influenced your choice? Leave a comment below discussing your thoughts and feelings, I love to hear from you!
Love you. Mean it.

7 Things…

My Grammy taught me never to take for granted….

Grammy and I: Halloween 2009
There are lessons which need to be learned through experiences and there are lessons which can be taught to you by family and friends. My Grammy was born during a time where America was building into the nation it became today, she lived through the Great Depression, World War II, Kennedy being assassinated, and the twin towers coming down on 9/11. To say she saw and experienced a lot in her lifetime was an understatement. I spent more time with my Mother’s Mom then any of my cousins, her and I shared a bond that even her death in August of 2011 could not break. I found myself feeling such a profound void in her absence but also a profound sense of duty to record and live by the 7 things which she taught me never to take for granted. I’d like to share these 7 things with you, my loyal readers, today.
1. The love God has for all of us. According to my Grammy, God is always there just waiting for us to pray for his guidance and we must never take for granted our unique ability to call on him whenever we may need him.
2. The unconditional love of families. Nothing was more important to my Grammy than family, she always stressed the importance of blood being thicker than water and truly valuing and accepting family members for who they are just as they must accept you.
3. The gift of being able to wake up each and every day. My Grammy lived to be 93, which meant she saw a lot of people die, including her youngest son, she taught me that every day we are able to wake up and make a difference in the world we should because we never know if we will be granted the opportunity for tomorrow.
4. The ability to distinguish blessings from lessons. According to Grammy, every person and event was sent by God either as blessings which we must cherish or lessons which we must grow from and we MUST be grateful for both and thank the LORD for them.
5. The way we treat people will have a profound impact on how they turn out. Grammy shared with me many stories from her youth and adulthood centered around the theme of how the adults in her life shaped her thoughts and attitudes on life. She stressed that we must always treat others with love and compassion because everyone is fighting a battle which you cannot see.
6. The power of forgiveness. My Grammy once described hate and grudges as poison which taints the soul and that we must not only forgive to release that toxicity from our own systems but because as Catholics it is our God-given duty to forgive others as HE has asked us.
7. The knowledge that what you don’t have in your hand you can’t very well hold on to. My Grammy used this saying to describe her feelings on letting go of the things in our life which we have little to no control over.
What were seven things someone taught you never to take for granted? Leave your response in the comment section below, because I love hearing from you!
Love you. Mean it.
This post was dedicated to my beautiful and selfless Grammy
Mary T. Doyle (5/2/18-8/30/11) you helped shape me into the woman I am today and I love you to heaven and back.

13 Things On May 13th…

That I love about my husband Tom…

With the monotony of everyday life it is so easy to get caught up in the here and now rather than the always been there and always valued. To some of you who read this blog, you may know my husband Tom and I personally, to others you may only know of him as that guy I mention here and there in my posts that I call my spouse. Whether you know or do not know that wonderful man who captured my heart eight years ago in March, in honor of his birthday today I’ve compiled a list of 13 things on this Friday May 13th that I love about Tom.

My lovable husband, Tom.
1. His loyalty. Tom is easily one of the most loyal people I have ever known in my life, his ability to stand by me and defend me whether I am right or wrong is a trade I will never take for granted. Tom’s brother Joe put it best in his Best Man speech, if he (or anyone Tom cared about) was broken down in Alaska he’d without question go there to help and bring them home.
2. He is loving and kind. Tom is the first person to lift my spirits when I put myself down. He does not tolerate anything less than the absolute best for me and anyone else he loves and cares for. He treats everyone he meets with love and compassion from the old lady needing help in the parking lot to putting together a toy or game for his niece and nephew.
3. He really is amazing with kids! Although we are on the fence about having a child of our own, as a teacher, I marvel at watching my husband interact with kids and it makes me lean more towards the possibility of having one someday even just so I can see what an amazing Dad I know he could be!
4. He is responsible. Tom is very responsible with everything from paying bills on time to never forgetting a first cousin once removed’s birthday and insisting we send a gift. He knows how to manage our money and (like me) understands there’s a large difference between wants and needs.
5. He is hardworking. Tom is a total go-getter in life, he works hard at his job, is always early or on time and rarely calls out sick (unless of course he really IS sick). A lot of Tom’s livelihood is based on his ability to help provide the best life possible for Draco and I. Tom helps me write a lot of the home budget tips and lists of things we plan to do, he loves to tackle DIY home improvement projects and has a natural flair for it.
6. He is supportive. Tom has managed to support me through both the laughter and the tears that have come our way through the years. He’s rejoiced in my happiness and held me in my moments of profound grief. No matter whether I am teaching or embracing the launch of my second career (this blog), Tom is my biggest fan and the gratitude I feel for that is immeasurable.
7. He’s the organized to my unorganized. I’m not going to lie, if my husband had the same habits with neatness and organization as I did we’d live in a pig sty! Luckily, he doesn’t and in turn he motivates me to be more neat and orderly which I credit him for helping me clean up with.
8. He loves hockey and football. While we do not support the same teams (I’m the NJ Devils to his NY Rangers and he’s the Dallas Cowboys to my Carolina Panthers) we can talk for hours about both sports, from impending deals/trades to score predictions for upcoming games.
9. His ability to use movie quotes to lighten any mood. Tom is the master of lightning up any dark mood, his ability to take situations and match them to movie quotes to garner laughter is uncanny and second to none. For example, when the Vikings field goal kicker missed that playoff winning field goal (I really wanted the Seahawks to lose) I was a bit bummed until Tom mimicked Ray Finkle from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective saying “THE LACES WERE IN! THEY WERE IN!” which immediately caused me to bust out laughing.
10. He’s one of my best friends. Seriously, I can tell Tom anything and I know what I say stays safely with him. He does not blab our business to anyone from family to strangers. I value the fact that we do everything from food shopping to taking walks in Home Depot together (the happiest place on Earth in my opinion).
11. His love for God matches mine. Tom and I make God apart of our marriage. We read scripture, pray, go to church , and look to God for a greater understanding of our life purpose together. We understand God’s desire for us to serve Him, others and more importantly each other and we keep His commandments and hold them sacred.
12.  His unapologetic nature. Tom is who he is, and he is unapologetic in his truth about his likes, dislikes, and generally way of viewing things. He is unique and a self-proclaimed non-conformist, his ability to march to the beat of his own drum is very refreshing in a world where everybody tries to be someone else.
13. His unconditional love for me and ability to forgive others. Tom loves me so unconditionally it never ceases to amaze me, additionally, his ability to not hold grudges for things which we were wronged by is truly inspiring. While I have been known to harbor a grudge or three, Tom holds none towards anyone and inspires me to be more like that also.
So there you have it, 13 things I love about my husband. I could have gone on forever but I’ll stop there because it’s time for me to light the candles on his ice cream cake before the whole cake melts. Feel free to leave your comment below and tell me what you love about Tom or if you don’t know him comment about something in which you learned about him through my 13 things, because I do love hearing from you the fan friends.
Love you. Mean it.


This post is dedicated to husband, Tom.

My 5 Birthday Wishes….

I hope every year come true…

Past. Present. Future. Time changes things. On the other hand, we may not realize it but we all change with time. One day finishes to become another and what’s more, another. The Earth gradually pivots and spins. The clock’s hands never stop, no matter how much we want it to. Furthermore, with it, the wheels of progress are set into movement. It creeps in gradually, inch by inch. Adding yet one more day. But then again, it is definitely not.
To make a few days stand out from the rest, we give them a significance, a name, or a reason. Indeed, even your birthday is a day your parents and relatives teach you to give significance and yet there are so many people who see no motivation to celebrate the day they arrived into this world and took their first breath of air. (I do.) Critics often say it is simply one more day, so why go the additional mile?
They are right in this sense, it is one more day. In any case, why should that prevent us from celebrating the precious joy of life? Why does it prevent us from taking a couple of minutes, hours or a whole day to reflect on your life, your relationships with family, friends, even co-workers, and above all, remember your good fortune?
In our current reality where there are incalculable motivations to feel dull and useless, it is the small day-to-day activities we take part in that matter because essentially they make you who you are. These activities quite often win us the bonds we share with friends and family. Yet, these friends may not stay until the end of time, sadly there are moments when we lose all sense of contact with our longtime friends and they are in the different chapters of the book called life then we are, basically in light of the fact that “life” happened.
Yes, it is not an extremely cheerful feeling to think back and recollect the people who were once so dear to us and yet are no longer a dynamic piece of our life. We are taught to hold those all the more dear who have been with us until the end of time.
In any case, why should to that prevent you from being appreciative to have the people who do remain, or the people who have entered your life once more? Since past experience recommends they may not be there tomorrow and since nothing keeps going on indefinitely forever except for God’s love for us (in my opinion, yours may vary, I hold zero judgments).
In the event that you ask me, it is definitely this motivation behind why you SHOULD celebrate birthdays — yours and others, particularly others — for on the off-chance that you didn’t take today to create meaningful experiences and memories, to feel appreciative and feel unique, you might have nothing to think back about tomorrow.
Today, you have these people. Tomorrow, you may not. For example, my Grammy and I were born a day apart, I never realized how much I took for granted being able to share a birthday cake and blow out the candles with her until the first birthday I celebrated after she passed away. In any case, amid the time when they are a piece of your life, they are or have been critical and when they aren’t anymore you feel it. Why not make them feel that specialness today, regardless of what happens tomorrow? Figures of speech and expressions inform us to make the most of each moment; that each and every day ought to be exceptional — not only a couple. In any case, we all realize that is not always sensible as life gets in the way, jobs and obligations.
That is what brings me to the five birthday wishes I have every year, hopefully one year I’ll receive them:
1. All of my friends, family and relatives to chip in and have a huge party, like a wedding, except it celebrates the bond we share with each other another year. Rent a big hall, hire a DJ, a caterer, dress up and celebrate each other.
2. I do not hear news that anyone I know (or anyone they know) has cancer.
3. God blesses all my family, friends, and everyone who reads this blog with many more birthdays, health and happiness (myself included).
4. To meet a real, gifted medium who will be able to contact my Grammy so I can talk to her again.
5. That my blog will reach, inspire and change the way people think in a positive way.
Those are my five birthday wishes, be that as it may, there were additionally times when I was horribly aware of those I had left behind on my journey forward in life and my wishes also extend to them. Their non-attendance was felt. These who made up the ‘ghosts of friendships past’ and once held a significant spot in my day by day life that have followed a different path than me, I salute you too, for you left a hand print on my heart that helped shape me into the woman I became.
Life happened. It is dismal, yes. In any case, I think back on those times with those people with cheerful wistfulness. I am appreciative of that reason for my birthday, where I get to communicate the significance of everyone I know (past and present)’s place in my life, and the other way around. I now know, right then and there in time, I had mattered to them. I likewise realize that since they aren’t here does not mean they have been erased for all eternity. I feel my Grandmother’s presence with me daily despite her being deceased for nearly five years. I also have photographs of my childhood friends Jessica and Mike (one lost to cancer the other lost to growing apart) and I will cherish them when I look at them every now and then when I feel nostalgic.
Every May 1st, I feel appreciative for having been loved and esteemed by those around me, by being given the life I now lead, for the friends and family who are a piece of my life now and who went to such awesome lengths to make me feel extraordinary. Every year I do that then offer into the universe as bit of wistfulness for the lost ones that despite the fact that they and the memories I’d imparted to them were unique, I find myself in hopes that they are as happy as I am with their lives.Every May 1st, I discover motivations to praise the day, as opposed to pass it off as simply one more day. On my birthday, I remember my good fortune for what I have today before I lose it, and what I had yesterday.

On my birthdays, I pay tribute to the thing called time and I encourage you to do the same.

How do you feel about birthdays? Who in your life are you must grateful for? Leave a comment below as I love hearing from all of you!
Love you. Mean it.